List Of Contents | Contents of Elinor Wyllys, by Susan Fenimore Cooper
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word, that I have been enabled to see those great countries,
Italy and Switzerland; it has furnished me with materials for
thought and delight, during a whole lifetime."

"It would be a good plan to get you appointed painting attache to
the Legation, Hubbard," said Harry. "As you have seen the south
of Europe, would you not like to take a look at the northern

"Not much," replied Charlie. "I should have nothing but ice to
paint there, for half the year."

"Well, I suppose there is something selfish in my wish to carry
you to the North Pole; but when I was in Brazil, I had a very
disinterested desire that you should see the Bay of Rio."

"Is it really so beautiful?" asked Elinor.

"Yes; finer even than Naples, as regards scenery; though it
wants, of course, all the charm of recollection which belongs to
the old world."

"You must forget everything like fine scenery when you go to St.
Petersburg," said Robert Hazlehurst.

"Not at all; I hope to take a trip to the Crimea while I am in
Russia. I shall do my best to ingratiate myself with the owner of
some fine villa on the Black Sea."

"And have you really made up your mind to be a regular
diplomatist?" asked Mr. Wyllys.

"For a time, sir; so long as I can serve under Mr. Henley, or a
man like him."

"I used to see a good deal of Henley, some twenty years since,"
observed Mr. Wyllys. "I should think him particularly well fitted
for his duties."

"I have the highest respect for him," replied Harry.

"He is a good model for an American diplomatist," added Robert
Hazlehurst. "A man of ability, good education, and just
principles, with simple, gentlemanly manners; always manly in his
tone, and firm as a rock on all essential points."

"But those are only a small portion of the qualifications of a
diplomatist," said Mr. Stryker. "According to the most approved
models, the largest half should be cunning."

"Mr. Henley is particularly clear-sighted--not easily deceived
either by himself or by others; and that is all that American
diplomacy requires," said Harry. "I am proud to say that our
government does not give us any dirty work to do; we have chiefly
to act on the defensive."

"Set a thief to catch a thief," said Mr. Stryker, with his usual
dry manner. "I don't believe in the full success of your virtuous
diplomatist. How is a man to know all the turnings and windings
of the road that leads to treaties, unless he has gone over it

"But an honest man, if he is really clear-headed and firm, has no
need of these turnings and windings; he goes more directly to the
point, and saves a vast deal of time and principle, by taking a
more honourable road."

"Suppose a man has to make black look white, I should like to see
your honourable diplomatist manage such a job," said Mr. Stryker.

"But our government has never yet had such jobs to manage. We
have never yet made a demand from a foreign power that we have
not believed just. Intrigue is unpardonable in American
diplomacy, for it is gratuitous; a man need not resort to it,
unless his own taste inclines him that way. It is an honourable
distinction of our government, AS A GOVERNMENT, that it has never
committed a single act of injustice against any other power,
either by open force, or underhand manoeuvres. We have been
wronged sometimes, and omitted to demand justice as firmly as we
might have done; but there is, probably, no other government
among the great powers of Christendom, that has been so free from
OFFENSIVE guilt, during the last sixty years, as that of this

{This was, of course, before the Mexican-American War, which the
Cooper family viewed with considerable misgivings. James Fenimore
Cooper was incensed that the United States did not pursue with
greater vigor American claims against France for damages caused
to American shipping during the Napoleonic wars}

It was evident that Mr. Stryker was not in the least convinced by
Harry's defence of honest diplomacy.

"The ladies must find great fault with Washington diplomacy," he
added, turning to Mrs. Creighton and Elinor: "they are never
employed; not a single fair American has ever figured among les
belles diplomats of European saloons, I believe."

"Perhaps the ladies in this country would not condescend to be
employed," said Elinor.

"Don't say so, Miss Wyllys!" exclaimed Mrs. Creighton, laughing;
"I should delight in having some delicate mission to manage: when
Mr. Stryker gets into the cabinet, he may send me as special
envoy to any country where I can find a French milliner."

"You had better go to Russia with Mr. Henley and Mr. Hazlehurst;
I have not the least doubt but they would find your finesse of
great service," said the gentleman.

Mrs. Creighton blushed; and Harry coloured, too.

"The very idea of such an ally would frighten Mr. Henley out of
his wits," said the lady, recovering herself; "he is an
incorrigible old bachelor; that, you must allow, is a great fault
of his, Mr. Hazlehurst."

"If he be incorrigible," said Harry.

"But that is not clear," said Mr. Stryker to the lady; "he is a
great admirer of yours."

"Come, a truce to diplomacy, Josephine; I am going to beg Miss
Wyllys for a song," said Ellsworth.

Elinor sang very readily, and very sweetly; the Swiss airs
sounded charmingly among the hills; and she was accompanied by
Mary Van Alstyne, while Charlie, with the two Hazlehursts, made
up a respectable second for several songs.

Some gathering clouds at length warned the party to turn inn-ward

"It is to be hoped the shower won't reach us, for your sake,
ladies," said Robert Hazlehurst.

"I hope not, for the sake of my bibi!" said Mrs. Creighton. "It
is the prettiest little hat I have had these three years; it
would be distressing to have it spoilt before it has lost its

{"bibi" = a stylish hat of the 1830s}

"There is no danger, marm," said one of the boatmen, with a
good-natured gravity, that made Mrs. Creighton smile. "Them 'ere
kind of clouds often goes over the lake, without coming up this

And so it proved; the party reached the hotel safely, all
agreeing that they had had a very pleasant day, and were not at
all more tired than was desirable after such an excursion.


"............................. Sebastian are you?
If spirits can assume both form and suit,
You come to fright us!"

{William Shakespeare, "Twelfh Night", V.i.221, 235-236}

ON their return to Saratoga, the Wyllyses and Hazlehursts found
startling intelligence awaiting them. Letters had just arrived
for Harry, for Mrs. Stanley, and for Mr. Wyllys, all of a similar
nature, and all of a character that was astounding to those who
received them. They could scarcely credit their senses as they
read the fact, that the executors of the late John William
Stanley, Esquire, were called upon to account for all past
proceedings, to William Stanley, his son and heir. Hazlehurst was
also summoned to resign that portion of the property of which he
had taken possession two years since, when he had reached the age
of twenty-five.

The letters were all written by Mr. Clapp, Charlie Hubbard's
brother-in-law, who announced himself as the attorney of William
Stanley, Esquire.

"Here are the letters addressed to myself," said Mrs. Stanley,
who had immediately sent for Mr. Wyllys and Hazlehurst, as soon
as they returned from Lake George: she had not yet recovered from
the first agitation caused by this extraordinary disclosure.
"This is the letter purporting to come from my husband's son, and
this is from the lawyer," she added, extending both to
Hazlehurst. Harry read them aloud. The first ran as follows:


"I have not the honour of being acquainted with you, as my late
father was not married to you when I went to sea, not long before
his death. But I make no doubt that you will not refuse me my
rights, now that I step forward to demand them, after leaving
others to enjoy them for nearly eighteen years. Things look
different to a man near forty, and to a young chap of twenty; I
have been thinking of claiming my property for some time, but was
told by lawyers that there was too many difficulties in the way,
owing partly to my own fault, partly to the fault of others. As
long as I was a youngster, I didn't care for anything but having
my own way--I snapped my fingers at all the world; but now I am
tired of a sea-faring life, and have had hardships enough for one
man: since there is a handsome property mine, by right, I am
resolved to claim it, through thick and thin. I have left off the
bottle, and intend to do my best to be respectable for the rest
of my days. I make no doubt but we shall be able to come to some
agreement; nor would I object to a compromise for the past,
though my lawyers advise me to make no such offer. I shall be
pleased, Madam, to pay my respects to you, that we may settle our
affairs at a personal meeting, if it suits you to do so.

"Your obedient servant, and step-son,


"Can that be my husband's son!" exclaimed Mrs. Stanley, in an
agitated voice, as Harry finished reading the letter, and handed
it to Mr. Wyllys.

"It will take more than this to convince me," said Mr. Wyllys,
who had been listening attentively. The handwriting was then
carefully examined by Mrs. Stanley and Mr. Wyllys, and both were
compelled to admit that it was at least a good imitation of that
of William Stanley.

"A most extraordinary proceeding in either case!" exclaimed
Harry, pacing the room.

Mr. Clapp's letter was then read: it began with the following


"I regret that I am compelled by the interests of my client, Mr.
William Stanley, Esquire, to address a lady I respect so highly,
upon a subject that must necessarily prove distressing to her, in
many different ways."

Then followed a brief statement of his first acquaintance with
Mr. Stanley; his refusing to have anything to do with the affair;
his subsequent conviction that the ragged sailor was the
individual he represented himself to be; his reluctance to
proceed, &c., &c. But since he was now convinced, by the
strongest proofs, of the justice of Mr. Stanley's demand, and had
at length undertaken to assist him with his advice, he was,
therefore, compelled by duty to give the regular legal notice,
that Mrs. Stanley, as executrix, would be required to account for
her proceedings since her husband's death. His client, he said,
would much prefer an amicable arrangement, but, if necessary,
would proceed to law immediately. He wished to know what course
Mrs. Stanley was disposed to take, as his client's steps would
necessarily be guided by her own, and those of Mr. Wyllys and Mr.
Hazlehurst. He concluded with a civil hope that the case might be
privately adjusted.

"Clapp all over," said Harry, as he finished reading the letter.

"A most bare-faced imposition, depend upon it!" exclaimed Mr.
Wyllys, with strong indignation.

Mrs. Stanley was listening with anxious eagerness for the opinion
of the two gentlemen.

"I am strongly disposed to mistrust anything that comes through
Clapp's hands," said Harry, pacing the room thoughtfully, with
the letters in his hand. "Still, I think it behooves us, sir, to
act with deliberation; the idea that it is not impossible that
this individual should be the son of Mr. Stanley, must not be
forgotten--that possibility alone would make me sift the matter
to the bottom at once."

"Certainly; it must be looked into immediately."

"What has the lawyer written to you?" asked Mrs. Stanley.

The letters to Mr. Wyllys and Harry were then read aloud; they
were almost identical in their contents with that to Mrs.
Stanley. The tone of each was civil and respectful; though each
contained a technical legal notice, that they would be required
to surrender to William Stanley, the property of his late father,
according to the will of the said John William Stanley; which the
said William, his son, had hitherto neglected to claim, though
legally entitled to it.

"There: is certainly an air of confidence about those letters of
Clapp's," said Harry, "as if he felt himself on a firm foothold.
It is very extraordinary!"

"Of course: he would never move in such a case, without some
plausible proof," said Mr. Wyllys.

"But how could he get any proof whatever, on this occasion?" said
Mrs. Stanley. "For these eighteen years, nearly, William Stanley
has been lying at the bottom of the ocean. We have believed so,
at least."

"Proofs have been manufactured by lawyers before now," said Mr.
Wyllys. "Do you suppose that if William Stanley had been living,
we never should have heard one trace of him during eighteen
years?--at a time, too, when his father's death had left him a
large property."

"What sort of a man is this Mr. Clapp?" asked Mrs. Stanley. "His
manners and appearance, whenever I have accidentally seen him
with the Hubbards, struck me as very unpleasant: but is it
possible he can be so utterly devoid of all principle, as
wilfully to countenance an impostor?"

"He is a man whom I do not believe to possess one just
principle!" said Mr. Wyllys. "Within the last year or two, I have
lost all confidence in his honesty, from facts known to me."

"I have always had a poor opinion of him, but I have never had
much to do with him," said Harry; "still, I should not have
thought him capable of entering into a conspiracy so atrocious as
this must be, if the story be not true."

"He would do any dirty work whatever, for money. I KNOW the man,"
said Mr. Wyllys, with emphasis.

"It is possible he may be deceived himself," observed Mrs.

"Very improbable," replied Mr. Wyllys, shaking his head.

"A shrewd, cunning, quick-witted fellow, as I remember him, would
not be likely to undertake such a case, unless he had some
prospect of success," said Harry, pacing the room again. "He must
know perfectly well that it is make or break with him. If he does
not succeed, he will be utterly ruined."

"He will give us trouble, no doubt," said Mr. Wyllys. "He must
have got the means of putting together a plausible story. And yet
his audacity confounds me!" 

"Eighteen years, is it not, since William Stanley's death?" asked
Harry, turning to Mrs. Stanley.

"It will be eighteen years next October, since he sailed. I was
married in November; and from that time we have never heard
anything from the poor boy, excepting the report that the
Jefferson, the ship in which he sailed, had been shipwrecked on
the coast of Africa, the following winter, and all hands lost.
That report reached us not long before my husband's death, and
caused him to word his will in the way it is now expressed;
giving to the son of his kinsman and old friend, half his
property, in case his son's death should be confirmed. The report
WAS confirmed, some months later, by the arrival of an American
vessel, which had ridden out the storm that wrecked the
Jefferson: she saw the wreck itself, sent a boat to examine it,
but could find no one living; although several bodies were picked

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