stand on his own ground ; he shot one of the first
guns at Lexington, and got pretty well peppered
too, though he was a lad then, with a face as smooth
as the palm of my hand.
" Something too much of this, thought I ; and I
attempted to stop my trumpeter s mouth by saying
I had no claims on the score of the affair at Lex
ington ; that my being there was accidental, and
T fought on instinct.
" Ah, my boy, said the colonel, determined to
tell his tale out, you may say that there s no
courage like that that comes by natur, gin ral ; he
stood within two feet of me, as straight as a tomb
stone, when a spent ball bounding near him, he
caught it in his hands just as if he d been play
ing wicket, and said, " you may throw down your
bat, my boys, I ve caught you out !" was not that
" General Washington s countenance relaxed as
the colonel proceeded (I ventured a side glance),
120 THE LIN WOODS.
and at the conclusion he gave two or three em
phatic and pleased nods ; but his grave aspect
returned immediately, and he said, as I thought, in
a most frigid manner, the request, Mr. Lee, of my
friends of Massachusetts, that you may receive
a commission in the service, deserves attention ;
Colonel Ashley is a substantial voucher for your
personal merit. Are you aware, sir, that a post of
honour in our army involves arduous labour, hard
ships, and self-denial ? Do you know the actual
condition of our officers that their pay is in ar
rears, and their private resources exhausted ? There
are among them men who have bravely served
their country from the beginning of this contest ;
gentlemen who have not a change of linen ; to
whom I have even been compelled to deny, be
cause I had not the power to divert them from
their original destination, the coarse clothes pro
vided for the soldiers. This is an affecting, but a
true view of our actual condition. Should the
Almighty prosper our cause, as, if we are true to
ourselves, he assuredly will, these matters will im
prove ; but I have no lure to hold out to you, no
encouragement but the sense of performing your
duty to your country. Perhaps, Mr. Lee, you
would prefer to reflect further, before you assume
" Not a moment, sir. I came here determined
to serve my country at any post you should assign
me. If a command is given me, I shall be grate-
THE LINWOODS. 121
ful for it : if not, I shall enter the ranks as a private
" General Washington exchanged glances with
the colonel, that implied approbation of my resolu
tion, but not one syllable dropped of encourage
ment as to the commission ; and it being evident that
he had no leisure to protract our audience, we took
" I confess I came away rather crest-fallen. I
am not such a puppy, my de-ar mother, as to sup
pose my single arm of much consequence to my
country, but I felt an agreeable, perhaps an exag
gerated consciousness, that I deserved not ap
plause, but some token of encouragement. How
ever, the colonel said this was his way ; he never
disappoints an expectation, seldom authorizes one.
" Is he cold-hearted ? I asked.
" The Lord forgive you! Eliot, he replied.
* Cold-hearted ! No, his heat does not go off by
flashes, but keeps the furnace hot out of which the
pure gold comes. Lads never think there is any
fire unless they see the sparks and hear the roar.
" * But, sir, said I, I believe there is a very
common impression that General Washington is
of a reserved, cold temperament
" * The devil take common impressions. They
are made on sand, and are both false and fleeting.
Wait, Eliot you are true metal, and I will venture
your impressions when you shall know our noble
commander better. Cold, egad, he half muttered
VOL. i. F 11
122 THE LINWOODS.
to himself; where the deuse, then, has the heal
come from that has cemented our army together,
and kept their spirits up when their fingers and
toes were freezing V "
" Give me joy, my dear mother ; a kiss, Bessie ; a
good hug, my dear little sisters ; and a huzza, boys i
General Washington has sent me a lieutenant s
commission, and a particularly kind note with it.
So, it appears, that while I was thinking him so
lukewarm to my application, he lost no time in
transmitting it to Congress, and enforcing it by his
recommendation. Our camp is all bustle. Sol
diers, just trained and fit for service, are departing,
their term of enlistment having expired. The
new quotas are coming in, raw, undisciplined
troops. The general preserves a calm, unaltered
mien ; but his officers fret and fume in private, and
say that nothing effective will ever be achieved
while Congress permits these short enlistments."
Thanks to you, dear mother ; my funds have
enabled me to purchase a uniform. I have just
tried it pn. I wish you could all see me in it.
Every woman is at heart a rake, says Pope ; that
every man is at heart a coxcomb, is just about as
THE LINWOODS. 123
true. My new dress will lose its holyday gloss
before we meet again, but the freshness of my
love for you will never be dimmed, my dear moth
er; for Bessie, and for all the little band, whose
bright faces are even now before my swimming
" Yours devotedly,
" ELIOT LEE.
"P. S. My poor jack-o -lantern, Kisel, is of
course of no use to me, neither does he give me much
trouble. He is a sort of mountebank among the
soldiers, merry himself and making others merry.
If he is a benefactor who makes two blades of
grass grow where but one grew before, Kisel cer
tainly is, while he produces smiles where rugged
toil and want have stamped a scowl of discontent."
In this letter to his mother, Eliot enclosed one
to Bessie ; reiterating even more forcibly and ten
derly what he had before said. It served no pur
pose but to aggravate her self-reproaches.
124 THE LIN WOODS.
" Come not near our fairy queen."
BEFORE mid-winter, Linwood joined Eliot Lee
at West Point, and the young men renewed their
acquaintance on the footing of friends. There was
just that degree of similarity and difference be
tween them that inspires mutual confidence and be-
gfts interest. Herbert, with characteristic frank
ness, told the story of his love, disappointment and
all. Eliot felt a true sympathy for his friend, whose
deserts he thought would so well have harmonized
with Bessie s advantage and happiness ; but this
feeling was subordinate to his keen anxiety for his
sister. This anxiety was not appeased by intel
ligence from home. Letters were rare blessings
in those days scarcely to him blessings. His
mother wrote about every thing but Bessie, and his
sister s letters were brief and vague, and most un
satisfactory. The winter, however, passed rapidly
away. Though in winter quarters, he had inces
sant occupation ; and the exciting novelty of military
life, with the deep interest of the times, to an ardent
and patriotic spirit, kept every feeling on the strain,
Eliot had that intimate acquaintance with nature
that makes one look upon and love all its aspects,
THE LINWOODS. 125
as upon the changing expressions of a friend s face ;
and as that most interests us in its so il-fraught
seriousness, so he delighted even more in the wild
gleams of beauty that are shot over the winter
landscape, than in all its summer wealth. To eyes
like his, faithful ministers to the soul, the scenery
of West Point was a perpetual banquet.
Nature, in our spring-time, as we all know (es
pecially in this blessed year of our Lord 1835), rises
as slowly and reluctantly from her long winter s
sleep as any other sluggard. On looking back to
our hero s spring at West Point, we find she must
have been at her work earlier than is her wont; for
April was not far gone when Eliot, after looking
in vain for Linwood to accompany him, sauntered
into the woods, where the buds were swelling and
the rills gushing. At first his pleasure was marred
by his friend not being with him, and he now for
the first time called to mind Linwood s frequent
and unexplained absences for the last few days.
Linwood was so essentially a social being, that
Eliot s curiosity was naturally excited by this sud
den manifestation of a love of solitude and secrecy.
He however pursued his way ; and having
reached the cascade which is now the resort of
holyday visiters, he forgot his friend. The soil
under his feet, released from the iron grasp of
winter, was soft and spongy, and the tokens of
spring were around him like the first mellow smile
of dawn. The rills that spring together like laugh-
126 THE LINWOODS.
ing children just out of school (we borrow the
obvious simile from a poetic child), and at their
junction form " the cascade," were then filled to
the brim from their just unsealed fountains. Eliot
followed the streamlet where it pursues its head
long course, dancing, singing, and shouting, as it
flings itself over the rocks, as if it spurned their
cold and stern companionship, and was impatiently
running away from the leafless woods to a holyday
in a summer region. He forced his way through
the obstructions that impeded his descent, and was
standing on a jutting point which the stream again
divided, looking up at the snow-white and feathery
water, as he caught a glimpse of it here and there
through the intersecting branches of hemlocks,
and wondering why it was that he instinctively
infused his own nature into the outward world :
why the rocks seemed to him to look sternly on
the frolicking stream that capered over them, and
the fresh white blossoms of the early flowering
shrubs seemed to yearn with a kindred spirit
towards it, when his speculations were broken by
human voices mingling with the sound of the water
fall. He looked in the direction whence they
came, and fancied he saw a white dress. It might
be the cascade, for that at a little distance did not
look unlike a white robe floating over the gray
rocks, but it might be a fair lady s gown, and that
was a sight rare enough to provoke the curiosity
of a young knight-errant. So Eliot, quickening
THE LINWOODS. 127
his footsteps, reached the point where the streamlet
ceases its din, and steals loiteringly through the
deep narrow . glen, now called Washington s Val
ley. He had pressed on unwittingly, for he was
now within a few yards of two persons on whom
he would not voluntarily have intruded. One was
a lady (a lady certainly, for a well-practised ear
can graduate the degree of refinement by a single
tone of the voice), the other party to the tete-a-tete
was his truant friend Linwood. The lady was
seated with her back towards Eliot, in a grape-vine
that hung, a sylvan swing, from the trees ; and
Linwood, his face also turned from Eliot, was
decking his companion s pretty hair with wood
anemones, and (ominous it was when Herbert Lin
wood made sentimental sallies) saying very soft
and pretty things of their starry eyes. Eliot was
making a quiet retreat, when, to his utter con
sternation, a lady on his right, till then unseen
by him, addressed him, saying, " she believed she
had the pleasure of speaking to Lieutenant Lee."
Eliot bowed ; whereupon she added, " that she was
sure, from Captain Linwood s description, that it
must be his friend. Captain Linwood is there
with my sister, you perceive," she continued ; " and
as lie is our friend, and you are his, you will do us
the favour to go home and take tea with us."
By this time the tete-a-tete party, though suffi
ciently absorbed in each other, was aroused, and
both turning their heads, perceived Eliot. The
lady said nothing; Linwood looked disconcerted,
128 THE LINWOODS.
and merely nodded without speaking to his friend.
The lady rose, and with a spirited step walked to
wards a farmhouse on the margin of the Hudson,
the only tenement of this secluded and most lovely
little glen. Linwood followed her, and seemed ear
nestly addressing her in a low voice. By this time
Eliot had sufficiently recovered his senses to re
member that the farmhouse, which was visible
from West Point, had been pointed out to him as
the temporary residence of a Mr. Grenville Ruthven.
Mr. Ruthven was a native of Virginia, who some
years before had, in consequence of pecuniary mis
fortunes, removed to New- York, where he had held
an office under the king till the commencement of
the war. His only son was in the English navy, and
the father was suspected of being at heart a royal
ist. His political partialities, however, were not so
strong but that they might be deferred to prudence :
so he took her counsel, and retired with his wife
and two daughters to this safe nook on the Hud
son, till the troubles should be overpast.
Eliot could not be insensible to the friendly and
volunteered greeting of his pretty lady patroness,
and a social pleasure was never more inviting than
now when he was famishing for it ; but it was so
manifest that his presence was any thing but desi
rable to Linwood and his companion, that he was
making his acknowledgments and turning away,
when the young lady, declaring she would not take
" no" for an answer, called out, " Stop, Helen
pray, stop come back, Captain Linwood, and intro-
THE LIN WOODS. 129
duce us regularly to your friend ; he is so ceremo
nious that he will not go on with an acquaintance
that is not begun in due form."
Thus compelled, Miss Ruthven stopped and
submitted gracefully to an introduction, which Lin-
wood was in fact at the moment urging, and she
" Now, here we are, just at our own door," said
Miss Charlotte Ruthven to Eliot, " and you must
positively come in and take tea with us." Eliot
" Why, in the name of wonder, should you not ?"
said Linwood, who appeared just coming to himself.
" You musi come with us," said Miss Ruthven,
for the first time speaking, " and let me show your
friend how very magnanimous I can be."
" Indeed, you must not refuse us," urged Miss
" I cannot." replied Eliot, gallantly, " though it is
not very flattering to begin an acquaintance with
testing the magnanimity of your sister."
Helen Ruthven bowed, smiled, and coloured ; and
at the first opportunity said to Linwood, " your
friend is certainly the most civilized of all the
eastern savages I have yet seen, and, as your friend,
I will try to tolerate him." She soon, however,
seemed to forget his presence, and to forget every
thing else, in an absorbing and half-whispered con
versation with Linwood, interrupted only by sing
ing snatches of sentimental songs, accompanying
130 THE LINWOODS.
herself on the piano, and giving them the expres
sive application that eloquent eyes can give. In
the meanwhile Eliot was left to Miss Charlotte, a
commonplace, frank, and good-humoured person,
particularly well pleased at being relieved from the
role she had lately played, a cipher in a trio.
Mr. and Mrs. Ruthven made their appearance
with the tea-service. Mr. Ruthven, though verging
towards sixty, was still in the unimpaired vigour of
manhood, and was marked by the general character
istics, physical and moral, of a Virginian : the
lofty stature, strong and well-built frame, the open
brow, and expression of nobleness and kindness of
disposition, and a certain something, not vanity, nor
pride, nor in the least approaching to supercilious
ness, but a certain happy sense of the superiority,
not of the individual, but of the great mass of
which he is a component part.
His wife, unhappily, was not of this noble stock.
She was of French descent, and a native of one of
our cities. At sixteen, with but a modicum of
beauty, and coquetry enough for half her sex, she
succeeded, Mr. Ruthven being then a widower, in
making him commit the fofly of marrying her, after
a six weeks acquaintance. She was still in the
prime of life, and as impatient as a caged bird of
her country seclusion, or, as she called it, imprison
ment, where her daughters were losing every oppor
tunity of achieving what she considered the chief
end of a woman s life.
THE LINWOODS. 131
Aware of her eldest daughter s propensity to
convert acquaintances into lovers, and looking
down upon all rebels as most unprofitable suiters,
she had sedulously guarded against any intercourse
with the officers at the Point.
Of late, she had begun to despair of a favour
able change in their position ; and Miss Ruthven
having accidentally renewed an old acquaintance
with Herbert Linwood, her mother encouraged his
visits from that admirable policy of maternal ma-
noeuvrers, which wisely keeps a pis-aller in reserve.
Helen Ruthven was one of those persons, most un
comfortable in domestic life, who profess always
to require an object (which means something out
of a woman s natural, safe, and quiet orbit) on
which to exhaust their engrossing and exacting
desires. Mr. Ruthven felt there was a very sud
den change in his domestic atmosphere, and though
it was as incomprehensible to him as a change in
the weather, he enjoyed it without asking or caring
for an explanation. Always hospitably inclined, he
was charmed with Linwood s good-fellowship ; and
while he discussed a favourite dish, obtained with
infinite trouble, or drained a bottle of Madeira with
him, he was as unobservant of his wife s tactics
and his daughters coquetries as the eagle is of the
modus operandi of the mole. And all the while,
and in his presence, Helen was lavishing her flat
teries with infinite finesse and grace. Her words,
glances, tones of voice even, might have turned a
steadier head than Linwood s. Her father, good,
132 THE LINWOODS.
confiding man, was not suspicious, but vexed when
she called his companion away, just, as he said,
" as they were beginning to enjoy themselves," to
scramble over frozen ground or look at a wintry
prospect ! or to play over, for the fortieth time, a
trumpery song. Helen, however, would throw her
arms around her father s neck, kiss him into good-
humour, and carry her point ; that is, secure the un
divided attentions of Herbert Linwood. Matters
were at this point, after a fortnight s intercourse,
when Eliot entered upon the scene ; and, though
his friend Miss Charlotte kept up an even flow of
talk, before the evening was over he had taken
some very accurate observations.
When they took their leave, and twice after they
had shut the outer door, Helen called Linwood
back for some last word that seemed to mean
nothing, and yet clearly meant that her heart went
with him : and then
So fondly she bade him adieu,
It seemed that she bade him return."
The young men had a long, dark, and at first
rather an unsocial walk. Both were thinking of
the same subject, and both were embarrassed by it.
Linwood, after whipping his boots for ten minutes,
said, " Hang it, Eliot, we may as well speak out ;
I suppose you think it deused queer that I said
nothing to you of my visits to the Ruthvens ?"
" Why, yes, Linwood to speak out frankly,
THE LINWOODS. 133
" Well, it is, I confess it. At first my silence
was accidental no, that is not plummet and line
truth ; for from the first I had a sort of a fear no,
not fear, but a sheepish feeling, that you might
think the pleasure I took in visiting the Ruthvens
quite inconsistent with the misery I had seemed to
feel, and, by Heavens, did feel, to my heart s core,
about that affair at Westbrook."
" No, Linwood whatever else I may doubt, 1
never shall doubt your sincerity."
" But my constancy you do ?" Eliot made no
reply, and Linwood proceeded : " Upon my soul, I
have not the slightest idea of falling in love with
either of these girls, but I find it exceedingly pleas
ant to go there. To tell the truth, Eliot, I am
wretched without the society of womankind ; Adam
was a good sensible fellow not to find even Para
dise tolerable without them. I knew the Ruth
vens in New-York: I believe they like me the
better, apostate as they consider me, for belonging
to a tory family ; and looking upon me, as they must,
as a diseased branch from a sound root, they cer
tainly are very kind to me, especially the old gen
tleman a fine old fellow, is he not ?
" Yes I liked him particularly."
" And madame is piquant and agreeable, and
very polite to me ; and the girls, of course, are
pleased to have their hermitage enlivened by an
Linwood s slender artifice in saying " the girls,"
134 THE LINWOODS.
when it was apparent that Miss Ruthven was the
magnet, operated like the subtlety of a child, be
traying what he would fain conceal. Without ap
pearing to perceive the truth, Eliot said, " Miss
Ruthven seems to restrict her hospitality to old
acquaintance. It was manifest that she did not
voluntarily extend it to me."
" No, she did not. Helen Ruthven s heart is in
her hand, and she makes no secret of her antipa
thy to a rebel per se a rebel ; however, her likes
and dislikes are both harmless she is only the
more attractive for them."
Herbert had not been the first to mention Helen
Ruthven ; he seemed now well enough pleased to
dwell upon the subject. " How did you like her
singing, Eliot ?" he asked.
" Why, pretty well ; she sings with expression."
" Does she not ? infinite ! and then what an
accompaniment are those brilliant eyes of hers."
" With their speechless messages, Linwood ?"
Linwood merely hemmed in reply, and Eliot added,
" Do you like the expression of her mouth ?"
" No, not entirely there is a little spice of the
devil about her mouth ; but when you are well ac
quainted with her you don t perceive it."
"If you are undergoing a blinding process,"
thought Eliot. When the friends arrived at their
quarters, and separated for the night, Linwood
asked and Eliot gave a promise to repeat his visit
the next evening to the glen.
THE LINWOODS. 135
" He is a good man.
Have you heard any imputation to the contrary!"
FROM this period Linwood was every day at the
glen, and Eliot as often as his very strict perform
ance of his duties permitted. He was charmed
with the warm-hearted hospitality of Mr. Ruthven,
and not quite insensible to the evident partiality
of Miss Charlotte. She did not pass the vestibule
of his heart to the holy of holies, but in the vesti
bule (of even the best of hearts) vanity is apt to
lurk. If Eliot therefore was not insensible to the
favour of Miss Charlotte, an every-day character.
Linwood could not be expected to resist the daz
zling influence of her potent sister. A more wary
youth might have been scorched in the focus of
her charms. Helen Ruthven was some three or
four years older than Linwood, a great advantage
when the subject to be practised on combines sim
plicity and credulity with inexperience. Without
being beautiful, by the help of grace and versatility,
and artful adaptation of the aids and artifices of the
toilet, Miss Ruthven produced the effect of beauty.
Never was there a more skilful manager of the
blandishments of her sex. She knew how to in-
136 THE LINWOODS.
tuse into a glance " thoughts that breathe," how
to play off those flatteries that create an atmo
sphere of perfume and beauty, how to make her
presence felt as the soul of life, and life in her ab
sence a dreary day of nothingness. She had little
true sensibility or generosity (they go together) ; but
selecting a single object on which to lavish her
feeling, like a shallow stream compressed into a
narrow channel, it made great show and noise.
Eliot stood on disenchanted ground ; and, while
looking on the real shape, was compelled to see
his credulous and impulsive friend becoming from
day to day more and more inthralled by the false
semblance. " Is man s heart," he asked himself,
" a mere surface, over which one shadow chaseth
another?" No. But men s hearts have different
depths. In some, like Eliot Lee s (who was destined
to love once and for ever), love strikes a deep and
ineradicable root ; interweaves itself with the very
fibres of life, and becomes a portion of the undying
In other circumstances Eliot would have obeyed
his impulses, and endeavoured to dissolve the spell
for his friend ; but he was deterred by the conscious
ness of disappointment that his sister was so soon
superseded, and by his secret wish that Linwood
should remain free till a more auspicious day should
rectify all mischances. Happily, Providence some
times interposes to do that for us which we neglect
to do for ourselves.
THE LINWOODS. 137
As has been said, Linwood devoted every leisure
hour to Helen Ruthven. Sometimes accompanied
by Charlotte and Eliot, but oftener without them,