List Of Contents | Contents of Elinor Wyllys, by Susan Fenimore Cooper
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such a jumble, so entirely out of all just proportion, that I
could do nothing with it; and was glad to find that I could put a
grove between the spectator and the building: anybody but its
inmates would have preferred the trees."

"Not at all; Miss D----- thought the absence of the portico, with
its tall, pipe-stem columns, the row of dormer windows on the
roof, and the non-descript belvidere crowning all, a loss to the

{"belvidere" = as used here, a raised turret on top of a house

"The miserable architecture of this country is an obstacle to a
landscape painter, quite too serious to be trifled with, I can
assure you," said Charlie.

"It must be confessed," said Mr. Ellsworth, "that the order of
things has been reversed here. Architecture is usually called the
parent of the fine arts; but with us she is the youngest of the
family, and as yet the worst endowed. We had respectable
pictures, long before we had a single building in a really good
style; and now that we have some noble paintings and statuary,
architecture still lags behind. What a noise they made in New
York, only a few years since, about St. Thomas's Church!"

{St. Thomas's Church" = St. Thomas Episcopal Church was erected
at the corner of Broadway and Houston Street, in New York City,
in 1826, in the Gothic style which was only beginning to replace
the Greek Revival. Susan Fenimore Cooper shared her father's
dislike of Greek Revival houses that imitated Grecian temples,
and his love of the Gothic}

"Yes," said Mr. Stryker; "the curse of the genius of
architecture, which Jefferson said had fallen upon this country,
has not yet been removed."

"Some of the most ludicrous objects I have ever laid my eyes on,"
said Hazlehurst, "have been pretending houses, and, I am sorry to
say, churches too, in the interior of the country; chiefly in the
would-be Corinthian and Composite styles. They set every rule of
good taste and good sense at defiance, and look, withal, so
unconscious of their absurdity, that the effect is as thoroughly
ridiculous, as if it had been the object of the architect to make
them so."

"For reason good," observed Mr. Wyllys; "because they are wanting
in simplicity and full of pretension; and pretension is the root
of all absurdity."

They had now reached the spot Charlie had selected for his
picture; the young artist pointed it out to Miss Wyllys, who was
in the other boat.

"This is the spot I have chosen," he said, "and I hope you will
agree with me in liking the position; it commands some of the
finest points on the lake: that is the Black mountain in the

His friends admired his choice, acknowledging that the view was
one of the most beautiful they had seen.

"It must be difficult to choose, where every view is charming,"
said Elinor. "How beautiful those little islands are; so much
variety, and all so pleasing!"

"You will see hundreds of them, Miss Wyllys, when you have been
over the lake," said Hubbard.

"There are just three hundred and sixty-five, marm," added one of
the boatmen, the guide of the party; "one for every day in

"This must be May-day island," said Elinor, pointing to an islet
quite near them. "This one, half wood, half meadow, which shows
so many flowers."

"May-day island it shall be for the next six weeks," said
Charlie, smiling. "I have chosen it for another view."

"Well, good people!" exclaimed Robert Hazlehurst, from the other
boat; "you may be feasting on the beauties of nature; but some of
us have more substantial appetites! Miss Wyllys is a little
fatigued, Mr. Stryker all impatient to get out his handsome
fishing-rod, and your humble servant very hungry, indeed!"

As they had been loitering about for several hours, it was agreed
that they should now land, and prepare to lunch.

"We will put into port at May-day island," said Charlie; "I have
been there several times, and there is a pretty, grassy bank,
where we may spread a table-cloth."

They soon reached the little island pointed out by Elinor, and
having landed with their baskets of provisions, the meal was
prepared, and only waiting for the fish which Mr. Stryker had
promised to catch, and for a supply of salt which one of the
boatmen had gone for, to a farm-house on the shore; this
necessary having been forgotten, when the provisions were laid
in. There never was a pic-nic yet, where nothing was forgotten.

Mr. Stryker soon prepared himself for action; he was a famous
fisherman, and quite as proud of his rod as of his reputation,
which were both Dublin-made, he said, and, therefore, perfect in
their way. Mr. Wyllys and Mrs. Creighton admired the apparatus
contained in his ebony walking-stick, to the owner's full
satisfaction: he had a great deal to say about its perfections,
the beauty of his flies, the excellence of his hooks and lines,
and so forth; and the ladies in general, Mrs. Creighton
especially, listened as flatteringly as the gentleman could
desire. As he was to supply the perch for luncheon, however, he
was obliged to begin his labours; and taking a boat, he rowed off
a stone's throw from the shore. In turning a little point, he was
surprised, by coming suddenly upon a brother fisherman: in a
rough, leaky boat, with a common old rod in his hand, sat our
acquaintance, Mr. Hopkins, wearing the usual rusty coat; his red
silk handkerchief spread on his knee, an open snuff-box on one
side of him, a dirty tin pail on the other. The party on shore
were not a little amused by the contrast in the appearance,
manners, and equipments of the two fishermen; the fastidious Mr.
Stryker, so complete, from his grey blouse to his fishing-basket;
the old merchant, quite independent of everything like fashion,
whether alone on Lake George, or among the crowd in Wall-Street.
Charlie, who did not know him, said that he had met the same
individual on the lake, at all hours, and in all weathers, during
the past week; he seemed devoted to fishing, heart and soul,
having left the St. Legers at Saratoga, and come on to Lake
George immediately, to enjoy his favourite pastime. It was a
pleasure to see how honestly and earnestly he was engaged in his
pursuit: as for Mr. Stryker, we strongly suspect that his fancy
for fishing was an acquired taste, like most of those he
cherished; we very much doubt whether he would ever have been a
follower of Izaak Walton, had there not been a fashionable
accoutrement for brothers of the rod, at the present day.

{"Isaak Walton" = Isaak Walton (1593-1683), author of "The
Compleat Angler"}

Several of the ladies also fished for half an hour; Mrs.
Creighton begging for a seat in Mr. Stryker's boat, that she
might profit by his instructions. While they were out, a small
incident occurred, which amused the spectators not a little. Mrs.
Creighton had risen, to look at a fish playing about Mr.
Stryker's line, when she accidentally dropped a light shawl,
which fell from her arm into the water; an involuntary movement
she made as it fell, also threw a basket of her companion's flies
overboard, at the same instant: he had just been showing them

"Oh, Mr. Stryker, my shawl!" exclaimed the lady.

But the fashionable fisherman was already catching eagerly at his
own precious flies; he succeeded in regaining the basket, and
then, bethinking him of his reputation for gallantry, turned to
Mrs. Creighton, to rescue the shawl; but he had the mortification
to see old Mr. Hopkins already stretching out an arm with the
cachemere, which he had caught almost as soon as it touched the
water, and now offered to its fair owner, with the good-natured
hope that it had not been injured, as it was hardly wet. The lady
received it very graciously, and bestowed a very sweet smile on
the old merchant; while Mr. Stryker, quite nettled at his own
flagrant misdemeanour, had to face a frown from the charming
widow. It was decidedly an unlucky hour for Mr. Stryker: he only
succeeded in catching a solitary perch; while Mr. Hopkins, who
had been invited to join the party, contributed a fine mess. The
fault, however, was all thrown on the sunshine; and Mr. Hopkins
confessed that he had not had much sport since the clouds had
broken away, earlier in the morning. Everybody seemed very ready
for luncheon, when hailed from the island, for that purpose. The
meal was quite a merry one; Mrs. Creighton was the life of the
party, saying a great many clever, amusing things. She looked
charmingly, too, in a little cap, whose straw-coloured ribbons
were particularly becoming to her brown complexion. Mr. Stryker
gradually recovered from the double mortification, of the shawl,
and the solitary perch, and soon began talking over different
fishing excursions, with his friend A-----, in Ireland, and his
friend B-----, in Germany. The rest of the party were all
cheerful and good-humoured. Mr. Ellsworth was quite devoted to
Elinor, as usual, of late. Mary Van Alstyne amused herself with
looking on at Mrs. Creighton's efforts to charm Harry, pique Mr.
Stryker, and flatter Mr. Wyllys into admiring her; nor did she
disdain to throw away several arch smiles on Mr. Hopkins. "She
seems successful in all her attempts," thought Mary. Harry was
quite attentive to her; and it was evident that Mr. Stryker's
admiration had very much increased since they had been together
at the Springs. He had set out for Saratoga, with the firm
determination to play the suitor to Elinor; he resolved that he
would not fall in love with the pretty widow; but a clever
coquette and a man of the world, are adversaries well matched;
and, as usual in such encounters, feminine art and feminine
flattery seemed likely to carry the day. Mr. Stryker, in spite of
himself, often forgot to be properly attentive to Elinor, who
appeared to great disadvantage in his eyes, when placed in
constant contrast with Mrs. Creighton. He scarcely regretted now,
his little prospect of favour with the heiress, for the poorer
widow had completely fascinated him by her graceful flatteries,
the piquancy of her wit, and her worldliness, which, with Mr.
Stryker, passed for her wisdom. Even Mary Van Alstyne, though
prejudiced against her, was obliged to confess, as she watched
Mrs. Creighton, that she admired her. The lady had thrown herself
on the grass in a graceful position; excited by admiration, she
had a brilliant colour; her dress was always studiously
fashionable and becoming, in its minutest details; her amusing
remarks flowed freely from a conscience under no other restraints
than those of policy or good-breeding; and her manner, though
always studied for effect, was particularly well studied and
agreeable. Her companions thought her charming. Elinor, at the
same moment, was standing by her side, in a simple dress, with no
attempt to disguise a plain face under finery, and in a perfectly
quiet position, which was graceful without her knowing it. Her
whole manner, indeed, was always natural; its simplicity was its
great charm, for one felt confident that her grace and sweetness,
her ease and quiet dignity, flowed readily from her character
itself. Whether these ideas occurred to any of the party besides
Miss Van Alstyne, we cannot say; it is certain, however, that
Mrs. Creighton was all prepared for observation, Elinor, as
usual, quite regardless of it.

"We must carry off some flowers from May-day island," said Mr.
Ellsworth, preparing to gather a bouquet for Elinor. He had soon
succeeded in collecting quite a pretty bunch, composed of wild
roses, blue hare-bells, the white blossoms of the wild clematis,
the delicate pink clusters of the Alleghany vine, and the
broad-leaved rose-raspberry, with several other varieties.

{"Alleghany vine" = a flowering wild vine, which had been a
favorite of Susan Fenimore Cooper's paternal grandmother
Elizabeth Fenimore Cooper}

Mr. Stryker offered a bouquet to Mrs. Creighton.

"It is really quite pretty; but to make it complete, I must have
one of those scarlet lobelias, on the next island; they are the
first I have seen this season. Mr. Hazlehurst, do be
good-natured, and step into that boat, and bring me one."

"I can do that without the boat, Mrs. Creighton, here is a
bridge," replied Harry, springing on the trunk of a dead tree,
which nearly reached the islet she had pointed out; catching the
branch of an oak on the opposite shore, he swung himself across.
The flowers were soon gathered; and, after a little difficulty in
reaching the dead tree, he returned to the ladies, just as they
were about to embark again. Perhaps he had caught a spark of the
spirit of coquetry from Mrs. Creighton, and resented her flirting
so much with Mr. Stryker; for he did not give her all the flowers
he had gathered, but offered a few to each lady as she entered
the boat.

"Thank you, Mr. Hazlehurst, very gallantly done," said Mrs.
Creighton, placing one of the lobelias, with a sprig of Mr.
Stryker's, in her belt.

As they rowed leisurely along, Charlie Hubbard pointed out some
of the localities to Miss Wyllys and Robert Hazlehurst.

"These mountains are very different in their character, Mr.
Hubbard, from those you have recently been sketching in Italy and
Switzerland," observed Mr. Ellsworth.

"Entirely different; their forms are much less bold and decided."

"Yes; all the mountains in this country, east of the Mississippi,
partake, more or less, of the same character; forming rounded
ridges, seldom broken into those abrupt, ragged peaks, common in
other parts of the world."

"But the elevation of these mountains is much less than that of
the Alps, or high Apennines," observed Mr. Wyllys; "do not the
mountains in Europe, of the same height, resemble these in

"No, sir, I think not," replied Ellsworth. "They are generally
more bold and barren; often mere masses of naked rock. I am no
geologist, but it strikes me that the whole surface of the earth,
in this part of the world, differs in character from that of the
eastern continent; on one hand, the mountains are less abrupt and
decided in their forms with us; and on the other, the plains are
less monotonous here. If our mountains are not grand, the general
surface of the country seems more varied, more uneven; there is
not so large a proportion of dead level in this country as in
France, Germany, Russia, for instance; we have much of what we
call a rolling country--even the prairies, which are the plains
of this region, show the same swelling surface."

"The variety of character in the landscape of different
countries, must be a great charm to one of your profession,
Hubbard," observed Harry. "A landscape painter must enjoy
travelling more than any other man; nothing is lost upon
you--every time you look about you there is something new to
observe. How you must have enjoyed the change from the general
aspect of this country--fresh, full of life and motion, yet
half-finished in the details--to old Italy, where the scenery and
atmosphere are in perfect harmony with the luxurious repose of a
great antiquity!"

"I did indeed enjoy the change beyond expression!" exclaimed
Charlie. "I have often felt thankful, in the best sense of the

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