Autobiography of a Pocket-Handkerchief
James Fenimore Coopoer

Part 3 out of 3

"What say the YOUNG gentlemen to this?" asked Mr. Monson,
laughing. "This is a question not to be settled altogether by ladies, old or

"Betts Shoreham has substantially told you what HE thinks; and now I
claim a right to give MY opinion," cried John Monson. "Like Betts, I
will not decry my countrywomen, but I shall protest against the doctrine
of their having ALL the beauty in the world. By Jove! I have seen in
ONE opera-house at Rome, more beautiful women than I ever saw
together, before or since, in any other place. Broadway never equals
the corso, of a carnival."

{corso, of a carnival = the Corso, a main street in Rome, at Carnival

"This is not sticking to the subject," observed Mrs. Monson. "Pocket-
handkerchiefs and housekeepers are our themes, and not pretty
women. Mademoiselle Hennequin, you are French enough, I am sure,
to like more sugar in your tea."

This changed the subject, which became a desultory discourse on the
news of the day. I could not understand half that was said, laboring
under the disadvantage of being shut up in a close drawer, on another
floor; and that, too, with six dozen of chattering French gloves lying
within a foot of me. Still I saw plainly enough, that Mademoiselle
Hennequin, notwithstanding she was a governess, was a favorite in the
family; and, I may add, out of it also--Betts Shoreham being no sort of
a connection of the Monsons. I thought, moreover, that I discovered
signs of cross-purposes, as between the young people, though I think a
pocket-handkerchief subject to those general laws, concerning secrets,
that are recognized among all honorable persons. Not having been
actually present on this occasion, should I proceed to relate ALL that
passed, or that I fancied passed, it would be degrading myself to the
level of those newspapers which are in the habit of retailing private
conversations, and which, like most small dealers in such things, never
retail fairly.

I saw no more of my mistress for a week. I have reason to think that
she had determined never to use me; but female resolutions, in matters
of dress, are not of the most inflexible nature. There was a certain Mrs.
Leamington, in New York, who gave a great ball about this time, and
being in the same set as the Monsons, the family was invited as a matter
of course. It would have surpassed the powers of self-denial to keep
me in the back-ground on such an occasion; and Julia, having first
cleared the way by owning her folly to a very indulgent father, and a
very tormenting brother, determined nobly to bring me out, let the effect
on Betts Shoreham be what it might. As the father had no female friends
to trouble him, he was asked to join the Monsons--the intimacy fully
warranting the step.

Julia never looked more lovely than she did that night. She anticipated
much pleasure, and her smiles were in proportion to her anticipations.
When all was ready, she took me from the drawer, let a single drop of
lavender fall in my bosom, and tripped down stairs toward the drawing-
room; Betts Shoreham and Mademoiselle Hennequin were together,
and, for a novelty, alone. I say, for a novelty, because the governess
had few opportunities to see any one without the presence of a third
person, and because her habits, as an unmarried and well educated
French woman, indisposed her to tete-a-tetes with the other sex. My
mistress was lynx-eyed in all that related to Betts Shoreham and the
governess. A single glance told her that their recent conversation had
been more than usually interesting; nor could I help seeing it myself--the
face of the governess being red, or in that condition which, were she
aught but a governess, would be called suffused with blushes. Julia felt
uncomfortable--she felt herself to be de trop; and making an incoherent
excuse, she had scarcely taken a seat on a sofa, before she arose, left
the room, and ran up stairs again. In doing so, however, the poor girl
left me inadvertently on the sofa she had so suddenly quitted herself.

{de trop = one too many}

Betts Shoreham manifested no concern at this movement, though
Mademoiselle Hennequin precipitately changed her seat, which had
been quite near--approximately near, as one might say--to the chair
occupied by the gentleman. This new evolution placed the governess
close at my side. Now whatever might have been the subject of
discourse between these two young persons--for Mademoiselle
Hennequin was quite as youthful as my mistress, let her beauty be as it
might--it was not continued in my presence; on the contrary, the young
lady turned her eyes on me, instead of looking at her companion, and
then she raised me in her hand, and commenced a critical examination
of my person.

"That is a very beautiful handkerchief, Mademoiselle Hennequin," said
Betts Shoreham, making the remark an excuse for following the young
lady to the sofa. "Had we heard of its existence, our remarks the other
night, on such a luxury, might have been more guarded."

No answer was given. The governess gazed on me intently, and tears
began to course down her cheeks, notwithstanding it was evident she
wished to conceal them. Ashamed of her weakness, she endeavored to
smile them away, and to appear cheerful.

"What is there in that pocket-handkerchief, dear Mademoiselle
Hennequin," asked Betts Shoreham, who had a pernicious habit of
calling young ladies with whom he was on terms of tolerable intimacy,
"dear,"--a habit that sometimes misled persons as to the degree of
interest he felt in his companions--"what CAN there be in that pocket-
handkerchief to excite tears from a mind and a heart like yours?"

"My mind and heart, Mr. Shoreham, are not as faultless, perhaps, as
your goodness would make them out to be. ENVY is a very natural
feeling for a woman in matters of dress, they say; and, certainly, I am
not the owner of so beautiful a pocket-handkerchief--pardon me, Mr.
Shoreham; I cannot command myself, and must be guilty of the
rudeness of leaving you alone, if----"

Mademoiselle Hennequin uttered no more, but rushed from the room,
with an impetuosity of manner and feeling that I have often had occasion
to remark in young French women. As a matter of course, I was left
alone with Betts Shoreham.

I shall conceal nothing that ought to be told. Betts Shoreham,
notwithstanding her dependent situation, and his own better fortunes,
loved the governess, and the governess loved Betts Shoreham. These
were facts that I discovered at a later day, though I began to suspect
the truth from that moment. Neither, however, knew of the other's
passion, though each hoped as an innocent and youthful love will hope,
and each trembled as each hoped. Nothing explicit had been said that
evening; but much, very much, in the way of sympathy and feeling had
been revealed, and but for the inopportune entrance of Julia and myself,
all might have been told.


There is no moment in the life of man, when he is so keenly sensitive on
the subject of the perfection of his mistress, as that in which he
completely admits her power. All his jealousy is actively alive to the
smallest shade of fault, although his feelings so much indispose him to
see any blemish. Betts Shoreham felt an unpleasant pang, even--yes, it
amounted to a pang--for in a few moments he would have offered his
hand--and men cannot receive any drawback with indifference at such
an instant--he felt an unpleasant pang, then, as the idea crossed his mind
that Mademoiselle Hennequin could be so violently affected by a feeling
as unworthy as that of envy. He had passed several years abroad, and
had got the common notion about the selfishness of the French, and
more particularly their women, and his prejudices took the alarm. But
his love was much the strongest, and soon looked down the distrust,
however reasonable, under the circumstances, the latter might have
appeared to a disinterested and cool-headed observer. He had seen so
much meek and pure-spirited self-denial; so much high principle in the
conduct of Mademoiselle Hennequin, during an intimacy which had now
lasted six months, that no passing feeling of doubt, like the one just felt,
could unsettle the confidence created by her virtues. I know it may take
more credit than belongs to most pocket-handkerchiefs, to maintain the
problem of the virtues of a French governess--a class of unfortunate
persons that seem doomed to condemnation by all the sages of our
modern imaginative literature. An English governess, or even an
American governess, if, indeed, there be such a being in nature, may be
every thing that is respectable, and prudent, and wise, and good; but the
French governess has a sort of ex-officio moral taint about her, that
throws her without the pale of literary charities. Nevertheless, one or
two of the most excellent women I have ever known, have been French
governesses, though I do not choose to reveal what this particular
individual of the class turned out to be in the end, until the moment for
the denouement of her character shall regularly arrive.

There was not much time for Betts Shoreham to philosophize, and
speculate on female caprices and motives, John Monson making his
appearance in as high evening dress as well comported with what is
called "republican simplicity." John was a fine looking fellow, six feet
and an inch, with large whiskers, a bushy head of hair, and particularly
white teeth. His friend was two inches shorter, of much less showy
appearance, but of a more intellectual countenance, and of juster
proportions. Most persons, at first sight, would praise John Monson's
person and face, but all would feel the superiority of Betts Shoreham's,
on an acquaintance. The smile of the latter, in particular, was as winning
and amiable as that of a girl. It was that smile, on the one hand, and his
active, never dormant sympathy for her situation, on the other, which,
united, had made such an inroad on the young governess's affections.

"It's deuced cold, Betts," said John, as he came near the fire; "this
delightful country of ours has some confounded hard winters. I wonder
if it be patriotic to say, OUR winters?"

"It's all common property, Monson--but, what have become of your
sister and Mademoiselle Hennequin? They were both here a minute
since, and have vanished like--"

"What?--ghosts!--no, you dare not call them THAT, lest their spirits
take it in dudgeon. Julie is no ghost, though she is sometimes so delicate
and ethereal, and as for Henny--"

"Who?" exclaimed Betts, doubting if his ears were true.

"Henny, Tote and Moll's governess. Whom do you think I could mean,
else? I always call her Henny, en famille, and I look upon you as almost
one of us since our travels."

{en famille = at home}

"I'm sure I can scarcely be grateful enough, my dear fellow--but, you do
not call her so to her face?"

"Why--no--perhaps not exactly in her very teeth--and beautiful teeth
she has, Betts--Julie's won't compare with them."

"Miss Monson has fine teeth, notwithstanding. Perhaps Mademoiselle

"Yes, Henny has the best teeth of any girl I know. They are none of
your pearls--some pearls are yellowish, you know--but they are teeth;
just what ought to be in a handsome girl's mouth. I have no objection to
pearls in a necklace, or in the pockets, but TEETH are what are wanted
in a mouth, and Henny has just the finest set I know of."

Betts Shoreham fidgetted at the "Henny," and he had the weakness, at
the moment, to wish the young governess were not in a situation to be
spoken of so unceremoniously. He had not time to express this feeling,
before John Monson got a glimpse of me, and had me under
examination beneath the light of a very powerful lamp. I declare that,
knowing his aversion to our species, I felt a glow in all my system at the
liberties he was taking.

"What have we here?" exclaimed John Monson, in surprise; "has Miss
Flowergarden made a call, and is this her card?"

"I believe that pocket-handkerchief belongs to your sister," answered
Betts, drily, "if that be what you mean."

"Jule! well, I am sorry to hear it. I did hope that no sister of MINE
would run into any such foolish extravagance--do you own it, Jule?"
who entered the room at that instant--"is this bit of a rag yours, or is it
not more likely to be Henny's?"

"Bit of a rag!" cried the sister, snatching me dexterously out of the
spoiler's hands; "and 'Henny,' too! This is not a bit of a rag, sir, but a
very pretty pocket-handkerchief, and you must very well know that
Mademoiselle Hennequin is not likely to be the owner of any thing as

"And what did it cost, pray? At least tell me THAT, if nothing else."

"I shall not gratify your curiosity, sir--a lady's wardrobe is not to be
dissected in this manner."

"Pray, sir, may I ask," Mr. Monson now coming in, "did you pay for
Jule's handkerchief? Hang me, if I ever saw a more vulgar thing in my

"The opinion is not likely to induce me to say yes," answered the father,
half-laughing, and yet half-angry at his son's making such allusions
before Betts--"never mind him, my dear; the handkerchief is not half as
expensive as his own cigars."

"It shall be as thoroughly smoked, nevertheless, rejoined John, who was
as near being spoilt, and escaping, as was at all necessary. "Ah, Julie,
Julie, I'm ashamed of thee."

This was an inauspicious commencement for an evening from which so
much happiness had been anticipated, but Mrs. Monson coming down,
and the carriages driving to the door, Mademoiselle Hennequin was
summoned, and the whole party left the house.

As a matter of course, it was a little out of the common way that the
governess was asked to make one, in the invitations given to the
Monsons. But Mademoiselle Hennequin was a person of such perfect
bon ton, had so thoroughly the manners of a lady, and was generally
reputed so accomplished, that most of the friends of the family felt
themselves bound to notice her. There was another reason, too, which
justice requires I should relate, though it is not so creditable to the
young lady, as those already given. From some quarter, or other, a
rumor had got abroad that Miss Monson's governess was of a noble
family, a circumstance that I soon discovered had great influence in
New York, doubtless by way of expiation for the rigid democratical
notions that so universally pervade its society. And here I may remark,
en passant, that while nothing is considered so disreputable in America
as to be "aristocratic" a word of very extensive signification, as it
embraces the tastes, the opinions, the habits, the virtues, and sometimes
the religion of the offending party--on the other hand, nothing is so
certain to attract attention as nobility. How many poor Poles have I
seen dragged about and made lions of, merely because they were
reputed noble, though the distinction in that country is pretty much the
same as that which exists in one portion of this great republic, where
one half the population is white, and the other black; the former making
the noble, and the latter the serf.

{make one = be included; bon ton = superior manners and culture;
notice her = include her socially; "aristocratic" = Cooper was
hypersensitive to accusations of being "aristocratic"; poor Poles = since
his days in Paris in the early 1830s, Cooper had befriended and aided
Poles fleeing Russian domination of their homeland}

"What an exceedingly aristocratic pocket-handkerchief Miss Monson
has this evening," observed Mrs. G. to Mr. W., as we passed into Mrs.
Leamington's rooms, that evening; "I don't know when I've seen any
thing so aristocratic in society."

"The Monsons are very aristocratic in all things; I understand they dine
at six."

"Yes," put in Miss F., "and use finger bowls every day."

"How aristocratic!"

"Very--they even say that since they have come back from Europe, the
last time, matters are pushed farther than ever. The ladies insist on
kneeling at prayers, instead of inclining, like all the rest of the world."

"Did one ever hear of any thing so aristocratic!"

"They DO say, but I will not vouch for its truth, that Mr. and Mrs.
Monson insist on all their children calling them 'father' and 'mother,'
instead of 'pa' and 'ma.' "

"Why, Mr. W., that is downright monarchical, is it not?"

"It's difficult to say what is, and what is not monarchical, now-a-days;
though I think one is pretty safe in pronouncing it anti-republican."

"It is patriarchal, rather," observed a wit, who belonged to the group.

Into this "aristocratical" set I was now regularly introduced. Many
longing and curious eyes were drawn toward me, though the company
in this house was generally too well bred to criticise articles of dress
very closely. Still, in every country, aristocracy, monarchy, or
democracy, there are privileged classes, and in all companies privileged
persons. One of the latter took the liberty of asking Julia to leave me in
her keeping, while the other danced, and I was thus temporarily
transferred to a circle, in which several other pocket-handkerchiefs had
been collected, with a view to compare our several merits and demerits.
The reader will judge of my surprise, when, the examination being
ended, and the judgment being rendered altogether in my favor, I found
myself familiarly addressed by the name that I bore in the family circle,
or, as No. 7; for pocket-handkerchiefs never speak to each other
except on the principle of decimals. It was No. 12, or my relative of the
extreme cote gauche, who had strangely enough found his way into this
very room, and was now lying cheek by jowl with me again, in old Mrs.
Eyelet's lap. Family affection made us glad to meet, and we had a
hundred questions to put to each other in a breath.

{cote gauche = left wing, politically}

No. 12 had commenced life a violent republican, and this simply
because he read nothing but republican newspapers; a sufficiently
simple reason, as all know who have heard both sides of any question.
Shortly after I was purchased by poor, dear Adrienne, a young
American traveler had stepped into the magasin, and with the
recklessness that distinguishes the expenditures of his countrymen,
swept off half a dozen of the family at one purchase. Accident gave him
the liberal end of the piece, a circumstance to which he never would
have assented had he known the fact, for being an attache of the
legation of his own country, he was ex officio aristocratic. My brother
amused me exceedingly with his account of the indignation he felt at
finding himself in a very hot-bed of monarchical opinions, in the set at
the American legation. What rendered these diplomates so much the
more aristocratic, was the novelty of the thing, scarcely one of them
having been accustomed to society at home. After passing a few months
in such company, my brother's boss, who was a mere traveling
diplomatist, came home and began to run a brilliant career in the circles
of New York, on the faith of a European reputation. Alas! there is in
pocket-handkerchief nature a disposition to act by contraries. The
"more you call, the more I won't come" principle was active in poor No.
12's mind, and he had not been a month in New York society, before
he came out an ultra monarchist. New York society has more than one
of these sudden political conversions to answer for. It is such a thorough
development of the democratic principle, that the faith of few believers
is found strong enough to withstand it. Every body knows how much a
prospect varies by position. Thus, you shall stand on the aristocratic
side of a room filled with company, and every thing will present a vulgar
and democratic appearance; or, vice versa, you shall occupy a place
among the oi polloi, and all is aristocratic, exclusive, and offensive. So it
had proved with my unfortunate kinsman. All his notions had changed;
instead of finding the perfection he had preached and extolled so long,
he found nothing to admire, and every thing to condemn. In a word,
never was a pocket-handkerchief so miserable, and that, too, on
grounds so philosophical and profound, met with, on its entrance into
active life. I do believe, if my brother could have got back to France, he
would have written a book on America, which, while it overlooked
many vices and foibles that deserve to be cut up without mercy, would
have thrown even de Tocqueville into the shade in the way of political
blunders. But I forbear; this latter writer being unanswerable among
those neophytes who having never thought of their own system, unless
as Englishmen, are overwhelmed with admiration at finding any thing of
another character advanced about it. At least, such are the sentiments
entertained by a very high priced pocket-handkerchief.

{magasin = shop; ex-officio = by virtue of his position--Cooper
frequently criticized American diplomats for taking on the conservative
views of the monarchial governments to which they were accredited; oi
polloi = common people, rabble (Greek); de Tocqueville = Alexis de
Tocqueville = French writer (1805-1859), famous for his account of
American culture, "Democracy in America" (1835 and 1840)--Cooper
had provided Tocqueville with letters of introduction for his 1832
American visit, but resented the extreme admiration accorded his

Mademoiselle Hennequin, I took occasion to remark, occupied much of
the attention of Betts Shoreham, at Mrs. Leamington's ball. They
understood each other perfectly, though the young man could not get
over the feeling created by the governess's manner when she first met
with me. Throughout the evening, indeed, her eye seemed studiously
averted from me, as if she struggled to suppress certain sentiments or
sensations, that she was unwilling to betray. Now, these sentiments, if
sentiments they were, or sensations, as they were beyond all dispute,
might be envy--repinings at another's better fortunes--or they might be
excited by philosophical and commendable reflections touching those
follies which so often lead the young and thoughtless into extravagance.
Betts tried hard to believe them the last, though, in his inmost heart, he
would a thousand times rather that the woman he loved should smile on
a weakness of this sort, in a girl of her own age, than that she should
show herself to be prematurely wise, if it was wisdom purchased at the
expense of the light-heartedness and sympathies of her years and sex.
On a diminished scale, I had awakened in his bosom some such uneasy
distrust as the pocket-handkerchief of Desdemona is known to have
aroused in that of the Moor.

{Shakespeare, "Othello"}

Nor can I say that Julia Monson enjoyed herself as much as she had
anticipated. Love she did not Betts Shoreham; for that was a passion
her temperament and training induced her to wait for some pretty
unequivocal demonstrations on the part of the gentleman before she
yielded to it; but she LIKED him vastly, and nothing would have been
easier than to have blown this smouldering preference into a flame. She
was too young, and, to say the truth, too natural and uncalculating, to be
always remembering that Betts owned a good old-fashioned landed
estate that was said to produce twenty, and which did actually produce
eleven thousand a year, nett; and that his house in the country was
generally said to be one of the very best in the state. For all this she
cared absolutely nothing, or nothing worth mentioning. There were
enough young men of as good estates, and there were a vast many of
no estates at all, ready and willing to take their chances in the "cutting
up" of "old Monson," but there were few who were as agreeable, as
well mannered, as handsome, or who had seen as much of the world, as
Betts Shoreham. Of course, she had never fancied the young man in
love with herself, but, previously to the impression she had quite
recently imbibed of his attachment to her mother's governess, she had
been accustomed to think such a thing MIGHT come to pass, and that
she should not be sorry if it did.

I very well understand this is not the fashionable, or possibly the polite
way of describing those incipient sentiments which form the germ of
love in the virgin affections of young ladies, and that a skillful and refined
poet would use very different language on the occasion; but I began this
history to represent things as they are, and such is the manner in which
"Love's Young Dream" appears to a pocket-handkerchief.

{"Love's Young Dream" = popular poem by Thomas Moore (1780-

Among other things that were unpleasant, Miss Monson was compelled
to overhear sundry remarks of Betts's devotion to the governess, as she
stood in the dance, some of which reached me, also.

"Who is the lady to whom Mr. Shoreham is so devoue this evening?"
asked Miss N. of Miss T. "'Tis quite a new face, and, if one might be so
presuming, quite a new manner."

{devoue = devoted, attentive}

"That is Mademoiselle Henny, the governess of Mrs. Monson's
children, my dear. They say she is all accomplishments, and quite a
miracle of propriety. It is also rumored that she is, some way, a very
distinguished person, reduced by those horrid revolutions of which they
have so many in Europe."

"Noble, I dare say!"

"Oh! that at least. Some persons affirm that she is semi-ROYAL. The
country is full of broken-down royalty and nobility. Do you think she
has an aristocratic air?"

"Not in the least--her ears are too small."

"Why, my dear, that is the very symbol of nobility! When my Aunt
Harding was in Naples, she knew the Duke of Montecarbana,
intimately; and she says he had the smallest ears she ever beheld on a
human being. The Montecarbanas are a family as old as the ruins of
Paestum, they say."

{Paestum = ancient Roman city outside Naples}

"Well, to my notion, nobility and teaching little girls French and Italian,
and their gammes, have very little in common. I had thought Mr.
Shoreham an admirer of Miss Monson's."

{gammes = musical scales}

Now, unfortunately, my mistress overheard this remark. Her feelings
were just in that agitated state to take the alarm, and she determined to
flirt with a young man of the name of Thurston, with a view to awaken
Betts's jealousy, if he had any, and to give vent to her own spleen. This
Tom Thurston was one of those tall, good-looking young fellows who
come from, nobody knows where, get into society, nobody knows
how, and live on, nobody knows what. It was pretty generally
understood that he was on the look-out for a rich wife, and
encouragement from Julia Monson was not likely to be disregarded by
such a person. To own the truth, my mistress carried matters much too
far--so far, indeed, as to attract attention from every body but those
most concerned; viz. her own mother and Betts Shoreham. Although
elderly ladies play cards very little, just now, in American society, or,
indeed, in any other, they have their inducements for rendering the well-
known office of matron at a ball, a mere sinecure. Mrs. Monson, too,
was an indulgent mother, and seldom saw any thing very wrong in her
own children. Julia, in the main, had sufficient retenue, and a suspicion
of her want of discretion on this point, was one of the last things that
would cross the fond parent's mind at Mrs. Leamington's ball. Others,
however, were less confiding.

{retenue = discretion}

"Your daughter is in HIGH SPIRITS to-night," observed a single lady
of a certain age, who was sitting near Mrs. Monson; "I do not
remember to have ever seen her so GAY."

"Yes, dear girl, she IS happy,"--poor Julia was any thing but THAT,
just then--"but youth is the time for happiness, if it is ever to come in this

"Is Miss Monson addicted to such VERY high spirits?" continued one,
who was resolute to torment, and vexed that the mother could not be
sufficiently alarmed to look around.

"Always--when in agreeable company. I think it a great happiness,
ma'am, to possess good spirits."

"No doubt--yet one needn't be always fifteen, as Lady Wortley
Montague said," muttered the other, giving up the point, and changing
her seat, in order that she might speak her mind more freely into the ear
of a congenial spirit.

{Lady Wortley Montague = Lady Mary Wortley Montague (1689-
1762), English essayist and letter-writer}

Half an hour later we were all in the carriages, again, on our way home;
all, but Betts Shoreham, I should say, for having seen the ladies
cloaked, he had taken his leave at Mrs. Leamington's door, as uncertain
as ever whether or not to impute envy to a being who, in all other
respects, seemed to him to be faultless. He had to retire to an uneasy
pillow, undetermined whether to pursue his original intention of making
the poor friendless French girl independent, by an offer of his hand, or
whether to decide that her amiable and gentle qualities were all seeming,
and that she was not what she appeared to be. Betts Shoreham owed
his distrust to national prejudice, and well was he paid for entertaining
so vile a companion. Had Mademoiselle Hennequin been an American
girl, he would not have thought a second time of the emotion she had
betrayed in regarding my beauties; but he had been taught to believe all
French women managing and hypocritical; a notion that the experience
of a young man in Paris would not be very likely to destroy.

{managing = manipulative}

"Well," cried John Monson, as the carriage drew from Mrs.
Leamington's door, "this is the last ball I shall go to in New York;"
which declaration he repeated twenty times that season, and as often

"What is the matter now, Jack?" demanded the father. "I found it very
pleasant--six or seven of us old fellows made a very agreeable evening
of it."

"Yes, I dare say, sir; but you were not compelled to dance in a room
eighteen by twenty-four, with a hundred people treading on your toes,
or brushing their heads in your face."

"Jack can find no room for dancing since the great ball of the Salle de
l'Opera, at Paris," observed the mother smiling. "I hope YOU enjoyed
yourself better, Julia?"

{Salle de l'Opera = Paris Opera House--the building referred to by
Cooper served as Opera House from 1821-1873 and was replaced by
the present building in 1874}

My mistress started; then she answered with a sort of hysterical glee--

"Oh! I have found the evening delightful, ma'am. I could have remained
two hours longer."

"And you, Mademoiselle Hennequin; I hope you, too, were agreeably

The governess answered meekly, and with a slight tremor in her voice.

"Certainly, madame," she said, "I have enjoyed myself; though dancing
always seems an amusement I have no right to share in."

There was some little embarrassment, and I could perceive an impulse
in Julia to press nearer to her rival, as if impelled by a generous wish to
manifest her sympathy. But Tom's protest soon silenced every thing
else, and we alighted, and soon went to rest.

The next morning Julia sent for me down to be exhibited to one or two
friends, my fame having spread in consequence of my late appearance. I
was praised, kissed, called a pretty dear, and extolled like a spoiled
child, though Miss W. did not fail to carry the intelligence, far and near,
that Miss Monson's much-talked-of pocket-handkerchief was nothing
after all but the THING Miss Halfacre had brought out the night of the
day her father had stopped payment. Some even began to nick-name
me the insolvent pocket-handkerchief.

I thought Julia sad, after her friends had all left her. I lay neglected on a
sofa, and the pretty girl's brow became thoughtful. Of a sudden she was
aroused from a brown study--reflective mood, perhaps, would be a
more select phrase--by the unexpected appearance of young Thurston.
There was a sort of "Ah! have I caught you alone!" expression about
this adventurer's eye, even while he was making his bow, that struck
me. I looked for great events, nor was I altogether disappointed. In one
minute he was seated at Julia's side, on the same sofa, and within two
feet of her; in two more he had brought in play his usual tricks of
flattery. My mistress listened languidly, and yet not altogether without
interest. She was piqued at Betts Shoreham's indifference, had known
her present admirer several months, if dancing in the same set can be
called KNOWING, and had never been made love to before, at least
in a manner so direct and unequivocal. The young man had tact enough
to discover that he had an advantage, and fearful that some one might
come in and interrupt the tete a tete, he magnanimously resolved to
throw all on a single cast, and come to the point at once.

"I think, Miss Monson," he continued, after a very beautiful specimen of
rigmarole in the way of love-making, a rigmarole that might have very
fairly figured in an editor's law and logic, after he had been beaten in a
libel suit, ''I think, Miss Monson, you cannot have overlooked the
VERY particular attentions I have endeavored to pay you, ever since I
have been so fortunate as to have made your acquaintance?"

"I!--Upon my word, Mr. Thurston, I am not at all conscious of having
been the object of any such attentions!"

"No?--That is ever the way with the innocent and single-minded! This is
what we sincere and diffident men have to contend with in affairs of the
heart. Our bosoms may be torn with ten thousand distracting cares, and
yet the modesty of a truly virtuous female heart shall be so absorbed in
its own placid serenity as to be indifferent to the pangs it is
unconsciously inflicting!"

"Mr. Thurston, your language is strong--and--a little--a little

"I dare say--ma'am--I never expect to be intelligible again. When the
'heart is oppressed with unutterable anguish, condemned to conceal that
passion which is at once the torment and delight of life'--when 'his lip,
the ruby harbinger of joy, lies pale and cold, the miserable appendage
of a mang--' that is, Miss Monson, I mean to say, when all our faculties
are engrossed by one dear object we are often incoherent and
mysterious, as a matter of course."

Tom Thurston came very near wrecking himself on the quicksands of
the romantic school. He had begun to quote from a speech delivered by
Gouverneur Morris, on the right of deposit at New Orleans, and which
he had spoken at college, and was near getting into a part of the subject
that might not have been so apposite, but retreated in time. By way of
climax, the lover laid his hand on me, and raised me to his eyes in an
abstracted manner, as if unconscious of what he was doing, and wanted
to brush away a tear.

{Gouverneur Morris = American Federalist leader and diplomat (1752-
1816)--a 1795 American treaty with Spain granted the United States
the right of navigation on the Mississippi River and to deposit goods at
New Orleans without paying customs duties}

"What a confounded rich old fellow the father must be," thought Tom,
"to give her such pocket-handkerchiefs!"

I felt like a wren that escapes from the hawk when the rogue laid me

Alas! Poor Julia was the dupe of all this acting. Totally unpracticed
herself, abandoned by the usages of the society in which she had been
educated very much to the artifices of any fortune-hunter, and vexed
with Betts Shoreham, she was in the worst possible frame of mind to
resist such eloquence and love. She had seen Tom at all the balls in the
best houses, found no fault with his exterior and manners, both of which
were fashionable and showy, and now discovered that he had a most
sympathetic heart, over which, unknown to herself, she had obtained a
very unlimited control.

"You do not answer me, Miss Monson," continued Tom peeping out at
one side of me, for I was still at his eyes--"you do not answer me, cruel,
inexorable girl!"

"What WOULD you have me say, Mr. Thurston?"

"Say YES, dearest, loveliest, most perfect being of the whole human

"YES, then; if that will relieve your mind, it is a relief very easily

Now, Tom Thurston was as skilled in a fortune-hunter's wiles as
Napoleon was in military strategy. He saw he had obtained an immense
advantage for the future, and he forbore to press the matter any further
at the moment. The "yes" had been uttered more in pleasantry than with
any other feeling, but, by holding it in reserve, presuming on it gradually,
and using it in a crisis, it might be worth--"let me see," calculated Tom,
as he went whistling down Broadway, "that 'yes' may be made to yield
at least a cool $100,000. There are John, this girl, and two little ones.
Old Monson is worth every dollar of $700,000--none of your
skyrockets, but a known, old fortune, in substantial houses and lands--
let us suppose the old woman outlive him, and that she gets her full
thirds; THAT will leave $466,660. Perhaps John may get a couple of
hundred thousand, and even THEN each of the girls will have $88,888.
If one of the little things should happen to die, and there's lots of scarlet
fever about, why that would fetch it up at once to a round hundred
thousand. I don't think the old woman would be likely to marry again at
her time of life. One mustn't calculate too confidently on THAT,
however, as I would have her myself for half of SUCH thirds."

{full thirds = Old Monson's widow would under American common law
receive a life interest in one-third of his real property, called a dower
right, which would revert to his children if she died without remarrying.}


For a week nothing material transpired. All that time I lay in the drawer,
gaining a knowledge of what passed, in the best manner I could. Betts
Shoreham was a constant visitor at the house, and Tom Thurston made
his appearance with a degree of punctuality that began to attract notice,
among the inmates of the house on the opposite side of the street. All
this time, however, Tom treated Julia with the greatest respect, and
even distance, turning more of his attention toward Mrs. Monson. He
acted in this manner, because he thought he had secured a sufficient lien
on the young lady, by means of her "yes," and knew how important it
was for one who could show none of the usual inducements for consent,
to the parents, to obtain the good-will of the "old lady."

At the end of the week, Mrs. Monson opened her house to receive the
world. As a matter of course, I was brought out on this occasion. Now,
Betts Shoreham and Mademoiselle Hennequin had made great progress
toward an understanding in the course of this week, though the lady
becoming more and more conscious of the interest she had created in
the heart of the gentleman, her own conduct got to be cautious and
reserved. At length, Betts actually carried matters so far as to write a
letter, that was as much to the point as a man could very well come. In
a word, he offered his hand to the excellent young French woman,
assuring her, in very passionate and suitable terms, that she had been
mistress of his affections ever since the first month of their acquaintance.
In this letter, he implored her not to be so cruel as to deny him an
interview, and there were a few exceedingly pretty reproaches, touching
her recent coy and reserved deportment.

Mademoiselle Hennequin was obliged to read this letter in Julia's room,
and she took such a position to do it, as exposed every line to my
impertinent gaze, as I lay on the bed, among the other finery that was
got out for the evening. Mrs. Monson was present, and she had
summoned the governess, in order to consult her on the subject of some
of the ornaments of the supper table. Fortunately, both Julia and her
mother were too much engaged to perceive the tears that rolled down
the cheeks of the poor stranger, as she read the honest declaration of a
fervid and manly love, nor did either detect the manner in which the
letter was pressed to Mademoiselle Hennequin's heart, when she had
done reading it the second time.

Just at this instant a servant came to announce Mr. Shoreham's
presence in the "breakfast-room." This was a retired and little
frequented part of the house at that hour, Betts having been shown into
it, in consequence of the preparations that were going on in the proper

"Julia, my dear, you will have to go below--although it is at a most
inconvenient moment."

"No, mother--let Mr. Betts Shoreham time his visits better--George,
say that the ladies are ENGAGED."

"That will not do," interrupted the mother, in some concern--"we are
too intimate for such an excuse--would YOU, Mademoiselle
Hennequin, have the goodness to see Mr. Shoreham for a few minutes-
-you must come into our American customs sooner or later, and this
may be a favorable moment to commence."

Mrs. Monson laughed pleasantly as she made this request, and her
kindness and delicacy to the governess were too marked and
unremitted to permit the latter to think of hesitating. She had laid her
own handkerchief down at my side, to read the letter, but feeling the
necessity of drying her eyes, she caught me up by mistake, smiled her
assent, and left the apartment.

Mademoiselle Hennequin did not venture below, until she had gone into
her own room. Here she wept freely for a minute or two, and then she
bathed her eyes in cold water, and used the napkin in drying them.
Owing to this circumstance, I was fortunately a witness of all that
passed in her interview with her lover.

The instant Betts Shoreham saw that he was to have an interview with
the charming French girl, instead of with Julia Monson, his countenance
brightened; and, as if supposing the circumstance proof of his success,
he seized the governess' hand, and carried it to his lips in a very
carnivorous fashion. The lady, however, succeeded in retaining her
hand, if she did not positively preserve it from being devoured.

"A thousand, thousand thanks, dearest Mademoiselle Hennequin," said
Betts, in an incoherent, half-sane manner; "you have read my letter, and
I may interpret this interview favorably. I meant to have told all to Mrs.
Monson, had SHE come down, and asked her kind interference--but it
is much, much better as it is."

"You will do well, monsieur, not to speak to Madame Monson on the
subject at all," answered Mademoiselle Hennequin, with an expression
of countenance that I found quite inexplicable; since it was not happy,
nor was it altogether the reverse. "This must be our last meeting, and it
were better that no one knew any thing of its nature."

"Then my vanity--my hopes have misled me, and I have no interest in
your feelings!"

"I do not say THAT, monsieur; oh! non--non--I am far from saying as
much as THAT"--poor girl, her face declared a hundred times more
than her tongue, that she was sincere--"I do not--CANNOT say I have
no interest in one, who so generously overlooks my poverty, my utter
destitution of all worldly greatness, and offers to share with me his
fortune and his honorable position--"

"This is not what I ask--what I had hoped to earn--gratitude is not

"Gratitude easily becomes love in a woman's heart"--answered the dear
creature, with a smile and a look that Betts would have been a mere
dolt not to have comprehended--"and it is my duty to take care that
MY gratitude does not entertain this weakness."

"Mademoiselle Hennequin, for mercy's sake, be as frank and simple as
I know your nature prompts--DO you, CAN you love me?"

Of course such a direct question, put in a very categorical way, caused
the questioned to blush, if it did not induce her to smile. The first she did
in a very pretty and engaging manner, though I thought she hesitated
about indulging in the last.

"Why should I say 'yes,' when it can lead to no good result?"

"Then destroy all hope at once, and say NO."

"That would be to give you--to give us both unnecessary pain. Besides,
it might not be strictly true--I COULD love--Oh! No one can tell how
my heart COULD love where it was right and proper."

After this, I suppose it is unnecessary for me to say, that Betts soon
brought the category of possibilities into one of certainty. To own the
truth, he carried every thing by his impetuosity, reducing the governess
to own that what she admitted she COULD do so well, she had already
done in a very complete and thorough manner. I enjoyed this scene
excessively, nor was it over in a minute. Mademoiselle Hennequin used
me several times to wipe away tears, and it is strong proof how much
both parties were thinking of other matters, that neither discovered who
was present at so interesting a tete-a-tete.

At length came the denouement. After confessing how much she loved
Betts, how happy she would be could she be his slave all the days of
her life, how miserable she was in knowing that he had placed his
affections on HER, and how much more miserable she should be, had
she learned he had NOT, Mademoiselle Hennequin almost annihilated
the young man by declaring that it was utterly impossible for her to
consent to become his wife. The reason was the difference in fortune,
and the impossibility that she should take advantage of his passion to
lead him into a connection that he might afterwards regret. Against this
decision, Betts reasoned warmly, but seriously, in vain. Had
Mademoiselle Hennequin been an American, instead of a French, girl,
her feelings would not have been so sensitive on this point, for, in this
great republic, every body but the fortune-hunters, an exceedingly
contemptible class, considers a match without money, quite as much a
matter of course, as a match with. But, the governess had been
educated under a different system, and it struck her imagination as very
proper, that she should make both herself and her lover miserable,
because he had two hundred thousand dollars, and she had not as many
hundreds. All this strangely conflicted with Betts' preconceived opinion
of a French woman's selfishness, and, while he was disposed to believe
his adored perfection, he almost feared it was a trick. Of such
contradictory materials is the human mind composed!

At length the eyes of Betts fell on me, who was still in the hand of
Mademoiselle Hennequin, and had several times been applied to her
eyes unheeded. It was evident I revived unpleasant recollections, and
the young man could not avoid letting an expression escape him, that
sufficiently betrayed his feelings.

"This handkerchief!" exclaimed the young governess--"Ah! it is that of
Mademoiselle Julie, which I must have taken by mistake. But, why
should this handkerchief awaken any feeling in you, monsieur? You are
not about to enact the Moor, in your days of wooing?"

{the Moor = from Shakespeare's "Othello"}

This was said sweetly, and withal a little archly, for the poor girl was
glad to turn the conversation from its harassing and painful points; but
Betts was in no humor for pleasantry, and he spoke out in a way to give
his mistress some clue to his thoughts.

"That cursed handkerchief"--it is really indecent in young men to use
such improper language, but they little heed what they say when strongly
excited--"that cursed handkerchief has given me as much pain, as it
appears also to have given you. I wish I knew the real secret of its
connection with your feelings; for I confess, like that of Desdemona's, it
has excited distrust, though for a very different cause.

The cheeks of Mademoiselle Hennequin were pale, and her brow
thoughtful. Still, she had a sweet smile for Betts; and, though ignorant of
the nature of his suspicions, which she would have scarcely pardoned, it
was her strongest wish to leave no darker cloud between them, than the
one she felt it her duty to place there herself. She answered, therefore,
frankly and simply, though not without betraying strong emotion as she

"This handkerchief is well known to me," answered the young French
woman; "it revives the recollections of some of the most painful scenes
of a life that has never seen much sunshine. You have heard me speak
of a grandmother, Mr. Shoreham, who took care of my childhood, and
who died in my arms. That handkerchief, I worked for her support in
her last illness, and this lace--yes, this beautiful lace was a part of that
beloved grandmother's bridal trousseau. I put it where you see it, to
enhance the value of my labors."

"I see it all!" exclaimed the repentant Betts--"FEEL it all, dearest,
dearest Mademoiselle Hennequin; and I hope this exquisite work, this
refined taste brought all the comfort and reward you had a right to

A shade of anguish crossed the face of Adrienne--for it was no other--
as she gazed at me, and recalled all the scenes of her sufferings and
distress. Then I knew her again, for time and a poor memory, with
some development of person, had caused me to forget the appearance
of the lovely creature who may be said to have made me what I am; but
one glance at her, with that expression of intense suffering on her
countenance, renewed all my earlier impressions.

"I received as much as I merited, perhaps," returned the meek-minded
girl--for she was proud only in insisting on what she fancied right--"and
enough to give my venerated parent Christian burial. They were days of
want and sorrow that succeeded, during which, Betts, I toiled for bread
like an Eastern slave, the trodden-on and abused hireling of a selfish
milliner. Accident at length placed me in a family as a governess. This
family happened to be acquainted with Madame Monson, and an offer
that was brilliant to me, in my circumstances, brought me to America.
You see by all this how unfit I am to be your wife, monsieur. You would
blush to have it said you had married a French milliner!"

"But you are not a milliner, in that sense, dearest Adrienne--for you
must suffer me to call you by that name--you are a lady reduced by
revolutions and misfortunes. The name of Hennequin I know is
respectable, and what care I for money, when so much worth is to be
found on your side of the scale. Money would only oppress me, under
such circumstances."

"Your generosity almost overcomes my scruples, but it may not be. The
name to which I am entitled is certainly not one to be ashamed of--it is
far more illustrious than that of Hennequin, respectable as is the last; but
of what account is a NAME to one in my condition!"

"And your family name is not Hennequin?" asked the lover, anxiously.

"It is not. My poor grandmother assumed the name of Hennequin, when
we went last to Paris, under an apprehension that the guillotine might
follow the revolution of July, as it had followed that of '89. This name
she enjoined it on me to keep, and I have never thought it prudent to
change it. I am of the family of de la Rocheaimard."

The exclamation which burst from the lips of Betts Shoreham,
betokened both surprise and delight. He made Adrienne repeat her
declarations, and even desired her to explain her precise parentage. The
reader will remember, that there had been an American marriage in
Adrienne's family, and that every relative the poor girl had on earth, was
among these distant connections on this side of the Atlantic. One of
these relatives, though it was no nearer than a third cousin, was Betts
Shoreham, whose great-grandmother had been a bona fide de la
Rocheaimard, and who was enabled, at once, to point out to the poor
deserted orphan some forty or fifty persons, who stood in the same
degree of affinity to her. It is needless to say that this conversation was
of absorbing interest to both; so much so, indeed, that Betts
momentarily forgot his love, and by the time it had ended, Adrienne was
disposed to overlook most of her over scrupulous objections to
rewarding that very passion. But the hour admonished them of the
necessity of separating.

"And now, my beloved cousin," said Betts Shoreham, as he rose to quit
the room, seizing Adrienne's unresisting hand--"now, my own Adrienne,
you will no longer urge your sublimated notions of propriety against my
suit. I am your nearest male relative, and have a right to your
obedience--and I command that you be the second de la Rocheaimard
who became the wife of a Shoreham."

"Tell me, mon cher cousin," said Adrienne, smiling through her tears--
"were your grand-parents, my good uncle and aunt, were they happy?
Was their union blessed?"

{mon cher cousin = my dear cousin}

"They were miracles of domestic felicity, and their happiness has passed
down in tradition, among all their descendants. Even religion could not
furnish them with a cause for misunderstanding. That example which
they set to the last century, we will endeavor to set to this."

Adrienne smiled, kissed her hand to Betts, and ran out of the room,
leaving me forgotten on the sofa. Betts Shoreham seized his hat, and left
the house, a happy man; for, though he had no direct promise as yet, he
felt as reasonably secure of success, as circumstances required.


Five minutes later, Tom Thurston entered, and Julia Monson came
down to receive HIM, her pique not interfering, and it being rather
stylish to be disengaged on the morning of the day when the household
was in all the confusion of a premeditated rout.

{premeditated rout = planned party}

"This is SO good of you, Miss Monson," said Tom, as he made his
bow--I heard it all, being still on the sofa--"This is SO good of you,
when your time must have so many demands on it."

"Not in the least, Mr. Thurston--mamma and the housekeeper have
settled every thing, and I am really pleased to see you, as you can give
me the history of the new play--"

"Ah! Miss Monson, my heart--my faculties--my ideas--" Tom was
getting bothered, and he made a desperate effort to extricate himself--
"In short, my JUDGMENT is so confused and monopolized, that I have
no powers left to think or speak of plays. In a word, I was not there."

"That explains it, then--and what has thus confused your mind, Mr.

"The approach of this awful night. You will be surrounded by a host of
admirers, pouring into your ears their admiration and love, and then
what shall I have to support me, but that 'yes,' with which you once
raised me from the depths of despair to an elevation of happiness that
was high as the highest pinnacle of the caverns of Kentucky; raising me
from the depths of Chimborazo."

{caverns of Kentucky = Mammoth Cave; Chimborazo = a 20,500 foot
volcano in Ecuador}

Tom meant to reverse this image, but love is proverbially desperate in
its figures of speech, and any thing was better than appearing to
hesitate. Nevertheless, Miss Monson was too well instructed, and had
too much real taste, not to feel surprise at all this extravagance of diction
and poetry.

"I am not certain, Mr. Thurston, that I rightly understand you," she said.
"Chimborazo is not particularly low, nor are the caverns of Kentucky so
strikingly elevated."

"Ascribe it all to that fatal, heart-thrilling, hope-inspiring 'yes,' loveliest of
human females," continued Tom, kneeling with some caution, lest the
straps of his pantaloons should give way--"Impute all to your own lucid
ambiguity, and to the torments of hope that I experience. Repeat that
'yes,' lovely, consolatory, imaginative being, and raise me from the thrill
of depression, to the liveliest pulsations of all human acmes."

"Hang it," thought Tom, "if she stand THAT, I shall presently be ashore.
Genius, itself, can invent nothing finer."

But Julia did stand it. She admired Tom for his exterior, but the
admiration of no moderately sensible woman could overlook
rodomontade so exceedingly desperate. It was trespassing too boldly
on the proprieties to utter such nonsense to a gentlewoman, and Tom,
who had got his practice in a very low school, was doomed to discover
that he had overreached himself.

"I am not certain I quite understand you, Mr. Thurston, answered the
half-irritated, half-amused young lady; "your language is so very
extraordinary--your images so unusual--"

"Say, rather, that it is your own image, loveliest incorporation of
perceptible incarnations," interrupted Tom, determined to go for the
whole, and recalling some rare specimens of magazine eloquence--
"Talk not of images, obdurate maid, when you are nothing but an image

"I! Mr. Thurston--and of what is it your pleasure to accuse me of being
the image?"

"O! unutterable wo--yes, inexorable girl, your vacillating 'yes' has
rendered me the impersonation of that oppressive sentiment, of which
your beauty and excellence have become the mocking reality. Alas,
alas! that bearded men,"--Tom's face was covered with hair--"Alas,
alas! that bearded men should be brought to weep over the contrarieties
of womanly caprice."

Here Tom bowed his head, and after a grunting sob or two, he raised
his handkerchief in a very pathetic manner to his face, and THOUGHT
to himself--"Well, if she stand THAT, the Lord only knows what I shall
say next."

As for Julia, she was amused, though at first she had been a little
frightened. The girl had a good deal of spirit, and she had tant soit peu
of mother Eve's love of mischief in her. She determined to "make
capital" out of the affair, as the Americans say, in shop-keeping slang.

{tant soit peu = an ever so tiny amount}

"What is the 'yes,' of which you speak," she inquired, "and, on which
you seem to lay so much stress?"

"That 'yes' has been my bane and antidote," answered Tom, rallying for
a new and still more desperate charge. "When first pronounced by your
rubicund lips, it thrilled on my amazed senses like a beacon of light--"

"Mr. Thurston--Mr. Thurston--what DO you mean?"

"Ah, d---n it," thought Tom, "I should have said HUMID light'--how the
deuce did I come to forget that word--it would have rounded the
sentence beautifully."

"What do I mean, angel of 'humid light,'" answered Tom, aloud; "I mean
all I say, and lots of feeling besides. When the heart is anguished with
unutterable emotion, it speaks in accents that deaden all the nerves, and
thrill the ears." Tom was getting to be animated, and when that was the
case, his ideas flowed like a torrent after a thunder-shower, or in
volumes, and a little muddily. "What do I mean, indeed; I mean to have
YOU," he THOUGHT, "and at least, eighty thousand dollars, or
dictionaries, Webster's inclusive, were made in vain."

"This is very extraordinary, Mr. Thurston," rejoined Julia, whose sense
of womanly propriety began to take the alarm; "and I must insist on an
explanation. Your language would seem to infer--really, I do not know,
what it does NOT seem to infer. Will you have the goodness to explain
what you mean by that 'yes?'"

"Simply, loveliest and most benign of your sex, that once already, in
answer to a demand of your hand, you deigned to reply with that
energetic and encouraging monosyllable, yes--dear and categorical
affirmative--" exclaimed Tom, going off again at half-cock, highly
impressed with the notion that rhapsody, instead of music, was the food
of love--"Yes, dear and categorical affirmative, with what ecstasy did
not my drowsy ears drink in the melodious sounds--what extravagance
of delight my throbbing heart echo its notes, on the wings of the unseen
winds--in short, what considerable satisfaction your consent gave my
pulsating mind!"

"Consent!--Consent is a strong WORD, Mr. Thurston!"

"It is, indeed, adorable Julia, and it is also a strong THING. I've known
terrible consequences arise from the denial of a consent, not half as
explicit as your own."

"Consequences!--may I ask, sir, to what consequences you allude?"

"The consequences, Miss Monson--that is, the consequences of a
violated troth, I mean--they may be divided into three parts--" here,
Tom got up, brushed his knees, each in succession, with his pocket-
handkerchief, and began to count on his fingers, like a lawyer who is
summing up an argument--"Yes, Miss Julia, into three parts. First come
the pangs of unrequited love; on these I propose to enlarge presently.
Next come the legal effects, always supposing that the wronged party
can summon heart enough to carry on a suit, with bruised affections--"
"hang it," thought Tom, "why did I not think of that word 'bruised' while
on my knees; it would tell like a stiletto--" "Yes, Miss Julia, if 'bruised
affections' would permit the soul to descend to such preliminaries. The
last consequence is, the despair of hope deferred."

"All this is so extraordinary, Mr. Thurston, that I insist on knowing why
you have presumed to address such language to me--yes, sir, INSIST
on knowing your reason."

Tom was dumbfounded. Now, that he was up, and looking about him,
he had an opportunity of perceiving that his mistress was offended, and
that he had somewhat overdone the sublime, poetical and affecting.
With a sudden revulsion of feeling and tactics, he determined to throw
himself, at once, into the penitent and candid.

"Ah, Miss Monson," he cried, somewhat more naturally--"I see I have
offended and alarmed you. But, impute it all to love. The strength of my
passion is such, that I became desperate, and was resolved to try any
expedient that I thought might lead to success."

"That might be pardoned, sir, were it not for the extraordinary character
of the expedient. Surely, you have never seen in me any taste for the
very extraordinary images and figures of speech you have used, on this

"This handkerchief,"--said Tom, taking me from the sofa--"this
handkerchief must bear all the blame. But for this, I should not have
dreamt of running so much on the high-pressure principle; but love, you
know, Miss Julia, is a calculation, like any other great event of life, and
must be carried on consistently."

"And, pray, sir, how can that handkerchief have brought about any such

"Ah! Miss Monson, you ask me to use a most killing frankness! Had we
not better remain under the influence of the poetical star?"

"If you wish to ensure my respect, or esteem, Mr. Thurston, it is
necessary to deal with me in perfect sincerity. Nothing but truth will ever
be pleasing to me."

"Hang it," THOUGHT Tom, again, "who knows? She is whimsical, and
may really like to have the truth. It's quite clear her heart is as insensible
to eloquence and poetry, as a Potter's Field wall, and it might answer to
try her with a little truth. Your $80,000 girls get SUCH notions in their
heads, that there's no analogy, as one might say, between them and the
rest of the species. Miss Julia," continuing aloud, "my nature is all plain-
dealing, and I am delighted to find a congenial spirit. You must have
observed something very peculiar in my language, at the commencement
of this exceedingly interesting dialogue?"

"I will not deny it, Mr. Thurston; your language was, to say the least,
VERY peculiar."

"Lucid, but ambiguous; pathetic, but amusing; poetical, but
comprehensive; prosaical, but full of emphasis. That's my nature. Plain-
dealing, too, is my nature, and I adore the same quality in others; most
especially in those I could wish to marry."

"Does this wish, then, extend to the plural number?" asked Julia, smiling
a little maliciously.

"Certainly; when the heart is devoted to virtuous intentions, it wishes for
a union with virtue, where-ever it is to be found. Competence and virtue
are my mottoes, Miss Julia."

"This shows that you are, in truth, a lover of plain-dealing, Mr.
Thurston--and now, as to the handkerchief?"

"Why, Miss Julia, perceiving that you are sincere, I shall be equally
frank. You own this handkerchief?"

"Certainly, sir. I should hardly use an article of dress that is the property
of another."

"Independent, and the fruit of independence. Well, Miss Monson, it
struck me that the mistress of such a handkerchief MUST like poetry--
that is, flights of the imagination--that is, eloquence and pathos, as it
might be engrafted on passion and sentiment."

"I believe I understand you, sir; you wish to say that common sense
seemed misapplied to the owner of such a handkerchief."

"Far from that, adorable young lady; but, that poetry, and eloquence,
and flights of imagination, seem well applied. A very simple calculation
will demonstrate what I mean. But, possibly, you do not wish to hear
the calculation--ladies, generally, dislike figures?"

"I am an exception, Mr. Thurston; I beg you will lay the whole matter
before me, therefore, without reserve."

"It is simply this, ma'am. This handkerchief cost every cent of $100--"

"One hundred and twenty-five," said Julia quickly.

"Bless me," THOUGHT Tom, "what a rich old d---l her father must be.
I will not give her up; and as poetry and sentiment do not seem to be
favorites, here goes for frankness--some women are furious for plain
matter-of-fact fellows, and this must be one of the number. One
hundred and twenty-five dollars is a great deal of money," he added,
aloud, "and the interest, at 7 per cent, will come to $1.75. Including first
cost and washing, the annual expense of this handkerchief may be set
down at $2. But, the thing will not last now five years, if one includes
fashion, wear and tear, &c., and this will bring the whole expense up to
$27 per annum. We will suppose your fortune to be $50,000, Miss

Here Tom paused, and cast a curious glance at the young lady, in the
hope of hearing something explicit. Julia could hardly keep her
countenance, but she was resolved to go to the bottom of all this plain-

"Well, sir," she answered, "we will suppose it, as you say, $50,000."

"The interest, then, would be $3,500. Now 27 multiplied by 130--"
here Tom took out his pencil and began to cypher--"make just 3510, or
rather more than the whole amount of the interest. Well, when you
come to deduct taxes, charges, losses and other things, the best
invested estate of $3,500 per annum, will not yield more than $3,000,
nett. Suppose a marriage, and the husband has ONLY $1,000 for his
pocket, this would bring down the ways and means to $2,000 per
annum; or less than a hundredth part of the expense of keeping ONE
pocket-handkerchief; and when you come to include rent, fuel,
marketing, and other necessaries, you see, my dear Miss Monson, there
is a great deal of poetry in paying so much for a pocket-handkerchief."

"I believe I understand you, sir, and shall endeavor to profit by the
lesson. As I am wanted, you will now excuse me, Mr. Thurston--my
father's step is in the hall--" so Julia, in common with all other
Manhattanese, called a passage, or entry, five feet wide--" and to him I
must refer you."

This was said merely as an excuse for quitting the room. But Tom
received it literally and figuratively, at the same time.


Accustomed to think of marrying as his means of advancement, he
somewhat reasonably supposed "refer you to my father" meant consent,
so far as the young lady was concerned, and he determined to improve
the precious moments. Fortunately for his ideas, Mr. Monson did not
enter the room immediately, which allowed the gentleman an
opportunity for a little deliberation. As usual, his thoughts took the
direction of a mental soliloquy, much in the following form.

"This is getting on famously," thought Tom. "Refer you to my father--
well, that is compact and comprehensive, at the same time. I wish her
dandruff had got up when I mentioned only $50,000. Seriously, that is
but a small sum to make one's way on. If I had a footing of my own, in
society, $50,000 MIGHT do; but, when a fellow has to work his way
by means of dinners, horses, and et ceteras, it's a small allowance. It's
true, the Monsons will give me connections, and connections are
almost--not quite--as good as money to get a chap along with--but, the
d---l of the matter is, that connections eat and drink. I dare say the
Monson set will cost me a good $500 a year, though they will save
something in the way of the feed they must give in their turns. I wish I
had tried her with a higher figure, for, after all, it may have been only
modesty--some women are as modest as the d---l. But here comes old
Monson, and I must strike while the iron is hot."

{dandruff = dander--but while "dander" can mean dandruff as well as
temper, the reverse is not true}

"Good morning, Mr. Thurston," said the father, looking a little surprised
at seeing such a guest at three o'clock. "What, alone with my daughter's
fine pocket-handkerchief? You must find that indifferent company."

"Not under the circumstances, sir. Every thing is agreeable to us that
belongs to an object we love."

"Love? That is a strong term, Mr. Thurston--one that I hope you have
uttered in pure gallantry."

"Not at all, sir," cried Tom, falling on his knees, as a school boy reads
the wrong paragraph in the confusion of not having studied his lesson
well--"adorable and angelic--I beg your pardon, Mr. Monson,"--rising,
and again brushing his knees with some care--"my mind is in such a
state of confusion, that I scarcely know what I say."

"Really, I should think so, or you could never mistake me for a young
girl of twenty. Will you have the goodness to explain this matter to me?"

"Yes, sir--I'm referred."

"Referred? Pray, what may that mean in particular?"

"Only, sir, that I'm referred--I do not ask a dollar, sir. Her lovely mind
and amiable person are all I seek, and I only regret that she is so rich. I
should be the happiest fellow in the world, Mr. Monson, if the angelic
Julia had not a cent."

"The angelic Julia must be infinitely indebted to you, Mr. Thurston; but
let us take up this affair in order. What am I to understand, sir, by your
being referred?"

"That Miss Julia, in answer to my suit, has referred me to you, sir."

"Then, so far as she herself is concerned, you wish me to understand
that she accepts you?"

"Certainly--she accepted, some time since, with as heavenly a 'yes' as
ever came from the ruby lips of love."

"Indeed! This is so new to me, sir, that you must permit me to see my
daughter a moment, ere I give a definite answer."

Hereupon Mr. Monson left the room, and Tom began to THINK again.

"Well," he thought, "things DO go on swimmingly at last. This is the first
time I could ever get at a father, though I've offered to six-and-twenty
girls. One does something like a living business with a father. I don't
know but I rather overdid it about the dollar, though it's according to
rule to seem disinterested at first, even if you quarrel like furies,
afterwards, about the stuff. Let me see--had I best begin to screw him
up in this interview, or wait for the next? A few hints, properly thrown
out, may be useful at once. Some of these old misers hold on to every
thing till they die, fancying it a mighty pleasant matter to chaps that can't
support themselves to support THEIR daughters by industry, as they
call it. I'm as industrious as a young fellow can be, and I owe six
months' board, at this very moment. No--no--I'll walk into him at once,
and give him what Napoleon used to call a demonstration."

The door opened, and Mr. Monson entered, his face a little flushed,
and his eye a little severe. Still he was calm in tone and manner. Julia
had told him all in ten words.

"Now, Mr. Thurston, I believe I understand this matter," said the father,
in a very business-like manner; "you wish to marry my daughter?"

"Exactly, sir; and she wishes to marry me--that is, as far as comports
with the delicacy of the female bosom."

"A very timely reservation. And you are referred?"

"Yes, Mr. Monson, those cheering words have solaced my ears--I am
referred. The old chap," aside, "likes a little humbug, as well as a girl."

"And you will take her without a cent, you say?"

"Did I, sir? I believe I didn't exactly say that--DOLLAR was the word I
mentioned. CENTS could hardly be named between you and me."

"Dollar let it be, then. Now, sir, you have my consent on a single

"Name it, sir. Name five or six, at once, my dear Mr. Monson, and you
shall see how I will comply."

"One will answer. How much fortune do you think will be necessary to
make such a couple happy, at starting in the world? Name such a sum
as will comport with your own ideas."

"How much, sir? Mr. Monson, you are a model of generosity! You
mean, to keep a liberal and gentlemanly establishment, as would
become your son-in-law?"

"I do--such a fortune as will make you both easy and comfortable."

"Horses and carriages, of course? Every thing on a genteel and liberal

"On such a scale as will insure the happiness of man and wife."

"Mutual esteem--conjugal felicity--and all that. l suppose you include
dinners, sir, and a manly competition with one's fellow citizens, in real
New York form?"

"I mean all that can properly belong to the expenses of a gentleman and

"Yes, sir--exceedingly liberal--liberal as the rosy dawn. Why, sir,
meeting your proposition in the spirit in which it is offered, I should say
Julia and I could get along very comfortably on $100,000. Yes, we
could make that do, provided the money were well invested--no fancy

"Well, sir, I am glad we understand each other so clearly. If my
daughter really wish to marry you, I will give $50,000 of this sum, as
soon as you can show me that you have as much more to invest along
with it."

"Sir--Mr. Monson!"

"I mean that each party shall lay down dollar for dollar!"

"I understand what you mean, sir. Mr. Monson, that would be
degrading lawful wedlock to the level of a bet--a game of cards--a
mercenary, contemptible bargain. No, sir--nothing shall ever induce me
to degrade this honorable estate to such pitiful conditions!"

"Dollar for dollar, Mr. Thurston!"

"Holy wedlock! It is violating the best principles of our nature."

"Give and take!"

"Leveling the sacred condition of matrimony to that of a mere bargain
for a horse or a dog!"

"Half and half!"

"My nature revolts at such profanation, sir--I will take $75,000 with
Miss Julia, and say no more about it."

"Equality is the foundation of wedded happiness, Mr. Thurston."

"Say $50,000, Mr. Monson, and have no more words about it. Take
away from the transaction the character of a bargain, and even $40,000
will do."

"Not a cent that is not covered by a cent of your own."

"Then, sir, I wash my hands of the whole affair. If the young lady should
die, my conscience will be clear. It shall never be said Thomas Thurston
was so lost to himself as to bargain for a wife."

"We must, then, part, and the negotiation must fall through."

Tom rose with dignity, and got as far as the door. With his hand on the
latch, he added--

"Rather than blight the prospects of so pure and lovely a creature I will
make every sacrifice short of honor--let it be $30,000, Mr. Monson?"

"As you please, sir--so that it be covered by $30,000 of your own."

"My nature revolts at the proposition, and so--good morning, sir."

Tom left the house, and Mr. Monson laughed heartily; so heartily,
indeed, as to prove how much he relished the success of his scheme.

"Talk of Scylla and Charybdis!" soliloquized the discomfited Tom, as he
wiped the perspiration from his face--"Where the d---l does he think I
am to find the $50,000 he wants, unless he first gives them to me? I
never heard of so unreasonable an old chap! Here is a young fellow that
offers to marry his daughter for $30,000--half price, as one may say--
and he talks about covering every cent he lays down with one of my
own. I never knew what was meant by cent. per cent. before. Let me
see; I've just thirty-two dollars and sixty-nine cents, and had we played
at a game of coppers, I couldn't have held out half an hour. But, I flatter
myself, I touched the old scamp up with morals, in a way he wasn't
used to. Well, as this thing is over, I will try old Sweet, the grocer's
daughter. If the wardrobe and whiskers fail there, I must rub up the
Greek and Latin, and shift the ground to Boston. They say a chap with
a little of the classics can get $30 or 40,000, there, any day in the week.
I wish my parents had brought me up a schoolmaster; I would be off in
the first boat. Blast it!--I thought when I came down to $30,000, he
would have snapped at the bait, like a pike. He'll never have a chance
to get her off so cheap, again."

{cent. per cent. = one hundred percent}

This ended the passage of flirtation between Thomas Thurston and Julia
Monson. As for the latter, she took such a distaste for me, that she
presented me to Mademoiselle Hennequin, at the first opportunity,
under the pretence that she had discovered a strong wish in the latter to
possess me.

Adrienne accepted the present with some reluctance, on account of the
price that had been paid for me, and yet with strong emotion. How she
wept over me, the first time we were alone together! I thought her heart
would break; nor am I certain it would not, but for the timely
interposition of Julia, who came and set her laughing by a humorous
narrative of what had occurred between her father and her lover.

That night the rout took place. It went off with eclat, but I did not make
my appearance at it, Adrienne rightly judging that I was not a proper
companion for one in her situation. It is true, this is not a very American
notion, EVERY thing being suitable for EVERY body, that get them, in
this land of liberty, but Adrienne had not been educated in a land of
liberty, and fancied that her dress should bear some relation to her
means. Little did she know that I was a sort of patent of nobility, and
that by exhibiting me, she might have excited envy, even in an
alderman's daughter. My non-appearance, however, made no
difference with Betts Shoreham, whose attentions throughout the
evening were so marked as to raise suspicion of the truth in the mind of
even Mrs. Monson.

{rout = evening party; eclat = brilliance}

The next day there was an eclaircissement. Adrienne owned who she
was, gave my history, acquainted Mrs. Monson with her connection
with Mr. Shoreham, and confessed the nature of his suit. I was present
at this interview, and it would be unjust to say that the mother was not
disappointed. Still she behaved generously, and like a high principled
woman. Adrienne was advised to accept Betts, and her scruples, on the
score of money, were gradually removed, by Mrs. Monson's

{eclaircissement = explanation}

"What a contrast do this Mr. Thurston and Adrienne present!" observed
Mrs. Monson to her husband, in a tete a tete, shortly after this
interview. "Here is the gentleman wanting to get our child, without a
shilling to bless himself with, and the poor girl refusing to marry the man
of her heart, because she is penniless."

"So much for education. We become mercenary or self-denying, very
much as we are instructed. In this country, it must be confessed,
fortune-hunting has made giant strides, within the last few years, and
that, too, with an audacity of pretension that is unrestrained by any of
the social barriers which exist elsewhere."

"Adrienne will marry Mr. Shoreham, I think. She loves; and when a girl
loves, her scruples of this nature are not invincible."

"Ay, HE can lay down dollar for dollar--I wish his fancy had run toward

"It has not, and we can only regret it. Adrienne has half-consented, and
I shall give her a handsome wedding--for, married she must be in our

All came to pass as was predicted. One month from that day, Betts
Shoreham and Adrienne de la Rocheaimard became man and wife.
Mrs. Monson gave a handsome entertainment, and a day or two later,
the bridegroom and bride took possession of their proper home. Of
course I removed with the rest of the family, and, by these means, had
an opportunity of becoming a near spectator of a honey-moon. I ought,
however, to say, that Betts insisted on Julia's receiving $125 for me,
accepting from Julia a handsome wedding present of equal value, but in
another form. This was done simply that Adrienne might say when I was
exhibited, that she had worked me herself, and that the lace with which
I was embellished was an heir-loom. If there are various ways of
quieting one's conscience, in the way of marriage settlements, so are
there various modes of appeasing our sense of pride.

Pocket-handkerchiefs have their revolutions, as well as states. I was
now under my first restoration, and perfectly happy; but, being French,
I look forward to further changes, since the temperament that has twice
ejected the Bourbons from their thrones will scarce leave me in quiet
possession of mine forever.

{first restoration = the Bourbon dynasty was restored to the French
throne in 1815, after the fall of Napoleon, only to be deposed again in

Adrienne loves Betts more than any thing else. Still she loves me dearly.
Scarce a week passes that I am not in her hands; and it is when her
present happiness seems to be overflowing, that she is most fond of
recalling the painful hours she experienced in making me what I am.
Then her tears flow freely, and often I am held in her soft little hand,
while she prays for the soul of her grandmother, or offers up praises for
her own existing blessings. I am no longer thought of for balls and routs,
but appear to be doomed to the closet, and those moments of tender
confidence that so often occur between these lovers. I complain not. So
far from it, never was an "article" of my character more highly favored;
passing an existence, as it might be, in the very bosom of truth and
innocence. Once only have I seen an old acquaintance, in the person of
Clara Caverly, since my change of mistress--the idea of calling a de la
Rocheaimard, a boss, or bossess, is out of the question. Clara is a
distant relative of Betts, and soon became intimate with her new cousin.
One day she saw me lying on a table, and, after an examination, she

"Two things surprise me greatly here, Mrs. Shoreham--that YOU
should own one of these THINGS"--I confess I did not like the word--
"and that you should own this particular handkerchief."

"Why so, chere Clara?"--how prettily my mistress pronounces that
name; so different from Clarry!

"It is not like YOU to purchase so extravagant and useless a THING--
and then this looks like a handkerchief that once belonged to another
person--a poor girl who has lost her means of extravagance by the
change of the times. But, of course, it is only a resemblance, as YOU--"

"It is more, Clara--the handkerchief is the same. But that handkerchief
is not an article of dress with me; it is MY FRIEND!"

The reader may imagine how proud I felt! This was elevation for the
species, and gave a dignity to my position, with which I am infinitely
satisfied. Nevertheless, Miss Caverly manifested surprise.

"I will explain," continued Mrs. Shoreham. "The handkerchief is my own
work, and is very precious to me, on account des souvenirs."

{des souvenirs = of memories}

Adrienne then told the whole story, and I may say Clara Caverly
became my friend also. Yes, she, who had formerly regarded me with
indifference, or dislike, now kissed me, and wept over me, and in this
manner have I since passed from friend to friend, among all of
Adrienne's intimates.

Not so with the world, however. My sudden disappearance from it
excited quite as much sensation as my debut in it. Tom Thurston's
addresses to Miss Monson had excited the envy, and, of course, the
attention of all the other fortune-hunters in town, causing his sudden
retreat to be noticed. Persons of this class are celebrated for covering
their retreats skilfully. Tom declared that "the old chap broke down
when they got as far as the fortune--that, as he liked the girl, he would
have taken her with $75,000, but the highest offer he could get from
him was $30,000. This, of course, no gentleman could submit to. A girl
with such a pocket-handkerchief OUGHT to bring a clear $100,000,
and I was for none of your half-way doings. Old Monson is a humbug.
The handkerchief has disappeared, and, now they have taken down the
SIGN, I hope they will do business on a more reasonable scale."

A month later, Tom got married. I heard John Monson laughing over
the particulars one day in Betts Shoreham's library, where I am usually
kept, to my great delight, being exceedingly fond of books. The facts
were as follows. It seems Tom had cast an eye on the daughter of a
grocer of reputed wealth, who had attracted the attention of another
person of his own school. To get rid of a competitor, this person
pointed out to Tom a girl, whose father had been a butcher, but had just
retired from business, and was building himself a fine house somewhere
in Butcherland.

"That's your girl," said the treacherous adviser. "All butchers are rich,
and they never build until their pockets are so crammed as to force
them to it. They coin money, and spend nothing. Look how high beef
has been of late years; and then they live on the smell of their own
meats. This is your girl. Only court the old fellow, and you are sure of
half a million in the long run."

Tom was off on the instant. He did court the old fellow; got introduced
to the family; was a favorite from the first; offered in a fortnight, was
accepted, and got married within the month. Ten days afterward, the
supplies were stopped for want of funds, and the butcher failed. It
seems HE, too, was only taking a hand in the great game of brag that
most of the country had sat down to.

Tom was in a dilemma. He had married a butcher's daughter. After this,
every door in Broadway and Bond street was shut upon him. Instead of
stepping into society on his wife's shoulders, he was dragged out of it by
the skirts, through her agency. Then there was not a dollar. His empty
pockets were balanced by her empty pockets. The future offered a sad
perspective. Tom consulted a lawyer about a divorce, on the ground of
"false pretences." He was even ready to make an affidavit that he had
been slaughtered. But it would not do. The marriage was found to stand
all the usual tests, and Tom went to Texas.


Back to Full Books