List Of Contents | Contents of Elinor Wyllys, by Susan Fenimore Cooper
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her dress. Patsey made no answer, and Mrs. Hilson looked up. "If
you are going to join the rest of them against me, why I shall
have nothing to do with you; all the prim prudes in the world
won't subdue me, as my good-man might have found out already."

"Where is your husband?" asked Miss Patsey, gravely, but quietly.

"I am sure I don't know; he has been pleased to abandon me, for
no reason whatever, but because I chose to enjoy the liberty of
all women of fortune in aristocratic circles. I would not submit
to be made a slave, like most ladies in this country, as Mrs.
Bagman says. I choose to associate with whom I please, gentlemen
or ladies. What is it makes the patrician orders so delightful in
Europe?--all those who know anything about it, will tell you that
it is because the married women are not slaves; they have full
liberty, and do just as they fancy, and have as many admirers as
they please; this very book that I am reading says so. That is
the way things are managed in high life in Europe."

"What sort of liberty is it you wish for, Julianna? The liberty
to do wrong? Or the liberty to trifle with your reputation?"

Mrs. Hilson pouted, but made no answer.

"I cannot think the kind of liberty you speak of is common among
good women anywhere," continued Patsey, "and I don't think you
can know so much about what you call HIGH LIFE in Europe,
Julianna, for you have never been there. I am sure at least, that
in this country the sort of liberty you seem to be talking about,
is only common in very LOW LIFE; you will find enough of it even
here, among the most ignorant and worst sort of people," said
Miss Patsey, quietly.

Mrs. Hilson looked provoked. "Well, you are civil, I must say,
Miss Patsey Hubbard; of all the brutal speeches that have been
made me of late, I must say that yours is the worst!"

"I speak the truth, though I speak plainly, Julianna."

"Yes plainly enough; very different from the refinement of Mrs.
Bagman, I can assure you; she would be the last person to come
and tyrannize over me, when I am a victim to my husband's
jealousy. But I have not a creature near me to sympathize with

"Do not say that; your father is down-stairs, grown old with
grief during the last week!"

Mrs. Hilson did not answer.

"You have known me all your life, from the time you were a
child," added Miss Patsey, taking her cousin's passive hand in
her own; "and I ask, if you have ever known me to deceive you by
an untruth?"

"I am sure I don't know," replied her cousin, carelessly.

"Yes, you do know it, Julianna. Trust me, then; do not shut your
ears and your eyes to the truth! You are in a very dangerous
situation; look upon me as your friend; let me stay with you; let
me help you! My only motive is your own good; even if I believed
you really guilty, I should have come to you; but I do not
believe you guilty!"

"I am much obliged to you," said her cousin, lightly. "But I
happen to know myself that I have committed no such high crime
and misdemeanour."

"Yes, you have trifled so far with your reputation, that the
world believes you guilty, Julianna."

"Not fashionable people. I might have gone on for years, enjoying
the friendship of an elegant lady like Mrs. Bagman, and receiving
the polite attentions of a French nobleman, had it not been for
the countrified notions of Pa and Mr. Hilson; and now, I am torn
from my friends, I am calumniated, and the Baron accused of being
an impostor! But the fact is, as Mrs. Bagman says, Mr. Hilson
never has understood me!"

Patsey closed her eyes that night with a heavy heart. She did not
seem to have produced the least impression on Mrs. Hilson.

How few people are aware of the great dangers of that common
foible, vanity! And yet it is the light feather that wings many a
poisoned dart; it is the harlequin leader of a vile crew of
evils. Generally, vanity is looked upon as merely a harmless
weakness, whose only penalty is ridicule; but examine its true
character, and you will find it to be one of the most dangerous,
and at the same time one of the most contemptible failings of
humanity. There is not a vice with which it has not been, time
and again, connected; there is not a virtue that has not been
tainted by its touch. Men are vain of their vices, vain of their
virtues; and although pride and vanity have been declared
incompatible, probably there never lived a proud man, who was not
vain of his very pride. A generous aspect is, however, sometimes
assumed by pride; but vanity is inalterably contemptible in its
selfish littleness, its restless greediness. Who shall tell its
victims--who shall set bounds to its triumphs? Reason is more
easily blinded by vanity than by sophistry; time and again has
vanity misdirected feeling; often has vanity roused the most
violent passions. Many have been enticed on to ruin, step by
step, with the restless lure of vanity, until they became
actually guilty of crimes, attributed to some more sudden, and
stronger impulse. How many people run into extravagance, and
waste their means, merely from vanity! How many young men
commence a career of folly and wickedness, impelled by the
miserable vanity of daring what others dare! How many women have
trifled with their own peace, their own reputation, merely
because vanity led them to receive the first treacherous homage
of criminal admiration, when whispered in the tones of false
sentiment and flattery! The triumphs of vanity would form a
melancholy picture, indeed, but it is one the world will never
pause to look at.

The eldest daughter of Mr. Hubbard, the worthy Longbridge
merchant, without strong passions, without strong temptations,
was completely the victim of puerile vanity. The details of her
folly are too unpleasant to dwell on; but the silly ambition of
playing the fine lady, after the pattern of certain European
novels, themselves chiefly representing the worst members of the
class they claim to depict, was the cause of her ruin. She had so
recklessly trifled with her reputation, that although her
immediate friends did not believe the worst, yet with the world
her character was irretrievably lost. At five-and-twenty she had
already sacrificed her own peace; she had brought shame on her
husband's name, and had filled with the bitterest grief, the
heart of an indulgent father. Happily, her mother was in the
grave, and she had no children to injure by her misconduct.

Patsey Hubbard continued unwearied in her kind endeavours to be
of service to her kinswoman; anxious to awaken her to a sense of
her folly, and to withdraw her from the influence of bad

"It is right that society should discountenance a woman who
behaves as Julianna has done," said she one day, to Mrs. Hubbard,
on returning home; "but, oh, mother, her own family surely,
should never give her up while there is breath in her body!"


"That which you hear, you'll swear you see,
There is such unity in the proofs."
Winter's Tale.

{William Shakespeare, "A Winter's Tale", V.ii.31-32}

WHEN Hazlehurst arrived at the little village in the
neighbourhood of Greatwood, he was so fortunate as to find that
many persons among the older members of the community, had a
perfect recollection of William Stanley, and were ready to
testify, to the best of their knowledge, as to any particulars
that might be of service in the case.

His first inquiry was, for the young man's nurse. He discovered
that she had recently removed into a neighbouring state, with the
son, in whose family she had lived since leaving the Stanleys. As
soon as Harry had accompanied Mrs. Stanley to Greatwood, he set
out in pursuit of this person, from whom he hoped to obtain
important evidence. On arriving at the place where she was now to
be found, he was much disappointed, for her faculties had been so
much impaired by a severe attack of paralysis, that he could
learn but little from her. She seemed to have cherished a warm
affection for the memory of William Stanley, whose loss at sea
she had never doubted. Whenever his name was mentioned she wept,
and she spoke with feeling and respect of the young man's
parents. But her mind was much confused, and it was impossible to
make any use of her testimony in a court of justice.

Thus thrown back upon those who had a less intimate personal
knowledge of the young man, Harry pursued his inquiries among the
families about Greatwood, and the village of Franklin
Cross-Roads. With the exception of a few newcomers, and those who
were too young to recollect eighteen years back, almost everybody
in the neighbourhood had had some acquaintance with William
Stanley. He had been to school with this one; he had sat in
church, in the pew next to that family; he had been the constant
playfellow of A-----; and he had drawn B----- into more than one
scrape. Numerous stories sprang up right and left, as to his
doings when a boy; old scenes were acted over again, and past
events, mere trifles perhaps at the time, but gaining importance
from the actual state of things, were daily brought to light;
there seemed no lack of information connected with the subject.

We must observe, however, before we proceed farther, that
Hazlehurst had no sooner arrived at Greatwood, than he went to
look after the set of the Spectator, to which the volume produced
at the interview had belonged. He found the books in their usual
place on an upper shelf, with others seldom used; every volume
had the double names of Mr. Stanley and his son, but the set was
not complete; there was not only one volume missing, but two were
wanting! Hazlehurst sprang from the steps on which he was
standing, when he made this discovery, and went immediately in
pursuit of Mrs. Stanley, to inquire if she knew which volume was
originally missing. She could not be sure, but she believed it
was the eighth. Such was the fact; the eighth volume was not in
its place, neither was the sixth, that which Mr. Clapp had in his
possession; yet Mrs. Stanley was convinced, that only two years
previously, there had been but one volume lost. Harry tried to
revive his recollection of the time and place, when and where, he
had read that volume, with the portrait of Steele, and Addison's
papers on the Paradise Lost; he should have felt sure it was at
Greatwood, not long before going abroad with Mr. Henley, had it
not been, that he found his brother had the very same edition in
Philadelphia, and he might have read it there. He also
endeavoured to discover when and how the second missing volume
had been removed from its usual place on the shelf. But this was
no easy task; neither the housekeeper--a respectable woman, in
whom Mrs. Stanley and himself had perfect confidence--nor the
servants, could form even a surmise upon the subject. At last
Harry thought he had obtained a clue to everything; he found that
two strangers had been at Greatwood in the month of March, that
year, and had gone over the whole house, representing themselves
as friends of the family. The housekeeper had forgotten their
visit, until Harry's inquiries reminded her of the fact; she then
gave him the name of the young woman who had gone over the house
with these two individuals. This girl was no longer at Greatwood,
but in the neighbouring village; at Mrs. Stanley's request,
however, she came to give a report of the circumstance.

{"Spectator" = Susan Fenimore Cooper has been forgetful; the
sailor, it was stated in Chapter 12, had a copy of Volume three;
Addison's essays on Paradise Lost, that Harry remembered reading,
are in fact contained in Volumes four and five; but we are now
told that it is Volumes six and eight that are missing from the

"It was in March these two strangers were here, you say,
Malvina?" observed Mrs. Stanley.

"Yes, ma'am; it was in March, when the roads were very bad."

"What sort of looking persons were they, and how old should you
have called them?" asked Hazlehurst.

"One was a tall and slim gentleman, with curly hair; the other
looked kind o' rough, he was stout, and had a red face; they
wasn't very young, nor very old."

"Tell us, if you please, all you remember about their visit, just
as it passed," said Harry.

"Well, it happened Mrs. Jones was sick in her room when they
called; they wanted to see the house, saying they knew the family
very well. I asked them to sit down in the hall, while I went to
tell Mrs. Jones; she hadn't any objections, and told me to show
them the rooms they wanted to see. So I took them over the
house--first the parlours, then the other rooms."

"Did they ask to see the bed-rooms?"

"Yes, sir; they went over all the house but the garret; they went
into the kitchen and the pantry."

"Did they stay some time?"

"Yes, sir; Mrs. Jones wondered they staid so long."

"Did they go into the library?"

"Yes, sir."

"Do you remember whether they looked at the books?"

"No; they didn't stay more than a minute in the library."

"Are you sure they did not look at any of the books?" repeated

"I am quite sure they didn't, for the room was too dark, and they
only staid half-a-minute. I asked them if I should open the
shutters; but one of them said they didn't care; he said he was
never over-fond of books."

Mrs. Stanley and Harry here exchanged looks of some surprise.

"Did they talk much to each other?--do you remember what they
said?" continued Harry.

"Yes, they talked considerable. I reckon they had been here
before, for they seemed to know a good deal about the house. When
I showed them the south parlour, the gentleman with the red face
said everything looked natural to him, but that room most of all;
then he pointed to the large chair by the fire-place, and said:
'That is where I last saw my father, in that very chair; he was a
good old gentleman, and deserved to have a better son.'"

"Is it possible!" exclaimed Mrs. Stanley.

"But, my dear madam, it was all acting no doubt; they wished to
pass for the characters they have since assumed; it only proves
that the plot has been going on for some time." "Do you remember
anything else that was said?" added Hazlehurst, turning again to
the girl.

"They talked considerable, but I didn't pay much attention. They
inquired when Mr. Hazlehurst was coming home; I said I didn't
know. The one with the curly hair said he guessed they knew more
about the family than I did; and he looked queer when he said

Nothing further was gathered from this girl, who bore an
excellent character for truth and honesty, though rather stupid.
The volume of the Spectator still remained as much a mystery as
ever. Nor did a second conversation with this young woman bring
to light anything new; her answers on both occasions corresponded
exactly; and beyond proving the fact of Clapp's having been over
the house with the sailor, nothing was gained from her report. At
the second conversation, Harry asked if she knew whether these
strangers had remained long in the neighbourhood?

"I saw them the next day at meeting," she replied, "and Jabez
told me he met them walking about the place; that is all I know

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