Part 3 out of 8
character, coming from youth to age, quite unmanned him. The old man sunk
into a chair, weeping uncontrollably. This aroused Lucy, who regarded the
grey hairs of her father with awe, as she witnessed the strength of his
emotions. But feelings of this nature could not long absorb a man like Mr.
Hardinge, who soon regained as much of the appearance of composure as it
was possible to maintain by such a death-bed.
"Many may think me young to die," Grace observed; "but I am weary of the
world. It is my wish to submit myself to the will of God; but, blessed be
his holy name, that he sees fit to call me to him this day. Lucy, beloved
one--go into the next room, and draw the curtain asunder; I shall then be
enabled to gaze on the fields of dear Clawbonny once more; that will be my
last look at the outer world."
This leave-taking of inanimate things, objects long known and loved, is of
frequent occurrence with the dying. It is not in our natures to quit for
ever this beautiful world, without casting "one longing, lingering look
behind." The hand of its divine Creator was gloriously impressed on the
rural loveliness of my native fields that day, and a holy tranquillity
seemed to reign over the grain, the orchards, the meadows, and the wooded
heights. The couch of Grace was purposely placed at a point in her own
chamber that commanded a wide view of the farm, through the vista formed
by the door and windows of the adjoining room. Here she had often sat,
during her confinement to her rooms, contemplating scenes so familiar and
so much loved. I saw her lips quiver as she now gazed on them for the last
time, and was convinced some unusual sentiment, connected with the past,
pressed on her feelings at that instant. I could see the same view myself,
and perceived that her eyes were riveted on the little wood where Rupert
and I had met the girls on our return from sea; a favourite place of
resort, and one that, I doubted not, had often been the witness of the
early confidence between Grace and her recreant lover. Death was actually
hovering over that sainted being at the moment; but her woman's heart was
not, _could_ not, be insensible to the impressions produced by such a
sight. In vain the warm light from the heavens bathed the whole landscape
in a flood of glory; in vain the meadows put forth their flowers, the
woods their variegated, bright, American verdure, and the birds their
innocent gaiety and brilliant plumage; the fancy of Grace was portraying
scenes that had once been connected with the engrossing sentiment of her
life. I felt her tremble, as she lay in my arms; and bending my head
towards her in tender concern, I could just distinguish the murmuring of a
prayer that it was easy to understand was a petition offered up in behalf
of Rupert. This done, she asked, herself, to have the curtain drawn again,
to shut out the obtrusive thought for ever.
I have often thought, since the events of that sad day that Grace's
dissolution was hastened by this accidental recurrence of her mind to
Rupert and his forgotten love. I call it love, though I question if a
being so thoroughly selfish ever truly loved any one but himself; perhaps
not himself, indeed, in a way to entitle the feeling to so respectable an
epithet. Grace certainly drooped the faster from that unfortunate moment.
It is true, we all expected her death, thought it would occur that day
even, though surprised at the suddenness with which it came at last; but
we did not expect it within an hour.
And what an hour was that which succeeded! Both Mr. Hardinge and Lucy
passed quite half of it on their knees, engaged in silent prayer; for it
was thought petitions uttered aloud might disturb the sick. There were
minutes in which the stillness of the tomb already reigned among us. I am
not enough of a physician to say whether the change that now came over my
sister's mind was the consequence of any shock received in that long,
intense look at the wood, or whether it proceeded from the sinking of the
system, and was connected with that mysterious link which binds the
immortal part of our being so closely to the material, until the tie is
loosened forever. It is certain, however, that Grace's thoughts wandered;
and, while they never lost entirely their leaning towards faith and a
bright Christian hope, they became tinctured with something allied to
childish simplicity, if not absolutely to mental weakness. Nevertheless,
there was a moral beauty about Grace, that no failing of the faculties
could ever totally eradicate.
It was fully half an hour that the breathing quiet of prayer lasted. In
all that time my sister scarcely stirred, her own hands being clasped
together, and her eyes occasionally lifted to heaven. At length she seemed
to revive a little, and to observe external objects. In the end,
"Lucy, dearest," she said, "what has become of Rupert? Does he know I am
dying? If so, why does he not come and see me, for the last time?"
It is scarcely necessary for me to say how much Lucy and myself were
startled at this question. The former buried her face in her hands without
making any reply; but good Mr. Hardinge, altogether unconscious of
anything's being wrong, was eager to exculpate his son.
"Rupert has been sent for, my dear child," he said, "and, though he is
engrossed with love and Miss Merton, he will not fail to hasten hither the
instant he receives my letter."
"Miss Merton!" repeated Grace, pressing both her hands on her
temples--"who is she? I do not remember anybody of that name?"
We now understood that the mind of the dear patient was losing its powers;
of course no efforts were made to give a truer direction to her thoughts.
We could only listen, and weep. Presently, Grace passed an arm round the
neck of Lucy, and drew her towards her, with a childish earnestness.
"Lucy, love," she continued--"we will persuade these foolish boys from
this notion of going to sea. What if Miles's father, and Rupert's
great-grand-father _were_ sailors; it is no reason _they_ should be
She paused, appeared to meditate, and turned towards me. Her head was
still inclining on my bosom, and she gazed upwards at my face, as fondly
as she did in that tender meeting we held just after my return home, in
the family room. There was sufficient strength to enable her to raise her
pallid but not emaciated hand to my face, even while she passed it over my
cheeks, once more parting the curls on my temples, and playing with my
hair, with infantile fondness.
"Miles," the dear angel whispered, utterance beginning to fail her--"do
you remember what mother told us about always speaking the truth? You are
a manly boy, brother, and have too much pride to say anything but the
truth; I wish Rupert were as frank."
This was the first, the last, the only intimation I had ever heard from
Grace, of her being conscious of any defect in Rupert's character. Would
to God she had seen this important deficiency earlier! though this is
wishing a child to possess the discernment and intelligence of a woman.
The hand was still on my cheek, and I would not have had it removed at
that bitter moment to have been well assured of Lucy's love.
"See," my sister resumed, though she now spoke merely in a whisper--"how
brown his cheek is, though his forehead is white. I doubt if mother would
know him, Lucy. Is Rupert's cheek as brown as this, dear?"
"Rupert has not been as much exposed of late as Miles," Lucy answered
huskily, Grace's arm still clinging to her neck.
The well-known voice appeared to awaken a new train of thought.
"Lucy," my sister asked, "are you as fond of Miles as we both used to be,
"I have always had, and shall ever retain, a deep affection for Miles
Wallingford," Lucy answered, steadily.
Grace now turned towards me, releasing her hold of Lucy's neck, from pure
inability to sustain it; and she fastened her serene blue eyes on my
countenance, whence they never deviated while she breathed. My tears were
uncontrollable, and they seemed to perplex rather that distress her. Of a
sudden, we heard her voice aloud, speaking gently, but with a fervour that
rendered it distinct. The words she uttered were full of the undying
affection of a heart that never turned away from me for a single instant;
no, not even in the petulance of childhood. "Almighty Father," she said,
"look down from thy mercy-seat on this dear brother--keep him for thyself;
and, in thy good time, call him, through the Saviour's love, to thy
mansions of bliss."
These were the last words that Grace Wallingford ever spoke. She lived ten
minutes longer; and she died on my bosom like the infant that breathes its
last in the arms of its mother. Her lips moved several times; once I
fancied I caught the name of "Lucy," though I have reason to think she
prayed for us all, Rupert included, down to the moment she ceased
"There have been sweet singing voices
In your walks that now are still;
There are seats left void, in your earthly homes,
Which none again may fill."
I never saw the body of my sister, after I handed it, resembling a
sleeping infant, to the arms of Lucy. There is a sort of mania in some, a
morbid curiosity, to gaze on the features of the dead; but, with me, it
has ever been the reverse. I had been taken to the family room to
contemplate and weep over the faces of both my parents, but this was at an
age when it became me to be passive. I was now at a time of life when I
might be permitted to judge for myself; and, as soon as I began to think
at all on the subject, which was not for some hours, however, I resolved
that the last look of love, the sweet countenance, sinking in death it is
true, but still animate and beaming with the sentiments of her pure heart,
should be the abiding impression of my sister's form. I have cherished it
ever since, and often have I rejoiced that I did not permit any subsequent
images of a corpse to supplant it. As respects both my parents, the images
left on my mind, for years and years, was painful rather than pleasing.
Grace's body was no sooner out of my arms, I had scarcely imprinted the
last long kiss on the ivory-like but still warm forehead, than I left the
house. Clawbonny had no impertinent eyes to drive a mourner to his closet,
and I felt as if it were impossible to breathe unless I could obtain the
freedom of the open air. As I crossed the little lawn, the wails from the
kitchens reached me. Now that the invalid could no longer be disturbed by
their lamentations, the unsophisticated negroes gave vent to their
feelings without reserve. I heard their outcries long after every other
sound from the house was lost on my ear.
I held my way along the road, with no other view but to escape from the
scene I had just quitted, and entered the very little wood which might be
said to have been the last object of the external world that had attracted
my sister's attention. Here everything reminded me of the past; of the
days of childhood and youth; of the manner in which the four Clawbonny
children had lived together, and roamed these very thickets, in confidence
and love. I sat in that wood an hour; a strange, unearthly hour it seemed
to me! I saw Grace's angel countenance imprinted on the leaves, heard her
low but gay laugh, as she was wont to let it be heard in the hours of
happiness, and the tones of her gentle voice sounded in my ears almost as
familiarly as in life. Rupert and Lucy were there too. I saw them, heard
them, and tried to enter into their innocent merriment, as I had done of
old; but fearful glimpses of the sad truth would interpose, in time to
break the charm.
When I left that little wood, it was to seek a larger cover, and fields
farther removed from the house. It was dark before I thought of returning;
all that time was passed in a species of mystical hallucination, in which
the mind was lost in scenes foreign to those actually present. I saw
Grace's sweet image everywhere; I heard her voice at every turn. Now she
was the infant I was permitted to drag in her little wagon, the earliest
of all my impressions of that beloved sister; then, she was following me
as I trundled my hoop; next came her little lessons in morals, and
warnings against doing wrong, or some grave but gentle reproof for errors
actually committed; after which, I saw her in the pride of young
womanhood, lovely and fitted to be loved, the sharer of my confidence, and
one capable of entering into all my plans of life. How often that day did
the murmuring of a brook or the humming of a bee become blended in my
imagination with the song, the laugh, the call, or the prayers of that
beloved sister whose spirit had ascended to heaven, and who was no more to
mingle in my concerns or those of life!
At one time I had determined to pass the night abroad, and commune with
the stars, each of which I fancied, in turn, as they began slowly to show
themselves in the vault above, might be the abiding-place of the departed
spirit. If I thought so much and so intensely of Grace, I thought also of
Lucy. Nor was good Mr. Hardinge entirely forgotten. I felt for their
uneasiness, and saw it was my duty to return. Neb, and two or three others
of the blacks, had been looking for me in all directions but that in which
I was; and I felt a melancholy pleasure as I occasionally saw these
simple-minded creatures meet and converse. Their gestures, their
earnestness, their tears, for I could see that they were often weeping,
indicated alike that they were speaking of their "young mistress;" _how_
they spoke, I wanted no other communications to understand.
Ours had ever been a family of love. My father, manly, affectionate, and
strongly attached to my mother, was admirably suited to sustain that
dominion of the heart which the last had established from her earliest
days at Clawbonny. This power of the feelings had insensibly extended
itself to the slaves, who seldom failed to manifest how keenly alive they
all were to the interests and happiness of their owners. Among the negroes
there was but one who was considered as fallen below his proper level, or
who was regarded as an outcast. This was an old fellow who bore the name
of Vulcan, and who worked as a blacksmith on the skirts of the farm,
having been named by my grandfather with the express intention of placing
him at the anvil. This fellow's trade caused him to pass most of his youth
in an adjacent village, or hamlet, where unfortunately he had acquired
habits that unsuited him to live as those around him were accustomed to
live. He became in a measure alienated from us, drinking, and otherwise
living a life that brought great scandal on his sable connections, who
were gathered more closely around the homestead. Nevertheless, a death, or
a return home, or any important event in the family, was sure to bring
even Vulcan back to his allegiance; and, for a month afterwards, he would
be a reformed man. On this occasion he was one of those who were out in
the fields and woods in quest of me, and he happened to be the very
individual by whom I was discovered.
The awe-struck, solemn manner in which the reckless Vulcan approached,
were all other proofs wanting, would have proclaimed the weight of the
blow that had fallen on Clawbonny. The eyes of this fellow were always
red, but it was easy to see that even he had been shedding tears. He knew
he was no favourite; seldom came near me, unless it were to excuse some of
his neglects or faults, and lived under a sort of ban for his constantly
recurring misdeeds. Nevertheless, a common cause of grief now gave him
confidence, and Neb himself could hardly have approached me with a manner
of more easy but respectful familiarity.
"Ah! Masser Mile! Masser Mile!" Vulcan exclaimed, certain that we felt
alike on this topic, if on no other; "poor young missus! when we ebber get
'noder like _she!_"
"My sister is in heaven, Vulcan, where I hope all at Clawbonny, blacks as
well as whites, will endeavour to meet her, by living in a manner that
will improve the mercy of God."
"You t'ink dat _posserbul,_ Masser Mile?" demanded the old man, fixing his
dull eyes on me, with an earnest intentness that proved he had not
entirely lost all sensibility to his moral condition.
"All things are possible with God, Vulcan. Keeping him and his
commandments constantly in mind, you may still hope to see your young
mistress, and to share in her happiness."
"Wonnerful!" exclaimed the old man; "dat would be a great conserlation.
Ah! Masser Mile, how often she come when a little lady to my shop door,
and ask to see 'e spark fly! Miss Grace hab a great taste for
blacksmit'in', and a great knowledge too. I do t'ink, dat next to some
oder t'ing, she lub to see iron red-hot, and 'e horse shod!"
"You have come to look for me, Vulcan, and I thank you for this care. I
shall return to the house presently; you need give yourself no further
trouble. Remember, old man, that the only hope that remains of either of
us ever seeing Miss Grace again, is in living as Mr. Hardinge so often
tells us all we ought to live."
"Wonnerful!" repeated old Vulcan, whose mind and feelings were in a happy
condition to receive such a lesson. "Yes, _sah_, Masser Mile; she come to
my shop to see 'e spark fly;--I shall miss her like a darter."
This was a specimen of the feelings that prevailed among the negroes,
though the impression on most of the others was more lasting than that
made on the blacksmith, whom I now dismissed, taking the path myself that
led to the house. It was quite dark when I crossed the lawn. A figure was
just visible in the shadows of the piazza, and I was on the point of
turning in the direction of a side door, in order to avoid the meeting,
when Lucy advanced eagerly to the edge of the steps to receive me.
"Oh! Miles--_dear_ Miles, how happy I am to see you again," the precious
girl said, taking my hand with the warmth and frankness of a sister. "My
father and myself have been very uneasy about you; my father, indeed, has
walked towards the rectory, thinking you may have gone thither."
"I have been with you, and Grace, and your father, my good Lucy, ever
since we parted. I am more myself now, however, and you need feel no
further concern on my account. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for
that which you have already felt, and will give you no further concern."
The manner in which Lucy now burst into tears betrayed the intensity of
the feelings that had been pent up in her bosom, and the relief she found
in my assurances. She did not scruple, even, about leaning on my shoulder,
so long as the paroxysm lasted. As soon as able to command herself,
however, she wiped her eyes, again took my hand with confiding affection,
looked anxiously towards me as she said, soothingly--
"We have met with a great loss, Miles; one that even time cannot repair.
Neither of us can ever find another to fill the place that Grace has
occupied. Our lives cannot be lived over again; we cannot return to
childhood; feel as children; love as children; live as children; and grow
up together, as it might be, with one heart, with the same views, the same
wishes, the same opinions; I hope it is not presuming on too great a
resemblance to the departed angel, if I add, the same principles."
"No, Lucy; the past, for us, is gone for ever. Clawbonny will never again
be the Clawbonny it was."
There was a pause, during which I fancied Lucy was struggling to repress
some fresh burst of emotion.
"Yet, Miles," she presently resumed, "we could not ask to have her
recalled from that bliss which we have so much reason to believe she is
even now enjoying. In a short time Grace will be to you and me a lovely
and grateful image of goodness, and virtue, and affection; and we shall
have a saddened, perhaps, but a deep-felt pleasure in remembering how much
we enjoyed of her affection, and how closely she was united to us both
"That will be indeed a link between us two, Lucy, that I trust may
withstand _all_ the changes and withering selfishness of the world!"
"I hope it may, Miles," Lucy answered, in a low voice; and, as I fancied
at the moment, with an embarrassment that I did not fail to attribute to
the consciousness she felt of Andrew Drewett's claims on all such intimate
association of feeling. "We, who have known each other from children, can
scarcely want causes for continuing to esteem and to regard each other
Lucy now appeared to think she might trust me to myself, and she led the
way into the house. I did not see her again until Mr. Hardinge caused the
whole household to be assembled at evening prayers. The meeting of the
family that night was solemn and mournful. For myself, I fancied that the
spirit of Grace was hovering around us; more than once did I fancy that I
heard her sweet, voice mingling in the petitions, or leading the service,
as was her practice on those occasions when our good guardian could not
attend. I observed all the negroes looking at me with solicitude, like
those who recognised my right to feel the blow the deepest, It was a
touching evidence of respectful interest that each man bowed to me
reverently, and each woman curtsied, as he or she left the room. As for
Chloe, sobs nearly choked her; the poor girl having refused to quit the
body of her mistress except for that short moment. I thought Lucy would
have remained with her father and myself for a few minutes, but for the
necessity of removing this poor heart-stricken creature, who really felt
as if the death of her young mistress was a toss of part of her own
I have already dwelt on the circumstances attending the death of Grace
longer than I intended, and shall now cease to harass my own feelings, or
to distress those of my readers by unnecessarily enlarging on more of the
details. The next three or four days produced the usual calm; and though
it was literally years ere Lucy or myself ceased altogether to weep for
her loss, we both obtained the self-command that was necessary for the
discharge of our ordinary duties. Grace, it will be remembered, died of a
Sunday, about the usual hour for dinner. Agreeably to the custom of the
country, in which there is usually a little too much of an indecent haste
in disposing of the dead, owing in some degree to climate, however, the
funeral would have taken place on Wednesday, and that would have been
delaying twenty-four hours longer than might have been granted in most
cases; but Mr. Hardinge, who gave all the directions, had named Thursday
noon as the hour for the interment. We had few relatives to expect; most
of those who would have been likely to attend, had circumstances admitted
of it, living in distant places that rendered it inconvenient, and indeed
I passed most of the intervening time in my study, reading and indulging
in such contemplations as naturally suggest themselves to the mourner.
Lucy, dear girl, had written me two or three short notes, asking my wishes
on various points; among other things, when I wished to pay a last visit
to the body. My answer to this question brought her to my room, with some
little surprise of manner; for she had been so much with Grace, living and
dead, as to think it strange one who had loved her so well while living
should not desire to take a final look at the beautiful remains. I
explained my feelings on this head, and Lucy seemed struck with them.
"I am not sure you will not have decided wisely, Miles," she said--"the
picture being one too precious to destroy. You will be gratified in
knowing, however, that Grace resembles an angel quite as much in death as
she did in life; all who have seen her being struck with the air of
peaceful tranquillity her features now present."
"Bless you--bless you, Lucy--this is all-sufficient. I did wish for some
such assurance, and am now content."
"Several of your family are in the house, Miles, in readiness to attend
the funeral; a stranger has just arrived who seems to have some such
desire, too, though his face is unknown to all at the place. He has asked
to see you with an earnestness that my father scarce knows how to refuse."
"Let him come here, then, Lucy. I can only suppose it to be some one of
the many persons Grace has served; her short life was all activity in that
Lucy's face did not corroborate that notion; but she withdrew to let my
decision be known. In a few minutes a large, hard-featured, but not
ill-looking man approaching fifty, entered my room, walked up to me with
tears in his eyes, squeezed my hand warmly, and then seated himself
without ceremony. He was attired like a thriving countryman, though his
language, accent, and manner denoted one superior to the ordinary run of
those with whom he was otherwise associated in externals. I had to look at
him a second time ere I could recognise Jack Wallingford, my father's
bachelor cousin, the western land-holder.
"I see by your look, cousin Miles, that you only half, remember me," my
visitor remarked; "I deeply regret that I am obliged to renew our
acquaintance on so melancholy an occasion."
"There are so few of, us left, Mr. Wallingford, that this kindness will be
doubly appreciated," I answered. "If I did not give orders to have you
apprised of the loss we have all sustained, it is because your residence
is so far from Clawbonny as to render it improbable you could have
received the intelligence in time to attend the solemn ceremony that
remains to be performed. I did intend to write to you, when a little
better fitted to perform such a duty."
"I thank you, cousin. The blood and name of Wallingford are very near and
dear to me, and Clawbonny has always seemed a sort of home."
"The dear creature who now lies dead under its roof, cousin John, so
considered you; and you may be pleased to know that she wished me to leave
you this property in my will the last time I went to sea, as of the direct
line, a Wallingford being the proper owner of Clawbonny. In that
particular, she preferred your claims to her own."
"Ay, this agrees with all I ever heard of the angel," answered John
Wallingford, dashing a tear from his eyes, a circumstance that gave one a
favourable opinion of his heart. "Of course you refused, and left the
property to herself, who had a better right to it."
"I did sir; though she threatened to transfer it to you, the moment it
"A threat she would have found it difficult to execute, as I certainly
would have refused to receive it. We are half savages, no doubt, out west
of the bridge; but our lands are beginning to tell in the markets, and we
count already some rich men among us."
This was said with a self-satisfied manner, that my cousin was a little
too apt to assume when property became the subject of conversation. I had
occasion several times that day, even, to remark that he attached a high
value to money; though, at the same time, it struck me that most of his
notions were just and honourable. He quite worked his way into my favour,
however, by the respect he manifested for Clawbonny, and all that belonged
to it. So deep was this veneration, that I began to think of the necessity
of making a new will, in order to bequeath him the place in the event of
my dying without heirs, as I now imagined must sooner or later occur. As
Lucy was not likely to be my wife, no one else, I fancied, ever should be.
I had nearer relations than Jack Wallingford, some of whom were then in
the house; cousins-german by both father and mother; but they were not of
the direct line; and I knew that Miles the First would have made this
disposition of the place, could he have foreseen events, and had the law
allowed it. Then Grace had wished such an arrangement, and I had a sad
happiness in executing all the known wishes of my sister.
The funeral did not occur until the day after the arrival of John
Wallingford, who accidentally heard of the death that had occurred in the
family, and came uninvited to attend the obsequies, as has been mentioned.
I passed most of the evening in the company of this relative, with whom I
became so much pleased as to request he would walk with me next day as
second nearest of kin. This arrangement, as I had reason to know in the
end, gave great offence to several who stood one degree nearer in blood to
the deceased, though not of her name. Thus are we constituted!--we will
quarrel over a grave even, a moment that should lay open eternity to our
view, with all its immense consequences and accompaniments, in order to
vindicate feelings and passions that can only interest us, as it might be,
for a day. Fortunately I knew nothing of the offence that was taken at
the time, nor did I see any of my kinsmen but John Wallingford that
evening; his presence in my room being owing altogether to a certain
self-possession and an _a plomb_ that caused him to do very much as he
pleased in such matters.
I rose on the following morning at a late hour, and with a heaviness at
the heart that was natural to the occasion. It was a lovely summer's day;
but all in and around Clawbonny wore the air of a Sunday. The procession
was to form at ten o'clock; and, as I cast my eyes from my window, I could
see the negroes moving about on the lawns, and in the lanes, attired in
their best, but wearing no holiday faces. It seemed to me to be a species
of unnatural Sabbath, possessing all its solemnity, its holy stillness,
its breathing calm, but wanting in that solacing spirit of peace which is
so apt to be imparted to the day of rest in the country, most particularly
at that season of the year. Several of the neighbours, who did not belong
to Clawbonny, were beginning to appear; and I felt the necessity of
dressing in order to be in readiness for what was to follow.
I had eaten alone in my little study or library from the time my sister
died, and had seen no one since my return to the house, the servants
excepted, besides my guardian, Lucy, and John Wallingford. The last had
taken a light supper with me the previous night; but he was then
breakfasting with the rest of the guests in the family eating-room, Mr.
Hardinge doing the honours of the house.
As for myself, I found my own little table prepared with its coffee and
light meal, as I had ordered before retiring. It had _two_ cups, however,
and a second plate had been laid in addition to my own. I pointed to this
arrangement, and demanded of the old white-headed house-servant, who was
in-waiting, what it meant.
"Miss Lucy, sah--she say she mean to breakfast wid Masser Mile, dis
Even the accents of this negro were solemn and sad as he made this
familiar explanation, like those of a man who was conscious of having
reached an hour and an occasion that called for peculiar awe. I bade him
let Miss Lucy know that I was in the study.
"Ah, Masser Mile," added the old man, with tears in his eyes as he left
the room, "Miss Lucy 'e only young missus now, sah!"
In a few minutes Lucy joined me. She was in deep black of course, and that
may have added to the appearance of paleness; but no one could be deceived
in the manner in which the dear girl had mourned and wept since we parted.
The subdued expression of her face gave it a peculiar sweetness; and, in
spite of the absence of colour, I thought, as Lucy advanced towards me,
both hands extended, and a smile of anxious inquiry on her lips, that she
had never appeared more lovely. I did not hesitate about pressing those
hands with fervour, and of kissing the warm though colourless cheek. All
this passed as it might have done between an affectionate brother and
sister, neither of us thinking, I am persuaded, of aught but the
confidence and friendship of childhood.
"This is kind of you, dear Lucy," I said, as we took our seats at the
little table; "my cousin John Wallingford, though a good man in the main,
is scarcely near enough, or _dear_ enough, to be admitted at a time
"I have seen him," Lucy replied--the tremour in her voice showing how hard
she found it to avoid melting in tears, "and rather like him. I believe he
was a favourite with mamma Wallingford," so Lucy was accustomed to call my
mother, "and that ought to be a high recommendation with us, Miles."
"I am disposed to like him, and shall endeavour to keep up more
intercourse with him than I have hitherto done. It is as we begin to find
ourselves alone in the world, Lucy, that we first feel the necessity of
counting blood and kin, and of looking around us for support."
"Alone you are not, Miles, and never can be while I and my dear father
live. We are certainly nearer to you than any that now remain among your
blood relatives! You can neither suffer nor be happy without our partaking
in the feelings."
This was not said without an effort; that much I could detect; yet it was
said firmly, and in a way that left no doubt of its entire sincerity. I
even wished there had been less of nature and more of hesitation in the
dear girl's manner while she was endeavouring to assure me of the
sympathy she felt in my happiness or unhappiness. But the waywardness of a
passion as tormenting, and yet as delightful as love, seldom leaves us
just or reasonable.
Lucy and I then talked of the approaching ceremony. Each of us was grave
and sorrowful, but neither indulged in any outward signs of grief. We knew
the last sad offices were to be performed, and had braced ourselves to the
discharge of this melancholy duty. It was not customary with the females
of purely New York families of the class of the Hardinges, to be present
at the performance of the funeral rites; but Lucy told me she intended to
be in the little church, and to share in as much of the religious offices
as were performed within the building. In a population as mixed as ours
has become, it is not easy to say what is and what is not now a national
or state usage, on such an occasion; but I knew this was going farther
than was usual for one of Lucy's habits and opinions, and I expressed a
little surprise at her determination.
"Were it at any other funeral, I would not be present, Miles," she said,
the tremour of her voice sensibly increasing; "but I cannot divest myself
of the idea that the spirit of Grace will be hovering near; that the
presence of her more than sister will be acceptable. Whatever the
Providence of God may have ordered for the dear departed, I know it will
be grateful to myself to join in the prayers of the church--besides, I am
not altogether without the womanly feeling of wishing to watch over the
form of Grace while it remains above ground. And now, Miles, brother,
friend, _Grace's_ brother, or by whatever endearing term I may address
you," added Lucy, rising, coming to my side of the table, and taking my
hand. "I have one thing to say that I alone can say, for it would never
suggest itself as necessary to my dear father."
I looked earnestly at Lucy's sweet countenance, and saw it was full of
concern--I had almost said of alarm.
"I believe I understand you, Lucy," I answered, though a sensation at the
throat nearly choked me--"Rupert is here?"
"He is, Miles; I implore you to remember what would be the wishes of her
who is now a saint in heaven--what her entreaties, her tears would
implore of you, had not God placed a barrier between us."
"I understand you, Lucy"--was the husky reply--"I do remember all you
wish, though that recollection is unnecessary. I would rather not see him;
but never can! forget that he is your brother!"
"You will see as little of him as possible, Miles--bless you, bless you,
for this forbearance!"
I felt Lucy's hasty but warm kiss on my forehead as she quitted the room.
It seemed to me a seal of a compact between us that was far too sacred
ever to allow me to dream of violating it.
I pass over the details of the funeral procession. This last was ordered
as is usual in the country, the friends following the body in vehicles or
on horseback, according to circumstances. John Wallingford went with me
agreeably to my own arrangement, and the rest took their places in the
order of consanguinity and age. I did not see Rupert in the procession at
all, though I saw little beside the hearse that bore the body of my only
sister. When we reached the church-yard, the blacks of the family pressed
forward to bear the coffin into the building. Mr. Hardinge met us there,
and then commenced those beautiful and solemn rites which seldom fail to
touch the hardest heart. The rector of St. Michael's had the great
excellence of reading all the offices of the church as if he felt them;
and, on this occasion, the deepest feelings of the heart seemed to be
thrown into his accents. I wondered how he could get on; but Mr. Hardinge
felt himself a servant of the altar, standing in his master's house, and
ready to submit to his will. Under such circumstances it was not a trifle
that could unman him. The spirit of the divine communicated itself to me.
I did not shed a tear during the whole of the ceremony, but felt myself
sustained by the thoughts and holy hopes that ceremony was adapted to
inspire. I believe Lucy, who sat in a far corner of the church, was
sustained in a similar manner; for I heard her low sweet voice mingling in
the responses. Lip service! Let those who would substitute their own crude
impulses for the sublime rites of our liturgy, making ill digested forms
the supplanter of a ritual carefully and devoutly prepared, listen to one
of their own semi-conversational addresses to the Almighty over a grave,
and then hearken to these venerable rites, and learn humility. Such men
never approach sublimity, or the sacred character that should be impressed
on a funeral ceremony, except when they borrow a fragment here and there
from the very ritual they affect to condemn. In their eagerness to
dissent, they have been guilty of the weakness of dissenting, so far as
forms are concerned, from some of the loftiest, most comprehensive, most
consolatory and most instructive passages of the inspired book!
It was a terrible moment when the first clod of the valley fell on my
sister's coffin. God sustained me under the shock! I neither groaned nor
wept. When Mr. Hardinge returned the customary thanks to those who had
assembled to assist me "in burying my dead out of my sight," I had even
sufficient fortitude to bow to the little crowd, and to walk steadily
away. It is true, that John Wallingford very kindly took my arm to sustain
me, but I was not conscious of wanting any support. I heard the sobs of
the blacks as they crowded around the grave, which the men among them
insisted on filling with their own hands, as if "Miss Grace" could only
rest with their administration to her wants; and I was told not one of
them left the spot until the place had resumed all the appearance of
freshness and verdure which it possessed before the spade had been
applied. The same roses, removed with care, were restored to their former
beds; and it would not have been easy for a stranger to discover that a
new-made grave lay by the side of those of the late Captain Miles
Wallingford and his much-respected widow. Still it was known to all in
that vicinity, and many a pilgrimage was made to the spot within the next
fortnight, the young maidens of the adjoining farms in particular coming
to visit the grave of Grace Wallingford, the "Lily of Clawbonny," as she
had once been styled.
"I knew that we must part--no power could save
Thy quiet goodness from an early grave:
Those eyes so dull, though kind each glance they cast,
Looking a sister's fondness to the last;
Thy lips so pale, that gently press'd my cheek;
Thy voice--alas! Thou could'st but try to speak;--
All told thy doom; I felt it at my heart;
The shaft had struck--I knew that we must part."
It is not easy to describe the sensation of loss that came over me after
the interment of my sister. It is then we completely feel the privation
with which we have met. The body is removed from out of our sight; the
places that knew them shall know them no more; there is an end to all
communion, even by the agency of sight, the last of the senses to lose its
hold on the departed, and a void exists in the place once occupied. I felt
all this very keenly, for more than a month, but most keenly during the
short time I remained at Clawbonny. The task before me, however, will not
allow me to dwell on these proofs of sorrow, nor do I know that the reader
could derive much advantage from their exhibition.
I did not see Rupert at the funeral. That he was there I knew, but either
he, himself, or Lucy for him, had managed so well, as not to obtrude his
person on my sight. John Wallingford, who well knew my external or visible
relation to all the Hardinges, thinking to do me a pleasure, mentioned, as
the little procession returned to the house, that young Mr. Hardinge had,
by dint of great activity, succeeded in reaching Clawbonny in time for the
funeral. I fancy that Lucy, under the pretence of wishing his escort,
contrived to keep her brother at the rectory during the time I was abroad.
On reaching the house, I saw all my connexions, and thanked them in person
for this proof of their respect for the deceased. This little duty
performed, all but John Wallingford took their leave, and I was soon left
in the place alone with my bachelor cousin. What a house it was! and what
a house it continued to be as long as I remained at Clawbonny! The
servants moved about it stealthily; the merry laugh was no longer heard in
the kitchen; even the heavy-footed seemed to tread on air, and all around
me appeared to be afraid of disturbing the slumbers of the dead. Never
before, nor since, have I had occasion to feel how completely a negative
may assume an affirmative character, and become as positive as if it had a
real existence. I thought I could _see_ as well as feel my sister's
absence from the scene in which she had once been so conspicuous an actor.
As none of the Hardinges returned to dinner, the good divine writing a
note to say he would see me in the evening after my connexions had
withdrawn, John Wallingford and myself took that meal _tete a tete_. My
cousin, with the apparent motive of diverting my thoughts from dwelling on
the recent scene, began to converse on subjects that he was right in
supposing might interest me. Instead of flying off to some topic so
foreign to my feelings as constantly to recall the reason, he judiciously
connected the theme with my loss.
"I suppose you will go to sea again, as soon as your ship can be got
ready, cousin Miles," he commenced, after we were left with the fruit and
wine. "These are stirring times in commerce, and the idle man misses
"Gold has no longer any charm for me, cousin John," I answered gloomily.
"I am richer now than is necessary for my wants, and, as I shall probably
never marry, I see no great use in toiling for more. Still, I shall go out
in my own ship, and that as soon as possible. _Here_ I would not pass the
summer for the place, and I love the sea. Yes, yes; I must make a voyage
to some part of Europe without delay. It is the wisest thing I can do."
"That is hearty, and like a man! There is none of your mopes about the
Wallingfords, and I believe you to be of the true stock. But why never
marry, Miles? Your father was a sailor, and _he_ married, and a very good
time I've always understood he had of it."
"My father was happy as a husband, and, did I imitate his example, I
should certainly marry, too. Nevertheless, I feel I am to be a bachelor."
"In that case, what will become of Clawbonny?" demanded Jack Wallingford,
I could not avoid smiling at the question, as I deemed him my heir, though
the law would give it to nearer relatives, who were not of the name; but
it is probable that John, knowing himself to be so much my senior, had
never thought of himself as one likely to outlive me.
"I shall make a new will, the instant I get to town, and leave Clawbonny
to you," I answered steadily, and truly, for such a thought had come into
my mind the instant I saw him. "You are the person best entitled to
inherit it, and should you survive me, yours it shall be."
"Miles, I like that," exclaimed my cousin, with a strange sincerity,
stretching out a hand to receive mine, which he pressed most warmly. "You
are very right; I _ought_ to be the heir of this place, should you die
without children, even though you left a widow,"
This was said so naturally, and was so much in conformity with my own
notions on the subject, that it did not so much offend, as surprise me. I
knew John Wallingford loved money, and, all men having a very respectful
attachment to the representative of value, such a character invariably
means, that the party named suffers that attachment to carry him too far.
I wished, therefore, my kinsman had not made just such a speech; though it
in no manner shook my intentions in his favour.
"You are more ready to advise your friends to get married, than to set the
example," I answered, willing to divert the discourse a little. "You, who
must be turned of fifty, are still a bachelor."
"And so shall I remain through life. There was a time I might have
married, had I been rich; and now I am reasonably rich, I find other
things to employ my affections. Still, that is no reason you should not
leave me Clawbonny, though it is not probable I shall ever live to inherit
it. Notwithstanding, it is family property, and ought not to go out of the
name. I was afraid, if you were, lost at sea, or should die of any of
those outlandish fevers that sailors sometimes take, the place would get
into females, and there would no longer be a Wallingford at Clawbonny.
Miles, I do not grudge _you_ the possession of the property the least in
the world; but it would make me very unhappy to know one of those Hazens,
or Morgans, or Van-der-Schamps had it." Jack had mentioned the names of
the children of so many Miss Wallingfords, aunts or great-aunts, of mine,
and cousins of his own.--"Some of them may be nearer to you, by a
half-degree, or so, but none of them are as near to Clawbonny. It is
Wallingford land, and Wallingford land it ought to remain."
I was amused in spite of myself, and felt a disposition now, to push the
discourse further, in order better to understand my kinsman's character.
"Should neither of us two marry," I said, "and both die bachelors, what
would then be the fate of Clawbonny?"
"I have thought of all that, Miles, and here is my answer: Should such a
thing happen, and there be no other Wallingford left, then no
Wallingford would live to have his feelings hurt by knowing that a
Vander-dunder-Schamp, or whatever these Dutchmen ought to be called, is
living in his father's house; and no harm would be done. But, there _are_
Wallingfords besides you and me."
"This is quite new; for I had supposed we two were the last."
"Not so: Miles the first left two sons; our ancestor, the eldest, and one
younger, who removed into the colony of New Jersey, and whose descendants
still exist. The survivors of us two might go there in quest of our heir,
in the long run. But do not forget I come before these Jersey Blues, let
them be who, or what they may."
I assured my kinsman he _should_ come before them, and changed the
discourse; for, to own the truth, the manner in which he spoke began to
displease me. Making my apologies, I retired to my own room, while John
Wallingford went out, professedly with the intention of riding over the
place of his ancestors, with a view to give it a more critical exanimation
than it had hitherto been in his power to do.
It was quite dark, when I heard the arrival of the Hardinges, as the
carriage of Lucy drove up to the door. In a few minutes Mr. Hardinge
entered the study. He first inquired after my health, and manifested the
kind interest he had ever taken in my feelings; after which, he
"Rupert is here," he said, "and I have brought him over to see you. Both
he and Lucy appeared to think it might be well not to disturb you
to-night; but I knew you better. Who should be at your side at this bitter
moment, my dear Miles, if it be not Rupert, your old friend and play-mate;
your fellow truant, as one might say, and almost your brother?"
Almost my brother! Still I commanded myself. Grace had received my solemn
assurances, and so had Lucy, and Rupert had nothing to apprehend. I even
asked to see him, desiring, at the same time, that it might be alone. I
waited several minutes for Rupert's appearance, in vain. At length the
door of my room opened, and Chloe brought me a note. It was from Lucy, and
contained only these words--"Miles, for _her_ sake, for mine, command
yourself." Dear creature! She had no reason to be alarmed. The spirit of
my sister seemed to me to be present; and I could recall every expression
of her angel-countenance as it had passed before my eyes in the different
interviews that preceded her death.
At length Rupert appeared. He had been detained by Lucy until certain her
note was received, when she permitted him to quit her side. His manner was
full of the consciousness of undeserving, and its humility aided my good
resolutions. Had he advanced to take my hand; had he attempted
consolation; had he, in short, behaved differently in the main from what
he actually did, I cannot say what might have been the consequences. But
his deportment, at first, was quiet, respectful, distant rather than
familiar, and he had the tact, or grace, or caution, not to make the
smallest allusion to the sad occasion which had brought him to Clawbonny.
When I asked him to be seated, he declined the chair I offered, a sign he
intended the visit to be short. I was not sorry, and determined, at once,
to make the interview as much one of business as possible. I had a sacred
duty confided to me, and this might be as fit an occasion as could offer
in which to acquit myself of the trust.
"I am glad so early an opportunity has offered, Mr. Hardinge," I said, as
soon as the opening civilities were over, "to acquaint you with an affair
that has been entrusted to me by Grace, and which I am anxious to dispose
of as soon as possible."
"By Grace--by Miss Wallingford!" exclaimed Rupert, actually recoiling a
step in surprise, if not absolutely in alarm--"I shall feel
honoured--that is, shall have a melancholy gratification in endeavouring
to execute any of her wishes. No person commanded more of my respect, Mr.
Wallingford, and I shall always consider her one of the most amiable and
admirable women with whom it was ever my happy fortune to be acquainted."
I had no difficulty now in commanding myself, for it was easy to see
Rupert scarce knew what he said. With such a man I saw no great necessity
for using extraordinary delicacy or much reserve.
"You are doubtless aware of two things in our family history," I
continued, therefore, without circumlocution: "one that my sister would
have been mistress of a small fortune, had she reached the term of
twenty-one years, and the other that she died at twenty."
Rupert's surprise was now more natural, and I could see that his
interest--shame on our propensities for it!--was very natural, too.
"I am aware of both, and deeply deplore the last," he answered.
"Being a minor, she had it not in her power to make a will, but her
requests are legal legacies in my eyes, and I stand pledged to her to see
them executed. She has left rather less than $22,000 in all; with $500 of
this money I am to present Lucy with some suitable memorial of her
departed friend; some small charitable dispositions are also to be made,
and the balance, or the round sum of $20,000, is to be given to you."
"To me, Mr. Wallingford!--Miles!--Did you really say to me?"
"To you, Mr. Hardinge,--such is my sister's earnest request--and this
letter will declare it, as from herself. I was to hand you this letter,
when acquainting you with the bequest." I put Grace's letter into Rupert's
hand, as I concluded, and I sat down to write, while he was reading it.
Though employed at a desk for a minute or two, I could not avoid glancing
at Rupert, in order to ascertain the effect of the last words of her he
had once professed to love. I would wish not to be unjust even to Rupert
Hardinge. He was dreadfully agitated, and he walked the room, for some
little time, without speaking. I even fancied I overheard a
half-suppressed groan. I had the compassion to affect to be engaged, in
order to allow him to recover his self-possession. This was soon done, as
good impressions were not lasting in Rupert; and I knew him so well, as
soon to read in his countenance, gleanings of satisfaction at the prospect
of being master of so large a sum. At the proper moment, I arose and
resumed the subject.
"My sister's wishes would be sacred with me," I said, even had she not
received my promise to see them executed. "When a thing of this character
is to be done the sooner it is done the better. I have drawn a note at ten
days, payable at the Bank of New York, and in your favour, for $20,000: it
will not inconvenience me to pay it when due, and that will close the
"I am not certain, Wallingford, that I ought to receive so large a sum--I
do not know that my father, or Lucy or indeed the world, would altogether
approve of it."
"Neither your father, nor Lucy, nor the world will know anything about it,
sir, unless you see fit to acquaint them I shall not speak of the bequest;
and I confess that, on my sister's account, I should prefer that _you_
"Well, Mr. Hardinge," answered Rupert, coolly putting the note into his
wallet, "I will think of this request of poor Grace's, and if I can
possibly comply with her wishes, I will certainly do so. There is little
that she could ask that I would deny, and my effort will be to honour her
memory. As I see you are distressed, I will now retire; you shall know my
determination in a few days."
Rupert did retire, taking my note for $20,000 with him. I made no effort
to detain him, nor was I sorry to hear he had returned to the rectory to
pass the night, whither his sister went with him. The next day he
proceeded to New York, without sending me any message, retaining the note
however; and, a day or two later, I heard of him on his way to the springs
to rejoin the party of the Mertons.
John Wallingford left me the morning of the day after the funeral,
promising to see me again in town. "Do no forget the will, Miles," said
that singular man, as he shook my hand, "and be certain to let me see that
provision in it about Clawbonny, before I go west of the bridge, again.
Between relations _of the same name_, there should be no reserves in
I scarce knew whether to smile or to look grave, at so strange a request;
but I did not change my determination on the subject of the will, itself:
feeling that justice required of me such a disposition of the property. I
confess there were moments when I distrusted the character of one who
could urge a claim of this nature in so plain a manner; and that, too, at
an instant when the contemplated contingency seemed the more probable from
the circumstance that death had so recently been among us.
Notwithstanding, there was so much frankness in my kinsman's manner, he
appeared to sympathize so sincerely in my loss, and his opinions were so
similar to my own, that these unpleasant twinges lasted but for brief
intervals. On the whole, my opinion was very favourable to John
Wallingford, and, as will be seen in the sequel, he soon obtained my
After the departure of all my kindred, I felt, indeed, how completely I
was left alone in the world. Lucy passed the night at the rectory, to keep
her brother company, and good Mr. Hardinge, though _thinking_ he remained
with me to offer sympathy and consolation, found so many demands on his
time, that I saw but little of him. It is possible he understood me
sufficiently well to know that solitude and reflection, while the
appearance of the first was avoided, were better for one of my temperament
than any set forms of condolence. At any rate, he was at hand, while he
said but little to me on the subject of my loss.
At last I got through the day; and a long and dreary day it was to me. The
evening came, bland, refreshing, bringing with it the softer light of a
young moon. I was walking on the lawn, when the beauty of the night
brought Grace and her tastes vividly to my mind, and, by a sudden impulse,
I was soon swiftly walking towards her now silent grave. The highways
around Clawbonny were never much frequented; but at this hour, and so soon
after the solemn procession it had so lately seen, no one was met on the
road towards the church-yard. It was months, indeed, after the funeral,
that any of the slaves ventured into the latter by night; and, even during
the day, they approached it with an awe that nothing could have inspired
but the death of a Wallingford. Perhaps it was owing to my increased age
and greater observation, but I fancied that these simple beings felt the
death of their young mistress more than they had felt that of my mother.
St. Michael's church-yard is beautifully ornamented with flourishing
cedars. These trees had been cultivated with care, and formed an
appropriate ornament for the place. A fine cluster of them shaded the
graves of my family, and a rustic seat had been placed beneath their
branches, by order of my mother, who had been in the habit of passing
hours in meditation at the grave of her husband. Grace and I, and Lucy,
had often repaired to the same place at night, after my mother's death,
and there we used to sit many an hour, in deep silence; or, if utterance
were given to a thought, it was in a respectful whisper. As I now
approached this seat, I had a bitter satisfaction in remembering that
Rupert had never accompanied us in these pious little pilgrimages. Even in
the day of her greatest ascendancy, Grace had been unable to enlist her
admirer in an act so repugnant to his innate character. As for Lucy, her
own family lay on one side of that cluster of cedars, as mine lay on the
other; and often had I seen the dear young creature weeping, as her eyes
were riveted on the graves of relatives she had never known. But _my_
mother had been _her_ mother, and for this friend she felt an attachment
almost as strong as that which was entertained by ourselves. I am not
certain I ought not to say, an attachment _quite_ as strong as our own.
I was apprehensive some visitors might be hovering near the grave of my
sister at that witching hour, and I approached the cedars cautiously,
intending to retire unseen should such prove to be the case. I saw no one,
however, and proceeded directly to the line of graves, placing myself at
the foot of the freshest and most newly made. Hardly was this done, when I
heard the word "Miles!" uttered in a low, half-stifled exclamation. It was
not easy for me to mistake the voice of Lucy; she was seated so near the
trunk of a cedar that her dark dress had been confounded with the shadows
of the tree. I went to the spot, and took a seat at her side.
"I am not surprised to find _you_ here," I said, taking the dear girl's
hand, by a sort of mechanical mode of manifesting affection which had
grown up between us from childhood, rather than from, any sudden
impulse--"_you_ that watched over her so faithfully during the last hours
of her existence."
"Ah! Miles," returned a voice that was filled with sadness, "how little
did I anticipate this when you spoke of Grace in the brief interview we
had at the theatre!"
I understood my companion fully. Lucy had been educated superior to cant
and false morals. Her father drew accurate and manly distinctions between
sin and the exactions of a puritanical presumption that would set up its
own narrow notions as the law of God; and, innocent as she was, no thought
of error was associated with the indulgence of her innocent pleasures. But
Grace, suffering and in sorrow, while she herself had been listening to
the wonderful poems of Shakspeare, did present a painful picture to her
mind, which, so far from being satisfied with what she had done in my
sister's behalf, was tenderly reproachful on account of fancied omissions.
"It is the will of God, Lucy," I answered. "It must be our effort to be
"If _you_ can think thus, Miles, how much easier ought it to be for me!
"Yet, what, Lucy? I believe you loved my sister as affectionately as I did
myself, but I am sensitive on this point; and, tender, true, warm as I
know your heart to be, I cannot allow that even you loved her more."
"It is not that, Miles--it is not that. Have I no cause of particular
regret--no sense of shame--no feeling of deep humility to add to my grief
for her loss?"
"I understand you, Lucy, and at once answer, no. You are not Rupert any
more than Rupert is you. Let all others become what they may, you will
ever remain Lucy Hardinge."
"I thank you, Miles," answered my companion, gently pressing the hand that
still retained hers, "and thank you from my heart. But your generous
nature will not sae this matter as others might. We were aliens to your
blood, dwellers under your own roof, received into the bosom of your own
family, and were bound by every sacred obligation to do you no wrong. I
would not have my dear, upright father know the truth for worlds."
"He never will know it, Lucy, and it is my earnest desire that we all
forget it. Henceforth Rupert and I must be strangers, though the tie that
exists between me and the rest of your family will only be drawn the
closer for this sad event."
"Rupert is my brother--" Lucy answered, though it was in a voice so low
that her words were barely audible.
"You would not leave me quite alone in the world!" I said, with something
like reproachful energy.
"No, Miles, no--_that_ tie, as you have said, must and should last for
life. Nor do I wish you to regard Rupert as of old. It is
impossible--improper even--but you can concede to us some of that same
indulgence which I am so willing to concede to you."
"Certainly--Rupert is your brother, as you say, and I do not wish you ever
to regard him, otherwise. He will marry Emily Merton, and I trust he may
be happy. Here, over my sister's grave, Lucy, I renew the pledge already
made to you, never to act on what has occurred."
I got no answer to this declaration in words, but Lucy would actually have
kissed my hand in gratitude had I permitted it. This I could not suffer,
however, but raised her own hand to my lips, where it was held until the
dear girl gently withdrew it herself.
"Miles," Lucy said, after a long and thoughtful pause, "it is not good for
you to remain at Clawbonny, just at this time. Your kinsman, John
Wallingford, has been here, and I think you like him. Why not pay him a
visit? He resides near Niagara, 'West of the Bridge,' as he calls it,
and you might take the opportunity of seeing the 'Falls.'"
[Footnote 3: In the western part of the State of New York, there are
several small lakes that lie nearly parallel to each other, and not far
asunder, with lengths that vary from fifteen to forty miles. The outlet
of one of these lakes--the Cayuga--lies in the route of the great
thorough-fare to Buffalo, and a bridge of a mile in length was early
thrown across it. From this circumstance has arisen the expression of
saying, "West of the Bridge;" meaning the frontier counties, which
include, among-other districts, that which is also known as the
"I understand you, Lucy, and am truly grateful for the interest you feel
in my happiness. I do not intend to remain long at Clawbonny, which I
shall leave to-morrow--"
"To-morrow!" interrupted Lucy, and I thought like one who was alarmed.
"Does that appear too early? I feel the necessity of occupation, as well
as of a change of scene. You will remember I have a ship and interests, of
moment to myself, to care for: I must turn my face, and move towards the
east, instead of towards the west."
"You intend then, Miles, to pursue this profession of yours!" Lucy said,
as I thought, with a little like gentle regret in her manner and tones.
"Certainly--what better can I do? I want not wealth, I allow; am rich
enough already for all my wants, but I have need of occupation. The sea is
to my liking, I am still young, and can afford a few more years on the
water. I shall never marry--" Lucy started--"and having now no heir nearer
than John Wallingford"--
"John Wallingford!--you have cousins much nearer than he!"
"That is true; but not of the old line. It was Grace's wish that I should
leave our cousin John the Clawbonny property at least, whatever I do with
the rest. You are so rich now as not to need it, Lucy; else would I leave
every shilling to you."
"I believe you would, dear Miles," answered Lucy, with fervent warmth of
manner. "You have ever been all that is good and kind to me, and I shall
never forget it."
"Talk of my kindness to you, Lucy, when you parted with every cent you had
on earth to give me the gold you possessed, on my going to sea. I am
almost sorry you are now so much richer than myself, else would I
certainly make you my heir."
"We will not talk of money any longer in this sacred place," Lucy answered
tremulously. "What I did as a foolish girl you will forget; we were but
children then, Miles."
So Lucy did not wish me to remember certain passages in our earlier youth!
Doubtless her present relations to Andrew Drewett rendered the
recollection delicate, if not unpleasant. I thought this less like herself
than was her wont--Lucy, who was usually so simple-minded, so
affectionate, so frank and so true. Nevertheless, love is an engrossing
sentiment, as I could feel in my own case, and it might be that its
jealous sensitiveness took the alarm at even that which was so innocent
and sincere. The effect of these considerations, added to that of Lucy's
remark, was to change the discourse, and we conversed long, in melancholy
sadness, of her we had lost, for this life, altogether.
"We may live, ourselves, to grow old, Miles," Lucy observed, "but never
shall we cease to remember Grace as she was, and to love her memory, as we
loved her dear self in life. There has not been an hour since her death,
that I have not seen her sitting at my side, and conversing in sisterly
confidence, as we did from infancy to the day she ceased to live!"
As Lucy said this, she rose, drew her shawl around her, and held out her
hand to take leave, for I had spoken of an intention to quit Clawbonny
early in the morning. The tears the dear girl shed might have been
altogether owing to our previous conversation, or I might have had a share
in producing them. Lucy used to weep at parting from me, as well as Grace,
and she was not a girl to change with the winds. But I could not part
thus: I had a sort of feeling that when we parted this time, it would
virtually be a final separation, as the wife of Andrew Drewett never could
be exactly that which Lucy Hardinge had now been to me for near
"I will not say farewell now, Lucy," I observed. "Should you not come to
town before I sail, I will return to Clawbonny to take leave of you. God
only knows what will become of me, or whither I shall be led, and I could
wish to defer the leave-takings to the last moment. You and your excellent
father must have my final adieus."
Lucy returned the pressure of my hand, uttered a hasty good-night, and
glided through the little gate of the rectory which by this time we had
reached. No doubt she fancied I returned immediately to my own house. So
far from this, however, I passed hours alone, in the church-yard,
sometimes musing on the dead, and then with all my thoughts bent on the
living. I could see the light in Lucy's window, and not till that was
extinguished did I retire. It was long past midnight.
I passed hours teeming with strange emotions among hose cedars. Twice I
knelt by Grace's grave, and prayed devoutly to God. It seemed to me that
petitions offered in such a place must be blessed. I thought of my mother,
of my manly, spirited father, of Grace, and of all the past. Then I
lingered long beneath Lucy's window, and, in spite of this solemn visit to
the graves of the dead, the brightest and most vivid image that I carried
away with me was of the living.
_Shy_. Three thousand ducats--well.
_Bass_. Ay, sir, for three months.
_Shy_. For three months--well.
_Bass_ For the which, as I told you, Antonio shall become bound.
_Shy_. Antonio shall become bound--well.
Merchant of Venice.
I found John Wallingford in town, awaiting my appearance. He had taken
lodgings at the City Hotel, on purpose to be under the same roof with me,
and we occupied adjoining rooms. I dined with him; and after dinner he
went with me to take a look at the Dawn. The second-mate told me that
Marble had made a flying visit to the ship, promised to be back again in a
few days, and disappeared. By comparing dates, I ascertained that he would
be in time to meet the mortgage sale, and felt no further concern in
"Miles," said John Wallingford, coolly, as we were walking up Pine street,
on our way back towards the tavern, "did you not tell me you employed
Richard Harrison as a legal adviser?"
"I did. Mr. Hardinge made me acquainted with him, and I understand he is
one of the oldest lawyers in the country. That is his office, on the other
side of the street--here, directly opposite."
"I saw it, and that was the reason I spoke. It might be well just to step
in and give some directions about your will. I wish to see Clawbonny put
in the right line. If you would give me a deed of it for one dollar, I
would not take it from you, the only son of an eldest son; but it would
break my heart to hear of its going out of the name. Mr. Harrison is also
an old adviser and-friend of mine."
I was startled with this plain-dealing; yet, there was something about the
manner of the man that prevented my being displeased.
"Mr. Harrison would not be visible at this hour, but I will cross to the
office, and write him a letter on the subject," I answered, doing as I
said on the instant, and leaving John Wallingford to pursue his way to the
house alone. The next day, however, the will was actually drawn up,
executed, and placed in my cousin's hands, he being the sole executor. If
the reader should ask me why I did this, especially the last, I might be
at a loss to answer. A strange confidence had come over me, as respects
this relative, whose extraordinary frankness even a more experienced man
might have believed to be either the height of honesty, or the perfection
of art. Whichever was the case, I not only left my will with him, but, in
the course of the next week, I let him into the secret of all my pecuniary
affairs; Grace's bequest to Rupert, alone, excepted. John Wallingford
encouraged this confidence, telling me that plunging at once, heart and
hand, into the midst of business, was the most certain mode of forgetting
my causes of sorrow. Plunge into anything with my whole heart, I could
not, then, though I endeavoured to lose my cares in business.
One of my first acts, in the way of affairs, was to look after the note I
had given to Rupert. It had been made payable at the bank where I kept my
deposits, and I went thither to inquire if it had been left for
collection. The following conversation passed between myself and the
cashier on this occasion:
"Good morning, Mr.----," I said, saluting the gentleman; "I have come to
inquire if a note for $20,000, made by me in favour of Rupert Hardinge,
Esquire, at ten days, has been left for collection. If so, I am ready to
pay it now."
The cashier gave me a business smile,--one that spoke favourably of my
standing as a moneyed man,--before he answered the question. This smile
was, also, a sign that money was plenty.
"Not absolutely for collection, Captain Wallingford, as nothing would give
us more pleasure than to renew it, if you would just go through the form
of obtaining a city endorser."
"Mr. Hardinge has then left it for collection," I observed, pained, in
spite of all that had passed, at Rupert's giving this conclusive evidence
of the inherent meanness of his character.
"Not exactly for collection, sir," was the cashier's answer, "for, wishing
to anticipate the money, by a few days, and being under the necessity of
leaving town, we discounted it for him."
"Anticipate!--you have discounted the note, sir!"
"With the greatest pleasure, knowing it to be good. Mr. Hardinge remarked
that you had not found it convenient to draw for so large a sum on the
spot, and had given this note at short date; and the consideration having
been received in full, he was desirous of being put in cash, at once. We
did not hesitate, of course."
"Consideration received in full!" escaped me, spite of a determination to
be cool; but, luckily, the appearance of another person on business
prevented the words, or the manner, from being noted. "Well, Mr. Cashier,
I will draw a check, and take up the note, now."
More smiles followed. The check was given; the note was cancelled and
handed to me, and I left the bank with a balance in my favour of rather
more than $10,000, instead of the $30,000 odd, which I had held previously
to entering it. It is true, I was heir at law to all Grace's assets, which
Mr. Hardinge had handed over to me, the morning I left Clawbonny, duly
assigned and transferred. These last consisted of stocks, and of bonds and
mortgages, drawing interest, being on good farms in our own county.
"Well. Miles, what do you mean to do with your ship," demanded Jack
Wallingford, that evening. "I understand the freight for which you
bargained has been transferred to another owner, on account of your late
troubles; and they tell me freights, just now, are not very high."
"Really, cousin Jack, I am hardly prepared to answer the question.
Colonial produce commands high prices in the north of Germany, they tell
me; and, were I in cash, I would buy a cargo on my own account. Some
excellent sugars and coffees, &c., were offered me to-day, quite
reasonably, for ready money."
"And how much cash would be necessary to carry out that scheme, my man?"
"Some $50,000, more or less, while I have but about $10,000 on hand;
though I can command $20,000 additional, by selling certain securities; so
I must abandon the notion."
"That does not follow necessarily. Let me think a night on it, and we will
talk further in the morning. I like quick bargains, but I like a cool
head. This hot town and old Madeira keep me in a fever, and I wish a
night's rest before I make a bargain."
The next morning, John Wallingford returned to the subject, at breakfast,
which meal we took by ourselves, in order to be at liberty to converse
without any auditors.
"I have thought over that sweet subject, the sugars, Miles," commenced my
cousin, "and approve of the plan. Can you give me any further security if
I will lend you the money?"
"I have some bonds and mortgages, to the amount of twenty-two thousand
dollars, with me, which might be assigned for such a purpose."
"But $22,000 are an insufficient security for the $30,000, or $35,000,
which you may need to carry out your adventure."
"That is quite true, but I have nothing else worth mentioning--unless it
be the ship, or Clawbonny."
"Tut for the ship!--she is gone, if you and your cargo go; and as for
insurances, I want none of them--I am a landed man, and like landed
securities. Give me your note at three months, or six months if you will,
with the bonds and mortgages you mention, and a mortgage on Clawbonny,
and you can have $40,000, this very day, should you need them."
I was surprised at this offer, having no notion my kinsman was rich enough
to lend so large a sum. On a further conversation, however, I learned he
had near double the sum he had mentioned, in ready money, and that his
principal business in town was to invest in good city securities. He
professed himself willing, however, to lend me half, in order to help
along a kinsman he liked. I did not at all relish the notion of mortgaging
Clawbonny, but John soon laughed and reasoned me out of that. As for
Grace's securities, I parted with them with a sort of satisfaction; the
idea of holding her effects being painful to me.
"Were it out of the family, or even out of the name, I should think
something of it myself. Miles," he said, "but a mortgage from _you_ to
_me_ is like one from _me_ to _you_. You have made me your heir, and to be
honest with you, boy, _I have made you mine_. If you lose my money, you
lose your own."
There was no resisting this. My kinsman's apparent frankness and warmth of
disposition overcame all my scruples, and I consented to borrow the money
on his own terms. John Wallingford was familiar with the conveyancing of
real estate, and, with his own hand, he filled up the necessary papers,
which I signed. The money was borrowed at 5 per cent.; my cousin
positively refusing to receive the legal rate of interest from a
Wallingford. Pay-day was put at six months' distance, and all was done
in due form.
"I shall not put this mortgage on record, Miles," Jack Wallingford
remarked, as he folded and endorsed the paper. "I have too much confidence
in your honesty to believe it necessary. You have given one mortgage on
Clawbonny with too much reluctance, to render it probable you will be in a
hurry to execute another. As for myself, I own to a secret pleasure in
having even this incomplete hold on the old place, which makes me feel
twice as much of a Wallingford as I ever felt before."
For my part, I wondered at my kinsman's family pride, and I began to think
I had been too humble in my own estimate of our standing in the world. It
is true, it was not easy to deceive myself in this particular, and, in
point of fact, I was certainly right; but when I found a man who was able
to lend $40,000 at an hour's notice, valuing himself on coming from Miles
the First, I could not avoid fancying Miles the First a more considerable
personage than I had hitherto imagined. As for the money, I was gratified
with the confidence John Wallingford reposed in me, had really a wish to
embark in the adventure for which it supplied the means, and regarded the
abstaining from recording the mortgage an act of delicacy and feeling that
spoke well for the lender's heart.
My cousin did not cast me adrift as soon as he had filled my pockets. On
the contrary, he went with me, and was a witness to all the purchases I
made. The colonial produce was duly bought, in his presence, and many a
shrewd hint did I get from this cool-headed and experienced man, who,
while he was no merchant, in the common sense of the term, had sagacity
enough to make a first-class dealer. As I paid for everything in ready
money, the cargo was obtained on good terms, and the Dawn was soon stowed.
As soon as this was done, I ordered a crew shipped, and the hatches
As a matter of course, the constant and important business with which I
was now occupied, had a tendency to dull the edge of my grief, though I
can truly say that the image of Grace was never long absent from my mind,
even in the midst of my greatest exertions. Nor was Lucy forgotten. She
was usually at my sister's side; and it never happened that I remembered
the latter, without seeing the beautiful semblance of her living friend,
watching over her faded form, with sisterly solicitude. John Wallingford
left me, at the end of a week, after seeing me fairly under way as a
merchant, as well as ship-owner and ship-master.
"Farewell, Miles," he said, as he shook my hand with a cordiality that
appeared to increase the longer he knew me, "farewell, my dear boy, and
may God prosper you in all your lawful and just undertakings. Never forget
you are a Wallingford, and the owner of Clawbonny. Should we meet again,
you will find a true friend in me; should we never meet, you will have
reason to remember me."
This leave-taking occurred at the inn. A few hours later I was in the
cabin of the Dawn, arranging some papers, when I heard a well-known voice,
on deck, calling out to the stevedores and riggers, in a tone of
authority--"Come, bear a hand, and lay aft; off that forecastle; to this
derrick,--who ever saw a derrick standing before, after the hatches were
battened down, in a first-class ship!--a regular A. No. 1? Bear a
hand--bear a hand; you've got an old sea-dog among you, men."
There was no mistaking the person. On reaching the deck, I found Marble,
his coat off, but still wearing all the rest of his "go-ashores,"
flourishing about among the labourers, putting into them new life and
activity. He heard my footsteps behind him, but never turned to salute me,
until the matter in hand was terminated. Then I received that honour, and
it was easy to see the cloud that passed over his red visage, as he
observed the deep mourning in which I was clad.
"Good morning to you, Captain Wallingford," he said, making a mate's
bow,--"good morning, sir. God's will be done! we are all sinners, and so
are some of the stevedores, who've left this derrick standing as if the
ship needed it for a jury-mast. Yes, sir, God's will must be submitted to;
and sorry enough was I to read the obittery in the newspapers--Grace, &c.,
daughter, &c., and only sister, &c.--You'll be glad to hear, however, sir,
that Willow Cove is moored head and starn in the family, as one might say,
and that the bloody mortgage is cut adrift."
"I am glad to hear this, Mr. Marble," I answered, submitting to a twinge,
as I remembered that a mortgage had just been placed on my own paternal
acres; "and I trust the place will long remain in your blood. How did you
leave your mother and niece?"
"I've not left 'em at all, sir. I brought the old lady and Kitty to town
with me, on what I call the mutual sight-seeing principle. They are both
up at my boarding-house."
"I am not certain, Moses, that I understand this mutual principle, of
which you speak."
"God bless you, Miles," returned the mate, who could presume to be
familiar, again, now we had walked so far aft as not to have any
listeners; "call me Moses as often as you possibly can, for it's little I
hear of that pleasant sound now. Mother will dub me Oloff, and little
Kitty calls me nothing but uncle. After all, I have a bulrush feelin'
about me, and Moses will always seem the most nat'ral. As for the mutual
principle, it is just this; I'm to show mother the Dawn, one or two of the
markets--for, would you believe it, the dear old soul never saw a market
and is dying to visit one, and so I shall take her to see the Bear first,
and the Oswego next, and the Fly last, though she cries out ag'in a market
that is much visited by flies. Then I must introduce her to one of the
Dutch churches;--after that 't will go hard with me, but I get the dear
soul into the theatre; and they tell me there is a lion, up town, that
will roar as loud as a bull. _That_ she must see, of course."
"And when your mother has seen all these sights, what will she have to
"The tombstone on which I was laid out, as a body might say, at five
weeks old. She tells me they traced the stone, out of feelin' like, and
followed it up until they fairly found it, set down as the head-stone of
an elderly single lady, with a most pious and edifying inscription on it.
Mother says it contains a whole varse from the bible! That stone may yet
stand me in hand, for anything I know to the contrary, Miles."
I congratulated my mate on this important discovery, and inquired the
particulars of the affair with the old usurer; in what manner the money
was received, and by what process the place had been so securely "moored,
head and starn, in the family."
"It was all plain sailing when a fellow got on the right course," Marble
answered. "Do you know, Miles, that they call paying off one of your heavy
loads on land, '_lifting_ the mortgage;' and a lift it is, I can tell you,
when a man has no money to do it with. The true way to get out of debt is
to 'arn money; I've found that much out since I found my mother; and, the
cash in hand, all you have to do is to hand it over. Old Van Tassel was
civil enough when he saw the bag of dollars, and was full of fine
speeches. He didn't wish to distress the 'worthy Mrs. Wetmore, not he; and
she was welcome to keep the money as long as she pleased, provided the
interest was punctually paid;' but I'd have none of his soft words, and
laid down the Spaniards, and told him to count them. I 'lifted his
encumbrance,' as they call'd it, as easily as if it had been a pillow of
fresh feathers, and walked off with that bit of paper in my hands, with
the names tore off it, and satisfaction give me, as my lawyer said. This
law is droll business, Miles; if money is paid, they give you
satisfaction, just as gentlemen call on each other, you know, when a
little cross. But, whatever you do, never put your hand and seal to a
mortgage; for land under such a curse is as likely to slide one way as the
other. Clawbonny is an older place than Willow Cove, even; and both are
too venerable and venerated to be mortgaged."
The advice came too late. Clawbonny _was_ mortgaged already, and I confess
to several new and violent twinges, as I recalled the fact, while Marble
was telling his story. Still I could not liken my kinsman, plain-talking,
warm-hearted, family-loving, John Wallingford, to such a griping usurer as
Mrs. Wetmore's persecutor.
I was glad to see my mate on every account. He relieved me from a great
deal of irksome duty, and took charge of the ship, bringing his mother and
Kitty; that very day, to live in the cabin. I could perceive that the old
woman was greatly surprised at the neatness she found in all directions.
According to her notions, a ship floated nearly as much in tar as in the
water; and great was her pleasure in finding rooms _almost_ (conscience
will not allow me to say quite) as clean as her own residence. For one
whole day she desired to see no more than the ship, though it was easy to
discover that the good woman had set her heart on the Dutch church and the
lion. In due time her son redeemed all his pledges, not forgetting the
theatre. With the last, good Mrs. Wetmore was astounded, and Kitty
infinitely delighted. The pretty little thing confessed that she should
like to go every night, wondered what Horace Bright would think of it, and
whether he would dare venture alone to a play-house, should he happen to
come to York. In 1803 this country was still in the palmy state of
unsophistication. There were few, scarcely any, strolling players, and
none but those who visited the _cities_, properly so called, enjoyed
opportunities of witnessing the wonders of paint, patch and candle-light,
as auxiliary to the other wonders of the stage. Poor little Kitty! There
was a day, or two, during which the sock and buskin wrought their usual
effect on her female nature, and almost eclipsed the glories of Horace
Bright, in her own bright eyes.
I could not refrain from accompanying Marble's party to the museum. In
that day, this was a somewhat insignificant collection of curiosities, in
Greenwich Street, but it was a miracle to the aunt and niece. Even the
worthy Manhattanese were not altogether guiltless of esteeming it a
wonder, though the greater renown of the Philadelphia Museum kept this of
New York a little in the shade. I have often had occasion to remark that,
in this republic, the people in the country are a little less country, and
the people of the towns a good deal less town, than is apt to be the case
in great nations. The last is easily enough accounted for: the towns
having shot up so rapidly, and receiving their accessions of population
from classes not accustomed to town lives from childhood. Were a thousand
villages to be compressed into a single group of houses, their people
would long retain the notions, tastes and habits of villagers, though they
would form a large town in the aggregate. Such, in a measure, is still the
fact with our American towns; no one of them all having the air, tone or
appearance of a capital, while most of them would be paragons in the eyes
of such persons as old Mrs. Wetmore and her grand-daughter. Thus it was,
that the Greenwich Street Museum gave infinite satisfaction to these two
unsophisticated visitors. Kitty was most struck with certain villainous
wax-figures, works of art that were much on a level with certain similar
objects that were lately, if they are not now, exhibited for the benefit
of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey, above the tombs of the
Plantagenets, and almost in contact with that marvel of gothic art, Henry
VII's. chapel! It is said that "misery makes a man acquainted with strange
bed-fellows." So, it would seem, do shillings and sixpences. To return to
Kitty: After admiring divers beauties, such as the New York Beauty, the
South Carolina Beauty, and the Pennsylvania Beauty, she fastened her own
pretty eyes on a nun, wondering who a female in such an attire could be.
In 1803, a nun and a nunnery would be almost as great curiosities, in
America, as a rhinoceros, though the country has since undergone some
changes in this respect.
"Grandmother," exclaimed Kitty, "who _can_ that lady be--it isn't _Lady_
Washington, is it?"
"It looks more like a clergyman's wife, Kitty," answered the worthy Mrs.
Wetmore, not a little '_non-plushed,_' herself, as she afterwards
admitted. "I should think Madam Washington went more gaily dressed, and
looked happier like. I'm sure if any woman could be happy, it was she!"
"Ay," answered her son, "there is truth in that remark. This woman, here,
is what is called a nun in the Roman Catholic quarters of the world."
"A nun!" repeated little Kitty. "Isn't that the sort of woman that shuts
herself up in a house, and promises never to get married, uncle?"
"You're quite right, my dear, and it's matter of surprise to me how you
should pick up so many useful idees, in an out-of-the-way place, like
"It was not out of _your_ way, uncle," said Kitty, a little reproachfully,
"or you never would have found us."
"In that partic'lar it was well enough, my dear. Yes, a nun is a sort of
she-hermit, a breed that I detest altogether."
"I suppose, Kitty," I inquired, "you think it wicked in man or woman to
take a vow never to get married."
The poor girl blushed, and she turned away from the nun without making any
reply. No one can say what turn the conversation might have taken, had not
the grandmother's eye fell on an indifferent copy of Leonardo's celebrated
picture of the Last Supper, receiving at the same time a printed
explanation, one got up by some local antiquary, who had ventured to affix
names to the different personages of the group, at his own suggestion. I
pointed out the principal figure of the painting, which is sufficiently
conspicuous by the way, and then referred the good woman to the catalogue
for the rest of the names.
"Bless me, bless me!" exclaimed the worthy mother, "that I should live
ever to see paintings of such people! Kitty, my dear, this bald-headed old
man is St. Peter. Did you ever think that St. Peter was bald! And there is
St. John, with black eyes.--Wonderful, wonderful, that I should ever live
to see likenesses of such blessed men!"
Kitty was as much astonished as her grandmother, and even the son was a
little mystified. The latter remarked that "the world was making great
head-way in all such things, and, for his part, he did not see how the
painters and authors found out all they drew and recorded."
The reader may easily imagine that half a day spent in such company was
not entirely thrown away. Still, half a day sufficed; and I went to the
Old Coffee-house at one, to eat a sandwich and drink a glass of porter;
that being the inn then most frequented for such purposes, especially by
the merchants. I was in my box, with the curtain drawn, when a party of
three entered that which adjoined it, ordering as many glasses of punch;
which in that day was a beverage much in request of a morning, and which
it was permitted even to a gentleman to drink before dining. It was the
sherry-cobbler of the age; although I believe every thing is now
pronounced to be out of fashion before dinner.
As the boxes were separated merely by curtains, it was impossible to avoid
hearing any conversation that passed in the one adjoining my own,
especially when the parties took no pains to speak low, as happened to be
the case with my three neighbours. Consequently, I recognised the voices
of Andrew Drewett and Rupert Hardinge in an instant;--that of the third
person being unknown to me.
"Well, Norton," said Rupert, a little affectedly as to manner, "you have
got Drewett and myself down here among you traders, and I hope you will do
the honours of the place, in a way to confer on the latter some credit. A
merchant is nothing without credit, you know."
"Have no apprehensions for your gentility, Hardinge," returned the person
addressed. "Many of the first persons in town frequent this house, at this
hour, and its punch is renowned. By-the-way, I saw in a paper, the other
day, Rupert, that one of your relatives is dead--Miss Grace Wallingford,
your sister's old associate."
A short pause followed, during which I scarcely breathed.
"No, not a relation," Rupert at length answered. "Only my father's ward.
You know how it is in the country: the clergyman being expected to take
care of all the sick, and all the orphans."
"But these Wallingfords are people altogether above standing in need of
favours," Drewett hastily observed. "I have been at their place, and
really it is a respectable spot. As for Miss Wallingford, she was a most
charming girl, and her death will prove a severe blow to your sister,
This was said with so much feeling, that I could almost forgive the
speaker for loving Lucy; though I question if I could ever truly forgive
him for being beloved by her.
"Why, yes," rejoined Rupert, affecting an indifference that I could detect
he was far from feeling, "Grace _was_ a good creature; though, living so
much with her in childhood, she had less interest in my eyes, perhaps,
than she might have had in those of one less accustomed to see her.
Notwithstanding, I had a certain sort of regard for Grace, I
"Respect and esteem her!--I should think all who knew her must," added
Drewett, as if determined to win my heart; "and, in my opinion, she was
both beautiful and lovely."
"This from a man who is confessedly an admirer--nay, engaged to your own
sister, as the world says, Hardinge, must be taken as warm praise," said
the third. "But, I suppose, Drewett sees the dear departed with the eyes
of her friend--for Miss Hardinge was very intimate with her, I believe."
"As intimate as sisters, and loving each other as sisters," returned
Drewett, with feeling. "No intimate of Miss Hardinge's can be anything but
"Grace Wallingford had merit beyond a question," added Rupert, "as has her
brother, who is a good, honest fellow enough. When a boy, _I_ was rather
intimate with _him_."
"The certain proof of his excellencies and virtues;" put in the stranger,
laughing. "But, if a ward, there must be a fortune. I think I have heard
these Wallingfords were richish."
"Yes, that is just it--_richish_" said Drewett. "Some forty or fifty
thousand dollars between them, all of which the brother must now inherit;
and glad am I it falls to so good a fellow."
"This is generous praise from _you_, Drewett; for I have heard this
brother might prove your rival."
"I had some such fears myself, once, I will confess," returned the other;
"but they are all vanished. I no longer fear _him_, and can see and
acknowledge his merits. Besides, I am indebted to him for my life."
"No _longer_ fear _him_."--This was plain enough, and was proof of the
understanding that existed between the lovers. And why should I be
feared?--I, who had never dared to say a word to the object nearest my
heart, that might induce her to draw the ordinary distinction between
passion and esteem--love, and a brotherly regard?
"Ay, Drewett is pretty safe, I fancy," Rupert remarked, laughing; "though
it will hardly do for me to tell tales out of school."
"This is a forbidden subject," rejoined the lover, "and we will talk of
Wallingford. He must inherit his sister's fortune."
"Poor Grace!--it was little she had to leave, I fancy," Rupert quietly
"Ay, little in your eyes, Hardinge," added the third person, "but a good
deal in those of her brother, the ship-master, one might think. Ever since
you have fallen heir to Mrs. Bradfort's estate, a few thousands count
"Were it a million, that brother would think it dearly purchased by the
loss of his sister!" exclaimed Drewett.
"It's plain enough there is no rivalry between Andrew and Miles," added
the laughing Rupert. "Certainly money is not quite of so much account with
me now, as it used to be when I had nothing but a clergyman's salary to
glean from. As for Mrs. Bradfort's fortune, it came from a common
ancestor, and I do not see who has a better right to it, than those who
now enjoy it."
"Unless it might be your father," said the third man, "who stood before
you, according to the laws of primogeniture. I dare say Rupert made love
to his venerable cousin, if the truth were known, and induced her to
overlook a generation, with his oily tongue."
"Rupert did nothing of the sort; it is his glory to love Emily Merton, and
Emily Merton only. As my worthy cousin could not take her fortune with
her, she left it among her natural heirs. How do you know I have got any
of it. I give you my honour, my account in bank is under $20,000."
"A pretty fair account, that, by Jove!" exclaimed the other. "It must be a
rapping income that will permit a fellow like you to keep up such
"Why, some persons say my sister has the whole fortune. I dare say that
Drewett can satisfy you on this head. The affair concerns him quite as
much, as it does any other person of my acquaintance."
"I can assure you I know nothing about it;" answered Drewett, honestly.
"Nor do I desire to know. I would marry Miss Hardinge to-morrow, though
she had not a cent."
"It's just this disinterestedness, Andrew, that makes me like you,"
observed Rupert, magnificently. "Depend on it, you'll fare none the worse,
in the long run, for this admirable trait in your character. Lucy knows
it, and appreciates it as she should."
I wished to hear no more, but left the box and the house, taking care not
to be seen. From that moment, I was all impatience to get to sea. I forgot
even the intention of visiting my sister's grave; nor did I feel that I
could sustain another interview with Lucy herself. That afternoon I told
Marble the ship must be ready to sail the succeeding morning.
"Go tenderness of years; take this key. Give enlargement to the
swain--bring him festinately hither. I must employ him in a letter to my
Love's Labour Lost.
I will not attempt to analyze the feelings which now impelled me to quit
America. I had discovered, or thought I had discovered, certain qualities
in Andrew Drewett which rendered him, in some measure, at least worthy of
Lucy; and I experienced how painful it is to concede such an advantage to
a rival. Still, I must be just enough to add, that, in my cooler moments,
when I came to consider that Lucy could never be mine, I was rejoiced to
find such proofs of a generous disposition in her future husband. On the
other hand, I could not divest myself of the idea that perfect confidence
in his own position, could alone enable him to be so liberal in his
opinions of myself. The reader will understand how extravagant was this
last supposition, when he remembers that I had never given Lucy herself,
or the world, any sufficient reason to suppose that I was a suitor for the
dear girl's hand.
I never saw Marble so industrious as he proved to be when he received my
hurried orders for sailing, that afternoon. He shipped his mother and
niece for Willow Cove, by an Albany sloop, the same evening, got the crew
on board, and the Dawn into the stream, before sunset, and passed half
the night in sending off small stores. As for the ship, she had been
cleared the day the hatches were battened down. According to every rule of
mercantile thrift, I ought to have been at sea twenty-four hours, when
these orders were given; but a lingering reluctance to go further from the
grave of Grace, the wish to have one more interview with Lucy, and a
disposition to indulge my mate in his commendable zeal to amuse his
new-found relatives, kept me in port beyond my day.
All these delays, however, were over, and I was now in a feverish hurry to
be off. Neb came up to the City Hotel as I was breakfasting, and reported
that the ship was riding at single anchor, with a short range, and that
the fore-top-sail was loose. I sent him to the post-office for letters, and
ordered my bill. All my trunks had gone aboard before the ship hauled off,
and,--the distances in New York then being short,--Neb was soon back, and
ready to shoulder my carpet-bag. The bill was paid, three or four letters
were taken in my hand, and I walked towards the Battery, followed by the
faithful black, who had again abandoned home, Chloe, and Clawbonny, to
follow my fortunes.
I delayed opening the letters until I reached the Battery. Despatching Neb
to the boat, with orders to wait, I took a turn among the trees,--still
reluctant to quit the native soil--while I broke the seals. Two of the
letters bore the post-marks of the office nearest Clawbonny; the third was
from Albany; and the fourth was a packet of some size from Washington,
franked by the Secretary of State, and bearing the seal of office.
Surprised at such a circumstance, I opened the last of these
The official letter proved to be an envelope containing,--with a civil
request to myself to deliver the enclosures,--dispatches addressed to the
Consul at Hamburg, for which port my ship had been advertised some time.
Of course, I could only determine to comply; and that communication was
disposed of. One of the Clawbonny letters was in Mr. Hardinge's hand, and
I found it to contain some excellent and parental advice. He spoke of my
sister, but it was calmly, and with the humble hope that became his sacred
office. I was not sorry to find that he advised me not to visit Clawbonny
before I sailed. Lucy, he said, was well, and a gentle sadness was
gradually taking the place of the livelier grief she had endured,
immediately after the loss of her friend. "You were not aware, Miles, how
keenly she suffered," my good old guardian continued, "for she struggled
hard to seem calm in your presence; but from me my dear child had no
secrets on this subject, whatever she may see fit to have on another.
Hours has she passed, weeping on my bosom, and I much doubt if the image
of Grace has been absent from her waking thoughts a single minute, at any
one time, since we first laid your sister's head in the coffin. Of you she
does not speak often, but, when she does, it is ever in the kindest and
most solicitous manner; calling you 'Miles,' 'poor Miles,' or 'dear
Miles,' with all that _sisterly_ frankness and affection you have known in
her from childhood." The old gentleman had underscored the
To my delight and surprise, there was a long, very long, letter from Lucy,
too! How it happened that I did not recognise her pretty, delicate,
lady-like handwriting, is more than I can say; but the direction had been
overlooked in the confusion of receiving so many letters together. That
direction, too, gave me pleasure. It was to "Miles Wallingford, Esquire;"
whereas the three others were addressed to "Capt. Miles Wallingford, ship
Dawn, New York." Now a ship-master is no more entitled, in strict usage,
to be called a "captain," than he is to be called an "esquire." Your
man-of-war officer is the only true _captain_; a 'master' being nothing
but a 'master.' Then, no American is entitled to be called an 'esquire,'
which is the correlative of "knight," and is a title properly prohibited
by the constitution, though most people imagine that a magistrate is an
"esquire" ex officio. He is an "esquire" as a member of congress is an
"honourable," by assumption, and not of right; and I wish the country had
sufficient self-respect to be consistent with itself. What should we think
of Mark Anthony, Esquire? or of 'Squire Lucius Junius Brutus? or His
Excellency Julius Caesar, Esquire? Nevertheless, "esquire" is an
appellation that is now universally given to a gentleman, who, in truth,
is the only man in this country that, has any right to it at all, and he
only by courtesy. Lucy had felt this distinction, and I was grateful for
the delicacy and tact with which she had dropped the "captain," and put in
the "esquire." To me it seemed to say that _she_ recognised me as one of
her own class, let Rupert, and his light associates, think of me as they
might. Lucy never departed a hair's breadth from the strictly proper, in
all matters of this sort, something having been obtained from education,
but far more from the inscrutable gifts of nature.
[Footnote 4: A few years since, the writer saw a marriage announced in a
_coloured_ paper, which read, "Married, by the Rev. Julius
Caesar.--Washington, to Miss--------."]
As for the letter itself, it is too long to copy; yet I scarce know how to
describe it. Full of heart it was, of course, for the dear girl was all
heart; and it was replete with her truth and nature. The only thing in it
that did not give me entire satisfaction, was a request not to come again
to Clawbonny, until my return from Europe. "Time," she added, "will lessen
the pain of such a visit; and, by that time, you will begin to regard our
beloved Grace as I already regard her, a spotless spirit waiting for our
union with it in the mansions of bliss. It is not easy, Miles, to know how
to treat such a loss as this of ours. God may bless it to our lasting
good, and, in this light, it is useful to bear it ever in mind; while a
too great submission to sorrow may only serve, to render us unhappy.
Still, I think, no one who knew Grace, as _we_ knew her, can ever recall
her image without feeling himself drawn nearer to the dread being who
created her, and who has called her to himself so early. _We_, alone,
thoroughly understood the beloved creature My dear, excellent father loved
her as he loves me, but he could not, did not know all the rare virtues of
her heart. These could be known only to those who knew her great secret,
and, God be praised! even Rupert has little true knowledge of that."
"My father has spoken to me of Grace's wish, that he and I should accept
some memorials of the affection she bore us. These were unnecessary, but
are far too sacred to be declined, I sincerely wish that their value, in
gold, had been less, for the hair I possess (some of which is reserved for
you) is far more precious to me, than any diamonds, or stones, could
possibly become. As, however, something must be purchased, or procured, I
have to request that my memorial may be the pearls you gave Grace, on your
return from the Pacific. Of course I do not mean the valuable necklace you
have reserved for one who will one day be still dearer to you than any of
us, but the dozen or two of pearls that you bestowed on your sister, in my
presence, at Clawbonny. They are sufficiently valuable in themselves, to
answer all the purposes of Grace's bequest, and I know they were very much
prized by her, as _your_ gift, dear Miles. I am certain you will not
believe they will be the less valuable in my eyes, on that account. As I
know where they are, I shall go to Clawbonny and take possession of them
at once, so you need give yourself no further concern on account of the
memorial that was to be presented to me. I acknowledge its reception,
unless you object to my proposition."
I scarce knew what to think of this. I would gladly have bestowed on Lucy
pearls of equal value to those I had given Grace, but she refused to
receive them; and now, she asked for these very pearls, which,
intrinsically, were not half the value of the sum I had informed Mr.
Hardinge Grace had requested me to expend in purchasing a memorial. This
avidity to possess these pearls--for so it struck me--was difficult to
account for, Grace having owned divers other ornaments that were more
costly, and which she had much oftener worn. I confess, I had thought of
attempting to persuade Lucy to receive my own necklace as the memorial of
Grace, but, a little reflection satisfied me of the hopelessness of
success, and nothing had been said on the subject. Of course I acquiesced
in the wish of the dear girl to possess the pearls; but, at the same time,
I determined to make an additional purchase, more thoroughly to carry out
the wishes of my sister.
On the whole, the letter of Lucy gave me a great and soothing pleasure. I
came to a resolution to answer it, and to send that answer back by the
pilot. I had no owner to feel any solicitude in the movements of the ship;
had no longer a sister to care for myself; and to whom else could my last
words on quitting the land be so appropriately addressed, as to this
constant and true-hearted friend? That much, at least, I could presume to
call Lucy, and even to that I clung as the ship-wrecked mariner clings to
the last plank that floats.
The fourth letter, to my astonishment, bore the signature of John
Wallingford, and the date of Albany. He had got this far on his way home,
and written me a line to let me know the fact. I copy his epistle in
"Here I am, and sorry am I to see, by the papers, _there_ you are still.
Recollect, my dear boy, that sugars will melt. It is time you were off:
this is said for your own sake, and not for mine, as you well know I am
amply secured. Still, the markets may fall, and he who is first in them
can wait for a rise, while he who is last must take what offers."
"Above all, Miles, do not take it into your head to alter your will.
Things are now arranged between us precisely as they should be, and I
hate changes. I am your heir, and you are mine. Your counsel, Richard
Harrison, Esquire, is a man of great respectability, and a perfectly
safe repository of such a secret. I leave many of my papers in his
hands, and he has now been my counsel ever since I had need of one; and
treads so hard on Hamilton's heels, that the last, sometimes feels his
toes. This is as counsel, however, and not as an advocate.
"Adieu, my dear boy: we are both Wallingfords, and the nearest of kin to
each other, _of the name_. Clawbonny will be safe with either of us, and
either of us will be safe with Clawbonny.
"Your affectionate cousin,
I confess that all this anxiety about Clawbonny began to give me some
uneasiness, and that I often wished, I had been less ambitious, or less
hasty would be the better word, and had been content to go to sea again,
in my simple character of ship-master, and ship-owner; leaving the
merchant to those who better understood the vocation.
I now went to the boat, and to the ship. Marble was all ready for me, and
in ten minutes the anchor was clear of the bottom; in ten more, it was
catted and fished, and the Dawn was beating down the bay, on a young
flood, with a light breeze, at south-west. The pilot being in charge, I
had nothing to do but go below, and write my letters. I answered
everybody, even to the Secretary of State, who, at that time, was no less
a man than James Madison. To him, however, I had nothing to say, but to
acknowledge the receipt of the dispatches, and to promise to deliver them.
My letter to Mr. Hardinge, was, I hope, such as a son might have written
to a revered parent. In it, I begged he would allow me to add to his
library, by a purchase of theological works of value, and which, in that
day, could only be procured in Europe. This was to be his memorial of my
sister. I also begged of his friendship an occasional look at Clawbonny,
though I did not venture to speak of the mortgage, of which I now felt a
sort of conviction he would not approve.
The letter to John Wallingford, was as pithy as his own to me. I told him
my will was made, on a conviction of its perfect propriety, and assured
him it would not be altered in a hurry; I told him the sugars were safe,