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A FAIRY TALE.
A NUMBER of boys were diverting themselves one fine day in a meadow, when a wrinkled old woman came up to them, and stopped their play : her looks were unpleasing, and her interruption unseasonable. One of the biggest, who had been taught by his tutor to respect her, addressed her very civilly; but, of the little urchins, some ran away frighted, and hid themselves ; and other's very insolently laughed at her, and called her old witch. Little George, the youngest of them all, a very pretty good humoured lad, held by the hand of the eldest (who, he thought, as he had always been his friend, would protect him), and listened; but a little afraid too, and not much liking either her looks or the being hindered of his play: however, he was too well bred to say any thing rude. She smiled, and, taking his other hand, “ Do not be afraid of me, my dear child,” said she, “ for though those idle boys yonder call me Crossness and Severity, my true name is Instruction. I love every one of you, and
you, my little dear, in particular; and my whole business is to do you good. Come with me to my castle, and I will make you as happy as the day is long.”
· Little George did not know how to trast her, but, as he saw his friend Henry disposed to follow the old lady, he even ventured along with them.
The castle was an old melancholy looking building, and the path to it very much entangled with briers and thistles ; but the old woman encouraged them, in a cheerful tone, to come along; and taking out a large key, which had several strange words engraved upon it, she put it into the door, which immediately flew open, and they entered a spacious hall magnificently furnished through this they passed into several apartments, each finer and pleasanter than the other ; but to every one they ascended by steep steps, and on every step strange and unknown words were engraved.
Perhaps you would be glad to know some more particulars of these apartments : and, iudeed, I should have told you, that as soon as they entered the great hall, she made them sit down to a pretty collation of plumb-cakes, biscuits, and sweetmeats, which were brought in baskets covered with flowers, by four smiling rosy-cheeked girls, called Innocence, Health, Mirth, and Good Humour. When they were sufficiently refreshed, the old lady returned to them in a finer dress, and with a much more pleasing look. She had now a wand in her hand, of ivory tipped with gold, and with this she pointed out to them the ornaments of the room. It was supported by strong but handsome pillars of adamant; and between the pillars, hung festoons of fruit and flowers : at the upper end were niches, with very beautiful statues in thein; the principal oue was Truth. It appeared to be of one entire diamond, and represented the most beautiful woman that ever eyes beheld : her air was full of dignity and sweetness : in one hand she held a sceptre, in the otber a book, and she had an imperial crown on her head. The old fairy gently touched this figure with her wand, and immediately it stepped down from the pedestal, and began to speak. No music was ever so pleasing as the voice of Truth. She addressed herself to our little hero, and examined him in his catechism. As he had formerly been a little idle, he could not say it so well as, at that minute, he wished to do. “ Little wretch," said the old fairy, frowning, “ why do you answer so stupidly? Have you never been taught ?" Here was a loop-hole, through which a boy of a cowardly spirit might have crept out, by pretending that his tutor had been in fault, and not himself : but little George scorned to tell a lie ; nor could he be so base as to excuse himself, by accusing an innocent person; therefore, though trembling for fear of the old fairy and her wand, he answered, “ Indeed, madam, I have been often bid to learn it, but I loved my diversions so well that I never could apply to it.” Here the old fairy, smiling, kissed him, and said, “My dear child, I forgive