List Of Contents | Contents of Elinor Wyllys, by Susan Fenimore Cooper
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{"Miss Wyllys" = should read Jane (or Mrs. Taylor); Elinor Wyllys
is an orphan}

"You do paint portraits," said Elinor; "I have seen those of your
mother and Miss Patsey."

Charlie changed colour, and hastily denied any claim to be called
a portrait-painter.

"Yet it would be pleasant," said Elinor, "to have a picture of my
cousin painted by you."

Jane observed she should like to have Elinor's, by the same hand.

"Oh, my portrait would not be worth having," said Elinor,
smiling; "certainly not if taken by an honest artist."

"You will both, I hope, fare better from the hands of Mr. I-----
or Mr. S-----," said Charlie, with some little embarrassment.

Mr. Ellsworth, who had been standing near the group, now asked
Elinor to sing.

"What will you have?" she replied, taking a seat at the piano.

"Anything you please."

"Pray then give us Robin Adair, Miss Elinor," said Charlie.

Elinor sang the well-known song with greater sweetness than
usual--she was decidedly in good voice; both Charlie and Harry
listened with great pleasure as they stood by her side; Jane was
also sitting near the piano, and seemed more interested in the
music than usual; it was a song which the young widow had so
often heard, in what she now looked back to as the happy days of
her girlhood. More than one individual in the room thought it
charming to listen to Elinor and look at Jane, at the same
instant. Several of the gentlemen then sang, and the party broke
up cheerfully.

Little was it thought, that never again could the same circle be
re-united at Wyllys-Roof; all who crossed the threshold that
night were not to return.


"I pr'ythee hear me speak!"
Richard III.

{William Shakespeare, "Richard III", IV.iv.180}

HAZLEHURST had gone out with his friends, and continued walking
on the piazza, first with Charlie and then with Ellsworth; at
length Mrs. Stanley called him from the window to say good-bye,
as she did not expect to see him again before the cruise; the
other ladies also wished him a pleasant excursion at the same

"Good fishing and no musquitoes {sic}--which, I take it, is all
that is desirable on such an occasion," said Mrs. Creighton,
smiling brightly but carelessly, as she offered her hand.

"Thank you; I suppose you have no commands for Cape Cod?"

"None at all, I believe, unless you can bring us the true Yankee
receipt for chowder, which Mr. Stryker was explaining this

"You will be off so early to-morrow that we shall scarcely see
you, Harry," said Miss Wyllys. "You must come back to us,
however, and fall into the old habit of considering Wyllys-Roof
as home, whenever you please," she added kindly.

Harry's thanks were expressed with feeling.

"And in the mean time I hope you will have a pleasant cruise,"
said Elinor. "Fair winds and better prospects attend you!"--and
as she raised her eyes, Harry observed they had filled with tears
when she made this allusion to his difficulties. Perhaps
Ellsworth made the same remark, and appreciated her kindness; for
when Elinor turned to wish him good-night we strongly suspect
that his countenance said so; there could be no doubt at least,
that she blushed at the time, though pale but a moment before.

After the ladies had gone, Mr. Wyllys and Ellsworth went off
together, and Harry returned to the piazza.

It was perhaps inconsiderate in Hazlehurst to continue walking so
late, for the sound of his footsteps fell regularly on the
stillness of the night, long after the family had gone to rest,
and may possibly have disturbed some of his friends; but many
busy thoughts of the past and the future crowded on his mind,
while pacing that familiar spot, the piazza of Wyllys-Roof. It is
time that these thoughts should be partially revealed to the
reader, and for that purpose we must pause a moment, in order to
look backward.

Long since, Harry's heart had warmed again towards his old
playfellow, Elinor. As soon as the first novelty of a life at Rio
had worn off, Harry, whose affections were strong, began to miss
his old friends; the more so, since Mr. Henley, although his
principles and talents entirely commanded his secretary's esteem,
was not a pleasant companion in every-day life. Hazlehurst soon
began to contrast the minister's formal, old bachelor
establishment with the pleasant house of his friend Ellsworth,
where Mrs. Creighton did the honours charmingly, and with the
cheerful home of his brother, where his sister-in-law always
received him kindly: still oftener be compared the cold, stately
atmosphere which seemed to fill Mr. Henley's house, with the
pleasant, genial spirit which prevailed at Wyllys-Roof, where
everything excellent wore so amiable an aspect. Until lately he
had always been so closely connected with the family there, that
he accused himself of not having done full justice to all their
worth. He took a pleasure in dwelling on Mr. Wyllys's high moral
character, so happily tempered by the benevolence of cheerful old
age; he remembered the quiet, unpretending virtues of Miss
Wyllys, always mingled with unvarying kindness to himself; and
could he forget Elinor, whose whole character was so engaging;
uniting strength of principle and intelligence, with a
disposition so lovely, so endearing? A place in this family had
been his, his for life, and he had trifled with it, rejected it;
worse than that--well he knew that the best place in Elinor's
generous heart had once been wholly his; he had applied for it,
he had won it; and what return had he made for her warmest
affections? He had trifled with her; the world said he had jilted
her, jilted the true-hearted Elinor, his friend and companion
from childhood! Knowing her as well as he did, he had treated her
as if she were a mere ball-room coquette; he had forgotten her as
soon as if it had been a mere holiday fancy of a boy of fifteen.
He had been completely infatuated, dazzled, blinded by a
beautiful face. That it was sheer infatuation was now evident;
for, absent from both Elinor and Jane, all feeling for the latter
seemed to have vanished like a dream. It is said that love
without hope cannot live: the question must be settled by those
who have suffered most frequently from the wounds of Cupid; but
it seems evident, at least from Harry's experience, that love
which has fed plentifully upon hopes for some months, when
suddenly put upon a change of diet, and receiving a large dose of
mortification to boot, falls immediately into a rapid decline.
The recollection of his fancy for Jane was now unpleasant under
every aspect, but where it was connected with Elinor he soon
began to consider it as particularly painful. He regretted that
he had engaged Elinor in the hasty, boyish manner he had done,
before going abroad; had he not taken this step, the momentary
mortification of a refusal by Jane would have been the only evil;
Elinor would not have suffered, and all might have gone well.
Gradually the idea gained upon him, that it was not impossible to
repair the past. His conduct had been unpardonable, no doubt;
yet, perhaps it might be forgiven. But even if Elinor could
forget his inexcusable fickleness, would her friends ever consent
to risk her future peace with one who had so recklessly trifled
with her already? Mr. Wyllys had been deeply indignant at his
conduct; his whole manner had changed, there had been a cold
civility in it when they had met, which Harry had felt keenly--it
amounted almost to contempt. Miss Wyllys, too, was no longer the
kind, indulgent Aunt Agnes of his boyhood; there was a very
decided coldness and reserve in her whole expression, which it
seemed all but impossible to overcome. He wished, however, that
he had it in his power to make advances towards a reconciliation;
he was prepared for merited coldness at first, but he would
willingly submit to it as a just penance, if he could but hope
eventually to regain his position with Elinor. Such a wife as
Elinor would be, was worth a serious struggle to obtain. Then, at
other moments, this idea appeared preposterous to him; how could
the Wyllyses ever forgive him after so keen an insult, so cruel a
blow? No, it was a dream; he would not indulge in it any longer;
he would not think of marrying; he would turn out an old bachelor
diplomatist, like Mr. Henley. It is not to be supposed that Mrs.
Creighton was entirely forgotten in these reveries of Harry's,
which formed occasional interludes to his diplomatic labours
while at Rio. On the contrary she was remembered quite
frequently; and every one who knew her must always think of the
pretty widow as a charming woman; clever, graceful, gay, and
well-bred. Nor had Hazlehurst been blind to her peculiarly
flattering manner towards himself. The lady was his friend
Ellsworth's sister, which was another claim; she was generally
admired too, and this alone, with some men, would have given her
a decided advantage: since we are revealing Harry's foibles,
however, we must do him the justice to say, that he was not one
of the class referred to. When he liked, he liked honestly, for
good reasons of his own. At the time he left home with Mr.
Henley, he had not been able to decide entirely to his own
satisfaction, whether Mrs. Creighton really had any partiality
for him or not; he waited with a little interest and a little
curiosity, to know what she would do after he left Philadelphia.
News soon reached him that the lady was gay and charming as ever,
much admired, and taking much pleasure in admiration, as usual.
He had known Mrs. Creighton from a girl; she was a year or two
older than himself, and had been a married woman while he was
still a boy, and he had been long aware of her reputation as a
coquette; this had no doubt put him on his guard. As had
occasionally remarked her conduct himself; and having been so
intimate with women of very different character--his brother's
wife, Miss Wyllys, and Elinor--he knew very well that all women
were not coquettes; he had received a higher standard of female
delicacy and female truth than many young men. So long,
therefore, as he believed Mrs. Creighton a decided flirt, he was
in little danger from her: the lady, however, was no common
coquette--cleverness, tact, good taste, gave her very great
advantages; she was generally admired, and Hazlehurst expected
daily to hear that she was married.

He had become very tired of Rio Janeiro, and very desirous of
returning home, long before Mr. Henley was recalled to exchange
the court of Brazil for that of St. Petersburgh. Sincere respect
for Mr. Henley had alone kept him at Rio; and when he arrived at
Norfolk, he was still undecided whether he should continue in the
legation or not. He found that all his friends were at Saratoga,
and he hastened there; he was anxious to see the Wyllyses,
anxious to see Elinor, and yet he dreaded the first meeting--he
had already determined to be guided entirely in his future steps
by their manner towards himself; if they did not absolutely shun
him, he would make an effort for a complete reconciliation. He
knew Elinor was unmarried; he had never heard of any engagement,
and he might then hope to regain all he had lost. He arrived, he
was received kindly, and the sight of Elinor's plain face did not
change his determination; on the contrary, he found her just what
he remembered her, just what he had always known her to
be--everything that was naturally feminine and amiable. But if
Elinor were still herself, Harry soon found that her position had
very materially altered of late; she was now an heiress, it
seemed. What a contemptible interpretation might be placed on his
advances under such circumstances! Then came the discovery of Mr.
Ellsworth's views and hopes; and his friend was evidently
sanguine of success. Thus everything was changed; he was
compelled to remain in the back-ground, to avoid carefully any
interference with his friend.

There appeared no reason to doubt that Elinor would, ere long,
marry Ellsworth; she herself certainly liked him, and her friends
very evidently favoured his suit. On the other hand, Mrs.
Creighton seemed particularly well pleased with his own return;
she was certainly very charming, and it was by no means an
unpleasant task to play cavalier to his friend's sister. Still he
looked on with great interest, as Ellsworth pursued his
courtship; and he often found himself making observations upon
Elinor's movements. "Now she will do this"--"I am sure she thinks
that"--"I know her better than Ellsworth"--"She can't endure
Stryker"--and other remarks of the kind, which kept his attention
fixed upon his old playfellow; the more closely he observed her
the more he saw to love and admire; for their former long
intimacy had given him a key to her character, and greater
knowledge of the world enabled him fully to appreciate her purity
of principle, her native grace and modesty, the generous tone of
her mind, the unaffected sweetness of her disposition. It
appeared strange and unpleasant to him, that he must now draw
back and see her engrossed by Ellsworth, when she had so long
been his own favourite companion; still he had no right to
complain, it was his own fault that matters were so much changed.
As for Mrs. Creighton, Harry could not satisfy himself with
regard to her real feelings; there were times when he thought she
was attached to him, but just as it began to appear clear that
she was not merely coquetting, just as he began to inquire if he
could ever offer himself to a woman whom he admired very much,
but whom he did not entirely respect, the pretty widow would run
off; apparently in spite of herself, into some very evident
flirtation with Stryker, with de Vaux, with Mr. Wyllys, in fact
with any man who came in her way. Generally he felt relieved by
these caprices, since they left perfect liberty of action to
himself; occasionally he was vexed with her coquetry, vexed with
himself for admiring her in spite of it all. Had Harry never
known Mrs. Creighton previously, he would doubtless have fallen
very decidedly in love with her in a short time; but he had known
her too long, and half mistrusted her; had he never known Elinor
so thoroughly, he would not have understood Mrs. Creighton. He
involuntarily compared the two together; both were particularly
clever, well-bred, and graceful; but Harry felt that one was
ingenuous, amiable, and natural, while he knew that the other was
worldly, bright, but cold, and interested in all her views and
actions. Elinor's charm lay in the perfect confidence one reposed
in the firmness of her principles, the strength of her
affections, softened as they were by feminine grace of mind and
person. Mrs. Creighton fascinated by the brilliant gloss of the
world, the perfection of art, inspired by the natural instincts
of a clever, educated coquette. There had been moments when
Hazlehurst was all but deceived into believing himself unjust
towards Mrs. Creighton, so charmingly piquant, so gracefully
flattering was her manner; but he owed his eventual escape to the
only talisman which can ever save a young man, or an old one

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