Chapter XXIII.

“The bridegroom’s doors are opened wide,  

And I am next of kin;  

The guests are met, the feast is set,  

May’st hear the merry din.” COLERIDGE.

{Samuel Taylor Coleridge (English poet, 1772-1834), Rime of the Ancient Mariner (I) lines 5-8}

THE events of the next two months surprised Jane’s friends in Philadelphia, almost as much as her rejection of Harry had done. Mrs. Hazlehurst, of course, knew what was going on in her father’s house, and from time to time informed Miss Wyllys and Elinor of what passed. Elinor had written to Jane, but it was a long time before she received an answer; her cousin appeared engrossed by her own affairs; as this was common with Jane at all times, it was but natural that she should be so, at a moment which was of so much importance to herself. Mr. Graham arrived at the time appointed; and, of course, he was very much displeased by the news which awaited him. He would not hear of Jane’s marrying young Taylor, whose advances he received as coldly as possible, and even forbade his daughter’s seeing any of the Taylor family. Jane was very much distressed, and very much frightened. As for Miss Taylor, her indignation was so great, that she determined to pay no respect to Mr. Graham’s hostility; she wrote to Jane a long letter, much in her usual style, giving very pathetic accounts of Tallman’s despair. This letter Jane had not the moral courage to show to either of her parents; she soon received another, with a note from young Taylor himself. As she was reading them one morning, her father unexpectedly entered the room, and was thrown into a great passion by the discovery. His temper was violent, and he was subject to fits of passion which terrified his children; although, in other respects, by no means an unkind parent. Upon this occasion, Jane was frightened into hysterics, and afterwards, owing to the agitation which had been preying on her mind for some months, she was thrown into a low nervous fever. During the four or five weeks that she was ill, every morning Miss Taylor called to inquire after her friend, although she was not admitted. By this conduct, Mrs. Graham’s heart, which was of no stern material, was much softened. At length she went to the drawing- room to see Miss Taylor, for a moment. Adeline improved the time so well, that she placed herself and her brother better with Mrs. Graham than they had ever yet been. Jane’s illness increased; her parents became seriously alarmed, and Mr. Graham expressed something like regret that he had been so hasty. His wife often remembered his words during her daughter’s tedious convalescence, which was interrupted by a relapse. In short, matters began to look less discouraging for young Taylor’s suit. There could be no doubt, at least, that he was very much in love with Jane: Hazlehurst was quite mistaken in supposing that the perfection of her profile, the beautiful shape of her head, the delicacy of her complexion, or other numberless beauties, could only be appreciated by one whose taste was as refined as his own: they had produced quite as deep an effect on young Taylor. During Jane’s illness, he had shown the proper degree of distress and anxiety, all of which was reported in the most pathetic manner to Mrs. Graham, and whispered to Jane by Adeline, who, having once been received again into the house, kept her footing there and managed an occasional interview with her friend. In short, as we all know, tyrannical parents are very rare in America; the fault in family discipline lies in the opposite direction.

His daughter’s pale face, his wife’s weakness, and Adeline’s good management, and improvement of every concession, at length worked a change in Mr. Graham. At the proper moment, Tallman Taylor renewed his offer in the warmest and most flattering terms; supported by his father, and his father’s hundreds of thousands, he this time received a more favourable answer. Mr. Graham was one of those men, who have no very high opinion of women; he did not wish to make his daughter miserable for life; and he thought she had too little character to conquer the fancy that had filled her mind, and made her ill. Then, young Taylor was rich, and she could throw away money on those knick-knacks and frippery, to which, according to Mr. Graham, women attach such exorbitant value. If she did not marry him, she would fancy herself a victim, and miserable; if she did marry him, she would fancy herself happy: that seemed to him the amount of the matter, and with these views he at length gave a reluctant consent. Mrs. Graham had already given hers; Tallman Taylor was certainly not the son-in-law she would have chosen; but she was farther from being dissatisfied, than many of her friends thought she would be under the circumstances. Neither the story of his college engagement, nor the unpleasant rumours respecting his Paris career, had reached Mr. or Mrs. Graham; the first was known only to Adeline and Jane, the last to a few male intimates. The news, very naturally, caused a good deal of sensation among Jane’s friends in Philadelphia; it was really distressing to Mrs. Robert Hazlehurst, who looked upon her sister as thrown away, and reproached herself more than ever for having allowed Jane to go out so often in Paris with their thoughtless friends, the Howards. She could not endure to think of young Taylor, as actually her brother-in- law, the husband of her beautiful sister. She had not supposed that the matter would be settled in this way; she had believed her father’s opposition too strong to be overcome.

As for Harry, he, of course, soon heard the news from his brother. How much of love and of mortification were still lingering in his mind, we cannot precisely affirm. His feelings for Jane had certainly altered very much since the discovery of the double-dealing that had been going on; but weak as she had proved herself, she was still much too lovely, much too well-bred, at least, to be bestowed upon one whom he disliked as much as Tallman Taylor. There seemed to be something of the dog in the manger, connected with his regret for Jane’s fate, since he had already decided that if she were ever free again, he would not repeat his offer; she had shown herself to have so little character, that he would not allow himself to be again influenced by her beauty, surpassing as it was. In fact, Harry had determined to give up all idea of love and matrimony, for the present, at least. He went into society less than of old, and gave himself up very much to his profession, or other literary pursuits in which he had become engaged. He had been admitted to the bar, and had entered into a partnership with his travelling companion, Mr. Ellsworth; much of his time was now passed at his brother’s house, or at that of his friend. He liked his sister-in- law, and he found Ellsworth’s sister, Mrs. Creighton, who was at the head of her brother’s establishment, a very agreeable woman; she was very pretty, too, and very clever. The Wyllyses were already in the country, when the news of Jane’s engagement reached them; the winter had broken up early, and, as usual, at the first signs of spring they had returned to Wyllys-Roof. Of course, they regretted Jane’s partiality for Tallman Taylor; to Elinor it appeared almost as unaccountable as her insensibility to Harry’s merits. Mrs. George Wyllys was loud in her declamations against it; next to the Hubbards, she looked upon the Taylors as the most disagreeable family of her acquaintance. She had a great deal to say about the dull, prosy mother, the insufferable father, the dandy son, and the rattling, bellish daughter. Miss Patsey, also, had her moments of wonder; but she wondered in silence; she did not appear to have any higher opinion of the son, than she had formerly entertained of the father. With these exceptions, the community of Longbridge in general, who had known Jane from her childhood, approved highly of the connexion; both parties were young, handsome, and they would be rich, all which looked very well at a distance.

Three months of courtship passed over; Jane recovered entirely, and was as blooming and lovely as ever; young Taylor was all devotion. The satisfaction of his family at this connexion with the Grahams was very great; it gratified Mr. Taylor’s wishes in every way. It is true, Miss Graham would not have much fortune herself, but Tallman had enough to begin life handsomely. He hoped the marriage would take place soon, as he wished his son, whom he had made his partner, to take more interest in the business than he had yet done. In every respect but money, Jane was just what he would have wished for a daughter- in-law; she was fashionable, she was beautiful, and the position of her family gratified his vanity. As for the plain, good-hearted Mrs. Taylor, she already loved Jane as a daughter; and to her it appeared the most natural thing in the world, that Tallman should marry his sister’s friend. Adeline, herself, was of course enchanted.

The wedding took place in June. Thanks to Miss Taylor’s influence with the bride, it proved quite a brilliant affair. The ceremony was performed in the evening, and immediately afterwards the newly- married couple received the compliments and congratulations of their friends. Jane was attended, on the occasion, by six of her young companions; and as many young men, with white favours in their button-holes, were very busy all the evening, playing masters of ceremonies, escorting all the ladies as they arrived, from the door to the spot where the bride was stationed. Jane looked surpassingly beautiful; it was the general remark, that she had never appeared more lovely: the ladies pronounced her dress perfect, and the gentlemen admired her face quite as much. All agreed that a handsomer couple had not been seen for some time. It was, indeed, a pretty sight — the beautiful bride, the centre of a circle of her young friends, all, like herself, in white, and in full dress; pretty creatures themselves, wearing pretty ornaments of flowers and lace, pearls and embroidery. We say they were pretty; there was one exception, however, for Elinor was there, and many remarks were made on her appearance.

“What a pity that Miss Wyllys should be so plain,” observed Mrs. Creighton, whose husband had been a connexion of the Grahams. “It is the first time I have seen her for several years, and really I had forgotten how very plain she is.”

“Plain, why she is downright ugly!” exclaimed the youth to whom she was talking. “It is a sin to be as ugly as that. No wonder Hazlehurst was frightened out of the engagement; I am only surprised he ever got into the scrape!”

“But Miss Wyllys is very clever and agreeable, I understand.”

“Is she?” — was the careless reply. “I see Hazlehurst is here this evening.”

“Yes, he came on with his sister-in-law, Mrs. Robert Hazlehurst, and myself.”

“Well, he has a fine opportunity of comparing his two lady-loves together. Upon my word, I never saw a greater contrast. I wish Miss Wyllys had not accepted the invitation, though; she is enough to frighten one away from the whole set — and the rest are very pretty girls, the whole of them.”

“Can you point out Mr. Taylor? — Not the groom; I have seen him, of course; but his father.”

“Don’t you know the boss? It is that tall, stiff-looking man, talking to Mrs. Stanley. You see he is trying to look very amiable.”

“Yes — that is he, is it? Much the sort of man I should have supposed him. And now, which is Mrs. Taylor?”

“Mrs. Taylor — let me see; there she is, in grey satin and diamonds. I never saw her but once before in my life. She is a very quiet sort of a body, and keeps out of sight most of the time.”

“Very different from her daughter then, for Miss Taylor always put herself en évidence, I believe. If one don’t see her, they are sure to hear her.”

“To be sure, Miss Taylor is all life and spirits. She is the most lively, animated girl I ever knew. By-the-bye, I think it an odd fancy in Hazlehurst to show himself here to-night; for there was a great fuss last winter, at the blowup — all the town was talking about it.”

“He is a very near connexion, you know; I suppose his absence would have been more remarked than his being here. Besides, if he was in love once, he has had time to get over it, in the last six months. He does not look much as if he wore the willow still.”

{“wore the willow” = grieved for the loss of a loved one}

“Hazlehurst is very clever, I am told; I don’t know him much, myself.”

“Oh, yes — very clever. But I am not a fair judge, perhaps; he is my brother’s friend, and I may be prejudiced in his favour. How very warm it is! can’t we find a seat near a window?”

The gentleman offered his arm with alacrity, and the speakers moved away.

The seats they had left were taken by Mrs. de Vaux and Colonel Stryker: the lady, a middle-aged woman, fashionably dressed; the gentleman, rather more than middle-aged in his appearance, and decidedly less so in his dress and manners.

“Young Taylor is a handsome fellow, and looks the bridegroom very well!” exclaimed Mr. Stryker. “How these Taylors have pushed upwards; I never heard of them before I went to Europe this last time, five or six years ago.”

“That is just about the moment they first burst upon the horizon. Mr. Taylor seems determined to make up for lost time. He is very disagreeable to us ladies; but the gentlemen like him on account of his cleverness; they say he is a genius in all business matters.”

“To judge by his expression, the man seems ambitious of ‘ lés succes de salon,’ also. Where did he import his manners from, I wonder? — they have a sort of bright, new look, as if he had not yet worn the gloss off.”

{” les succés de salon“ = drawing-room victories (French)}

“Don’t laugh at him; — he gives excellent dinners.”

“Does he? Can’t you introduce me, immediately? ‘ Ici l’ont fait noces et festins.’ I seem to smell the turtle-soup, already.”

{” Ici l’ont ... .” = wedding feasts and banquets given here (French)}

“I doubt whether you taste it, nevertheless, until next autumn. Everybody is going out of town; they say that is the only drawback to the satisfaction of the Taylors at this wedding.”

“What is the drawback, pray?”

“They cannot have as many grand parties as they are entitled to, on account of the season.”

“That must be distressing, indeed, to the bridesmaids. By-the-bye, I see Miss Wyllys is one of them. She is going to turn out a fortune, I hear; — do you know her?”

“From a child. Last year no one dreamed of her being a fortune; but within the last few months, Mr. de Vaux tells me, she has inherited a very handsome property from one of her mother’s family; and, in addition to it, some new rail-road, or something of that kind, has raised the value of what she owned before.”

“What is the amount, do you know?”

“Upwards of two hundred thousand, Mr. de Vaux thinks.”

“Miss Wyllys is certainly no beauty; but, do you know, I think there is something decidedly distinguished in her appearance and manner! I was only introduced the other day; I did not happen to know the Wyllyses.”

“I have known them all my life, and like them all very much. I rather wonder, though, at Miss Elinor’s being here as bridesmaid. But it is a reconciliation, I suppose. Perhaps she and young Hazlehurst will make up again, and we may be invited to another wedding, before long.”

“Perhaps so. How long does it take a young lady to resent an infidelity? A calendar month, I suppose; or, in extreme cases, a year and a day. By-the-bye, the pretty widow, Mrs. Creighton, has thrown off her weeds, I see.”

“Yes, she has come out again, armed for conquest, I suppose. What a flirt she is! And as artful as she is pretty, Mr. Stryker. But perhaps you are one of her admirers,” continued the lady, laughing.

“Of course, it is impossible not to admire her; but I am afraid of her,” said Mr. Stryker, shrugging his shoulders. “I am horribly afraid of all pretty widows.”

“Mr. Hazlehurst does not seem afraid of her.”

“Not a bit — he is there half his time; but then he is young and venturesome. We old campaigners are more wary.”

“He is an old friend of her brother’s, I believe; is Mr. Ellsworth here?”

“Yes, there he is, talking to Miss Wyllys. Perhaps he may interfere with your prediction about her and my friend Hazlehurst.”

“Possibly; but à-propos of weddings; why don’t you marry, yourself, Mr. Stryker? You have been a delightful beau now, for how many years?” asked the lady, mischievously.

“Oh, these five lustres, I suppose; for I began early,” replied Mr. Stryker, who had too much worldly wisdom, not to make a merit of frankness, where he could not help it.

{“lustre” = [from the Latin lustrum] — a period of five years. Five lustres is thus twenty-five years).

“Six, you mean,” said Mrs. de Vaux, laughing.

“No, five, honestly counted. I don’t know exactly how old I may be; but the other day I heard a fellow say, ‘Stryker can’t be more than five-and-forty;’ and I dare say be was right.”

“Well, allowing you are only five-and-forty, don’t you mean to marry, one of these days?”


“Don’t you think it time to look about you?”

“High time; but who will have me?” continued Mr. Stryker, with great complacency of manner.

“Oh, half the young ladies in the room, I dare say; excepting, of course, those who have refused you already,” said Mrs. de Vaux, mischievously; for it was suspected that Mr. Stryker had met with several rebuffs. This lady and gentleman in spite of their smiling countenances and friendly manners, owed each other a grudge, of old standing. Who does not know that where the spirit of littleness and vanity is all-powerful, these petty trials and triumphs are too often the chief spring of action; as was the case with Mr. Stryker and Mrs. de Vaux. Happy they, who have good principle and good feeling enough, to cast off folly on so small a scale!

“Tell me what is your taste, and I will look out for you,” continued Mrs. de Vaux.

“How kind you are! — you don’t include Miss de Vaux, of course; for she can’t endure me. Like all modest men, I require only nine hundred and ninety-nine perfections in my wife. But then I insist chiefly on two essentials: she must have money, and she must not have brothers and sisters; I have an invincible antipathy to collaterals, whether of blood or connexion.”

“Miss Wyllys is the very person for you. Quite a fortune now, they say; and an orphan, without brother or sister; all you require. Then, you like her appearance, you say; though she is plain, she is clever, too, and amiable.”

“Of course; all young ladies are amiable, are they not?”

“I only know of one objection — she is too good for you.”

“Goodness is not to be despised in a wife. I shall require it from the future Mrs. Stryker; though not very particular about the rest of the world. I am much obliged to you, Mrs. de Vaux, for the suggestion; I’ll think of it,” said Mr. Stryker, deliberately crossing one leg over the other, to make himself comfortable.

“You, who know everybody, Mr. Stryker,” said the lady, “pray, tell me, who is that bright-faced young man, or rather, boy, standing near Mr. Wyllys and Mrs. Stanley?”

“You wish to mortify me — I never saw the lad before.”

“I can answer your question, Mrs. de Vaux,” observed Harry, who had just approached, and made his bow; “that is my friend, Charlie Hubbard, the artist. Don’t you remember the fine view of Lake Ontario, that was so much admired at the Exhibition, this spring?”

“Certainly. Is that the young man? — He looks like a genius.”

“Rather as a genius should look; your great lions are often very tame- looking animals,” observed Mr. Stryker.

“Hubbard’s face only does him justice, however; he is full of talent,” said Harry.

“I Some of his pictures are certainly very fine,” observed Mrs. de Vaux.

“I never saw water like his,” continued Hazlehurst; “such variety, and always true to nature. He almost persuades one to believe all he says about water: he maintains that it has more variety of expression than any other inanimate object, and has, withal, an independent character of its own; he says it is second only to the human countenance.”

“He seems quite an enthusiast,” said Mrs. de Vaux.

“Won’t he take it all out in talk?” asked Mr. Stryker, drily.

“Look at his view of Hell-Gate on a cloudy evening, and say so if you can!” exclaimed Harry, warmly.

{“Hell-Gate” = a narrow channel in New York City’s East River}

“Well, after all, he says no more for water, than has been said by the poets of all nature, from the time of the first pastoral; they tell us that the sun will make a bare old mountain smile, and the wind will throw the finest forest into a fuss.”

“I defy you to prove any fuss upon Charlie’s works!”

“Perhaps not — Where is his study? I should like to see what he has done. Is his pencil always amphibious?”

“Yes; I believe he has never yet painted a landscape, without its portion of water. If you wish to see his study, you must go soon; he sails for Italy next month.”

“If his partiality for water is really honest, it may help him on in his profession. Has he a good execution? — that is all-important.”

“Decidedly good; and he improves every day. Execution is really all- important to Hubbard; for there can be no doubt that he possesses all an artist’s conception.”

“I suspect though, his notion about expressive water is not original. It appears to me, some German or other calls water, ‘the eyes of a landscape.’”

{Possibly from a novel, Heinrich von Ofterdingen (1802), by the German poet Novalis [pen-name of Friedrich Leopold von Hardenberg (1772-1801)], chapter 7, “Streams are the eyes of a landscape.”}

“Very possibly; but Charlie Hubbard is not the man to steal other people’s ideas, and pass them off for his own.”

“You make a point of always believing the worst of everybody, Mr. Stryker,” said Mrs. de Vaux.

“I wish I could help it.” said the gentleman, raising his eyebrows.

“Suppose, Mr. Hazlehurst, you take him to Mr. Hubbard’s studio, and force him to admire that fine picture of Lake Ontario. I should like to see it again, myself; and Mr. de Vaux has been talking of carrying us all to Mr. Hubbard’s, some time.”

Harry professed himself quite at Mrs. de Vaux’s service. Mrs. Stanley, he said, was going to see his friend’s pictures the very next day. A party was soon arranged, the hour fixed, and everything settled, before supper was announced. As Mrs. de Vaux and Mr. Stryker moved towards the door, they were followed by Mrs. Creighton and Harry.

“Who was the young man you were talking with at supper, Josephine?” asked Mr. Ellsworth, as he stepped into the carriage after Mrs. Creighton and Harry, in driving away from the wedding.

“Which do you mean?”

“A mere boy — one of the groomsmen, by the white favours in his button-hole.”

“Oh, that was the groom’s brother, Mr. Pompey Taylor, the younger, a very simple, and rather an awkward young gentleman. I had the honour of making the acquaintance of all the family, in the course of the evening. I was quite amused with Mr. Taylor, the father; he really seems to have as great a relish for the vanities of life, as any young girl of fifteen.”

“Because they are quite as new to him,” said Hazlehurst.

“That is difficult to believe of a clever, calculating man of fifty,” observed Mr. Ellsworth.

“All clever men of fifty are not quite free from nonsense, take my word for it,” said the lady. “I appeal to Mr. Hazlehurst, who knows Mr. Taylor; as for myself, I am convinced by the man’s manner this evening.”

“You are certainly correct in your opinion, Mrs. Creighton. Mr. Taylor is, no doubt, a clever man; and yet he takes delight in every piece of finery about his house. He is more possessed with the spirit of sheer ostentation, than any man I ever met with.”

“Ah, you want to save the credit of your sex, by setting him down as an exception! — that is not fair, Mr. Hazlehurst.”

It was a pity that the pretty smile which the lady bestowed on her brother’s friend was entirely thrown away; but the lamp-light happened to be little more than darkness visible.