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This was repeated till I went about pecking in full fecurity, and expected to regain my original form, when I obferved two of my most liberal benefactors filently advancing with a net behind me. I flew off, and fluttering befide them, pricked the leg of each, and left them halting and groaning with the cramp.
I then went to another houfe, where for two fprings and fummers I entertained a fplendid family with fuch melody as they had never heard in the woods before. The winter that followed the fecond fummer was remarkably cold, and many little birds perished in the field. I laid myself in the way of one of the ladies as benumbed with cold and faint with hunger; fhe picked me up with great joy, telling her companions that she had found the goldfinch that fung fo finely all fummer in the myrtle hedge, that she would lay him where he fhould die, for fhe could not bear to kill him, and would then pick his fine feathers very carefully, and stick them in her muff.
Finding that her fondness and her gratitude could give way to fo flight an interest, I chilled her fingers that she could not hold me, then flew at her face, and with my beak gave her nose four pecks that left four black spots indelible behind them, and broke a match by which he would have obtained the finest equipage in the county.
At length the Queen repented of her fentence, and being unable to revoke it, affifted me to try experiments upon man, to excite his tenderness, and attract his regard.
We made many attempts, in which we were always disappointed. At last she placed me in your way, held by a lime-twig, and herself in the fhape of a hawk made the fhew of devouring me. You, my dear, have rescued me from the feeming danger, without defiring to detain me in captivity, or feeking any other recompence than the pleasure of benefiting a feeling creature.
The Queen is fo much pleased with your kindness, that I am come, by her permiffion, to reward you with a greater favour than ever Fairy bestowed before.
The former gifts of Fairies, though bounties in defign, have proved commonly mischiefs in the event. We have granted mortals to wifh according to their own difcretion; and their difcretion being small, and their wishes irreversible, they have rafhly petitioned for their own deftruction. But you, my dearest Floretta, fhall 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 eafily perfuaded to accompany the Fairy, who led her through a labyrinth of craggs and fhrubs, to a cavern covered by a thicket on the fide of the mountain.
This cavern, faid fhe, is the court of Lilinet your friend; in this place you fhall find a certain remedy for all real evils. Lilinet then went before her through a long fubterraneous paffage, where she saw many beautiful Fairies, who came to gaze at the ftranger, but who, from reverence to their mistress, gave her no difturbance. 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 affuring her that fhe was fafe, perfuaded her to proceed till they came to an arch, into which the light found its way through a fiffure of the rock.
There Lilinet feated herself and her guest upon a bench 2 of agate, and pointing to two fountains that bubbled before them, faid, now attend, my dear Floretta, and enjoy the gratitude of a fairy. Obferve the two fountains that spring up in the middle of the vault, one into a bason of alabaster, and the other into a bason of dark flint. The one is called the fpring of joy, the other of forrow; they rise from distant veins in the rock, and burst out in two places, but after a fhort courfe unite their ftreams, and run ever after in one mingled current.
By drinking of these fountains, which, though fhut up from all other human beings, fhall be always acceffible to you, it will be in your power to regulate your future life.
When you are drinking the water of joy from the alabafter fountain, you may form your wifh, and it fhall be granted. As you raise your wish higher, the water will be sweeter and sweeter to the tafte; but beware that you are not tempted by its increasing sweetness to repeat your draughts, for the ill effects of your wifh can only be removed by drinking the spring of forrow from the bafon of flint, which will be bitter in the fame proportion as the water of joy was fweet. Now, my Floretta, make the experiment, and give me the first proof of moderate defires. Take the golden cup that ftands on the margin of the fpring of joy, form your wifh and drink.
Floretta wanted no time to deliberate on the fubject of her wish; her firft defire was the increase of her beauty. She had fome difproportion of features. She took the cup and wished to be agreeable; the water was sweet, and the drank copiously; and in the fountain, which was clearer than crystal, she saw that her face was completely regular.
She then filled the cup again, and wished for a rofy bloom upon her cheeks: the water was fweeter than before, and the colour of her cheeks was heightened.
She next wifhed for a fparkling eye: the water grew yet more pleasant, and her glances were like the beams of the fun.
She could not yet ftop; fhe drank again, defired to be made a perfect beauty, and a perfect beauty fhe be
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 feeing the improvement, was yet more delighted than herself.
Her mother from that time pushed her forward into public view: Floretta was at all the reforts of idleness and affemblies of pleafure; fhe was fatigued with balls, fhe was cloyed with treats, fhe was exhaufted by the neceffity of returning compliments. This life delighted her awhile, but cuftom foon deftroyed its pleasure. She found that the men who courted her to day, refigned her on the morrow to other flatterers, and that the wo
men attacked her reputation by whispers and calumnies, till without knowing how fhe had offended, she was fhunned as infamous.
She knew that her reputation was destroyed by the envy of her beauty, and refolved to degrade herself from the dangerous pre-eminence. She went to the bush where the rescued the bird, and called for Lady Lilinet. Immediately Lilinet appeared, and difcovered by Floretta's dejected look, that she had drank too much from the alabafter fountain.
Follow me, fhe cried, my Floretta, and be wiser for the future.
They went to the fountains, and Floretta began to tafte the waters of forrow, which were fo bitter that she withdrew more than once the cup from her mouth: at laft fhe refolutely drank away the perfection of beauty, the fparkling eye and rofy bloom, and left herself only agreeable.
She lived for fome time with great content; but content is feldom lafting. She had a defire in a fhort time again to taste the waters of joy: fhe called for the conduct of Lilinet, and was led to the alabafter fountain, where the drank, and wifhed for a faithful lover.
After her return fhe was foon addreffed by a young man, whom he thought worthy of her affection. He courted, and flattered, and promifed; till at laft she yielded up her heart. He then applied to her parents; and, finding her fortune lefs than he expected, contrived a quarrel and deferted her.
Exafperated by her disappointment, she went in quest of Lilinet, and expoftulated with her for the deceit which