List Of Contents | Contents of Elinor Wyllys, by Susan Fenimore Cooper
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positively stupid, but certainly far from clever; this claimant,
on the contrary, had all the expression and manner of a shrewd,
quick-witted man, who might be passionate, but who looked like a
good-natured person, although his countenance was partially
disfigured by traces of intemperance. These facts, added to the
length of time which had elapsed since the reported death of the
individual, the neglect to claim his inheritance, the suspicious
circumstances under which this sailor now appeared, under the
auspices of an obscure country lawyer, who bore an indifferent
character, and to whom the peculiar circumstances of the Stanley
estate were probably well known, all united in producing the
belief in a conspiracy. There was no doubt, however, but that a
strong case could be made out on the other hand by the claimant;
it was evident that Mr. Reed was convinced of his identity; his
resemblance to William Stanley, and to Mr. Stanley, the father,
could not be denied; the similarity of the handwriting was also
remarkable; his profession, his apparent age, his possession of
the letters, his accurate knowledge of persons and places
connected with the family, altogether amounted to an important
body of evidence in his favour.

It would require a volume in itself, to give the details of this
singular case; but the general reader will probably care for
little more than an outline of the proceedings. It would indeed,
demand a legal hand to do full justice to the subject; those who
are disposed to inquire more particularly into the matter, having
a natural partiality, or acquired taste for the intricate
uncertainties of the law, will probably have it in their power
ere long, to follow the case throughout, in print; it is
understood at Longbridge, that Mr. James Bernard, son of Judge
Bernard, is engaged in writing a regular report, which, it is
supposed, will shortly be published. In the mean time, we shall
be compelled to confine ourselves chiefly to a general statement
of the most important proceedings, more particularly connected
with our narrative.

"Here is a letter from Clapp, sir, proposing a compromise," said
Hazlehurst, handing the paper to Mr. Wyllys. It was dated two
days after the interview at Wyllys-Roof; the tone was amicable
and respectful, though worded in Mr. Clapp's peculiar style. We
have not space for the letter itself, but its purport was, an
offer on the part of Mr. Stanley to forgive all arrears, and
overlook the past, provided his father's estate, in its actual
condition, was immediately placed in his hands. He was urged to
take this step, he said, by respect for his opponents, and the
conviction that they had acted conscientiously, while he himself
by his own neglect to appear earlier, had naturally given rise to
suspicion. He was therefore ready to receive the property as it
stood at present, engaging that neither executors nor legatee
should be molested for arrears; the sums advanced to Hazlehurst,
he was willing should be considered equivalent to the legacy
bequeathed to him by Mr. Stanley, the father, in case of his
son's return, although in fact they amounted to a much larger

This offer of a compromise merely confirmed the suspicions of all
parties at Wyllys-Roof. The offer was rejected in the same letter
which announced to Mr. Reed, that the defendants had seen as yet
no good reason for believing in the identity of the individual
claiming the name of William Stanley, and consequently, that they
should contest his claim to the Stanley estate.

After this step, it became necessary to make every preparation
for a trial; as it was already evident, from the usual legal
notices of the plaintiffs, that they intended to carry the case
into a court of justice, with as little delay as possible. It was
the first object of Mr. Wyllys and Hazlehurst, to obtain as much
testimony as lay within their reach, upon the points of the
capacity and natural temperament of William Stanley; letters were
written, in the hope of discovering something through the old
family physician, the school-master, and companions of the young
man before he went to sea; and Mrs. Stanley even believed that
the nurse of her step-son was still living. Agents were also
employed, to search out some clue, which might help to trace the
past life and character of the individual bearing the name of
William Stanley. Harry was only awaiting the expected arrival of
Mr. Ellsworth, before he set out himself for the little town in
the neighbourhood of Greatwood, where he hoped to gather much
useful evidence. To what degree he was also desirous of the
pleasure of meeting Mrs. Creighton again, we cannot say; but his
friends at Wyllys-Roof believed that he was quite as anxious to
see the sister as the brother. He had not long to wait, for,
punctual to the appointed day, the earliest possible, Mr.
Ellsworth arrived, accompanied by Mrs. Creighton.

"Now, Mr. Hazlehurst, come here and tell me all about these
vexatious proceedings," said Mrs. Creighton to Harry, as the
whole party left the dining-room for the piazza, the day Mr.
Ellsworth and his sister arrived at Wyllys-Roof. "I hope you and
Frank found out, in that long consultation you had this morning,
that it would not be difficult to settle the matter as it ought
to be settled?"

"On the contrary, we agreed that there were a great many serious
difficulties before us."

"You don't surely think there is any real danger as to the
result?" asked the lady with great interest. "You cannot suppose
that this man is really William Stanley, come to life again!"

"No; I believe him to be an impostor; and so does Ellsworth--so
do we all; but he makes out quite a plausible story,

"But what are you going to do? Come, sit down here, and tell me
about it."

"You forget, Josephine," said Mr. Ellsworth, smiling, "that we
lawyers dare not trust the ladies with our secrets; you must
contrive to restrain your curiosity, or interest--whichever you
choose to call it--until the trial."

"Nonsense!--I am quite too much interested for that; I shall
expect to hear a great deal before the trial. Is it possible your
stock of patience will last till then, Miss Wyllys?" added the
lady, turning to Elinor.

"Well, I don't know; I confess myself very anxious as to the
result," said Elinor, blushing a little.

"To be sure; we are all anxious; and I expect to be taken into
your confidence, Mr. Hazlehurst, quite as far as you legal
gentlemen think it safe to admit a lady. Frank has a very bad
habit of never trusting me with his business matters, Miss
Wyllys; we must cure him of that." 

"I am inclined to think, Mrs. Creighton, your patience would
scarcely hear the recital of even one case of Richard Roe versus
John Doe," said Mr. Wyllys.

"Perhaps not; for I care not a straw for Richard Roe, or John
Doe, either."

"Would you really like to see the account which this newcomer
gives of himself?" asked Hazlehurst.

"Certainly; I speak seriously, I assure you."

"You shall see it this evening," said Harry. "I think you will
agree with me, that it is a strange story."

"But, Mrs. Creighton," said Mr. Wyllys, "we have had our heads so
full of law, and conspiracies, and impostors, lately, that I was
in hopes you would bring us something more agreeable to think and
talk about. What were the people doing at Nahant when you left

"It was very dull there; at least I thought so; I was in a great
hurry for Frank to bring me away."

"What was wanting, pray?" asked Mr. Wyllys. "Was it the fault of
the weather, the water, or the company?"

"Of all together, sir; nothing was of the right kind; it was not
half so pleasant as Saratoga this year. Even the flirtations were
not as amusing as usual."

"I should have thought you might have been amused in some other
way," said Mr. Ellsworth.

"Flirtation, I would have you believe, my good brother, is
sometimes quite an agreeable and exciting pastime."

"Faute de mieux," said Harry, smiling.

{"faute de mieux" = for want of anything better (French)}

"You surprise me, Josephine, by saying so, as you are no flirt
yourself," observed her brother, with a perfectly honest and
natural expression.

"Well, I don't know; certainly I never flirt intentionally; but I
won't be sure my spirits have not carried me away sometimes. Have
you never, Miss Wyllys, in moments of gaiety or excitement, said
more than you intended to?"

"Have I never flirted, do you mean?" asked Elinor, smiling.

"But though you say it yourself, I don't believe you are a bit of
a flirt, Mrs. Creighton," said the unsuspicious Mr. Wyllys.

"Oh, no, sir; I would not have you believe me a regular flirt for
the world. I only acknowledge to a little trifling, now and then.
Miss Wyllys knows what I mean; we women are more observant of
each other. Now, haven't you suspected me of flirting more than

"You had better ask me," said Mary Van Alstyne; "Elinor is not
half suspicious enough."

"The acquittal of the gentlemen ought to satisfy you," said
Elinor. "They are supposed to be the best judges. Are you sure,
however, that you did not flirt with Mr. Hopkins?--he was at
Nahant with you, I believe."

"I am afraid it surpasses the power of woman to distract Mr.
Hopkins's attention from a sheepshead or a paugee."

{"sheepshead" and "paugee" (porgy) = names applied to a number of
American fish esteemed by anglers}

"You have really a very pretty view here, Miss Wyllys, although
there is nothing bold or commanding in the country; it makes a
very pleasant home picture," observed Mr. Ellsworth, who had been
looking about him. "That reach in the river has a very good
effect; the little hamlet, too, looks well in the distance; and
the wood and meadow opposite, are as well placed as one could

"I am glad you like it; but we really think that, for such simple
scenery, it is uncommonly pretty," replied Elinor.

"Yes; even your fastidious friend, Mr. Stryker, pronounced the
landscape about Wyllys-Roof to be very well put together," said
Mrs. Creighton.

"Mr. Stryker, however, professes to have no eye for anything of
the kind," replied Elinor.

"That is only one of the man's affectations; his eyes are more
like those of other people than he is willing to confess. Though
Mr. Stryker pretends to be one of your men of the world, whose
notions are all practical, yet one soon discovers that he
cherishes his useless foibles, like other people," said the lady,
with an air of careless frankness; though intending the speech
for the benefit of Hazlehurst and Mr. Wyllys, who both stood near

"Perhaps you don't know that Mr. Stryker has preceded you into
our neighbourhood," said Mary Van Alstyne. "He is staying at Mr.
de Vaux's."

"Oh, yes; I knew he was to be here about these times. Pray, tell
me which is Mr. de Vaux's place. It is a fine house, I am told."

"A great deal too fine," said Harry. "It is all finery, or rather
it was a few years since."

"It is much improved now," observed Elinor; "he talks of taking
down half the columns. That is the house, Mrs. Creighton," she
added, showing the spot where the white pillars of Colonnade
Manor were partly visible through an opening in the wood.

"What a colonnade it seems to be! It puts one in mind of the
Italian epigram on some bad architecture," said Mr. Ellsworth:

"'Care colonne che fate qua?
Non sappiamo, in verita!'"

{"Care colonne..." = Dear columns, what are you doing here? We
really don't know! (Italian)}

"I understand, Miss Wyllys, that your friend, Mr. Stryker, calls
it the 'cafe de mille colonnes,'" said Mrs. Creighton.

{"cafe de mile colonnes" = coffee-house of a thousand columns

"Does Mrs. Creighton's friend, Mr. Stryker, treat it so
disrespectfully? Mr. de Vaux has given it a very good name, I
think. It is Broadlawn now; last year it was Colonnade Manor."

"And, pray, what did Mr. Taylor's manorial rights consist in?"
asked Mr. Ellsworth.

"In the privilege of putting up as many Grecian summer-houses as
he pleased, I suppose," said Harry; "the place promised to be
covered with them at one time."

"Mr. de Vaux has taken them down; all but two at least," said

"It was fortunate that Mr. Taylor had a long purse," remarked
Mrs. Creighton; "for he seems to have delighted in superfluities
of all kinds."

"I suppose you are aware, Mrs. Creighton, that false taste is
always a very expensive foible," said Mr. Wyllys; "for it looks
upon ornament and improvement as the same thing. My neighbour,
Mr. Taylor, certainly has as much of that spirit as any man I
ever knew."

"The name he gave his place is a good proof of that," said Harry.
"If he had called it the Colonnade, that would have been at least
descriptive and appropriate; but he tacked on the Manor, which
had neither rhyme nor reason to recommend it."

"Was it not a Manor before the revolution?" inquired Mrs.

"Oh, no; only a farm belonging to the Van Hornes. But Taylor
would not have it called a farm, for the world; he delights in
big words," said Mr. Wyllys.

"That is only natural, I suppose, for 'Don Pompey,' as Mr.
Stryker calls him," observed Mr. Ellsworth.

The following morning was the happy occasion, which was to make
Mrs. George Wyllys the wife of Uncle Dozie. In the course of the
week, which intervened between her announcing the fact at
Wyllys-Roof, and the wedding itself, she had only consulted her
friends twice, and changed her mind as often. At first it was
settled that she was to be married at two o'clock, in church,
with four witnesses present, and that from church she was to
return quietly to her own house, where the party were to eat a
family dinner with her. A note, however, informed her friends
that it was finally decided, that the wedding should take place
early in the morning, at her own house, in the presence of some
dozen friends. The dinner was also postponed for a fortnight, as
the happy couple intended to set out for Boston, the morning they
were united.

The weather was propitious; and after an early breakfast the
party from Wyllys-Roof set out. It included Mr. Ellsworth and
Mrs. Creighton, who were connexions of the bride, as well as
Harry, and the family; Mary Van Alstyne remaining at home with

They soon reached Longbridge, after a pleasant, early drive. On
being ushered into Mrs. Wyllys's drawing-room, they were received
in a very informal manner by the bride herself. As Elinor had
recommended a grey silk for the wedding-dress, she was not at all
surprised to find her aunt wearing a coloured muslin. On one
point, however, it was evident she had not changed her mind; for
the happy man, Uncle Dozie, was there in full matrimonials, with
a new wig, and a white waistcoat. The groom elect looked much
like a victim about to be sacrificed; he was as miserably
sheepish and fidgety as ever old bachelor could be under similar
circumstances. Mrs. Creighton paid her compliments to the bride
very gracefully; and she tried to look as if the affair were not
a particularly good joke. Mr. Wyllys summoned up a sort of

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