Chapter XX. {XLIII}

“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 moment.

“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 evening.”

“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. He 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 either, from the wiles of a pretty, artful coquette; he carried about with him the reflection of a purer model of womanly virtue, one gradually formed from boyhood upon Elinor’s mould, and which at last had entirely filled his mind and his heart.

Since the commencement of the Stanley suit, Hazlehurst had become quite disgusted with Mrs. Creighton’s conduct; art may reach a great way, but it can never cover the whole ground, and the pretty widow involuntarily betrayed too many variations of manner, graduated by Harry’s varying prospects; his eyes were completely opened; he was ashamed of himself for having been half-persuaded that she was attached to him. How different had been Elinor’s conduct! she had shown throughout a warm, unwavering interest in his difficulties, always more frankly expressed in his least encouraging moments; indeed she had sometimes blushed, from the fear that her sympathy might he mistaken for something more than friendly regard for her kinsman. Harry saw it all; he understood the conduct of both, and he felt Elinor’s kindness deeply; he was no longer ungrateful, and he longed to tell her so. True, she would ere long become his friend’s wife, but might he not, under the circumstances, be permitted first to declare his feelings? It would, perhaps, be only a just atonement for the past — only what was due to Elinor. Harry tried to persuade himself into this view of the case, as he looked up towards her window, invoking a blessing on her gentle head.

Hazlehurst’s reflections, while on the piazza, had commenced with his pecuniary difficulties, and the consequences of his late defeat, but they gradually centered on Elinor in a very lover-like manner, much in the shape we have given them. But at length the moon went down behind the wood, and those whose rooms were on that side of the house found that the sound of his footsteps had ceased; and nothing farther disturbed the stillness of the night.

“Did you see the Petrel this morning, grandpapa?” said Elinor, as she was pouring out the coffee at the breakfast-table.

“No, I did not, my child; I took it for granted they were off before sun- rise, and did not look for them.”

“They were behind their time; they were in sight from my window about an hour since.”

“Some of the youngsters have been lazy, I suppose; I hope Harry was not the delinquent.”

“I heard him pass my door quite early,” observed Miss Agnes.

“When I saw them,” said Elinor, “they had drawn off from the wharf, and were lying in the river, as if they were waiting for something that had been forgotten; the boat looked beautifully, for there was very little air, and she lay motionless on the water, with her sails half- furled.”

“Perhaps they stopped for Mr. Hubbard to make a sketch,” said Ellsworth to Elinor.

“Hardly, I should think; time and tide, you know, wait for no man — not even to be sketched.”

“But Hazlehurst told me his friend Hubbard had promised to immortalize the Petrel and her crew by a picture; perhaps he chose the moment of departure; you say she appeared to great advantage then.”

“I should think he would prefer waiting for some more striking moment. Who knows what adventures they may meet with! Mr. de Vaux expects to win a race; perhaps they may catch a whale, or see the sea-serpent.”

“No doubt Mr. Stryker would try to catch the monster, if they were to meet with him; his fishing ambition is boundless,” said Mrs. Creighton.

“But there is no fashionable apparatus for catching sea-serpents,” observed Elinor; “and Mr. Stryker’s ambition is all fashionable.”

“Stryker is not much of an Izaak Walton, certainly,” remarked Ellsworth. “He calls it murder, to catch a trout with a common rod and a natural fly. He will scarcely be the man to bring in the sea-serpent; he would go after it though, in a moment, if a regular European sportsman were to propose it to him.”

“I almost wonder we have not yet had an English yacht over here, whale-hunting, or sea-serpent-hunting,” said Mrs. Creighton; “they are so fond of novelty and wild-goose chasing of any kind.”

“It would make a lion of a dandy, at once,” said Ellsworth, “if he could catch the sea-serpent.”

{“lion” = social celebrity}

“A single fin would be glory enough for one lion,” said Elinor; remember how many yards there are of him.”

“If Stryker should catch a slice of the serpent, no doubt he will throw it into his chowder-pot, and add it to the receipt,” said Mr. Wyllys.

“Well, Miss Wyllys, I think you and I might engage to eat all the monsters he catches, as Beatrice did Benedict’s slain,” said Mrs. Creighton.

{“Beatrice and Benedict ... ” = characters in Shakespeare’s play Much Ado about Nothing}

“Do you intend to make up with Stryker, a la Beatrice?” asked the lady’s brother. “It is some time now that you have carried on the war of wit with him.”

“No, indeed; I have no such intentions. I leave him entirely to Miss Wyllys; all but his chowder, which I like now and then,” said the lady, carelessly.

“I am sorry you will not be here, Mrs. Creighton, for the pic-nic to the ladies, which de Vaux is to give when he comes back,” said Mr. Wyllys; “Mr. Stryker will give us a fine chowder, no doubt.”

“Thank you, sir; I should enjoy the party exceedingly. I must not think too much of it, or I might be tempted to break my engagement with the Ramsays.”

“Have you really decided to go so soon? — I was in hopes we should be able to keep you much longer,” said Miss Wyllys.

“I should be delighted to stay; but in addition to my visit to the Ramsays, who are going to town expressly for me, I must also pick up my little niece.”

Miss Wyllys then made some inquiries about Mr. Ellsworth’s little girl.

“She was very well and happy, with her cousins, when I heard from my eldest sister, a day or two since,” he replied. “She has been with me very little this summer; I hope we shall be able to make some pleasanter arrangement for the future,” he added, with a half-glance at Elinor.

“My brother has a very poor opinion of my abilities, Miss Wyllys; because I have no children of my own, he fancies that I cannot manage his little girl.”

“I am much obliged to you, Josephine, for what you have done for her, as you very well know.”

“Oh, yes; you are much obliged to me, and so forth; but you think Mary is in better hands with Mrs. Ellis, and so do I; I cannot keep the little thing in very good order, I acknowledge.”

“It must be difficult not to spoil her, Mrs. Creighton,” remarked Mr. Wyllys. “She is a very pretty and engaging child — just the size and age for a pet.”

“That is the misfortune; she is so pretty that Frank thinks I make a little doll of her; that I dress her too much. I believe he thinks I wear too many flowers and ribbons myself; he has become very fastidious in his taste about such matters lately; he wishes his daughter to dress with elegant simplicity; now I have a decided fancy for elegant ornament.”

“He must be very bold, Mrs. Creighton, if he proposes any alteration to you.”

“I agree with you, entirely,” said the lady, laughing; “for the last year or two I have been even less successful in suiting him than of old. He seems to have some very superior model in his mind’s eye. But it is rather annoying to have one’s taste in dress criticised, after having been accustomed to hear it commended and consulted, ever since I was fifteen.”

“You must tolerate my less brilliant notions for the sake of variety,” said her brother, smiling.

“I shall hope to make over Mary’s wardrobe to some other direction, before she grows up,” said Mrs. Creighton; “for you and I would certainly quarrel over it.”

The party rose from table. Elinor felt a touch of nervousness come upon her, as she remarked that Mr. Ellsworth seemed to be watching her movements; while his face had worn rather a pre-occupied expression all the morning, seeming to threaten something important.

The day was very pleasant; and as Mr. Wyllys had some business at certain mills on Chewattan Lake, he proposed a ride on horseback to his friends, offering a seat in his old-fashioned chair to any lady who chose to take it.

{“chair” = a light, one-horse carriage}

Mrs. Creighton accepted the offer very readily.

“I have not been in any carriage so rustic and farmer-like these twenty years,” she said.

“I shall be happy to drive you, if you can be satisfied with a sober old whip like myself, and a sober old pony like Timo.”

“It is settled then; you ride I suppose, Miss Wyllys.”

Elinor assented; Mary Van Alstyne was also to go on horseback. Mr. Ellsworth thought that he would have preferred escorting one lady instead of two on that occasion. He seemed destined that morning to discover, that a lover’s course is not only impeded by important obstacles, but often obstructed by things trifling in themselves. Before the chair and horses appeared at the door, there was an arrival from Longbridge. Mr. Taylor and his daughter, Miss Emma, had come from New York the previous evening, and now appeared at Wyllys-Roof; the merchant had come over with the double object of blessing his grandchild, and taking his share in a speculation then going on in the neighbourhood. The Taylors had been asked to Wyllys-Roof, at any time when they wished to see Jane, and they had now come for twenty-four hours, in accordance with the invitation. At first Mr. Ellsworth supposed the ride to Chewattan Lake must be abandoned, but it was only deferred for an hour. Miss Emma Taylor, ever ready for an enterprise of liveliness, had no sooner embraced her sister-in-law, and learned that some of the family had proposed riding, than she immediately expressed a great desire to join them. Mary Van Alstyne very readily gave up her horse and habit to the young lady; and Mr. Ellsworth walked over to Broadlawn, to invite Bob de Vaux, a boy of sixteen, to be her especial escort. He thought this a very clever manœuvre of his own. While these arrangements were going on, and the Taylors were taking some refreshment, Mr. Taylor had found time to express his regrets at the result of the law-suit.

“I was much disposed, however, to anticipate such a verdict,” he observed; “Mr. Clapp is a very talented lawyer for so young a man; this cause, which has attracted so much attention, will probably make his fortune at the bar. But I was fearful, sir, from the beginning, that neither yourself nor your friend, Mr. Hazlehurst, was fully aware of Mr. Clapp’s abilities.”

“I do not conceive, however, that the cause was won by Mr. Clapp’s legal acumen,” observed Mr. Wyllys, drily.

“Perhaps not; still, I understand that he succeeded in making out a very strong case in behalf of his client.”

“Of that there is no doubt.”

“And the less foundation he had to work on, the greater his talents must appear,” said Mr. Taylor, with a look, which expressed both admiration for Mr. Clapp, and the suspicion that he had been assisting an impostor.

“The kind of talent you refer to is not of a very enviable character, I think,” said Mr. Wyllys.

“I don’t know that, my dear sir,” added Mr. Taylor, as he drank off a glass of wine; “it is a talent which has gained a fine property at least. I regret, however, that my friend, Mr. Hazlehurst, should have suffered so heavy a loss.”

Mr. Wyllys bowed; and well aware that his own views of the case and those of Mr. Taylor would not agree, he changed the conversation.

“You will find your old place much changed,” observed Miss Wyllys to the merchant.

“Yes, madam; I understand considerable alterations have been made at my former mansion. I had almost forgotten this morning that the estate was no longer mine, and was half-inclined to enter the gate as we passed it.”

“I am delighted, pa, that it is not yours any longer!” exclaimed Miss Emma, with a liveliness which accorded particularly ill with her deep mourning-dress. “We shall have ten times more fun at Rockaway; Colonnade Manor was the stupidest place in creation; we were often a whole day without seeing a beau!”

At length, Miss Emma having declared herself more than sufficiently rested, she put on the habit; and the chair and horses were brought to the door. Mr. Taylor was to set out shortly after, in another direction, to go over the manufactory in which he was about to become interested.

All agreed that the day was delightful. There was a fine air, the dust had been laid by a shower, and as the road led through several woods, they had not too much sun. For a while the four equestrians kept together, and common-place matters only were talked over; the Petrel was not forgotten. Miss Emma Taylor declared she would have gone along, if she had been on the spot when they sailed. Bob de Vaux said his brother Hubert had offered to take him, but he did not care to go; he had rather ride than sail, any day.

“Here’s for a gallop then!” exclaimed the young lady, and off the two set at a rapid pace.

“How does that flirtation come on?” asked Miss Emma, when they lessened their pace at some distance in advance of the rest of the party.

“All settled, I believe,” replied the youth.

“What, actually engaged? I have been quite exercised about all your doings over here, this summer; you must have had a lively time, three or four flirtations all going on at once. But, do you know I am bent on spiting Mr. Ellsworth this morning. He meant to have a tete-a-tete, I know, and only asked YOU just to get rid of ME. But he shan’t have a moment’s peace to pay for it; let’s turn round and go back again at full speed.”

Bob de Vaux had not the least objections; he liked motion and mischief almost as much as did the lively belle; they both enjoyed the joke exceedingly, and succeeded in provoking Mr. Ellsworth not a little. Miss Emma and her companion were in high glee at their success; they would first ride half a mile by the side of the others, then gallop off to a distance, and at a signal from the young lady, suddenly facing about they would return, just in time, as Miss Emma thought, to cut short any tender speech.

“That young lady seems to have gone twice over every foot of the road,” innocently observed Mr. Wyllys, little aware of her object.

“What a restless creature it is!” replied Mrs. Creighton; “she must worry her horse as much as she annoys her rational companions.”

“Miss Taylor is a perfect rattle,” remarked Mr. Ellsworth. “Quite inferior to her sister, Mrs. Hunter, I should say.”

{“a rattle” = a chatterbox}

“Her excess of spirits will wear itself out one of these days, I dare say,” replied Elinor.

“It is to be hoped so,” said the gentleman, drily.

When they reached the lake they dismounted, and passed half an hour at a farm-house, to rest, and lunch upon iced milk and dew-berries, which the farmer’s wife kindly offered them. Mrs. Creighton professed herself rather disappointed with Chewattan Lake; the shores were quite low, there was only one good hill, and one pretty, projecting point, with a fine group of elms standing in graceful relief against the sky; she thought Mr. Hubbard’s painting had flattered nature. Mr. Ellsworth would not allow that Charlie ever flattered; but remarked that it was his peculiar merit, to throw a charm about the simplest water scene; and his last view of Chewattan Lake was certainly one of his happiest pictures.

{“dew-berries” = blackberries; “happiest” = most successful}

On their way home, Miss Emma and her companion again commenced their quizzing system. Towards the end of the ride, however, the young lady relaxed a little in her vigilance; when they reached a turnpike-gate, about two miles from Wyllys-Roof, she suddenly proposed to Bob de Vaux to run a race with Elinor and Mr. Ellsworth.

“What do you say to it, Miss Wyllys?”

“Excuse me; I had much rather not.”

“Oh, but you don’t know what I mean. Now, you and Mr. Ellsworth go cantering and trotting along, in such a sober, Darby and Joan fashion, that I am sure Mr. de Vaux and I can turn off here, take this by-road, which you know comes in nearly opposite your gate, and although it is twice as far round, I bet you a pair of gloves we are at Wyllys-Roof before you.”

{“Darby and Joan fashion” = like an old married couple}

“Done!” exclaimed Mr. Ellsworth, delighted with the idea; and off the young lady gallopped {sic} with her companion.

It is not to be supposed that the gentleman allowed the half-hour that followed to pass unimproved. He could speak at last, and he admired Elinor too sincerely, not to express himself in terms both warm and respectful. Although Elinor had been for some time fully prepared for this declaration, yet she did not receive it without betraying feeling and embarrassment. Emotion in woman, at such moments, or in connexion with similar subjects, is generally traced to one cause alone; and yet half the time it should rather be attributed to some other source. Anxiety, modesty, mere nervousness, or even vexation at this very misinterpretation, often raise the colour, and make the voice falter. Elinor had fully made up her mind, and she felt that a frank explanation was due to Mr. Ellsworth, but her regard for him was too sincere not to make the moment a painful one to her. He was rejected; but rejected with so much consideration, so much modesty and feeling, so much good sense, that the very act only increased his regret. He was much disappointed, for he had been a hopeful suitor. Elinor had always liked him, and he had thought her manner encouraging; Mr. Wyllys and Miss Agnes had not concealed their approbation; and Mrs. Creighton had often told him she had no doubt of his success. He was more than mortified, however, by the refusal, he was pained. Elinor repeated assurances of respect and friendship, and regret that she felt herself unable to return his regard as it deserved. She even alluded to his generosity in overlooking her want of personal attractions; she said she had, on that account, been slow to believe that he had any serious object in view. At the time he had first proposed, through her grandfather, she herself had wished to prevent his going any farther, but her friends had desired her to defer the answer; he himself had begged her to do so, and named the time fixed — she had reluctantly consented to this arrangement; and, although the more she knew of Mr. Ellsworth, the more highly she esteemed and respected him, yet the result had been what she first foresaw; she could not conscientiously offer him the full attachment he had a right to expect from a wife.

Mr. Ellsworth rode on in silence for a moment.

“Is it then true, Miss Wyllys, that I must give up all idea of obtaining a more indulgent hearing, at some future day?”

“Judge for yourself if I am capricious, Mr. Ellsworth. Do not imagine that I have lightly rejected the regard of a man whom I esteem so highly as yourself. I could scarcely name another in my whole acquaintance, for whom I should have hesitated so long; but — ” Elinor paused, suddenly became very red, and then deadly pale.

“But — what would you say, Miss Wyllys? — go on, I entreat!” exclaimed Mr. Ellsworth.

It was a moment before Elinor rallied. She then continued, in a low voice, and in an agitated, hesitating manner:

“Mr. Ellsworth, I shall speak with perfect frankness; your kindness and forbearance deserve it. When I consented to wait so long before giving you a final answer, it was chiefly that I might discover if I could regain entire command over feelings which have not always been my own. I am afraid you are not aware of this. The feeling itself to which I allude is changed; but be it weakness or not, it has left traces for life. I was willing to make an experiment in favour of one who deserved the full confidence of my friends and myself; but the trial has not succeeded; if I know myself, it can never succeed — I shall never marry.”

And then after a moment’s silence she gently continued, in a calmer tone:

“But you will soon forget all this, I trust. You will find elsewhere some one more worthy of you; one who can better repay your kindness.”

Mr. Ellsworth chafed a little under this suggestion; though not so much as a more passionate man might have done.

“To forget one of so much womanly excellence as yourself, Miss Wyllys, is not the easy task you seem to suppose.”

Elinor could have sighed and smiled as the thought recurred to her, that Harry had not found it very difficult to forget her. They had now reached the gate, on their way home, and turning towards her companion as they entered, she said:

“I hope, indeed, you will always remember that you have very sincere friends at Wyllys-Roof, Mr. Ellsworth; believe me, friends capable of appreciating your merits, and aware of what is their due.”

Mr. Ellsworth thanked her, but he looked very evidently disturbed. When they reached the piazza he helped Elinor from her horse, perhaps more carefully than usual; Miss Emma Taylor and her cavalier had already arrived; and the young lady immediately attacked Mr. Ellsworth, bidding him remember his bet. When Mrs. Creighton stepped from the chair, she looked for her brother and Elinor, a little curious to discover if anything decisive had passed, but both had already entered the house.

Mr. Wyllys learned in the course of the day, from Ellsworth himself, that he had been rejected; he was very much disappointed, and more disposed to find fault with Elinor than he had ever been before.

“I am afraid you have not acted wisely, Elinor,” said her grandfather; words more like a reproof than any that Elinor could remember to have heard fall from his lips, addressed to herself.

Miss Agnes also evidently regretted her niece’s decision; but she said nothing on the subject. As for Mrs. Creighton, she thought it all easy to be understood.

“You may say what you please, Frank, about Miss Wyllys, but you will never persuade me she is not a coquette.”

But this Mr. Ellsworth would by no means allow.

Elinor laid her head on her pillow that night with the unpleasant reflection, that four persons under the same roof were reproaching her for the step she had taken that day. But she herself knew that she had acted conscientiously.