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Afloat And Ashore by James Fenimore Cooper

Part 10 out of 10

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like reading the correspondence of another _sister_!"

I fancied Grace laid an emphasis on the last word she used; and I
started at its unwelcome sound--unwelcome, as applied to Lucy
Hardinge, to a degree that I cannot express. I had observed that Lucy
never used any of these terms, as connected with me, and it was one of
the reasons why I had indulged in the folly of supposing that she was
conscious of a tenderer sentiment. But Lucy was so natural, so totally
free from exaggeration, so just and true in all her feelings, that one
could not expect from her most of the acts of girlish weakness. As for
Grace, she called Chloe, gave her the keys of her secretary, and told
her to bring me the package she described.

"Go and look them over, Miles," said my sister, as I received the
letters; "there must be more than twenty of them, and you can read
half before the dinner hour. I will meet you at table; and let me
implore you not to alarm good Mr. Hardinge. He does not believe me
seriously ill; and it cannot benefit him or me, to cause him pain."

I promised discretion, arid hastened to my own room, with the precious
bundle of Lucy's letters. Shall I own the truth? I kissed the papers,
fervently, before they were loosened, and it seemed to me I possessed
a treasure, in holding in my hand so many of the dear girl's
epistles. I commenced in the order of the date, and began to read with
eagerness. It was impossible for Lucy Hardinge to write to one she
loved, and not exhibit the truth and nature of her feelings. These
appeared in every paragraph in which it was proper to make any
allusions of the sort. But the letters had other charms. It was
apparent, throughout, that the writer was ignorant that she wrote to
an invalid, though she could not but know that she wrote to a
recluse. Her aim evidently was to amuse Grace, of whose mental
sufferings she could not well be ignorant. Lucy was a keen observer,
and her epistles were filled with amusing comments on the follies that
were daily committed in New York, as well as in Paris, or London. I
was delighted with the delicate pungency of her satire, which,
however, was totally removed from vulgar scandal. There was nothing in
these letters that might not have been uttered in a drawing-room, to
any but the persons concerned; and yet they were filled with a humour
that rose often to wit, relieved by a tact and taste that a man never
could have attained. Throughout, it was apparent to me, Lucy, in
order to amuse Grace, was giving a full scope to a natural talent--one
that far surpassed the same capacity in her brother, being as true as
his was meritricious and jesuitical--which she had hitherto concealed
from us all, merely because she had not seen an occasion fit for its
use. Allusions in the letters, themselves, proved that Grace had
commented on this unexpected display of observant humour, and had
expressed her surprise at its existence. It was then as novel to my
sister as it was to myself. I was struck also with the fact, that
Rupert's name did not appear once in all these letters. They embraced
just twenty-seven weeks, between the earliest and the latest date; and
there were nine-and-twenty letters, two having been sent by private
conveyances; her father's, most probably, he occasionally making the
journey by land; yet no one of them contained the slightest allusion
to her brother, or to either of the Mertons. This was enough to let me
know how well Lucy understood the reason of Grace's withdrawal to
Clawbonny.

"And how was it with Miles Wallingford's name?" some of my fair
readers may be ready to ask. I went carefully through the package in
the course of the evening, and I set aside two, as the only exceptions
in which my name did not appear. On examining these two with jealous
care, I found each had a postscript, one of which was to the following
effect: "I see by the papers that Miles has sailed for Malta having at
last left those stubborn Turks. I am glad of this, as one would not
wish to have the excellent fellow shut up in the Seven Towers, however
honourable it may have been." The other postscript contained this:
"Dear Miles has got to Leghorn, my father tells me, and may be
expected home this summer. How great happiness this will bring you,
dearest Grace, I can well understand; and I need scarcely say that no
one will rejoice more to see him again than his late guardian and
myself."

That the papers were often looked over to catch reports of my
movements in Europe, by means of ships arriving from different parts
of the world, was apparent enough; but I scarce knew what to make of
the natural and simply affectionate manner in which my name was
introduced. It might proceed from a wish to gratify Grace, and a
desire to let the sister know all that she herself possessed touching
the brother's movements. Then Andrew Drewett's name occurred very
frequently, though it was generally in connection with that of his
mother, who had evidently constituted herself a sort of regular
_chaperone_ for Lucy, more especially during the time she was
kept out of the gay world by her mourning. I read several of these
passages with the most scrupulous attention, in order to detect the
feeling with which they had been written; but the most practised art
could not have more successfully concealed any secret of this sort,
than Lucy's nature. This often proves to be the case; the just-minded
and true among men daily becoming the profoundest mysteries to a
vicious, cunning, deceptive and selfish world. An honest man, indeed,
is ever a parodox to all but those who see things with his own
eyes. This is the reason that improper motives are so often imputed to
the simplest and seemingly most honest deeds.

The result was, to write, entreating Lucy to come to Clawbonny; first
taking care to secure her father's assent, to aid my request. This was
done in a way not to awaken any alarm, and yet with sufficient
strength to render it tolerably certain she would come. On deliberate
reflection, and after seeing my sister at table, where she ate nothing
but a light vegetable diet, and passing the evening with her, I
thought I could not do less in justice to the invalid or her friend. I
took the course with great regret on several accounts; and, among
others, from a reluctance to appear to draw Lucy away from the society
of my rival, into my own. Yet what right had I to call myself the
rival or competitor of a man who had openly professed an attachment,
where I had never breathed a syllable myself that might not readily be
mistaken for the language of that friendship, which time, and habit,
and a respect for each other's qualities, so easily awaken among the
young of different sexes? I had been educated almost as Lucy's
brother; and why should she not feel towards me as one?

Neb went out in the boat as soon as he got his orders and the
Wallingford sailed again in ballast that very night. She did not
remain at the wharf an hour after her wheat was out. I felt easier
when these duties were discharged, and was better prepared to pass the
night in peace. Grace's manner and appearance, too, contributed to
this calm; for she seemed to revive, and to experience some degree of
earthly happiness, in having her brother near her. When Mr. Hardinge
read prayers that night, she came to the chair where I stood, took my
hand in hers, and knelt at my side. I was touched to tears by this
act of affection, which spoke as much of the tenderness of the sainted
and departed spirit, lingering around those it had loved on earth, as
of the affection of the world. I folded the dear girl to my bosom, as
I left her at the door of her own room that night, and went to my own
pillow, with a heavy heart. Seamen pray little; less than they ought,
amid the rude scenes of their hazardous lives. Still, I had not quite
forgotten the lessons of childhood, and sometimes practised on
them. That night I prayed fervently, beseeching God to spare my
sister, if in his wisdom it were meet; and I humbly invoked his
blessings on the excellent divine, and on Lucy, by name. I am not
ashamed to own it, let who may deride the act.

CHAPTER XXIX.

"Wherever sorrow is, relief would be;
If you do sorrow at my grief in love,
By giving love, your sorrow and my grief
Were both extermin'd."
_As You Like It._

I saw but little of Grace, during the early part of the succeeding
day. She had uniformly breakfasted in her own room, of late, and, in
the short visit I paid her there, I found her composed, with an
appearance of renewed strength that encouraged me greatly, as to the
future. Mr. Hardinge insisted on rendering an account of his
stewardship, that morning, and I let the good divine have his own way;
though, had he asked me for a receipt in full, I would cheerfully have
given it to him, without examining a single item. There was a
singular peculiarity about Mr. Hardinge. No one could live less for
the world generally; no one was less qualified to superintend
extensive worldly interests, that required care, or thought; and no
one would have been a more unsafe executor in matters that were
intricate or involved: still, in the mere business of accounts, he was
as methodical and exact, as the most faithful banker. Rigidly honest,
and with a strict regard for the rights of others, living moreover on
a mere pittance, for the greater part of his life, this conscientious
divine never contracted a debt he could not pay. What rendered this
caution more worthy of remark, was the fact that he had a spendthrift
son; but, even Rupert could never lure him into any weakness of this
sort. I question if his actual cash receipts, independently of the
profits of his little glebe, exceeded $300 in any one year; yet, he
and his children were ever well-dressed, and I knew from observation
that his table was always sufficiently supplied. He got a few presents
occasionally, from his parishioners, it is true; but they did not
amount to any sum of moment. It was method, and a determination not to
anticipate his income, that placed him so much above the world, while
he had a family to support; whereas, now that Mrs. Bradfort's fortune
was in the possession of his children, he assured me he felt himself
quite rich, though he scrupulously refused to appropriate one dollar
of the handsome income that passed through his hands as executor, to
his own uses. It was all Lucy's, who was entitled to receive this
income even in her minority, and to her he paid every cent, quarterly;
the sister providing for Rupert's ample wants.

Of course, I found everything exact to a farthing; the necessary
papers were signed, the power of attorney was cancelled, and I entered
fully into the possession of my own. An unexpected rise in the value
of flour had raised my shore receipts that year to the handsome sum of
nine thousand dollars. This was not properly income, however, but
profits, principally obtained through the labour of the mill. By
putting all my loose cash together, I found I could command fully
$30,000, in addition to the price of the ship. This sum was making me
a man quite at my ease, and, properly managed, it opened a way to
wealth. How gladly would I have given every cent of it, to see Grace
as healthy and happy as she was when I left her at Mrs. Bradfort's, to
sail in the Crisis!

After settling the figures, Mr. Hardinge and I mounted our horses, and
rode over the property to take a look at the state of the farm. Our
road took us near the little rectory and the glebe; and, here, the
simple-minded divine broke out into ecstasies on the subject of the
beauties of his own residence, and the delight with which he should
now return to his ancient abode. He loved Clawbonny no less than
formerly, but he loved the rectory more.

"I was born in that humble, snug, quiet old stone cottage, Miles," he
said, "and there I lived for years a happy husband and father, and I
hope I may say a faithful shepherd of my little flock. St. Michael's,
Clawbonny, is not Trinity, New York, but it may prove, on a small
scale as to numbers, as fitting a nursery of saints. What humble and
devout Christians have I known to kneel at its little altar, Miles,
among whom your mother, and your venerable old grandmother, were two
of the best. I hope the day is not distant when I shall meet there
another Mrs. Miles Wallingford. Marry young, my boy; early marriages
prove happier than late, where there are the means of subsistence."

"You would not have me marry, until I can find a woman whom I shall
truly love, dear sir?"

"Heaven forbid! I would rather see you a bachelor to my dying day. But
America has enough females that a youth, like you, could, and indeed
ought to love. I could direct you to fifty, myself."

"Well, sir, _your_ recommendations would have great weight with
me. I wish you would begin."

"That I will, that I will, if you wish it, my dear boy. Well, there
is a Miss Hervey, Miss Kate Hervey, in town; a girl of excellent
qualities, and who would just suit you, could you agree."

"I recollect the young lady; the greatest objection I should raise to
her, is a want of personal attractions. Of all Mrs. Bradfort's
acquaintances, I think she was among the very plainest."

"What is beauty, Miles? In marriage, very different recommendations
are to be looked for by the husband."

"Yet, I have understood you practised on another theory;
Mrs. Hardinge, even as I recollect her, was very handsome."

"Yes, that is true," answered the good divine, simply; "she was so;
but beauty is not to be considered as an _objection_. If you do
not relish the idea of Kate Hervey, what do you say to Jane
Harwood--there is a pretty girl for you."

"A pretty girl, sir, but not for me. But, in naming so many young
ladies, why do you overlook your own daughter?"

I said this with a sort of desperate resolution, tempted by the
opportunity, and the direction the discourse had taken. When it was
uttered, I repented of my temerity, and almost trembled to hear the
answer.

"Lucy!" exclaimed Mr. Hardinge, turning suddenly to towards me, and
looking so intently and earnestly in my face, that I saw the
possibility of such a thing then struck him, for the first time. "Sure
enough, why should you not marry Lucy? There is not a particle of
relationship between you, after all, though I have so long considered
you as brother and sister. I wish we had thought of this earlier,
Miles; it would be a most capital connection--though I should insist
on your quitting the sea. Lucy has too affectionate a heart, to be
always in distress for an absent husband. I wonder the possibility of
this thing did not strike me, before it was too late; in a man so much
accustomed to see what is going on around me, to overlook this!"

The words "too late," sounded to me like the doom of fate; and had my
simple-minded companion but the tithe of the observation which he so
much vaunted, he must have seen my agitation. I had advanced so far,
however, that I determined to learn the worst, whatever pain it might
cost me.

"I suppose, sir the very circumstance that we were brought up together
has prevented us all from regarding the thing as possible. But, why
'too late,' my excellent guardian, if we who are the most interested
in the thing should happen to think otherwise?"

"Certainly not too late, if you include Lucy, herself, in your
conditions; but I am afraid, Miles, it is 'too late' for Lucy."

"Am I to understand, then, that Miss Hardinge is engaged to
Mr. Drewett? Are her affections enlisted in his behalf?"

"You may be certain of one thing, boy, and that is, if Lucy be
engaged, her affections are enlisted--so conscientious a young woman
would never marry without giving her heart with her hand. As for the
fact, however, I know nothing, except by inference. I do suppose a
mutual attachment to exist between her and Andrew Drewett."

"Of course with good reason, sir. Lucy is not a coquette, or a girl to
encourage when she does not mean to accept."

"That's all I know of the matter. Drewett continues to visit; is as
attentive as a young man well can be, where a young woman is as
scrupulous as is Lucy about the proper forms, and I infer they
understand each other. I have thought of speaking to Lucy on the
subject, but I do not wish to influence her judgment, in a case where
there exists no objection. Drewett is every way a suitable match, and
I wish things to take their own course. There is one little
circumstance, however, that I can mention to you as a sort of son,
Miles, and which I consider conclusive as to the girl's
inclinations--I have remarked that she refuses all expedients to get
her to be alone with Drewett--refuses to make excursions in which she
must be driven in his curricle, or to go anywhere with him, even to
the next door. So particular is she, that she contrives never to be
alone with him, even in his many visits to the house."

"And do you consider that as a proof of attachment?--of her being
engaged? Does your own experience, sir, confirm such a notion?"

"What else can it be, if it be not a consciousness of a passion--of an
attachment that she is afraid every one will see? You do not
understand the sex, I perceive, Miles, or the finesse of their natures
would be more apparent to you. As for my experience, no conclusion
can be drawn from that, as I and my dear wife were thrown together
very young, all alone, in her mother's country house; and the old lady
being bed-ridden, there was no opportunity for the bashful maiden to
betray this consciousness. But, if I understand human nature, such is
the secret of Lucy's feelings towards Andrew Drewett. It is of no
great moment to you, Miles, notwithstanding, as there are plenty more
young women to be had in the world."

"True, sir; but there is only one Lucy Hardinge!" I rejoined with a
fervour and strength of utterance that betrayed more than I intended.

My late guardian actually stopped his horse this time, to look at me,
and I could perceive deep concern gathering around his usually serene
and placid brow. He began to penetrate my feelings, and I believe they
caused him real grief.

"I never could have dreamed of this!" Mr. Hardinge at length
exclaimed: "Do you really love Lucy, my dear Miles?"

"Better than I do my own life, sir--I almost worship the earth she
treads on--Love her with my whole heart, and have loved, I believe, if
the truth were known, ever since I was sixteen--perhaps I had better
say, twelve years old!"

The truth escaped me, as the torrent of the Mississippi breaks through
the levee, and a passage once open for its exit, it cleared a way for
itself, until the current of my feelings left no doubt of its
direction. I believe I was a little ashamed of my own weakness, for I
caused my horse to walk forward, Mr. Hardinge accompanying the
movement, for a considerable distance, in a profound, and, I doubt
not, a painful silence.

"This has taken me altogether by surprise, Miles," my late guardian
resumed; "altogether by surprise. What would I not give could this
have been known a year or two since! My dear boy, I feel for you, from
the bottom of my heart, for I can understand what it must be to love a
girl like Lucy, without hope. Why did you not let this be known
sooner--or, why did you insist on going to sea, having so strong a
motive for remaining at home?"

"I was too young, at that time, sir, to act on, or even to understand
my own feelings. On my return, in the Crisis, I found Lucy in a set
superior to, that in which I was born and educated, and it would have
been a poor proof of my attachment to wish to bring her down nearer to
my own level."

"I understand you, Miles, and can appreciate the generosity of your
conduct; though I am afraid it would have been too late on your return
in the Crisis. That was only a twelvemonth since, and, then, I rather
think, Andrew Drewett had offered. There is good sense in your feeling
on the subject of marriages in unequal conditions in life, for they
certainly lead to many heart-burnings, and greatly lessen the chances
of happiness. One thing is certain; in all such cases, if the inferior
cannot rise to the height of the superior, the superior must sink to
the level of the inferior. Man and wife cannot continue to occupy
different social positions; and, as for the nonsense that is uttered
on such subjects, by visionaries, under the claim of its being common
sense, it is only fit for pretending theories, and can have nothing to
do with the great rules of practice. You were right in principle,
then, Miles, though you have greatly exaggerated the facts of your own
particular case."

"I have always known, sir, and have ever been ready to admit, that the
Hardinges have belonged to a different class of society, from that
filled by the Wallingfords."

"This is true, but in part only; and by no means true to a degree that
need have drawn any impassable line between you and Lucy. You forget
how poor we then were, and bow substantial a benefit the care of
Clawbonny might have been to my dear girl. Besides, you are of
reputable descent and position, if not precisely of the gentry; and
this is not a country, or an age, to carry notions of such a nature
beyond the strict bounds of reason. You and Lucy were educated on the
same level; and, after all, that is the great essential for the
marriage connection."

There was great good sense in what Mr. Hardinge said; and I began to
see that pride, and not humility, might have interfered with my
happiness. As I firmly believed it was now too late, however, I began
to wish the subject changed; for I felt it grating on some of my most
sacred feelings. With a view to divert the conversation to another
channel, therefore, I remarked with some emphasis, affecting an
indifference I did not feel--

"What cannot be cured, must be endured, sir; and I shall endeavour to
find a sailor's happiness hereafter, in loving my ship. Besides, were
Andrew Drewett entirely out of the question, it is now 'too late,' in
another sense, since it would never do for the man who, himself at his
ease in the way of money, hesitated about offering when his mistress
was poor, to prove his love, by proposing to Mrs. Bradfort's
heiress. Still, I own to so much weakness as to wish to know, before
we close the subject for ever, why Mr. Drewett and your daughter do
not marry, if they are engaged? Perhaps it is owing only to Lucy's
mourning?"

"I have myself imputed it to another cause. Rupert is entirely
dependent on his sister, and I know Lucy so well as to feel
certain--some extraordinary cause not interposing--that she wishes to
bestow half her cousin's fortune on her brother. This cannot be done
until she is of age, and she wants near two years of attaining her
majority."

I made no answer; for I felt how likely this was to be true. Lucy was
not a girl of professions, and she would be very apt to keep a
resolution of this nature, a secret in her own breast, until ready to
carry it into execution. No more passed between Mr. Hardinge and
myself, on the subject of our recent conversation; though I could see
my avowal had made him sad, and that it induced him to treat me with
more affection, even, than had been his practice. Once or twice, in
the course of the next day or two, I overheard him soliloquizing--a
habit to which he was a good deal addicted--during which he would
murmur, "What a pity!"--"How much to be regretted!"'--"I would rather
have him for a son than any man on earth!" and other similar
expressions. Of course, these involuntary disclosures did not weaken
my regard for my late guardian.

About noon, the Grace & Lucy came in, and Neb reported that Dr. Bard
was not at home. He had left my letter, however, and it would be
delivered as soon as possible. He told me also that the wind had been
favourable on the river, and that the Wallingford must reach town that
day.

Nothing further occurred, worthy of notice. I passed the afternoon
with Grace, in the little room; and we conversed much of the past, of
our parents in particular, without adverting, however, to her
situation, any further than to apprise her of what I had done. I
thought she was not sorry to learn I had sent for Lucy, now that I was
with her, and it was no longer possible her illness could be
concealed. As for the physicians, when they were mentioned, I could
see a look of tender concern in Grace's eyes, as if she regretted that
I still clung to the delusion of hoping to see her health
restored. Notwithstanding these little drawbacks, we passed a sweet
eventide together. For more than an hour, Grace lay on my bosom,
occasionally patting her hand on my cheeks, as the child caresses its
mother. This was an old habit of hers, and it was one I was equally
delighted and pained to have her resume, now we were of the age and
stature of man and woman.

The next day was Sunday, and Grace insisted on my driving her to
church. This was done, accordingly, in a very old-fashioned, but very
easy Boston chaise, that had belonged to my mother, and with very
careful driving. The congregation, like the church-edifice of
St. Michael's, was very small, being confined, with some twenty or
thirty exceptions, to the family and dependants of Clawbonny.
Mr. Hardinge's little flock was hedged in by other denominations on
every side, and it was not an easy matter to break through the
barriers that surrounded it. Then he was not possessed with the spirit
of proselytism, contenting himself with aiding in the spiritual
advancement of those whom Providence had consigned to his care. On the
present occasion, however, the little building was full, and that was
as much as could have happened had it been as large as St. Peter's
itself. The prayers were devoutly and fervently read, and the sermon
was plain and filled with piety.

My sister professed herself in no manner wearied with the exertion. We
dined with Mr. Hardinge, at the Rectory, which was quite near the
church; and the irreverent, business-like, make-weight sort of look,
of going in to one service almost as soon as the other was ended, as
if to score off so much preaching and praying as available at the
least trouble, being avoided, by having the evening service commence
late, she was enabled to remain until the close of the day. Mr.
Hardinge rarely preached but once of a Sunday. He considered the
worship of God, and the offices of the church, as the proper duties of
the day, and regarded his own wisdom as a matter of secondary
importance. But one sermon cost him as much labour, and study, and
anxiety, as most clergymen's two. His preaching, also, had the high
qualification of being addressed to the affections of his flock, and
not to its fears and interests. He constantly reminded us of God's
_love_, and of the _beauty_ of holiness; while I do not
remember to have heard him allude half a dozen times in his life to
the terrors of judgment and punishment, except as they were connected
with that disappointed love. I suppose there are spirits that require
these allusions, and the temptations of future happiness, to incite
their feelings; but I like the preacher who is a Christian because he
feels himself _drawn_ to holiness, by a power that is of itself
holy; and not those who appeal to their people, as if heaven and hell
were a mere matter of preference and avoidance, on the ground of
expediency. I cannot better characterize Mr. Hardinge's preaching,
than by saying, that I do not remember ever to have left his church
with a sense of fear towards the Creator; though I have often been
impressed with a love that was as profound as the adoration that had
been awakened.

Another calm and comparatively happy evening was passed, during which
I conversed freely with Grace of my own intentions, endeavouring to
revive in her an interest in life, by renewing old impressions, and
making her participate in my feelings. Had I been with her from the
hour spring opened, with its renewal of vegetation, and all the joys
it confers on the innocent and happy, I have often thought since, I
might have succeeded. As it was, she listened with attention, and
apparently with pleasure, for she saw it served to relieve my mind. We
did not separate until I insisted Grace should retire, and Chloe had
made more than one remonstrance about her young mistress's exceeding
the usual time. On leaving my sister's chamber, the negress followed
me with a light, lest I should fall, among the intricate turnings, and
the ups and downs of the old building.

"Well, Chloe," I said, as we proceeded together, "how do you find Neb?
Does he improve by this running about on the ocean--especially do you
think he is tanned?"

"De _fel_-ler!"

"Yes, he is a fellow, sure enough, and let me tell you, Chloe, a very
capital fellow, too. If it can be of any advantage to him in your
favour to know the truth, I will just say a more useful seaman does
not sail the ocean than Neb, and that I consider him as of much
importance as the main-mast?"

"What be _dat_, Masser Mile?"

"I see nothing, Chloe--there are no spooks at Clawbonny, you know."

"No, sah! What b'e t'ing Neb like, _fel_-ler?"

"Oh! I ask your pardon--the main-mast, you mean. It is the most
important spar in the ship, and I meant that Neb was as useful as that
mast. In battle, too, Neb is as brave as a lion."

Here Chloe could stand it no longer; she fairly laughed outright, in
pure, natural admiration of her suitor's qualities. When this was
performed, she ejaculated once more "De _feller_!"--dropped a
curtsey, said "Good night, Masser Mile," and left me at my own
door. Alas! alas!--Among the improvements of this age, we have
entirely lost the breed of the careless, good-natured, affectionate,
faithful, hard-working, and yet happy blacks, of whom more or less
were to be found in every respectable and long-established family of
the State, forty years ago.

The next day was one of great anxiety to me. I rose early, and the
first thing was to ascertain the direction of the wind. In midsummer
this was apt to be southerly, and so it proved on that occasion. Neb
was sent to the point, as a look-out; he returned about ten, and
reported a fleet of sloops, in sight. These vessels were still a long
distance down the river, but they were advancing at a tolerable rate.
Whether the Wallingford were among them, or not, was more than could
yet be told. I sent him back to his station, as soon as he had eaten;
and unable to remain quiet in the house, myself, I mounted my horse,
and rode out into the fields. Here, as usual, I experienced the
happiness of looking at objects my ancestors loved to regard, and
which always have had a strong and near interest with me.

Perhaps no country that ever yet existed has been so little
understood, or so much misrepresented, as this America of ours. It is
as little understood, I was on the point of saying, at home as it is
abroad, and almost as much misrepresented. Certainly its possessors
are a good deal addicted to valuing themselves on distinctive
advantages that, in reality, they do not enjoy, while their enemies
declaim about vices and evils from which they are comparatively
free. Facts are made to suit theories, and thus it is that we see
well-intentioned, and otherwise respectable writers, constantly
running into extravagances, in order to adapt the circumstances to the
supposed logical or moral inference. This reasoning backwards, has
caused Alison, with all his knowledge and fair-mindedness, to fall
into several egregious errors, as I have discovered while recently
reading his great work on Europe. He says we are a migratory race, and
that we do not love the sticks and stones that surround us, but quit
the paternal roof without regret, and consider the play-grounds of
infancy as only so much land for the market. He also hazards the
assertion, that there is not such a thing as a literal farmer,--that
is a tenant, who _farms_ his land from a landlord--in all
America. Now, as a rule, and comparing the habits of America with
those of older countries, in which land is not so abundant, this may
be true; but as literal fact, nothing can be less so. Four-fifths of
the inhabited portion of the American territory, has a civilized
existence of half a century's duration; and there has not been time to
create the long-lived attachments named, more especially in the
regions that are undergoing the moral fusion that is always an
attendant of a new settlement. That thousands of heartless
speculators exist among us, who do regard everything, even to the
graves of their fathers, as only so much improvable property, is as
undeniable as the fact that they are odious to all men of any moral
feeling; but thousands and tens of thousands are to be found in the
country, who _do_ reverence their family possessions from a
sentiment that is creditable to human nature. I will not mention
Clawbonny, and its history, lest I might be suspected of being
partial; but it would be easy for me to point out a hundred families,
embracing all classes, from the great proprietor to the plain yeoman,
who own and reside on the estates of those who first received them
from the hand of nature, and this after one or two centuries of
possession. What will Mr. Alison say, for instance, of the Manor of
Rensselear? A manor, in the legal sense it is no longer, certainly,
the new institutions destroying all the feudal tenures; but, as mere
property, the late Patroon transmitted it as regularly to his
posterity, as any estate was ever transmitted in Europe. This
extensive manor lies in the heart of New York, a state about as large
and about as populous as Scotland, and it embraces no less than three
cities in its bosom, though their sites are not included in its
ownership, having been exempted by earlier grants. It is of more than
two centuries' existence, and it extends eight-and-forty miles east
and west, and half that distance, north and south. Nearly all this
vast property is held, at this hour, of the Van Rensselears, as
landlords, and is farmed by their tenants, there being several
thousands of the latter. The same is true, on a smaller scale, of the
Livingston, the Van Cortlandt, the Philipse, the Nicoll, and various
other old New York estates, though several were lost by attainder in
the revolution. I explain these things, lest any European who may
happen to read this book, should regard it as fiction; for, allowing
for trifling differences, a hundred Clawbonnys are to be found on the
two banks of the Hudson, at this very hour.[*]

[Footnote *: Even the American may learn the following facts with some
surprise. It is now about five-and-twenty years since the writer, as
tenant by the courtesy, came into possession of two farms, lying
within twenty-three miles of New York, in each of which there had been
three generations of tenants, and as many of landlords, _without a
scrap of a pen having passed between the parties_, so far as the
writer could ever discover, receipts for rent excepted! He also stands
in nearly the same relation to another farm, in the same county, on
which a lease for ninety years is at this moment running, one of the
covenants of which prescribes that the tenant shall "frequent divine
service _according to the Church of England_, when opportunity
offers." What an evidence of the nature of the tyranny from which our
ancestors escaped, more especially when it is seen that the tenant was
obliged to submit to this severe exaction, in consideration of a rent
that is merely nominal!]

But, to return to the narrative.

My curiosity increased so much, as the day advanced, that I rode
towards the point to look for the sloop. There she was, sure enough;
and there was Neb, too, galloping a young horse, bare-back, to the
house, with the news. I met him with an order to proceed to the wharf
with the chaise, while I dashed on, in the same direction myself,
almost devoured with an impatience to learn the success of my
different mission's as I galloped along. I could see the upper part of
the Wallingford's sails, gliding through the leaves that fringed the
bank, and it was apparent that she and I would reach the wharf almost
at the same instant. Notwithstanding all my anxiety, it was impossible
to get a glimpse of the vessel's deck.

I did not quit the saddle until the planks of the wharf were under the
horse's hoofs. Then I got a view of the sloop's decks, for the first
time. A respectable-looking, tall, slender, middle-aged man, with a
bright dark eye, was on the quarter-deck, and I bowed to him,
inferring at once that he was one of the medical gentlemen to whom I
had sent the message. In effect, it was Post, the second named on my
list, the first not being able to come. He returned my bow, but,
before I could alight and go on board to receive him, Marble's head
rose from the cabin, and my mate sprang ashore, and shook me cordially
by the hand.

"Here I am, Miles, my boy," cried Marble, whom, off duty, I had
earnestly begged to treat me with his old freedom, and who took me at
my word--"Here I am, Miles, my boy, and farther from salt-water than I
have been in five-and-twenty years. So this is the famous Clawbonny!
I cannot say much for the port, which is somewhat crowded while it
contains but one craft; though the river outside is pretty well, as
rivers go. D'ye know, lad, that I've been in a fever, all the way up,
lest we should get ashore, on one side or the other? your having land
on both tacks at once is too much of a good thing. This coming up to
Clawbonny has put me in mind of running them straits, though we
_have_ had rather better weather this passage, and a clearer
horizon. What d'ye call that affair up against the hill-side, yonder,
with the jig-a-merree, that is turning in the water?"

"That's a mill, my friend, and the jig-a-merree is the very wheel on
which you have heard me say my father was crushed."

Marble looked sorrowfully at the wheel, squeezed my hand, as if to
express sorrow for having reminded me of so painful an event, and then
I heard him murmuring to himself--"Well, _I_ never had a father
to lose. No bloody mill _could_ do me _that_ injury."

"That gentleman on the quarter-deck," I remarked, "is a physician for
whom I sent to town, I suppose."

"Ay, ay--he's some such matter, I do suppose; though I've been
generalizing so much about this here river, and the manner of sailing
a craft of that rig, I've had little to say to him. I'm always a
better friend to the cook than to the surgeon. But, Miles, my lad,
there's a rare 'un, in the ship's after-cabin, I can tell you!"

"That must be Lucy!"--and I did not stop to pay my compliments to the
strange gentleman, but almost leaped into the vessel's cabin.

There was Lucy, sure enough, attended by a respectable-looking elderly
black female, one of the half-dozen slaves that had become her's by
the death of Mrs. Bradfort. Neither spoke, but we shook hands with
frankness; and I understood by the anxious expression of my
companion's eye, all she wished to know.

"I really think she seems better, and certainly she is far more
cheerful, within his last day or two," I answered to the
appeal. "Yesterday she was twice at church, and this morning, for a
novelty, she breakfasted with me."

"God be praised!" Lucy exclaimed, with fervour. Then she sat down and
relieved her feelings in tears. I told her to expect me again, in a
few minutes, and joined the physician, who, by this time, was apprised
of my presence. The calm, considerate manner of Post, gave me a
confidence I had not felt for some days; and I really began to hope it
might still be within the power of his art to save the sister I so
dearly loved.

Our dispositions for quitting the sloop were soon made, and we
ascended the hill together, Lucy leaning on my arm. On its summit was
the chaise, into which the Doctor and Marble were persuaded to enter,
Lucy preferring to walk. The negress was to proceed in the vehicle
that had been sent for the luggage, and Lucy and I set out, arm and
arm, to walk rather more than a mile in company, and that too without
the presence of a third person. Such an occurrence, under any other
circumstances than those in which we were both placed, would have made
me one of the happiest men on earth; but, in the actual situation in
which I found myself, it rendered me silent and uncomfortable. Not so
with Lucy; ever natural, and keeping truth incessantly before her
eyes, the dear girl took my arm without the least embarrassment, and
showed no sign of impatience, or of doubt. She was sad, but full of a
gentle confidence in her own sincerity and motives.

"This is dear Clawbonny, again!" she exclaimed, after we had walked in
silence a short distance. "How beautiful are the fields, how fresh the
woods, how sweet the flowers! Oh! Miles, a day in such a spot as
this, is worth a year in town!"

"Why, then, do you, who have now so much at your command, pass more
than half your time between the heated bricks of Wall Street, when you
know how happy we should all be to see you, here, among us, again?"

"I have not been certain of this; that has been the sole reason, of my
absence. Had I known I should be welcome, nothing would have induced
me to suffer Grace to pass the last six sad, sad, months by herself."

"Known that you should be welcome! Surely you have not supposed, Lucy,
that _I_ can ever regard you as anything but welcome, here?"

"I had no allusion to _you_--thought not of you, Miles, at
all"--answered Lucy, with the quiet manner of one who felt she was
thinking, acting, and speaking no more than what was perfectly
right--"My mind was dwelling altogether on Grace."

"Is it possible you could doubt of Grace's willingness to see you, at
all times and in all places, Lucy!"

"I have doubted it--have thought I was acting prudently and well, in
staying away, just at this time, though I now begin to fear the
decision has been hasty and unwise."

"May I ask _why_ Lucy Hardinge has come to so singular and
violent an opinion, as connected with her bosom friend, and almost
sister, Grace Wallingford?"

"That _almost sister_! Oh! Miles, what is there I possess which I
would not give, that there might be perfect confidence, again, between
you and me, on this subject; such confidence as existed when we were
boy and girl-children, I might say."

"And what prevents it? Certain I am the alienation does not, cannot
come from me. You have only to speak, Lucy, to have an attentive
listener; to ask, to receive the truest answers. What can, then,
prevent the confidence you wish?"

"There is _one_ obstacle--surely, Miles, you can readily imagine
what I mean?"

'Can it be possible Lucy is alluding to Andrew Drewett!'--I thought to
myself. 'Has she discovered my attachment, and does she, will she, can
she regret her own engagement?' A lover who thought thus, would not
be apt to leave the question long in doubt.

"Deal plainly with me, I implore of you, Lucy," I said solemnly. "One
word uttered with your old sincerity and frankness may close a chasm
that has now been widening between us for the last year or two. What
is the obstacle you mean?"

"I have seen and felt the alienation to which you allude quite as
sensibly as you can have done so yourself, Miles," the dear girl
answered in her natural, simple manner, "and I will trust all to your
generosity. Need I say more, to explain what I mean, than mention the
name of Rupert?"

"What of him, Lucy!--be explicit; vague allusions may be worse than
nothing."

Lucy's little hand was on my arm, and she had drawn its glove on
account of the heat. I felt it press me, almost convulsively, as she
added--"I do, I _must_ think you have too much affection and
gratitude for my dear father, too much regard for me, ever to forget
that you and Rupert once lived together as brothers?"

"Grace has my promise already, on that subject. I shall never take the
world's course with Rupert, in this affair."

I heard Lucy's involuntary sob, as if she gasped for breath; and,
turning, I saw her sweet eyes bent on my face with an expression of
thankfulness that could not be mistaken.

"I would have given the same pledge to you, Lucy, and purely on your
own account. It would be too much to cause you to mourn for your
brother's--"

I did not name the offence, lest my feelings should tempt me to use
too strong a term.

"This is all I ask--all I desire, Miles; bless you--bless you! for
having so freely given me this assurance. Now my heart is relieved
from this burthen, I am ready to speak frankly to you; still, had I
seen Grace--"

"Have no scruples on account of your regard for womanly feeling--I
know everything, and shall not attempt to conceal from you, that
disappointed love for Rupert has brought my sister to the state she is
in. This might not have happened, had either of us been with her; but,
buried as she has been alone in this place, her wounded sensibilities
have proved too strong for a frame that is so delicate."

There was a pause of a minute, after I ended.

"I have long feared that some such calamity would befall us," Lucy
answered, in a low, measured tone. "I think you do not understand
Grace as well as I do, Miles. Her mind and feelings have a stronger
influence than common over her body; and I fear no society of ours, or
of others, could have saved her this trial. Still, we must not
despair, It is a trial--that is just the word; and by means of
tenderness, the most sedulous care, good advice, and all that we two
can do to aid, there must yet be hope. Now there is a skilful
physician here, he must be dealt fairly by, and should know the
whole."

"I intended to consult you on this subject--one has such a reluctance
to expose Grace's most sacred feelings!"

"Surely it need not go quite as far as that," returned Lucy, with
sensitive quickness, "something--_much_--must be left to
conjecture; but Dr. Post must know that the mind is at the bottom of
the evil; though I fear that young ladies can seldom admit the
existence of such a complaint, without having it attributed to a
weakness of this nature."

"That proceeds from the certainty that your sex has so much heart,
Lucy; your very existence being bound up in others."

"Grace is one of peculiar strength of affections--but, Miles, we will
talk no further of this at present. I scarce know how to speak of my
brother's affairs, and you must give me time to reflect. Now we are at
Clawbonny again, we cannot long continue strangers to each other."

This was said so sweetly, I could have knelt and kissed her shoe-ties;
and yet so simply, as not to induce misinterpretation. It served to
change the discourse, however, and the remainder of the way we talked
of the past. Lucy spoke of her cousin's death, relating various little
incidents to show how much Mrs. Bradfort was attached to her, and how
good a woman she was; but not a syllable was said of the will. I was
required, in my turn, to finish the narrative of my last voyage, which
had not been completed at the theatre. When Lucy learned that the
rough seaman who had come in the sloop was Marble, she manifested
great interest in him, declaring, had she known it during the passage,
that she would have introduced herself. All this time, Rupert's name
was not mentioned between us; and I reached the house, feeling that
something like the interest I had formerly possessed there, had been
awakened in the bosom of my companion. She was, at least, firmly and
confidingly my friend.

Chloe met Lucy at the door with a message--Miss Grace wanted to see
Miss Lucy, alone. I dreaded this interview, and looked forward to
being present at it; but Lucy begged me to confide in her, and I felt
bound to comply. While the dear girl was gone to my sister's room, I
sought the physician, with whom I had a brief but explicit conference.
I told this gentleman how much Grace had been alone, permitting sorrow
to wear upon her frame, and gave him to understand that the seat of my
sister's malady was mental suffering. Post was a cool, discriminating
man, and he ventured no remark until he had seen his patient; though I
could perceive, by the keen manner in which his piercing eye was fixed
on mine, that all I said was fully noted.

It was more than an hour before Lucy reappeared. It was obvious at a
glance that she had been dreadfully agitated, and cruelly surprised at
the condition in which she had found Grace. It was not that disease,
in any of its known forms, was so very apparent; but that my sister
resembled already a being of another world, in the beaming of her
countenance--in the bright, unearthly expression of her eyes--and in
the slightness and delicacy of the hold she seemed, generally, to have
on life. Grace had always something of this about her--_much_, I
might better have said; but it now appeared to be left nearly alone,
as her thoughts and strength gradually receded from the means of
existence.

The physician returned with Lucy to my sister's room, where he passed
more than an hour; as long a time, indeed, he afterwards told me
himself, as he thought could be done without fatiguing his
patient. The advice he gave me was cautious and discreet. Certain
tonics were prescribed; we were told to endeavour to divert the mind
of our precious charge from her sources of uneasiness, by gentle means
and prudent expedients. Change of scene was advised also, could it be
done without producing too much fatigue. I suggested the Wallingford,
as soon as this project was mentioned. She was a small sloop, it is
true, but had two very comfortable cabins; my father having had one of
them constructed especially in reference to my mother's occasional
visits to town. The vessel did little, at that season of the year,
besides transporting flour to market, and bringing back wheat. In the
autumn, she carried wood, and the products of the neighbourhood. A
holiday might be granted her, and no harm come of it. Dr. Post
approved the idea, saying frankly there was no objection but the
expense; if I could bear that, a better plan could not possibly be
adopted.

That night we discussed the matter in the family circle, Mr. Hardinge
having come from the Rectory to join us. Everybody approved of the
scheme, it was so much better than leaving: Grace to pine away by
herself in the solitude of Clawbonny.

"I have a patient at the Springs," said Dr. Post, "who is very anxious
to see me; and, to own the truth, I am a little desirous of drinking
the waters myself, for a week. Carry me to Albany, and land me; after
which you can descend the river, and continue your voyage to as many
places, and for as long a time, as the strength of Miss Wallingford,
and your own inclinations, shall dictate."

This project seemed excellent in all our eyes; even Grace heard it
with a smile, placing herself entirely in our hands. It was decided
to put it in practice.

CHAPTER XXX.

"And she sits and gazes at me,
With those deep and tender eyes,...
Like the stars, so still and saint-like,
Looking downward from the skies."
LONGFELLOW;

The next morning I set about the measures necessary for carrying out
our plan. Marble was invited to be of the party, the arrangements
concerning the ship, allowing of his absence for a few days; Once
engaged, he was of infinite service, entering into the plan as my
mate. The regular skipper was glad to have a furlough; and I retained
on board no one of the proper crew but the river-pilot; a man who
could not be dispensed with; By this arrangement, we cleared the cabin
from company that was not desirable for the circumstances. Neb, and
three of the Clawbonny blacks, were delighted to go on such an
excursion, and all were more or less familiar with the little duty
that would be required of them. Indeed, Marble, Neb and myself, were
every way able to take care of the vessel. But we chose to have plenty
of physical force; and a cook was indispensable. Clawbonny supplied
the latter, in the person of old Dido of that ilk.

By noon, the whole party were ready to embark. Grace was driven to the
wharf, and she walked on board the sloop, supported by Lucy and
myself; more, however, from solicitude than from absolute
necessity. Every precaution, however, was taken by order of the
physician to prevent anything like excitement; the blacks, in
particular, who would have followed "Miss Grace" to the water's edge,
being ordered to remain at home. Chloe, to her manifest satisfaction,
was permitted to accompany her "young mistress," and great was her
delight. How often that day, did the exclamation of "de feller,"
escape her, as she witnessed Neb's exploits in different parts of the
sloop. It was some little time before I could account for the black's
superfluous activity, imputing it to zeal in my sister's service; but,
in the end, I discovered Grace had to share the glory with Chloe.

No sooner was everybody on board than we cast off. The jib was soon
up; and under this short sail, we moved slowly out of the creek, with
a pleasant southerly breeze. As we passed the point, there stood the
whole household arrayed in a line, from the tottering grey-headed and
muddy-looking negro of seventy, down to the glistening, jet-black
toddling things of two and three. The distance was so small, it was
easy to trace even the expressions of the different countenances,
which varied according to the experience, forebodings, and characters
of the different individuals. Notwithstanding the sort of reverential
attachment all felt for "Miss Grace," and the uncertainty some among
these unsophisticated creatures must have experienced on the subject
of her health, it was not in nature for such a cluster of "niggers" to
exhibit unhappiness, at a moment when there were so many grounds of
excitement. The people of this race know nothing of the _word,_
perhaps; but they delight in the _thing_, quite as much as if
they did nothing but electioneer all their lives. Most pliant
instruments would their untutored feelings make in the hands of your
demagogue; and, possibly, it may have some little influence on the
white American to understand, how strong is his resemblance to the
"nigger," when he gives himself up to the mastery of this much
approved mental power. The day was glorious; a brighter sun never
shining in Italy, or on the Grecian islands; the air balmy; the vessel
was gay to the eye, having been painted about a month before, and
every one seemed bent on a holiday; circumstances sufficient in
themselves, to make this light-hearted race smiling and happy. As the
sloop went slowly past, the whole line doffed their hats, or curtsied,
showing at the same time a row of ivory that shone like so many gay
windows in their sable faces. I could see that Grace was touched by
this manifestation of interest; such a field-day in the Clawbonny
corps not having occurred since the first time my mother went to town,
after the death of my father. Fortunately, everything else was
soothing to my sister's spirits; and, so long as she could sit on the
deck, holding Lucy's hand, and enjoy the changing landscape, with her
brother within call, it was not possible she should be altogether
without happiness.

Rounding the point, as we entered the river, the Wallingford eased-off
sheet, set a studding-sail and flying-top-sail, and began to breast
the Hudson, on her way towards its sources.

In 1803, the celebrated river we were navigating, though it had all
the natural features it possesses to-day, was by no means the same
picture of moving life. The steam-boat did not appear on its surface
until four years later; and the journeys up and down its waters, were
frequently a week in length. In that day, the passenger did not hurry
on board, just as a bell was disturbing the neighbourhood, hustling
his way through a rude throng of porters, cart-men, orange-women, and
news-boys, to save his distance by just a minute and a half, but his
luggage was often sent to the vessel the day before; he passed his
morning in saying adieu, and when he repaired to the vessel, it was
with gentleman-like leisure, often to pass hours on board previously
to sailing, and not unfrequently to hear the unwelcome tidings that
this event was deferred until the next day. How different, too, was
the passage, from one in a steam-boat! There was no jostling of each
other, no scrambling for places at table, no bolting of food, no
impertinence manifested, no swearing about missing the eastern or
southern boats, or Schenectady, or Saratoga, or Boston trains, on
account of a screw being loose, nor--any other unseemly manifestation
that anybody was in a hurry. On the contrary, wine and fruit were
provided, as if the travellers intended to enjoy themselves; and a
journey in that day was a _festa_. No more embarked than could be
accommodated; and the company being selected, the cabin was taken to
the exclusion of all unwelcome intruders. Now, the man who should
order a bottle of wine to be placed at the side of his plate, would be
stared at as a fool; and not without reason altogether, for, did it
escape the claws of his _convives_ and the waiters, he would
probably reach the end of his journey before he could drink it. In
1803, not only did the dinner pass in peace, and with gentleman-like
deliberation; not only were the cooler and the fruit taken on deck,
and the one sipped and the other eaten at leisure, in the course of an
afternoon, but in the course of many afternoons. Passages were
certainly made in twenty-four hours in the sloops; but these were the
exceptions, a week being much more likely to be the time passed in the
enjoyment of the beautiful scenery of the river. The vessel usually
got aground, once at least, and frequently several times in a trip;
and often a day, or two, were thus delightfully lost, giving the
stranger an opportunity of visiting the surrounding country. The
necessity of anchoring, with a foul wind, on every opposing tide, too,
increased these occasions, thus lending to the excursion something of
the character of an exploring expedition. No--no--a man would learn
more in one passage, up or down the Hudson, forty years since, than
can be obtained by a dozen at the present time. I have a true seaman's
dislike for a steam-boat, and sometimes wish they were struck out of
existence; though I know it is contrary to all the principles of
political economy, and opposed to what is called the march of
improvement. Of one thing, however, I feel quite certain; that these
inventions, coupled with the gregarious manner of living that has
sprung up in the large taverns, is, as one of our writers expresses
it, "doing _wonders_ for the manners of the people;" though, in
my view of the matter, the wonder is, that they have any left.

There might have been thirty sail in sight, when the Wallingford got
fairly into the river, some turning down on a young ebb, making their
fifteen or twenty miles in six hours, and others like ourselves,
stealing along against it, at about the same rate. Half a dozen of
these craft were quite near us, and the decks of most of those which
were steering north, had parties including ladies, evidently
proceeding to the "Springs." I desired Marble to sheer as close to
these different vessels as was convenient, having no other object in
view than amusement, and fancying it might aid in diverting the
thoughts of my sister from her own sorrows, to the faces and concerns
of others. The reader will have no difficulty in understanding, that
the Wallingford, constructed under the orders of an old sailor, and
for his own uses, was a fast vessel. In this particular she had but
one or two competitors on the river; packets belonging to Hudson,
Poughkeepsie and Sing-Sing. She was now only in fair ballast-trim, and
being admirably provided with sails, in the light wind we had, she
actually went four feet to most-of-the-other-vessels-in-sight's
three. My request to Marble--or, order, as he chose to call it--was
easily enough complied with, and we were soon coming up close on the
quarter of a sloop that had its decks crowded with passengers who
evidently belonged to the better class; while, on its forecastle were
several horses, and a carriage; customary accompaniments to such a
scene in that day.

I had not been so happy in a long time, as I felt at that
moment. Grace was better, as I fancied at least, and it was certain
she was more composed and less nervous than I had seen her since my
return; and this of itself was removing the weight of a mountain from
my heart. There was Lucy, too, her rounded cheek rosy with the
pleasure of the moment, full of health, and with eyes that never
turned on me that they did not beam with confidence and kindness--the
sincerest friendship, if not love--while every look, movement,
syllable or gesture that was directed towards Grace, betrayed how
strongly the hearts of these two precious creatures were still knit
together in sisterly affection. My guardian too seemed happier than he
had been since our conversation on the state of my own feelings
towards his daughter. He had made a condition, that we should all--the
doctor excepted--return to Clawbonny in time for service on the
ensuing Sunday, and he was then actually engaged in looking over an
old sermon for the occasion, though not a minute passed in which he
did not drop the manuscript to gaze about him, in deep enjoyment of
the landscape. The scene, moreover, was so full of repose, that even
the movements of the different vessels scarce changed its Sabbath-like
character. I repeat, that I had not felt so perfectly happy since I
held my last conversation with the Salem Witches, in The Duomo of
Firenze.

Marble was excessively delighted with the behaviour of the
Wallingford. The latter was a sloop somewhat smaller than common,
though her accommodations were particularly commodious, while she was
sparred on the scale of a flyer. Her greatest advantage in the way of
sailing, however, would have been no great recommendation to her on a
wind; for she was nearly start light, and might not have been able to
carry full sail in hard November weather, even on the Hudson--a river
on which serious accidents have been known to occur. There was little
danger in mid-summer, however; and we went gliding up on the quarter
of the Gull of Troy, without feeling concern of any sort.

"What sloop is that?" demanded the skipper of the Gull, as our
boom-end came within a fathom of his rail, our name being out of his
view.

"The Wallingford of Clawbonny, just out of port, bound up on a party
of pleasure."

Now, Clawbonny was not then, nor is it now, what might be called a
legal term. There was no such place known in law, beyond the right
which usage gives; and I heard a low laugh among the passengers of the
Gull, as they heard the homely appellation. This came from the
equivocal position my family occupied, midway between the gentry and
yeomanry of the State, as they both existed in 1803. Had I said the
sloop came from near Coldenham, it would have been all right; for
everybody who was then anybody in New York, knew who the Coldens were;
or Morrisania, the Morrises being people of mark; or twenty other
places on the river: but the Wallingfords were as little known as
Clawbonny, when you got fifteen or twenty miles from the spot where
they had so long lived. This is just the difference between obscurity
and notoriety. When the latter extends to an entire nation, it gives
an individual, or a family, the note that frees them entirely from the
imputation of existing under the first condition; and this note,
favourably diffused through Christendom, forms a reputation--transmitted
to posterity, it becomes fame. Unfortunately, neither we nor our place
had even reached the first simple step in this scale of renown; and
poor Clawbonny was laughed at, on account of something Dutch that was
probably supposed to exist in the sound--the Anglo-Saxon race having a
singular aptitude to turn up their nose's at everything but their own
possessions, and everybody but themselves. I looked at Lucy, with
sensitive quickness, to see how she received this sneer on my
birth-place; but, with her, it was so much a matter of course to think
well of everything connected with the spot, its name as well as its
more essential things, that I do not believe she perceived this little
sign of derision.

While the passengers of the Gull felt this disposition to smile, it
was very different with her skipper; his Dutch pilot, whose name was
Abrahamus Van Valtenberg, but who was more familiarly known as 'Brom
Folleck, for so the children of New Netherlands twisted their
cognomens in converting them into English;[*] the black cook, the
mulatto steward, and the "all hands," who were one man and a
boy. There had been generations of sloops which bore the name of
Watlingford, as Well as generations of men, at Clawbonny; and this
every river-man knew. In point of fact, we counted four generations of
men, and six of sloops. Now, none of these vessels was worthy of being
mentioned, but this which my father had caused to be built; but she
had a reputation that extended to everybody on the river. The effect
of all this was to induce the skipper of the Gull to raise his hat,
and to say--

"That, then, I suppose is Mr. Wallingford himself--you are welcome
back on the river; I remember the time well, when your respected
father would make that boat do anything but talk. Nothing but the new
paint, which is different from the last, prevented me from knowing the
sloop. Had I taken a look at her bows, this couldn't have happened."

[Footnote *: A story is told of a Scotchman of the name of
Farquharson,--who settled among the High Dutch on the Mohawk, sometime
previously to the Revolution; where, unable to pronounce his name, the
worthy formers called him Feuerstein (pronounced Firestyne). The son
lived and died under this appellation; but the grandson, removing to a
part of the country where English alone was spoken, chose to anglisise
his name; and, by giving it a free translation, became Mr. Flint!]

This speech evidently gave me and my vessel an estimation with the
passengers of the Gull that neither had enjoyed the moment
before. There was some private conversation on the quarter-deck of the
other vessel, and, then, a highly respectable and gentleman-like
looking old man, came to the rail, bowed, and commenced a discourse.

"I have the pleasure of seeing Captain Wallingford, I believe," he
remarked, "with whom my friends, the Mertons, came passengers from
China. They have often expressed their sense of your civilities," he
continued, as I bowed in acquiescence, "and declare they should ever
wish to sail with you, were they again compelled to go to sea."

Now, this was viewing my relation to the Mertons in any point of view
but that in which I wished it to be viewed, or indeed was just. Still
it was natural; and the gentleman who spoke, a man of standing and
character, no doubt fancied he was, saying that which must prove
particularly acceptable to me; another proof how dangerous it is to
attempt to decide on other men's feelings or affairs. I could not
decline the discourse; and, while the Wallingford went slowly past the
Gull, I was compelled to endure the torment of hearing the Mertons
mentioned, again and again, in the hearing of Lucy and Grace; on the
nerves of the latter of whom I knew it must be a severe trial. At
length we got rid of this troublesome neighbour, though not until Lucy
and her father were recognised and spoken to by several of the ladies
in the other party. While my late guardian and his daughter were thus
engaged, I stole a glance at my sister. She was pale as death, and
seemed anxious to go below, whither I led her, most happily, I have
every reason to think, as things turned out.

When the Wallingford had left the Gull some little distance astern, I
returned to the deck, and Lucy went to take my place by the side of
Grace's berth. She reappeared, however; in a very few minutes, saying
that my sister felt an inclination to rest herself, and might fall
asleep. Feeble, almost, as an infant, these frequent slumbers had
become necessary, in a measure, to the patient's powers. Chloe coming
up soon after with a report that her young mistress seemed to be in a
doze, we all remained on deck, in order not to disturb her. In this
manner, half an hour passed, and we had drawn quite near to another
sloop that was going in the same direction with ourselves. At this
moment, Mr. Hardinge was deeply immersed in his sermon, and I
perceived that Lucy looked at him, from time to time, as if she
expected to catch his eye. I fancied something distressed her, and yet
it was not easy to imagine exactly what it could be.

"Do you not intend to go nearer the other sloop?" Lucy at length
inquired, alluding to the vessel that was almost in a line with us;
but to which I had ordered Neb to give a respectable berth.

"I thought the gossip of the last quite sufficient; but, if you like
these interviews, certainly."

Lucy seemed embarrassed; she coloured to her temples, paused a moment,
and then added, affecting to laugh--and it was so seldom Lucy affected
anything, but this time she _did_ affect to laugh--as she said--

"I _do_ wish to go near that sloop; though it is not exactly for
the reason you suppose."

I could see she was distressed, though it was not yet easy to imagine
the cause. Lucy's requests were laws to me, and Neb was ordered to
sheer down on the quarter of this second sloop, as we had done on that
of the first. As we drew near, her stern told us that she was called
the "Orpheus of Sing-Sing," a combination of names that proved some
wag had been connected with the christening. Her decks had also a
party of both sexes on them, though neither carriage nor horses. All
this time, Lucy stood quite near me, as if reluctant to move, and when
we were sufficiently near the sloop, she pressed still nearer to my
side, in the way in which her sex are apt to appeal to those of the
other who possess their confidence, when most feeling the necessity of
support.

"Now, Miles," she said, in an under tone, "_you_ must 'speak that
sloop,' as you call it; I can never hold a loud conversation of this
sort, in the presence of so many strangers."

"Very willingly, Lucy; though you will have the goodness to let me
know exactly what I am to say."

"Certainly--begin then, in your sailor fashion, and when that is done,
I will tell you what to add."

"Enough--Orpheus, there?" I called out, just raising my voice
sufficiently to be heard.

"Ay, ay,--what's wanted?" answered the skipper, taking a pipe from his
mouth, as he leaned with his back against his own tiller, in a way
that was just in accordance with the sleepy character of the scene.

I looked at Lucy, as much as to say, "what next?"

"Ask him if Mrs. Drewett is on board his sloop--_Mrs._ Andrew
Drewett, not _Mr._--The old lady, I mean," added the dear girl,
blushing to the eyes.

I was so confounded--I might almost add appalled, that it was with
great difficulty I suppressed an exclamation. Command myself, I did,
however, and observing that the skipper was curiously awaiting my next
question, I put it.

"Is _Mrs_. Andrew Drewett among your passengers, sir?" I
inquired with a cold distinctness.

My neighbour nodded his head, and spoke to some of his passengers,
most of whom were on the main-deck, seated on chairs, and concealed
from us, as yet, by the Wallingford's main-sail, her boom being guyed
out on the side next the Orpheus, with its end just clear of her
quarter.

"She is, and wishes to know who makes the inquiry?" returned the
Sing-Sing skipper, in the singsong manner in which ordinary folk
repeat what is dictated.

"Say that Miss Hardinge has a message to Mrs. Drewett from
Mrs. Ogilvie, who is on board that other sloop," added Lucy, in a low,
and, as I thought, tremulous tone.

I was nearly choked; but made out to communicate the fact, as
directed. In an instant I heard the foot of one who leaped on the
Orpheus's quarter-deck, and then Andrew Drewett appeared, hat in hand,
a face all smiles, eyes that told his tale as plain as any tongue
could have uttered it, and such salutations as denoted the most
perfect intimacy. Lucy took my arm involuntarily, and I could feel
that she trembled. The two vessels were now so near, and everything
around us was so tranquil, that by Lucy's advancing to the
Wallingford's quarter-deck, and Drewett's coming to the taffrail of
the Orpheus, it was easy to converse without any unseemly raising of
the voice. All that had been said between me and the skipper, indeed,
had been said on a key but little higher than common. By the change in
Lucy's position, I could no longer see her face; but I knew it was
suffused, and that she was far from being as composed and collected as
was usual with her demeanour. All this was death to my recent
happiness, though I could not abstain from watching what now passed,
with the vigilance of jealousy.

"Good-morning," Lucy commenced, and the words were uttered in a tone
that I thought bespoke great familiarity, if not confidence; "will you
have the goodness to tell your mother that Mrs. Ogilvie begs she will
not leave Albany until after her arrival. The other sloop,
Mrs. Ogilvie thinks, cannot be more than an hour or two after you, and
she is very desirous of making a common party to--ah! there comes
Mrs. Drewett," said Lucy, hastily interrupting herself, "and I can
deliver my message, myself."

Mrs. Drewett coming aft at this instant, Lucy certainly did turn to
her, and communicated a message, which it seems the lady in the Gull
had earnestly requested her to deliver in passing.

"And now," returned Mrs. Drewett, when Lucy had ceased, first civilly
saluting me, "and now, my dear Lucy, we have something for you. So
sudden was your departure, on the receipt of that naughty letter," my
letter, summoning the dear girl to the bed-side of her friend, was
meant, "that you left your work-box behind you, and, as I knew it
contained many notes besides bank-notes, I would not allow it to be
separated from me, until we met. Here it is; in what manner shall we
contrive to get it into your hands?"

Lucy started, and I could see that she both felt and looked
anxious. As I afterwards learned, she had been passing a day at
Mrs. Drewett's villa, which joined her own, both standing on the rocks
quite near to that spot which a mawkish set among us is trying to
twist from plain homely, up-and-down, old fashioned Hell Gate, into
the exquisite and lackadaisical corruption of _Hurl_ Gate--Heaven
save the mark! What puny piece of folly and affectation will they
attempt next?--but Lucy was paying this visit when she received my
letter, and it appears such was her haste to get to Grace, that she
quitted the house immediately, leaving behind her a small work-box,
_unlocked_, and in it various papers that she did not wish
read. Of course, one of Lucy's sentiments and tone, could hardly
suspect a lady, and Mrs. Drewett was strictly that, of rummaging her
box or of reading her notes and letters; but one is never easy when
such things can be supposed to be in the way of impertinent
eyes. There are maids as well as mistresses, and I could see, in a
moment, that she wished the box was again in her own possession. Under
the circumstances, therefore, I felt it was time to interfere.

"If your sloop will round-to, Mr. Drewett," I remarked, receiving a
cold salutation from the gentleman, in return for my own bow, the
first sign of recognition that had passed between us, "I will
round-to, myself, and send a boat for the box."

This proposal drew all eyes towards the skipper, who was still leaning
against his tiller, smoking for life or death. I was not favourably
received, extorting a grunt in reply, that any one could understand
denoted dissent. The pipe was slowly removed, and the private opinion
of this personage was pretty openly expressed, in his Dutchified
dialect.

"If a body coult get a wint for der askin', dis might do very well,"
he said; "but nobody rounts-to mit a fair wind."

I have always remarked that they who have used a dialect different
from the common forms of speech in their youth, and come afterwards to
correct it, by intercourse with the world, usually fall back into
their early infirmities in moments of trial, perplexity, or
anger. This is easily explained. Habit has become a sort of nature, in
their childhood, and it is when most tried that we are the most
natural. Then, this skipper, an Albany--or Al_bon_ny man, as he
would probably have styled himself, had got down the river as far as
Sing-Sing, and had acquired a tolerable English; but, being now
disturbed, he fell back upon his original mode of speaking, the
certain proof that he would never give in. I saw at once the
hopelessness of attempting to persuade one of his school, and had
begun to devise some other scheme for getting the box on board, when
to my surprise, and not a little to my concern, I saw Andrew Drewett,
first taking the box from his mother, step upon the end of our
main-boom, and move along the spar with the evident intention to walk
as far as our deck and deliver Lucy her property with his own
hands. The whole thing occurred so suddenly, that there was no time
for remonstrance. Young gentlemen who are thoroughly in love, are not
often discreet in matters connected with their devotion to their
mistresses. I presume Drewett saw the boom placed so favourably as to
tempt him, and he fancied it would be a thing to mention to carry a
lady her work-box across a bridge that was of so precarious a
footing. Had the spar lain on the ground, it would certainly have been
no exploit at all to for any young man to walk its length, carrying
his arms full of work-boxes; but it was a very different matter when
the same feat had to be performed on a sloop's boom in its place,
suspended over the water, with the sail set, and the vessel in
motion. This Drewett soon discovered, for, advancing a step or two, he
grasped the topping-lift, which luckily for him happened to be taut,
for a support. All this occurred before there was time for
remonstrance, or even for thought. At the same instant Neb, in
obedience to a sign previously given by me, had put the helm down a
little, and the boom-end was already twenty feet from the quarter-deck
of the Orpheus.

Of course, all the women screamed, or exclaimed, on some key or
other. Poor Mrs. Drewett hid her face, and began to moan her son as
lost. I did not dare look at Lucy, who remained quiet as to voice,
after the first involuntary exclamation, and as immovable as a
statue. Luckily her face was from me. As Drewett was evidently
discomposed, I thought it best, however, to devise something not only
for his relief, but for that of Lucy's box, which was in quite as much
jeopardy as the young man, himself; more so, indeed, if the latter
could swim. I was on the point of calling out to Drewett to hold on,
and I would cause the boom-end to reach over the Orpheus's main-deck,
after which he might easily drop down among his friends, when Neb,
finding some one to take the helm, suddenly stood at my side.

"He drop dat box, sartain, Masser Mile," half-whispered the negro; "he
leg begin to shake already, and he won'erful skear'd!"

"I would not have that happen for a good deal--can you save it, Neb?"

"Sartain, sir. Only hab to run out on 'e boom and bring it in, and gib
it Miss Lucy; she mighty partic'lar about dat werry box, Masser Mile,
as I see a hundrer time, and more too."

"Well, lay out, boy, and bring it in,--and look to your footing, Neb."

This was all Neb wanted. The fellow had feet shaped a good deal like
any other aquatic bird, with the essential difference, however, that
no small part of his foundation had been laid abaft the perpendicular
of the tendon Achilles, and, being without shoes, he could nearly
encircle a small spar in his grasp. Often and often had I seen Neb run
out on a top-sail-yard, the ship pitching heavily, catching at the
lift; and it was a mere trifle after that, to run out on a spar as
large as the Wallingford's main-boom. A tolerably distinctive scream
from Chloe, first apprised me that the negro was in motion. Looking in
that direction, I saw him walking steadily along the boom,
notwithstanding Drewett's loud remonstrances, and declarations that he
wanted no assistance, until he reached the spot where the young
gentleman stood grasping the lift, with his legs submitting to more
tremour than was convenient. Neb now grinned, looked as amiable as
possible, held out his hand, and revealed the object of his visit.

"Masser Mile t'ink 'e gentleum better gib _me_ Miss Lucy
box"--said Neb, as politely as he knew how.

I believe in my soul that Drewett could have kissed Neb, so glad was
he to obtain this little relief. The box was yielded without the
slightest objection, Neb receiving it with a bow; after which the
negro turned round as coolly as if he were on the deck, and walked
deliberately and steadily in to the mast. He stopped an instant just
at the small of the spar, to look back at Drewett, who was saying
something to pacify his mother; and I observed that, as he stood with
his heels in a line, the toes nearly met underneath the boom, which
his feet grasped something in the manner of talons. A deep sigh
reached my ear, as Neb bounded lightly on deck, and I knew whence it
came by the exclamation of--

"De _fel_-ler!"

As for Neb, he advanced with his prize, which he offered to Lucy with
one of his best bows, but in a way to show he was not conscious of
having performed any unusual exploit. Lucy handed the box to Chloe,
without averting her eyes from Drewett, in whose situation she
manifested a good deal more concern than I liked, or fancied he
deserved.

"Thank you, Mr. Drewett," she said, affecting to think the box had
been recovered altogether by his address; "it is now safe, and there
is no longer any necessity for your coming here. Let Mr. Wallingford
do what he says"--I had mentioned in a low voice, the practicability
of my own scheme--"and return to your own sloop."

But, two things now interposed to the execution of this very simple
expedient. The first was Drewett's pride, blended with a little
obstinacy, and the other was the "Al_bon_ny" skipper's pride, blended
with a good deal of obstinacy. The first did not like to retreat,
after Neb had so clearly demonstrated it was no great matter to walk
on the boom; and the latter, soured by the manner in which we had
outsailed him, and fancying Andrew had deserted to get on board a
faster vessel, resented the whole by sheering away from us to the
distance of a hundred yards. I saw that there remained but a single
expedient, and set about adopting it without further delay.

"Take good hold of the lift, Mr. Drewett, and steady yourself with
both hands; ease away the peak halyards to tauten that lift a little
more, forward. Now, one of you stand by to ease off the guy
handsomely, and the rest come aft to the main-sheet. Look out for
yourself, Mr. Drewett; we are about to haul in the boom, when it will
be a small matter to get you in, upon the taffrail. Stand by to luff
handsomely, so as to keep the boom as steady as possible."

But Drewett clamorously protested against our doing anything of the
sort. He was getting used to his situation, and intended to come in
Neb-fashion, in a minute more. All he asked was not to be hurried.

"No--no--no--touch nothing I entreat of you, _Captain_
Wallingford"--he said, earnestly. "If that black can do it, surely I
ought to do it, too."

"But the black has claws, and you have none, sir; then he is a sailor,
and used to such things, and you are none, sir. Moreover, he was
barefooted, while you have got on stiff, and I dare say slippery
boots."

"Yes, the boots _are_ an encumbrance. If I could only throw them
off, I should do well enough. As it is, however, I hope to have the
honour of shaking you by the hand, Miss Hardinge, without the disgrace
of being helped."

Mr. Hardinge here expostulated, but all in vain; for I saw plainly
enough Drewett was highly excited, and that he was preparing for a
start. These signs were now so apparent that all of us united our
voices in remonstrances; and Lucy said imploringly to me--"_Do_
not let him move, Miles--I have heard him say he cannot swim."

It was too late. Pride, mortified vanity, obstinacy, love, or what you
will, rendered the young man deaf, and away he went, abandoning the
lift, his sole protection. I saw, the moment he quitted his grasp,
that he would never reach the mast, and made my arrangements
accordingly. I called to Marble to stand by to luff; and, just as the
words passed my lips, a souse into the water told the whole story. The
first glance at poor Drewett's frantic manner of struggling told me
that Lucy was really aware of his habits, and that he could not
swim. I was in light duck, jacket and trowsers, with seaman's pumps;
and placing a foot on the rail, I alighted alongside of the drowning
young man, just as he went under. Well assured he would reappear, I
waited for that, and presently I got a view of his hair, within reach
of my arm, and I grasped it, in a way to turn him on his back, and
bring his face uppermost. At this moment the sloop was gliding away
from us, Marble having instantly put the helm hard down, in order to
round-to. As I afterwards learned, the state of the case was no sooner
understood in the other sloop, than the Al_bon_-ny men gave in,
and imitated the Wallingford.

There was no time for reflection. As soon as Drewett's hair was in my
grasp, I raised his head from the water, by an effort that forced me
under it, to let him catch his breath; and then relaxed the power by
which it had been done, to come up myself. I had done this to give him
a moment to recover his recollection, in the hope he would act
reasonably; and I now desired him to lay his two hands on my
shoulders, permit his body to sink as low as possible and breathe, and
trust the rest to me. If the person in danger can be made to do this,
an ordinarily good swimmer could tow him a mile, without any unusual
effort. But the breathing spell afforded to Drewett had the effect
just to give him strength to struggle madly for existence, without
aiding his reason. On the land, he would have been nothing in my
hands; but, in the water, the merest boy may become formidable. God
forgive me, if I do him injustice! but I have sometimes thought,
since, that Drewett was perfectly conscious who I was, and that he
gave some vent to his jealous distrust of Lucy's feelings towards
me. This may be all imagination; but I certainly heard the words
"Lucy" "Wallingford," "Clawbonny," "hateful," muttered by the man,
even as he struggled there for life. The advantage given him, by
turning to allow him to put his hands on my shoulders, liked to have
cost me dear. Instead of doing as I directed, he grasped my neck with
both arms, and seemed to wish to mount on my head, forcing his own
shoulders quite out of water, and mine, by that much weight, beneath
it. It was while we were thus placed, his mouth within an inch or two
of my very ear, that I heard the words muttered which have been
mentioned. It is possible, however, that he was unconscious of that
which terror and despair extorted from him.

I saw no time was to be lost, and my efforts became desperate. I
first endeavoured to swim with this great encumbrance; but it was
useless. The strength of Hercules could not long have buoyed up the
under body of such a load, sufficiently to raise the nostrils for
breath; and the convulsive twitches of Drewett's arms were near
strangling me. I must throw him off, or drown. Abandoning the attempt
to swim, I seized his hands with mine, and endeavoured to loosen his
grasp of my neck. Of course we both sank while I was thus engaged; for
it was impossible to keep my head above water, by means of my feet
alone, with a man of some size riding, from his shoulders up, above
the level of my chin.

I can scarcely describe what followed. I confess I thought ho longer
of saving Drewett's life, but only of saving my own. We struggled
there in the water like the fiercest enemies, each aiming for the
mastery, as, if one were to live, the other must die. We sank, and
rose to the surface for air, solely by my efforts, no less than three
times; Drewett getting the largest benefits by the latter, thus
renewing his strength; while mine, great as it was by nature, began
gradually to fail. A struggle so terrific could not last long. We
sank a fourth time, and I felt it was not to rise again, when relief
came from an unexpected quarter. From boyhood, my father had taught me
the important lesson of keeping my eyes open under water. By means of
this practice, I not only _felt_, but _saw_ the nature of
the tremendous struggle that was going on. It also gave me a slight
advantage over Drewett, who closed his eyes, by enabling me to see how
to direct my own exertions. While sinking, as I believed, for the last
time, I saw a large object approaching me in the water, which, in the
confusion of the moment, I took for a shark, though sharks never
ascended the Hudson so high, and were even rare at New York. There it
was, however, swimming towards us, and even descending lower as if to
pass beneath, in readiness for the fatal snap. Beneath it did pass,
and I felt it pressing upward, raising Drewett and myself to the
surface. As I got a glimpse of the light, and a delicious draught of
air, Drewett was drawn from my neck by Marble, whose encouraging voice
sounded like music in my ears. At the next instant my shark emerged,
puffing like a porpoise; and then I heard--

"Hole on, Masser Mile--here he nigger close by!"

I was dragged into the boat, I scarce knew how, and lay down
completely exhausted; while my late companion seemed to me to be a
lifeless corpse. In a moment, Neb, dripping like a black river god,
and glistening like a wet bottle, placed himself in the bottom of the
boat, took my head into his lap, and began to squeeze the water from
my hair, and to dry my face with some one's handkerchief--I trust it
was not his own.

"Pull away, lads, for the sloop," said Marble, as soon as everybody
was out of the river. "This gentleman seems to have put on the hatches
for the last time--as for Miles, _he_'ll never drown in fresh
water."

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