List Of Contents | Contents of Elinor Wyllys, by Susan Fenimore Cooper
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Have you any remarks to make, madam?" he added, turning to Mrs.

It had been settled between the friends, before the meeting, that
Mr. Wyllys should be chief spokesman on the occasion; for,
although the sailor claimed the nearer connexion of step-son to
Mrs. Stanley, yet she had scarcely known her husband's son,
having married after he went to sea. Harry, it is true, had often
been with young Stanley at his father's house, but he was at the
time too young a child to have preserved any distinct
recollection of him. Mr. Wyllys was the only one of the three
individuals most interested, who remembered his person, manner,
and character, with sufficient minuteness to rely on his own
memory. The particular subjects upon which the sailor should be
questioned, had been also agreed upon beforehand, by Harry and
his friends. In reply to Mr. Reed's inquiry, Mrs. Stanley asked
to see the papers which had been brought for their investigation.

Mr. Clapp complied with the request, by drawing a bundle of
papers from his pocket. He first handed Mrs. Stanley a document,
proving that William Stanley had made two voyages as seaman, in a
Havre packet, in the year 1824, or nearly ten years since the
wreck of the Jefferson. The captain of this vessel was well
known, and still commanded a packet in the same line; very
probably his mates were also living, and could be called upon to
ascertain the authenticity of this paper. No man in his senses
would have forged a document which could be so easily disproved,
and both Mr. Wyllys and Hazlehurst were evidently perplexed by
it, while Mrs. Stanley showed an increase of nervous agitation.
Mr. Wyllys at length returned this paper to Mr. Reed, confessing
that it looked more favourably than anything they had yet
received. Two letters were then shown, directed to William
Stanley, and bearing different dates; one was signed by the name
of David Billings, a man who had been the chief instrument in
first drawing William Stanley into bad habits, and had at length
enticed him to leave home and go to sea; it was dated nineteen
years back. As no one present knew the hand-writing of Billings,
and as he had died some years since, this letter might, or might
not, have been genuine. The name of the other signature was
entirely unknown to Harry and his friends; this second letter
bore a date only seven years previous to the interview, and was
addressed to William Stanley, at a sailor's boarding-house in
Baltimore. It was short, and the contents were unimportant;
chiefly referring to a debt of fifteen dollars, and purporting to
be written by a shipmate named Noah Johnson: the name of William
Stanley, in conjunction with the date, was the only remarkable
point about this paper. Both letters had an appearance
corresponding with their dates; they looked old and soiled; the
first bore the post-office stamp of New York; the other had no
post-mark. Mr. Wyllys asked if this Noah Johnson could be found?
The sailor replied, that he had not seen him for several years,
and did not know what had become of him; he had kept the letter
because it acknowledged the debt. He replied to several other
questions about this man, readily and naturally; though Mr.
Wyllys had no means of deciding whether these answers were
correct or not. Hazlehurst then made several inquiries about
Billings, whom he had seen, and remembered as a bad fellow, the
son of a country physician living near Greatwood. His height,
age, appearance, and several circumstances connected with his
family, were all very accurately given by Mr. Reed's client, as
Harry frankly admitted to Mrs. Stanley and Mr. Wyllys.

Mr. Reed looked gratified by the appearance of things, and Mr.
Clapp seemed quite satisfied with the turn matters were now
taking. Throughout the interview, Mr. Reed seemed to listen with
a sort of calm interest, as if he had little doubt as to the
result. Mr. Clapp's manner was much more anxious; but then he was
perfectly aware of the suspicions against him, and knew that not
only this particular case, but his whole prospects for life, were
at stake on the present occasion.

"Like most sailors, Mr. Stanley has kept but few papers,"
observed Mr. Reed.

"He has been as careless about his documents, as he was about his
property--he has lost some of the greatest importance," observed
Mr. Clapp. "Here is something, though, that will speak for him,"
added the lawyer, as he handed Mrs. Stanley a book. It was a
volume of the Spectator, open at the blank leaves, and showing
the following words: "John William Stanley, Greatwood, 1804;" and
below, these, "William Stanley, 1810;" the first sentence was in
the hand-writing of the father, the second in the half-childish
characters of the son; both names had every appearance of being
autographs. The opposite page was partly covered with names of
ships, scratches of the pen, unconnected sentences, and one or
two common sailor expressions. Mrs. Stanley's eyes grew dim for
an instant, after she had read the names of her husband and
step-son--she passed the book to Mr. Wyllys; he took it, examined
it closely, but found nothing to complain of in its appearance.

{"the Spectator" = English daily periodical published by Richard
Steele (1672-1729) and Joseph Addison (1672-1719) between 1711
and 1714; the eight volumes of the Spectator have been reprinted
frequently in book form ever since}

"This is only the third volume; have you the whole set?" he
asked, turning to the sailor.

"No, sir; I left the rest at home."

"Is there such a set at Greatwood?" asked Mr. Wyllys, turning to
Mrs. Stanley.

"There is," replied the lady, in a low voice, "and one volume

Hazlehurst asked to look at the book; it was handed to him by Mr.
Wyllys. He examined it very carefully, binding, title-page, and
contents; Mr. Clapp watching him closely at the moment.

"Do you suspect the hand-writing?" asked the lawyer.

"Not in the least," replied Hazlehurst. "You have read this
volume often I suppose," he added, turning to the sailor.

"Not I," was the reply; "I ain't given to reading in any shape;
my shipmates have read that 'ere book oftener than I have."

"Did you carry it with you in all your voyages?"

"No; I left it ashore half the time."

"How long have you had it in your possession?"

"Since I first went to sea."

"Indeed! that is singular; I should have said, Mr. Clapp,"
exclaimed Harry, suddenly facing the lawyer, "that only four
years since, I read this very volume of the Spectator at

If Hazlehurst expected Mr. Clapp to betray confusion, he was

"You may have read some other volume," was the cool reply;
although Harry thought, or fancied, that he traced a muscular
movement about the speaker's eyelids, as he uttered the words:
"That volume has been in the possession of Mr. Stanley since he
first went to sea."

"Is there no other copy of the Spectator at your country-place,
Mrs. Stanley?" asked Mr. Reed.

"There is another edition, entire, in three volumes," said Mrs.

"I had forgotten it" said Hazlehurst; "but I am, nevertheless,
convinced that it was this edition which I read, for I remember
looking for it on an upper shelf, where it belonged."

"It was probably another volume of the same edition; there must
be some half-dozen, to judge by the size of this," observed Mr.

"There were eight volumes, but one has been missing for years,"
said Mrs. Stanley.

"It was this which I read, however," said Harry; "for I remember
the portrait of Steele, in the frontispiece."

"Will you swear to it?" asked Mr. Clapp, with a doubtful smile.

"When I do take an oath, it will not be lightly, sir," replied

"It is pretty evident, that Mr. Hazlehurst will not be easily
satisfied," added Mr. Clapp, with an approach to a sneer. "Shall
we go on, Mr. Reed, or stop the examination?"

Mrs. Stanley professed herself anxious to ask other questions;
and as she had showed more symptoms of yielding than the
gentlemen, the sailor's counsel seemed to cherish hopes of
bringing her over to their side. At her request, Mr. Wyllys then
proceeded to ask some questions, which had been agreed upon
before the meeting.

"What is your precise age, sir?"

"I shall be thirty-seven, the tenth of next August."

"Where were you born?"

"At my father's country-place, in ----- county, Pennsylvania."

"When were you last there before his death?"

"After my whaling voyage in the Sally-Ann, in the summer of

"How long did you stay at home on that occasion?"

"Three months; until I went to sea in the Thomas Jefferson."

"What was your mother's name, sir?"

"My mother's name was Elizabeth Radcliffe."

"What were the names of your grand-parents?" added Mr. Wyllys,

"My grandfather Stanley's name was William; I am named after him.
My grandmother's maiden name was Ellis--Jane Ellis."

"What were the Christian names of your grand-parents, on your
mother's side?"

"Let me see--my memory isn't over-good: my grandfather Radcliffe
was named John Henry."

"And your grandmother?"

The sailor hesitated, and seemed to change colour; but, perhaps
it was merely because he stooped to pick up his handkerchief.

"It's curious that I can't remember her Christian name," said he,
looking from one to another; "but I always called her
grandmother;--that's the reason, I suppose."

"Take time, and I dare say you will remember," said Clapp. "Have
you never chanced to see the old family Bible?"

The sailor looked at him, as if in thought, and suddenly
exclaimed: "Her name was Agnes Graham!" Other questions were then
asked, about the persons of his parents, the house at Greatwood,
and the neighbourhood. He seemed quite at home there, and
answered most of the questions with great accuracy--especially
about the place and neighbourhood. He described Mr. Stanley
perfectly, but did not appear to remember his mother so well; as
she had died early, however, Mr. Reed and Mr. Clapp accounted for
it in that way. He made a few mistakes about the place, but they
were chiefly upon subjects of opinion, such as the breadth of a
river, the height of a hill, the number of acres in a field; and
possibly his account was quite as correct as that of Mr. Wyllys.

"On which side of the house is the drawing-room, at Greatwood?"
asked Hazlehurst.

"Maybe you have changed it, since you got possession; but in my
day it was on the north side of the house, looking towards the

"Where are the stairs?"

"They stand back as you go in--they are very broad."

"Is there anything particular about the railing?"

The sailor paused. "Not that I remember, now," he said.

"Can't you describe it?--What is it made of?"

"Some kind of wood--dark wood--mahogany."

"What is the shape of the balusters?"

He could not tell; which Mr. Wyllys thought he ought to have
done; for they were rather peculiar, being twisted, and would
probably be remembered by most children brought up in the house.

Mrs. Stanley then begged he would describe the furniture of the
drawing-room, such as it was the last summer he had passed at
Greatwood. He seemed to hesitate, and change countenance, more
than he had yet done; so much so, as to strike Mrs. Stanley
herself; but he immediately rallied again.

"Well," said he, "you ask a man the very things he wouldn't be
likely to put on his log. But I'll make it all out ship-shape
presently." He stooped to pick up his handkerchief, which had
fallen again, and was going to proceed, when Mr. Clapp
interrupted him.

"I must take the liberty of interfering," said he, looking at his
watch, as he rose from his seat, and moved towards Mr. Reed,
asking if he did not think the examination had been quite long

"I must say, gentlemen," he added significantly, turning towards
Mr. Wyllys and Harry, "that I think our client has had enough of
it; considering that, upon the whole, there is no one here who
has so much right to ask questions, instead of answering them, as
Mr. Stanley."

"I should suppose, sir," said Mr. Reed, also rising and
addressing Mr. Wyllys, "that you must have heard and seen enough
for the object of our meeting. You have had a personal interview
with Mr. Stanley; you confess that he is like his family, like
himself, in short--allowing for the difference between a boy of
eighteen and a man of thirty-seven, where the habits of life have
been so different; you admit the identity of the hand-writing--"

"I beg your pardon, sir; not the identity, but the resemblance."

"A perfectly natural resemblance, under the circumstances, I
think you must allow."

"Yes; the similarity of the hand-writing is remarkable,

"During the last two hours you have asked the questions which
best suited your own pleasure, and he has answered them with
great accuracy, without one important mistake. What more can you
possibly require?"

"I do not stand alone, sir; we claim the time previously fixed
for consideration, before we give our final answer. We are,
however, much obliged to you, Mr. Reed, for granting the
interview, even if its results are not what you may have hoped
for. We shall always remember your conduct on this occasion with

Mr. Wyllys then offered some refreshments to Mr. Reed; they were
accepted, and ordered immediately.

Mr. Clapp was standing near Harry, and turning to him, he said:
"Mr. Stanley has a favour to ask, Mr. Hazlehurst, though you
don't seem disposed to grant him any," he added, with peculiar

"'A FAIR field, and no favour,' is a saying you may have heard,"
replied Hazlehurst, with a slight emphasis on the first word.
"But what is your client's request, sir?"

Mr. Clapp made a gesture towards the sailor, who then spoke for

"I understand that two of my cousins are in the house, and I
should be glad to see them before I leave it."

"Whom do you mean, sir?"

"Elinor Wyllys and Mary Van Alstyne. I haven't seen either of
them since they were children; but as I have got but few
relations, and no friends it seems, I should like to see them."

"You must apply to Mr. Wyllys; the young ladies are under his
care," replied Harry, coldly.

But Mr. Wyllys took upon himself to refuse the sailor's request,
under the circumstances. Having taken some refreshments, Mr.
Reed, his brother counsel, and their client now made their bows,
and left the house. As they drove from the door, Mr. Reed looked
calm and civil, Mr. Clapp very well satisfied; and the sailor, as
he took his seat by Mr. Reed, observed, in a voice loud enough to
be heard by Harry, who was standing on the piazza:

"It turns out just as I reckoned; hard work for a man to get his
rights in this here longitude!"


"Nay, let them go, a couple of quiet ones!"
Taming the Shrew.

{William Shakespeare, "The Taming of the Shrew", III.ii.240}

ELINOR was all anxiety to learn the result of the interview; and
Mary Van Alstyne also naturally felt much interest in the
subject, as she, too, was a cousin of William Stanley, their
mothers having been sisters. Elinor soon discovered that the

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