List Of Contents | Contents of Elinor Wyllys, by Susan Fenimore Cooper
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prevailing in New Orleans; and as a long convalescence interfered
with his dissipated habits, and confined him for some time to his
own house, his friends hoped that he would have time and leisure
to make some useful reflections. But they were deceived; sickness
and suffering only made him more selfish and irritable: poor Jane
had already paid a heavy penance for her duplicity, and her
obstinacy in marrying him. Mr. Taylor had quarrelled with his
partners; and it was the object of his present visit to New York,
to persuade his father to make some heavy advances in his behalf,
as otherwise he would be ruined. Jane, it is true, knew but
little of her husband's affairs; still, she saw and heard enough
to make her anxious for the future, and she gave herself up to
melancholy repining, while her manner lost all cheerfulness. Her
father's family were in Charleston, and she had not seen them for
more than a twelvemonth; but Mr. Robert Hazlehurst, Miss Agnes,
and Elinor had done all that was possible to supply their place,
since she had been in their neighbourhood. Adeline, too, was well
enough disposed towards her sister-in-law, but she had neither
the good sense nor the delicacy of Miss Wyllys and Elinor, and
was far less successful in her friendly efforts. The society of
her aunt and cousin seemed a relief to Jane; and it was at their
request that she was going to pass a fortnight with them at
Saratoga, where Miss Agnes had been ordered by her physician.

Elinor, on joining her cousin in the cabin, tried to persuade
Jane to have the sick child carried on deck, for the sake of the
fresh air, but she did not succeed; and not wishing to leave Mrs.
Taylor, she took off her hat, and remained some time in the
cabin--a piece of good-nature which Mr. Ellsworth seemed to think
ill-timed. As they drew near the Highlands, however, she returned
to her seat on deck; for the morning was lovely, and she did not
wish to lose the scenery. She found Mrs. Hilson sitting near her

"Ah, Miss Elinor!--how do you do?" exclaimed the city lady. "It
is the first time I have had a chance of seeing you since you
returned from the West Indies. You have not been much in New
York, I believe, since you arrived?"

"Only for a day or two."

"And how did you like the West Indies? Is there much aristocracy
at Havana?"

"We found it very pleasant there; and the climate was of so much
service to my aunt, that I shall always remember Havana with

"You did not go into society, then?"

"0h, yes; we made many pleasant acquaintances."

"Well, if I go abroad, I hope it will be to England; though I
should like very well to visit the stores of Paris."

"Have you seen your cousin, Charles Hubbard, since he arrived
from Italy?" inquired Elinor.

"Yes; he called at our boarding-house. He is at Longbridge now,
but he is coming to Saratoga, shortly; for he told me he had
engaged to take several views of Lake George."

"I am sorry be did not come to see us in town; but I am delighted
to hear he is going to Saratoga. Grandpapa, Mrs. Hilson tells me
Charles Hubbard will be at Saratoga, with us!"

"I am very glad to hear it, my child; I want to see Charlie."

"Has he brought home many pictures?" continued Elinor.

"I really don't know; I did not think of asking him."

"I should suppose you would be anxious to see your cousin's

"Oh, no; portraits are the only pictures that interest me. I
always have the 'Book of Beauty,' whenever it comes out; you know
they are likenesses of the Peeresses of the English Nobility."

{"Book of Beauty" = "Heath's Book of Beauty" an annual volume
with engravings of famous British women, sponsored by Charles
Heath (1785-1848) (London: Longmans, 1833-1847)}

Elinor bowed. "Yes, I have seen the book."

"I have the 'Children of the Nobility,' too, bound in crimson
silk; it is a very fascinating collection. My friend, Mrs.
Bagman, tells me they are excellent likenesses, particularly the
children of his Royal Highness, the Lord-Mayor."

{"Children of the Nobility" = "Portraits of the Children of the
Nobility," A similar publication, also sponsored by Charles Heath
(Longmans: London, 1838)}

Absurd as such a mistake in heraldry may seem, one might vouch
for having heard others quite as extraordinary.

"They may be like," said Elinor, smiling in spite of herself;
"but I cannot agree with you as to their beauty. I have seen the
volume, and it struck me the artists must have made caricatures
of many of the children, who, no doubt, were pretty in reality."

"I was looking at those engravings only yesterday," said Mr.
Ellsworth, anxious to engage Elinor's attention; "they almost
amount to a libel on childhood; they give the idea of mincing,
affected little creatures, at the very age when children are
almost invariably natural and interesting. I should quarrel very
much with a portrait of my little girl, in the same fashion."

"But it is very seldom you see portraits of children, that are
really child-like," observed Elinor. "And then what a trial, to
paint a pretty, innocent little creature, in full dress, starched
and trim!"

"Children are charming subjects when properly treated; I delight
in such pictures," said Mary Van Alstyne.

"You would have been often delighted then, in Italy, Miss Van
Alstyne. Raphael's cherubs are as perfect in their way, as his
men and women."

{"Raphael's cherubs" = While living in Florence in 1829, James
Fenimore Cooper and his family admired the "Madonna del
Baldacchino" (sometimes called "La Madonna del Trono") by Raphael
(Italian painter, 1483-1520), at the Pitti Palace, and especially
the two singing angels ("perhaps I should call them cherubs) at
the foot of the throne. He commissioned the American sculptor
Horatio Greenough (1805-1852) to sculpt for him a group called
"The Chanting Cherubs," based the angels or cherubs}

Mrs. Hilson, unwilling to be thrown out of the conversation,
again addressed Elinor.

"When you joined us, Miss Wyllys, we were speaking of the fire
opposite your hotel. Were you not dreadfully alarmed? I hear you
were there; although I did not find you at home when I called."

"We were disturbed, of course; but I can't say that we were
personally alarmed. The wind, you may remember, carried
everything in the opposite direction."

"Did it? Well, I was too much frightened to notice anything; you
know it was in the same block as our boarding-house."

"Yes; you were nearer the danger than we were."

"Oh, I was dreadfully frightened. There was one of our ladies
wanted to persuade me to look at Trinity Church, lighted up by
the fire; I believe she really thought it a fascinating sight.
Here comes a gentleman who was staying at your hotel, and has not
got over his fright yet; it is one of my escorts--I have two, the
Baron and this gentleman; but the Baron is not on deck now--let
me introduce you; Monsieur Bonnet, Miss Wyllys. I do believe,
Monsieur Bonnet, you were as much alarmed as I was."

"Alarm--Ah, Madame, I was ebloui by the fire. In all my life, I
never saw real incendie before; though, of course, I saw the
Panorama of the incendie de Moscou--I was not in Russie with
l'Empereur. At the spectacle we have incendies sometimes; but
never in the street. Ah, I did not see that house until the roof
fall, when light burst through my volets, and I spring to the

{"ebloui" = dazzled; "incendie de Moscou" = the fire which
destroyed Moscow in 1812, while it was being occupied by the
Emperor Napoleon; "spectacle" = theater; "volets" = shutters

"I should have thought the noise would have called you out before

"Du tout; when I hear cries, and people marching, I think tout
bonnement it was an emeute, and I turn round to finish my sleep;
I think myself happy not to belong to the Garde Nationale of New
York, and not be afraid of the rappel."

{"du tout" = not at all; "tout bonnement" = simply; "emeute" =
riot; "rappel" = call to arms (French)}

"What did you think it was?"

"An emeute, sans doute, say I to myself. It was un tintamarre

{"un tintamarre epouvantable" = a frightful uproar (French)}

"An emeute; pray, what is that?"

"Emeute? A little revolution, as we have in Paris constamment."

"Why, my dear sir, our revolutionary war took place more than
fifty years ago. Did you expect to find us fighting now?"

"Certainement; I thought the wheel I hear was cannon. But mon ami
Eel-SUN tell me next day, there is incendie every night somewhere
in New York. Un drole de divertisement, vraiment. It is a great
desagrement, of a city otherwise so beautiful, with so many
charming ladies."

{"un drole de divertisement, vraiment" = truly, a strange form of
entertainment. "desagrement" = unpleasant feature (French)}

"Thank you, sir; you are very polite. I believe, Miss Wyllys,
that French gentlemen, no matter what they talk about, always
find an opportunity to pay a compliment."

"C'est tout naturel; cela va sans dire; it is only our devoir,
Madame, to exprimer to the ladies some of the many agreeable
things they inspire."

{"C'est tout naturel..." = it's only natural; it goes without
saying; it is only our duty, Madame, to express to the ladies...

"Worse and worse," said Mrs. Hilson, laughing. "How different you
are from Captain Kockney; he never said a civil thing to me, all
the time he was in New York."

"Le capitaine Coquenais was an Anglais, who cannot feel the true
politesse Francaise."

"He used to say it is not aristocratic to be polite to other
people; he belongs to the English aristocracy, you know."

"L'aristocratie! Oh, that is a vile state of things. La vieille
aristocratie of France, Madame, was the cause of our revolution.
But in France now, and in America, those happy countree, the
spirit of aristocracy is extinct."

"I beg your pardon, Monsieur Bonnet," said Mrs. Hilson, quite
indignantly. "It is true there are many plebeians in this
country; but we have also many people of the highest

"Ah, vous plaisantez avec tant de grace, Madame!"

{"vous plaisantez...." = You joke so gracefully, Madame (French)}

"It is pleasant, certainly, to me; though some people may not
appreciate it. I am a very aristocratic spirit."

"Ah, sans doute, Madame; you have so much esprit, you laugh at
me," said the Frenchman, who took Mrs. Hilson's protestation as a

{"esprit" = wit (French)}

"No, indeed; I never was more serious in my life. I should
suppose you would have been struck with the high state of
aristocracy at our boarding-house, for instance."

Monsieur Bonnet could only shrug his shoulders, being quite at a
loss for the lady's meaning.

"Yes; I am thoroughly patrician and aristocratic; if we only had
a despotic government, to take away all privileges from
plebeians, I should be perfectly happy. My language surprises
you, I perceive; but it is quite natural that a descendant of a
Scotch Baronet, the Duke of Percy, should have similar feelings."

More and more bewildered, Monsieur Bonnet was reduced to a bow.
Happily, as he thought, the warning bell was rung; and the usual
cry, "Passengers for West Point please look out for their
baggage!" changed the current of Mrs. Hilson's ideas, or rather
the flow of her words.

In another moment, Mrs. Hilson and Monsieur Bonnet, with a score
or two of others, were landed at West Point, and the ladies of
Mr. Wyllys's party felt it no little relief to be rid of so much

The boat had soon reached Poughkeepsie, and much to Mr.
Ellsworth's regret, Mr. Wyllys and his family went on shore. Mr.
Ellsworth had been introduced to Elinor at Jane's wedding. He was
a man of thirty, a widower, with an only child, and had for
several years been thinking of marrying again. After having made
up his mind to take the step, he next determined that he would
not marry in a hurry. He was not a man of quick passions, and was
sometimes accused of being fastidious in his tastes. He thought
Elinor's manner charming, and soon discovered that she had every
recommendation but beauty, the want of which was her only
drawback; he liked her family, and probably was not sorry to hear
that she would have a large property. But, unfortunately, he
seldom met Miss Elinor Wyllys; she was a great part of her time
in the country, and he knew nobody in the immediate
neighbourhood. He had not been asked to Wyllys-Roof; nor was he,
a very recent acquaintance, on terms sufficiently intimate, to
present himself at the door, bag and baggage, without an
invitation. More than a twelvemonth intervened, in the mean time;
but he was still thinking enough of Elinor to make him wish for a
meeting, when, accidentally, they passed a few days together at
Old Point Comfort, and afterwards met again, not exactly by
accident it is believed, at the Sulphur Springs, in Virginia. His
good opinion of Elinor was not only confirmed by this
intercourse, but his admiration very much increased. It was only
natural it should be so; the more one knew Elinor, the more one
loved her; good sense, intelligence, sweetness of disposition
like her's, united to the simple grace of manner, peculiarly her
own, were best appreciated by those who saw her daily. Quite
unaware of Mr. Ellsworth's views, and unconsciously influenced at
first, perhaps, by the fact that he was an old friend of Harry's,
she soon liked him as a companion, and received him with
something more than mere politeness. "It is always pleasant to
meet with an agreeable, gentlemanly, well-informed man," thought
Elinor: a train of reflection which has sometimes carried young
ladies farther than they at first intended. Under such
circumstances, some ardent spirits would have settled the
question during a fortnight passed with the lady they admired;
but Mr. Ellsworth, though he thought Elinor's manner encouraging,
did not care to hazard a hasty declaration; he preferred waiting
a few weeks, until they should meet again in Philadelphia, where
the Wyllyses intended passing the winter. But unfortunately,
shortly after the family returned home, Miss Agnes was taken ill,
and on her partial recovery, was ordered to a warm climate before
the cold weather; and Elinor merely passed through Philadelphia
on her way to the West Indies, with her aunt and grandfather. Mr.
Ellsworth was, of course, disappointed; he expressed his regrets
as warmly as he dared, during a morning visit, in a room
half-full of company; and he hinted in terms so pointed at his
hopes of a happy meeting in the spring, that Elinor's suspicions
were for the first time excited, while those of Mr. Wyllys and
Miss Agnes were only confirmed. Since then, Mr. Ellsworth and
Elinor had only seen each other once, in the street, until they
met on board the steamboat, on their way to Saratoga.

{"Old Point Comfort" = a sea-side resort near Hampton, Virginia}


"Who comes here?"
As You Like It.

{William Shakespeare, "As You Like It", II.vii.87 or III.iv.46}

THERE was to be a Temperance meeting at Longbridge, one of more
importance than usual, as a speaker of note was to be heard on

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