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Afloat And Ashore by James Fenimore Cooper

Part 9 out of 10

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portions that happen to escape their ears. Consequently, I desired
Marble and Talcott to follow me; and, incontinently, I led the way
into the main-top. I was obeyed, the second-mate having the watch, and
all three of us were soon seated with our legs over the top-rim, as
comfortable as so many gossips, who had just finished their last cups,
have stirred the fire, and drawn their heads together to open a
fresh-budget. Neither Sarah nor Jane could follow us, thank God!

"There, d--n 'em" said I, a little pointedly; for it was enough to
make a much more, scrupulous person swear, "we've got the length of
the main-rigging between us, and I do not think they'll venture into
the top, this fine morning, in order to overhear what shall be
said. It would puzzle even Wallace Mortimer to do that, Talcott."

"If they do," observed Talcott, laughing, "we can retreat to the
cross-trees, and thence to the royal-yard."

Marble looked inquisitive, but, at the same time, he looked knowing.

"I understand," he said, with a nod; "three people with six sets of
ears--is it not so, Miles?"

"Precisely; though you only do them credit by halves, for you should
have added to this inventory forty tongues."

"Well, that is a large supply. The man, or woman, who is so well
provided, should carry plenty of ballast. However, as you say, they're
out of hail now, and must guess at all they repeat, if repeating it
can be called."

"Quite as much as nine-tenths of what they give as coming from
others," observed Talcott. "People never can tell so much of other
person's affairs, without bailing out most of their ideas from their
own scuttle-butts."

"Well, let them go to--Bordeaux--" said I, "since they are bound
there. And now, my dear Marble, here we are, and dying to know all
that has happened to you. You have firm friends in Talcott and myself;
either of us, ready to give you his berth for the asking."

"Thank'ee, my dear boys--thank'ee, with all my heart and soul,"
returned the honest fellow, dashing the moisture from his eyes, with
the back of his hand. "I believe you would, boys; I do believe you
would, one or both. I am glad, Miles, you came up into this bloody
top, for I wouldn't like to let your reg'lar 'long-shore harpies see a
man of my time of life, and one that has been to sea, now, man and
boy, close on to forty years, with as much blubber about him, as one
of your right whales. Well--and now for the log; for I suppose you'll
insist on overhauling it, lads?"

"That we shall; and see you miss no leaf of it. Be as particular as if
it were overhauled in an insurance case."

"Ay; they're bloody knaves, sometimes, them underwriters; und a fellow
need be careful to get his dues out of them--that is to say,
_some_; others, ag'in, are gentlemen, down to their shoe-buckles,
and no sooner see a poor shipwrecked devil, than they open their
tills, and begin to count out, before he has opened his mouth."

"Well, but your own adventures, my old friend; you forget we are dying
with curiosity."

"Ay--your cur'osity's a troublesome inmate, and will never be quiet as
long as one tries to keep it under hatches; especially female
cur'osity. Well, I must gratify you; and so I'll make no more bones
about it, though its giving an account of my own obstinacy and
folly. I reckon, now, my boys, you missed me the day the ship sailed
from the island?"

"That we did, and supposed you had got tired of your experiment before
it began," I answered, "so were off, before we were ourselves."

"You had reason for so thinking; though you were out in your
reckoning, too. No; it happened in this fashion. After you left me, I
began to generalize over my sitiation, and I says to myself, says I,
'Moses Marble, them lads will never consent to sail and leave you here,
on this island, alone like a bloody hermit,' says I. 'If you want to
hold on,' says I, 'and try your hand at a hermitage,' says I, 'or to
play Robinson Crusoe,' says I, 'you must be out, of the way when the
Crisis, sails'--boys, what's become of the old ship? Not a word have I
heard about her, yet!"

"She was loading for London, when we sailed, her owners intending to
send her the same voyage over again."

"And they refused to let you have her, Miles, on account of your
youth, notwithstanding all you did for them?"

"Not so; they pressed me to keep her, but I preferred a ship of my
own. The Dawn is my property, Master Moses!"

"Thank God! then there is one honest chap among the owners. And how
did she behave? Had you any trouble with the pirates?"

Perceiving the utter uselessness of attempting to hear his own story
before I rendered an account of the Crisis, and her exploits, I gave
Marble a history of our voyage, from the time we parted down to the
day we reached New York.

"And that scaramouch of a schooner that the Frenchman gave us, in his
charity?"

"The Pretty Poll! She got home safe, was sold, and is now in the
West-India trade. There is a handsome balance, amounting to some
fourteen hundred dollars, in the owners' hands, coming to you from
prize-money and wages."

It is not in nature, for any man to be sorry he has money. I saw by
Marble's eyes, that this sum, so unusually large for him to possess,
formed a new tie to the world, and that he fancied himself a much
happier man in possessing it. He looked at me earnestly, for quite a
minute, and then remarked, I make no doubt with sincere regret--

"Miles, if I had a mother living, now, that money might make her old
age comfortable! It seems that they who have no mothers, have money,
and they who have no money, have mothers."

I waited a moment for Marble to recover his self-command, and then
urged him to continue his story.

"I was telling you how I generalized over my sitiation," resumed the
ex-mate, "as soon as I found myself alone in the hut. I came to the
conclusion that I should be carried off by force, if I remained till
next day; and so I got into the launch, carried her out of the lagoon,
taking care to give the ship a berth, went through the reef, and kept
turning to windward, until day-break. By that time, the island was
quite out of sight, though I saw the upper sails of the ship, as soon
as you got her under way. I kept the top-gallant-sails in sight, until
I made the island, again; and as you went off, I ran in, and took
possession of my dominions, with no one to dispute my will, or to try
to reason me out of my consait."

"I am glad to hear you term that notion a conceit, for, certainly, it
was not reason. You soon discovered your mistake, my old mess-mate,
and began to think of home."

"I soon discovered, Miles, that if I had neither father, nor mother,
brother nor sister, that I had a country and friends. The bit of
marble on which I was found in the stone-cutter's yard, then seemed as
dear to me as a gold cradle is to a king's son; and I thought of you,
and all the rest of you--nay, I yearned after you, as a mother would
yearn for her children."

"Poor fellow, you were solitary enough, I dare say--had you no
amusement with your pigs and poultry?"

"For a day or two, they kept me pretty busy. But, by the end of a
week, I discovered that pigs and poultry were not made to keep company
with man. I had consaited that I could pass the rest of my days in the
bosom of my own family, like any other man who had made, his fortune
and retired; but, I found my household too small for such a life as
that. My great mistake was in supposing that the Marble family could
be happy in its own circle."

This was said bitterly, though it was said drolly, and, while it made

Talcott and myself laugh, it also made us sorry.

"I fell into another mistake, however, boys," Marble continued, "and
it might as well be owned. I took it into my head that I should be all
alone on the island, but I found to my cost, that the devil insisted
on having his share. I'll tell you how it is, Miles; a man must either
look ahead, or look astarn; there is no such thing as satisfying
himself with the present moorings. Now, this was my misfortune; for,
ahead I had nothing to look forward to; and astarn, what comfort had I
in overhauling past sins!"

"I think I can understand your difficulties, my friend; how did you
manage to get rid of them?"

"I left the island. You had put the Frenchman's launch in capital
condition, and all I had to do was to fill up the breakers with fresh
water, kill a hog and salt him away, put on board a quantity of
biscuit, and be off. As for eatables, you know there was no scarcity
on the island, and I took my choice. I make no doubt there are twenty
hogsheads of undamaged sugars, at this very moment, in the hold of
that wreck, and on the beach of the island. I fed my poultry on it,
the whole time I staid."

"And so you abandoned Marble Land to the pig's and the fowls?"

"I did, indeed, Miles; and I hope the poor creaturs will have a
comfortable time of it. I gave 'em what the lawyers call a quit-claim,
and sailed two months to a day after you went off in the Crisis."

"I should think, old shipmate, that your voyage must have been as
solitary and desperate as your life ashore."

"I'm amazed to hear, you say that. I'm never solitary at sea, one has
so much to do in taking care of his craft; and then he can always look
forward to the day he'll get in. But this generalizing, night and
day, without any port ahead, and little comfort in looking astarn,
will soon fit a man for Bedlam. I just: weathered Cape Crazy, I can
tell you, lads; and that, too, in the white water! As for my v'y'ge
being desperate, what was there to make it so, I should like to know?"

"You must have been twelve or fifteen hundred miles from any island
where you could look forward to anything like safety; and that is a
distance one would rather not travel all alone on the high seas."

"Pshaw! all consait. You're getting notional, Miles, now you're a
master and owner. What's a run of a thousand or fifteen hundred miles,
in a tight boat, and with plenty of grub and water? It was the easiest
matter in the world; and if it warn't for that bloody Cape Horn, I
should have made as straight a wake for Coenties' Slip, as the
trending of the land would have allowed. As it was, I turned to
windward, for I knew the savages to leeward weren't to be trusted. You
see, it was as easy as working out a day's work. I kept the boat on a
wind all day, and long bits of the night, too, until I wanted sleep;
and then I hove her to, under a reefed mainsail, and slept as sound as
a lord. I hadn't an uncomfortable moment, after I got outside of the
reef again; and the happiest hour of my life was that in which I saw
the tree-tops of the island dip."

"And how long were you navigating in this manner, and what land did
you first make?"

"Seven weeks, though I made half a dozen islands, every one of them
just such a looking object as that I had left. You weren't about to
catch me ashore again in any of them miserable places! I gave the old
boat a slap, and promised to stick by her as long as she would stick
by me, and I kept my word. I saw savages, moreover, on one or two of
the islands, and gave them a berth, having no fancy for being
barbacued."

"And where did you finally make your land-fall?"

"Nowhere, so; far as the launch was concerned. I fell in with a
Manilla ship, bound to Valparaiso, and got on board her; and sorry
enough was I for the change, when I came to find out how they
lived. The captain took me in, however, and I worked my passage into
port. Finding no ship likely to sail soon, I entered with a native who
was about to cross the Andes, bound over on this side, for the east
coast. Don't you remember, Miles, monsters of mountains that we could
see, a bit inland, and covered with snow, all along the west side of
South America? You must remember the chaps I mean?"

"Certainly--they are much too plain, and objects much too striking,
ever to be forgotten, when once seen."

"Well them's the Andes; and rough customers they be, let me tell you,
boys. You know there is little amusement in a sailor's walking on the
levellest 'arth and handsomest highways, on account of the bloody ups
and downs a fellow meets with; and so you may get some idee of the
time we had of it, when I tell you, had all the seas we saw in the
last blow been piled on top of each other, they would have made but a
large pancake, compared to them 'ere Andes. Natur' must have outdone
herself in making 'em; and when they were thrown together, what good
comes of it all? Such mountains might be of some use in keeping the
French and English apart; but you leave nothing but bloody Spaniards
on one side of them Andes, and find bloody Spaniards and Portugeese on
the other. However, we found our way over them, and brought up at a
place called Buenos Ayres, from which I worked my passage round to Rio
in a coaster. At Rio, you know, I felt quite at home, having stopped
in there often, in going backward and forward."

"And thence you took passage in the Dundee for London, intending to
get a passage home by the first opportunity?"

"It needs no witch to tell that. I had to scull about Rio for several
months, doing odd jobs as a rigger, and the like of that, until,
finding no Yankee came in, I got a passage in a Scotchman. I'll not
complain of Sawney, who was kind enough to me as a shipwrecked
mariner; for that was the character I sailed under, hermits being no
way fashionable among us Protestants, though it's very different among
them Catholic chaps, I can tell you. I happened to mention to a
landlady on the road, that I was a sort of a hermit on his travels;
when I thought the poor woman would have gone down on her knees and
worshipped me."

Here then was the history of Moses Marble, and the end of the colony
of Marble Land, pigs and poultry excepted. It was now my turn to be
examined. I had to answer fifty curious inquiries, some of which I
found sufficiently embarrassing. When, in answer to his
interrogatories, Marble learned that the Major and Miss Merton had
actually been left at Clawbonny, I saw the ex-mate wink at Talcott,
who smiled in reply. Then, where was Rupert, and how came on the law?
The farm and mills were not forgotten; and, as for Neb, he was
actually ordered up into the top, in order that there might be another
shake of the hand, and that he might answer for himself. In a word,
nothing could be more apparent than the delight of Marble at finding
himself among us once more. I believed even then, that the man really
loved me; and the reader will remember how long we had sailed
together, and how much we had seen in company. More than once did my
old shipmate dash the tears from his eyes, as he spoke of his
satisfaction.

"I say, Miles--I say, Roger," he cried--"this is like being at home,
and none of your bloody hermitages! Blast me, if I think, now, I
should dare pass through a wood all alone. I'm never satisfied unless
I see a fellow-creatur', for fear of being left. I did pretty well
with the Scotchman, who _has_ a heart, though it's stowed away in
oatmeal, but _this_ is _home._ I must ship as your steward,
Miles, for hang on to you I will."

"If we ever part, again, until one or both go into dock, it will be
your fault, my old friend. If I have thought of you once, since we
parted, I have dreamed of you fifty times! Talcott and I were talking
of you in the late gale, and wondering what sail you would advise us
to put the ship under."

"The old lessons have not all been forgotten, boys; it was easy enough
to see that. I said to myself, as you stood down upon us, 'that chap
has a real sea-dog aboard, as is plain by the manner in which he has
everything snug, while he walks ahead like an owner in a hurry to be
first in the market.'"

It was then agreed Marble should keep a watch; whenever it suited him,
and that he should do just as he pleased aboard. At some future day,
some other arrangement might be made, though he declared his intention
to stick by the ship, and also announced a determination to be my
first-mate for life, as soon as Talcott got a vessel, as doubtless he
would, through the influence of his friends, as soon as he returned
home. I laughed at all this, though I bade him heartily welcome, and
then I nick-named him commodore, adding that he should sail with me in
that capacity, doing just as much, and just as little duty as he
pleased. As for money, there was a bag of dollars in the cabin, and he
had only to put his hand in, and take what he wanted. The key of the
locker was in my pocket, and could be had for asking. Nobody was more
delighted with this arrangement than Neb, who had even taken a fancy
to Marble, from the moment when the latter led him up from the
steerage of the John, by the ear.

"I say, Miles, what sort of bloody animals are them passengers of
your's?" Marble next demanded, looking over the rim of the top, down
at the trio on deck, with a good deal of curiosity expressed in his
countenance. "This is the first time I ever knew a ship-master driven
aloft by his passengers, in order to talk secrets!"

"That is because you never sailed with the Brigham family, my
friend. They'll pump you till you suck, in the first twenty-four
hours, rely on it. They'll get every fact about your birth, the island
where you first saw me, what you have been about, and what you mean to
do; in a word, the past, present, and future."

"Leave me to overlay their cur'osity," answered the ex-mate, or new
commodore--"I got my hand in, by boarding six weeks with a Connecticut
old maid, once, and I'll defy the keenest questioner of them all."

We had a little more discourse, when we all went below, and I
introduced Marble to my passengers, as one who was to join our
mess. After this, things went on in their usual train. In the course
of the day, however, I overheard the following brief dialogue between
Brigham and Marble, the ladies being much too delicate to question so
rough a mariner.

"You came on board us, somewhat unexpectedly, I rather conclude,
Captain Marble?" commenced the gentleman.

"Not in the least; I have been expecting to meet the Dawn, just about
this spot, more than a month, now."

"Well, that is odd! I do not comprehend how such a thing could well be
foreseen?"

"Do you understand spherical trigonometry, sir?"

"I cannot say I am at all expert--I've looked into mathematics, but
have no great turn for the study."

"It would be hopeless, then, to attempt to explain the matter. If you
had your hand in at the spherical, I could make it all as plain as the
capstan."

"You and Captain Wallingford must be somewhat old acquaintances, I
conclude?"

"Somewhat," answered Marble, very drily.

"Have you ever been at the place that he calls Clawbonny? A queer
name, I rather think, Captain!"

"Not at all, sir. I know a place, down in the Eastern States, that was
called Scratch and Claw, and a very pretty spot it was."

"It's not usual for us to the eastward, to give names to farms and
places. It is done a little by the Boston folk, but they are notional,
as everybody knows."

"Exactly; I suppose it was for want of use, the chap I mean made out
no better in naming his place."

Mr. Brigham was no fool; he was merely a gossip. He took the hint, and
asked no more questions of Marble. He tried Neb, notwithstanding; but
the black having his orders, obeyed them so literally, that I really
believe we parted in Bordeaux, a fortnight later, without any of the
family's making the least discovery. Glad enough was I to get rid of
them; yet, brief as had been our intercourse, they produced a sensible
influence on my future happiness. Such is the evil of this habit of
loose talking, men giving credit to words conceived in ignorance and
uttered in the indulgence of one of the most contemptible of all our
propensities. To return to my ship.

We reached Bordeaux without any further accident, or delay. I
discharged in the usual way, and began to look about me, for another
freight. It had been my intention to return to New York, and to keep
the festivities of attaining my majority, at Clawbonny; but, I confess
the discourse of these eternal gossips, the Brighams, had greatly
lessened the desire to see home again, so soon. A freight for New York
was offered me, but I postponed an answer, until it was given to
another ship. At length an offer was made me to go to Cronstadt, in
Russia, with a cargo of wines and brandies, and I accepted it. The
great and better informed merchants, as it would seem, distrusted the
continuance of the hollow peace that then existed, and a company of
them thought it might be well to transfer their liquors to the capital
of the czar, in readiness for contingencies. An American ship was
preferred, on account of her greater speed, as well as on account of
her probable neutral character, in the event of troubles occurring at
any unlooked-for moment. The Dawn took in her wines and brandies
accordingly, and sailed for the Baltic about the last of August. She
had a long, but a safe passage, delivering the freight according to
the charter-party, in good condition. While at Cronstadt, the American
consul, and the consignees of an American ship that had lost her
master and chief-mate by the smallpox, applied to me to let Marble
carry the vessel home. I pressed the offer on my old friend, but he
obstinately refused to have anything to do with the vessel. I then
recommended Talcott, and after some negotiation, the latter took
charge of the Hyperion. I was sorry to part with my mate, to whom I
had become strongly attached; but the preferment was so clearly to his
advantage, that I could take no other course. The vessel being ready,
she sailed the day after Talcott joined her; and, sorry am I to be
compelled to add, that she was never heard of, after clearing the
Cattegat. The equinox of that season was tremendously severe, and it
caused the loss of many vessels; that of the Hyperion doubtless among
the rest.

Marble insisted on taking Talcott's place, and he now became my
chief-mate, as I had once been his. After a little delay, I took in
freight on Russian government account, and sailed for Odessa. It was
thought the Sublime Porte would let an American through; but, after
reaching the Dardanelles, I was ordered back, and was obliged to leave
my cargo in Malta, which it was expected would be in possession of its
own knights by that time, agreeably to the terms of the late
treaty. From Malta I sailed for Leghorn, in quest of another
freight. I pass over the details of these voyages, as really nothing
worthy of being recorded occurred. They consumed a good deal of time;
the delay at the Dardanelles alone exceeding six weeks, during which
negotiations were going on up at Constantinople, but all in vain. In
consequence of all these detentions, and the length of the passages, I
did not reach Leghorn until near the close of March, I wrote to Grace
and Mr. Hardinge, whenever a favourable occasion offered, but I did
not get a letter from home, during the whole period. It was not in the
power of my sister or guardian--_late_ guardian would be the most
accurate expression, as I had been of age since the previous
October--to write, it being impossible for me to let them know when,
or where, a letter would find me. It followed, that while my friends
at home were kept tolerably apprised of my movements, I was absolutely
in the dark as respected them. That this ignorance gave me great
concern, it would be idle to deny; yet, I had a species of desperate
satisfaction in keeping aloof, and in leaving the course clear to Mr.
Andrew Drewett. As respects substantials, I had sent a proper power of
attorney to Mr. Hardinge, who, I doubted not, would take the same care
of my temporal interests he had never ceased to do since the day of my
beloved mother's death.

Freights were not offering freely at Leghorn, when the Dawn
arrived. After waiting a fortnight, however, I began to take in for
America, and on American account. In the meantime, the cargo coming to
hand slowly, I left Marble to receive it, and proceeded on a little
excursion in Tuscany, or Etruria, as that part of the world was then
called. I visited Pisa, Lucca, Florence, and several other
intermediate towns. At Florence, I passed a week looking at sights,
and amusing myself the best way I could. The gallery and the churches
kept me pretty busy, and the reader will judge of my surprise one day,
at hearing my own name uttered on a pretty high key, by a female
voice, in the Duomo, or Cathedral of the place. On turning, I found
myself in the presence of the Brighams! I was overwhelmed with
questions in a minute. Where had I been? Where was Talcott? Where was
the ship? When did I sail, and whither did I sail? After this came the
communications. _They_ had been to Paris; had seen the French
Consul, and had dined with Mr. R. N. Livingston, then negotiating the
treaty of Louisiana; had seen the Louvre; had been to Geneva; had seen
the Lake; had seen Mont Blanc; had crossed Mont Cenis; had been at
Milan; Rome; had seen the Pope; Naples; had seen Vesuvius; had been at
Paestum; had come back to Florence, and _nous voici!_ Glad enough
was I, when I got them fairly within the gates of the City of the
Lily. Next came America; from which part of the world they received
such delightful letters! One from Mrs. Jonathan Little, a Salem lady
then residing in New York, had just reached them. It contained four
sheets, and was full of _news._ Then commenced the details; and I
was compelled to listen to a string of gossip that connected nearly
all the people of mark, my informants had ever heard of in the great
_Commercial_ Emporium that was to be. How suitable is this name!
Emporium would not have been sufficiently distinctive for a town in
which "the merchants" are all in all; in which they must have the
post-office; in which they support the nation by paying all the
revenue; in which the sun must shine and the dew fall to suit their
wants; and in which the winds, themselves, may be recreant to their
duty, when they happen to be foul! Like the Holy Catholic Protestant
Episcopal Church, Trading Commercial Trafficking Emporium should have
been the style of such a place; and I hope, ere long, some of the
"Manor Born" genii of that great town, will see the matter rectified.

"By the way, Captain Wallingford," cut in Jane, at one of Sarah's
breathing intervals, that reminded me strongly of the colloquial
Frenchman's "_s'il crache il est perdu,_" "You know something of
poor Mrs. Bradfort, I believe?"

I assented by a bow.

"It was just as we told you," cried Sarah, taking her revenge. "The
poor woman is dead! and, no doubt, of that cancer. What a frightful
disease! and how accurate has our information been, in all that
affair!"

"I think her will the most extraordinary of all," added Mr. Brigham,
who, as a man, kept an eye more to the main chance. "I suppose you
have heard all about her will, Captain Wallingford?"

I reminded the gentleman that this was the first I had ever heard of
the lady's death.

"She has left every dollar to young Mr. Hardinge, her cousin's son;"
added Jane, "cutting off that handsome, genteel, young lady his
sister, as well as her father, without a cent"--in 1803, they just
began to speak of _cents_, instead of farthings--"and everybody
says it was so cruel!"

"That is not the worst of it," put in Sarah. "They _do_ say, Miss
Merton, the English lady that made so much noise in New York--let me
see, Mr. Brigham, what Earl's grand-daughter did we hear she was?--"

This was a most injudicious question, as it gave the husband an
opportunity to take the word out of her mouth.

"Lord Cumberland's, I believe, or some such person---but, no matter
whose. It is quite certain, General Merton, her father, consents to
let her marry young Mr. Hardinge, now Mrs. Bradfort's will is known;
and, as for the sister, he declares he will never give her a dollar."

"He will have sixteen thousand dollars a year," said Jane, with
emphasis.

"Six, my dear, six"--returned the brother, who had reasonably accurate
notions touching dollars and cents, or he never would have been
travelling in Italy; "six thousand dollars a year, was just
Mrs. Bradfort's income, as my old school-fellow Upham told me, and
there isn't another man in York, who can tell fortunes as true as
himself. He makes a business of it, and don't fail one time in
twenty."

"And is it quite certain that Mr. Rupert Hardinge gets all the fortune
of Mrs. Bradfort?" I asked, with a strong effort to seem composed.

"Not the least doubt of it, in the world. Everybody is talking about
it; and there cannot well be a mistake, you know, as it was thought
the sister would be an heiress, and people generally take care to be
pretty certain about that class. But, of course, a young man with that
fortune will be snapped up, as a swallow catches a fly. I've bet Sarah
a pair of gloves we hear of his marriage in three months."

The Brighams talked an hour longer, and made me promise to visit them
at their hotel, a place I could not succeed in finding. That evening,
I left Florence for Leghorn, writing a note of apology, in order not
to be rude. Of course, I did not believe half these people had told
me; but a part, I made no doubt, was true. Mrs. Bradfort was dead, out
of all question; and I thought it possible she might not so far have
learned to distinguish between the merit of Lucy, and that of Rupert,
to leave her entire fortune to the last. As for the declaration of the
brother that he would give his sister nothing, that seemed to me to be
rather strong for even Rupert. I knew the dear girl too well, and was
certain she would not repine; and I was burning with the desire to be
in the field, now she was again penniless.

What a change was this! Here were the Hardinges, those whom I had
known as poor almost as dependants on my own family, suddenly
enriched. I knew Mrs. Bradfort had a large six thousand a year,
besides her own dwelling-house, which stood in Wall Street, a part of
the commercial emporium that was just beginning to be the focus of
banking, and all other monied operations, and which even then promised
to become a fortune of itself. It is true, that old Daniel M'Cormick
still held his levees on his venerable stoop, where all the heavy men
in town used to congregate, and joke, and buy and sell, and abuse
Boney; and that the Winthrops, the Wilkeses, the Jaunceys, the
Verplancks, the Whites, the Ludlows, and other families of mark, then
had their town residences in this well-known street; but coming events
were beginning "to cast their shadows before," and it was easy to
foresee that this single dwelling might at least double Rupert's
income, under the rapid increase of the country and the town. Though
Lucy was still poor, Rupert was now rich.

If family connection, that all-important and magical influence, could
make so broad a distinction between us, while I was comparatively
wealthy, and Lucy had nothing, what, to regard the worst side of the
picture, might I not expect from it, when the golden scale
preponderated on her side. That Andrew Drewett would still marry her,
I began to fear again. Well, why not? I had never mentioned love to
the sweet girl, fondly, ardently as I was attached to her; and what
reason had I for supposing that one in her situation could reserve her
affections for a truant sailor? I am afraid I was unjust enough to
regret that this piece of good fortune should have befallen Rupert. He
must do something for his sister, and every dollar seemed to raise a
new barrier between us.

From that hour, I was all impatience to get home. Had not the freight
been engaged, I think I should have sailed in ballast. By urging the
merchants, however, we got to sea May 15th, with a full cargo, a
portion of which I had purchased on my own account, with the money
earned by the ship, within the last ten months. Nothing occurred
worthy of notice, until the Dawn neared the Straits of Gibraltar.
Here we were boarded by an English frigate, and first learned the
declaration of a new war between France and England; a contest that,
in the end, involved in it all the rest of christendom. Hostilities
had already commenced, the First Consul having thrown aside the mask,
just three days after we left port. The frigate treated us well, it
being too soon for the abuses that followed, and we got through the
pass without further molestation.

As soon as in the Atlantic, I took care to avoid everything we saw,
and nothing got near us, until we had actually made the Highlands of
Navesink. An English sloop-of-war, however, had stood into the angles
of the coast, formed by Long Island and the Jersey shore, giving us a
race for the Hook. I did not know whether I ought to be afraid of this
cruiser, or not, but my mind was made up, not to be boarded if it
could be helped. We succeeded in passing ahead, and entered the Hook,
while he was still a mile outside of the bar. I got a pilot on the
bar, as was then very usual, and stood up towards the town with
studding-sails set, it being just a twelvemoth, almost to an hour,
from the day when I passed up the bay in the Crisis. The pilot took
the ship in near Coenties slip, Marble's favourite berth, and we had
her secured, and her sails unbent before the sun set.

CHAPTER XXVII.

"With look like patient Job's, eschewing evil;
With motions graceful as a bird's in air;
Thou art, in sober truth, the veriest devil
That ere clinched fingers in a captive's hair."
HALLECK.

There was about an hour of daylight, when I left the compting-house of
the consignees, and pursued my way up Wall Street to Broadway. I was
on my way to the City Hotel, then, as now, one of the best inns of the
town. On Trinity Church walk, just as I quitted the Wall Street
crossing, whom should I come plump upon in turning, but Rupert
Hardinge? He was walking down the street in some little haste, and was
evidently much surprised, perhaps I might say startled, at seeing
me. Nevertheless, Rupert was not easily disconcerted, and his manner
at once became warm, if not entirely free from embarrassment. He was
in deep mourning; though otherwise dressed in the height of the
fashion.

"Wallingford!" he exclaimed--it was the first time he did not call me
"Miles,"--"Wallingford! my fine fellow, what cloud did you drop
from?--We have had so many reports concerning you, that your
appearance is as much a matter of surprise, as would be that of
Bonaparte, himself. Of course, your ship is in?"

"Of course," I answered, taking his offered hand; "you know I am
wedded to her, for better, for worse, until death or shipwreck doth us
part."

"Ay, so I've always told the ladies--'there is no other matrimony in
Wallingford,' I've said often, 'than that which will make him a ship's
husband.' But you look confoundedly well--the sea agrees with you,
famously."

"I make no complaint of my health--but tell me of that of our friends
and families? Your father--"

"Is up at Clawbonny, just now--you know how it is with him. No change
of circumstances will ever make him regard his little smoke-house
looking church, as anything but a cathedral, and his parish as a
diocese. Since the great change in our circumstances, all this is
useless, and I often _think_--you know one wouldn't like to _say_ as
much to _him_--but I often _think_, he might just as well give up
preaching, altogether."

"Well, this is good, so far--now for the rest of you, all. You meet
my impatience too coldly."

"Yes, you _were_ always an impatient fellow. Why, I suppose you
need hardly be told that I have been admitted to the bar."

"That I can very well imagine--you must have found your sea-training
of great service on the examination."

"Ah! my dear Wallingford--what a simpleton I was! But one is so apt
to take up strange conceits in boyhood, that he is compelled to look
back at them in wonder, in after life. But, which way are you
walking?"--slipping an arm in mine--"if up, I'll take a short turn
with you. There's scarce a soul in town, at this season; but you'll
see prodigiously fine girls in Broadway, at this hour, notwithstanding
--those that belong to the other sets, you know; those that belong to
families that can't get into the country among the leaves. Yes, as I
was saying, one scarce knows himself, after twenty. Now, I can hardly
recall a taste, or an inclination, that I cherished in my teens, that
has not flown to the winds. Nothing is permanent in boyhood--we grow
in our persons, and our minds, sentiments, affections, views, hopes,
wishes, and ambition; all take new directions."

"This is not very flattering, Rupert, to one whose acquaintance with
you may be said to be altogether boyish."

"Oh! of course I don't mean _that._ Habit keeps all right in such
matters; and I dare say I shall always be as much attached to you, as
I was in childhood. Still, we are on diverging lines, now, and cannot
for ever remain boys."

"You have told me nothing of the rest," I said, half choked, in my
eagerness to hear of the girls, and yet unaccountably afraid to ask. I
believe I dreaded to hear that Lucy was married. "How, and where is
Grace?"

"Oh! Grace!--yes, I forgot her, to my shame, as you would naturally
wish to inquire. Why, my dear _Captain,_ to be as frank as one
ought with so old an acquaintance, your sister is not in a good way,
I'm much afraid; though I've not seen her in an age. She was down
among us in the autumn, but left town for the holidays, for them she
insisted on keeping at Clawbonny, where she said the family had always
kept them, and away she went. Since then, she has not returned, but I
fear she is far from well. You know what a fragile creature Grace ever
has been--so American!--Ah! Wallingford! our females have no
constitutions--charming as angels, delicate as fairies, and all that;
but not to be compared to the English women in constitutions."

I felt a torrent of fire rushing through my blood, and it was with
difficulty I refrained from hurling the heartless scoundrel who leaned
on my arm, into the ditch. A moment of reflection, however, warned me
of the precipice on which I stood. He was Mr. Hardinge's son, Lucy's
brother; and I had no proofs that he had ever induced Grace to think
he loved her. It was so easy for those who had been educated as we
four had been, to be deceived on such a point, that I felt it unsafe
to do anything precipitately. Friendship, _habit_, as Rupert
expressed it, might so easily be mistaken for the fruits of passion,
that one might well be deceived. Then it was all-important to Grace's
self-respect, to her feelings, in some measure to her character, to be
careful, that I suppressed my wrath, though it nearly choked me.

"I am sorry to hear this," I answered, after a long pause, the deep
regret I felt at having such an account of my sister's health
contributing to make my manner seem natural; "very, _very_ sorry
to hear it. Grace is one that requires the tenderest care and
watching; and I have been making passage after passage in pursuit of
money, when I am afraid I should have been at Clawbonny, discharging
the duties of a brother. I can never forgive myself!"

"Money is a very good thing, Captain," answered Rupert, with a smile
that appeared to mean more than the tongue expressed--"a surprisingly
good thing is money! But you must not exaggerate Grace's illness,
which I dare say is merely constitutional, and will lead to nothing. I
hope your many voyages have produced their fruits?"

"And Lucy?" I resumed, disregarding his question concerning my own
success as an owner. "Where and how is she?"

"Miss Hardinge is in town--in her own--that is, in _our_
house--in Wall Street, though she goes to _the place_ in the
morning. No one who can, likes to remain among these hot bricks, that
has a pleasant country-house to fly to, and open to receive him. But I
forgot--I have supposed you to know what it is very likely you have
never heard?"

"I learned the death of Mrs. Bradfort while in Italy, and, seeing you
in black, at once supposed it was for her."

"Yes, that's just it. An excellent woman has been taken from us, and,
had she been my own mother, I could not have received greater
kindnesses from her. Her end, my dear Wallingford, was admitted by all
the clergy to be one of the most edifying known in the place for
years."

"And Mrs. Bradfort has left you her heir? It is now time to
congratulate you on your good fortune. As I un-understand her estate
came through females to her, and from a common ancestor of hers and
yours, there is not the slightest reason why you should not be
gratified by the bequest. But Lucy--I hope she was not _altogether_
forgotten?"

Rupert fidgeted, and I could see that he was on tenter-hooks. As I
afterwards discovered, he wished to conceal the real facts from the
world; and yet he could not but foresee that I would probably learn
them from his father. Under all the circumstances, therefore, he
fancied it best to make me a confidant. We were strolling between
Trinity and Paul's church walks, then the most fashionable promenade
in town; and, before he would lay open his secret, my companion led me
over by the Oswego Market, and down Maiden Lane, lest he might betray
himself to the more fashionable stocks and stones. He did not open his
lips until clear of the market, when he laid bare his budget of griefs
in something that more resembled his old confidential manner, than he
had seen fit to exhibit in the earlier part of our interview.

"You must know, Miles," he commenced, "that Mrs. Bradfort was a very
peculiar woman--a very peculiar sort of a person, indeed. An,
excellent lady, I am ready to allow, and one that made a remarkably
edifying and; but one whose peculiarities, I have understood, she
inherited with her fortune. Women _do_ get the oddest conceits
into their heads, you know, and American women before all others; a
republic being anything but favourable to the continuation of property
in the same line. Miss Merton, who is a girl of excellent sense, as
you well know yourself, Miles, says, now, in England I should have
succeeded, quite as a matter of course, to _all_ Mrs. Bradfort's
real estate."

"You, as a lawyer--a common law lawyer-can scarcely require the
opinion of an Englishwoman to tell you what the English laws would do
in a question of descent."

"Oh! they've a plaguey sight of statutes in that country, as well as
ourselves. Between the two, the common law is getting to be a very
uncommon sort of a law. But, to cut the matter short, Mrs. Bradfort
made a _will_."

"Dividing her property equally between you and Lucy, I dare say, to
Miss Merton's great dissatisfaction."

"Why, not just so, Miles--not exactly so; a very capricious, peculiar
woman was Mrs. Bradfort--"

I have often remarked, when a person has succeeded in throwing dust
into another's eyes, but is discarded on being found out, that the
rejected of principle is very apt to accuse his former dupe of being
_capricious_; when, in fact, he has only been _deceived_. As
I said nothing, however, leaving Rupert to flounder on in the best
manner he could, the latter, after a pause, proceeded--

"But her end was very admirable" he said, "and to the last degree
edifying. You must know, she made a will, and in that will she left
everything, even to the town and country houses, to--my sister."

I was thunder-struck! Here were all my hopes blown again to the
winds. After a long pause, I resumed the discourse.

"And whom did she leave as executor?" I asked, instantly foreseeing
the consequences should that office be devolved on Rupert, himself.

"My father. The old gentleman has had his hands full, between your
father and mother, and Mrs. Bradfort. Fortunately, the estate of the
last is in a good condition, and is easily managed. Almost entirely in
stores and houses in the best part of the town, well insured, a few
thousands in stocks, and as much in bonds and mortgages, the savings
from the income, and something like a year's rents in bank. A good
seven thousand a year, with enough surplus to pay for repairs,
collection and other charges."

"And all this, then, is Lucy's!" I exclaimed, feeling something like
the bitterness of knowing that such an heiress was not for me.

"Temporarily; though, of course, I consider Lucy as only my trustee
for half of it. You know how it is with the women; they fancy all us
young men spendthrifts, and, so, between the two, they have reasoned
in this way--'Rupert is a good fellow at bottom; but Rupert is young,
and he will make the money fly--now, I'll give it all to you, Lucy, in
my will, but, of course, you'll take care of your brother, and let him
have half, or perhaps two-thirds, being a male, at the proper time,
which will be, as soon as you come of age, and _can_ convey. You
understand Lucy is but nineteen, and _cannot_ convey these two
years."

"And Lucy admits this to be true?--You have proof of all this?"

"Proof! I'd take my own affidavit of it. You see it is reasonable, and
what I had a right to expect. Everything tends to confirm it. Between
ourselves, I had quite $2000 of debt; and yet, you see, the good lady
did not leave me a dollar to pay even my honest creditors; a
circumstance that so pious a woman, and one who made so edifying an
end, would never think of doing, without ulterior views. Considering
Lucy as my trustee, explains the whole thing."

"I thought Mrs. Bradfort made you an allowance, Rupert; some $600 a
year, besides keeping you in her own house?"

"A thousand-but, what is $1000 a year to a fashionable man, in a town
like this. First and last, the excellent old lady, gave me about
$5000, all of which confirms the idea, that, at the bottom, she
intended me for her heir. What woman in her senses, would think of
giving $5000 to a relative to whom she did not contemplate giving
_more_? The thing is clear on its face, and I should certainly
go into chancery, with anybody but Lucy."

"And Lucy?--what says she to your views on the subject of
Mrs. Bradfort's intentions?"

"Why, you have some acquaintance with Lucy--used to be intimate with
her, as one might say, when children, and know something of her
character--"This to me, who fairly worshipped the earth on which the
dear girl trod!--"She never indulges in professions, and likes to
take people by surprise, when she contemplates doing them a service--"
this was just as far from Lucy's natural and honest mode of dealing,
as it was possible to be--"and, so, she has been as mum as one who
has lost the faculty of speech. However, she never speaks of her
affairs to others; _that_ is a good sign, and indicates an
intention to consider herself as my trustee; and, what is better
still, and more plainly denotes what her conscience dictates in the
premises, she has empowered her father to pay all my debts; the
current income and loose cash, being at her disposal, at once. It
would have been better had she given me the money, to satisfy these
creditors with it, for I knew which had waited the longest, and were
best entitled to receive the dollars at once; but, it's something to
have all their receipts in my pocket, and to start fair again. Thank
Heaven, that much is already done. To do Lucy justice, moreover, she
allows me $1500 a year, _ad interim_. Now, Miles, I've conversed
with you, as with an old friend, and because I knew my father would
tell you the whole, when you get up to Clawbonny; but you will take it
all in strict confidence. It gives a fashionable young fellow so silly
an air, to be thought dependent on a sister; and she three years
younger than himself! So I have hinted the actual state of the case,
round among my friends; but, it is generally believed that I am in
possession already, and that Lucy is dependent on me, instead of my
being dependent on her. The idea, moreover, is capital for keeping off
fortune-hunters, as you will see at a glance."

"And will the report satisfy a certain Mr. Andrew Drewett?" I asked,
struggling to assume a composure I was far from feeling. "He was all
attention when I sailed, and I almost expected to hear there was no
longer a Lucy Hardinge."

"To tell you the truth, Miles, I thought so, too, until the death of
Mrs. Bradfort. The mourning, however, most opportunely came to put a
stop to anything of the sort, were it even contemplated. It would be
so awkward, you will understand, to have a brother-in-law before
everything is settled, and the trust is accounted for. _Au
reste_--I am very well satisfied with Andrew, and let him know I am
his friend; he is well connected; fashionable; has a pretty little
fortune; and, as I sometimes tell Lucy, that he is intended for her,
as Mrs. Bradfort, no doubt, foresaw, inasmuch as his estate, added to
just one-third of that of our dear departed cousin, would just make up
the present income. On my honour, now, I do not think the difference
would be $500 per annum."

"And how does your sister receive your hints?"

"Oh! famously--just as all girls do, you know. She blushes, and
sometimes she looks vexed; then she smiles, and puts up her lip, and
says 'Nonsense!' and 'What folly!' 'Rupert, I'm surprised at you!'
and all that sort of stuff, which deceives nobody, you'll understand,
not even her poor, simple, silly brother. But, Miles, I must quit you
now, for I have an engagement to accompany a party to the theatre, and
was on my way to join them when we met. Cooper plays, and you know
what a lion _he_ is; one would not wish to lose a syllable of his
Othello."

"Stop, Rupert--one word more before we part. From your conversation, I
gather that the Mertons are still here?"

"The Mertons! Why, certainly; established in the land, and among its
tip-top people. The Colonel finds his health benefited by the climate,
and he has managed to get some appointment which keeps him among
us. He has Boston relatives, moreover, and I believe is fishing up
some claims to property in that quarter. The Mertons here, indeed!
what would New York be without the Mertons!"

"And my old friend the Major is promoted, too--you called him Colonel,
I think?"

"Did I? I believe he is oftener called _General_ Merton, than
anything else. You must be mistaken about his being only a Major,
Miles; everybody here calls him either Colonel, or General."

"Never mind; I hope it is as you say. Good-bye, Rupert; I'll not
betray you, and--"

"Well-you were about to say--"

"Why, mention me to Lucy; you know we were acquainted when
children. Tell her I wish her all happiness in her new position, to
which I do not doubt she will do full credit; and that I shall
endeavour to see her before I sail again."

"You'll not be at the theatre this evening? Cooper is well worth
seeing--a most famous fellow in Othello!"

"I think not. Do not forget to mention me to your sister; and so, once
more, adieu!"

We parted--Rupert to go towards Broadway, at a great pace, and I to
lounge along, uncertain whither to proceed. I had sent Neb to inquire
if the Wallingford were down, and understood she would leave the basin
at sunrise. It was now my intention to go up in her; for, though I
attached no great importance to any of Rupert's facts, his report
concerning my sister's health rendered me exceedingly uneasy.
Insensibly I continued my course down Maiden Lane, and soon found
myself near the ship. I went on board, had an explanation with Marble,
gave some orders to Neb, and went ashore again, all in the course of
the next half-hour. By a sort of secret attraction, I was led towards
the Park, and soon found myself at the door of the theatre. Mrs.
Bradfort had now been dead long enough to put Lucy in second mourning,
and I fancied I might get a view of her in the party that Rupert was
to accompany. Buying a ticket, I entered and made my way up into the
Shakspeare box. Had I been better acquainted with the place, with the
object in view I should have gone into the pit.

Notwithstanding the lateness of the season, it was a very full
house. Cooper's, in that day, was a name that filled every mouth, and
he seldom failed to fill every theatre in which he appeared. With many
first-rate qualifications for his art, and a very respectable
conception of his characters, he threw everything like competition
behind him; though there were a few, as there ever will be among the
superlatively intellectual, who affected to see excellencies in
Fennel, and others, to which this great actor could not aspire. The
public decided against these select few, and, as is invariably the
case when the appeal is made to human feelings, the public decided
right. Puffery will force into notice and sustain a false judgment, in
such matters, for a brief space; but nature soon asserts her sway, and
it is by natural decisions that such points are ever the most justly
determined. Whatever appeals to human sympathies, will be answered by
human sympathies. Popularity too often gains its ascendency behind the
hypocrite's mask in religion; it is usually a magnificent
mystification in politics; it frequently becomes the patriot's
stalking-horse, on which he rides to power; in social life, it is the
reward of empty smiles, unmeaning bows, and hollow squeezes of the
hand; but with the player, the poet, and all whose pursuits bring them
directly in contact with the passions, the imagination and the heart,
it is the unerring test of merit, with certain qualifications
connected with the mind and the higher finish of pure art. It may be
questioned if Cooper were not the greatest actor of his day, in a
certain range of his own characters.

I have said that the house was full. I got a good place, however;
though it was not in the front row. Of course I could only see the
side boxes beneath, and not even quite all of them. My eyes ran
eagerly over them, and I soon caught a glimpse of the fine, curling
hair of Rupert. He sat by the side of Emily Merton, the Major--I knew
he was a colonel or general, only by means of a regular Manhattan
promotion, which is so apt to make hundreds of counts, copper
captains, and travelling prodigies of those who are very small folk at
home--the Major sat next, and, at his side, I saw a lady, whom I at
once supposed to be Lucy. Every nerve in my system thrilled, as I
caught even this indistinct view of the dear creature. I could just
see the upper part of her face, as it was occasionally turned towards
the Major; and once I caught that honest smile of hers, which I knew
had never intentionally deceived.

The front seat of the box had two vacant places. The bench would hold
six, while it had yet only four. The audience, however, was still
assembling, and, presently, a stir in Lucy's box denoted the arrival
of company. The whole party moved, and Andrew Drewett handed an
elderly lady in, his mother, as I afterwards ascertained, and took the
other place himself. I watched the salutations that were exchanged,
and understood that the new comers had been expected. The places had
been reserved for them, and old Mrs. Drewett was doubtless the
_chaperone;_ though, one having a brother and the other a father
with her, the two young ladies had not hesitated about preceding the
elderly lady. They had come from different quarters of the town, and
had agreed to meet at the theatre. Old Mrs. Drewett was very
particular in shaking hands with Lucy, though I had not the misery of
seeing her son go through the same ceremony. Still he was sufficiently
pointed in his salutations; and, during the movements, I perceived he
managed to get next to Lucy, leaving the Major to entertain his
mother. All this was natural, and what might have been expected; yet,
it gave me a pang that I cannot describe.

I sat, for half an hour, perfectly inattentive to the play, meditating
on the nature of my real position towards Lucy. I recalled the days
of childhood and early youth; the night of my first departure from
home; my return, and the incidents accompanying my second departure;
the affair of the locket, and all I had truly felt myself, and all
that I had supposed Lucy herself to feel, on those several occasions.
Could it be possible I had so much deceived myself, and that the
interest the dear girl had certainly manifested in me had been nothing
but the fruits of her naturally warm and honest heart--her strong
disposition to frankness-habit, as Rupert had so gently hinted in
reference to ourselves? Then I could not conceal from myself the
bitter fact that I was, now, no equal match for Lucy, in the eyes of
the world. While she was poor, and I comparatively rich, the
inequality in social station might have been overlooked; it existed,
certainly, but was not so very marked that it might not, even in that
day, be readily forgotten; but now, Lucy was an heiress, had much more
than double my own fortune--had a fortune indeed; while I was barely
in easy circumstances, as persons of the higher classes regarded
wealth. The whole matter seemed reversed. It was clear that a sailor
like myself, with no peculiar advantages, those of a tolerable
education excepted, and who was necessarily so much absent, had not
the same chances of preferring his suit, as one of your town idlers; a
nominal lawyer, for instance, who dropped in at his office for an hour
or two, just after breakfast, and promenaded Broadway the rest of the
time, until dinner; or a man of entire leisure, like Andrew Drewett,
who belonged to the City Library set, and had no other connection with
business than to see that his rents were collected and his dividends
paid. The more I reflected, the more humble I became, he less my
chances seemed and I determined to quit the theatre, at once. The
reader will remember that I was New York born and bred, a state of
society in which few natives acted on the principle that "there was
nothing too high to be aspired to, nothing too low to be done." I
admitted I had superiors, and was willing to defer to the facts and
opinions of the world as I knew it.

In the lobby of the building, I experienced a pang at the idea of
quitting the place without getting one look at the face of Lucy. I was
in an humble mood, it is true, but that did not necessarily infer a
total self-denial. I determined, therefore, to pass into the pit, with
my box-check, feast my eyes by one long gaze at the dear creature's
ingenuous countenance, and carry away the impression, as a lasting
memorial of her whom I so well loved, and whom I felt persuaded I
should ever continue to love. After this indulgence, I would
studiously avoid her, in order to release my thoughts as much as
possible from the perfect thraldom in which they had existed, ever
since I had heard of Mrs. Bradfort's death. Previously to that time, I
am afraid I had counted a little more than was becoming on the ease of
my own circumstances, and Lucy's comparative poverty. Not that I had
ever supposed her to be in the least mercenary--this I knew to be
utterly, totally false--but because the good town of Manhattan, even
in 1803, was _tant soit peu_ addicted to dollars, and Lucy's
charms would not be likely to attract so many suitors, in the modest
setting of a poor country clergyman's means, as in the golden frame by
which they had been surrounded by Mrs. Bradfort's testamentary devise,
even supposing Rupert to come in for quite one half.

I had no difficulty in finding a convenient place in the pit; one,
from which I got a front and near view of the whole six, as they sat
ranged side by side. Of the Major and old Mrs. Drewett it is
unnecessary to say much. The latter looked as all dowager-like widows
of that day used to appear, respectable, staid, and richly
attired. The good lady had come on the stage during the revolution,
and had a slightly military air--a _parade_ in her graces, that
was not altogether unknown to the _eleves_ of that school. I dare
say she could use such words as "martinets," "mowhairs," "brigadiers,"
and other terms familiar to her class. Alas! how completely all these
little traces of the past are disappearing from our habits and
manners!

As for the Major, he appeared much better in health, and altogether
altered in mien. I could readily detect the influence of the world on
him; He was evidently a so much greater man in New York than he had
been whew I found him in London, that it is not wonderful he felt the
difference. Between the acts, I remarked that all the principal
persons in the front rows were desirous of exchanging nods with the
"British officer," a proof that he was circulating freely in the best
set, and had reached a point, when "not to know him, argues yourself
unknown." [*]

[Footnote *: The miserable moral dependence of this country on Great
Britain, forty years since, cannot well be brought home to the present
generation. It is still too great, but has not a tithe of its former
force. The writer has himself known an Italian Prince, a man of
family and of high personal merit, pass unnoticed before a society
that was eager to make the acquaintance of most of the "agents" of the
Birmingham button dealers; and this simply because one came from Italy
and the other from England. The following anecdote, which is quite as
true as any other fact in this work, furnishes a good example of what
is meant. It is now a quarter of a century since the writer's first
book appeared. Two or three months after the publication, he was
walking down Broadway with a friend, when a man of much distinction in
the New York circles was passing up, on the other side-walk. The
gentleman in question caught the writer's eye, bowed, and _crossed
the street_, to shake hands and inquire after the author's
health. The difference in years made this attention marked. "You are
in high favour," observed the friend, as the two walked away, to
"have ---- pay you such a compliment--your book must have done this."
"Now mark my words--I have been puffed in some English magazine,
and ---- knows it." The two were on their way to the author's publishers,
and, on entering the door, honest Charles Wiley put a puff on the book
in question into the writer's hand! What rendered the whole more
striking, was the fact that the paragraph was as flagrant a puff as
was ever written, and had probably been paid for, by the English
publisher. The gentleman in question was a man of talents and merit,
but he had been born half a century too soon, to enjoy entire mental
independence in a country that had so recently been a colony.]

Emily certainly looked well and happy. I could see that she was
delighted with Rupert's flattery, and I confess I cared very little
for his change of sentiment, or his success. That both Major and
Emily Merton were different persons in the midst of the world and in
the solitudes of the Pacific, was as evident as it was that I was a
different personage in command of the Crisis, and in the pit of the
Park theatre. I dare say, at that moment. Miss Merton had nearly
forgotten that such a man as Miles Wallingford existed, though I think
she sometimes recalled the string of magnificent pearls that were to
ornament the neck of his wife, should he ever find any one to have
him.

But, Lucy, dear, upright, warm-hearted, truth-telling, beloved Lucy!
all this time, I forget to speak of her. There she sat in maiden
loveliness, her beauty still more developed, her eye as beaming,
lustrous, feeling, as ever, her blush as sensitive, her smile as
sweet, and her movements as natural and graceful. The simplicity of
her half-mourning, too, added to her beauty, which was of a character
to require no further aid from dress, than such as was dependent
purely on taste. As I gazed at her, enthralled, I fancied nothing was
wanting to complete the appearance, but my own necklace. Powerful,
robust man as I was, with my frame hardened by exposure and trials, I
could have sat down and wept, after gazing some time at the precious
creature, under the feeling produced by the conviction that I was
never to renew my intercourse with her, on terms of intimacy at
least. The thought that from day to day we were to become more and
more strangers, was almost too much to be borne. As it was, scalding
tears forced themselves to my eyes, though I succeeded in concealing
the weakness from those around me. At length the tragedy terminated,
the curtain dropped, and the audience began to move about. The pit
which had, just before, been crowded, was now nearly empty, and I was
afraid of being seen. Still, I could not tear myself away, but
remained after nine-tenths of those around me had gone into the
lobbies.

It was easy, now, to see the change which had come over Lucy's
position, in the attentions she received. All the ladies in the
principal boxes had nods and smiles for her and half the
fashionable-looking young men in the house crowded round her box, or
actually entered it to pay their compliments. I fancied Andrew Drewett
had a self-satisfied air that seemed to say, "you are paying your
homage indirectly to myself, in paying it to this young lady." As for
Lucy, my jealous watchfulness could not detect the smallest alteration
in her deportment, so far as simplicity and nature were concerned. She
appeared in a trifling degree more womanly, perhaps, than when I saw
her last, being now in her twentieth year; but the attentions she
received made no visible change in her manners. I had become lost in
the scene, and was standing in a musing attitude, my side face towards
the box, when I heard a suppressed exclamation, in Lucy's voice. I was
too near her to be mistaken, and it caused the blood to rush to my
heart in a torrent. Turning, I saw the dear girl, with her hand
extended over the front of the box, her face suffused with blushes,
and her eyes riveted on myself. I was recognised, and the surprise had
produced a display of all that old friendship, certainly, that had
once existed between us, in the simplicity and truth of childhood.

"Miles Wallingford!" she said, as I advanced to shake the offered
hand, and as soon as I was near enough to permit her to speak without
attracting too much attention--"_you_ arrived, and _we_ knew
nothing of it!"

It was plain Rupert had said nothing of having seen me, or of our
interview in the street. He seemed a little ashamed, and leaned
forward to say--

"I declare I forgot to mention, Lucy, that I met Captain Wallingford
as I was going to join the Colonel and Miss Merton. Oh! we have had a
long talk together, and it will save you a history of past events."

"I may, nevertheless, say," I rejoined, "how happy I am to see Miss
Hardinge looking so well, and to be able to pay my compliments to my
old passengers."

Of course I shook hands with the Major and Emily, bowed to Drewett,
was named to his mother, and was invited to enter the box, as it was
not quite in rule to be conversing between the pit and the front
rows. I forgot my prudent resolutions, and was behind Lucy in three
minutes. Andrew Drewett had the civility to offer me his place, though
it was with an air that said plain enough "what do _I_ care for
_him_--he is a ship-master, and I am a man of fashion and
fortune, and can resume my seat at any moment, while the poor fellow
can only catch his chances, as he occasionally _comes into
port_." At least, I fancied his manner said something like this.

"Thank you, Mr. Drewett," said Lucy, in her sweetest
manner. "Mr. Wallingford and I are very, _very_ old friends,--you
know he is Grace's brother, and you have been at Clawbonny"--Drewett
bowed, civilly enough--"and I have a thousand things to say to
him. So, Miles, take this seat, and let me hear all about your
voyage."

As half the audience went away as soon as the tragedy ended, the
second seat of the box was vacated, and the other gentlemen getting on
it, to stretch their limbs, I had abundance of room to sit at Lucy's
side, half facing her, at the same time. As she insisted on hearing my
story, before we proceeded to anything else, I was obliged to gratify
her.

"By the way, Major Merton," I cried, as the tale was closed, "an old
friend of yours, Moses Marble by name, has come to life again, and is
at this moment in New York."

I then related the manner in which I had fallen in with my old
mate. This was a most unfortunate self-interruption for me, giving the
Major a fair opportunity for cutting into the conversation. The
orchestra, moreover, giving notice that the curtain would soon rise
for the after-piece, the old gentleman soon got me into the lobby to
hear the particulars. I was supremely vexed, and I thought Lucy
appeared sorry; but there was no help for it, and then we could not
converse while the piece was going on.

"I suppose you care little for this silly farce," observed the Major,
looking in at one of the windows, after I had gone over Marble's
affair in detail. "If not, we will continue our walk, and wait for the
ladies to come out. Drewett and Hardinge will take good care of them."

I assented, and we continued to walk the lobby till the end of the
act. Major Merton was always gentleman-like; and he even behaved to
me, as if he remembered the many obligations he was under. He now
communicated several little facts connected with his own
circumstances, alluding to the probability of his remaining in America
a few years. Our chat continued some time, my looks frequently
turning towards the door of the box, when my companion suddenly
observed--

"Your old acquaintances the Hardinges have had a lucky wind-fall--one,
I fancy, they hardly expected, a few years Since."

"Probably not; though the estate has fallen into excellent hands," I
answered. "I am surprised, however, that Mrs. Bradfort did not leave
the property to the old gentleman, as it once belonged to their common
grandfather, and he properly stood next in succession."

"I fancy she thought the good parson would not know what to do with
it. Now, Rupert Hardinge is clever, and spirited, and in a way to make
a figure in the world; and it is probably in better hands, than if it
had been left first to the old gentleman."

"The old gentleman has been a faithful steward to me, and I doubt not
would have proved equally so to his own children. But, does Rupert get
_all_ Mrs. Bradfort's property?"

"I believe not; there is some sort of a trust, I have heard him say;
and I rather fancy that his sister has some direct or reversionary
interest. Perhaps she is named as the heir, if he die without
issue. There _was_ a silly story, that Mrs. Bradfort had left
everything to Lucy; but I have, it from the best authority, that
_that_ is not true--" The idea of Rupert Hardinge's being the
"best authority" for any thing; a fellow who never knew what
unadulterated truth was, from the time he was in petticoats, or could
talk!--"As I _know_ there is a trust, though one of no great
moment; I presume Lucy has some contingent interest, subject, most
probably, to her marrying with her brother's approbation, or some such
provision. The old lady was sagacious, and no doubt did all that was
necessary."

It is wonderful how people daily deceive themselves on the subject of
property; those who care the most about it, appearing to make the
greatest blunders. In the way of bequests, in particular, the lies
that are told are marvellous. It is now many years since I learned to
take no heed of rumours on such subjects, and least of all, rumours
that come from the class of the money-gripers. Such people refer
everything to dollars, and seldom converse a minute without using the
word. Here, however, was Major Merton evidently Rupert's dupe; though
with what probable consequences, it was not in my power to foresee. It
was clearly not my business to undeceive him; and the conversation,
getting to be embarrassing, I was not sorry to hear the movement which
announced the end of the act. At the box door, to my great regret, we
met Mrs. Drewett retiring, the ladies finding the farce dull, and not
worth the time lost in listening to it. Rupert gave me an uneasy
glance, and he even dragged me aside to whisper--"Miles, what I told
you this evening, is strictly a family secret, and was entrusted to a
friend."

"I have nothing to do with your private concerns, Rupert--" I
answered,--"only, let me expect you to act honourably, especially when
women are concerned."

"Everything will come right, depend on it; the truth will set
everything right, and all will come out, just as I predicted."

I saw Lucy looking anxiously around, while Drewett had gone to order
the carriages to advance, and I hoped it might be for me. In a moment
I was by her side; at the next, Mr. Andrew Drewett offered his arm,
saying, her carriage "stopped the way." We moved into the outer lobby,
in a body, and then it was found that Mrs. Drewett's carriage was up
first, while Lucy's was in the rear. Yes, Lucy's carriage!--the dear
girl having come into immediate possession of her relative's houses,
furniture, horses, carriages, and everything else, without reserve,
just as they had been left behind by the last incumbent, when she
departed from the scene of life, to lie down in the grave. Mrs.
Bradfort's arms were still on the chariot, I observed, its owner
refusing all Rupert's solicitations to supplant them by those of
Hardinge. The latter took his revenge, however, by telling everybody
how generous he was in keeping a carriage for his sister.

The Major handed Mrs. Drewett in, and her son was compelled to say
good night, to see his mother home. This gave me one blessed minute
with Lucy, by herself. She spoke of Grace; said they had now been
separated months, longer than they ever had been before in their
lives, and that all her own persuasions could not induce my sister to
rejoin her in town, while her own wish to visit Clawbonny had been
constantly disappointed, Rupert insisting that her presence was
necessary, for so many arrangements about business.

"Grace is not as humble as I was, in old times, Miles," said the dear
girl, looking me in the face, half sadly, half reproachfully, the
light of the lamp falling full on her tearful, tender eyes, "and I
hope you are not about to imitate her bad example. She wishes us to
know she has Clawbonny for a home, but I never hesitated to admit how
poor we were, while you alone were rich."

"God bless you, Lucy!" I whispered, squeezing her hand with
fervour--"It cannot be _that_--have you heard anything of Grace's
health?"

"Oh! she is well, I know--Rupert tells me _that_, and her letters
are cheerful and kind as ever, without a word of complaint. But I
_must_ see her soon. Grace Wallingford and Lucy Hardinge were not
born to live asunder. Here is the carriage; I shall see you in the
morning, Miles--at breakfast, say--eight o'clock, precisely."

"It will be impossible--I sail for Clawbonny with the first of the
flood, and that will make at four. I shall sleep in the sloop."

Major Merton put Lucy into the carriage; the good-nights were passed,
and I was left standing on the lowest step of the building gazing
after the carriage, Rupert walking swiftly away.

CHAPTER XXVIII.

"Hear me a little;
For I have only been silent so long,
And given way unto this course of fortune,
By noting of the lady: I have mark'd
A thousand blushing apparitions start
Into her face; a thousand innocent shames
In angel whiteness bear away those blushes--"
SHAKESPEARE

I reached the Wallingford before eleven, where I found Neb in
attendance with my trunks and other effects. Being now on board my own
craft, I gave orders to profit by a favourable turn in the wind, and
to get under-way at once, instead of waiting for the flood. When I
left the deck, the sloop was above the State Prison, a point towards
which the town itself had made considerable progress since the time I
first introduced it to the reader. Notwithstanding this early start,
we did not enter the creek until about eight in the morning of the
second day.

No sooner was the vessel near enough, than my foot was on the wharf,
and I began to ascend the hill. From the summit of the latter I saw my
late guardian hurrying along the road, it afterwards appearing that a
stray paper from town had announced the arrival of the Dawn, and that
I was expected to come up in the sloop. I was received with extended
hands, was kissed just as if I had still been a boy, and heard the
guileless old man murmuring his blessings on me, and a prayer of
thankfulness. Nothing ever changed good Mr. Hardinge, who, now that he
could command the whole income of his daughter, was just as well
satisfied to live on the three or four hundreds he got from his glebe
and his parish, as he ever had been in his life.

"Welcome back, my dear boy, welcome back!" added Mr. Hardinge, his
voice and manner still retaining their fervour. "I said you
_must_--you _would_ be on board, as soon as they reported
the sloop in sight, for I judged your heart by my own. Ah! Miles, will
the time ever come when Clawbonny will be good enough for you? You
have already as much money as you can want, and more will scarce
contribute to your happiness."

"Speaking of money, my dear sir," I answered, "while I have to regret
the loss of your respectable kinswoman, I may be permitted to
congratulate you on the accession to an old family property--I
understand you inherit, in your family, all of Mrs. Bradfort's
estate-one valuable in amount, and highly acceptable, no doubt, as
having belonged to your ancestors."

"No doubt--no doubt--it is just as you say; and I hope these
unexpected riches will leave us all as devout servants of God, as I
humbly trust they found us. The property, however, is not mine, but
Lucy's; I need not have any reserve with you, though Rupert has hinted
it might be prudent not to let the precise state of the case be known,
since it might bring a swarm of interested fortune-hunters about the
dear girl, and has proposed that we rather favour the notion the
estate is to be divided among us. This I cannot do directly, you will
perceive, as it would be deception; but one may be silent. With you,
however, it is a different matter, and so I tell you the truth at
once. I am made executor, and act, of course; and this makes me the
more glad to see you, for I find so much business with pounds,
shillings and pence draws my mind off from the duties of my holy
office, and that I am in danger of becoming selfish and mercenary. A
selfish priest, Miles, is as odious a thing as a mercenary woman!"

"Little danger of your ever becoming anything so worldly, my dear
sir. But Grace-you have not mentioned my beloved sister?"

I saw Mr. Hardinge's countenance suddenly change. The expression of
joy instantly deserted it, and it wore an air of uncertainty and
sadness. A less observant man than the good divine, in all the
ordinary concerns of life, did not exist; but it was apparent that he
now saw something to trouble him.

"Yes, Grace," he answered, doubtingly; "the dear girl is here, and all
alone, and not as blithe and amusing as formerly. I am glad of your
return on her account, too, Miles. She is not well, I fear; I would
have sent for a physician last week, or the moment I saw her; but she
insists on it, there is no need of one. She is frightfully beautiful,
Miles! You know how it is with Grace--her countenance always seemed
more fitted for heaven than earth; and now it always reminds me of a
seraph's that was grieving over the sins of men!"

"I fear, sir, that Rupert's account, then, is true, and that Grace is
seriously ill?"

"I hope not, boy--I fervently pray not! She is not as
usual--_that_ is true; but her mind, her thoughts, all her
inclinations, and, if I may so express it, her energies, seem turned
to heaven. There has been an awakening in the spirit of Grace, that is
truly wonderful. She reads devout books, meditates, and, I make no
doubt, prays, from morn till night. This is the secret of her
withdrawal from the world, and her refusing of all Lucy's
invitations. You know how the girls love each other--but Grace
declines going to Lucy, though she knows that Lucy cannot come to
her."

I now understood it all. A weight like that of a mountain fell upon my
heart, and I walked on some distance without speaking. To me, the
words of my excellent guardian sounded like the knell of a sister I
almost worshipped.

"And Grace--does she expect me, now?" I at length ventured to say,
though the words were uttered in tones so tremulous, that even the
usually unobservant divine perceived the change.

"She does, and delighted she was to hear it. The only thing of a
worldly nature that I have heard her express of late, was some
anxious, sisterly wish for your speedy return. Grace loves you, Miles,
next to her God!"

Oh! how I wished this were true, but, alas! alas! I knew it was far
otherwise!

"I see you are disturbed, my dear boy, on account of what I have
said," resumed Mr. Hardinge; "probably from serious apprehensions
about your sister's health. She is not well, I allow; but it is the
effect of mental ailments. The precious creature has had too vivid
views of her own sinful nature, and has suffered deeply, I fear. I
trust, my conversation and prayers have not been without their effect,
through the divine aid, and that she is now more cheerful--nay, she
has assured me within half an hour, if it turned out that you were in
the sloop, she should be happy!"

For my life, I could not have conversed longer on the painful
subject; I made no reply. As we had still a considerable distance to
walk, I was glad to turn the conversation to other subjects, lest I
should become unmanned, and sit down to weep in the middle of the
road.

"Does Lucy intend to visit Clawbonny, this summer?" I asked, though
it seemed strange to me to suppose that the farm was not actually
Lucy's home. I am afraid I felt a jealous dislike to the idea that the
dear creature should have houses and lands of her own; or any that was
not to be derived through me.

"I hope so," answered her father, "though her new duties do not leave
Lucy as much her own mistress as I could wish. You saw her, and her
brother, Miles, I take it for granted?"

"I met Rupert in the street, sir, and had a short interview with the
Mertons and Lucy at the theatre. Young Mr. and old Mrs. Drewett were
of the party."

The good divine turned short round to me, and looked as conscious and
knowing as one of his singleness of mind and simplicity of habits
could look. Had a knife penetrated my flesh, I could not have winced
more than I did; still, I affected a manner that was very foreign to
my feelings.

"What do you think of this young Mr. Drewett, boy?" asked
Mr. Hardinge, with an air of confidential interest, and an earnestness
of manner, that, with him, was inseparable from all that concerned his
daughter. "Do you approve?"

"I believe I understand you, sir;--you mean me to infer that
Mr. Drewett is a suitor for Miss Hardinge's hand."

"It would be improper to say this much, even to you, Miles, did not
Drewett take good care, himself, to let everybody know it."

"Possibly with a view to keep off other pretenders"--I rejoined, with
a bitterness I could not control.

Now, Mr. Hardinge was one of the last men in the world to suspect
evil. He looked surprised, therefore, at my remark, and I was probably
not much out of the way, in fancying that he looked displeased.

"That is not right, my dear boy," he said, gravely.

"We should try to think the best and not the worst, of our
fellow-creatures."--Excellent old man, how faithfully didst thou
practise on thy precept!--"It is a wise rule, and a safe one; more
particularly in connection with our own weaknesses. Then, it is but
natural that Drewett should wish to secure Lucy; and if he adopt no
means less manly than the frank avowal of his own attachment, surely
there is no ground of complaint."

I was rebuked; and what is more, I felt that the rebuke was
merited. As some atonement for my error, I hastened to add--

"Very truly, sir; I admit the unfairness of my remark, and can only
atone for it by adding it is quite apparent Mr. Drewett is not
influenced by interested motives, since he certainly was attentive to
Miss Hardinge previously to Mrs. Bradfort's death, and when he could
not possibly have anticipated the nature of her will."

"Quite true, Miles, and very properly and justly remarked. Now, to
you, who have known Lucy from childhood, and who regard her much as
Rupert does, it may not seem so very natural that a young man can love
her warmly and strongly, for herself, alone--such is apt to be the
effect of brotherly feeling; but I can assure you, Lucy is really a
charming, as we all know she is a most excellent, girl!"

"To whom are you speaking thus, sir! I can assure you, nothing is
easier than for me to conceive how possible it is for any man to love
your daughter. As respects Grace, I confess there, is a
difference--for I affirm she has always seemed to me too saintly, too
much allied to Heaven already, to be subject herself, to the passions
of earth."

"That is what I have just been telling you, and we must endeavour to
overcome and humanize--if I may so express it--Grace's propensity.
There is nothing more dangerous to a healthful frame of mind, in a
religious point of view, Miles, than excitement--it is disease, and
not faith, nor charity, nor hope, nor humility, nor anything that is
commanded; but our native weaknesses taking a wrong direction, under a
physical impulse, rather than the fruits of repentance, and the
succour afforded by the spirit of God. We nowhere read of any
excitement, and howlings and waitings among the apostles."

How could I enlighten the good old man on the subject of my sister's
malady? That Grace, with her well-tempered mind, was the victim of
religious exaggeration, I did not for a moment believe; but that she
had had her heart blighted, her affections withered, her hopes
deceived, by Rupert's levity and interestedness, his worldly-mindedness
and vanity, I could foresee, and was prepared to learn; though these
were facts not to be communicated to the father of the offender. I
made no answer, but managed to turn the conversation towards the farm,
and those interests about which I could affect an interest that I was
very far from feeling, just at that moment. This induced the divine to
inquire into the result of my late voyage, and enabled me to collect
sufficient fortitude to meet Grace, with the semblance of firmness, at
least.

Mr. Hardinge made a preconcerted signal, as soon as he came in view of
the house, that apprised its inmates of my arrival; and we knew, while
still half a mile from the buildings, that the news had produced a
great commotion. All the blacks met us on the little lawn--for the
girls, since reaching womanhood, had made this change in the old
door-yard--and I had to go through the process of shaking hands with
every one of them. This was done amid hearty bursts of laughter, the
mode in which the negroes of that day almost always betrayed their
joy, and many a "welcome home, Masser Mile!" and "where a Neb got to,
dis time, Masser Mile?" was asked by more than one; and great was the
satisfaction, when I told his generation and race that the faithful
fellow would be up with the cart that was to convey my luggage. But,
Grace awaited me. I broke through the throng, and entered the
house. In the door I was met by Chloe, a girl about my own sister's
age, and a sort of cousin of Neb's by the half-blood, who had been
preferred of late years to functions somewhat resembling those of a
lady's maid. I say of the half-blood; for, to own the truth, few of
the New York blacks, in that day, could have taken from their brothers
and sisters, under the old _dictum_ of the common law, which
declared that none but heirs of the whole blood should inherit. Chloe
met me in the door-way, and greeted me with one of her sweetest
smiles, as she curtsied, and really looked as pleased as all my slaves
did, at seeing their _young_ master again. How they touched my
heart, at times, by their manner of talking about "_ole_ Masser,
and _ole_ Missus," always subjects of regret among negroes who
had been well treated by them. Metaphysicians may reason as subtly as
they can about the races and colours, and on the aptitude of the black
to acquire, but no one can ever persuade me out of the belief of their
extraordinary aptitude to love. As between themselves and their
masters, their own children and those of the race to which they were
subject, I have often seen instances which have partaken of the
attachment of the dog to the human family; and cases in which the
children of their masters have been preferred to those of their own
flesh and blood, were of constant occurrence.

"I hope you been werry well, sah, Masser Mile," said Chloe, who had
some extra refinement, as the growth of her position.

"Perfectly, my good girl, and I am glad to see you looking so
well--you really are growing handsome, Chloe."

"Oh! Masser Mile---you so droll!--now you stay home, sah, long time?"

"I am afraid not, Chloe, but one never knows. Where shall I find my
sister?"

"Miss Grace tell me come here, Masser Mile, and say she wish to see
you in de family-room. She wait dere, now, some time."

"Thank you, Chloe; and do you see that no one interrupts us. I have
not seen my sister for near a year."

"Sartain, sah; all as you say." Then the girl, whose face shone like a
black bottle that had just been dipped in water, showed her brilliant
teeth, from ear to ear, laughed outright, looked foolish, after which
she looked earnest, when the secret burst out of her heart, in the
melodious voice of a young negress, that did not know whether to laugh
or to cry--"Where Neb, Masser Mile? what he do now; de _fel_-ler!"

"He will kiss you in ten minutes, Chloe; so put the best face on the
matter you are able."

"_Dat_ he wont--de sauce-box---Miss Grace teach me better dan
_dat_."

I waited to hear no more, but proceeded towards the triangular little
room, with steps so hurried and yet so nervous, that I do not
remember, ever before to have laid my hand on a lock in a manner so
tremulous--I found myself obliged to pause, ere I could muster
resolution to open the door, a hope coming over me that the impatience
of Grace would save me the trouble, and that I should find her in my
arms before I should be called on to exercise any more fortitude. All
was still as death, however, within the room, and I opened the door,
as if I expected to find one of the bodies I had formerly seen in its
coffin, in this last abiding place above ground, of one dead. My
sister was on the _causeuse_, literally unable to rise from
debility and agitation. I shall not attempt to describe the shock her
appearance gave me. I was prepared for a change, but not one that
placed her, as my heart instantly announced, so near the grave!

Grace extended both arms, and I threw myself at her side, drew her
within my embrace, and folded her to my heart, with the tenderness
with which one would have embraced an infant. In this situation we
both wept violently, and I am not ashamed to say that I sobbed like a
child. I dare say five minutes passed in this way, without either of
us speaking a word.

"A merciful and all gracious God be praised! You are restored to me in
time, Miles!" murmured my sister, at length. "I was afraid it might be
too late."

"Grace!--Grace!--What means this, love?--my precious, my only, my most
dearly beloved sister, why do I find you thus?"

"Is it necessary to speak, Miles?--cannot you see?--_do_ you not
see, and understand it all?"

The fervent pressure I gave my sister, announced how plainly I
comprehended the whole history. That Grace could ever love, and
forget, I did not believe; but, that her tenderness for Rupert--one
whom I knew for so frivolous and selfish a being, should reduce her to
this terrible state, I had not indeed foreseen as a thing
possible. Little did I then understand how confidingly a woman loves,
and how apt she is to endow the being of her choice with all the
qualities se could wish him to possess. In the anguish of my soul I
muttered, loud enough to be heard, "the heartless villain!"

Grace instantly rose from my arms. At that moment, she looked more
like a creature of heaven, than one that was still connected with this
wicked world. Her beauty could scarcely be called impaired, though I
dreaded that she would be snatched away from me in the course of the
interview; so frail and weak did it appear was her hold of life. In
some respects I never saw her more lovely than she seemed on this very
occasion. This was when the hectic of disease imparted to the sweetest
and most saint-like eyes that were ever set in the human countenance,
a species of holy illumination. Her countenance, now, was pale and
colourless; however, and her look sorrowful and filled with reproach.

"Brother," she said, solemnly, "this _must_ not be. It is not
what God commands--it is not what I expected from you--what I have a
right to expect from one whom I am assured loves me, though none other
of earth can be said to do so."

"It is not easy, my sister, for a man to forget or forgive the wretch
who has so long misled you--misled us all, and then turned to another,
under the impulse of mere vanity."

"Miles, my kind and manly brother, listen to me," Grace rejoined,
fervently pressing one of my hands in both of hers, and scarcely able
to command herself, through alarm. "All thoughts of anger, of
resentment, of pride even, must be forgotten. You owe it to my sex,
to the dreadful imputations that might otherwise rest on my name--had
I anything to reproach myself with as a woman. I could submit to
_any_ punishment; but surely, surely, it is not a sin so
unpardonable to be unable to command the affections, that I deserve to
have my name, after I shall be dead, mixed up with rumours connected
with such a quarrel. You have lived as brothers, too--then there is
good, excellent, truthful, pious Mr. Hardinge; who is yet _my_
guardian, you know; and Lucy, dear, true-hearted, faithful Lucy--"

"Why is not dear, true-hearted, faithful Lucy, here, watching over
you, Grace, at this very moment?" I demanded, huskily.

"She knows nothing of my situation--it is a secret, as well as its
cause, from all but God, myself, and you. Ah! I knew it would be
impossible to deceive your love, Miles! which has ever been to me,
all that a sister could desire."

"And Lucy! how has _her_ affection been deceived?--Has she too,
eyes only for those she has recently learned to admire?"

"You do her injustice, brother. Lucy has not seen me, since the great
change that I can myself see has come over me. Another time, I will
tell you all. At present I can only say, that as soon as I had certain
explanations with Rupert, I left town, and have studiously concealed
from dear Lucy the state of my declining health. I write to her
weekly, and get answers; everything passing between us as cheerfully,
and apparently, as happily as ever. No, do not blame Lucy; who, I am
certain, would quit everything and everybody to come to me, had she
the smallest notion of the truth. On the contrary, I believe she
thinks I would rather not have her at Clawbonny, just at this moment,
much as she knows I love her; for, one of Lucy's observation and
opportunities cannot but suspect the truth. Let me lie on your breast,
brother; it wearies me to talk so much."

I sat holding this beloved sister in my arms, fully an hour, neither
of us speaking. I was afraid of injuring her, by further excitement,
and she was glad to take refuge in silence, from the feelings of
maiden shame that could not be otherwise than mingled with such a
dialogue. As my cheek leaned on her silken hair, I could see large
tears rolling down the pallid cheeks; but the occasional pressure of
the hands, told me how much she was gladdened by my presence. After
some ten or fifteen minutes, the exhausted girl dropped into feverish
and disturbed slumbers, that I would have remained motionless
throughout the night to maintain. I am persuaded it was quite an hour
before this scene terminated. Grace then arose, and said, with one of
her most angelic smiles--

"You see how it is with me, Miles--feeble as an infant, and almost as
troublesome. You must bear with me, for you will be my nurse. One
promise I must have, dearest, before we leave this room."

"It is yours, my sister, let it be what it may; I can now refuse you
nothing," said I, melted to feminine tenderness. "And yet, Grace,
since _you_ exact a promise, _I_ have a mind to attach a
condition."

"What condition, Miles, can you attach, that I will refuse? I consent
to everything, without even knowing your wishes."

"Then I promise not to call Rupert to an account for his conduct---not
to question him--nay, even not to reproach him," I rejoined, enlarging
my pledges, as I saw by Grace's eyes that she exacted still more.

The last promise, however, appeared fully to satisfy her. She kissed
my hand, and I felt hot tears falling on it.

"Now name your conditions, dearest brother," she said, after a little
time taken to recover herself; "name them, and see how gladly I shall
accept them all."

"I have but one--it is this. I must take the complete direction of the
care of you--must have power to send for what physician I please, what
friends I please, what advice or regimen I please!"

"Oh! Miles, you _could_ not--_cannot_ think of sending for
_him_!"

"Certainly not; his presence would drive me from the house. With that
one exception, then, my condition is allowed?"

Grace made a sign of assent, and sunk on my bosom again, nearly
exhausted with the scene through which she had just gone. I perceived
it would not do to dwell any longer on the subject we had been
alluding to, rather than discussing; and for another hour did I sit
sustaining that beloved form, declining to speak, and commanding
silence on her part. At the end of this second little sleep, Grace was
more refreshed than she had been after her first troubled repose, and
she declared herself able to walk to her room, where she wished to lie
on her own bed until the hour of dinner. I summoned Chloe, and,
together, we led the invalid to her chamber. As we threaded the long
passages, my sister's head rested on my bosom, her eyes were turned
affectionately upward to my face, and several times I felt the gentle
pressure of her emaciated hands, given in the fervour of devoted
sisterly love.

I needed an hour to compose myself, after this interview. In the
privacy of my own room, I wept like a child over the wreck of the
being I had left so beautiful and perfect, though even then the canker
of doubt had begun to take root. I had yet her explanations to hear,
and resolved to command myself so far as to receive them in a manner
not to increase the pain Grace must feel in making them. As soon as
sufficiently calm, I sat down to write letters. One was to Marble. I
desired him to let the second-mate see the ship discharged, and to
come up to me by the return of the sloop. I wished to see him in
person, as I did not think I could be able to go out in the vessel on
her next voyage, and I intended him to sail in her as master. It was
necessary we should consult together personally. I did not conceal the
reason of this determination, though I said nothing of the cause of my
sister's state. Marble had a list of physicians given him, and he was
to bring up with him the one he could obtain, commencing with the
first named, and following in the order given. I had earned ten
thousand dollars, nett, by the labours of the past year, and I
determined every dollar of it should be devoted to obtaining the best
advice the country then afforded. I had sent for such men as Hosack,
Post, Bayley, M'Knight, Moore, &c.; and even thought of endeavouring
to procure Rush from Philadelphia, but was deterred from making the
attempt by the distance, and the pressing nature of the emergency. In
1803, Philadelphia was about three days' journey from Clawbonny, even
allowing for a favourable time on the river; with a moderately
unfavourable, five or six; whereas the distance can now be passed,
including the chances of meeting the departures and arrivals of the
different lines, in from twelve to fifteen hours. Such is one of the
prodigious effects of an improved civilization; and in all that
relates to motion, and which falls short of luxury, or great personal
comfort, this country takes a high place in the scale of nations. That
it is as much in arrears in other great essentials, however,
particularly in what relates to tavern comforts, no man who is
familiar with the better civilization of Europe, can deny. It is a
singular fact, that we have gone backward in this last particular,
within the present century, and all owing to the increasingly
gregarious habits of the population. But to return to my painful
theme, from which, even at this distance of time, I am only too ready
to escape.

I was on the point of writing to Lucy, but hesitated. I hardly knew
whether to summon her to Clawbonny or not. That she would come, and
that instantly, the moment she was apprised of Grace's condition, I
did not in the least doubt. I was not so mad as to do her character
injustice, because I had my doubts about being loved as I had once
hoped to be. That Lucy was attached to me, in one sense, I did not in
the least doubt; this, her late reception of me sufficiently proved;
and I could not question her continued affection for Grace, after all
the latter had just told me. Even did Lucy prefer Andrew Drewett, it
was no proof she was not just as kind-hearted, as ready to be of
service, and as true in her friendship, as she ever had been. Still,
she was Rupert's sister, must have penetration enough to understand
the cause of Grace's illness, and might not enter as fully into her
wrongs as one could wish in a person that was to watch the sick
pillow. I resolved to learn more that day, before this portion of my
duty was discharged.

Neb was summoned, and sent to the wharf, with an order to get the
Wallingford ready to sail for town at the first favourable moment. The
sloop was merely to be in ballast, and was to return to Clawbonny with
no unnecessary delay. There was an eminent, but retired physician of
the name of Bard, who had a country residence on the other bank of the
Hudson, and within a few hours' sail from Clawbonny. I knew his
character, though I was not acquainted with him, personally. Few of us
of the right bank, indeed, belonged to the circles of the left, in
that day; the increasing wealth and population of the country has
since brought the western side into more notice. I wrote also to
Dr. Bard, inclosing a cheque for a suitable fee; made a strong appeal
to his feelings--which would have been quite sufficient with, such a
man--and ordered Neb to go out in the Grace and Lucy, immediately, to
deliver the missive. Just as this arrangement was completed, Chloe
came to summon me to my sister's room.

I found Grace still lying on her bed, but stronger, and materially
refreshed. For a moment, I began to think my fears had exaggerated the
danger, and that I was not to lose my sister. A few minutes of close
observation, however convinced me, that the first impression was the
true one. I am not skilled in the theories of the science, if there be
any great science about it, and can hardly explain, even now, the true
physical condition of Grace. She had pent up her sufferings in her own
bosom, for six cruel months, in the solitude of a country-house,
living most of the time entirely alone; and this, they tell me, is
what few, even of the most robust frames, can do with impunity. Frail
as she had ever seemed, her lungs were sound, and she spoke easily and
with almost all her original force, so that her wasting away was not
the consequence of anything pulmonary. I rather think the physical
effects were to be traced to the unhealthy action of the fluids, which
were deranged through the stomach and spleen. The insensible
perspiration was affected also, I believe; the pores of the skin
failing to do their duty. I dare say there is not a graduate of the
thousand and one medical colleges of the country, who is not prepared
to laugh at this theory, while unable quite likely to produce a
better,--so much easier is it to pull down than to build up; but my
object is merely to give the reader a general idea of my poor sister's
situation. In outward appearance, her countenance denoted that
expression which the French so well describe, by their customary term
of "_fatigue_," rather than any other positive indication of
disease--Grace's frame was so delicate by nature, that a little
falling away was not as perceptible in her, as it would have been in
most persons; though her beautiful little hands wanted that fulness
which had rendered their taper fingers and roseate tint formerly so
very faultless. There must have been a good deal of fever, as her
colour was often higher than was formerly usual. It was this
circumstance that continued to render her beauty even unearthly,
without its being accompanied by the emaciation so common in the
latter stages of pulmonary disease, though its tendency was strongly
to undermine her strength.

Grace, without rising from her pillow, now asked me for an outline of
my late voyage. She heard me, I make no doubt, with real interest, for
all that concerned me, in a measure concerned her. Her smile was
sweetness itself, as she listened to my successes; and the interest
she manifested in Marble, with whose previous history she was well
acquainted, was not less than I had felt myself, in hearing his own
account of his adventures. All this delighted me, as it went to prove
that I had beguiled the sufferer from brooding over her own sorrows;
and what might not be hoped for, could we lead her back to mingle in
the ordinary concerns of life, and surround her with the few friends
she so tenderly loved, and whose absence, perhaps, had largely
contributed to reducing her to her present state? This thought
recalled Lucy to my mind, and the wish I had to ascertain how far it
might be agreeable to the latter, to be summoned to Clawbonny. I
determined to lead the conversation to this subject.

"You have told me, Grace," I said, "that you send and receive letters
weekly, to and from Lucy?"

"Each time the Wallingford goes and comes; and that you know is
weekly. I suppose the reason I got no letter to-day was owing to the
fact that the sloop sailed before her time. The Lord High Admiral was
on board; and, like wind and tide, _he_ waits for no man!"

"Bless you--bless you, dearest sister--this gaiety removes a mountain
from my heart!"

Grace looked pleased at first; then, as she gazed wistfully into my
face, I could see her own expression change to one of melancholy
concern. Large tears started from her eyes, and three or four followed
each other down her cheeks. All this said, plainer than words, that,
though a fond brother might be momentarily deceived, she herself
foresaw the end. I bowed my head to the pillow, stifled the groans
that oppressed me, and kissed the tears from her cheeks. To put an end
to these distressing scenes, I determined to be more business-like in
future, and suppress all feeling, as much as possible.

"The Lord High Admiral," I resumed, "is a species of Turk, on board
ship, as honest Moses Marble will tell you, when you see him,
Grace. But, now for Lucy and her letters--I dare say the last are
filled with tender secrets, touching such persons as Andrew Drewett,
and others of her admirers, which render it improper to show any of
them to me?"

Grace looked at me, with earnestness, as if to ascertain whether I was
really as unconcerned as I affected to be. Then she seemed to muse,
picking the cotton of the spotless counterpane on which she was lying,
like one at a loss what to say or think.

"I see how it is," I resumed, forcing a smile; "the hint has been
indiscreet. A rough son of Neptune is not the proper confidant for the
secrets of Miss Lucy Hardinge. Perhaps you are right; fidelity to
each other being indispensable in your sex."

"It is not that, Miles. I doubt if Lucy ever wrote me a line, that you
might not see--in proof of which, you shall have the package of her
letters, with full permission to read every one of them. It will be

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