List Of Contents | Contents of Elinor Wyllys, by Susan Fenimore Cooper
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know!" exclaimed Mrs. Stanley.

"No doubt they are little fit for the offices they hold," replied

"The worst of it is this, Harry: that the very qualities which
ought to recommend you, will probably keep you back in the career
you have chosen," said Mrs. Stanley. "Your principles are too
firm for public life."

"I shall try the experiment, at least," said Harry. "Mr. Henley
urges me to persevere, and with his example before me, I ought
not to be discouraged; he is a proof that a public man is not
necessarily required to be a sycophant, and a time-server; that
he is not always neglected because he is an upright man, and a
gentleman. I shall follow his example; and I am convinced the
experiment would succeed much oftener, provided it were fairly

"Mrs. Stanley shook her head. She was a woman of rather a
peculiar character, though very warm in her feelings, and firm in
her principles. She had become disgusted with the world, from
seeing much that was evil and disgraceful going on about her;
forgetting to observe the good as well as the bad. Of late years,
she had withdrawn entirely within a narrow circle of old friends,
among whom the Wyllyses and Hazlehursts held a conspicuous place.
She was disposed to mistrust republican institutions, merely
because she attributed every evil of the society about her, to
this one cause: her opinions on this subject were, however, of no
value whatever; for she knew nothing of other countries, their
evils and abuses. If warmly attached to her friends, she was
certainly too indifferent to the community in which she lived.
She was very decided in all her actions and opinions: thus, for
instance, she would never allow a newspaper, of any character
whatever, to appear in her house--she held every sheet alike, to
be loose in principles, and vulgar in tone; because,
unfortunately, there are many to be found which answer such a
description. An office-holder, and a speculator, she would never
trust, and avoided every individual of either class as much as
possible. Her friends would have wished her more discriminating
in her opinions, but she never obtruded these upon others.
Personally, no woman could be more respected by her intimates;
there was nothing low or trivial in her character and turn of
mind--no shadow of vacillation in her principles or her feelings.
Mrs. Stanley and her young friend Hazlehurst, much as they
esteemed and respected each other, disagreed on many subjects.
Harry made a point of looking at both sides of a question; he was
loyal to his country, and willing to serve it to the best of his
ability--not at all inclined to be an idler, and play the drone
in the bee-hive, whether social or political. Mrs. Stanley had
much regretted his being in any way connected with public life,
but she seldom attempted to influence him.

"What do you say, young ladies?" asked Harry, at length, turning
towards Elinor and Mary Van Alstyne, who had hitherto thought the
conversation of too personal a nature, to speak much themselves.
"Do you think I had better stay at home, and look after the stock
at Greatwood, or go to St. Petersburg, and set up my droschky?"

{"droschky" = a four-wheeled open carriage used in Russia}

"I should never have the least fancy for going to Russia,"
replied Mary; "and, therefore, I am not much disposed to admire
your constancy in adhering to Mr. Henley."

"Oh, go, by all means," said Elinor; "you will see so much! And
be sure you go to the Crimea before you come home."

"The Crimea is certainly a temptation," observed Harry. "I beg,
ladies, you will honour me with your commands for St. Petersburg,
some time during the next three months. I refer you to Mrs.
Creighton for a certificate of good taste; her saya y manto is
perfect in its way, I am told."

"Perhaps I ought to have engaged Mrs. Creighton on my side,
before I tried to coax you into staying at home," said Mrs.
Stanley, smiling.

We are obliged to confess that Harry coloured at this remark, in
spite of a determination not to do so; and a great misdemeanour
it was in a diplomatist, to be guilty of blushing; it clearly
proved that Hazlehurst was still in his noviciate. Happily,
however, if the Department of State, at Washington, be sometimes
more particular in investigating the party politics of its agents
in foreign countries, than other qualifications, it is also
certain, on the other hand, that they do not require by any
means, as much bronze of countenance as most European cabinets.

{"bronze of countenance" = unblushingness, brazen lying}

"Oh, Mrs. Creighton strongly recommends me to persevere in
diplomacy," said Harry.

Just at that moment, a note was brought in from this very lady.

"With Mrs. Creighton's compliments," said the man who brought it.

Harry's colour rose again, and for a second he looked a little
embarrassed. Mrs. Stanley smiled, and so did the young ladies,
just a little.

"I will look for the book immediately,'' was Harry's reply; and
turning to the ladies, he communicated the fact, that Mrs.
Creighton had asked for the volume of engravings which he had
shown to Mr. Wyllys, two or three evenings before. The book was
in Miss Wyllys's room, and Elinor went for it.

"Will you dine with us to-day, Harry, or at the other house?"
asked Mrs. Stanley.

{"other house" = i.e., other hotel, Congress Hall and the United
States being the two fashionable hotels in Saratoga Springs}

"Thank you, ma'am; I am engaged to dine with Mr. Henley, who is
only here for the day, and wishes to have a little business-talk
with me. We are to eat a bachelor's dinner together, in his

Elinor returned with the book, and Harry made his bow.

As he left the room, Mary Van Alstyne observed that Mr.
Hazlehurst seemed quite attentive to his friend's sister. "He
admires the pretty widow, I fancy," she said.

"No wonder," said Elinor; "Mrs. Creighton is so very pretty, and
very charming."

"Yes; she is very pretty, with those spirited brown eyes, and
beautiful teeth. She is an adept in the art of dressing, too, and
makes the most of every advantage. But though she is so pretty,
and so clever, and so agreeable, yet I do not like her."

"People seem to love sometimes, men especially, where they do not
LIKE," said Mrs. Stanley. "I should not be surprised, at any
time, to hear that Harry and Mrs. Creighton are engaged. I wish
he may marry soon."

"The lady is, at least, well-disposed for conquest, I think,"
said Mary Van Alstyne.

"She will probably succeed," replied Elinor, in a quiet, natural

Miss Agnes, who had just entered the room, heard the remark, and
was gratified by the easy tone in which Elinor had spoken. Since
Hazlehurst's return, Elinor's manner towards him had been just
what her aunt thought proper under the circumstances; it was
quite unembarrassed and natural, though, of course, there was
more reserve than during the years they had lived so much
together, almost as brother and sister. We are obliged to leave
the ladies for the present, and follow Hazlehurst to his
tete-a-tete dinner with Mr. Henley.

We pass over the meal itself, which was very good in its way; nor
shall we dare to raise the curtain, and reveal certain
communications relating to affairs of state, political and
diplomatic, which were discussed by the minister and his
secretary. Harry heard some Rio Janeiro news too, which seemed to
amuse him, but would scarcely have any interest for the reader.
At length, as Mr. Henley and Harry were picking their nuts, the
minister happened to enquire the day of the month.

"It is the twentieth, I believe, sir; and by the same token,
to-morrow will be my birth-day,"

"Your birth-day, will it?--How old may you be?"

"Twenty-seven, if I remember right."

"I had thought you two or three years younger. Well, I wish you a
long life and a happy!"

"Thank you, sir; I am much obliged to you for the interest you
have always shown me."

"No need of thanks, Harry; it is only what your father's son had
a right to expect from me."

A silence of a moment ensued, when Mr. Henley again spoke.

"You are seven-and-twenty, you say, Hazlehurst?--let me give you
a piece of advice--don't let the next ten years pass without

"I was just about making up my mind, at Rio, to be a gay
bachelor, my dear sir," said Harry.

"Yes; I remember to have heard you say something of the kind; but
take my advice, and marry, unless you have some very good reason
for not doing so."

Hazlehurst made no answer, but helped himself to another supply
of nuts. "More easily said than done, perhaps," he observed.

"Nonsense!--There are many amiable young women who would suit
you; and it would be strange if you could not meet with one that
would have you. Some pretty, lady-like girl. I dare say you know
twenty such, in Philadelphia, or even here, at Saratoga."

"Five hundred, no doubt," replied Harry; "but suppose the very
woman I should fancy, would not fancy me." Whether he was
thinking of his past experience with Jane, or not, we cannot say.

"I don't see that a woman can find any reasonable fault with
you--you do well enough, my good fellow, as the world goes; and I
am sure there are, as you say, five hundred young women to choose
from. In that point a man has the best of it; young girls of a
certain class, if not angels, are at least generally
unexceptionable; but there are many men, unhappily, whose moral
reputations are, and should be obstacles in a woman's eyes."

'A regular old bachelor's notion, a mere marriage of
convenience,' thought Harry, who rather resented the idea of the
five hundred congenial spirits, in the shape of suitable young

"You are surprised, perhaps, to hear this from me," continued Mr.

"No, sir: for I once before heard you express much the same

"Did you?--I don't often think or speak on such matters; but I
remember to have heard you talk about a single life occasionally,
at Rio; and I always intended to give this piece of advice to my
nephews, and to you, Harry. If I were to live my life over again,
I should marry myself; for of late years I have felt the want of
a home, and one can't have a pleasant home without the women."

"There I agree with you, sir, entirely."

"That is more than some gay, rattling young fellows would admit.
Since you think so," continued Mr. Henley, smiling, "perhaps you
have also fixed upon some amiable young girl, who would be a
pleasant companion for you."

Hazlehurst was silent.

"I dare say you have, and I might have spared you the advice. If
that is the case, you must make the most of the next three
months; persuade her to marry you, and we can take her to Russia,
to do the honours for us."

"Things have not gone quite so far as that, yet," said Harry,
just a little embarrassed.

"Well, my good fellow, settle the matter your own way; I have at
least satisfied my conscience, by telling you not to follow my
own bad example," said the minister, as he rose from table.

It seemed that Mr. Henley, like most old bachelors, regretted not
having married; though he thought that his habits had all become
too confirmed, to make it worth while to attempt a change. As a
general rule, it will be found that your decidedly old maid is
contented with her lot, while your very old bachelor is
dissatisfied with his. The peculiar evils of a single life--for
every life must have its own--are most felt by women early in the
day; by men, in old age. The world begins very soon to laugh at
the old maid, and continues to laugh, until shamed out of the
habit by her good nature, and her respectable life. The bachelor,
on the contrary, for a long time finds an ally in the world; he
goes on enjoying the pleasures it offers, until old age makes him
weary of them--and then, as his head grows grey, when he finds
himself going out of favour, he begins to feel the want of
something better--a home to retreat to. He looks about him, and
he finds that his female contemporary has outlived her peculiar
annoyances; "the world forgetting, by the world forgot;" she has
long since found some collateral home; or, in her right as a
woman, has made a home for herself, where she lives as pleasantly
as her neighbours. Perhaps he sets about imitating her example;
but, poor fellow, he finds it an awkward task; he can never
succeed in making his household gods smile with a good will, on a
home where no female voice is heard at the fire-side.

{"the world forgetting...." = Alexander Pope (English poet,
1688-1744), "Eloisa to Abelard" I.207-208: "How happy is the
blameless Vestal's lot! The world forgetting, by the world

So thought Mr. Henley, and he had been intending to recommend to
Harry to look out for a wife, for some time past. The minister's
ideas on the subject of love and matrimony were, to be sure,
rather matter of fact, and statesmanlike; he would have been
quite satisfied if Hazlehurst had married the first young girl,
of a respectable family, that he met with; the hundredth part of
Mrs. Creighton's attractions he would have thought sufficient.
Harry forgave him, however, for the sake of the kindness intended
by the advice he had given; and the minister had the satisfaction
of seeing his secretary, that evening, at a concert, quite
gallant and attentive to a party of ladies, several of whom were
young and pretty, although one was young and ugly.

"Who is that?" he asked of a friend; "that lady to whom
Hazlehurst is talking? Half the young people here have grown up,
since I was last at home."

"That is Mrs. Creighton."

"No; not Mrs. Creighton; I know her--a charming woman; the lady
on the right."

"That is Miss Van Alstyne. Mrs. St. Leger is next to her; the
young girl before her is Miss Emma Taylor."

"A pretty girl--but noisy, it seems."

"On the next bench, with Ellsworth, are Mrs. Tallman Taylor, the
great beauty, and Miss Wyllys, the heiress."

"Yes, I know the family very well; but I never saw Mr. Wyllys's
granddaughter before."

"She is quite plain," observed one gentleman.

"Very plain," replied the other, turning away.

The evening proved very sultry, and after accompanying the ladies
home from the concert, Mr. Ellsworth proposed to Harry a stroll
in the open air. The friends set out together, taking the
direction of the spring; and, being alone, their conversation
gradually became of a confidential nature. They touched upon
politics, Mr. Henley's character and views, and various other
topics, concluding with their own personal affairs. At length,
when they had been out some little time, Mr. Ellsworth, after a
moment's silence, turned to Harry and said:

"Hazlehurst, I have a confession to make; but I dare say you will
not give me much credit for frankness--you have very probably
guessed already what I have to tell."

"I certainly have had some suspicions of my own for the last few
days; but I may be mistaken; I am not very good at guessing."

"I can have no motive," continued Mr. Ellsworth, "in concealing
from you my regard for Miss Wyllys, and I hope you will wish me

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