James Fenimore Cooper.

Afloat and ashore. A sea tale online

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^^Wm Hardinge is in town — ^in her own — that is^ in our
house — ^in Wall stredv though she goes to the pktee in the
morning. No one who ean, likes to remain among ^ese hot
bricks, that has a pleasant eounti^^4ionae tQ fly to, and open to
receive him. But I fbfgot-r-I hare supposed you to know what
it is very likely you have never lie^l"

<< i learned the death of Mrs. Bradlii»rt while m JMy^ and,
seeing you in black, at once supposed it wad for her." -

'^ Yes, thaf 8 just it. An excellent T^p&»i haa been taken
from us, and, had she be^ my own mothet, I C0!uld ^pt have
received greater kindnesses from her. Bj^ exui, niy:dem? Wat
lingford, waft admitted by all th^ clergy to be oo!^ of : thfi most
edifying known in the |^e lot yeani."

<^* And Mrs. Bra^<Ml; has left yoiu her heir! It is now time
to congratulate you on your good fortune. As I. undOr^tand
her: estate came tlniongh feniales to h^, iind from a- ^<tonon
ancestor of hers and youis, there is jnot the sH^tM reason why
you should not be gcat^ed by the be^nest^ ; Bnt Luiey— I hope
she was not oZto^tf^A^ foigotCenf.

Rupert fidgeted^ and I could- see that, he wm oft tentei>ho€iks.
As r afterward discovered, 1» widied. toteooceid the red fiicts
from the worid; and^ yet he!opidd iiot tut fcweseeith^it I ^ould
probity kam tbeioL from/las frilhffir.* Uiider idl the etrOurn^
stance^, ihcrefovey' he fimeied itbeat i;o make* me a eoi^daat;
We ^«^ stroling between /Cnbity and Patd's diureh waU^
then the most &shionable promenade in town; and,^ before he



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174 AFLOAT AND A8HORS«

would lay open his aeoret, my companion led mo over by the
Oswego Market, and down Maiden Lane, lest he might betra;
himself to the more ia^onable stocks and stones. He did not
open his lips nntil clear of the market, wh^i he laid bare his
bndget of griefe in something that more res^nUed his old con-
fidential mamier, than he had seen fit to exhibit in the eirlier
part of our inti?Tview.

** You rxm^ know, Miles," he commenced, " that Mrs. Brad-
fort was a w»»y peculiar woman — ^a very peculiar sort of a per-
son, indeed. An excellent lady, I am ready to allow, and one
that made a remarkably edifying end — ^but one whose peculiar-
ities, I have understood, she inherited with her fwrtune. Wom-
en do get the oddest conceits into thdr heads, you know, and
American women before all others ; a republic being any thing
but &vorable to the continuation of property in the same line.
Miss Merton, who is a girl of excellent sonse, as you well know
yourself Milea, says, now, in England I should have succeeded,
quite as a matter of course, to all Mrs. Bradfort's real estate."

" You, as a lawyer, a common-law lawyer, can scarcely require
the opinion of an Englishwoman to t^ you what the EngUsh
laws would do in a question of descent."

*' Oh I they've a pkguey sight of statutes in that, eountiy as
well as ourselves. Between tJie two, the common law is getting
to be a very uncommon sort of a law. But, to cut the matter
short, Mrs. Bradfort made a tnllJ^

" Dividmg her property equally between you and Lucy, I dare
say, to Miss Morton's great dissatis&ction."

'* Why, not just so, MOes, not exactly so ; a very capricious,
peculiar woman was Mrs. Bradfort" —

I have often ranaiked, when a p^'son has suoceeded in
throwing dust into another's ^es, but is discarded on being
found out, that the vejected of principle is very apt to accuse
his former dupe of being. capvicUms, when in fact h<e has only
been deceived. As I said nothing, however, leaving Rupert to
flounder on in the best manner he could, the latter, after a paose^
prooeeded.



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AFLOAT AND ASHORB. 4*16

^ Bat her end was very admirable," he said, " and to the huA.
degree edifying. You most know she made a will, and in that
will she left every thing, even to the town and country-houses, to
— my sister."

I was thunder-struck I Here were all my hopes blown again
to the winds. After a long pause, I re^mned the discourse.

'* And whom did she leave as executor ?" I asked, instantly
foreseeing the consequences shoidd that office; bo devolved on
Eupert himsdl^

^ My father. The old gentleman has had his hands full bo*
tween your &ther and mother and Mrs. Bradfort Fortunately,
the estate of the last is in a good condition and is easily man-
aged. Almost entirely in stores and houses in the best part of
die town, well insured, a few thousands in stocks, and as much
in bonds and mortgages, the savings from the income, and some-
thing like a year's rents in bank. A good seven thousand a
year, with enough surplus to pay for repairs, collections, and
other chaises."

'^ And all this, then, is Lucy's I" I exclaimed, feeling something
like the bitterness of knowing that such an heiress was not for
me.

" Temporarily, though of course I consider Lucy as only my
trustee for half of it. You know how it is with the women ;
they fimcy all us young men spendthrifts, and so between the
two they have reasoned in this way — * Rupert is a good fellow
at bottixn, but Bupert is young, and he will make the money
fly ; now, Fll give it all to you, Lucy, in my will, but of coarse
you'll take care o( your brother, and let him have hal^ or per-
haps two thirds, being a male, at the proper tio^ which will be
as soon as you come of age and can convey. You onderstand
Lucy is but nineteen, and cannot convey these two years."

*' And Lucy admits this to be true ? You have proof of all
this 5"

'^ Proof I rd take my own affidavit of it. You see it is re»>
Bonable, and what I had a right to e]^)eet. Every thing tends to
eonfirm it. Between ourselves, I had qmte $2000 of debt, and



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176 AFLOAT ANJl ASHORB.

jd you lee the good lady did not leave me adollarto p^ eren
my honest creditcnrs^ a oirciimstance that so pious & woman, md
one who made so edifying an end, wonld neter think of dobg
without ulterior views. Considering Lucy as my trustee, ex*
plains the whole ihii^"

'^ I thoi^t Krs. Bradfort made yon an allowance, RiqMrt;
some (600 a year, besides keeping you in her own house f

'^A Ihoittand; but what is tlOOa a yew to & fisishionable
man in a town like this, first and last, the excellent old lady
gave me about I^ODO, all of which confirms tihe idea that at the
bottom she intended me for! her heir. What woman in her
senses would think of ^ving $5000 to a relative to whom she
did not eont^nplate giving more? The thii^ is clear on its
£M;e, and I ahouM certainly go mto chancery whh anybody but
Lucy."

"' And Lu<^ ! what says she to your views on the subject of
Mrs. Bradfort's intentions f

" Why, you have some acquaintance with Lucy — used to be
intimate with her, as one might say, when childreai, and knOw
something ol her character." This to me, who fiurly wor-
shipped the earth on which the dear girl trod I '^ She never
inckd^ea in professions, and likes to take people hj surprise
when she ocmtemplales ddng them a service^-^^ya was jusit -as
fitt fcom Lucy's natural and honest mode of dealing, as it was
posoMe to be^— ^' and so ^e has been as mum as one vdib has
lost the &culiy 0f i^eecL However, eSie never speaks of her
a&im to otben^; #Aa^is a good ^ign, and indicates ian intention
to consider herself tsi& my !tmstee ; and,, wiutt ib bettaec still, and
more plainlj^ djmotes i^iat her oonsbianee diictates in the prmn*
isca, sbei has] empowered her £ither to ^pay all my debts; the
current income and loose eadi being at her disposal at once.
It would have been better had she given, me the money, to sat-
isfy these creditors with it, for I knew which had waited. the
losgesib, and were beai) .^ititled to i«oeive the doSIars at once ;
but, it^s fi^HQQiething to have aSk their recei^tsdn my poeioat, and to
ilart fidrii^Bin. Thank Heaven, that much is aheady done. To



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xwhQAt AXD AaHomi. 477

do Lncy jostioe, moceover, she aHowa me (1500 a year, ad mterm.
Nqw, MiloB, Fye conTerBed with yon, as witii sn old friend, and
ibe<^iiae I knew my &tker would teU yoa the wki>le, when, you
got np to Gawbonny ; bat you will take it all iii starict cofi-
£denoe» It gires a £Mihion2d>le yomig fellow hm> silly an air, to
be thoag!i.t de^dent on a sister; and cdte thiee^ycan yom^er
iha^: ytns^lfi' So I have ,hhited the actaal: state of the ease
round 9mong my Mends; but, it is genenlly believed that J
|iO^ in possession alreiidy, and that Ldcy is dependenl on me,
instep of my/ being d^endent oa her. The ide^ nioreoveiv
i$ capital for keei^ng off fortonerbuntcts, as yoa will see at Ji
^nce." ' . -

" And will the report satisfy a certfdn Mr. Andrew Drtwett V*
I asl^ed, 8tragg^Jlg to assume a compoBUxe I was fiw from feel-
ing. *' He was all attention when I sailed, and I almos4^ejq)ected
to hear there was no Ipngw a Lucy Hardinge."

^ To t0ll you the truths Miles, I thought so,, too, until the
d^atji of Mrs, j^-adfort. The motiming, however, most oppor-
tunely came to put a stop to any thing of the sort, were it ev^
opnteiii{>kted. It would be so awkward, you wiQ undemtand,
to have a brother-in-law before every thing is settled, a&d Uie
trust is accounted for. Au resie — I am very wdl satisfied with
Andrew, and let him know I am his friend; Jhe is well connected ;
fashionable ; has a pretfy little fortune:; .$x^ as I sometimes tell
Lucy, that he is intended for ^er, as Mrs. Bradfort, no doubt,
foresaw, inannuoh as his estate, added to just one third of that
of our dear departed coosiii, would jml make up the presesit in-
come. On my honor, now, I do not think the difference would
be ;l500 per imnum."

"And how does your sister receive. your faints f *

" Oh I &moasly— 'just as all giris do, you knowi She blushes,
and Bonietimes she looks vexed ; then she smiles, sind puts np
her lip, and says * Nonsense !' and * What folly ! Bupert, I'm
surprised at youl' and all tliat sort of stuff, ivhich deceives
nobody, you'll understand, not even her poor, simple, silly
brother. But, Miles, I must quit you now, for I have an en-



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178 AFLOAT AlTD ASHOBX.

gagetnent to accompany a pfurty to the theatre, and was on mj
way to join them when we met Ooc^r plays, and yon know
what a lion he is; one would not wish to lose a syllable of
Us Othello."

" Stop, Rupert— one word more before we part From your
conrerBaticm, I gather that the Mertons are still here f*

^ The Mertons ! Why, certainly ; established in the land, and
among its t^>-top people^ The colonel finds his health benefit-
ed by the climate, and he has managed to get some appoint
mesit which keeps him among us. He has Boston relatires,
moreover, and I bdieve is fishii^ up some claims to property in
that quarter. The Mertons here, indeed I what would New York
be without the Mertons !"

'* And my cAd friend the major is promoted, too — ^you called
him coloael, I tMnk t"

" Did I ? I believe he is oftenor called General Merton, tiian
imy thii^ else. You must be misti^on about his being only a
major, Miles; everybody hert caDs him eith^ colonel, or
generaL"

^ Never nond; I hope it is as you say. Grood-bye, Rupert;
m not betvay you, and'^ —

** Well — ^you were about to say*' —

" Why, mention me to Lucy ; you know we were acquainted
when <Mdren. Tell her I wish her all happiness in. her new
position, to which I do not doubt she will do ifoU credit; and
tiiat I shall endeavor to see her before I sail again.^

" You will not be at the theatre this evening ? Cooper is well
worth seeing — ^a most famous Othello T'

'^ I think not Do not forget to mention me to your uster;
and so, once more, adieu I"

We parted; Rupert to go toward Broadway, at a great pace,
and I to lounge along, uncertain whither to proceed. I had
sent Neb to inquire if the WalUngfoid wete down, and under-
stood she would leave the basin at sunrise. It was now my in-
tention to go up in her ; for, though I attached no great in^or
tance to any of Rupert's facts, his report concerning my sister's



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AFLOAT AND A8U0RB. 4i9

health rendered me exceedingly uneasy. Insensibly I continued
my conne jdown Maiden Lane, and soon found myself near the
ship. I went on board, had an explanation with Marble^ gare
some orders to Neb, and went ashore again, aU in the course of
the next half houn By a sort of secret attncti<m, I was led t<h
ward Uie Park, and so<m found mysdf at tiie door of the thea-
tre. Mrs. Bradfort had now been dead loi^ enough to put
Lucy in second mourning, and I fancied I might get a view of
hcd: in the purty that Bnpert was to accompany^ Buying a
ticket^ I Altered and made my way up into the Shakspeare box.
Had I been better acquainted witli the {dace, withi the object in
\iew, I should have gone into the pit.

. Notwithstanding the lateness of the season, it was a very full
house. Cooper's, in that day, was a name that .filled every
mouth, and he seldom fsdled to fill every theatre in whidi he ap*
pcarcd. With many first^rate^ qualifications for his art, and a
very i^pectable conc^)don of his characters, he threw every
thing like competition behind him ; though there were a few,
as ihen eter will be among thesup^latively intellectual, who
afifeeted to see excellences in Fennd, and others, to which this
great actor could not aspire. The public decided against these
select few, and, as is invariably the case when the appeal is
made to homan feelings, the public decided right. Puffery will
force into notice, and sustain a folse judgment, in such matters,
for a Inief space ; but nature soon asserts her sway, and it is by
natural decisions that such points are ever the most justly deter-
mined. Whatever appeals to human sympathies, will be an-
swered by human sympathies. Popularity too often gains its
ascendency behind the hypocrite's mask in religion ; it is usual-
ly a magnificent mystification in politics; it frequently become^
the patriot's staUdng^horse, cm which he rides to power ; in so
cial life, it is the reward of empty smiles, unmeaning bows, and
hollow squeezes of the hand; but >vith the player, the poet, and
all whose pursuits bring them directly in contact witb the pas«
sions, the imagination, and the heart, it is the unerring test of
merit, with certain qualifications connected with the mind and



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480 XVhOJLT. AKD ASH0313B.

the lii^^i^ finish of pure ut. . It may be <pxc8tibiied if Oboper
were noi the .greatest jtctor.of hU4ayy m it cevUia ns^ ot
his. o^ chiuuoten^ .

. I havfii said that thehoase was foil I got a ^ood' pli^e, ke^^
erer; tiiongl^ it:ir» iu)t in the frost-TQW* Of eonrse, I ^tild
oadj see the lidd luxes beneath, and not ercai qnfte all of tlian.
My ey^ian eag^y.'oltrertheDif and Isoim' caught a^ glimpse of
the fine, jeuzliDg hair x>f Bnperi He sat by the side of IkTiily
MertoBt the mi^or-r^I knei# he was a colonel or g^^eeral, only hj
means. jof art^rnliir Manhattafi piomoikfn,>wMch is so i^ to
make himdtedk of counts, ebpper ea{^tamB, end trai^eifing fto&
gies of those who are very s^naU folk at home-^the major sat
next, and, at hia^ side, I saw a lady, whom I at on^ supposed
to be Lacy. Every nerve in my system thrilled, as I cat^ht
even this indisdnci view of the dear otieatore. I conld joi^ see
die .upper, part of her fiice, as it was occasionally turned to-
ward the majot ; and once I cainght that honest smile of hers,
which I knew had never intentionaKy deceived.

The front seat of the box had twovaoani fdaiees. Ihe bench
would hold sis;^ wUlo it had yet only ions. ' The aadi^ce, how^
^er,,was still, assembling, and, presently^ a stir in Ln^'s box
denoted the anival of oompAny. . The whole patty moved, and
Andrew Drewett handed an elderly lady in, his mother, as I
afterweffd . aseertained, and took the other place himsel£ t
watched. the, sakUadona that were exchanged,. and understood
that ihc new eomers had been eiq>eft^ The {daces had been
reserved; for .them, and old Mrs. Drewett was donbtless the
§luiperone; thoi^h one haviiig a brother and the other a £ithcr
with her,.ithe two yonng ladies had not liesitated abont pre-
eeding the ^erlyrlady. They had bonie from; different quar-
ters of the town, andhad agreed :to meet at the theatre; Old
MrsL Dre^^ett was very particular in shaki]^ hands with Lucy,
thoc^ I had not the misery of seeing h^ son go through the
sense ceremony. Still ^e was sufficiently pointed in his salute
tions ; and, during thei movements, I perceived he managed to
a^t next to Lu<^, leavii^ the major to entertain his mother.



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AFLOAT AND ABHORS. 481

AU tMs was natural, and what might have been expected ; yet
it gare me a pang that I cannot describe.

I sat, for half an hour, perfectly inattentive to the play, medi
tating on the nature of my real position toward Lucy. I re-
called the days of childhood and early youth ; the night of my
first departure from home ; my return, and the incidents accom-
panying my second departure ; the affair of the locket, and all I
had truly fdit myself^ and all that I had supposed Lucy herself
to feel, on those several occasions. Could it be possible I had
so much deceived myself, and that the interest the dear girl had
certainly manifestod in me had been nothing but the fruits of
her naturally warm and honest heart — ^her strong disposition to
frankness — hMty as Rupert had so gently hinted in reference to
ourselves ?

Then I could not conceal (torn myself the bitter fact that
I waa, now, no equal match for Lucy, in the eyes of the
world* While she was poor, and I comparatively rich, the
inequality in social station might have been overlooked ; it ex-
isted, certainly, but was not so very marked that it might not,
even in that day, be readily forgotten ; but now, Lucy was an
heiress, had much more than double my own fortune — ^had a
fortune, indeed ; while I was barely in easy circumstances, as
persons of the higher classes regarded wealth. The whole ma^
ter seemed reversed. It was clear that a sailor like myself with
no peculiar advantages, those of a tolerable education excepted,
and who was necessarily so much absent, had not the same
chftnces of preferring \is suit, as one of your town idlers; a
nominal lawyer, for instance, who dropped in at his office for an
hour or two, just after break&st, a;&d promenaded Broadway
tlie rest of the time, until dinner ; or a man of entii'e leisure,^
like Andrew Drewett, who belonged to the City Library set,
and had no other connection with business thim to see that his
i-ents were collected and his dividends paid. The more I re*
fleeted, the more humble I became, the less my chances seemed,
and I determined to quit the theatre, at once. The reader wiD
remember that I was New York bom mi brod, ft state of society
538 21



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489 AFLOAT AND AS HO BE.

in which few natives acted on the piinciple tliat ** there wo
nothing too high to be a^ired to, nothing too low %o )^ done.**
I admitted I had superiors, and was willing to d^er to the &ct8
and opinions of the world as I knew it.

In the lobby of the building, I experienced It pang at th^ idea
of quitting the place without getting one loob iNt the &ce of
Lucy. I was in an humble mood, it is true, but that did iiot
necessarily infer a total self-denial I determined, therefore, to
pass into the pit, with my box-check, feast my eyes by one long
gaze at the dear creature^ ingenuous countenatce, and carry
away the impression, as a lasting memorial of her whom I so
well loTcd, and whom I felt p^rsfiaded I should ever c<mtinue to
love. After this indulgence, I would studiously a^oid her, in
order to release my thoughts as much as possible from the per-
fect thraldom in which they had existed, ever since I had heard
of Mrs. Bradfort's death. Previpusly to thai tifl^e, I am afraid
I had counted a little more than was becoming on the ease of
my own circumstances, and Lucy's eoThparativie poverty. Not
that 1 had ever supposed her to be in 1^ least metceiary — this
I knew to be utterly, totally false — ^but because the ^ood town
of Manhattan, even in 1803, was t<int soil peu addicted to dol-
lars, and Lucy's charms would not be likdy to; attract so many
suitors, in the modest setting of a po^or cdutitry clergyman's
means, as in the golden frame by which th^y biul been siirrounded
by Mrs. Bradfort's testamentary devise, even supposing Bnpert
to come in for quite one halt

I had no difficulty in finding a convenient place in the pit ;
one, from which I got a front and near view of the whcJe six, as
they sat ranged side by sijde. Of the major and old Mrs. Drew-
ett it is unnecessary to say much* The latter looked as all
dowagcrrlike widows of that day used to appear, respectable,
staid, and richly attired. The good lady had come on the e^tage
during the Eeyolution, and had a slightly military air — m parade
in her graces, that was not altogether unknown to the M^ves of
that schooL I dare say she could use such words as '' mar-
tinets," " mohairs," " briffadiers," and other terms £Euniliar to he?



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AFLOAT AND ASHORX. 488

dass. Aks ! how completely all these little traces of the past
are disappearing from oar habits and manners !

As for the- major, he appeared mach better in health, and
idtog€ther altered in mien. 1 4^nld readily detect the inflaence
of the world on him. He was evidently a so much greatdr man
in New Y6rk than he had been when I found him in London,
that it is not wonderful he felt the difference. Between the
acts, I remarked that all the principal persons in the front rows
were dearons oi exchanging nods with the '^ British officer,^' a
proof that he was circulating freely in the best set, and had
refuihed » point, when '^not to know him, argues yourself un*
known."*

Emily certainly looked well and happy. I could see that she
was delighted with Rupert's flattery, and I confess I cared rery
little for his change of sentiment or his success. That both
Major and Emily Mierton were different persons in the midst of
the world and in the solitudes of the Pacific, was as evident as
it was that I was a different personage in conmiand of the Crisis
and in the pit of the Park theatre. I dare say, at that moment.
Miss Merton had nearly forgotten that such a man as lifiles

* The miserable moral dependence of this country on Great Britain, forty years since,
eannoi well be brought home to the present generation. It is sflU too great, bttt hat
not a tithe of its former tareej The writer has himself known an Italian prince, a maa
of family and of high personal merit, pass onnoticed before a society that was eager to
make the aeqttalntance of most of the ** agents^* of thd Birmingham button dealers ; and
this singly because oae oame lh>m Italy and the other from England. The Ibllowiag
anecdote, which la quite as trae as any other fact in this work, fUmlshes a good exam-
ple of what Is meant It is now a quarter of a century since the wrlter^s first book ap-
pearedL Two or three months after the pnUicatkm, he was walking down Broadway
with A friend, when a man of mach distinction in the New York circles was passing ap
on the other side-walk. The gentleman in qaestion eanght tho writer^s eye, bowed,
and ero$9id tk^ ttreet, to shake hands and inqniro alter the iaiithor*s health. The
difference in years made this attention marked. ^* Yon are in high fitvor,^ observed
ihe friend, as the two walked away, "to have — pay yon such a compliment— your
book must have done this.** "Kow miirk my words-^I have been polfed tn some
English magazine, and -^ — ^knows it** The two were en tbeir way to the aathor*8
publlakers, ^md, on entering the door, honest Charles Wiley put a puff on the book in
^uestloii into the writfer*s hsnd. What rendered the whole more striking, was the foct
that tfce paragraph wak as iUgxant s poff as was ever written, and had probaMy beea
paid for, by the English publisher. The gentleman in question was a man of talents
and merit, but he had been bom half a century too soon to eqjoy entire mental inde-
tflX ten ee In a eosatry that had so recently been a colony.



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484 AFLOAT AMD ASHOBE.

WaUingford existed, though I think she sometimes recalled ih«
string of magnificent pearls that were to ornament the neck of
his wife, shoald he erer find any one to have him.

Bat Lucy, dear, upright, warm-hearted, tmth^telling, b^oved



Online LibraryJames Fenimore CooperAfloat and ashore. A sea tale → online text (page 41 of 47)