George Hooker Colton.

The American review : a Whig journal of politics, literature, art, and science (Volume 11) online

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initiation at the mysteries of Eleusis, fol-
lowing your guide through passages and
labyrinths of dismal obscurity, yet never
doubting that 3''ou will soon emerge into
the broad li^ht of Heaven.



1850.]



Everstone.



497



EVERSTONE.



BY THE AUTHOR OF " ANDERPORT RECORDS.



(Continued from page 387 J



CHAPTER X.



Early in the winter, Richard Somers
was called by business to a distant part of
the State. He had begun to think of re-
turning, when he fell sick, and was de-
tained a month or two longer. At last,
sufficiently convalescent to relish his morn-
ing's toast and coffee, and to be able to
direct his thoughts without fatigue to cer-
tain octavos bound in well-thumbed law-
calf, which gave dignity to the walls of a
snug apartment situated some four degrees
nearer the rising sun ; he opened letters
bearing a Redland superscription, with no
great annoj-ance, though each was sure to
remind him of a huge arrear of labor.

He received one letter of very peculiar
tenor ; yet, like most of the rest, it came
from a client : —
"Dear Sir :—

It gives me gratification to have it in my
power to inform you that papers have been
discovered which seem to remove all doubt
of the suit's being decided otherwise than
in our favor. That you, sir, who have
supported our cause so ably in its darkest
hours, should conduct it to the prosperous
issue which is dawning before it, would be
our first and most earnest desire, did we
not know w^hat honorable reluctance you
feel to having any agency in Mr. Everlyn's
disappointment. As it is, we rejoice that
circumstances now allow us to relieve you
of the painful duty which you are too up-
right and generous to throw oif yourself.
Are we mistaken, sir, in supposing that the
best retm-n we can make for your steadfast



adherence to us so long aS our interests re-
quired it, is to dispense with your aid the
moment we can do so with safety ? Nearly
by the time this note reaches j^ou, a jury
will probably have been impanneled and a
decision rendered. Thus you will escape
all occasion to reproach yourself for having
injured your friend, whilst yet you have
secured the warm and lasting gratitude of
your clients.

Truly rejoiced to hear of the improve-
ment of your health, and trusting that it
has been ere this perfectly restored,

I am with the deepest respect, &c.,
Sylvester Newlove."

A singular epistle, thought the lawyer ;
and he subjected it to a second reading.
Satisfied then that he did not mistake its
purport, he felt vexed. It is pleasant to
entertain a conviction of one's own impor-
tance, and Somers, though it had cost him
much pain to cleave to the New Yorkers,
was not unnaturally chagrined to be told
that they, being able to get along of them-
selves, were quite content to part company.
The very act of self-sacrifice is attended
w^ith a degree of enjoyment, and it is hard
to be balked of the luxury. A sensation
of mortification, too, is mingled with the
disappointment. To find no use for all the
moral nerve which by much forethought
and diligence has been provided for some
desperate endeavor, is attended with a dis-
comfiture like that experienced when one
rushes with prodigious momentum against
a door which gently opens of its own ac-



498



Everstone.



[May,



cord the instant the shoulder of the assail-
ant is about to impinge upon it. In such
a predicament, not only is there a waste of
carefully collected vigor, but an awkward
tumble is very apt to follow, with possibly
the coincidence of a contusion. I3esides,
however desirable any object, no man is
fully contented, unless the attainment of it
be the result of duly appointed means. A
zealous lawyer identifies himself with his
client ; the suit is not another's struggle,
but his own, and there is no person from
Cassar to the juvenile engineer who drains
a mud-puddle or dams a gutter, but pre-
fers to owe his triumph altogether to his
own exertions.

But if Somers' services in the suit were
to be dispensed with, who was to supply
his place. He was not at a loss to con-
jecture. It will be remembered that Caleb
Schrowder had in vain applied to him to
conduct the controversy with the squatter
Foley. The headstrong Northerner, not
frightened by a phenomenon so strange
and ominous as a lawyer's refusal of a case,
looked about for another and less reluctant
attorney. Such an one was found in Mal-
lefax, who, after secu.ring to himself a suf-
ficiently respectable amount of fees, con-
ducted his client in the end to the very
same result that Somers had declared to
be necessary — a compromise with Foley.
Mallefax, however, managed the affair
with such adroitness, that Schrowder not
only loosened his purse-strings promptly at
every summons, but expressed himself per-
fectly satisfied with his lawyer. He even
urged the propriety of giving him some-
thing to do in the more important suit.
Somers at first would not listen to the sug-
gestion, but finding himself exposed to
continual importunity, subsequently yield-
ed the point. Well aware, indeed, that
the candidate was a sharp fellow, he thought
that if strictly watched he might, perhaps,
be made serviceable. Mallefax, after be-
ing thus retained, appeared very active
and earnest, so much so that all three of
the New Yorkers came — in spite of the
di-y hints of Somers — to repose considera-
ble confidence in him. There could be
little doubt accordingly to what hands the
Newloves had been induced to commit
themselves. That they were likely to be
led into mischief, was equally clear, and
this consideration, if Somers had been dis-



posed to harbor malice on account of the
abrupt dismission, was capable of affording
ample consolation. I will not venture to
deny that such a sentiment might have
passed through his mind, but it is certain
it did not abide there. The prospect of
his late clients suffering from their hasty
measure only aggravated his uneasiness.

A whole afternoon was spent in grum-
bling at the self-sufficiency which had pre-
sumed to act independent of counsel. The
next mornins;, he beo-an to look at the mat-
ter from a different side. If Everlyn
could no longer regard him as the agent of
ruin, and if he was henceforward to be ex-
empt from every office conflicting Avith the
unreserved manifestation of his attach-
ment to Sidney, why need such a happy
result cause him discomposure .-' As to
any damage threatening Newlove et alt^
he was not responsible for it. No lack of
fidelity on his part had betrayed them into
bestowing undue trust upon a knave. And
moreover, the letter told him the matter
was irrevocably settled. Perhaps there
had really been a discovery. The New
Yorkers may have gained the day and
been put in condition to impose what terms
they pleased on their competitor. If so,
he might well congratulate himself that he
was not obliged to be the go-between who
should tell Everlyn it was not permitted
him to trespass any more upon the soil of
another.

Before the close of that second day's
meditations, our lawyer became not simply
resigned to the new disposition of affairs
but joyful and elate. And so refreshing
proved the ensuing night's rest that he
deemed himself well enough to start on his
journey towards Redland.

As he crossed the western border of the
county, he was very curious to learn what
decision had been made by the jury, but
met no one capable of giving the informa-
tion. He hesitated awhile what point to
strike first. Munny's store suggested it-
self as the natural centre of intelligence.
But to go thither, the habitations of the
New Yorkers would have to be passed,
and he had small inclination at that mo-
ment to hold a conference with them. No ;
love demanded as its tribute that he should
direct his unshackled steps first to Ever-
stone. He had now the opportunity to
show Sidney that no sooner was the stern



1850.]



Everstone.



499



restraint of professional duty removed than
his heart's immediate impiilse was to seek
her presence.

" Is Miss Everlyn at home ?" was his
inquiry at the door.

"No, sir ; she's gone to take a walk up
the big hill where the spring is, way past
the fodder house."

" Has Mr. Everlyn gone with her.?"

" Yes, sir."

" If I leave my horse here, I can walk
across the fields and find them, can I not .''"

" Very easy, su-. If they arn't at the
top of the hill, you can see from there all
around."

Somers went, accordingly. After a
brisk walk, which excited a glow in cheeks
made pale by sickness, he stood on the
summit of the eminence. It was late in
March. The grass had commenced to
put on that hue which is so grateful to the
eye of man and beast ; and the budding
trees gave promise of their leafy treasures.
A little distance down the further slope, a
rivulet bubbled forth ; on the rocks which
surrounded its source two or three persons
were seated. The beholder recognized at
once the fine manly bust of Mr. Everlyn,
and it was impossible that a lover's eye
could mistake the proud and graceful car-
riage of the bonneted head beyond. Som-
ers hastened to the spot.

Everlyn, and his daughter, and Howard
Astiville, who, it seems, had accompanied
them in their walk, rose and saluted the
visitor courteously, though with an evident
air of restraint. Somers alluded to the
mildness and beauty of the day. Everlyn
coldly assented to the truth of the remark,
adding, that such delightful weather suc-
ceeding the confinement of the winter, had
tempted them to take a longer stroll than
perhaps, was altogether prudent.

" I do not wonder," Somers then rejoin-
ed, " that you should avail yourself of the
earliest permission which the seasons give
to issue out of doors, when you have so
beautiful an eminence as this to resort to,
and one commanding so extensive a pros-
pect."

" That it affords a view of nearly the
whole of my purchase," said Everlyn,
" was a slight recommendation of the spot
to one who saw himself in imminent dan-
ger of losing everything which it overlooked :
but events that have turned up within the



last few days give as difi'erent a color to
the landscape, as that which less interested
eyes behold, when the snows of February
yield place to the verdure of Spring."

Somers hardly knew how to interpret
this observation. Did it mean that New-
love, notwithstanding his confidence, had
lost the suit } But, after all, what mat-
tered it to him .? The Northerners had
voluntarily given him his discharge. He
stood relieved from all concern, either in
their success, or their defeat. Without
waiting to learn the fate of others, he
would explain the happy change in his own
position.

He said: "You remember, I hope,
Mr. Everlyn, that I have assured you from
the very first that nothing but a convic-
tion of duty could compel me to make any
efforts tending to your injury."

"I do call to mind, sir, that you have
heretofore expressed yourself to that ef-
fect."

"Perhaps, Mr. Everlyn, you have been
disposed to doubt whether I was sincere in
the declaration. And I am not sure that,
ignorant as you were, of many of the con-
siderations which afi"ected me, you could
avoid forming an unfavorable judgment.
The consciousness that I was liable to the
suspicion of duplicity constituted not the
least painful circumstance of my situation.
I feel a hearty joy in being at liberty now
to say, that there is nothing which I hope
for more unreservedly than your success
and happiness. I tell you, sir, I would
not, for the fee-simple of all the acres be-
tween this hill and Anderport, place my-
self again, as, during months past, I have
been placed. I trust, sir, I am no longer
disbelieved."

Somers, as he ceased speaking, stretch-
ed himself up proudly, and looked around.
Everlyn, with the frank and coi'dial man-
ner of their earlier acquaintance, declared
how gratified he was to know that their
friendship could be renewed in all its vigor. "

The lawyer immediately afterwards turn-
ed to Sidney : " May I not hope that 1 am
restored to your favor also .'"

This appeal was made with so much
earnestness of tone, that Sidney, who could
not be unaware that sbe had more than
one lover watching her demeanor, blushed.
Her father quickly answered in her stead :

" Sidney is a good, amiable girl, I think,



500



Everstone.



[May,



and will never bate anybody who does not
seek to injure Everstone."

Everlyn went on. "So, they could not
induce you, Soniers, to take a share in
their last rascally plot. They had to look
elsewhere for somebody to perform such
dirty business ! My only surprise is, that
you were not undeceived, as to their char-
acter, and the merit of their claims, long
ago. But, better late than never. I sup-
pose that, notwithstanding you have es-
caped from them, you would not like to
speak of the intrigues, which they commu-
nicated in confidence, or I should ask you
to satisfy our curiosity upon some points."

Somers gravely rejoined, that he could
not, for one moment, allow it to be sup-
posed that anything had transpired, during
his intercourse with his late clients, to
lead him to doubt either their personal in-
tegrity, or the legal strength of their title.
'' I speak particularly," added the lawyer,
" of Mr. Newlove and Mr. Dubosk. With
Caleb Schrowder I never chose to have
any dealings, except in so far as his rights
were involved in theirs. It is but simple jus-
tice to the two former to say, that if 1 am
unwilling to advocate their cause, my aver-
sion springs only from the fact that their
triumph is inseparable from the defeat of
older and dearer friends, and it is, I think,
due also to my own honor to make known
that my release conies from their free, un-
solicited act. There was no abandonment
of the engagement on my part. Examine
this letter, sir."

Everlyn took the open sheet extended to
him, and began to run his eye over the
contents.

" Read aloud, if you i)lease," said
Somers.

Everlyn, after doing so, folded up the
paper, and looked first at Sidney, and then
at Howard Astiville. No remark was
made, till Everlyn, glancing at the back
of the latter, said : " This is addressed to
you, I observe, at Zephyrville — have you
not since seen Mr. Newlove, or received
some further communication from him .?"

" I have neither seen him, nor heard
from him," answered Somers. "The note
is dark, except upon one point. It is this,
however, which alone interests me, and I
have sought to learn nothing else. Mr.
Newlove here tells me he requires my ser-
vices no longer, I am perfectly satisfied



to remain in ignorance of the circumstan-
ces which have induced him to come to
this decision."

"And would you have us believe you
ignorant of what occurred in Court the
other day .?" This query came from How-
ard.

" I am altogether uninformed," replied
Somers. " Have the jury agreed upon a
verdict .''"

'' All other persons in Court, at any
rate," said Howard, " have agreed upon
one opinion."

" And what is that, if I may ask .?"

" They are convinced of this sir, that
however worthy your clients may be, one
of them has a daughter of very questiona-
ble character."

" Explain," said Somers, reddening.
"I do not understand you."

"I must give you a narrative, then,
from the beginning," returned Howard,
with a smile. " The jurymen were im-
panneled last Monday, and the excellent
Mr. Mallefax appeared as counsel for New-
love and others. With great parade, a pa-
per was exhibited, purporting to be the ori-
ginal copy of a survey made a good many
years ago by Spencer Harrison — possibly
you never saw the paper, Mr. Somers V

"No! Goon."

" This survey was pretended to have
been made for insertion in a deed of bar-
gain and sale, from my grandfather, in
favor of somebody or other, whose name is
of no importance, as the deed was never
executed. The terms of the survey, how-
ever, seemed to be drawn upon the suppo-
sition that the Astiville land extended no
further than the Upper Branch, and hence
your enterprising friends jumped to the
conclusion that this was an acknowledg-
ment, by my grandfather, of the reality of
that Compton title, on which the Yankees
rest."

" Pretty good collateral evidence," ob-
served Somers, " though insufiicient by
itself."

" But hear the issue ! Mason, our
chief lawyer, scrutinized the paper, and,
although the writing bore a considerable
resemblance to that of old Hanison, he
thought he detected some differences.
Harrison, you know, has been very infirm
this long time, — indeed, it was reported
the evenina; before the trial that he was on



1850.]



Everstone.



501



the point of death. It is, by no means,
probable that the New Yorkers supposed
he was really out of the world. Mason,
upon application to the judge, was allowed
to send to the old surveyor's, and procure
papers, in corroboration or overthrow of
that which had been offered in evidence.
Spencer Harrison had that morning par-
tially revived — and in this recognize how
Providence oftentimes interposes to disap-
point the schemes of villainy ! Harrison
was not only in the possession of his mental
faculties, but was able to speak with coher-
ence and intelligibility. He informed the
persons who visited him, where to find the
the original field-notes of the survey
alluded to. In those field-notes, which, of
course, were immediately brought into
Court, no mention whatever was made of
either branch of the Hardwater. The
ti'uth was, that the tract of land measured
— which was only of some three or four
hundred acres size — did not reach so far
South. Another fact also, and the judge
was very much struck with it. The field-
notes were written in an altogether differ-
ent hand from that which Harrison used of
later years. The person who made up
this false survey, ignorant that there had
been any change in the surveyor's chiro-
graphy, had written in a flowing, scrawly
fashion, instead of using the stiff" and up-
right characters, which would have suited
the date assigned."

" Do not stop, sir," said Somers impa-
tiently," what happened next V

" Well," continued Howard, " the Court-
room afforded quite an amusing scene to
the lookers-on. ]\fallefex fidgetted about
uneasily, now examining one paper, and
now another, screwing up his features the
while into expressions, whose like were
never seen on any other countenance.
Finally, he declared plumply that he did'nt
know what to make of it, but that Miss
Emma Newlove had given him the paper as
genuine. All eyes were bent on the young
lady, who, as it fortunately happened, was
in the Court-room at the time. She was
greatly abashed, and did not attempt to
deny Mallefax's representation."

'' What did the jury do .=^"

' ' They failed to agree ; yet a large ma-
jority were against the New Yorkers."

"This is certainly a very remarkable
statement," said the lawyer.



"It is a correct one, however," observed
Everlyn, "as I can testify. I was pres-
ent at the trial, and shared in the universal
surprise excited by the revelations so un-
expec tedly made . ' '

Somers, after a few moments' silent
thought, inquired :

" Where is the paper supposed to have
come from .?"

Howard answered in a quick, decided
tone, " There can be no question that
Emma Newlove forged it."

"I do not believe it," said Somers,
shortly. " 'Tis absurd to think of such a
thing !"

" You are alone in your opinion of its
absurdity, Mr. Somers. She is a smart,
accomplished young lady, I am told, and
quite capable of executing such a perform-
ance."

" Pshaw," returned Somers. " You,
also, are capable of reading and writing ;
but does this amount to the same as saying
that you are capable of forgery V

" You mistake me, sir," said the young
man, " 1 did not mention the fact of Miss
Newlove having received a good educa-
tion, as proof, but by way of reply to an
anticipated objection. There are many
other more cogent reasons for believing her
guilty of the crime which it is clear some
one has committed. Mallcfax is the only
other person whom there is any ground to
suspect, and Sylvester Newlove has stated
since Monday, that his daughter acknow-
ledges having herself communicated the
paper to the attorney. And if she did not
forge the survey, why is no attempt made
to account for its having come into her
hands .?"

" You may pile argument on argument,
Mr. Astiville — or rather you may continue
to heap up shadows of arguments, but you
will sooner convince me that yonder water
is flowing up hill than that Miss Newlove
has done what you say."

" That is con6dently spoken," exclaim-
ed Howard mischievously, " You could not
deny the charge with more earnestness if
it were made against yourself."

" And what of that V replied Somers,
" Does it appear so marvellous and incom-
prehensible that a man should be as ready
to repel an undeserved reproach from
another person as from himself.^"

" I stand corrected, sh. I ought not to



502



Everstone.



[May,



wonder, for lawyers are accustomed of old
to speak as fluently for one culprit as
another, or if there be any difference in the
quantity of pathos expended, it is measured
out, they say, according to the amount of
consideration."

" A sneer requires no answer," said
Somers calmly.

" Yet," rejoined Howard, " If you so
unceremoniously reject the reasons which
have seemed to us sufficient to establish
Miss Newlove's culpability, I think we
are fairly entitled to demand in return
some other proof of her innocence than a
sweeping assertion. You admit, sir, that
you are quite ignorant of the circumstances
of the case except so far as you have been
informed by us, and still you pronounce
upon them with the manner of one who
possesses perfect knowledge. Is this reas-
onable, I appeal to your own sound judg-
ment, Mr. Somers ? Is this young lady
whom we supposed to have been wafted
hither from Yankee-land, an angel from
Heaven } Are presumptions which would
overwhelm any other individual to be al-
lowed no weight when urged against her?''''

" Miss Newlove has not yet been ar-
raigned, I believe," returned Somers,
" nor have I been appointed her counsel —
perhaps it will be as well to postpone the
discussion till then. By that time I may
become less obnoxious to the charge of ig-
norance which you now cast at me."

Howard took pleasure in pressing on the
other's evident reluctance. "If the Grand
Jury have not taken up the matter, pri-
vate persons may, notwithstanding, form
their opinions."

" I admit it, Mr. Astiville, and so far am
I from questioning the liberty of private
judgment, that although you may entertain
some very erroneous notions, I will not pre-
sume to controvert them. At present, in
truth I can find more agreeable employ-
ment if Miss Everlyn will allow me to
assL=t her to surmount that fence."

While this conversation was going on, the
party had been walking slowly towards the
house. They had reached the edge of the
field where a high fence met them.

" I thank you," said Sidney in reply to
Somers' offer of service, " but we can avoid
the obstacle altogether by walking a little
way to the right."

As they proceeded homeward, by the



course which Sidney pointed out, Somerg
contrived to keep close at her right hand.
On the other side was the fence, and Ever-
lyn and Howard walked in the rear. The
latter was by no means pleased at this ar-
rangement. He had not been prepared to
see Somers place himself on such easy and
familiar footing with Miss Everlyn. And
compelled as he 'j was to listen to the old
gentleman's remarks upon the beauty of
the wheat-field along the edge of which
they were passing, jealousy enabled him to
keep an eye and an ear attentive to the
couple in front. He had never been a
friend of Somers, and since the lawyer's open
quarrel with his father, thought he had a
right to hate him. That this man should
step before him now with such assur-
ance, and seem to make more progress
at once in the obtaining Sidney Everlyn's
favor than he himself had presumed to ex-
pect after months of assiduous courtship,
was intolerable. He had noticed how sen-
sitive Somers was upon the subject of
Emma Newlove, and instinct told him,
that Sidney, however amiable, could not
be very much gratified to hear her suitor
expatiate upon the merits of another young
lady ; so he resolved to provoke his rival
to renew the discussion which had been
broken off. An opportunity was not long
in occurring.

Somers, during his talk with Sidney, na-
turally referred to the pain which her for-



Online LibraryGeorge Hooker ColtonThe American review : a Whig journal of politics, literature, art, and science (Volume 11) → online text (page 90 of 121)