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IT was a most lovely tranquil evening in August, when the wife of a pious good clergyman, with an old nurse and two of her youngest children, were walking by the sea-side near a village in Devonshire. Pneumanee, a young and lovely female, with a spirited and graceful air, passed calmly by her. The Rector's wife, struck with her interesting appearance, accosted her, supposed she was a stranger, and begged to know if she, who had lived some years in the village, could be useful to her? The evening, fine as it was, would soon close in, and they were at a considerable distance from any house but the Parsonage, which was immediately behind the nearest wood. Pneumanee thanked her with elegance and ease; and after an interchange of civilities, it was settled she should that night accept the best accommodations to be had at the Parsonage-house, and leading one of the little ones through the wood, it was not long before they reached it. Deeply sheltered from the north winds by lofty trees, you came close upon its little enclosure before you saw it. The house was lowly built, but had a long front to a lawn, surrounded with borders of shrubs
and flowers; every thing about it was moderate, pleasing in its proportions, simple in its taste, and seemed the certain abode of content and cheerfulness. A lovely girl about fifteen was watering a bed of roses, her frock pinned up, a simple straw hat carelessly covering her flowing hair: she flew over to kiss the little ones as they entered the wicket, and started at seeing so fine a lady: her sister, younger than herself, was propping some nasturchions, that, she said, she wished should live a little longer; she too ran over to kiss the children, and welcome the stranger. Pneumanee took them both by the hand, and was led to the house, where she was introduced to the Rector, whom she soon discovered to be a clergyman without pride or guile: she was delighted with all she saw, particularly with the two lovely girls, who seemed to dwell with the most marked attention upon every thing she said. No sooner had they taken their leave for the night, than Pneumanee revealed to their parents the superiority of her nature, as far as it concerned them to know. The time would come when she would more fully explain it to them; but, as she assured them she should exert her powers and pre-eminence only to increase the comforts and happiness of the amiable and afflicted, they would have nothing to apprehend. She did not wish to make a parade of her advantages; for if they were well understood, society would shrink from her, and she would naturally lose the power of correcting its abuses; and if she passed as a mere mortal, her personal advantages might subject her to insults, which, however unavailing to injure her, would lessen her in her own esteem. She would consent that her name should convey the idea of
a fairy in the nursery, if the children could divest themselves of the fear of a high-crowned hat and a broomstick, to the dignity of which she could have no pretensions. She was so pleasing in her conversation, so interesting in her manner, and so refined in her whole deportment, that both the Rector and his wife foresaw innumerable advantages to themselves and their children from her precepts and example, and anxiously hoped she would continue her partiality for a family whose best exertions should be employed to secure her esteem. She had fixed her mind upon that subject, she said; she wished to be treated as one of the family, who would go and return without restraint; and she felt confident she should never repent the choice she had made, and equally certain they would never wish her to make any other.
It was so new to the Rector and his wife, when they retired to their apartment, after Pneumanee was introduced to her's, that they were some minutes before they spoke to each other, and then they knew not what to say. A fairy in such a lovely form! how could it be? But yet so lovely, so endearing! what signified under what description so much beauty and virtue chose to veil itself? they were sure to enjoy, and benefit greatly by, her society. The next morning the children were told that Pneumanee was a fairy, who was come to live with them, but would occasionally leave them for other society she might prefer.
Astonishment and fear appeared in every face, and one ventured to express, what every one thought, that they should never be happy a moment while she staid. Why, she might come into their very rooms when they
were asleep, and they never find it out! she might know their very thoughts, and what a sad thing that might be!
"You have been accustomed to hear, and I hope never to forget," said their mother, "that an eye that never slumbers or sleeps, is for ever about your path and your bed; and under his immediate and all-powerful protection, you can have nothing to fear: he never forsakes those who trust in him. But how lovely and how kind Pneumanee was in herself! her society would be the first of blessings; she would communicate a thousand sources of enjoyment from her universal knowledge of human life, and, like a second conscience, in the shape of a lovely friend, would more than whisper when they were inclined to err, and still more loudly approve when they acted right." This was all very true, the eldest daughter said; and the little ones, from her example, were soon convinced she would not start up in hideous forms, as old-fashioned fairies had done, to frighten those they did -not wish to please. But when they went to bed the following night, they carefully looked round every curtain and corner of the room, not yet reconciled to a character so new and so alarming. The two eldest daughters were much sooner reconciled to their lovely guest. There was something alarming, no doubt, that she could enter into their very thoughts, and become invisible whenever she pleased; but as she did not appear to use those privileges but with the best discretion, and was in herself so engaging that it was impossible not to love her, they resolved to consider her, next to their parents, their best and dearest friend.
Pneumanec entered into all the business and amuse
ments of the family; visited the poor with them, assisted in their working and reading parties, joined in their morning and evening devotions, amused them with anecdotes of various scenes and characters, that showed such a perfect knowledge of human life in all its varieties, that their admiration and esteem was universal and unbounded. Every eye looked up to hers, and every heart was devoted to her. Aided by her power and influence, the Parsonage became a new scene of hilarity and joy-every hour grew interesting. The younger children no longer gradually went in alarm from her knee, but seized every opportunity to run to caress her, and they all now "wondered they could ever be so foolish as to be afraid." After a few weeks spent in securing the entire affection of every individual of the family, Pneumanee, one morning after breakfast, would leave them, she said, for a few days; and when she returned would give them some account of her visits. A thousand fears were now expressed that she might never return, that she might find another Parsonage she would prefer to their's, and many exclamations followed, of what they could do without her! "How will you go, Madam?" said the eldest boy. "My usual way, my dear boy," said Pneumanee; "and I am sure you do not forget,' that spirits, in their essence pure, can in what shape they please, their airy purpose execute, and works of love or enmity fulfil." Charles smiled, and Pneumanee took her leave.
The days now passed slowly on, the regular occupations of the family went on as before. History was read as usual; but Pneumanee was not present to enliven its