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“ The Queen is so much pleased with your kindness, that I am come by her permission, to reward you with a greater favour than ever fairy bestowed before.
“ The former gifts of fairies, though bounties in design, have proved commonly mischiefs in the event. We have granted mortals to wish according to their own discretion, and their discretion being small, and their wishes irreversible, they have rashly petitioned for their own destruction. But you, my dearest Floretta, shall have, what none have ever before obtained from us, the power of indulging your wish, and the liberty of retracting it. Be bold and follow me.”
Floretta was easily persuaded to accompany the fairy, who led her through a labyrinth of crags and shrubs, to a cavern covered by a thicket on the side of the mountain.
“ This cavern,” said she, “ is the court of Lilinet your friend; in this place you shall find a certain remedy for all real evils.” Lilinet then went before her through a long subterraneous passage, where she saw many beautiful fairies, who came to gaze at the stranger, but who from reverence to their mistress, gave her no disturbance. She heard from remote corners of the gloomy cavern the roar of winds and the fall of waters, and more than once entreated to return; but Lilinet, assuring her that she was safe, persuaded her to proceed till they came to an arch, into which the light found its way through a fissure of the rock.
There Lilinet seated herself and her guest upon a bench of agate, and pointing to two fountains that bubbled before them, said, “ Now attend, my dear Floretta, and enjoy the gratitude of a fairy. Observe the two fountains that spring up in the middle of the vault, one into a basin of alabaster, and the other into a basin of dark flint. The one is called the Spring of Joy, the other of Sorrow; they rise from distant veins in the rock, and burst out in two places, but after a short course unite their streams, and run ever after in one mingled current.
* By drinking of these fountains, which, though shut
up from all other human beings, shall be always accessible to you, it will be in your power to regulate your future life.
“When you are drinking the water of joy from the alabaster fountain, you may form your wish, and it shall be granted. As you raise your wish higher, the water will be sweeter and sweeter to the taste; but beware that
you are not tempted by its increasing sweetness to repeat your draughts, for the ill effects of your wish can only be removed by drinking the spring of sorrow from the basin of flint, which will be bitter in the same proportion as the water of joy was sweet. Now, my Floretta, make the experiment, and give me the first proof of moderate desires. Take the golden cup that stands on the margin of the spring of joy, form your wish, and drink.”
Floretta wanted no time to deliberate on the subject of her wish; her first desire was the increase of her beauty. She had some disproportion of features. She took the cup, and wished to be agreeable; the water was sweet, and she drank copiously; and in the fountain, which was clearer than chrystal, she saw that her face was completely regular.
She then filled the cup again, and wished for a rosy bloom upon her cheeks: the water was sweeter than before, and the colour of her cheeks was heightened.
She next wished for a sparkling eye: the water grew yet more pleasant, and her glances were like the beams of
She could not yet stop; she drank again, desired to be made a perfect beauty, and a perfect beauty she became.
She had now whatever her heart could wish; and making an humble reverence to Lilinet, requested to be restored to her own habitation. They went back, and the fairies in the way wondered at the change of Floretta's form. She came home delighted to her mother, who, on seeing the improvement, was yet more delighted than herself.
Her mother from that time pushed her forward into public view : Floretta was at all the resorts of idleness and assemblies of pleasure; she was fatigued with balls, she was cloyed with treats, she was exhausted by the necessity
of returning compliments. This life delighted her a while, but custom soon destroyed its pleasure. She found that the men who courted her to-day resigned her on the mor row to other flatterers, and that the women attacked her reputation by whispers and calumnies, till, without knowing how she had offended, she was shunned as infamous.
She knew that her reputation was destroyed by the envy of her beauty, and resolved to degrade herself from the dangerous pre-eminence. She went to the bush where she rescued the bird, and called for Lady Lilinet. Immediately Lilinet appeared, and discovered by Floretta's dejected look that she had drank too much from the alabaster fountain.
“Follow me,” she cried, “my Floretta, and be wiser for the future.”
They went to the fountains, and Floretta began to taste the waters of sorrow, which were so bitter that she withdrew more than once the cup from her mouth : at last she resolutely drank away the perfection of beauty, the sparkling eye, and rosy bloom, and left herself only agreeable.
She lived for some time with great content; but content is seldom lasting. She had a desire in a short time again to taste the waters of joy : she called for the conduct of Lilinet, and was led to the alabaster fountain, where she drank, and wished for a faithful lover.
After her return she was soon addressed by a young man whom she thought worthy of her affection. He courted, and flattered, and promised; till at last she yielded up her heart. He then applied to her parents; and, finding her fortune less than he expected, contrived a quarrel, and deserted her.
Exasperated by her disappointment, she went in quest of Lilinet, and expostulated with her for the deceit which she had practiced. Lilinet asked her with a smile, for what she had been wishing; and being told, made this reply. “You are not, my dear, to wonder or complain: you may wish for yourself, but your wishes can have no effect upon another. You may become lovely by the efficacy of the fountain, but that you shall be loved is by no means a
certain consequence; for you cannot confer upon another either discernment or fidelity: that happiness which you must derive from others, it is not in my power to regulate or bestow."
Floretta was for some time so dejected by this limitation of the fountain's power, that she thought it unworthy of another visit; but, being on some occasion thwarted by her mother's authority, she went to Lilinet, and drank at the alabaster fountain for the spirit to do her own way.
Lilinet saw that she drank immoderately, and admonished her of her danger; but spirit and her own way gave such sweetness to the water, that she could not prevail upon herself to forbear, till Lilinet, in pure compassion, snatched the cup out of her hand.
When she came home every thought was contempt, and every action was rebellion: she had drunk into herself a spirit to resist, but could not give her mother a disposition to yield: the old lady asserted her right to govern ; and, though she was often foiled by the impetuosity of her daughter, she supplied by pertinacity what she wanted in violence; so that the house was in continual tumult by the pranks of the daughter and opposition of the mother.
In time, Floretta was convinced that spirit had only made her a capricious termagant, and that her own ways ended in errour, perplexity, and disgrace; she perceived that the vehemence of mind, which to a man may sometimes procure awe and obedience, produce to a woman nothing but detestation; she therefore went back, and by a large draught from the flinty fountain, though the water was very bitter, replaced herself under her mother's care, and quitted her spirit, and her own way.
Floretta's fortune was moderate, and her desires were not larger, till her mother took her to spend a summer at one of the places which wealth and idleness frequent, under pretence of drinking the waters. She was now no longer a perfect beauty, and therefore conversation in her presence took its course as in other company, opinions were freely told, and observations made without reserve. Here Flo
retta first learned the importance of money. When she saw a woman of mean air and empty talk draw the attention of the place, she always discovered upon inquiry that she had so many thousands to her fortune.
She soon perceived that where these golden goddesses appeared, neither birth nor elegance, nor civility had any power of attraction, and every art of entertainment was devoted to them, and that the great and the wise courted their regard.
The desire after wealth was raised yet higher by her mother, who was always telling her how much she suffered for want of fortune, and what distinctions, if she had but a fortune, her good qualities would obtain. Her narrative of the day was always, that Floretta, walked in the morning, but was not spoken to because she had a small fortune, and that Floretta danced at the ball better than any of them, but nobody minded her for want of fortune.
This want, in which all other wants appeared to be included, Floretta was resolved to endure no longer, and came home flattering her imagination in secret with the riches which she was now about to obtain.
On the day after her return she walked out alone to meet Lady Lilinet, and went with her to the fountain: riches did not taste so sweet as either beauty or spirit, and therefore she was not immoderate in her draught.
When they returned from the cavern, Lilinet her wand to a fairy that attended her, with an order to conduct Floretta to the Black Rock.
The way was not long, and they soon came to the mouth of a mine in which there was a hidden treasure, guarded by an earthly fairy deformed and shaggy, who opposed the entrance of Floretta till he recognized the wand of the Lady of the Mountain. Here Floretta saw vast heaps of gold and silver and gems, gathered and reposited in former ages, and intrusted to the guard of the fairies of the earth. The little fairy delivered the orders of her mistress, and the surly sentinel promised to obey them.
Floretta, wearied with her walk, and pleased with her suc