List Of Contents | Contents of Elinor Wyllys, by Susan Fenimore Cooper
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about it, sir."

Jabez, one of the men on the farm, was questioned: he had seen
these two strangers walking about the place, looking at the barns
and stables, the same day they had been at the house; but he had
not spoken to them; and this was the amount of his story.

Harry then inquired at the taverns in the neighbourhood; and he
found that two persons, answering to the same description, had
staid a couple of days, about the middle of March, at a small
inn, within half a mile from Greatwood. Their bill had been made
out in the name of "Mr. Clapp and friend." This was satisfactory
as far as it went, and accounted for the sailor's knowledge of
the house; though Mrs. Stanley could not comprehend at first, how
this man should have pointed out so exactly, her husband's
favourite seat. Harry reminded her, however, that Clapp had
passed several years of his youth at Franklin Cross-Roads, in a
lawyer's office, and had very probably been at Greatwood during
Mr. Stanley's life-time.

Hazlehurst had drawn up a regular plan of action for his
inquiries; and after having discovered who could assist him, and
who could not, he portioned off the neighbourhood into several
divisions, intending to devote a day to each--calling at every
house where he hoped to gain information on the subject of
William Stanley.

He set out on horseback early in the morning, for his first day's
circuit, taking a note-book in his pocket, to record facts as he
went along, and first turning his horse's head towards the house
of Mrs. Lawson, who had been a constant playfellow of William
Stanley's, when both were children. This lady was one of a large
family, who had been near neighbours of the Stanleys for years,
and on terms of daily intimacy with them; and she had already
told Harry, one day when she met him in the village, that she
held herself in readiness to answer, to the best of her ability,
any questions about her former playmate, that he might think it
worth while to ask. On knocking at this lady's door, he was so
fortunate as to find Mrs. Lawson at home; and, by especial luck,
Dr. Lewis, a brother of her's, who had removed from that part of
the country, happened just then to be on a visit at his sister's.

After a little preliminary chat, Hazlehurst made known the
particular object of his call.

"Do I remember William Stanley's personal appearance and habits?
Perfectly; quite as well as I do my own brother's," replied the
doctor, to Harry's first inquiry.

"Mrs. Lawson told me that he used to pass half his time at your
father's house, and kindly offered to assist me, as far as lay in
her power; and I look upon myself as doubly fortunate in finding
you here to-day. We wish, of course, to collect as many minute
details as possible, regarding Mr. Stanley's son, as we feel
confident, from evidence already in our power, that this
new-comer is an impostor."

"No doubt of it," replied the doctor; "an extravagant story,
indeed! Nearly eighteen years as still as a mouse, and then
coolly stepping in, and claiming a property worth some hundreds
of thousands. A clear case of conspiracy, without doubt."

"Poor William was no saint, certainly," added Mrs. Lawson; "but
this sailor must be a very bad man."

"Pray, when did you last see young Stanley!" asked Harry, of the

"When he was at home, not long before his father's death. He held
out some promise of reforming, then. Billings, who first led him
into mischief, was not in the neighbourhood at that time, and his
father had hopes of him; but some of his old companions led him
off again."

"He must have been a boy of strange temper, to leave home under
such circumstances; an only son, with such prospects before him."

"Yes, his temper was very unpleasant; but then, Mr. Stanley, the
father, did not know how to manage him."

"He could scarcely have had much sense either, to have been so
easily led astray by a designing young fellow, as that Billings
seems to have been."

"Flattery; flattery did it all," observed the doctor. "Some
people thought young Stanley little more than half-witted; but I
have always maintained that he was not wanting in sense."

"I don't see how you can say so, doctor," observed the sister. "I
am sure it was a settled thing among us children, that he was a
very stupid, disagreeable boy. He never took much interest in our
plays, I remember."

"Not in playing doll-baby, perhaps; but I have had many a holiday
with him that I enjoyed very much, I can tell you. He never had a
fancy for a book, that is true; but otherwise be was not so very
dull as some people make out."

"He had the reputation of being a dull boy, had he?"

"Oh, certainly," said Mrs. Lawson. "at one time, when we were
quite children, we all took arithmetic lessons together, and he
was always at the foot of the class."

"He had no head for figures, perhaps; it is more likely, though,
that he wouldn't learn out of obstinacy; he was as obstinate as a
mule, that I allow."

"What sort of games and plays did he like best?"

"I don't know that he liked one better than another, so long as
he could choose himself," replied Dr. Lewis.

"Was he a strong, active boy?"

"Not particularly active, but a stout, healthy lad."

"Disposed to be tall?"

"Tallish; the last time he was here, he must have measured about
five feet ten."

"Oh, more than that," interposed Mrs. Lawson; "he was taller than
our eldest brother, I know--full six feet one, I should say."

"No, no, Sophia; certainly not more than five feet nine or ten.
Remember, you were a little thing yourself at the time."

"Do you remember the colour of his eyes, Mrs. Lawson?"

"Yes, perfectly; they were blue."

"Brown, I should say," added the doctor.

"No, John, you are quite mistaken; his eyes were blue, Mr.
Hazlehurst--very dark blue."

"I could have taken my oath they were brown," said the doctor.

Hazlehurst looked from one to the other in doubt.

"You were away from home, doctor, more than I was, and probably
do not remember William's face as distinctly as I do. I am quite
confident his eyes were a clear, deep blue."

"Well, I should have called them a light brown."

"Were they large?" asked Harry.

"Of a common size, I think," said the brother.

"Remarkably small, I should say," added the sister.

"What colour was his hair?" asked Harry, giving up the eyes.

"Black," said the doctor.

"Not black, John--dark perhaps, but more of an auburn, like his
father's portrait," said Mrs. Lawson.

"Why, that is black, certainly."

"Oh, no; auburn--a rich, dark auburn."

"There is a greyish cast in that portrait, I think," said Harry.

"Grey, oh, no; Mr. Stanley's hair was in perfect colour when he
died; I remember him distinctly, seeing him as often as I did,"
said the lady. "The hair of the Stanley family is generally
auburn," she added.

"What do you call auburn?" said the doctor.

"A dark, rich brown, like William Stanley's."

"Now I call Mr. Robert Hazlehurst's hair auburn."

"My brother's hair! Why that is sometimes pronounced sandy, and
even red, occasionally," said Harry.

"Not red; Lawson's hair is red."

"Mr. Lawson's hair is more of a flaxen shade," said the wife, a
little quickly.

Despairing of settling the particular shade of the hair, Harry
then inquired if there was any strongly marked peculiarity of
face or person about William Stanley?

Here both agreed that they had never remarked anything of the
kind; it appeared that the young man was made more like the rest
of the world, than became the hero of such a singular career.

"Do you think you should know him, if you were to see him again,
after such a long interval?"

"Well, I don't know," said the doctor; "some people change very
much, from boys to middle-aged manhood, others alter but little."

"I have no doubt that I could tell in a moment, if this person is
William Stanley or an impostor," said Mrs. Lawson. "Think how
much we were together, as children; for ten years of his life, he
was half the time at our house. I am sure if this sailor were
William Stanley, he would have come to see some of us, long

"Did he visit you when he was last at Greatwood?"

"No, he did not come at that time; but I saw him very often in
the village, and riding about."

"Do you remember his stuttering at all?"

"No; I never heard him that I know of; I don't believe he ever

"He did stutter once in a while, Sophia, when he was in a

"I never heard him."

"Young Stanley had one good quality, Mr. Hazlehurst, with all his
faults; he spoke the truth--you could believe what he said."

"My good brother, you are mistaken there, I can assure you. Time
and again have I known him tell falsehoods when he got into a
scrape; many is the time he has coaxed and teased, till he got us
children into mischief--he was a great tease, you know--"

"Not more so than most boys," interposed the doctor.

"And after he had got us into trouble, I remember perfectly, that
he would not acknowledge it was his fault. Oh, no; you could not
by any means depend upon what he said."

"Was he much of a talker?"

"No, rather silent."

"Quite silent:" both brother and sister were in unison here, at

"He was good-looking, you think, Mrs. Lawson?"

"Oh, yes, good-looking, certainly," replied the lady.

"Rather good-looking; but when he was last at home, his features
had grown somewhat coarse, and his expression was altered for the
worse," said the doctor.

"He was free with his money, I believe?"

"Very extravagant," said Mrs. Lawson.

"He didn't care a fig for money, unless it was refused him," said
the doctor.

"Was there anything particular about his teeth?"

"He had fine teeth," said Mrs. Lawson; "but he did not show them

"A good set of teeth, if I remember right," added the doctor.

"His complexion was rather dark, I believe?" said Harry.

"More sallow than dark," said the lady.

"Not so very sallow," said the gentleman.

"You asked just now about his eyes, Mr. Hazlehurst; it strikes me
they were much the colour of yours."

"But mine are grey," said Harry.

"More of a hazel, I think."

"Oh, no; William Stanley's eyes were as different as possible
from Mr. Hazlehurst's, in colour and shape!" exclaimed the lady.

The conversation continued some time longer, but the specimen
just given will suffice to show its character; nothing of
importance was elicited, and not one point decidedly settled,
which had not been already known to Harry. He continued his round
of visits throughout the day, with much the same result. The
memories of the people about Greatwood seemed to be playing at
cross-purposes; and yet there was no doubt, that all those
persons to whom Hazlehurst applied, had known young Stanley for
years; and there was every reason to believe they were well
disposed to give all the evidence in their power.

>From Mrs. Lawson's, Harry went to the house of another
acquaintance, a Captain Johnson; and the following is the amount
of what he gathered here, as it was hastily entered in his

"Eyes grey; hair black; rather stout for his age; sullen temper;
very dull; bad company cause of his ruin; not cold-hearted;
stuttered a little when excited; expression good when a boy, but
much changed when first came home from sea; Billings the cause of
his ruin."

So much for Captain Johnson. The next stopping-place was at a
man's, by the name of Hill, who had been coachman at Mr.
Stanley's for several years; his account follows:

"Hill says: 'Would get in a passion when couldn't have his own
way; have heard him stutter; always in some scrape or other after
first went to college; eyes blue; hair brown; sharp enough when
he pleased, but always heard he hated books; short for his age
when first went to sea, and thin; had grown three or four inches
when he came back; should have thought him five feet eight or
nine, when last saw him; face grown fuller and red, when came

>From Hill's, Harry went to see Mr. Anderson, who had kept the
principal tavern at Franklin Cross-Roads, during William
Stanley's boyhood; but he was not at home.

He then called at Judge Stone's: "Mrs. S. thought him handsome
young man; judge, quite ugly; husband says eyes a greenish
colour; wife thinks were dark brown; height about my own, said
judge; not near so tall, says Mrs. S.: both agreed he was morose
in temper, and dull at learning."

At several other places where Harry called, he found that William
Stanley had been merely known by sight. Others related capital
stories of scrapes, in which they had been implicated with the
boy, but could tell Harry very little to the purpose, where it
came to particular questions. Three individuals pronounced him
tall, four thought he was middle sized, two declared he was
short. Two inferences, however, might be drawn from all that had
been said: William Stanley must have been of an unpleasant
temper; while general evidence pronounced him rather more dull
than most boys. With these two facts at least sufficiently well
established, while his head was filled with contradictory
visions, of hair, eyes, and complexion, of various shades and
colours, Harry returned in the evening, quite jaded and worn-out
with his day's exertions; not the least of which had been, to
reconcile totally opposite accounts on a dozen different points.

Mrs. Stanley was awaiting his return with much anxiety; and while
Harry was drinking an excellent cup of tea--the most refreshing
thing in the world to a person who is fatigued, even in warm
weather--he reported his day's work. His friend seemed to think
the account anything but encouraging; though Harry declared, that
it was well worth the labour and vexation to establish the two
facts, regarding the young man's capacity and temper, in which
respects he certainly differed from the claimant.

"What miserable hypocrites both this man and his lawyer must be!"
exclaimed Mrs. Stanley.

"Hypocrisy figures often enough in courts of justice, ma'am, and
is only too often successful for a time."

"I am afraid, my dear Harry, they will give you a great deal of

"I have no doubt of it," replied Hazlehurst; "but still I hope to
defeat them, and in the end, to punish their vile conspiracy."

"A defeat would he distressing to both Mr. Wyllys and myself; but
to you, my dear young friend, it would be serious indeed!" she
observed, with feeling.

"We shall yet gain the day, I trust," said Harry. "The
consequences of defeat would indeed be very serious to me," he
added. "In such a case I should lose everything, and a little
more, as Paddy would say. I made a deliberate calculation the
other day, and I find, after everything I own has been given up,
that there would still be a debt of some thirty thousand dollars
to pay off."

"It is wise, I suppose, to be prepared for the worst," said Mrs.
Stanley, sadly; "but in such a case, Harry, you must look to your
friends. Remember, that I should consider it a duty to assist
you, in any pecuniary difficulties which might result from a

"You are very good, ma'am; I am grateful for the offer. In case

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