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Elinor Wyllys - Vol. II
by Susan Fenimore Cooper
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"Yes, sir; you probably have heard of him since," replied Mr. Clapp, baldly.

"And in connexion with yourself, I think?"

"In connexion with me, sir. You will find me quite as ready as Mr. Hazlehurst to admit facts, sir," replied the lawyer, leaning back in his chair.

"When they are undeniable," observed Mr. Wyllys, drily. "May I inquire what was the nature of that connexion?" asked the gentleman, with one of his searching looks.

The lawyer did not seem to quail beneath the scrutiny.

"The connexion, Mr. Wyllys, was the commencement of what has been completed recently. Mr. Stanley came to lay before me the claims which he now makes publicly."

"You never made the least allusion to any claim of this kind to me, at that time," said Mr. Wyllys.

"I didn't believe it then; I am free to say so now,"

"Still, not believing the claim, it was singular, I may say suspicious, sir, that you never even mentioned the individual who made it."

"Why, to tell you the truth, Mr. Wyllys, I had unpleasant thoughts about it; we were neighbours and old friends, and though I might make up my mind to undertake the case, if I thought it clear, I did prefer that you should not know about my having had anything to do with it, as long as I thought it a doubtful point. I think you must see that was only natural for a young lawyer, who had his fortune to make, and expected employment from you and your friends. I have no objections whatever to speaking out now, to satisfy your mind, Mr. Wyllys."

"I believe I understand you, sir," replied Mr. Wyllys, his countenance expressing more cool contempt than he was aware of.

"I think, however, there are several other points which are not so easily answered," he added, turning to Mr. Reed, as if preferring to continue the conversation with him. "Do you not think it singular, Mr. Reed, to say the least, that your client should have allowed so many years to pass, without claiming the property of Mr. Stanley, and then, at this late day, instead of applying directly to the executors, come to a small town like Longbridge, to a lawyer so little known as Mr. Clapp, in order to urge a claim, so important to him as this we are now examining?" asked Mr. Wyllys, with a meaning smile.

"We are able to explain all those points quite satisfactorily, I think," replied Mr. Reed.

"I object, however," interposed Mr. Clapp, "to laying our case fully before the defendants, until we know what they conclude to do. We have met here by agreement, to give the defendants an opportunity of satisfying their own minds—that they may settle the point, whether they will admit our claim, or whether we must go to law to get our rights. It was agreed that the meeting should be only a common friendly visit, such as Mr. Stanley felt perfectly willing to pay to his step-mother, and old family friends. We also agreed, that we would answer any common questions that might help to satisfy the defendants, provided that they did not tend to endanger our future success, in the event of a trial. I think, Mr. Reed, that as there does not seem as yet much probability that the defendants will be easily convinced, it behooves us to be on our guard."

"I will take the responsibility, sir, of answering other observations of Mr. Wyllys's," replied Mr. Reed. "As the object of the meeting was an amicable arrangement, we may be able to make the case more clear, without endangering our own grounds. Have you any remarks to make, madam?" he added, turning to Mrs. Stanley.

It had been settled between the friends, before the meeting, that Mr. Wyllys should be chief spokesman on the occasion; for, although the sailor claimed the nearer connexion of step-son to Mrs. Stanley, yet she had scarcely known her husband's son, having married after he went to sea. Harry, it is true, had often been with young Stanley at his father's house, but he was at the time too young a child to have preserved any distinct recollection of him. Mr. Wyllys was the only one of the three individuals most interested, who remembered his person, manner, and character, with sufficient minuteness to rely on his own memory. The particular subjects upon which the sailor should be questioned, had been also agreed upon beforehand, by Harry and his friends. In reply to Mr. Reed's inquiry, Mrs. Stanley asked to see the papers which had been brought for their investigation.

Mr. Clapp complied with the request, by drawing a bundle of papers from his pocket. He first handed Mrs. Stanley a document, proving that William Stanley had made two voyages as seaman, in a Havre packet, in the year 1824, or nearly ten years since the wreck of the Jefferson. The captain of this vessel was well known, and still commanded a packet in the same line; very probably his mates were also living, and could be called upon to ascertain the authenticity of this paper. No man in his senses would have forged a document which could be so easily disproved, and both Mr. Wyllys and Hazlehurst were evidently perplexed by it, while Mrs. Stanley showed an increase of nervous agitation. Mr. Wyllys at length returned this paper to Mr. Reed, confessing that it looked more favourably than anything they had yet received. Two letters were then shown, directed to William Stanley, and bearing different dates; one was signed by the name of David Billings, a man who had been the chief instrument in first drawing William Stanley into bad habits, and had at length enticed him to leave home and go to sea; it was dated nineteen years back. As no one present knew the hand-writing of Billings, and as he had died some years since, this letter might, or might not, have been genuine. The name of the other signature was entirely unknown to Harry and his friends; this second letter bore a date only seven years previous to the interview, and was addressed to William Stanley, at a sailor's boarding-house in Baltimore. It was short, and the contents were unimportant; chiefly referring to a debt of fifteen dollars, and purporting to be written by a shipmate named Noah Johnson: the name of William Stanley, in conjunction with the date, was the only remarkable point about this paper. Both letters had an appearance corresponding with their dates; they looked old and soiled; the first bore the post-office stamp of New York; the other had no post-mark. Mr. Wyllys asked if this Noah Johnson could be found? The sailor replied, that he had not seen him for several years, and did not know what had become of him; he had kept the letter because it acknowledged the debt. He replied to several other questions about this man, readily and naturally; though Mr. Wyllys had no means of deciding whether these answers were correct or not. Hazlehurst then made several inquiries about Billings, whom he had seen, and remembered as a bad fellow, the son of a country physician living near Greatwood. His height, age, appearance, and several circumstances connected with his family, were all very accurately given by Mr. Reed's client, as Harry frankly admitted to Mrs. Stanley and Mr. Wyllys.

Mr. Reed looked gratified by the appearance of things, and Mr. Clapp seemed quite satisfied with the turn matters were now taking. Throughout the interview, Mr. Reed seemed to listen with a sort of calm interest, as if he had little doubt as to the result. Mr. Clapp's manner was much more anxious; but then he was perfectly aware of the suspicions against him, and knew that not only this particular case, but his whole prospects for life, were at stake on the present occasion.

"Like most sailors, Mr. Stanley has kept but few papers," observed Mr. Reed.

"He has been as careless about his documents, as he was about his property—he has lost some of the greatest importance," observed Mr. Clapp. "Here is something, though, that will speak for him," added the lawyer, as he handed Mrs. Stanley a book. It was a volume of the Spectator, open at the blank leaves, and showing the following words: "John William Stanley, Greatwood, 1804;" and below, these, "William Stanley, 1810;" the first sentence was in the hand-writing of the father, the second in the half-childish characters of the son; both names had every appearance of being autographs. The opposite page was partly covered with names of ships, scratches of the pen, unconnected sentences, and one or two common sailor expressions. Mrs. Stanley's eyes grew dim for an instant, after she had read the names of her husband and step-son—she passed the book to Mr. Wyllys; he took it, examined it closely, but found nothing to complain of in its appearance.

{"the Spectator" = English daily periodical published by Richard Steele (1672-1729) and Joseph Addison (1672-1719) between 1711 and 1714; the eight volumes of the Spectator have been reprinted frequently in book form ever since}

"This is only the third volume; have you the whole set?" he asked, turning to the sailor.

"No, sir; I left the rest at home."

"Is there such a set at Greatwood?" asked Mr. Wyllys, turning to Mrs. Stanley.

"There is," replied the lady, in a low voice, "and one volume missing."

Hazlehurst asked to look at the book; it was handed to him by Mr. Wyllys. He examined it very carefully, binding, title-page, and contents; Mr. Clapp watching him closely at the moment.

"Do you suspect the hand-writing?" asked the lawyer.

"Not in the least," replied Hazlehurst. "You have read this volume often I suppose," he added, turning to the sailor.

"Not I," was the reply; "I ain't given to reading in any shape; my shipmates have read that 'ere book oftener than I have."

"Did you carry it with you in all your voyages?"

"No; I left it ashore half the time."

"How long have you had it in your possession?"

"Since I first went to sea."

"Indeed! that is singular; I should have said, Mr. Clapp," exclaimed Harry, suddenly facing the lawyer, "that only four years since, I read this very volume of the Spectator at Greatwood!"

If Hazlehurst expected Mr. Clapp to betray confusion, he was disappointed.

"You may have read some other volume," was the cool reply; although Harry thought, or fancied, that he traced a muscular movement about the speaker's eyelids, as he uttered the words: "That volume has been in the possession of Mr. Stanley since he first went to sea."

"Is there no other copy of the Spectator at your country-place, Mrs. Stanley?" asked Mr. Reed.

"There is another edition, entire, in three volumes," said Mrs. Stanley.

"I had forgotten it" said Hazlehurst; "but I am, nevertheless, convinced that it was this edition which I read, for I remember looking for it on an upper shelf, where it belonged."

"It was probably another volume of the same edition; there must be some half-dozen, to judge by the size of this," observed Mr. Reed.

"There were eight volumes, but one has been missing for years," said Mrs. Stanley.

"It was this which I read, however," said Harry; "for I remember the portrait of Steele, in the frontispiece."

"Will you swear to it?" asked Mr. Clapp, with a doubtful smile.

"When I do take an oath, it will not be lightly, sir," replied Hazlehurst.

"It is pretty evident, that Mr. Hazlehurst will not be easily satisfied," added Mr. Clapp, with an approach to a sneer. "Shall we go on, Mr. Reed, or stop the examination?"

Mrs. Stanley professed herself anxious to ask other questions; and as she had showed more symptoms of yielding than the gentlemen, the sailor's counsel seemed to cherish hopes of bringing her over to their side. At her request, Mr. Wyllys then proceeded to ask some questions, which had been agreed upon before the meeting.

"What is your precise age, sir?"

"I shall be thirty-seven, the tenth of next August."

"Where were you born?"

"At my father's country-place, in ——- county, Pennsylvania."

"When were you last there before his death?"

"After my whaling voyage in the Sally-Ann, in the summer of 1814."

"How long did you stay at home on that occasion?"

"Three months; until I went to sea in the Thomas Jefferson."

"What was your mother's name, sir?"

"My mother's name was Elizabeth Radcliffe."

"What were the names of your grand-parents?" added Mr. Wyllys, quickly.

"My grandfather Stanley's name was William; I am named after him. My grandmother's maiden name was Ellis—Jane Ellis."

"What were the Christian names of your grand-parents, on your mother's side?"

"Let me see—my memory isn't over-good: my grandfather Radcliffe was named John Henry."

"And your grandmother?"

The sailor hesitated, and seemed to change colour; but, perhaps it was merely because he stooped to pick up his handkerchief.

"It's curious that I can't remember her Christian name," said he, looking from one to another; "but I always called her grandmother;—that's the reason, I suppose."

"Take time, and I dare say you will remember," said Clapp. "Have you never chanced to see the old family Bible?"

The sailor looked at him, as if in thought, and suddenly exclaimed: "Her name was Agnes Graham!" Other questions were then asked, about the persons of his parents, the house at Greatwood, and the neighbourhood. He seemed quite at home there, and answered most of the questions with great accuracy—especially about the place and neighbourhood. He described Mr. Stanley perfectly, but did not appear to remember his mother so well; as she had died early, however, Mr. Reed and Mr. Clapp accounted for it in that way. He made a few mistakes about the place, but they were chiefly upon subjects of opinion, such as the breadth of a river, the height of a hill, the number of acres in a field; and possibly his account was quite as correct as that of Mr. Wyllys.

"On which side of the house is the drawing-room, at Greatwood?" asked Hazlehurst.

"Maybe you have changed it, since you got possession; but in my day it was on the north side of the house, looking towards the woods."

"Where are the stairs?"

"They stand back as you go in—they are very broad."

"Is there anything particular about the railing?"

The sailor paused. "Not that I remember, now," he said.

"Can't you describe it?—What is it made of?"

"Some kind of wood—dark wood—mahogany."

"What is the shape of the balusters?"

He could not tell; which Mr. Wyllys thought he ought to have done; for they were rather peculiar, being twisted, and would probably be remembered by most children brought up in the house.

Mrs. Stanley then begged he would describe the furniture of the drawing-room, such as it was the last summer he had passed at Greatwood. He seemed to hesitate, and change countenance, more than he had yet done; so much so, as to strike Mrs. Stanley herself; but he immediately rallied again.

"Well," said he, "you ask a man the very things he wouldn't be likely to put on his log. But I'll make it all out ship-shape presently." He stooped to pick up his handkerchief, which had fallen again, and was going to proceed, when Mr. Clapp interrupted him.

"I must take the liberty of interfering," said he, looking at his watch, as he rose from his seat, and moved towards Mr. Reed, asking if he did not think the examination had been quite long enough.

"I must say, gentlemen," he added significantly, turning towards Mr. Wyllys and Harry, "that I think our client has had enough of it; considering that, upon the whole, there is no one here who has so much right to ask questions, instead of answering them, as Mr. Stanley."

"I should suppose, sir," said Mr. Reed, also rising and addressing Mr. Wyllys, "that you must have heard and seen enough for the object of our meeting. You have had a personal interview with Mr. Stanley; you confess that he is like his family, like himself, in short—allowing for the difference between a boy of eighteen and a man of thirty-seven, where the habits of life have been so different; you admit the identity of the hand-writing—"

"I beg your pardon, sir; not the identity, but the resemblance."

"A perfectly natural resemblance, under the circumstances, I think you must allow."

"Yes; the similarity of the hand-writing is remarkable, certainly."

"During the last two hours you have asked the questions which best suited your own pleasure, and he has answered them with great accuracy, without one important mistake. What more can you possibly require?"

"I do not stand alone, sir; we claim the time previously fixed for consideration, before we give our final answer. We are, however, much obliged to you, Mr. Reed, for granting the interview, even if its results are not what you may have hoped for. We shall always remember your conduct on this occasion with respect."

Mr. Wyllys then offered some refreshments to Mr. Reed; they were accepted, and ordered immediately.

Mr. Clapp was standing near Harry, and turning to him, he said: "Mr. Stanley has a favour to ask, Mr. Hazlehurst, though you don't seem disposed to grant him any," he added, with peculiar expression.

"'A FAIR field, and no favour,' is a saying you may have heard," replied Hazlehurst, with a slight emphasis on the first word. "But what is your client's request, sir?"

Mr. Clapp made a gesture towards the sailor, who then spoke for himself.

"I understand that two of my cousins are in the house, and I should be glad to see them before I leave it."

"Whom do you mean, sir?"

"Elinor Wyllys and Mary Van Alstyne. I haven't seen either of them since they were children; but as I have got but few relations, and no friends it seems, I should like to see them."

"You must apply to Mr. Wyllys; the young ladies are under his care," replied Harry, coldly.

But Mr. Wyllys took upon himself to refuse the sailor's request, under the circumstances. Having taken some refreshments, Mr. Reed, his brother counsel, and their client now made their bows, and left the house. As they drove from the door, Mr. Reed looked calm and civil, Mr. Clapp very well satisfied; and the sailor, as he took his seat by Mr. Reed, observed, in a voice loud enough to be heard by Harry, who was standing on the piazza:

"It turns out just as I reckoned; hard work for a man to get his rights in this here longitude!"



CHAPTER XIII. {XXXVI}

"Nay, let them go, a couple of quiet ones!" Taming the Shrew.

{William Shakespeare, "The Taming of the Shrew", III.ii.240}

ELINOR was all anxiety to learn the result of the interview; and Mary Van Alstyne also naturally felt much interest in the subject, as she, too, was a cousin of William Stanley, their mothers having been sisters. Elinor soon discovered that the sailor had borne a much better examination than either of her friends had expected; he had made no glaring mistake, and he had answered their questions on some points, with an accuracy and readiness that was quite startling. He evidently knew a great deal about the Stanley family, their house, and the neighbourhood; whoever he was, there could he no doubt that he had known Mr. Stanley himself, and was very familiar with the part of the country in which he had resided. Altogether, the personal resemblance, the handwriting, the fact of his being a sailor, the papers he had shown, the plausible statement he had given, as to his past movements, and his intimate knowledge of so many facts, which a stranger could scarcely have known, made up a combination of circumstances, quite incomprehensible to the friends at Wyllys-Roof. Still, in spite of so much that appeared in his favour, Mr. Wyllys declared, that so far as his own opinion went, he had too many doubts as to this man's character, to receive him as the son of his friend, upon the evidence he had thus far laid before them. The circumstances under which he appeared, were so very suspicious in every point of view, that the strongest possible evidences of his identity would be required, to counteract them. The length of time that had passed since the wreck of the Jefferson, the long period during which his father's property had been left in the hands of others, and the doubtful character of the channel through which the claim was at length brought forward—all these facts united, furnished good grounds for suspecting something wrong. There were other points too, upon which Mr. Wyllys had his doubts; although the general resemblance of this individual to William Stanley, was sufficient to pass with most people, allowing for the natural changes produced by time, yet there were some minor personal traits, which did not correspond with his recollection of Mr. Stanley's son: the voice appeared to him different in tone; he was also disposed to believe the claimant shorter and fuller than William Stanley, in the formation of his body and limbs; as to this man's gait, which was entirely different from that of William Stanley, as a boy, nearer observation had increased Mr. Wyllys's first impression on that subject. On these particular points, Mrs. Stanley and Hazlehurst were no judges; for the first had scarcely seen her step-son, the last had only a child's recollection of him. Nor could Miss Agnes's opinion have much weight, since she had seldom seen the boy, during the last years he passed on shore; for, at that time, she had been much detained at home, by the ill health of her mother. Hazlehurst had watched the claimant closely, and the interview had silenced his first misgivings, for he had been much struck with two things: he had always heard, whenever the subject of William Stanley's character had been alluded to before him, that this unfortunate young man was sullen in temper, and dull in mind. Now, the sailor's whole expression and manner, in his opinion, had shown too much cleverness for William Stanley; he had appeared decidedly quick-witted, and his countenance was certainly rather good-natured than otherwise. Mr. Wyllys admitted that Harry's views were just; he was struck with both these observations; he thought them correct and important. Then Hazlehurst thought he had seen some signs of intelligence between Clapp and the sailor once or twice, a mere glance; he could not be positive, however, since it might have been his own suspicions. As to the volume of the Spectator, he had felt at first morally certain that he had read that very volume at Greatwood, only four years ago, but he had since remembered that his brother had the same edition, and he might have read the book in Philadelphia; in the mean time he would try to recall the circumstances more clearly to his mind; for so long as he had a doubt, he could not swear to the fact. He knew it was not the octavo edition, at Greatwood, that he had been reading, for he distinctly remembered the portrait of Steele in the frontispiece, and Addison's papers on the Paradise Lost, which he had been reading; that very portrait, and those papers, were contained in the volume handed to him by Clapp. Both Mr. Wyllys and Hazlehurst were gratified to find, that Mrs. Stanley differed from them less than they had feared. She confessed, that at one moment her heart had misgiven her, but on looking closely at the sailor, she thought him less like her husband than she had expected; and she had been particularly struck by his embarrassment, when she had asked him to describe the furniture of the drawing-room at Greatwood, the very last summer he had been there, for he ought certainly under such circumstances, to have remembered it as well as herself; he had looked puzzled, and had glanced at Mr. Clapp, and the lawyer had immediately broken off the examination. Such were the opinions of the friends at this stage of the proceedings. Still it was an alarming truth, that if there were improbabilities, minor facts, and shades of manner, to strengthen their doubts, there was, on the other side, a show of evidence, which might very possibly prove enough to convince a jury. Hazlehurst had a thousand things to attend to, but he had decided to wait at Wyllys-Roof until the arrival of Mr. Ellsworth.

{"Addison's papers on the Paradise Lost" = in fact, Addison's essays on Paradise Lost are contained in volumes four and five of the Spectator}

Leaving those most interested in this vexatious affair to hold long consultations together in Mr. Wyllys's study, we must now proceed to record a visit which Miss Agnes received from one of our Longbridge acquaintances, and we shall therefore join the ladies.

"I am sorry, my dear, that the house is not so quiet as we could wish, just now," said Miss Agnes to Jane, one morning, as she and Elinor were sitting together in the young widow's room.

"Thank you, Aunt; but it does not disturb me, and I know it is not to be avoided just now," said Jane, languidly.

"No, it cannot be helped, with this troublesome business going on; and we shall have Mrs. Creighton and Mr. Ellsworth here soon."

"Pray, do not change your plans on my account. I need not see any of your friends; I shall scarcely know they are here," said Jane, with a deep sigh.

"If it were possible to defer their visit, I should do so; but situated as we are with Mr. Ellsworth—" added Miss Wyllys.

"Certainly; do not let me interfere with his coming. I feel perfectly indifferent as to who comes or goes; I can never take any more pleasure in society!"

"Here is my aunt Wyllys driving up to the door," said Elinor, who was sitting near a window. "Do you feel equal to seeing her?"

"Oh, no, not to-day, dear," said Jane in an imploring voice; and Elinor accordingly remained with her cousin, while Miss Agnes went down to meet Mrs. George Wyllys. This lady was still living at Longbridge, although every few months she talked of leaving the place. Her oldest boy had just received a midshipman's warrant, to which he was certainly justly entitled—his father having lost his life in the public service. The rest of her children were at home; and rather spoilt and troublesome little people they were.

"How is Jane?" asked Mrs. Wyllys, as she entered the house.

"Very sad and feeble; but I hope the air here will strengthen her, after a time."

"Poor thing!—no wonder she is sad, indeed! So young, and such an affliction! How is the child?"

"Much better; she is quite playful, and disturbs Jane very much by asking after her father. What a warm drive you must have had, Harriet; you had better throw off your hat, and stay with us until evening."

"Thank you; I must go home for dinner, and shall not be able to stay more than half an hour. Is your father in? I wished to see him, as well as yourself, on business."

"No, he is not at home; he has gone off some miles, to look at some workmen who are putting up a new farm-house."

"I am sorry he is not at home, for I want to ask his opinion. And yet he must have his hands full just now, with that vexatious Stanley case. I must say, I think Clapp deserves to be sent to the tread-mill!"

"Perhaps he does," replied Miss Wyllys. "It is to be hoped at least, that he will receive what he deserves, and nothing more."

"I hope he will, with all my heart! But as I have not much time to spare, I must proceed to lay my affairs before you. Now I really and honestly want your advice, Agnes."

"You have had it often before," replied Miss Wyllys, smiling. "I am quite at your service now," she added, seeing her sister-in-law look a little uneasy. Mrs. Wyllys was silent for a moment.

"I scarcely know where to begin," she then said; "for here I am, come to consult you on a subject which you may think beneath your notice; you are superior to such trifling matters," she said, smiling—and then added: "But seriously, I have too much confidence in your judgment and good sense, to wish to act without your approbation."

"What is the point upon which I am to decide?—for you have not yet told me anything."

"It is a subject upon which I have been thinking for some time—several months. What should you say to my marrying again?" asked Mrs. Wyllys stoutly.

Miss Agnes was amazed. She had known her sister-in-law, when some years younger, refuse more than one good offer; and had never for a moment doubted her intention to remain a widow for life.

"You surprise me, Harriet," she said; "I had no idea you thought of marrying again."

"Certainly, I never thought of taking such a step until quite lately."

"And who is the gentleman?" asked Miss Agnes, in some anxiety.

"I know you will at least agree with me, in thinking that I have made a prudent choice. The welfare of my children is indeed my chief consideration. I find, Agnes, that they require a stronger hand than mine to manage them. Long before Evert went to sea, he was completely his own master; there were only two persons who had any influence over him, one is his grandfather, the other, a gentleman who will, I suppose, before long, become nearly connected with him. I frankly acknowledge that I have no control over him myself; it is a mortifying fact to confess, but my system of education, though an excellent one in theory, has not succeeded in practice."

'Because,' thought Miss Agnes, 'there is too much theory, my good sister.' "But you have not yet named the gentleman," she added, aloud.

"Oh, I have no doubt of your approving my choice! He is a most worthy, excellent man—of course, at my time of life, I shall not make a love-match. Can't you guess the individual—one of my Longbridge neighbours?"

"From Longbridge," said Miss Wyllys, not a little surprised. "Edward Tibbs, perhaps," she added, smiling. He was an unmarried man, and one of the Longbridge beaux.

"Oh, no; how can you think me so silly, Agnes! I am ashamed of you! It is a very different person; the family are great favourites of your's."

"One of the Van Hornes?" Mrs. Wyllys shook her head.

"One of the Hubbards?—Is it John Hubbard, the principal of the new Academy?" inquired Miss Agnes, faintly.

"Do you suppose I would marry a man of two-or-three-and-twenty!" exclaimed Mrs. Wyllys with indignation. "It is his uncle; a man against whom there can be no possible objection—Mr. James Hubbard."

'Uncle Dozie, of all men!' thought Miss Agnes. 'Silent, sober, sleepy Uncle Dozie. Well, we must be thankful that it is no worse.'

"Mr. Hubbard is certainly a respectable man, a man of principles," she observed aloud. "But everybody looked upon him as a confirmed old bachelor; I did not suspect either of you of having any thoughts of marrying," continued Miss Agnes, smiling.

"I am sometimes surprised that we should have come to that conclusion, myself. But it is chiefly for the sake of my children that I marry; you must know me well enough, Agnes, to be convinced that I sacrifice myself for them!"

"I wish, indeed, that it may be for their good, Harriet!"

"Thank you; I have no doubt of it. I feel perfect confidence in Mr. Hubbard; he is a man so much older than myself, and so much more experienced, that I shall be entirely guided in future by his counsel and advice."

Miss Agnes had some difficulty in repressing a smile and a sigh.

"Of course, I am well aware that many people will think I am taking a foolish step," continued Mrs. Wyllys. Hubbard's connexions, are generally not thought agreeable, perhaps; he has very little property, and no profession. I am not blinded, you see; but I am very indifferent as to the opinion of the world in general; I am very independent of all but my immediate friends, as you well know, Agnes."

Miss Wyllys was silent.

"In fact, my attention was first fixed upon Mr. Hubbard, by finding how little he was appreciated and understood by others; I regretted that I had at first allowed myself to be guided by general opinion. Now I think it very possible that, although Mr. Hubbard has been your neighbour for years, even you, Agnes, may have a very mistaken opinion of him; you may have underrated his talents, his strong affections, and energetic character. I was surprised myself to find, what a very agreeable companion he is!"

"I have always believed Mr. James Hubbard a man of kind feelings, as you observe, and a man of good principles; two important points, certainly."

"I am glad you do him justice. But you are not aware perhaps, what a very pleasant companion he is, where he feels at his ease, and knows that he is understood."

'That is to say, where he can doze, while another person thinks and talks for him,' thought Miss Agnes.

"The time is fixed I suppose for the wedding, Harriet?" she inquired aloud, with a smile.

"Nearly so, I believe. I told Mr. Hubbard that I should be just as ready to marry him next week, as next year; we agreed that when two persons of our ages had come to an understanding, they might as well settle the matter at once. We shall be married, I fancy, in the morning, in church, with only two or three friends present. I hope, Agnes, that your father and yourself will be with me. You know that I should never have taken this step, if you had not agreed with me in thinking it for the good of my children."

"Thank you, Harriet; of course we shall be present, if you wish it."

"Certainly I wish it. I shall always look upon you as my best friends and advisers."

"Next to Mr. Hubbard, in future," replied Miss Agnes, smiling.

"When you know him better, you will confess that he deserves a high place in my confidence. You have no idea how much his brother and nieces think of him; but that is no wonder, for they know his good sense, and his companionable qualities. He is really a very agreeable companion, Agnes, for a rational woman; quite a cultivated mind, too."

Visions of cabbages and turnips rose in Miss Agnes's mind, as the only cultivation ever connected, till now, with Uncle Dozie's name.

"We passed last evening charmingly; I read the Lay of the Last Minstrel aloud to him, and he seemed to enjoy it very much," continued Mrs. Wyllys.

{"Lay of the Last Minstrel" = long narrative poem (1805) by Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)}

'He took a nap, I suppose,' thought Miss Agnes. "He ought to be well pleased to have a fair lady read aloud to him," she replied, smiling.

"The better I know him, the more satisfied I am with my choice. I have: found a man upon whom I can depend for support and advice—and one who is at the same time a very pleasant companion. Do you know, he sometimes reminds me of our excellent father,"

This was really going too far, in Miss Agnes's opinion; she quite resented a comparison between Uncle Dozie and Mr. Wyllys. The widow, however, was too much occupied with her own affairs, to notice Miss Agnes's expression.

"I find, indeed, that the whole family are more agreeable than I had supposed; but you rather gave me a prejudice against them. The young ladies improve on acquaintance, they are pretty, amiable young women; I have seen them quite often since we have been near neighbours. Well, I must leave you, for Mr. Hubbard dines with me to-day. In the mean time, Agnes, I commit my affairs to your hands. Since I did not find your father at home, I shall write to him this evening."

The ladies parted; and as Mrs. Wyllys passed out of the room, she met Elinor.

"Good morning, Elinor," she said; "your aunt has news for you, which I would tell you myself if I had time:" then nodding, she left the house, and had soon driven off. "My dear Aunt, what is this news?" asked Elinor.

Miss Agnes looked a little annoyed, a little mortified, and a little amused.

When the mystery was explained, Elinor's amazement was great.

"It is incredible!" she exclaimed. "My Aunt Wyllys actually going to marry that prosing, napping Mr. Hubbard; Uncle Dozie!"

"When I remember her husband," said Miss Agnes, with feeling, "it does seem incredible; my dear, warm-hearted, handsome, animated brother George!"

"How extraordinary!" said Elinor, who could do nothing but exclaim.

"No; not in the least extraordinary," added Miss Agnes; "such marriages, dear, seem quite common." Mr. Wyllys was not at all astonished at the intelligence.

"I have expected that Harriet would marry, all along; she has a great many good intentions, and some good qualities; but I knew she would not remain a widow. It is rather strange that she should have chosen James Hubbard; but she might have done worse."

With these philosophical reflections, Mrs. Wyllys's friends looked forward to the happy event which was soon to take place. The very same morning that Miss Agnes was taken into the confidence of the bride, the friends of the groom also learned the news, but in a more indirect manner.

The charms of a parterre are daily be-rhymed in verse, and vaunted in prose, but the beauties of a vegetable garden seldom meet with the admiration they might claim. If you talk of beets, people fancy them sliced with pepper and vinegar; if you mention carrots, they are seen floating in soup; cabbage figures in the form of cold-slaw, or disguised under drawn-butter; if you refer to corn, it appears to the mind's eye wrapt in a napkin to keep it warm, or cut up with beans in a succatash {sic}. Half the people who see these good things daily spread on the board before them, are only acquainted with vegetables after they have been mutilated and disguised by cookery. They would not know the leaf of a beet from that of the spinach, the green tuft of a carrot from the delicate sprigs of parsley. Now, a bouquet of roses and pinks is certainly a very beautiful object, but a collection of fine vegetables, with the rich variety of shape and colour, in leaf, fruit, and root, such as nature has given them to us, is a noble sight. So thought Uncle Dozie, at least. The rich texture and shading of the common cabbage-leaf was no novelty to him; he had often watched the red, coral-like veins in the glossy green of the beet; the long, waving leaf of the maize, with the silky tassels of its ears, were beautiful in his eyes; and so were the rich, white heads of the cauliflower, delicate as carved ivory, the feathery tuft of the carrot, the purple fruit of the egg-plant, and the brilliant scarlet tomato. He came nearer than most Christians, out of Weathersfield, to sympathy with the old Egyptians in their onion-worship.

{"parterre" = ornamental flower garden; "out of Weathersfield" = Wethersfield (the modern spelling), Connecticut, was famous for its onions (there is still a red onion called "Red Weathersfield"), until struck by a blight about 1840; "old Egyptians" = ancient Egypt was proverbial for worshiping the onion}

With such tastes and partialities, Uncle Dozie was generally to be found in his garden, between the hours of sun-rise and sun-set; gardening having been his sole occupation for nearly forty years. His brother, Mr. Joseph Hubbard, having something to communicate, went there in search of him, on the morning to which we refer. But Uncle Dozie was not to be found. The gardener, however, thought that he could not have gone very far, for he had passed near him not five minutes before; and he suggested that, perhaps Mr. Hubbard was going out somewhere, for "he looked kind o' spruce and drest up." Mr. Hubbard expected his brother to dine at home, and thought the man mistaken. In passing an arbour, however, he caught a glimpse of the individual he was looking for, and on coming nearer, he found Uncle Dozie, dressed in a new summer suit, sitting on the arbour seat taking a nap, while at his feet was a very fine basket of vegetables, arranged with more than usual care. Unwilling to disturb him, his brother, who knew that his naps seldom lasted more than a few minutes at a time, took a turn in the garden, waiting for him to awake. He had hardly left the arbour however, before he heard Uncle Dozie moving; turning in that direction, he was going to join him, when, to his great astonishment, he saw his brother steal from the arbour, with the basket of vegetables on his arm, and disappear between two rows of pea-brush.

"James!—I say, James!—Where are you going? Stop a minute, I want to speak to you!" cried Mr. Joseph Hubbard.

He received no answer.

"James!—Wait a moment for me! Where are you?" added the merchant; and walking quickly to the pea-rows, he saw his brother leave them and dexterously make for the tall Indian-corn. Now Uncle Dozie was not in the least deaf; and his brother was utterly at a loss to account for his evading him in the first place, and for his not answering in the second. He thought the man had lost his senses: he was mistaken, Uncle Dozie had only lost his heart. Determined not to give up the chase, still calling the retreating Uncle Dozie, he pursued him from the pea-rows into the windings of the corn-hills, across the walk to another growth of peas near the garden paling. Here, strange to say, in a manner quite inexplicable to his brother, Uncle Dozie and his vegetables suddenly disappeared! Mr. Hubbard was completely at fault: he could scarcely believe that he was in his own garden, and that it was his own brother James whom he had been pursuing, and who seemed at that instant to have vanished from before his eyes—through the fence, he should have said, had such a thing been possible. Mr. Hubbard was a resolute man; he determined to sift the matter to the bottom. Still calling upon the fugitive, he made his way to the garden paling through the defile of the peas. No one was there—a broad, open bed lay on either hand, and before him the fence. At last he observed a foot-print in the earth near the paling, and a rustling sound beyond. He advanced and looked over, and to his unspeakable amazement, saw his brother, James Hubbard, busily engaged there, in collecting the scattered vegetables which had fallen from his basket.

"Jem!—I have caught you at last, have I? What in the name of common sense are you about there?"

No reply was made, but Uncle Dozie proceeded to gather up his cauliflowers, peas and tomatoes, to the best of his ability.

"Did you fly over the fence, or through it?" asked his brother, quite surprised.

"Neither one nor the other," replied Uncle Dozie, sulkily. "I came through the gate."

"Gate!—why there never was a gate here!"

"There is one now."

And so there was; part of the paling had been turned into a narrow gate.

"Why, who cut this gate, I should like to know?"

"I did."

"You did, Jem? What for?—What is the use of it?"

"To go through."

"To go where? It only leads into Mrs. Wyllys's garden."

Uncle Dozie made no answer.

"What are you doing with those vegetables? I am really curious to know."

"Going to carry them down there," said Uncle Dozie.

"Down where?" repeated Uncle Josie, looking on the ground strewed with vegetables.

"Over there."

"Over where?" asked the merchant, raising his eyes towards a neighbouring barn before him.

"Yonder," added Uncle Dozie, making a sort of indescribable nod backward with his head.

"Yonder!—In the street do you mean? Are you going to throw them away?"

"Throw away such a cauliflower as this!" exclaimed Uncle Dozie, with great indignation.

"What are you going to do with them, then?"

"Carry them to the house there."

"What house?"

"Mrs. Wyllys's, to be sure," replied Uncle Dozie, boldly.

"What is the use of carrying vegetables to Mrs. Wyllys? She has a garden of her own" said his brother, very innocently.

"Miserable garden—poor, thin soil," muttered Uncle Dozie.

"Is it? Well, then, I can understand it; but you might us well send them by the gardener."

Uncle Dozie made no reply, but proceeded to arrange his vegetables in the basket, with an eye to appearances; he had gathered them all up again, but another object which had fallen on the grass lay unnoticed.

"What is that—a book?" asked his brother.

Uncle Dozie turned round, saw the volume, picked it up, and thrust it in his pocket.

"Did you drop it? I didn't know you ever carried a book about you," replied his brother, with some surprise. "What is it?"

"A book of poetry."

"Whose poetry?"

"I am sure I've forgotten," replied Uncle Dozie, taking a look askance at the title, as it half-projected from his pocket. "It's Coleridge's Ancient Mariner," he added.

{"Coleridge's..." = "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" (1798) by the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834). A number of chapter epigraphs in "Elinor Wyllys" are taken from this famous poem}

"What in the world are you going to do with it?" said his brother, with increasing surprise.

"I wanted a volume of poetry."

"You—Jem Hubbard! Why, I thought Yankee-Doodle was the only poetry you cared for!"

"I don't care for it, but she does."

"She!—What SHE?" asked Uncle Josie, with lively curiosity, but very little tact, it would seem.

"Mrs. Wyllys," was the laconic reply.

"Oh, Mrs. Wyllys; I told her some time ago that she was very welcome to any of our books."

"It isn't one of your books; it's mine; I bought it."

"It wasn't worth while to buy it, Jem," said his brother; "I dare say Emmeline has got it in the house. If Mrs. Wyllys asked to borrow it, you ought to have taken Emmeline's, though she isn't at home; she just keeps her books to show off on the centre-table, you know. Our neighbour, Mrs. Wyllys, seems quite a reader."

"She doesn't want this to read herself," observed Uncle Dozie.

"No?—What does she want it for?"

"She wants me to read it aloud."

Uncle Josie opened his eyes in mute astonishment. Uncle Dozie continued, as if to excuse himself for this unusual offence: "She asked for a favourite volume of mine; but I hadn't any favourite; so I bought this. It looks pretty, and the bookseller said it was called a good article."

"Why, Jem, are you crazy, man!—YOU going to read poetry aloud!"

"Why not?" said Uncle Dozie, growing bolder as the conversation continued, and he finished arranging his basket.

"I believe you are out of your head, Jem; I don't understand you this morning. What is the meaning of this?—what are you about?"

"Going to be married," replied Uncle Dozie, not waiting for any further questions, but setting off at a brisk step towards Mrs. Wyllys's door.

Mr. Joseph Hubbard remained looking over the fence in silent amazement; he could scarcely believe his senses, so entirely was he taken by surprise. In good sooth, Uncle Dozie had managed matters very slily, through that little gate in the garden paling; not a human being had suspected him. Uncle Josie's doubts were soon entirely removed, however; he was convinced of the reality of all he had heard and seen that morning, when he observed his brother standing on Mrs. Wyllys's steps, and the widow coming out to receive him, with a degree of elegance in her dress, and graciousness in her manner, quite perceptible across the garden: the fair lady admired the vegetables, ordered them carried into the cellar, and received Coleridge's Ancient Mariner from Uncle Dozie's hands, while they were still standing beneath the rose-covered porch, looking sufficiently lover-like to remove any lingering doubts of Uncle Josie. After the happy couple had entered the house, the merchant left his station at the paling, and returned to his own solitary dinner, laughing heartily whenever the morning scene recurred to him. We have said that Uncle Dozie had managed his love affairs thus far so slyly, that no one suspected him; that very afternoon, however, one of the most distinguished gossips of Longbridge, Mrs. Tibbs's mother, saw him napping in Mrs. Wyllys's parlour, with a rose-bud in his button-hole, and the Ancient Mariner in his hand. She was quite too experienced in her vocation, not to draw her own conclusions; and a suspicion, once excited, was instantly communicated to others. The news spread like wild-fire; and when the evening-bell rang, it had become a confirmed fact in many houses, that Mrs. Wyllys and Mr. James Hubbard had already been privately married six months.



CHAPTER XIV. {XXXVII}

"Now tell me, brother Clarence, what think you Of this ————————- ?" Henry VI.

{William Shakespeare, "3 Henry VI", IV.i.1-2}

BEFORE the end of the week, the friends at Wyllys-Roof, after carefully examining all the facts within their knowledge, were confirmed in their first opinion, that the individual claiming to be William Stanley was an impostor. Mrs. Stanley was the last of the three to make up her mind decidedly, on the point; but at length, she also was convinced, that Mr. Clapp and this sailor had united in a conspiracy to obtain possession of her husband's estate. The chief reasons for believing this to be the case, consisted in the difference of CHARACTER and EXPRESSION between the claimant and William Stanley: the more Mr. Wyllys examined this point, the clearer it appeared to him, who had known his friend's only son from an infant, and had always felt much interested in him. As a child, and a boy, William Stanley had been of a morose temper, and of a sluggish, inactive mind—not positively stupid, but certainly far from clever; this claimant, on the contrary, had all the expression and manner of a shrewd, quick-witted man, who might be passionate, but who looked like a good-natured person, although his countenance was partially disfigured by traces of intemperance. These facts, added to the length of time which had elapsed since the reported death of the individual, the neglect to claim his inheritance, the suspicious circumstances under which this sailor now appeared, under the auspices of an obscure country lawyer, who bore an indifferent character, and to whom the peculiar circumstances of the Stanley estate were probably well known, all united in producing the belief in a conspiracy. There was no doubt, however, but that a strong case could be made out on the other hand by the claimant; it was evident that Mr. Reed was convinced of his identity; his resemblance to William Stanley, and to Mr. Stanley, the father, could not be denied; the similarity of the handwriting was also remarkable; his profession, his apparent age, his possession of the letters, his accurate knowledge of persons and places connected with the family, altogether amounted to an important body of evidence in his favour.

It would require a volume in itself, to give the details of this singular case; but the general reader will probably care for little more than an outline of the proceedings. It would indeed, demand a legal hand to do full justice to the subject; those who are disposed to inquire more particularly into the matter, having a natural partiality, or acquired taste for the intricate uncertainties of the law, will probably have it in their power ere long, to follow the case throughout, in print; it is understood at Longbridge, that Mr. James Bernard, son of Judge Bernard, is engaged in writing a regular report, which, it is supposed, will shortly be published. In the mean time, we shall be compelled to confine ourselves chiefly to a general statement of the most important proceedings, more particularly connected with our narrative.

"Here is a letter from Clapp, sir, proposing a compromise," said Hazlehurst, handing the paper to Mr. Wyllys. It was dated two days after the interview at Wyllys-Roof; the tone was amicable and respectful, though worded in Mr. Clapp's peculiar style. We have not space for the letter itself, but its purport was, an offer on the part of Mr. Stanley to forgive all arrears, and overlook the past, provided his father's estate, in its actual condition, was immediately placed in his hands. He was urged to take this step, he said, by respect for his opponents, and the conviction that they had acted conscientiously, while he himself by his own neglect to appear earlier, had naturally given rise to suspicion. He was therefore ready to receive the property as it stood at present, engaging that neither executors nor legatee should be molested for arrears; the sums advanced to Hazlehurst, he was willing should be considered equivalent to the legacy bequeathed to him by Mr. Stanley, the father, in case of his son's return, although in fact they amounted to a much larger sum.

This offer of a compromise merely confirmed the suspicions of all parties at Wyllys-Roof. The offer was rejected in the same letter which announced to Mr. Reed, that the defendants had seen as yet no good reason for believing in the identity of the individual claiming the name of William Stanley, and consequently, that they should contest his claim to the Stanley estate.

After this step, it became necessary to make every preparation for a trial; as it was already evident, from the usual legal notices of the plaintiffs, that they intended to carry the case into a court of justice, with as little delay as possible. It was the first object of Mr. Wyllys and Hazlehurst, to obtain as much testimony as lay within their reach, upon the points of the capacity and natural temperament of William Stanley; letters were written, in the hope of discovering something through the old family physician, the school-master, and companions of the young man before he went to sea; and Mrs. Stanley even believed that the nurse of her step-son was still living. Agents were also employed, to search out some clue, which might help to trace the past life and character of the individual bearing the name of William Stanley. Harry was only awaiting the expected arrival of Mr. Ellsworth, before he set out himself for the little town in the neighbourhood of Greatwood, where he hoped to gather much useful evidence. To what degree he was also desirous of the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Creighton again, we cannot say; but his friends at Wyllys-Roof believed that he was quite as anxious to see the sister as the brother. He had not long to wait, for, punctual to the appointed day, the earliest possible, Mr. Ellsworth arrived, accompanied by Mrs. Creighton.

"Now, Mr. Hazlehurst, come here and tell me all about these vexatious proceedings," said Mrs. Creighton to Harry, as the whole party left the dining-room for the piazza, the day Mr. Ellsworth and his sister arrived at Wyllys-Roof. "I hope you and Frank found out, in that long consultation you had this morning, that it would not be difficult to settle the matter as it ought to be settled?"

"On the contrary, we agreed that there were a great many serious difficulties before us."

"You don't surely think there is any real danger as to the result?" asked the lady with great interest. "You cannot suppose that this man is really William Stanley, come to life again!"

"No; I believe him to be an impostor; and so does Ellsworth—so do we all; but he makes out quite a plausible story, nevertheless."

"But what are you going to do? Come, sit down here, and tell me about it."

"You forget, Josephine," said Mr. Ellsworth, smiling, "that we lawyers dare not trust the ladies with our secrets; you must contrive to restrain your curiosity, or interest—whichever you choose to call it—until the trial."

"Nonsense!—I am quite too much interested for that; I shall expect to hear a great deal before the trial. Is it possible your stock of patience will last till then, Miss Wyllys?" added the lady, turning to Elinor.

"Well, I don't know; I confess myself very anxious as to the result," said Elinor, blushing a little.

"To be sure; we are all anxious; and I expect to be taken into your confidence, Mr. Hazlehurst, quite as far as you legal gentlemen think it safe to admit a lady. Frank has a very bad habit of never trusting me with his business matters, Miss Wyllys; we must cure him of that."

"I am inclined to think, Mrs. Creighton, your patience would scarcely hear the recital of even one case of Richard Roe versus John Doe," said Mr. Wyllys.

"Perhaps not; for I care not a straw for Richard Roe, or John Doe, either."

"Would you really like to see the account which this newcomer gives of himself?" asked Hazlehurst.

"Certainly; I speak seriously, I assure you."

"You shall see it this evening," said Harry. "I think you will agree with me, that it is a strange story."

"But, Mrs. Creighton," said Mr. Wyllys, "we have had our heads so full of law, and conspiracies, and impostors, lately, that I was in hopes you would bring us something more agreeable to think and talk about. What were the people doing at Nahant when you left there?"

"It was very dull there; at least I thought so; I was in a great hurry for Frank to bring me away."

"What was wanting, pray?" asked Mr. Wyllys. "Was it the fault of the weather, the water, or the company?"

"Of all together, sir; nothing was of the right kind; it was not half so pleasant as Saratoga this year. Even the flirtations were not as amusing as usual."

"I should have thought you might have been amused in some other way," said Mr. Ellsworth.

"Flirtation, I would have you believe, my good brother, is sometimes quite an agreeable and exciting pastime."

"Faute de mieux," said Harry, smiling.

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

"You surprise me, Josephine, by saying so, as you are no flirt yourself," observed her brother, with a perfectly honest and natural expression.

"Well, I don't know; certainly I never flirt intentionally; but I won't be sure my spirits have not carried me away sometimes. Have you never, Miss Wyllys, in moments of gaiety or excitement, said more than you intended to?"

"Have I never flirted, do you mean?" asked Elinor, smiling.

"But though you say it yourself, I don't believe you are a bit of a flirt, Mrs. Creighton," said the unsuspicious Mr. Wyllys.

"Oh, no, sir; I would not have you believe me a regular flirt for the world. I only acknowledge to a little trifling, now and then. Miss Wyllys knows what I mean; we women are more observant of each other. Now, haven't you suspected me of flirting more than once?"

"You had better ask me," said Mary Van Alstyne; "Elinor is not half suspicious enough."

"The acquittal of the gentlemen ought to satisfy you," said Elinor. "They are supposed to be the best judges. Are you sure, however, that you did not flirt with Mr. Hopkins?—he was at Nahant with you, I believe."

"I am afraid it surpasses the power of woman to distract Mr. Hopkins's attention from a sheepshead or a paugee."

{"sheepshead" and "paugee" (porgy) = names applied to a number of American fish esteemed by anglers}

"You have really a very pretty view here, Miss Wyllys, although there is nothing bold or commanding in the country; it makes a very pleasant home picture," observed Mr. Ellsworth, who had been looking about him. "That reach in the river has a very good effect; the little hamlet, too, looks well in the distance; and the wood and meadow opposite, are as well placed as one could wish."

"I am glad you like it; but we really think that, for such simple scenery, it is uncommonly pretty," replied Elinor.

"Yes; even your fastidious friend, Mr. Stryker, pronounced the landscape about Wyllys-Roof to be very well put together," said Mrs. Creighton.

"Mr. Stryker, however, professes to have no eye for anything of the kind," replied Elinor.

"That is only one of the man's affectations; his eyes are more like those of other people than he is willing to confess. Though Mr. Stryker pretends to be one of your men of the world, whose notions are all practical, yet one soon discovers that he cherishes his useless foibles, like other people," said the lady, with an air of careless frankness; though intending the speech for the benefit of Hazlehurst and Mr. Wyllys, who both stood near her.

"Perhaps you don't know that Mr. Stryker has preceded you into our neighbourhood," said Mary Van Alstyne. "He is staying at Mr. de Vaux's."

"Oh, yes; I knew he was to be here about these times. Pray, tell me which is Mr. de Vaux's place. It is a fine house, I am told."

"A great deal too fine," said Harry. "It is all finery, or rather it was a few years since."

"It is much improved now," observed Elinor; "he talks of taking down half the columns. That is the house, Mrs. Creighton," she added, showing the spot where the white pillars of Colonnade Manor were partly visible through an opening in the wood.

"What a colonnade it seems to be! It puts one in mind of the Italian epigram on some bad architecture," said Mr. Ellsworth:

"'Care colonne che fate qua? Non sappiamo, in verita!'"

{"Care colonne..." = Dear columns, what are you doing here? We really don't know! (Italian)}

"I understand, Miss Wyllys, that your friend, Mr. Stryker, calls it the 'cafe de mille colonnes,'" said Mrs. Creighton.

{"cafe de mile colonnes" = coffee-house of a thousand columns (French)}

"Does Mrs. Creighton's friend, Mr. Stryker, treat it so disrespectfully? Mr. de Vaux has given it a very good name, I think. It is Broadlawn now; last year it was Colonnade Manor."

"And, pray, what did Mr. Taylor's manorial rights consist in?" asked Mr. Ellsworth.

"In the privilege of putting up as many Grecian summer-houses as he pleased, I suppose," said Harry; "the place promised to be covered with them at one time."

"Mr. de Vaux has taken them down; all but two at least," said Elinor.

"It was fortunate that Mr. Taylor had a long purse," remarked Mrs. Creighton; "for he seems to have delighted in superfluities of all kinds."

"I suppose you are aware, Mrs. Creighton, that false taste is always a very expensive foible," said Mr. Wyllys; "for it looks upon ornament and improvement as the same thing. My neighbour, Mr. Taylor, certainly has as much of that spirit as any man I ever knew."

"The name he gave his place is a good proof of that," said Harry. "If he had called it the Colonnade, that would have been at least descriptive and appropriate; but he tacked on the Manor, which had neither rhyme nor reason to recommend it."

"Was it not a Manor before the revolution?" inquired Mrs. Creighton.

"Oh, no; only a farm belonging to the Van Hornes. But Taylor would not have it called a farm, for the world; he delights in big words," said Mr. Wyllys.

"That is only natural, I suppose, for 'Don Pompey,' as Mr. Stryker calls him," observed Mr. Ellsworth.

The following morning was the happy occasion, which was to make Mrs. George Wyllys the wife of Uncle Dozie. In the course of the week, which intervened between her announcing the fact at Wyllys-Roof, and the wedding itself, she had only consulted her friends twice, and changed her mind as often. At first it was settled that she was to be married at two o'clock, in church, with four witnesses present, and that from church she was to return quietly to her own house, where the party were to eat a family dinner with her. A note, however, informed her friends that it was finally decided, that the wedding should take place early in the morning, at her own house, in the presence of some dozen friends. The dinner was also postponed for a fortnight, as the happy couple intended to set out for Boston, the morning they were united.

The weather was propitious; and after an early breakfast the party from Wyllys-Roof set out. It included Mr. Ellsworth and Mrs. Creighton, who were connexions of the bride, as well as Harry, and the family; Mary Van Alstyne remaining at home with Jane.

They soon reached Longbridge, after a pleasant, early drive. On being ushered into Mrs. Wyllys's drawing-room, they were received in a very informal manner by the bride herself. As Elinor had recommended a grey silk for the wedding-dress, she was not at all surprised to find her aunt wearing a coloured muslin. On one point, however, it was evident she had not changed her mind; for the happy man, Uncle Dozie, was there in full matrimonials, with a new wig, and a white waistcoat. The groom elect looked much like a victim about to be sacrificed; he was as miserably sheepish and fidgety as ever old bachelor could be under similar circumstances. Mrs. Creighton paid her compliments to the bride very gracefully; and she tried to look as if the affair were not a particularly good joke. Mr. Wyllys summoned up a sort of resigned cheerfulness; Miss Agnes and Elinor also endeavoured to look as became wedding-guests. The children, who had all received presents from the bridegroom, evidently thought the occasion a holiday. The clergyman having appeared, Mrs. Wyllys gave her hand to the trembling groom, and the important transaction was soon over.

'There is, at least, no danger of Uncle Dozie's taking a nap,' thought Harry, 'he looks too nervous and uncomfortable for that.'

Congratulations and good wishes were duly offered; they served only to increase the bridegroom's distress, while the bride appeared perfectly satisfied, and in very good spirits. She felt disposed to make a cheerful sacrifice for the benefit of her children, to whom she had secured an efficient protector, while at the same time, she was now sure of a prudent friend and counsellor for life: so at least she informed Mrs. Creighton.

"I am sorry your brother is not here, Mr. Hubbard."

"He went to New York, on business, last night," said the groom.

"I hope you will have a pleasant trip to Boston," continued Mr. Wyllys.

"Thank you for the wish, sir," interposed the bride, "but we determined last evening to go to Niagara, as we have both been to Boston already."

'We shall hear of you at New Orleans, yet,' thought Harry.

Refreshments were brought in, and everybody, of course, received their usual share of the wedding-cake.

"You see I have set you an excellent example," said the bride to Mrs. Creighton and Elinor.

"We must hope that these ladies will soon follow it," said Mr. Ellsworth, with a glance at Elinor.

"Shall we thank him, Miss Wyllys?" said Mrs. Creighton. "It was kindly meant, I dare say."

Mr. Wyllys, who was standing near them, smiled.

"It was only yesterday, Elinor," added the new Mrs. Hubbard, "that Black Bess, who made the cake you are eating, told me when she brought it home, that she hoped soon to make your own wedding-cake."

"She has had the promise of it ever since I was five years old," said Elinor,

"Is it possible that Black Bess is still living and baking?" said Harry. "I can remember her gingerbread, as long as I can recollect anything. I once overheard some Longbridge ladies declare, that they could tell Black Bess's cake as far as they could see it; which struck me as something very wonderful."

"She seems to be a person of great importance," said Mrs. Creighton; "I shall hope soon to make her acquaintance. My dear Miss Elinor, I wish you would bear in mind that your wedding-cake has been ordered these dozen years. I am afraid you forget how many of us are interested in it, as well as Black Bess."

"Our notable housekeepers you know, tell us that wedding-cake will bear keeping half-a-century," said Elinor, smiling.

"That is after the ceremony I am sure, not before," said Mrs. Creighton.

Elinor seemed at last annoyed by these persevering allusions, and several persons left the group. Hazlehurst took a seat by Miss Patsey; he was anxious to show her that her brother-in-law's behaviour, had in no manner changed his regard for herself and her family.

"Where is Charlie," he asked.

"He has gone off to Lake Champlain now. I hope you and Charlie will both soon get tired of travelling about, Mr. Hazlehurst; you ought to stay at home with your friends."

"But I don't seem to have any home; Charlie and I are both by nature, home-bred, home-staying youths, but we seem fated to wander about. How is he coming on with his pictures?—has he nearly done his work on the lakes?"

"Yes, I believe so; he has promised to come to Longbridge next month, for the rest of the summer. He has been distressed, quite as much as the rest of us, Mr. Hazlehurst, by these difficulties—"

"Do not speak of them, Miss Patsey; it is a bad business; but one which will never interfere between me and my old friends, I trust."

Miss Patsey looked her thanks, her mortification, and her sympathy, but said nothing more.

The carriage which was to convey the bride and groom to the steamboat, soon drove to the door; and taking leave of their friends, the happy couple set off. They turned back, however, before they were out of sight, as Mrs. Hubbard wished to change the travelling-shawl she had first selected for another. Mr. Wyllys, Elinor, and Harry accompanied them to the boat; and they all three agreed, that the groom had not yet been guilty of napping; although Hazlehurst declared, that as the seats on deck were cool and shady, he had little doubt that he would be dozing before the boat was out of sight.

Those who feel the same anxiety for the welfare of the children, during their mother's absence, which weighed upon the mind of Miss Agnes, will be glad to hear that they were all three carried to Wyllys-Roof, under the charge of an experienced nurse. And it must be confessed, that it was long since little George, a riotous child, some seven years old, had been kept under such steady, but kind discipline, as that under which he lived, during this visit to his grandfather.

Mr. Ellsworth and Harry passed the morning at Longbridge, engaged with their legal affairs; and in the evening Hazlehurst left Wyllys-Roof for Philadelphia; and Mrs. Stanley accompanied him, on her way to Greatwood.



CHAPTER XV. {XXXVIII}

"———- But by the stealth Of our own vanity, we're left so poor." HABINGTON.

{William Habington (English poet and dramatist, 1605-1664), "Castara" I.20-21}

Now that Harry had left the house, Mrs. Creighton's attention was chiefly given to Mr. Wyllys; although she had as usual, smiles, both arch and sweet, sayings, both piquant and agreeable, for each and all of the gentlemen from Broadlawn, who were frequent visiters at Wyllys-Roof. Mr. Stryker, indeed, was there half the time. It was evident that the lady was extremely interested in Hazlehurst's difficulties; she was constant in her inquiries as to the progress of affairs, and listened anxiously to the many different prognostics as to the result. Miss Agnes remarked indeed, one day, when Mr. Ellsworth thought he had succeeded in obtaining an all-important clue, in tracing the previous career of Harry's opponent, that his sister seemed much elated—she sent an extremely amiable message to Hazlehurst in her brother's letter. It afterwards appeared, however, on farther inquiry, that this very point turned out entirely in favour of the sailor, actually proving that nine years previously he had sailed in one of the Havre packets, under the name of William Stanley. Mrs. Creighton that evening expressed her good wishes for Harry, in a much calmer tone, before a roomfull {sic} of company.

"Ladies, have you no sympathizing message for Hazlehurst?" inquired Mr. Ellsworth, as he folded a letter he had been writing.

"Oh, certainly; we were sorry to hear the bad news;" and she then turned immediately, and began an animated, laughing conversation with Hubert de Vaux.

'What a difference in character between the brother and sister,' thought Miss Agnes, whose good opinion of Mr. Ellsworth had been raised higher than ever, by the earnest devotion to his friend's interest, which appeared throughout his whole management of the case.

The family at Wyllys-Roof were careful to show, by their friendly attention to the Hubbards, that their respect and regard for them had not suffered at all by the steps Mr. Clapp had taken. Miss Agnes and Elinor visited the cottage as frequently as ever. One morning, shortly after the wedding, Miss Wyllys went to inquire after Mrs. Hubbard, as she was in the habit of doing. She found Mary Hubbard, the youngest daughter, there, and was struck on entering, by the expression of Miss Patsey's face—very different from her usual calm, pleasant aspect.

"Oh, Miss Wyllys!" she exclaimed, in answer to an inquiry of Miss Agnes's—"I am just going to Longbridge! My poor, kind uncle Joseph!—but he was always too weak and indulgent to those girls!"

"What has happened?" asked Miss Wyllys, anxiously.

"Dreadful news, indeed; Mrs. Hilson has disgraced herself!—Her husband has left her and applied for a divorce! But I do not believe it is half as bad as most people think; Julianna has been shamefully imprudent, but I cannot think her guilty!"

{"Her husband has left her..." = this incident seems to reflect the unhappy marriage between Henry Nicholas Cruger (1800-1867) — a close friend of the Cooper family — and the free-wheeling Harriet Douglas (1790-1872). After their 1833 marriage, Harriet Douglas insisted on living her own life — often in Europe; Cruger eventually left her and in 1843 began a lengthy and highly public divorce action based on desertion. The Cooper family strongly disapproved of Harriet Douglas, and she is believed to have been an inspiration for the free-wheeling Mary Monson in James Fenimore Cooper's last novel, "The Ways of the Hour" (1850)}

Miss Wyllys was grieved to hear such a bad account of her old neighbour's daughter.

"Her husband has left her, you say; where is she now?"

"Her father brought her home with him. He went after her to Newport, where she had gone in the same party with this man—this Mr. de Montbrun, and a person who lives in the same boarding-house, a Mrs. Bagman, who has done a great deal of harm to Julianna."

"Sad, indeed!" exclaimed Miss Agnes.

"Charles says it is heart-rending, to see my poor uncle, who was so proud of his good name—thought so much of his daughters! Often have I heard him say: 'Let them enjoy life, Patsey, while they are young; girls can't do much harm; I love to see them look pretty and merry.' They never received any solid instruction, and since her marriage, Julianna seems to have been in bad company. She had no children to think about, and Mr. Hilson's time is always given to his business; her head was full of nonsense from morning till night; I was afraid no good would come of it."

"It is at least a great point, that she should have come back with her father."

"Yes, indeed; I am thankful for it, from the bottom of my heart. Oh, Miss Wyllys, what a dreadful thing it is, to see young people going on, from one bad way to another!" exclaimed Miss Patsey.

"We must hope that her eyes will be opened, now."

"If she had only taken warning from what Charles told her about this Mr. de Montbrun; he had seen him at Rome, and though he had no positive proofs, knew he was a bad man, and told Mrs. Hilson so. It is surely wrong, Miss Wyllys, to let all kinds of strangers from foreign countries into our families, without knowing anything about them."

"I have often thought it very wrong," said Miss Agnes, earnestly.

"But Mrs. Hilson wouldn't believe a word Charles said. She talked a great deal about aristocratic fashions; said she wouldn't be a slave to prudish notions—just as she always talks."

"Where was her husband, all this time?"

"He was in New York. They had not agreed well for some time, on account of her spending so much money, and flirting with everybody. At last he heard how his wife was behaving, and went to Saratoga. He found everybody who knew her, was talking about Julianna and this Frenchman. They had a violent quarrel, and he brought her back to town, but gave her warning, if ever she spoke again to that man he would leave her. Would you believe it!—in less than a week, she went to the theatre with him and this Mrs. Bagman! You know Mr. Hilson is a quiet man in general, but when he has made up his mind to anything, he never changes it: when he came in from his business, and found where his wife had gone, he wrote a letter to Uncle Joseph, and left the house."

"But what does Mrs. Hilson say? Does she show any feeling?"

"She cries a great deal, but talks just as usual; says she is a victim to her husband's brutality and jealousy. It seems impossible to make her see things in their right light. I hope and pray that her eyes may be opened, but I am afraid it will be a long time before they are. But it is hard, Miss Wyllys, to open the eyes of the blind and deluded! It is more than mortal man can do!"

"Yes; we feel at such times our miserable weakness, and the influence of evil upon human nature, more, perhaps, than at any other moment!"

"That is true, indeed. I have often thought, Miss Wyllys, that those who have watched over a large family of children and young people, have better notions about the true state of human nature, than your great philosophers. That has been the difficulty with Uncle Hubbard; he said girls in a respectable family were in no danger of doing what was wrong; that he hated preaching and scolding, and could not bear to make young people gloomy, by talking to them about serious subjects. My father always taught me to think very differently; he believed that the only way to help young people to be really happy and cheerful, was to teach them to do their duty."

"It would be well, if all those who have charge of young persons thought so!" exclaimed Miss Agnes.

"But, oh, Miss Wyllys, I dread seeing my poor uncle! Charles writes me word that he is quite changed—pale and care-worn—so different from his usual look; he says my uncle has grown ten years older in the last week. And such a kind, indulgent father as he has been!"

Tears filled Miss Wyllys's eyes. "Is his daughter Emmeline at home?" she asked.

"Yes; and Emmeline seems more sobered by this terrible business, than Mrs. Hilson herself. She sent for me, thinking I might be of some service to Julianna, and persuade her to stay at home, and not return to Mrs. Bagman, as she threatens to do."

A wagon was waiting to carry Miss Patsey to Longbridge, and Miss Agnes begging that she might not detain her, she set out on her painful duty. On arriving at her uncle's house, she almost dreaded to cross the threshold. She found Mr. Hubbard in the dining-room; he paid no attention to her as she opened the door, but continued walking up and down. She scarcely knew how to address him; the common phrases of greeting that rose to her lips seemed misplaced. He either did not see her, or would not notice her. She then walked quite near to him, and holding out her hand, said in a calm tone:

"Uncle, I have come to see Julianna."

The muscles of his face moved, but he made no answer.

"I have come to stay with her, if you wish it."

"Thank you," he said, in a thick voice.

"Is there anything I can do for you?"

"What can be done?" he said, bitterly, and almost roughly.

"Do you wish me to stay?"

"Yes; I am obliged to you for coming to see a woman of bad reputation."

Patsey left him for the present. She found her cousins together; Emmeline's eyes were red, as if she had just been weeping; Mrs. Hilson was stretched on a sofa, in a very elegant morning-gown, reading a novel of very doubtful morality. Patsey offered her hand, which was taken quite cavalierly.

"Well, Patsey," she said, "I hope you have not come to be a spy upon me."

"I have come to see you, because I wish to be of service to you, Julianna."

"Then, my dear child, you must bring his High-Mightiness, my jealous husband to reason," said the lady, smoothing a fold in her dress. Patsey made no answer, and Mrs. Hilson looked up. "If you are going to join the rest of them against me, why I shall have nothing to do with you; all the prim prudes in the world won't subdue me, as my good-man might have found out already."

"Where is your husband?" asked Miss Patsey, gravely, but quietly.

"I am sure I don't know; he has been pleased to abandon me, for no reason whatever, but because I chose to enjoy the liberty of all women of fortune in aristocratic circles. I would not submit to be made a slave, like most ladies in this country, as Mrs. Bagman says. I choose to associate with whom I please, gentlemen or ladies. What is it makes the patrician orders so delightful in Europe?—all those who know anything about it, will tell you that it is because the married women are not slaves; they have full liberty, and do just as they fancy, and have as many admirers as they please; this very book that I am reading says so. That is the way things are managed in high life in Europe."

"What sort of liberty is it you wish for, Julianna? The liberty to do wrong? Or the liberty to trifle with your reputation?"

Mrs. Hilson pouted, but made no answer.

"I cannot think the kind of liberty you speak of is common among good women anywhere," continued Patsey, "and I don't think you can know so much about what you call HIGH LIFE in Europe, Julianna, for you have never been there. I am sure at least, that in this country the sort of liberty you seem to be talking about, is only common in very LOW LIFE; you will find enough of it even here, among the most ignorant and worst sort of people," said Miss Patsey, quietly.

Mrs. Hilson looked provoked. "Well, you are civil, I must say, Miss Patsey Hubbard; of all the brutal speeches that have been made me of late, I must say that yours is the worst!"

"I speak the truth, though I speak plainly, Julianna."

"Yes plainly enough; very different from the refinement of Mrs. Bagman, I can assure you; she would be the last person to come and tyrannize over me, when I am a victim to my husband's jealousy. But I have not a creature near me to sympathize with me!"

"Do not say that; your father is down-stairs, grown old with grief during the last week!"

Mrs. Hilson did not answer.

"You have known me all your life, from the time you were a child," added Miss Patsey, taking her cousin's passive hand in her own; "and I ask, if you have ever known me to deceive you by an untruth?"

"I am sure I don't know," replied her cousin, carelessly.

"Yes, you do know it, Julianna. Trust me, then; do not shut your ears and your eyes to the truth! You are in a very dangerous situation; look upon me as your friend; let me stay with you; let me help you! My only motive is your own good; even if I believed you really guilty, I should have come to you; but I do not believe you guilty!"

"I am much obliged to you," said her cousin, lightly. "But I happen to know myself that I have committed no such high crime and misdemeanour."

"Yes, you have trifled so far with your reputation, that the world believes you guilty, Julianna."

"Not fashionable people. I might have gone on for years, enjoying the friendship of an elegant lady like Mrs. Bagman, and receiving the polite attentions of a French nobleman, had it not been for the countrified notions of Pa and Mr. Hilson; and now, I am torn from my friends, I am calumniated, and the Baron accused of being an impostor! But the fact is, as Mrs. Bagman says, Mr. Hilson never has understood me!"

Patsey closed her eyes that night with a heavy heart. She did not seem to have produced the least impression on Mrs. Hilson.

How few people are aware of the great dangers of that common foible, vanity! And yet it is the light feather that wings many a poisoned dart; it is the harlequin leader of a vile crew of evils. Generally, vanity is looked upon as merely a harmless weakness, whose only penalty is ridicule; but examine its true character, and you will find it to be one of the most dangerous, and at the same time one of the most contemptible failings of humanity. There is not a vice with which it has not been, time and again, connected; there is not a virtue that has not been tainted by its touch. Men are vain of their vices, vain of their virtues; and although pride and vanity have been declared incompatible, probably there never lived a proud man, who was not vain of his very pride. A generous aspect is, however, sometimes assumed by pride; but vanity is inalterably contemptible in its selfish littleness, its restless greediness. Who shall tell its victims—who shall set bounds to its triumphs? Reason is more easily blinded by vanity than by sophistry; time and again has vanity misdirected feeling; often has vanity roused the most violent passions. Many have been enticed on to ruin, step by step, with the restless lure of vanity, until they became actually guilty of crimes, attributed to some more sudden, and stronger impulse. How many people run into extravagance, and waste their means, merely from vanity! How many young men commence a career of folly and wickedness, impelled by the miserable vanity of daring what others dare! How many women have trifled with their own peace, their own reputation, merely because vanity led them to receive the first treacherous homage of criminal admiration, when whispered in the tones of false sentiment and flattery! The triumphs of vanity would form a melancholy picture, indeed, but it is one the world will never pause to look at.

The eldest daughter of Mr. Hubbard, the worthy Longbridge merchant, without strong passions, without strong temptations, was completely the victim of puerile vanity. The details of her folly are too unpleasant to dwell on; but the silly ambition of playing the fine lady, after the pattern of certain European novels, themselves chiefly representing the worst members of the class they claim to depict, was the cause of her ruin. She had so recklessly trifled with her reputation, that although her immediate friends did not believe the worst, yet with the world her character was irretrievably lost. At five-and-twenty she had already sacrificed her own peace; she had brought shame on her husband's name, and had filled with the bitterest grief, the heart of an indulgent father. Happily, her mother was in the grave, and she had no children to injure by her misconduct.

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