List Of Contents | Contents of Elinor Wyllys, by Susan Fenimore Cooper
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her whole appearance and expression; and it was not possible to
see her at this moment, without being struck by her exceeding
loveliness. Jane was only seen by the family, however, and one or
two very intimate friends; she remained entirely in the privacy
of her own room, where Elinor was generally at her side,
endeavouring to soothe her cousin's grief, by the gentle balm of
sympathy and affection.


"Do thou stand for my father, and examine me upon the particulars
of my life."

"What manner of man, an't please your majesty!"
Henry IV.

{William Shakespeare, "1 Henry IV", II.iv.375-376, 420-421}

HAZLEHURST's affairs had not remained stationary, in the mean
time; Mrs. Stanley and himself were already at Wyllys-Roof, when
Miss Wyllys and Elinor returned home, accompanied by the widowed
Jane. The ladies had received frequent intelligence of the
progress of his affairs, from Mr. Wyllys's letters; still there
were many details to be explained when the party was re-united,
as several important steps had been taken while they were in New
York. Mr. Clapp was no longer the only counsel employed by the
claimant; associated with the Longbridge attorney, now appeared
the name of Mr. Reed, a lawyer of highly respectable standing in
New York, a brother-in-law of Judge Bernard's, and a man of a
character far superior to that of Mr. Clapp. He was slightly
acquainted with Mr. Wyllys, and had written very civil letters,
stating that he held the proofs advanced by his client, to be
quite decisive as to his identity, and he proposed an amicable
meeting, with the hope that Mr. Stanley's claim might be
acknowledged without farther difficulty. That Mr. Reed should
have taken the case into his hands, astonished Hazlehurst and his
friends; so long as Clapp managed the affair, they felt little
doubt as to its beings a coarse plot of his own; but they had now
become impatient to inquire more closely into the matter. Mrs.
Stanley was growing very uneasy; Hazlehurst was anxious to
proceed farther as soon as possible; but Mr. Wyllys was still
nearly as sanguine as ever. All parties seemed to desire a
personal interview; Mr. Reed offered to accompany his client to
Wyllys-Roof, to wait on Mrs. Stanley; and a day had been
appointed for the meeting, which was to take place as soon as
Harry's opponent, who had been absent from Longbridge, should
return. The morning fixed for the interview, happened to be that
succeeding the arrival of the ladies; and it will be easily
imagined that every member of the family looked forward to the
moment with most anxious interest. Perhaps they were not aware
themselves, how gradually doubts had arisen and increased, in
their own minds, since the first disclosure made by Mr. Clapp.

"Harry and myself have both seen this man at last, Agnes," said
Mr. Wyllys to his daughter, just after she had returned home,
when alone with Elinor and herself. "Where do you suppose Harry
saw him yesterday? At church, with Mr. Reed. And this morning I
caught a glimpse of him, standing on the steps of Clapp's

"Indeed!" exclaimed Miss Wyllys, who, as well as Elinor, was
listening eagerly. How did he look?--what kind of man did he

"He looked like a sailor. I only saw him for a moment, however;
for he was coming out of the office, and walked down the street,
in an opposite direction from me. I must confess that his face
had something of a Stanley look."

"Is it possible!"

"Yes; so far as I could see him, he struck me as looking like the
Stanleys; but, in another important point, he does not resemble
them at all. You remember the peculiar gait of the family?--they
all had it, more or less; anybody who knew them well must have
remarked it often--but this man had nothing of the kind; he
walked like a sailor."

"I know what you mean; it was a peculiar motion in walking, well
known to all their friends--a long, slow step."

"Precisely; this man had nothing of it, whatever--he had the
sailor swing, for I watched his movements expressly. William
Stanley, as a boy, walked just like his father; for I have often
pointed it out to Mr. Stanley, myself."

"That mast be an important point, I should suppose; and yet,
grandpapa, you think he looks like my uncle Stanley?" said

"So I should say, from the glimpse I had of him."

"What did Harry think of him?" asked Miss Wyllys.

"Hazlehurst did not see his face, for he sat before him in
church. He said, that if he had not been told who it was, he
should have pronounced him, from his general appearance and
manner, a common-looking, sea-faring man, who was not accustomed
to the service of the Church; for he did not seem to understand
when he should kneel, and when he should rise."

"But William Stanley ought to have known it perfectly," observed
Elinor; "for he must have gone to church constantly, with his
family, as a child, until he went to sea, and could scarcely have
forgotten the service entirely, I should think."

"Certainly, my dear; that is another point which we have noted in
our favour. On the other hand, however, I have just been
carefully comparing the hand-writing of Clapp's client, with that
of William Stanley, and there is a very remarkable resemblance
between them. As far as the hand-writing goes, I must confess,
that I should have admitted it at once, as identical, under
ordinary circumstances."

"And the personal likeness, too, struck you, it seems," added
Miss Agnes.

"It did; so far, at least, as I could judge from seeing him only
a moment, and with his hat on. To-morrow we shall be able, I
trust, to make up our minds more decidedly on other important

"It is very singular that he should not be afraid of an
interview!" exclaimed Elinor.

"Well, I don't know that, my child; having once advanced this
claim, he must be prepared for examination, you know, under any
circumstances. It is altogether a singular case, however, whether
he be the impostor we think him, or the individual he claims to
be. Truth is certainly more strange than fiction sometimes. Would
you like to see the statement Mr. Reed sent us, when we applied
for some account of his client's past movements?"

Miss Agnes and Elinor were both anxious to see it.

"Here it is--short you see--in Clapp's hand-writing, but signed
by himself. There is nothing in it that may not possibly be true;
but I fancy that we shall be able to pick some holes in it,

"Did he make no difficulty about sending it to you?" asked Miss

"No, he seemed to give it readily; Mr. Reed sent it to us a day
or two since."

Miss Wyllys received the letter from her father, inviting Elinor
to read it over her shoulder, at the same moment. It was
endorsed, in Clapp's hand, "STATEMENT OF MR. STANLEY, PREPARED AT

"July 1st, 183-.

"I left home, as everybody knows, because I would have my own way
in everything. It was against my best interests to be sure, but
boys don't think at such times, about anything but having their
own will. I suppose that every person connected with my deceased
father knows, that my first voyage was made to Russia, in the
year 18--, in the ship Dorothy Beck, Jonas Thomson, Master. I was
only fourteen years old at the time. My father had taken to heart
my going off, and when I came back from Russia he was on the
look-out, wrote to me and sent me money, and as soon as he heard
we were in port he came after me. Well, I went back with the old
gentleman; but we had a quarrel on the road, and I put about
again and went to New Bedford, where I shipped in a whaler. We
were out only eighteen months, and brought in a full cargo. This
time I went home of my own accord, and I staid a great part of
one summer. I did think some of quitting the seas; but after a
while things didn't work well, and one of my old shipmates coming
up into the country to see me, I went off with him. This time I
shipped in the Thomas Jefferson, for China. This was in the year
1814, during the last war, when I was about eighteen. Most
people, who know anything about William Stanley, think that was
the last of him, that he never set foot on American ground again;
but they are mistaken, as he himself will take the pains to show.
So far I have told nothing but what everybody knows, but now I am
going to give a short account of what has happened, since my
friends heard from me. Well; the Jefferson sailed, on her voyage
to China, in October; she was wrecked on the coast of Africa in
December, and it was reported that all hands were lost: so they
were, all but one, and that one was William Stanley. I was picked
up by a Dutchman, the barque William, bound to Batavia. I kept
with the Dutchman for a while, until he went back to Holland.
After I had cut adrift from him, I fell in with some Americans,
and got some old papers; in one of them I saw my father's second
marriage. I knew the name of the lady he had married, but I had
never spoken to her. The very next day, one of the men I was
with, who came from the same part of the country, told me of my
father's death, and said it was the common talk about the
neighbourhood, that I was disinherited. This made me very angry;
though I wasn't much surprised, after what had passed. I was
looking out for a homeward-bound American, to go back, and see
how matters stood, when one night that I was drunk, I was carried
off by an English officer, who made out I was a runaway. For five
years I was kept in different English men-of-war, in the East
Indies; at the end of that time I was put on board the Ceres,
sloop of war, and I made out to desert from her at last, and got
on board an American. I then came home; and here, the first man
that I met on shore was Billings, the chap who first persuaded me
to go to sea: he knew all about my father's family, and told me
it was true I was cut off without a cent, and that Harry
Hazlehurst had been adopted by my father. This made me so mad,
that I went straight to New Bedford, and shipped in the Sally
Andrews, for a whaling voyage. Just before we were to have come
home, I exchanged into another whaler, as second-mate, for a year
longer. Then I sailed in a Havre liner, as foremast hand, for a
while. I found out about this time, that the executors of my
father's estate had been advertising for me shortly after his
death, while I was in the East Indies; and I went to a lawyer in
Baltimore, where I happened to be, and consulted him about
claiming the property; but he wouldn't believe a word I said,
because I was half-drunk at the time, and told me that I should
get in trouble if I didn't keep my mouth shut. Well, I cruized
about for a while longer, when at last I went to Longbridge, with
some shipmates. I had been there often before, as a lad, and I
had some notion of having a talk with Mr. Wyllys, my father's
executor; I went to his house one day, but I didn't see him. One
of my shipmates who knew something of my story, and had been a
client of Mr. Clapp's, advised me to consult him. I went to his
office, but he sent me off like the Baltimore lawyer, because be
thought I was drunk. Three years after that I got back to
Longbridge again, with a shipmate; but it did me no good, for I
got drinking, and had a fit of the horrors. That fit sobered me,
though, in the end; it was the worst I had ever had; I should
have hanged myself, and there would have been an end of William
Stanley and his hard rubs, if it hadn't been for the doctor--I
never knew his name, but Mr. Clapp says it was Dr. Van Horne.
After this bad fit, they coaxed me into shipping in a temperance
whaler. While I was in the Pacific, in this ship, nigh three
years, and out of the reach of drink, I had time to think what a
fool I had been all my life, for wasting my opportunities. I
thought there must be some way of getting back my father's
property; Mr. Clapp had said, that if I was really the man I
pretended to be, I must have some papers to make it out; but if I
hadn't any papers, he couldn't help me, even if I was William
Stanley forty times over. It is true, I couldn't show him any
documents that time, for I didn't have them with me at
Longbridge; but I made up my mind, while I was out on my last
voyage, that as soon as I got home, I would give up drinking, get
my papers together, and set about doing my best to get back my
father's property. We came home last February; I went to work, I
kept sober, got my things together, put money by for a lawyer's
fee, and then went straight to Longbridge again. I went to Mr.
Clapp's office, and first I handed him the money, and then I gave
him my papers. I went to him, because he had treated me better
than any other lawyer, and told me if I was William Stanley, and
could prove it, he could help me better than any other man, for
he knew all about my father's will. Well, he hadn't expected ever
to see me again; but he heard my story all out this time, read
the documents, and at last believed me, and undertook the case.
The rest is known to the executors and legatee by this time; and
it is to be hoped, that after enjoying my father's estate for
nigh twenty years, they will now make it over to his son.

"Dictated to W. C. Clapp, by the undersigned,


{"Dutchman" = a ship trading between the Netherlands and the
Netherlands East Indies (now Indonesia), of which Batavia (now
Jakarta) was the capital}

"Are these facts, so far as they are known to you, all true?"
asked Miss Agnes, as she finished the paper. "I mean the earlier
part of the statement, which refers to William Stanley's
movements before he sailed in the Jefferson?"

"Yes; that part of the story is correct, so far as it goes."

"How extraordinary!" exclaimed Elinor.

"What does Harry think of this paper?"

"Both he and Mrs. Stanley are more disposed to listen to the
story than I am; however, we are to meet this individual
to-morrow, and shall be able then, I hope, to see our way more

"Do you find any glaring inconsistency in the latter part of the
account?" continued Miss Agnes.

"Nothing impossible, certainly; but the improbability of William
Stanley's never applying to his father's executors, until he
appeared, so late in the day, as Mr. Clapp's client, is still
just as striking as ever in my eyes. Mr. Reed accounts for it, by
the singular character of the man himself, and the strange, loose
notions sailors get on most subjects; but that is far from
satisfying my mind."

"Mrs. Stanley is evidently much perplexed," observed Miss Wyllys;
"she always feels any trouble acutely, and this startling
application is enough to cause her the most serious anxiety,
under every point of view."

"Certainly; I am glad you have come home, on her account--she is
becoming painfully anxious. It is a very serious matter, too, for
Hazlehurst; he confessed to me yesterday, that he had some

"What a change it would make in all his views and prospects for
life!" exclaimed Miss Wyllys.

"A change, indeed, which he would feel at every turn. But we are
not yet so badly off as that. We shall give this individual a

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