List Of Contents | Contents of Elinor Wyllys, by Susan Fenimore Cooper
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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

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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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