List Of Contents | Contents of Elinor Wyllys, by Susan Fenimore Cooper
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

heedless of friends and servants about her, forgetting in that
one sudden revulsion of feeling, the whole world but Harry.

{"revulsion" = a sudden change of feeling}

Hazlehurst seemed quite forgetful himself of the everyday {sic}
rules of society, and the merely friendly position in which they
had stood at parting, but a week before; his whole expression and
manner now betrayed an interest in Elinor too strong to be
disguised, and which could be explained in one way only.

All this was the work of a moment; the various degrees of
amazement, produced by the sudden appearance of Harry, on some
individuals of the group of spectators, the surprise of others at
the strong emotions betrayed by the young couple had not
subsided, when an exclamation from Hazlehurst himself again fixed
their attention entirely on Elinor. 

"She has fainted!" he cried, and carried her to the sofa.

But joy is life to the heart and spirits; Elinor lost her
consciousness for a moment only. She raised her eyes and fixed
them upon Hazlehurst, who still held one of her hands.

"It is Harry!" she exclaimed, and burst into tears. She felt that
he was safe, that he was by her side; she already felt that he
loved her, that they understood each other; and yet she was still
quite incapable of giving anything like a reason for what had
passed. It was all confusion in her mind, all indistinct but the
blessed truth that Harry was safe, accompanied by a hope she had
not dared to cherish for years. She was still feeble and
agitated, her colour varying with every beat of her heart; her
face now covered with a deep natural blush at the sound of
Harry's voice, at the expression of his eye; now deadly pale
again as she caught some allusion to the Petrel.

The doctor recommended that she should be left alone with Miss
Wyllys. Her grandfather kissed her tenderly and left the room, as
well as the rest of the party; with one exception,
however--Hazlehurst lingered behind.

Having reached the adjoining room, explanations were exchanged
between the friends. Mr. Wyllys learned that Elinor and the Van
Hornes had supposed Harry lost, from the paper, and the first
hurried note of de Vaux. When they arrived at Wyllys-Roof, there
was no one there to give them any later information; Mammy Sarah,
the nurse, knew no more than themselves; she had heard the
Broadlawn story, after having seen young de Vaux leave the house
with Miss Agnes, when they first went to the Hubbards'.
Hazlehurst had not accompanied his friend, for he had seen Mr.
Wyllys in a neighbouring field, and went there to give him the
information; and thence they had both gone to the cottage, where
they remained until Mrs. Clapp and Mr. Joseph Hubbard arrived
from Longbridge. Neither Mr. Wyllys nor Miss Agnes had received
the least intimation of the accident, until they heard a correct
account from de Vaux, and Harry himself; consequently they had
not felt the same alarm for Hazlehurst.

Dr. and Mrs. Van Horne were much gratified by hearing, that
Hazlehurst's restoration was owing to the devoted perseverance of
their son; for it was only after every one else had given up the
hope of reviving him, after long and ceaseless exertions, that
signs of life were discovered. They also now learned the
circumstances of the accident, the fact that two instead of four
persons were lost, and they found that it was in endeavouring to
save Charlie that Harry had so nearly lost his own life. But we
leave them together to express their natural feelings of
gratitude for those who had escaped, sympathy with the sufferers,
their surprise at Harry's appearance, and all the varying
emotions of such a moment.

While this conversation was passing in one room, Elinor was in
some measure recovering from the first sudden shock of the
morning in the other. Harry seemed fully determined to maintain
his post at her side, and still kept possession of her hand; in
fact, the solemn, anxious moment, hallowed by grief, at which the
disclosure of their mutual feelings had been made, seemed to
banish all common, petty embarrassments. Miss Agnes and Harry
required but a word and a look to explain matters; the aunt
already understood it all.

"Poor Charlie!" exclaimed Elinor, with a half-inquiring look, as
if with a faint hope that he too might have returned, like Harry.

"Our friend is gone, dearest!" said Harry, his eyes moistened
with tears as he spoke.

Elinor wept, and a silence of a minute ensued. "His poor mother,
and his sister!" she exclaimed at length.

"His two mothers, rather," said Harry, with a faltering voice.

After another silence, Elinor turned to Hazlehurst with an
anxious look, saying:

"And your other friends?"

"All safe; love."

"The crew too?"

"One of the crew is lost; Black Bob, a sailor from Longbridge."

"I remember him; he had no family I believe, Aunt," she said.

"None, my child, that I have ever heard of."

"The heaviest blow has fallen upon the Hubbards," said Harry.

After a pause, in which aunt and niece had prayed for the
mourners, Elinor again made some inquiries.

"Were all in the Petrel at the time?" asked Elinor.

"Smith and our poor Charlie, the negro and a boy were crossing a
bay in the Petrel, when she capsized, by the bad management of
the negro, who had been drinking. The rest of us were on shore."

"You were not in any danger then?" said Elinor, as if relieved
that he had not even been exposed to past peril.

"I owe my life to my friend Van Horne," he replied.

Elinor shuddered, and turned deadly pale again. Harry threw his
arms about her and embraced her fervently, until Elinor, who had
now partially recovered the common current of her ideas, made a
gentle struggle to release herself.

"But you were not in the Petrel?" she said again, as if anxious
to understand all that related to him.

"We all went to our friends as soon as we saw the schooner
capsize," said Harry.

"Hubert de Vaux told me that Harry swam some distance, with the
hope of saving poor Charles, who could not swim himself," said
Miss Agnes. "It was in that way, my child, that he was exposed."

"To save Charlie!--that was like you," said Elinor, with a glow
on her cheek.

"There was no danger--no merit whatever in doing so--I have often
swum farther," said Harry; "the only difficulty was caused by my
becoming entangled in some ropes, which drew me under water." 

"But where was the boat?"

"It was not at hand at the moment; they brought it as soon as

"Did Charlie speak?" asked Elinor, sadly.

"My poor friend was insensible when I reached him."

Again a moment's pause ensued.

"I must not forget to tell you, love, that we owe a great deal to
another friend of ours," said Harry, smiling. "You will be glad
to hear that Bruno behaved nobly; he first discovered the ropes
in which we were entangled."

"Bruno!--Where is my noble dog? Pray call him; let me see him!"

Harry went to the door, and there was Bruno lying across the
threshold, as if waiting to be admitted; he came in at Harry's
call, but not with his usual bound; he seemed to understand that
if his old master had been saved, his master's friend was lost.
The noble creature was much caressed by Miss Wyllys and Elinor;
and we are not ashamed to confess that the latter kissed him more
than once. At length, Miss Agnes observing that her niece was
very much recovered, rose from her seat, and stooping to kiss
Elinor's forehead, placed her hand in that of Harry, saying with
much feeling, as she joined them, "God bless you, my children!"
and then left the room.

As for what passed after Miss Agnes left her young friends, we
cannot say; Bruno was the only witness to that interview between
Harry and Elinor, and as Bruno was no tell-tale, nothing has ever
transpired on the subject. We may suppose, however, that two
young people, strongly attached to each other, united under such
peculiar circumstances, did not part again until a conclusive and
satisfactory explanation had taken place. Harry no doubt was
enabled to quiet any scruples he may have felt with regard to
Ellsworth; and probably Elinor was assured, that she had entirely
mistaken Hazlehurst's feelings during the past summer; that Mrs.
Creighton was his friend's sister, and a charming woman, but not
the woman he loved, not the woman he could ever love, after
having known his Elinor. Then, as both parties were frank and
warm-hearted, as they had known each other for years, and had
just been reunited under circumstances so solemn, there was
probably more truth, less reserve, and possibly more tenderness
than usual at similar meetings. Doubtless there were some smiles;
and to judge from the tone of both parties on separating, we
think that some tears must have been shed. We are certain that
amid their own intimate personal communications, the young friend
so dear to both, so recently lost, was more than once remembered;
while at the same time it is a fact, that another communication
of some importance to Harry, the disclosures of Stebbins, was
forgotten by him, or deferred until the interview was
interrupted. Mr. Wyllys entered to let Harry know that Hubert de
Vaux had come for him.

"De Vaux is here waiting for you, Harry," said Mr. Wyllys,
opening the drawing-room door.

"Is it possible, my dear sir?--Is it so late?" exclaimed Harry.

It was in fact de Vaux, come to accompany Harry to Longbridge, to
meet the body of our poor Charlie: so closely, on that eventful
day, were joy and sadness mingled to the friends at Wyllys-Roof.

Elinor had risen from her seat as her grandfather approached.

"You feel better, my child," he said kindly.

"I am happy, grandpapa!--happy as I can be TO-DAY!" she added,
blushing, and weeping, and throwing her arms about his neck.

"It is all right, I see. May you be blessed, together, my
children!" said the venerable man, uniting their hands.

After an instant's silence, Elinor made a movement to leave the

"I am going to Longbridge, but I shall hope to see you again in
the evening," said Harry, before she left him.

"When you come back, then. You are going to Longbridge, you say?"

"Yes," Said Harry sadly; "to meet Van Horne and Smith, with--"

Elinor made no reply; she understood his sad errand; offered him
her hand again, and left the room. She retired to her own
apartment, and remained there alone for a long time; and there
the young girl fell on her knees, and offered up most fervent,
heartfelt thanksgivings for the safety of one she loved truly,
one she had long loved, so recently rescued from the grave.

That afternoon, just as the autumn sun was sinking towards the
woods, throwing a rich, warm glow over the country, a simple
procession was seen moving slowly and sadly over the Longbridge
highway. It was the body of Charlie Hubbard, brought home by his
friends, to pass a few hours beneath his mother's roof, ere it
was consigned to its last resting-place under the sod. We have
not yet dared to intrude upon the stricken inmates of the old
grey cottage; we shall not attempt to paint their grief, such
grief is sacred. The bereaved mother, half-infirm in body and
mind, seemed to feel the blow without fully understanding it:
Patsey, poor Patsey felt the affliction fully, comprehended it
wholly. Charlie had been her idol from infancy; she had watched
over the boy with an engrossing affection, an earnest devotion,
which could be only compared to a mother's love, which might
claim a mother's sacred name. She was entirely overcome when the
young artist's body was brought into the house, and placed in the
coffin, beneath his father's portrait.

"My boy!--my brother!--Charlie!" she cried wildly; all her usual
calmness, her usual firmness giving way at the moment, as the
young face she loved so tenderly was first disclosed to her view,
pale and lifeless. But the fine features of the young artist,
almost feminine in their delicate beauty, returned no answering
glance--they were rigid, cold, and partially discoloured by

Hazlehurst and de Vaux passed the night beside the body of their
friend; Miss Agnes and Mrs. Van Horne were with the bereaved
mother and sisters.

Early on the following morning, Mr. Wyllys and Elinor came to
take a last look at their young friend.

'Can it indeed be true?--Charlie gone for ever, gone so
suddenly!' thought Elinor, as she leaned over his body, weeping
with the sincere, heartfelt grief of a true friend, until
Hazlehurst, pained by her emotion, gently drew her away; not,
however, before she had bent over poor Charlie, and gently kissed
the discoloured forehead of her young companion, for the first
and the last time.

Patsey's grief, though not less deep, was more calm than at
first. Again and again she had returned to her young brother's
coffin, with varying feelings; now overwhelmed by poignant grief,
now partially soothed by the first balm of holy resignation; now
alone, now accompanied by her friends. Once, early that morning,
the infirm mother was brought into the room to look for the last
time on the face of her son; she was carried in a chair and
placed by the coffin, then assisted to rise by Miss Agnes and her
daughter Kate. Her tears flowed long, falling on her boy's cold,
but still beautiful features; she wiped them away herself, and
with an humble phrase of resignation, in the words of Scripture,
expressed the thought that ere long she should be laid by his
side. Her's was not the bitter, living grief of Patsey; she felt
that she was near the grave herself. Tears of gentle-hearted
women were not the only tears which fell upon Charlie's bier; his
uncles, his elder brothers, and more than one true friend were
there. But amid all the strong, contending emotions of those who
crowded the humble room, who hung over the coffin, still that
youthful form lay rigid in the fearful chill, the awful silence
of death; he, whose bright eye, whose pleasant smile had never
yet met the look of a friend without the quick glance of
intellect, or the glow of kindly feeling. Patsey felt the change;
she felt that the being she loved was not all there, the dearer
portion was already beyond her sight--and with this reflection
came the blessed consolations of Christian hope; for the
unfeigned faith and the penitent obedience of the Christian, had
been known to Charlie Hubbard from childhood; nor had they ever
been forgotten by the young man.

Soon after sun-rise, friends and neighbours began to collect;
they came from miles around, all classes and all ages--for the
family was much respected, and their sudden bereavement had
excited general compassion. The little door-yard and the humble
parlour were filled, with those who justly claimed the name of
friends; the highway and an adjoining field were crowded with

After a solemn prayer within the house, those who had loved the
dead fixed their eyes for the last time on his features; the
coffin was closed from the light, the body was carried for the
last time over the threshold, it was placed on a carriage, and
the living crowd moved away, following the dead, with the slow,

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: