List Of Contents | Contents of Elinor Wyllys, by Susan Fenimore Cooper
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so much in the gay world; it appears to me that I breathe more
freely in a crowd--solitude oppresses me; do you like it?"

"I have never tried it very long. If you like a crowd, you must
be perfectly satisfied, just now."

''And so I am, Miss Wyllys, perfectly happy in these fashionable
scenes. Do you know, it is a fact, that I lose my appetite unless
I can sit down to table with at least thirty or forty fashionably
dressed people about me; and I never sleep sounder than on board
a steamboat, where the floor is covered with mattresses. I am not
made for retirement, certainly. Ah, Monsieur Bonnet, here you are
again, I see; what have you done with the Baron?--is not the
Baron with you?"

"No, Madame; he has not finish his cigar. And where is Mlle.
Emmeline?--I hope she has not abandonne me!" said M. Bonnet, who,
to do him justice, was a sufficiently respectable man, a French
merchant in New York, and no way connected with the Baron.

"Oh, no; she is here; we were waiting for the Baron and you to
escort us to the drawing-room; but we will remain until the Baron
comes. I have heard something that will put you in good-humour,
another of those marriages you admire so much--one of the parties
rolling in wealth and luxury, the other poor as Job's turkey."

"Ah, vraiment; that is indeed delightful; cela est fort touchant;
that show so much sensibilite, to appreciate le merite, though
suffering from poverty. A marriage like that must be beau comme
un reve d'Amour!"

{"vraiment" = truly; "cela est fort touchant" = that is very
touching; "beau comme un reve d'Amour" = as beautiful as a dream
of Love (French)}

"You are quite romantic on the subject; but don't people make
such matches in France?"

"Ah, non, Madame; le froid calcul dominates there at such times.
I honour the beautiful practice that is common in votre jeune
Amerique; cela rappelle le siecle d'or. Can there be a tableau
more delicieux than a couple unis under such circonstances? The
happy epoux, a young man perhaps, of forty, and la femme a
creature angelique;" here M. Bonnet cast a glance at Miss
Emmeline; "une creature angelique, who knows that he adores her,
and who says to him, 'mon ami je t'aime, je veux faire ton
bonheur,' and who bestows on him her whole heart, and her whole
fortune; while he, of course, oppressed with gratitude, labours
only to increase that fortune, that he may have it in his power
to make the life of his bien aimee beautiful comme un jour de

{"froid calcul" = cold calculation; "votre jeune..." = your young
America; it reminds one of the golden age; "tableau more
delicieux than a couple unis under such circonstances" = a
prettier picture than a couple united under such circumstances;
"epoux" = husband. "la femme a creature angelique" = the wife an
angelic creature; "mon ami, je t'aime, je veux faire ton bonheur"
= my friend, I love you, I wish to make you happy; "bien aimee
beautiful comme un jour de fete" = beloved as beautiful as a day
of festival (mixed French and English)}

"You are eloquent, Mr. Bonnet."

"N'est ce pas un sujet, Madame, to toucher le coeur de l'homme in
a most delicate point; a man who could be insensible to such
delicacy, to such aimable tendresse, would be no better than one
of your sauvages, one of your Mohicans!"

{"N'est ce pas un sujet, Madame, to toucher le coeur de
l'homme..." = Is this not a subject, Madame, which touches the
heart of man...; "to such aimable tendresse" = to such pleasant
affection (mixed French and English)}

"Well, I don't think so much of it, because it is very common
here; such matches happen every day."

"And who are the happy couple you refer to at present?"

"'Tis a young gentleman of New York city, Mr. Roberts, who is
going to marry a young lady, whose father is a neighbour of

"And what is the sum the young lady has bestowed upon her
grateful adorateur?"

"Oh, the lady has not anything to bestow in this case; it is the
gentleman, who is very wealthy, and doing a very handsome
business in New York."

"Ah," said M. Bonnet, taking a pinch of snuff; "that is not so
interesting I think, as when the mari is the favoured party. The
heart of man is more susceptible of lasting gratitude for un tel

{"mari" = husband; "un tel bienfait" = such a favor (French)}

"The gentleman has all the money, this time; I don't think Mary
Van Horne will have a cent; do you, Miss Wyllys?"

But Elinor was gone. As the Baron appeared, however, Mrs. Hilson
did not regret it.

"Ah, Baron, I thought you were never coming. You ought to be much
obliged to me, for I had just told Monsieur Bonnet, we must not
move till the Baron comes; the Baron will not know where to find


"They sit conferring ------------------."
Taming the Shrew.

{William Shakespeare, "The Taming of the Shrew", V.ii.102}

THE usual evening circle had collected in Miss Wyllys's parlour,
with the addition of Mary Van Alstyne, who had just arrived from
Poughkeepsie, and Mrs. St. Leger. Miss Emma Taylor had gone to a
concert with her good-natured brother-in-law, and a couple of her
admirers. Jane and her sister-in-law, Adeline, were sitting
together in a corner, talking partly about their babies, partly
about what these two young matrons called "old times;" that is to
say, events which had transpired as far back as three or four
years previously. To them, however, those were "old times;" for,
since then, the hopes and fears, cares and pleasures, of the two
friends were much changed.

Among the rest of the party the conversation became more general;
for Elinor had just finished a song, and Mr. Wyllys had just
beaten Mrs. Creighton at a game of chess.

"Mr. Hazlehurst, pray what have you done with my saya y manto?"
asked the pretty widow, taking a seat at the side of Elinor, on a
sofa. "Here have you been, three, four, five days, and I have not
even alluded to it, which, you must observe is a great act of
forbearance in a lady, when there is a piece of finery in

{"saya y manto" = skirt and cloak (Spanish)}

"I am really ashamed of myself for not having reported it safe at
Philadelphia, before. I would not send it to your house, when I
heard you were here, for I wished to deliver it in person; and I
did not bring it with me, because Mrs. Hazlehurst told me it was
too warm for a fashionable lady to wear anything as heavy as
black silk for the next three months."

"Well, of course I am very much obliged to you for the trouble
you have had with it; but I shall defer thanking you formally,
until I find out whether it is becoming or not."

"Do you expect to make a very captivating Spaniard?" asked Mr.

"I shall do my best, certainly; but I shall leave you to decide
how far I succeed, Mr. Stryker. Are the Brazilian women pretty,
Mr. Hazlehurst?--what do they look like?"

"Very like Portuguese," was the answer.

"More than the Americans look like the English?" inquired Elinor.

"Far more," said Harry; "but you know there is less difference
between the climates of Brazil and Portugal, than between ours
and that of England."

"For my part," observed Mr. Ellsworth, "I do not think we look in
the least like the English--neither men nor women. We are getting
very fast to have a decided physiognomy of our own. I think I
could pick out an American from among a crowd of Europeans,
almost as soon as I could a Turk."

"You always piqued yourself, Ellsworth, upon having a quick eye
for national characteristics. We used to try him very often, when
we were in Europe, Mrs. Creighton, and I must do him the justice
to say he seldom failed."

"Oh, yes; I know all Frank's opinions on the subject," replied
Mrs. Creighton: "it is quite a hobby with him."

"What do you think are the physical characteristics of the
Americans, as compared with our English kinsmen?" inquired Mr.

"We are a darker, a thinner, and a paler people. The best
specimens of the English have the advantage in manliness of form
and carriage; the American is superior in activity, in the
expression of intelligence and energy in the countenance. The
English peculiarities in their worst shape are, coarseness and
heaviness of form; a brutal, dull countenance; the worst
peculiarities among the Americans are, an apparent want of
substance in the form, and a cold, cunning expression of
features. I used often to wonder, when travelling in Europe,
particularly in France and Germany, at the number of heavy forms
and coarse features, which strike one so often there, even among
the women, and which are so very uncommon in America."

"Yes; that brutal coarseness of features, which stood for the
model of the old Satyrs, is scarcely to be met in this country,
though by no means uncommon in many parts of Europe," observed

"I was very much struck the other evening, at the dance, with the
appearance of the women," continued Mr. Ellsworth. "Not that they
are so brilliant in their beauty--one sees beautiful women in
every country; but they are so peculiarly feminine, and generally
pretty, as a whole. By room-fulls, en masse, they appear to more
advantage I think, than any other women; the general effect is
very seldom broken by coarseness of face, or unmanageable
awkwardness of form."

"Yes, you are right," said Mr. Stryker. "There is a vast deal of
prettiness, and very little repulsive ugliness among the women in
this country. But it strikes me they are inclining a little too
much to the idea, just now, that all the beauty in the world is
collected in these United States, which, as we all know is rather
a mistaken opinion."

"Certainly; that would be an extremely ridiculous notion."

"You think delicacy then, the peculiar characteristic of American
beauty?" said Mr. Wyllys.

"Yes, sir; but I could point out others, too. Brown hair and
hazel eyes are another common feature in American beauty. If you
look over the pretty women of your acquaintance, you will find
that the case I think."

"Like Mrs. Creighton's," said Elinor, smiling.

"No; Josephine's features are not sufficiently regular for a
beauty," said her brother, good-naturedly.

"I shan't get a compliment from Frank, Miss Wyllys," replied the
widow, shaking her head. "I agree with him, though, about the
brown-haired beauties; for, I once took the trouble to count over
my acquaintances, and I found a great many that answered his
description. I think it the predominating colour among us. I am
certainly included in the brown tribe myself, and so are you,
Miss Wyllys."

"As far as the colour of my hair goes," replied Elinor, with a
smile which seemed to say, talk on, I have no feeling on the
subject of my plain face. One or two persons present had actually
paused, thinking the conversation was taking an unfortunate turn,
as one of the ladies present was undeniably wanting in beauty. To
encourage the natural pursuit of the subject, Elinor remarked
that, "light hair and decidedly blue eyes, like Mrs. St. Leger's,
are not so very common, certainly; nor true black hair and eyes
like your's, Jane."

"You are almost as much given to compliments, Miss Wyllys, as I
am," said Mrs. Creighton; "I have to say a saucy thing now and
then, by way of variety."

"The saucy speeches are for your own satisfaction, no doubt, and
the compliments for that of your friends, I suppose," replied
Elinor, smiling a little archly; for she had very good reasons
for mistrusting the sincerity of either mode of speech from the
lips of the gay widow; whom, for that very reason, she liked much
less than her brother.

"Do you really think me too severe?--wait till we are better

"I shall always think you very charming," replied Elinor, with
her usual frank smile; for, in fact, she admired Mrs. Creighton
quite as much as the rest of the world. And then observing that
Mr. Ellsworth was listening to their conversation, she turned to
him and asked, if the true golden hair, so much admired by the
Italian poets, and so often sung by them, were still common in

"Judging from books and pictures, I should think it must have
been much more common some centuries ago than at the present day;
for, certainly, there is not one Italian woman in a hundred, who
has not very decidedly black hair and eyes. I remember once in a
translation from English into Italian, I used the expression
'grey eyes,' which diverted my master very much: he insisted upon
it, there was no 'such thing in nature;' and even after I had
reminded him of Napoleon, he would not believe the Emperor's eyes
were not black. He was a thorough Italian, of course, and knew
nothing of the northern languages, or he would have met with the
expression before."

"Let me tell you, Ellsworth," said Harry, after a short pause in
the conversation, "that it is very pleasant to pass an agreeable
evening in this way, chatting with old friends. You have no idea
how much I enjoy it after a three years' exile!"

"I can readily believe it."

"No, I don't think you understand it at all. It is true you were
roving about the world several years, but you were not alone, my
dear sir. You had indeed the advantage of particularly agreeable
companions with you: in Paris you had Mrs. Creighton, and in
Egypt you had your humble servant. And then, in the next place,
your mind was constantly occupied; you lived with the past while
in Italy and Greece, and with the present in Paris. Now, at Rio,
there is no past at all, and not much of a present."

"Is there no general society at Rio?" inquired Miss Wyllys.

"Oh, yes; society enough, in the usual meaning of the word. I was
very fortunate in meeting with some very agreeable people, and
have really a strong regard for Manezes {sic}--a good fellow he
is, and I hope to see him here one of these days. But they were
all new acquaintances. You cannot think how much I wanted to see
a face I had known all my life; I was positively at one time on
the verge of being home-sick."

"You found out that you were more tender-hearted than you had
believed yourself," said Mr. Ellsworth.

"So it seems," replied Harry; a shade of embarrassment crossing
his face as he spoke.

"I should have thought some old acquaintance or other would have
gone straggling towards Rio, in these travelling days," observed
Mr. Ellsworth.

"No, I was particularly unfortunate: once when the American
squadron lay at Rio for some weeks, and I had several friends on
board the Macedonian, I happened at that very time to be absent
on an excursion in the interior. For six months, or so it did
very well; it takes one as long as that to enjoy the lovely
scenery, to say nothing of the novelty; but after admiring the
bay and the Corcovado under every possible aspect, I got at last
to be heartily tired of Rio. I should have run away, if we had
not been recalled this summer."

{"Macedonian" = a United States warship, commanded during the
early 1840s by Commodore William Branford Shubrick (1790-1874), a
life-long close friend of James Fenimore Cooper. Susan Fenimore
Cooper wrote a biography of him in 1876; "Corcovado" = a famous

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