List Of Contents | Contents of Elinor Wyllys, by Susan Fenimore Cooper
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"Impossible!" exclaimed Kate, as the fan she held dropped from
her hand.

"Just what I said myself, at first," replied Mr. Clapp.

"But surely you are deceived, William--how can it be?" continued
the wife, in amazement. "We always thought that Mr. Stanley was
lost at sea, years ago!"

"Exactly--it was thought so; but it was not true."

"But where has he been in the mean time?--Why did he wait so long
before he came to claim his inheritance?"

"The same unhappy, reckless disposition that first sent him to
sea, kept him roving about. He did not know of his father's
death, until four years after it had taken place, and he heard at
the same time that he had been disinherited. When he came home,
after that event, he found that he was generally believed to have
been lost in the Jefferson, wrecked in the year 18--. He was, in
fact, the only man saved."

"How very extraordinary! But why has he never even shown himself
among his friends and connexions until now?"

"Why, my dear, his habits have been unhappily very bad in every
way for years; they were, indeed the cause of his first leaving
his family. He hated everything like restraint--even the common
restraints of society, and cared for nothing but a sailor's life,
and that in the worst shape, it must be confessed. But he has now
grown wiser--he has determined to reform. You observed he signed
the temperance pledge this evening?"

"It all sounds so strangely, that I cannot yet believe it,

"I dare say not--it took me four years to believe it."

"But what do you mean to do? I hope you are not going to
undertake a law-suit against two of our best friends, Mr. Wyllys
and Mr. Hazlehurst?"

"That must depend on Mr. Wyllys and Mr. Hazlehurst, themselves. I
have undertaken, Catherine, to do my best towards restoring this
injured man to his property."

"Oh, William; suppose this man is in the wrong, after all! Don't
think of having anything to do with him."

"My dear, you talk like a woman--you don't know what you say. If
I don't act in the premises, do you suppose he won't find another
lawyer to undertake his cause?"

"Let him have another, then: but it seems too bad that we should
take sides against our best friends; it hardly seems honourable,
William, to do so."

"Honour, alone, won't make a young lawyer's pot boil, I can tell

"But I had rather live poorly, and work hard all my life, than
that you should undertake a dishonest cause."

"It is all very pretty talking, but I have no mind to live
poorly; I intend to live as well as I can, and I don't look upon
this Stanley cause as a bad one at all. I must say, Catherine,
you are rather hard upon your husband, and seem to think more of
the interests of your friends, than of his own."

"How can you talk so, William, when you know you can't think it,"
said the wife reproachfully, tears springing to her eyes.

"Well, I only judge from what you say yourself. But in my opinion
there is no danger of a law-suit. As Mr. Stanley's agent, I shall
first apply to Mrs. Stanley and Mr. Hazlehurst to acknowledge his
claim; and when the evidence is laid before them, I have no kind
of doubt but they will immediately give up the property; as they
are some of your very honourable people, I must say I think they
are bound to do so."

"Certainly, if the evidence is so clear; but it seems to me, from
all I have heard since I have been a lawyer's wife, that evidence
never is so very clear, William, but that people disagree about

"Well, I flatter myself that people will be staggered by the
proofs we can bring forward; I feel sure of public opinion, at

Kate was silenced; but though she could think of nothing more to
urge, she was very far from feeling easy on the subject.

"I hope with all my heart it will be settled amicably," she added
at length.

"There is every probability that it will. Though the story sounds
so strangely to you now--just as it did to me, at first--yet when
you come to hear all the facts, you will find there is scarcely
room for a shadow of doubt."

"How sorry mother and Patsey will be when they hear it!"

"I can't see why they should be sorry to see a man reinstated in
his rights, after having been deprived of them for eighteen
years. If they are not blinded by their partiality for the
Wyllyses and Hazlehursts, they cannot help being convinced by the
evidence we can show."

"How old is this man--this sailor--this Mr. Stanley?"

"Just thirty-six, he tells me. Did you remark his likeness to Mr.
Stanley's portrait at Wyllys-Roof? that was the first thing that
struck me."

"No; I hardly looked at him."

"You must expect to see him often now; I have invited him to
dinner for to-morrow."

"For to-morrow? Well, Uncle Dozie has sent me this afternoon a
beautiful mess of green peas, and you will have to get something
nice from market, in the way of poultry and fish. Though, I
suppose as he has been a common sailor so long, he won't be very
particular about his dinner."

"He knows what is good, I can tell you. You must give him such a
dinner as he would have had at his father's in old times."

"Well, just as you please, William; only, if you really care for
me, do not let the man deceive you; be sure you sift the matter
thoroughly--what you call cross-examine him."

"Never you fear; I know what I am about, Katie; though if I was
to follow your advice in law matters, I reckon we should all of
us starve together."

"I hope it will all turn out well, but I seem to feel badly about
it," said Kate with a sigh, as she rose to light a candle; "only
don't be too hasty--take time."

"We have taken time enough I think, as it is. We are only waiting
now for Mr. Hazlehurst to arrive in Philadelphia, when we shall
put forward our claim."


"They call thee rich."

{William Cowper (English poet, 1731-1800), "Translations of Greek
Verses: On A Miser" line 1}

WHEN the Wyllyses arrived at Saratoga, after having paid their
promised visit to their friends at Poughkeepsie, the first
persons they saw in the street, as they were driving to Congress
Hall, were Mrs. Creighton, Mr. Ellsworth, and Mr. Stryker, who
were loitering along together. It seemed the excursion to Nahant
had been postponed, or given up.

The brother and sister soon discovered that the Wyllyses were
among that afternoon's arrivals, and in the course of an hour or
two called at their rooms.

"Here am I, Miss Wyllys," said Mrs. Creighton, "the best of
sisters, giving up my own private plans to gratify this brother
of mine, who would not let me rest unless I promised to pass
another week here."

"Josephine makes the most of her complaisance; but I don't think
she was so very much averse to giving up Nahant. I am sure at
least, she did not care half so much about going, as I did about

Mr. Stryker also appeared, to make his bow to the ladies. This
gentleman had indeed come to Saratoga, with the express intention
of making himself particularly agreeable to Miss Elinor Wyllys.
As long ago as Jane's wedding, he had had his eye on her, but,
like Mr. Ellsworth, he had seldom been able to meet her. Mr.
Stryker was a man between forty and fifty, possessing some little
property, a very good opinion of himself, and quite a reputation
for cleverness and knowledge of the world. He was one of those
men who hang loose on society; he seemed to have neither
relations nor connexions; no one knew his origin: for years he
had occupied the same position in the gay world of New York, with
this difference, that at five-and-twenty he was known as Bob
Stryker; at five-and-thirty he was Colonel Stryker, the
traveller; and at five-and-forty he had returned to New York,
after a second long absence, as Mr. Stryker, tout court. He
prided himself upon being considered a gentleman at large, a man
of the world, whose opinion on all subjects was worth hearing.
Since his last return from Europe, he had announced that he was
looking about for that necessary encumbrance, a wife; but he took
good care not to mention what he called his future intentions,
until he had actually committed himself more than once. He had
several times kindly offered to rich and beautiful girls, to take
charge of themselves and their fortunes, but his services had
been as often politely declined. He was not discouraged, however,
by these repulses; he still determined to marry, but experience
had taught him greater prudence--he decided that his next
advances should be made with more caution. He would shun the
great belles; fortune he must have, but he would adopt one of two
courses; he would either look out for some very young and very
silly girl, who could be persuaded into anything, or he would try
to discover some rich woman, with a plain face, who would be
flattered by the attentions of the agreeable Mr. Stryker. While
he was making these reflections he was introduced to Elinor, and
we are sorry to say it, she appeared to him to possess the
desirable qualifications. She was certainly very plain; and he
found that there was no mistake in the report of her having
received two important legacies quite lately. Miss Elinor Wyllys,
thanks to these bequests, to her expectations from her
grandfather and Miss Agnes, and to the Longbridge railroad, was
now generally considered a fortune. It is true, common report had
added very largely to her possessions, by doubling and
quadrupling their amount; for at that precise moment, people
seemed to be growing ashamed of mentioning small sums; thousands
were invariably counted by round fifties and hundreds. Should any
gentleman be curious as to the precise amount of the fortune of
Miss Elinor Wyllys, he is respectfully referred to William
Cassius Clapp, Attorney at Law, Longbridge, considered excellent
authority on all such subjects. Lest any one should be disposed
to mistrust this story of Elinor's newly-acquired reputation as
an heiress, we shall proceed at once to prove it, by evidence of
the most convincing character.

{"tout court" = by itself; "period" (French)}

One morning, shortly after the arrival of the Wyllyses at
Saratoga, Mr. Wyllys entered the room where Miss Agnes and Elinor
were sitting together, with a handful of papers and letters from
the mail. Several of these letters were for Elinor, and as she
reads them we shall take the liberty of peeping over her
shoulder--their contents will speak for themselves. The first
which she took up was written on very handsome paper, perfumed,
and in an envelope; but neither the seal nor the handwriting was
known to Elinor. It ran as follows:


"It may appear presumptuous in one unknown to you, to address you
on a subject so important as that which is the theme of this
epistle; but not having the honour of your acquaintance, I am
compelled by dire necessity, and the ardent feelings of my heart,
to pour forth on paper the expression of the strong admiration
with which you have inspired me. Lovely Miss Wyllys, you are but
too well known to me, although I scarcely dare to hope that your
eye has rested for a moment on the features of your humble
adorer. I am a European, one who has moved in the first circles
of his native land, and after commencing life as a military man,
was compelled by persecution to flee to the hospitable shores of
America. Chequered as my life has been, happy, thrice happy shall
I consider it, if you will but permit me to devote its remaining
years to your service! Without your smiles, the last days of my
career will be more gloomy than all that have gone before. But I
cannot believe you so cruel, so hard-hearted, as to refuse to
admit to your presence, one connected with several families of
the nobility and gentry in the north of England, merely because
the name of Horace de Vere has been sullied by appearing on the
stage. Let me hope--"

Elinor read no farther: she threw the letter aside with an
expression of disgust and mortification. It was but one of
half-a-dozen of similar character, which she had received during
the last year or two from utter strangers. She took up another, a
plain, honest-looking sheet.


"If the new store, being erected on your lot in Market Street,
between Fourth and Fifth, is not already leased, you will confer
an obligation if you will let us know to whom we must apply for
terms, &c., &c. The location and premises being suitable, we
should be glad to rent. The best of references can be offered on
our part.

"Begging you will excuse this application, as we are ignorant of
the name of your agent in Philadelphia, we have the honour to be,

"Your most obedient servants,


"Grocers, Market, between Front and Second."

A business letter, it appears, to be attended to accordingly. Now
for the third--a delicate little envelope of satin paper, blue
wax, and the seal "semper eadem."

{"semper eadem" = always the same (Latin)}


"When shall we see you at Bloomingdale? You are quite too cruel,
to disappoint us so often; we really do not deserve such shabby
treatment. Here is the month of June, with its roses, and
strawberries, and ten thousand other sweets, and among them you
must positively allow us to hope for a visit from our very dear
friends at Wyllys-Roof. Should your venerable grandpapa, or my
excellent friend, Miss Wyllys be unhappily detained at home, as
you feared, do not let that be the means of depriving us of your
visit. I need not say that William would be only too happy to
drive you to Bloomingdale, at any time you might choose; but if
that plan, HIS plan, should frighten your propriety, I shall be
proud to take charge of you myself. Anne is not only pining for
your visit, but very tired of answering a dozen times a day, her
brother's questions, 'When shall we see Miss Wyllys?'--'Is Miss
Wyllys never coming?'

"I do not think, my sweet young friend, that you can have the
heart to disappoint us any longer--and, therefore, I shall
certainly look for one of your charming little notes, written in
an amiable, complying mood.

"Anne sends her very best love; William begs to be very
PARTICULARLY remembered to Miss Elinor Wyllys.

"With a thousand kind messages to your grandfather and Miss
Wyllys, I remain as ever, my dear young friend,

"Yours, most devotedly and partially,


{"Bloomingdale" = a fashionable and still rural area of Manhattan
Island, though technically part of New York City}

Elinor read this note with a doubtful smile, which seemed to say
she was half-amused, half-provoked by it. Throwing it carelessly
on the sofa, she opened the fourth letter; it was in a childish


"My mother wishes me to thank you myself, for your last act of
goodness to us--but I can never tell you all we feel on the
subject. My dear mother cried with joy all the evening, after she
had received your letter. I am going to school according to your
wish, as soon as mother can spare me, and I shall study very
hard, which will be the best way of thanking you. The

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