V2 by Catharine Maria Sedgwick
The Linwoods V1CHAPTER XIX.
The Eternal Power
Lodged in the will of man the hallowed names
Of freedom and of country.
— Miss Mitford IN TWO VOLUMES. VOL. II.
"Ignomy in ransom, and free pardon,
Are of two houses."
It is reasonable to suppose that the disclosures which occurred in
Sir Henry Clinton's library would be immediately followed by their
natural sequences: that love declared by one party, and betrayed by the
other, would, according to the common usages of society, soon issue in
mutual affiancing. But these were not the piping times of peace, and
the harmony of events was sadly broken by the discords of the period.
The conflict of Mr. Linwood's political with his natural
affections, at his eventful meeting with his son, was immediately
followed by a frightful attack of gout in the stomach—a case to verify
the theories of our eminent friend of the faculty, who locates the
sensibility in the mucous tissue of that organ. Isabella, afflicted on
all sides, and expecting her father's death at every moment, never left
his bedside. In vain Meredith besieged the house, and sent her message
after message; not he, even, could draw her from her post. "My life
depends on you,Belle," said her father: "the doctor says I must keep
tranquil—he might as well say so to a ship in a squall—but my child,
you are my polar star— my loadstone—my sheet-anchor—my every thing;
don't quit me, Belle!" She did not, for an instant.
"Bless me! Mr. Meredith," said Helen Ruthven, on entering Mrs.
Linwood's drawing-room, and finding Meredith walking up and down, with
an expression of impatience and disappointment, "what is the matter—is
Mr. Linwood worse?"
"Not that I know."
"How happens it that you are alone, then?"
"The family are with Mr. Linwood."
"The family! the old lady surely can take care of him; is Isabella
invisible?—invisible to you?"
"I have not seen her since her father's illness."
"My heavens! is it possible! well, some people are better than
"I do not comprehend you, Miss Ruthven."
"My meaning is simple enough; a woman must be an icicle or an angel
to hang over an old gouty father, without allowing herself a precious
five minutes with her lover."
"Miss Linwood is very dutiful!" said Meredith, half sneeringly, for
his vanity was touched.
"Dutiful!—she may be—she is undoubtedly—a very, very sweet
creature is Isabella Linwood; but I should not have imagined her a
person, if her heart were really engaged, to deny its longings and sit
down patiently to play the dutiful daughter. I judge others by myself.
In her situation—preciselyin hers," she paused and looked at Meredith
with an expression fraught with meaning, "I should know neither scruple
There was much in this artful speech of Helen Ruthven to feed
Meredith's bitter fancies when he afterward pondered on it.—"If her
heart were engaged!" he said, "it is—I am sure of it—and yet, if it
were, she is not, as Helen Ruthven said, a creature to be chained down
by duty. If it were! —it is—it shall be—her heart is the only one I
have invariably desired—the only one I have found unattainable. I
believe—I am almost sure, she loves me; but there is something
lacking—I do not come up to her standard of ideal perfection!—others
do not find me deficient. There's poor Bessie, a sylvan maiden she—but
there's Helen Ruthven—the love, the just appreciation of such a woman,
so full of genius, and sentiment, and knowledge of the world, would
These were after-thoughts of Meredith, for at the time his
interview with Miss Ruthven was interrupted by Rose putting a note into
his hand, addressed to Sir Henry Clinton, and requesting him, in Miss
Linwood's name, to deliver it as soon as possible.
"Pray let me see that!" said Miss Ruthven; and after examining it
closely on both sides, she returned it, saying, "Strange! I thought to
have found somewhere, in pencil, some little expressive,
world-full-of-meaning word; as I said, some people are very different
Meredith bit his lips and hastened away with the note. It contained
a plain statement to Sir Henry Clinton of the motives of Herbert's
return, and every fact attending it. The note was thus finished:—
"I have told you the unvarnished and unextenuated truth, my dear
Sir Henry. I think that justice will dictate my brother's release, or,
at least, require that he be treated as a prisoner of war; but if
justice (justice perverted by artificial codes and traditionary abuses)
cannot interpose in his behalf, I commend him to your mercy; think of
him as if he were your own son, and then mete out to him, for the
rashness of his filial affection, such measure as a father would allot
to such offence.
"If my appeal is presuming, forgive me. My father is suffering
indescribably, and we are all wretched. Send us, I beseech you, some
kind word of relief."
Late in the afternoon, after many tedious hours, the following
reply was brought to Isabella, written by Sir Henry's secretary:—
"Sir Henry Clinton directs me to present his best regards to Miss
Linwood, and inform her that he regrets the impossibility of complying
with her wishes,—that he has no absolute power by which he can remit,
at pleasure, the offences of disloyalsubjects. Sir Henry bids me add,
that he is seriously concerned at his friend Mr. Linwood's illness, and
that he shall continue to send his servant daily to inquire about him."
"Yes, no doubt," said Isabella, in the bitterness of her
disappointment, throwing down the note, "these empty courtesies will be
strictly paid, while not a finger is raised to save us from utter
"My dearest child!" said her mother, who had picked up the note and
reverently perused it, "how you are hurried away by your feelings! Sir
Henry, or rather his secretary, which is the same thing, says as much
as to say, that Sir Henry would aid us if he could; and I am sure I
think it is extremely attentive of him to send every day to inquire
after your poor father. I do wonder a little that Sir Henry did not
sign his name; it would have seemed more polite, and Sir Henry is so
strictly polite! I am afraid, my dear, you were not particular enough
about your note. Was it written on gilt paper and sealed with wax?
Isabella, do you hear me, child?"
"Indeed, mamma, I did not observe the paper, and I forget whether I
sealed it at all. 'Remit at pleasure the offences of disloyal
subjects!' Herbert has transferred his loyalty to his country, and is
no longer amenable to his sovereign in another hemisphere."
"Feminine reasoning!" interposed Meredith, who entered at this
moment. He stopped and gazedat Isabella, and thought he had never seen
her so perfectly lovely. Watching and anxiety had subdued her
brilliancy, and had given a depth of tenderness, a softness to her
expression, bordering on feminine weakness. When a man has a dread,
however slight it may be, that a woman is superior to him, her
attractions are enhanced by whatever indicates the gentleness and
dependance of her sex.
Meredith took her hand: his eyes expressed the emotion she
produced, and his lips all the sympathy and none of the vexation he had
felt for the last few days; and then reverting to Sir Henry, he said,
"I trust the current of your feelings will change when I tell you that
I have obtained an order for Herbert's release."
"God bless you, Jasper!—Oh, mamma, do you hear?"
"Pray go, my dear madam," added Meredith, "and prepare Mr. Linwood
for good news. You interrupted me, Isabella," he resumed, when Mrs.
Linwood had left the room; "your wishes always fly over the means to
the end—a moment's reflection will show you that your brother's
release cannot be unconditional."
"Well—the conditions are such as can in honour be complied
with?—Sir Henry would propose no other."
"Honour is a conventional term, Isabella."
"The honour that I mean," replied Miss Linwood, "is not
conventional, but synonymous with rectitude."
Meredith shook his head. He had an instinctive dislike of
definitions, as they in Scripture, who loved darkness, had to the
light. He was fond of enveloping his meaning in shadowy analogies,
which, like the moon, often led astray, with a beautiful but imperfect
and illusive light.
"Even rectitude must depend somewhat on position, Isabella," he
replied. "He who is under the pressure of circumstances, and crowded on
every side, cannot, like him who is perfectly free, stand upright and
dispose his motions at pleasure."
"Do not mystify, Jasper, but tell me at once what the conditions
Isabella's face and voice expressed even more dissatisfaction than
her words, and Meredith's reply was in the tone of an injured man.
"Pardon me, Miss Linwood, if my anxiety to prepare your mind by a
winding approach has betrayed me into awkwardness. Certainly, Herbert's
honour, the honour of your brother, cannot be dearer to any one than to
"You have always been his friend, I know," replied Isabella,
evading Meredith's implication; "watchful nights, and more anxious
days, have made me peevish—forgive me."
Meredith kissed the hand she extended to him. "You cannot imagine,
Isabella, what it costs me to infuse another bitter drop into the cup
already overflowing with accumulated anxieties. But your aunt's
disasters are followed with new trials. Do not be alarmed—the
threatening storm may pass over."
"Oh, tell me what it threatens!"
"Sir Henry has, within the last hour, received a despatch from
Washington, disclaiming all part and lot in Herbert's return to the
city, and expressing his deep regret that the sanctity of a flag of
truce should be brought into question by one of his own officers."
"This was to be expected."
"Of course. But we all know that Washington has his resident spies
in this city, and emissaries continually passing to and fro, in various
disguises and under various pretences. However, assuming that he is
exempt from any participation in this disastrous affair, common
humanity would have dictated some plea for a brave and faithful
officer,—some extenuation for a rash and generous youth. But
Washington is always governed by this cold, selfish policy—"
"Is there not one word?"
"Not one!—There is, indeed, a private letter from Eliot Lee,
stating that the motives of Herbert's return were wholly personal, and
containing the particulars you had previously stated; and a very
laboured appeal to Sir Henry, with a sort of endorsement from
Washington, that these statements are entitled to whatever weight they
might derive from the unquestionable integrity of Captain Lee."
"Thank Heaven! Eliot Lee has proved a true friend."
"Certainly, as far as writing a letter goes; but,as you must
perceive, Isabella, Sir Henry cannot act officially from the statements
of a sister and friend. He will do all he can. He has empowered me to
offer Herbert not only his release, but favour and promotion, provided
he will renounce the bad cause to which he has too long adhered, and
expiate the sin of rebellion by active service in the royal army."
"Never, never; never shall Herbert do this!"
"You are hasty, Isabella—hear me. If I convince Herbert that he
has erred, why should he not retrieve his error?"
"Ay, Jasper, if you can convince him—but the mind cannot be
convinced at pleasure—we cannot believe as we would—I know it is
Her voice faltered; she paused for a moment, a moment of the most
painful embarrassment, and then proceeded with more firmness:—"I will
be frank with you, Jasper. Herbert is not—you know him as well as I
do—he is not of a temper to suffer long and patiently. He is like a
bird, for ever singing and on the wing in sunshine, but silent and
shrinking when the sky is overcast. He may—it breaks my heart to think
it possible—but he may—his spirit broken by imprisonment and
desertion, and stung by what will appear to him his commander's
indifference to his fate, he may yield to the temptation you offer, and
abandon a cause that he still believes, in the recesses of his heart,
to be just and holy."
Meredith fixed his piercing eyes on Isabella.It seemed that
something new had been infused into her mind. He forbore, however, from
expressing a suspicion, and merely said, "You place me in a flattering
light, Isabella,—as the tempter of your brother."
"Oh no—you mistake me—you are only the medium through which
temptation comes to him. But remember his infirmity—the infirmity of
human nature, and do not increase the force of the temptation—do not
make the worse appear the better reason, Jasper. I know you will
not—at least I believe, I think, I hope—"
"For Heaven's sake, my dear friend," interrupted Meredith, "do not
reduce your confidence in my integrity to any thing weaker than a hope.
Now as I perceive that you would choose accurately to limit and define
my agency, I entreat you to do so—my hope, my wish, my purpose,
Isabella, is to be in all things moulded and governed by your will. Let
us understand each other. I go to Herbert the advocate of a cause in
which I, at least, have unwavering confidence—"
"Thank Heaven for that!" said Isabella, replying courageously to
the equivocal curl of Meredith's lip.
He proceeded:—"I am permitted—am I not, to communicate Sir
Henry's generous offer?"
"His offer—but do not call it generous. Nothing remitted—nothing
forgiven. His oblivion of the past, and his future favour, are to be
dearly paid for."
"Sir Henry's offer, then, without note or comment."
Isabella nodded assent.
"I may report, à la lettre Washington's renunciation, disclaimer,
or whatever you may be pleased to call it?"
"I may suggest to him—or do your primitive notions prohibit
this?—that Washington's communication and Eliot's letter enable us to
give an interpretation to his return to the city that will relieve him
from the appearance of having been forced by circumstances into our
ranks. Indeed, without any essential perversion, this return to the
path of duty may appear to have been his deliberate intention in coming
to the city. This, of course, would very favourably affect his standing
with his fellow-officers—you hesitate. Isabella, forgive me for
quoting the vulgar proverb—be not 'more nice than wise.' Why should
not Herbert avail himself of a fortunate position—a favourable light?"
"Because it is a false light—a deceptive gloss. Do not, Jasper,
over-estimate the uncertain, imperfect, and ignorant opinions of
others—pray do not be offended; but is it not folly to look for our
own image in other's minds, where, as in water, it may be magnified,
or, as in the turbid stream, clouded and distorted, when in our own
bosoms we have an unerring mirror?"
"Your theory is right, undoubtedly, Isabella— your sentiments
lofty—no one can admire themmore than I do; but what is the use of
standing on an eminence a hundred degrees above your fellow-mortals
with whom you are destined to act? It is certain they will not come up
to you, and as certain that, unless you are willing to live in the
solitude of a hermit, useless and forgotten, it is wisest to come down
to them." Meredith paused. "We do not see eye to eye," thought
Isabella; but she did not speak, and Meredith proceeded:—" God knows,
Isabella, that it is my first wish to conform my opinions, my mind and
heart, to you; but we must adapt ourselves to things as they are.
Herbert is in a most awkward and fearful predicament. Sir Henry, like
other public men, must be governed by policy. If your father's fortune
or influence were important to the royal cause, Sir Henry might make an
exception to the usual proceedings in similar cases in favour of his
son; but, as he remarked to me to-day, your father is injudicious in
his zeal, and such a friend often harms us more than an enemy. He says,
too, that he finds it essential not to relax in severity towards the
rebel sons of royalists. Nothing is more common than for families to
divide in this way; their fathers remain loyal, the sons join the
rebels; and Sir Henry deems it most politic to cut them off from all
hope of immunity on account of the fidelity of their fathers. If
Herbert does not accept Sir Henry's terms, it will be particularly
unfortunate for him that he came into the city under the protection of
a flag of truce; for, as Sir Henry remarked to me, it behoovesus to
seize every occasion to abate the country's confidence in Washington's
integrity, and certainly this is a tempting one."
"Does Sir Henry believe that Washington was privy to Herbert's
coming to the city?"
"And yet, he will be guilty of the falsehood and meanness of
infusing this opinion into other men's minds, and call it
policy!—Jasper, how is it that the religious obligations of truth,
which govern man in his intercourse with his fellow—which rule us in
our homes and at our firesides, have never presided in the councils of
warriors nor in the halls of statesmen?"
"For no other reason that I know, Isabella, than that they would be
exceedingly inconvenient there. 'Might makes right'—those that have
the power will use it."
"Ah, Jasper," said Isabella, without responding to Meredith's
simile; "the time is coming when that base dogma will be reversed, and
right will make might. The Divinity is stirring within men, and the
policy and power of these false gods, who fancy they have a chartered
and transmitted right to all the good things of this fair world, shall
fall before it, as Dagon fell prostrate before the ark of the Lord."
"I do not comprehend you, Isabella."
"I simply mean, that the time is at hand when the truth that all
men are made in the image of God, and therefore all have equal rights
andequal duties, will not only be acknowledged in our prayers and
churchyards, but will be the basis of government, and of public as well
as of private intercourse."
"When the sky falls'—these are odd speculations for a young lady."
"Speculations they are not. The hardest metals are melted in the
furnace, to be recast in new forms; and old opinions and prejudices,
harder, Jasper, than any metal, may be subdued and remoulded in these
"And does our aunt Archer furnish the mould in which they are
recast?—if she talks to you as she has to me of the redoubtable
knight-errantry of the indomitable deliverer of her captive child, I do
not wonder at this sudden inspiration of republicanism. It is rather a
feminine mode, though, of arriving at political abstractions through
their incarnation in a favourite hero."
A deep glow, partly hurt pride, partly consciousness, suffused
Isabella's cheek. Her aunt's was the only mind whose direct influence
"You are displeased," he continued; "but you must forgive me, for I
am in that state when 'trifles, light as air,' disturb me. My destiny,
or rather, I should say, those hopes that shape destiny, seem to be
under the control of some strange fatality, that I can neither evade
nor understand. If I dared retrace to you the history of these hopes,
from our childhood to this day, you would see how many times, when they
have been most assured, you have dashed them by some evident and
inexplicable alienation from me. At our last interview—"
"When was it—when was it?" asked Isabella, in her nervousness and
confusion, forgetting they had not met since the day of the dinner at
Sir Henry Clinton's.
"When—have you forgotten our last meeting?"
"Oh, no—no; but ages have passed since—ages of anxiety and
"And have these ages, compressed as they have been into five days,
changed your heart, Isabella? —or was it folly and presumption to
hope—I will confess the whole extent of my presumption—to believe,
that that heart, the object of all my hopes— that for which I only
care to live, was—mine?" It was well that Isabella covered her face,
for it expressed what she forbade her lips to speak.
"Any thing but this mysterious silence," continued Meredith, aware
how near a suppressed agitation was to the confession he expected. "Let
me, I beseech you, know my fate at once. It is more important to us
both that it should now be decided than you can imagine."
"Oh, not now—not now, Jasper!"
Meredith was too acute not to perceive how near to a favourable
decision was this "not now."
"And why not now, Isabella? Surely I have not seriously offended
you. Think, for a moment, that after passing the last five days between
the most anxious waiting at your door, and continuedefforts for
Herbert, when I at last get access to you, you receive my plans for
your brother coldly and doubtingly; and I find that while I was burning
with impatience to see you, you had been occupied with abstruse
meditations upon the rights of man! I was galled, I confess, Isabella;
and if I seemed merely to treat them with levity, I deserve credit for
mastery over stronger feelings." Isabella was half convinced that she
had been unjust and almost silly. "You have it in your power,"
continued Meredith, "to infuse what opinions you will into my mind—to
inspire my purpose —to govern my affections—to fix my destiny for
time and eternity. Oh, Isabella! do not put me off with this silence.
Let this blessed moment decide our fate. Speak but one word, and I am
bound to you for ever!"
That word of doom hovered on Isabella's lips; her hand, which he
had taken, was no longer cold and passive, but returned the grasp of
his;—doubt and resolution were vanishing together; and the balance
that had been wavering for years was rapidly descending in Meredith's
favour, when the door opened and Mrs. Linwood appeared. At first
starting back with delighted surprise, and then receiving a fresh
impulse from her husband's impatient voice calling from his room, she
said, "You must come to your father, instantly, Isabella." Isabella
gave one glance to Meredith and obeyed the summons. Meredith felt as if
some fiend had dashed from his hand the sparkling cup just raisedto his
lips. His face, that expressed the conflict of hope just assured, and
of sudden disappointment, was a curious contrast to Mrs. Linwood's,
smiling all over. She believed she at last saw the happy issue of her
long-indulged expectations. She waited in vain for Meredith to speak;
and finally came to the conclusion, that there were occasions in life
when the best bred people forgot propriety. "I am quite mortified that
I intruded," she said; "but you know Mr. Linwood—he is so impatient,
and the gout you know is so teasing, and he never can bear Isabella out
of his sight, and he is just on the sofa for the first time since this
attack, and I unluckily hurt his foot. You know the gout has left his
stomach and gone into his foot. It is much less dangerous there, but I
don't think he is any more patient with it; and I happened just to
touch the tip end of his toe in putting under the cushion, and he
screamed out so for Isabella. He thinks she can do every thing so much
better than anybody else. Indeed, she is a first-rate nurse—so
devoted, too—she has not left her father's bedside till now for five
days and nights; she seemed to forget herself a little now (spoken in
parenthesis and significantly). Whatever man may think before marriage,
Mr. Meredith, he finds afterward, especially if he is subject to the
gout, good nursing is every thing. I often say, All a woman need know
is how to take good care of her family and of the sick. However, that
and something more Isabella knows."
"Madam?" said Meredith, waked from his revery by Isabella's name,
the only word of this long speech, meant to be so effective and
appropriate, that he had heard. He slightly bowed and left the house.
"How odd!—how very odd!" thought Mrs. Linwood. "When Mr. Linwood
declared himself, he directly told my father and mother, and the
wedding-day and all was settled before he went out of the house. I wish
I knew just how matters stand. Belle will not say a word to me unless
it's a fixed thing: so I shall find out one way or the other. I am sure
I used to tell my mother every thing; but Belle don't take after me:
however, she is a dear girl, and I am sure I ought to be satisfied with
her.—If she should refuse Jasper Meredith!!"
This last supposition of a tremendous possibility was quite too
much for a solitary meditation; and the good lady started from her
position at the window, where she had stood gazing after Meredith, and
returned to her customary avocations.
"Un gentil-homme merveilleusement sujet à la goutte, estant pressé
par les médecins de laisser de tout l'usage des viandes salées, avoit
accoustumé de respondre plaisamment, que sur les efforts et tourmens du
mal il vouloit avoit à qui s'en prendre; et que s'escriant et
mauldissant tantôt le cervelat, tantôt le jambon, il s'en sentoit
Isabella returned to her father's apartment in a frame of mind
rather adverse to her performing accurately the tasks of the "best
nurse in the world."
"What the devil ails you, Belle?" exclaimed her father; "you are
putting the cushion under the wrong foot!—there—there—that will
do—that's right—now kiss me, Belle, dear. I did not mean to speak
cross to you; but your mother has been fidgeting here a little
eternity. I wonder what the deuse is the reason she can never make any
thing lie easy. She does try her best, poor soul; but she has no
faculty—none in the world. What is this good news, Belle, she tells me
Jasper has brought?"
"It amounts to nothing, sir."
"Humph!—I thought as much." A pause ensued. "Hark!" resumed Mr.
Linwood—"is notthat Helen Ruthven's voice on the stairs?—call her in,
Belle." Miss Ruthven entered. "Glad to see you, my dear—like to see
living folks alive. Belle is sitting up here like a tomb-stone, neither
seeing, hearing, nor moving. 'How am I, child?'—alive, thank God, and
better—the enemy has cleared out of the citadel, and is firing away at
the outworks— expect to eat a capital dinner to-day—Major St. Clair
has sent me a brace of woodcock—a man of taste is Major St. Clair!
Woodcock, currant-jelly, and a glass of madeira, will make a Christian
of me again. I should be as happy as the king if it were not—heigh ho,
poor Herbert! Oh, Jupiter Ammon, what a twinge!—Belle, do loosen that
flannel—your mother has drawn it up like a vice—there—there—that
will do. Do for conscience' sake tell me some news, Helen, my dear."
"I came on purpose, sir, to tell Isabella a famous piece of news;
but I met Jasper Meredith—"
"What of that, child?"
"He has told the news, sir, of course."
"He may have told it to Belle; but I am none the better for it: so
pray tell on, my dear."
"Meredith's mother has arrived."
"His mother!" echoed Isabella.
"His mother!" repeated Mr. Linwood, in a voice that drowned
"Ah," thought Miss Ruthven, with infinite satisfaction, "they are
not in smooth water yet, or this fact would have been announced."—"The
ship,"she replied to Mr. Linwood, "arrived last night, and is at anchor
below, waiting for a wind."
"What ship, child?"
"The Thetis, or Neptune, or Minerva?"
"It can't be, my child; there is no such ship expected."
"It may be called by some other name, sir; I never remember ships'
names; but Mrs. Meredith has most certainly arrived, and her niece,
Lady Anne Seton, with her."
"Extraordinary—most extraordinary! Did Jasper ever speak to you of
expecting them, Belle?"
"Do, for Heaven's sake, Belle, speak more than one word at a
time—go on, Helen—what else did you hear?"
Miss Ruthven was nothing loath to speak, and she proceeded:—"I met
St. Clair at Mrs. Archer's. By-the-way, I admire your aunt excessively,
Belle." Miss Helen was a wholesale flatterer, and practised all the
accesses to the heart through admiration of one's favourite friends and
relations. "How sweetly she is settled; but I could not but laugh at
her scruples about using the Ludlows' furniture. I told her it was the
good and universal rule of the city to make the most of what the rebel
runaways had left behind them. You do not assent, Belle. I am sure your
father agrees with me—do you not, Mr. Linwood?"
"Mrs. Archer has a way of her own. Go onwith your news, my
child—was Mrs. Meredith expected?"
"I really do not know, sir; Isabella has the best right to know."
Isabella blushed painfully. This was the answer Helen Ruthven
wished, and she proceeded:— "St. Clair was with Jasper when the news
arrived, and he says Meredith appeared delighted; but then St. Clair
does not penetrate below the surface, and Meredith is a bit of a
diplomatist—don't you think so, Isabella?"
"It is neither very flattering to Jasper nor to his mother,"
replied Isabella, evading Helen Ruthven's annoying question, "to doubt
his joy at the arrival after a ten years' separation."
"Perhaps not; but then we must see things as they are—mothers are
sometimes inconvenient appendages, and sometimes—troublesome spies. At
any rate, I do not believe it is pure maternal love that has brought
the lady out. St. Clair says she is not that kind of person; she loves
her ease, he says, and loves the world of London, and would not come
here without a powerful motive. Your aunt said that the pleasure of
seeing her son would be motive enough to most mothers; but your aunt is
all mother. By-the-way, what a sweet fellow Ned Archer is. I did not
see Lizzy—her mother says she is not yet recovered from her
fright—she is so nervous—poor thing! I do not wonder."
"Go on, Helen. What motive did you find out for Madam
Meredith?—wise heads yours, to think a woman acts from motive."
"Ah, sir, but we did find one; a right, rational, and probable one
too. Perhaps you do not know that Lady Anne Seton is Mrs. Meredith's
ward, and that she is, moreover, a rich heiress."
"Well, what of that?"
"Oh, a vast deal 'of that'—a fortune is a most important item in a
young lady's catalogue of charms; and poor Mrs. Meredith flatters
herself she has a son yet to be charmed."
Miss Ruthven fixed her eyes, that had the quality of piercing, on
Isabella; but Isabella's were riveted to the embroidery on which her
hands were employed, and she did not raise them, nor move a muscle of
Mr. Linwood breathed out an expressive "humph," and asked if
fortune was the young lady's only charm.
"Oh, on! St. Clair gave me a catalogue of them as long as my arm.
In the first place, she is just sweet eighteen—very pretty, though a
little too much inclined to embonpoint—rather pale, too— very sweet
eyes, hazel, soft, and laughing—not a classic nose; but pretty noses
are rare—hair of the loveliest brown; but that matters not now, when
no one, save Isabella, wears 'hair of the colour God chooses'—a sweet
pretty mouth she has, St. Clair says; and her hands, arms, and feetare
such beauties, that she has been asked to sit to a sculptor."
"The deuse, girls! She'll cut you all out."
"She may prove a dangerous rival, Isabella."
Isabella looked disturbed, and was so; not so much at Miss
Ruthven's allusion as at a sudden recollection. Meredith had urged her
immediate decision as momentous to them both. "Is he," thought she,
"afraid that his resolution, his affections, are not strong enough to
resist a siege from his mother?" Rallying her spirits, she asked "if
St. Clair had only furnished a schedule of Lady Anne's personal
"Oh, my dear friend, yes. She enters the lists armed cap-á-pie—she
has been partly educated in France—dances like a sylph, and speaks
French like a Parisian angel."
"Don't be gulled by that, girls; if she sputters away in French, it
is a pretty sure sign she has nothing worth saying in English."
"But St. Clair says, Mr. Linwood, that she is agreeable and
good-humoured—a sort of person that everybody likes."
"Then I sha'n't like her, that's flat; for I don't like that kind
of fit that fits everybody."
"But you like her name?—Lady Anne Seton. There is such a charm in
a name—a title too—a rose by any other name might be as sweet; but a
name with the prefix of 'lady' is far more captivatingfor it, Lady
Isabella. There is a coronet in the very sound.
"Do you know St. Clair says, that if Isabella were to appear in
England, she might soon write herself lady?" She added, in a whisper,
"he says, Belle—don't be offended—that if an earl, or even a baronet
were to address you, it would fix a certain person at once; he has such
deference for rank, that if you were merely to have it within your
grasp, you would be perfectly irresistible to him."
"St. Clair talks idly," replied Isabella, proudly, and the tears,
in spite of her efforts to repress them, starting into her eyes; "he
knows very little of Jasper Meredith." Alas! such a suggestion, even
from such a source, had power to wound her. "Helen," she added, "papa
is getting tired, and must take his drops, and try for his nap."
"Bless me, my dear, forgive me for staying; I always get so
interested in your interests. Good morning, dear Mr. Linwood; make
haste and get well. Farewell, dear Isabella, I am going to reconnoitre,
and will report progress;" and kissing both father and daughter, she
"Helen Ruthven is very fond of you, Belle," said her father.
Isabella smiled; but it was a bitter smile. She did not care to
rectify her father's opinion; but she thought Helen Ruthven much like a
bee, who stings while laden with sweets.
"Very odd, Mrs. Meredith coming out just now,"continued Mr.
Linwood; "the ocean covered with rebel privateers—bringing over this
girl too—a right woman's move. Give me my drops, Belle— they will
sharpen my appetite—thank you, dear— Pah! what's this—that devilish
rhubarb—you've spoiled my dinner, Belle."
"A thousand pardons, papa—take this water— now rest a little, and
then your drops."
"Never mind, my dear—set down the glass, and come and kneel down
by me, Belle. There's something the matter with you, my child; I am
sure of it. You cannot deceive me, Belle—you are as transparent as
that glass. Twice since you came from the parlour you have blundered,
first with the cushion, and now the drops. It's an uncommon thing for
you, my dear, to look one way and row t'other. Jasper was with you,
Belle —has he offered himself?—Don't hesitate—I am in no condition
to be trifled with—has Jasper done it?"
"Have you accepted or rejected him?"
"Do you love him, Belle?"
"Dear papa!" said she, springing to her feet, and walking to the
extremity of the room; "do not question me any farther."
"Come back to me, Belle—kneel down by me again, and listen to me.
I can tell you a love. story: yes—little like a lover as I now seem.
When I was eight-and-twenty, still in the hey-day of life, I loved,
with my whole soul, your aunt Archer—don't flinch, child—listen. She
was very young, just from school; twelve years younger than I, eight
than your mother; but then she promised all she has since been. She
rejected me. In a fit of pique I married your mother—mark the
consequences. She has been the poor, subservient, domestic drudge—"
"Oh, papa! pray—"
"I am telling a plain story, Belle, and you must hear it; but never
mind what she has been. You can't dispute that I have been
unreasonable, peevish, passionate, and so we have worn away life
together; and now, when the curtain is about to fall, I look back on my
useless existence—my wasted talents—my lost opportunities, and mourn
over it all—in vain!" His voice was choked with emotion.
"Oh, do not say so, sir; you are the dearest, kindest of fathers."
"To you, Belle; and what thanks to me for that? I have been proud
of you—I have loved you—there it is; if I had loved your mother, I
should have been the kindest of husbands. Love makes virtue easy.
'Love,' the Scripture says, 'is the fulfilling of the law.' I say those
must be saints who fulfil the law without it. Conscience does not sleep
even in such a self-lover as I am; and think you, Belle, I am not often
tormentedwith the thought, that I was created for something better than
to make my dinner the chief good of every day—to pamper myself with
the bounties of Providence, and fret and fume at every straw in my way?
No, my dear child, you never have felt my petty tyranny; but you hold
the master-key to my heart. Poor Herbert! I sacrificed him to a gust of
passion. It was I that drove him into the ranks of the rebels."
"Pray compose yourself, sir; do not say any more."
"I must finish what I began upon—I have gone aside from it—Jasper
Meredith! Ah, Belle, that name conjures the blood back to your cheeks—
Jasper Meredith has fortune which, thanks to this unnatural war, we
want enough. He has rank which I honour, and talents which all men
honour; but if he has not your whole heart, child, let him and his
fortune, rank, and talents, go to the devil."
"Thanks, dearest father, for your counsel; and trust me, I will be
assured of something better and higher than fortune, rank, or talents,
before I bind myself in that indissoluble bond."
"I believe it, Belle; I know it." Mr. Linwood felt, though he did
not perfectly comprehend the emotions that at this moment irradiated
Isabella's beautiful face. "And, my child," he continued, "ever since
you have come to woman's estate, I have resolved that whoever you
loved, let his name, condition, fortune, be what it would, your
handshould go with your heart, Belle; and I fear not to stand by my
resolve, for I know that your giving your heart means your respect,
honour, esteem, and all that one of God's creatures can feel for
"You are right, sir."
"I'm sure of it—now kiss me, dear—that's a seal to the bond. Read
to me the last London Gazette —no matter where. I'll doze away the
time till dinner."
"Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto
the bitter in soul?"
We ought not to tax too severely the ingenuity of our readers, and
therefore must briefly explain our poor friend Kisel's sudden
appearance with the marauders. He had waked from his sound sleep on
Gurdon Coit's floor at the moment that Eliot galloped off with his
associates towards Mrs. Archer's, and in spite of all remonstrance he
had mounted his horse and followed him. He had the dog's affection, but
not his instinct; and failing to find the right track, he fell in with
the skinners instead of rejoining his master. It occurred to Hewson
that the poor fellow might be a useful agent in reconveying the child
to Mrs. Archer; and ordering his men to ride on each side of Kisel, he
enforced his continuance in the company into which he had unwittingly
fallen. One flash of hope came upon him at the sight of his master, but
he was soon beyond the possibility of Eliot's pursuit or rescue; and
with a heavy heart he commended him to that Power that had seemed
hitherto to care for him as for the ravens and all helpless things.
When Eliot reached Gurdon Coit's, he found that the general and men
from West Point had been gone for a half hour. Coit stood before the
door, holding by the halter a fine bay horse, and as soon as he had
expressed his heartfelt joy at Eliot's report from Mrs. Archer's, he
said, "I am thinking, captain, you are pretty near breaking the tenth
commandment—no wonder, this is a noble animal; how he paws the dust,
as though he smelt the battle afar off. But here's a note the gen'ral
left for you."
As some among the youth of the present day may be shocked at the
spelling of the canonized old general, before Eliot reads the note we
must premise, that as neither reading, writing, nor spelling (Jack Cade
to the contrary notwithstanding) "come by nature," the general's
accomplishment in these arts was very limited; and we beg them to
remember, that even in these days of universal learning, a
patriot-soldier might be forgiven very imperfect orthography—but to
"Dere, galunt young friend
—I could have huged you before we parted, I have been so pleased
with you from the beginin to the end of this biznes. I felt for you in
the loss of your hors, and I can't bear the thots of your riden that
sorry jade, that's only been used to prouling about o' nights, on all
sorts of diviltry; so I've ordered Gurden to put into your hands a
likely oretur, that our fokes at home has sent up to be sold to the
ofisers in camp.Take it, my boy, and don't feel beholden to me; for
when the war is at end, and it's conveneyent, we'll settle for it.
"Yours, tell death, and ever after, if the Lord permits.
We will leave Eliot's surprise, joy, and gratitude to be imagined.
The last emotion was greatly augmented by his benefactor's exempting
him from the pain of a pecuniary obligation. He was soon mounted on his
new steed, and retracing his way, with many a delightful recollection
to counteract his anxieties. These however prevailed when he was
ushered into Washington's presence, and felt the whole weight of the
task Herbert's rashness had imposed on him. He first delivered his
despatches, and had the happiness of receiving his commander's thanks
for the manner in which he had performed his mission. Washington wasted
no time in formal compliments, and Eliot felt his approval to be more
than the praise of other men. Might not that approval be withdrawn?
Eliot must encounter the risk, and he proceeded to ask the general's
patience while he recounted the misdemeanors and misfortunes of his
It is well known that Washington's moderation and equanimity were
the effects of the highest principle, not the gift of nature. He was
constitutionally subject to gusts of passion, but he hadacquired a
power, almost divine (and doubtless from a divine source), by which he
could direct the whirlwind and subdue the storm. A power that has
seemed to the believing to verify that prophetic verse in Proverbs,
which accords with his natal day, and which so truly graduates and
expounds his virtues—"He that ruleth his own spirit is greater than he
that taketh a city."
Eliot saw, as he proceeded in his narrative, that Washington's brow
contracted, and that "the angry spot" glowed there; but he continued to
speak with the calmness and manly freedom that suited a man conscious
of his own integrity and zealous for his friend, nor did he change
colour till Washington, checking the hasty strides he was making up and
down the apartment, said, "What proof is there, Captain Lee, that you
were not privy to this mad and disgraceful expedition of your friend?"
"None, sir," replied Eliot, unappalled, but not unmoved. Washington
seemed struck with the dignity of his manner; his countenance somewhat
relaxed as Eliot proceeded:—"There may be probabilities as conclusive
to a generous mind as proofs to a common one. You will perceive, sir,
that the same action that was indiscretion in my friend would have been
crime in me, honoured as I was by your trust. And further, that I could
have had no temptation to a violation of that trust but a desire to
oblige my friend, while he was urged on and blinded to consequences by
the intensity offilial and fraternal love, which, allow me to say, sir,
has been kept in long and painful abeyance by his devotion to his
"Your zeal for your friend is generous, Captain Lee. Fidelity in
friendship is a bond for integrity in other matters; be assured, I will
not hastily withdraw the confidence I have with so much reason placed
in you. I must take time to reflect on this matter. To what did you
allude as having occurred last night?"
Eliot briefly related the affair at Mrs. Archer's. He saw a smile
on Washington's lips when he spoke of his hearty coadjutor "the
gen'ral." He concluded by saying he trusted he had not offended by
following what seemed to him the imperative dictates of humanity.
"No, my friend—no," replied Washington, not unmoved; "war too
often cuts us off from the humanities—in God's name let's perfect them
when we may. I am engaged now, come to me again this evening."
Eliot left his commander somewhat relieved, but still not without
deep anxiety for Linwood. He had reason for solicitude. No man that
ever lived more jealously guarded against the appearance of evil than
Washington. One who kept with his exactness the account with
conscience, might, in ordinary circumstances, have afforded to be
careless of appearances, and regardless of public opinion; but he was
aware that his reputation belonged to his country, that it was
identified with the cause he had espoused, the cause of liberty and
popular government; and how has that glorious cause profited by it?
Heralded by his spotless name, it has gone forth to restore the order
of God's providence; to abase the high, and raise up those that were
bowed down; to break the golden sceptre, to overthrow thrones, to open
Bastiles, to unbind chains, to reclaim the deserts that man had made,
and to sow at broadcast the seeds of knowledge, virtue, and happiness!
The issue of Eliot's second interview with Washington is already
known, so far as it appeared by the despatches sent to New-York. He had
the consolation of being assured that not a shadow of distrust remained
on Washington's mind. Never man more needed solace in some shape than
did Eliot at this conjuncture of his affairs. On first going to his
quarters he found there a packet from his mother. He pressed it to his
lips, and eagerly broke the seal. The following is a copy of his
"My dear Son,
—I perceive by your letters of the first, which, thanks to a kind
Providence, have duly come to hand, that it is now nearly three months
since you have heard from us. Much good and much evil may befall in
three months! Much good have I truly to be grateful for: and
chieflythat your life and health have been thus precious in the sight
of the Lord, and that you have received honour at the hand of man (of
which our good Dr. Wilson made suitable mention in his prayer last
Sabbath); and, as I humbly trust, approval from Him who erreth not.
"We have had a season of considerable worldly anxiety. The
potato-crop looked poorly, and our whole harvest was cut off by the
blight in the rye, which, as you see in the newspapers, has been fatal
through Massachusetts. This calamity has been greatly aggravated by the
embargo they have laid on their flour in the southern states. The days
seemed to be coming upon us when 'plenty should be forgotten in our
land, and sore famine overspread the borders thereof.'—Our people have
been greatly alarmed, and there have been fasts in all our churches, at
which the carnally-minded have murmured, saying it would be time enough
to fast when the famine came. It is indeed a time of desolation in our
land—'there is no more in our streets the voice of mirth and the voice
of gladness—the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the
bride'—the step of the father and the brother are no more heard on our
thresholds, and we stretch our ears for tidings of battles that may lay
them in the dust. Think you, my son, that our children's children, when
they bear their sheaves rejoicing, will remember those who sowed in
tears, and with much patience and many prayers?
"For my own part, my dear Eliot, I have had but little part in this
worldly anxiety, for divers reasons which you will presently see. One
care eats up another." (Bessie's name was here written and effaced.)
"Let me tell you, before I forget it, that the Lord has smiled on our
Indian corn. I had an acre put in the south meadow, which you know is a
warm soil, and Major Avery tells me it will prove a heavy yield. He is
a kind neighbour (as indeed we all try to be in these times), and
called yesterday to ask me to get into his wagon, and take a ride,
saying it would cheer me up to see the golden ears peeping out of their
seared and rustling leaves; but I did not feel to go."— (Here again
Bessie's name was written, and again effaced—the tender mother shrunk
from giving the blow that must be given.) "Do not have any care, dear
Eliot, about our basket and our store; they are sufficiently filled.
The children are nicely prepared for winter, even to their shoes. Just
as I was casting about to see how I should get them made, there being
no shoemaker left short of Boston, Jo Warren came home, his term of
service having expired, and he, as he says, 'liking much better the
clack of his hammer and lap-stone than bloody soldiering.'
"My dear son, I have written thus far without touching on the
subject which fills heart and mind, day and night. I felt it to be
suitable to mention the topics above; but I knew if I left them to
thelast you would read without reading, and thereby lose the little
comfort they might give you. Fain would I finish here! God grant you
may receive with submission what follows.—You know, that never since
you went away have I been able to hold out any encouragement to you
about your poor sister. The dear child struggled, and struggled, but
only exhausted her strength without making any headway; I shall always
think it was from the first more weakness of body than any thing else,
for she had such a clear sense of what was right, and this it was that
weighed her down—a for ever tormenting sense that she was wasting in
idle feelings the life and faculties that God had given to her. She
tried to assist me in family duties, but she moved about like a
machine; and often her sewing would drop from her hands, and she would
sit silent and motionless for hours.
"In the first part of Herbert Linwood's visit she was more like her
former self—old feelings seemed to revive, and I had hopes—but oh!
they were suddenly dashed, for immediately on his going away she seemed
to have such self-reproach—such fear that she had foregone her duty,
and had for ever forfeited your confidence. All night she was feverish
and restless, and during the day she would sit and weep for hours
together. She never spoke but to accuse herself of some wrong
committed, or some duty unperformed. When the clock struck she would
count the strokes, and you could see the beatings of her heart answer
to each of them, and then she would weep till the hour came round
again. Dr. Wilson and some of our godly women hoped she was under
conviction; but I did not favour their talking to her as often as they
wished, for I knew that her health was much broken, her mind hurt, and
that in this harp of a thousand strings (as Dr. Watts says) there were
many they did not understand.
"Through the summer her flesh has wasted away till she seemed but
the shadow of her former self. Her eyes appeared larger, and as the
shadows deepened about them, of a deeper blue than ever— sometimes as
I looked at her she startled me; it seemed to me as if all of mortality
were gone, and I were standing in the presence of a visible spirit.
There was such a speaking, mournful beauty about her, that even
strangers—rough people too— would shed tears when they looked at her.
"She never spoke of —. If the children mentioned his name, or but
alluded to him, she seemed deaf and palsied. She never approached the
honeysuckle window where they used to sit. She never touched the books
he read to her—her favourite books; and, one after another, she put
away the articles of dress he had noticed and admired. Still with all
these efforts she grew worse, till her reason seemed to me like the
last ray of the sun before its setting.
"Two weeks ago she brought me a small box,enveloped and sealed, and
asked me to keep it for her; 'be sure,' she said, 'and put it where I
cannot find it—be sure, mother.' From this moment there was a
change—it seemed as if a pressure were taken off—from hour to hour
her spirits rose—she talked with more than her natural quickness and
cheerfulness—joined in the children's sports, and was full of
impracticable plans of doing good, and wild expectations of happiness
to all the world. I saw a fearful brightness in her eye. I knew her
happiness was all a dream; but still it was a relief to see the dear
child out of misery. I hoped, and feared, and lived on, trembling from
hour to hour. Last night she asked me for her box, and when she had
taken it she threw her arms around me, and looked in my face
smiling—O! what a wild, strange smile it was. She then kissed the
children and went to her room. She has scarcely been in bed five
minutes together for the last fortnight; and as she did not come to
breakfast in the morning, I hoped she was still sleeping, and truly
thankful for this symptom that her excitement was abating, I kept the
house still. Ten o'clock came, and not yet a sound from her room—an
apprehension darted through my mind —I ran up stairs—her room was
empty, her bed untouched.
"On the table, unsealed, was the packet I enclose to you. I read
it, and was relieved of my worst fear. Our kind neighbours went
yesterday insearch of her, but in vain—last evening we heard the tramp
of a horse to the door, and it proved to be Steady. He has been kept in
the home-pasture all the fall; and it seems the poor child, who you
know is so timid that she never before rode without you or—at her
side, had put on the saddle and bridle, and started in the night. How
far she rode we can only conjecture from Steady appearing quite beat
out. Major Avery judges he may have travelled eighty miles, out and
home. You will conclude with me that it is Bessie's intention to go to
New-York; and when I think of her worn and distracted condition, and
the state of the country through which she must pass, filled with
hostile armies and infested with outlaws, do I sin in wishing she were
dead beneath her father's roof? If any thing can be done, you will
devise and execute —my head is sick with thinking, and my heart faint
with sorrowing. Farewell, my beloved son. Let us not, in our trouble,
forget that we are all, and especially the poor, sick, wandering lamb
of our flock, in the hands of a good Being who doth not willingly
Your loving, grieving mother, "S. Lee."
The first part of Bessie's letter appeared to have been written at
intervals, and some weeks antecedent to the conclusion. It was
evidently traced with a weak and faltering hand, and had been drenched
with her tears. She began:
"Dear brother Eliot" (the word "dear" was effaced and re-written):
"I am but a hypocrite to call you 'dear' Eliot, for all permitted
affections are devoured by one forbidden one. The loves that God
implanted have withered and died away under the poisonous shadow of
that which has been sown in my heart—think you by the evil spirit,
Eliot? I sometimes fear so. I used to love our overkind mother; and for
our little brothers and sisters my heart did seem to be one fountain of
love, ever sweet, fresh, and overflowing; and you, oh Eliot, how
fondly—proudly I loved you!—and now, if I were to see you all dead
before me, it would move me no more than to see the idle leaves falling
from the trees."
"I have read your letters over and over again, till they have
fallen to pieces with the continual dropping of my hot tears; but every
syllable is imprinted on my heart. You did not believe your 'sister
would waste her sensibility, the precious food of life, in moping
melancholy.' Oh, Eliot, how much better must I have appeared to you
than I was! I have been all my life a hypocrite. You believed 'my mind
had a self-rectifying power,' and I imposed this belief on you! I am
ready, now, to bow my head in the dust for it. 'Love,' said your
letter, 'can never be incurable when it is a disease: that is to say,
when its object is unworthy.' Ah, my dear brother, there was yourfatal
mistake. It was I that was unworthy—it was your simple sister that, in
her secret, unconfessed thoughts, believed he loved her, knowing all
the while that his lot was cast with the high, the gifted, the
accomplished—with such as Isabella Linwood, and not with one so humble
in condition, so little graced by art as I am. I do not blame him.
Heaven knows I do not. 'Self-rectifying power!' Eliot, talk to the
reed, that has been uprooted and borne away by the tides of the ocean,
of its 'self-rectifying power!' "
A long interval had elapsed after writing the above; and the
subsequent almost illegible scraps indicated a mind in ruins.
"Oh, Eliot, pray—pray come home! They are all persecuting me. The
children laugh at me, and whistle after me; and when I am asleep, they
blow his name in my ears. Mother looks at me, and will not speak."
"They have printed up all the books. Even the Bible has nothing but
his name from beginning to end. I can never be alone; evil spirits are
about me by day and by night;—my brother, I am tormented."
"Eliot, my doom is spoken! Would that it were to cut down the
cumberer of the ground! but,no: I am to stand for ever on the desolate
shore, stricken and useless, and see the river of life glide by. The
day, as well as the night, is solitary; and there is no joyful voice
"Oh, memory!—memory!—memory! what an abyss of misery art thou!
The sun rises and sets— the moon rolls over the sky—the stars glide
on in their appointed paths—the seasons change, but no change cometh
to me—the past, the past is all— there is no present, no future!"
"I remember hearing Dr. Wilson preach about sin deserving infinite
punishment, because it was against an Infinite Being. I did not
comprehend him then—now I do. In vain I raise my faded eyes and
fevered hands to God."
The remainder was written in a more assured and rapid hand.
"Eliot, you have seen those days, have you not? when clouds
gathered over the firmament; when, one after another, each accustomed
and dear object was lost in their leaden folds, when they grew darker
and came nearer, till you felt yourself wrapped about in their chilling
drapery, and you feared the blessed sun was blotted out of Heaven.
Suddenly God's messenger hath come forth—the clouds have risen at his
bidding, and unveiled hisbeautiful works. The smiling waters and the
green fields, one after another, have appeared—the silvery curtain has
rolled up the mountain's side, and then melted away and left the blue
vault spotless. Such darkness has oppressed me; such brightness is now
above and around me. Dear Eliot how glad you will be! My spirits dance
as they did in my childhood. The days are all clear, and the nights so
beautiful, that I would not sleep if I could. Shame to those who steep
themselves in the dull and brutish oblivion of sleep, when the
intelligences of Heaven are abroad on the moon-beams, calling to the
wakeful spirit to leave the drowsy world and join their glorious
company—to career from star to star, and commune in the silence of
night with their creator. Oh, Eliot! I have heard the music 'of the
young eyed cherubim;' and I have learned secrets—wonderful secrets of
the offices and relations of spirits, if I were sure you would believe
them—but no, you cannot. The mind must be prepared by months of
suffering—it must pass a dark and winding way to reach (while yet on
earth) the bright eminence where I stand. But take courage, brother;
when you pass the bounds of time you will hear, and see, and know what
I now do.
"You will wonder how I have escaped the manacles that so long bound
me. I cannot explain all now; but thus much I am permitted to say, that
they were riveted by certain charms: and I cannot beassured of my
freedom till I myself return them to him from whom they came—to him
who has so long been the lord of my affections and master of my mind.
Then, and not till then, shall I be the 'self-rectified' being you
blindly but truly predicted. I must go to New-York; but mind, dear
brother, and indulge no idle fears for me. Do you remember once, when
we read Comus together, wishing your sister might, like the sweet lady
there, be attended by good spirits—dear Eliot, I am. I cannot always
see them through this thick veil of mortality, but I can both hear and
"Our good mother pesters me so. Should you think, brother, that a
being accompanied as I am could eat and drink, and lie down and sleep
as other mortals do? Oh, no! And, besides, are they not all the time
praying that the Lord would send corn into their empty garners; and
yet, poor dull souls, they cannot see their prayer is answered, when I
am fed and satisfied with bread from Heaven—sweet, spiritual food!
"I shall set forward to-night when they are all steeped in this
sleep they would fain stupify me with. I have not hinted to our mother
my purpose, because, dear Eliot, since you are gone she is quite
different from what she was. I would say it to none but you in the
world; but the truth is, she has grown very conceited, and would not
believe one word of my superior knowledge. I do not blame her. The time
is coming when the scales will fall from her eyes. Farewell, dear
brother,—'angels guard thee,' as Jasper used to say;—I can write his
name now with a steady hand—what a change! They do guard me—the
blessed angels! Once more, fear nothing, Eliot. In going, I am attended
by that 'strong siding champion, conscience;' if I stay, he will desert
Eliot's maliness was vanquished, and he wept like a child over his
sister's letter. He reproached himself for having left home. He
bitterly reproached himself for not having foreseen the danger of her
long, exclusive, and confiding intercourse with Meredith. He was almost
maddened when he thought of the perils to which she must have been
exposed, and of his utter inability to save her from one of them. The
only solacing thought that occurred to him was the extreme
improbability that her fragile and exhausted frame could support the
fatigues she must encounter, and that even now, while he wept over her
letter (a fortnight had elapsed since it was written), her gentle
spirit might have entered upon its eternal rest.
"This fierce spirit of liberty is stronger in the English colonies,
probably, than in any other people of the earth."
Meredith's last interview with Isabella, broken off so
inopportunely by her mother, had left him perplexed and disappointed.
His love for her, if analyzed, might have exhibited much of the dross
that belongs to a selfish and worldly spirit,—pride and vanity, and
something perhaps yet lower than these; still it was a redeeming
sentiment, and if it had not force enough to conquer all that was evil
in him, it at least inspired some noble aspirations.
He had been apprized of his mother's arrival by a sort of official
note which she sent him from the Narrows, the amount of which was,
"that she had come out because she could see no prospect of an end to
the atrocious war—that she had brought her dear niece, Lady Anne,
because it was as impossible to separate from her as to prolong her own
cruel absence from her son." Meredith interpreted this note as readily
as if he were reading a conventional diplomatic cipher, and thus
re-read it. "The term of my dear niece, Lady Anne's mourning, is nearly
expired—she will have scores of suitors, and her fortune will pass out
of the family; while you, my dear son, are throwing yourself away upon
the broken-down Linwoods—the only hope is in my crossing the horrible
Atlantic, and braving storms and privateers."
Strange as it may seem, though thus forewarned, he felt that he was
not forearmed, at least in panoply divine; he distrusted his power of
resistance, and was anxious to secure himself with grappling irons
before he should be wafted by his mother's influence whither she would.
Once assured by her own lips, of what he had but the faintest doubt,
that Isabella Linwood loved him, his fate would be fixed. He could tell
his mother it was so, and she would be saved the trouble of setting her
toils, and he from the necessity of avoiding her snare, and—from the
danger of falling into it. If Jasper Meredith's virtue was infirm, he
was sagacious, and had at least the merit of being conscious of the
tottering base on which it rested.
When he left Isabella, he deferred his filial duties, and proceeded
forthwith to the city prison, then called the Provost, where the
prisoners of war who were in the city, with the exception of such
officers as were on their parole, were herded together, and treated in
all respects like criminals.
Meredith, provided with an order from Robertson, the commandant,
and countersigned by Cunningham (of infamous memory), the keeper of the
city prison, made his way through dens crowded with American soldiers,
to a small inner cell whichLinwood was allowed the privilege of
occupying alone. Meredith had paid Linwood daily visits, had reported
to him his father's condition, and had each day laboured to give such a
bias to his mind as to lead him to the course which he was now
authorized to set before him.
"Good morning, and good news for you, Linwood!" he said, as he shut
the door after him.
"Ha! has General Washington interposed for me?"
Meredith shrugged his shoulders: "I alluded to your father."
"God forgive me! he is better, then?"
"Quite relieved—the gout has gone to the feet, and if—if he were
easy about you, there would be no danger of a relapse. But, my dear
Linwood, you are looking ill yourself."
"Not ill—no, but deused hungry. Cunningham's short and sour
commons leave an aching void, I assure you." Linwood placed his hands
upon the seat of his most painful sensations at the moment.
"I hoped the partridges and madeira I smuggled in yesterday would
have made you independent of Cunningham's tender mercies, for
twenty-four hours at least."
"Don't mention them just now, if you love me. I worked myself up to
making them over to some poor wretches out there, who are dying by
inches of bad and insufficient food—but hunger is selfish, and
sharp-set as I now am, I am afraid I shall repentme of my good
deeds—so don't speak of them. Are there no despatches, no letters,
nothing yet from West Point?"
Meredith told him of the official communication received from
Washington, and the letter from Eliot; of the one he spoke
contemptuously, of the other coldly. He then paused for Herbert to give
utterance to the disappointment expressed in his truth-telling face,
but he was silent, and Meredith proceeded:—"One would think that a
brave young officer who, like you, had sacrificed every thing to a
fancied duty, deserved a kind word at least from his commander; but
these old-fashioned courtesies have a little too much of the
aristocratic feudal taint for your republican leader. They savour of
the protection the lord extends to his follower in return for services
that are more cheaply paid in continental rags, or in the promises of
King Congress! It is a hard service where there is neither honour,
favour, nor profit." Meredith again paused. Linwood was still silent,
and he went on to make the proposition authorized by Sir Henry, and
which he enforced by arguments of policy so artfully and plausibly
urged, that an older and sterner casuist than our friend Herbert might
have been puzzled, if not tempted. But "it was a joyous sight to see"
how he brushed away the web that was spun about him. He opened the door
that communicated with the adjoining apartment, and the generous blood
mounting to hischeeks, "Do you see that young man?" he asked, in a low
but energetic voice, and pointing to a youth who, pale and haggard, was
stretched on the floor in one corner, wrapped in his camp-cloak, eating
a crust of mouldy bread; "he is from Carolina, and as bold and generous
a soldier as ever shouldered a musket. He and his two brothers joined
the American army and came to the north— by the way, Jasper, please
mark how the scattered and distant members of our vast country are
drawn and bound together by one sentiment—we fight for Carolina, and
Carolina fights for us. This poor fellow is the survivor of his two
brothers— they fell in battle. His widowed mother lives on a small
plantation. Her slaves have been decoyed away by the offer of freedom
from your British officers—generous, forsooth! and she is left with
one son. Yesterday this young man contrived to get a letter forwarded,
entreating his mother to give up this son to her country. Look at that
man with the frame of a Hercules, his joints loosened, and staggering
as he crawls about from the effects of starvation, and the cursed fetid
atmosphere of this hole! He is a Connecticut farmer, who began his
career at Bunker Hill. Think you he spends his time in bewailing
unrequited services, and whining about continental money? No, but in
stimulating the spirits of these poor fellows by visions of the future
glory of their free and independent country. 'Never mind, boys,' he
says;'let 'em burn our houses (his was burned at Fair-field), our
children shall live in better, and shall tie the flag with thirteen
stripes, and maybe more, to the mast-head of their own ships.' Jasper,
there is not one of these most abused men whose heart does not beat
true to his country—to die doing battle for her would be nothing; that
is the common lot of a soldier—but they are pining, starving, dying by
inches here, without one thought disloyal to her. And I," he continued,
after reclosing the door, "am to be humbled and galled with offers that
the most squalid wretch among them would spurn. Perhaps I deserve it;
there was one moment—but one, thank God! when, tempted by more than
all the gold and all the honour in the king's gift, I swerved. I was
saved by a look from Isabella. Do you think I could ever meet that eye
again after I had joined Sir Henry's honourable corps of Reformees. I
am humble, and with reason, Heaven knows; but I do marvel, Jasper, that
you could suggest dishonour to Isabella's brother."
"Pardon me, Mr. Linwood, we have different views of the honour of
the course I proposed, which appears to me simply a return to your
"We certainly have very different views, Jasper. You call those
poor fellows out there rebels, I patriots. You think they deserve to be
ground to the dust, I that they are infernally abused. You think
Washington is cold, selfish, calculating, ambitious; and I believe that
he is generous, disinterested, just, (thereby I suffer,) and humane I
now him to be; for there is not a man within these walls, myself
excepted, who has not received some intimation that he is remembered
and cared for by his general. Now, with these views, I could as easily
put on the poisoned tunic of Nessus as the uniform of the Reformees."
The young men were both awkwardly silent for a few moments.
Meredith was discomfited and mortified. Linwood's vexation had
effervesced in his long speech; to use a household simile, the scum had
boiled over and left the liquor clear. "Hang it, Jasper," he resumed,
in his natural good-humourned tone, "don't let's quarrel, though the
more you will serve me the more I won't be served. We will agree to
make over these contested topics to dame Posterity, who, instead of
peering forward, as we must, into the dark future, has only to cast her
eyes behind her to award an infallible decision. Fifty years hence, my
dear fellow, would that we could be here to see it, New-York will still
be, if you are right, a petty colonial station for British officers; if
I am, the rich metropolis of an independent empire. But, allons—is
there no news, no gossip, no agreeable scandal afloat?"
Meredith suddenly recollected and communicated the arrival of his
mother and Lady Anne Seton, and the propriety of hastening to receive
them. Linwood heartily congratulated him, little thinking how deeply
his own fate was involved in this arrival.
Meredith went to play his filial part, and Herbert was left to
solitary but not sad reflection. He felt a most comfortable, and
perhaps unexpected assurance, that his virtues were purified and
strengthened in the fires of adversity.
"She, the fair sun of all her sex
Has bless'd my glorious day;
And shall a glimmering planet fix
My worship to its ray?"
Meredith, after leaving the Provost, was hastening down
Broad-street, when he perceived a carriage approaching him. At this
moment a band of black musicians, who were in training, bearing the
British flag, turned from Beaver into Broad-street; and as they turned,
struck up a march in the faces of the horses. The suddenness of the
apparition and the clamour terrified them, they reared and plunged. A
lady screamed from the coach to the musicians to stop; but the souls of
the Africans were lapt in the elysium of their own music, and they
neither heard nor heeded till Meredith, springing forward, dashed the
instrument of their leader to the ground. The music then ceased, and
the coachman, by great adroitness or strength, or both, checked the
progress of his steeds, while two ladies sprang from the coach, and
were followed by shrieking waiting-maids and broken bandboxes, with
their contents of feathers,flowers, ribands, fans, showering over the
The elder of the two ladies looked as if she could have lifted up
her hands and wept; the younger did lift up hers and laugh. "Make
haste, Nancy," said the elder; "oh, the coloured hair-powders—shut up
the box, they are all blowing away—we can get none here."
"Dépêchez vous, Thérése," cried the young lady; "oh, mes
"Ah, oui, mon Dieu! qu'est ce que c'est qu'une demoiselle sans
plumes, sans fleurs!" replied the little trig Française, fluttering
hither and yon to reclaim her treasures from the dispersing winds.
"My dear mother!" exclaimed a voice, that for a moment silenced the
chattering, and called forth a parenthetical and sotto-voce exclamation
from Thérése—"Ah, le fils de madame—un bel homme!"
While the usual expressions of a joyful meeting were interchanging,
Mrs. Linwood, who from her window had watched the affair to its
dénouement, appeared at her door, calling "Jasper, bring the ladies
here, I entreat you. My dear Mrs. Meredith, I am so sorry you have had
such a fright, and yet so very glad to see you."
"For the love of Heaven, who is she?" asked Mrs. Meredith, so
averting her face as to limit her query to her son.
A shadow passed over Mrs. Meredith's face;but she instantly
replied, "My dear Mrs. Linwood, how very happy I am to see you
again—an awkward début, this," shrugging her shoulders; "but so
fortunate it should have happened at your door; that the first house my
foot enters in America should be that of a friend."
"A friend! Mrs. Linwood! strange, I never heard my aunt mention the
name," thought Lady Anne.
"Lady Anne Seton," continued Mrs. Meredith, presenting her niece;
"and how is the dear husband? and Herbert, my harem-scarem little
friend, as I used to call him? Miss Belle—ah, ten years make such
changes—'the boy and girl to man and woman grown;' and yourself—upon
my word, Mrs. Linwood, the ten years have slipped by without touching
"Aunt forgets she did not recognise her," thought Lady Anne; and
she conveyed her observation of the discrepancy by such an arch glance
at her aunt, that she checked the flood-tide of her civilities, and
gave Mrs. Linwood, who was nearly overpowered by them, time to rally.
She, good woman, received them all literally; and, in return, furnished
the most circumstantial details of her husband's late illness, told
when he took physic and when he did not; when his laudanum made him
sleep and when it would not—to all of which Mrs. Meredith "lent the
pitying ear" of a thorough-bred lady, while she was mentally wondering
the woman could be such a fool as to think she cared whether her
husband were dead or alive. After having threaded the mazes of the
materia medica, Mrs. Linwood concluded with, "Bless me! I have not sent
for Isabella!" The good lady trusted she had given Isabella time to
make her toilet. Mrs. Linwood's artifices were very pardonable, and
never exceeded some trifling manœuvre to keep the best foot forward
without apparent limping. She rung the bell;—no one answered. "Jasper,
will you have the goodness," she said, "to tap at her father's door,
and let Belle know who is here—you see Jasper is quite one of us, Mrs.
A more acute observer than Mrs. Linwood would have understood the
lowering of Mrs. Meredith's brow as her eye followed her son. "Jasper
has been fortunate, indeed, in making such friends," she said; "a great
security is it, my dear Mrs. Linwood, for a young man to have domestic
influences, and such influences."
On opening Mr. Linwood's door, Meredith found Isabella apparently
absorbed in reading a political pamphlet to her father. "Ah, Jasper,
I'm glad to see you!" cried out Mr. Linwood: "I give you joy. I have
been trying, ever since I heard your mother was below, to drive this
girl down; but she sticks to me like the breath of my nostrils. Now
Jasper has come for you, you must go, Belle."
"Not must, sir, unless Miss Linwood prefers to do so."
"Did you come for me—I mean, did my mother send for me?"
"Do not go down if it is disagreeable to you," said Meredith,
replying to rather more than met the ear.
"Pshaw! go Belle; your dress is well enough; the ladies—no
disrespect, Jasper, it's the nature of the animal—will like you all
the better for being worse dressed than themselves."
Isabella was not sorry to have her reluctance ascribed to her
dishabille; but that, though she had some womanish feeling about it,
constituted a very small portion of her shrinking from a presentation
to Jasper's mother and fair cousin. She had, however, enough
self-control to do well whatever must be done; and without farther
hesitation she gave her arm to Meredith. As soon as her father's door
was closed after them, he paused. He was intensely anxious to intimate
to his mother, at their first meeting, the relation that he believed
would subsist between them; but while he hesitated how to word this
wish, Isabella prevented him.
"You have seen Herbert?"
"And the result?" she added, with a quivering lip.
"Precisely as you wished."
"Dear, dear Herbert!" she exclaimed, and sprang forward with a
lightened heart and buoyant step. The first flush of elevated and
gratifiedfeeling beamed from her soul-lit eye and died her cheek.
The light within shone on all without her. Her personal anxieties
were forgotten; and to her natural elegance of manner there was a
graciousness and brightness that made her at once shine forth as the
sun of the little circle. Mrs. Meredith had proposed to herself to be
condescending to Miss Linwood; and was quite sure that Lady Anne, whom
she had induced, with an eye to a first impression on Jasper, to array
herself before leaving the ship in a French walking-dress, would be
frappante. But both ladies were destined to feel in Isabella's presence
that they were lesser lights. Her simple morning-dress, and the classic
arrangement of her dark rich hair, unspoiled and untouched by the
profane fashion of the times, contrasted most favourably with the
forced, prim, and fantastical mode of the day.
Mrs. Meredith was as near being astounded as a woman of the world
ever can be, and was actually embarrassed and uncomfortable; but Lady
Anne, though surprised, was charmed. For a moment she might have felt
overshadowed; but nothing could, for more than one moment, cloud her
sunny self-complacency. "Qu'elle a l'air noble!" she whispered to her
cousin—"She has been abroad?—in France?"
"No," he replied; "but undisputed superiority anywhere is apt to
produce 'l'air noble.' Meredithwas not a man of independent opinions;
and he had never felt a more assured admiration of Isabella than now,
that he witnessed her impression on his reluctant and lady-of-the-world
mother, and his à-la-mode cousin.
"You find Isabella grown?" said Mrs. Linwood, expecting to elicit a
flood of compliments.
"Oh, certainly," replied Mrs. Meredith, "very much grown: ten
years, you know, makes a vast difference. Miss Linwood was not, I
believe, much over twelve when I went home."
"Ten—twelve—twenty-two—bless me! no, dear Mrs. Meredith, she is
not yet quite twenty," said the simple mother, as eagerly as if she
were putting in the plea "not guilty."
"Scarcely three years older than my niece," replied Mrs. Meredith,
with an evident satisfaction in the three years minus.
"And what are three years?" exclaimed Lady Anne; "they shall make
no gulf between us, Miss Linwood—we will be friends at
once—intimate—will we not?"
"You are very kind."
"Oh, not in the least. It will be quite as much my gain as yours.
Aunt has brought me out to make my début here; and half the pleasure I
think must consist in having a friend—a confidante, to talk over one's
"Lady Anne, my love, you are so elated by getting out of that
odious ship, that you hardly know what you are talking about."
"I beg your pardon, aunt, I do. I was talking on the most
enchanting subjects: lovers, conquests, and confidantes."
"And what do you know about lovers and confidantes, my dear child?
They are the unknown inhabitants of a terra incognita to you."
"My veteran mother," thought Meredith, "would fain shelter my
pretty cousin with the œgis of simplicity." But simplicity was not in
the rôle of the young lady. "Mille pardons, chere tante," she
replied—"have you not for the last twelve months been teaching me the
geography of this unknown world?—and, besides, what think you we read
of, talk of, dream of at boarding-school—history?— Greeks and
Romans?—no, no, dear lady: young lords and nice officers in scarlet
coats and epaulettes, and, now and then, par parenthése—un beau
cousin." A bright glance at Jasper with these last words propitiated
his mother, and Lady Anne was permitted to proceed. "I take it for
granted, Miss Linwood, that New-York is quite a paradise just now?"
"If 'nice young officers' are the birds of your paradise, Lady
Anne, it is."
"The beau cousin might perhaps be admitted into yours," retorted
the young lady, archly looking at Isabella for the blush she expected
to provoke; but the blush called for came not to Isabella Linwood's
Mrs. Meredith explored another face. Jasper'sbrilliant eyes
impulsively turned towards Isabella, and there came a revelation from
them that she would not admit, and yet could not misunderstand. "My
dear son," said she, "I must trouble you to order a carriage for us. I
am quite forgetting myself in the happiness of meeting an old friend."
Mrs. Linwood interposed. The time had not yet passed away when such
primitive hospitalities were frankly offered and unceremoniously
accepted, and she insisted on her friends staying to pass the day. Mrs.
Meredith declined as resolutely as courtesy would permit; but Lady
Anne, independent in all her proceedings, expressed so strong an
inclination to remain, and brushed away her aunt's objections with such
evident and relentless assurance of their flimsiness, that Mrs.
Meredith was reduced, as a last resource, to yielding with grace.
The day, on many accounts, was oppressive to Isabella. Her sisterly
thoughts were much with Herbert; she was anxious for his future, and in
imagination painfully contrasted his solitary prison with the seeming
cheerfulness of his father's house. There was something in Meredith's
manner that offended her. It was constrained and elaborate, and it was
evident to her that he shunned disclosing their actual relations to his
mother, and sheltered them from her penetration by appearing quite
engrossed in playful devotion to his pretty cousin. She was annoyed
with Mrs. Meredith'shollow and emphasized superlatives. She bore a
strong personal resemblance to her son. Isabella was now and then
painfully startled by a corresponding mental resemblance, which
affected her somewhat like those family likenesses where an ugly face,
by a sort of travesty, brings into question the beauty of a more
fortunate one. The qualities that were glaring and obtrusive in the
mother, were in the son sheltered by a nicer tact, and a more acute
perception of their effect on others. "But," Isabella asked herself,
"were they less real or less hopeless?"
Isabella, in her turn, was the subject of passing speculation to
Mrs. Meredith. At first, when she appeared all radiant with animation,
the sagacious lady concluded that she had taxed all her powers to take
the heart of Jasper's mother by a coup-de-théatre; but afterward she
could find no satisfactory solution to Isabella's abstractedness and
apparent carelessness whether she pleased her or not. Nothing is so
incomprehensible to a mere worldly spirit, spell-bound within a narrow
circle of selfish interests, as the workings of an independent, lofty
Isabella's sole enjoyment that day was from a source whence it
would be least expected—from her probable rival—from the
light-hearted, good-humoured Lady Anne; and before they parted they had
made fair progress towards an intimacy.
The intimacies that occur between persons ofpowerful and inferior
character, probably result from the same necessity of the mind that
drives a statesman to relaxation over a senseless game of cards, or
(if, as with Edmund Burke, his heart overflows with the milk of human
kindness) leads him to play at leap-frog with children. The same
principle may furnish a solution for some puzzling disparities in
"And what sort of a person is this Lady Anne?" asked Mr. Linwood of
his daughter, who had been giving him such particulars of the day as
she thought might entertain him.
"Very pretty, and graceful, and agreeable too. I am sure you will
like her, papa. It is amusing to see how she goes straight forward to
her point, like a bird by an air line, while her aunt winds about as if
she were manœuvring a ship into port in presence of an enemy; oh, above
all things, I like truth, straight-forwardness. Lady Anne is not
brilliant, nor has she, I imagine, great depth of feeling; but she is
independent, true, and kind-hearted, and in such good-humour with
herself that she makes small demands on others—I like her."
"And do not fear her, Belle?"
Isabella answered to her father's probing glance proudly. "Fear
her!—no, sir—no," she reiterated, but in a less assured tone.
"Bravo, my girl! but depend on't she will be a star in our
firmament, this Lady Anne. What amatch she would have been for
Herbert—obstinate, foolish, dear boy."
"Thank you for that, papa! he is dear and noble, and like his
father in clinging to what he believes to be right."
"That is like me," replied Mr. Linwood, wiping the mist from his
eyes; "but not like me, Belle, not at all like me, in mistaking wrong
Strangely is the human mind compounded. Mr. Linwood had been
informed of Herbert's rejection of Sir Henry Clinton's proffer. This
bona fide intimation of the resemblance Herbert had manifested to his
father in this rejection, placed the action in a fresh and favourable
aspect. Vanity has its uses.
"Come può ritrarre il piede
Dagli Inciampi che non vede,
Dai Perigli che non sa?"
It was long before the dawn of one of the few soft days of October,
1779, that Bessie Lee left her safe home to begin a perilous journey.
The light of reason was not quite extinct, and with some forecast she
took a few coins, keepsakes, that had long lain idly in a drawer, and
transferred them to her pocket; then placing in her bosom the little
ivory box containing, as she wildly fancied, the charms that bound her
to Jasper Meredith, she equipped herself for her journey. A regard to
dress is an innate idea in woman that no philosopher can deny to the
sex. In all her mutations, that remains.
The resemblance of the dress of an insane person to the ill-sorted
and imperfect equipment in a dream, verifies Rush's remark, that
derangement is a long dream—a dream a short derangement. Bessie, after
looking over her moderate wardrobe, selected the only gala dress it
contained—a white silk petticoat and blue bodice; but after
dressingherself in them, either from the instinct of neatness or from
the glimmering of the unfitness of such travelling apparel, she took
off the silk petticoat, and after tying it in a handkerchief with some
more essential articles, she laced the bodice over a dimity skirt, and
put over that a long linen night-gown. Delighted with her own provident
sagacity in arraying herself for day and night, she threw over the
whole a brown silk cardinal, and a chip gipsy hat tied down with a blue
gauze handkerchief. "He always told me I had inspiration in dress," she
said, as she gave a pleased, parting glance at the glass. In passing
her mother's door, she paused: "I have heard it was a bad sign,"
thought she, "to leave home without your parent's blessing, but I go
forth with Heaven's, and hers must follow." She then proceeded to equip
her horse, and set out on the New-York road, which she pursued
unerringly. She fancied that the same providential exemption from the
necessity of sustenance vouchsafed to her was extended to her horse
Steady, and the animal, happening to be fullfed, sturdy and of
hardworking habits seemed to acquiesce in his supposed destiny, save
now and then, when he resolutely halted at a stream of water to slake
his thirst. The part of New-England through which Bessie's route lay
was steril and sparsely settled. She was unmolested, and for the most
part unobserved. She would sometimes pass a house where the children
would pause from theirplay, stare, and ask, one of the other, who that
pretty lady could be? and wonder, that with such a nice cloak, she
should ride without gloves! Once a kind-hearted farmer stopped her, and
after asking her numberless questions to which he received no
satisfactory replies, he earnestly begged her to stop at his house for
some refreshment. She declined his hospitality with an assurance that
she did not need it, and a smile that so little harmonized with her
blanched cheek, and wild and melancholy eye, that the good man said her
looks haunted him. In truth, so unearthly was her appearance, that two
gossips, whom she passed on the road, stopped, drew nearer to each
other, and without speaking, gazed after her till she was out of sight;
and then, with feminine particularity, compared their observations.
"She's master beautiful!" exclaimed one of them.
"Call you that beautiful!" replied her companion, "why, she has
neither flesh nor blood—I felt a chill when I looked at her."
"And I felt my blood rush to my heart, as if I had seen something
out of nature. I might have taken her for an angel but for her silk
cardinal, and her horse, that looked more like our old roan than like
the horses in Revelations."
Nancy was less imaginative. "I did not see nothing mysterious," she
said, "but her pale little hands, that looked as if they could hardly
hold a thread of silk."
"My! did not you see those long curls that streamed down below the
hood of her cloak, looking as bright and soft as Judith's baby when we
laid it out—poor thing! and the colour of her cheeks, that were as
white as my poor man's fresh tombstone—and her eyes, that shone like
stars of a frosty night! don't tell me, Nancy! we must expect to see
visions, and dream dreams when there's war in the land and famine at
the door!" The unconscious subject of this colloquy went on, her
innocent heart dilating with a hope as assured and buoyant as that of a
penitent on her way to a shrine where absolution and peace await her.
It was late in the afternoon when, emerging from a wood, she
observed that at a short distance before her the road forked. She was
hesitating which direction to take, when seeing two men seated on a log
by the fence, she reined her horse towards them. They were soldiers
returning from service, who had deposed their knapsacks and halted to
refresh themselves with some coarse food, which was spread on the
ground. Bessie was close upon them, and had stopped her horse, when
their broad insolent stare awakened her timidity, and she was turning
away when one of them seized her bridle, exclaiming, "Not so fast, my
pretty mistress! first thoughts are best; what did you come here for?"
"Oh!" she answered confused and stammering, "I—I—I do not know—I
came for—for— nothing."
"Then don't be scared—for nothing can come of nothing—(a rare
sight, a petticoat, hey, Mart?)— come, dismount, lady fair."
Bessie seemed paralyzed. Mart's face expressed an emotion of
compassion—"I say, Raphe," he interposed, "be civil; let her go on."
"I mean to be civil, you sir; don't you see her horse is half
starved" (the poor beast was eagerly cropping the grass), "and she
looks as if she had not tasted victuals for a month—come, come, little
one, what are you 'fraid of?" and slipping her foot from the stirrup,
he lifted her from the saddle and seated her on the log. He then took
up the blue check handkerchief on which their repast (coarse brown
bread, slices of raw pork, and apples) was spread; "come, take some and
eat away," he continued, "that's a nice girl!" Bessie, the delicate,
shrinking Bessie, seized the food thus offered and thus served, and ate
ravenously. In her disordered state she seemed to exist in two separate
natures; the mind took no cognizance of the necessities or sensations
of the body, and the body, at the first opportunity, asserted and
gratified its cravings. While she ate, the men talked apart. "This is
droll, by jiminy!" said Mart, "who or what do you guess she is, Raphe?"
"Some stray cast-off of some of the old country folks—German
gin'rals or English lords."
"She don't look like it," said Mart, after having cast at Bessie a
surveying glance, in which pity was mingled with curiosity.
"Don't look like it! you can't tell what she does look like—she's
worried, and pale, and scared out of her wits—but I tell you what does
look like it—do you see that fandango finery (Bessie's blue bodice)
peeping out of the neck of her gown! By the living jingo, she eats like
a Trojan, don't she? This way she'll soon get the blood back to her
pretty cheeks. But I say, Mart, we must make some sort of a calculation
what to do—"
"What to do—that's plain enough, let her go her way, and we'll go
"You're a fool, Mart, and t'ant the first time I've thought so."
"And you're a rogue, Raphe, nor is it the first time I've thought
Raphe's angry blood mounted to his cheeks, but well aware this was
not the moment for a broil, he gulped down his passion, and resumed in
a more conciliating tone. "There's no use in falling out, Mart; we've
had lean fortin long enough, and when a streak of fat comes, I don't
see no reason in turning our plates bottom side upwards—do you?"
"It's plaguy tedious walking barefoot," he looked significantly at
the horse; "there's a hundred long miles to foot it before I see home."
"And a hundred and fifty to boot, before I see the top of our
"Then I conclude 'twould be an accommodation to you, as well as to
me, to ride and tie that stout beast?"
"And she?" said Mart, interrogatively, and pointing to Bessie.
"Why, she—she's as light as a feather; she can ride behind while
she behaves and holds her tongue, and we find it convenient; the like
of her can't expect to pick and choose."
"You're a d—d rascal, Raphe!" This exclamamation spoken with
energy and in a louder voice than the previous conversation, roused
Bessie's attention, and she listened to and comprehended what followed.
"I'm going home, to our folks," continued Mart, "and do you think I
could look mammy in the face after such a trick as that?"
"Well, well, man—don't be mad; if one shoe don't fit, another may.
Supposing we just slip into this wood with this traveller, just so far
that she can't rouse people on the high road here with crying 'stop
thief,' and then we'll be off on the beast, that, on my conscience, I
believe is no more hers than ours." Before the sentence was finished,
Bessie had sprung into her saddle. Raphe, whose fierce passions had
been kept in abeyance by the necessity of his companion's co-operation,
now sprang forward and seized her bridle. "Oh, mercy! mercy!" cried the
A blow from Mart's fist on his side obliged Raphe to turn and
defend himself; and Bessie, thus released, urged her horse onward,
leaving her champion to do battle in her righteous cause, which he did
so manfully and thoroughly that Raphe was disabled for the present, and
left to curse his own folly and to pursue his pedestrian journey alone.
Bessie's horse fortunately selected the right road; and refreshed
by his half hour's rest, he obeyed his mistress' signals to hasten
onward. These signals she reiterated from an impression of some
indefinite danger pursuing her. By degrees, however, her thoughts
reverted to their former channels, and she dwelt no more on her recent
alarm than a dreamer does on an escaped precipice. A languor stole over
her that prevented her from observing Steady's motions. From a fast
trot he had slackened to a walk, and after thus creeping on for a mile
or two, he stood stock still.
Bessie sat for a while as if waiting his pleasure, and then looking
at the setting sun, she said, "Well, Steady, you have done your day's
duty, and I'll not be unmerciful to you. I too have a tired feeling,"
and she passed her hand over her throbbing temples; "but, Steady, we
will not stay here by the roadside, for I think there be bad people on
this road, and besides, it is better to be alone where only God is."
The country through which Bessie was now passing was rocky, hilly,
and wooded, exceptingnarrow intervals and some few cleared and
cultivated slopes. She had just passed a brook, that glided quietly
through a very green little meadow on her left, but which on her right,
though screened from sight, sounded its approach as in the glad spirit
of its young life it came leaping and dancing down a rocky gorge.
Bessie, as it would seem, from the instinct of humanity, let down some
bars to allow her hungry steed admittance to the meadow, saying as she
did so, "You shall have the green pastures and still waters, Steady,
where those home-looking willows are turning up their silvery leaves as
if to kiss the parting sunbeams, and the sunflower and the golden-rod
are still flaunting in their pride—poor things! but I will go on the
other side, where the trees stand bravely up, to screen and guard
me—and the waterfall will sing me to sleep."
She crossed the road and plunged into the wood, and without even a
footpath to guide her, she scrambled along the irregular margin of the
brook; sometimes she swung herself round the trunk of a tree by
grasping the tough vines encircling it; sometimes, when a bald
perpendicular rock projected over the water, she surmounted it as if
the danger of wetting her feet must be avoided at all pains and risks;
then, a moss covered rock imbedded in the stream attracting her eye,
she would spring on to it, drop her feet into the water, doff her
little chip hat, and bathe her burning temples in the cool stream: and
when she again raised herhead, shook back her curls and turned her face
heavenward, her eye glowing with preternatural brightness, she might
have been mistaken for a wanderer from the celestial sphere gazing
homeward. After ascending the stream for about a hundred yards, she
came to a spot which seemed to her excited imagination to have been
"By the sovereign planter when he formed
All things for man's delightful use;"
and, in truth, it was a resting-place for the troubled spirit, far
more difficult to find than a bed of down for the wearied body.
The thicket here expanded and spread its encircling arms around a
basin worn into the earth by the force of the stream, which leaped into
it over a rock some thirty feet in height. Here and there a rill
straggled away from the slender column of water, and as it caught the
sun's slant ray, dropped down the rock in sparkling gems. The trees
were wreathed with grape-vines, whose clusters peeped through the brown
leaves into the mirror below. The leaves of the topmost branches of the
trees were touched with the hues of autumn, and hung over the verdant
tresses below them like a wreath of gorgeous flowers. The sky was
clear, and the last rays of the setting sun stole in obliquely, sweet
and sad, as the parting smile of a friend, glancing along the stems of
the trees and flashing athwart the waterfall.
"Here will I lay me down and rest," said Bessie, rolling up with
her foot a pillow of crisp crimson leaves, that had fallen from a young
delicate tree, fit emblem of herself, stricken by the first touch of
adversity. "But first I will say my prayers, for I think this is one of
God's temples." She knelt and murmured forth the broken aspirations of
her pure heart, and then laying herself down, she said, "I wish mother
and Eliot could see me now—they would be so satisfied!"
Once she raised her head, gazed at the soft mist that was curling
up from the water, and seemed intently listening. "I have somewhere
read," she said, that
" 'Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth,
Unseen, both when we wake and when we sleep.'
I believe it!" again her head fell back on its sylvan pillow, and
utterly incapable of farther motion or thought, she sank to deep
repose. Night came on, the watchful stars shone down upon her, the
planets performed their nightly course, the moon rose and set, and
still the unconscious sufferer slept on.
"Alas! what poor ability's in me
To do him good!
Assay the power you have."
— — Measure for Measure.
"Ah, Belle, is that you?" said Mrs. Archer, as Miss Linwood just at
twilight stole into her aunt's room to have a tête-à-tête with the only
person in the world with whom she had a strictly confidential intimacy.
"What is Sir Henry's answer?"
"Just such as we might have expected. He does, to be sure, in good
set terms, beg me to have no apprehensions about my brother. But he
says it is impossible for him just now to grant me an opportunity to
speak to him in private on the subject: 'it would be quite useless,'
and 'he's particularly occupied,' and all such trumpery excuses."
"Then take my advice, Belle, and make the opportunity he will not
grant:—go to his ball this evening. Never mind the gossip of kind
friends, who will wonder you can have the heart to appear there when
your brother is in such unfortunate circumstances. You and I agree in
the principle of never sacrificing the greater to the less—go, Sir
Henry will not refuse you his ear when you are before him; and if you
cannot obtain all youdesire, you may get some mitigation of poor
"I have made up my mind—I will go."
"You will meet Lady Anne Seton? The ball is given in honour of her
arrival, I hear."
"You are very pensive and monosyllabic, Belle; has any thing
occurred? Have you seen Jasper since that last critical conjuncture in
"No—oh, yes, he has called two or three times with Lady Anne."
"Then something has not occurred, which amounts to pretty much the
same thing; or, perhaps, my dear child, you are beginning to feel a
little tremulous about this pretty and rich cousin?"
"No, aunt, I assure you that my first serious doubt on that subject
would fix my wavering judgment."
"And your feelings?"
"They go in the same scale with my judgment. You know that I do not
expect perfection. If ever I marry, which I think very doubtful—you
may smile aunt Mary, but I think it more than doubtful— I shall expect
faults in abundance. Heaven knows I am no match for perfection; I only
ask that they may not be such faults as affect the vitality of the
"And you would cease to love, Isabella, where you suspected such?"
"If I merely suspected," replied Isabella, faltering, "I cannot
say; but if I were sure, most certainly."
"A suspicion of ten years standing is, I should think—" assurance
doubly sure, she would have added; but wondering at the subtleties of
that sentiment that could mystify the perceptions of the clear-sighted
Isabella Linwood, she merely said, "it matters not what I think—you
will both feel and act right; and if you ought to get rid of the
shackles, you will not wait till they rust off."
Mrs. Archer had never interposed her advice in Isabella's affair
with Meredith, though she watched its progress with far more interest
than if it had been a disease that might issue in death. She thought it
was a case where she must and would work out her own salvation; and
where, at any rate, she must be left to the free decision of her own
heart. Still she found it impossible in their confidential womanly
intercourse not to betray her own biases; and whenever they were
betrayed, Isabella felt them the more, as they produced the only
discord in the perfect harmony of their minds. The souls of the aunt
and niece seemed to be informed by the same spirit. They had the same
independence of mind, the same acute perception of truth through all
the adventitious circumstances and artificial forms of society, the
same restiveness under the everlasting trifling of frivolous minds, the
same kindling at what was beautiful in thought, and the same enthusiasm
for the beautiful in action.
After Mrs. Archer's last words to her, Isabella sat thoughtful and
silent, till her aunt reminded her that it was quite time she should go
home and dress for Sir Henry's ball.
"I will go," she replied, "though there is nothing in life I detest
quite so much as playing suitor to a great man."
"Then, my dear child, you had best come on our side, for as long as
we are colonists and wear the yoke, sueing and obsequiousness is the
necessity of our condition."
"You would take advantage of my pride to make me a republican. The
very first rebel, if I remember me, was he who 'could not bow and sue
for grace with suppliant knee.' "
"An arch rebel he was, but no republican; our champions are
republicans, and no rebels, since they claim only their original and
indefeasible rights. But here come Ned and Lizzy to assert theirs."
The children were attracted by Isabella's voice. Her hearty
devotion to them made them regard her much in the light of the good
genii of an eastern tale, who never appears without conferring some
signal happiness. "Tell me, Ned," said she, "are you whig or tory?"
"I used to be a tory, cousin Belle, because you were, and I thought
"I'm for Washington; but don't you tell," he replied, kissing her.
"And you, Lizzy, do you know what whig and tory means?"
"To be sure: I know whig means the very best man in the world, and
that is Captain Lee; and I shall always love the whigs best—"
"And I begin to love their cause best, too, my dear children; and
with this parting confession, which pray keep to yourselves, good-bye
to you all."
Mrs. Archer hailed the change of Isabella's sentiments (a woman's
political conclusions are rather sentiments than opinions) as a good
omen. It was a link broken in the chain that bound her to Meredith; and
it indicated, as she thought, the weakness of the whole chain. She thus
concluded a long revery: "Belle thinks and feels independently. No
woman in the unimpaired perfection and intensity of love does this.
Milton understood our nature when he put those words of dependance and
tenderness into Eve's mouth:
" 'God is thy law, thou mine: to know no more,
Is woman's happiest knowledge, and her praise.' "
The gala days of Sir Henry Clinton's reign in New-York are still
celebrated in traditionary fireside-stories, as a brilliant period in
the colonial beau-monde. However unsuited to the times, the exiled
whigs, who were driven forth from their homes, might have deemed this
pomp, pageantry,feasting, and revelry; however much it might have
exasperated the Americans, who, half-starved and half-clothed, were
contending for their rights, it served to kill the ennui of foreign
officers, to bring en scene the pretty candidates for husbands, and, in
short, to do what is done for us by the balls and company (society?) of
our own gay seasons. Never, according to the grandmammas, was there
such abundance of the elements of a belle's happiness—such
music!—such dresses!—so many, and such admirers!
"My dear Jasper," said Mrs. Meredith, while Lady Anne, in Sir
Henry's antichamber, was telling a bevy of admiring young ladies that
her French milliner had fashioned her dress after one of Maria
Antoinette's, "my dear Jasper, is not your cousin looking perfectly
lovely this evening?"
"For the first time I think her beautiful."
"She is beautiful!—Colonel Davidson says she is by far the
prettiest woman on this side the Atlantic." The lady paused; and then,
being in her arguments, what is called an authority lawyer, proceeded.
"Sir Edward remarked, as he handed me up-stairs, how superior her air
is to that of the young women here; indeed, how should they have an
air, poor things, in this demi-savage world?"
Meredith could not but smile as he compared his cousin to that
model of elegance enthroned in his mind. He coolly replied, "Lady Anne
"Easy!—bless me, Jasper, Helen Ruthven is what I call easy; and a
very engaging girl is she —but Lady Anne! Sir Henry himself remarked
her grace, her faultless proportions. There is that troublesome St.
Clair peering through the door; he means to ask her for the first
dance—pray anticipate him, Jasper: it is her début; you will oblige me
infinitely, my son."
"What are you and aunt caballing about?" asked Lady Anne,
"Conspiring against the world, fair cousin. I am entreating my
mother to interpose her authority, and command you to lead down the
first dance with me."
"Her authority! I cannot dance with a collar round my neck. If you
wish it, authority out of the question, I will dance with you with all
my heart. Of course you know, cousin Jasper," she added, as at the
striking up of the music Meredith led her into the dancing-room, "I
prefer you to a tiresome stranger."
"You flatter me!"
"No, indeed," replied the young lady, without perceiving that
Meredith was piqued by her unvarnished truth, "I never flatter: one
gets so tired of flattery, that hears nothing else all day from her
admirer down to her dressing-maid. I never should flatter where I
particularly wished to please."
Meredith was always inferring a little more than met the ear,
winding in a labyrinthian path wherehe was not like to meet one who,
like his literal cousin, went straight-forward. "Ah, my pretty coz, are
you there?" thought he. "You would have me understand that though you
do not wear my mother's collar, you are well enough inclined to go
where she would guide you."
Lady Anne took the station assigned her in the dance by the ritual
of precedence; but as soon as she moved, it was plain that, whatever
rank was assigned her, nature and art had decreed she should there be
first. Those who went before her through the mazes of the long dance,
sighed, panted, and puffed to the imminent risk of breaking the bounds
of their whalebone prisons, or sinking under their brocades. She, in a
dress that for lightness and grace would have suited an Ariel or a
Persian dancing-girl, moved like a bird through its own element. There
was no sign of effort or fatigue. Her eyes, instead of being set by
overpowering exertion, or wandering like an ambitious performer's,
sparkled with animation, and her coral lips parted in a childlike
smile. She seemed to have surrendered herself to the music, and to be a
poetic manifestation of the pleasure of motion. The observers followed
her to the foot of the dance: the dancers became mere observers.
Lady Anne received this tribute as a matter of course, and if she
were not surprised, she was not elated by it. Not so Mrs. Meredith; she
enjoyed it as a triumph. She had anticipated the sensation to be
produced on the assembly, and had made a pretty accurate estimate of
that which, by a very natural reaction, would be felt by Meredith; and
when, stationed near them, she heard the eloquent flood of compliments
he poured out,—heard him, this time unbidden, earnestly beg his
cousin's hand for another dance, she turned away satisfied that the
first step was taken.
Every one present who might aspire to such distinction, asked Lady
Anne's hand, and each solicitation enriched the prize to Meredith, for
(if it be allowed thus to speak of such high concernments), he
graduated even ladies' favours by their market value.
Miss Ruthven had not been dancing herself; she was conscious of not
dancing well; but hovering about the dance, and expressing, whenever
she caught Meredith's eye, by animated gestures and significant
glances, her admiration of his partner. At the first opportunity she
said to Lady Anne, in a low voice, but not too low to be heard by
Meredith,—"How very glad I am that my dear friend, Isabella Linwood,
is not here."
"And how very sorry I am!—but pray, Miss Ruthven, why are you
"Oh, you know—you faultless creature, I am sure you know."
"Indeed, I cannot conjecture."
"Then, if I must tell, one does not like to see one's friends
outshone. Isabella Linwood has solong been the brightest star in our
firmament. Ah, Mr. Meredith, sic transit!—as you learned in the
Meredith made no reply, for at this moment he caught Isabella's eye
as she entered the room, leaning on Sir Henry's arm. She was dressed in
a white silk gown, without any ornament or decoration whatever, save a
rich Brussels lace veil, which she had put on partly to screen and
partly to apologize for her very simple and rather inappropriate
"Ah, console te mon amie!" exclaimed Lady Anne, touching Miss
Ruthven's arm with her fan, "look at that peerless creature, and tell
me now whose light will wax dim. I like my own looks as well, I am
sure, as anybody else likes them, but I can see that I am quite une
chose terrestre compared with Isabella Linwood—n'est ce pas mon
"Les choses terrestres are best adapted to the sphere for which
they are created," said Meredith, turning, with a bitter smile, from
what he thought a very cold salutation from Miss Linwood, to begin the
second dance with Lady Anne.
Isabella stood for a moment with the rest, admiring and wondering
at Lady Anne's performance; then, intent on the object which alone
brought her to Sir Henry's, she begged five minutes' audience in the
library. "There she goes," thought Mrs. Meredith, taking a long breath,
as if relievedfrom a load, "I knew it would make her very
"Ah," thought Meredith, as following Isabella with his eyes he
blundered in the dance—"there is something of the terrestre in that
movement—I will profit by it."
"Quite as terrestrial as the rest of us," thought Helen Ruthven,
and as she stationed herself next to Mrs. Meredith, and made some very
acceptable remarks about Miss Linwood, she felt like a political
manœuvrer, who having started rival candidates, flatters himself he
shall run in to the goal between them.
"To what am I indebted for this grace, Miss Linwood," asked Sir
Henry, rather to relieve Isabella than to inform himself of what he
"I am here a beggar, Sir Henry."
"In your brother's behalf?—I understand,—a very painful subject,
my dear young lady,—I feel, on my honour I do, the deepest sympathy
with your father. You are aware that I have done all in my power for
the misguided young man, and that he has not accepted my overtures."
"And that his refusal is the warrant of his honour—is it not, Sir
"Why, there are many modifications of this principle of honour. You
would not hold a thief bound by his oath to his comrades, if he were
offered pardon and enrolment among honest men as his reward for
An indignant reply rose to Isabella's lips, but she remembered in
time that she came as a suitor, and saying that she would not waste Sir
Henry's time with arguing on a subject on which they must utterly
differ, she went straight to her point. "You must, sir," she said,
"believe that my brother came to the city for the motive he avows, and
for no other."
"What proof have I of this?" asked Sir Henry, with a tormenting
"The word of a man of truth."
"And the faith of an all-believing girl. This may be very
sufficient evidence in a cour d'amour —it would hardly suffice in a
court-martial. But proceed, my dear Miss Linwood, and tell me precisely
your wishes. You may rely on my desire to serve you."
Sir Henry's tone was earnest and sincere, and Isabella was
encouraged. "My brother," she said, "has, thank Heaven, shown himself
equal to bearing well the adverse turns of a soldier's fortune. He
endures manfully his imprisonment in the dark, filthy, crowded prison
allotted to the Americans— the honest yeomen of the land. He suffers,
without complaint, Sir Henry, the petty tyranny of the atrocious keeper
of these poor men."
"Tut, tut, my dear,—it is the fortune of war."
Isabella had again to quell her pride, before she could command her
voice to proceed with due humility. "All he asks, Sir Henry, all that I
askfor him, is, that you will put him on the footing of a prisoner of
war, and thus relieve him from an imputation that compels General
Washington to withhold all interference in his behalf, and to leave him
here a degraded man, suffering for an act of rashness what is alone due
"It is impossible, my dear girl—you overrate my powers—I am
"To God—so are we all, Sir Henry, and happiest are those who have
most of such deeds as I ask of you to present at his tribunal. But are
you not supreme in these provinces? and may you not exercise mercy
without fearing that man shall miscall it?"
"My powers, thanks to my gracious sovereign, are ample; but you
have somewhat romantic notions of the mode of using them. I am willing
to believe—or rather," he added with a gracious smile, "to believe
that you believe your brother's story to be a true one; but, Miss
Linwood, this view of the ground must not alter, to speak en militaire,
our demonstration. We are bound, as I have communicated to you, through
our friend Mr. Jasper Meredith—we are bound, by the policy of war, to
avail ourselves of the accident, if it be one, that enables us
plausibly to impute to Washington an act held dishonourable in all
"Then, in plain English," said Isabella, with a burst of
indignation this time irrepressible, "the'policy of war' compels you to
profess to believe a falsehood, in order to stain a spotless name."
Sir Henry made no reply, but strided with folded arms up and down
the apartment. A glance at his irritated countenance recalled Isabella
to herself. "Forgive me, Sir Henry," she said, if, feeling only that my
poor brother is a victim to this horrible 'policy of war,' I have
spoken more boldly than was fitting a humble, miserable suitor."
Whether it is that the tone of submission is that which Heaven has
ordained for women, and that which is the natural vehicle of a lofty
sense of superiority is a falsetto in which she rarely succeeds, we
cannot say; but true it is, that the moment Isabella's voice faltered,
Sir Henry's brow relaxed, and condescending to her weakness, he said,
"It can hardly be expected, Miss Linwood, that a young lady should
comprehend a subject quite out of her line—we will, therefore, if you
please, waive its farther discussion, and return to the drawing-room."
"Excuse me, Sir Henry, I cannot go back to the drawing-room,"
replied Isabella, in spite of her efforts bursting into tears,—"I came
here solely for the purpose of obtaining something for poor Herbert,
and I have utterly failed." It is not in man—a gentleman and a
soldier, to be unmoved by the tears, the real distress of a young and
beautiful woman. Sir Henry too, to his friends— to those of his own
household (we have it on poor Andre's testimony), was generous and kind
"My dear girl," he said, "pray do not make yourself so unhappy. You
know not how much your brother is already indebted to you—if he were
not fenced about by such friends, your father on one side, and yourself
and your devoted knight on the other—do not blush, my dear young
lady—he would have fared much worse than he has, I assure you. He has
only to suffer durance with patience—our bark is worse than our bite,
and, believe me, the war cannot last much longer."
"And he must remain in prison while the war lasts?"
"I fear so."
"Then, for mercys' sake, Sir Henry, grant us one favour. My father
is old. His health and fortune, as you know, are shattered. This cruel
war severed him from his only son, and drew down on poor Herbert the
displeasure which has ended in all this wretchedness. Something may be
saved from the wreck, their disjointed affections may be re-united
if—if they are permitted to meet?"
"If your father wished to visit your brother, he would have asked
permission—it certainly would not have been refused."
Isabella well knew that her father, after having once (to use his
favourite phrase) set his foot down, would not make so violent a
recession as such a step demanded; but not choosing to allude to his
infirmities, and anxious to secure for Herbert a greater alleviation
than a single interview, she availed herself of an obvious reason. "My
father,"she said, "is still confined to his apartment. He cannot go to
Herbert—if Herbert might come to him?"
"This would be indeed an extraordinary departure from all form and
"Yes; but it would be the very essence of kindness, which is better
than all form and precedence. Oh, Sir Henry, have you not sometimes
sleepless hours in the silent watches of the night; and will not then
the thought that you have solaced an old man, your friend, and restored
peace and love to his habitation, be better than the memory of
victories—dear Sir Henry, will it not?"
"I should be too happy to oblige you—it would be a very great
pleasure; but indeed, indeed, my dear Miss Isabella, this is an
"So much the better fitting you to accede to it; you who have the
power to depart from the vulgar beaten track. You may have little
reason to remember with pleasure this vexatious war, Sir Henry; but the
good you have done by the way will be like the manna of the
Isabella had touched the right cord. "Well, my dear Miss Belle,
tell me precisely what you want, and what security you can give that my
trust will not be abused."
"I want an order from you to Cunningham, directing him to permit my
brother to leave the prison in the evening between any hours you shall
see fit to assign; and for your security, Sir Henry, I can offer the
surest, the word not only of a man of honour, as you have said there
are many and uncertain modifications of that principle, but the word of
a man bound to you by every tie of gratitude and good faith."
"You have persuaded me, my dear, against my better reason, it may
be, but you have persuaded me; and to-morrow, after our
cabinet-council, I will send you the order."
"Oh, no—to-night, Sir Henry," urged Isabella, with her
characteristic decision, determining to leave nothing to the possible
influence of a cabinet-council or a treacherous to-morrow; "to-night,
if you would make me completely happy. Here on the table is pen, ink,
and paper; and here is a chair—sit down, and write three lines, and I
will go home with them, and fall down on my knees, and pray God to
bless you for ever and ever."
If Sir Henry had been told one hour before that he should be
persuaded to such an act, he might have exclaimed with Hazael—"Am I a
dog," that I should be thus managed! But, like many other great men, he
yielded to a superior mind, albeit in the form of woman. He wrote the
order, taking care to qualify it by requiring Cunningham to guard young
Linwood's egress and ingress from observation, and stipulating that he
should be atattended by Cunningham himself, the most formidable of the
bulldog race of jailers.
"Now," said Sir Henry, after Isabella, with a transport of
gratitude, had received the order, and was about to take her leave,
"you must not run away—you, of all others, are bound to grace a fête
given to Jasper Meredith's cousin—you owe me this."
"And most gratefully will I pay you all I can of the debt I owe
you, Sir Henry," she replied, giving him her hand, and returning to the
drawing-room. The consciousness of the advantage she had gained, the
buoyant spirit of youth, that having taken one step from the starting
point believes the race won, lit up her eye and cheek with their
natural brightness. If a mask had fallen from her face, the change
would not have been more startling to some of her observers, nor more
puzzling to others.
"I do marvel, cousin Jasper," said Lady Anne, when they were
driving home, "that you have never fallen in love with Isabella
"And how do you know that I have not?" he asked, willing to try the
ground of her conclusions.
"How! bless me, do you think I am stone-blind? —you have not
danced with her—you have scarcely spoken to her this evening, when she
appeared so perfectly irresistible."
"I fancy, my dear," interposed Mrs. Meredith, "that your cousin
Jasper, like other men of his stamp, prefers a person less
prononcée—more quiescent—more ductile than Miss Linwood."
"You mean, aunt, not shining with a light of her own—more of a
"Pardon me, my dear Lady Anne, you interrupted me. I was going on
to say, that men who are conscious of eminent talents, prefer those
who, not ambitious to shine, will amuse and sooth their hours of
"Lesser lights—I understand you perfectly," said Lady Anne,
cutting in to escape her aunt's tedious circumlocution: "do tell me,
Jasper," she continued, "if you observed how changed Miss Linwood
appeared when she returned to the drawing-room? I was dancing with that
tiresome colonel, and you were talking to me."
"I was talking with you—how could I observe another?"
"Miss Linwood mistakes," said Mrs. Meredith, "in assuming such
violent contrasts—in making such sudden transits from grave to gay. He
is a poor artist who resorts to glaring lights and deep shadows to set
off his pictures—she wants toning down."
The mother was not more at fault in her expressed opinion, whether
sincere or not, than her son was in his mental inference from the
sudden change in Isabella's deportment. None are more fallible in their
judgment than people of the world, and simply because they make no
allowance for truth as a basis of action. Notwithstanding Meredith's
disclaimer, he had observed, and narrowly,the change so obvious, and
thus had reasoned upon it:—"Isabella was piqued at my devotion to my
cousin; she was, for no woman is above these little vanities, vexed at
Lady Anne's superlative dancing; but she soon rallied, and determined
to appear high as the stars above me, and all these matters. Her pride
is invincible; it is quite time to show her that her power is not.
Women are destined to be the 'lesser lights.' I have most generously
committed myself, while she has remained as silent, if not as cold, as
a statue; therefore I am at liberty to retreat, if I should—at any
future time— choose to do so. When I am with her, I feel her full
supremacy; but away from her, on reflection, I can perceive that an
alliance with my cousin might, in the end, be quite—that is, very
tolerable, and vastly more eligible (and in these times that must be
thought of) than this long, long dreamed- of marriage with Isabella
"The wonder, or a woman keeps a secret."
Isabella moulded and arranged every thing to profit by Sir Henry's
boon. She persuaded her father (one is easily led the way the heart
inclines), in consideration of Herbert's past sufferings and uncertain
future, to acquiesce in a present oblivion of his offences. She exacted
a promise from Herbert that he would hear her father laud King George,
his ministers, and all their acts, without interposing a disqualifying
word, or even a glance; and, what was a greater feat for him, that he
would sit quietly and hear the names of Washington, Franklin, Jay,
Hamilton, La Fayette, all that he most honoured, coupled with the most
offensive epithets. This vituperation she knew was a sort of
safety-valve, by which her father let off the passion that might
otherwise burst on poor Herbert's head. She felt that no sacrifice
short of that of principle was too great to obtain affectionate
intercourse between the father and son; that between those thus
related, there never could be a "good war, nor a bad peace."
As Sir Henry had exacted a strict secrecy as to his indulgence,
Isabella congratulated herself thatshe had long before this persuaded
her father to dismiss Jupiter (an irreclaimable gossip), on the ground
that he was a useless piece of lumber; but really, because Rose had
declared that it exceeded the ability of her commissary department to
supply his rations. Rose herself was worthy of all confidence. Mrs.
Archer, of course, was one of the family cabinet.
The awkwardness of the first meeting got over, all difficulties
were past. Little differences, if let alone, soon melt away in the
warmth of hearty affection. Herbert was obliged sometimes to bite his
lips, and at others, when his frank and hasty spirit prompted a retort,
a glance from Isabella kept him silent.
It was not till Herbert's second or third visit that Mr. Linwood
manifested the uneasiness incident to persons of his age and habits
when put out of their accustomed track. Rivington's Royal Gazette,
issued twice a week, and the only newspaper in the city, was to Mr.
Linwood, as newspapers are to most men, one of the necessaries of life.
"My dear," he asked his wife, "where is the paper?"
"I left it below, my dear; there is nothing in it." Mrs. Linwood
had ventured this omission from consideration to Herbert, whose temper
she feared might boil over at the hearing of one of those high-toned
"Pshaw—nothing in it! just so all women say, unless they find some
trumpery murder or shipwreck. Belle, be good enough to bring the paper
and read it to me; and do ask Rose to bring us in a stick of wood—it
is as cold as Greenland here— five pounds I paid Morton yesterday for
a cord of hickory. D—n the rebels, I wish I had their bones for
"They do their best, sir, to make it hot for the tories," said
Herbert, very good-humouredly.
"Ah, Herbert, my son, I forgot you were here; I did indeed. But I
can't be mealy-mouthed—I must speak out, come what come will. But 'tis
hard not to be able to get the wood from our own farms, is it not?"
"Very hard, sir, to be deprived of any of our rights."
"Rights!" Isabella entered, and Mr. Linwood added in a softened
tone, "Have a care, my boy; there are certain words that fall on my ear
like sparks on gunpowder."
"Here is something to prevent your emitting any more sparks just
now, Mr. Herbert," said Isabella, giving him a Boston paper, while she
retained the orthodox journal to read aloud.
"What's that?—what's that?" asked her father.
"A Boston paper, sir, sent to you with Colonel Robertson's
Herbert read aloud a few lines written on the margin of the paper,
chuckling in spite of his filial efforts to the contrary:
"Major-general Putnam presents his compliments to
Major-generalRobertson, and sends him some American newspapers for his
perusal. When General Robertson shall have done with them, it is
requested they be given to Rivington, in order that he may print some
"The impudent renegado! Come, Isabella, what says Rivington
Isabella read aloud an order from Sir Henry Clinton, "That all
negroes taken fighting in the rebel cause should be sold as slaves: and
that all deserting should live at what occupation they pleased within
the British lines!"
"Very salutary that!" interposed Mr. Linwood. "Black sons of
Belial—they fighting for liberty, d—n 'em!"
Herbert cleared his throat. "My father—my upright father
applauding a bounty offered to cowardice and treachery!—Oh the moral
perversions engendered by war!" thought Isabella; but she wisely kept
her reflections to herself, and, striking another chord, ran over one
of Rivington's advertisements of fancy articles for sale by himself,
the sole editor and publisher in the city. Oh, Smetz, Stewart,
Gardiner, Tryon, Bailly, ye ministers to the luxury of our city! well
may ye exclaim, in your rich repositories of the arts and industry of
the old world—
"Great streams from little fountains flow!"
For the curious in such matters, we permit our heroine to read
aloud verbatim: "For sale at this office, scarlet dress-frocks, with
silk lining and capes, the work of celebrated operators west of London;
the celebrated new-fashioned buckle, which owes its origin and vogue to
the Count d'Artois, brother to the King of France; of the locket or
depository for preserving the gentle Saccharissa's hair, a great
variety; crow-quills for the delicate Constantia; scarlet
riding-dresses for ladies, made to suit the uniform of their husbands
or lovers; canes for the gallant gay Lothario; gold and silver strings
for plain walking-canes, with silver and gold tassels for plain Master
Balance; vastly snug shaving equipages; brocaded shoes and slippers;
ladies' shuttles for the thrifty in the knotting amusements; songs
suited to the various humours and affections of the mind."
"Bravo, friend Rivington!" exclaimed Herbert, "you do not expend
all your imagination in the invention of news."
"Is there nothing but this nonsense in the paper, Belle? What is
that in capitals about letters from England?"
Isabella resumed: "Letters from England say they will never
acknowledge the Independence of the United States, while there is a
soldier to be raised, or a tester to be expended, in the three
"John Bull for ever! What say you to that, Mr. Herbert?" asked his
"Nous verrons, sir!—but, mercy upon us! what is this?" Herbert
read aloud from the Boston paper: "We regret to state that the daughter
of Mrs. Lee, of Westbrook, left her mother's house two weeks since,
with the supposed intention of going to New-York. The young lady has
been for some time in a state of partial mental alienation." A
description of Bessie's person followed, and an earnest request that
any information obtained might be transmitted to the unhappy mother.
Both Herbert and Isabella were filled with consternation and
anxiety; and, after revolving the past, both came to the same
conclusion as to the probable origin of poor Bessie's mental malady.
Mr. Linwood, who only recollected her as a quiet, pretty little girl,
exhausted his sympathy in a few inquiries and exclamations, became
somewhat impatient of the sadness that had overclouded his children.
"We are as doleful as the tombs here," he said: "What can keep your
aunt Archer to-night, Isabella?—Ah, here she comes—right glad to see
you, Mary. Belle and Herbert are knocked up by an unlucky bit of news."
The news was communicated to Mrs. Archer, who entered deeply into their
"Ah," said she, "this explains a note I received this morning from
"From Eliot?" exclaimed Herbert.
"Yes; he sent by a courier, who came to Sir Henry, a most
acceptable present—a set of chessmenfor the children, which he has
contrived, and, aided by an ingenious private, made for them."
"Chessmen contrived by a rebel!" said Mr. Linwood—"of course he
has left out the king, queen, and bishop?"
"Pardon me—he may think kings, queens, and bishops very fit
"But what says the note?" asked Herbert, impatiently.
"It says, that if the chessboard should fail to be of use to Ned
and Lizzy, it has at least served the purpose of partially diverting
his thoughts from a grief that almost drives him mad. Of course he
alludes to this sad affair."
"Undoubtedly," replied Herbert; "and this business of the
chessboard is just like himself— he is the most extraordinary fellow!
I never knew him in any trouble, small or great, that he did not turn
to doing something for somebody or other by way of a solace—a balm to
his hurt mind."
"I do not wonder you love him so devotedly," said Isabella.
"Oh, Belle," whispered Herbert in return, "had Heaven but have put
him in Jasper's place, or made Jasper like him!"
Mrs. Archer caught the words, and in spite of her own discretion
and Isabella's painful blushes, she uttered a deep and insuppressible
"Come, come, what are you all about?" saidMr. Linwood: "suppose you
imitate this wonderful hero of yours in the use of his mental panacea,
and comfort me with a game of whist. Do you play as deep a game as you
used to, Herbert; trump your partner's trick, and finesse with a knave
and ten spot?"
Herbert confessed he had forgotten the little he knew. "Well, then,
you may brood over your Yankee paper, and we will call in your mother,
who, in five-and-twenty years' drilling, has learned just enough not to
trump her partner's tricks."
Mrs. Linwood was summoned, and the party formed. Mr. Linwood was in
high good-humour, and though Isabella made some inscrutable plays, all
went smoothly till the family party was alarmed by a tap at the door;
and before any one had time to reply to it, the door was opened, and
Lady Anne Seton appeared. Startled by the appearance of a stranger, and
somewhat disconcerted by perceiving the embarrassment caused by her
intrusion, "Shall I go back?" she asked, her hand still on the door.
"Oh, no—no," cried Mr. Linwood, "come in, my dear little girl, by
all means; you promised me a game of piquet, and I, an old savage,
forgot it, and so I have forfeited my right, and now make it over to
this young man, my son Herbert." Lady Anne turned a surprised,
sparkling, and inquiring glance to Herbert, as much as to say, "Is it
possible!" and Herbert made his bow of presentation. "You know,"
continued the father, "that this young man is in limbo; but you do not
know, and be sure you let no one else know, that Sir Henry, God bless
him! permits the rascal to visit us privately."
"Am I really trusted with an important secret? —delightful!—and
does any thing depend on my keeping it?"
"The continuance of my brother's visits and Sir Henry's favour,"
replied Isabella, emphatically, alarmed at the necessity of confiding
their secret to one so gay and inexperienced as Lady Anne.
Inexperienced she was, but true and single-hearted. "Do not look so
solemn, my dear Miss Linwood," she said; "indeed I will not tell. I am
too much puffed up with the first important secret I ever had in my
keeping to part with it carelessly. I am even with aunt and Jasper now,
with their everlasting private talks; and when it is stupid at home, I
may come here, may I not?"
"Always," interposed Mr. Linwood, really delighted with the
accession of the charming girl to their circle. Mrs. Linwood, who only
waited for her husband to strike the key-note, was voluble in her
hospitable expressions. Herbert looked the most unequivocal welcome;
and Lady Anne, never querulous, did not trouble herself about
Isabella's merely civil assent, and perhaps did not notice it. From
this time her visits were almost as regular as Herbert's. She was
little addicted to romance; but every young girl has a spice of it, and
Herbert'sromantic and precarious position increased the charm of his
frank and spirited character. A dear lover of sunshine was Herbert; and
these short domestic interludes, brightened by Lady Anne, were hours in
paradise to him. All day in his gloomy prison he looked forward to his
release from purgatory; and, once engaged at a side-table with his
lively partner in the most fascinating of all tête-à-tête games, or
round the petit-souper, which his good mother spent the day in
contriving and concocting, he forgot the ills of life, till the summons
from his keeper reminded him that he had still to buffet with his
portion of them.
"If I do not mistake," said Mrs. Archer to Isabella, after the
breaking up of one of their evening meetings, "Herbert and Lady Anne
are beginning to see visions, and dream dreams."
"And why, my dear Belle, should Heaven forbid so natural and
pleasant a consequence of their familiar intercourse?"
"How can you ask, aunt Mary? I could not forgive Herbert if he were
so soon to forget poor Bessie."
"We must take man as he is, Belle. Herbert is too lighthearted to
cherish a hopeless passion; he regards his love for Bessie Lee as a
dream, and, rely on it, he is thoroughly awakened from it. You must
have perceived that he has not been desperately afflicted about your
unfortunate little friend?"
"Yes, I have—but men do not show their feelings."
"Some men do not, but Herbert does; and rely on it, Belle, he is
not of a temper to continue to love a person (even if poor little
Bessie were not, as she must now be, utterly lost to him) whose heart
"I suppose you are right, aunt Mary," replied Isabella, after a
moment's hesitation, colouring deeply; "the whole sex are alike
incapable of the generosity of unrequited affection!" Unacknowledged
was her mental reading of unrequited.
"Substitute folly or weakness for generosity, Belle, and you will
take a more masculine, and, it may be, a more rational view of the
"Oh, aunt Mary, are you, like the rest of the world, giving up all
feeling for what you call rationality!"
"No, my dear child, but I have learned that what you call feeling,
what constitutes the dream of a few weeks, months, or it may be years
of youth, makes but a small portion of the reality or the worth of
life. Providence has kindly so organized man, that he cannot waste his
affections in one hopeless, fruitless concentration; nor lose life in a
tissue of vain regrets. The stream that is obstructed in one course
will take another, and enrich and beautify regions for which it did
not, at first, seem destined."
Isabella was not just now in a humour to assentto Mrs. Archer's
conclusions, but her mind was the good ground in which the seed could
not be lost. She was conscious that, though her aunt's strictures were
ostensibly directed to Herbert, they had some bearing on herself. She
was in a position the most tormenting to a mind prompt both to decide
and act. Since Lady Anne's arrival she had rarely seen Meredith. This
she admitted was in part her own fault. She had been restrained by her
promise to Sir Henry Clinton from communicating to Jasper the favour
granted Herbert. "But when she gave the promise to Sir Henry, ought she
not to have excepted Jasper? Was it not due to him? and would she not
have made the exception, through all the blushing and faltering it must
have cost her, had she not felt sure that Sir Henry himself would have
made Meredith a party to the secret?"
Sir Henry, after a little reflection, was ashamed of the spell that
had been wrought on him, and communicated it to no one.
Meredith, partly spurred by pride, partly led on by the incessant
manœuvres of his mother, and partly incited by the worldly advantages
of an alliance with Lady Anne, and flattered too by his cousin's frank
and affectionate manner, was fast verging towards that point, to attain
which his mother had compassed sea and land.
He had confidently expected that Isabella would at once and fully
have reciprocated his declarations of attachment. Her reserve had
abased his pride, piqued his vanity, and disappointed his affection. He
believed he truly loved her, and he did, as truly as he could love. But
Jasper Meredith's love, like water that rises through minerals, was
impregnated with much foreign material. He at first had no formed
purpose in his devotion to Lady Anne; but after being twice or thrice
repulsed from Mr. Linwood's door by "My master is better, sir but not
yet down stairs;" and "Miss Isabella is very much engaged," he half
resolved no longer to resist the "tide in his affairs that was leading
on to fortune."
"Some die of weariness,
Some of disease, and some insanity,
And some of withered or of broken hearts;
For this last is a malady which slays
More than are numbered in the lists of fate,
Taking all shapes, and bearing many names."
Bessie Lee's sylvan lodge harmonized so well with her wild fancies,
that when she awoke it seemed no more strange to her than her
accustomed sleeping-place. Whatever she might be destined afterward to
suffer from this exposure on the damp earth through a cold autumnal
night, she was as unconscious of the ills that flesh is heir to as if
she were a disimbodied spirit. "Sluggard that I am!" she exclaimed,
starting up and shaking off the heavy dew-drops, "the spirits of
morning are at worship, and I sleeping! the birds are singing their
hymns, and I, that have been watched and guarded, am silent." She
leaned her cheek on the mossy stem of a tree, and began to repeat the
Lord's prayer: " 'Our father'—ay, nature worships with me—beautiful
waterfall, majestic trees, glad light, is he not our father?—'hallowed
be his name,'—ye hallow his name, for ye are the manifestations of his
wisdom, the ministers of his love,the shadows of celestial
beauty!—'thy kingdom come'—it is come here—obedience, peace,
serenity, are his kingdom—war is not—care is not—love is not—love
to fallible mortals, for there no peace is —so I will on my
pilgrimage, and break the last link in the chain—then will I return
here, finish my prayer, and lay me down and rest again."
Thus mingling with her celestial meditations one earthly purpose,
she retraced her way to the road, and looked about in vain for her
horse, who, having obeyed his rational impulses, was now far on his way
homeward. "It was not kind of you, Steady," she said, as she came to
the conclusion he had abandoned her; but without one thought of
relinquishing her purpose, or one doubt of her ability to effect it.
She walked on for about half a mile, and probably began to have some
obscure sense of tremulousness and weakness, for, seeing a horse
equipped with saddle and bridle hitched to the fence, and a basket
standing by him containing biscuits and apples, she laughed aloud,
exclaiming, "Who would have thought it!" and then checking herself,
raised her eyes devoutly and added, "yet, I might have known they would
be provided by the wayside, just when I wanted them. I wonder there is
not a woman's saddle, but I can manage;" and taking the basket in one
hand, she mounted, and rode briskly on. She proceeded without any
hinderance or molestation whatever, now and then, probably, from an
insupportable feelingof weariness, dismounting and lying for a moment
under the shadow of a tree. It was about the middle of the afternoon,
when she was entering the street of a little village, that she heard
behind her the trampling of horses on the full gallop, and outcries of
"Stop thief!" Her horse, incited more by the uproar at his heels than
by any impulse she was able to give him, sprang forward. The people
rushed from their houses—their screams bewildered her. She gazed
fearfully around her; her wearied horse soon slackened his speed, and
one of her pursuers reached her just at the moment that, having dropped
the bridle from her powerless hand, she was falling from her saddle.
"Time you was spent, young madam," cried her rough assistant, as,
supporting half her weight, he prevented her sinking to the ground.
The people of the village, chiefly women and children, gathered
around, all gazing on Bessie with scrutinizing glances. Her wandering
eye and blanched cheek must have half told her story, for not one of
them spoke till she, drawing up from the arm that supported her, asked,
with an air of offended dignity, "Why are ye so unmannerly to me?"
"Ha, ha—not quite so topping, miss—serve your writ, Mr. Sheriff,"
replied one of her pursuers. "Pretty high, to talk about manners, when
you've been riding fifty miles on a stolen horse."
"Stolen!" echoed Bessie, "indeed, I did not steal him."
"How upon 'arth did you get him then? answer that."
"I took him—" the standers-by interrupted her with a coarse laugh;
but Bessie, without heeding them, proceeded: "I took him, where he
stood awaiting me."
"Now, if that is not a high joke! Just hear me, good people—the
sheriff can swear to all I say. This is Squire Saunders's horse—you
have all heard of the squire?" They had all heard of Squire Saunders,
whose fame rayed through a large circle. "Well, the squire rode up to
his wood-lot this morning, to see about a trespass that's committing
there—you know, sheriff; and the squire just hitched his horse to the
fence, and went up into the woods, and got out of his reckoning; and
two hours after, when he came upon the road—"
"Take care of that poor young woman," cried a benevolent looking
man who was passing in an oxcart, "don't you see she can't stand?"
"I am tired," said Bessie, sinking to the ground, and putting her
hand to her head; "this noise tires me."
The spectators exchanged glances of inquiry and pity; the sheriff
looked compassionate; his companion sturdy, and resolved not to be
taken in. The man of the ox-cart stopped his vehicle, and joined the
group: "Are ye all blind and deaf," headded, "that ye do not see the
poor girl's mind is unsettled?"
"Oh no, friend," said Bessie, shaking her head, and looking up with
a faint smile, "you are very much mistaken—my mind is not the least
unsettled —indeed, it every day becomes stronger and more capable than
Her champion looked to the standers-by for their assent to this
confirmation of his opinion, and then turning to the sheriff, said,
"You will not, I am sure, trouble her farther?"
"No, I'll be hanged if I do!"
"Nor you?" appealing to the sheriff's attendant.
"I don't know—if I were sure—I don't like to be
outwitted—remember, sheriff, it was for horse and thief the squire
offered the reward."
"The devil take the reward, Dan!"
"You may say so—for you that's got an office can afford it, but
I'm a volunteer. But since you all take on so about it, if you're a
mind to contribute and pay something towards my expenses and trouble
and so on, I'll trust to the squire for the rest."
"I have not one copper to pay," said Bessie's friend.
"Pay! is that all he wants?" asked Bessie, thrusting her hand into
her pocket, and giving into his greedy grasp her few coins; "perhaps it
was meant," she added, in a confidential tone to her champion, "that I
should pay for the use of thehorse, but I know he was provided for me.
Are you satisfied?" she asked, in a tone to pierce the heart; "indeed,
I have given you all."
"He shall be satisfied—he must be satisfied!" cried every voice at
once; and the man, perceiving the general sentiment was against him,
was glad to mount his horse and follow the sheriff, who was already
leading away Squire Saunders's recovered property. It was evident the
sheriff's organ of benevolence had resisted the influence of his
"And now what is to be done with this poor helpless thing?" asked
Barlow, the kind-hearted man who had so far befriended Bessie. At this
question, two or three of the spectators slunk away; the rest exchanged
fearful and uncertain glances; one or two murmured that they "did not
love to have crazy folks in their houses;" and it was obvious that the
benevolence of all was restrained by that irrational fear which so much
increases the sufferings of those who are mentally diseased. No one
offering an asylum for the poor wanderer, Barlow turned to her and
asked, "What will you do now, my poor child?"
"Oh, go on."
"Go on! where, in the name of wonder?"
"Impossible! how are you to go?"
"I must go—more than life depends on it—now, I cannot tell
exactly. I do not think I could walk very far," she vainly attempted to
rise; "but donot be concerned about me, for certainly He who hath
helped me so far will not now desert me."
The gentle girl's unconsciousness of her wants was more touching
than the most passionate appeal.
"Will you go home with me?" asked Barlow, after wiping his eyes,
and clearing his voice.
"Oh, no, I thank you; I cannot lose any time."
"Poor child! but," he added, "I live six miles nearer to New-York
than this, and I can take you so far on your way."
"Then indeed I will go. Did I not tell you, O ye of little faith,
that the way would be provided?" Again, and again without success, she
attempted to rise.
"Lend a hand, neighbours," said Barlow; "the straw on my cart is
clean, and we will lay her on it." Bessie was placed in the cart, and
driven to Barlow's humble habitation, a dwelling-house adjoining a
blacksmith's shop, within a few miles of Hartford, in Connecticut.
Barlow would have been justifiable, if ever man was, in going on
"the other side," and leaving Bessie Lee to the chance mercies of
others. But Barlow's heart bore a faint resemblance to his own anvil;
the stroke of his fellow-creature's necessities always brought forth
sparks of kindness.
"Dear me!" exclaimed his wife, when he entered their little
dwelling, supporting Bessie with one arm; "who have you got here?"
"Open the door into the bedroom, Martha, and I'll tell you
afterward." The door was promptly opened, the bedspread turned down,
and Bessie laid upon the clean inviting bed.
"Oh, thank you, thank you!" she said; "I shall tell mother and
Eliot how very kind you are to me."
"Dear me!" said pitiful Mrs. Barlow.
"Oh, ma'am, I am very well," said Bessie, replying to her
compassionate look; "only a little tired —do not let me oversleep
"Give her some warm milk, Martha; and let her sleep, if she
can—it's her only chance."
The hospitality was done, and Bessie left to the ministry of
nature, while Barlow related to his marvelling wife all he knew of her.
"Well," said she, as he concluded, "I do feel for her folks; and yet
she don't look as if she belonged to this world. I have dreamed of
seeing angels, and she looks like them; but like nothing made out of
clay. I'm glad you brought her home, Barlow; it's a great easement to
the heart to do a kindness, though we are in a poor case to entertain
strangers, even if they be angels."
"We be in a poor situation; but it would have been awful to have
left such a young, delicate, innocent, beautiful fellow-creature to
perish by the wayside!"
"Dear me! yes, indeed."
"Or to have left her to people that were so slack about helping
"And so, knowing your feelings, Martha, I've done what I have
"You've done right, Barlow."
"I don't know, you are so poorly, and the boys sick. Have they
missed their chill to-day?"
"No, neither they nor I."
Barlow rose, looked at the pale faces of his little boys, who were
lying in a truckle-bed, then at his sickly wife, and shook his head.
"Martha, I am afraid I have been presumptuous."
"Dear me, husband! don't worry about that; what would be the use of
sickness if it did not give us feelings for others?"
"True, Martha; and somehow I could not help it; and now I can't but
think Providence will help us through with what his finger pointed out.
I have repented of a great many things in my day; but I never saw
reason to repent of a good deed— look in the bedroom, Martha, and see
if she is sleeping."
"Dear me, no! but there's a quiet smile on her lips, and her
beautiful eyes are raised; and she seems just like a lamb looking at
"If she's still she may fall asleep; so let us ask a blessing on
her and the rest of us, and then we'll to bed ourselves."
What grace and dignity do the devotion and compassion of such pure
hearts impart to the dwelling of the poor man! Oh ye, who fare
sumptuously every day, imitate him in his only luxury—the luxury of
deeds never to be repented of!
"The man I speak of cannot in the world be singly counter-poised."
A week subsequent to Bessie Lee's arrival at Barlow's, a violent
hallooing and knocking were heard at the blacksmith's shop; and no
answer being given, Barlow's house-door was soon beset with impatient
knocks and cries of—"Halloo, blacksmith, you are wanted!"
Barlow rose from the bed, where he had been laid by a severe attack
of intermittent fever, and answered, that he was utterly unable to go
to his workshop. "What does he say?" asked a young gentleman in a
foreign accent, who with two or three attendants was impatiently
awaiting Barlow's services.
"He says he cannot come, sir."
"Cannot! Ce n'est pas le mot d'aujourd'hui."
"Neither, I think, sir," replied the first speaker, is must current
in these parts."
"Vous avez raison, mon ami; mais mon Dieu! What are we to do?"
The gentleman, being very much in the habit of overcoming other
men's impossibilities every day of his life, dismounted, gave his
bridle to an attendant, and walked up to the open door of our friend
Barlow, who, on seeing the uniform of an American general officer, was
somewhat abashed, though its wearer was a fair young man, with a
remarkably gentle and benignant countenance. "If it were barely
possible, sir," said Barlow, "I should be happy to serve you; but I am
scarcely able to stand."
"Ah, my good friend, I see you are in a bad position, and your wife
too. How long have you been ill, madame?"
"I have had the fever 'nagur, sir, six weeks, off and on."
"Fever 'nagur! Qu'est que c'est?" asked the gentleman, aside, of
"Fever and ague."
"Ah, je comprends! very bad malady, madame, very bad; you should
take every day a little port wine."
Mrs. Barlow smiled. "Dear me! yes, sir, if I had it."
"You go or send often to Hartford?" resumed the stranger,
"Almost every day, sir."
"Ah, very well! I have some port wine there in a friend's cellar. I
will give you an order for a bottle or two; and I pray you to send for
it; and you and your wife, and these little fellows, who by their blue
lips have the ague too, shall drink to my health and your own."
"Thank you, sir," said Mrs. Barlow; "a little port wine is what I
have been all along thinking would cure us—dear me!"
"Is it only one horse, sir, that wants shoeing?" asked Barlow,
tying a handkerchief round his throat.
"Only one, my good friend; my own brave beast, who has done much
good service, and has much more to do. Pauvre bête! it goes to my heart
to have his hoof broken up."
Barlow felt as if his strength came with the sympathy and
consideration manifested by the person who needed it. "I guess, sir,"
he said, "I could stand long enough to do so small a job."
"Ah, my friend, mille—a thousand thanks; but spare your strength
to do what no one else can do. Here, orderly, kindle up the
blacksmith's fire, quickly." While this was in preparation, the
stranger took writing materials from his pocket, and addressed the
following note to a person whose munificence is still remembered,
though he has long ago gone to the enjoyment of his treasures, where he
was then wisely laying them up.
"My dear Wadsworth,
—I have just chanced to call at a poor blacksmith's, who, with his
worthy family, is at death's door with a protracted intermittent. It
seems to me that port, like that I drank with you yesterday, might
restore them. As the man looks like too independent an Americanto beg a
favour, I have taken the liberty to give him this order for a bottle or
two, telling him, with a poetic truth, that I had wine in your cellar.
It is your own fault if all your friends feel that they have a property
in your possessions. Adieu."
Just as the stranger had signed and sealed this billet, the inner
door opened, and Bessie Lee appeared, her cheeks died with fever, her
eyes bright as gems, her lips of the brightest vermilion, and her
beautiful hair hanging in many a tangled curl over her face and neck.
"Mon Dieu!" exclaimed the stranger.
"Dear me! my child, go back," said Mrs. Barlow, gently repulsing
her. Bessie, however, without heeding her, pressed forward, and
addressing herself to the stranger in an energetic, business sort of a
way, "You are going to New-York?" she said.
"Not exactly, young lady; but I am going in that direction."
"Do go back into the bedroom,—do, husband, persuade her—"
"No, no, Martha, let her have her own way."
"Thank you," said Bessie. "Will you be kind enough, sir, to step
into my room?—this buzzing confuses me."
The stranger, with characteristic sagacity, had already half
penetrated the truth. He motioned to Bessie to precede him, saying in a
low voice toMrs. Barlow, "Your husband is right. It is best your child
should have her own way."
"Dear me, she is not our child, sir!"
"She does not look as if she were," thought the stranger; but there
was no time for farther explanation. As soon as they were fairly within
the inner room, Bessie shut the door. She seemed at first disconcerted;
but instantly rallying, she said, "I am unknown to you, sir, but your
face seems to have that heavenly sentence written on it: 'Ask and it
shall be given to you.' "
"Then why do you hesitate?"
"They would think it so strange that I should be asking such a
favour of a stranger—a young gentleman—"
"Who are they?"
"My mother and brother."
"Their names, my friend?"
"I cannot tell their names. My present object is to get to New-York
as soon as possible, where I have business of the greatest importance.
I have been staying here for some days with very kind people. I would
not wound their feelings on any account," she added, in a whisper; "but
they are very weak-minded—no judgment at all; indeed, there are few
people that have, so I do not choose to confide to them the reason of
my actions. All will be explained and published when I return from
"But, my dear young lady, are you aware that New-York is in
possession of the enemy?"
"Oh, sir, I have no enemies."
"Rough soldiers—foreign soldiers, my fair friend, will make no
exception in your favour."
"You do not know," she replied, drawing up her little person with
an air of assured but mysterious superiority, "you do not know that I
am one of those of whom it was said, that 'their angels do always stand
before my Father;' and I could tell you of such difficult passes where
invisible spirits have guided and tended me—so faithfully! but that at
another time. There is not the slightest danger in my going to
New-York—indeed, I have no choice; I must go."
"Do you know any one in New-York?"
"Yes, Miss Linwood, the friend to whom I am going."
"Miss Linwood? Miss Isabella Linwood? Ah, I have heard of her."
"She is not my only—" friend, she was going to say; a shade passed
over her countenance, and she added, "acquaintance in New-York. Now,
sir, all that I am going to ask of you is for liberty to ride behind
you, or one of your attendants, as far as you go on my way."
The stranger, compassionate as he felt, could scarcely forbear a
smile. "We should be hardly a proper escort for you, my fair friend,"
"Oh, fear not for that; I am so fenced about— so guarded by unseen
and powerful spirits, that it matters not with whom, if I but get
After a moment of anxious thought, "Tell me, young lady," he
replied, "the name of that brother of whom you spoke, and on my honour
I will do all in my power for you."
"No—never—this is a temptation of that evil one who so long led
me astray, to turn me again from the straight path, to frustrate my
purpose. I do not blame you, sir. He has before, in my dreams and at
other times, whispered to me, that if I were but to speak my brother's
name, I should be cared for; but this would be trusting to a human arm.
No: his name must not pass my lips." If she had then spoken it, how
different would have been the fate of many individuals!
The benevolent stranger perceived that the impressions (whether
illusions or not) from which Bessie acted were ineffaceable, and that
she had that fixedness of purpose from which it seems impossible, by
reason or art of any sort, to turn an insane person. He was at an utter
loss what to do or say, and merely murmured, "Would to Heaven I could
"You would and cannot! Indeed, you look to me like those favourites
of Heaven, who both will and can. Who are you?"
"I am more generous than you, my friend, and I will tell you. My
name is La Fayette."
"La Fayette! Now is it not wonderful," exclaimed Bessie, clasping
her hands and looking upward, her whole face bright and rapturous, "Is
itnot wonderful that he who is chosen and set apart of God for the
cause of freedom, the friend of Washington, the best friend of my
struggling country, should be guided to this little dwelling to find me
out and aid me? You cannot choose but serve me," she added, laying her
hand on his, and faintly and wildly laughing.
"And I will serve you, my poor girl, so help me God!" he replied,
kissing her faded, feverish hand. "Sit you here quietly, and I will see
what can be done."
"I will wait patiently, but remember, there is but one thing to be
La Fayette appeared in the outer room: his eyes were suffused with
tears, and for a moment he found it difficult to command his voice.
"You can make nothing of her," said Mrs. Barlow, looking inquiringly.
"No? I thought so—she is the meekest and the beautifullest mortal, the
gentlest and the most obstinate, that ever I came across."
"Where is your husband, my good friend?"
"Shoeing your horse, sir."
"Ah, that's very kind, very kind indeed; I will go and speak with
him." Accordingly, he proceeded to the workshop, and there received
from Barlow all the particulars he could communicate of poor Bessie
Lee. "It is not only her master beautiful looks, sir," said Barlow, in
conclusion; "but she seems so pure in heart, and so well nurtured, and
so pretty spoken. She draws many atear from us—being weak and sick,
sir, makes one easy to cry."
"The fountain of such tears is a good heart, my friend; and no one
need apologize for letting them gush out now and then. You say you have
made every effort to find out who the poor girl is?"
"Yes, sir, indeed I have; but it is impossible. I have thought of
advertising the stray lamb," he added, with a smile; "but somehow I did
not love to put her in the newspapers."
"That, perhaps, would have been wisest; but now I think the best
thing that can be done is to gratify her ruling desire, and get her to
New-York as soon as possible."
"Ay, indeed, sir; but how get her there now?"
"Why, my friend, you must furnish the way, and I the means. You
know that those of us who are best off in these times have no
superfluity. I cannot spare more than a guinea from the small sum I
have with me."
"A guinea is a great sum, sir, in these hard times; but—"
"But not enough to get the young lady to New-York, I am aware of
that; and therefore, in addition, I shall give you my watch, which,
being fine gold and a repeater, will enable you to raise enough for her
necessities, and a surplus to make your family comfortable till you
come to the anvil again."
"This is too much," replied Barlow, bending low over the horse's
hoof; either his gratitude orhis sickness making it "easy for him to
"Not too much, nor quite enough, my friend. You will find some
worthy man and woman to accompany her to the American lines; and I will
do what I can to secure her safe conduct. She will certainly go safely
to the British posts, and beyond, I trust. Surely none of God's
creatures, who have a trace of his image, can be inhuman to her; but we
must take all precautions."
"Yes, indeed, sir; war, like a slaughter-house, breeds vermin; and
there be those abroad whose hearts are as hard as my anvil."
"We will do our best to protect her from such."
La Fayette then wrote an earnest recommendation of Bessie to the
protection and kindness of all Americans. He requested the American
officer to forward her under the protection of a flag, and finally
addressed a note to the British commander, and all his officers and
agents, stating the condition of the young person whom he commended to
their humanity, and praying them to expedite her progress to New-York,
where (as he thought proper to state, knowing Mr. Linwood to be a
tory), the friend to whose house she was going, Robert Linwood, Esq.,
resided. The surprise of Barlow when he received these notes, and saw
the powerful, allhonoured, and loved name of La Fayette attached to
them, is indescribable. La Fayette gave the watch into his hands, and
without waiting for his thanks, he pressed Barlow's hand, mounted his
horse, joined his companions, and rode off at full speed. Barlow gazed
after him till the cavalcade disappeared; then, after a fervent
thanksgiving to God, he said, looking at the watch, "I must pledge
this; but if Heaven prosper me I will redeem it, and leave it, as
better than all my fast property, to my children."
We have graced our page by recording here one of His unnumbered
good deeds, who has filled up the measure of human benevolence by every
manifestation, from the least to the greatest, of this divine quality.
"But this was what I knew had come to pass,
When, answ'ring with your vacant no, and yes,
You fed upon your thoughts and mark'd me not."
"My dear Lady Anne," said Mrs. Meredith to her niece, as they were
one morning sitting together, "you seem to have taken a wonderful
liking to that knotting" (Lady Anne had become, as our friend Rivington
has it, "thrifty in the knotting amusement")—"where in the world did
you learn it?"
"Mrs. Linwood taught me."
"So I should think. It is as monotonous as she is."
"Oh, aunt, I find it charming! It is the very perfection of
existence to have an occupation like this for your fingers, while your
heart and mind are left free to rove to the end of the world, or, what
is better still, to be at the service of some agreeable companion you
may chance to have beside you."
"Chacun à son gout!" said Mrs. Meredith, taking up a book, with a
vexing consciousness that she was not the "agreeable companion"
preferred to her niece's maiden meditations. Lady Anne had not spoken
five words for the hour they had been sitting together. As the morning
was rainythe ladies were like to remain uninterrupted; and it was too
tempting an opportunity for Mrs. Meredith to make an attack she had
long been meditating, to be foregone; so she put aside her book and her
vexation, and said in a voice sufficiently untoned for an old
diplomatist, "You seem quite fond of the Linwoods, my love?"
"I am, aunt."
"You find the choleric, peevish, egotistical old man charming?"
"Indeed, I do sincerely think him a delightful old gentleman."
"And that living manifestation of all the mediocrities, his patient
"The most amiable woman in the world."
"And their lofty, capricious daughter, now silent and infolded in
her own sublimities, like a worshipped idol on its pedestal, and now
gracious as a new-made queen?"
"And always captivating and gentle, aunt." Mrs. Meredith threw up
her hands and eyes: "I mean almost always gentle as a woman should be.
For my part, I do not fancy perpetual sunshine. I am much of a certain
English sea-captain's way of thinking, who, after being becalmed in the
sunny waters of France, sailed away in one of his own northeasters and
thick fogs, and thanked Heaven he was out of that d—d sunshine."
"Your illustration is a fortunate one, Lady Anne; I congratulate
you on your peculiar taste. Butfor this gusty variety in the temper of
your friend, your long evenings with that little family coterie would
be rather of the becalmed order."
"The evenings never seem long to me," replied Lady Anne, her face
dimpling with recollected pleasure.
"How in the world do you kill time?"
"Oh, the old gentleman, and Mrs. Archer, and Isabella and her
mother, play whist."
"And you sit by and look on?—this is inscrutable, that you, my
dear child, who are so admired, courted, worshipped, should be content
to play so obscure a part. If there were a young man in the case—if
that son of Mr. Linwood were at home— by-the-way, they seem to make
themselves exceedingly comfortable while he is in durance— yes, if the
juice of 'that little western flower' were on your eyelids, I could
understand why you should thus 'madly dote.' "
Lady Anne laughed and shook her head, as if to say, "Puzzle it out
if you can."
Mrs. Meredith was displeased; but like many persons who have
self-command and good taste, she chose to show her angry feelings in
the light of gentle emotions. Her voice faltered, and her eyes filled
with tears (her eyes, it may be remembered, were fine, the prototypes
of her son's brilliant orbs). "I ought, my dear girl," she said, "to be
satisfied if you are; but I have so set my heart upon you, the only
child of my dear lamented brother. I had hoped that Jasper and I should
make our home attractive to you; that we might have, at least, a
portion of your affection."
"My dear aunt!" exclaimed Lady Anne, throwing down her knotting,
"I—I—" do love you dearly, she was on the point of adding, but she
was too honest to indulge her good-nature at the expense of truth, and
she said, "I feel your kindness to me —I should be most ungrateful if
I did not."
"Grateful, undoubtedly, you are; and so you would have been to any
faithful guardian; but the heart asks something more. You manifest
neither to me nor to Jasper more than the affection of a common
relative. Whatever place I may take in the scale of your friends, your
cousin is certainly no common person."
"No, indeed, that he is not," said Lady Anne, charmed that she
could sooth her aunt and speak sincerely. "Jasper is by far the most
agreeable gentleman you have introduced to me here. He is a little
abstracted now and then; but when he knows what he is saying, he is
perfectly delightful. I told Isabella Linwood last evening that it was
a mystery to me—une veritable merveille—that she had never fallen in
love with Jasper."
"What did she say?" asked Mrs. Meredith, eagerly, and off her
"I do not remember. I believe she said nothing."
"A provoking, inscrutable person she is," thought Mrs. Meredith;
and then made a remark which shemeant to be what the lawyers call
leading:— "There was a report before we came of an attachment between
Jasper and Miss Linwood."
"Bless me! was there?"
"Why are you surprised?"
"For the best reason in the world, aunt—neither seems to fancy the
other. As for Isabella, whenever I praise cousin Jasper, she is either
quite silent, or turns the conversation, as if she did not like to
appear to disagree with me."
"Ah, my young lady," thought the aunt, "you do not see quite
through a millstone."
Jasper at this moment entered. "Come here, cousin," said Lady Anne;
and when he had approached, she added, in a playful voice, putting her
hand (the prettiest hand in the world) on his arm, "Were you ever in
love with—" her mischievous pause nearly suspended the pulsations of
Meredith's heart, "with—don't be scared—the most loveable person in
He had recovered himself. "If I never have been," he replied,
seizing her hand and kissing it, "I shall soon be—irretrievably."
The past, the future, rushed upon him, and overpowered his
self-command. He turned from Lady Anne and left the apartment. "Oh,
Jasper! Jasper!" cried Lady Anne, blushing, laughing, and springing
after him, "stop one minute—you did not understand me." But before she
reached the stairs, the outer door closed after Meredith. Mrs.Meredith
clasped her hands. Jasper was won— Lady Anne must of course be!—and
she seemed to herself to have reached the summit of her Pisgah, and
thence to descry the promised land for which she had come to the
wilderness. That "there is many a slip between the cup and the lip" is
a proverb somewhat musty; but it pithily indicates the sudden mutations
to which poor humanity is liable.
"I would to Heaven I had your potency,
And you were Isabel! should it then be thus?
No! I would tell what 'twere to be a judge,
And what a prisoner."
We change the scene from Mrs. Meredith's drawing-room to the
gloomiest cell in the city prison, where, stretched on a heap of straw,
lay a poor wretch condemned to be hung at four o'clock in the afternoon
of that day. The door opened, and Isabella entered, attended by Rose,
and escorted by a turnkey, who, having set down a candle to aid the
feeble light of the cell, went out himself and locked the door upon
"Take up the light, Rose," said Isabella, who was shivering, not so
much from the unsunned air of the apartment, as at the presence of a
fellow-creature in such circumstances; "hold it near him, Rose, so that
I can see his face."
Rose approached close to him and said, as if announcing the visit
of an angel, "Here's a lady come to see you." He made no reply; and,
after an eager survey, she turned to her young mistress and said, "His
senses are clean gone!" Isabella held Rose's arm while she gazed at
him. His face was ashen, his hair was in matted masses, and hispale
blue eye wandered inexpressively. "Who are you?" asked Isabella. The
music of her voice for an instant fixed his uncertain gaze, but he made
no reply; and again his eye was bent on vacancy. "Who are you, friend?"
"I a'n't nobody," he replied, in a broken voice, between a laugh
and a sob.
"Have you no friend?" He turned his face to the straw, and muttered
something inaudibly. "What does he say, Rose?"
"Turn up your face so the lady can hear," said Rose. He obeyed; but
Rose's voice seemed to have broken the spell of her mistress's, and he
"Rouse yourself, my good friend," said Isabella, "I wish to be of
service to you. Can you give me any reason why you should not die the
death to which you are sentenced?"
"No—lief as not."
"It cannot be—you must have something— some friend for whom you
would like to live and come out of this place."
"Had!—had!" the poor creature sobbed like a child.
"Tell me," said Isabella, eagerly, "the name of this friend?" But
the obstinate mood had again seized him, and, though she varied the
question and put it in every possible form, he gave no sign of answer.
"Try him upon some other hook, Miss Belle," whispered Rose.
"How long had you been with the skinners when you were taken?"
Now he answered promptly—"Years!—years!"
"Years?—that cannot be."
"Cannot? A'n't the minutes years to the child that's crying for its
mammy, hey?" He had risen on his elbow; but he again sunk back on the
straw, and renewed his piteous crying.
"What does this mean? What can be done for him?" exclaimed
Isabella. "My poor friend, death is very near to you—do you know it?"
"Yes, yes, lady. Ha'n't they brought me a new suit?" He pointed to
the execution suit that was folded up and lying beside him. "There be
three times in every one's life when they're sure of a new suit:—when
they're born, when they're married, and when they die. I've got my last
and prettiest, I'm thinking, for I remember granny reading about the
angels being in white robes."
His mind seemed now more collected, and Isabella ventured to ask
him if he were willing to die?
"Glad on't—don't look at me, lady, with that bright watery eye—I
am glad on't."
"Have you prayed for the pardon of your sins?"
"Haven't any—never had—never wronged anybody—nor wished it—nor
"Merciful Heaven!" exclaimed Isabella, "what is to be done?"
"For me, lady?—nothing."
"Do you not wish to live?"
"Yes—with him. 'Out him?—no."
"Who?" Isabella spoke too eagerly. He looked at her, shook his
head, then broke into an exulting laugh like a boy who has seen a trap
and escaped it.
"Miss Belle," said Rose, "you are wasting your tears and your
feelings—we must all die once, and the stroke can't come in better
time to him than now, when he's so willing to go."
"Willing? glad, hey! nobody cares for me, and I cares for nobody
but him; I think he be dead; but," he added, laying his hand on
Isabella's arm, "be he dead or be he living, you'll see him— your soul
is kin to his, lady—and mind you tell him how the skinners kept me
till the reg'lars came—did not tell 'em I was not a skinner— cheated
Isabella waited till he was through, and then said quietly, "Who
did you tell me to give your message to?"
"Misser Eliot." At the utterance of this name poor Kisel sunk back
on the straw, laughed and cried, and attempted to whistle, but he was
too weak to control the muscles of his lips. By degrees his voice
subsided into low moanings, and his eye wandered without light or
direction from his mind. The name had produced its effect upon Isabella
also. She had been incited to this visit to the prison by Herbert, who
had communicated to herthe previous evening some particulars he had
received from a sub-keeper in the prison, in relation to this condemned
man, which had excited a fear in his (Herbert's) mind that there was
some mistake in relation to the culprit. Herbert had not, however, the
slightest suspicion that the poor victim was Kisel. One or two
particulars of the convict's apparent innocence and simplicity had
touched Isabella's heart, and all night she had been disturbed by the
impression that he was unjustly condemned. Some young ladies would have
rested satisfied with dropping a few pitiful tears over such a
mischance; but Isabella Linwood was of another temper; and having no
male friend on whom she could rely, she went herself to the prison, and
easily obtained access to the prisoner's cell. The moment Kisel
pronounced Eliot's name, she was convinced the condemned must be the
half-witted attendant of Captain Lee, whom she had often heard Herbert
describe; and she doubted not that by going to Sir Henry Clinton and
communicating her convictions, she might obtain an order for having him
identified by confronting him with Herbert, or at any rate, that she
should procure a respite of his sentence. Her carriage was awaiting
her; and having communicated her intentions to Rose, she directed her
to walk home, saying she should go immediately to Sir Henry's. Rose
remonstrated. "What if he be the poor man you think for, Miss Belle?
life is nothing to him—he can do nothing with it—he would not thank
you for it."
"But, Rose, the life of an innocent man is sacred."
"La, Miss Belle, they don't stand on such trifles as innocence in
war-times—please don't go to Sir Henry's. He won't think the man
belonging to Captain Lee alters the case much, and you don't love to be
denied, and—I don't love to have you."
Rose was right. Her young mistress did not "love to be denied," but
the discipline of events was fast subduing her self-will, and
counteracting the indulgence and flattery of her friends. A common
nature is not taught by experience, and may therefore be either the
tool or victim of circumstances; but a creature like Isabella Linwood,
composed of noble elements (if, as with her, these elements are
sustained by religious principle), has within herself a self-rectifying
and all-controlling power. "Rose little dreams," said she, as the
carriage door closed upon her, "how my fondest wishes and expectations
have been denied and defeated! God grant that the affections thus cast
back upon me may not degenerate to morbid sensibility or pining
selfishness, but that they may be employed vigorously for the good of
my fellow-beings! This poor, harmless, broken creature, if I could but
save him!—save him and render Eliot Lee a service— Herbert's
friend—poor Bessie's brother—and the preserver of my dear little pet,
In the midst of these meditations she was shown into Sir Henry's
library, where she perceived Jasper Meredith seated at the table,
reading, in the identical spot where, a few weeks before, she had
received so passionate a declaration from him. A most embarrassing
reminiscence of the scene struck them both. He started from the table,
and she asked the servant to show her to the drawing-room. "The
drawing-room was occupied;" and thus, though the awkwardness of
entering was increased tenfold by the effort to avoid it, enter she
Seldom have two persons been placed in a more singular position in
relation to each other. Their destiny, while it was governed by
inflexible principles, seemed to have been at the mercy of the merest
accidents. "If," as Meredith had thought a thousand times, while
pursuing his retrospections, "if Isabella had not hesitated, and while
she hesitated, Helen Ruthven had not broken in upon us, our fate would
then have been fixed; or if, on the second occasion, when I urged her
decision, she had not again hesitated till her impatient father called
her, I should not now be wavering between my inclination and my better
But Isabella did hesitate, and that hesitation, proceeding from the
demands of her pure and lofty nature, was her salvation, and a fatal
rebuke and spur to his vanity.
They exchanged the ordinary salutations. Isabellasat down. They
were in the same chairs they had occupied at that memorable moment of
their lives; the same table was before them—the same books on the
table. Feelings have their habits, and so easily revert to their
customary channels! A spell seemed to have been cast over them. Neither
spoke nor moved, till Isabella, starting as one starts from a thrilling
dream, rose and walked to the window. "Ah," thought she, "what
memories, hopes, dreams, 'poor fancy's followers,' has this place
Jasper, moved by an irresistible impulse, followed her, and was
arrested in his half-formed purpose by the vision of Helen Ruthven,
who, as she was passing on the opposite side of the street, had seen
Isabella come forward, and had vainly tried to catch her eye. She was
smiling and bowing. When she saw Meredith, she beckoned. "You had best
go to Miss Ruthven," said Isabella; "I have some business with Sir
"I will go, Miss Linwood," he replied; and adding bitterly, " 'the
will of man is by his reason swayed,' " he disappeared. Isabella burst
into tears. Was ever a woman disinthralled from such a sentiment as
Isabella had felt, without efforts repeated and repeated, and many such
pangs as she now suffered, secretly endured. The struggle is a hard
one—the conquest worth it.
Sir Henry entered. "Your pardon, my dear Miss Isabella. I believed
Meredith was here, andthought you might chance to profit by the
blessing promised to those who wait—but you look troubled—your father
is not worse, no?—your brother has not abused his liberty?—papa does
not frown upon the faithful knight?"
"Oh, no, no—nothing of all this, Sir Henry—I have again come a
petitioner to you, but not now in my own cause." Isabella then
proceeded to state concisely and eloquently the case of the condemned;
Sir Henry became graver as she proceeded; and as she ended, losing a
good deal of his habitual courtesy, he said, "Really, Miss Linwood,
these are not matters for a young lady to interfere with. The day for
voluntary and romantic righters of wrongs is past. This fellow has been
adjudged to death after due investigation, before the proper tribunal,
and I do not see that it makes any essential difference in his favour
even if he should have had the honour of once being in the service of a
man who is so fortunate as to be the friend of your brother, and to
have rendered an accidental service to your aunt. The poor wretch, as
you allow, was one of a band of skinners when captured by a detachment
of our soldiers. His comrades were hung last week, and I have already
granted a respite to this man for some reason, what I do not precisely
recollect, alleged by the proper officer."
"He was ill—unable to stand, when the others suffered."
"Ah, yes—I remember."
Isabella urged her conviction that the prisoner had been
accidentally involved with the skinners. She described his simplicity
and imbecility of mind, and, as it seemed to her, his utter incapacity
to commit the energetic and atrocious crimes perpetrated by a band of
desperadoes. But to all her pleadings Sir Henry still returned the
answer so satisfactory to an official conscience:—"His death had been
decreed by the laws in such cases made and provided."
Isabella said that so slight seemed to be the prisoner's tenure of
life, that if he were reprieved for a week, Sir Henry might be relieved
from the responsibility of taking a life perhaps not forfeited. But Sir
Henry did not shrink from responsibility, and though she still
reasoned, and urged, it was all in vain.
He alleged that the press of important affairs rendered it
impossible for him to make a personal investigation of the business;
and that indeed it was out of the question, occupying the station he
did, to attend minutely to such a concern. The truth was, that Sir
Henry was somewhat fortified in his present decision by a secret
consciousness, that, on a former occasion, he had surrendered a point
purely to the influence of a lovely young woman; and he was now
resolved to maintain the invincible.
Isabella was obliged to take her leave, havingfailed in her errand
of mercy, and feeling a just indignation at the carelessness with which
a man could make his station an apology for neglecting the rights of
his fellow; and struck with the truth, that the only reason for one
man's occupying a station more elevated than another, is, that it gives
him the opportunity of better protecting and serving his fellow-beings.
"All torment, trouble, wonder, and amazement,
Inhabit here! Some heavenly power guide us
Out of this fearful country."
The hour appointed for Kisel's execution drew nigh. The premonitory
bell was already sounding, when a countryman, who had come from the
other side of the Hudson, sheltering his little boat in a nook under
some cedars growing where Warren-street now terminates, was proceeding
towards the city with a market-basket, containing butter, eggs, As he
was destined to enact an important part in the drama of that day, it
may not be superfluous to describe the homely habiliments in which he
appeared. He had on a coarse dark-gray overcoat, a sort of dreadnaught,
of domestic manufacture, double-breasted, and fastened with black
mohair buttons, as large as dollars, up to his throat; his cravat was a
blue and white linen handkerchief—an enduring article, then
manufactured by all thrifty housewives; his stockings were blue and
white yarn, ribbed; his shoes cowhide, and tied with leather thongs. A
young man is rarely without a dash of coxcombry, and our humble swain's
was betrayed in a fox-skin cap, with straps of the furthat decorated
his cheek, much in the mode of the brush-whisker of our own day. The
cap was drawn so close over his brow as nearly to hide his dark
pomatumed hair; and finally, his hands were covered by scarlet and
white mittens, full fringed, and with his name, Harmann Van Zandt, knit
in on their backs.
The storm of the morning had passed over. The sun was shining out
clear and warm for the season; and as every one is eager to enjoy the
last smiles of our stinted autumn, the countryman must have wondered,
as he passed the few habitations on his way to the populous part of the
town, not to see the usual group—the good man with his pipe, the
matron knitting, and the buxom Dutch damsel leaning over the lower
portal of the door. As he approached Broadway, however, the sounds of
life and busy movement reached his ear, and he saw half a dozen young
lads and lasses issue from a house on his left, dressed in their Sunday
gear, their faces full of eager expectation, and each hurrying the
The good vrow, who stood on the door-step, was giving them a last
charge to hear every thing and see every thing to tell her; for she
"always had to stay at home when any thing lively was going on." As she
turned from them, her housewife eye fell on the countryman's
market-basket. "Stop, neighbour," said she, "and tell us the price of
your butter and eggs."
"Butter one dollar the pound, eggs three for a shilling."
"That's the prettiest price asked yet; but—"
"Ay, mother; but live and let live, you know."
"Let live, truly. You Bergen people are turning your grass into
"We must make hay while the sun shines."
"While the sun shines! Ah, it does shine as through a knot-hole on
a few, but the rest of us are in solid darkness. Go your ways, friend;
you'll find lords and generals, admirals, commandants, and
jail-keepers, to buy your butter and eggs; honest people must eat their
bread without butter now-a-days. The hawks have come over the water to
protect the doves, forsooth, and the doves' food, doves and all, are
like to be devoured."
This was a sort of figurative railing much indulged in by those who
were secretly well-affected to the country's cause, but who were
constrained, by motives of prudence, to remain within the British
It seemed to have struck a sympathetic chord in the countryman; for
drawing near the good woman, whose exterior expressed very little
resemblance to the gentle emblem by which she had chosen to personify
herself, he said, kindly smiling, "Bring me a knife, mother, and I'll
give you a slice of butter to garnish your tea-table when your comely
lasses come home."
"This is kind and neighbourlike," said the woman, hastily bringing
the knife and plate; "I thought, the first minute you opened your lips,
you were freehearted. This an't the common way of the Bergen
people—they sell the cat and her skin too—you have not their tongue,
neither—mine is more broken than yours, and I'm only Dutch on the
"Ah, mother, trading with gentlefolks, and such fair-spoken people
as you, gets the mitten off one's tongue. But I must be going. Can you
direct me to Lizzy Bengin's? our Lida wants a pink riband against
"Now don't say you come to market, and don't know where Lizzy
Bengin lives! Did you never take notice of the little one-story
building at the very lower end of Queen-street, with the stoop even
with the ground, and plenty of cochinia, and cookey horses, and men and
women, in the window, and a parrot hanging outside that beats the world
for talking?" The man gave the expected assent, and his informant
proceeded—"That is Lizzy's; and without going a step out of your way,
you may turn your butter and eggs into silver before you get there.
Call at the Provost—Cunningham starves the prisoners, and eats the fat
of the land himself— or at Admiral Digby's, who has the young prince
William under his roof, and therefore a warrant for the best in the
land—or at Tryon's, or Robertson's, or any of the quality; their bread
is buttered both sides; but the time is coming—"
"When the bread shall be fairly spread for all. I think so, mother;
but I must be going—so good-day."
"Good-day, and good luck to you—a nice youth and a well-spoken is
that," said she, looking after him; "and if butter must be a dollar a
pound, I'm glad the money finds its way into the pockets of the like of
Meanwhile, the subject of her approbation pursued his way, and soon
found himself in the midst of a throng, who were hurrying forward to
the place of execution. The usual place for military executions was in
an apple orchard, where East Broadway now runs; but the condemned
having to suffer as one of the infamous band of skinners, was not
thought worthy to swing on a gallows devoted to military men.
Accordingly, a gallows was erected in a field just above St. Paul's
church. Our friend of the butter and eggs found himself, on reaching
Broadway, retarded and encompassed by the crowd. "Hold your basket up,
fellow, and let me pass," said a gentleman, who seemed eager to get
beyond the crowd. The countryman obeyed, but turned his back upon the
speaker, as if from involuntary resentment at his authoritative tone.
"Whither are you hastening, Meredith?" asked another voice.
"Ah, St. Clair, how are you? I am trying to get through this
abominable crowd to join my mother and Lady Anne, who have gone to take
a drive:my servant is waiting with my horse beyond the barracks."
"Your mother, Lady Anne, and Miss Linwood!" An opening now before
the countryman would have allowed him to pass on, but he did not move.
"Upon my honour, St. Clair, I did not know that Miss Linwood was with
them. They talked of asking Helen Ruthven."
"And so they did. Lady Anne sent me to her, but Miss Ruthven said,
not very civilly I think, she had no inclination for a drive, and
begged me to stop while she wrote you this note."
Meredith opened the note, sealed with an anchor, and containing
only these two lines, exquisitely written in pencil:—"Could I endure
any thing called pleasure on the same day with my tête-à-tête walk with
you this morning? Oh, no—there is no next best.—H. R."
"You seem pleased, Meredith," resumed St. Clair, as he saw
Meredith's eye kindle and his cheek brighten. Meredith made no reply,
but thrust the note into his pocket. He was pleased. He felt much like
a musician, whose ears have been tormented by discords, when the keys
are rightly struck. "Lady Anne had hard work," continued St. Clair, "to
persuade Miss Lindwood to go with her. It seems she has got up her
nerves for this poor devil of a skinner. Lady Anne persuaded her at
last; indeed, I believe she was glad to get beyond the tolling of the
bell till the rumpus is over."
"Women are riddles," thought Meredith; "they feel without reason,
and will not feel when reason bids them." He had lost his desire to go
alone to join the ladies; and he offered St. Clair his horse, saying he
would himself ride his servant's. St. Clair eagerly accepted his
courtesy, and the two gentleman elbowed their way through the crowd.
The countryman turned to gaze after them; and while his eye followed
Meredith with its keenest glance, the wave of the multitude had set
towards him, and so completely hedged his way in front, that, not being
able to proceed, he thought best to retreat a few yards to where the
crowd was less dense, and wait till the pressure was past, which must
be soon, as the procession with the prisoner had already moved from the
Provost. In the meanwhile he secured the occupation of a slightly
elevated platform, an entrance to a house, where, setting down his
basket, he folded his arms, and while detained, had the benefit of the
various remarks of the passers-by.
"What a disgrace it is," said a British subaltern to his companion,
"that those rebels," pointing to some American officers, prisoners on
parole, "are permitted to walk the streets in uniform. It is too
annoying—I hate the sight of them."
"Yes," retorted his companion, laughing, "and so you have ever
since they distanced you skating on the Kolch last winter."
"A crying shame is it," said an honest burgherto a
fellow-vestryman, "that a human creature is going to his doom, and but
one bell tolling. But the Lord's temples are turned aside from all holy
uses—our own sanctuary is a prison for soldiers, and the Middle Dutch
"A soul's a soul," returned his companion; "but the lordly English
bells may not toll for the parting of this poor wretch's; only the
tinkling bell of the Methodist Chapel, that's kept open, forsooth,
because John Wesley and his followers are loyal."
"We shall have our pains for our trouble," said a fellow, who
seemed to have come to the spectacle en amateur: "the boys say he never
will stand it to get to the gallows."
"Move on—move on," cried a voice that heralded the procession; and
the crowd was driven forward, in order to leave an open space around
the prisoner and his assistants.
It is impossible for a benevolent man to look on a fellow-creature
about to suffer a violent death (be his doom ever so well merited),
without a feeling of intense interest. The days of the culprits' youth,
of his innocence, of his parents' love and hope; the tremendous
present, and the possible future, all rush upon the mind. It would
appear that our country friend was a man of reflection and sentiment;
for, as he gazed at the prisoner, his cheek was blanched, his brow
contracted, and the exclamation, "Oh, God! oh, God!" burst from lips
that never lightly uttered that holy name.
Poor Kisel appeared as if nature would fain save him from the
executioner's touch. His head had fallen on his bosom, his knees were
bent and trembling, and his step as wavering and uncertain as that of a
blind man. He was supported and helped forward by a stout man on his
right. When he was within a few feet of the countryman, a ray of
consciousness seemed to shoot athwart his mind. He raised his head,
shook back his shaggy locks, cast a wild inquiring glance around him,
when his eye encountering the stranger, he seemed electrified, his
joints to be reset, his nerves restrung. He drew up his person, uttered
a piercing shriek, sprang forward like a cat, and, sinking at his feet,
sobbed out, "Misser Eliot, hey!"
The multitude were for an instant palsied; not a sound—not a
breath escaped them: and then a rush, and a shout, and cries of "Seize
him!" and shrieks from those who were trodden under foot.
"Stand back—back—back, monsters!" cried Eliot, himself almost
wild with amazement and grief—"give him air, space, breath, he is
dying!" He raised Kisel's head, and rested it on his breast, and bent
his face over him, murmuring, "Kisel, my poor fellow!"
Kisel's eye, gleaming with preternatural joy, was riveted to
Eliot's face. A slight convulsion passed over his frame; drops of
sweat, like rain, gushed from every pore; and, while his quivering,
half-smiling lips murmured inaudibly, "MisserEliot!—Misser Eliot!"
they stiffened, his eyes rolled up, and his released, exulting spirit
Eliot was but for one instant unmanned; but for one instant did he
lose the self-possession on which even at this moment of consternation
he was conscious that much more than his own individual safety
depended. He made no effort to escape from observation; that would have
excited suspicion; but said, calmly, still supporting Kisel's head,
"The poor man, I think, is gone; is there not some physician here who
can tell whether he be or not?" A doctor was called for; and, while one
was bustling through the crowd, there were various conjectures,
surmises, and assertions. Some said "he looked as good as dead when he
came out of the prison;" some asked "if he could have hoped to have got
away;" and others believed that the excitement of the scene had
maddened his brain. Eliot said he had fallen at his feet like a spent
ball; and, while he was internally blessing God that his poor follower
had escaped all father suffering, the medical man announced, with the
authority of his art, that life was extinct. The body was conveyed to
the prison for interment. The crowd dispersed; and Eliot, feeling that
Heaven had conferred its best boon on Kisel, and extended a shield over
him, pursued his way to Lizzy Bengin's shop.
"Les revers de la verité a cent milles figures, et un champ
Les Pythagoriens font le bien certain et finy, le mal incertain et
While the circumstances related above were in action, the ladies in
their drive had stopped at an opening to the Hudson, where the shore
was shelving and indented with a footpath, on which the full mellow
rays of the afternoon sun shone. And who would not pause to gaze at the
noble Hudson, which, coming from its source in distant mountains,
infolds in its arms the city it has created, wears on its bosom its
little emerald island-gems, reposes in the bay, and then finishes its
course through the portal of the Narrows?
The river is now precisely what it then was, for "man's hand cannot
make a mark upon the waters;" but on its shores what changes has that
marvellous instrument wrought! Where nature sat, like a hermit, amid
the magnificence of her solitary domain, are now bustling cities,
fortified islands, wharves and warehouses, manufactories, stately
mansions, ornamented pleasure-grounds, and citizen's cottages, and the
parent city extending up and branching out in every direction, from
thenarrow space it then occupied, covering with its thronged streets
the wooded heights and bosky dells, now, alas! reduced from the
aristocracy of nature to one uniform level. Then the city's tributary
waters bore on their surface a few fishing-skiffs, and some two or
three British men-of-war. Now see the signals of population,
enterprise, and commercial prosperity: schooners from our own eastern
and southern ports, neatly rigged vessels from a hundred
river-harbours, mammoth steamers bringing in and carrying out their
hundreds at every hour of the day, ferry-boats scudding to and fro,
sail-boats dancing over the waves, row-boats darting out and in, hither
and yon, packets taking their semiweekly departure for England and
France, ships with the star-spangled banner floating from the masthead,
and rich freighted argosies from all parts of each quarter of the
globe. What a change!
Lady Anne heard the trampling of horses, and put her head out of
the coach window. A blush suffused her sunny face at the recollection
of her parting with Meredith in the morning. Her embarrassment was as
transient as the suffusion. "Ah, cousin Jasper," she said, "you have
come at last; I have been waiting impatiently, sitting here, like a
dutiful niece (as I am), because aunt has heard bugbear stories about
American rattlesnakes, and absolutely forbade my strolling along the
shore with Isabella. You will not be afraid, aunt, if the gentlemen are
"Not in the least, my love; indeed, I will alight myself if Major
St. Clair will give an old lady his arm."
"She understands tactics," thought St. Clair; "she will defile with
me, and leave Jasper to a tête-à-tête on vantage-ground!" He however
bowed en militaire, and gave Mrs. Meredith his arm; and she, as he had
foreseen, led him off in an opposite direction from that which Lady
Anne had taken.
Isabella had before alighted, and left her companion, on the
pretext of looking for an autumnal flower that she knew grew on the
river's bank; but really, that she might, in the freedom of solitude,
and in the calm of a sweet country walk, indulge her sad reflections.
Isabella had learned to master herself in great trials; but she had not
yet learned that far more difficult lesson, to be patient and serene
under small annoyances. She was vexed and wearied with Mrs. Meredith's
pompous talk and commonplace and hollow sentiment, and somewhat
disturbed by Lady Anne's kind-hearted, but too manifest efforts, to
divert her thoughts from the tragedy enacting in the city, to which she
had imputed all the sadness that might have been in part ascribed to
Lady Anne had no enthusiasm for scenery. She had never lived in the
country, never been trained in nature's school, nor a guest at her
perpetual and sweetest banquet; but she had youthful spiritsstirred to
joyousness by a ride, or a walk, or any other exciting cause; and she
laughed, rattled, and bounded on, wondered where Isabella could be, and
at last, quite out of breath, sat down on a grassy bank by a very high
rock, around which the pass was narrow and difficult. "I will not
venture that," said she, pointing to the path. "You may go for
Isabella, Jasper, and I will wait here for you."
"Thank you, sweet coz; but I prefer staying here too, if you will
"You may as well, I fancy. Isabella is rather penseroso this
afternoon; and as she very faintly seconded my entreaties to aunt that
I might go with her, I think she prefers la solitaire. To tell you the
truth, Jasper, she is horribly blue to-day, though I would not own it
"And why not?"
"Oh, you know she is no favourite with aunt; and when we really
love a person, as I do really and fervently Isabella Linwood, we are
not fond of speaking of their faults to those who do not like them."
"Then perhaps you think she is a favourite of mine?"
"Certainly I do—is she not?"
With what different import do the same words fall on different
ears. This "she was" hardly reached Lady Anne's sensorium. Her
thoughtswere weighing something more important than any of Meredith's
words could be to her. Meredith's heart throbbed as he pronounced them.
Uttered to Lady Anne, they seemed to him to cut the gordian knot that
bound him to Isabella. There was another unseen, unwilling, and
involuntary auditor, who, as on the other side of the rock she leaned
breathless against it, proudly responded from the depths of her soul
"she was—it is past —a finished dream to us both!"
"How very nice these little scarlet berries are," said Lady Anne,
picking some berries from their evergreen leaves.
"This is a lovely river, Jasper. How I should like a nice cottage
on this very spot."
"And when your imagination builds the cottage, coz, is there no one
permitted to share it with you?"
Lady Anne picked the leaves from the stem in her hand, strewed them
around, and laughing and blushing, said, "that absolute solitude in a
cottage would be just as stupid as in a palace."
"On this hint shall I—can I speak?" thought Meredith.
"Formerly, when I built castles in the air," continued Lady Anne,
engrossed in her own sweet fancies, and not dreaming of the
interpretation Meredith's deluded vanity was giving to her words, "I
always put wings to them, and would lodgethem in London, Paris, or
Italy, as suited the humour of the moment—now I make them fixtures in
Meredith felt somewhat like the sportsman, who, accustomed to the
keen pursuit of game that incites and eludes him, cares not for the
silly prey that runs into his toils. "Heigh-ho!" resumed Lady Anne,
awaking from a revery after a short pause; "it is time we returned—the
sun is setting—you are very stupid, Jasper—you have not spoken three
"My dear cousin, there are moments when it is far more agreeable to
look, and to listen, than to speak."
"But then, sir, you should look 'unutterable things.' "
"We may feel them without looking or speaking them—do not go
now—there are few delicious moments in life—why not prolong them?"
"You talk limpingly, Jasper, like one who has conned a task, and
recites it but half learned; there should be a vraisemblance in
"On my honour!"
"Oh, never swear to them; these are like beggars' oaths, nobody
believes them." Lady Anne was already on the wing. "Bless us," thought
Meredith, "a little dash of coquetry might make her quite charming;"
and springing after her, he gave her his arm. When they met his mother
at the roadside, his face and air were so changed and soanimated, that,
in the flush of her hopes, she ventured to whisper to him—
"'Not Hermia, but Helena I love
Who would not change a raven for a dove?"'
He smiled assentingly, and his mother was perfectly happy.
"Where is Isabella?" and "Where is Miss Linwood?" "I thought she
was on your side," and "I thought she was on yours," was asked and
reiterated, and answered by the person in question appearing. She had
left the shore, scrambled through the wood, and come into the road in
advance of her party. They rallied her on her preference of solitude,
and she them (for she had regained her self-command), on the willing
forbearance with which they had permitted her to enjoy it. Mrs.
Meredith, of course, first entered the carriage; and while the young
ladies were getting in, putting on their cloaks, etc., she wrote on a
card and gave to her son the following hint from Metastasio:—
"E folle quel nocchièro
Che cerca un' altra stella,
E non si fida a quella
Che in porto lo guidó."
"My sage mother is this sure star, by whose directing 'light I am
to pilot my bark,' " thought Meredith, as he read the pencilled
words—"well, be it so."
Mrs. Meredith's carriage stopped at Mrs. Linwood'sdoor. Isabella
alighted, and Lady Anne was following her, when her aunt
interposed.—"My dear child," she said, "I particularly wish you to go
home with me this evening."
"I would, aunt—but—but I have promised Mr. Linwood—"
"I appeal to your generosity, Miss Linwood; I have not your passion
for solitude, and I am quite wretched without Lady Anne."
Lady Anne's back was to her aunt; and she turned up her eyes
imploringly to Isabella, who consequently resolutely professed herself
afraid to encounter her father if she should resign Lady Anne. Lady
Anne finished the parley by springing from the carriage, and promising
her aunt to be at home an hour earlier than usual. Mrs. Meredith,
vexed, puzzled, and disconcerted, drove home.
The young ladies were met at the door by Rose, with a message from
Mrs. Archer, requesting Isabella, without a moment's delay, to come to
her house. "Make my excuses to papa," said Isabella to Lady Anne, "and
enact the good daughter till I return."
"Yes, that I will," said Lady Anne; "and the good daughter would I
be in reality all my life to him," she thought; "but Herbert Linwood
will not, in his forlorn circumstances, declare his love for me if he
feels it; and I, like all the rest of my sex, must keep the secret of
my pure love as if it were a crime." Whether the open-hearted girl's
eyes and cheeks would betray the secret which the austere proprieties
of her sex forbade her to tell, and whether on this hint Linwood would
be imboldened to speak, was soon put to the proof; for one hour after,
arriving on his evening visit, Rose conducted him into the
breakfast-room, informing him that he must wait till a person who was
with his father on business should be gone. Rose, sagaciously divining
her young master's inclinations, then went to Lady Anne and
whispered—"Mr. Herbert is in the breakfast-parlour; and do, miss,
happen in there; poor boy, he has enough of his own company in prison."
Lady Anne did not wait for the request to be repeated. She went,
nor did she and Herbert appear in Mr. Linwood's room till after a
repeated, and finally very impatient summons from him; and then they
entered, and kneeling together at his feet, asked his blessing on their
He did not speak for half a minute, and then laughing, while the
tears gushed from his eyes, "God bless you, my children!" he said—"God
bless you!—kiss me, my dear little girl—this has been pretty quickly
hatched, though; but I don't wonder; I loved you the first minute I saw
"And I, like a good son, dutifully followed my father's example."
"Vous n'avez fait que votre devoir filial; fort bien, monsieur!"
said Lady Anne, archly.
"My dear child!" interposed Mr. Linwood, "now you are going really
to be my child, don't torment me with interlarding your English with
French. There's nothing I detest like cutting up a plain English road
with these French ditches. It's a slipshod tongue, good enough for
those that are born to parlez-vous and gabble all their lives; but
English, my dear, is for men of sense and truehearted girls like you,
that speak what they mean."
Lady Anne promised to cure herself of a habit into which she had
unconsciously fallen; and a pause followed, which gave Mr. Linwood time
for a reflection that clouded his brow.
"This won't do, Herbert," he said; "I forgot myself entirely, and
so have you. What business have you to be making love, and stealing
away this dear little generous girl's heart—you, a proscribed
man—holding your life by sufferance—disgraced."
"Not disgraced, sir!"
"Oh, no! dear Mr. Linwood, not disgraced."
"Well, well, 'tis a devilish ugly word to bestow on one's own flesh
and blood. But, my dear girl, we must look truth in the face. Your aunt
is a woman of the world; she will accuse us; and she may very well
suspect us of conniving at this business—you have fortune—we are
poor." The proud old man's blood mounted to his face—"No, no; it must
not be. I take back my consent."
Herbert's face expressed the conflict of his love with his sense of
rectitude—the last prevailed. "My father is right," he said; "and I,
headlong as usual, have done just what I ought not to do."
"You're right now, anyhow, my boy; you show blood—go up to the
mark, though a lion—" A glance at poor Lady Anne, leaning on the side
of his easy-chair, with tearful eyes, mended his sentence—"I should
say, though an angel were in the way."
"I have been far enough from the mark, sir; I should have
remembered in time that I was in the enemy's talons; and, what is far
worse, under the censure of my own general."
"As to that Herbert, as to that—"
"Be kind enough to hear me out, sir. I should have remembered that
I was penniless; that Lady Anne is very young, careless for herself,
and an heiress; but how could I think of any thing," he added, taking
her hand, and pressing it to this heart, "when I heard her generous,
bewildering confession, that she loved me—but that I loved her with my
"It's—it's—it's hard; but you must come to it, my children. You
must just set to work and undo what has been done; you must forget one
"Forget! dear Mr. Linwood! Herbert may forget; for I think it seems
very easy to him to recede—"
"Forgive me, Herbert; but really you and your father place me in
such an awkward position. Give you up, I will not; forget you, I
cannot. I cannot extinguish my memory; and there is no thought in it,
waking or sleeping, but what concerns you. I know it is very shocking
and improper to say this before you, Mr. Linwood, but it is true."
"I love truth, my child—such truth—God knows I do, too well."
"Then sir," she continued, smiling archly through her tears, "let
me go on and speak a little more of it." Her voice faltered. "I wish
Isabella were here—any woman would feel for me."
"God bless me, child, don't I feel for you—look at Herbert, the
calf—don't he feel for you?"
"Herbert says I am so very young. I am sure seventeen and past has
years and wisdom enough for not quite two-and-twenty. He says I am
careless for myself; if I were as calculating as my aunt Meredith, what
could I do better for myself than to supply the cruel deficiencies of
my lot? than to provide for myself the kindest and best of fathers and
mothers, and a sister that has not her peer in the wide world? Herbert
says I am an heiress—I am so; but what is fortune to me, if I may not
select the object with whom to share it? If I am not two-and-twenty—"
she cast an arch glance at Herbert, "I have lived long enough to see
that fortune alone is perfectly impotent. It does not create friends,
nor inspire goodness, nor secure happiness; but when it comes as an
accessory to a happy home, to love, and health, and liberal hearts; ah,
then it is indeed a boon from Heaven! Am I not right, Mr. Linwood?"
"Yes, by Jupiter, you are! Your views could not be juster if you
were as old as Methuselah, and as wise as Solomon. But, my dear, we
must come back to the point—what is very right for you, and noble,
would be very wrong for us. The Linwoods have always had a fair name,
and now, when every thing else is gone, they must hold fast to that.
Oh, Herbert, if you had only stuck to your king, all would be well; but
I won't reproach you now—no, no, poor boy! I never felt so much like
forgiving you for that d—d blunder."
"Then, for Heaven's sake, sir, say you forgive me—let that account
"I will—I do forgive you, my son; but it's the devil and all to
forget!" Herbert grasped the hand his father extended to him. There was
a silence of a few moments, broken by Mr. Linwood saying, "It's tough
to come to it, my children; but this must be the last evening you
"Lady Anne," said Rose, opening the door, "Mrs. Meredith's carriage
is waiting for you."
"Let it wait, Rose."
"But the footman bade me tell you, my lady, that your aunt is ill,
and begs you will come home immediately."
"Then I must go," said the poor girl, bursting into tears, all her
natural buoyancy and courageous cheerfulness forsaking her at the
foreboding that this might be a final separation. Mr. Linwood hemmed,
wiped his spectacles, put them on, threw them down on the table,
stirred the fire, knocked down shovel, tongs, and fender, and cursed
them all; while Lady Anne retired with Herbert to the farthest part of
the room, to exchange words that can never be appreciated rightly but
by the parties, and therefore must not be repeated. They verily
believed that mortals had never been so happy—never so wretched as
Once there was a reaction in Lady Anne's mind. She started from
Herbert, and appealing to his father, said—"Think once more of it, Mr.
Linwood; why should you heed what my aunt or any one else may impute to
you? We have all felt and acted right, naturally, and honestly. I
cannot, for my life I cannot, see why we should sacrifice ourselves to
their false judgments."
Mr. Linwood shook his head. "It cannot be," said Herbert; "we must
cast ourselves upon the future; if," he added, lowering his voice, "it
should please Heaven to permit me to regain my freedom, if—but I am
wrong—I must not cherish these hopes. Years may pass away before the
war ends; and in the meantime, you may bless another with that love
"Never end that sentence, Herbert Linwood.You may take back your
own vows—you cannot give me back mine—I will not receive them. My
love will not depend on your freedom, your name with friend or foe: it
will not be touched by circumstance, or time, or absence. Farewell,
One fond embrace she permitted—the first—was it the last?
"Thou hast by moonlight at her window sung,
With feigning voice, verses of feigning love;
And stolen the impression of her fantasy,
With bracelets of thy hair—rings, gawds, conceits,
Knacks, trifles, nosegays, sweetmeats, messengers
Of strong prevailment in unhardened youth."
It will be remembered that Isabella, at her aunt's summons, had
gone to her house. She met Mrs. Archer at her street door. Her face
spoke of startling intelligence before she uttered it. "My dear Belle,"
she said, "I have the strangest news for you. I went to your father's
while you were out; and just as my foot was on your door-step, a man
drove up in a wagon with a girl as pale as death—such a face! The
moment he stopped she sprang from the wagon. At once I knew her, and
exclaimed, 'Bessie Lee!' "
"Bessie Lee! Gracious Heaven!"
"Yes; she asked eagerly if you were at home. I perceived the
inconvenience—the impossibility of your taking care of her in the
present state of your family. I felt anxious to do any thing and every
thing for the sister of young Lee; I therefore told her you were not at
home, but she could see you at my house; and I persuaded her to come
home with me."
"Dear Bessie! can it be possible that she is here?"
"Yes, I have left her in that room. Her attendant told me that she
arrived this morning at Kingsbridge, with a decent man and woman, who
had passports from La Fayette, and a letter from him to the commander
of that post, commending the unfortunate person to his humanity, and
entreating him to convey her, under a proper escort, to Mr. Linwood's."
"Poor Bessie! Heaven has miraculously guided her into the best
hands. How does she appear?"
"With scarcely enough of mortality to shield her troubled spirit;
fluttering and gentle as a stricken dove—pale, unnaturally, deadly
pale—a startling brightness in her deep blue eye—her cheeks sunken;
but still her features preserve the exquisite symmetry we used to think
so beautiful, when a pensive, quiet little girl, she stole round after
you like a shadow. And her voice, oh Belle, you cannot hear it without
tears. She is mild and submissive; but restless, and excessively
impatient to see you and Jasper Meredith. Twice she has come to the
door to go out in search of him. I have ordered the blinds closed, and
the candles lighted, to make it appear darker without than it really
is. I could only quiet her by the assurance that I would send for him
"Have you done so?"
"No; I have waited to consult you."
The house Mrs. Archer occupied was of the common construction of
the best houses of that day, being double, the two front apartments
separated by a wide hall, a drawing-room in the rear, and a narrow
cross-passage opening into a carriage-way to the yard. A few moments
before Isabella arrived, a person had knocked at the door and asked to
see Mrs. Archer; and being told that she was particularly engaged, he
asked to be shown to a room where he might await her convenience, as he
had business of importance with her. He was accordingly shown into an
apartment opposite to that occupied at the moment by Mrs. Archer and
There he found the blind children, Ned and Lizzy, so absorbed in a
game of chess, that although he went near them, and overlooked them,
they seemed just conscious of his presence, but not in the least
disturbed by it. They went on playing and managing their game with
almost as much facility as if they had their eyesight, till after a
closely-fought battle Lizzy declared a checkmate. Ned (only not
superior to all the chess-players we have ever seen) was nettled by his
unexpected defeat, and gave vent to his vexation by saying, "Anyhow,
Miss Lizzy, you would not have beaten if I had not thought it was my
knight, instead of yours, on number four."
"You would not; you know I always get puzzled about the knights—I
always said it was the only fault in the chessmen—I always said I
wished Captain Lee had made them more different."
"That fault is easily rectified," said the looker-on.
"Captain Lee!" exclaimed Ned, whose memory was true to a voice once
heard, and who never, in any circumstances, could have forgotten the
sound of Eliot's voice.
"Hush, my dear little fellow, for Heaven's sake, hush!" cried
Eliot, aware of the imprudence he had committed; but it was too late.
Ned's feelings were as susceptible as his hearing. He impetuously
sprang forward, and opening the door into the entry, where Mrs. Archer
had just uttered the last sentence we reported of her conversation with
Isabella, he cried out, "Oh, mamma, Captain Lee is here!"
Eliot involuntarily doffed his fox-skin cap, and advanced to them.
Both ladies most cordially gave him their hands at the same moment,
while their brows clouded with the thoughts of the sad tidings they had
to communicate. Conscious of the precarious position he occupied, he
naturally interpreted the concern so evident on their faces as the
expression of a benevolent interest in his safety. "Do not be alarmed,
ladies," he said; "I have nothing to fear if my little friends here be
quiet; and that I am certain they will be, when they know my life
depends on my remaining unknown."
"Oh, what have I done?" exclaimed Ned, bursting into tears; but he
was soon soothed by Eliot's assurances that no harm as yet was done.
Mrs. Archer withdrew the children, while Miss Linwood communicated
to Eliot, as briefly as possible, the arrival and condition of his
sister; and he, rather relieved than distressed by the information,
told her that his deepest interest in coming to the city was the hope
of obtaining some tidings of the poor wanderer. They then consulted how
and when they had best present themselves before her; and it was
decided that Miss Linwood should first go into the apartment, and
prepare her to see Eliot.
Eliot retreated, and stood still and breathless to catch the first
sound of Bessie's voice; but he heard nothing but the exclamation, "She
is not here!" Eliot sprang forward. The door of the apartment which led
into the side passage and the outer door were both open, and Eliot,
forgetful of every thing but his sister, was rushing into the street,
when Bessie entered the street door with Jasper Meredith! Impelled by
her ruling purpose to see Meredith, she had, on her first discovery of
the side passage, escaped into the street, where the first person she
encountered was he whose image had so long been present to her, that
seeing him with her bodily organ seemed to make no new impression, nor
even to increase the vividness of the image stamped on her memory. She
had thrown on her cloak, but had nothing on her head; and her hair fell
in its natural fair curls over her face and neck. Singular as it was
for the delicate, timid Bessie to appear in this guise in the public
street, or to appear there at all, and much as he was startled by her
faded, stricken form, the truth did not at once occur to Meredith. The
wildness of her eye was subdued in the dim twilight; she spoke in her
accustomed quiet manner; and after answering to his first inquiry that
she was perfectly well now, she begged him to go into Mrs. Archer's
with her, as she had something there to restore to him. He endeavoured
to put her off with a commonplace evasion—"he was engaged now, would
come some other time," but she was not to be eluded; and seeing some
acquaintances approaching, whose observation he did not care to
encounter, he ascended Mrs. Archer's steps, and found himself in the
presence of those whom he would have wished most to avoid; but there
was no retreat.
Bessie now acted with an irresistible energy. "This way," said she,
leading Meredith into the room she had quitted—"come all of you in
here," glancing her eye from Meredith to Isabella and Eliot, but
without manifesting the slightest surprise or emotion of any sort at
seeing them, but simply saying, with a smile of satisfaction, as she
shut the door and threw off her cloak, "I expected this—I knew it
would be so. In visions by day, and dreams by night, I always saw you
It was a minute before Eliot could command his voice for utterance.
He folded his arms around Bessie, and murmured, "My sister!—my dear
She drew back, and placing her hands on his shoulders and smiling,
said, "Tears, Eliot, tears! Oh, shame, when this is the proudest,
happiest moment of your sister's life!"
"Is she mad?" asked Meredith of Isabella.
Bessie's ear caught his last word. "Mad!" she repeated—"I think
all the world is mad; but I alone am not! I have heard that whom the
gods would destroy they first make mad; men and angels have been
employed to save me from destruction."
"It is idle to stay here to listen to these ravings," said
Meredith, in a low voice, to Miss Linwood; and he was about to make his
escape, when Isabella interposed: "Stay for a moment, I entreat you,"
she said; "she has been very eager to see you, and it is sometimes of
use to gratify these humours."
In the meantime Eliot, his heart burning within him at his sister's
being gazed at as a spectacle by that man of all the world from whose
eye he would have sheltered her, was persuading her, as he would a
wayward child, to leave the apartment. She resisted his importunities
with a sort of gentle pity for his blindness, and a perfect assurance
that she was guided by light from Heaven. "Dear Eliot," she said, "you
know not what you ask ofme. For this hour my life has been prolonged,
my strength miraculously sustained. You have all been assembled
here—you, Eliot, because a brother should sustain his sister, share
her honour, and partake her happiness; Jasper Meredith to receive back
those charms and spells by which my too willing spirit was bound; and
you, Isabella Linwood, to see how, in my better mind, I yield him to
She took from her bosom a small ivory box, and opening it, she
said, advancing to Meredith, and showing him a withered rose-bud, "Do
you remember this? You plucked it from a little bush that almost dipped
its leaves in that cold spring on the hill-side—do you remember? It
was a hot summer's afternoon, and you had been reading poetry to me;
you said there was a delicate praise in the sweet breath of flowers
that suited me, and some silly thing you said, Jasper, that you should
not, of wishing yourself a flower that you might breathe the incense
that you were not at liberty to speak; and then you taught me the
Persian language of flowers. I kept this little bud: it faded, but was
still sweet. Alas!—alas! I cherished it for its Persian meaning." Her
reminiscence seemed too vivid, her voice faltered, and her eye fell
from its fixed gaze on Meredith; but suddenly her countenance
brightened, and she turned to Isabella, who stood by the mantelpiece
resting her throbbing head on her hand, and added, "Take it, Isabella,
it is a true symbol to you."
Eliot for the first time turned his eye from his sister, and even
at that moment of anguish a thrill of joy shot through every vein when
he saw Isabella take the bud, pull apart its shrivelled leaves, and
throw them from her. Meredith stood leaning against the wall, his arms
folded, and his lips curled into a smile that was intended to express
scornful unconcern. He might have expressed it, he might possibly have
felt it towards Bessie Lee; but when he saw Isabella throw away the
bud, when he met the indignant glance of her eye flashing through the
tears that suffused it, a livid paleness spread around his mouth, and
that feature, the most expressive and truest organ of the soul,
betrayed his inward conflict. He snatched his hat to leave the room;
Bessie laid her hand on his arm: "Oh, do not go; I shall be cast back
into my former wretchedness if you go now."
"Stay, sir," said Eliot; "my sister shall not be crossed."
"With all my heart; I have not the slightest objection to playing
out my dumb show between vapouring and craziness."
"Villain!" exclaimed Eliot—the young men exchanged glances of
fire. Bessie placed herself between them, and stretching out her arms,
laid a hand on the breast of each, as if to keep them apart. —"Now
this is unkind—unkind in both of you. I have come such a long and
wearisome journey to make peace for all of us; and if you will but let
me finish my task, I shall lay me down and sleep —for ever, I think."
Eliot pressed her burning hand to his lips. "My poor, dear sister,"
he said, "I will not speak another word, if I die in the effort to keep
"Thanks, dear Eliot," she replied; and putting both her arms around
his neck, she added, in a whisper, "do not be angry if he again call me
crazy; there be many that have called me so— they mistake inspiration
for madness, you know." Never was Eliot's self-command so tested; and
retiring to the farthest part of the room, he stood with knit brows and
compressed lips, looking and feeling like a man stretched on the rack,
while Bessie pursued her fancied mission. "Do you remember this chain?"
she asked, as she opened a bit of paper, and let fall a gold chain over
Meredith's arm. He started as if he were stung. "It cannot harm you,"
she said, faintly smiling, as she noticed his recoiling. "This was the
charm." She smoothed the paper envelope. "As often as I looked at it,
the feeling with which I first read it shot through my heart—strange,
for there does not seem much in it." She murmured the words pencilled
by Meredith on the envelope,
"'Can she who weaves electric chains to bind the heart,
Refuse the golden links that boast no mystic art?'
"Oh, well do I remember," she cast up her eyes as one does who is
retracing the past, "the nightyou gave me this; Eliot was in Boston;
mother was—I don't remember where, and we had been all the evening
sitting on the porch. The honey-suckles and white roses were in bloom,
and the moon shone in through their leaves. It was then you first spoke
of your mother in England, and you said much of the happy destiny of
those who were not shackled by pride and avarice; and when you went
away, you pressed my hand to your heart, and put this little packet in
it. Yet" (turning to Isabella) "he never said he loved me. It was only
my over-credulous fancy. Take it, Isabella; it belongs to you, who
really weave the chain that binds the heart."
Meredith seized the chain as she stretched out her hand, and
crushed it under his foot. Bessie looked from him to Isabella, and
seemed for a moment puzzled; then said, acquiescingly, "Ah, it's all
well; symbols do not make nor change realities. This little brooch,"
she continued, steadily pursuing her purpose, and taking from the box
an old-fashioned brooch, in the shape of a forget-me-not, "I think was
powerless. What need had I of a forget-me-not, when memory devoured
every faculty of my being? No, there was no charm in the forget-me-not;
but oh, this little pencil," she took from the box the end of a lead
pencil, "with which we copied and scribbled poetry together. How many
thoughts has this little instrument unlocked—what feelings has it
touched—what affectionshave hovered over its point, and gone thrilling
back through the heart! You must certainly take this, Isabella, for
there is yet a wonderful power in this magical little pencil—it can
make such revelations."
"Dear Bessie, I have no revelations to make."
"Is my task finished?" asked Meredith.
"Not yet—not quite yet—be patient—patience is a great help; I
have found it so. Do you remember this?" She held up before Meredith a
tress of her own fair hair, tied with a raven lock of his in a
true-love knot. "Ah, Isabella, I know very well it was not maidenly of
me to tie this; I knew it then, and I begged it of him with many tears,
did I not, Jasper? but I kept it—that was wrong too. Now, Mr.
Meredith, you will help me to untie it?"
"Pardon me; I have no skill in such matters."
"Ah, is it easier to tie than to untie a true-love knot? Alas,
alas! I have found it so. But you must help me. My head is growing
dizzy, and I am so faint here!" She laid her hand on her heart. "It
must be parted—dear Isabella, you will help me—you can untie a
"I can sever it," said Isabella, with an emphasis that went to the
heart of more than one that heard her. She took a pair of scissors from
the table, and cut the knot. The black lock fell on the floor; the
pretty tress of Bessie's hair curled around her finger:—"I will keep
this for ever, my sweetBessie," she said; "the memorial of innocence,
and purity, and much-abused trust."
"Oh, I did not mean that—I did not mean that, Isabella. Surely I
have not accused him; I told you he never said he loved me. I am not
angry with him—you must not be. You cannot be long, if you love him;
and surely you do love him."
"Indeed, indeed I do not."
"Isabella Linwood! you have loved him." She threw one arm around
Isabella's neck, and looked with a piercing gaze in her face. Isabella
would at this moment have given worlds to have answered with
truth—"No, never!" She would have given her life to have repressed the
treacherous blood, that, rushing to her neck, cheeks, and temples,
answered unequivocally Bessie's ill-timed question.
Meredith's eye was riveted to her face, and the transition from the
humiliation, the utter abasement of the moment before, to the
undeniable and manifested certainty that he had been loved by the
all-exacting, the unattainable Isabella Linwood, was more than he could
bear, without expressing his exultation. "I thank you, Bessie Lee," he
cried; "this triumph is worth all I have endured from your raving and
silly drivelling. Your silent confession, Miss Linwood, is
satisfactory, full, and plain enough; but it has come a thought too
late. Good-evening to you—a fair good-night to you, sir. I advise you
to take care that your sister sleep more and dream less."
There is undoubtedly a pleasure, transient it may be, but real it
is, in the gratification of the baser passions. Meredith was a
self-idolater; and at the very moment when his divinity was prostrate,
it had been revived by the sweetest, the most unexpected incense. No
wonder he was intoxicated. How long his delirium lasted, and what were
its effects, are still to be seen. His parting taunt was lost on those
he left behind.
Bessie believed that her mission was fulfilled and ended. The
artificial strength which, while she received it as the direct gift of
Heaven, her highly-wrought imagination had supplied, was exhausted. As
Meredith closed the door, she turned to Eliot, and locking her arms
around him, gazed at him with an expression of natural tenderness, that
can only be imagined by those who have been so fortunate as to see
Fanny Kemble's exquisite personation of Ophelia; and who remember (who
could forget it?) her action at the end of the flower-scene, when
reason and nature seeming to over-power her wild fancies, she throws
her arms around Laertes's neck, and with one flash of her all-speaking
eyes, makes every chord of the heart vibrate.
The light soon faded from Bessie's face, and she lay as helpless as
an infant in her brother's arms. Isabella hastened to Mrs. Archer; and
Eliot, left alone and quite unmanned, poured out his heart over this
victim of vanity and heartlessness.
Mrs. Archer was prompt and efficient in herkindness. Bessie was
conveyed to bed, and Eliot assured that every thing should be done for
her that human tenderness and vigilance could do. After obtaining a
promise from Mrs. Archer that she would write a letter to his mother,
and forward it with some despatches which he knew were to be sent to
Boston on the following day; and after having arranged matters for
secret visits to his sister, he left her, fervently thanking God for
the kind care that watched over her flickering lamp of life.
Shall we follow Eliot Lee to his hiding-place? shall we betray his
secret meditations? shall we show the golden thread that ran through
their dark web? shall we confess, that amid the anxieties (some
understood by our readers, and some yet unexplained) that lowered over
him, a star seemed to have risen above his horizon? Yes—we dare
confess it; for a little reflection rebuked his presumption, and he
exclaimed, "What is it to me if she be free?"
Isabella passed the night in watching with Mrs. Archer over her
unconscious little friend; and as she gazed on her meek brow, on the
beautiful features that were stamped with truth and tenderness, her
indignation rose against him who, for the poor gratification of his
miserable vanity, could meanly steal away the treasure of her
affections—that most precious boon, given to feed the lamp of life,
and light the way to heaven.
Mrs. Archer, at this crisis, felt much like one who, having seen a
rich domain relieved, by the sudden interposition of Providence, from a
pernicious intruder, is impatient to see it in possession of a lawful
proprietor. It was womanly and natural, that when she and Isabella were
watching at Bessie's bedside, she should descant on Eliot— should
recall his tenderness and gentleness to Bessie, and the true heroism
with which, for her sake, he repressed the indignation that was ready
to burst on Meredith. Mrs. Archer thought Isabella listened languidly,
and assented coldly. She told her so. "Dear aunt Mary," she replied,
"my mind is absorbed in a delicious, devout sense of escape. From my
childhood I have been in thraldom—groping in mist. Now I stand in a
clear light—I see objects in their true colours—I am mistress of
myself, and am, as far as relates to myself, perfectly happy. Some
other time we will talk over what your friend said, and did, and did
not do, and admire it to your heart's content. Now I am entirely
selfish; I have but one idea— but one sensation!" Mrs. Archer was
"Chi puo dir com' egli arde é in picciol fuoco."
Meredith left Mrs. Archer's in a state of feverish excitement. He
paced up and down the street, trying by projects for the future to
drive away the memory of the past. The thought of his degradation
before Isabella Linwood was insupportable; and the recollection that
Eliot Lee had bestowed the stinging epithet of villain on him in her
presence, roused his strongest passions and stimulated him to revenge.
He turned his steps towards Sir Henry Clinton's. "I shall but do a
common duty," he said, "in giving information that a rebel officer,
high in Washington's favour, is in disguise in the city—I shall,
indeed, be summarily avenged, if Tryon should requite on Lee's head the
death of Palmer." The man to whom his thoughts adverted was he in
relation to whom Putnam had addressed to Tryon the famous laconic note.
—Nathan Palmer, a lieutenant in the service of your king, has been
taken in my camp as a spy, condemned as a spy, and will be hung as a
"P. S.—He has been hanged."
The thought of such a catastrophe changed Meredith's purpose. He
had no taste for tragedy. He believed that Eliot's visit to the city
had relation only to Bessie, and shrinking from adding such an item to
his account with her as the betrayal of her natural protector, he
turned back and retraced his way homeward, meditating a retaliation
better suited than revenge to his shallow character. Passions flow from
deep sources. Meredith's relations with Isabella were far more
interesting to him than the life or death of Eliot Lee, or his poor
sister; and in trying to devise some balm for his wounded vanity, he
hit upon an expedient on which he immediately resolved. This alluring
expedient was none else than an immediate engagement with Lady Anne
Seton; which, being antedated but by a few hours, would demonstrate to
Isabella Linwood that he, and not she, had first thrown off the
shackles; and would leave for ever rankling in her proud bosom the
tormenting recollection that she had involuntarily confessed she loved
him, as he had tauntingly said, "a thought too late."
His decision made, he hastened home, dwelling with the most
soothing complacency on his recent meeting with his cousin on the banks
of the Hudson, and smiling as he thought how delighted she would be at
his profiting by her hint, in thus soon offering to be joint tenant of
her love-built American cottage.
"Where is my cousin?" he asked, as he entered the drawing-room, and
found his mother sitting alone.
"Where she eternally is," replied his mother, throwing down her
book and eyeglass, and rising with the air of one who has borne a
vexation till it is no longer supportable; "it is the most inexplicable
infatuation; the girl seems absolutely bewitched by Isabella Linwood."
"But Miss Linwood is not at home this evening. I left her at her
"At Mrs. Archer's?—you were with her there, Jasper?"
Meredith replied smiling, and without attempting to evade his
mother's probing eye, "Yes, I was there, but much against my will, for
I had hoped to pass this evening with you and my cousin."
"Thank you, my son, thank you. I flattered myself that all was
settled in your mind—definitively settled—when you so gallantly
assured Anne that you soon should be 'irretrievably in love,' leaving
her to supply the little hiatus which no girl, in like case, would fail
to fill with her own name. And now I will be perfectly frank with you,
Jasper—indeed, if there is any thing on which I pride myself, it is
frankness. You understood the intimation in the Italian stanza I gave
you from the carriage this afternoon?" Meredith bowed. "It conveyed a
little history in a few words, my son; I have simply aimed to be 'la
stella,' by which you, a wise and skilful 'nocchiero,' should, taking
advantage of fair winds and favourable tides, guide your vessel into
port. But why speak in figures when we perfectly understand one
another? Our dear little Anne—a sweet attractive creature, is she
not?—was left to my guardianship, or rather matronship, for your poor
uncle was so very thoughtless as to vest me with no authority to
control her fortune, or her choice of a husband."
"Bless my soul! is it possible?"
"Too true, indeed. You now perceive in what embarrassing
circumstances I was placed. This pretty girl on my hands, with her
immense and unencumbered property; nothing short of the utmost prudence
and energy on my part could save her from being the prey of
fortune-hunters (alas! for poor human nature!—the lady uttered this
without a blush)—rest assured, Jasper, that nothing would have induced
me in these perilous times to cross the Atlantic, but my duty to my
"And the remote prospect of benefiting me, my dear mother."
Mrs. Meredith was too intent on the interesting subject upon which
she was entering, to notice the sarcasm her son had not the grace to
suppress. "I had my anxieties," she continued, "I frankly confess to
you, I had my anxieties before I arrived about Miss Linwood, and—some
few I have had since—"
Mrs. Meredith paused and fixed her eyes onJasper. "On my honour you
have not the slightest ground for them," he said.
She proceeded. "Miss Linwood is in some respects a superior young
person—she has not the— the—the talent of Helen Ruthven—nor
the—the —the grace of Lady Anne (no wonder the perplexed diplomatist
hesitated for a comparative that should place Isabella Linwood below
these young ladies); but, as I said, she is a superior young person—a
remarkable looking person, certainly; at least, she is generally
thought so. I do not particularly like her style—tenderness and
manageableness, like our dear Anne's, are particularly becoming in a
female. Miss Linwood is too lofty—one does not feel quite comfortable
with her. On the whole, I consider it quite fortunate you did not form
an attachment in that quarter—prudence must be consulted—not that I
would be swayed by prudential considerations—certainly not—no one
thinks more than I do of the heart; but when, as in your case, Jasper,
the taste and affections accord with a wise consideration of—of—"
"Fortune, my dear mother?"
"Yes, Jasper, frankly, fortune—I esteem it a remarkably happy
circumstance. Your own fortune may or may not be large. The American
portion of it depends upon contingencies, and therefore it would have
been rash for you to have encumbered yourself with a ruined family;
for, as I am informed, the Linwoods have but just enough to subsist
decentlyupon from day to day. It is true, they keep up a respectable
appearance. Anne, by-the-way, tells me they get up the most delicious
petits soupers there. It is amazing what pride will do! —what
sacrifices some people make to appearances!"
"There must be something else than mere table luxuries to make
these suppers so attractive to my cousin."
"Undoubtedly; for as to that, you know, we have every thing that
money can purchase in this demisavage country; to be sure, Anne might
have a foolish, girlish liking for Miss Linwood, but then I am quite
confident—I hesitate, for if there is any thing on which I pride
myself, it is being scrupulous towards my own sex in affairs of the
heart; but I betray nothing, for though you are perfectly free from
coxcombry, you are not blind, and you must have seen—"
"Not seen, but hoped, my dear mother," replied Meredith, with a
smile that indicated assurance doubly sure.
"Hope is the fitting word for you—but your hope may be my
certainty. I betray no secrets. Anne has not been confidential, but the
dear child is so transparent—"
"She seems, however, to have been rather opaque in this Linwood
"Yes, I confess myself baffled there—you may have opened a vein of
conquetry, Jasper. I knownot what it means, but it can mean nothing to
alarm us. It is very odd, though—there is nothing there to gratify
her, and every thing here. This very evening Governor Tryon called with
the young prince, to propose to get up a concert for her. By-the-way, a
pretty youth is Prince William!—he left this bouquet for Lady Anne.
The honourable Mr. Barton and Sir Reginald were here too, and the
Higbys—and there she is, mewed up with that old fretful Mr. Linwood.
She must think, Jasper, you are not sufficiently devoted to her."
"She shall not think so in future."
"Hark, there is the carriage!—I sent her word that I was not well.
In truth, her absence has teased me into a headache, and my own room
will be the best place for me." Thus concluding her tedious harangue,
the lady made a hasty retreat; and before Lady Anne had exchanged a
salutation with Meredith, and thrown aside her hat and cloak, her
aunt's maid appeared with a message from this "frank" lady, importing
her sense of Lady Anne's kindness in coming home, and informing her
that prudence obliged her to abstain from seeing her niece till
"I am very sorry!" said Lady Anne, heaving a deep sigh, sinking
down in the arm-chair her aunt had just left, resting her elbow on it,
and looking pensively in the fire.
"You need not be so deeply concerned, my kind cousin; my mother is
not very ill," said Meredith,with difficulty forbearing a laugh at the
disparity between the cause and the effect on his apparently
"Ill!" exclaimed Lady Anne, starting, "I did not suppose that she
"Then why, in the name of Heaven, that deep sigh?"
"There are many causes of sighs, cousin Jasper."
"To you, Lady Anne, so young, so gifted, so lovely, so beloved."
"That should be happiness!" she replied, covering her face with her
hands to hide the tears that, in spite of all the anti-crying
tendencies of her nature, gushed from her eyes.
"Those dimpled hands," thought Meredith, "hiding so childishly her
melting face, might move an anchoret; but they move not me. I am too
pampered—to know that I have been loved by Isabella Linwood, with all
the bitter, cursed mortification that attends it, is worth a world of
such triumphs as this. Poor Bessie—I remember too! but, allons, I will
take the good 'the gods provide,' since I cannot have that which they
"Did you speak to me, Jasper?"
"Now, by my life," thought Meredith, "my words are congealed—they
will not flow to such willing ears."
"I am playing the fool," exclaimed Lady Anne,suddenly rising and
dashing off her tears. "Good night, Jasper—I have betrayed myself—no,
no, I did not mean that—pray forget my weakness—I am nervous this
evening for the first time in my life, and I know nothing of managing
nerves— good night, Jasper!"
Meredith seized her hand and held her back. "Indeed, my sweet coz,
you must not go now."
"Must not go! Why not?" she replied, excessively puzzled by the
expressive smile that hovered on his lips.
"Why not! Because you are too much of an angel to shut your heart
so suddenly against me after allowing me a glimpse at the paradise
"What do you mean?" she asked, now beginning, from Meredith's
manner, and from the well-tutored expression of his most sentimental
eyes, to have some dim perception of his meaning, and to be
disconcerted by it.
"Dear Anne, did you not, with your own peculiar, enchanting
ingenuousness, say you had betrayed yourself? Never was there a
sweeter— a more welcome treachery." He fell on his knee, and pressed
her hand to his lips.
"For the love of Heaven, Jasper," she cried, snatching her hand
away, "tell me what I have said or done."
"Nothing that you should not, dearest cousin; your betrayal, as you
called it, was, I know, involuntary, and for that the dearer."
"Are you in earnest, Jasper?"
"In earnest! most assuredly; and do you, Lady Anne, like all your
sex, delight in torturing your captives?—your captive I certainly am,
The truth was now but too evident to Lady Anne; but she was so
unprepared for it, her mind had been so wholly preoccupied, that it
seemed to her the marvellous result of some absurd misunderstanding. At
first she blushed, and stammered, and then, following her natural bent,
To Meredith, this appeared a childish artifice to shelter her
mortification at having made, in military phrase, a first
demonstration. His interest was stimulated by this slight obstacle; and
rallying all his powers, he began a passionate declaration in the good
set terms "in such cases made and provided;" but Lady Anne cut him off
before he had finished his peroration. "This is a most absurd business,
Jasper; I entreat you never to speak of it again. Aunt, or somebody, or
something, has misled you—misled you certainly are. I never in my life
thought of you in any other light, than as a very agreeable cousin, nor
ever shall. I am very sorry for you, Jasper; but really, I am not in
fault, for I never, by word or look, could have expressed what I never
felt. Good night, Jasper." She was running away, when she turned back
to add, "Pray, say nothing of this to my aunt, and let us meet
to-morrow as we havealways met before." She then disappeared, and left
Meredith baffled, mortified, irritated, and most thoroughly awakened
from his dreams. Her face, voice, and manner, were truth itself; and
rapidly reviewing their past intercourse, and carefully weighing the
words that had misled him, he came to the conclusion that he had been
partly misguided by his mother, and partly the dupe of his previous
impressions. The measure of his humiliations was filled up.
But his vanity survived the severe and repeated blows of that
evening. Vanity has a wonderful tenacity of life: it resembles those
reptiles that feed greedily on every species of food, the most delicate
and the grossest, and that can subsist on their own independent
"Heart! what's that?
"Oh, a thing servant-maids have, and break for John the footman."
If Meredith could have borne off his charming heiress-cousin, his
love for Isabella might have gone to the moon, or to any other
repository of lost and forgotten things. But, balked in that pursuit,
it resumed its empire over him. He passed a feverish, sleepless night,
revolving the past, and reconsidering Isabella's every word and look
during their interview of the preceding evening; and finally, he came
to a conclusion not unnatural (for few persons give others credit for
less of a given infirmity than they themselves possess), that
Isabella's vanity had been wounded by the conviction that she had been,
for a time, superseded by Bes ie Lee; and that the ground he had thus
lost might, by a dexterous manœuvre, be regained. Engrossed with his
next move, he appeared at breakfast-table as usual, attentive to his
mother, and polite to Lady Anne, who, anxious to express her good-will,
was more than ordinarily kind; and Mrs. Meredith concluded that if
matters had not gone as far as she had hoped, they were going on
swimmingly. The breakfast finished, Lady Anneran away from her aunt's
annoying devotions to the Linwoods, and Meredith retired to his own
room to write, after weighing and sifting each word, the following note
to Isabella. He did not send it, however, till he had taken the
precaution to precede it by a written request to Lady Anne (with whom
he had found out too late that honest dealing was far the safest) that
she would, on no account—he asked it for her own sake—communicate to
any one their parting scene of the preceding evening. His evil star
ruled the ascendant, and Lady Anne received the note too late.
To Miss Linwood.
"Montaigne says, and says truly, that 'toutes passions que se
laissent, gouster et digerer ne sont que mediocres;' but how would
he—how shall I characterize a passion which has swallowed up every
other passion, desire, and affection of my nature—has grown and
thriven upon that which would have seemed fatal to its existence!
"Isabella, these are not hollow phrases; you know they are not; and
be not angry at my boldness; I know your heart responds to them, and,
though I was stretched on the rack to obtain this knowledge, I thank my
tormentors. Yes, by Heaven! I would not exchange that one instant of
intoxicating, bewildering joy, when, even in the presence of witnesses,
and such witnesses! you confessed you had loved me, for ages of a
common existence. Thank Heaven, too, the precious confession was not
through the hackneyed medium of words. Such a sentiment is not born in
your bosom to die. I judge from my own inferior nature. I have loved on
steadily, through absence, coldness, disdain, caprice (pardon me, my
proud, my adored Isabella), in spite of the canker and rust of delay
after delay; in spite of all the assaults of those temptations to which
the young and fortunate are exposed. Can I estimate your heart at a
lower rate than my own?
"As to that silly scene last evening, though it stung me at the
moment, and goaded me to an unmeaning impertinence, yet, on a review of
it, do you not perceive that we were both the dupes of a little
dramatic effect? and that there is no reality in the matter, except so
far as concerns the lost wits of the crazed girl, and the very natural
affliction of her well-meaning brother, whose unjust and hasty
indignation towards me, being the result of false impressions, I most
"As to poor Bessie Lee, I can only say, God help her! I am most
sincerely sorry for her; but neither you nor I can be surprised that
she should be the dupe of her lively imagination, and the victim of her
nervous temperament. I ask but one word in reply. Say you will see me
at any hour you choose; and, for God's sake, Isabella, secure our
interview from interruption."
In half an hour, and just as Meredith was sallyingforth to allay
his restlessness by a walk in the open air, he met his messenger with a
note from Miss Linwood. He turned back, entered the unoccupied
drawing-room, and read the following:—
"I have received your note, Jasper; I do not reply to it hastily;
hours of watchfulness and reflection at the bedside of my friend have
given the maturity of years to my present feeling. I have loved you, I
confess it now; not by a treacherous blush, but calmly, deliberately,
in my own handwriting, without faltering or emotion of any sort. Yes, I
have loved you, if a sentiment springing from a most attachable nature,
originating in the accidental intercourse of childhood, fostered by
pride, nurtured by flattery, and exaggerated by an excited imagination,
can be called love.
"I have loved you, if a sentiment struggling with doubt and
distrust, seeking for rest and finding none, becoming fainter and
fainter in the dawning light of truth, and vanishing, like an
exhalation in the full day, can be called love.
"You say truly. Bessie Lee is the dupe of a too lively imagination,
and the victim of a nervous temperament. To these you might have added,
an exquisitely organized frame, and a conscience too susceptible for a
creature liable to the mistakes of humanity. Oh, how despicable, how
cruel, was the vanity that could risk the happiness of such a creature
for its own gratification! I have weptbitterly over her; I should
scarcely have pitied her, had she been the unresisting slave and victim
of a misplaced and unrequited passion.
"After what I have written, you will perceive that you need neither
seek nor avoid an interview with me; that the only emotion you can now
excite, is a devout gratitude that our former interviews were
interrupted, and circumstances were made strong enough to prevail over
"Isabella Linwood. "P.S.—I have detained my messenger, and opened
my note to add, that your cousin has just come in, and with a
confidence befitting her frank nature, has communicated to me the farce
with which you followed up the tragedy of last evening."
Meredith felt, what was in truth quite evident, that Isabella
Linwood was herself again. He threw the note from him in a paroxysm of
vexation, disappointment, and utter and hopeless mortification; and
covering his face with his hands, he endured one of those moments that
occur even in this life, when the sins, follies, and failures of
by-gone years are felt with the vividness and acuteness of the actual
and present, and memory and conscience are endued with supernatural
energy and retributive power.
What a capacity of penal suffering has the All-wise infused into
the moral nature of man, even the weakest!
"The mind is its own place, and in itself,
Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven."
Meredith was roused by the soft fall of a footstep. He started, and
saw Helen Ruthven, who had just entered, and was in the act of picking
up the note he had thrown down. She looked at the superscription, then
at Meredith. Her lustrous eyes suffused with tears, and the tears
formed into actual drops, and rolled down her cheeks. "Oh, happy, most
happy Isabella Linwood!" she exclaimed. Meredith took the note from her
and threw it into the fire. Miss Ruthven stared at him, and lifted up
her hands with an unfeigned emotion of astonishment. After a moment's
pause, she added, "I still say, most happy Isabella Linwood. And yet,
if she cannot estimate the worth of the priceless kingdom she sways, is
she most happy? You do not answer me; and you, of all the world,
cannot." Meredith did not reply by word; but Miss Ruthven's quick eye
perceived the cloud clearing from his brow; and she ventured to try the
effect of a stronger light. "I cannot comprehend this girl," she
continued; "she is a riddle—an insolvable riddle to me. A passionless
mortal seems to me to approach nearer to a monster than to a divinity
deserving your idolatry, Meredith. She cannot be the cold, apathetic,
statue-like person she appears—"
"And why not, Miss Ruthven?"
"Simply because a passionless being cannot inspirepassion—and
yet—and yet, if she were a marble statue, your love should have been
the Promethean touch to infuse a soul. Pardon me— pity me, if I speak
too plainly; there are moments when the heart will burst the barriers
of prudence —there are moments of desperation, of self-abandonment. I
cannot be bound by those petty axioms and frigid rules that shackle my
sex—I cannot weigh my words—I must pour out my heart, even though
this prodigality of its treasures 'naught enriches you, and makes me
poor indeed!' "
Helen Ruthven's broken sentences were linked together by expressive
glances and effective pauses. She gave to her words all the force of
intonation and emphasis, which produce the effect of polish on metal,
making it dazzling, without adding an iota to its intrinsic value.
Meredith lent a most attentive ear, mentally comparing the while Miss
Ruthven's lavished sensibilities to Isabella's jealous reserve. He
should have discriminated between the generosity that gives what is
nothing worth, and the fidelity that watches over an immortal treasure;
but vanity wraps itself in impenetrable darkness. He only felt that he
was in a labyrinth of which Helen Ruthven held the clew; and that he
was in the process of preparation to follow whithersoever she willed to
We let the curtain fall here; we have no taste for showing off the
infirm of our own sex. We were willing to supply some intimations that
mightbe available to our ingenuous and all-believing young male
friends; but we would not reveal to our fair and true-hearted readers
the flatteries, pretences, false assumptions, and elaborate
blandishments, by which a hackneyed woman of the world dupes and
beguiles; and at last (obeying the inflexible law of reaping as she
sows) pays the penalty of her folly in a life of matrimonial union
without affection—a wretched destiny, well fitting those who profane
the sanctuary of the affections with hypocritical worship.
While the web is spinning around Meredith, we leave him with the
wish that all the Helen Ruthvens in the world may have as fair game as
"Adventurous I have been, it is true,
And this fool-hardy heart would brave—nay, court,
In other days, an enterprise of passion;
Yea, like a witch, would whistle for a whirlwind.
But I have been admonished."
Our humble story treats of the concerns of individuals, and not of
historical events. We shall not, therefore, embarrass our readers with
the particulars of the secret mission on which Eliot Lee had been sent
to the city by the commander-in-chief. He needed an agent, who might,
as the exigency should demand, be prudent or bold, wary or decided,
cautious or gallant, and self-sacrificing. He had tested Eliot Lee, and
knew him to be capable of all these rarely-united virtues. Eliot had
confided to Washington his anxieties respecting his unfortunate sister,
and his burning desire to go to the city, where he might possibly
ascertain her fate. Washington gave him permission to avail himself of
every facility for the performance of his fraternal duty, consistent
with the public service on which he sent him. His sympathies were alive
to the charities of domestic life. While the military chieftain planted
and guarded the tree that wasto overshadow his country, he cherished
the birds that made their nests in its branches.
Eliot was instructed to seek a hiding-place in the city at a
certain Elizabeth Bengin's, a woman of strong head and strong heart,
whose name is preserved in history as one who, often at great personal
risk, rendered substantial service in the country's cause. Dame Bengin
and her parrot Sylvy, who seemed to preside over the destinies of the
shop, and did in fact lure many a young urchin into it, were known to
all the city. The dame herself was a thick-set, rosy little body, fair,
fat, and forty; her shop was a sort of thread and needle store: but as
the principle of division of labour had yet made small progress in our
young country, Mistress Bengin's wares were as multifarious as the
wants of the citizens. Mrs. Bengin's first principle was to keep a
civil tongue in her own and in Sylvy's head, she "holding civility (as
she often said and repeated) to be the most disposable and most
profitable article in her shop." It was indeed seriously profitable to
her, for it surrounded her with an atmosphere of kindness, and enabled
her, though watched and suspected by the English, to follow her calling
for a long while unmolested.
She gave Eliot an apartment in a loft over her shop, to which,
there being no apparent access, Eliot obtained egress and ingress by
removing a loose board that, to the uninstructed eye, formed a part of
the ceiling of the shop.
From this hiding-place Eliot sallied forth to execute his secret
purposes, varying his disguises, which were supplied by Mrs. Bengin, as
caution dictated. As all sorts of persons frequented the shop, no
attention was excited by all sorts of persons coming out of it. Eliot's
forced masquerading often compelled him to personate various characters
during the day, and at evening, with simply a cloak over his own
uniform, and a wallet over his arm, like those still used by country
doctors, and precisely, as Dame Bengin assured him, like that carried
by the "doctor that attended the quality," he made his way, sheltered
by the obscurity of the night, to Mrs. Archer's, where he was admitted
by one of the children, whose acute senses caught the first sound of
his approaching footsteps. Eliot, in spite of remonstrances from his
prime minister, Mrs. Bengin, had persisted in appearing in his own
dress at Mrs. Archer's. In vain the good dame speculated and
soliloquized; she could not solve the mystery of this only disobedience
to her counsel. "To be sure," she said, "it makes a sight of difference
in his looks, whether he wears my tatterdemalion disguises, wigs,
scratches, and what not, or his own nice uniform, with his own rich
brown hair, waving off his sunshiny forehead—a bright, pleasant,
tight-built looking youth he is, as ever I put my two eyes upon; and if
he were going to see young ladies, I should not wonder that he did not
want to put his light under a bushel;but, my conscience! to keep up
such a brushing and scrubbing—my loft is not so very linty either
—just to go before the widow Archer—to be sure, she is a widow; but
then, there never was a man yet that dared to have any courting
thoughts of her, any more than if she were buried in her husband's
grave; and this is not the youth to be presuming."
Dame Bengin knew enough of human nature to have solved the mystery
of Eliot's toilet, if she had been apprized of one material fact in the
case. At Mrs. Archer's, watching at Bessie's bedside, Eliot always
found Miss Linwood; and though the truest, the most anxious, and tender
of brothers, he was not unconscious of her presence, nor unconscious
that her presence mingled with his sufferings for his sister a most
dangerous felicity. His fate was inevitable; he at least thought it so;
and that fate was an intense and unrequited devotion to one as
unattainable to him as if she were the inhabitant of another planet. He
did not resist his destiny by abating one minute of those hours that
were worth years of a drawing-room intercourse. In ordinary
circumstances, Isabella's soul would have been veiled from so new an
acquaintance; but now, constantly under the influence of strong feeling
and fresh impulses, and a most joyous sense of freedom, her lofty,
generous, and tender spirit glowed in her beautiful face, and inspired
and graced every word and movement.
Her devotion to Bessie was intense; not simply from compassion nor
affection, but remembering, that in her self-will she had insisted, in
spite of her father's disinclination, and her aunt's most reasonable
remonstrances, on Bessie's visit to the city, she looked upon herself
as the primary cause of her friend's misfortunes, and felt her own
peace of mind to be staked on Bessie's recovery. What a change had the
discipline of life wrought in Isabella's character! the qualities were
still the same; the same energy of purpose, the same earnestness in
action, the same strength of feeling, but now all flowing in the right
channel, all having a moral aim, and all governed by that religious
sense of duty, which is to the spirit in this perilous voyage of life
what the compass is to the mariner.
Of Bessie's recovery there seemed, from day to day, little
prospect. One hopeful circumstance there was. The intelligent physician
consulted by Mrs. Archer had frankly confessed that his art could do
nothing for her, and had advised leaving her entirely to the energies
of nature. Would that this virtue of letting alone were oftener
imitated by the faculty! that nature were oftener permitted to manifest
her power unclogged, and unembarrassed by the poisons of the drug-shop!
Bessie was as weak and helpless as a new-born infant, and
apparently as unknowing of the world about her. With few and brief
exceptions, she slept day and night. Her face was calm, peaceful,and
not inexpressive, but it was as unvarying as a picture. Her senses
appeared no longer to be the ministers of the mind; she heard without
hearing, and saw without seeing, and never attempted to speak. At
times, her friends despaired utterly, believing that her mind was
extinct; and then again they hoped it was a mere suspension of her
faculties, a rest preluding restoration.
While fear and hope were thus alternating, a week passed away.
Eliot's mission was near being accomplished. The evening of the
following day was appointed for the consummation of his plans. The
boats, with muffled oars and trusty oarsmen, were in readiness, and the
plan for the secret seizure of a most important personage so well
matured, that it was all but impossible it should be baffled. The most
brilliant result seemed certain: and well-balanced as Eliot's mind was,
it was excited to the highest pitch when a communication reached him
from headquarters, informing him that Washington deemed it expedient to
abandon the enterprise of which he was the agent; and he was directed,
if possible, to cross the Hudson during the night, and repair to the
camp near Morristown. And thus ended the hope of brilliant achievement
and sudden advancement; and he went to pay his last visit to his
sister—for the last time to see Isabella Linwood!
She met him with good news lighting her eyes, "Bessie is reviving!"
she said; "she has pressed my hand, and spoken my name!"
"Thank God!" replied Eliot, approaching the bedside. For the first
time Bessie fixed her eye on him as if conscious at whom she was
looking; then, as he bent over her, she stretched out her arms, drew
his face to hers, and kissed him, feebly murmuring, "dear Eliot!"
The effort exhausted her, and she reverted to her usual condition.
"This must be expected," said Miss Linwood, replying to the shade of
disappointment that passed over Eliot's brow; "but having seen such a
sign of recovery, you will leave her with a light heart?"
Eliot smiled assentingly; a melancholy smile enough. "You still,"
she continued, "expect to get off to-morrow evening?"
"No, my business in the city is finished, and I go this very
"To-night! would to Heaven that Herbert were going with you!"
"Not one regret for my going!" thought Eliot, and he sighed
involuntarily. "You seem," resumed Isabella, "very suddenly indifferent
to Herbert's fate—you do not care to know, before you go, how our
plans are ripening?"
"Indifferent to Herbert's fate!—to aught that concerns you, Miss
"A commonplace compliment from you, Captain Lee—well, as it is the
first, I'll forgive you—not so would Herbert, for making him secondary
in a matter where he is entitled to the honour, as he has the misery of
being principal. Poor fellow! his adversities have not taught him
patience, and Rose tells me he is very near the illness he has feigned,
and that if he does not get off by tomorrow night, he will fret himself
into a fever."
"Have you made Lady Anne acquainted with your project?"
"Yes, indeed! and her quick wit, loving heart, and most ingenious
fingers, have been busy in contriving and executing our preparations.
She is wild enough to wish to be the companion of Herbert's
flight—this is not to be thought of—but I have promised her that she
shall see him once more. Lizzy Bengin will go with us to the boat,
where, if Heaven prosper us, he will be by eight to-morrow evening. And
then, Captain Lee, should you persuade General Washington to receive
and forgive him, we shall be perfectly happy again."
"Perfectly happy!" echoed Eliot, in a voice most discordant with
the words he uttered.
"Oh, pardon me! I did not mean that. It is cruel to talk to you of
happiness while Bessie is in this uncertain condition—and most unjust
it is to myself, for I never shall be happy unless she is restored, and
mistress of herself again."
"Ah, Miss Linwood, that cannot be. In her best days she had not the
physical and mental power required to make her 'mistress of herself;'
no, it can never be. If it were not for my mother, who I know would
wish Bessie restored to her, even though she continue the vacant casket
she now is, I should, with most intense desire, pray God to take her to
himself—there alone can a creature so sensitive and fragile be safe
and at peace!"
"You are wrong—I am certain you are wrong. There is a flexibility
in our womanly nature that is strength in our weakness. Bessie will
perceive the delusion under which she has acted and suffered, and which
had dominion over her, because, like any other dream, it seemed a
reality while it lasted. Yes, her affections will return to their
natural channels to bless us all." Eliot shook his head despondingly.
"You are faithless and unbelieving," continued Isabella; and then
added, smiling and blushing, "but I reason from experience, and
therefore you should believe me."
This was the first time that Meredith had been alluded to. The
allusion was intrepid and generous; and if a confession of past
weakness, it was an assurance of present, conscious, and all-sufficient
strength. That Eliot at least thought so, was evident from the sudden
irradiation of his countenance; a brightness misinterpreted by
Isabella, who immediately added, "I have convinced you, and you will
admit I was not so very rash in saying that we should all again be
Eliot made no reply; he walked to the extremity of the room,
paused, returned, gazed intently yet abstractedly at his sister, then
at Isabella, and then mechanically took up his hat, laid it down, and
again resumed it.
Isabella was perplexed by his contradictory movements. "You are not
going so soon?" she said. He did not reply. "Shall I call my aunt?" she
Eliot seized her hand, and withheld her. "No, no, not yet—Miss
Linwood, I am playing the hypocrite—it is not alone my anxiety for my
sister that torments me—that made your prediction of happiness sound
to me like a knell." He paused, and then yielding to an irresistible
impulse, he impetuously threw himself at Isabella's feet. "Isabella
Linwood, I love you—love you without the presumption of the faintest,
slightest hope—before we part for ever, suffer me to tell you so."
"Captain Lee, you astonish me!—you do not mean—"
"I know I astonish you, but I will not offend you. Is it
folly—rashness—obtrusiveness, to pour out an affection before you,
that expects nothing in return, asks nothing but the satisfaction of
being known, and not offensive to you?"
"Oh, no, no; but you may regret—"
"Never, never. From this moment I devote my heart—I dedicate my
existence to you; insomuch as God permits me to love aught beneath
himself, I will love you. I must now part from you for ever; but
wherever I go your image will attend me—that cannot be denied me—it
shall defend me from temptation, incite me to high resolves, pure
thoughts, and good deeds."
"Such homage might well make me proud," replied Isabella, "and I am
most grateful for it; but your imagination is overwrought; this is a
transient excitement—it will pass away."
"Never!" replied Eliot, rising, and recovering in some degree the
steadiness of his voice; "hear me patiently; it is the only time I
shall ever ask your indulgence. I am not now, nor was I ever, under the
dominion of my imagination or my passions. I have been trained in the
school of exertion, of self-denial, and self-subjection; and I would
not, I could not love one who did not sway my reason, who was not
entitled to the homage of my best faculties. I have been moved by
beauty, I have been attracted by the lovely—I have had my fancies and
my likings—what man of two-and-twenty has not?—I never loved before;
never before felt a sentiment that, if it were requited, would have
made earth a paradise to me; but that unrequited, unsustained but by
its own independent vitality, I would not part with for any paradise on
The flush of surprise that first overspread Isabella's face had
deepened to a crimson glow. If a woman is not offended by such language
as Eliot's,she cannot be unmoved. Isabella's was a listening eye. It
seemed to Eliot, at this moment, that its rays touched his heart and
burned there. She passed her hand over her brow, as one naturally does
when the brain is becoming a little blurred in its perceptions. "This
is so very strange, so unexpected," she said, in the softest tone of
that voice, whose every tone was music to her lover's ear—"in one
short week—it cannot be!"
Isabella but half uttered her thoughts: she had been misled, as
most inexperienced observers are in similar cases, by the tranquillity
of Eliot's manner; she respected and liked him exceedingly; but she
thought him unexcitable, and incapable of passion. She had yet to learn
that the strongest passions are reducible to the gentlest obedience,
and may be so subjected as to manifest their power, not in irregular
and rebellious movements, but only in the tasks they achieve. She did
not now reflect or analyze, but she felt, for the first time, there was
that in Eliot Lee that could answer to the capacities of her own soul.
"This is, undoubtedly, unexpected to you," resumed Eliot, "but
should not be strange. When I first saw you I was struck with your
beauty; and I thought, if I were a pagan, I should imbody my divinity
in just such a form, and fall down and worship it—that might have been
what the world calls falling in love, but it was far enough from the
all-controlling sentiment I now profess to you.Our acquaintance has
been short (I date farther back than a week); but in this short period
I have seen your mind casting off the shackles of early prejudices,
resisting the authority of opinion, self-rectified, and forming its
independent judgments on those great interests in which the honour and
prosperity of your country are involved. I have gloried in seeing you
willing to sacrifice the pride, the exclusiveness, and all the little
idol vanities of accidental distinctions, to the popular and generous
"Nay, hear me out, Isabella; I will not leave you till you have the
reasons of my love; till you admit that I have deliberately elected the
sovereign of my affections; till you feel, yes, feel, that my devotion
to you can never abate." He hesitated, and his voice faltered; but he
resolutely proceeded: "Other shackles has your power over woman's
weakness enabled you to cast off."
"Oh, no—no; do not commend me for that— they fell off."
"Be it so: they could not fetter you, that is enough."
"Then," said Isabella, somewhat mischievously, "I think you like me
for, what most men like not at all—my love of freedom and independence
"Yes, I do; for I think they are essential to the highest and most
progressive nature; but I shouldnot love it if it were not blended with
all the tenderness and softness of your sex. The fire that mounts to
Heaven from the altar, diffuses its gentle warmth at the fireside.
Think you, that while you have been tending my sister, I have been
unmindful of your kindly domestic qualities, or blind to the thousand
womanly inventions by which I see you ministering to the happiness of
these unfortunate children? Have you thought me insensible to your
intervention for my poor boy, Kisel, though God, in much mercy to him,
willed it should be bootless? I do homage to your genius, talent, and
accomplishment, but I love your gracious, domestic, home-felt virtues.
I am exhausting your patience." Isabella had covered her face;
overpowered with the accumulated proof that Eliot had watched her with
a fond lover's eye. After a slight hesitation, he proceeded to obey a
most natural, if it be a weak longing. "Allow me, if you can, one
solace, one blessed thought to cheer a long life of loneliness and
devotion. I am bold in asking it; but, tell me, had I known you
earlier, had no predilection forestalled me, had no rival intervened,
do you think it possible that you should have returned my love?"
Some one says that all women are reared hypocrites—trained to veil
their natures; Isabella Linwood, at least, was not. She replied,
impulsively and frankly, "Most certainly I should."
Eliot again fell at her feet. He ventured to take her hand, to
press it to his lips, to wet it with his tears. "I am satisfied," he
said; "now I can go; and the thought that I might, under a happier
star, have been loved by Isabella Linwood, shall elevate, guide, and
sooth me, in all the chances and changes of life."
While Eliot was uttering these last words, and while Isabella was
absorbed in the emotions they excited, the door was softly opened, and
Lizzy Archer, flitting across the room, said in a low voice, "Oh,
Captain Lee! what shall we do?—there are horrid soldiers watching at
both our doors for you—mamma is out, and I could not sleep—I never
sleep when you are here, for fear something will happen—I heard their
voices at the side door; and when I came through the hall, I heard
others through the street door—what shall we do?—Cousin Belle, pray
think—you can always think in a minute."
But "Cousin Belle's" presence of mind had suddenly forsaken her;
and as Eliot's eye glanced towards her, he saw she was pale and
trembling. A hope shot into his mind, a thought of the possibility that
if he were not now severed from her, that which she had generously
admitted might have been, might still be. To exclude this newborn hope
seemed to him like the extinction of life. He rapidly revolved the
circumstances in which he was placed. He had done, in the
affairintrusted to him, all, and even more than his commander expected;
it had failed of consummation through no fault of his; he was in the
American uniform, and thus captured, he might claim the rights of a
prisoner of war; the temporary loss of his presence in camp would be
unimportant to the cause; and remaining for a time within reach of
Isabella Linwood might result in good, infinite good, and happiness to
himself. He wavered; but the fixed habit of rectitude prevailed, the
duty of the soldier over the almost irresistible inclinations of the
man: he shut out the temptation, and only considered the means of
escape. "Dear Lizzy," he said, "if I could find my way to your
skylight—I have observed the descent would not be dangerous from there
to the back building, and so down on the roofs of the other offices."
"But," said Lizzy, for the little creature seemed to have
considered the whole ground, "if there should be soldiers too at the
"I will avoid them, Lizzy, by going into the next yard to yours,
then over two or three walls, till I find it safe to emerge into the
"I can lead you to the skylight. I am very glad I am blind, so I
shall not need any light; for that would show you to the soldiers, who
are standing by the side windows of the hall-door. Oh, dear, I hope
they won't hear my heart beat; but it does beat so!"
There were other hearts there that beat almostaudibly besides poor
Lizzy's; but there was no time to indulge emotions. Eliot kissed his
unconscious sister; and then grasping the hand Isabella extended to
him, he would have said, "Farewell for ever!" but his voice was choked,
and the last ominous word was unpronounced. His little guide led him
noiselessly up the stairs, through the entries, and to the skylight;
and then fondly embracing him and promising to give his farewells to
"mother and Ned," she parted from him, and stood fixed and breathless,
listening till she believed he had eluded those who were lying in wait
for him, when she returned to give full vent to her feelings on
Isabella's bosom, and to find more sympathy there than she wotted of.
We shall not follow our hero through his "imminent dangers and
hair-breadth 'scapes." Suffice it to say, he did escape; and having
passed the Hudson in the same little boat that brought "Harmann Van
Zandt" to the city, he eluded the British station at Powles Hook,
passed their redoubts, and at dawn of day received at the camp at
Morris-town the warm thanks of Washington, who estimated conduct by its
intrinsic merit, and not, according to the common and false standard,
by its results.
"Good sir, good sir, you are deceived; it is no man at all!"
At any other juncture, Mr. Linwood would have been restless and
unappeasable under the privation of Isabella's society; but now, in his
interest and sympathy in Herbert's affairs, and in his fondness for
Lady Anne, he found full employment for his thoughts and feelings. Lady
Anne persisted in considering herself Herbert's betrothed; and in spite
of her aunt, who, as her niece affirmed, had become insupportably cross
and teasing, she persevered in spending all her evenings with the
Linwoods. The charm that love imparts to those who are connected with
the object of a concentrated affection, was attached to Herbert's
father and mother. Lady Anne felt the most tender anxieties for her
lover; but, sustained by the buoyancy of youth, and a most cheerful and
sanguine disposition, she was uniformly bright and animated. Her
sparkling eye and dimpled cheek were happiness to Mr. Linwood; the old
love cheerfulness as the dim eye delights in brilliant colours.
Mrs. Archer, who was always, in Mr. Linwood's estimation, the next
best to Isabella, devoted her evenings to him. She saw, or fancied she
saw, that Bessie's countenance expressed a pleased consciousness of
Isabella's presence; at any rate, she knew that there was another
countenance always lighted up by it. Accordingly, she repaired every
evening to Mr. Linwood, and played rubber after rubber, performing her
tiresome duty with such zest and zeal, that Mr. Linwood pronounced her
a comfortable partner and respectable antagonist—"a deal more than he
could say for any other woman."
While the surface of this little society remained as usual, there
was a strong under-current at work. Herbert, after his explanation with
Lady Anne, was resolved to leave no effort unmade to effect his escape
from durance, and put himself in the way of those brighter hours that
youth and health whispered might come. His first step was taken the
morning after his parting with Lady Anne. He enclosed the permit for
his visits at home, sent to him by Sir Henry Clinton, to that
gentleman, with an acknowledgment of his kindness, but without
assigning any reason for declining to avail himself of it farther. He
was careful not to involve his honour by any pretences in relation to
that obligation; it was off his hands, and he thanked Heaven he was now
free to use whatever stratagem would avail him. He feigned illness. He
knew Rose would be sent to inquire after him; and he also knew that,
when told he was ill, she would, by force or favour, obtain access to
him. Fortunately, she was admitted without hesitation;for Cunningham,
conscious of the bad odour he was in on account of his ill-treatment of
the American prisoners, deemed it his best policy to inflict no
gratuitous hardship on the son of Mr. Linwood. Rose, once admitted,
became first counsellor and coadjutor; and with the aid of the young
ladies at home, a project was contrived, of which this noble creature
was to be the main executer. Herbert's illness, of course, continued
unabated; and Rose repeated her visits daily, and made her last, as she
hoped, the evening succeeding Eliot's escape. "Lock me in," she said to
the turnkey, "and leave me a quarter of an hour or so. I want to coax
Mr. Herbert to take a biscuit; he'd die on your dum stuff." Rose had,
in fact, brought to Linwood, daily, more substantial rations than
biscuit, and thus enabled him to gratify his appetite without
endangering his reputation as an invalid. He was in bed when Rose
entered, and out of it the moment the turnkey closed the door—"Oh,
Rose, God bless you! Is all arranged?" he asked.
"Every thing, Mr. Herbert, snug as a bug in a rug. The young ladies
came with me to Mrs. Lizzy's, and she is to be at Smith's house with
them precisely at seven. It is now half past six. Mrs. Lizzy's boat,
with the muffled oars, that's got off many a prisoner before you, is
now waiting for you."
"And are my sister and Lady Anne going to Smith's house without any
"Dear, yes! they are wrapped in cloaks—nobody will known them; and
Mrs. Lizzy is as good a guard as horse, foot, and dragoon; there's not
a thimbleful of danger, Mr. Herbert, and they fear none, bless their
hearts! To be sure, Miss Belle is no great of a soldier in common, and
Lady Anne will scream like all natur' at a mouse; but love is a great
help to courage in young parsons."
While Rose was making these communications, to which Herbert
eagerly listened, she was doffing an extra set of linsey-woolsey
garments, and transferring them to her young master, who somewhat
delayed their adjustment, by putting his feet first into the "cursed
petticoat," as he profanely termed it. That most respectable feminine
article arranged to Rose's satisfaction, she put over it a shortgown,
and a checked handkerchief over all. "Now for the beauties," she said,
drawing from her pocket a wig and mask, and holding them up in either
hand, "Miss Belle made one, and Lady Anne t'other."
The mask, if it might be so called, was well coloured, and bore a
tolerable likeness to Rose. Linwood was enchanted. "Which," he
exclaimed, "which did Lady Anne make, Rose?"
Linwood seized it, kissed it, and exclaimed, "Admirably, admirably
"It was not half the trouble the wig was," said Rose.
"Oh, that is capital too, Rose."
"But you don't carry on so about it. Land's sake! However, I
suppose you love Miss Belle as well, only it an't a kind of love that
"True, Rose; you may be sure I shall never love anybody better than
I do my sister."
Rose was satisfied, and proceeded to tie on the mask, and adjust
the fleecy locks. "It's a main pity," she said, "to cover your pretty
shining hair with what looks like nigger's wool, as they call it."
"Not a bit—not a bit, Rose. I know some wool that covers a far
better head than mine—more capable, more discerning; and God never
created a nobler heart than beats under one black skin."
"Pooh! Mr. Herbert." Rose's pooh was a disclaimer; but as she put
it in, she brushed a tear from her eye; then tying a mobcap and black
silk bonnet over the wig, and throwing over his shoulders her short
blue broadcloth cloak, and hiding his white hands in her mittens, she
laughed exultingly, declaring she "should not herself know him from
herself." "Now you're readied," she said, "settle down as you walk—be
prudent, Mr. Herbert—look before you leap. Don't answer them dum
fellows, when you go out, a word more than yes or no—I never do. Do
your endeavours, and the Lord will help you. He helps them as helps
themselves— hark! there comes the fellow."
Before the turnkey opened the door she was in bed, her head
enveloped in the bedclothes; and Herbert stood, her basket on his arm,
apparently waiting. No suspicion was excited, nor questions asked. They
went out, and the door was relocked. Rose raised her head to listen to
their receding footsteps. The footsteps ceased, and she heard
Cunningham's (the provost-marshal's) voice, "Well, wench," he said,
addressing, as she knew, her counterfeit, "how goes it with your young
"Now the Lord o' mercy help him!" she exclaimed; "he used to mimic
Jupe—if he only can me."
She did not hear Herbert's reply; but she heard Cunningham say, as
if responding to it—"Poorlier, hey? I've got something here that will
bring back his stomach—respects to your master—mind, wench." Again
she heard Herbert's footsteps recede, and Cunningham enter her cell,
and shut and lock the door.
Cunningham's name was a terror to the whigs, and to all that cared
for them. The man's excessive cruelty and meanness may be inferred from
the extravagant allegations current at the time; that he was in the
habit of putting the American prisoners of war to death, in order to
sequester the rations allowed them. He had recently reason for
apprehensions that an inquiry would be instituted into his conduct by
the commander-in-chief, who certainly did not authorize unnecessary
cruelties, if he neglected to take cognizance of them.
Rose's head was well muffled in the bedclothes, when Cunningham,
coming up to the bed, said, "How goes it, Mr. Linwood; bile uppermost
yet? Come,lift up your head, and speak, man—can't you give an answer
to a civil word? Come, come, I'm not Tom nor Sam, to be put off this
way—next thing you'll bolt, and I shall have it to answer for; but
they sha'n't say I did not do the good Samaritan by you. You won't
eat—you won't hear to the doctor —the d—l is in you, man; why don't
you rise up? Here's a dose you must take, any how—it's what they give
in all cases, calomel and jalap— come, man, if fair means won't do,
foul must." The patient continued obstinate, and Cunningham set down
the dose, which was mixed in a huge coffee-bowl, beside a basket of
vials, containing sundry nauseous medicines, designed for the poor
prisoners, as if bad food were not poison and torture enough for them.
A contest began, in which Cunningham had reason to be astonished at the
strength of the invalid. In the scramble, Rose's head was disengaged
from the bedclothes; the truth was revealed, and she sprang on him like
a tiger on its prey. The cowardly wretch shrunk back, and drew a knife,
crying out, "You d—d nigger!" Rose wrested it from him, and her spirit
disdaining the assassin's weapon, she thrust it into the wall,
exclaiming—"Now we're even!"
He sprung towards the door—she pulled him back, threw him down,
put her knee on his breast, and by the time he had made one ineffectual
struggle, and once bellowed for help, she had added laudanum,
castor-oil, and ipecacuanha to the calomeland jalap; and holding his
nose between the thumb and finger of one hand, she presented the
overflowing bowl to his lips with the other. When she had convinced him
of her potentiality, by making him gulp down one swallow, she
mercifully withdrew the draught, saying, "If you offer to move one
inch, or make a sound, I'll pour it down your throat to the last drop."
She then released him from her grasp, and while he was panting and
shuddering, she turned her back, muttering something of stringing him
up in her clothes. The "clothes," which she quickly disengaged from
their natural office, proved to be her garters. As she stretched them
out, trying their strength, "My own spinning, twisting, and knitting,"
said she; "they'll bear the weight of twenty such slim pieces as you."
"Are you going to hang me?" gasped out Cunningham.
"Hang you? Yes; but not harm you, if you're quiet, mind. But I'd
choke you twice over to give Mr. Herbert time: so mind and keep your
breath to cool your porridge." She then turned him over, bound his
hands behind him with one garter, and made a slip-noose with the other,
while he, like a reptile in the talons of a vulture, crawled and
squirmed with a hopeless resistance. "There's no use," said Rose;
"you're but a baby in my hands—it's the strong heart makes the strong
arm." She then set him upright on Herbert's bed, putthe noose around
his neck, and made the other end fast to an iron hook in the wall. This
was just achieved, when a hurried footstep was heard, followed by a
clattering at the door, and a call for "Master Cunningham!—Master
Cunningham!" Rose placed her foot against the foot of the bedstead;
Cunningham understood the menace, and suppressed the cry on his lips.
The calls were reiterated. Cunningham cast one glance at Rose; her foot
was fixed, her lips compressed, and her eyes glaring with a resolution
stern as fate. Cunningham felt that the alternative was silence or
death, and his face convulsed between the impulse to respond and the
effort to keep quiet. The knocking and screaming were repeated; and
then finding them ineffectual, the person went off to seek his master
elsewhere. Other sounds now roused Rose's generous spirit, and tempted
her to inflict the vengeance so well deserved; but hers was not the
mind to be swayed by opportunity—"convenience snug."
The apartment adjoining Linwood's was spacious, and crammed with
American prisoners. There was a communicating door between them,
through which could be distinctly heard any sound or movement louder
than usual. Loring, in his customary evening round, had entered this
apartment. Loring was Cunningham's coadjutor, and is described by Ethan
Allen, who had himself notable experience in that prison, as "the most
mean-spirited, cowardly, deceitful, and destructive animalin God's
creation." Rose heard Loring command the prisoners to get to their
beds, in his customary phrase (we retrench a portion of its vulgarity
and profanity): "Kennel, d—n ye—kennel, ye sons of Belial!"
At this brutal address to persons whom Rose honoured as a Catholic
honours the saints, her blood boiled within her. She hastily withdrew
her foot from the bedpost, and strided to the extremity of the narrow
apartment; then turning and stretching her arm towards Cunningham, she
said, with an energy that made his blood curdle, "It is not for me to
'venge them, but God will. Their children shall be lords in the land,
and sound out their fathers' names with ringing of bells and firing of
cannon, when you, and Loring, and all such car'on, have died and rotted
like dogs, as ye are."
The sounds in the adjoining apartment after a while subsided, and
with them Rose's ire. She seated herself to await the latest hour when
she could retire from the prison, and elude the suspicion of the
sentinel, the only person whose vigilance she had to encounter.
The footsteps had ceased from the passages, and sleep seemed, like
rain, to have fallen on the just and the unjust—the keepers and their
prisoners. Cunningham, seeing Rose preparing to take her departure,
begged her, in the most abject manner, before she went, to release him
from his frightful position.
"No, no," she obstinately replied to his supplications, "ye shall
hang in iffigy, to be seen and scorned by your own people; but one
marcy I'll do you; if you'll hold your tongue, I'll not let out, while
the war lasts—while the war lasts, remember, that you were strung up
there by a 'd—n nigger'—a nigger woman!"
It appeared that Cunningham was glad to accept this very small
mercy, by the report that afterward prevailed, that he had only escaped
a fitting end through the forbearance of Mr. Herbert Linwood.
Rose passed unmolested through the passage and the outer door,
which, being locked on the inside, and the key in the wards, opposed no
obstacle to her retreat. The sentinel in the yard saw and recognised
her; but not being the same who was on guard when the first Dromeo
passed, he merely inferred that Rose had been permitted to remain
longer than usual; and kindly opening the gate, he responded civilly to
her civil "good-night."
Rose went home, not however to enjoy the quiet sleep which should
have followed so good a piece of work as she had achieved, but to
suffer, and see others suffer, the most distressful apprehensions.
"Let the great gods,
That keep this dreadful pother o'er our heads,
Find out their enemies now."
Isabella and Lady Anne, cloaked and hooded, repaired to Dame
Bengin's some half hour, as may be remembered, before the time
appointed for their meeting with Linwood. This forerunning of the hour
was to allow them to take advantage of Rose's escort. It did not pass
without a censure from their wary coadjutor. "You lack discretion,
young ladies," she said; "and I lacked it too when I let you in
partners in this business. My father used to say, 'if you want to go
safe over a tottering plank, always go alone.' However, we must make
the best of it now: so just take this box of ribands, and stand at the
farther end of the counter, and seem to be finding a match. It is
nothing strange for ladies to be tedious at that."
The young ladies obeyed, but Lady Anne fretted in an under voice at
the delay; and Isabella ventured a remonstrance, to which Dame Bengin,
an autocrat in her own domain, replied, "She must go her own way; that
full twenty minutes were left to the time appointed for the meeting at
Smith's house, and time was money to her."
"I wish to Heaven I could wring that parrot's neck," whispered Lady
Anne; "I do believe the people answer to its call." The parrot kept up
a continuous scream of "Come in!—come in!" that might have tormented
nerves less excitable than our friend's were at this moment.
"I surmise we are going to have a storm," said an old woman, who
had stepped in for a penny-worth of cochinia for her grandchildren;
"its always a sign of a storm when Sylvy keeps up such a chattering at
night-fall." Lizzy Bengin went to the door, and looked anxiously at the
"Come in!—come in!" cried Sylvy; and, as if obedient to her
summons, trotted in, one after another, half a dozen urchins. One
wanted "a skein of sky-blue silk for aunt Polly: not too light, nor too
dark; considerable fine, and very strong; not too slack nor too hard
twisted." Lizzy Bengin looked over half a dozen papers before she could
meet the order of her customer.
"Pray send the whole to aunt Polly," cried Lady Anne; "I will pay
you, Bengin." The boy stared, the dame seemed not to hear her, and bade
the boy run home and tell aunt Polly she hoped the skein would suit.
"Twopence worth of button-moulds—just this size, ma'am." The
indefatigable Mrs. Bengin explored the button-mould box.
"Mammy wants a nail of silk, a shade lighter than the sample." Mrs.
Bengin looked over her pile of silks.
"Come in!—come in!" still cried Sylvy, certainly not the silent
partner of the house.
"Aunty wants a dust of snuff, and she'll pay you to-morrow."
"How much is a drawing of your best bohea, Mrs. Bengin?"
"Mrs. Lizzy, uncle John wants to know if you've got any shoes about
little Johnny's size?"
While Mrs. Bengin, who was quite in the habit of securing the mint,
anise, and cummin of her little trade, was with the utmost composure
satisfying these multifarious demands, the minutes seemed ages to our
impatient friends; Isabella took out her watch. The dame perceived the
movement, and seemed to receive an impulse from it, for she was
dismissing the shoe inquirer with a simple negative, when in came a
black girl, with a demand for "spirits of camphire."
"What's the matter, Phillis?"
"Madam Meredith has got the hystrikes."
"Then she has my note," whispered Lady Anne.
While the camphire was pouring out, a sturdy sailor-boy entered.
"Ah, is that you, Tom Smith? A hand of tobacco you're wanting? Well,
first come first served—just be taking in Sylvy, while I'm getting a
cork to suit the vial." Mrs. Bengin seemed suddenly fluttered by a look
from Tom,and she bade the servant run home sans cork. The moment
Phillis had passed the threshold, Lizzy said, "Speak out, Tom, there
are none but friends here!"
"It's too late, Lizzy Bengin, you're lost!"
The inquiries and replies that followed were rapid. The amount of
Tom's intelligence was, that some combustibles had been discovered near
the magazine, and that as strange persons had recently been observed
going to and coming from Lizzy's shop, it was believed that a plot had
been there contrived; the commandant had issued an order for her
apprehension, and men were by this time on their way to seize her.
Lizzy Bengin had so often been suspected, and threatened, and
eluded detection, that she did not now believe her good fortune had
deserted her. She heard Tom through, and then said, "My boat is ready
and I'll dodge them yet."
Isabella ventured to ask, with scarcely a ray of hope, "if they
might still go with her?"
"Yes, if you're not afeared, and will be prudent. Shut the
shutters, Tom—lock the door after us, and keep them out as long as
possible, that we may gain time. Throw my books into the loft—don't
let 'em rummage and muss my things, and look to Sylvy." Her voice was
slightly tremulous as she added, "If any thing happens to me, Tom, be
kind to Sylvy!"
By this time her cloak and hood were on, and they sallied forth.
Dame Lizzy's valour was too well tempered by discretion to have
permitted her to consent to the attendance of the young ladies, if she
had not, after calculating the chances, been quite sure that no danger
would be thereby incurred. She believed that her pursuers, after being
kept at bay by her faithful ally Tom, would be at a loss where next to
seek her. The place appointed for meeting Linwood was a little
untenanted dwelling, near the water's edge, called "Smith's house."
There he was to doff his disguise, and there, should there be any
uproar in the streets, the young ladies could remain till all was
quiet. Isabella and Lady Anne were in no temper to consider risks and
chances. Life, to the latter, seemed to be set on the die of seeing
Herbert once more. Isabella felt a full sympathy with this most natural
desire, and an intense eagerness to be immediately assured of her
brother's escape; so, clinging close to their sturdy friend, they
The old woman's interpretation of Sylvy's cries proved a true one.
A storm was gathering rapidly. Large drops of rain pattered on the
pavement, and the lightning flashed at intervals. But the distance to
the boat, lying in a nook just above Whitehall, was short, and the
moon, some seven nights old, was still unclouded. They soon reached
"Smith's house," and heard the joyful signal-whistle previously agreed
"He is here!" exclaimed Isabella.
Lady Anne's fluttering heart was on her lips, but she did not
speak. Herbert joined them.
"Now kiss and part," cried Lizzy Bengin. The first command was
superfluous; the second it seemed impossible to obey. It was no time
for words, and few did they mingle with the choking sighs of parting,
but these few were of the marvellous coinage of the heart, and the
heart was stamped upon them. The storm increased, and the darkness
thickened. "Come, come; this won't do, young folks," cried their
impatient leader; "we must be off—we've foul weather to cross the
river, and then to pass the enemy's stations before day-light—the
hounds may be on our heels too—we must go."
All felt the propriety, the necessity of this movement. Lady Anne
only begged that they might go to the water's edge, and see the boat
off. Dame Bengin interposed no objection; that would only have caused
fresh entreaties and longer delay, and they set forward. The distance
to the boat was not above a hundred yards; they had reached the shore,
Mrs. Bengin was already in the boat, and Herbert speaking his last
word, when they heard the voices of pursuers, and the next flash of
lightning revealed a file of soldiers rushing towards them. Lady Anne
shrieked; Lizzy Bengin screamed, "Jump in, sir, or I'll push off
"Go," cried Isabella, "dear Herbert, go."
"I will not—I cannot, and leave you in the hands of these
"Oh, no! do not—do not, Herbert," entreated Lady Anne, "take me
with you." This was enough and irresistible. Herbert clasped his arm
around her, and leaped into the boat.
"Come with us, Isabella," screamed Lady Anne.
"For God's sake, come, Belle," shouted Herbert. Isabella wavered
for an instant. Another glare of lightning showed the soldiers within a
few feet of her, looking, in that lurid light, fierce and terrible
beyond expression; Isabella obeyed the impulse of her worst fears and
leaped into the boat; and Lizzy, who stood with her oar fixed,
instantly pushed from the shore. Curses burst from the lips of their
"We'll have them yet," exclaimed their leader. "To the Whitehall
dock, boys, and get out a boat!"
Our boat's company was silent. Herbert, amid a host of other
anxieties, was, as he felt Lady Anne's tremulous grasp, bitterly
repenting this last act of a rashness which he flattered himself
experience had cured, and Isabella was thinking of the beating hearts
Dame Bengin, composed, and alone wholly intent on the present
necessity, was the first to speak. "Don't be scared, little lady," she
said; "sit down quiet—don't touch his arm—he'll need all its
strength. Do you take the tiller, Miss Linwood— mind exactly what I
tell you—I know every turnin the current—don't lay out so much
strength on your oars, Captain Linwood—keep time to the dip of
mine—that will do!"
Dame Bengin, with good reason, plumed herself on her nautical
skill. Her father had been a pilot, and Lizzy being his only child, he
had repaired, as far as possible, what he considered the calamity of
her sex, by giving her the habits of a boy. Her childhood was spent on
the water, and nature and early training had endowed her with the
masculine spirit and skill that now did her such good service. The
courage and cowardice of impulse are too much the result of physical
condition to be the occasion of either pride or shame.
The wind was rising, the lightning becoming more vivid and
continuous, and the pelting cold rain driving in the faces of our poor
fugitives. The lightning gloriously lit up a wild scene; the bay, a
"phosphoric sea;" the little islands, that seemed in the hurly-burly to
be dancing on the crested waves; and the shores, that looked like the
pale regions of some ghostly land. Still the little boat leaped the
waves cheeringly, and still no sound of fear was heard within it. There
is something in the sublime manifestations of power in the battling
elements, that either stimulates the mind of man, "stirs the feeling
infinite," and exalts it above a consciousness of the mortality that
invests it, or crushes it under a sense of its own impotence. Our
little boat's company were a groupfor a painter, if a painter could
kindle his picture with electric light. Lizzy Bengin, her short
muscular arms bared, and every nerve of body and mind strained, plied
her oars, at each stroke giving a new order to her unskilled but most
obedient coadjutors. Isabella's head was bare, her dark hair hanging in
masses on each side her face, her poetic eye turning from "heaven to
earth and earth to heaven," her face in the lurid light as pale as
marble, and like that marble on which the sculptor has expressed his
own divine imaginings in the soft forms of feminine beauty. Lady Anne
sat at Herbert's feet, her eye fixed on his face, passively and quietly
awaiting her fate, not doubting that fate would be to go to the bottom,
but feeling that such a destiny would be far more tolerable with her
lover, than any other without him. This dependance, "love overcoming
the fear of death," inspired Herbert with preternatural strength. His
fine frank face beamed with hope and resolution, and his eye, as ever
and anon it fell on the loving creature at his feet, was suffused with
a mother's tenderness.
In the intervals of darkness they guided the boat by the lights on
the shores, and towards a light that, kindled by a confederate of Lizzy
Bengin's for Herbert's benefit, blazed steadily, in spite of the rain,
a mile below Powles Hook.
They were making fair headway, when they perceived a sail-boat put
off from Whitehall.They were pursued, and their hearts sunk within
them; but Lizzy Bengin soon rallied, and her inspiring voice was heard,
calculating the chances of escape. "The storm," she said, "is in our
favour —no prudent sailor would spread a sail in such a gusty night.
The wind is flawy too, and we can manage our boat, running first for
one point and then for another, so as to puzzle them, and in some of
their turns, if they have not more skill than any man has shown since
my father's day, they'll capsize their boat."
We dare not attempt to describe the chase that followed; the
dexterous manœuvring of the little boat, now setting towards Long
Island, now back to the city, now for Governor's Island, now up, and
then down the river. We dare not attempt it. Heaven seems to have
endowed a single genius of our land with a chartered right to all the
water privileges for the species of manufacture in which we are
engaged, and his power but serves to set in desperate relief the
weakness of his inferiors. The water is not our element, and we should
be sure to show an "alacrity in sinking."
Suffice it to say, it seemed that the efforts of our little boat's
crew must prove unavailing; that after Dame Bengin's sturdy spirit had
yielded to her woman's nature, and she had dropped her oars, and given
the common signals of her sex's weakness in streaming tears and
wringing hands, Herbert continued laboriously to row, till Lady Anne,
fainting, dropped her head on his knee, and Isabella entreated him to
submit at once to their inevitable fate. Nothing indeed now remained
but to run the boat ashore, to surrender themselves to their pursuers,
to obtain aid for Lady Anne, and secure protection to her and Isabella.
The resolution taken, the boat was suddenly turned; the sail-boat
turned also, but too suddenly; the wind struck and capsized it. The bay
was in a blaze of light when the sail dipped to the water—intense
darkness followed—no shriek was heard.
After the first exclamations burst from the lips of our friends,
not a sound proceeded from them, not a breath of exultation at a
deliverance that involved their fellow-beings in destruction. The
stroke of Herbert's oars ceased, and the fugitives awaited breathlessly
the next flash of lightning, to enable them to extend their aid, if aid
could be given. The lightning came and was repeated, but nothing was to
be seen but the boat drifting away at the mercy of the waves.
A few moments more brought them to land, where, beside their
beacon-light, stood an untenanted fisherman's hut, in which they found
awaiting them a comfortable fire and substantial food. These "creature
comforts," with rest and rekindled hope, soon did their work of
restoration. And the clouds clearing away, and the stars shining out
cheerily, Lizzy Bengin, aware that her presence rather encumbered and
endangered the companions of her flight than benefited them, bade them
a kind good-night, and sought refuge among some of her Jersey
acquaintance, true-hearted to her, and to all their country's friends.
"Good to begin well, better to end well."
What was next to be done was as puzzling to our friends as the
passage of that classic trio, the fox, the goose, and the corn, was to
our childish ingenuity. Duty and safety were involved in Linwood's
return to the American camp with all possible expedition. General
Washington was at Morristown, and the American army was going into
winter quarters in its immediate vicinity. Thither Linwood must go, and
so thought Lady Anne must she. "Fate," she said, "had seconded her
inclinations, and to contend against their united force was impossible;
why should she not give her hand to Herbert at once and be happy,
instead of returning to vex and be vexed by her disappointed aunt?
After they had made sure of happiness and Heaven's favour, for Heaven
would smile on the union of true and loving hearts, let the world
gossip to its heart's content about Linwood running off with an
heiress; he who was so far above a motive so degrading and
soul-sacrificing, could afford the imputation of it, and would soon
outlive it." There was both nature and truth in her reasoning, and it
met with her lover's full and irrepressible sympathy; with Isabella's
too, but not with her acquiescence.
Poor Isabella! it was hard for one who had her keen participation
in the happiness of others to oppose it, and to hazard by delay the
loss of its richest materials. There was an earnest seconding of their
entreaties, too, from a voice in the secret depths of her heart, which
whispered that Eliot Lee was at Morristown; but what of that? ay,
Isabella, what of that? Once at Morristown, her return to the city
might be indefinitely delayed; innumerable obstacles might interpose,
and to return to her father was an imperative and undeferable duty. To
permit Lady Anne to proceed without her would be to expose her to
gossip and calumny. Isabella's was the ruling spirit; and after
arguments, entreaties, and many tears on the lady's part, the lovers
deferred to the laws of propriety as expounded by her; and it was
agreed that Linwood should escort the ladies to the outskirts of the
Dutch village of Bergen, which could not be more than two or three
miles distant; that there they should part, and thence the means of
returning to the city without an hour's delay might easily be
Accordingly, two hours before daylight, they set forth, following,
through obscure and devious foot-paths, the general direction of
Bergen. Miranda truly says, "it is the good-will to the labour that
makes the task easy." Lady Anne had no goodwill to hers, and her
footsteps were feeble and faltering. The day dawned, the sun rose, and
as yet they saw no landmarks to indicate the vicinity of Bergen.
Herbert feared they had missed their way; but without communicating his
apprehensions, he proposed the ladies should take shelter in a log-hut
they had reached, and which he thought indicated the proximity of a
road, while he went to reconnoitre.
He had been gone half an hour, when Isabella and Lady Anne were
startled by the firing of guns. They listened breathlessly. The firing
was repeated, but unaccompanied by the sound of voices, footsteps, or
the trampling of horses.
"It is not near," said Isabella to her little friend, who had
clasped her hands in terror; "Herbert will hear it and return to us,
and we are quite safe here."
"Yes; but if he is taken—murdered, Isabella? Oh, let us go and
know the worst."
"It would be folly," replied Isabella, "to expose ourselves, and
risk the possibility of missing Herbert; but if you will be quiet, we
will creep up to that eminence," pointing to a hill before them; "if it
is cleared on the other side, we may see without being seen."
They forthwith mounted the hill, which presented a view of an open
country, traversed by several cross-roads. The point where they
intersected, a quarter of a mile distant, at once fixed their gaze. A
party of some thirty Americans, part mounted and part on foot, were
engaged in a hot contest with more than an equal number of the
enemy.Lady Anne grasped Isabella's arm, both were silent for a moment,
when a cry burst from Lady Anne's lips, "It is—it is he!"
"Who? where—what mean you?"
"Your brother, Isabella!—there, the foremost! on the black horse!"
"It is he! God have mercy on us!—and there is Eliot Lee!"
Lady Anne's eye was riveted to Linwood. "There are three upon him,"
she screamed; "fly, fly!—Oh, why does he not fly?"
"He fights bravely," cried Isabella, covering her eyes. "Heaven aid
you, my brother!"
"It's all over," shrieked Lady Anne.
Isabella looked again. Herbert's horse had fallen under him. "No,
no," she cried; "he lives! he is rising!"
"But they are rushing on him—they will cut him to pieces!"
Isabella sprang forward, as if she would herself have gone to his
rescue, exclaiming—"My brother, Herbert—Oh, Eliot has come to his
aid! God be praised!—See, Anne!—look up. Now they fight side by
side!—Courage, courage, Anne! Mercy upon us, why does Eliot Lee turn
"Oh, why does not Herbert turn too? if he would but fly while he
"Ah, there he comes!" exclaimed Isabella, without heeding her
companion's womanly wish, "urging forward those men from behind the
wagons—On, on, good fellows! Ah, that movement is working well—see,
see; the enemy is disconcerted! they are falling back! thank God, thank
God! See what confusion they are in; they are running, poor wretches;
they are falling under that back fire!"
The flying party had taken a road which led to an enclosed meadow,
and they were soon stopped by a fence. This opposed a slight obstacle,
but it occasioned delay. The Americans were close upon them; they
turned, threw down their arms, and surrendered themselves prisoners.
Shortly after, Eliot Lee, his face radiant with a joy that fifty
victories could not have inspired, stood at the entrance of the
log-hut, informing the ladies that Linwood had confided them to his
care; Linwood himself having received a wound, which, though slight,
unfitted him for that office, and rendered immediate surgical aid
desirable to him. His friend had bidden him say to Miss Linwood that
they had wandered far from Bergen; and that as they could not now get
there without the danger of encountering parties of the enemy, nothing
remained but to accept Captain Lee's protection to Morristown.
"Do you hesitate now, Isabella?" asked Lady Anne, impatiently.
"No, my dear girl, there is now no choice for us."
"Thank Heaven for that. Nothing but necessity would conquer you,
Isabella." The necessity met a very willing submission from Isabella;
andshe was half inclined to acquiesce in a whispered intimation from
Lady Anne, "that it was undoubtedly the will of Heaven they should go
to Morristown." They were soon seated in a wagon, and proceeding
forward, escorted by Eliot and a guard, and hearing from him the
following explanation of his most fortunate meeting with Linwood.
Eliot Lee had been sent by Washington, with wagons, and a
detachment of chosen men, to afford a safe convoy for some important
winter-stores that had been run across from New-York to the Jersey
shore for the use of the officers' families at Morristown. In the
meantime, a vigilant enemy had sent an intimation of the landing of
these stores, and of their destination, to the British station at
Powles Hook, and a detachment of men had been thence despatched with
the purpose of anticipating the rightful proprietors.
Eliot, on his route, encountered one of the enemy's videttes, whom
he took prisoner, and who, to baffle him, told him the stores were
already at Powles Hook. Eliot, warily distrusting the information,
proceeded, and directly after, and just as he came in view of the
enemy's party, he met Herbert issuing from the wood. A half moment's
explanation was enough. The vidette was dismounted, Herbert put in his
place, armed with his arms, and a golden opportunity afforded (to which
the brave fellow did full justice), to win fresh laurels where-with to
grace his return to the dreaded, and yet most desired, presence of his
"Our profession is the chastest of all. The shadow of a fault
tarnishes our most brilliant actions. The least inadvertence may cause
us to lose that public favour which is so hard to gain."
The quotation from a public reprimand of Washington to a general
officer, which forms the motto to this chapter, contains the amount of
his reproof to Linwood in their first and private interview. Even this
reproof was softened by the generous approbation his general expressed
of the manliness and respectful submission with which he had endured
the penalty of his rashness. Linwood's heart was touched; and, obeying
the impulse of his frank nature, he communicated the circumstances that
had mitigated his captivity, and gave a sort of dot and line sketch of
his love-tale to the awe-inspiring Washington. Oh the miracles of love!
But let not too much power be ascribed to the blind god. Linwood's
false impressions of Washington's impenetrable sternness were effaced
by his own experience, the most satisfactory of all evidence. He found
that this great man, like Him whom he imitated, was not strict to mark
iniquity, and was, whenever he could be so without the sacrifice of
higher duties, alive to social virtues and affections.
"Well, my young friend," he said, as Linwood concluded, "you
certainly have made the most of your season of affliction, and now we
must take care of these generous companions of your flight. Our
quarters are stinted; but Mrs. Washington has yet a spare room, which
they must occupy till they can return with safety to the city, and
choose to do so."
Linwood thought himself, and with good reason, requited a thousand
fold for all his trials. His only embarrassment was relieved, and he
had soon after the happiness of presenting his sister and Lady Anne
Seton to Mrs. Washington, a most benign and excellent woman, and of
confiding them to the hospitalities of her household. Eliot and
Linwood's gallantry, in their rencounter with the enemy, was marked,
and advanced them in the opinion of their fellow-officers; but the
signal favour it obtained from the ladies of Morristown, must have been
in part a collateral consequence of the immense importance, to their
domestic comfort, of those precious stores which our friends had
secured for them.
Their sympathy in the romantic adventures of the young ladies was
manifested in the usual feminine mode, by a round of little parties:
from stern necessity, frugal entertainments, but abounding in one
luxury, so rare where all others now abound, that it might be thought
unattainable; the highest luxury of social life—what is it?
With the luggage of our heroines came encouraging accounts from
Mrs. Archer of Bessie Lee's progress, assurances of Mr. Linwood's
unwonted patience, and hints that it would be most prudent for her
young friends to remain where they were till the excitement, occasioned
by their departure, had subsided. Still Isabella was so thoroughly
impressed with the filial duty of returning without any voluntary
delay, that at her urgent request, measures were immediately taken to
effect it; but obstacle after obstacle intervened. Sir Henry Clinton
was about taking his departure for the south, and he put off from time
to time giving an official assurance of an act of oblivion in favour of
our romantic offenders. The rigours of that horrible winter of 1780,
still unparalleled in the annals of our hard seasons, set in, and
embarrassed all intercommunication.
It must be confessed, that Isabella bore these trials with such
gracious patience, that it hardly seemed to be the result of difficult
effort. It was quite natural that she should participate in the
overflowing happiness of her brother and friend. And it was natural
that, being now an eyewitness of the struggles, efforts, endurance, and
entire self-sacrifice of the great men that surrounded her, her mind,
acute in perception, and vigorous in reflection, should be excited and
gratified. There are those who deem political subjects beyond the
sphere of a woman's, certainly of a young woman's mind. But if our
young ladies were to give a portion ofthe time and interest they expend
on dress, gossip, and light reading, to the comprehension of the
constitution of their country, and its political institutions, would
they be less interesting companions, less qualified mothers, or less
amiable women? "But there are dangers in a woman's adventuring beyond
her customary path." There are; and better the chance of shipwreck on a
voyage of high purpose, than expend life in paddling hither and thither
on a shallow stream, to no purpose at all.
Isabella's mind was not regularly trained; and, like that of most
of her sex, the access to it was through the medium of her feelings.
Her sympathies were not limited to the few, the "bright, the immortal
names" that are now familiar as household words to us all. She saw the
same virtues that illustrated them conspicuous in the poor soldiers; in
that class of men that have been left out in the world's estimate, and
whose existence is scarcely recognised in its past history. The winter
of 1780 was characterized by Washington as "the decisive moment, the
most important America had seen!" The financial affairs of the country
were in the utmost disorder. The currency had so depreciated, that a
captain's pay would scarcely furnish the shoes in which he marched to
battle. The soldiers were without clothes or blankets, and this in our
coldest winter. They had been but a few days in their winter quarters
before the flour andmeat were exhausted; and yet, as Washington said in
a letter to Congress, after speaking of the patient and uncomplaining
fortitude with which the army bore their sufferings, "though there had
been frequent desertions—not one mutiny." Happy was it for America
that, in the beginning of her national existence, she thus tested the
virtue of the people, and, profiting by her experience, was confirmed
in her resolution to confide her destinies to them!
Something above the ordinary standard has been claimed for our
heroine; but it must be confessed, after all, that she was a mere
woman, and that the mainspring of her mind's movements was in her
heart. How much of Isabella's enthusiasm in the American cause was to
be attributed to her intercourse with Eliot Lee, we leave to be
determined by her peers. That intercourse had never been disturbed by
the cross-purposes, jarring sentiments, clashing opinions, and
ever-annoying disparities, that had so long made her life resemble a
troubled dream. Eliot's world was her world; his spirit answered to
hers. During that swift month that had flown away at Morristown, how
often had she secretly rejoiced in the complete severance of the chain
that had so long bound her to an "alternate slave of vanity and
love!"—how she exulted in her freedom—freedom! the voluntary service
of the heart is better than freedom.
There were no longer any barriers to Isabella and Lady Anne's
return to the city. The day wasfixed; it came; and while they were
packing their trunks, and thinking of the partings that awaited them,
Lady Anne's eyes streaming, and Isabella's changing cheek betraying a
troubled heart, a letter was handed to Lady Anne. She looked at the
superscription, threw it down, then resumed it, broke the seal, and
read it. Without speaking, she mused over it for a moment, then
suddenly disappeared, leaving her affairs unarranged, and did not
return till Isabella's trunk was locked, and she was about wrapping
herself in her travelling furs. She reproved her little friend's delay,
urged haste, suggested consolation, and offered assistance. Lady Anne
made no reply, but bent over her trunk, where, instead of arrangement,
she seemed to produce hopeless confusion. "How strange," she exclaimed,
"that Thérése should have sent me this fresh white silk dress!"
"Very strange; but pray do not stay to examine it now."
"Bless Thérése! Here is my Brussels veil, too!"
"My dear child, are you out of your senses? Our escort will be
waiting—pray, pray make haste."
"And pray, dear Belle, don't stand looking at me—you fidget me so.
Oh, I forgot to tell you Captain Lee asked for you—he is in the
drawing-room—go down to him—please, dear Belle." As Lady Anne looked
up, Isabella was struck with the changed expression of her countenance;
it wasbright and smiling, the sadness completely gone. But she did not
stay to speculate on the change, nor did she, it must be confessed,
advert to Lady Anne for the next fifteen minutes. Many thoughts rushed
through her mind as she descended the stairs. She wondered, painfully
wondered, if Eliot would allude to their memorable parting at Mrs.
Archer's; "if he should repeat what he then said, what could she say in
reply?" When she reached the drawing-room door, she was obliged to
pause to gain self-command; and when she opened it she was as pale as
marble, and her features had a stern composure that would have betrayed
her effort to any eye but Eliot's; to his they did not.
Eliot attempted to speak the commonplaces of such occasions, and
she to answer them; but his sentences were lame, and her replies
monosyllables; and they both soon sunk into a silence more expressive
of their mutual feelings.
"Lady Anne said he asked for me—well, it was but to tell me the
cold has abated!—and the sleighing is fine! and he trusts I shall
reach the city without inconvenience! What a poor simpleton I was to
fancy that such sudden and romantic devotion could be lasting. A very
little reality—a little everyday intercourse, has put the actual in
the place of the ideal!"
If Isabella had ventured to lift her eye to Eliot's face at this
moment, she would have read in the conflict it expressed the
contradiction of her falsesurmises; and if her eye had met his, the
conflict might have ceased, for it takes but a spark to explode a
magazine. But Eliot had come into her presence resolved to resist the
impulses of his heart, however strong they might be. He thought he
should but afflict her generous nature by a second expression of his
love, and his grief at parting. There had been moments when a glance of
Isabella's eye, a tone of her voice—a certain indescribable something,
which those alone who have heard and seen such can conceive, had
flashed athwart his mind like a sunbeam, and visions of bliss in years
to come had passed before him; but clouds and darkness followed, and he
remembered that Miss Linwood was unattainable to him—that if it were
possible by the devotion of years to win her, how should he render that
devotion, pledged as he was to his country for a service of uncertain
length, and severed as he must be from her by an impassable barrier of
circumstances? As he had said to Isabella, he had been trained in the
school of self-subjection, and never had he given such a proof of it as
in these last few moments; the last he expected ever to enjoy or suffer
with her. Both were so absorbed in their own emotions that they did not
notice the various entrances and exits of the servants, who were
bustling in and out, and arranging cake and wine on a sideboard, with a
deal of significance that would have amused unconcerned spectators. A
louder, more portentous bustle followed, the door was thrown wide open,
and both Eliot and Isabella were startled from their reveries by the
entrance of Mrs. Washington, attended by a gentleman in clerical robes,
and followed by Linwood and Lady Anne, in the bridal silk and veil that
Thérése, with inspiration worthy a French chambermaid, had forwarded.
"One word with you, Miss Linwood," said Mrs. Washington, taking
Isabella apart. "This dear little girl, it seems, was left independent
of all control by her fond father. The honourable scruples of your
family have alone prevented her surrendering her independence into your
brother's hands. She has this morning received a letter from her aunt,
written in a transport of rage, at her son's unexpected marriage with a
Miss Ruthven. I fancy it is a Miss Ruthven of the Virginia family
—Grenville Ruthven's eldest daughter?"
"Yes—yes—it is, madam," replied Isabella, with a faltering voice.
The emotion passed with the words.
"Lady Anne's aunt," resumed Mrs. Washington, "declares her
intention of immediately returning to England, and renounces her niece
for ever. Lady Anne and your brother have referred their case to me;
she saying, with her usual playfulness, that she has turned rebel, and
put herself under the orders of the commander-in-chief, or rather, he
being this morning absent, under mine. I have decided according to my
best judgmentThere seems to be no sufficient reason why they should
defer their nuptials, and endure the torments and perils of a
protracted separation. So, my dear Miss Linwood, you have nothing to do
but submit to my decision—take your place there as bride's-maid—you
see your brother has already stationed his friend, Captain Lee, beside
him as groom's-man—Colonel Hamilton is waiting our summons to give
away the bride."
At a signal from his mistress, a servant opened the door to the
adjoining room, and Hamilton entered, his face glowing with the
sympathies and chivalric sentiment always ready to gush from his heart
when its social spring was touched. Isabella had but time to whisper to
Lady Anne, "Just what I would have prayed for had I dared to hope it,"
when the clergyman opened his book and performed his office. That over,
Mrs. Washington, as the representative of the parents, pronounced a
blessing on the bridal pair; and that no due ceremonial should be
omitted, the bridal cake was cut and distributed according to
established usage; accompanied by a remark from Mrs. Washington, that
it must have been compounded by some good hymeneal genius, as it was
the only orthodox plum cake that had been or was like to be seen in
Morristown, during that hard winter.
Now came partings, and tears, and last kind words, and messages
that were sure to find their way to Mr. Linwood's heart, and a bit of
wedding-cakefor mamma, who would scarcely have believed her son
lawfully married unless she had tasted it; and last of all, an order
for a fine new suit for Rose, in compensation for that so
unceremoniously dropped at "Smith's house."
At last, Isabella, in a covered sleigh, escorted by a guard, and
attended by her brother and Eliot Lee on horseback, set off for the
place appointed for her British friends to meet her, and there she was
transferred to their protection.
What Eliot endured, as he lingered for a moment at Isabella's side,
cannot be expressed. She felt her heart rising to her eyes and cheeks,
and by an effort of that fortitude, or pride, or resolution, which is
woman's strength, by whatever name it may be called, she firmly said,
"Eliot's voice was choked. He turned away without speaking; he
impulsively returned and withdrew the curtain that hung before
Isabella. She was in a paroxysm of grief, her head thrown back, her
hands clasped, and tears streaming from her eyes. What a
spectacle—what a blessed spectacle for a self-distrusting, hopeless
"Isabella!" he exclaimed, "we do not then part for ever?"
"I hope not," she replied.
The driver, unconscious of Eliot's returning movement, cracked his
whip, the horses started on their course, and the road making a sudden
turn, the sleigh instantly disappeared, leaving Eliot feeling as if he
had been translated to another world— a world of illimitable hope,
"'I hope not."' Could Isabella have uttered a more commonplace
reply? and yet these words, with the emotion that preceded them, were a
key to volumes—were pondered on and brooded over, through summer and
winter—ay, for years.
"Ah, n'en doutons pas! à travers les temps et les espaces, les àmes
ont quelquefois des correspondances mysterieuses. En vain le monde réel
èlève ses barrières entre deux êtres qui s'aiment; habitans de la vie
idéale, ils s'apparaissent dans l'absence, ils s'unissent dans la
"Boy, fill me a bumper—now join in the chorus,
There's happiness still in the prospect before us;
In this sparkling glass all hostility ends,
And Britons and we will for ever be friends.
Derry down, derry down."
— — Old Song.
More than three years from the date of our last chapter had passed
away. The European statesmen were tired of the silly effort to keep
grownup men in leading-strings, and their soldiers were wearied with
combating in fields where no laurels grew for them. The Americans were
eager, the old to rest from their labours, and the young to reap the
fruit of their toils; and all good and wise men contemplated with joy
the reunion of two nations who were of one blood and one faith. King
George, firm or obstinate to the last, had yielded his reluctant
consent to the independence of his American colonies; and the peace was
signed, which was welcomed by all parties, save the few American
royalists who were now to suffer the consequences that are well
deserved by those who learn unwillingly, and too late, that their own
honour and interest are identified with their country's.
The 25th of November, 1783, was, as we areannually reminded by the
ringing of bells and firing of cannon, a momentous day in this city of
New-York. It was the time appointed for the evacuation of the city by
the British forces, and the entrance of the American commander-in-chief
with his army. To the royalists who had remained in the garrisoned
city, attached from principle, and fettered by early association, to
the original government, this was a day of darkness and mourning. With
their foreign friends went, as they fancied, all their distinction,
happiness, and glory. We may smile at their weakness, but cannot deny
them our sympathy. Such men as Sir Guy Carleton (Sir Henry Clinton's
successor), who made even his enemies love him, had a fair claim to the
tears of his friends; and others were there whose names grace the
history of our parent land, and names not mentioned that were written
on living hearts, and which made partings that day
"Such as press the life from out young hearts."
Though on the very verge of winter, the day was bright and soft.
The very elements were at peace. At the rising of the sun, the British
flag on the Battery was struck. Boats were in readiness at the wharves
to convey the troops, and such of the inhabitants as were to accompany
them, down to Staten Island, where the British ships were awaiting
them. At an early hour, and before the general embarcation, a
gentleman, much muffled,and evidently sedulously avoiding observation,
was seen stealing through the by-streets to a boat, to which his
luggage had already been conveyed, and which, as soon as he entered it,
put off towards the fleet. He looked soured and abstracted, eager to
depart, and yet not joyful in going. His attitude was dejected, and his
eyes downcast, till some sound that betokened an approach to the ship
roused him, when suddenly looking up, he beheld, leaning over the side
of the vessel, an apparition that called the blood and the spirit to
his face. This apparition was his wife—Mrs. Jasper Meredith. There she
stood, bowing to him, and smiling, and replying adroitly to such
congratulations from the officers of the ship as, "Upon my word, Mrs.
Meredith, you leave the country with spirit—your husband should take a
leaf out of your book."
Meredith entered the ship. His wife took him by the arm and led him
aside. "One word to you, my dear love," she said, "before that cloud on
your brow bursts. I have known from the first your secret intention,
and your secret preparations to go off with the fleet, and leave me
here to get on as I could. I took my measures to defeat yours. You
should know, before this time of day, that I am never foiled in what I
"No, by Heaven, never."
"There's no use in swearing about it, my love; nor will there be
any use," she added, changing her tone of irony to a cutting energy,
"in doingwhat, as my husband—my lord and master—you may do, in
raising a storm here, refusing to pay my passage, and sending me back
to the city. Officers—gentlemen, you know, all take the part of an
oppressed wife—you would be put in Coventry, and make your début in
England at great disadvantage. So, my dear, make the best of it; let
our plans appear to be in agreement. It is in bad taste to quarrel
before spectators—we will reserve that to enliven domestic scenes in
"In England! my mother declares she will never receive you there;
and I am now utterly dependant on my mother."
"I know all that; I have seen your mother's letters." Meredith
stared. "Yes, all of them; and in them all she reiterates her governing
principle, that 'appearances must be managed.' I shall convince her
that I am one of the managers, and the prima donna in this drama of
Meredith made no reply. He saw no eligible way of escape, and he
was, like a captive insect, paralyzed in the web that enclosed him.
"You are convinced, I perceive, my dear;" continued his loving wife,
"be kind enough to give me a few guineas; I paid my last to the
boatmen, and it is awkward being without money."
Meredith turned from her, and walked hurriedly up and down the
deck; then stopped, and took out his pocket-book to satisfy her demand;
but his purpose was suspended by his eye falling accidentallyon the
card, on which, ten years before, he had recorded Effie's prediction.
The card was yellow and defaced; but like a talisman, it recalled with
the freshness of actual presence the long but not forgotten past—the
time when Isabella Linwood's untamed pulses answered to his—when
Bessie Lee's soft eye fell tenderly upon him— when he was linked in
friendship with Herbert— when the lights of nature still burned in his
soul —while as yet his spirit had not passed under the world's yoke,
and crouched under its burden of vanity, heartlessness, and sordid
ambition. His eye glanced towards his wife, he tore the card in pieces,
and honest, bitter tears flowed down his cheeks.
Bessie Lee, thou wert then avenged! Avenged? Sweet spirit of
Christian forgiveness and celestial love, we crave thy pardon! Bessie
Lee, restored to her excellent mother, and to her peaceful and now most
happy home at Westbrook, was enjoying her renovated health and
"rectified spirit." The vigorous mind of Mrs. Archer, and Isabella's
frank communication of her own malady and its cure, had aided in the
entire dissipation of Bessie's illusions, and no shadow of them
remained but a sort of nun-like shrinking from the admiration and
devotion of the other sex. She lived for others, and chiefly to
minister to the sick and sorrowful. She no longer suffered herself; but
the chord of suffering had been so strained that it was weakened, and
vibrated at the least touch of the miseries of others. The satirist who
scoffs at the common fact of devotion succeeding love in a woman's
heart, is superficial in the philosophy of our nature. He knows not
that woman's love implies a craving for happiness, a dream of bliss
that human character and human circumstances rarely realize, and a
devotedness and self-negation due only to the Supreme. The idol falls,
and the heart passes to the true God.
"All things on earth shall wholly pass away,
Except the love of God, which shall live and last for aye."
That love of God, that sustaining, life-giving principle, waxed
stronger and stronger in Bessie Lee as she went on in her pilgrimage.
Her pilgrimage was not a long one; and when it ended, the transition
was gentle from the heaven she made on earth to that which awaited her
in the bosom of the Father.
We return to the shifting scenes in New-York. The morning was
allotted to the departure of the British. "Rose," said Mr. Linwood,
"give me my cloak and fur shoes, and I will go through the garden to
Broadway, and see the last of them— God bless them!"
"And my cloak and calêche, Rose," said Mrs. Linwood; "it is a
proper respect to show our friends that our hearts are with them to the
last— it should be a family thing. Come, Belle; and you, Lady Anne,
"With all my heart, dear mamma; but pray— pray do not call me Lady
Anne. I have told you, again and again, that I have renounced my title,
and will have no distinction but that which suits the country of my
adoption—that which I may derive from being a good wife and
mother—the true American order of merit."
"As you please, my dear child; but it is a singular taste."
"Singular to prefer Mrs. Linwood to Lady Anne! Oh, no, mamma."
Mrs. Linwood received the tribute with a grateful smile, and
afterward less frequently forgot her daughter-in-law's injunction. Her
affections always got the better of her vanity—after a slight contest.
"Rose," continued Lady Anne, "please put on little Herbert's fur cap,
and take him out to see the show too. Is not that a pretty cap, mamma?
I bought it at Lizzy Bengin's."
"Lizzy Bengin's! Has Lizzy returned?"
"Yes, indeed; and re-opened her shop in the same place, and hung up
her little household deity Sylvy again, who is screaming out as
zealously as ever—'Come in, come in.' Lizzy, they say, is to have a
pension from Congress."
"The d—l she is!" exclaimed Mr. Linwood; "well, every thing is
turned topsy-turvy now. Come, are we not all ready? where lags
Belle?"Isabella entered in a very becoming hat and cloak, adjusted with
more than her usual care, and her countenance brilliant with animation.
"Upon my word, Miss Belle," said her father, passing his hand over
her glowing cheek, "you are hanging out very appropriate colours for
this mournful occasion."
"The heart never hangs out false colours, papa."
"Ah, Belle, Belle! that I should live to see you a traitor too; but
I do live, and bear it better than I could have expected."
"Because, papa, it no longer seems to you the evil it once
"Yes, I'll be hanged if it don't, just the same; but then, Belle,
I'll tell you what it is that's kept the sap running warm and freely in
this old, good-for-nothing trunk of mine. My child," the old man's
voice faltered, "you have been true and loyal to me through all this
dark time of trial and adversity; you have been a perpetual light and
blessing to my dwelling, Belle; and Herbert—if a man serves the devil,
I'd have him serve him faithfully—Herbert, in temptation and sore
trials, has been true to the cause he chose—up to the mark. This it is
that's kept me heart-whole. And, Belle, if ever you are a parent, which
God grant, for you deserve it, you'll know what it is to have your very
life rooted in the virtue of your children, and sustained by that—yes,
as mine is, sustained and made pretty comfortable too, even though my
king has to succumb to these rebel upstarts, and I have to look on and
see every gentleman driven out of the land to give place to these
rag-tag and bobtails."
"But, papa," said Isabella, anxious to turn her father's attention
from the various groups gathering in the street, and who, it was
evident, were only waiting, according to the previous compact, for the
last British boat to leave the wharf, to give utterance to their joyous
"huzzas;" "but, papa, you have overlooked some important items in your
"I have not mentioned them; but they are main props. Anne, God
bless her! and that little dog," he shook his cane lovingly at his
grandson, who crowed a response, "though he was born under Washington's
flag, and sucks in independence and republicanism with his mother's
milk, the little rascal."
In spite of Mr. Linwood's habitual vituperation, it was evident
that his cup of happiness was full to overflowing, and that there was
in it only a few salutary bitter drops, without which there is no
draught commingled for human lips.
Mrs. Archer with her children now joined her friends, and they were
all grouped under a fine old locust that stood just without the wall of
Mr. Lin wood's garden, and was among the few trees that retained any
foliage at this advanced season.
The last foreign regiment were passing fromBroadway to the Battery,
in the admirable order and condition of British troops: their arms
glittering, the uniform of the soldiers fresh and unsullied, and that
of the officers, who had seen little service to deface and disarrange
it, in a state of preservation rather indicating a drawing-room than a
battlefield. Mr. Linwood gazed after them, and said, sorrowfully, "We
ne'er shall look upon their like again."
"I hope not," muttered Rose to herself, in the back-ground; "this
a'n't to be the land for them that strut in scarlet broadcloth and gold
epaulets, and live upon the sweat of working people's brows. No, thank
God—and General Washington."
"Ah," said Mrs. Archer, "there is good old General Knyphausen
turning the key of his door for the last time. Heaven's blessing will
go with him, for he never turned it upon a creature that needed his
kindness." The good old German crossed the street, grasped Mr.
Linwood's hand, kissed the hands of the ladies, and without speaking,
rejoined his suite and passed on.
"Who are those young gallants, Isabella," asked Mr. Linwood, "that
seem riveted to the pavement at Mrs.—'s door?"
Isabella mentioned their names, and added, "Miss—is there, a
magnet to the last moment —a hard parting that must be."
No wonder it was deemed a "hard parting," if half that is told by
her contemporaries of Miss—'s beauty and auxiliary charms be true; a
marvellous tale, but not incredible to those who see her as she now is,
after the passage of more than fifty years, vivacious, courteous, and
While Lady Anne was deepening the colour on Isabella's cheek by
whispering, "Better a coming than a parting lover!" our old friend
Jupiter, arm in arm with his boon companion "the gen'ral," was passing.
"Where are you going in such haste, Jupe?" asked his ex-master, in
reply to Jupiter's respectful salutation.
"I am 'gaged to 'black Sam' to dine with General Washington, sir."
Mr. Linwood had been told that a fête was in preparation at "black
Sam's," the great restaurateur of his day, for General Washington and
his friends. He was ready to believe almost any extravagance of the
levelling Americans; but the agrarianism that made Jupiter a party at
the festive board with the commander-in-chief rather astounded him. "By
the Lord!" he whispered to Isabella, "Herbert shall come home and eat
"You mean, Jupe," said Miss Linwood, without directly replying to
her father, "that you are engaged to wait on General Washington, at
"Sartin, Miss Isabella; did not I'spress myself so?"
"Not precisely, Jupe; but I understood you so."
Jupiter drew near to Miss Linwood, whom he, in common with others,
looked upon as the presiding genius of the family, to unfold a wish
that lay very near his heart. But Jupe was a diplomatist, and was
careful not to commit himself in the terms of a treaty. "Miss Belle,"
he said, "I hear Mrs. Herbert Linwood has got a nice char'ot sent over
from England, and if she wants a coachman, I don't know but I might
like to come back to the old place."
"Very well, Jupe, I will speak to my sister, and we will consider
"Do, Miss Belle, and I'll 'sider of it too. I have not 'finitly
made up my mind to stay in New-York. They say there's to be such bustle
and racket here, building ships and stores, and all this space,"
pointing to the still vacant space between Broadway and the river, "all
this space to be covered with housen bigger than them burnt down. I'm
afraid there'll be too much work and 'fusion for me; 'tant genteel, you
know, Miss Belle, and I think of 'tiring to the manor."
"That will be wisest, Jupe; New-York will no longer be a place for
idlers of any degree."
Jupiter, all complacency in a classification which sorted him with
those whom he styled the genteel, bowed and passed on.
Music was now heard from the extremity of the Battery. All had
embarked save the band. The band, that had been the pride and delight
of the inhabitants, through winter and summer, now struck up, for the
last time, "God save the king!" Every sound was hushed, and white
handkerchiefs were waved from balconies, windows, and doors. Mr.
Linwood uncovered his head, and the tears trickled down his cheeks. As
the music ceased, Edward Archer, who stood with his arm over his
sister's shoulder, said, "Oh, Lizzy, how we shall miss the band!"
"Miss them! No, Ned; not when we get back to dear breezy Beech
Hill, and hear the birds, and smell the flowers, and have none to hurt
us nor make us afraid."
The last boat put off from the wharf, and at the next instant the
"star-spangled banner" was unfurled from the flagstaff, and every bell
in the city poured forth its peal of welcome to the deliverer of his
country, who was seen, at the head of a detachment of his army,
approaching the city through the Fields, then the general designation
of all that portion of New-York beyond the British palisades which
traversed Broadway at Chambers-street.
Those who are familiar with the location of this our noble street
of Broadway, the pride of the metropolis, can imagine the thrilling
effect of the moment on the spectators. They saw the flag of an
independent empire waving on the Battery; beyond, the bay, glittering
in the meridian sun; and, floating on the bay, the ships that were to
convey their latemasters for ever from the land that had rejected them.
At the upper extremity of the street appeared General Washington, the
spotless patriot, the faultless military chieftain, the father of his
country; "first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his
countrymen:" he on whom every epithet of praise has been exhausted, and
whose virtues praise never yet reached. With him were his companions in
arms and glory, and following him his soldiers, their garments worn and
soiled, and their arms broken and defaced. It mattered not. The period
of toils and hardship, of hope and fear, of seed-time, was past—the
harvest was to come, the abundant harvest to them, their children's
children, and the stranger within their gates.
The procession drew near to Wall-street, where it was to turn; a
few paces lower down was the locust-tree where our friends were
grouped. As the cavalcade approached, Mr. Linwood began to show signs
of fidgeting. Isabella's arm was in his: "Let us go in, sir," she said.
"Presently, my dear, presently; I'll have one look at Washington.
By George of Oxford! a noble figure of a man! Ah, but for him, the
rebels would never have carried the day."
"For him, and the Lord on their side!" involuntarily added Rose,
who had advanced to give her little charge a chance at a glance at his
"The Lord on the side of such a ragged regiment of ragamuffins?
High sons of liberty, forsooth!" replied Mr. Linwood, chuckling at the
wretched appearance of the American soldiers.
"They are extremely ragged," said Mrs. Linwood; "such a contrast to
"They are, God bless them!" said Isabella, "and sacred, in my eyes,
as the garments of the saints, are these outward signs of their brave
"Oh," exclaimed Mrs. Herbert Linwood, "I see my husband!—and
there, Belle, is Colonel Lee, on the very horse General Putnam gave
him. I wish his poor man Kisel, of whom I have so often heard him
speak, had lived to amble after him this day. 'Poor fool!' Eliot will
always have 'one part in his heart that's sorry yet for thee.' "
Isabella's eye had followed the direction of her sister's; her
cheek became suddenly pale, and she reiterated her wish to her father
to return into the house.
"In a minute, my dear child, in a minute; let's first see them
wheel into Wall-street. Who is that Colonel Lee you spoke of, Anne?"
"Eliot Lee, sir. Did not Belle tell you how he was sent with the
detachment from the northern army to the south, and how he behaved with
such gallantry at the taking of Cornwallis, that he received a
colonelcy immediately after from Congress—did you not tell, Belle?"
she added, archly smiling at her sister.
The turn into Wall-street was now to be made, and the officers
riding ahead came nearly parallelto our friends. General Washington
seeing, and instantly recognising, Isabella Linwood and her sister,
saluted them. Mr. Linwood instinctively doffed his hat, and bowed low
to the commander of the rebel army. Eliot Lee's eye met Isabella's, and
returned its brightest beam to the welcome that flashed from hers.
Herbert kissed his hand to his friends, and stretched his arms to his
boy. Rose lifted the little fellow high in the air; he was inspired
with the animation of the scene, and the word that was then shouted
forth from a thousand tongues, the first he ever uttered, burst from
The following, and many successive evenings, Eliot Lee passed with
the Linwoods. Those of our kind readers whose patience has brought them
to the close of these volumes, will not be surprised that our heroine,
after her conquest over a misplaced, and, as it may strictly be termed,
an accidental passion, should return with her whole heart his love who
deserved, if man could deserve it, that treasure.
Did the course of their true love run smooth? Yes, true love though
it was, it did. The bare fact that his daughter Isabella, who seemed to
him fit to grace a peerage, was to wed the portionless son of a
New-England farmer, was at first startling to Mr. Linwood. But, as few
men are, he was true to his theories; and when Isabella,quoting his own
words on a former occasion, frankly confessed that she had given her
heart to Eliot Lee, and "that meant her respect, honour, esteem, and
all that one of God's creatures can feel for another," he replied,
fondly kissing her, "Then God's will be done, my child, and give your
We are aware that the champions of romance, the sage expounders of
the laws of sentiment, maintain that there can be but one love. We will
not dispute with them, though we honestly believe, that in the
capacities of loving, as in all other capacities, there be diversities
of gifts; but we will concede that such a sentiment as united Isabella
and Eliot Lee can never be extinguished; and therefore can never be
repealed. It blended their purposes, pursuits, hopes, joys, and
sorrows; it became a part of their spiritual natures, and independent
of the accidents of life.
As the cause of humanity and the advance of civilization depend
mainly on the purity of the institution of marriage, I shall not have
written in vain if I have led one mind more highly to appreciate its
responsibilities and estimate its results; its effect not only on the
happiness of life, but on that portion of our nature which is destined
to immortality: if I persuade even one of my young countrywomen so to
reverence herself, and so to estimate the social duties and ties, that
she will not give her hand without her heart, nor her heart till she
isquite sure of his good desert who seeks it. And, above all, I shall
not have written in vain if I save a single young creature from the
barter of youth and beauty for money, the merely legal union of persons
and fortunes multiplying among us, partly from wrong education and
false views of the objects of life, but chiefly from the growing
imitation of the artificial and vicious society of Europe.
It is only by entering into these holy and most precious bonds with
right motives and right feelings, that licentious doctrines can be
effectually overthrown, and the arguments of the more respectable
advocates of the new and unscriptural doctrine of divorce can be
We boldly then advise our young friends so far to cultivate the
romance of their natures (if it be romance to value the soul and its
high offices above all earthly consideration), as to eschew rich old
roué bachelors, looking-out widowers with large fortunes, and idle,
ignorant young heirs; and to imitate our heroine in trusting to the
honourable resources of virtue and talent, and a joint stock of
industry and frugality, in a country that is sure to smile upon these
qualities, and reward them with as much worldly prosperity as is
necessary to happiness, and safe for virtue.