HotFreeBooks.com
Elinor Wyllys - Vol. II
by Susan Fenimore Cooper
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Patsey Hubbard continued unwearied in her kind endeavours to be of service to her kinswoman; anxious to awaken her to a sense of her folly, and to withdraw her from the influence of bad associates.

"It is right that society should discountenance a woman who behaves as Julianna has done," said she one day, to Mrs. Hubbard, on returning home; "but, oh, mother, her own family surely, should never give her up while there is breath in her body!"



CHAPTER XVI. {XXXIX}

"That which you hear, you'll swear you see, There is such unity in the proofs." Winter's Tale.

{William Shakespeare, "A Winter's Tale", V.ii.31-32}

WHEN Hazlehurst arrived at the little village in the neighbourhood of Greatwood, he was so fortunate as to find that many persons among the older members of the community, had a perfect recollection of William Stanley, and were ready to testify, to the best of their knowledge, as to any particulars that might be of service in the case.

His first inquiry was, for the young man's nurse. He discovered that she had recently removed into a neighbouring state, with the son, in whose family she had lived since leaving the Stanleys. As soon as Harry had accompanied Mrs. Stanley to Greatwood, he set out in pursuit of this person, from whom he hoped to obtain important evidence. On arriving at the place where she was now to be found, he was much disappointed, for her faculties had been so much impaired by a severe attack of paralysis, that he could learn but little from her. She seemed to have cherished a warm affection for the memory of William Stanley, whose loss at sea she had never doubted. Whenever his name was mentioned she wept, and she spoke with feeling and respect of the young man's parents. But her mind was much confused, and it was impossible to make any use of her testimony in a court of justice.

Thus thrown back upon those who had a less intimate personal knowledge of the young man, Harry pursued his inquiries among the families about Greatwood, and the village of Franklin Cross-Roads. With the exception of a few newcomers, and those who were too young to recollect eighteen years back, almost everybody in the neighbourhood had had some acquaintance with William Stanley. He had been to school with this one; he had sat in church, in the pew next to that family; he had been the constant playfellow of A——-; and he had drawn B——- into more than one scrape. Numerous stories sprang up right and left, as to his doings when a boy; old scenes were acted over again, and past events, mere trifles perhaps at the time, but gaining importance from the actual state of things, were daily brought to light; there seemed no lack of information connected with the subject.

We must observe, however, before we proceed farther, that Hazlehurst had no sooner arrived at Greatwood, than he went to look after the set of the Spectator, to which the volume produced at the interview had belonged. He found the books in their usual place on an upper shelf, with others seldom used; every volume had the double names of Mr. Stanley and his son, but the set was not complete; there was not only one volume missing, but two were wanting! Hazlehurst sprang from the steps on which he was standing, when he made this discovery, and went immediately in pursuit of Mrs. Stanley, to inquire if she knew which volume was originally missing. She could not be sure, but she believed it was the eighth. Such was the fact; the eighth volume was not in its place, neither was the sixth, that which Mr. Clapp had in his possession; yet Mrs. Stanley was convinced, that only two years previously, there had been but one volume lost. Harry tried to revive his recollection of the time and place, when and where, he had read that volume, with the portrait of Steele, and Addison's papers on the Paradise Lost; he should have felt sure it was at Greatwood, not long before going abroad with Mr. Henley, had it not been, that he found his brother had the very same edition in Philadelphia, and he might have read it there. He also endeavoured to discover when and how the second missing volume had been removed from its usual place on the shelf. But this was no easy task; neither the housekeeper—a respectable woman, in whom Mrs. Stanley and himself had perfect confidence—nor the servants, could form even a surmise upon the subject. At last Harry thought he had obtained a clue to everything; he found that two strangers had been at Greatwood in the month of March, that year, and had gone over the whole house, representing themselves as friends of the family. The housekeeper had forgotten their visit, until Harry's inquiries reminded her of the fact; she then gave him the name of the young woman who had gone over the house with these two individuals. This girl was no longer at Greatwood, but in the neighbouring village; at Mrs. Stanley's request, however, she came to give a report of the circumstance.

{"Spectator" = Susan Fenimore Cooper has been forgetful; the sailor, it was stated in Chapter 12, had a copy of Volume three; Addison's essays on Paradise Lost, that Harry remembered reading, are in fact contained in Volumes four and five; but we are now told that it is Volumes six and eight that are missing from the shelf!}

"It was in March these two strangers were here, you say, Malvina?" observed Mrs. Stanley.

"Yes, ma'am; it was in March, when the roads were very bad."

"What sort of looking persons were they, and how old should you have called them?" asked Hazlehurst.

"One was a tall and slim gentleman, with curly hair; the other looked kind o' rough, he was stout, and had a red face; they wasn't very young, nor very old."

"Tell us, if you please, all you remember about their visit, just as it passed," said Harry.

"Well, it happened Mrs. Jones was sick in her room when they called; they wanted to see the house, saying they knew the family very well. I asked them to sit down in the hall, while I went to tell Mrs. Jones; she hadn't any objections, and told me to show them the rooms they wanted to see. So I took them over the house—first the parlours, then the other rooms."

"Did they ask to see the bed-rooms?"

"Yes, sir; they went over all the house but the garret; they went into the kitchen and the pantry."

"Did they stay some time?"

"Yes, sir; Mrs. Jones wondered they staid so long."

"Did they go into the library?"

"Yes, sir."

"Do you remember whether they looked at the books?"

"No; they didn't stay more than a minute in the library."

"Are you sure they did not look at any of the books?" repeated Harry.

"I am quite sure they didn't, for the room was too dark, and they only staid half-a-minute. I asked them if I should open the shutters; but one of them said they didn't care; he said he was never over-fond of books."

Mrs. Stanley and Harry here exchanged looks of some surprise.

"Did they talk much to each other?—do you remember what they said?" continued Harry.

"Yes, they talked considerable. I reckon they had been here before, for they seemed to know a good deal about the house. When I showed them the south parlour, the gentleman with the red face said everything looked natural to him, but that room most of all; then he pointed to the large chair by the fire-place, and said: 'That is where I last saw my father, in that very chair; he was a good old gentleman, and deserved to have a better son.'"

"Is it possible!" exclaimed Mrs. Stanley.

"But, my dear madam, it was all acting no doubt; they wished to pass for the characters they have since assumed; it only proves that the plot has been going on for some time." "Do you remember anything else that was said?" added Hazlehurst, turning again to the girl.

"They talked considerable, but I didn't pay much attention. They inquired when Mr. Hazlehurst was coming home; I said I didn't know. The one with the curly hair said he guessed they knew more about the family than I did; and he looked queer when he said so."

Nothing further was gathered from this girl, who bore an excellent character for truth and honesty, though rather stupid. The volume of the Spectator still remained as much a mystery as ever. Nor did a second conversation with this young woman bring to light anything new; her answers on both occasions corresponded exactly; and beyond proving the fact of Clapp's having been over the house with the sailor, nothing was gained from her report. At the second conversation, Harry asked if she knew whether these strangers had remained long in the neighbourhood?

"I saw them the next day at meeting," she replied, "and Jabez told me he met them walking about the place; that is all I know about it, sir."

Jabez, one of the men on the farm, was questioned: he had seen these two strangers walking about the place, looking at the barns and stables, the same day they had been at the house; but he had not spoken to them; and this was the amount of his story.

Harry then inquired at the taverns in the neighbourhood; and he found that two persons, answering to the same description, had staid a couple of days, about the middle of March, at a small inn, within half a mile from Greatwood. Their bill had been made out in the name of "Mr. Clapp and friend." This was satisfactory as far as it went, and accounted for the sailor's knowledge of the house; though Mrs. Stanley could not comprehend at first, how this man should have pointed out so exactly, her husband's favourite seat. Harry reminded her, however, that Clapp had passed several years of his youth at Franklin Cross-Roads, in a lawyer's office, and had very probably been at Greatwood during Mr. Stanley's life-time.

Hazlehurst had drawn up a regular plan of action for his inquiries; and after having discovered who could assist him, and who could not, he portioned off the neighbourhood into several divisions, intending to devote a day to each—calling at every house where he hoped to gain information on the subject of William Stanley.

He set out on horseback early in the morning, for his first day's circuit, taking a note-book in his pocket, to record facts as he went along, and first turning his horse's head towards the house of Mrs. Lawson, who had been a constant playfellow of William Stanley's, when both were children. This lady was one of a large family, who had been near neighbours of the Stanleys for years, and on terms of daily intimacy with them; and she had already told Harry, one day when she met him in the village, that she held herself in readiness to answer, to the best of her ability, any questions about her former playmate, that he might think it worth while to ask. On knocking at this lady's door, he was so fortunate as to find Mrs. Lawson at home; and, by especial luck, Dr. Lewis, a brother of her's, who had removed from that part of the country, happened just then to be on a visit at his sister's.

After a little preliminary chat, Hazlehurst made known the particular object of his call.

"Do I remember William Stanley's personal appearance and habits? Perfectly; quite as well as I do my own brother's," replied the doctor, to Harry's first inquiry.

"Mrs. Lawson told me that he used to pass half his time at your father's house, and kindly offered to assist me, as far as lay in her power; and I look upon myself as doubly fortunate in finding you here to-day. We wish, of course, to collect as many minute details as possible, regarding Mr. Stanley's son, as we feel confident, from evidence already in our power, that this new-comer is an impostor."

"No doubt of it," replied the doctor; "an extravagant story, indeed! Nearly eighteen years as still as a mouse, and then coolly stepping in, and claiming a property worth some hundreds of thousands. A clear case of conspiracy, without doubt."

"Poor William was no saint, certainly," added Mrs. Lawson; "but this sailor must be a very bad man."

"Pray, when did you last see young Stanley!" asked Harry, of the lady.

"When he was at home, not long before his father's death. He held out some promise of reforming, then. Billings, who first led him into mischief, was not in the neighbourhood at that time, and his father had hopes of him; but some of his old companions led him off again."

"He must have been a boy of strange temper, to leave home under such circumstances; an only son, with such prospects before him."

"Yes, his temper was very unpleasant; but then, Mr. Stanley, the father, did not know how to manage him."

"He could scarcely have had much sense either, to have been so easily led astray by a designing young fellow, as that Billings seems to have been."

"Flattery; flattery did it all," observed the doctor. "Some people thought young Stanley little more than half-witted; but I have always maintained that he was not wanting in sense."

"I don't see how you can say so, doctor," observed the sister. "I am sure it was a settled thing among us children, that he was a very stupid, disagreeable boy. He never took much interest in our plays, I remember."

"Not in playing doll-baby, perhaps; but I have had many a holiday with him that I enjoyed very much, I can tell you. He never had a fancy for a book, that is true; but otherwise be was not so very dull as some people make out."

"He had the reputation of being a dull boy, had he?"

"Oh, certainly," said Mrs. Lawson. "at one time, when we were quite children, we all took arithmetic lessons together, and he was always at the foot of the class."

"He had no head for figures, perhaps; it is more likely, though, that he wouldn't learn out of obstinacy; he was as obstinate as a mule, that I allow."

"What sort of games and plays did he like best?"

"I don't know that he liked one better than another, so long as he could choose himself," replied Dr. Lewis.

"Was he a strong, active boy?"

"Not particularly active, but a stout, healthy lad."

"Disposed to be tall?"

"Tallish; the last time he was here, he must have measured about five feet ten."

"Oh, more than that," interposed Mrs. Lawson; "he was taller than our eldest brother, I know—full six feet one, I should say."

"No, no, Sophia; certainly not more than five feet nine or ten. Remember, you were a little thing yourself at the time."

"Do you remember the colour of his eyes, Mrs. Lawson?"

"Yes, perfectly; they were blue."

"Brown, I should say," added the doctor.

"No, John, you are quite mistaken; his eyes were blue, Mr. Hazlehurst—very dark blue."

"I could have taken my oath they were brown," said the doctor.

Hazlehurst looked from one to the other in doubt.

"You were away from home, doctor, more than I was, and probably do not remember William's face as distinctly as I do. I am quite confident his eyes were a clear, deep blue."

"Well, I should have called them a light brown."

"Were they large?" asked Harry.

"Of a common size, I think," said the brother.

"Remarkably small, I should say," added the sister.

"What colour was his hair?" asked Harry, giving up the eyes.

"Black," said the doctor.

"Not black, John—dark perhaps, but more of an auburn, like his father's portrait," said Mrs. Lawson.

"Why, that is black, certainly."

"Oh, no; auburn—a rich, dark auburn."

"There is a greyish cast in that portrait, I think," said Harry.

"Grey, oh, no; Mr. Stanley's hair was in perfect colour when he died; I remember him distinctly, seeing him as often as I did," said the lady. "The hair of the Stanley family is generally auburn," she added.

"What do you call auburn?" said the doctor.

"A dark, rich brown, like William Stanley's."

"Now I call Mr. Robert Hazlehurst's hair auburn."

"My brother's hair! Why that is sometimes pronounced sandy, and even red, occasionally," said Harry.

"Not red; Lawson's hair is red."

"Mr. Lawson's hair is more of a flaxen shade," said the wife, a little quickly.

Despairing of settling the particular shade of the hair, Harry then inquired if there was any strongly marked peculiarity of face or person about William Stanley?

Here both agreed that they had never remarked anything of the kind; it appeared that the young man was made more like the rest of the world, than became the hero of such a singular career.

"Do you think you should know him, if you were to see him again, after such a long interval?"

"Well, I don't know," said the doctor; "some people change very much, from boys to middle-aged manhood, others alter but little."

"I have no doubt that I could tell in a moment, if this person is William Stanley or an impostor," said Mrs. Lawson. "Think how much we were together, as children; for ten years of his life, he was half the time at our house. I am sure if this sailor were William Stanley, he would have come to see some of us, long since."

"Did he visit you when he was last at Greatwood?"

"No, he did not come at that time; but I saw him very often in the village, and riding about."

"Do you remember his stuttering at all?"

"No; I never heard him that I know of; I don't believe he ever stuttered."

"He did stutter once in a while, Sophia, when he was in a passion."

"I never heard him."

"Young Stanley had one good quality, Mr. Hazlehurst, with all his faults; he spoke the truth—you could believe what he said."

"My good brother, you are mistaken there, I can assure you. Time and again have I known him tell falsehoods when he got into a scrape; many is the time he has coaxed and teased, till he got us children into mischief—he was a great tease, you know—"

"Not more so than most boys," interposed the doctor.

"And after he had got us into trouble, I remember perfectly, that he would not acknowledge it was his fault. Oh, no; you could not by any means depend upon what he said."

"Was he much of a talker?"

"No, rather silent."

"Quite silent:" both brother and sister were in unison here, at last.

"He was good-looking, you think, Mrs. Lawson?"

"Oh, yes, good-looking, certainly," replied the lady.

"Rather good-looking; but when he was last at home, his features had grown somewhat coarse, and his expression was altered for the worse," said the doctor.

"He was free with his money, I believe?"

"Very extravagant," said Mrs. Lawson.

"He didn't care a fig for money, unless it was refused him," said the doctor.

"Was there anything particular about his teeth?"

"He had fine teeth," said Mrs. Lawson; "but he did not show them much."

"A good set of teeth, if I remember right," added the doctor.

"His complexion was rather dark, I believe?" said Harry.

"More sallow than dark," said the lady.

"Not so very sallow," said the gentleman.

"You asked just now about his eyes, Mr. Hazlehurst; it strikes me they were much the colour of yours."

"But mine are grey," said Harry.

"More of a hazel, I think."

"Oh, no; William Stanley's eyes were as different as possible from Mr. Hazlehurst's, in colour and shape!" exclaimed the lady.

The conversation continued some time longer, but the specimen just given will suffice to show its character; nothing of importance was elicited, and not one point decidedly settled, which had not been already known to Harry. He continued his round of visits throughout the day, with much the same result. The memories of the people about Greatwood seemed to be playing at cross-purposes; and yet there was no doubt, that all those persons to whom Hazlehurst applied, had known young Stanley for years; and there was every reason to believe they were well disposed to give all the evidence in their power.

>From Mrs. Lawson's, Harry went to the house of another acquaintance, a Captain Johnson; and the following is the amount of what he gathered here, as it was hastily entered in his note-book:

"Eyes grey; hair black; rather stout for his age; sullen temper; very dull; bad company cause of his ruin; not cold-hearted; stuttered a little when excited; expression good when a boy, but much changed when first came home from sea; Billings the cause of his ruin."

So much for Captain Johnson. The next stopping-place was at a man's, by the name of Hill, who had been coachman at Mr. Stanley's for several years; his account follows:

"Hill says: 'Would get in a passion when couldn't have his own way; have heard him stutter; always in some scrape or other after first went to college; eyes blue; hair brown; sharp enough when he pleased, but always heard he hated books; short for his age when first went to sea, and thin; had grown three or four inches when he came back; should have thought him five feet eight or nine, when last saw him; face grown fuller and red, when came home.'"

>From Hill's, Harry went to see Mr. Anderson, who had kept the principal tavern at Franklin Cross-Roads, during William Stanley's boyhood; but he was not at home.

He then called at Judge Stone's: "Mrs. S. thought him handsome young man; judge, quite ugly; husband says eyes a greenish colour; wife thinks were dark brown; height about my own, said judge; not near so tall, says Mrs. S.: both agreed he was morose in temper, and dull at learning."

At several other places where Harry called, he found that William Stanley had been merely known by sight. Others related capital stories of scrapes, in which they had been implicated with the boy, but could tell Harry very little to the purpose, where it came to particular questions. Three individuals pronounced him tall, four thought he was middle sized, two declared he was short. Two inferences, however, might be drawn from all that had been said: William Stanley must have been of an unpleasant temper; while general evidence pronounced him rather more dull than most boys. With these two facts at least sufficiently well established, while his head was filled with contradictory visions, of hair, eyes, and complexion, of various shades and colours, Harry returned in the evening, quite jaded and worn-out with his day's exertions; not the least of which had been, to reconcile totally opposite accounts on a dozen different points.

Mrs. Stanley was awaiting his return with much anxiety; and while Harry was drinking an excellent cup of tea—the most refreshing thing in the world to a person who is fatigued, even in warm weather—he reported his day's work. His friend seemed to think the account anything but encouraging; though Harry declared, that it was well worth the labour and vexation to establish the two facts, regarding the young man's capacity and temper, in which respects he certainly differed from the claimant.

"What miserable hypocrites both this man and his lawyer must be!" exclaimed Mrs. Stanley.

"Hypocrisy figures often enough in courts of justice, ma'am, and is only too often successful for a time."

"I am afraid, my dear Harry, they will give you a great deal of trouble!"

"I have no doubt of it," replied Hazlehurst; "but still I hope to defeat them, and in the end, to punish their vile conspiracy."

"A defeat would he distressing to both Mr. Wyllys and myself; but to you, my dear young friend, it would be serious indeed!" she observed, with feeling.

"We shall yet gain the day, I trust," said Harry. "The consequences of defeat would indeed be very serious to me," he added. "In such a case I should lose everything, and a little more, as Paddy would say. I made a deliberate calculation the other day, and I find, after everything I own has been given up, that there would still be a debt of some thirty thousand dollars to pay off."

"It is wise, I suppose, to be prepared for the worst," said Mrs. Stanley, sadly; "but in such a case, Harry, you must look to your friends. Remember, that I should consider it a duty to assist you, in any pecuniary difficulties which might result from a defeat."

"You are very good, ma'am; I am grateful for the offer. In case of our failure, I should certainly apply to my immediate friends, for I could never bear the thought of being in debt to those rascals. But if the affair turns out in that way, I must stay at home and work hard, to clear myself entirely. I am young, and if we fail to repel this claim, still I shall hope by industry and prudence, to discharge all obligations before I am many years older."

"I have never doubted, Harry, that in either case you would do what is just and honourable; but I mourn that there should be any danger of such a sacrifice."

"It would be a sacrifice, indeed; including much that I have valued heretofore—tastes, habits, partialities, prospects, fortune, hopes—all must undergo a change, all must he sacrificed."

"And hopes are often a precious part of a young man's portion," said Mrs. Stanley.

Hazlehurst happened to raise his eyes as she spoke, and, from the expression of her face, he fancied that she was thinking of Mrs. Creighton. He changed colour, and remained silent a moment.

"You would be compelled to give up your connexion with Mr. Henley," she observed, by way of renewing the conversation.

"Yes, of course; I should have to abandon that, I could not afford it; I should have to devote myself to my profession. I have no notion, however, of striking my colours to these land-pirates until after a hard battle, I assure you," he said, more cheerfully. "Great generals always prepare for a retreat, and so shall I, but only as the last extremity. Indeed, I think our affairs look more encouraging just now. It seems next to impossible, for such a plot to hold together in all its parts; we shall be able probably, to find out more than one weak point which will not bear an attack."

"It is certainly important to establish the difference in temper and capacity, between the claimant and William Stanley," said Mrs. Stanley.

"Highly important; Ellsworth is hard at work, too, in tracing the past life of the sailor, and by his last letters, I find he had written to young Stanley's school-master, and to the family physician. He had seen the sailor, and in addition to Mr. Wyllys's remarks upon his gait, which is different from that of William when a boy, Ellsworth writes, that he was very much struck with the shape of the man's limbs, so different from those of the portrait of Mr. Stanley's son, when a lad, which they have at Wyllys-Roof; he thinks the family physician may help him there; fortunately, he is still living."

"It is a great pity the nurse's faculties should have failed!" exclaimed Mrs. Stanley.

"Yes, it's a pity, indeed; her evidence would have been very important. But we shall do without her, I hope."

"Are you going to Wyllys-Roof again, before the trial?"

"No; I shall have too much to do, here and in Philadelphia. Mr. Wyllys has kindly asked me, however, to go there, as soon as the matter is settled, whether for good or for evil."

"I thought I heard you talking over with Mr. de Vaux, some boating excursion, to take place in August, from Longbridge; has it been given up?"

"Not given up; but de Vaux very good-naturedly proposed postponing it, until after my affairs were settled. It is to take place as soon as I am ready; whether I shall join it with flying colours, or as a worsted man, time alone can decide."

The mail was just then brought in; as usual there was a letter for Harry, from Ellsworth.

"Wyllys-Roof, August, 183-.

"Our application to the family physician proves entirely successful, my dear Hazlehurst; my physiological propensities were not at fault. I had a letter last evening from Dr. H——-, who now lives in Baltimore, and he professes himself ready to swear to the formation of young Stanley's hands and feet, which he says resembled those of Mr. Stanley, the father, and the three children, who died before William S. grew up. His account agrees entirely with the portrait of the boy, as it now exists at Wyllys-Roof; the arms and hands are long, the fingers slender, nails elongated; as you well know, Mr. Clapp's client is the very reverse of this—his hands are short and thick, his fingers what, in common parlance, would be called dumpy. I was struck with the fact when I first saw him in the street. Now, what stronger evidence could we have? A slender lad of seventeen may become a heavy, corpulent man of forty, but to change the formation of hands, fingers, and nails, is beyond the reach of even Clapp's cunning. We are much obliged to the artist, for his accuracy in representing the hands of the boy exactly as they were. This testimony I look upon as quite conclusive. As to the Rev. Mr. G——-, whose pupil young Stanley was for several years, we find that he is no longer living; but I have obtained the names of several of the young's man's companions, who will be able to confirm the fact of his dullness; several of the professors at the University are also living, and will no doubt be able to assist us. I have written a dozen letters on these points, but received no answers as yet. So far so good; we shall succeed, I trust. Mr. Wyllys bids you not forget to find out if Clapp has really been at Greatwood, as we suspected. The ladies send you many kind and encouraging messages. Josephine, as usual, sympathizes in all our movements. She says: 'Give Mr. Hazlehurst all sorts of kind greetings from me; anything you please short of my love, which would not be proper, I suppose.' I had a charming row on the river last evening, with the ladies. I never managed a law-suit in such agreeable quarters before.

"Faithfully yours,

"F. E."



CHAPTER XVII. {XL}

"What say you, can you love this gentleman?" Romeo and Juliet.

{William Shakespeare, "Romeo and Juliet", I.iii.79}

JANE'S strength and spirits were gradually improving. She had been persuaded to take a daily airing and had consented to see one or two of the ladies in her room. Mr. Wyllys always passed half an hour with her, every afternoon; and at length she came down stairs, and joined the family in the drawing-room, for a short time in the evening. Mr. and Mrs. Robert Hazlehurst, who came from Philadelphia to pass a day or two with her, found her much better than they had expected.

Charlie Hubbard returned to the grey cottage, with his portfolio full of sketches, intending to pass several months at home, in finishing his pictures of Lake George; the school-room having been converted into a painting-room for his use. Miss Patsey's little flock were dispersed for a time; and Charlie was even in hopes of persuading his mother and sister to accompany him to New York, where Mary Hubbard, the youngest sister, was now engaged in giving music lessons. He felt himself quite a rich man, and drew up a plausible plan for hiring a small house in some cheap situation, where they might all live together; but Miss Patsey shook her head, she thought they could not afford it. Still, it was delightful to her, to listen to plans devised by Charlie's warm heart; she seemed to love him more than ever, since he had even sacrificed his moustaches to his mother's prejudice against such foreign fashions.

"Keep your money, Charles; we can make out very well in the old cottage; more comfortably than we have ever done before. You will want all you can make one of these days, when you marry," said Miss Patsey.

To her surprise, Charlie showed some emotion at this allusion to his marrying, and remained perfectly silent for an instant, instead of giving the playful answer that his sister had expected to hear.

Mrs. Hubbard then observed, that she should not wish to move; she hoped to end her life in the old grey cottage. They had lived so long in the neighbourhood of Longbridge, that a new place would not seem like home to Patsey and herself. Charlie must come to see them as often as he could; perhaps he would be able to spend his summers there.

"Well, we shall see, mother; at any rate, Mary and I together, we shall be able to make your life easy, I trust."

Mrs. Hubbard observed, that although they had been poor for the last seventeen years, yet they had never really seemed to feel the weight of poverty; they had met with so much kindness, from so many relations and friends.

"But kindness from our own children, mother, is the most blessed of all," said Patsey.

Charlie did not give up his plan, however, but he forbore to press it for the present, as he was engaged to drive his sister, Mrs. Clapp, to her own house at Longbridge. Hubbard had kept aloof from his brother-in-law whenever he could, since the Stanley suit had been commenced; any allusion to this affair was painful to him; he had never respected Mr. Clapp, and now strongly suspected him of unfair dealing. He pitied his sister Kate from the bottom of his heart; but it seemed pity quite thrown away. To judge from her conversation, as Charlie was driving her home, she had implicit confidence in her husband; if she had at first doubted the identity of the sailor, she had never for a second supposed, that William himself was not firmly convinced of it. On the other hand, she began to have some misgivings as to the character and integrity of Mr. Wyllys, whom hitherto, all her life long, she had been used to consider as the model of a gentleman, and an upright man. She soon got up quite a prejudice against Mrs. Stanley; and as for Hazlehurst, he fell very low indeed in her estimation.

"You don't know what trouble poor William has with this suit," she said to her brother. "I am sometimes afraid it will make him sick. It does seem very strange, that Mr. Stanley's executors should be so obstinate in refusing to acknowledge his son. At first it was natural they should hesitate; I mistrusted this sailor at first, myself; but now that William has made everything so clear, they cannot have any excuse for their conduct."

Charlie whipped the flies from his horse, without answering this remark.

"I hope William will come home to-night. He and Mr. Stanley have gone off together, to get possession of some very important papers; they received a letter offering these papers, only the night before last, and William says they will establish Mr. Stanley's claim, beyond the possibility of a denial. Mr. Wyllys and Mr. Hazlehurst will feel very badly, I should think, when they find that after all, they have been keeping their friend's son from his rights."

"They believe they are doing their duty," said Charlie, laconically.

"It seems a strange view of duty, to act as they do."

"Strange views of duty are very common," said Charlie, glad to take refuge in generalities.

"Common sense and common honesty will help us all to do our duty," observed Kate.

"No doubt; but both are more uncommon qualities than one would think, among rational beings," said Charlie.

"Well, you know, Charles, Patsey used to tell us when we were children, that a plain, honest heart, and plain, good sense were the best things in the world."

"That is the reason, I suppose, why we love our sister Patsey so much, because she has so much of those best things in the world," said Charlie, warmly. "I never saw a woman like her, for downright, plain goodness. The older I grow, the better I know her; and I love you, Kate, for the same reason—you are straightforward and honest, too," he added, smiling.

"William often laughs at me, though, and says my opinion is not good for much," said the sister, shaking her head, but smiling prettily at the same time.

"I am sure no one can complain of your actions, Kate, whatever your opinions may be," replied Charlie; and whatever might have been his estimate of Clapp's views, he forbore to utter a syllable on the subject; for he respected the wife's affection, and knew that his brother-in-law had at least one good quality—he was kind and faithful as a husband and father, according to common-place ideas of faithfulness at least; for he would any day risk their character and peace, to make a little money.

The conversation of the young people soon turned upon their trifling, foolish, unfortunate cousin, Mrs. Hilson; and this was a subject, upon which both brother and sister agreed entirely. Before long, they drove up to Mr. Clapp's door, and were received by the lawyer himself, who had just returned with his client; this latter individual was also seen lounging in the office. Mr. Clapp professed himself entirely satisfied with the result of his journey; and declared that they were now quite ready for Mr. Hazlehurst—sure of a victory, beyond all doubt.

The time had not been lost by Harry and his friends, however; they too, thought themselves ready for the trial. As the important day was drawing near, Mr. Ellsworth was obliged to leave Wyllys-Roof; he had done all he could at Longbridge, and there were still various matters to be looked after in Philadelphia. Mrs. Creighton accompanied her brother, and they were not to return to Wyllys-Roof until after the important question was decided. Hazlehurst was then to come with them; whether defeated or triumphant could not yet be known. Harry's friends, however, were generally sanguine; and Mrs. Creighton was full of sympathy, and in excellent spirits.

There remained another affair, which must also be finally settled in a few weeks. When Mr. Ellsworth returned to Wyllys-Roof, the appointed three months of probation would have expired, and he would either remain there as the affianced husband of Elinor, or leave Longbridge her rejected suitor.

During the past three months, Elinor had taken an important step in life; she had reached a point in experience, where she had never stood before. The whole responsibility of deciding upon a subject, highly important to herself, and to those connected with her, had been thrown entirely upon her alone. The fate of her whole life would be much involved in the present decision. During the last two or three years, or in other words, since she had first discovered that Harry loved Jane, she had intended to remain single. It seemed very improbable to her, that any one would seek to gain her affections, unless with the view of enjoying the fortune which she had now the reputation of possessing; it was only natural that she should exaggerate those personal disadvantages, which had lost the heart of him whom she had once loved so truly. She had been so much attached to Hazlehurst, that she shrunk from the idea of ever becoming the wife of another; and she considered herself as having tacitly made choice of a single life, which her mother's letter seemed to suggest. But as she never spoke of her views, or alluded to them, her grandfather and aunt were ignorant of this intention; and she soon began to observe with regret that they wished her to marry, and were indeed anxious that she should accept Mr. Ellsworth. This was the first occasion of any importance, on which their wishes and her own had been at variance; it was a new position for Elinor to be placed in. When Mr. Ellsworth made his proposal, it was owing to the strong, but affectionate representations of Mr. Wyllys and Miss Agnes, that he was not immediately rejected. Elinor was, in fact, the last person to be convinced of his regard for her; but she had known his character and standing too well to believe him a mere fortune-hunter; and after he had once offered himself, could not doubt his sincerity. She mentioned to Miss Wyllys her previous intention of remaining single.

"Make no rash decision, my love," was the reply at the time. "You are too reasonable, for me to believe that you will do so; look at your own position, Elinor; you will be alone in the world, more so than most women. Your grandfather is advanced in years, and my health warns me not to expect a long life. I do not wish to distress you, but to place the truth plainly before you, my Elinor. You have neither brother nor sister; Jane and Harry, your intimate companions in childhood, will be separated from you by ties and duties of their own. What will you do, my child? An affectionate disposition like yours cannot be happy alone. On the other hand, here is Mr. Ellsworth, who is certainly attached to you; a man of excellent character, with every important quality that can be desired. You say you wish to be reasonable; judge for yourself what is the wisest course under these circumstances."

Elinor was silent for a moment; at length she spoke.

"It has always been one of your own lessons to me, dearest aunt, to profit by the past, to improve the present, and leave the future to Providence. Yet, now, you would have me think of the future only; and you urge me to marry, while you are single, and happy, yourself!"

"Yes, my child; but I have had your grandfather and you, to make me happy and useful. Most single women have near relatives, to whom they can attach themselves, whom it is a duty and a pleasure to love and serve; but that is not your case. Elinor, your grandfather is very anxious you should accept Mr. Ellsworth."

"I know it," said Elinor; "he has told me so himself."

"He is anxious, dear, because from what he knows of Mr. Ellsworth and yourself, he is convinced you would eventually be happy; he fears you hesitate from some feeling of girlish romance. Still, we have neither of us any wish to urge you too far. Appeal to your own good, common sense, that is all that can be desired; do not be romantic, dear, for the first time in your life," continued her aunt smiling. "I know the wishes of your friends will have some weight with you; do not let them control you, however. Judge for yourself, but take time to reflect; accept Mr. Ellsworth's own proposition—wait some time before you give a final answer; that is all that your grandfather and myself can ask."

And such had been the decision; three months being the time appointed. Since then, both Mr. Wyllys and Miss Agnes had carefully refrained from expressing any farther opinion—they never even alluded to the subject, but left Elinor to her own reflections. Such at least was their intention; but their wishes were well known to her, and very possibly, unconsciously influenced their conduct and manner, in many daily trifles, in a way very evident to Elinor. In the mean time, September had come, and the moment for final decision was at hand. Mr. Ellsworth's conduct throughout had been very much in his favour; he had been persevering and marked in his attentions, without annoying by his pertinacity. Elinor had liked him, in the common sense of the word, from the first; and the better she knew him, the more cause she found to respect his principles, and amiable character. And yet, if left to her own unbiassed judgment, she would probably have refused him at first, with no other reluctance than that of wounding for a time the feelings of a man she sincerely esteemed.

The morning that Mrs. Creighton and Mr. Ellsworth left Wyllys-Roof, Elinor set out to take a stroll in the field, with no other companion than her friend Bruno. The dog seemed aware that his mistress was absent and thoughtful, more indifferent than usual to his caresses and gambols; and, after having made this observation, the sagacious animal seemed determined not to annoy her, but walked soberly at her side, or occasionally trotting on before, he would stop, turn towards her, and sit in the path, looking at her as she slowly approached. She had left the house, in order to avoid any intrusion on her thoughts, at a moment which was an important one to her; for she had determined, that after one more thorough examination of her own feelings, her own views, and the circumstances in which she was placed, the question should be irrevocably settled—whether she were to became the wife of Mr. Ellsworth, or to remain single. Many persons may fancy this a very insignificant matter to decide, and one that required no such serious attention. But to every individual, that is a highly important point, which must necessarily affect the whole future course of life; the choice which involves so intimate and indissoluble a relation, where every interest in life is identical with one's own, is surely no trifling concern. It may well be doubted, indeed, if even with men it be not a matter of higher importance than is commonly believed; observation, we think, would lead to the opinion, that a wife's character and conduct have a deeper and more general effect on the husband's career, for good or for evil, through his opinions and actions, than the world is aware of. This choice certainly appeared a much more formidable step to Elinor, when Mr. Ellsworth was the individual to be accepted or rejected, than it had when Harry stood in the same position. In one case she had to reflect, and ponder, and weigh all the different circumstances; in the other, the natural bent of her affections had decided the question before it was asked. But Elinor had, quite lately, settled half-a-dozen similar affairs, with very little reflection indeed, and without a moment's anxiety or regret; she had just refused, with polite indifference, several proposals, from persons whom she had every reason to believe, cared a great deal for her fortune, and very little for herself. If thought were more active than feeling, in behalf of Mr. Ellsworth, still, thought said a great deal in his favour. She had always liked and respected him; she believed him attached to her; her nearest friends were anxious she should give a favourable answer; there could not be a doubt that he possessed many excellent and desirable qualities. She would not be romantic, neither would she be unjust to Mr. Ellsworth and herself; she would not accept him, unless she could do so frankly, and without reluctance. This, then, was the question to be decided—could she love Mr. Ellsworth? The free, spontaneous love, natural to early youth, she had once given to Hazlehurst; could she now offer to Mr. Ellsworth sincere affection of another kind, less engrossing at first, less mingled with the charms of fancy, but often, perhaps on that account, more valuable, more enduring? Sincere affection of any sort, is that only which improves with age, gaining strength amid the wear and tear of life. It was to decide this question clearly, that Elinor had desired three months' delay. These three months had nearly passed; when she again met Mr. Ellsworth, in what character should she receive him?

The precise train of thought pursued by Elinor, during this morning stroll, we shall not attempt to follow; but that she was fully aware of the importance of the decision was evident, by the unusual absence of manner, which seemed to have struck even her four-footed friend Bruno. She had, indeed, made an important discovery lately, one which was startling, and even painful to her. She found that there are moments in life, when each individual is called upon to think and to act alone. It is a truth which most of us are forced to feel, as we go through this world; though, happily, it is but seldom that such hours occur. In general, the sympathy, the counsel of friends, is of the very highest value; and yet, there are moments when neither can avail. At such times, we are forced to look higher, to acknowledge that human wisdom does not reach far enough to guide us, that our wounds need a purer balm than any offered by human sympathy. Until recently, Elinor had always been soothed and supported by the affection and guidance of her aunt, but she must now depend upon herself alone. To a young person, called upon for the first time to take an important step, with no other guide than individual judgment and conscience, the responsibility of action may well be startling; even a wise and experienced man will often pause at such moments, doubtful of the course he shall pursue. It is an easy matter to settle a question, when passion, feeling, interest, or prejudice gives the bias; but where these are all silent, and cool judgment is left alone to decide, the greatest men feel, to a painful degree, how limited are their powers; the high responsibility which is attached to free-will rises before them, and they shrink from the idea of trusting their own welfare to their own short-sighted reason alone. Most men, at such times, take refuge in a sort of fatalism; they stand inactive, until urged in this or that direction by the press of outward circumstances; or they rush blindly forward, under impatience of suspense, preferring risk to inaction.

The occasion of our young friend's anxiety and thoughtfulness was, no doubt, a trifling one to all but herself; the cause of her hesitation, however, was honourable; the opinions, feelings, and motives under which she eventually acted, were alike natural and creditable.



CHAPTER XVIII. {XLI}

"Are you acquainted with the difference That holds this present question, in the court?" Merchant of Venice.

{William Shakespeare, "The Merchant of Venice", IV.i.171-172}

AS the time for the trial approached, the parties collected in Philadelphia. Harry and his friends were often seen in the streets, looking busy and thoughtful. Mr. Reed also appeared, and took up his quarters at one of the great hotels, in company with Mr. Clapp and his client, who generally received the name of William Stanley, although he had not yet established a legal claim to it. There was much curiosity to see this individual, as the case had immediately attracted general attention in the town, where the families interested were so well known, and the singular circumstances of the suit naturally excited additional interest.

After the court opened its session, it became doubtful at one moment, whether the cause would he tried at that term; but others which preceded it having been disposed of, the Stanley suit was at length called.

On one side appeared William Stanley, the plaintiff, with Messrs. Reed and Clapp as counsel; a number of witnesses had been summoned by them, and were now present, mingled with the audience. On the other hand were the defendants, Mr. Wyllys, Hazlehurst, Ellsworth, and Mr. Grant, a distinguished lawyer of Philadelphia, appearing more particularly for Mrs. Stanley; they were also supported by witnesses of their own.

While the preliminary steps were going on, the jury forming, and the parties interested making their arrangements, the court-room filled rapidly with the friends of Hazlehurst, and a crowd of curious spectators. Among the individuals known to us, were Robert Hazlehurst, Mr. Stryker, and Charlie Hubbard, the young artist, who found that his want of inches interfered with his view of the scene, and springing on a bench, he remained there, and contrived to keep much the same station throughout the trial, his fine, intelligent countenance following the proceedings with the liveliest interest: Harry soon perceived him, and the young men exchanged friendly smiles. Mr. Stryker was looking on with cold, worldly curiosity; while Robert Hazlehurst watched over his brother's interest with much anxiety. In one sense the audience was unequally divided at first, for while Harry had many warm, personal friends present, the sailor was a stranger to all; the aspect of things partially changed, however, for among that portion of the crowd who had no particular sympathies with the defendants, a number soon took sides with the plaintiff. The curiosity to see the sailor was very great; at one moment, in the opening of the trial, all eyes were fixed on him; nor did Harry escape his share of scrutiny.

It was immediately observed, by those who had known the late Mr. Stanley, that the plaintiff certainly resembled his family. He was dressed like a seaman, and appeared quite easy and confident; seldom absent from court, speaking little, but following the proceedings attentively. His counsel, Mr. Reed, bore a calm and business-like aspect. Clapp was flushed, his eye was keen and restless, though he looked sanguine and hopeful; running his hand through his dark curls, he would lean back and make an observation to his client, turn to the right and whisper something in the ear of Mr. Reed, or bend over his papers, engrossed in thought.

The defendants, on their side, were certainly three as respectable men in their appearance, as one would wish to see; they looked, moved, and spoke like gentlemen; in manner and expression they were all three perfectly natural; simple, easy, but firm; like men aware that important interests were at stake, and prepared to make a good defence. Mr. Grant, their colleague, was an insignificant-looking man when silent, but he never rose to speak, without commanding the whole attention of his audience by the force of his talent.

The judges were-well known to be respectable men, as American magistrates of the higher grade are usually found to be. In the appearance of the jury there was nothing remarkable; the foreman was a shrewd-looking man, his neighbour on the left had an open, honest countenance, two others showed decidedly stupid faces, and one had a very obstinate expression, as if the first idea that entered his head, on any subject whatever, was seldom allowed to be dislodged.

Such was the appearance of things when the trial commenced. Leaving the minutiae of the proceedings to the legal report of Mr. Bernard, understood to be in the press, we shall confine ourselves to a brief, and very imperfect outline of the speeches, and the most important points of the testimony; merely endeavouring to give the reader a general idea of the course of things, on an occasion so important to Hazlehurst.

Mr. Clapp opened the case in a regular speech. Rising from his seat, he ran his fingers through his hair, and commenced, much as follows:

"We come before you on this occasion, gentlemen of the jury, to plead a cause which it is believed is unprecedented, in its peculiar facts, among the annals of justice in our great and glorious country. Never, indeed, should I have believed it possible that an American citizen could, under any circumstances whatever, have been compelled during so long a period to forego his just and legal rights; ay, that he could be forced to the very verge of abandoning those rights—all but forced to forget them. Yet, such are the facts of the case upon which you are now to decide. The individual appearing before you this day, claiming that the strong arm of the law be raised in his behalf, first presented himself to me, with the very same demand, six years since; to my shame I confess it, he was driven unaided from my door—I refused to assist him; he had already carried the same claim to others, and received from others the same treatment. And what is this claim, so difficult to establish? Is it some intricate legal question? Is it some doubtful point of law? Is it a matter which requires much learning to decide, much wisdom to fathom? No, gentlemen; it is a claim clearly defined, firmly established; never yet doubted, never yet denied: it is a claim, not only recognized in the common-law of every land, protected in the statute-books of every nation, but it is a claim, gentlemen, which springs spontaneously from the heart of every human being—it is the right of a son to his father's inheritance. A right, dear alike to the son of one of our merchant princes, and to the son of the porter on our wharves."

"Mr. Clapp paused; he looked about the court, rested his eyes on his client, ran his fingers through his curls, and then proceeded.

"Gentlemen; I have told you that it is the right of a son to his father's inheritance, which we this day call upon you to uphold. It is more; it is the sacred cause of the orphan that you are to defend. Yes, gentlemen; at the moment when William Stanley should have taken possession of the inheritance, which was his by the threefold title of nature, of law, and of parental bequest, he was a mere boy, a minor, a wanderer on the deep; one of that gallant class of men who carry the glorious colours of our great and happy country into every port, who whiten every sea with American canvass—he was a roving sailor-boy!"

And setting out from this point, Mr. Clapp made a general statement of the case, coloured by all the cheap ornaments of forensic eloquence, and varied by allusions to the glory of the country, the learning of all judges, particularly American judges, especially the judges then on the bench; the wisdom of all juries, particularly American juries, especially the jury then in the box. He confessed that his client had been guilty of folly in his boyhood; "but no one, gentlemen, can regret past misconduct more than Mr. Stanley; no son ever felt more deeply than himself, regret, that he could not have attended the death-bed of his father, received his last blessing, and closed his eyes for the last time!" Mr. Clapp then read parts of Mr. Stanley's will, gave an outline of his client's wanderings, and was very particular with names and dates. The sailor's return was then described in the most pathetic colours. "He brought with him, gentlemen, nothing but the humble contents of a sailor's chest, the hard-earned wages of his daily toil; he, who in justice was the owner of as rich a domain as any in the land!" The attempts of this poor sailor to obtain his rights were then represented. "He learned the bitter truth, gentlemen, that a poor seaman, a foremast hand, with a tarpaulin hat and round-jacket, stood little chance of being heard, as the accuser of the rich and the powerful—the men who walked abroad in polished beavers, and aristocratic broad-cloths." Aristocracy having once been brought upon the scene, was made to figure largely in several sentences, and was very roughly handled indeed. To have heard Mr. Clapp, one would have supposed aristocracy was the most sinful propensity to which human nature was liable; the only very criminal quality to which republican nature might he inclined. Of course the defendants were accused of this heinous sin; this brilliant passage concluded with a direct allusion to the "very aristocratic trio before him." Mr. Stanley was declared to be no aristocrat; he was pronounced thoroughly plebeian in all his actions and habits. "Like the individual who has now the honour of addressing you, gentlemen, Mr. Stanley is entirely free, in all his habits and opinions, from the hateful stain of aristocracy." He continued, following his client's steps down to the present time, much as they are already known to the reader. Then, making a sudden change, he reviewed the conduct of the defendants as connected with his client.

{"Aristocracy" = Susan Fenimore Cooper was very familiar with court proceedings in the 1840s. Her father was at this time involved in a series of generally successful libel suits against newspapers, which defended themselves by accusing him of being "aristocratic," a sore point, as he had repeatedly denounced aristocracy as the worst of all forms of government}

"What were their first steps at the death of Mr. Stanley, the father? Merely those which were absolutely necessary to secure themselves; they inquired for the absent son, but they inquired feebly; had they waited with greater patience he would have appeared, for the story of his disinheritance would never have reached him. Whence did that story proceed from? It is not for me to say; others now present may be able to account for it more readily. No, gentlemen, it is a bitter truth, that the conduct of the executors has been consistent throughout, from the moment they first took possession of the Stanley estate, until their appearance in this court; the conduct of the rival legatee has also been marked by the same consistent spirit of opposition, from the time of his first interview with Mr. Stanley, after he had arrived at years of discretion, and knew the value of the estate he hoped to enjoy; from the moment, I say, when he coolly ordered the unfortunate sailor to be locked up in Mr. Wyllys's smoke-house, until the present instant, when his only hope lies in denying the identity of Mr. Stanley's son." Mr. Clapp dwelt for some time upon this first interview, and the smoke-house; as he had previously hinted to Hazlehurst, he laboured to make that affair "look ugly," to the best of his ability. If the language of the Longbridge lawyer had been respectful throughout the preliminary proceedings, his tune in the court-room changed completely. As he drew towards the close of his speech, he gave full scope to a burst of virtuous indignation against wickedness and hypocrisy in general, and particularly against the conduct of the defendants. He declared himself forced to believe, that both Mr. Wyllys and Hazlehurst had suspected the existence of William Stanley from the first—others might have the charity to believe they had been ignorant of the young man's existence, he only wished he could still believe such to have been the fact—he had believed them honestly ignorant of it, until it was no longer possible for the prejudices of a long-standing friendship and intimacy to blind his eyes, under the flood of light presented by proofs as clear as day—proofs which his respected brother, the senior counsel, and himself, were about to lay before the court. He wished to be understood, however; he never for one moment had included in these suspicions—so painful to every candid, upright mind, but which had recently forced themselves upon him—he repeated, that in them he had never included the respected lady who filled the place of step-mother to his client, whose representative he now saw before him, in the person of a highly distinguished lawyer of the Philadelphia bar; he did not suppose that that venerable matron had ever doubted the death of her husband's son. He knew that excellent lady, had often met her in the social circle; none admired more than he, the virtues for which she was distinguished; he had never supposed it possible, that if aware of the existence of William Stanley, she could have sat down calmly to enjoy his inheritance. Such a case of turpitude might not be without example; but he confessed that in his eyes, it would amount to guilt of so black a dye, that he was unwilling to accuse human nature of such depravity; it went beyond the powers of his, Mr. Clapp's, imagination to comprehend. No, he acquitted Mrs. Stanley of all blame; she had been influenced and guided by the two gentlemen before him. He had himself observed, that during all the preliminary proceedings, the venerable step-mother of his client had shown many symptoms of doubt and hesitation; it was his firm conviction, it was the opinion of his client, of his brother counsel, that if left to her own unbiassed judgment, Mrs. Stanley would immediately have acknowledged her husband's son, and received him as such. He appealed to the defendants themselves if this were not true; he called upon them to deny this assertion if they could—if they dared! Here Mr. Clapp paused a moment, and looked towards Mr. Grant.

The defendants had already spoken together for an instant; Mr. Ellsworth rose: "The answer which the counsel for the plaintiff was so anxious to receive, was reserved for its proper place in the defence. Where so much might be said, he should scarcely be able to confine himself within the bounds necessary at that moment. Let the counsel for the plaintiff rest assured, however, that the answer to that particular question, when given, would prove, like the general answer of the defence, of a nature that the interrogator would, doubtless, little relish."

During Mr. Clapp's abusive remarks, and impudent insinuations against himself and Mr. Wyllys, Hazlehurst, placing one arm on the table before him, leaned a little, forward, and fixed his eye steadily, but searchingly, on the face of the speaker. It proved as Harry had expected; the lawyer looked to the right and left, he faced the judges, the jurors; he glanced at the audience, raised his eyes to the ceiling, or threw them upon his papers, but not once did he meet those of Hazlehurst.

"Gentlemen of the jury; you will observe that the question remains unanswered!" continued Mr. Clapp, with a triumphant air. He then contrived to appeal to his brother counsel to declare his own impressions, and gave Mr. Reed an opportunity of affirming, that he had believed Mrs. Stanley inclined to acknowledge their client; he spoke calmly and impressively, in a manner very different from the hurried, yet whining enunciation, and flourishing gestures of his colleague.

Mr. Clapp now proceeded to prepare the way for the evidence: he gave a general idea of its character, expressing beforehand the firmest conviction of its effect on the court. "I have been engaged in hundreds of suits, gentlemen; I have been a regular attendant in courts of law from early boyhood, and never, in the whole course of my experience, have I met with a case, so peculiar and so important, supported by a body of evidence so clear, so decided, so undeniable as that which we shall immediately lay before you;" and Mr. Clapp sat down, running his fingers through his curls.

The court here adjourned for an hour. The curiosity of the audience seemed thoroughly excited; when the judges reassembled, the room was even more crowded than in the morning.

Before calling up the witnesses, Mr. Reed spoke for five minutes; his dignified manner was a favourable preparation for the testimony in the plaintiff's behalf.

The first fact proved, was the resemblance of the plaintiff to William Stanley; this point was thoroughly investigated, and settled without difficulty in favour of the plaintiff—some half-a-dozen witnesses swearing to the identity, according to the best of their belief. The fact that the defendants themselves had acknowledged the personal resemblance, was also made to appear; and Mr. Reed introduced the identity of handwriting to strengthen the personal identity—several witnesses giving their testimony on the subject. It seemed indeed, clear, from the whole of this part of the evidence, that there was no rational ground to doubt any other difference, either in the personal resemblance or the handwriting, than what might naturally exist in the same man, at the ages of eighteen and thirty-seven.

The statement offered to the defendants some months since, tracing the last career of the plaintiff was now introduced, and the principal facts legally proved by different witnesses. Officers and sailors of different vessels in which he had sailed, were sworn. Among others, Captain ——-, of the packet ship ***, testified to the plaintiff's having sailed in his vessel, under the name of William Stanley, nine years previously; and it was very clearly proved, that at different intervals since then, he had continued to bear the same name, although he had also shipped under those of Bennet, Williams, and Benson. The statement, as given already in our pages, was borne out satisfactorily in most of its important facts by the evidence; although on some points the counsel for the plaintiffs confessed, that they had not been able to obtain all the legal proofs they had wished for. After tracing the plaintiff's steps as a sailor, the fact of his having been long endeavouring to bring forward the claim he now made, was examined. Mr. G——-, a highly respectable lawyer of Baltimore, testified to the fact that several years previously, the plaintiff had applied to him to undertake the case then before the court; to speak frankly, this evidence surprised the defendants, who were scarcely prepared for it. Then came proof of the different applications to Mr. Clapp, his several visits to Longbridge, and his presence at Wyllys-Roof six years previously, when locked up in the out-house by Hazlehurst; Mr. Clapp repeating at this moment, a very broad insinuation, that the defendant knew the claims of the individual he had put in confinement. His willingness to be examined, his ready consent to an interview with Mr. Wyllys, Mrs. Stanley, and Hazlehurst, the close examination which he bore at Wyllys-Roof, were brought forward; and Mr. Clapp managed to introduce most of the important questions of the defendants at that time, with the accurate answers of the plaintiff, in his account of that meting.

The court adjourned at this time, and many individuals among the audience seemed to incline very decidedly towards the plaintiff. The personal friends of the defendants looked somewhat anxious, although Mr. Wyllys and Hazlehurst still showed a steady front. The testimony which we have given so briefly, as much of it has already appeared in the narrative, occupied the court more than one day, including the different cross-examinations of several witnesses, by the defendants: this duty fell to the lot of Mr. Grant, who carried it on in his usual dry, sarcastic manner, but was unable to effect any important change in the state of things.

The following morning, the plaintiff's papers were laid before the court. The volume of the Spectator, and the letters already produced at Wyllys-Roof, were shown. In addition to these, the following papers were now brought forward: A letter addressed to the name of Benson, on board the British sloop-of-war, Ceres; another directed to William Bennet, on board the Dutch barque William, when at Batavia, nearly eighteen years since; this letter was important, as it was evidently written to an American sailor, and alluded to his having been recently shipwrecked on the coast of Africa, and taken up by a Dutch vessel. These documents were all received with great interest, and their probable authenticity seemed generally admitted. Mr. Reed then observed: "We shall close our evidence, gentlemen, by laying before you testimony, sufficient in itself to prove triumphantly the identity of the plaintiff, when connected with a small portion only of that which has preceded it."

He drew from his papers an old Russia-leather pocketbook, with the initials W. S. stamped upon in large Gothic letters.

Mr. Wyllys made an involuntary movement as it was held up for examination; that very pocket-book, or one exactly like it, had he given himself to the son of his old friend, the very last time he saw him. He watched the proceedings at this moment with intense interest—evident to everybody.

"This pocket-book, gentlemen, is the property of the plaintiff," continued Mr. Reed. "The initials of his name, W. S., stamped upon it, are half-effaced, yet still sufficiently distinct to tell their story. But the contents of this precious book are of still greater importance to the interests of my client."

Mr. Reed then opened it and drew from one side a letter, and read the address, "William Stanley, New York, care of Jonas Thomson, Master of the ship Dorothy Beck." "This letter, gentlemen of the jury, is signed John Stanley—it is from the father of William Stanley, in whose name I now submit it to your examination." The letter was then read; it corresponded entirely with the circumstances already known to the reader; its date, nature, handwriting, all were perfectly correct, and the signature was sworn to by several witnesses. Mr. Wyllys was evidently moved when the letter was read; he asked to look at it, and all eyes were turned on his venerable countenance, as he silently examined the paper. It was remarked that the hand which held the letter was not steady, and the features which bent over it betrayed perceptible agitation. Mr. Wyllys turned to Hazlehurst, as he finished reading the sheet.

"It is undeniably genuine; the letter of John Stanley to his son!" he said.

A short consultation succeeded between the defendants. Hazlehurst wrote a line or two on a slip of paper, and handed it to Mr. Wyllys, and then to Ellsworth and Mr. Grant.

"Will the counsel for the plaintiff tell us, why these documents were not produced at the interview with the defendants?" asked Mr. Ellsworth.

"We had several reasons for not doing so," replied Mr. Clapp. "Had our client not been received so coldly, and every effort employed to misunderstand him, we should have produced them earlier; although it would have been impossible to have shown them at that meeting, since they were not then in our possession."

"Will the plaintiff state where, and from whom he first received that pocket-book?" asked Mr. Grant.

Here the counsel for the plaintiff consulted together a moment. It seemed as if their client was willing to answer the question; and that Mr. Reed advised his doing so, but Mr. Clapp opposed it.

"The defendants must be aware," he said, "that they had no right to question his client; Mr. Stanley therefore declined answering; he had already, at the proper time and place, answered many inquiries of theirs, in a manner which had, doubtless, appeared satisfactory to the court, although it had not satisfied the defendants. Mr. Stanley had lost all hope of answering any question of the defendants, in a manner SATISFACTORY TO THEM."

Here the defendants were engaged for a moment in making notes.

Mr. Reed proceeded with the contents of the pocket-book. "The letter of the father to his erring son, is not the only testimony we shall produce from the pocket-book of my client, gentlemen."

A printed slip of newspaper, soiled, and yellow with age, was then drawn from one of the pockets, and read by Mr. Reed: "Married, Wednesday, the 10th, at Trinity Church, New York, by the Rev. Charles G. Stanley, John Stanley, of Greatwood, Pennsylvania, to Elizabeth, daughter of the late Myndert Van Ryssen, of Poughkeepsie."

Again the defendants showed evident interest. Mr. Wyllys passed his hand over his face, to drive away melancholy recollections of the past; the present Mrs. Stanley was Miss Van Ryssen, and at that marriage he had stood by the side of his friends, as the priest united them.

"Is not that a touching memorial, gentlemen, of the workings of natural feeling in the heart of a misguided boy? He had left his father, left his home, left his friends in a fit of reckless folly, but when he meets with the name of the parent from whom he is estranged, in an American paper, in a distant land, he cuts the paragraph from the sheet, and it is carefully preserved among his precious things, during many succeeding years of hardships, and of wrongs. But there is another striking fact connected with that scrap of paper; the individual whose name stands there, as connected in the closest of human ties with the young man's father, is the same, whose legal representative I now see before me, prepared to oppose, by every means in his power, the claim of the son to the inheritance bequeathed him, with the forgiveness of his dying father. The simplest language I can choose, will best express the force of facts so painful. The circumstances are before you; it rests with you to say, whether tardy justice shall not at length make some amends for the wrongs of the last eighteen years."

The defendants here asked to look at the paper; they could find no fault with it; in texture, colour, accuracy, every point, it corresponded with what it should be.

Mr. Reed paused an instant, and then continued. "But, gentlemen of the jury, this old and well-worn pocket-book, the companion of my client's wanderings, and hard fortunes; the letter from the father to the son, received as authentic, without an instant's hesitation, by the defendants themselves; the marriage notice of the deceased father and the step-mother, now his legal opponent, are not the only proofs to be drawn from this portion of our testimony."

Mr. Reed then opened the pocket-book, and showed that it had originally contained a number of leaves of blank paper; these leaves were partially covered with the hand-writing of William Stanley. The date of his going to sea, and the names of the vessels he had sailed in, were recorded. Brief, random notes occurred, of no other importance than that of proving the authenticity of the pocket-book. A sailor's song was written on one page; another was half-covered with figures, apparently some trifling accounts of his own. The date of a particular storm of unusual severity, was put down, with the latitude and longitude in which it occurred, the number of hours it lasted, and the details of the injury done to the vessel. This rude journal, if such it may be called, was handed to the jury, and also examined by the defendants.

Mr. Grant took it, observing with his usual set expression, and caustic manner, that "it was certainly the pocket-book of a sailor, probably the pocket-book of William Stanley. It was connected with a singular story, a very singular story indeed; but, really, there was one fact which made it altogether the most extraordinary compound of leather and paper, that ever happened to fall in his way. If he was not mistaken, he had understood that the plaintiff, among other remarkable adventures, claimed to have just escaped drowning, by the skin of his teeth, when picked up on the coast of Africa, in the winter of 181-. His pocket-book seemed to have borne the shipwreck equally well; it was landed high and dry in that court-house, without a trace of salt-water about it. How did the plaintiff manage to preserve it so well? He should like the receipt, it might prove useful."

{"receipt" = recipe}

Mr. Grant had been looking down very attentively at the pocket-book while speaking, occasionally holding it up for others to see, with studied carelessness; as he put the question, he suddenly raised his eyes, without changing his position, and fixed them searchingly, with a sort of ironical simplicity, on Mr. Clapp and his client.

"I can tell him all about it," the plaintiff was heard to say, by those near him.

There was a moment's consultation between the plaintiff and his counsel. A juror then expressed a wish to hear the explanation.

Mr. Clapp rose and said: "When Mr. Stanley was picked up by the 'William,' does the counsel for my client's step-mother suppose, that he was the only remnant of the wreck floating about? If he does, he happens to be mistaken. Mr. Stanley says there were two others of the crew picked up at the time he was, with the hope of restoring life, but they were dead. There were also several chests, and various other objects brought on board the 'William.' One of the chests was his client's. The pocket-book was contained in a tin box, which happened to be wrapped in a piece of old sail-cloth, and nothing in the box was wet. It contained several old bank-notes, besides the pocket-book, and they were not wet. He hoped the counsel for his client's step-mother was satisfied."

Mr. Grant bowed. "Much obliged for the explanation; but he was still inclined to think, that there must have been some peculiar process employed with that highly important pocket-book."

Mr. Clapp replied by a short burst of indignation, at the intolerable insinuations of his opponent, and appealed to the court to silence them. Mr. Grant was accordingly reminded by the judge, that unless he had something beyond mere insinuations to offer, his remarks could not be listened to. Mr. Reed then related how these papers had been lost by his client, some years since; they had been left in a box at a boarding-house, during a voyage he made in the Pacific; the house was burnt down, and Mr. Stanley had believed his papers lost, until he recently heard they were in possession of a shipmate, at New Bedford. Mr. Clapp and himself had gone there, and easily obtained them again from Robert Stebbins, the man in whose hands they had been since the fire. The fact of the fire was proved; Stebbins was sworn, and testified to having saved the box with his own effects, and his having quite lately returned it to the owner, on first hearing an account of the suit in which he was engaged. This part of the testimony was clearly laid before the court by Mr. Reed; and the evidence for the plaintiffs was closed, with these papers, and the examination of Stebbins, through whose hands they had come.

The cross-examination of the different witnesses was still conducted by Mr. Grant; several of the witnesses were made to contradict each other, and partially to contradict themselves; but as it was only on points of minor importance, no material change could be effected in the general appearance of things, in spite of all Mr. Grant's ingenuity. He kept Stebbins a long time on the stand; and once or twice this individual seemed a good deal confused in manner and expression; still nothing important could be drawn from him, his account of the papers corresponding sufficiently well with that of the plaintiff.

It was late in the afternoon when the proceedings of the trial reached this stage, and the court adjourned. Some of Hazlehurst's friends were uneasy, others were confident of success; Mr. Stryker declared he thought the sailor had made out a very strong case, and he predicted that he would gain the suit. It is not to be supposed that Mrs. Stanley, and the ladies at Wyllys-Roof, were left in ignorance of what passed in the court-room. Robert Hazlehurst, at whose house Mrs. Stanley and Miss Wyllys were staying, made brief notes of the proceedings every few hours, and sent them to his wife and friends, who despatched them by every mail to the younger ladies at Wyllys-Roof.

When the court met again, the time for the defendants to be heard had arrived.

The defence was opened by Hazlehurst; he had had but little practice at the bar, but, like most educated Americans, it required but little to fit him for speaking in public. His voice was good, his manner and appearance were highly in his favour; he had the best of materials to work with, native ability, cultivated by a thorough education, and supported by just views and sound principles. Energy of character and feeling helped him also; warming as he proceeded, he threw himself fully into his subject, and went on with a facility surprising to himself, and far surpassing the most sanguine expectations of his friends. As for his opponents, they had anticipated very little from him. We give a sketch of his opening remarks:

"It is the first time, gentlemen," he said, on rising to speak, "that the individual who now addresses you, has ever appeared in a high court of justice, as an act of self-defence. I have never yet been solemnly called upon to account for my past actions by any fellow-creature. My moral motives have never yet been publicly impugned. The position in which I now stand, accused of denying the just rights of another, of wilfully withholding the parental inheritance from the son of my benefactor, is therefore as novel to myself in its whole character, as it must appear remarkable to you in its peculiar circumstances.

"I have already learned, however, during the few years that I have filled a place on the busy stage of active life, that in the world to which we belong, Truth herself is compelled to appear on the defensive, nearly as often, perhaps, as Error. I have no right therefore to complain. So long as I am included in the same accusation, so long as I am associated in the same defence with the venerable man at my side—one, whose honourable career has furnished to the community represented by this assembly, a noble model of conduct during three-score years and ten; one whom it has been the especial object of my endeavours to follow, in my own path through life—so long, I can have no wish to shrink from the situation in which I am placed; I can find no room for doubts or misgivings, as to the wisdom and rectitude of the course I have adopted.

"That the position, however, in which we stand before you, on the present occasion, gentlemen, is one that requires explanation, we readily admit; it is too remarkable in its particulars to escape the searching inquiry of justice. We appear in this court, the executors and legatee of Mr. Stanley—his widow, his nearest friend, and his adopted representative—to deny a claim, just in itself, advanced in the name of his only son. Such a position must be either quite untenable, totally unjustifiable, an outrage upon the common decency of society, or it must stand on the firm foundation of truth. You will easily believe, that such a position would never have been taken, under circumstances so extraordinary, by three individuals, possessing only a common share of honesty and good sense, unless they had held it to be one which they could maintain. You will readily admit, that it is the very last position which a man of clear integrity, good character, and natural feeling would wish to assume, unless acting from conscientious motives, and guided by sound reason.

"I have no wish to parade a stoical indifference to the pecuniary interests at stake to-day; they are such as must seriously affect my fortunes for years, possibly for life. A cause involving so large a sum of money, so fine a landed estate, honourably acquired by the late proprietor, and generously bequeathed to myself, must necessarily include many interests of a varied character. Many grateful recollections of the past, many hopes for the future, have been connected in my mind with the house at Greatwood; from early boyhood I have been taught to look forward to it, as a home and a resting-place, when the busiest years of life shall have passed. These interests, however, although among the best enjoyments of existence, are of a nature entirely personal, forgive me, if for a moment I have glanced at them. But, gentlemen, if I have always valued the bequest of Mr. Stanley, from its own intrinsic importance, from the many advantages it has already procured me, from the hopes with which it is connected, and from the grateful recollection, that to the friendly affection of my benefactor I owe its possession, yet, I solemnly affirm, in the hearing of hundreds of witnesses, that there is no honest occupation, however humble, no labour, however toilsome, that I would not at this instant cheerfully exchange for it, rather than retain that inheritance one hour from its rightful owner, could I believe him to be living.

"No human being, I trust, who knows the principles from which I have hitherto acted, can show just ground for mistrusting this declaration.

"But, fellow-citizens of the jury, to you I am a stranger. There is not one of your number, as I now scan the faces in your box, that I recognize as that of an acquaintance. I cannot, therefore, expect you to believe this assertion, unsupported by evidence of its truth. I willingly leave vain declamation to those who have no better weapon to work with; were it in my power to influence your decision, by volleys of words without meaning, sound without sense, such as only too often assail the ears of judges and juries, respect for the honourable office you now fill, would deter me from following such a course; self-respect would naturally prevent me from following so closely the example of the orator who first addressed you on behalf of the plaintiff. I have often before heard that orator, fellow-citizens of the jury; this is not the first occasion upon which I have listened with simple wonder, to a fluency which ever flows undisturbed, undismayed, whether the obstacles in its way be those of law or justice, reason or truth. But if I have wondered at a facility so remarkable, never, for a single instant, have I wished to rival this supple dexterity. It is an accomplishment one can scarcely envy. On the other hand, these wholesale supplies of bombastic declamation form so large a part of the local stock in trade of the individual to whom I refer, that it would seem almost cruel to deprive him of them; we have all heard a common expression, more easily understood than explained, but which would be quite applicable to the pitiable state of the counsel for the plaintiff, when deprived of his chief support, his favourite modes of speech—he would then be reduced, gentlemen, to LESS THAN NOTHING." Hazlehurst's face was expressive enough as he uttered these words.

"No, fellow-citizens of the jury, I shall not ask you to believe a single assertion of my own, unsustained by proof. At the proper moment, the testimony which we possess in favour of the death of Mr. Stanley's son, and the facts which have led us to mistrust the strange story which you have just heard advanced in behalf of the plaintiff, will be laid before you. At present, suffer me, for a moment longer, to refer to the leading motives which have induced us to appear in this court, as defendants, under circumstances so singular.

"The importance which, as legatee of Mr. Stanley, I attach to his generous gift has not been denied. But, independently of this, there are other causes sufficient in themselves to have brought me into this hall, and these motives I share with the friends associated in the same defence. If we conceive ourselves to be justified in refusing the demand of the plaintiff, as a consequence of this conviction, we must necessarily hold it to be an imperative duty to repel, by every honest means in our power, a claim we believe false. This is a case which allows of no medium course. On one hand, either we, the defendants, are guilty of an act of the most cruel injustice; or, on the other, the individual before you, assuming the name of William Stanley, is an impostor. The opinion of those most intimately connected with the late Mr. Stanley, is clearly proclaimed, by the stand they have deliberately taken, after examining the evidence with which the plaintiff advances his extraordinary claim. This individual who, from his own account, was content to remain for years in a state of passive indifference to the same important inheritance, now claimed so boldly, in defiance of so many obstacles, we believe to be an impostor; not a single, lingering scruple prevents my repeating the declaration, that I believe him to be a bold and daring impostor.

"With this opinion, is it expected that I shall calmly endure that one, whose only title consists in his cunning and his audacity, should seize with impunity, property, legally and justly my own? Is it believed that I shall stand idly by, without a struggle to defend the name of my deceased benefactor from such impudent abuse? That I should be content to see the very hearth-stone of my friend seized, by the grossest cupidity? That I should surrender the guardianship of his grave to one, with whom he never had a thought, a feeling, a sympathy in common?—to one, who would not scruple to sell that grave for a bottle of rum?

"Every feeling revolts at the thought of such a shameful neglect of duty! No; I acknowledge myself bound, by every obligation, to oppose to the last extremity, such an audacious invasion of right and truth. Every feeling of respect and gratitude to the memory of my benefactor, urges me forward; while all the attachment of the friend, and all the affection of the widow, revive, and unite in the defence.

"But, fellow-citizens of the jury, my own personal rights, sufficient on a common occasion to rouse any man, the duties owed by each of the defendants to the memory of Mr. Stanley—duties sacred in the eyes of every right-thinking man, these are not the only motives which call upon us to oppose the plaintiff, to repel with all the strength we can command this daring act of piracy.

"There is another duty still more urgent, a consideration of a still higher character, involved in the course we pursue to-day. There is one object before us, far surpassing in importance any to which I have yet alluded; it is one, fellow-citizens of the jury, in which each individual of your number is as deeply concerned as ourselves, in which the highest earthly interests of every human being in this community are included; it is the one great object for which these walls were raised, this hall opened, which has placed those honourable men as judges on the seat of justice, which has called you together, from the less important pursuit of your daily avocations, to give an impartial opinion in every case brought before you; it is the high object of maintaining justice in the community to which we all equally belong. I am willing to believe, fellow-citizens of the jury, that you are fully aware of the importance of your own office, of the dignity of this court, of the necessity of its existence, of its activity to protect the honest and inoffensive citizen, against the designing, the unprincipled, and the violent. Such protection we know to be absolutely binding upon every community claiming to be civilized; we know that without it no state of society, at all worthy of the dignity of human nature, at all worthy of the dignity of freemen, can exist; without active justice, indeed, the name of Freedom becomes a mere sound of mockery. I have been taught to hold the opinion, gentlemen, that if there is one obligation more imperative than any other, imposed upon an American by the privileges of his birth-right, it is this very duty of maintaining justice in her full integrity; of raising his voice in her behalf when she is threatened, of raising his arm in her defence when she is assailed. To move at the first clear appeal of justice, is surely one of the chief duties of every American citizen, of every man blessed with freedom of speech and freedom of action; and, surely, if this be a general rule, it would become a double act of moral cowardice, to desert the post, when those individual rights, confided especially to my own protection, including interests so important to myself, are audaciously assailed. If there are circumstances which partially remove the weight of this obligation, of this public struggle for justice, from portions of the community, from the aged, who have already firmly upheld every honourable principle through a long course of years, and from those who are confined by their natural position to the narrow but holy circle of domestic duties; if such be honourable exemptions from bearing the brunt of the battle, it is only to open the front rank to every active citizen, laying claim to manliness and honesty. Such I conceive to be the obligation imposed upon myself, by the demand of the plaintiff. Upon examination, I can find no sufficient evidence to support this claim; it becomes therefore, in my belief, by its very nature, an atrocious outrage alike to the living and the dead—an insulting violation of natural justice and the law of the land, sufficient to rouse every justifiable effort in resistance.

"Whenever attention may be called to a question, of a character audaciously unprincipled, even when quite independent of personal advantage and personal feeling, I should still hope that duty as a man, duty as a freeman, would have sufficient influence over my actions, to urge me forward in opposition to its unrighteous demands, just so far as common sense and true principle shall point the way. Such I conceive to be the character of the present question; were there no pecuniary interest, no individual feeling at stake, I should still conceive it a duty to hold on the present occasion the position in which I now stand.

"The grounds upon which this opinion as to the character of the case has been formed, the grounds upon which we base our defence, must now be laid before you."

After this opening, Harry proceeded with an outline of the testimony for the defence. His statement was very clear and accurate throughout; but as it contained nothing but what is already known to the reader, we shall omit this part of his remarks.

After he had given a general account of the conduct and views of the defendants, Mr. Ellsworth proceeded to lay the legal evidence in their possession, before the court. The first point examined, was the testimony they had received as to the death of William Stanley. The wreck of the Jefferson was easily proved, by a letter from the captain of the American ship Eagle, who had spoken the Jefferson the morning of the gale in which she was lost, and having safely rode out the storm himself, had afterwards seen the wreck. This letter was written on Captain Green's arrival in port, and was in answer to inquiries of Mr. Wyllys; besides an account of the gale, and the wreck of the Jefferson, it contained the united opinions of his mates and himself, that no one could have escaped, unless under very extraordinary circumstances, as the vessel herself had foundered, and no boat could have lived in such a tempest. During a calm which had followed the gale, they had fallen in with fragments of the wreck, some of which had been used in repairing their own vessel; they had seen several dead bodies, and had taken up an empty boat, and several other objects, but nothing which threw farther light on the subject. William Stanley's name, as one of the crew of the Jefferson, was next produced; this part of the testimony came through our acquaintance, Mr. Hopkins, who had been the owner of the Jefferson. Then came proofs of the many

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse