Home as Found
James Fenimore Cooper
Part 6 out of 9
restricts pennants to King's ships, whereas, to my notion, my dear
young lady, a New-York packet is as worthy of wearing a pennant as
any vessel that floats. I mean, of course, ships of the regular
European lines, and not the Southern traders."
"But these are merely spots on the sun, my good sir," returned Mr.
Howel; "putting a few such trifles out of the question, I think you
will allow that England is the most delightful country in the world?"
"To be frank with you, Mr. Howel, there is a good deal of hang-dog
weather, along in October, November and December. I have known March
any thing but agreeable, and then April is just like a young girl
with one of your melancholy novels, now smiling, and now blubbering."
"But the morals of the country, my dear sir; the moral features of
England must be a source of never-dying delight to a true
philanthropist," resumed Mr. Howel, as Eve, who perceived that the
discourse was likely to be long, went to join the ladies. "An
Englishman has most reason to be proud of the moral excellencies of
"Why, to be frank with you, Mr. Howel, there are some of the moral
features of London, that are any thing but very beautiful. If you
could pass twenty-four hours in the neighbourhood of St. Catharine's,
would see sights that would throw Templeton into fits. The English
are a handsome people, I allow; but their morality is none of the
"Let us be seated, sir; I am afraid we are not exactly agreed on our
terms, and, in order that we may continue this subject, I beg you
will let me take a seat next you, at table."
To this Captain Truck very cheerfully assented, and then the two took
chairs, continuing the discourse very much in the blind and ambiguous
manner in which it had been commenced; the one party insisting on
seeing every thing through the medium of an imagination that had got
to be diseased on such subjects, or with a species of monomania;
while the other seemed obstinately determined to consider the entire
country as things had been presented to his limited and peculiar
experience, in the vicinity of the docks.
"We have had a very unexpected, and a very agreeable attendant in
Captain Truck," said Mrs Hawker, when Eve had placed herself by her
side, and respectfully taken one of her hands. "I really think if I
were to suffer shipwreck, or to run the hazard of captivity, I should
choose to have both occur in his good company."
"Mrs. Hawker makes so many conquests," observed Mrs. Bloomfield,
"that we are to think nothing of her success with this mer-man; but
what will you say, Miss Effingham, when you learn that I am also in
favour, in the same high quarter. I shall think the better of
masters, and boatswains, and Trinculos and Stephanos, as long as I
live, for this specimen of their craft."
"Not Trinculos and Stephanos, dear Mrs. Bloom field; for, _a l'
exception pres de_ Saturday-nights, and sweethearts and wives, a more
exemplary person in the way of libations does not exist than our
excellent Captain Truck. He is much too religious and moral for so
vulgar an excess as drinking."
"Religious!" exclaimed Mrs, Bloomfield, in sur prise. "This is a
merit to which I did not know he possessed the smallest claims. One
might imagine a little superstition, and some short-lived repentances
in gales of wind; but scarcely any thing as much like a trade wind,
"Then you do not know him; for a more sincerely devout man, though I
acknowledge it is after a fashion that is perhaps peculiar to the
ocean, is not often met with. At any rate, you found him attentive to
"The pink of politeness, and, not to embellish, there is a manly
deference about him, that is singularly agreeable to our frail
vanity. This comes of his packet-training, I suppose, and we may
thank you for some portion of his merit, His tongue never tires in
your praises, and did I not feel persuaded that your mind is made up
never to be the wife of any republican American, I should fear this
visit exceedingly. Notwithstanding the remark I made concerning my
being in favour, the affair lies between Mrs. Hawker and yourself. I
know it is not your habit to trifle even on that very popular subject
with young ladies, matrimony; but this case forms so complete an
exception to the vulgar passion, that I trust you will overlook the
indiscretion. Our _golden_ captain, for _copper_ he is not, protests
that Mrs. Hawker is the most delightful old lady he ever knew, and
that Miss Eve Effingham is the most delightful young lady he ever
knew. Here, then, each may see the ground she occupies, and play her
cards accordingly. I hope to be forgiven for touching on a subject so
"In the first place," said Eve, smiling, "I should wish to hear Mrs.
"I have no more to say, than to express my perfect gratitude,"
answered that lady, "to announce a determination not to change my
condition, on account of extreme youth, and a disposition to abandon
the field to my younger, if not fairer, rival."
"Well, then," resumed Eve, anxious to change the subject, for she saw
that Paul was approaching their group, "I believe it will be wisest
in me to suspend a decision, circumstances leaving so much at my
disposal. Time must show what that decision will be."
"Nay," said Mrs. Bloomfield, who saw no feeling involved in the
trifling, "this is unjustifiable coquetry, and I feel bound to
ascertain how the land lies. You will remember I am the Captain's
confidant, and you know the fearful responsibility of a friend in an
affair of this sort; that of a friend in the duello being
insignificant in comparison. That I may have testimony at need, Mr.
Powis shall be made acquainted with the leading facts. Captain Truck
is a devout admirer of this young lady, sir, and I am endeavouring to
discover whether he ought to hang himself on her father's lawn, this
evening, as soon as the moon rises, or live another week. In order to
do this, I shall pursue the categorical and inquisitorial method--and
so defend yourself Miss Effingham. Do you object to the country of
Eve, though inwardly vexed at the turn this pleasantry had taken,
maintained a perfectly composed manner, for she knew that Mrs.
Bloomfield had too much feminine propriety to say any thing improper,
or any thing that might seriously embarrass her.
"It would, indeed, be extraordinary, should I object to a country
which is not only my own, but which has so long been that of my
ancestors," she answered steadily. "On this score, my knight has
nothing to fear."
"I rejoice to hear this," returned Mrs. Bloomfield, glancing her
eyes, unconsciously to herself, however, towards Sir George
Templemore, "and, Mr. Powis, you, who I believe are a European, will
learn humility in the avowal. Do you object to your swain that he is
Eve blushed, notwithstanding a strong effort to appear composed, and,
for the first time since their acquaintance, she felt provoked with
Mrs. Bloomfield. She hesitated before she answered in the negative,
and this too in a way to give more meaning to her reply, although
nothing could be farther from her intentions.
"The happy man _may_ then be an American and a seaman! Here is great
encouragement. Do you object to sixty?"
"In any other man I should certainly consider it a blemish, as my own
dear father is but fifty."
Mrs. Bloomfield was struck with the tremor in the voice, and with the
air of embarrassment, in one who usually was so easy and collected;
and with feminine sensitiveness she adroitly abandoned the subject,
though she often recurred to this stifled emotion in the course of
the day, and from that moment she became a silent observer of Eve's
deportment with all her father's guests.
"This is hope enough for one day," she said, rising; "the profession
and the flag must counterbalance the years as best they may, and the
Truck lives another revolution of the sun! Mrs. Hawker, we shall be
late at dinner, I see by that clock, unless we retire soon."
Both the ladies now went to their rooms; Eve, who was already dressed
for dinner, remaining in the drawing-room. Paul still stood before
her, and, like herself, he seemed embarrassed.
"There are men who would be delighted to hear even the little that
has fallen from your lips in this trifling," he said, as soon as Mrs.
Bloomfield was out of hearing. "To be an American and a seaman, then,
are not serious defects in your eyes?"
"Am I to be made responsible for Mrs. Bloomfield's caprices and
"By no means; but I do think you hold yourself responsible for Miss
Effingham's truth and sincerity I can conceive of your silence, when
questioned too far, but scarcely of any direct declaration, that
shall not possess both these high qualities."
Eve looked up gratefully, for she saw that profound respect for her
character dictated the remark; but rising, she observed--
"This is making a little _badinage_ about our honest, lion-hearted,
old captain, a very serious affair. And now, to show you that I am
conscious of, and thankful for, your own compliment, I shall place
you on the footing of a friend to both the parties, and request you
will take Captain Truck into your especial care, while he remains
here. My father and cousin are both sincerely his friends, but their
habits are not so much those of their guests, as yours will probably
be; and to you, then, I commit him, with a request that he may miss
his ship and the ocean as little as possible."
"I would I knew how to take this charge, Miss Effingham!--To be a
seaman is not always a recommendation with the polished, intelligent,
"But when one is polished, intelligent, and refined, to be a seaman
is to add one other particular and useful branch of knowledge to
those which are more familiar. I feel certain Captain Truck will be
in good hands, and now I will go and do my devoirs to my own especial
charges, the ladies."
Eve bowed as she passed the young man, and she left the room with as
much haste as at all became her. Paul stood motionless quite a minute
after she had vanished, nor did he awaken from his reverie, until
aroused by an appeal from Captain Truck, to sustain him, in some of
his matter-of-fact opinions concerning England, against the visionary
and bookish notions of Mr. Howel.
"Who is this Mr. Powis?" asked Mrs. Bloomfield of Eve, when the
latter appeared in her dressing-room, with an unusual impatience of
"You know, my dear Mrs. Bloomfield, that he was our fellow-passenger
in the Montauk, and that he was of infinite service to us, in
escaping from the Arabs."
"All this I know, certainly; but he is a European, is he not?"
Eve scarcely ever felt more embarrassed than in answering this simple
"I believe not; at least, I think not; we thought so when we met him
in Europe, and even until quite lately; but he has avowed himself a
countryman of our own, since his arrival at Templeton."
"Has he been here long?"
"We found him in the village on reaching home. He was from Canada,
and has been in waiting for his cousin, Captain Ducie, who came with
"His cousin!--He has English cousins, then! Mr. Ducie kept this to
himself, with true English reserve. Captain Truck whispered something
of the latter's having taken out one of his passengers, _the_ Mr.
Powis. the hero of the rocks, but I did not know of his having found
his way back to our--to his country. Is he as agreeable as Sir George
"Nay, Mrs. Bloomfield, I must leave you to judge of that for
yourself. I think them both agreeable men; but there is so much
caprice in a woman's tastes, that I decline thinking for others."
"He is a seaman, I believe," observed Mrs. Bloomfield, with an
abstracted manner--"he _must_ have been, to have manoeuvred and
managed as I have been told he did. Powis--Powis--that is not one of
our names, neither--I should think he must be from the south."
Here Eve's habitual truth and dignity of mind did her good service,
and prevented any further betrayal of embarrassment.
"We do not know his family," she steadily answered. "That he is a
gentleman, we see; but of his origin and connections he never
"His profession would have given him the notions of a gentleman, for
he was in the navy I have heard, although I had thought it the
British navy. I do not know of any Powises in Philadelphia, or
Baltimore, or Richmond, or Charleston; he must surely be from the
Eve could scarcely condemn her friend for a curiosity that had not a
little tormented herself, though she would gladly change the
"Mr. Powis would be much gratified, did he know what a subject of
interest he has suddenly become with Mrs. Bloomfield," she said,
"I confess it all; to be very sincere, I think him the most
distinguished young man, in air, appearance, and expression of
countenance, I ever saw. When this is coupled with what I have heard
of his gallantry and coolness, my dear, I should not be woman to feel
no interest in him. I would give the world to know of what State he
is a native, if native, in truth, he be."
"For that we have his own word. He was born in this country, and was
educated in our own marine."
"And yet from the little that fell from him, in our first short
conversation, he struck me as being educated above his profession."
"Mr. Powis has seen much as a traveller; when we met him in Europe,
it was in a circle particularly qualified to improve both his mind
and his manners."
"Europe! Your acquaintance did not then commence, like that with Sir
George Templemore, in the packet?"
"Our acquaintance with neither, commenced in the packet. My father
had often seen both these gentlemen, during our residences in
different parts of Europe."
"And your father's daughter?"
"My father's daughter, too," said Eve, laughing. "With Mr. Powis, in
particular, we were acquainted under circumstances that left a vivid
recollection of his manliness and professional skill. He was of
almost as much service to us on one of the Swiss lakes, as he has
subsequently been on the ocean."
All this was news to Mrs. Bloomfield, and she looked as if she
thought the intelligence interesting. At this moment the dinner-bell
rang, and all the ladies descended to the drawing-room. The gentlemen
were already assembled, and as Mr. Effingham led Mrs. Hawker to the
table, Mrs. Bloomfield gaily took Eve by the arm, protesting that she
felt herself privileged, the first day, to take a seat near the young
mistress of the Wigwam.
"Mr. Powis and Sir George Templemore will not quarrel about the
honour," she said, in a low voice, as they proceeded towards the
"Indeed you are in error, Mrs. Bloomfield; Sir George Templemore is
much better pleased with being at liberty to sit next my cousin
"Can this be so!" returned the other, looking intently at her young
"Indeed it is so, and I am very glad to be able to affirm it. How far
Miss Van Cortlandt is pleased that it is so, time must show: but the
baronet betrays every day, and all day, how much he is pleased with
"He is then a man of less taste, and judgment, and intelligence, than
I had thought him."
"Nay, dearest Mrs. Bloomfield, this is not necessarily true; or, if
true, need it be so openly said?"
"_Se non e vero, e ben trovato_."
"Thine for a space are they--
Yet shalt thou yield thy treasures up at last;
Thy gates shall yet give way,
Thy bolts shall fall, inexorable Past."
Captain Ducie had retired for the night, and was sitting reading,
when a low tap at the door roused him from a brown study. He gave the
necessary permission, and the door opened.
"I hope, Ducie, you have not forgotten the secretary I left among
your effects," said Paul entering the room, "and concerning which I
wrote you when you were still at Quebec."
Captain Ducie pointed to the case, which was standing among his other
luggage, on the floor of the room.
"Thank you for this care," said Paul, taking the secretary under his
arm, and retiring towards the door; "it contains papers of much
importance to myself, and some that I have reason to think are of
importance to others."
"Stop, Powis--a word before, you quit me. Is Templemore _de trop_?"
"Not at all; I have a sincere regard for Templemore, and should be
sorry to see him leave us."
"And yet I think it singular a man of his habits should be
rusticating among these hills, when I know that he is expected to
look at the Canadas, with a view to report their actual condition at
"Is Sir George really entrusted with a commission of that sort?"
inquired Paul, with interest.
"Not with any positive commission, perhaps, for none was necessary.
Templemore is a rich fellow, and has no need of appointments; but, it
is hoped and understood, that he will look at the provinces, and
report their condition to the government, I dare say he will not be
impeached for his negligence, though it may occasion surprise."
"Good night, Ducie; Templemore prefers a wigwam to your walled
Quebec, and _natives_ to colonists, that's all."
In a minute, Paul was at the door of John Effingham's room, where he
again tapped, and was again told to enter.
"Ducie has not forgotten my request, and here is the secretary that
contains poor Mr. Monday's paper," he remarked, as he laid his load
on a toilet-table, speaking in a way to show that the visit was
expected. "We have, indeed, neglected this duty too long, and it is
to be hoped no injustice, or wrong to any, will be the consequence."
"Is that the package?" demanded John Effingham, extending a hand to
receive a bundle of papers that Paul had taken from the secretary.
"We will break the seals this moment, and ascertain what ought to be
done, before we sleep."
"These are papers of my own, and very precious are they," returned
the young man, regarding them a moment, with interest, before he laid
them on the toilet. "Here are the papers of Mr. Monday."
John Effingham received the package from his young friend, placed the
lights conveniently on the table, put on his spectacles, and invited
Paul to be seated. The gentlemen were placed opposite each other, the
duty of breaking the seals, and first casting an eye at the contents
of the different documents, devolving, as a matter of course, on the
senior of the two, who, in truth, had alone been entrusted with it.
"Here is something signed by poor Monday himself, in the way of a
general, certificate," observed John Effingham, who first read the
paper, and then handed it to Paul. It was, in form, an unsealed
letter; and it was addressed "to all whom it may concern." The
certificate itself was in the following words:
"I, John Monday, do declare and certify, that all the accompanying
letters and documents are genuine and authentic. Jane Dowse, to whom
and from whom, are so many letters, was my late mother, she having
intermarried with Peter Dowse, the man so often named, and who led
her into acts for which I know she has since been deeply repentant.
In committing these papers to me, my poor mother left me the sole
judge of the course I was to take, and I have put them in this form
in order that they may yet do good, should I be called suddenly away.
All depends on discovering who the person called Bright actually is,
for he was never known to my mother, by any other name. She knows him
to have been an Englishman, however, and thinks he was, or had been,
an upper servant in a gentleman's family. JOHN MONDAY."
This paper was dated several years back, a sign that the disposition
to do right had existed some time in Mr. Monday; and all the letters
and other papers had been carefully preserved. The latter also
appeared to be regularly numbered, a precaution that much aided the
investigations of the two gentlemen. The original letters spoke for
themselves, and the copies had been made in a clear, strong,
mercantile hand, and with the method of one accustomed to business.
In short, so far as the contents of the different papers would allow,
nothing was wanting to render the whole distinct and intelligible.
John Effingham read the paper No. 1, with deliberation, though not
aloud; and when he had done, he handed it to his young friend, coolly
"That is the production of a deliberate villain."
Paul glanced his eye over the document, which was an original letter
signed, 'David Bright,' and addressed to 'Mrs. Jane Dowse,' It was
written with exceeding art, made many professions of friendship,
spoke of the writer's knowledge of the woman's friends in England,
and of her first husband in particular, and freely professed the
writer's desire to serve her, while it also contained several
ambiguous allusions to certain means of doing so, which should be
revealed whenever the person to whom the letter was addressed should
discover a willingness to embark in the undertaking. This letter was
dated Philadelphia, was addressed to one in New-York, and it was old.
"This is, indeed, a rare specimen of villany," said Paul, as he laid
down the paper, "and has been written in some such spirit as that
employed by the devil when he tempted our common mother. I think I
never read a better specimen of low, wily, cunning."
"And, judging by all that we already know, it would seem to have
succeeded. In this letter you will find the gentleman a little more
explicit; and but a little; though he is evidently encouraged by the
interest and curiosity betrayed by the woman in this copy of the
answer to his first epistle."
Paul read the letter just named, and then he laid it down to wait for
the next, which was still in the hands of his companion.
"This is likely to prove a history of unlawful love, and of its
miserable consequences," said John Effingham in his cool manner, as
he handed the answers to letter No. 1, and letter No. 2, to Paul.
"The world is full of such unfortunate adventures, and I should think
the parties English, by a hint or two you will find in this very
honest and conscientious communication. Strongly artificial, social
and political distinctions render expedients of this nature more
frequent, perhaps, in Great Britain, than in any other country. Youth
is the season of the passions, and many a man in the thoughtlessness
of that period lays the foundation of bitter regret in after life."
As John Effingham raised his eyes, in the act of extending his hand
towards his companion, he perceived that the fresh ruddy hue of his
embrowned cheek deepened, until the colour diffused itself over the
whole of his fine brow. At first an unpleasant suspicion flashed on
John Effingham, and he admitted it with regret, for Eve and her
future happiness had got to be closely associated, in his mind, with
the character and conduct of the young man; but when Paul took the
papers, steadily, and by an effort seemed to subdue all unpleasant
feelings, the calm dignity with which he read them completely effaced
the disagreeable distrust. It was then John Effingham remembered that
he had once believed Paul himself might be the fruits of the
heartless indiscretion he condemned. Commiseration and sympathy
instantly took the place of the first impression, and he was so much
absorbed with these feelings that he had not taken up the letter
which was to follow, when Paul laid down the paper he had last been
required to read.
"This does, indeed, sir, seem to foretell one of those painful
histories of unbridled passion, with the still more painful
consequences," said the young man with the steadiness of one who was
unconscious of having a personal connexion with any events of a
nature so unpleasant. "Let us examine farther."
John Effingham felt emboldened by these encouraging signs of
unconcern, and he read the succeeding letters aloud, so that they
learned their contents simultaneously. The next six or eight
communications betrayed nothing distinctly, beyond the fact that the
child which formed the subject of the whole correspondence, was to be
received by Peter Dowse and his wife, and to be retained as their own
offspring, for the consideration of a considerable sum, with an
additional engagement to pay an annuity. It appeared by these letters
also, that the child, which was hypocritically alluded to under the
name of the 'pet,' had been actually transferred to the keeping of
Jane Dowse, and that several years passed, after this arrangement,
before the correspondence terminated. Most of the later letters
referred to the payment of the annuity, although they all contained
cold inquiries after the 'pet,' and answers so vague and general, as
sufficiently to prove that the term was singularly misapplied. In the
whole, there were some thirty or forty letters, each of which had
been punctually answered, and their dates covered a space of near
twelve years. The perusal of all these papers consumed more than an
hour, and when John Effingham laid his spectacles on the table, the
village clock had struck the hour of midnight.
"As yet," he observed, "we have learned little more than the fact,
that a child was made to take a false character, without possessing
any other clue to the circumstances than is given in the names of the
parties, all of whom are evidently obscure, and one of the most
material of whom, we are plainly told, must have borne a fictitious
name. Even poor Monday, in possession of so much collateral testimony
that we want, could not have known what was the precise injustice
done, if any, or, certainly, with the intentions he manifests, he
would not have left that important particular in the dark."
"This is likely to prove a complicated affair," returned Paul, "and
it is not very clear that we can be of any immediate service. As you
are probably fatigued, we may without impropriety defer the further
examination to another time."
To this John Effingham assented, and Paul, during the short
conversation that followed, brought the secretary from the toilet to
the table, along with the bundle of important papers that belonged to
himself, to which he had alluded, and busied himself in replacing the
whole in the drawer from which they had been taken.
"All the formalities about the seals, that we observed when poor
Monday gave us the packet, would seem to be unnecessary," he
remarked, while thus occupied, "and it will probably be sufficient if
I leave the secretary in your room, and keep the keys myself."
"One never knows," returned John Effingham, with the greater caution
of experience and age. "We have not read all the papers, and there
are wax and lights before you; each has his watch and seal, and it
will be the work of a minute only, to replace every thing as we left
the package, originally. When this is done, you may leave the
secretary, or remove it, at your own pleasure."
"I will leave it; for, though it contains so much that I prize, and
which is really of great importance to myself, it contains nothing
for which I shall have immediate occasion."
"In that case, it were better that I place the package in which we
have a common interest in an _armoire_, or in my secretary, and that
you keep your precious effects more immediately under your own eye."
"It is immaterial, unless the case will inconvenience you, for I do
not know that I am not happier when it is out of my sight, so long as
I feel certain of its security, than when it is constantly before my
Paul said this with a forced smile, and there was a sadness in his
countenance that excited the sympathy of his companion. The latter,
however, merely bowed his assent, and the papers were replaced, and
the secretary was locked and deposited in an _armoire_, in silence.
Paul was then about to wish the other good night, when John Effingham
seized his hand, and by a gentle effort induced him to resume his
seat. An embarrassing, but short pause succeeded, when the latter
"We have suffered enough in company, and have seen each other in
situations of sufficient trial to be friends," he said. "I should
feel mortified, did I believe you could think me influenced by an
improper curiosity, in wishing to share more of your confidence than
you are perhaps willing to bestow; I trust you will attribute to its
right motive the liberty I am now taking. Age makes some difference
between us, and the sincere and strong interest I feel in your
welfare, ought to give me a small claim not to be treated as a total
stranger. So jealous and watchful has this interest been, I might
with great truth call it affection, that I have discovered you are
not situated exactly as other men in your condition of life are
situated, and feel persuaded that the sympathy, perhaps the advice,
of one so many years older than yourself, might be useful. You have
already said so much to me, on the subject of your personal
situation, that I almost feel a right to ask for more."
John Effingham uttered this in his mildest and most winning manner;
and few men could carry with them, on such an occasion, more of
persuasion in their voices and looks. Paul's features worked, and it
was evident to his companion that he was moved, while, at the same
time, he was not displeased.
"I am grateful, deeply grateful, sir, for this interest in my
happiness," Paul answered, "and if I knew the particular points on
which you feel any curiosity, there is nothing that I can desire to
conceal. Have the further kindness to question me, Mr. Effingham,
that I need not touch on things you do not care to hear."
"All that really concerns your welfare, would have interest with me.
You have been the agent of rescuing not only myself, but those whom I
most love, from a fate worse than death; and, a childless bachelor
myself, I have more than once thought of attempting to supply the
places of those natural friends that I fear you have lost. Your
"Are both dead. I never knew either," said Paul, who spoke huskily,
"and will most cheerfully accept your generous offer, if you will
allow me to attach to it a single condition."
"Beggars must not be choosers," returned John Effingham, "and if you
will allow me to feel this interest in you, and occasionally to share
in the confidence of a father; I shall not insist on any unreasonable
terms. What is your condition?"
"That the word money may be struck out of our vocabulary, and that
you leave your will unaltered. Were the world to be examined, you
could not find a worthier or a lovelier heiress, than the one you
have already selected, and whom Providence itself has given you.
Compared with yourself, I am not rich, but I have a gentleman's
income, and as I shall probably never marry, it will suffice for all
John Effingham was more pleased than he cared to express with this
frankness, and with the secret sympathy that had existed between
them; but he smiled at the injunction; for, with Eve's knowledge, and
her father's entire approbation, he had actually made a codicil to
his will, in which their young protector was left one half of his
"The will may remain untouched, if you desire it," he answered,
evasively, "and that condition is disposed of. I am glad to learn so
directly from yourself, what your manner of living and the reports of
others had prepared me to hear, that you are independent. This fact,
alone, will place us solely on our mutual esteem, and render the
friendship that I hope is now brought within a covenant, if not now
first established, more equal and frank. You have seen much of the
world, Powis, for your years and profession?"
"It is usual to think that men of my profession see much of the
world, as a consequence of their pursuits; though I agree with you,
sir, that this is seeing the world only in a very limited circle. It
is now several years since circumstances, I might almost say the
imperative order of one whom I was bound to obey, induced me to
resign, and since that time I have done little else but travel. Owing
to certain adventitious causes, I have enjoyed an access to European
society that few of our countrymen possess, and I hope the advantage
has not been entirely thrown away. It was as a traveller on the
continent of Europe, that I had the pleasure of first meeting with
Mr. and Miss Effingham. I was much abroad, even as a child, and owe
some little skill in foreign languages to that circumstance."
"So my cousin has informed me. You have set the question of country
at rest, by declaring that you are an American, and yet I find you
have English relatives. Captain Ducie, I believe, is a kinsman?"
"He is; we are sister's children, though our friendship has not
always been such as the connexion would infer. When Ducie and myself
met at sea, there was an awkwardness, if not a coolness, in the
interview, that, coupled with my sudden return to England, I fear did
not make the most favourable impression, on those who witnessed what
"We had confidence in your principles," said John Effingham, with a
frank simplicity, "and, though the first surmises were not pleasant,
perhaps, a little reflection told us that there was no just ground
"Ducie is a fine, manly fellow, and has a seaman's generosity and
sincerity. I had last parted from him on the field, where we met as
enemies; and the circumstance rendered the unexpected meeting
awkward. Our wounds no longer smarted, it is true; but, perhaps, we
both felt shame and sorrow that they had ever been inflicted."
"It should be a very serious quarrel that could arm sister's children
against each other," said John Effingham, gravely.
"I admit as much. But, at that time, Captain Ducie was not disposed
to admit the consanguinity, and the offence grew out of an
intemperate resentment of some imputations on my birth; between two
military men, the issue could scarcely be avoided. Ducie challenged,
and I was not then in the humour to balk him. A couple of flesh-
wounds happily terminated the affair. But an interval of three years
had enabled my enemy to discover that he had not done me justice;
that I had been causelessly provoked to the quarrel, and that we
ought to be firm friends. The generous desire to make suitable
expiation, urged him to seize the first occasion of coming to America
that offered; and when ordered to chase the Montauk, by a telegraphic
communication from London, he was hourly expecting to sail for our
seas, where he wished to come, expressly that we might meet. You will
judge, therefore, how happy he was to find me unexpectedly in the
vessel that contained his principal object of pursuit, thus killing,
as it might be, two birds with one stone."
"And did he carry you away with him, with any such murderous
intention?" demanded John Effingham, smiling.
"By no means; nothing could be more amicable than Ducie and myself
got to be, when we had been a few hours together in his cabin. As
often happens, when there have been violent antipathies and
unreasonable prejudices, a nearer view of each other's character and
motives removed every obstacle; and long before we reached England,
two warmer friends could not be found, or a more frank intercourse
between relatives could not be desired. You are aware, sir, that our
English cousins do not often view their cis-atlantic relatives with
the most lenient eyes."
"This is but too true," said John Effingham proudly, though his lip
quivered as he spoke, "and it is, in a great measure, the fault of
that miserable mental bondage which has left this country, after
sixty years of nominal independence, so much at the mercy of a
hostile opinion. It is necessary that we respect ourselves in order
that others respect us."
"I agree with you, sir, entirely. In my case, however, previous
injustice disposed my relatives to receive me better, perhaps, than
might otherwise have been the case. I had little to ask in the way of
fortune, and feeling no disposition to raise a question that might
disturb the peerage of the Ducies, I became a favourite."
"A peerage!--Both your parents, then, were English?"
"Neither, I believe; but the connection between the two countries was
so close, that it can occasion no surprise a right of this nature
should have passed into the colonies. My mother's mother became the
heiress of one of those ancient baronies, that pass to the heirs-
general, and, in consequence of the deaths of two brothers, these
rights, which however were never actually possessed by any of the
previous generation, centered in my mother and my aunt. The former
being dead, as was contended, without issue--"
"You forget yourself!"
"Lawful issue," added Paul, reddening to the temples, "I should have
added--Mrs. Ducie, who was married to the younger son of an English
nobleman, claimed and obtained the rank. My pretension would have
left the peerage in abeyance, and I probably owe some little of the
opposition I found, to that circumstance. But, after Ducie's generous
conduct, I could not hesitate about joining in the application to the
crown that, by its decision, the abeyance might be determined in
favour of the person who was in possession; and Lady Dunluce is now
quietly confirmed in her claim."
"There are many young men in this country, who would cling to the
hopes of a British peerage with greater tenacity!"
"It is probable there are; but my self-denial is not of a very high
order, for; it could scarcely be expected the English ministers would
consent to give the rank to a foreigner who did not hesitate about
avowing his principles and national feelings. I shall not say I did
hot covet this peerage, for it would be supererogatory; but I am born
an American, and will die an American; and an American who swaggers
about such a claim, is like the daw among the peacocks. The less that
is said about it, the better."
"You are fortunate to have escaped the journals, which, most
probably, would have _begraced_ you, by elevating you at once to the
rank of a duke."
"Instead of which, I had no other station than that of a dog in the
manger. If it makes my aunt happy to be called Lady Dunluce, I am
sure she is welcome to the privilege; and when Ducie succeeds her, as
will one day be the case, an excellent fellow will be a peer of
England. _Voila tout_! You are the only countryman, sir, to whom I
have ever spoken of the circumstance, and with you I trust it will
remain a secret"
"What! am I precluded from mentioning the facts in my own family? I
am not the only sincere, the only warm friend, you have in this
"In that respect, I leave you to act your pleasure, my dear sir. If
Mr. Effingham feel sufficient interest in my fortunes, to wish to
hear what I have told you, let there be no silly mysteries,--or--or
"Or Nanny Sidley, or Annette," interrupted John Effingham, with a
kind smile. "Well, trust to me for that; but, before we separate for
the night, I wish to ascertain beyond question one other fact,
although the circumstances you have stated scarce leave a doubt of
"I understand you, sir, and did not intend to leave you in any
uncertainty on that important particular. If there can be a feeling,
more painful than all others, with a man of any pride, it is to
distrust the purity of his mother. Mine was beyond reproach, thank
God, and so it was most clearly established, or I could certainly
have had no legal claim to the peerage."
"Or your fortune--" added John Effingham, drawing a long breath, like
one suddenly relieved from an unpleasant suspicion.
"My fortune comes from neither parent, but from one of those generous
dispositions, or caprices, if you will, that sometimes induce men to
adopt those who are alien to their blood. My guardian adopted me,
took me abroad with him, placed me, quite young, in the navy, and
dying, he finally left me all he possessed As he was a bachelor, with
no near relative, and had been the artisan of his own fortune, I
could have no hesitation about accepting the gift he so liberally
bequeathed. It was coupled with the condition that I should retire
from the service, travel for five years, return home, and marry.
There is no silly-forfeiture exacted in either case, but such is the
general course solemnly advised by a man who showed himself my true
friend for so many years."
"I envy him the opportunity he enjoyed of serving you. I hope he
would have approved of your national pride, for I believe we must put
that at the bottom of your disinterestedness, in the affair of the
"He would, indeed, although he never knew anything of the claim which
arose out of the death of the two lords who preceded my aunt, and who
were the brothers of my grandmother. My guardian was in all respects
a man, and, in nothing more, than in a manly national pride. While
abroad a decoration was offered him, and he declined it with the
character and dignity of one who felt that distinctions which his
country repudiated, every gentleman belonging to that country ought
to reject; and yet he did it with a respectful gratitude for the
compliment, that was due to the government from which the offer
"I almost envy that man," said John Effingham, with warmth. "To have
appreciated you, Powis, was a mark of a high judgment; but it seems
he properly appreciated himself, his country, and human nature."
"And yet he was little appreciated in his turn. That man passed years
in one of our largest towns, of no more apparent account among its
population than any one of its commoner spirits, and of not half as
much as one of its bustling brokers, or jobbers."
"In that there is nothing surprising. The class of the chosen few is
too small every where, to be very numerous at any given point, in a
scattered population like that of America. The broker will as
naturally appreciate the broker, as the dog appreciates the dog, or
the wolf the wolf. Least of all is the manliness you have named,
likely to be valued among a people who have been put into men's
clothes before they are out of leading-strings. I am older than you,
my dear Paul," it was the first time John Effingham ever used so
familiar an appellation, and the young man thought it sounded
kindly--"I am older than you, my dear Paul, and will venture to tell
you an important fact that may hereafter lessen some of your own
mortifications. In most nations there is a high standard to which man
at least affects to look; and acts are extolled and seemingly
appreciated, for their naked merits. Little of this exists in
America, where no man is much praised for himself, but for the
purposes of party, or to feed national vanity. In the country in
which, of all others, political opinion ought to be the freest, it is
the most persecuted, and the community-character of the nation
induces every man to think he has a right of property in all its
fame. England exhibits a great deal of this weakness and injustice,
which, it is to be feared, is a vicious fruit of liberty; for it is
certain that the sacred nature of opinion is most appreciated in
those countries in which it has the least efficiency. We are
constantly deriding those governments which fetter opinion, and yet I
know of no nation in which the expression of opinion is so certain to
attract persecution and hostility as our own, though it may be, and
is, in one sense, free."
"This arises from its potency. Men quarrel about opinion here,
because opinion rules. It is but one mode of struggling for power.
But to return to my guardian; he was a man to think and act for
himself, and as far from the magazine and newspaper existence that
most Americans, in a moral sense, pass, as any man could be."
"It is indeed a newspaper and magazine existence," said John
Effingham, smiling at Paul's terms, "to know life only through such
mediums! It is as bad as the condition of those English who form
their notions of society from novels written by men and women who
have no access to it, and from the records of the court journal. I
thank you sincerely, Mr. Powis for this confidence, which has not
been idly solicited on my part, and which shall not be abused. At no
distant day we will break the seals again, and renew our
investigations into this affair of the unfortunate Monday, which is
not yet, certainly, very promising in the way of revelations."
The gentlemen shook hands cordially, and Paul, lighted by his
companion, withdrew. When the young man was at the door of his own
room, he turned, and saw John Effingham following him with his eye.
The latter then renewed the good night, with one of those winning
smiles that rendered his face so brilliantly handsome, and each
"Item, a capon, 2_s_. 2_d_. Item, sauce, 4_d_. Item, sack, two
gallons, 5_s_. 8_d_. Item, bread, a half-penny."
The next day John Effingham made no allusion to the conversation of
the previous night, though the squeeze of the hand he gave Paul, when
they met, was an assurance that nothing was forgotten. As he had a
secret pleasure in obeying any injunction of Eve's, the young man
himself sought Captain Truck, even before they had breakfasted, and,
as he had made an acquaintance with 'the commodore,' on the lake,
previously to the arrival of the Effinghams, that worthy was
summoned, and regularly introduced to the honest ship-master. The
meeting between these two distinguished men was grave, ceremonious
and dignified, each probably feeling that he was temporarily the
guardian of a particular portion of an element that was equally dear
to both. After a few minutes passed, as it might be, in the
preliminary points of etiquette, a better feeling and more confidence
was established, and it was soon settled that they should fish in
company, the rest of the day; Paul promising to row the ladies out on
the lake, and to join them in the course of the afternoon.
As the party quitted the breakfast-table, Eve took an occasion to
thank the young man for his attention to their common friend, who, it
was reported, had taken his morning's repast at an early hour, and
was already on the lake, the day by this time having advanced within
two hours of noon.
"I have dared even to exceed your instructions, Miss Effingham," said
Paul, "for I have promised the Captain to endeavour to persuade you,
and as many of the ladies as possible, to trust yourselves to my
seamanship, and to submit to be rowed out to the spot where we shall
find him and his friend the commodore riding at anchor."
"An engagement that my influence shall be used to see fulfilled. Mrs.
Bloomfield has already expressed a desire to go on the Otsego-Water,
and I make no doubt I shall find other companions. Once more let me
thank you for this little attention, for I too well know your tastes,
not to understand that you might find a more agreeable ward."
"Upon my word, I feel a sincere regard for our old Captain, and could
often wish for no better companion. Were he, however, as disagreeable
as I find him, in truth, pleasant and frank, your wishes would
conceal all his faults."
"You have learned, Mr. Powis, that small attentions are as much
remembered as important services, and after having saved our lives,
wish to prove that you can discharge _les petits devoirs socials_, as
well as perform great deeds. I trust you will persuade Sir George
Templemore to be of our party, and at four we shall be ready to
accompany you; until then I am contracted to a gossip with Mrs.
Bloomfield in her dressing-room."
We shall now leave the party on the land, and follow those who have
already taken boat, or the fishermen. The beginning of the
intercourse between the salt-water navigator and his fresh-water
companion was again a little constrained and critical. Their
professional terms agreed as ill as possible, for when the Captain
used the expression 'ship the oars,' the commodore understood just
the reverse of what it had been intended to express; and, once, when
he told his companion to 'give way,' the latter took the hint so
literally as actually to cease rowing. All these professional
niceties induced the worthy ship-master to undervalue his companion,
who, in the main, was very skilful in his particular pursuit, though
it was a skill that he exerted after the fashions of his own lake,
and not after the fashions of the ocean. Owing to several contre-tems
of this nature, by the time they reached the fishing-ground the
Captain began to entertain a feeling for the commodore, that ill
comported with the deference due to his titular rank.
"I have come out with you, commodore," said Captain Truck, when they
had got to their station, and laying a peculiar emphasis on the
appellation he used, "in order to _enjoy_ myself, and you will confer
an especial favour on me by not using such phrases as 'cable-rope,'
'casting anchor,' and 'titivating.' As for the two first, no seaman
ever uses them; and I never heard suchna word on board a ship, as the
last, D----e, sir, if I believe it is to be found in the dictionary,
"You amaze me, sir! 'Casting anchor,' and 'cable-rope' are both Bible
phrases, and they must be right."
"That follows by no means, commodore, as I have some reason to know;
for my father having been a parson, and I being a seaman, we may be
said to have the whole subject, as it were, in the family. St. Paul--
you have heard of such a man as St. Paul, commodore?--"
"I know him almost by heart, Captain Truck; but St. Peter and St.
Andrew were the men, most after my heart. Ours is an ancient calling,
sir, and in those two instances you see to what a fisherman can rise.
I do not remember to have ever heard of a sea-captain who was
converted into a saint."
"Ay, ay, there is always too much to do on board ship to have time to
be much more than a beginner in religion. There was my mate, v'y'ge
before last, Tom Leach, who is now master of a ship of his own, had
he been brought up to it properly, he would have made as
conscientious a parson as did his grandfather before him. Such a man
would have been a seaman, as well as a parson. I have little to say
against St. Peter or St. Andrew, but, in my judgment, they were none
the better saints for having been fishermen; and, if the truth were
known, I dare say they were at the bottom of introducing such
lubberly phrases into the Bible, as 'casting-anchor,' and 'cable-
"Pray, sir," asked the commodore, with dignity, "what are _you_ in
the practice of saying, when you speak of such matters; for, to be
frank with you, _we_ always use these terms on these lakes."
"Ay, ay, there is a fresh-water smell about them. We say 'anchor,' or
'let go the anchor,' or 'dropped the anchor,' or some such reasonable
expression, and not 'cast anchor,' as if a bit of iron, weighing two
or three tons, is to be jerked about like a stone big enough to kill
a bird with. As for the 'cable-rope,' as you call it, we say the
'cable,' or 'the chain,' or 'the ground tackle,' according to reason
and circumstances. You never hear a real 'salt' flourishing his
'cable-ropes,' and his 'casting-anchors,' which are altogether too
sentimental and particular for his manner of speaking. As for
'ropes,' I suppose you have not got to be a commodore, and need being
told how many there are in a ship."
"I do not pretend to have counted them, but I have seen a ship, sir,
and one under full sail, too, and I know there were as many ropes
about her as there are pines on the Vision."
"Are there more than seven of these trees on your mountain? for that
is just the number of ropes in a merchant-man; though a man-of-war's-
man counts one or two more."
"You astonish me, sir! But seven ropes in a ship?--I should have said
there are seven hundred!"
"I dare say, I dare say; that is just the way in which a landsman
pretends to criticise a vessel. As for the ropes, I will now give you
their names, and then you can lay athwart hawse of these canoe
gentry, by the hour, and teach them rigging and modesty, both at the
same time. In the first place," continued the captain, jerking at his
line, and then beginning to count on his fingers--"There is the 'man-
rope;' then come the 'bucket-rope,' the 'tiller-rope,' the 'bolt-
rope,' the 'foot-rope,' the 'top-rope,' and the 'limber-rope.' I have
followed the seas, now, more than half a century, and never yet heard
of a 'cable-rope,' from any one who could hand, reef, and steer."
"Well, sir, every man to his trade," said the commodore, who just
then pulled in a fine pickerel, which was the third he had taken,
while his companion rejoiced in no more than a few fruitless bites.
"You are more expert in ropes than in lines, it would seem. I shall
not deny your experience and knowledge; but in the way of fishing,
you will at least allow that the sea is no great school. I dare say,
now, if you were to hook the 'sogdollager,' we should have you
jumping into the lake to get rid of him. Quite probably, sir, you
never before heard of that celebrated fish?"
Notwithstanding the many excellent qualities of Captain Truck, he had
a weakness that is rather peculiar to a class of men, who, having
seen so much of this earth, are unwilling to admit they have not seen
it all. The little brush in which he was now engaged with the
commodore, he conceived due to his own dignity, and his motive was
duly to impress his companion with his superiority, which being
fairly admitted, he would have been ready enough to acknowledge that
the other understood pike-fishing much better than himself. But it
was quite too early in the discussion to make any such avowal, and
the supercilious remark of the commodore's putting him on his mettle,
he was ready to affirm that he had eaten 'sogdollagers' for
breakfast, a month at a time, had it been necessary.
"Pooh! pooh! man," returned the captain, with an air of cool
indifference, "you do not surely fancy that you have any thing in a
lake like this, that is not to be found in the ocean! If you were to
see a whale's flukes thrashing your puddle, every cruiser among you
would run for a port; and as for 'sogdollagers,' we think little of
them in salt-water; the flying-fish, or even the dry dolphin, being
much the best eating."
"Sir," said the commodore, with some heat, and a great deal of
emphasis, "there is but _one_ 'sogdollager' in the world, and he is
in this lake. No man has ever seen him, but my predecessor, the
'Admiral,' and myself."
"Bah!" ejaculated the captain, "they are as plenty as soft clams, in
the Mediterranean, and the Egyptians use them as a pan-fish. In the
East, they catch them to bait with, for hallibut, and other middling
sized creatures, that are particular about their diet. It is a good
fish, I own, as is seen in this very circumstance."
"Sir," repeated the commodore, flourishing his hand, and waxing warm
with earnestness, "there is but one 'sogdollager' in the universe,
and that is in Lake Otsego. A 'sogdollager' is a salmon trout, and
not a species; a sort of father to all the salmon trout in this part
of the world; a scaly patriarch."
"I make no doubt _your_ 'sogdollager' is scaly enough; but what is
the use in wasting words about such a trifle? A whale is the only
fish fit to occupy a gentleman's thoughts. As long as I have been at
sea, I have never witnessed the taking of more than three whales."
This allusion happily preserved the peace; for, if there were any
thing in the world for which the commodore entertained a profound,
but obscure reverence, it was for a whale. He even thought better of
a man for having actually seen one, gambolling in the freedom of the
ocean; and his mind became suddenly oppressed by the glory of a
mariner, who had passed his life among such gigantic animals. Shoving
back his cap, the old man gazed steadily at the captain a minute, and
all his displeasure about the 'sogdollagers' vanished, though, in his
inmost mind, he set down all that the other had told him on that
particular subject, as so many parts of a regular 'fish story.'
"Captain Truck," he said, with solemnity, "I acknowledge myself to be
but an ignorant and inexperienced man, one who has passed his life on
this lake, which, broad and beautiful as it is, must seem a pond in
the eyes of a seaman like yourself, who have passed your days on the
"Atlantic!" interrupted the captain contemptuously, "I should have
but a poor opinion of myself, had I seen nothing but the Atlantic!
Indeed, I never can believe I am at sea at all, on the Atlantic, the
passages between New-York and Portsmouth being little more than so
much canalling along a tow-path. If you wish to say any thing about
oceans, talk of the Pacific, or of the Great South Sea, where a man
may run a month with a fair wind, and hardly go from island to
island. Indeed, that is an ocean in which there is a manufactory of
islands, for they turn them off in lots to supply the market, and of
a size to suit customers."
"A manufactory of islands!" repeated the commodore, who began to
entertain an awe of his companion, that he never expected to feel for
any human being on Lake Otsego; "are you certain, sir, there is no
mistake in this?"
"None in the least; not only islands, but whole Archipelagos are made
annually, by the sea insects in that quarter of the world; but, then,
you are not to form your notions of an insect in such an ocean, by
the insects you see in such a bit of water as this."
"As big as our pickerel, or salmon trout, I dare say?" returned the
commodore, in the simplicity of his heart, for by this time his local
and exclusive conceit was thoroughly humbled, and he was almost ready
to believe any thing.
"I say nothing of their size, for it is to their numbers and industry
that I principally allude now. A solitary shark, I dare say, would
set your whole Lake in commotion?"
"I think we might manage a shark, sir. I once saw one of those
animals, and I do really believe the sogdollager would outweigh him.
I do think we might manage a shark, sir."
"Ay, you mean an in-shore, high-latitude fellow. But what would you
say to a shark as long as one of those pines on the mountain?"
"Such a monster would take in a man, whole?"
"A man! He would take in a platoon, Indian file I dare say one of
those pines, now, may be thirty or forty feet high!"
A gleam of intelligence and of exultation shot across the weather-
beaten face of the old fisherman, for he detected a weak spot in the
other's knowledge. The worthy Captain, with that species of
exclusiveness which accompanies excellence in any one thing, was
quite ignorant of most matters that pertain to the land. That there
should be a tree, so far inland, that was larger than his main-yard,
he did not think probable, although that yard itself was made of part
of a tree; and, in the laudable intention of duly impressing his
companion with the superiority of a real seaman over a mere fresh-
water navigator, he had inadvertently laid bare a weak spot in his
estimate of heights and distances, that the Commodore seized upon,
with some such avidity as the pike seizes the hook. This accidental
mistake alone saved the latter from an abject submission, for the
cool superiority of the Captain had so far deprived him of his
conceit, that he was almost ready to acknowledge himself no better
than a dog, when he caught a glimpse of light through this opening.
"There is not a pine, that can be called of age, on all the mountain,
which is not more than a hundred feet high, and many are nearer two,"
he cried in exultation, flourishing his hand. "The sea may have its
big monsters, Captain, but our hills have their big trees. Did you
ever see a shark of half that length?"
Now, Captain Truck was a man of truth, although so much given to
occasional humorous violations of its laws, and, withal, a little
disposed to dwell upon the marvels of the great deep, in the spirit
of exaggeration, and he could not, in conscience, affirm any thing so
extravagant as this. He was accordingly obliged to admit his mistake,
and from this moment, the conversation was carried on with a greater
regard to equality. They talked, as they fished, of politics,
religion, philosophy, human nature, the useful arts, abolition, and
most other subjects that would be likely to interest a couple of
Americans who had nothing to do but to twitch, from time to time, at
two lines dangling in the water. Although few people possess less of
the art of conversation than our own countrymen, no other nation
takes as wide a range in its discussions. He is but a very
indifferent American that does not know, or thinks he knows, a little
of every thing, and neither of our worthies was in the least backward
in supporting the claims of the national character in this respect.
This general discussion completely restored amity between the
parties; for, to confess the truth, our old friend the Captain was a
little rebuked about the affair of the tree. The only peculiarity
worthy of notice, that occurred in the course of their various
digressions, was the fact, that the commodore insensibly began to
style his companion "General;" the courtesy of the country in his
eyes, appearing to require that a man who has seen so much more than
himself, should, at least, enjoy a title equal to his own in rank,
and that of Admiral being proscribed by the sensitiveness of
republican principles. After fishing a few hours, the old laker
pulled the skiff up to the Point so often mentioned, where he Lighted
a fire on the grass, and prepared a dinner. When every thing was
ready, the two seated themselves, and began to enjoy the fruits of
their labours in a way that will be understood by all sportsmen.
"I have never thought of asking you, general," said the commodore, as
he began to masticate a perch, "whether you are an aristocrat or a
democrat. We have had the government pretty much upside-down, too,
this morning, but this question has escaped me."
"As we are here by ourselves under these venerable oaks, and talking
like two old messmates," returned the general, "I shall just own the
truth, and make no bones of it. I have been captain of my own ship so
long, that I have a most thorough contempt for all equality. It is a
vice that I deprecate, and, whatever may be the laws of this country,
I am of opinion, that equality is no where borne out by the Law of
Nations; which, after all, commodore, is the only true law for a
gentleman to live under."
"That is the law of the strongest, if I understand the matter,
"Only reduced to rules. The Law of Nations, to own the truth to you,
is full of categories, and this will give an enterprising man an
opportunity to make use of his knowledge. Would you believe,
commodore, that there are countries, in which they lay taxes on
"Taxes on tobacco! Sir, I never heard of such an act of oppression
under the forms of law! What has tobacco done, that any one should
think of taxing it?"
"I believe, commodore, that its greatest offence is being so general
a favourite. Taxation, I have found, differs from most other things,
generally attacking that which men most prize."
"This is quite new to me, general; a tax on tobacco. The law-makers
in those countries cannot chew. I drink to your good health, sir, and
to many happy returns of such banquets as this."
Here the commodore raised a large silver punch-bowl, which Pierre had
furnished, to his lips, and fastening his eyes on the boughs of a
knarled oak, he looked like a man who was taking an observation, for
near a minute. All this time, the captain regarded him with a
sympathetic pleasure, and when the bowl was free, he imitated the
example, levelling his own eye at a cloud, that seemed floating at an
angle of forty-five degrees above him, expressly for that purpose.
"There is a lazy cloud!" exclaimed the general, as he let go his hold
to catch breath; "I have been watching it some time, and it has not
moved an inch."
"Tobacco!" repeated the commodore, drawing a long breath, as if he
was just recovering the play of his lungs, "I should as soon think of
laying a tax on punch. The country that pursues such a policy must,
sooner or later, meet with a downfall. I never knew good come of
"I find you are a sensible man, commodore, and regret I did not make
your acquaintance earlier in life. Have you yet made up your mind on
the subject of religious faith?"
"Why, my dear general, not to be nibbling like a sucker with a sore
mouth, with a person of your liberality, I shall give you a plain
history of my adventures, in the way of experiences, that you may
judge for yourself. I was born an Episcopalian, if one can say so,
but was converted to Presbyterianism at twenty. I stuck to this
denomination about five years, when I thought I would try the
Baptists, having got to be fond of the water, by this time. At
thirty-two I fished a while with the Methodists; since which
conversion, I have chosen to worship God pretty much by myself, out
here on the lake."
"Do you consider it any harm, to hook a fish of a Sunday?"
"No more than it is to eat a fish of a Sunday. I go altogether by
faith, in my religion, general, for they talked so much to me of the
uselessness of works, that I've got to be very unparticular as to
what I do. Your people who have been converted four or five times,
are like so many pickerel, which strike at every hook."
"This is very much my case. Now, on the river--of course you know
where the river is?"
"Certain," said the commodore; "it is at the foot of the lake."
"My dear commodore, when we say 'the river,' we always mean the
Connecticut; and I am surprised a man of your sagacity should require
to be told this. There are people on the river who contend that a
ship should heave-to of a Sunday. They did talk of getting up an
Anti-Sunday-Sailing-Society, but the ship-masters were too many for
them, since they threatened to start a society to put down the
growing of inyens, (the captain would sometimes use this
pronunciation) except of week-days. Well, I started in life, on the
platform tack, in the way of religion, and I believe I shall stand on
the same course till orders come to 'cast anchor,' as you call it.
With you, I hold out for faith, as the one thing needful. Pray, my
good friend, what are your real sentiments concerning 'Old Hickory.'
"Tough, sir;--Tough as a day in February on this lake. All fins, and
gills, and bones."
"That is the justest character I have yet heard of the old gentleman;
and then it says so much in a few words; no category about it. I hope
the punch is to your liking?"
On this hint the old fisherman raised the bowl a second time to his
lips, and renewed the agreeable duty of letting its contents flow
down his throat, in a pleasant stream. This time, he took aim at a
gull that was sailing over his head, only relinquishing the draught
as the bird settled into the water. The 'general' was more
particular; for selecting a stationary object, in the top of an oak,
that grew on the mountain near him, he studied it with an admirable
abstruseness of attention, until the last drop was drained. As soon
as this startling fact was mentioned, however, both the _convives_
set about repairing the accident, by squeezing lemons, sweetening
water, and mixing liquors, _secundem artem._ At the same time, each
lighted a cigar, and the conversation, for some time, was carried on
between their teeth.
"We have been so frank with each other to-day, my excellent
commodore," said Captain Truck, "that did I know your true sentiments
concerning Temperance Societies, I should look on your inmost soul as
a part of myself. By these free communications men get really to know
"If liquor is not made to be drunk, for what is it made? Any one may
see that this lake was made for skiffs and fishing; it has a length,
breadth, and depth suited to such purposes. Now, here is liquor
distilled, bottled, and corked, and I ask if all does not show that
it was made to be drunk. I dare say your temperance men are
ingenious, but let them answer that if they can."
"I wish, from my heart, my dear sir, we had known each other fifty
years since. That would have brought you acquainted with salt-water,
and left nothing to be desired in your character. We think alike, I
believe, in every thing but on the virtues of fresh-water. If these
temperance people had their way, we should all be turned into so many
Turks, who never taste wine, and yet marry a dozen wives."
"One of the great merits of fresh-water, general, is what I call its
"There would be an end to Saturday nights, too, which are the
"I question if many of them fish in the rain, from sunrise to
"Or, stand their watches in wet pee-jackets, from sunset to sunrise.
Splicing the main brace at such times, is the very quintessence of
"If liquors were not made to be drunk," put in the commodore,
logically, "I would again ask for what are they made? Let the
temperance men get over that difficulty if they can."
"Commodore, I wish you twenty more good hearty years of fishing in
this lake, which grows, each instant, more beautiful in my eyes, as I
confess does the whole earth; and to show you that I say no more than
I think, I will clench it with a draught."
Captain Truck now brought his right eye to bear on the new moon,
which happened to be at a convenient height, closed the left one, and
continued in that attitude until the commodore began seriously to
think he was to get nothing besides, the lemon-seeds for his share.
This apprehension, however, could only arise from ignorance of his
companion's character, than whom a juster man, according to the
notions of ship-masters, did not live; and had one measured the punch
that was left in the bowl when this draught was ended, he would have
found that precisely one half of it was still untouched, to a
thimblefull. The commodore now had his turn; and before he got
through, the bottom of the vessel was as much uppermost as the butt
of a club bed firelock. When the honest fisherman took breath after
this exploit, and lowered his cup from the vault of heaven to the
surface of the earth, he caught a view of a boat crossing the lake,
coming from the Silent Pine, to that Point on which they were
enjoying so many agreeable hallucinations on the subject of
"Yonder is the party from the Wigwam," he said, "and they will be
just in time to become converts to our opinions, if they have any
doubts on the subjects we have discussed. Shall we give up the ground
to them, by taking to the skiff, or do you feel disposed to face the
"Under ordinary circumstances, commodore, I should prefer your
society to all the petticoats in the State, but there are two ladies
in that party, either of whom I would marry, any day, at a minute's
"Sir," said the commodore with a tone of warning, "we, who have lived
bachelors so long, and are wedded to the water, ought never to speak
lightly on so grave a subject."
"Nor do I. Two women, one of whom is twenty, and the other seventy--
and hang me if I know which I prefer."
"You would soonest be rid of the last, my dear general, and my advice
is to take her."
"Old as she is, sir, a king would have to plead hard to get her
consent. We will make them some punch, that they may see we were
mindful of them in their absence."
To work these worthies now went in earnest, in order to anticipate
the arrival of the party, and as the different compounds were in the
course of mingling, the conversation did not flag. By this time both
the salt-water and the fresh-water sailor were in that condition when
men are apt to think aloud, and the commodore had lost all his awe of
"My dear sir," said the former, "I am a thousand times sorry you came
from that river, for, to tell you my mind without any concealment, my
only objection to you is that you are not of the middle states. I
admit the good qualities of the Yankees, in a general way, and yet
they are the very worst neighbours that a man can have."
"This is a new character of them, commodore, as they generally pass
for the best, in their own eyes. I should like to hear you explain
"I call him a bad neighbour who never remains long enough in a place
to love any thing but himself. Now, sir, I have a feeling for every
pebble on the shore of this lake, a sympathy with every wave,"--here
the commodore began to twirl his hand about, with the fingers
standing apart, like so many spikes in a _che-vaux-de-frise_--"and
each hour, as I row across it, I find I like it better; and yet, sir,
would you believe me, I often go away of a morning to pass the day on
the water, and, on returning home at night, find half the houses
filled with new faces."
"What becomes of the old ones?" demanded Captain Truck; for this, it
struck him, was getting the better of him with his own weapons. "Do
you mean that the people come and go like the tides?"
"Exactly so, sir; just as it used to be with the herrings in the
Otsego, before the. Susquehannah was dammed, and is still, with the
"Well, well, my good friend, take consolation. You'll meet all the
faces you ever saw here, one day in heaven."
"Never; not a man of them will stay there, if there be such a thing
as moving. Depend on it, sir," added the commodore, in the simplicity
of his heart, "heaven is no place for a Yankee, if he can get farther
west, by hook or by crook. They are all too uneasy for any steady
occupation. You, who are a navigator, must know something concerning
the stars; is there such a thing as another world, that lies west of
"That can hardly be, commodore, since the points of the compass only
refer to objects on this earth. You know, I suppose, that a man
starting from this spot, and travelling due west, would arrive, in
time, at this very point, coming in from the east; so that what is
west to us, in the heavens, on this side of the world, is east to
those on the other."
"This I confess I did not know, general. I have understood that what
is good in one man's eyes, will be bad in another's; but never before
have I heard that what is west to one man, lies east to another. I am
afraid, general, that there is a little of the sogdollager bait in
"Not enough, sir, to catch the merest fresh-water gudgeon that swims.
No, no; there is neither east nor west off the earth, nor any up and
down; and so we Yankees must try and content ourselves with heaven.
Now, commodore, hand me the bowl, and we will get it ready down to
the shore, and offer the ladies our homage. And so you have become a
laker in your religion, my dear commodore," continued the general,
between his teeth, while he smoked and squeezed a lemon at the same
time, "and do your worshipping on the water?"
"Altogether of late, and more especially since my dream."
"Dream! My dear sir, I should think you altogether too innocent a man
"The best of us have our failings, general. I do sometimes dream, I
own, as well as the greatest sinner of them all."
"And of what did you dream--the sogdollager?"
"I dreamt of death."
"Of slipping the cable!" cried the general, looking up suddenly.
"Well, what was the drift?"
"Why, sir, having no wings, I went down below, and soon found myself
in the presence of the old gentleman himself."
"That was pleasant--had he a tail? I have always been curious to know
whether he really has a tail or not."
"I saw none, sir, but then we stood face to face, like gentlemen, and
I cannot describe what I did not see."
"Was he glad to see you, commodore?"
"Why, sir; he was civilly spoken, but his occupation prevented many
"Certainly, sir; he was cutting out shoes, for his imps to travel
about in, in order to stir up mischief."
"And did he set you to work?--This is a sort of State-Prison affair,
"No sir, he was too much of a gentleman to set me at making shoes as
soon as I arrived. He first inquired what part of the country I was
from, and when I told him, he was curious to know what most of the
people were about in our neighbourhood."
"You told him, of course, commodore?"
"Certainly, sir, I told him their chief occupation was quarrelling
about religion; making saints of them selves, and sinners of their
neighbours. 'Hollo!' says the Devil, calling out to one of his imps,
'boy, run and catch my horse--I must be off, and have a finger in
that pie. What denominations have you in that quarter, commodore? So
I told him, general, that we had Baptists, and Quakers, and
Universalists, and Episcopalians, and Presbyterians, old-lights, new-
lights, and blue-lights; and Methodists----. 'Stop,' said the Devil,
'that's enough; you imp, be nimble with that horse.--Let me see,
commodore, what, part of the country did you say you came from?' I
told him the name more distinctly this time----"
"The very spot?"
"Town and county."
"And what did the Devil say to that?"
"He called out to the imp, again--'Hollo, you boy, never mind that
horse; _these_ people will all be here before I can get there.'"
Here the commodore and the general began to laugh, until the arches
of the forest rang with their merriment. Three times they stopped,
and as often did they return to their glee, until, the punch being
ready, each took a fresh draught, in order to ascertain if it were
fit to be offered to the ladies.
"O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?"
ROMEO AND JULIET.
The usual effect of punch is to cause people to see double; but, on
this occasion, the mistake was the other way, for two boats had
touched the strand, instead of the one announced by the commodore,
and they brought with them the whole party from the Wigwam, Steadfast
and Aristabalus included. A domestic or two had also been brought to
prepare the customary repast.
Captain Truck was as good as his word, as respects the punch, and the
beverage was offered to each of the ladies in form, as soon as her
feet had touched the green sward which covers that beautiful spot.
Mrs. Hawker declined drinking, in a way to delight the gallant
seaman; for so completely had she got the better of all his habits
and prejudices, that every thing she did seemed right and gracious in
The party soon separated into groups, or pairs, some being seated on
the margin of the limpid water, enjoying the light cool airs, by
which it was fanned, others lay off in the boats fishing, while the
remainder plunged into the woods, that, in their native wildness,
bounded the little spot of verdure, which, canopied by old oaks,
formed the arena so lately in controversy. In this manner, an hour or
two soon slipped away, when a summons was given for all to assemble
around the viands.
The repast was laid on the grass, notwithstanding Aristabulus more
than hinted that the public, his beloved public, usually saw fit to
introduce rude tables for that purpose. The Messrs. Effinghams,
however, were not to be taught by a mere bird of passage, how a
rustic fete so peculiarly their own, ought to be conducted, and the
attendants were directed to spread the dishes on the turf. Around
this spot, rustic seats were _improvises_, and the business of
_restauration_ proceeded. Of all there assembled, the Parisian
feelings of Mademoiselle Viefville were the most excited; for to her,
the scene was one of pure delights, with the noble panorama of
forest-clad mountains, the mirror-like lake, the overshadowing oaks,
and the tangled brakes of the adjoining woods.
"_Mais, vraiment ceci surpasse les Tuileries, meme dans leur propre
genre_!" she exclaimed, with energy. "_On passer ait volontiers par
les dangers du desert pour y parvenir_."
Those who understood her, smiled at this characteristic remark, and
most felt disposed to join in the enthusiasm. Still, the manner in
which their companions expressed the happiness they felt, appeared
tame and unsatisfactory to Mr. Bragg and Mr. Dodge, these two persons
being accustomed to see the young of the two sexes indulge in broader
exhibitions of merry-making than those in which it comported with the
tastes and habits of the present party to indulge. In vain Mrs.
Hawker, in her quiet dignified way, enjoyed the ready wit and
masculine thoughts of Mrs. Bloom field, appearing to renew her youth;
or, Eve, with her sweet simplicity, and highly cultivated mind and
improved tastes, seemed like a highly-polished mirror, to throw back
the flashes of thought and memory, that so constantly gleamed before
both; it was all lost on these thoroughly matter-of-fact
utilitarians. Mr. Effingham, all courtesy and mild refinement, was
seldom happier; and John Effingham was never more pleasant, for he
had laid aside the severity of his character, to appear, what he
ought always to have been, a man in whom intelligence and quickness
of thought could be made to seem secondary to the gentler qualities.
The young men were not behind their companions, either, each, in his
particular way, appearing to advantage, gay, regulated, and full of a
humour that was rendered so much the more agreeable, by drawing its
images from a knowledge of the world, that was tempered by
observation and practice.
Poor Grace, alone, was the only one of the whole party, always
excepting Aristabulus and Steadfast, who, for those fleeting but gay
hours, was not thoroughly happy. For the first time in her life, she
felt her own deficiencies, that ready and available knowledge, so
exquisitely feminine in its nature and exhibition, which escaped Mrs.
Bloomfield and Eve, as it might be from its own excess; which the
former possessed almost, intuitively, a gift of Heaven, and which the
latter enjoyed, not only from the same source, but as a just
consequence of her long and steady self-denial, application, and a
proper appreciation of her duty to herself, was denied one who, in
ill-judged compliance with the customs of a society that has no other
apparent aim than the love of display, had precluded herself from
enjoyments that none but the intellectual can feel. Still Grace was
beautiful and attractive; and though she wondered where her cousin,
in general so simple and unpretending, had acquired all those stores
of thought, that, in the _abandon_ and freedom of such a fete,
escaped her in rich profusion, embellished with ready allusions and a
brilliant though chastened wit, her generous and affectionate heart
could permit her to wonder without envying. She perceived, for the
first time, on this occasion, that if Eve were indeed a Hajji, it was
not a Hajji of a common school; and, while her modesty and self-
abasement led her bitterly to regret the hours irretrievably wasted
in the frivolous levities so common to those of her sex with whom she
had been most accustomed to mingle, her sincere regret did not lessen
her admiration for one she began tenderly to love.
As for Messrs. Dodge and Bragg, they both determined, in their own
minds, that this was much the most stupid entertainment they had ever
seen on that spot, for it was entirely destitute of loud laughing,
noisy merriment, coarse witticisms, and practical jokes. To them it
appeared the height of arrogance, for any particular set of persons
to presume to come to a spot, rendered sacred by the public suffrage
in its favour, in order to indulge in these outlandish dog-in-the-
Towards the close of this gay repast, and when the party were about
to yield their places to the attendants, who were ready to re-ship
the utensils, John Effingham observed--
"I trust, Mrs. Hawker, you have been-duly warned of the catastrophe-
character of this point, on which woman is said never to have been
wooed in vain. Here are Captain Truck and myself, ready at any moment
to use these carving knives, _faute des Bowies_, in order to show our
desperate devotion; and I deem it no more than prudent in you, not to
smile again this day, lest the cross-eyed readings of jealousy should
impute a wrong motive."
"Had the injunction been against laughing, sir, I might have
resisted, but smiles are far too feeble to express one's approbation,
on such a day as this; you may, therefore, trust to my discretion. Is
it then true, however, that Hymen haunts these shades?"
"A bachelor's history of the progress of love, may be, like the
education of his children, distrusted; but so sayeth tradition; and I
never put my foot in the place, without making fresh vows of
constancy to myself. After this announcement of the danger, dare you
accept an arm, for I perceive signs that life cannot be entirely
wasted in these pleasures, great as they may prove."
The whole party arose, and separating naturally, they strolled in
groups or pairs again, along the pebbly strand, or beneath the trees,
while the attendants made the preparations to depart. Accident, as
much as design, left Sir George and Grace alone, for neither
perceived the circumstance until they had both passed a little rise
in the formation of the ground, and were beyond the view of their
companions. The baronet was the first to perceive how much he had
been favoured by fortune, and his feelings were touched by the air of
gentle melancholy, that shaded the usually bright and brilliant
countenance of the beautiful girl.
"I should have thrice enjoyed this pleasant day," he said, with an
interest in his manner, that caused the heart of Grace to beat
quicker, "had I not seen that to you it has been less productive of
satisfaction, than to most of those around you. I fear you may not be
as well, as usual?"
"In health, never better, though not in spirits, perhaps."
"I could wish I had a right to inquire why you, who have so few
causes in general to be out of spirits, should have chosen a moment
so little in accordance with the common feeling."
"I have chosen no moment; the moment has chosen me, I fear. Not until
this day, Sir George Templemore, have I ever been truly sensible of
my great inferiority to my cousin, Eve."
"An inferiority that no one but yourself would observe or mention."
"No, I am neither vain enough, nor ignorant enough, to be the dupe of
this flattery," returned Grace, shaking her hands and head, while she
forced a smile; for even the delusions those we love pour into our
ears, are not without their charms. "When I first met my cousin,
after her return, my own imperfections rendered me blind to her
superiority; but she herself has gradually taught me to respect her
mind, her womanly character, her tact, her delicacy, principles,
breeding, every thing that can make a woman estimable, or worthy to
be loved! Oh! how have I wasted in childish amusements, and frivolous
vanities, the precious moments of that girlhood which can never be
recalled, and left myself scarcely worthy to be an associate of Eve
The first feelings of Grace had so far gotten the control, that she
scarce knew what she said, or to whom she was speaking; she even
wrung her hands, in the momentary bitterness of her regrets, and in a
way to arouse all the sympathy of a lover.
"No one but yourself would say this, Miss Van Cortlandt, and least of
all your admirable cousin."
"She is, indeed, my admirable cousin! But what are _we_, in
comparison with such a woman. Simple and unaffected as a child, with
the intelligence of a scholar; with all the graces of a woman, she
has the learning and mind of a man. Mistress of so many
"But you, too, speak several, my dear Miss Van Cortlandt."
"Yes," said Grace, bitterly, "I _speak_ them, as the parrot repeats
words that he does not understand. But Eve Effingham has used these
languages as means, and she does not tell you merely what such a
phrase or idiom signifies, but what the greatest writers have thought
"No one has a more profound respect for your cousin than myself, Miss
Van Cortlandt, but justice to you requires that I should say her
great superiority over yourself has escaped me."
"This may be true, Sir George Templemore, and for a long time it
escaped me too. I have only learned to prize her as she ought to be
prized by an intimate acquaintance; hour by hour, as it might be. But
even you must have observed how quick and intuitively my cousin and
Mrs. Bloomfield have understood each other to-day; how much extensive
reading, and, what polished tastes they have both shown, and all so
truly feminine! Mrs. Bloomfield is a remarkable woman, but she loves
these exhibitions, for she knows she excels in them. Not so with Eve
Effingham, who, while she so thoroughly enjoys every thing
intellectual, is content, always, to seem so simple. Now, it happens,
that the conversation turned once to-day on a subject that my cousin,
no later than yesterday, fully explained to me, at my own earnest
request; and I observed that, while she joined so naturally with Mrs.
Bloomfield in adding to our pleasure, she kept back half what she
knew, lest she might seem to surpass her friend. No--no--no--there is
not such another woman as Eve Effingham in this world!"
"So keen a perception of excellence in others, denotes an equal
excellence in yourself."
"I know my own great inferiority now, and no kindness of yours, Sir
George Templemore, can ever persuade me into a better opinion of
myself. Eve has travelled, seen much in Europe that does not exist
here, and, instead of passing her youth in girlish trifling, has
treated the minutes as if they were all precious, as she well knew
them to be."
"If Europe, then, does indeed possess these advantages, why not
yourself visit it, dearest Miss Van Cortlandt?"
"I--I a Hajji!" cried Grace with childish pleasure, though her colour
heightened, and, for a moment, Eve and her superiority was forgotten.
Certainly Sir George Templemore did not come out on the lake that day
with any expectation of offering his baronetcy, his fair estate, with
his hand, to this artless, half-educated, provincial, but beautiful
girl. For a long time he had been debating with himself the propriety
of such a step, and it is probable that, at some later period, he
would have sought an occasion, had not one now so opportunely
offered, notwithstanding all his doubts and reasonings with himself.
If the "woman who hesitates is lost," it is equally true that the man
who pretends to set up his reason alone against beauty, is certain to
find that sense is less powerful than the senses. Had Grace Van
Cortlandt been more sophisticated, less natural, her beauty might
have failed to make this conquest; but the baronet found a charm in
her _naivete_, that was singularly winning to the feelings of a man
of the world. Eve had first attracted him by the same quality; the
early education of American females being less constrained and
artificial than that of the English; but in Eve he found a mental
training and acquisitions that left the quality less conspicuous,
perhaps, than in her scarcely less beautiful cousin; though, had Eve
met his admiration with any thing like sympathy, her power over him
would not have been easily weakened. As it was, Grace had been
gradually winding herself around his affections, and he now poured
out his love, in a language that her unpractised and already
favourably disposed feelings had no means of withstanding. A very few
minutes were allowed to them, before the summons to the boat; but
when this summons came, Grace rejoined the party, elevated in her own
good opinion, as happy as a cloudless future could make her and
without another thought of the immeasurable superiority of her
By a singular coincidence, while the baronet and Grace were thus
engaged on one part of the shore, Eve was the subject of a similar
proffer of connecting herself for life, on another. She had left the
circle, attended by Paul, her father, and Aristabulus; but no sooner
had they reached the margin of the water, than the two former were
called away by Captain Truck, to settle some controverted point
between the latter and the commodore. By this unlooked-for desertion,
Eve found herself alone with Mr. Bragg.
"That was a funny and comprehensive remark Mr. John made about the
'Point,' Miss Eve," Aristabulus commenced, as soon as he found
himself in possession of the ground. "I should like to know if it be
really true that no woman was ever unsuccessfully wooed beneath these
oaks? If such be the case, we gentlemen ought to be cautious how we
Here Aristabulus simpered, and looked, if possible, more amiable than
ever; though the quiet composure and womanly dignity of Eve, who
respected herself too much, and too well knew what was due to her
sex, even to enter into, or, so far as it depended on her will, to
permit any of that common-place and vulgar trifling about love and
matrimony, which formed a never-failing theme between the youthful of
the two sexes, in Mr. Bragg's particular circle, sensibly curbed his
ambitious hopes. Still he thought he had made too good an opening,
not to pursue the subject.
"Mr. John Effingham sometimes indulges in pleasantries," Eve
answered, "that would lead one astray who might attempt to follow."
"Love _is_ a jack-o'-lantern," rejoined Aristabulus sentimentally.
"That I admit; and it is no wonder so many get swamped in following
his lights. Have you ever felt the tender passion, Miss Eve?"
Now, Aristabulus had heard this question put at the _soiree_ of Mrs.
Houston, more than once, and he believed himself to be in the most
polite road for a regular declaration. An ordinary woman, who felt
herself offended by this question, would, most probably, have stepped
back, and, raising her form to its utmost elevation, answered by an
emphatic "sir!" Not so with Eve. She felt the distance between Mr.
Bragg and herself to be so great, that by no probable means could he
even offend her by any assumption of equality. This distance was the
result of opinions, habits, and education, rather than of condition,
however; for, though Eve Effingham could become the wife of a
gentleman only, she was entirely superior to those prejudices of the
world that depend on purely factitious causes. Instead of discovering
surprise, indignation, or dramatic dignity, therefore, at this
extraordinary question, she barely permitted a smile to curl her
handsome mouth; and this so slightly, as to escape her companion's
"I believe we are to be favoured with as smooth water, in returning
to the village, as we had in the morning, while coming to this
place," she simply said. "You row sometimes, I think, Mr. Bragg?"
"Ah! Miss Eve, such another opportunity may never occur again, for
you foreign ladies are so difficult of access! Let me, then, seize
this happy moment, here, beneath the hymeneal oaks, to offer you this
faithful hand and this willing heart. Of fortune you will have enough
for both, and I say nothing about the miserable dross. Reflect, Miss
Eve, how happy we might be, protecting and soothing the old age of
your father, and in going down the hill of life in company; or, as
the song says, 'and hand in hand we'll go, and sleep the'gither at
the foot, John Anderson, my Joe.'"
"You draw very agreeable pictures, Mr Bragg, and with the touches of
"However agreeable you find them, Miss Eve, they fall infinitely
short of the truth. The tie of wedlock, besides being the most
sacred, is also the dearest; and happy, indeed, are they who enter
into the solemn engagement with such cheerful prospects as ourselves.
Our ages are perfectly suitable, our disposition entirely consonant,
our habits so similar as to obviate all unpleasant changes, and our
fortunes precisely what they ought to be to render a marriage happy,
with confidence on one side, and gratitude on the other. As to the
day, Miss Eve, I could wish to leave you altogether the mistress of
that, and shall not be urgent."
Eve had often heard John Effingham comment on the cool impudence of a
particular portion of the American population, with great amusement
to herself; but never did she expect to be the subject of an attack
like this in her own person. By way of rendering the scene perfect,
Aristabulus had taken out his penknife, cut a twig from a bush, and
he now rendered himself doubly interesting by commencing the
favourite occupation of whittling. A cooler picture of passion could
not well have been drawn.
"You are bashfully silent, Miss Eve! I make all due allowances for
natural timidity, and shall say no more at present--though, as
silence universally 'gives consent--'" "If you please, sir,"
interrupted Eve, with a slight motion of her parasol, that implied a
check. "I presume our habits and opinions, notwithstanding you seem
to think them so consonant with each other, are sufficiently
different to cause you not to see the impropriety of one, who is
situated like yourself, abusing the confidence of a parent, by making
such a proposal to a daughter without her father's knowledge: and, on
that point, I shall say nothing. But as you have done me the honour
of making me a very unequivocal offer of your hand, I wish that the
answer may be as distinct as the proposal. I decline the advantage
and happiness of becoming your wife, sir----"
"Time flies, Miss Eve!"
"Time does fly, Mr. Bragg; and, if you remain much longer in the
employment of Mr. Effingham, you may lose an opportunity of advancing
your fortunes at the west, whither I understand it has long been your
intention to emigrate----"
"I will readily relinquish all my hopes at the west, for your sake."
"No, sir, I cannot be a party to such a sacrifice. I will not say
forget _me_, but forget your hopes here, and renew those you have so
unreflectingly abandoned beyond the Mississippi. I shall not
represent this conversation to Mr. Effingham in a manner to create
any unnecessary prejudices against you; and while I thank you, as
every woman should, for an offer that must infer some portion, at
least, of your good opinion, you will permit me again to wish you all
lawful success in your western enterprises."
Eve gave Mr. Bragg no farther opportunity to renew his suit; for, she
curtsied and left him, as she ceased speaking. Mr. Dodge, who had
been a distant observer of the interview, now hastened to join his
friend, curious to know the result, for it had been privately
arranged between these modest youths, that each should try his
fortune in turn, with the heiress, did she not accept the first
proposal. To the chagrin of Steadfast, and probably to the reader's
surprise, Aristabulus informed his friend that Eve's manner and
language had been full of encouragement.
"She thanked me for the offer, Mr. Dodge," he said, "and her wishes
for my future prosperity at the west, were warm and repeated. Eve
Effingham is, indeed, a charming creature!"
"At the west! Perhaps she meant differently from what you imagine. I
know her well; the girl is full of art."
"Art, sir! She spoke as plainly as woman could speak, and I repeat
that I feel considerably encouraged. It is something, to have had so
plain a conversation with Eve Effingham."
Mr. Dodge swallowed his discontent, and the whole party soon
embarked, to return to the village; the commodore and general taking
a boat by themselves, in order to bring their discussions on human
affairs in general, to a suitable close.
That night, Sir George Templemore, asked an interview with Mr.
Effingham, when the latter was alone in his library.
"I sincerely hope this request is not the forerunner of a departure,"
said the host kindly, as the young man entered, "in which case I
shall regard you as one unmindful of the hopes he has raised. You
stand pledged by implication, if not in words, to pass another month
"So far from entertaining an intention so faithless, my dear sir, I
am fearful that you may think I trespass too far on your
He then communicated his wish to be allowed to make Grace Van
Cortlandt his wife. Mr. Effingham heard him with a smile, that showed
he was not altogether unprepared for such a demand, and his eye
glistened as he squeezed the other's hand.
"Take her with all my heart, Sir George," he said, "but remember you
are transferring a tender plant into a strange soil. There are not
many of your countrymen to whom I would confide such a trust, for I
know the risk they run who make ill-assorted unions--"
"Ill-assorted unions, Mr. Effingham!"
"Yours will not be one, in the ordinary acceptation of the term, I
know; for in years, birth and fortune, you and my dear niece are as
much, on an equality as can be desired: but it is too often an ill-
assorted union for an American woman to become an English wife. So
much depends on the man, that with one in whom I have less confidence
than I have in you, I might justly hesitate. I shall take a
guardian's privilege, though Grace be her own mistress, and give you
one solemn piece of advice--always respect the country of the woman
you have thought worthy to bear your name."
"I hope always to respect every thing that is hers; but, why this
particular caution?--Miss Van Cortlandt is almost English in her
"An affectionate wife will take her bias in such matters, generally
from her husband. Your country will be her country, your God her God.
Still, Sir George Templemore, a woman of spirit and sentiment can
never wholly forget the land of her birth. You love us not in
England, and one who settles there will often have occasion to hear
gibes and sneers on the land from which she came--"
"Good God, Mr. Effingham, you do not think I shall take my wife into
"Bear with a proser's doubts, Templemore. You will do all that is
well-intentioned and proper, I dare say, in the usual acceptation of
the words; but I wish you to do more; that which is wise. Grace has
now a sincere reverence and respect for England, feelings that in
many particulars are sustained by the facts, and will be permanent;
but, in some things, observation, as it usually happens with the
young and sanguine, will expose the mistakes into which she has been
led by enthusiasm and the imagination. As she knows other countries
better, she will come to regard her own with more favourable and
discriminating eyes, losing her sensitiveness on account of
peculiarities she now esteems, and taking new views of things.
Perhaps you will think me selfish, but I shall add, also, that if you
wish to cure your wife of any homesickness, the surest mode will be
to bring her back to her native land."
"Nay, my dear sir," said Sir George, laughing, "this is very much
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