James Fenimore Cooper.

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" Good morrow, coz."

" Good morrow, sweet Hero."


WHEN Mr. Effingham determined to return
home, he sent orders to his agent to prepare
his town house in New York for his reception,
intending to pass the winter in it, and to visit
his country residence when the spring should
fairly open. Accordingly, Eve now found
herself at the head of one of the largest es
tablishments in the largest American town,
within an hour after she had landed from the
ship. Fortunately for her, however, her father
was too just to consider a wife or a daughter



a mere upper servant ; and he rightly judged
that a liberal portion of his income should be
assigned to the procuring of that higher qua
lity of domestic service, which can alone re
lieve the mistress of a household from a bur
then so heavy to be borne. Unlike so many
of those around him, who would spend on a
single pretending and comfortless entertain
ment, in which the ostentatious folly of one,
contends with the ostentatious folly of an
other, a sum that, properly directed, would
introduce order and system into a family for
a twelvemonth, by commanding the time and
knowledge of those whose study they had been,
and who would be willing to devote themselves
to such objects 9 and who would then permit their
wives and daughters to return to the drudgery
to which the sex seems doomed in this coun
try: he first bethought him of the base of social
life, before he aspired to its parade. As a man
of the world, Mr. Effingham possessed the
requisite knowledge, and as a man of justice,
the requisite fairness, to permit those who de
pended on him so much for their happiness,


to share equitably in the good things that
Providence had so liberally bestowed on him
self. In other words, he made two people
comfortable by paying a generous price for
a housekeeper ; his daughter, in the first place,
by releasing her from cares that, necessarily,
formed no more a part of her duties than it
would be a part of her duty to sweep the
pavement before the door ; and, in the next
place, a very respectable woman, who was glad
to obtain so good a home on such easy terms.
To this simple and just expedient, Eve was
indebted for being at the head of one of the
quietest, most truly elegant, and best ordered
establishments in America, with no other de
mand on her time than that which was neces
sary to issue a few orders in the morning, and
to examine a few accounts once a week.

One of the first, and the most acceptable of
the visits that Eve received, was from her
cousin Grace Van Courtlandt, who was in the
country at the moment of her arrival, but who
hurried back to town to meet her old school
fellow and kinswoman, the instant she heard

B 2


of her having landed. Eve Effingham and
Grace Van Courtlandt were sisters' children,
and had been born within a month of each
other. As the latter was without father or
mother, most of their time had been passed
together, until the former was taken abroad,
when a separation unavoidably ensued. Mr.
Effingham ardently desired, and had actually
designed to take his niece with him to Europe ;
but her paternal grandfather, who was still
living, pleaded his years and his affection in
opposition to the scheme, and it was reluctantly
abandoned. This grandfather was now dead ;
and Grace had been left, with a very ample
'fortune, almost entirely the mistress of her own

The moment of the meeting between the
two warm-hearted and sincerely attached
young women, was one of great interest and
anxiety to both. They retained for each other
the tenderest love, though the years that had
separated them had given rise to so many new
impressions and habits, that they did not pre
pare themselves for the interview without ap-


prehensions. This interview took place about
a week after Eve was established in State
Street, and at an hour earlier than was usual
for the reception of visits. Hearing a carriage
stop before the door, and the bell ring, our
heroine stole a glance from behind a curtain,
and recognized her cousin as she alighted.

" Quavez vous, ma chdre ?" demanded
Mademoiselle Viefville, observing that her
tttve trembled and grew pale.

" It is my cousin, Miss Van Courtlandt,
she whom I loved as a sister ; we now meet for
the first time, after so many years I"

" Bien, c*est une tres jolie jeune personne r
returned the governess, taking a glance from
the spot Eve had just quitted. " Sur le rap
port de la personne, ma chere, vous devriez etre
contente au moim."

u If you will excuse me, mademoiselle, I will
go down alone. I think I should prefer to meet
Grace without witnesses in the first interview."

" Trh volontiers. Elle est parente, et c'est
bien naturel"

Eve, on this expressed approbation, met her


maid at the door, as she came to announce
that Mademoiselle de Courtlandt was in the
library, and descended slowly to receive her.
The library was lighted from above by means
of a small dome, and Grace had unconsciously
placed herself in the very position that a
painter would have chosen had she been about
to sit for her portrait. A strong, full, rich
light fell obliquely on her as Eve entered, dis
playing her fine person and beautiful features
to the very best advantage ; and they were
features and a person that are not seen every
day, even in a country where female beauty
is so common. She was in a carriage dress,
and her toilette was rather more elaborate than
Eve had been accustomed to see at that hour ;
but still Eve thought she had seldom beheld
a more lovely young creature. Some such
idea, also, passed through the mind of
Grace herself; who, though struck, with a
woman's readiness in such matters, by the
severe simplicity of Eve's attire, as well as by
its entire elegance, was more struck with the
charms of her countenance and figure. There


was, in truth, a strong resemblance between
them, though each was distinguished by an
expression suited to her character, and to the
habits of her mind.

" Miss Effingham !" said Grace, advancing
a step to meet the lady who entered, while hei
voice was scarcely audible, and her limbs

" Miss Van Courtlandt !" said Eve in the
same low smothered tone.

This formality caused a chill in both, and
each unconsciously stopped and curtsied. Eve
had been so much impressed with the coldness
of the American manner in the week she had
been at home, and Grace was so sensitive on
the subject of the opinion of one who had seen
so much of Europe, that there was great dan
ger, at that critical moment, that the meeting
would terminate unpropitiously.

Thus far, however, all had been rigidly
decorous, though the strong feelings that were
glowing in the bosoms of both had been so
completely suppressed. But the smile, cold
and embarrassed as it was, that each gave as


she curtsied, had the sweet character of her
childhood in it, and recalled to both the girlish
and affectionate intercourse of their younger

" Grace !" said Eve, eagerly advancing a
step or two impetuously, and blushing like
the dawn.

" Eve !"

Each opened her arms, and in a moment
they were locked in a long and fervent em
brace. This was the revival of their former
intimacy ; and before night Grace was domes
ticated in her uncle's house. It is true that
Miss Effingham perceived certain peculiarities
about Miss Van Courtlandt that she would
rather had been absent ; and Miss Van Court
landt would have felt more at her ease, had
Miss Effingham had a little less reserve of
manner on certain subjects that the latter had
been taught to think interdicted.

Notwithstanding these slight separating
shades in character, however, their mutual af
fection was warm and sincere ; and if Eve, ac
cording to Grace's notions, was a little stately


and formal, she was polished and courteous ;
and if Grace, according to Eve's notions, was
a little too easy and unreserved, she was femi
nine and delicate.

We pass over the three or four days that
succeeded, during which Eve had begun to
understand her new position, and we will
come at once to a conversation between the
cousins, that will serve to let the reader more
intimately into the opinions, habits, and feel
ings of both, as well as to open the real sub
ject of our narrative. This conversation took
place in that very library which had witness-
. ed their first interview, soon after breakfast,
and while the young ladies were still alone.

" I suppose, Eve, you will have to visit the
Greens. They are Hajjis, and were much in
society last winter/ 1

" Hajjis ! You surely do not mean, Grace,
that they have been to Mecca ?"

" Not at all : only to Paris, my dear. That
makes a Hajji in New York."

" And does it entitle the pilgrim to wear
the green turban ?" asked Eve, laughing.


" To wear anything, Miss Effingham ;
green, blue, or yellow, and to cause it to pass
for elegance. 1 '

" And which happens to be the favourite
colour with the family you have mentioned ?"

" It ought to be the first, in compliment to
the name ; but, if truth must be said, I think
they betray an affection for all, with not a
few of the half tints in addition."

" I am afraid they are too prononcees for us
by this description. I am no great admirer,
Grace, of walking rainbows."

" Too Green you would have said, had you
dared ; but you are a Hajji too, and even the
Greens know that a Hajji never puns, unless,
indeed, it be one from Philadelphia. But
you will visit these people ?"

" Certainly, if they are in society, and ren
der it necessary by their own civilities."

" They are in society in virtue of their
rights as Hajjis; but, as they passed three
months in Paris, you probably know some
thing of them."

" They may not have been there at the


same time with ourselves," returned Eve qui
etly ; " and Paris is a very large city. Hun
dreds of people come and go of whom one
never hears. I do not remember the family
you have mentioned."

" I wish you may escape them ; for, in my
untravelled judgment, they are anything but
agreeable, notwithstanding all they have seen,
or pretend to have seen."

" It is very possible to have been all over
Christendom, and to remain exceedingly dis
agreeable ; besides, one may see a great deal,
and yet see a very little of a good quality."

A pause of two or three minutes followed,
during which Eve read a note, and her cousin
played with the leaves of a book.

" I wish I knew your real opinion of us,
Eve," suddenly exclaimed the last. c * Why
not be frank with so near a relative ; tell me
honestly, are you reconciled to your country ?"

" You are the eleventh person who has
asked me this question, which I think very
extraordinary, as I have never quarrelled with
my country."


u Nay, I do not mean exactly that. I wish
to know how our society strikes one who has
been educated abroad."

" You wish, then, for opinions that can
have no great value, since my experience at
home extends only to a fortnight. But you
have many books on the country, and some
written by very clever persons : why not con
sult them ?"

" Oh, you mean the travellers ! None of
them are worth a second thought ; and we
hold them, one and all, in great contempt."

" Of that I can have no manner of doubt,
as, one and all, you are constantly protesting
it, in the high-ways and by-ways. There is
no more certain sign of contempt than to be
incessantly dwelling on its intensity."

Grace had great quickness as well as her
cousin. Though provoked at Eve's quiet hit,
she had the good sense and good nature to

66 Perhaps we do protest our disdain a little
too strenuously for good taste, if not to gain
believers ; but surely, Eve, you do not sup-


port these travellers in all that they have writ
ten of us ?"

" Not in half, I can assure you. My father
and cousin Jack have discussed them too often
in my presence, to leave me in ignorance of
the very many political blunders they have
made, in particular."

" Political blunders ! I know nothing of
them, and had rather thought the travellers
right in most of what they said about our
politics. But, surely, neither your father nor
Mr. John Effingham corroborates what they
say of our society !"

" I cannot answer for either, on that point.""

" Speak then for yourself. Do you think
them right ?"

" You should remember, Grace, that I have
not yet seen any society in New York."

" No society, dear ! Why, you were at the
Hendersons', and the Morgans', and the Drew-
etts 1 ; three of the greatest reunions that we
have had in two winters !"

" I did not know that by society you meant
those unpleasant crowds."


" Unpleasant crowds ! Why, child, that
is society, is it not ?"

u Not what I have been taught to consider
such ; I rather think it would be better to call
it company."

" And is not this what is called society in

" As far from it as possible : it may be
an excrescence of society, one of its forms,
but by no means society itself. It would
be as true to call cards, which are some
times introduced in the world, society, as to
call a ball given in too small and crowded
rooms, society. They are merely two of the
modes in which idlers endeavour to vary their

" But we have little else than these balls,
the morning visits, and an occasional evening,
in which there is no dancing."

" I am sorry to hear it ; for in that case
you can have no society."

" And is it different in Paris, or Florence,
or Rome ?"

" Very. In Paris there are many houses


open every evening to which one can go with
little ceremony. Our sex appears in them
dressed according to what a gentleman I over
heard conversing at Mrs. Henderson's would
call their < ulterior intentions' for the night ;
some attired in the simplest manner; others
dressed for concerts, for the opera, for court,
even ; some on the way from a dinner, and
others going to a late ball. All this matter-of-
course variety adds to the ease and grace of
the company ; and, with perfect good man
ners, a certain knowledge of passing events,
pretty modes of expression, an accurate and
even utterance, the women usually find the
means of making themselves agreeable. Their
sentiment is sometimes a little heroic; but
this one must overlook ; and it is a taste, more
over, that is falling into disuse as people read
better books than formerly."

" And you prefer this heartlessness, Eve,
to the nature of your own country !"

" I do not know that quiet retentie and a
good tone are a whit more heartless than
flirting, giggling, and childishness. There


may be more nature in the latter, certainly ;
but they are scarcely as agreeable after one
has fairly got rid of the nursery !"

Grace looked vexed, but she loved her cou
sin too sincerely to be angry. A secret suspi
cion that Eve was right, too, came in aid of
her affections ; and while her little foot moved,
she maintained her good-nature, a task not
always attainable for those who believe that
their own " superlatives " scarcely reach to
other people's " positives." At this critical
moment, when there was so much danger of
a jar in the feelings of these two young fe
males, the library door opened, and Pierre,
Mr. Kffingham's own man, announced,

" Monsieur Bragg."

66 Monsieur who ?" asked Eve in surprise.

<{ Monsieur Bragg," returned Pierre, in
French, " desires to see Mademoiselle."

" You mean my father : I know no such

" He inquired first for Monsieur ; but un
derstanding Monsieur was out, he next asked
to have the honour of seeing Mademoiselle."


" Is it what they call a person, in England,
Pierre ?"

Old Pierre smiled, as he answered

" He has the air. Mademoiselle, though he
esteems himself a personage, if I might take
the liberty of judging."

" Ask him for his card ; there must be
a mistake, I think."

While this short conversation took place,
Grace Van Courtlandt was sketching a cottage
with a pen, without attending to a word that
was said. But when Eve received the card
from Pierre, and read aloud, with the tone of
surprise that the name would be apt to excite
in a novice in the art of American nomen
clature, the words tc Aristobulus Bragg," her
cousin began to laugh.

"Who can this possibly be, Grace? Did
you ever hear of such a person ? and what
right can he have to wish to see me ?"

" Admit him, by all means ; it is your fa
ther's land agent, and he may wish to leave
some message for my uncle. You will be
obliged to make his acquaintance, sooner or


later, and it may as well be done now as at
any other time."

" You have shown this gentleman into the
front drawing-room, Pierre ?"

" Oui, Mademoiselle"

" I will ring when you are wanted."

Pierre withdrew ; and Eve opened her se
cretary, out of which she took a small manu
script book, over the leaves of which she passed
her fingers rapidly. " Here it is," she said,
smiling, " ' Mr. Aristobulus Bragg, Attorney
and Counsellor at Law, and the Agent of the
Templeton estate.' This precious little work,
you must understand, Grace, contains sketches
of the characters of such persons as I shall be
the most likely to see, by John Effingham,
A.M. It is a sealed volume, of course ; but
there can be no harm in reading the part that
touches on our present visiter ; and, with your
permission, we will have it in common.

6 Mr. Aristobulus Bragg was born in one of
the western counties of Massachusets, and
emigrated to New York, after receiving his
education, at the mature age of nineteen. At


twenty-one he was admitted to the bar ; and
for the last seven years he has been a success
ful practitioner in all the courts of Otsego,
from the justices to the circuit. His talents
are undeniable, as he commenced his education
at fourteen, and terminated it with eclat at
twenty-one, the law course included. This
man is an epitome of all that is good, and all
that is bad, in a very large class of his fellow-
citizens. He is quick-witted, prompt in ac
tion, enterprising in all things in which he has
a real stake, and ready to turn, not only his
hand, but his heart and his principles, to any
thing that offers an advantage. With him,
literally, ' nothing is too high to be aspired to,
nothing too low to be done.' He will run for
governor, or for townclerk, just as opportu
nities occur; is expert in all the practices of
his profession; has had a quarter's dancing,
with three years in the classics, and turned his
attention towards medicine and divinity, be
fore he finally settled down into the law.
Such a compound of shrewdness, impudence,
common sense, pretension, humility, cleverness,


vulgarity, kind-heartedness, duplicity, selfish
ness, law-honesty, moral fraud, and mother-
wit, mixed up with a smattering of learning
and much penetration in practical things, can
hardly be described, as any one of his pro
minent qualities is certain to be met by an
other quite as obvious, that is almost its con
verse. Mr. Bragg, in short, is purely a crea
ture of circumstances, his qualities pointing
him out for either a member of Congress, or
a deputy sheriff, offices that he is equally
ready to fill. I have employed him to watch
over the estate of your father, in the absence
of the latter, on the principle that one prac
tised in tricks is the best qualified to detect
and expose them ; and with the certainty that
no man will trespass with impunity, so long
as the courts continue to tax bills of costs
with their present liberality.'

" You appear to know the gentleman,
Grace ; is this character of him faithful ?"

" I know nothing of bills of costs and de
puty sheriffs, but I do know that Mr. Aristo-


bulus Bragg is an amusing mixture of strut,
humility, vulgarity, roguery, and cleverness.
He is waiting all this time in the drawing-
room, and you had better see him, as he may
now be almost considered a part of the fa
mily. You know he has been living in the
house at Templeton ever since he was installed
by Mr. John Effingham. It was there I had
the honour first to meet him."

" First ! Surely you have never seen him
anywhere else ?"

" Your pardon, my dear. He never comes
to town without honouring me with a call.
This is the price I pay for having had the
honour of being an inmate of the same house
with him for a week."

Eve rang the bell, and Pierre made his ap

" Desire Mr. Bragg to walk into the li

Grace looked demure while Pierre was gone
to usher in their visiter ; and Eve was think
ing of the medley of qualities John Effingham


had assembled in his description, as the door
opened and the subject of her contemplations

" Monsieur Aristobuk" said Pierre, eyeing
the card intensely, but sticking at the first name.

Mr. Aristobulus Bragg was advancing with
an easy assurance to make his bow to the la
dies, when the more finished air and quiet
dignity of Miss Effingham, who was standing,
so far disconcerted him as completely to upset
his self-possession. As Grace had expressed
it, in consequence of having lived three years
in the old residence at Templeton, he had
begun to consider himself a part of the family,
and at home he never spoke of the young lady
without calling her " Eve," or (( Eve Effing-
ham." But he found it a very different thing
to affect familiarity among his associates, and
to practise it in the very face of its subject ;
and although seldom at a loss for words of
some sort or another, he was now actually
dumbfounded. Eve relieved his awkwardness
by directing Pierre, with her eyes, to hand a
chair, and speaking first.


" I regret that my father is not within," she
said, by way of turning the visit from herself ;
" but he is expected every moment. Are you
lately from Templeton ?"

Aristobulus drew his breath, and recovered
enough of his ordinary tone of manner to reply
with a decent regard to his character for self-
command. The intimacy that he had intended
to establish on the spot was temporarily de
feated, it is true, and without his exactly
knowing how it had been effected ; for it was
merely the steadiness of the young lady,
blended as it was with a polished reserve,
that had thrown him to a distance he could
not explain. He felt immediately, and with
a tact that did his sagacity credit, that his
footing in this quarter was only to be obtained
by unusually slow and cautious means. Still
Mr. Bragg was a man of great decision, and,
in his way, of very far-sighted views ; and,
singular as it may seem, at that unpropitious
moment, he mentally determined that, at no
very distant day, he would make Miss Eve
Effingham Mrs. Aristobulus Bragg.


" I hope Mr. John Effingham enjoys good
health," he said, with some such caution as
that with which a rebuked school-girl enters on
the recitation of her task. " He enjoyed bad
health, I hear," (Mr. Aristobulus Bragg,
though so shrewd and observant, was far from
critical in his modes of speech) " when he went
to Europe ; and after travelling so far in such
bad company, it would be no more than fair
that he should have a little respite as he ap
proached home and old age."

Had Eve been told that the man who ut
tered this nice sentiment, and that, too, in ac
cents as refined and harmonious as the thought
was finished and lucid, actually presumed to
think of her as his bosom companion, it is not
easy to say which would have predominated
in her mind, mirth or resentment. But Mr.
Bragg was not in the habit of letting his
secrets escape him prematurely, and certainly
this was one that none but a wizard could
have discovered without the aid of a direct
oral, or written communication.

" Are you lately from Templeton ?" re-


peated Eve, a little surprised that the gentle
man had not seen fit to answer the question,
which was the only one that, as it seemed to

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Online LibraryJames Fenimore CooperEve Effingham : or, Home → online text (page 1 of 13)