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Afloat And Ashore by James Fenimore Cooper

Part 7 out of 10

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an appearance of agitation and distress about the charming girl, that
I had never before witnessed in one whose manner was usually so
self-possessed and calm. I _now_ know the reason why I did not
throw myself on my knees, and beg the charming girl to consent to
accompany me to America, though I wondered at myself afterwards, when
I came to reflect coolly on all that passed, for my stoicism. I will
not affirm that I fancied Emily's agitation to be altogether owing to
myself; but I confess to an inability to account for it, in any other
manner, as agreeable to myself. The appearance of Major Merton at that
instant, however, prevented everything like a scene, and probably
restored us both to a consciousness of the necessity of seeming
calm. As for the Major, himself, he was evidently far from being
unconcerned, something having occurred to disturb him. So very
apparent was this, that I commenced the discourse by asking if he were
unwell.

"Always _that,_ I fear, Miles," he answered; "my physician has
just told me frankly, unless I get into a cold climate as soon as
possible, my life will not be worth six months' purchase."

"Then sail with me, sir," I cried, with an eagerness and heartiness
that must have proved my sincerity. "Happily, I am not too late to
make the offer; and, as for getting away, I am ready to sail
to-morrow!"

"I am forbidden to go near Bombay," continued the Major, looking
anxiously at his daughter; "and that appointment must be abandoned. If
I could continue to hold it, there is no probability of a chance to
reach my station this half-year."

"So much the better for me, sir. In four or five months from this
moment, I will land you in New York, where you will find the climate
cold enough for any disease. I ask you as friends--as guests--not as
passengers; and to prove it, the table of the upper cabin, in future,
shall be mine. I have barely left room in the lower cabin to sleep or
dress in, having filled it with my own private venture, as is my
right."

"You are as generous as kind, Miles; but what will your owners think
of such an arrangement?"

"They have no right to complain. The cabin and passengers, should any
of the last offer, after deducting a very small allowance for the
ship's portion of the food and water, are mine by agreement. All the
better food I find at my own charge; and, should you insist on
remunerating the owners for the coarser, or such as they find, you can
do so, it will be less than a hundred dollars, at the most."

"On these conditions, then, I shall thankfully profit by your offer;
attaching, however, one more that I trust you may be permitted to
fulfil. It is important to me that I reach England--can you touch at
St. Helena?"

"Willingly, if it be your wish. The health of the crew, moreover, may
render it desirable."

"There, then, I will quit you, if an opportunity offer to proceed to
England. Our bargain is made, dear Miles; and to-morrow I shall be
ready to embark."

I think Emily never looked more beautiful than she did while listening
to this arrangement. It doubtless relieved her mind on the painful
subject of her father's health, and I fancied it relieved it also on
the subject of our own immediate separation. Months must elapse before
we could reach St. Helena; and who could foresee what those months
might bring forth? As I had a good deal to do at such a moment, I took
my leave, with my feelings lightened, as it might be, of a
burthen. The reader will at once infer, I was in love. But he will be
mistaken. I was not in love; though my imagination, to use a cant
phrase of some of the sects, was greatly exercised. Lucy, even then,
had a hold of my _heart_ in a way of which I was ignorant myself;
but it was not in nature for a youth, just approaching his majority,
to pass months and months, almost alone, in the society of a lovely
girl who was a year or two his junior, and not admit some degree of
tenderness towards her in big feelings. The circumstances were
sufficient to try the constancy of the most faithful swain that ever
lived. Then, it must be remembered that I had never professed love to
Lucy--was not at all aware that she entertained any other sentiment
towards me than that she entertained towards Rupert; whereas Emily--
but I will not prove myself a coxcomb on paper, whatever I might have
been, at the moment, in my own imagination.

Next day, at the appointed hour, I had the happiness to receive my old
passengers. It struck me that Talcott was as much gratified as I was
myself; for he, too, had both pleasure and improvement in Emily
Morton's society. It has often been said that the English East-India
ships are noted for quarrelling and making love. The quarrels may be
accounted for on the same principle as the love-making, viz.,
propinquity; the same proximity producing hostility in whose sterner
natures, that, in others of a gentler cast, produces its opposite
feeling. We sailed, and it is scarcely necessary to tell the reader
how much the tedium of so long a voyage, and the monotony of a
sea-voyage, was relieved by the graces and gentle intercourse of our
upper cabin. The other apartment being so crowded and hot, I passed
most of my time in the poop, which was both light and airy. Here I
generally found the father and daughter, though often the latter
alone. I played reasonably well on the flute and violin, and had
learned to accompany Emily on her piano, which, it will be remembered,
Mons. Le Compte had caused to be transferred from the Bombay ship to
his own vessel, and which had subsequently been saved from the wreck.

Talcott played also on the flute, far better than I did myself; and we
frequently made a trio, producing very respectable sea-music--better,
indeed, than Neptune often got for his smiles. In this manner, then,
we travelled our long road, sometimes contending with head-winds and
cross-seas, sometimes becalmed, and sometimes slipping along at a rate
that rendered everybody contented and happy.

In passing the Straits of Sunda, I related to Major Merton and Emily
the incidents of the John's affair with the proas, and her subsequent
loss on the island of Madagascar; and was rewarded by the interest
they took in the tale. We all spoke of Marble, as indeed we often did,
and expressed our regrets at his absence. The fate of my old shipmate
was frequently discussed among us, there being a great diversity of
opinion on the subject. As for the Major, he thought poor Marble must
be lost at sea, for he did not perceive how any one man could manage a
boat all alone by himself. Talcott, who had juster notions of what a
seaman could do, was of opinion that our late commander had run to
leeward, in the hope of finding some inhabited island, preferring the
association of even cannibals, when it came to the trying moment, to
total solitude. I thought he had gone to windward, the boat being so
well equipped for that service, and that Marble was in the expectation
of falling in with some of the whalers, who were known to be cruising
in certain latitudes. I was greatly struck, however, by a remark made
by Emily, on the evening of the very day when we passed the Straits of
Sunda.

"Should the truth be ever known, gentlemen," she said, "I am of
opinion it will be found that poor Mr. Marble only left the island to
escape from your importunities, and returned to it after the ship
disappeared; and that he is there at this moment, enjoying all the
happiness of a hermit."

This might be true, and from that hour the thought would occasionally
recur to my mind. As I looked forward to passing at least several more
years at sea, I secretly determined to ascertain the fact for myself,
should occasion ever offer. In the mean time, the Crisis had reached a
part of the ocean where, in those days, it was incumbent on those who
had the charge of a ship to keep a vigilant look-out for enemies. It
seems we were not fated to run the gauntlet of these pirates entirely
unharmed.

Early on the following morning, I was awoke by Talcott's giving me a
hearty shake of the shoulder.

"Turn out at once, Captain Wallingford," cried my mate, "the rascals
are closing around us like crows about a carcase. As bad luck will
have it, we have neither room nor breeze, to spare. Everything looks
like a busy morning for us, sir."

In just three minutes from that moment, I was on deck, where all hands
were soon collected, the men tumbling up, with their jackets in their
hands. Major Merton was already on the poop, surveying the scene with
a glass of his own; while the two mates were clearing away the guns,
and getting the ship in a state to make a suitable defence. To me, the
situation was altogether novel. I had been six times in the presence
of enemies before, and twice as commander; but never under
circumstances that called so imperiously for seamanship and good
conduct. The ocean seemed covered with enemies, Major Merton declaring
that he could count no less than twenty-eight proas, all full of men,
and some of them armed with artillery. These chaps were ahead, astern,
to windward, and to leeward; and, what was worse, they had just wind
enough to suit their purposes, there being about a five-knot
breeze. It was evident that the craft acted in concert, and that they
were desperately bent on our capture, having closed around us in this
manner in the night. Nevertheless, we were a warm ship for a
merchantman; and not a man in the Crisis betrayed any feeling that
indicated any other desire than a wish to resist to the last. As for
Neb, the fellow was in a broad grin, the whole time; he considered the
affair as a bit of fun. Yet this negro was afraid to visit certain
places about the farm in the dark, and could not have been induced to
cross a church-yard alone, under a bright sun, I feel well
persuaded. He was the oddest mixture of superstitious dread and
lion-hearted courage, I ever met with in my life.

It was still early, when the proas were near enough to commence
serious operations. This they did, by a nearly simultaneous discharge
of about a dozen guns, principally sixes, that they carried mounted in
their bows. The shot came whistling in among our spars and rigging,
literally from every direction, and three struck, though they were not
of a size to do any serious injury. Our people were at quarters,
having managed to man both batteries, though it left scarcely any one
to look after the braces and rigging, and none but the officers with
small-arms.

Mr. Merton must have felt that he and his daughter's liberty, if not
their lives, were in the keeping of a very youthful commander; still,
his military habits of subordination were so strong, he did not
venture even a suggestion. I had my own plan, and was just of an age
to think it derogatory to my rank, to ask advice of any one. The proas
were strongest ahead and on both bows, where they were collecting to
the number of near twenty, evidently with the intention of boarding,
should an opportunity offer; while, astern, and on our quarter, they
were much fewer, and far more scattered. The reason of all this was
apparent by our course, the pirates naturally supposing we should
continue to stand on.

Orders were given to haul up the mainsail and to man the
spanker-brails. The men were taken from the starboard battery,
exclusively, to perform this work. When all was ready, the helm was
put up, and the ship was brought as short round on her heel, as
possible, hauling up, on an easy bowline, on the other tack. In coming
round, we delivered all our larboard guns among the crowd of enemies,
well crammed with grape; and the distance being just right for
scattering, this broadside was not without effect. As soon as braced
up, on the other tack, we opened starboard and larboard, on such of
the chaps as came within range; clearing our way as we went. The
headmost proas all came round in chase; but, being from half a mile to
a mile astern, we had time to open a way out of the circle, and to
drive all the proas who were now ahead of us, to take refuge among the
crowd of their fellows. The manoeuvre was handsomely executed; and, in
twenty minutes we ceased firing, having all our enemies to the
westward of us, and in one group: this was an immense advantage, as it
enabled us to fight with a single broadside, prevented our being
raked, and rendered our own fire more destructive, by exposing to it a
more concentrated, and, at the same time, a larger object. I ought to
have said before, that the wind was at the southward.

The Crisis now tacked, setting the courses and royals. The ship lay
up well, and the proas having collected around their admiral, there
was a prospect of her passing to windward of everything. Six of the
fellows, however, seemed determined to prevent this, by hauling close
on a wind, and attempting to cross our bows, firing as they did
so. The ship stood on, apparently as if to intercept them; when,
finding ourselves near enough, we kept away about three points, and
swept directly down in the very centre of the main body of the
proas. As this was done, the enemy, taken by surprise, cleared a way
for us, and we passed the whole of them, delivering grape and
canister, as fast as we could deal it out. In the height of the
affair, and the thickest of the smoke, three or four of the proas were
seen quite near us, attempting to close; but I did not think it
necessary to call the people from the guns, which were worked with
great quickness, and did heavy execution. I fancy the pirates found it
hotter than they liked, for they did not keep on with us; though our
lofty sails gave us an advantage, and would have enabled us to leave
them, had they pursued a different course. As it was, we were clear of
them, in about five minutes; and the smoke beginning to rise, we soon
got a view of what had been done in that brief space. In order to
increase our distance, however, we still kept away, running pretty
fast through the water.

By the confusion which prevailed among the pirates, the rascals had
been well peppered. One had actually sunk, and five or six were round
the spot, endeavouring to pick up the crew. Three more had suffered in
their spars, and the movements indicated that all had enough. As soon
as satisfied of this, I hauled the ship up to her course, and we
continued to leave the cluster of boats, which remained around the
spot where their consort had gone down. Those of the fellows to
windward, however, did not seem disposed to give it up, but followed
us for two hours, by which time the rest of their flotilla were hull
down. Believing there was now plenty of room, I tacked towards these
persevering gentry, when they went about like tops, and hauled off
sharp on a wind. We tacked once more to our course, and were followed
no further.

The captain of a pepper ship afterwards told me, that our assailants
lost forty-seven men, mostly killed, or died of their hurts, and that
he had understood that the same officer commanded the Crisis that had
commanded the "John," in _her_ affair, near the same spot. We had
some rigging cut, a few of our spars slightly injured, and two men
hurt, one of whom happened to be Neb. The man most hurt died before we
reached the Cape, but more from the want of surgical assistance, than
from the original character of his wound. As for Neb, he went to duty
before we reached St. Helena. For my part, I was surprised one of the
proas did not get down his throat, his grin being wide enough, during
the whole affair, to admit of the passage of a two-decker.

We went into the island, as had been agreed, but no ship offering and
none being expected soon, it became necessary for my passengers to
continue on with us to New York. Emily had behaved uncommonly well in
the brush with the pirates, and everybody was glad to keep her in the
ship. The men swore she brought good luck, forgetting that the poor
girl must have met with much ill-luck, in order to be in the situation
in which she was actually placed.

Nothing occurred on the passage from St. Helena to New York, worthy of
being specially recorded. It was rather long, but I cannot say it was
unpleasant. At length our reckoning told us to look out for land. The
Major and Emily were on deck, all expectation, and ere long we heard
the welcome cry. A hazy cloud was just visible on our lee-bow. It grew
more and more dense and distinct, until it showed the hues and furrows
of a mountain-side. The low point of the Hook, and the higher land
beyond, then came in view. We glided past the light, doubled the Spit,
and got into the upper bay, just an hour before the sun of a beautiful
day in June was setting. This was in the year of our Lord 1802.

CHAPTER XXI.

"Drink! drink! to whom shall we drink?
To a friend or a mistress?--Come, let me think!
To those who are absent or those who are here?
To the dead that we loved, or the living still dear?
Alas! when I look I find none of the last!
The present is barren--let's drink to the past."
PAULDING.

Though strictly a Manhattanese as a sailor, I shall not run into
rhapsody on the subject of the beauties of the inner or outer bay of
this prosperous place. No man but one besotted with provincial conceit
could ever think of comparing the harbour of New York with the Bay of
Naples; nor do I know two places, that have the same great elements of
land and water that are less alike. The harbour of New York is barely
pretty; not a particle more, if quite as much; while the Bay of Naples
is almost what its owners so fondly term it, "a little bit of heaven,
fallen upon earth." On the other hand, however, Naples, as a haven, is
not to be mentioned in the same breath with the great American mart,
which, _as a port_, has no competitor within the circle of my
knowledge, Constantinople alone excepted. I wish my semi-townsmen,
the Manhattanese, could be persuaded of these facts, as, when they
_do_ brag, as the wisest of mortals sometimes will, they might
brag of their strong, and not of their weak points, as is now too
often the case.

The Major, Emily and myself, stood on the poop, regarding the scene,
as the ship glided onward, before a good south-east breeze. I watched
the countenances of my companions with interest, for I had the
nervousness of a tyro and a provincial, on the subject of the opinions
of the people of other lands, concerning everything that affected my
own. I could see that the Major was not particularly struck; and I
was disappointed, _then_, whatever may be my opinion _now_.
Emily better answered my hopes. Whether the charming girl really felt
the vast contrast between a view of the unbroken expanse of the ocean,
and the scene before her, or was disposed to please her host, she did
not hesitate to express delight. I let her understand how much I was
gratified; and thus our long, long voyage, and that, so far as degrees
of longitude were concerned, nearly embraced the circuit of the earth,
may be said to have terminated with the kindest feelings.

The ship was off Bedlow's, and the pilot had begun to shorten sail,
when a schooner crossed our fore-foot, beating down. I had been too
much occupied with the general movement of the bay, to notice one
small craft; but, this vessel happening to tack quite near us, I could
not but turn my eyes in her direction. At that instant I heard a shout
from Neb, who was furling one of the royals. It was one of those
irrepressible "nigger gollies" that often escaped from the fellow
involuntarily.

"What do you mean by that uproar, on the mizen-royal yard," I called
out angrily--for the _style_ of my ship had now become an object
of concern with me. "Keep silence, sir, or I'll find a way to instruct
you in the art."

"Lord!--masser Mile--" cried the negro, pointing eagerly towards the
schooner--"there go Pretty Poll."

It was our old craft sure enough, and I hailed her, incontinently.

"Pretty Polly, ahoy!"

"Halloo!"

"Where are you bound, sir; and when did that schooner get in from the
Pacific?"

"We are bound to Martinique--The Poll got home from the South Seas
about six months since. This is her third voyage to the West Indies,
since."

Here then was the certainty that the cargo sent home, and the letter
with it, were all safe. I must be expected, and the owners would soon
hear of my arrival. We were not kept long in doubt; for, as the ship
entered the Hudson, a boat approached, and in her were two of the
principal members of our firm. I had seen them, and that is all; but
my own letters, and the report of the officer who brought home the
schooner, had told them all about me. Could Nelson, after his victory
of the Nile, have walked into the King of England's private cabinet
with the news of his own success, his reception would not have been
more flattering than that I now received. I was "Captain
Wallingforded" at every sentence; and commendations were so intermixed
with inquiries about the value of the cargo, that I did not know which
to answer first. I was invited to dine the very next day by both the
gentlemen in the same breath; and when I raised some objections
connected with the duty of the ship, the invitations were extended
from day to day, for a week. So very welcome is he who brings us
gold!

We went alongside of a North River wharf, and had everything secure,
just as the sun was setting. The people were then allowed to go ashore
for the night. Not a soul of them asked for a dollar; but the men
walked up the wharf attended by a circle of admiring landlords, that
put them all above want. The sailor who has three years' pay under his
lee, is a sort of Rothschild on Jack's Exchange. All the harpies about
our lads knew that the Crisis and her teas, &c. were hypothecated to
meet their own ten and twenty dollar advances.

I dressed myself hurriedly, and ordered Neb to imitate my example. One
of the owners had kindly volunteered to see Major Merton and Emily to
a suitable residence, with an alacrity that surprised me. But the
influence of England, and Englishmen, in all America, was exceedingly
great forty years since. This was still more true in New York, than in
the country generally; and a half-pay English Major was a species of
nobleman among the better sort of Manhattanese of that day. How many
of these quasi lords have I seen, whose patents of nobility were
merely the commissions of captains and lieutenants, signed by the
Majesty of England! In that day--it is nonsense to deny it--the man
who had served _against_ the country, provided he was a "British
officer," was a better man than he who had served in our own
ranks. This was true, however, only as regarded _society;_ the
ballot-boxes, and the _people_, giving very different indications of
their sentiments on such subjects. Nor is this result, so far as New
York was concerned, as surprising as, at first sight, it may possibly
appear. Viewed as a class, the gentry of New York took sides with the
crown. It is true, that the portion of this gentry which might almost
be called _baronial_--it was strictly _manorial_--was pretty equally
divided, carrying with them their collaterals; but the larger portions
of this entire class of the elite of society took sides with the
crown; and the peace of '83 found no small part of them in possession
of their old social stations; the confiscations affecting few beyond
the most important, and the richest of the delinquents. I can give an
instance, within my own immediate knowledge, of the sort of justice of
these confiscations. The head of one of the most important of all the
colonial families, was a man of indolent habits, and was much
indisposed to any active pursuits. This gentleman was enormously rich,
and his estates were confiscated and sold. Now this attainted traitor
had a younger brother who was actually serving in the British army in
America, his regiment sharing in the battles of Bunker Hill,
Brandywine, Monmouth, &c. But the Major was a younger son; and, in
virtue of that republican merit, he escaped the consequences of his
adhesion to the service of the crown; and after the revolution, the
cadet returned to his native country, took quiet possession of a
property of no inconsiderable amount, while his senior passed his days
in exile, paying the bitter penalty of being rich in a revolution. It
was a consequence of the peculiarities first mentioned, that the
Manhattanese society set so high a value on English connection. They
still admired, as the provincial only can admire; and they worshipped,
as the provincial worships; or, at a safe distance. The strange medley
of truth, cant, selfishness, sophistry and good faith, that founded
the political hostility to the movements of the French revolution, had
as ardent believers in this country, as it had in England itself; and
this contributed to sustain the sort of feeling I have described. Of
the fact, there can be no doubt, as any one will testify who knew New
York society forty years ago.

No wonder then, that Major Merton and Emily fared well, on their
sudden arrival in the country. Some romance, moreover, was attached to
their adventures; and I had no great reason to give myself any anxiety
on their account. There was little doubt of their soon being much
more at home, than I could hope to be, though in my native land.

Neb soon reported himself ready for shore-duty, and I ordered him to
follow me. It was my intention to proceed to the counting-house of the
owners, to receive some letters that awaited me, and, after writing
short answers, to despatch the black at once to Clawbonny, with the
intelligence of my return. In 1802, the Battery was the court-end of
the town, and it was a good deal frequented by the better classes,
particularly at the hour at which I was now about to cross it. I have
never returned from a voyage, especially to Europe, without being
particularly struck with two things in the great Western
Emporium--since the common councils and the editors insist on the
word--viz., the provincial appearance of everything that meets the
eye, and the beauty of the younger females; meaning, however, by the
last, the true, native, portion of the population, and not the throng
from Ireland and Germany, who now crowd the streets; and who,
certainly, as a body, are not in the least remarkable for personal
charms. But an American can tell an American, man or woman, as soon as
he lays eyes on either; and there were few besides native girls on the
Battery at the time of which I am writing. As there were many children
taking their evening walk, and black servants were far more common
than now, Neb had his share of delights, too, and I heard him exclaim
"Golly!" twice, before we reached the centre of the Battery. This
exclamation escaped him on passing as many sable Venuses, each of whom
bridled up at the fellow's admiration, and doubtless was as much
offended as the sex is apt to be on such occasions.

I must have passed twenty young women, that evening, either of whom
would induce a youth to turn round to look again; and, for the moment,
I forgot my errand. Neither Neb nor I was in any hurry. We were
strolling along, in this manner, gazing right and left, when a party
approached, under the trees, that drew all my attention to itself. In
front walked a young man and young woman, who were dressed simply, but
with a taste that denoted persons of the better class. The former was
remarkable for nothing, unless it might be a rattling vivacity, of
which large doses were administered to his fair companion, who,
seemingly, swallowed it less reluctantly than doses of another sort
are so often received. At least, I thought so, while the two were at a
distance, by the beautiful glistening teeth that were shining like my
own spotless pearls, between lips of coral. The air, beauty, figure,
and, indeed, all connected with this singularly lovely young creature,
struck my imagination at once. It was not so much her beauty, though
that was decided and attractive, as the admixture of feminine delicacy
with blooming health; the walk, so natural and yet so full of
lightness and grace; the laugh, so joyous and still so quiet and
suited to her sex; and the entire air and manner, which denoted
equally, buoyant health and happiness, the gracefulness of one who
thought not of herself, and the refinement which is quite as much the
gift of native sentiment, as the fruit of art and association. I could
not tell what her companion was saying; but, as they approached, I
fancied them acknowledged lovers, on whom fortune, friends, and
circumstances smiled alike. A glance aside told me that even Neb was
struck by the being before him, and that he had ceased looking at the
sable Venuses, to gaze at this.

I could not keep my gaze off the face of this lovely creature, who did
not let me get a good look of her dark-blue eyes, however, until I was
quite near, when they were naturally turned towards the form that
approached. For a few seconds, while in the very act of passing, we
looked intently at each other, and the charm said to be possessed by
certain animals, was not more powerful than was our mutual gaze. In
this manner we had actually passed each other, and I was still in a
sort of mystified prance, when I heard suddenly, in a voice and tone
that caused every nerve to thrill within me, the single word--

"Miles!"

Turning, and taking another look, it was impossible any longer to
mistake. Lucy Hardinge stood before me, trembling, uncertain, her face
now pale as death, now flushed to scarlet, her hands clasped, her look
doubting, eager, shrinking, equally denoting hope and fear, and all so
blended, as to render her the most perfect picture of female truth,
feeling, diffidence, and natural modesty, I had ever beheld.

"Lucy--is it--_can_ it be possible!--It is then _you_, I
thought so gloriously beautiful, and that without knowing you, too."

I take it for granted, had I studied a week, I should not have
composed a more grateful salutation than this, which burst forth in a
way that set all the usual restraints of manners at defiance. Of
course, I felt bound to go through with the matter as prosperously as
I had commenced, and in spite of the publicity of the place, in spite
of half a dozen persons, who heard what passed, and had turned,
smiling, to see what would come next, in spite of the grave-looking
gentleman who had so lately been all vivacity and gaiety, I advanced,
folded the dear girl to my heart, and gave her such a kiss, as I'll
take upon myself to say, she had never before received. Sailors,
usually, do not perform such things by halves, and I never was more in
earnest in my life. Such a salutation, from a young fellow who stood
rather more than six feet in his stockings, had a pair of whiskers
that had come all the way from the Pacific with very little trimming,
and who possessed a manliness about him of which mere walking up and
down Broadway would have robbed a young Hercules, had the effect to
cover poor Lucy with blushes and confusion.

"There--that will do, Miles," she said, struggling to get free--"a
truce, I pray you. See, yonder are Grace and my father, and Rupert."

There they all were, sure enough, the whole family having come out, to
take an evening walk, in company with a certain Mr. Andrew Drewett, a
young gentleman who was a fellow-student of Rupert's, and who, as I
afterwards ascertained, was a pretty open admirer of Rupert's
sister. There was a marked difference in the manner in which I was
received by Grace and Lucy. The first exclaimed "Miles!" precisely as
the last had exclaimed; her colour heightened, and tears forced
themselves into her eyes, but she could not be said to blush. Instead
of first manifesting an eagerness to meet my salute, and then
shrinking sensitively from it, she flung her delicate arms round my
neck, without the slightest reserve, both arms too, kissed me six or
eight times without stopping, and then began to sob, as if her heart
would break. The spectators, who saw in all this the plain, honest,
natural, undisguised affection of a sister, had the good taste to walk
on, though I could see that their countenances sympathised with so
happy a family meeting. I had but a moment to press Grace to my heart,
before Mr. Hardinge's voice drew my attention to him. The good old man
forgot that I was two inches taller than he was himself; that I could,
with ease, have lifted him from the earth, and carried him in my arms,
as if he were an infant; that I was bronzed by a long voyage, and had
Pacific Ocean whiskers; for he caressed me as if I had been a child,
kissed me quite as often as Grace had done, blessed me aloud, and then
gave way to his tears, as freely as both the girls. But for this burst
of feeling on the part of a grey-headed old clergyman, I am afraid our
scene would not altogether have escaped ridicule. As it was, however,
this saved us. Clergymen were far more respected in America, forty
years ago, than they are to-day, though I think they have still as
much consideration here as in most other countries; and the general
respect felt for the class would have insured us from any
manifestations of the sort, without the nature and emotion which came
in its aid. As for myself, I was glad to take refuge in Rupert's
hearty but less sentimental shake of the hand. After this, we all
sought a seat, in a less public spot, and were soon sufficiently
composed to converse. As for the gentleman named Drewett, he waited
long enough to inquire of Lucy who I was, and then he had sufficient
tact to wish us all good evening. I overheard the little dialogue
which produced this explanation.

"A close friend, if not a near relation, Miss Hardinge?" he observed,
inquiringly.

"Oh, yes," answered the smiling, weeping girl, with the undisguised
truth of her honest nature--"both friend and relative."

"May I presume to ask the name?"

"The name, Mr. Drewett!--Why it is Miles--dear Miles--you surely have
heard us speak of Miles--but I forget; you never were at Clawbonny--is
it not a most joyful surprise, dearest, dearest Grace!"

Mr. Andrew Drewett waited, I thought, with most commendable patience
for Grace to squeeze Lucy's hand, and to murmur her own felicitations,
when he ventured to add--

"You were about to say something, Miss Hardinge?"

"Was I--I declare I have forgotten what it was. Such a surprise--such
a joyful, blessed surprise--I beg pardon, Mr. Drewett--ah. I remember
now; I was about to say that this is Mr. Miles Wallingford, of
Clawbonny, the gentleman who is my father's ward--Grace's brother, you
know."

"And how related to yourself, Miss Hardinge?" the gentleman continued,
a little perseveringly.

"To me! Oh! very, very near--that is--I forget so much this
evening--why, not at all."

It was at this moment Mr. Drewett saw fit to make his parting
salutations with studied decorum, and to take his leave in a manner so
polite, that, though tempted, I could not, just at the moment, stop
the current of my feelings, to admire. No one seemed to miss him,
however, and we five, who remained, were soon seated in the spot I
have mentioned, and as much abstracted from the scene around us, as if
we had been on the rustic bench, under the old elm, on the lawn--if I
dare use so fine a word, for so unpretending a place--at Clawbonny. I
had my station between Mr. Hardinge and Grace, while Lucy sat next her
father, and Rupert next to my sister. My friend could see me, without
difficulty, owing to his stature, while I saw the glistening eyes of
Lucy, riveted on my face, as leaning on her father's knee, she bent
her graceful form forward, in absorbed attention.

"We expected you; we have not been taken _altogether_ by
surprise!" exclaimed good Mr. Hardinge, clapping his hand on my
shoulder, as if to say he could now begin to treat me like a man. "I
consented to come down, just at this moment, because the last Canton
ship that arrived brought the intelligence that the Crisis was to sail
in ten days."

"And you may judge of our surprise," said Rupert, "when we read the
report in the papers, 'The Crisis, _Captain Wallingford_.'"

"I supposed my letters from the island had prepared you for this," I
observed.

"In them, you spoke of Mr. Marble, and I naturally concluded, when it
came to the pinch, the man would resume the command, and bring the
ship home. Duty to the owners would be apt to induce him."

"He did not," I answered, a little proudly perhaps, forgetting poor
Marble's probable situation, for an instant, in my own vanity.
"Mr. Marble understood well, that if I knew nothing else, I knew how
to take care of a ship."

"So it seems, my dear boy, indeed, so it doth seem!" said
Mr. Hardinge, kindly. "I hear from all quarters, you conduct
commended; and the recovery of the vessel from the French, was really
worthy of Truxtun himself."

At that day, Truxtun was the great gun of American naval idolatry, and
had as much local reputation, as Nelson himself enjoyed in
England. The allusion was a sore assault on my modesty; but I got
along with it, as well as I could.

"I endeavoured to do my duty, sir," I answered, trying not to look at
Lucy, and seem meek; "and it would have been a terrible disgrace to
have come home, and been obliged to say the French got the ship from
us, when we were all asleep."

"But you took a ship from the French, in that manner, and kept her
too!" said a soft voice, every intonation of which was music to me.

I looked round and saw the speaking eyes of Lucy, just clear of the
grey coat of her father, behind which she instinctively shrank, the
instant she caught my glance.

"Yes," I answered, "we did something of that sort, and were a little
more fortunate than our enemies. But, you will recollect we were much
favoured by the complaisance of poor Monsieur Le Compte, in leaving us
a schooner to work our mischief in."

"I have always thought that part of your story, Miles, a little
extraordinary," observed Mr. Hardinge; "though I suppose this
Frenchman's liberality was, in some measure, a matter of necessity,
out there, in the middle of the Pacific."

"I hardly think you do Captain Le Compte justice, sir. He was a
chivalrous fellow, and every way a gallant seaman. It is possible, he
was rather more in a hurry than he might have been, but for his
passengers--that is all--at least, I have always suspected that the
wish to have Miss Merton all to himself, induced him to get rid of us
as soon as possible. He evidently admired her, and could have been
jealous of a dead-eye."

"Miss Merton!" exclaimed Grace. "Jealous!"

"Miss Merton!" put in Rupert, leaning forward, curiously.

"Miss Merton! And jealous of dead-eyes, and wishing to get rid of us!"
said Mr. Hardinge, smiling. "Pray who is Miss Merton? and who are the
_us_? and what are the dead-eyes?"

Lucy was silent.

"Why, sir, I thought I wrote you all about the Mertons. How we met
them in London, and then found them prisoners to Monsieur Le Compte;
and that I intended to carry them to Canton, in the Crisis!"

"You told us some of this, certainly; but, though you may have written
'all about' a _Major_ Merton, you _forgot_ to tell us 'about
_all_ the Mertons. This is the first syllable I have ever had
about a _Miss_ Merton. How is it, girls--did Miles speak of any
one but the Major, in his letter?"

"Not a syllable to me, sir, of any young lady, I can assure you,"
replied Grace, laughing. "How was it to you, Lucy?"

"Of course he would not tell me that which he thought fit to conceal
from his own sister," said Lucy, in a low voice.

"It is odd I should have forgotten to mention her," I cried,
endeavouring to laugh it off. "Young men do not often forget to write
about young ladies."

"This Miss Merton is young, then, brother?"

"About your own age, Grace."

"And handsome--and agreeable--and accomplished?"

"Something like yourself, my dear."

"But handsome, I take it for granted, Miles," observed Mr. Hardinge,
"by the manner in which you have omitted to speak of her charms, in
your letters!"

"Why sir, I think most persons--that is the world in general--I mean
such as are not over-fastidious, would consider Miss Merton
particularly handsome--agreeable in person and features, I would be
understood to say."

"Oh! you are sufficiently explicit; everybody can understand you,"
added my laughing guardian, who had no more thought of getting me
married to his own daughter, than to a German princess of a hundred
and forty-five quarterings, if there are any such things; "some other
time we will have the particulars of her eyes, hair, teeth, &c., &c."

"Oh! sir, you may save me the trouble, by looking at her yourself,
to-morrow, since she and her father are both here."

"_Here!_" exclaimed all four in a breath; Lucy's extreme surprise
extorting the monosyllable from her reserve, even a little louder than
from the rest.

"Certainly, here; father, daughter, and servants; I dare say I omitted
to speak of the servants in my letters, too; but a poor fellow who has
a great deal to do, cannot think of everything in a minute. Major
Merton has a touch of the liver complaint; and it would not do to
leave him in a warm climate. So, no other chance offering, he is
proceeding to England, by the way of America."

"And how long had you these people on board your ship, Miles?" Grace
asked, a little gravely.

"Actually on board, with myself, about nine months, I should think;
but including the time in London, at Canton, and on the island, I
should call our acquaintance one of rather more than a year's
standing."

"Long enough, certainly, to make a young lady sufficiently obvious to
a young gentleman's memory, not to be forgotten in his letters."

After this pointed speech, there was a silence, which Mr. Hardinge
broke by some questions about the passage home from Canton. As it was
getting cool on the Battery, however, we all moved away, proceeding to
Mrs. Bradfort's. This lady, as I afterwards discovered, was much
attached to Lucy, and had insisted on giving her these opportunities
of seeing the world. She was quite at her ease in her circumstances,
and belonged to a circle a good deal superior to that into which Grace
and myself could have claimed admission, in right of our own social
position. Lucy had been well received as her relative, and as a
clergyman's daughter; and Grace on her own account, as I afterwards
learned. It would be attaching too much credit to Clawbonny, to say
that either of the girls had not improved by this association; though
it was scarcely possible to make Grace more feminine and lady-like
than she had been made by nature. The effect on Lucy was simply to put
a little reserve on her native frankness, and sturdy honesty; though
candour compels me to say, that mingling with the world, and,
especially the world to which they had been introduced by Mrs.
Bradfort, had certainly increased the native charm of manner that each
possessed. I began to think Emily Merton so far from possessing any
advantage over the two girls, might now improve a little herself, by
associating with them.

At the house, I had to tell my whole story, and to answer a multitude
of questions. Not a syllable more was said about Miss Merton; and even
Lucy had smiles to bestow and remarks to make, as before. When we got
to the lights, where the girls could remove their shawls and hats, I
made each of them stand before me, in order to ascertain how much time
had altered them. Grace was now nineteen; and Lucy was only six months
her junior. The greatest change was in the latter. Her form had
ripened into something as near as possible to girlish perfection. In
this respect she had the advantage of Grace, who was a little too
slight and delicate; whereas, Lucy, without any of the heaviness that
so often accompanies a truly rounded person, and which was perhaps a
slight defect in Emily Merton's figure, was without an angle of any
sort, in her entire outline. Grace, always so handsome, and so
intellectual in the expression of her countenance, had improved less
in this respect, than Lucy, whose eyes had obtained a tenderness and
feeling that rendered them, to me, even more attractive than those of
my own dear sister. In a word, any man might have been proud, at
finding two such admirable creatures interested in him, as interested,
every look, smile, syllable, and gesture of these dear girls, denoted
they were in me.

All this time, Neb had been overlooked. He had followed us to the
house, however, and was already engaged in a dark-coloured flirtation
with a certain Miss Chloe Clawbonny, his own second-cousin, in the
kitchen; a lady who had attracted a portion of his admiration, before
we sailed, and who had accompanied her young mistress to town. As soon
as it was ascertained the fellow was below, Lucy, who was quite at
home in her kinswoman's house, insisted on his being introduced. I saw
by the indulgent smile of Mrs. Bradfort, that Lucy was not exceeding
her conceded privileges, and Neb was ordered up, forthwith. Never was
there a happier fellow than this 'nigger' appeared to be, on that
occasion. He kept rolling his tarpaulin between his fingers, shifting
his weight from leg to leg, and otherwise betraying the confusion of
one questioned by his betters; for, in that day, a _negro_ was
ready enough to allow he had his betters, and did not feel he was
injured in so doing. At the present time, I am well aware that the
word is proscribed even in the State's Prisons; everybody being just
as good as everybody else; though some have the misfortune to be
sentenced to hard labour, while others are permitted to go at
large. As a matter of course, the selections made through the
ballot-boxes, only go to prove that "one man is as good as another."

Our party did not separate until quite late. Suppers were eaten in
1802; and I was invited to sit down with the rest of the family, and a
gay set we were. It was then the fashion to drink toasts; gentlemen
giving ladies, and ladies gentlemen. The usage was singular, but very
general; more especially in the better sort of houses. We men drank
our wine, as a matter of course; while the ladies sipped theirs, in
that pretty manner in which females moisten their lips, on such
occasions. After a time, Mrs. Bradfort, who was very particular in the
observance of forms, gaily called on Mr. Hardinge for his toast.

"My dear Mrs. Bradfort," said the divine, good-humouredly, "if it were
not in your own house, and contrary to all rule to give a person who
is present, I certainly should drink to yourself. Bless me, bless me,
whom shall I give? I suppose I shall not be permitted to give our new
Bishop, Dr. Moore?"

The cry of "No Bishop!" was even more unanimous than it is at this
moment, among those who, having all their lives dissented from
episcopal authority, fancy it an evidence of an increasing influence
to join in a clamour made by their own voices; and this, moreover, on
a subject that not one in a hundred among them has given himself the
trouble even to skim. Our opposition--in which Mrs. Bradfort joined,
by the way--was of a very different nature, however; proceeding from a
desire to learn what lady Mr. Hardinge could possibly select, at such
a moment. I never saw the old gentleman so confused before. He
laughed, tried to dodge the appeal, fidgeted, and at last fairly
blushed. All this proceeded, not from any preference for any
particular individual of the sex, but from natural diffidence, the
perfect simplicity and nature of his character, which caused him to be
abashed at even appearing to select a female for a toast. It was a
beautiful picture of masculine truth and purity! Still, we would not
be put off; and the old gentleman, composing his countenance five or
six times in vain efforts to reflect, then looking as grave as if
about to proceed to prayer, raised his glass, and said--

"Peggy Perott!"

A general laugh succeeded this announcement, Peggy Perott being an old
maid who went about tending the sick for hire, in the vicinity of
Clawbonny, and known to us all as the ugliest woman in the county.

"Why do you first insist on my giving a toast, and then laugh at it
when given?" cried Mr. Hardinge, half-amused, half-serious in his
expostulations. "Peggy is an excellent woman, and one of the most
useful I know."

"I wonder, my dear sir, you did not think of adding a sentiment!"
cried I, a little pertly.

"And if I had, it would have been such a one as no woman need be
ashamed to hear attached to her name. But enough of this; I have given
Peggy Perott, and you are bound to drink her"--that we had done
already; "and now, cousin, as I have passed through the fiery
furnace--"

"Unscathed?" demanded Lucy, laughing ready to kill herself.

"Yes, unscathed, miss: and now, cousin, I ask of you to honour us with
a toast."

Mrs. Bradfort had been a widow many years, and was fortified with the
panoply of her state. Accustomed to such appeals, which, when she was
young and handsome, had been of much more frequent occurrence than of
late, she held her glass for the wine with perfect self-possession,
and gave her toast with the conscious dignity of one who had often
been solicited in vain "to change her condition."

"I will give you," she said, raising her person and her voice, as if
to invite scrutiny, "my dear old friend, good Dr. Wilson."

It was incumbent on a single person to give another who was also
single; and the widow had been true to the usage; but "good
Dr. Wilson" was a half-superannuated clergyman, whom no one could
suspect of inspiring anything beyond friendship.

"Dear me--dear me!" cried Mr. Hardinge, earnestly; "how much more
thoughtful, Mrs. Bradfort, you are than myself! Had I thought a
moment, _I_ might have given the Doctor; for I studied with him,
and honour him vastly."

This touch of simplicity produced another laugh--how easily we all
laughed that night!--and it caused a little more confusion in the
excellent divine. Mrs. Bradfort then called on me, as was her right;
but I begged that Rupert might precede me, he knowing more persons,
and being now a sort of man of the world.

"I will give the charming Miss Winthrop," said Rupert, without a
moment's hesitation, tossing off his glass with an air that said, "how
do you like _that?_"

As Winthrop was a highly respectable name, it denoted the set in which
Rupert moved; and as for the young lady I dare say she merited his
eulogium, though I never happened to see her. It was something,
however, in 1802, for a youngster to dare to toast a Winthrop, or a
Morris, or a Livingston, or a de Lancey, or a Stuyvesant, or a
Beekman, or a Van Renssellaer, or a Schuyler, or a Rutherford, or a
Bayard, or a Watts, or a Van Cortlandt, or a Verplanck, or a Jones, or
a Walton, or any of that set. They, and twenty similar families,
composed the remnant of the colonial aristocracy, and still made head,
within the limits of Manhattan, against the inroads of the
Van--something elses. Alas! alas! how changed is all this, though I
am obliged to believe it is all for the best.

"Do _you_ know Miss Winthrop?" I asked of Grace, in a whisper.

"Not at all; I am not much in that set," she answered,
quietly. "Rupert and Lucy have been noticed by many persons whom I do
not know."

This was the first intimation I got, that my sister did not possess
all the advantages in society that were enjoyed by her friend. As is
always the case where it is believed to be our _loss_, I felt
indignant at first; had it been the reverse, I dare say I should have
fancied it all very right. Consequences grew out of these distinctions
which I could not then foresee, but which will be related in their
place. Rupert now called on Grace for her toast, a lady commonly
succeeding a gentleman. My sister did not seem in the least
disconcerted: but, after a moment's hesitation, she said--

"Mr. Edward Marston."

This was a strange name to me, but I afterwards ascertained it
belonged to a respectable young man who visited Mrs. Bradfort's, and
who stood very well with all his acquaintances. I looked at Rupert, to
note the effect; but Rupert was as calm as Grace herself had been,
when he gave Miss Winthrop.

"I believe I have no one to call upon but you, Miles," said Grace,
smiling.

"Me! Why, you all know I am not acquainted with a soul. Our Ulster
county girls have almost all gone out of my recollection; besides, no
one would know them here, should I mention twenty."

"You strangely forget, brother, that most of us are Ulster county
folk. Try if you can recall no young lady--"

"Oh! easily enough, for that matter; a young fellow can hardly have
lived nine months in the same cabin with Emily, and not think of her,
when hard pushed; I will give you, Miss Emily Merton."

The toast was drunk, and I thought Mr. Hardinge looked thoughtful,
like one who had a guardian's cares, and that Grace was even grave. I
did not dare look at Lucy, though I could have toasted her all night,
had it been in rule to drink a person who was present. We began to
chat again, and I had answered some eight or ten questions, when Mrs.
Bradfort, much too precise to make any omissions, reminded us that we
had not yet been honoured with Miss Lucy Hardinge's toast. Lucy had
enjoyed plenty of time to reflect; and she bowed, paused a moment as
if to summon resolution, and then mentioned--

"Mr. Andrew Drewett."

So, then, Lucy Hardinge toasted this Mr. Drewett--the very youth with
whom she had been in such animated discourse, when I first met the
party! Had I been more familiar with the world, I should have thought
nothing of a thing that was so common; or, did I understand human
nature better, I might have known that no sensitive and delicate woman
would betray a secret that was dear to her, under so idle a form. But
I was young, and ready myself to toast the girl I preferred before the
universe; and I could not make suitable allowances for difference of
sex and temperament. Lucy's toast made me very uncomfortable for the
rest of the evening; and I was not sorry when Rupert reminded me that
it was eleven, and that he would go with me to a tavern, in order to
look for a room.

The next morning was passed in transacting the business of the ship. I
found myself much noticed among the merchants and ship-masters; and
one of my owners took me on 'Change, that I might see and be seen. As
the papers had spoken of the recapture of the Crisis, on the arrival
of the Pretty Poll, and had now each an article on the arrival of the
ship, I had every reason to be satisfied with my reception. There are
men so strong in principle, as well as intellect, I do suppose, that
they can be content with the approbation of their own consciences, and
who can smile at the praises or censure of the world, alike; but I
confess to a strong sympathy with the commendation of my
fellow-creatures, and as strong a distaste for their disapprobation. I
know this is not the way to make a very great man; for he who cannot
judge, feel and act for himself, will always he in danger of making
undue sacrifices to the wishes of others; but you can have no more of
a cat than the skin; and I was sufficiently proud at finding myself a
miniature hero, about the lower end of Wall-street, and in the columns
of the newspapers. As for these last, no one can complain of their
zeal in extolling everything national. To believe them, the country
never was wrong, or defeated, or in a condition to be defeated, except
when a political opponent could be made to suffer by an opposite
theory; and then nothing was ever right. As to fame, I have since
discovered they consider that of each individual to be public
property, in which each American has a part and parcel--the editors,
themselves, more than the man who has thrown the article into the
common lot. But I was young in 1802, and even a paragraph in my praise
in a newspaper had a certain charm for me, that I will not deny. Then
I _had_ done well, as even my enemies, if I had any must have
admitted.

CHAPTER XXII.

"Ships are but boards, sailors but men: there be land-rats, and
water-rats, water-thieves, and land-thieves; I mean pirates; and
then, there is the peril of waters, winds and rocks: the man is,
notwithstanding, sufficient;--three thousand ducats;--I think I may
take his bond."--_Shylock_.

I saw Grace, and Lucy, and Rupert, and good Mr. Hardinge, every day;
but I could not find time to call on the Mertons, until near the close
of a week. I then paid them a visit, and found them glad to see me,
but not at all in want of my attentions to make them comfortable. The
Major had exhibited his claims to the British consul, who happened to
be a native Manhattanese, and was well-connected, a circumstance that
then gave him an influence in society, that his commission alone would
not have conferred. Colonel Barclay, for so was this gentleman
called, had taken the Mertons by the hand, as a matter of course; and
his example being followed by others, I found that they were already
in the best circle of the place. Emily mentioned to me the names of
several of those with whom she had exchanged visits; and I knew at
once, through Lucy's and Grace's conversation, and from my own general
knowledge of the traditions of the colony and state, that they were
among the leading people of the land, socially if not politically; a
class altogether above any with whom I had myself ever associated.
Now, I knew that the master of a merchantman, whatever might be his
standing with his owner, or consignee, or the credit he had gained
among his fellows, was not likely to get admission into this set; and
there was the comfortable prospect before me, of having my own sister
and the two other girls I admired most and loved best in the
world--next to Grace, of course--visiting round in houses, of which
the doors were shut against myself. This is always unpleasant, but in
my case it turned out to be more.

When I told Emily that Grace and Lucy were in town, and intended
coming to see her that very morning, I thought she manifested less
curiosity than would have been the case a month before.

"Is Miss Hardinge a relative of Mr. Rupert Hardinge, the gentleman to
whom I was introduced at dinner, yesterday," she demanded, after
expressing the pleasure it would give her to see the ladies.

I knew that Rupert had dined out the day before, and, there being no
one else of the same name, I answered in the affirmative.

"He is the son of a respectable clergyman, and of very good
connections, I hear."

"The Hardinges are so considered among us; both Rupert's father and
grandfather were clergymen, and his great-grandfather was a seaman--I
trust _you_ will think none the worse of him, for that."

"A sailor! I had supposed, from what some of those present said--that
is, I did not know it."

"Perhaps they told you that his great-grandfather was a _British
officer?_"

Emily coloured, and then she laughed faintly; admitting, however, that
I had guessed right.

"Well, all this was true," I added, "though he was a sailor. Old
Captain Hardinge--or Commodore Hardinge, as he used to be called, for
he once commanded a squadron--was in the English navy."

"Oh! that sort of a sailor!"--cried Emily, quickly--"I did not know
that it was usual to call gentlemen in the navy, seamen."

"They would make a poor figure if they were not, Miss Merton--you
might as well say that a judge is no lawyer."

This was enough, however, to satisfy me that Miss Merton no longer
considered the master of the Crisis the first man in the world.

A ring announced the arrival of the two girls. They were shown up, and
I soon had the satisfaction of seeing these three charming young women
together. Emily received her two guests very courteously, and was
frank--nay warm--in the expression of her gratitude for all that I
had done for herself and her father. She even went back so far as to
speak of the occurrence in the Park, at London, and was gracious
enough to declare that she and her parents owed their lives to my
interference. All this gave her listeners great pleasure, for I
believe neither ever tired of hearing my praises. After this opening,
the conversation turned on New York, its gaieties, and the different
persons known to them mutually. I saw that the two girls were struck
with the set Miss Merton was in, which was a shade superior even to
that of Mrs. Bradfort's, though the fusion which usually accompanies
that sort of thing, brought portions of each circle within the
knowledge of the other. As the persons named were utter strangers to
me, I had nothing to say, and sat listening in silence. The
opportunity was improved by comparing the girls with each other.

In delicacy of appearance, Grace and Lucy each had the advantage of
the English beauty. Their hands and feet were smaller, their waists
finer, and their _tournures_, generally, I thought the most
pleasing. Emily had the advantage in complexion, though her colour had
less fineness and delicacy. Perhaps her teeth were the most
brilliant; though Grace and Lucy, particularly the latter, had very
fine teeth. The English girl's shoulders and bust, generally, would
have been more admired than those of most American--particularly than
most New York--girls; but it was not possible to surpass those of
Lucy. As a whole, Emily's countenance had the most spirit, Lucy's the
most finesse and feeling. I make no comparison with the expression of
Grace's countenance, which was altogether too remarkable for its
intellectual character, to be included in anything like a national
classification. I remember I thought, as they sat there in a row
conversing frankly and cheerfully together, Lucy the handsomest, in
her pretty neat morning-dress; while I had my doubts whether Emily
would not have extorted the most applause in a ball-room. This
distinction is mentioned, because I believe it national.

The visit lasted an hour; for I had expressed a wish to all parties
that they would become acquainted, and the girls seemed mutually
pleased. As they chatted, I listened to the tones of their voices, and
fancied, on the whole, that Emily had slightly the advantage in
intonation and accent; though it was scarcely perceptible, and it was
an advantage that was attended by a slight sacrifice of the charm of
natural utterance. She was a little more artificial in this respect
than her companions, and insomuch less pleasing though, had the
comparison been made with the Manhattan _style_ of the present
day, the odds would have been immensely in her favour. In 1802,
however, some attention was still paid to the utterance, tones of
voice, and manner of speaking of young ladies. The want of it all,
just now, is the besetting vice of the whole of our later instruction
of the sex; it being almost as rare a thing now-a-days, to find a
young American girl who speaks her own language gracefully, as it is
to find one who is not of pleasing person.

When the young ladies parted, it was with an understanding that they
were soon to meet again. I shook hands with Emily, English fashion,
and took my leave at the same time.

"Well, Miles," said Grace, as soon as we were in the street, "you have
certainly been of service to a very charming young woman--I like her,
excessively."

"And you, Lucy--I hope you agree with Grace, in thinking my friend,
Emily Merton, a charming young woman."

Lucy did not speak as frankly, or as decidedly as Grace, so far as
manner was concerned; though she coincided in words.

"I am of the same opinion," she said, in a tone that was far less
cheerful than her usually very cheerful manner. "She is one of the
loveliest creatures I ever saw--and it is no wonder--"

"What is no wonder, dear?" asked Grace, observing that her friend
hesitated to proceed.

"Oh! I was about to say something silly, and had better not finish the
speech. But, what a finished manner Miss Merton possesses;--do you not
think so, Grace?"

"I wish she had a little less of it, dear; that is precisely what I
should find fault with in her deportment. It _is_ manner; and,
though we all must have some, it strikes me it ought not to be seen. I
think all the Europeans we saw in town, last winter, Lucy, had more or
less of this manner."

"I dare say it would seem so to _us_; notwithstanding, it may be
very agreeable to those who are used to it--a thing to miss, when one
gets much accustomed to it."

As Lucy made this remark, I detected a furtive and timid glance at
myself. I was mystified at the time, and was actually so silly as to
think the dear girl was talking at me, and to feel a little
resentment. I fancied she wished to say, "There, Master Miles, you
have been in London, and on a desert island in the South Seas--the
very extremes of human habits--and have got to be so sophisticated, so
very un-Clawbonnyish, as to feel the necessity of a _manner_, in
the young ladies with whom you associate." The notion nettled me to a
degree that induced me to pretend duty, and to hurry down to the
ship. Whom should I meet, in Rector Street, but Mr. Hardinge, who had
been across to the Hudson in search of me.

"Come hither, Miles," said the excellent old man, "I wish to converse
with you seriously."

As Lucy was uppermost in my thoughts at the moment, I said to
myself--"What can the dear old gentleman have to say, now?"

"I hear from all quarters the best accounts of you, my dear boy,"
Mr. Hardinge continued, "and I am told you make a very superior
seaman. It is a feather in your cap, indeed, to have commanded an
Indiaman a twelve-month before you are of age. I have been conversing
with my old friend John Murray, of the house of John Murray and Sons,
one of the very best merchants in America, and he says 'push the boy
ahead, when you find the right stuff in him. Get him a ship of his
own, and that will put him on the true track. Teach him early to have
an eye to his own interests, and it will make a man of him, at once.'
I have thought the matter over, have had a vessel in my eye, for the
last month, and will purchase her at once, if you like the plan."

"But, have I money enough for such a thing, my dear sir--after having
sailed in the John, and the Tigris, and the Crisis, I should not like
to take up with any of your B's, No. 2."

"You have forgotten to mention the 'Pretty Poll,' Miles," said the
divine, smiling. "Be under no fear, however, for your dignity; the
vessel I have in treaty, is all you could wish, they tell me, having
made but one voyage, and is sold on account of the death of her
owner. As for money, you will remember I have thirteen thousand
dollars of your income invested in stocks, and stocks that cost but
ten. The peace has brought everything up, and you are making money,
right and left. How have your own pay and private venture turned out?"

"Perfectly well, sir. I am near three thousand dollars in pocket, and
shall have no need to call on you, for my personal wants. Then I have
my prize-money to touch. Even Neb, wages and prize-money, brings me
nine hundred dollars. With your permission, sir, I should like to give
the fellow his freedom."

"Wait till you are of age, Miles, and then you can do as you please. I
hold four thousand dollars of your invested money, which has been paid
in, and I have placed it in stocks. Altogether, I find we can muster,
in solid cash, more than twenty thousand dollars, while the price of
the ship, as she stands, almost ready for sea, is only fifteen. Now,
go and look at the vessel; if you like her, I will close the bargain
at once."

"But, my dear Mr. Hardinge, do you think yourself exactly qualified to
judge of the value of a ship?"

"Poh! poh! don't imagine I am so conceited as to purchase on my own
knowledge. I have taken some of the very best advice of the
city. There is John Murray, to begin with--a great ship-holder,
himself--and Archibald Gracie, and William Bayard--all capital judges,
have taken an interest in the affair. Three others of my friends have
walked round to look at the vessel, and all approve--not a dissenting
voice."

"May I ask, sir, who have seen her, besides the gentlemen you have
named? they, I admit, are, indeed, good judges."

"Why?--why--yes--do you happen to know anything of Dr. Benjamin Moore,
now, Miles?"

"Never heard of him, sir, in my life; but a physician can be no great
judge of a ship."

"No more of a physician than yourself, boy--Dr. Benjamin Moore, the
gentleman we elected Bishop, while you were absent--"

"Oh! he you wished to toast, instead of Miss Peggy Perott--" cried I,
smiling. "Well, what does the Bishop think of her--if he approve, she
_must_ be orthodox."

"He says she is the handsomest vessel he ever laid eyes on, Miles; and
let me tell you, the favourable opinion of so good a man as Dr. Moore,
is of value, even though it be about a ship."

I could not avoid laughing, and I dare say most of the readers will
also, at this touch of simplicity; and yet, why should not a Bishop
know as much of ships, as a set of ignoramuses who never read a
theological book in their lives, some of them not even the Bible,
should know about Bishops? The circumstance was not a tittle more
absurd than many that are occurring daily before our eyes, and to
which, purely from habit, we submit, very much as a matter of course.

"Well, sir," I replied, as soon as I could, "I will look at the ship,
get her character, and give you an answer at once. I like the idea,
for it is pleasant to be one's own master."

In that day, $15,000 would buy a very excellent ship, as ships
went. The vessel I was taken to see, was coppered and copper-fastened,
butt-bolted, and she measured just five hundred tons. She had a great
reputation as a sailer, and what was thought a good deal of in 1802,
was Philadelphia built. She had been one voyage to China, and was
little more than a year old, or the best possible age for a
vessel. Her name was the "Dawn," and she carried an "Aurora" for her
figure-head. Whether she were, or were not inclined to Puseyism, I
never could ascertain, although I can affirm she had the services of
the Protestant Episcopal Catholic Church read on board her afterwards,
on more than one occasion.

The result of my examination and inquiries was favourable, and, by the
end of the week, the Dawn was purchased. The owners of the Crisis
were pleased to express their regrets, for they had intended that I
should continue in the command of their vessel, but no one could
object to a man's wishing to sail in his own employment. I made this
important acquisition, at what was probably the most auspicious moment
of American navigation. It is a proof of this, that, the very day I
was put in possession of the ship, good freights were offered to no
less than four different parts of the world. I had my choice between
Holland, France, England, and China. After consulting with my
guardian, I accepted that to France, which not only paid the best, but
I was desirous of seeing more of the world than had yet fallen to my
share. I could make a voyage to Bordeaux and back in five months, and
by the end of that time I should be of age, and consequently my own
master. As I intended to have great doings at Clawbonny on that
occasion, I thought it might be well not to go too far from
home. Accordingly, after shipping Talcott and the Philadelphian, whose
name was Walton, for my mates, we began to take in cargo, as soon as
possible.

In the meantime, I bethought me of a visit to the paternal home. It
was a season of the year, when most people, who were anybodies, left
town, and the villas along the shores of the Hudson had long been
occupied. Mr. Hardinge, too, pined for the country and his flock. The
girls had had enough of town, which was getting to be very dull, and
everybody, Rupert excepted, seemed anxious to go up the river. I had
invited the Mertons to pass part of the summer at the farm, moreover,
and it was time the invitation should be renewed, for the Major's
physicians had advised him to choose some cooler residence than the
streets of a hot close town could furnish, during the summer
months. Emily had been so much engrossed with the set into which she
had fallen, since her landing, and which it was easy for me to see was
altogether superior to that in which she had lived at home, that I was
surprised at the readiness with which she urged her father to redeem
his promise.

"Mr. Hardinge tells me, sir, that Clawbonny is really a pretty spot,"
she said, "and the country around it is thought to be very
healthy. You cannot get answers from home (she meant England) for
several months, and I know Captain Wallingford will be happy to
receive us. Besides, we are pledged to accept this additional favour
from him."

I thought Major Merton felt some of my own surprise at Emily's
earnestness and manner, but his resistance was very feeble. The old
gentleman's health, indeed, was pretty thoroughly undermined, and I
began to have serious doubts of his living even to return to
Europe. He had some relatives in Boston, and had opened a
correspondence with them, and I had thought, more than once, of the
expediency of apprising them of his situation. At present however
nothing better could be done than to get him into the country.

Having made all the arrangements with the others, I went to persuade
Rupert to be of the party, for I thought it would make both Grace and
Lucy so much the happier.

"Miles, my dear fellow," said the young student, gaping, "Clawbonny is
certainly a capitalish place, but, you will admit it is somewhat
stupid after New York. My good kinswoman, Mrs. Bradfort, has taken
such a fancy to us all, and has made me so comfortable--would you
believe it, boy, she has actually given me six hundred a year, for the
last two years, besides making Lucy presents fit for a queen. A
sterling woman is she, this cousin Margaret of ours!"

I heard this, truly, not without surprise; for, in settling with my
owners, I found Rupert had drawn every cent to which he was entitled,
under the orders I had left when I last went to sea.

As Mrs. Bradfort was more than at her ease, however, had no nearer
relative than Mr. Hardinge, and was much attached to the family, I had
no difficulty in believing it true, so far as the lady's liberality
was concerned. I heartily wished Rupert had possessed more
self-respect; but he was, as he was!

"I am sorry you cannot go with us," I answered, "for I counted on you
to help amuse the Mertons--"

"The Mertons!--Why, surely, they are not going to pass the summer at
Clawbonny!"

"They quit town with us, to-morrow. Why should not the Mertons pass
the summer at Clawbonny?"

"Why, Miles, my dear boy, you know how it is with the world--how it is
with these English, in particular. They think everything of rank, you
know, and are devotees of style and appearance, and all that sort of
thing, you know, as no one understands better than myself; for I pass
most of my time in the English set, you know."

I did not _then_ understand what had come over Rupert, though it
is all plain enough to me, _now_. He had, truly enough, got into
what was then called the English set. Now, there is no question, that,
so far as the natives, themselves, were concerned, this was as good a
set as ever existed in his country; and, it is also beyond all cavil,
that many respectable English persons, of both sexes, were
occasionally found in it; but, it had this great defect:--_every_
Englishman who wore a good coat, and had any of the slang of society,
made his way into the outskirts, at least, of this set; and Rupert,
whose own position was not yet thoroughly confirmed, had fallen a
great deal into the association of these accidental comers and
goers. They talked large, drank deep, and had a lofty disdain for
everything in the country, though it was very certain they were just
then in much better company where they were, than they had ever been
at home. Like most tyroes, Rupert fancied these blustering gentry
persons to imitate; and, as they seldom conversed ten minutes without
having something to say of my Lord A----or Sir John B----, persons
they had _read_ of, or seen in the streets, he was weak enough to
imagine they knew all about the dignitaries of the British Empire. As
Rupert was really a gentleman, and had good manners naturally, it was
a grievous thing to see him fashioning himself anew, as it might be,
on such very questionable models,

"Clawbonny is not a stylish place, I am ready to allow," I answered,
after a moment of hesitation; "still it is respectable. There is a
good farm, a valuable mill, and a good, old, comfortable, straggling,
stone house."

"Very true, Miles, my dear fellow, and all as dear to me, you know, as
the apple of my eye--but _farmish_--young ladies like the good
things that comes from farms, but do not admire the homeliness of the
residence. I speak of young English ladies, in particular. Now, you
see, Major Merton is a field-officer, and that is having good rank in
a respectable profession, you know--I suppose you understand, Miles,
that the king puts most of his sons into the army, or navy--all this
makes a difference, you understand?"

"I understand nothing about it; what is it to me where the king of
England puts his sons?"

"I wish, my dear Miles, if the truth must be said, that you and I had
been a little less boyish, when we were boys, than happened to be the
case. It would have been all the better for us both."

"Well, I wish no such thing. A boy should be a boy, and a man a man. I
am content to have been a boy, while I was a boy. It is a fault in
this country, that boys fancy themselves men too soon."

"Ah! my dear fellow, you _will_ not, or _do_ not understand
me. What I mean is, that we were both precipitate in the choice of a
profession--I retired in time, but you persevere; that is all."

"You did retire in season, my lad, if truth is what you are after;
for, had you staid a hundred years on board ship, you never would have
made a sailor."

When I said this, I fancied I had uttered a pretty severe
thing. Rupert took it so coolly, however, as to satisfy me at once,
that he thought differently on the subject.

"Clearly, it is not my vocation. Nature intended me for something
better, I trust, and I mistook a boyish inclination for a taste. A
little experience taught me better, and I am now where I feel I ought
to be. I wish, Miles, you had come to the study of the law, at the
time you went to sea. You would have been, by this time, at the bar,
and would have had a definite position in society."

"I am very glad I did not. What the deuce should I have done as a
lawyer--or what advantage would it have been to me, to be admitted to
the bar?"

"Advantage!--Why, my dear fellow, every advantage in the world. You
know how it is, in this country, I suppose, in the way of society, my
dear Miles?"

"Not I--and, by the little I glean from the manner you sheer about in
your discourse, I wish to know nothing. Do young men study law merely
to be genteel?"

"Do not despise knowledge, my boy; it is of use, even in trifles. Now,
in this country, you know, we have very few men of mere leisure--heirs
of estates, to live on their incomes, as is done in Europe; but,
nine-tenths of us must follow professions, of which there are only
half-a-dozen suitable for a gentleman. The army and navy are nothing,
you know; two or three regiments scattered about in the woods, and
half-a-dozen vessels. After these, there remain the three learned
professions, divinity, law and physic. In our family, divinity has run
out, I fear. As for physic, 'throw physic to the dogs,' as Miss Merton
says--"

"Who?" I exclaimed, in surprise. "'Throw physic to the dogs'--why that
is Shakspeare, man!"

"I know it, and it is Miss Emily Merlon's, too. You have made us
acquainted with a charming creature, at least, Miles, by this going to
sea. Her notions on such subjects are as accurate as a sun-dial."

"And, has Miss Emily Merton ever conversed with you, on the subject of
_my_ profession, Rupert?"

"Indeed, she has; and regretted it, again and again. You know as well
as I do, Miles, to be a sailor, other than in a navy, is not a
_genteel_ profession!"

I broke out into a fit of laughter, at this remark. It struck me as
infinitely droll, and as somewhat silly. I knew my precise position in
society, perfectly; had none of the silly swaggering about personal
merit, and of "one man's being as good as another," that has since got
into such general use among us; and understood perfectly the useful
and unavoidable classifications that take place in all civilized
communities, and which, while they are attended by certain
disadvantages as exceptions, produce great benefits as a whole, and
was not disposed at all to exaggerate my claims, or to deny my
deficiencies. But, the idea of attaching any considerations of
_gentility_ to my noble, manly, daring profession, sounded so
absurd, I could not avoid laughing. In a few moments, however, I
became grave.

"Harkee, Rupert," said I: "I trust Miss Merton does not think I
endeavoured to mislead her as to my true position, or to make her
think I was a greater personage than I truly am?"

"I'll not answer for that. When we were first acquainted, I found she
had certain notions about Clawbonny, and your _estate_, and all
that, which were rather English, you know. Now, in England an
_estate_ gives a man a certain consideration, whereas land is so
plenty with us, that we think nothing of the man who happens to own a
little of it. _Stock_, in America, as it is so much nearer
ready-money, is a better thing than land, you know."

How true was this, even ten years since; how false is it to-day! The
proprietor of tens of thousands of acres, was, indeed, under the
paper-money _regime_, a less important man than the owner of a
handful of scrip, which has had all its value squeezed out of it,
little by little. That was truly the age when the representative of
property was of far more importance than the property itself; and all
because the country existed in a fever, that set everything in motion.
We shall see just such times, again, I fear.

"But what had Emily Merton to do with all this?"

"Miss Merton? Oh! she is English, you know, and felt as English
persons always do, at the sound of acres. I set it all right, however,
and you need be under no concern."

"The devil you did! And, pray, in what manner was this done?
_How_ was the matter set right?"

Rupert took the segar from his mouth, suffered the smoke to issue, by
a small, deliberate jet, cocking his nose up at the same time as if
observing the stars, and then deigned to give me an answer. Your
smokers have such a disdainful, ultra-philosophical manner, sometimes!

"Why, just in this way, my fine fellow. I told her Clawbonny was a
_farm_, and not an _estate_, you know; that did a good deal,
of itself. Then, I entered into an explanation of the consideration of
farmers in this country, you know, and made it all as plain as A B
C. She is a quick girl, is Emily, and takes a thing remarkably soon."

"Did Miss Merton say anything to induce you to suppose she thought the
less of me, for these explanations."

"Of course not--she values you, amazingly--quite worships you, _as a
sailor_--thinks you a sort of merchant-captain Nelson, or Blake,
or Truxtun, and all that sort of thing. All young ladies, however, are
exceedingly particular about professions, I suppose you know, Miles,
as well as I do myself."

"What, Lucy, Rupert?--Do you imagine Lucy cares a straw about my not
being a lawyer, for instance?"

"Do I?--out of all question. Don't you remember how the girls
wept--Grace as well as Lucy--when we went to sea, boy. It was all on
account of the _un_gentility of the profession, if a fellow can
use such a word."

I did not believe this, for I knew Grace better, to say the least; and
thought I understood Lucy sufficiently, at that time, to know she wept
because she was sorry to see me go away. Still, Lucy had grown from a
very young girl, since I sailed in the Crisis, into a young woman, and
might view things differently, now, from what she had done three years
before. I had not time, however, for further discussion at that
moment, and I cut the matter short.

"Well, Rupert, what am I to expect?" I asked; "Clawbonny, or no
Clawbonny?"

"Why, now you say the Mertons are to be of the party I suppose I shall
have to go; it would be inhospitable else. I do wish, Miles, you
would manage to establish visiting relations with some of the families
on the other side of the river. There are plenty of respectable people
within a few hours' sail of Clawbonny."

"My father, and my grandfather, and my great-grand-father, managed, as
you call it, to get along, for the last hundred years, well enough on
the west side; and, although we are not quite as genteel as the
_east_, we will do well enough. The Wallingford sails early in
the morning, to save the tide; and I hope your lordship will turn out
in season, and not keep us waiting. If you do, I shall be
_ungenteel_ enough to leave you behind."

I left Rupert with a feeling in which disgust and anger were
blended. I wish to be understood, more particularly as I know I am
writing for a stiff-necked generation. I never was guilty of the
weakness of decrying a thing because I did not happen to possess it
myself. I knew my own place in the social scale perfectly; nor was I,
as I have just said, in the least inclined to fancy that one man was
as good as another. I knew very well that this was not true, either in
nature or in the social relations; in political axioms, any more than
in political truths. At the same time, I did not believe nature had
created men unequal, in the order of primogeniture from male to
male. Keeping in view all the facts, I was perfectly disposed to admit
that habits, education, association, and sometimes chance and caprice,
drew distinctions that produced great benefits, as a whole; in some
small degree qualified, perhaps, by cases of individual injustice.
This last exception, however, being applicable to all things human, it
had no influence on my opinions, which were sound and healthful on all
these points; practical, common-sense-like, and in conformity with the
decisions of the world from the time of Moses down to our own, or, I
dare say, of Adam himself, if the truth could be known; and, as I have
said more than once in these rambling memoir's, I was not disposed to
take a false view of my own social position. I belonged, at most, to
the class of small proprietors, as they existed in the last century,
and filled a very useful and respectable niche between the yeoman and
gentleman, considering the last strictly in reference to the upper
class of that day. Now, it struck me that Emily Merton, with her
English notions, might very well draw the distinctions Rupert had
mentioned; nor am I conscious of having cared much about it, though
she did. If I were a less important person on _terra firma_, with
all the usages and notions of ordinary society producing their
influence, than I had been when in command of the Crisis, in the
centre of the Pacific, so was Miss Merton a less important young lady,
in the midst of the beauty of New York, than she had been in the
isolation of Marble Land. This I could feel very distinctly. But
Lucy's supposed defection did more than annoy me. I felt humbled,
mortified, grieved. I had always known that Lucy was better connected
than I was myself, and I had ever given Rupert and her the benefit of
this advantage, as some offset to my own and Grace's larger means; but
it had never struck me that either the brother or sister would be
disposed to look down upon us in consequence. The world is
everywhere--and America, on account of its social vicissitudes, more
than most other countries--constantly exhibiting pictures of the
struggles between fallen consequence and rising wealth. The last may,
and does have the best of it, in the mere physical part of the strife;
but in the more moral, if such a word can be used, the quiet
ascendency of better manners and ancient recollections is very apt to
overshadow the fussy pretensions of the vulgar aspirant, who places
his claims altogether on the all-mighty dollar. It is vain to deny it;
men ever have done it, and probably ever will defer to the past, in
matters of this sort--it being much with us, in this particular, as it
is with our own lives, which have had all their greatest enjoyments in
bygone days. I knew all this--felt all this--and was greatly afraid
that Lucy, through Mrs. Bradfort's influence, and her town
associations, might have learned to regard me as Captain Wallingford,
of the merchant-service, and the son of another Captain Wallingford of
the same line in life. I determined, therefore, to watch her with
jealous attention, during the few days I was to remain at Clawbonny.
With such generous intentions, the reader is not to be surprised if I
found some of that for which I so earnestly sought--people being very
apt to find precisely the thing for which they look, when it is not
lost money.

The next morning we were all punctual, and sailed at the proper
hour. The Mertons seemed pleased with the river, and, having a fresh
southerly wind in our favour, with a strong flood-tide, we actually
landed at the mill the same afternoon. Everything is apt to be
agreeable when the traveller gets on famously; and I thought I never
saw Emily in better spirits than she was when we first reached the top
of the ascent that lies above the landing. I had given her my arm, as
due to hospitality, while the others got up as they could; for I
observed that Rupert assisted no one. As for Lucy, I was still too
much vexed with her, and had been so all day, to be as civil as I
ought. We were soon at a point that commanded a view of the house,
meadows, orchards and fields.

"This, then, is Clawbonny!" exclaimed Emily, as soon as I pointed out
the place to her. "Upon my word, a very pretty farm, Captain
Wallingford. Even prettier than you represented it to be, Mr. Rupert
Hardinge."

"Oh! I always do justice to everything of Wallingford's, you know. We
were children together, and became so much attached in early life,
that it's no wonder we remain so in these our later days."

Rupert was probably nearer the truth than he imagined, when he made
this speech; my regard for him, by this time, being pretty much
reduced to habit; and certainly it had no increase from any fresh
supplies of respect. I began to hope he might not marry Grace, though
I had formerly looked forward to the connection as a settled
thing. "Let him get Miss Merton, if he can," I said to myself: "it
will be no great acquisition, I fancy, to either side."

How different was it with his father, and, I may add, with Lucy! The
old gentleman turned to me, with tears in his eyes; pointed to the
dear old house, with a look of delight; and then took my arm, without
reference to the wants of Miss Merton, and led me on, conversing
earnestly of my affairs, and of his own stewardship. Lucy had her
father's arm, on the other side; and the good divine was too much
accustomed to her, to mind the presence of his daughter. Away we
three went, therefore, leading the way, while Rupert took charge of
Emily and Grace. Major Merton followed, leaning on his own man.

"It is a lovely--it is a lovely spot, Miles," said Mr. Hardinge; "and
I do most sincerely hope you will never think of tearing down that
respectable-looking, comfortable, substantial, good old-fashioned
house, to build a new one."

"Why should I, dear sir? The house, with an occasional addition, all
built in the same style, has served us a century, and may very well
serve another. Why should I wish for more, or a better house?"

"Why, sure enough? But, now you are a sort of a merchant, you may grow
rich, and wish to be the proprietor of a _seat_."

The time had been, when such thoughts often crossed my mind; but I
cared less for them, then. To own a _seat_, was the great object
of my ambition in boyhood; but the thought had weakened by time and
reflection.

"What does Lucy think of the matter? Do I want, or indeed deserve, a
better house?"

"I shall not answer either question," replied the dear girl, a little
saucily, I thought. "I do not understand your wants, and do not choose
to speak of your deservings. But I fancy the question will be settled
by a certain Mrs. Wallingford, one of these days. Clever women
generally determine these things for their husbands."

I endeavoured to catch Lucy's eye, when this was said, by leaning a
little forward myself; but the girl turned her head in such a manner
as prevented my seeing her face. The remark was not lost on
Mr. Hardinge, however, who took it up with warmth, and all the
interest of a most pure and disinterested affection.

"I suppose you _will_ think of marrying one of these days,
Miles," he said; "but, on no account, marry a woman who will desert
Clawbonny, or who would wish materially to alter it. No good-hearted
woman, indeed--no _true_-hearted woman--would ever dream of
either. Dear me! dear me! the happy days and the sorrowful days--the
gracious mercies of Providence, and the chastening afflictions--that I
myself have seen, and felt, and witnessed, under these same roofs!"

This was followed by a sort of enumeration of the events of the last
forty years, including passages in the lives of all who had dwelt at
the farm; the whole concluding with the divine's solemnly
repeating--"No, no! Miles; do not think, even, of marrying a woman who
would wish you to desert, or materially alter, Clawbonny."

CHAPTER XXIII.

"If thou be'st rated by thy estimation,
Thou dost deserve enough; and yet enough
May not extend so far as to the lady."
_Merchant of Venice_.

Next morning, I was early afoot, and I found Grace as much alive to
the charms of home, as I was myself. She put on a gypsy, and
accompanied me into the garden, where to my surprise, I found Lucy. It
looked like old times to be in that spot, again, with those two dear
girls. Rupert alone was wanting to complete the picture; but, I had
an intimate conviction that Rupert, as he had been at least, could
never come within the setting of the family group again. I was
rejoiced, however, to see Lucy, and more so, just where I found her,
and I believe told her as much with my eyes. The charming girl looked
happier than she had appeared the day before, or for many previous
days indeed, and I felt less apprehension than of late, concerning her
having met with any agreeable youth of a more _genteel_
profession than that of a merchant-captain.

"I did not expect to find you here, Miss Lucy," cried Grace, "eating
half-ripe currants, too, or my eyes deceive me, at this early hour in
the morning. It is not twenty minutes since you were in your own room,
quite unadorned."

"The green fruit of dear Clawbonny is better than the ripe fruit of
those vile New York markets!" exclaimed Lucy, with a fervour so
natural as to forbid any suspicion of acting. "I should prefer a
Clawbonny potatoe, to a New York peach!"

Grace smiled, and, as soon as Lucy's animation had a little subsided,
_she_ blushed.

"How much better would it be, Miles," my sister resumed, "could you be
induced to think and feel with us, and quit the seas, to come and live
for the rest of your days on the spot where your fathers have so long
lived before you. Would it not, Lucy?"

"Miles will never do _that_," Lucy answered, with emphasis. "Men
are not like us females who love everything we love at all, with our
whole hearts. Men prefer wandering about, and being shipwrecked, and
left on desert islands, to remaining quietly at home, on their own
farms. No, no; you'll never persuade Miles to do _that_."

"I am not astonished my brother thinks desert islands such pleasant
abodes, when he can find companions like Miss Merton on them."

"You will remember, sister of mine, in the first place, that Marble
Land is very far from being a desert island at all; and, in the next,
that I first found Miss Merton in Hyde Park, London; almost in the
canal, for that matter."

"I think it a little odd that Miles never told us all about this, in
his letters, at the time, Lucy. When young gentlemen drag young ladies
out of canals, their friends at home have a right to know something of
the matter."

How much unnecessary misery is inflicted by unmeaning expressions like
this. Grace spoke lightly, and probably without a second thought about
the matter; but the little she said, not only made me thoughtful and
uneasy, but it drove everything like a smile from the usually radiant
countenance of her friend. The conversation dragged; and soon after,
we returned together to the house.

I was much occupied that morning, in riding about the place with
Mr. Hardinge, and in listening to his account of his stewardship, With
the main results I was already acquainted--nay, possessed them in the
Dawn,--but the details had all to be gone over, with the most minute
accuracy. A more simple-minded being there was not on earth than
Mr. Hardinge; and, that my affairs turned out so well was the result
of the prosperous condition of the country at that day, the system my
father had adopted in his life-time, and the good qualities of the
different agents he had chosen, every one of whom remained in the
situation in which he was at the sad moment of the fatal accident at
the mill. Had matters really depended on the knowledge and management
of the most excellent divine, they would soon have been at sixes and
sevens.

"I am no believer in miracles, my dear Miles," observed my guardian,
with amusing self-complacency; "but I do think a change has been
wrought in me, to meet the emergencies of a situation, in which the
interests of two orphans have been so suddenly intrusted to my
guidance and care. God be thanked! everything prospers; your affairs,
as well as those of my dear Grace. It is wonderful, boy, how a man of
my habits has been directed in his purchases of wheat, for instance;
I, who never bought a bushel until the whole responsibility of your
mills fell upon my shoulders I take no credit to myself for it--no
credit to myself!"

"I hope the miller has not been backward, my dear sir, in giving you
all the assistance in his power."

"Morgan?--yes; he is always ready, and you know I never forget to send
him into the market to both buy and sell. Really, his advice has been
so excellent, that to me it has the appearance of being almost
miraculous--prophetic, I should say, were it not improper. We should
avoid all exaggeration in our gratitude, boy."

"Very truly, sir. And in what manner have you managed to get along so
well with the crops, on the place, itself?"

"Favoured by the same great adviser, Miles. It is really wonderful,
the crops we have had; and the judgment that has been so
providentially shown in the management of the fields, as well as of
the mills!"

"Of course, sir, old Hiram (Neb's uncle) has always been ready to give
you his aid?--Hiram has a great deal of judgment, in his way."

"No doubt--no doubt--Hiram and I have done it all, led by a
Providential counsel. Well, my boy, you ought to be satisfied with
your earthly lot; for every thing seems to prosper that belongs to
you. Of course, you will marry, one of these days, and transmit this
place to your son, as it has been received from your fathers?"

"I keep that hope in perspective, sir; or, as we sailors say, for a
sheet-anchor."

"Your hope of salvation, boy, is your sheet-anchor, I trust.
Nevertheless, we are not to be too hard on young men, and must let
them have a little romance in their compositions. Yes, yes; I trust
you will not become so much wedded to your ship, as not to think of
taking a wife, one of these days. It will be a happy hour to me, when
I can see another Mrs. Miles Wallingford at Clawbonny. She will be the
third; for I can remember your grandmother."

"Can you recommend to me a proper person to fill that honourable
station, sir?" said I, smiling to myself, and exceedingly curious to
hear the answer.

"What do you think of this Miss Merton, boy? She is handsome, and that
pleases young men; clever, and that pleases old ones; well-educated,
and that will last, when the beauty is gone; and, so far as I can
judge, amiable; and that is as necessary to a wife, as fidelity.
_Marry no woman, Miles, that is not amiable!_"

"May I ask _what_ you call amiable, sir?--And, when that question
is answered, I may venture to go so far as to inquire _whom_ you
call amiable?"

"Very sensible distinctions, and such as are entitled to fair answers;
at least the first. I do not call levity, amiability; nor mere
constitutional gaiety. Some of the seemingly most light-hearted women
I have ever known, have been anything but amiable. There must be an
unusual absence of selfishness,--a person must live less for herself,
than others--or rather, must find her own happiness in the happiness
of those she loves, to make a truly amiable woman. Heart and
principle are at the bottom of what is truly amiable; though
temperament and disposition undoubtedly contribute. As for the whom,
your own sister Grace is a truly amiable young woman. I never knew her
do anything to hurt another's feelings in my life."

"I suppose you will admit, sir, I cannot very well marry Grace?"

"I wish you could, with all my heart--yes, with all my heart! Were not
you and Grace brother and sister, I should consider myself well quit
of the responsibility of my guardianship, in seeing you man and wife."

"As that is out of the question, I am not without hopes you can
mention another who will do just as well, so far as I am concerned."

"Well, there is this Miss Merton--though I do not know her well enough
to venture absolutely on a recommendation. Now, I told Lucy, no later
than yesterday, while we were on the river, and as you were pointing
out to Miss Merton the forts in the Highlands, that I thought you
would make one of the handsomest couples in the state--and, moreover,
I told her--bless me, how this corn grows! The plants will be in
tassel in a few days, and the crop must turn out most beneficent--truly,
truly--there is a providence in all things; for, at first, I was for
putting the corn on yonder hill-side, and the potatoes here; but old
Hiram was led by some invisible agency to insist on this field for the
corn, and the hill-side for the potatoes--and, now, look, and see what
crops are in promise! Think of a nigger's blundering on such a thing?"

In 1802, even well-educated and well-intentioned clergymen had no
scruples in saying "nigger."

"But, sir, you have quite forgotten to add what else you told Lucy?"

"True--true--it is very natural that you should prefer hearing me talk
about Miss Merton, to hearing me talk about potatoes--I'll tell
_that_ to Lucy, too, you may depend on it."

"I sincerely hope you will do no such thing, my dear sir," I cried, in
no little alarm.

"Ah! that betrays guilt--consciousness, I should say; for what guilt
can there be in a virtuous love?--and rely on it, both the girls shall
know all about it. Lucy and I often talk over your matters, Miles; for
she loves you as well as your own sister. Ah! my fine fellow, you
blush at it, like a girl of sixteen! But, there is nothing to be
ashamed of, and there is no occasion for blushes."

"Well, sir, letting my blushes--the blushes of a shipmaster!--but
setting aside my blushes, for mercy's sake _what more_ did you
tell Lucy?"

"What more? Why I told her how you had been on a desert island, quite
alone as one might say, with Miss Merton, and how you had been at sea,
living in the same cabin as it were, for nine months; and it would be
wonderful--wonderful, indeed, if two so handsome young persons should
not feel an attachment for each other. Country might make some
difference, to be sure--"

"And station, sir?--What do you think would be the influence of the
difference of station, also?"

"Station!--Bless me, Miles; what difference in station is there
between you and Miss Merton; that it should cause any obstacle to your
union?"

"You know what it is, sir, as well as I do myself. She is the daughter
of an officer in the British army, and I am the master of a ship. You
will admit, I presume, Mr. Hardinge, that there is such, a thing as a
difference in station?"

"Beyond all question. It is exceedingly useful to remember it; and I
greatly fear the loose appointments of magistrates and other
functionaries, that are making round the country, will bring all our
notions on such subjects into great confusion. I can understand that
one man is as good as another in _rights_, Miles; but I cannot
understand he is any _better_, because he happens to be
uneducated, ignorant, or a blackguard."

Mr. Hardinge was a sensible man in all such distinctions, though so
simple in connection with other matters.

"You can have no difficulty, however, in understanding that, in New
York, for instance, I should not be considered the equal of Major
Merton--I mean socially, altogether, and not in personal merit, or the
claims which years give--and of course, not the equal of his
daughter?"

"Why--yes--I know what you mean, now. There may be some little
inequality in that sense, perhaps; but Clawbonny, and the ship, and
the money at use, would be very apt to strike a balance."

"I am afraid not, sir. I should have studied law, sir, had I wished to
make myself a gentleman."

"There are lots of vulgar fellows getting into the law, Miles--men who
have not half your claims to be considered gentlemen. I hope you do
not think I wished you and Rupert to study law in order to make
gentlemen of you?"

"No, sir; it was unnecessary to take that step as regards Rupert, who
was fully born in the station. Clergymen have a decided position all
over the world, I believe; and then you are extremely well connected
otherwise, Mr. Hardinge. Rupert has no occasion for such an
assistance--with me it was a little different."

"Miles--Miles--this is a strange fancy to come over a young man in
your situation--and who, I am afraid, has been the subject of envy,
only too often, to Rupert!"

"If the truth were known, Mr. Hardinge, I dare say both Rupert and
Lucy, in their secret hearts, think they possess advantages, in the
way of social station, that do not belong to Grace and myself."

Mr. Hardinge looked hurt, and I was soon sorry that I had made this
speech. Nor would I have the reader imagine that what I had said,

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