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Elinor Wyllys - Vol. II
by Susan Fenimore Cooper
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"It was so seldom that I met Miss Wyllys, that for a time my mind was undecided. But, of course, I should have written you word, if anything had been finally settled; even if you had not come to look after me in propria persona."

Having reached their hotel, the gentlemen parted. Mr. Ellsworth would, in all probability, have been less communicative with his friend Hazlehurst, on the subject of their recent conversation, had he been aware of the state of things which formerly existed between Elinor and himself. He had only heard some vague stories of an engagement between them, but had always supposed it mere gossip, from having seen Harry's attention to Jane, when they were all in Paris together; while he knew, on the other hand, that Hazlehurst had always been on the most intimate terms with the Wyllyses, as a family connexion. He was aware that Harry had been very much in love with Miss Graham, for he had remarked it himself; and he supposed that if there had ever been any foundation for the report of an engagement with Elinor, it had probably been a mere childish caprice, soon broken, and which had left no lasting impression on either party.



CHAPTER IX {XXXII}.

"Nor have these eyes, by greener hills Been soothed, in all my wanderings." WORDSWORTH.

{William Wordsworth (English poet, 1770-1850), "Yarrow Visited, September 1814" lines 11-12}

CHARLIE HUBBARD had been at Lake George for some days; and it was a settled thing, that after he had established himself there, and fixed upon a point for his picture, his friends from Saratoga were to pay him a visit. Accordingly, the Wyllyses, with a party large enough to fill a coach, set out for the excursion, leaving Mrs. Stanley, Jane, her sister, Mrs. Hazlehurst, and their children, at the Springs. The weather was fine, and they set out gaily, with pleasant prospects before them.

Charlie was very glad to see them, and as he had already been some time on the ground, he thought himself qualified to play cicerone. Most of the party had a relish for natural scenery, and of course they were prepared to enjoy very much, a visit to such a lovely spot. Robert Hazlehurst, it is true, was indifferent to everything of the kind; he acknowledged himself a thorough utilitarian in taste, and avowed his preference for a muddy canal, running between fields, well covered with corn and pumpkins, turnips and potatoes, rather than the wildest lake, dotted with useless islands, and surrounded with inaccessible Alps; but as he frankly confessed his want of taste, and assured his friends that he accompanied them only for the sake of their society, they were bound to overlook the defect. Mr. Stryker also said a great deal about his indifference towards les ormeaux, les rameaux, et les hameaux, affecting much more than he felt, and affirming that the only lakes he liked, were the ponds of the Tuileries, and the parks of London; the only trees, those of the Boulevards; and as for villages, he could never endure one, not even the Big Village of Washington. He only came, he said, because he must follow the ladies, and was particularly anxious to give Mrs. Creighton an opportunity of finishing his education, and—to fish. Some of the party were: sorry he had joined them; but Mrs. Creighton had asked him.

{"cicerone" = guide (Italian); "les ormeaux, les rameaux, et les hameaux..." = elms, branches, and hamlets (French)}

"Are Mrs. Hilson and her sister still at Saratoga?" inquired Charlie Hubbard of Hazlehurst, the evening they arrived at Caldwell.

{"Caldwell" = village at the southern end of Lake George in New York State; the village has since been renamed Lake George}

"I believe so; they were there the day before, yesterday, for Mrs. Hilson asked me to a pic-nic, at Barkydt's {sic} —but I was engaged. I think I saw Miss Hubbard in the street, yesterday."

{"Barkydt's" = Barhydt's Pond, a "little ear-shaped lake...surrounded by pyramidal firs, pines and evergreens," once famous for its trout fishing, owned by Jacobus Barhydt (often spelled Barhyte). A pleasure spot two miles east of Saratoga Springs, it was, in the 1830s, the site of a popular tavern and restaurant. Jacobus Barhydt died in 1840, and the property was dispersed; to be reassembled in 1881 by New York banker Spencer Trask as a summer estate After many changes, it is now owned by the Corporation of Yaddo, and run as a world-famous summer center for creative artists and writers}

"Had they the same party with them still?"

"Yes; it seemed to be very much the same party."

Hubbard looked mortified; but he was soon busy answering inquiries as to the projected movements for the next day.

The following morning the whole party set out, in two skiffs, to pass the day on the lake. Under Charlie's guidance, they rowed about among the islands, now coasting the shores, now crossing from one point to another, wherever the views were finest; generally keeping near enough, as they moved leisurely along, for conversation between the two boats.

"How beautifully clear the water is!" exclaimed Elinor.

"The water in the Swiss lakes is limpid I suppose, Charlie, like most mountain streams?" observed Mr. Wyllys.

"It is clear, sir; and in the heart of the Alps it has a very peculiar colour—a blueish tinge—from the glaciers, like molten lapis lazuli; entirely different from the deep, ultra-marine blue of the Mediterranean."

"Have you any views of the Swiss lakes?" asked Elinor."

"Yes; I can show you several—and, as usual, there is a difference in their colouring: from Lugarn; a little bit of lapis lazuli, lying like a jewel, in the green pastures, half way up the Alps, just below the ice and snow, to the reedy lake of Morat, on the plains of Neufchatel, more like an agate," added Charlie, smiling.

"We shall hope to see them, when we pass through New York," said Elinor, listening with interest.

"I will show them to you with great pleasure, faute de mieux, Miss Elinor; but I hope you will one day see the originals."

{"faute de mieux" = for want of something better (French)}

"In the mean time, however, we shall be very glad to enjoy your pictures. Have you any Italian views?"

"Yes, quite a number; wherever I went, I made sketches at least; though I have not yet had time to finish them all as pictures. In my boxes there are Venetian lagoons, and Dutch canals; a view of the Seine, in the heart of Paris, and the Thames, at London; the dirty, famous Tiber, classic Arno, and classic Avon."

"You make our eyes water, Charlie, with such a catalogue," said Mr. Wyllys. "You must certainly get up an exhibition, and add several of your American pictures to those you have just brought home."

"I really hope you will do so," said Elinor. "The transparent amber-like water of the Canada, and the emerald colour of Niagara, would appear finely in such a collection."

{"Canada" = from the context, probably Trenton Falls on the West Canada Creek, a major tourist attraction during the 19th century}

"I shall never dare attempt Niagara," exclaimed Charlie. "All the beauties of all the other waters in the world are united there. It will not do to go beyond the rapids; I should be lost if I but ventured to the edge of the whirlpool itself."

"I have no doubt you will try it yet," said Harry.

The young artist shook his head. "I am sometimes disposed to throw aside the brush in disgust, at the temerity of man, which can attempt to copy even what is most noble, in the magnificent variety, and the simple grandeur of nature."

"You have been sufficiently successful in what you have attempted hitherto," said Harry. "I saw your view of Lake Ontario, in Philadelphia, just after I arrived; and I can never forget the impression it produced on me. Of all your pictures that I have seen, that is my favourite."

"It is indeed a noble picture," said Mr. Wyllys.

"And few men but yourself, Charlie, could have given so deep an interest to a broad field of water, with only a strip of common-place shore in the fore-ground, and a bank of clouds in the distance. A common painter would have thrown in some prettiness of art, that would have ruined it; but you have given it a simple dignity that is really wonderful!" said Hazlehurst.

"You mortify me," said Charlie; "it is so much inferior to what I could wish."

"Captain C——-," continued Harry, "who was stationed at Oswego for several years, told me he should have known your picture without the name, for a view of one of the great lakes; there was so much truth in the colour and movement of the water; so much that was different from the Ocean."

"Ladies and gentlemen, it is cruel in you to flatter a poor young artist at this rate," said Charlie.

"If it is criticism you want," said Hazlehurst, "I can give you a dose. You were very severely handled in my presence, a day or two since, and on the very subject of your picture of Lake Ontario."

"Pray, let me hear the criticism; it will sober me."

"What was the fault?" said Elinor; "what was wanting?"

"A few houses and a steamboat, to make it lively."

"You are making up a good story, Mr. Hazlehurst," said Mrs. Creighton, laughing.

"I give you the critic's words verbatim. I really looked at the young lady in astonishment, that she should see nothing but a want of liveliness in a picture, which most of us feel to be sublime. But Miss D——- had an old grudge against you, for not having made her papa's villa sufficiently prominent in your view of Hell-Gate."

"But, such a villa!" said Hubbard. "One of the ugliest within ten miles of New York. It is possible, sometimes, by keeping at a distance, concealing defects, and partially revealing columns through verdure, to make one of our Grecian-temple houses appear to advantage in a landscape; but, really, Mr. D——-'s villa was such a jumble, so entirely out of all just proportion, that I could do nothing with it; and was glad to find that I could put a grove between the spectator and the building: anybody but its inmates would have preferred the trees."

"Not at all; Miss D——- thought the absence of the portico, with its tall, pipe-stem columns, the row of dormer windows on the roof, and the non-descript belvidere crowning all, a loss to the public."

{"belvidere" = as used here, a raised turret on top of a house (Italian)}

"The miserable architecture of this country is an obstacle to a landscape painter, quite too serious to be trifled with, I can assure you," said Charlie.

"It must be confessed," said Mr. Ellsworth, "that the order of things has been reversed here. Architecture is usually called the parent of the fine arts; but with us she is the youngest of the family, and as yet the worst endowed. We had respectable pictures, long before we had a single building in a really good style; and now that we have some noble paintings and statuary, architecture still lags behind. What a noise they made in New York, only a few years since, about St. Thomas's Church!"

{St. Thomas's Church" = St. Thomas Episcopal Church was erected at the corner of Broadway and Houston Street, in New York City, in 1826, in the Gothic style which was only beginning to replace the Greek Revival. Susan Fenimore Cooper shared her father's dislike of Greek Revival houses that imitated Grecian temples, and his love of the Gothic}

"Yes," said Mr. Stryker; "the curse of the genius of architecture, which Jefferson said had fallen upon this country, has not yet been removed."

"Some of the most ludicrous objects I have ever laid my eyes on," said Hazlehurst, "have been pretending houses, and, I am sorry to say, churches too, in the interior of the country; chiefly in the would-be Corinthian and Composite styles. They set every rule of good taste and good sense at defiance, and look, withal, so unconscious of their absurdity, that the effect is as thoroughly ridiculous, as if it had been the object of the architect to make them so."

"For reason good," observed Mr. Wyllys; "because they are wanting in simplicity and full of pretension; and pretension is the root of all absurdity."

They had now reached the spot Charlie had selected for his picture; the young artist pointed it out to Miss Wyllys, who was in the other boat.

"This is the spot I have chosen," he said, "and I hope you will agree with me in liking the position; it commands some of the finest points on the lake: that is the Black mountain in the back-ground."

His friends admired his choice, acknowledging that the view was one of the most beautiful they had seen.

"It must be difficult to choose, where every view is charming," said Elinor. "How beautiful those little islands are; so much variety, and all so pleasing!"

"You will see hundreds of them, Miss Wyllys, when you have been over the lake," said Hubbard.

"There are just three hundred and sixty-five, marm," added one of the boatmen, the guide of the party; "one for every day in the-year."

"This must be May-day island," said Elinor, pointing to an islet quite near them. "This one, half wood, half meadow, which shows so many flowers."

"May-day island it shall be for the next six weeks," said Charlie, smiling. "I have chosen it for another view."

"Well, good people!" exclaimed Robert Hazlehurst, from the other boat; "you may be feasting on the beauties of nature; but some of us have more substantial appetites! Miss Wyllys is a little fatigued, Mr. Stryker all impatient to get out his handsome fishing-rod, and your humble servant very hungry, indeed!"

As they had been loitering about for several hours, it was agreed that they should now land, and prepare to lunch.

"We will put into port at May-day island," said Charlie; "I have been there several times, and there is a pretty, grassy bank, where we may spread a table-cloth."

They soon reached the little island pointed out by Elinor, and having landed with their baskets of provisions, the meal was prepared, and only waiting for the fish which Mr. Stryker had promised to catch, and for a supply of salt which one of the boatmen had gone for, to a farm-house on the shore; this necessary having been forgotten, when the provisions were laid in. There never was a pic-nic yet, where nothing was forgotten.

Mr. Stryker soon prepared himself for action; he was a famous fisherman, and quite as proud of his rod as of his reputation, which were both Dublin-made, he said, and, therefore, perfect in their way. Mr. Wyllys and Mrs. Creighton admired the apparatus contained in his ebony walking-stick, to the owner's full satisfaction: he had a great deal to say about its perfections, the beauty of his flies, the excellence of his hooks and lines, and so forth; and the ladies in general, Mrs. Creighton especially, listened as flatteringly as the gentleman could desire. As he was to supply the perch for luncheon, however, he was obliged to begin his labours; and taking a boat, he rowed off a stone's throw from the shore. In turning a little point, he was surprised, by coming suddenly upon a brother fisherman: in a rough, leaky boat, with a common old rod in his hand, sat our acquaintance, Mr. Hopkins, wearing the usual rusty coat; his red silk handkerchief spread on his knee, an open snuff-box on one side of him, a dirty tin pail on the other. The party on shore were not a little amused by the contrast in the appearance, manners, and equipments of the two fishermen; the fastidious Mr. Stryker, so complete, from his grey blouse to his fishing-basket; the old merchant, quite independent of everything like fashion, whether alone on Lake George, or among the crowd in Wall-Street. Charlie, who did not know him, said that he had met the same individual on the lake, at all hours, and in all weathers, during the past week; he seemed devoted to fishing, heart and soul, having left the St. Legers at Saratoga, and come on to Lake George immediately, to enjoy his favourite pastime. It was a pleasure to see how honestly and earnestly he was engaged in his pursuit: as for Mr. Stryker, we strongly suspect that his fancy for fishing was an acquired taste, like most of those he cherished; we very much doubt whether he would ever have been a follower of Izaak Walton, had there not been a fashionable accoutrement for brothers of the rod, at the present day.

{"Isaak Walton" = Isaak Walton (1593-1683), author of "The Compleat Angler"}

Several of the ladies also fished for half an hour; Mrs. Creighton begging for a seat in Mr. Stryker's boat, that she might profit by his instructions. While they were out, a small incident occurred, which amused the spectators not a little. Mrs. Creighton had risen, to look at a fish playing about Mr. Stryker's line, when she accidentally dropped a light shawl, which fell from her arm into the water; an involuntary movement she made as it fell, also threw a basket of her companion's flies overboard, at the same instant: he had just been showing them off.

"Oh, Mr. Stryker, my shawl!" exclaimed the lady.

But the fashionable fisherman was already catching eagerly at his own precious flies; he succeeded in regaining the basket, and then, bethinking him of his reputation for gallantry, turned to Mrs. Creighton, to rescue the shawl; but he had the mortification to see old Mr. Hopkins already stretching out an arm with the cachemere, which he had caught almost as soon as it touched the water, and now offered to its fair owner, with the good-natured hope that it had not been injured, as it was hardly wet. The lady received it very graciously, and bestowed a very sweet smile on the old merchant; while Mr. Stryker, quite nettled at his own flagrant misdemeanour, had to face a frown from the charming widow. It was decidedly an unlucky hour for Mr. Stryker: he only succeeded in catching a solitary perch; while Mr. Hopkins, who had been invited to join the party, contributed a fine mess. The fault, however, was all thrown on the sunshine; and Mr. Hopkins confessed that he had not had much sport since the clouds had broken away, earlier in the morning. Everybody seemed very ready for luncheon, when hailed from the island, for that purpose. The meal was quite a merry one; Mrs. Creighton was the life of the party, saying a great many clever, amusing things. She looked charmingly, too, in a little cap, whose straw-coloured ribbons were particularly becoming to her brown complexion. Mr. Stryker gradually recovered from the double mortification, of the shawl, and the solitary perch, and soon began talking over different fishing excursions, with his friend A——-, in Ireland, and his friend B——-, in Germany. The rest of the party were all cheerful and good-humoured. Mr. Ellsworth was quite devoted to Elinor, as usual, of late. Mary Van Alstyne amused herself with looking on at Mrs. Creighton's efforts to charm Harry, pique Mr. Stryker, and flatter Mr. Wyllys into admiring her; nor did she disdain to throw away several arch smiles on Mr. Hopkins. "She seems successful in all her attempts," thought Mary. Harry was quite attentive to her; and it was evident that Mr. Stryker's admiration had very much increased since they had been together at the Springs. He had set out for Saratoga, with the firm determination to play the suitor to Elinor; he resolved that he would not fall in love with the pretty widow; but a clever coquette and a man of the world, are adversaries well matched; and, as usual in such encounters, feminine art and feminine flattery seemed likely to carry the day. Mr. Stryker, in spite of himself, often forgot to be properly attentive to Elinor, who appeared to great disadvantage in his eyes, when placed in constant contrast with Mrs. Creighton. He scarcely regretted now, his little prospect of favour with the heiress, for the poorer widow had completely fascinated him by her graceful flatteries, the piquancy of her wit, and her worldliness, which, with Mr. Stryker, passed for her wisdom. Even Mary Van Alstyne, though prejudiced against her, was obliged to confess, as she watched Mrs. Creighton, that she admired her. The lady had thrown herself on the grass in a graceful position; excited by admiration, she had a brilliant colour; her dress was always studiously fashionable and becoming, in its minutest details; her amusing remarks flowed freely from a conscience under no other restraints than those of policy or good-breeding; and her manner, though always studied for effect, was particularly well studied and agreeable. Her companions thought her charming. Elinor, at the same moment, was standing by her side, in a simple dress, with no attempt to disguise a plain face under finery, and in a perfectly quiet position, which was graceful without her knowing it. Her whole manner, indeed, was always natural; its simplicity was its great charm, for one felt confident that her grace and sweetness, her ease and quiet dignity, flowed readily from her character itself. Whether these ideas occurred to any of the party besides Miss Van Alstyne, we cannot say; it is certain, however, that Mrs. Creighton was all prepared for observation, Elinor, as usual, quite regardless of it.

"We must carry off some flowers from May-day island," said Mr. Ellsworth, preparing to gather a bouquet for Elinor. He had soon succeeded in collecting quite a pretty bunch, composed of wild roses, blue hare-bells, the white blossoms of the wild clematis, the delicate pink clusters of the Alleghany vine, and the broad-leaved rose-raspberry, with several other varieties.

{"Alleghany vine" = a flowering wild vine, which had been a favorite of Susan Fenimore Cooper's paternal grandmother Elizabeth Fenimore Cooper}

Mr. Stryker offered a bouquet to Mrs. Creighton.

"It is really quite pretty; but to make it complete, I must have one of those scarlet lobelias, on the next island; they are the first I have seen this season. Mr. Hazlehurst, do be good-natured, and step into that boat, and bring me one."

"I can do that without the boat, Mrs. Creighton, here is a bridge," replied Harry, springing on the trunk of a dead tree, which nearly reached the islet she had pointed out; catching the branch of an oak on the opposite shore, he swung himself across. The flowers were soon gathered; and, after a little difficulty in reaching the dead tree, he returned to the ladies, just as they were about to embark again. Perhaps he had caught a spark of the spirit of coquetry from Mrs. Creighton, and resented her flirting so much with Mr. Stryker; for he did not give her all the flowers he had gathered, but offered a few to each lady as she entered the boat.

"Thank you, Mr. Hazlehurst, very gallantly done," said Mrs. Creighton, placing one of the lobelias, with a sprig of Mr. Stryker's, in her belt.

As they rowed leisurely along, Charlie Hubbard pointed out some of the localities to Miss Wyllys and Robert Hazlehurst.

"These mountains are very different in their character, Mr. Hubbard, from those you have recently been sketching in Italy and Switzerland," observed Mr. Ellsworth.

"Entirely different; their forms are much less bold and decided."

"Yes; all the mountains in this country, east of the Mississippi, partake, more or less, of the same character; forming rounded ridges, seldom broken into those abrupt, ragged peaks, common in other parts of the world."

"But the elevation of these mountains is much less than that of the Alps, or high Apennines," observed Mr. Wyllys; "do not the mountains in Europe, of the same height, resemble these in formation?"

"No, sir, I think not," replied Ellsworth. "They are generally more bold and barren; often mere masses of naked rock. I am no geologist, but it strikes me that the whole surface of the earth, in this part of the world, differs in character from that of the eastern continent; on one hand, the mountains are less abrupt and decided in their forms with us; and on the other, the plains are less monotonous here. If our mountains are not grand, the general surface of the country seems more varied, more uneven; there is not so large a proportion of dead level in this country as in France, Germany, Russia, for instance; we have much of what we call a rolling country—even the prairies, which are the plains of this region, show the same swelling surface."

"The variety of character in the landscape of different countries, must be a great charm to one of your profession, Hubbard," observed Harry. "A landscape painter must enjoy travelling more than any other man; nothing is lost upon you—every time you look about you there is something new to observe. How you must have enjoyed the change from the general aspect of this country—fresh, full of life and motion, yet half-finished in the details—to old Italy, where the scenery and atmosphere are in perfect harmony with the luxurious repose of a great antiquity!"

"I did indeed enjoy the change beyond expression!" exclaimed Charlie. "I have often felt thankful, in the best sense of the word, that I have been enabled to see those great countries, Italy and Switzerland; it has furnished me with materials for thought and delight, during a whole lifetime."

"It would be a good plan to get you appointed painting attache to the Legation, Hubbard," said Harry. "As you have seen the south of Europe, would you not like to take a look at the northern regions?"

"Not much," replied Charlie. "I should have nothing but ice to paint there, for half the year."

"Well, I suppose there is something selfish in my wish to carry you to the North Pole; but when I was in Brazil, I had a very disinterested desire that you should see the Bay of Rio."

"Is it really so beautiful?" asked Elinor.

"Yes; finer even than Naples, as regards scenery; though it wants, of course, all the charm of recollection which belongs to the old world."

"You must forget everything like fine scenery when you go to St. Petersburg," said Robert Hazlehurst.

"Not at all; I hope to take a trip to the Crimea while I am in Russia. I shall do my best to ingratiate myself with the owner of some fine villa on the Black Sea."

"And have you really made up your mind to be a regular diplomatist?" asked Mr. Wyllys.

"For a time, sir; so long as I can serve under Mr. Henley, or a man like him."

"I used to see a good deal of Henley, some twenty years since," observed Mr. Wyllys. "I should think him particularly well fitted for his duties."

"I have the highest respect for him," replied Harry.

"He is a good model for an American diplomatist," added Robert Hazlehurst. "A man of ability, good education, and just principles, with simple, gentlemanly manners; always manly in his tone, and firm as a rock on all essential points."

"But those are only a small portion of the qualifications of a diplomatist," said Mr. Stryker. "According to the most approved models, the largest half should be cunning."

"Mr. Henley is particularly clear-sighted—not easily deceived either by himself or by others; and that is all that American diplomacy requires," said Harry. "I am proud to say that our government does not give us any dirty work to do; we have chiefly to act on the defensive."

"Set a thief to catch a thief," said Mr. Stryker, with his usual dry manner. "I don't believe in the full success of your virtuous diplomatist. How is a man to know all the turnings and windings of the road that leads to treaties, unless he has gone over it himself?"

"But an honest man, if he is really clear-headed and firm, has no need of these turnings and windings; he goes more directly to the point, and saves a vast deal of time and principle, by taking a more honourable road."

"Suppose a man has to make black look white, I should like to see your honourable diplomatist manage such a job," said Mr. Stryker.

"But our government has never yet had such jobs to manage. We have never yet made a demand from a foreign power that we have not believed just. Intrigue is unpardonable in American diplomacy, for it is gratuitous; a man need not resort to it, unless his own taste inclines him that way. It is an honourable distinction of our government, AS A GOVERNMENT, that it has never committed a single act of injustice against any other power, either by open force, or underhand manoeuvres. We have been wronged sometimes, and omitted to demand justice as firmly as we might have done; but there is, probably, no other government among the great powers of Christendom, that has been so free from OFFENSIVE guilt, during the last sixty years, as that of this country."

{This was, of course, before the Mexican-American War, which the Cooper family viewed with considerable misgivings. James Fenimore Cooper was incensed that the United States did not pursue with greater vigor American claims against France for damages caused to American shipping during the Napoleonic wars}

It was evident that Mr. Stryker was not in the least convinced by Harry's defence of honest diplomacy.

"The ladies must find great fault with Washington diplomacy," he added, turning to Mrs. Creighton and Elinor: "they are never employed; not a single fair American has ever figured among les belles diplomats of European saloons, I believe."

"Perhaps the ladies in this country would not condescend to be employed," said Elinor.

"Don't say so, Miss Wyllys!" exclaimed Mrs. Creighton, laughing; "I should delight in having some delicate mission to manage: when Mr. Stryker gets into the cabinet, he may send me as special envoy to any country where I can find a French milliner."

"You had better go to Russia with Mr. Henley and Mr. Hazlehurst; I have not the least doubt but they would find your finesse of great service," said the gentleman.

Mrs. Creighton blushed; and Harry coloured, too.

"The very idea of such an ally would frighten Mr. Henley out of his wits," said the lady, recovering herself; "he is an incorrigible old bachelor; that, you must allow, is a great fault of his, Mr. Hazlehurst."

"If he be incorrigible," said Harry.

"But that is not clear," said Mr. Stryker to the lady; "he is a great admirer of yours."

"Come, a truce to diplomacy, Josephine; I am going to beg Miss Wyllys for a song," said Ellsworth.

Elinor sang very readily, and very sweetly; the Swiss airs sounded charmingly among the hills; and she was accompanied by Mary Van Alstyne, while Charlie, with the two Hazlehursts, made up a respectable second for several songs.

Some gathering clouds at length warned the party to turn inn-ward again.

"It is to be hoped the shower won't reach us, for your sake, ladies," said Robert Hazlehurst.

"I hope not, for the sake of my bibi!" said Mrs. Creighton. "It is the prettiest little hat I have had these three years; it would be distressing to have it spoilt before it has lost its freshness."

{"bibi" = a stylish hat of the 1830s}

"There is no danger, marm," said one of the boatmen, with a good-natured gravity, that made Mrs. Creighton smile. "Them 'ere kind of clouds often goes over the lake, without coming up this way."

And so it proved; the party reached the hotel safely, all agreeing that they had had a very pleasant day, and were not at all more tired than was desirable after such an excursion.



CHAPTER X. {XXXIII}

"............................. Sebastian are you? If spirits can assume both form and suit, You come to fright us!" SHAKSPEARE. {sic}

{William Shakespeare, "Twelfh Night", V.i.221, 235-236}

ON their return to Saratoga, the Wyllyses and Hazlehursts found startling intelligence awaiting them. Letters had just arrived for Harry, for Mrs. Stanley, and for Mr. Wyllys, all of a similar nature, and all of a character that was astounding to those who received them. They could scarcely credit their senses as they read the fact, that the executors of the late John William Stanley, Esquire, were called upon to account for all past proceedings, to William Stanley, his son and heir. Hazlehurst was also summoned to resign that portion of the property of which he had taken possession two years since, when he had reached the age of twenty-five.

The letters were all written by Mr. Clapp, Charlie Hubbard's brother-in-law, who announced himself as the attorney of William Stanley, Esquire.

"Here are the letters addressed to myself," said Mrs. Stanley, who had immediately sent for Mr. Wyllys and Hazlehurst, as soon as they returned from Lake George: she had not yet recovered from the first agitation caused by this extraordinary disclosure. "This is the letter purporting to come from my husband's son, and this is from the lawyer," she added, extending both to Hazlehurst. Harry read them aloud. The first ran as follows:

"MADAM:—

"I have not the honour of being acquainted with you, as my late father was not married to you when I went to sea, not long before his death. But I make no doubt that you will not refuse me my rights, now that I step forward to demand them, after leaving others to enjoy them for nearly eighteen years. Things look different to a man near forty, and to a young chap of twenty; I have been thinking of claiming my property for some time, but was told by lawyers that there was too many difficulties in the way, owing partly to my own fault, partly to the fault of others. As long as I was a youngster, I didn't care for anything but having my own way—I snapped my fingers at all the world; but now I am tired of a sea-faring life, and have had hardships enough for one man: since there is a handsome property mine, by right, I am resolved to claim it, through thick and thin. I have left off the bottle, and intend to do my best to be respectable for the rest of my days. I make no doubt but we shall be able to come to some agreement; nor would I object to a compromise for the past, though my lawyers advise me to make no such offer. I shall be pleased, Madam, to pay my respects to you, that we may settle our affairs at a personal meeting, if it suits you to do so.

"Your obedient servant, and step-son,

"WILLIAM STANLEY."

"Can that be my husband's son!" exclaimed Mrs. Stanley, in an agitated voice, as Harry finished reading the letter, and handed it to Mr. Wyllys.

"It will take more than this to convince me," said Mr. Wyllys, who had been listening attentively. The handwriting was then carefully examined by Mrs. Stanley and Mr. Wyllys, and both were compelled to admit that it was at least a good imitation of that of William Stanley.

"A most extraordinary proceeding in either case!" exclaimed Harry, pacing the room.

Mr. Clapp's letter was then read: it began with the following words:

"MADAM:—

"I regret that I am compelled by the interests of my client, Mr. William Stanley, Esquire, to address a lady I respect so highly, upon a subject that must necessarily prove distressing to her, in many different ways."

Then followed a brief statement of his first acquaintance with Mr. Stanley; his refusing to have anything to do with the affair; his subsequent conviction that the ragged sailor was the individual he represented himself to be; his reluctance to proceed, &c., &c. But since he was now convinced, by the strongest proofs, of the justice of Mr. Stanley's demand, and had at length undertaken to assist him with his advice, he was, therefore, compelled by duty to give the regular legal notice, that Mrs. Stanley, as executrix, would be required to account for her proceedings since her husband's death. His client, he said, would much prefer an amicable arrangement, but, if necessary, would proceed to law immediately. He wished to know what course Mrs. Stanley was disposed to take, as his client's steps would necessarily be guided by her own, and those of Mr. Wyllys and Mr. Hazlehurst. He concluded with a civil hope that the case might be privately adjusted.

"Clapp all over," said Harry, as he finished reading the letter.

"A most bare-faced imposition, depend upon it!" exclaimed Mr. Wyllys, with strong indignation.

Mrs. Stanley was listening with anxious eagerness for the opinion of the two gentlemen.

"I am strongly disposed to mistrust anything that comes through Clapp's hands," said Harry, pacing the room thoughtfully, with the letters in his hand. "Still, I think it behooves us, sir, to act with deliberation; the idea that it is not impossible that this individual should be the son of Mr. Stanley, must not be forgotten—that possibility alone would make me sift the matter to the bottom at once."

"Certainly; it must be looked into immediately."

"What has the lawyer written to you?" asked Mrs. Stanley.

The letters to Mr. Wyllys and Harry were then read aloud; they were almost identical in their contents with that to Mrs. Stanley. The tone of each was civil and respectful; though each contained a technical legal notice, that they would be required to surrender to William Stanley, the property of his late father, according to the will of the said John William Stanley; which the said William, his son, had hitherto neglected to claim, though legally entitled to it.

"There: is certainly an air of confidence about those letters of Clapp's," said Harry, "as if he felt himself on a firm foothold. It is very extraordinary!"

"Of course: he would never move in such a case, without some plausible proof," said Mr. Wyllys.

"But how could he get any proof whatever, on this occasion?" said Mrs. Stanley. "For these eighteen years, nearly, William Stanley has been lying at the bottom of the ocean. We have believed so, at least."

"Proofs have been manufactured by lawyers before now," said Mr. Wyllys. "Do you suppose that if William Stanley had been living, we never should have heard one trace of him during eighteen years?—at a time, too, when his father's death had left him a large property."

"What sort of a man is this Mr. Clapp?" asked Mrs. Stanley. "His manners and appearance, whenever I have accidentally seen him with the Hubbards, struck me as very unpleasant: but is it possible he can be so utterly devoid of all principle, as wilfully to countenance an impostor?"

"He is a man whom I do not believe to possess one just principle!" said Mr. Wyllys. "Within the last year or two, I have lost all confidence in his honesty, from facts known to me."

"I have always had a poor opinion of him, but I have never had much to do with him," said Harry; "still, I should not have thought him capable of entering into a conspiracy so atrocious as this must be, if the story be not true."

"He would do any dirty work whatever, for money. I KNOW the man," said Mr. Wyllys, with emphasis.

"It is possible he may be deceived himself," observed Mrs. Stanley.

"Very improbable," replied Mr. Wyllys, shaking his head.

"A shrewd, cunning, quick-witted fellow, as I remember him, would not be likely to undertake such a case, unless he had some prospect of success," said Harry, pacing the room again. "He must know perfectly well that it is make or break with him. If he does not succeed, he will be utterly ruined."

"He will give us trouble, no doubt," said Mr. Wyllys. "He must have got the means of putting together a plausible story. And yet his audacity confounds me!"

"Eighteen years, is it not, since William Stanley's death?" asked Harry, turning to Mrs. Stanley.

"It will be eighteen years next October, since he sailed. I was married in November; and from that time we have never heard anything from the poor boy, excepting the report that the Jefferson, the ship in which he sailed, had been shipwrecked on the coast of Africa, the following winter, and all hands lost. That report reached us not long before my husband's death, and caused him to word his will in the way it is now expressed; giving to the son of his kinsman and old friend, half his property, in case his son's death should be confirmed. The report WAS confirmed, some months later, by the arrival of an American vessel, which had ridden out the storm that wrecked the Jefferson: she saw the wreck itself, sent a boat to examine it, but could find no one living; although several bodies were picked up, with the hope of reviving them. But you have heard the whole sad story before, Harry."

"Certainly; I merely wished to hear the facts again, ma'am, from your own lips, lest I might have forgotten some important point."

"Although you were quite a child at the time, Harry," said Mr. Wyllys, "eight or ten I believe, still, I should think you must remember the anxiety to discover the real fate of William Stanley. I have numbers of letters in my hands, answers to those I had written with the hope of learning something more positive on the subject. We sent several agents, at different times, to the principal sea-ports, to make inquiries among the sailors; it all resulted in confirming the first story, the loss of the Jefferson, and all on board. Every year, of course, made the point more certain."

"Still, we cannot say that is not impossible {sic} he should have escaped," observed Harry.

"Why should he have waited eighteen years, before he appeared to claim his property?—and why should he not come directly to his father's executors, instead of seeking out such a fellow as Clapp? It bears on the very face every appearance of a gross imposture. Surely, Harry, you do not think there is a shade of probability as to the truth of this story?"

"Only a possibility, sir; almost everything is against it, and yet I shall not rest satisfied without going to the bottom of the matter."

"That, you may be sure, we shall be forced to do. Clapp will give us trouble enough, I warrant; he will leave no stone unturned that a dirty lawyer can move. It will be vexatious, but there cannot be a doubt as to the result."

"You encourage me," said Mrs. Stanley; "and yet the idea of entering into a suit of this kind is very painful!"

"If it be a conspiracy, there is no treatment too bad for those who have put the plot together!" exclaimed Harry. "What a double-dyed villain Clapp must be!"

"He will end his career in the State-Prison," said Mr. Wyllys.

"The Hubbards, too; that is another disagreeable part of the business," said Harry.

"I am truly sorry for them," replied Mr. Wyllys. "It will give them great pain."

"What steps shall we first take, sir?" inquired Harry.

"We must look into the matter immediately, of course, and find out upon what grounds they are at work."

"I am utterly at a loss to comprehend it!" exclaimed Mrs. Stanley. "Such a piece of bare-faced audacity!"

"Clapp must rest all his hope of success on our want of positive proof as to the death of William Stanley," observed Harry. "But his having dared to bring forward an individual to personate the dead man, is really a height of impudence that I should never have conceived of."

"If I did not know him to be an incarnation of cunning, I should think he had lost his senses," replied Mr. Wyllys; "but happily for honest men, rogues generally overreach themselves; after they have spread their nets, made the mesh as intricate as possible, they almost invariably fall into their own snare. Such will, undoubtedly, be the result in this case."

"Had you not better return to Longbridge at once," said Mrs. Stanley, "in order to inquire into the matter?"

"Certainly; we had better all be on the spot; though I am confident we shall unmask the rogues very speedily. You were already pledged to return with us, Mrs. Stanley; and I shall be glad to see you at Wyllys-Roof, again, Harry."

"Thank you, sir; you are very good," replied Hazlehurst, with something more than the common meaning in the words; for he coloured a little on remembering the occurrences of his last visit to Longbridge, more than three years since.

"We shall find it difficult," continued Mr. Wyllys, "to get an insight into Clapp's views and plans. He will, no doubt, be very wary in all he does; though voluble as ever in what he says. I know his policy of old; he reverses the saying of the cunning Italian, volto sciolto, bocca stretta."

{"volto sciolto, bocca stretta" = open countenance, tight lips (Italian)}

"But his first step has not been a cautious one," observed Harry. "It is singular he should have allowed his client to write to Mrs. Stanley. Do you remember William Stanley's handwriting distinctly?" he added, again handing the letter to Mr. Wyllys.

"Yes; and it must be confessed this hand resembles his; they must have got possession of some of young Stanley's handwriting."

"But how could they possibly have done so?" said Mrs. Stanley.

"That is what we must try to find out, my dear madam."

"He must have been very confident that it was a good imitation," said Hazlehurst; "for, of course, he knew you must possess letters of William Stanley's. I don't remember to have seen anything but his signature, myself."

"Yes; it is a good imitation—very good; of course Clapp was aware of it, or the letter would never have been sent."

"William was very like his father in appearance, though not in character," observed Mrs. Stanley, thoughtfully. "He was very like him."

"Should this man look like my poor husband, I might have some misgivings," said Mrs. Stanley. "We must remember at least, my dear Mr. Wyllys, that it is not impossible that William may be living."

"Only one of the most improbable circumstances you could name, my dear friend. I wish to see the man, however, myself; for I have little doubt that I shall be able at once to discover the imposture, entirely to our own satisfaction at least—and that is the most important point."

"Should the case present an appearance of truth, sufficient to satisfy a jury, though we ourselves were not convinced, it would still prove a very serious thing to you, my dear Harry," observed Mrs. Stanley.

"No doubt: very serious to Hazlehurst, and a loss to all three. But I cannot conceive it possible that such a daring imposture can succeed so far. We shall be obliged, however, to proceed with prudence, in order to counteract the cunning of Clapp."

After a conversation of some length between the friends, it was agreed that Hazlehurst should answer the letters, in the name of Mrs. Stanley and Mr. Wyllys, as well as his own. It was also decided that they should return to Longbridge immediately, and not take any decided steps until they had seen the individual purporting to be William Stanley. The bare possibility that Mr. Stanley's son might be living, determined Mrs. Stanley and Hazlehurst to pursue this course; although Mr. Wyllys, who had not a doubt on the subject from the first, had felt no scruple in considering the claimant as an impostor. We give Harry's letter to Mr. Clapp.

"Saratoga, June, 18—.

"SIR:—

"The letters addressed by you to Mrs. Stanley, Mr. Wyllys and myself, of the date of last Tuesday, have just reached us. I shall not dwell on the amazement which we naturally felt in receiving a communication so extraordinary, which calls upon us to credit the existence of an individual, whom we have every reason to believe has lain for nearly eighteen years at the bottom of the deep: it will be sufficient that I declare, what you are probably already prepared to hear, that we see no cause for changing our past opinions on this subject. We believe to-day, as we have believed for years, that William Stanley was drowned in the wreck of the Jefferson, during the winter of 181-. We can command to-day, the same proofs which produced conviction at the time when this question was first carefully examined. We have learned no new fact to change the character of these proofs.

"The nature of the case is such, however, as to admit the possibility—and it is a bare possibility only—of the existence of William Stanley. It is not necessarily impossible that he may have escaped from the wreck of the Jefferson; although the weight of probability against such an escape, has more than a hundred-fold the force of that which would favour a contrary supposition. Such being the circumstances, Mr. Stanley's executors, and his legatee, actuated by the same motives which have constantly guided them since his death, are prepared in the present instance to discharge their duty, at whatever cost it may be. They are prepared to receive and examine any proofs, in the possession of yourself and your client, as to the identity of the individual purporting to be William Stanley, only son of the late John William Stanley, of ——- county, Pennsylvania. They demand these proofs. But, they are also prepared, sir, to pursue with the full force of justice, and the law of the land, any individual who shall attempt to advance a false claim to the name and inheritance of the dead. This matter, once touched, must be entirely laid bare: were duty out of the question, indignation alone would be sufficient to urge them, at any cost of time and vexation, to unmask one who, if not William Stanley, must be a miserable impostor—to unravel what must either prove an extraordinary combination of circumstances, or a base conspiracy.

"Prepared, then, to pursue either course, as justice shall dictate, Mrs. Stanley and Mr. Wyllys, executors of the late Mr. Stanley, and myself, his legatee, demand: First, an interview with the individual claiming to be William Stanley. Secondly, whatever proofs of the identity of the claimant you may have in your possession. And we here pledge ourselves to acknowledge the justice of the claim advanced, if the evidence shall prove sufficient to establish it; or in the event of a want of truth and consistency in the evidence supporting this remarkable claim, we shall hold it a duty to bring to legal punishment, those whom we must then believe the guilty parties connected with it.

"Mrs. Stanley and Mr. Wyllys wish you, sir, to understand this letter as an answer to those addressed by you to themselves. They are on the point of returning to Longbridge, where I shall also join them; and we request that your farther communications to us, on this subject, may be addressed to Wyllys-Roof.

"HENRY HAZLEHURST"

This letter was written, and approved by Mrs. Stanley and Mr. Wyllys, before the consultation broke up; it was also signed by them, as well as by Harry.

The amazement of Miss Wyllys and Elinor, on hearing the purport of Mr. Clapp's letters, was boundless. Had they seen William Stanley rise from the ground before them, they could scarcely have been more astonished; not a shadow of doubt as to his death in the Jefferson, had crossed their minds for years. Like their friends, they believed it a plot of Mr. Clapp's; and yet his daring to take so bold a step seemed all but incredible.

When some hours' consideration had made the idea rather more familiar to the minds of our friends, they began to look at the consequences, and they clearly saw many difficulties and vexations before the matter could be even favourably settled; but if this client of Mr. Clapp's were to succeed in establishing a legal claim to the Stanley estate, the result would produce much inconvenience to Mrs. Stanley, still greater difficulties to Mr. Wyllys, while Harry would be entirely ruined in a pecuniary sense; since the small property he had inherited from his father, would not suffice to meet half the arrears he would be obliged to discharge, in restoring his share of the Stanley estate to another. Hazlehurst had decided, from the instant the claim was laid before him, that the only question with himself would regard his own opinion on the subject; the point must first be clearly settled to his own judgment. He would see the man who claimed to be the son of his benefactor, he would examine the matter as impartially as he could, and then determine for himself. Had he any good reason whatever for believing this individual to be William Stanley, he would instantly resign the property to him, at every cost.

All probability was, however, thus far, against the identity of the claimant; and unless Hazlehurst could believe in his good faith and honesty, every inch of the ground should be disputed to the best of his ability. Mr. Wyllys was very confident of defeating one whom he seriously believed an impostor: it was a dirty, disagreeable job to undertake, but he was sanguine as to the result. Mrs. Stanley was at first quite overcome by agitation and astonishment; she had some doubts and anxieties; misgivings would occasionally cross her mind, in spite of herself, in spite of Mr. Wyllys's opinion; and the bare idea of opposing one who might possibly be her husband's son, affected all her feelings. Like Hazlehurst, she was very desirous to examine farther into the matter, without delay; scarcely knowing yet what to hope and what to fear.

Ellsworth and Mrs. Creighton soon learned the extraordinary summons which Harry had received; he informed them of the facts himself.

"The man is an impostor, depend upon it, Mr. Hazlehurst!" exclaimed Mrs. Creighton, with much warmth.

"I have little doubt of it," replied Harry; "for I do not see how he can well be anything else."

"You know, Hazlehurst, that I am entirely at your service in any way you please," said Ellsworth.

"Thank you, Ellsworth; I have a habit of looking to you in any difficulty, as you know already."

"But I cannot conceive that it should be at all a difficult matter to unravel so coarse a plot as this must be!" cried Mrs. Creighton. "What possible foundation can these men have for their story? Tell me all about it, Mr. Hazlehurst, pray!" continued the lady, who had been standing when Harry entered the room, prepared to accompany her brother and himself to Miss Wyllys's room. "Sit down, I beg, and tell me at once all you choose to trust me with," she continued, taking a seat on the sofa.

Harry followed her example. "You are only likely to hear a great deal too much of it I fear, if you permit Ellsworth and myself to talk the matter over before you." He then proceeded to give some of the most important facts, as far as he knew them himself, at least. Judging from this account, Mr. Ellsworth pronounced himself decidedly inclined to think with Mr. Wyllys, that this claim was a fabrication of Clapp's. Mrs. Creighton was very warm in the expression of her indignation and her sympathy. After a long and animated conversation, Mr. Ellsworth proposed that they should join the Wyllyses: his sister professed herself quite ready to do so; and, accompanied by Harry, they went to the usual rendezvous of their party, at Congress Hall.

Robert Hazlehurst had already left Saratoga with his family, having returned from Lake George for that purpose, a day earlier than his friends; and when Mrs. Creighton and the two gentlemen entered Miss Wyllys's parlour, they only found there the Wyllyses themselves and Mary Van Alstyne, all of whom had already heard of Harry's threatened difficulties. Neither Miss Agnes nor Elinor had seen him since he had received the letters, and they both cordially expressed their good wishes in his behalf; for they both seemed inclined to Mr. Wyllys's opinion of the new claimant.

"We have every reason to wish that the truth may soon be discovered," said Miss Agnes.

"I am sorry you should have such a painful, vexatious task before you," said Elinor, frankly offering her hand to Harry.

"Have you no sympathies for this new sailor cousin of yours, Miss Wyllys?—I must say I have a very poor opinion of him myself," said Mrs. Creighton.

"Whoever he be, I hope he will only receive what is justly his due," replied Elinor.

"I am happy, Miss Wyllys, that you seem favourably inclined towards Hazlehurst," said Mr. Ellsworth. "On the present occasion I consider him not only as a friend but as a client, and that is the dearest tie we lawyers are supposed to feel."

"One would naturally incline rather more to a client of yours ex officio, Mr. Ellsworth, than to one of Mr. Clapp's, that very disagreeable brother-in-law of Miss Patsey Hubbard's," said Mary Van Alstyne, smiling.

It was soon decided that the party should break up the next day. The Wyllyses, with Mrs. Stanley and Mary Van Alstyne, were to return to Longbridge. Mrs. Creighton and Mr. Ellsworth were obliged to pay their long deferred visit to Nahant, the gentleman having some business of importance in the neighbourhood; but it was expected that they also should join the family at Wyllys-Roof as early as possible. Jane was to return to New York with her sister-in-law, Mrs. St. Leger, leaving Miss Emma Taylor flirting at Saratoga, under the charge of a fashionable chaperon; while Mr. Hopkins was still fishing at Lake George.



CHAPTER XI. {XXXIV}

"'Whence this delay?—Along the crowded street A funeral comes, and with unusual pomp.'" ROGERS.

{Samuel Rogers (English poet, 1763-1855), "Italy: A Funeral" lines 1-2}

IT is a common remark, that important events seldom occur singly; and they seem indeed often to follow each other with startling rapidity, like the sharpest flashes of lightning and the loudest peals of thunder from the dark clouds of a summer shower. On arriving in New York, the Wyllyses found that Tallman Taylor had been taken suddenly and dangerously ill, during the previous night, the consequence of a stroke of the sun; having exposed himself imprudently, by crossing the bay to Staten-Island for a dinner party, in an open boat, when the thermometer stood at 95 {degrees} in the shade. He was believed in imminent danger, and was too ill to recognize his wife when she arrived. Miss Wyllys and Elinor remained in town, at the urgent request of Jane, who was in great distress; while Mr. Wyllys returned home with Mrs. Stanley and Mary Van Alstyne.

{Susan's father, James Fenimore Cooper, twice suffered from sunstroke, in 1823 and 1825, while sailing a small boat near New York City, and she later wrote of the attacks of delirium that followed}

After twenty-four hours of high delirium, the physicians succeeded in subduing the worst symptoms; but the attack took the character of a bilious fever, and the patient's recovery was thought very doubtful from the first. Poor Jane sat listlessly in the sick-room, looking on and weeping, unheeded by her husband, who would allow no one but his mother to come near him, not even his wife or his sisters; he would not, indeed, permit his mother to leave his sight for a moment, his eyes following every movement of her's with the feverish restlessness of disease, and the helpless dependence of a child. Jane mourned and wept; Adeline had at least the merit of activity, and made herself useful as an assistant nurse, in preparing whatever was needed by her brother. These two young women, who had been so often together in brilliant scenes of gaiety, were now, for the first time, united under a roof of sorrow and suffering.

"That lovely young creature is a perfect picture of helpless grief!" thought one of the physicians, as he looked at Jane.

For a week, Tallman Taylor continued in the same state. Occasionally, as he talked with the wild incoherency of delirium, he uttered sentences painful to hear, as they recalled deeds of folly and vice; words passed his lips which were distressing to all present, but which sunk deep into the heart of the sick man's mother. At length he fell into a stupor, and after lingering for a day or two in that state, he expired, without having fully recovered his consciousness for a moment. The handsome, reckless, dashing son of the rich merchant lay on his bier; a career of selfish enjoyment and guilty folly was suddenly closed by the grave.

Miss Agnes's heart sunk within her as she stood, silent, beside the coffin of Jane's husband, remembering how lately she had seen the young man, full of life and vigour, thoughtlessly devoting the best energies of body and soul to culpable self-indulgence. It is melancholy indeed, to record such a close to such a life; and yet it is an event repeated in the gay world with every year that passes. It is to be feared there were companions of Tallman Taylor's, pursuing the same course of wicked folly, which had been so suddenly interrupted before their eyes, who yet never gave one serious thought to the subject: if they paused, it was only for a moment, while they followed their friend to the grave; from thence hurrying again to the same ungrateful, reckless abuse of life, and its highest blessings.

Jane was doubly afflicted at this moment; her baby sickened soon after its return to town, and died only a few days after her husband; the young father and his infant boy were laid in the same grave.

Jane herself was ill for a time, and when she partially recovered, was very anxious to accompany Miss Agnes and Elinor to Wyllys-Roof—a spot where she had passed so many peaceful hours, that she longed again to seek shelter there. She had loved her husband, as far as it was in her nature to love; but her attachments were never very strong or very tender, and Tallman Taylor's neglect and unkindness during the past year, had in some measure chilled her first feelings for him. She now, however, looked upon herself as the most afflicted of human beings; the death of her baby had indeed touched the keenest chord in her bosom—she wept over it bitterly.

Adeline thought more seriously at the time of her brother's death than she had ever done before: and even Emma Taylor's spirits were sobered for a moment. Mr. Taylor, the father, no doubt felt the loss of his eldest son, though far less than many parents would have done; he was not so much overwhelmed by grief, but what he could order a very handsome funeral, and project an expensive marble monument—a FASHIONABLE TOMB-STONE of Italian marble. He was soon able to resume all his usual pursuits, and even the tenor of his thoughts seemed little changed, for his mind was as much occupied as usual with Wall-Street affairs, carrying out old plans, or laying new schemes of profit. He had now been a rich man for several years, yet he was in fact less happy than when he began his career, and had everything to look forward to. Still he continued the pursuits of business, for without the exciting fears and hopes of loss and gain, life would have appeared a monotonous scene to him; leisure could only prove a burthen, for it would be merely idleness, since he had no tastes to make it either pleasant or useful. His schemes of late had not been so brilliantly successful as at the commencement of his course of speculation; fortune seemed coquetting with her old favourite; he had recently made several investments which had proved but indifferent in their results. Not that he had met with serious losses; on the contrary, he was still a gainer at the game of speculation; but the amount was very trifling. He had rapidly advanced to a certain distance on the road to wealth, but it now seemed as if he could not pass that point; the brilliant dreams in which he had indulged were only half realized. There seemed no good way of accounting for this pause in his career, but such was the fact; he was just as shrewd and calculating, just as enterprising now as he had been ten years before, but certainly he was not so successful.

On commencing an examination of his son's affairs, he found that Tallman Taylor's extravagance and folly had left his widow and child worse than penniless, for he had died heavily in debt. Returning one afternoon from Wall-Street, Mr. Taylor talked over this matter with his wife. Of all Tallman Taylor's surviving friends, his mother was the one who most deeply felt his death; she was heart-stricken, and shed bitter tears over the young man.

"There is nothing left, Hester, for the child or her mother," said the merchant, sitting down in a rocking-chair in his wife's room. "All gone; all wasted; five times the capital I had to begin with. I have just made an investment, of which I shall give the profits to Tallman's lady; four lots that were offered to me last week; if that turns out well, I shall go on, and it may perhaps make up a pretty property for the child, in time."

"Oh, husband, don't talk to me about such things now; I can't think of anything but my poor boy's death!"

"It was an unexpected calamity, Hester," said the father, with one natural look of sorrow; "but we cannot always escape trouble in this world."

"I feel as if we had not done our duty by him!" said the poor mother.

"Why not?-he was very handsomely set up in business," remonstrated Mt. Taylor.

"I was not thinking of money," replied his wife, shaking her head. "But it seems as if we only took him away from my brother's, in the country, just to throw him in the way of temptation as he was growing up, and let him run wild, and do everything he took a fancy to."

"We did no more than other parents, in taking him home with us, to give him a better education than he could have got at your brother's."

"Husband, husband!—it is but a poor education that don't teach a child to do what is right! I feel as if we had never taught him what we ought to. I did not know he had got so many bad ways until lately; and now that I do know it, my heart is broken!"

"Tallman was not so bad as you make him out. He was no worse than a dozen other young gentlemen I could name at this very minute."

"Oh; I would give everything we are worth to bring him back!—but it is too late—too late!"

"No use in talking now, Hester."

"We ought to have taken more pains with him. He didn't know the danger he was in, and we did, or we ought to have known it. Taking a young man of a sudden, from a quiet, minister's family in the country, like my brother's, and giving him all the money he wanted, and turning him out into temptation.—Oh, it's dreadful!"

"All the pains in the world, Hester, won't help a young man, unless he chooses himself. What could I do, or you either? Didn't we send him to school and to college?—didn't we give him an opportunity of beginning life with a fine property, and married to one of the handsomest girls in the country, daughter of one of the best families, too? What more can you do for a young man? He must do the rest himself; you can't expect to keep him tied to your apron-string all his life."

"Oh, no; but husband, while he was young we ought to have taken more pains to teach him not to think so much about the ways of the world. There are other things besides getting money and spending money, to do; it seems to me now as if money had only helped my poor boy to his ruin!"

"Your notions are too gloomy, Mrs. Taylor. Such calamities will happen, and we should not let them weigh us down too much."

"If I was to live a hundred years longer, I never could feel as I did before our son's death. Oh, to think what a beautiful, innocent child he was twenty years ago, this time!"

"You shouldn't let your mind run so much on him that's gone. It's unjust to the living."

The poor woman made no answer, but wept bitterly for some time.

"It's my only comfort now," she said, at length, "to think that we have learned wisdom by what's passed. As long as I live, day and night, I shall labour to teach our younger children not to set their hearts upon the world; not to think so much about riches."

"Well, I must say, Hester, if you think all poor people are saints, I calculate you make a mistake."

"I don't say that, husband; but it seems to me that we have never yet thought enough of the temptations of riches, more especially to young people, to young men—above all, when it comes so sudden as it did to our poor boy. What good did money ever do him?—it only brought him into trouble!"

"Because Tallman didn't make the most of his opportunities, that is no reason why another should not. If I had wasted money as he did, before I could afford it, I never should have made a fortune either. The other boys will do better, I reckon; they will look more to business than he did, and turn out rich men themselves."

"It isn't the money!—it isn't the money I am thinking of!" exclaimed the poor mother, almost in despair at her husband's blindness to her feelings.

"What is it then you take so much to heart?"

"It's remembering that we never warned our poor child; we put him in the way of temptation, where he only learned to think everything of the world and its ways; we didn't take pains enough to do our duty, as parents, by him!"

"Well, Hester, I must say you are a very unreasonable lady!" exclaimed Mr. Taylor, who was getting impatient under his wife's observations. "One would think it was all my fault; do you mean to say it was wrong in me to grow rich?"

"I am afraid it would have been better for us, and for our children, if you hadn't made so much money," replied the wife. "The happiest time of our life was the first ten years after we were married, when we had enough to be comfortable, and we didn't care so much about show. I am sure money hasn't made me happy; I don't believe it can make anybody happy!"

Mr. Taylor listened in amazement; but his straightforward, quiet wife, had been for several years gradually coming to the opinion she had just expressed, and the death of her eldest son had affected her deeply. The merchant, finding that he was not very good at consolation, soon changed the conversation; giving up the hope of lessening the mother's grief, or of bringing her to what he considered more rational views of the all-importance of wealth.

As soon as Jane felt equal to the exertion, she accompanied Miss Agnes and Elinor to Wyllys-Roof. During the three years of her married life she had never been there, having passed most of the time either at Charleston or New Orleans. Many changes had occurred in that short period; changes of outward circumstances, and of secret feeling. Her last visit to Wyllys-Roof had taken place just after her return from France, when she was tacitly engaged to young Taylor; at a moment when she had been more gay, more brilliantly handsome than at any other period of her life. Now, she returned there, a weeping, mourning widow, wretchedly depressed in spirits, and feeble in health. She was still very lovely, however; the elevated style of her beauty was such, that it appeared finer under the shadow of grief, than in the sunshine of gaiety; and it is only beauty of the very highest order which will bear this test. Her deep mourning dress was in harmony with her whole appearance and expression; and it was not possible to see her at this moment, without being struck by her exceeding loveliness. Jane was only seen by the family, however, and one or two very intimate friends; she remained entirely in the privacy of her own room, where Elinor was generally at her side, endeavouring to soothe her cousin's grief, by the gentle balm of sympathy and affection.



CHAPTER XII. {XXXV}

"Do thou stand for my father, and examine me upon the particulars of my life."

"What manner of man, an't please your majesty!" Henry IV.

{William Shakespeare, "1 Henry IV", II.iv.375-376, 420-421}

HAZLEHURST's affairs had not remained stationary, in the mean time; Mrs. Stanley and himself were already at Wyllys-Roof, when Miss Wyllys and Elinor returned home, accompanied by the widowed Jane. The ladies had received frequent intelligence of the progress of his affairs, from Mr. Wyllys's letters; still there were many details to be explained when the party was re-united, as several important steps had been taken while they were in New York. Mr. Clapp was no longer the only counsel employed by the claimant; associated with the Longbridge attorney, now appeared the name of Mr. Reed, a lawyer of highly respectable standing in New York, a brother-in-law of Judge Bernard's, and a man of a character far superior to that of Mr. Clapp. He was slightly acquainted with Mr. Wyllys, and had written very civil letters, stating that he held the proofs advanced by his client, to be quite decisive as to his identity, and he proposed an amicable meeting, with the hope that Mr. Stanley's claim might be acknowledged without farther difficulty. That Mr. Reed should have taken the case into his hands, astonished Hazlehurst and his friends; so long as Clapp managed the affair, they felt little doubt as to its beings a coarse plot of his own; but they had now become impatient to inquire more closely into the matter. Mrs. Stanley was growing very uneasy; Hazlehurst was anxious to proceed farther as soon as possible; but Mr. Wyllys was still nearly as sanguine as ever. All parties seemed to desire a personal interview; Mr. Reed offered to accompany his client to Wyllys-Roof, to wait on Mrs. Stanley; and a day had been appointed for the meeting, which was to take place as soon as Harry's opponent, who had been absent from Longbridge, should return. The morning fixed for the interview, happened to be that succeeding the arrival of the ladies; and it will be easily imagined that every member of the family looked forward to the moment with most anxious interest. Perhaps they were not aware themselves, how gradually doubts had arisen and increased, in their own minds, since the first disclosure made by Mr. Clapp.

"Harry and myself have both seen this man at last, Agnes," said Mr. Wyllys to his daughter, just after she had returned home, when alone with Elinor and herself. "Where do you suppose Harry saw him yesterday? At church, with Mr. Reed. And this morning I caught a glimpse of him, standing on the steps of Clapp's office."

"Indeed!" exclaimed Miss Wyllys, who, as well as Elinor, was listening eagerly. How did he look?—what kind of man did he seem?"

"He looked like a sailor. I only saw him for a moment, however; for he was coming out of the office, and walked down the street, in an opposite direction from me. I must confess that his face had something of a Stanley look."

"Is it possible!"

"Yes; so far as I could see him, he struck me as looking like the Stanleys; but, in another important point, he does not resemble them at all. You remember the peculiar gait of the family?—they all had it, more or less; anybody who knew them well must have remarked it often—but this man had nothing of the kind; he walked like a sailor."

"I know what you mean; it was a peculiar motion in walking, well known to all their friends—a long, slow step."

"Precisely; this man had nothing of it, whatever—he had the sailor swing, for I watched his movements expressly. William Stanley, as a boy, walked just like his father; for I have often pointed it out to Mr. Stanley, myself."

"That mast be an important point, I should suppose; and yet, grandpapa, you think he looks like my uncle Stanley?" said Elinor.

"So I should say, from the glimpse I had of him."

"What did Harry think of him?" asked Miss Wyllys.

"Hazlehurst did not see his face, for he sat before him in church. He said, that if he had not been told who it was, he should have pronounced him, from his general appearance and manner, a common-looking, sea-faring man, who was not accustomed to the service of the Church; for he did not seem to understand when he should kneel, and when he should rise."

"But William Stanley ought to have known it perfectly," observed Elinor; "for he must have gone to church constantly, with his family, as a child, until he went to sea, and could scarcely have forgotten the service entirely, I should think."

"Certainly, my dear; that is another point which we have noted in our favour. On the other hand, however, I have just been carefully comparing the hand-writing of Clapp's client, with that of William Stanley, and there is a very remarkable resemblance between them. As far as the hand-writing goes, I must confess, that I should have admitted it at once, as identical, under ordinary circumstances."

"And the personal likeness, too, struck you, it seems," added Miss Agnes.

"It did; so far, at least, as I could judge from seeing him only a moment, and with his hat on. To-morrow we shall be able, I trust, to make up our minds more decidedly on other important points."

"It is very singular that he should not be afraid of an interview!" exclaimed Elinor.

"Well, I don't know that, my child; having once advanced this claim, he must be prepared for examination, you know, under any circumstances. It is altogether a singular case, however, whether he be the impostor we think him, or the individual he claims to be. Truth is certainly more strange than fiction sometimes. Would you like to see the statement Mr. Reed sent us, when we applied for some account of his client's past movements?"

Miss Agnes and Elinor were both anxious to see it.

"Here it is—short you see—in Clapp's hand-writing, but signed by himself. There is nothing in it that may not possibly be true; but I fancy that we shall be able to pick some holes in it, by-and-bye."

"Did he make no difficulty about sending it to you?" asked Miss Agnes.

"No, he seemed to give it readily; Mr. Reed sent it to us a day or two since."

Miss Wyllys received the letter from her father, inviting Elinor to read it over her shoulder, at the same moment. It was endorsed, in Clapp's hand, "STATEMENT OF MR. STANLEY, PREPARED AT THE REQUEST OF HIS FATHER'S EXECUTOR," and ran as follows:

"July 1st, 183-.

"I left home, as everybody knows, because I would have my own way in everything. It was against my best interests to be sure, but boys don't think at such times, about anything but having their own will. I suppose that every person connected with my deceased father knows, that my first voyage was made to Russia, in the year 18—, in the ship Dorothy Beck, Jonas Thomson, Master. I was only fourteen years old at the time. My father had taken to heart my going off, and when I came back from Russia he was on the look-out, wrote to me and sent me money, and as soon as he heard we were in port he came after me. Well, I went back with the old gentleman; but we had a quarrel on the road, and I put about again and went to New Bedford, where I shipped in a whaler. We were out only eighteen months, and brought in a full cargo. This time I went home of my own accord, and I staid a great part of one summer. I did think some of quitting the seas; but after a while things didn't work well, and one of my old shipmates coming up into the country to see me, I went off with him. This time I shipped in the Thomas Jefferson, for China. This was in the year 1814, during the last war, when I was about eighteen. Most people, who know anything about William Stanley, think that was the last of him, that he never set foot on American ground again; but they are mistaken, as he himself will take the pains to show. So far I have told nothing but what everybody knows, but now I am going to give a short account of what has happened, since my friends heard from me. Well; the Jefferson sailed, on her voyage to China, in October; she was wrecked on the coast of Africa in December, and it was reported that all hands were lost: so they were, all but one, and that one was William Stanley. I was picked up by a Dutchman, the barque William, bound to Batavia. I kept with the Dutchman for a while, until he went back to Holland. After I had cut adrift from him, I fell in with some Americans, and got some old papers; in one of them I saw my father's second marriage. I knew the name of the lady he had married, but I had never spoken to her. The very next day, one of the men I was with, who came from the same part of the country, told me of my father's death, and said it was the common talk about the neighbourhood, that I was disinherited. This made me very angry; though I wasn't much surprised, after what had passed. I was looking out for a homeward-bound American, to go back, and see how matters stood, when one night that I was drunk, I was carried off by an English officer, who made out I was a runaway. For five years I was kept in different English men-of-war, in the East Indies; at the end of that time I was put on board the Ceres, sloop of war, and I made out to desert from her at last, and got on board an American. I then came home; and here, the first man that I met on shore was Billings, the chap who first persuaded me to go to sea: he knew all about my father's family, and told me it was true I was cut off without a cent, and that Harry Hazlehurst had been adopted by my father. This made me so mad, that I went straight to New Bedford, and shipped in the Sally Andrews, for a whaling voyage. Just before we were to have come home, I exchanged into another whaler, as second-mate, for a year longer. Then I sailed in a Havre liner, as foremast hand, for a while. I found out about this time, that the executors of my father's estate had been advertising for me shortly after his death, while I was in the East Indies; and I went to a lawyer in Baltimore, where I happened to be, and consulted him about claiming the property; but he wouldn't believe a word I said, because I was half-drunk at the time, and told me that I should get in trouble if I didn't keep my mouth shut. Well, I cruized about for a while longer, when at last I went to Longbridge, with some shipmates. I had been there often before, as a lad, and I had some notion of having a talk with Mr. Wyllys, my father's executor; I went to his house one day, but I didn't see him. One of my shipmates who knew something of my story, and had been a client of Mr. Clapp's, advised me to consult him. I went to his office, but he sent me off like the Baltimore lawyer, because be thought I was drunk. Three years after that I got back to Longbridge again, with a shipmate; but it did me no good, for I got drinking, and had a fit of the horrors. That fit sobered me, though, in the end; it was the worst I had ever had; I should have hanged myself, and there would have been an end of William Stanley and his hard rubs, if it hadn't been for the doctor—I never knew his name, but Mr. Clapp says it was Dr. Van Horne. After this bad fit, they coaxed me into shipping in a temperance whaler. While I was in the Pacific, in this ship, nigh three years, and out of the reach of drink, I had time to think what a fool I had been all my life, for wasting my opportunities. I thought there must be some way of getting back my father's property; Mr. Clapp had said, that if I was really the man I pretended to be, I must have some papers to make it out; but if I hadn't any papers, he couldn't help me, even if I was William Stanley forty times over. It is true, I couldn't show him any documents that time, for I didn't have them with me at Longbridge; but I made up my mind, while I was out on my last voyage, that as soon as I got home, I would give up drinking, get my papers together, and set about doing my best to get back my father's property. We came home last February; I went to work, I kept sober, got my things together, put money by for a lawyer's fee, and then went straight to Longbridge again. I went to Mr. Clapp's office, and first I handed him the money, and then I gave him my papers. I went to him, because he had treated me better than any other lawyer, and told me if I was William Stanley, and could prove it, he could help me better than any other man, for he knew all about my father's will. Well, he hadn't expected ever to see me again; but he heard my story all out this time, read the documents, and at last believed me, and undertook the case. The rest is known to the executors and legatee by this time; and it is to be hoped, that after enjoying my father's estate for nigh twenty years, they will now make it over to his son.

"Dictated to W. C. Clapp, by the undersigned,

[Signed,] "WILLIAM STANLEY."

{"Dutchman" = a ship trading between the Netherlands and the Netherlands East Indies (now Indonesia), of which Batavia (now Jakarta) was the capital}

"Are these facts, so far as they are known to you, all true?" asked Miss Agnes, as she finished the paper. "I mean the earlier part of the statement, which refers to William Stanley's movements before he sailed in the Jefferson?"

"Yes; that part of the story is correct, so far as it goes."

"How extraordinary!" exclaimed Elinor.

"What does Harry think of this paper?"

"Both he and Mrs. Stanley are more disposed to listen to the story than I am; however, we are to meet this individual to-morrow, and shall be able then, I hope, to see our way more clearly."

"Do you find any glaring inconsistency in the latter part of the account?" continued Miss Agnes.

"Nothing impossible, certainly; but the improbability of William Stanley's never applying to his father's executors, until he appeared, so late in the day, as Mr. Clapp's client, is still just as striking as ever in my eyes. Mr. Reed accounts for it, by the singular character of the man himself, and the strange, loose notions sailors get on most subjects; but that is far from satisfying my mind."

"Mrs. Stanley is evidently much perplexed," observed Miss Wyllys; "she always feels any trouble acutely, and this startling application is enough to cause her the most serious anxiety, under every point of view."

"Certainly; I am glad you have come home, on her account—she is becoming painfully anxious. It is a very serious matter, too, for Hazlehurst; he confessed to me yesterday, that he had some misgivings."

"What a change it would make in all his views and prospects for life!" exclaimed Miss Wyllys.

"A change, indeed, which he would feel at every turn. But we are not yet so badly off as that. We shall give this individual a thorough, searching examination, and it is my firm opinion that he will not bear it. In the mean time we have agents at work, endeavouring to trace this man's past career; and very possibly we may soon discover in that way, some inconsistency in his story."

"The interview is for to-morrow, you say," added Miss Agnes.

"To-morrow morning. It is to be considered as a visit to Mrs. Stanley; Mr. Reed and Clapp will come with him. He has engaged to bring a portion of his papers, and to answer any questions of ours, that would not injure him in case of an ultimate trial by law: after the interview, we are to declare within a given time whether we acknowledge the claim, or whether we are prepared to dispute it."

"If you do carry it into a court of justice, when will the trial take place?" asked Miss Agnes.

"Probably in the autumn; they have already given notice, that they will bring it on as soon as possible, if we reject their demand."

"Harry will not go abroad then, with Mr. Henley."

"No; not so soon at least as he intended. So goes the world; Hazlehurst's career suddenly stopped, by an obstacle we never dreamed of, at this late day. That poor young Taylor in his grave, too! How is Jane?"

"Very feeble, and much depressed."

"Poor girl—a heavy blow to her—that was a sweet baby that she lost. I am glad to see the other child looks well. Jane's affairs, too, are in a bad way, they tell me."

Miss Agnes shook her head, and her father soon after left her.

Hazlehurst was, of course, much occupied, having many things to attend to, connected in different ways with the important question under consideration: there were old papers to be examined, letters to be written, letters to be read, and the family seldom saw him, except at his meals. It was evident, however, that all Mr. Wyllys's displeasure against him, was fast disappearing under the influence of the strong interest now aroused in his favour. Miss Agnes had also resumed entirely, her former manner towards him. Elinor was quite unembarrassed, and frankly expressed her interest in his affairs; in fact, all parties appeared so much engrossed by this important topic, that no one seemed to have time to remember the unpleasant circumstances of Harry's last visit to Wyllys-Roof. To judge from his manner, and something in his expression, if any one occasionally thought of the past, it was Hazlehurst himself; he seemed grateful for his present kind reception, and conscious that he had forfeited all claim to the friendly place in which he had been reinstated. Once or twice, he betrayed momentary feeling and embarrassment, as some allusion to past scenes was accidentally made by others, in the course of conversation.

The family were sitting together after tea, enjoying the summer evening twilight, after a long business consultation between the gentlemen. Harry seemed still engrossed by his own meditations; what was their particular nature at that moment, we cannot say; but he certainly had enough to think of in various ways. Harry's friends left him in undivided possession of the corner, where he was sitting, alone; and Mr. Wyllys, after a quiet, general conversation with the ladies, asked Elinor for a song. At her grandfather's request, she sang a pleasing, new air, she had just received, and his old favourite, Robin Adair. Fortunately, it did not occur to her, that the last time she had sung that song at Wyllys-Roof, with Hazlehurst as part of her audience, was the evening before their rupture; she appeared to have forgotten the fact, for no nervous feeling affected her voice, though her tones were lower than usual, as she did not wish to disturb Jane, who was in a distant part of the house. A letter from Mr. Reed was brought in, and drew Harry into the circle again; it was connected with the next day's interview, and after reading it, Mr. Wyllys made some remarks upon the difference in the tone and manner of the communications they had received from Clapp, and from Mr. Reed; the last writing like a gentleman, the first like a pettifogger.

"I am glad, at least, that you will have a gentleman to deal with," observed Elinor.

"Why, yes, Nelly; it is always advisable to secure a gentleman for friend or foe, he is the best substitute for a good man that one can find. But it is my opinion that Mr. Reed will not persevere in this case; I think he will soon be disgusted with Clapp, as his brother counsel. To-morrow, however, we shall have a nearer look at all our opponents, and I trust that we shall be able to make up our own minds at least, beyond a doubt."

"I trust so!" replied Mrs. Stanley, whose anxiety had increased painfully.

"I wish Ellsworth were here!" exclaimed Harry; "as his feelings are less interested than those of either of us, he would see things in a more impartial light."

"I wish he were here, with all my heart," replied Mr. Wyllys. "I am a little afraid of both you, my excellent friend, and you, Hazlehurst; the idea of not doing justice to the shadow of William Stanley, will make you too merciful towards this claimant, I fear. I see plainly, Harry, that you have some scruples, and I caution you against giving way too much to them."

Hazlehurst smiled, and passed his hand over his forehead. "Thank you, sir, for your advice," he replied. "I shall try to judge the facts calmly; although the idea, that one may possibly be an usurper, is by no means pleasant; it is rather worse even, than that of giving up to an impostor."

"It is a thousand pities that Ellsworth cannot be here until next week; he would have warned you, as I do, not to lose sight of the impostor."

"It is quite impossible that he should come, until next Monday; I knew his business would not admit of it, when I wrote to him at your request; but he will be here at the very earliest moment that he can."

In fact every one present, while they regretted Mr. Ellsworth's absence, felt thoroughly convinced that there were various reasons, which gave him the best inclination in the world to be at Wyllys-Roof as soon as possible.

"I hope Mrs. Creighton will come with him too; she will enliven us a little, in the midst of our legal matters," said Mr. Wyllys.

"Ellsworth mentions Mrs. Creighton's coming particularly; she sends a message to the ladies, through him, which I have already delivered," replied Hazlehurst, as he took up Mr. Reed's letter, to answer it.

"Well, Agnes, shall we have a game of chess?" said Mr. Wyllys; and the circle was broken up, as the younger ladies joined Mrs. Taylor in her own room.

The hour of ten, on the following morning, had been fixed for the interview with the sailor and his counsel. Hazlehurst was walking on the piazza, as the time approached, and punctual to the moment, he saw a carriage drive up to the house; in it were Mr. Reed, Mr. Clapp, and their client. Harry stopped to receive them; and, as they mounted the steps one after the other, he bowed respectfully to Mr. Reed, slightly to Mr. Clapp, and fixed his eye steadily on the third individual.

"Mr. Stanley, Mr. Hazlehurst," said Mr. Reed, in a quiet, but decided manner.

Harry bowed like a gentleman, Mr. Stanley like a jack-tar. The first steady, inquiring glance of Hazlehurst, was sufficient to show him, that the rival claimant was a man rather shorter, and decidedly stouter than himself, with dark hair and eyes, and a countenance by no means unpleasant, excepting that it bore evident traces of past habits of intemperance; as far as his features went, they certainly reminded Harry of Mr. Stanley's portrait. The sailor's dress was that which might have been worn by a mate, or skipper, on shore; he appeared not in the least daunted, on the contrary he was quite self-possessed, with an air of determination about him which rather took Harry by surprise.

A few indifferent observations were exchanged between Mr. Reed and Hazlehurst, as the party entered the house; they were taken by Harry into the drawing-room, and he then left them, to inform Mrs. Stanley and Mr. Wyllys of their arrival.

Mrs. Stanley, though a woman of a firm character, was very excitable in her temperament, and she dreaded the interview not a little; she had asked Miss Wyllys to remain with her on the occasion. Mr. Wyllys was sent for, and when he had joined the ladies, and Mrs. Stanley had composed herself, their three visitors were ushered into Miss Wyllys's usual sitting-room by Hazlehurst. He introduced Mr. Reed to Mrs. Stanley and Miss Wyllys, named Mr. Clapp, and added, as the sailor approached: "Mr. Reed's client, ma'am."

"Mr. William Stanley," added Mr. Reed, firmly, but respectfully.

Mrs. Stanley had risen from her seat, and after curtseying to the lawyers, she turned very pale, as the name of her husband's son was so deliberately applied, by a respectable man, to the individual before her.

"I was just asking Mr. Stanley, when Mr. Hazlehurst joined us," observed the forward Mr. Clapp, "if he remembered Wyllys-Roof at all; but he says his recollections of this place are rather confused."

"When were you here last, sir?" asked Mr. Wyllys of the sailor, giving him a searching look at the same time.

"About five years ago," was the cool reply, rather to Mr. Wyllys's surprise.

"Five years ago!—I have no recollection of the occasion."

The rest of the party were looking and listening, with curious, anxious interest.

"You don't seem to have much recollection of me, at all, sir," said the sailor, rather bitterly.

"Do you mean to say, that you were in this house five years ago?" asked Mr. Wyllys.

"I was here, but I didn't say I was in the house."

"What brought you here?"

"Pretty much the same errand that brings me now."

"What passed on the occasion?"

"I can't say I remember much about it, excepting that you did not give me an over-friendly greeting."

"Explain how it happened, Mr. Stanley," said Mr. Reed, "Mr. Wyllys does not understand you."

"I certainly cannot understand what you mean me to believe. You say you were here, and did not receive a very friendly greeting—how was it unfriendly?"

"Why, you showed me the inside of your smoke-house; which, to my notion, wasn't just the right berth for the son of your old friend, and I took the liberty of kicking off the hatches next morning, and making the best of my way out of the neighbourhood."

"You remember the drunken sailor, sir, who was found one night, several years since, near the house," interrupted Harry, who had been listening attentively, and observed Mr. Wyllys's air of incredulity. "I had him locked up in the smoke-house, you may recollect."

"And you must observe, Mr. Hazlehurst, that is a fact which might look ugly before a jury that did not know you," remarked Mr. Clapp; in a sort of half-cunning, half-insinuating manner.

"I do not in the least doubt the ability of many men, sir, to distort actions equally innocent."

"But you acknowledge the fact?"

"The fact that I locked up a drunken sailor, I certainly acknowledge; and you will find me ready to acknowledge any other fact equally true."

"Do you believe this to be the person you locked up, Harry?" asked Mr. Wyllys.

"I think it not improbable that it is the same individual; but I did not see the man distinctly at the time."

"I am glad, gentlemen, that you are prepared to admit the identity thus far—that is a step gained," observed Mr. Clapp, running his hand through his locks.

"Permit me, Mr. Clapp, to ask you a question or two," said Mr. Wyllys. "Now you recall that circumstance to me, I should like to ask, if we have not also heard of this individual since the occasion you refer to?"

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