Chapter XXIII. {XLVI}

“Is not true love of higher price  

Than outward form, though fair to see?” COLERIDGE.

{Samuel Taylor Coleridge (English poet, 1772-1834), “Separation” lines 9-10}

HARRY had a busy autumn that year. He had two important objects in view, and within a few weeks he succeeded in accomplishing both. He was very desirous, now all difficulties were removed, that his marriage with Elinor should not be deferred any longer than was absolutely necessary.

“There cannot be the shadow of a reason, love, for waiting,” he said to her within a few days of the explanation. “Remember, it is now six years since you first promised to become my wife since we were first engaged.”

“Six years, off and on,” said Elinor smiling.

“Not really off more than a moment.”

Elinor shook her head and smiled.

“No; not really off more than a very short time.”

“Very well,” said Elinor archly; “but don’t you think the less we say about that second year the better? Perhaps the third and the fourth too.”

“No indeed; I have been thinking it all over; and in the first place there has not been a moment in those six years when I have not loved you; though to my bitter mortification I confess, there was also a moment when I was IN LOVE with another, but it was a very short moment, and a very disagreeable one to remember. No; I wish you to look well into those six years, for I honestly think they will appear more to my credit than you are at all aware of. I shan’t be satisfied until we have talked them over again, my part at least; I don’t know that you will submit to the same examination.”

“Oh, you have already heard all I have to say,” she replied, blushing deeply; “I shan’t allude to my part of the story again this long while.”

Nevertheless, Harry soon succeeded in obtaining her consent to be married within six weeks; in fact she made but few objections to the arrangement, although she would have preferred waiting longer, on account of the recent afflictions of Jane and the Hubbards.

The important day soon arrived, and the wedding took place at Wyllys-Roof. A number of friends and relatives of both parties were collected for the occasion; Mrs. Stanley, Robert Hazlehurst and his wife, the late Mrs. George Wyllys and her new husband, or as Harry called them, Mr. and Mrs. Uncle Dozie, the Van Hornes, de Vauxes, Bernards, and others. Mary Van Alstyne was bridesmaid, and Hubert de Vaux groomsman. The ceremony which at length united our two young friends, was impressively performed by the clergyman of the parish to which the Wyllyses belonged; and it may be doubted whether there were another couple married that day, in the whole wide world, whose feelings as they took the solemn vows were more true, more honourable to their natures, than those of Harry and Elinor.

Talking of vows, it was remarked by the spectators that the groom made his promises and engagements in a more decided tone of voice, a less embarrassed manner than usual; for, strange to say, your grooms, happy men, are often awkward, miserable swains enough in appearance; though it would be uncharitable in the extreme, not to suppose them always abounding in internal felicity. There was also another observation made by several of the wedding-guests, friends of Harry, who were then at Wyllys-Roof for the first time, and it becomes our duty to record the remark, since it related to no less a person than the bride; it was observed that she was not as pretty as a bride should be.

“Mrs. Harry Hazlehurst is no beauty, certainly,” said Albert Dangler to Orlando Flyrter.

“No beauty! She is downright ugly — I — wonder at Hazlehurst’s taste!”

Unfortunately for Elinor, the days are past when benevolent fairies arrive just at the important moment, and by a tap of the wand or a phial of elixir, change the coarsest features, the most unfavourable complexion, into a dazzling image of everything most lovely, most beautiful. Nor had she the good luck of certain young ladies of whom one reads quite often, who improve so astonishingly in personal appearance between fifteen and twenty — generally during the absence of the hero — that they are not to be recognized, and a second introduction becomes necessary. No; Elinor was no nearer to being a beauty when Harry returned from Brazil, than when he went to Paris; she was just as plain on the evening of her wedding as she was six years before, when first presented to the reader’s notice.

Jane, though now in widow’s weeds, was just as beautiful too, as when we first saw her; she was present at her cousin’s wedding, as Elinor wished her to be there, although in a deep mourning dress. Patsey Hubbard was also in the drawing-room during the ceremony, and in deep black; but she left her friends as soon as she had expressed her warmest wishes for the happiness of her former pupil: she wept as she turned from the house, for she could not yet see that well-known, cheerful circle at Wyllys-Roof, without missing one bright young face from the group.

Among those who had declined invitations to the wedding, were Mr. Ellsworth and Mrs. Creighton, although both had expressed many good wishes for the affianced couple; the gentleman wrote sincerely, but a little sadly perhaps, as it was only six weeks since his refusal; the lady wrote gracefully, but a little spitefully it is believed, since it was now generally known that Harry must recover entire possession of his fortune.

This vexatious affair was, in fact, finally settled about the time of Harry’s marriage; and, thanks to the disclosures of Stebbins, it was no longer a difficult matter to unravel the plot. As soon as William Stanley’s representative, or in other words, Hopgood, found that Stebbins had betrayed him, he ran off, but was arrested shortly after, tried and convicted. He was no sooner sentenced, than he offered to answer any questions that might be asked, for he was anxious that his accomplice, Clapp — who had also taken flight, and succeeded in eluding all pursuit — should be punished as well as himself. It appeared that his resemblance to the Stanleys was the first cause of his taking the name of William Stanley; he was distantly related to them through his mother, and, as we may often observe, the family likeness, after having been partially lost for one or two generations, had appeared quite strongly again in himself; and as usual, the peculiarities of the resemblance had become more deeply marked as he grew older. Being very nearly of the same age, and of the same pursuit as William Stanley, he had actually been taken for the young man on several occasions. He had been in the same lawyer’s office as Clapp, whom he had known as a boy, and had always kept up some intercourse with him; meeting him one day accidentally, he related the fact of his having passed himself off for William Stanley by way of a joke. “The sight of means to do ill deeds, makes deeds ill done:” Clapp seemed from that moment to have first taken the idea of the plot; he gradually disclosed his plan to Hopgood, who was quick-witted, a good mimic, and quite clever enough for the purpose. The idea was repeatedly abandoned, then resumed again; Hopgood having purposely shipped under the name of William Stanley, several times, and practised an imitation of William Stanley’s hand by way of an experiment. Finding no difficulties in these first steps, they gradually grew bolder, collecting information about the Stanleys, and carefully arranging all the details. Stebbins had frightened them on one occasion; but after having obtained possession of the papers in his hands, Clapp determined to carry out their plan at once; he thought the probability of success was strongly in their favour, with so much evidence within their reach; and the spoils were so considerable, that they were in his opinion worth the risk. The profits of their roguery were to be equally divided, if they succeeded; and they had also agreed that if at any moment matters began to look badly, they would make their escape from the country together. Hopgood, who was generally supposed by those who had known him, to have died at New Orleans twenty years since, had been often with William Stanley when a lad in the lawyer’s office; he knew the house and neighbourhood of Greatwood perfectly, and had a distinct recollection of Mr. Stanley, the father, and of many persons and circumstances that would prove very useful. Clapp easily obtained other necessary information, and they went to Greatwood, examining the whole house and place, in order to revive Hopgood’s recollections; while at the same time they made but little mystery of their excursion, hoping rather that when discovered it would pass off as a natural visit of William Stanley to the old home which he was about to claim. The whole plan was carefully matured under Clapp’s cunning management; on some doubtful points they were to be cautious, and a set of signals were agreed upon for moments of difficulty; but generally they were to assume a bold, confident aspect, freely offering an interview to the executors, and sending a specimen of the forged handwriting as a letter to Mrs. Stanley. The volume of the Spectator was a thought of Clapp’s; he bribed a boy to admit him into the library at Greatwood one Sunday, when the housekeeper was at church, and he selected the volume which seemed well suited to his purpose; removing the boy from the neighbourhood immediately after, by giving him high wages in a distant part of the country. As for Mr. Reed he was completely their dupe, having been himself honestly convinced of the identity of Clapp’s client. It was nine years from the time the plot first suggested itself, until they finally appeared as public claimants of the estate and name of William Stanley, and during that time, Clapp, who had never entirely abandoned the idea, although Hopgood had repeatedly done so, had been able to mature the plan very thoroughly.

{“‘The sight of means to do ill deeds ... ’” Shakespeare, King John, IV.ii.219-220}

The declarations of Stebbins and Hopgood were easily proved; and Harry had no further difficulty in resuming possession of Greatwood.

Clapp was not heard of for years. His wife, little Willie, and two younger children, became inmates of the old grey cottage, under the care of Miss Patsey, who still continues the same honest, whole- souled, benevolent being she was years ago. Patsey was now quite at her ease, and enabled to provide for her sister Kate and the three children, and it was to poor Charlie she owed the means of doing so; by an unusual precaution in one so young, he had left a will, giving everything he owned to his mother and eldest sister. Shortly after his death, some of his friends, Hazlehurst among the number, got up an exhibition of all his pictures; they made a fine and quite numerous collection, for Charlie had painted very rapidly. The melancholy interest connected with the young painter’s name, his high reputation in the particular field he had chosen, the fact that all his paintings were collected together, from the first view of Chewattan lake taken when a mere boy, to the sketch of Nantucket which he was retouching but a moment before his death, and the sad recollection that his palette was now broken for ever, attracted unusual attention. The result of that melancholy exhibition, with the sale of some remaining pictures, proved sufficient to place his mother and sister, with their moderate views, in very comfortable circumstances; thus even after his death Charlie proved a blessing to his family. In looking over the young man’s papers, Patsey found some lines which surprised her, although they explained several circumstances which she had never before fully understood; they betrayed a secret, undeclared attachment, which had expressed itself simply and gracefully in verses full of feeling and well written. It was evident from these lines that poor Charlie’s poetical imagination, even from early boyhood, had been filled with the lovely image of his young companion, Jane Graham: there was a beautiful sketch of her face among his papers, which from the date, must have been taken from memory while she was in Paris. It was clear from the tone of the verses, that Charlie had scrupulously confined his secret within his own bosom, for there were a few lines addressed to Jane since her widowhood, lamenting that grief should so soon have thrown a shadow over that lovely head, and concluding with a fear that she would little value even this expression of sympathy from one, to whom she had only given careless indifference, and one who had never asked more than the friendship of early companionship. Patsey hesitated for a moment, but then decided that the miniature and the verses should never be shown — they should meet no eyes but her own; Charlie had not spoken himself, his secret should remain untold.

We must not omit to mention, that a few weeks after Charlie’s death young Van Horne offered himself to Mary Hubbard, the youngest daughter of the family; he was accepted, and the connexion, which was very gratifying to Patsey and her mother, proved a happy one. Mrs. Hubbard survived her daughter’s marriage several years. Kate and her little ones have remained at the old grey cottage from the time of Clapp’s flight; the children are now growing up promising young people, and they owe much to Patsey’s judicious care. Willie, the hero of the temperance meeting, is her favourite, for she persuades herself that he is like her lost Charlie; and in many respects the boy happily resembles his uncle far more than his father. Last year Mrs. Clapp received for the first time, a letter in a handwriting very like that of her husband; its contents seemed distressing, for she wept much, and held several consultations with Patsey. At length quite a little sum was drawn from their modest means, Kate packed up her trunk, took leave of her sister and children, and set out upon a long and a solitary journey. She was absent for months; but letters were occasionally received from her, and at length she returned to the grey cottage in deep mourning. It was supposed that she was now a widow; and as Patsey upon one single occasion confirmed the report, the opinion must have been correct, for Patsey Hubbard’s word was truth itself. No public account of Clapp’s death, however, reached Longbridge, and his name was never mentioned by the Hubbards; still, it seemed to be known at last that Mrs. Clapp had gone to a great distance, to attend her husband during a long and fatal illness: and Mrs. Tibbs also found out by indefatigable inquiries, far and near, that about the same time one of the elders of Joe Smith, the Mormon impostor, had died of consumption at Nauvoo; that he had written somewhere several months before his death, that a delicate-looking woman had arrived, and had not quitted his side as long as he lived; that immediately after his death she had left Nauvoo, and had gone no one knew whither. It is quite certain that a young man from Longbridge travelling at the west, wrote home that he had seen Mrs. Clapp on board a Mississippi steamer, just about that time. The story is probably true, although nothing very positive is known at Longbridge.

{“no public account” = the uncertainty surrounding Mr. Clapp’s fate resembles that of Judith Hutter, at the end of James Fenimore Cooper’s The Deerslayer (1841)}

As for Hopgood, we have already mentioned that he had been arrested, and most righteously condemned to a long imprisonment for his share in that unprincipled, audacious conspiracy. A year afterwards, however, it pleased those in authority to send him out into the community again; he was pardoned —

As all reserve is generally dropped in the last chapter, we may as well tell the reader a secret of Mrs. Creighton’s. We have every reason to believe that she never cared much for Harry, although she always cared a great deal for his fortune. She was determined to marry again, for two reasons; in the first place she did not wish to give way to a sister-in-law, and she knew her brother intended marrying; and then she never could manage that brother as she wished; he was by no means disposed to throw away as much time, thought, and money upon dissipation, as she would have liked. She wanted a rich husband, of course; Harry did very well in every particular but one — she thought him too much like her brother in his tastes to be all she desired; still he suited her better than any of her other admirers, and she would have been quite satisfied to accept him, had he kept his fortune. Without that fortune, it was a very different affair; he was no longer to be thought of for a moment. We strongly suspect also, that the pretty widow saw farther than any one else into the true state of matters between Elinor and Harry, long before the parties themselves had had an explanation; and for that reason, so long as she was determined to take Hazlehurst for her second husband, she decidedly encouraged Ellsworth’s attention to Elinor. Since we are so near the last page, we shall also admit that Mrs. Creighton had quite a strong partiality for Mr. Stryker, while the gentleman was thoroughly in love with her; but neither was rich, and money, that is to say wealth, was absolutely necessary in the opinion of both parties; so Mr. Stryker went off to New Orleans in quest of a quadroon heiress recommended to him, and Mrs. Creighton became Mrs. Pompey Taylor, junior; marrying the second son of the merchant, an individual who was nearly ten years younger than herself, and resembled his brother in every respect except in being much less handsome. The happy couple sailed for Europe immediately after the ceremony.

We are sorry to say that Mr. Taylor, the father, suffered severely, not long after the marriage of his second son, by the great fire; he suffered also in the great panic, and in various other panics which have succeeded one another. Still he has not failed, but he is a poorer man than when we first had the honour of making his acquaintance. In other respects he is much what he was fifteen years ago, devoted as much as ever and as exclusively as ever to making money; still valuing everything, visible or invisible, by the market-price in gold, silver, or bank-notes; although unfortunately much less successful than at the commencement of his career, in accumulating dollars and cents; his seems to be “the fruitless race, without a prize;” and yet Mr. Taylor is approaching the time of life when the end of the race cannot be very distant.

{“the great fire” = the fire that destroyed much of downtown New York City in 1835. “the great panic ... ” = the financial panic of 1837, and the depression that followed; “the fruitless race ... ” = from William Cowper (English poet, 1731-1800), “Hope” line 25}

Adeline is improved in many respects, her mother’s advice has had a good effect on her; still it is amusing to see her already training up several little girls for future belles, on her own pattern; rather it is believed to the annoyance of her quiet husband. Emma Taylor is decidedly less lively, she too having in some measure composed herself, after achieving belle-ship and matrimony.

Mr. and Mrs. Uncle Dozie removed from Longbridge not long after their marriage; they have since returned there again, and now, by the last accounts, they are again talking of leaving the place.

Mrs. Hilson still continues to annoy her family with a persevering ingenuity, for which certain silly women appear peculiarly well qualified; at times she talks of taking the veil in a nunnery, at others, of again entering the bands of Hymen with some English aristocrat of illustrious lineage; she confesses that either step would be sufficiently romantic and aristocratic to suit her refined tastes, but which she will eventually adopt cannot yet be known. Fortunately, her sister Emmeline has profited much more than the “city lady” herself by the follies of the past; she has lately married a respectable man, one of their Longbridge neighbours, much to her father’s satisfaction.

Mary Van Alstyne remains single, and passes much of her time with Elinor.

Some eighteen months after Harry’s marriage, one evening as he was sitting on the piazza at Wyllys-Roof, he received a letter which made him smile; calling Elinor from the drawing-room, he communicated the contents to her. It was from Ellsworth, announcing his approaching marriage with the lovely Mrs. Taylor, or in other words, our friend Jane. Harry laughed a good deal, and coloured a little too, as he plainly saw by the tone of the letter, that his friend was going through precisely the same process as himself, during his Paris days, when he first discovered such wisdom in the depths of Jane’s dark eyes, such delicacy of sentiment in the purity of her complexion, such tenderness in every common smile of her beautiful lips. Ellsworth, however, would probably not find out as soon as himself, that all these beauties made up a lovely picture indeed, but nothing more; for his friend was an accepted suitor, and might indulge himself by keeping agreeable fancies alive as long as he chose; while Harry had been rather rudely awakened from his trance by very shabby treatment in the first place, and a refusal at last. To Hazlehurst, the most amusing part of Ellsworth’s story was, an allusion to a certain resemblance in character between Mrs. Taylor and ‘one whom he had so much admired, one whom he must always admire.’

“Now, Elinor, do me the justice to say I was never half so bad as that; I never pretended to think Jane like you, in one good quality.”

“It would be a pity if you had — Jane has good qualities of her own. But I am rejoiced to hear the news; it is an excellent match for both parties.”

“Yes; though Jane is a lovely puppet, and nothing more, yet it is a good match on that very account; Ellsworth will look after her. It is to be hoped they are satisfied; I think we are, my sweet wife; don’t you?”

His frank, natural, affectionate smile as he spoke, was tolerably satisfactory, certainly as to his estimate of his own fate; and it is to be hoped the reader is by this time sufficiently well acquainted with Elinor and Harry, to credit his account of the matter. From all we know of both, we are ourselves disposed to believe them very well qualified to pass through life happily together, making the cheerful days pleasanter, and the dark hours less gloomy to each other.

Harry seems to have given up his diplomatic pursuits for the present at least; he remains at home, making himself useful both in private and public life. Last year he and Elinor were at the Rip-Raps, accompanied by Mr. Wyllys and Miss Agnes, and a little family of their own — several engaging, clever, well-trained children. The little girls, without being beauties, are not plain; they are indeed quite as pretty as Jane’s daughters; the only ugly face in the young troop belongs to a fine- spirited little fellow, to whom it is of no consequence at all, as he has just discarded his petticoats for ever. Perhaps both father and mother are pleased that such is the case; the feeling would seem to be one of those weaknesses which will linger about every parent’s heart. Yet Elinor acknowledges that she is herself a happy woman without beauty; and Harry, loving her as he does for a thousand good reasons, and inclinations, and partialities, sometimes actually believes that he loves her the better for that plain face which appeals to his more generous feelings. Many men will always laugh at an ugly woman, and the idea of loving her; but is it an error in Hazlehurst’s biographer to suppose that there are others who, placed in similar circumstances, would feel as Harry felt?

{“the Rip-Raps” = sea resort at Hampton, Virginia; near Old Point Comfort, where Mr. Ellsworth had seen Elinor in Vol. II, Chapter II}