thorough, searching examination, and it is my firm opinion that he will not bear it. In the mean time we have agents at work, endeavouring to trace this man's past career; and very possibly we may soon discover in that way, some inconsistency in his story." "The interview is for to-morrow, you say," added Miss Agnes. "To-morrow morning. It is to be considered as a visit to Mrs. Stanley; Mr. Reed and Clapp will come with him. He has engaged to bring a portion of his papers, and to answer any questions of ours, that would not injure him in case of an ultimate trial by law: after the interview, we are to declare within a given time whether we acknowledge the claim, or whether we are prepared to dispute it." "If you do carry it into a court of justice, when will the trial take place?" asked Miss Agnes. "Probably in the autumn; they have already given notice, that they will bring it on as soon as possible, if we reject their demand." "Harry will not go abroad then, with Mr. Henley." "No; not so soon at least as he intended. So goes the world; Hazlehurst's career suddenly stopped, by an obstacle we never dreamed of, at this late day. That poor young Taylor in his grave, too! How is Jane?" "Very feeble, and much depressed." "Poor girl--a heavy blow to her--that was a sweet baby that she lost. I am glad to see the other child looks well. Jane's affairs, too, are in a bad way, they tell me." Miss Agnes shook her head, and her father soon after left her. Hazlehurst was, of course, much occupied, having many things to attend to, connected in different ways with the important question under consideration: there were old papers to be examined, letters to be written, letters to be read, and the family seldom saw him, except at his meals. It was evident, however, that all Mr. Wyllys's displeasure against him, was fast disappearing under the influence of the strong interest now aroused in his favour. Miss Agnes had also resumed entirely, her former manner towards him. Elinor was quite unembarrassed, and frankly expressed her interest in his affairs; in fact, all parties appeared so much engrossed by this important topic, that no one seemed to have time to remember the unpleasant circumstances of Harry's last visit to Wyllys-Roof. To judge from his manner, and something in his expression, if any one occasionally thought of the past, it was Hazlehurst himself; he seemed grateful for his present kind reception, and conscious that he had forfeited all claim to the friendly place in which he had been reinstated. Once or twice, he betrayed momentary feeling and embarrassment, as some allusion to past scenes was accidentally made by others, in the course of conversation. The family were sitting together after tea, enjoying the summer evening twilight, after a long business consultation between the gentlemen. Harry seemed still engrossed by his own meditations; what was their particular nature at that moment, we cannot say; but he certainly had enough to think of in various ways. Harry's friends left him in undivided possession of the corner, where he was sitting, alone; and Mr. Wyllys, after a quiet, general conversation with the ladies, asked Elinor for a song. At her grandfather's request, she sang a pleasing, new air, she had just received, and his old favourite, Robin Adair. Fortunately, it did not occur to her, that the last time she had sung that song at Wyllys-Roof, with Hazlehurst as part of her audience, was the evening before their rupture; she appeared to have forgotten the fact, for no nervous feeling affected her voice, though her tones were lower than usual, as she did not wish to disturb Jane, who was in a distant part of the house. A letter from Mr. Reed was brought in, and drew Harry into the circle again; it was connected with the next day's interview, and after reading it, Mr. Wyllys made some remarks upon the difference in the tone and manner of the communications they had received from Clapp, and from Mr. Reed; the last writing like a gentleman, the first like a pettifogger. "I am glad, at least, that you will have a gentleman to deal with," observed Elinor. "Why, yes, Nelly; it is always advisable to secure a gentleman for friend or foe, he is the best substitute for a good man that one can find. But it is my opinion that Mr. Reed will not persevere in this case; I think he will soon be disgusted with Clapp, as his brother counsel. To-morrow, however, we shall have a nearer look at all our opponents, and I trust that we shall be able to make up our own minds at least, beyond a doubt." "I trust so!" replied Mrs. Stanley, whose anxiety had increased painfully. "I wish Ellsworth were here!" exclaimed Harry; "as his feelings are less interested than those of either of us, he would see things in a more impartial light." "I wish he were here, with all my heart," replied Mr. Wyllys. "I am a little afraid of both you, my excellent friend, and you, Hazlehurst; the idea of not doing justice to the shadow of William Stanley, will make you too merciful towards this claimant, I fear. I see plainly, Harry, that you have some scruples, and I caution you against giving way too much to them." Hazlehurst smiled, and passed his hand over his forehead. "Thank you, sir, for your advice," he replied. "I shall try to judge the facts calmly; although the idea, that one may possibly be an usurper, is by no means pleasant; it is rather worse even, than that of giving up to an impostor." "It is a thousand pities that Ellsworth cannot be here until next week; he would have warned you, as I do, not to lose sight of the impostor." "It is quite impossible that he should come, until next Monday; I knew his business would not admit of it, when I wrote to him at your request; but he will be here at the very earliest moment that he can." In fact every one present, while they regretted Mr. Ellsworth's absence, felt thoroughly convinced that there were various reasons, which gave him the best inclination in the world to be at Wyllys-Roof as soon as possible. "I hope Mrs. Creighton will come with him too; she will enliven us a little, in the midst of our legal matters," said Mr. Wyllys. "Ellsworth mentions Mrs. Creighton's coming particularly; she sends a message to the ladies, through him, which I have already delivered," replied Hazlehurst, as he took up Mr. Reed's letter, to answer it. "Well, Agnes, shall we have a game of chess?" said Mr. Wyllys; and the circle was broken up, as the younger ladies joined Mrs. Taylor in her own room. The hour of ten, on the following morning, had been fixed for the interview with the sailor and his counsel. Hazlehurst was walking on the piazza, as the time approached, and punctual to the moment, he saw a carriage drive up to the house; in it were Mr. Reed, Mr. Clapp, and their client. Harry stopped to receive them; and, as they mounted the steps one after the other, he bowed respectfully to Mr. Reed, slightly to Mr. Clapp, and fixed his eye steadily on the third individual. "Mr. Stanley, Mr. Hazlehurst," said Mr. Reed, in a quiet, but decided manner. Harry bowed like a gentleman, Mr. Stanley like a jack-tar. The first steady, inquiring glance of Hazlehurst, was sufficient to show him, that the rival claimant was a man rather shorter, and decidedly stouter than himself, with dark hair and eyes, and a countenance by no means unpleasant, excepting that it bore evident traces of past habits of intemperance; as far as his features went, they certainly reminded Harry of Mr. Stanley's portrait. The sailor's dress was that which might have been worn by a mate, or skipper, on shore; he appeared not in the least daunted, on the contrary he was quite self-possessed, with an air of determination about him which rather took Harry by surprise. A few indifferent observations were exchanged between Mr. Reed and Hazlehurst, as the party entered the house; they were taken by Harry into the drawing-room, and he then left them, to inform Mrs. Stanley and Mr. Wyllys of their arrival. Mrs. Stanley, though a woman of a firm character, was very excitable in her temperament, and she dreaded the interview not a little; she had asked Miss Wyllys to remain with her on the occasion. Mr. Wyllys was sent for, and when he had joined the ladies, and Mrs. Stanley had composed herself, their three visitors were ushered into Miss Wyllys's usual sitting-room by Hazlehurst. He introduced Mr. Reed to Mrs. Stanley and Miss Wyllys, named Mr. Clapp, and added, as the sailor approached: "Mr. Reed's client, ma'am." "Mr. William Stanley," added Mr. Reed, firmly, but respectfully. Mrs. Stanley had risen from her seat, and after curtseying to the lawyers, she turned very pale, as the name of her husband's son was so deliberately applied, by a respectable man, to the individual before her. "I was just asking Mr. Stanley, when Mr. Hazlehurst joined us," observed the forward Mr. Clapp, "if he remembered Wyllys-Roof at all; but he says his recollections of this place are rather confused." "When were you here last, sir?" asked Mr. Wyllys of the sailor, giving him a searching look at the same time. "About five years ago," was the cool reply, rather to Mr. Wyllys's surprise. "Five years ago!--I have no recollection of the occasion." The rest of the party were looking and listening, with curious, anxious interest. "You don't seem to have much recollection of me, at all, sir," said the sailor, rather bitterly. "Do you mean to say, that you were in this house five years ago?" asked Mr. Wyllys. "I was here, but I didn't say I was in the house." "What brought you here?" "Pretty much the same errand that brings me now." "What passed on the occasion?" "I can't say I remember much about it, excepting that you did not give me an over-friendly greeting." "Explain how it happened, Mr. Stanley," said Mr. Reed, "Mr. Wyllys does not understand you." "I certainly cannot understand what you mean me to believe. You say you were here, and did not receive a very friendly greeting--how was it unfriendly?" "Why, you showed me the inside of your smoke-house; which, to my notion, wasn't just the right berth for the son of your old friend, and I took the liberty of kicking off the hatches next morning, and making the best of my way out of the neighbourhood." "You remember the drunken sailor, sir, who was found one night, several years since, near the house," interrupted Harry, who had been listening attentively, and observed Mr. Wyllys's air of incredulity. "I had him locked up in the smoke-house, you may recollect." "And you must observe, Mr. Hazlehurst, that is a fact which might look ugly before a jury that did not know you," remarked Mr. Clapp; in a sort of half-cunning, half-insinuating manner. "I do not in the least doubt the ability of many men, sir, to distort actions equally innocent." "But you acknowledge the fact?" "The fact that I locked up a drunken sailor, I certainly acknowledge; and you will find me ready to acknowledge any other fact equally true." "Do you believe this to be the person you locked up, Harry?" asked Mr. Wyllys. "I think it not improbable that it is the same individual; but I did not see the man distinctly at the time." "I am glad, gentlemen, that you are prepared to admit the identity thus far--that is a step gained," observed Mr. Clapp, running his hand through his locks. "Permit me, Mr. Clapp, to ask you a question or two," said Mr. Wyllys. "Now you recall that circumstance to me, I should like to ask, if we have not also heard of this individual since the occasion you refer to?" "Yes, sir; you probably have heard of him since," replied Mr. Clapp, baldly. "And in connexion with yourself, I think?" "In connexion with me, sir. You will find me quite as ready as Mr. Hazlehurst to admit facts, sir," replied the lawyer, leaning back in his chair. "When they are undeniable," observed Mr. Wyllys, drily. "May I inquire what was the nature of that connexion?" asked the gentleman, with one of his searching looks. The lawyer did not seem to quail beneath the scrutiny. "The connexion, Mr. Wyllys, was the commencement of what has been completed recently. Mr. Stanley came to lay before me the claims which he now makes publicly." "You never made the least allusion to any claim of this kind to me, at that time," said Mr. Wyllys. "I didn't believe it then; I am free to say so now," "Still, not believing the claim, it was singular, I may say suspicious, sir, that you never even mentioned the individual who made it." "Why, to tell you the truth, Mr. Wyllys, I had unpleasant thoughts about it; we were neighbours and old friends, and though I might make up my mind to undertake the case, if I thought it clear, I did prefer that you should not know about my having had anything to do with it, as long as I thought it a doubtful point. I think you must see that was only natural for a young lawyer, who had his fortune to make, and expected employment from you and your friends. I have no objections whatever to speaking out now, to satisfy your mind, Mr. Wyllys." "I believe I understand you, sir," replied Mr. Wyllys, his countenance expressing more cool contempt than he was aware of. "I think, however, there are several other points which are not so easily answered," he added, turning to Mr. Reed, as if preferring to continue the conversation with him. "Do you not think it singular, Mr. Reed, to say the least, that your client should have allowed so many years to pass, without claiming the property of Mr. Stanley, and then, at this late day, instead of applying directly to the executors, come to a small town like Longbridge, to a lawyer so little known as Mr. Clapp, in order to urge a claim, so important to him as this we are now examining?" asked Mr. Wyllys, with a meaning smile. "We are able to explain all those points quite satisfactorily, I think," replied Mr. Reed. "I object, however," interposed Mr. Clapp, "to laying our case fully before the defendants, until we know what they conclude to do. We have met here by agreement, to give the defendants an opportunity of satisfying their own minds--that they may settle the point, whether they will admit our claim, or whether we must go to law to get our rights. It was agreed that the meeting should be only a common friendly visit, such as Mr. Stanley felt perfectly willing to pay to his step-mother, and old family friends. We also agreed, that we would answer any common questions that might help to satisfy the defendants, provided that they did not tend to endanger our future success, in the event of a trial. I think, Mr. Reed, that as there does not seem as yet much probability that the defendants will be easily convinced, it behooves us to be on our guard." "I will take the responsibility, sir, of answering other observations of Mr. Wyllys's," replied Mr. Reed. "As the object of the meeting was an amicable arrangement, we may be able to make the case more clear, without endangering our own grounds.
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