Posted on 2014-05-05
One day Destiny appeared to the daughter of a successful attorney. Destiny asked the maiden if she would rather be happy in her youth or in her old age. The girl, unable to envision herself as old, chose youth.
Soon the maiden met a handsome, wealthy, landed gentleman who became enamored of her beauty and lively spirits. He begged for her hand in marriage, and they were soon wed. He carried her off to a fine estate in the country where they lived merrily and had many children.
One day, when the woman was about thirty, she was again brought to bed. After many hours of struggle, the mother was left weak and torn, and the babe, a large boy, was stillborn. The woman was mean of understanding, and had spent her youth in frivolous diversions gaining little education. She had never before experienced sorrow, and due to her limitations, found herself unable to cope. She developed an uncertain temper and fancied herself nervous.
But the sorrows had only just begun. Over the years the income of the estate began to steadily fall, disaster after disaster came to their lands. In her attempts to console herself, she spent more than they could afford, even using up her daughters' dowries! One day her sons had been out visiting the tenants when a violent wind blew a tree into the tenant's house, crushing it, killing them all. Eventually, her husband withdrew his affection and only encountered her to tease and torment.
In a dreadful bitterness of spirit, the woman climbed to the top of the nearby Oakham Mount and cried out to Destiny. Destiny appeared and informed her that she would one day grant her a measure of peace through the marriages of her daughters. However, in return, one of her daughters would receive the mother's destiny, happiness in youth but not in old age; and another would receive the opposite. The woman, thinking only of herself, chose her youngest to live out her destiny, and her least favorite daughter, the second eldest, to live out the opposite. She felt it would bring her comfort to witness the happiness of her youngest, and not vex her too dearly to witness her second eldest suffer.
The woman returned home and called the two daughters before her and explained her bargain with Destiny. The youngest, who was the image of her mother, exclaimed that it would be grand. She confidently and assertively declared that she would enjoy her youth, speaking only of fine parties, flirting, and dancing. She vowed she would be the first of all her sisters to marry. The second eldest listened carefully to what her mother had said and began to plot.
Destiny was true to her word. The youngest daughter was pampered and petted, receiving anything she wished. Tragedies and sorrows followed the second eldest. But Destiny had miscalculated, for the second daughter, Elizabeth, had a strength of spirit that did not allow her to remain unhappy for long. Destiny tried harder, and one day after having Elizabeth insulted by a wealthy, handsome man, nearly succeeded.
The next morning Elizabeth traveled to the top of Oakham mount to confront Destiny. When she reached the summit she called out and Destiny appeared before her.
"Destiny, it has been several years now, do not make me continue to suffer for the choices of my mother. Please allow me to see some happy days," Elizabeth humbly requested.
Destiny did not want to completely relent, but she was moved by Elizabeth's request. She decided on a compromise. She reached into her pocket and withdrew a magical book, which she handed to Elizabeth.
"I will not relent easily," Destiny declared. "I will still send events to plague you, and I will cause confusion in your mind to hide the opportunities for happiness. However, I will give you a magic book to help. Read it, and it will show the way to find happiness."
Elizabeth thanked Destiny. She noted the book was named Kismet before she placed it in her reticule. She left Oakham Mount determined to read as soon as was possible.
The book was indeed magical, each time she opened it something new was written on the pages. Some days it held novels, others poetry, others philosophy. On the day she went to an evening party at a neighbor's home it was a collection of wise, old sayings. She read faithfully every day, searching for answers on controlling her own happiness, but found it contained none. Destiny still seemed in control.
One day her beloved older sister fell ill at a neighboring estate. She went to nurse her sister and took the book with her. She read the book while spending an evening in the drawing room with her hosts. That night it contained the observations of Gilpin. Yet, still nothing improved; the handsome gentleman remained critical of her, her mother arrived and vexed and embarrassed her, and the ladies of house looked down upon her.
The days after she and her sister returned home she did not have a chance to read. Her foolish cousin came to visit and her mother was continuously demanding she be in his company. During this time she met a charming, handsome militia officer who seemed much taken with her and she wondered if Destiny was tricking her about the book. The first good thing to happen to her was on a day she hadn't read it! She vowed not to read again for several days.
Therefore, Elizabeth did not read before attending a ball at the neighboring estate. However, on this day, nothing good happened. Her favorite militia officer did not attend, she was forced to dance with the arrogant man, and her family made a spectacle of themselves. But Elizabeth was blind to the correlation, for she had taken delight in provoking the arrogant gentlemen.
The next day she carried the book with her, resolved to see if it would that day give her the key to find her happiness. She hadn't yet opened it, when at breakfast her cousin demanded a private audience and proposed marriage in a most insulting manner! She refused. When her mother found out she abused her and ran to her father to force Elizabeth's acceptance. In desperation, Elizabeth pulled out the book and read while her mother was in with her father. To her surprise it only contained three words "I have, Sir." She used these exact words when her father called her into the study to discuss the marriage proposal. To her relief, he did not make her marry her cousin.
Elizabeth, in her agitation over the events, did not realize she had spoken the words from the book. Therefore, she did not read the next day. Her sister received a note that her beau had left the country. In spite of this, Elizabeth did not think of the book, for she was content to blame the beau's sister and the arrogant man.
When Elizabeth did again read from the book, she discovered her favorite militia officer had transferred his attentions to a young heiress. Angry at Destiny having tricked her, she hid the book away in a drawer.
Over the next few months she only opened the book twice. On the first day her Aunt and Uncle invited her on a pleasure trip in the summer. On the second, a friend she had quarreled with came to invite her to visit her new home in another country at Eastertide. Nonetheless, after that day, the book sat in the drawer for several weeks, where she found it while packing for her trip. She decided to bring it with her.
A few weeks into her visit, she became bored and took out the book to entertain herself with. That day the hateful, arrogant man who had insulted her came into the country and even went as far as to call upon her. Irritated, she didn't read it again for a week, when once again she was compelled by boredom. She read it on the days they were entertained at the nearby great manor. She read it on the days she only walked in the park. She did not read it the day a colonel gave her knowledge of the arrogant man's role in interfering with her sister's romance. That night the arrogant, hateful man made her an even more insulting marriage proposal than the first she had received. She bitterly abused him verbally while she rejected him. After, she read the book in order to calm her mind for sleep.
The next morning the arrogant man gave her a letter. As she read it she remembered how Destiny had told her that she would be plagued with unhappiness due to confusion in her own mind. Oh, how blind she had been! Kismet had been leading her to happiness with the wealthy, handsome man, who was actually noble and good. She had not seen that he was falling in love with her all this time. She had seen only Destiny's tricks. She vowed that she would read from the book daily from now on.
Destiny knew that she could no longer fool Elizabeth into doubting the book's power. But Destiny was not yet willing to surrender. She still had some control over events.
Elizabeth never again failed to read from the book every day. Destiny and Kismet continued to battle over Elizabeth's happiness. Destiny felt she scored a victory over shortening Elizabeth's pleasure trip, but Kismet only smiled and set the destination to the handsome man's country. Destiny countered by arranging for the handsome man to be away, so Kismet had his steward send him a letter urging him home. Angered, Destiny pulled her nastiest trick yet, combining Elizabeth's fate with that of her youngest sister, and arranging for her to scandalously elope with the handsome man's enemy.
Destiny was proud of her genius. She could keep the mother to the original bargain, as this scandal would ensure that none of her daughters would ever marry. This would also keep Elizabeth at home with her mother, ensuring she would be unhappy until her old age. Destiny was smug, and decided she had earned a rest.
Kismet did not give in, as Elizabeth still read daily. She worked constantly to allow Elizabeth happiness. She sent the handsome man to recover the youngest sister. When Destiny realized this, she caused the handsome man to doubt. Kismet countered by arranging the betrothal of the eldest sister to the handsome man's friend, guaranteeing Elizabeth would always be thrown in his path.
Destiny retaliated by spreading a rumor to the handsome man's aunt. Surely, thought Destiny, he will give up all hope in the light of his family's displeasure in the match. Enraged, the aunt traveled to Elizabeth's country to confront her. That morning Elizabeth had read a story in her book that contained the phrase 'no cause to repine.' She found it useful when she argued with the handsome man's aunt. The aunt repeated this phrase to the handsome man who then began to feel hope.
The handsome man returned to Elizabeth. One morning they set out on a walk towards Oakham Mount. During this walk they finally became engaged. They continued walking and soon were at the top of Oakham Mount, where Destiny appeared to Elizabeth.
"Elizabeth," said Destiny, "as you have found happiness in your youth, I am no longer your destiny. That distinction now belongs to this man."
And they lived happily ever after.The End