James Fenimore Cooper.

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more," said Mr. Effingham, you may read
the real condition of the country. In all that
requires something more than usual, there is
a deficiency ; in all that is deemed an average,
there is something better than common. The
tendency is to raise to a respectable height every
thing that is elsewhere degraded ; when this
height is attained an attraction of gravitation
commences that draws all towards the centre
a little closer than could be wished, perhaps."

46 Ay, ay, Ned; this is very pretty, with
your attraction and gravitation ; but wait and



judge for yourself of the average of which you
now speak so complacently."

" Nay, John, I borrowed the image from
you; if it be not accurate, I shall hold you
responsible for its defects."

" They tell me," said Eve, " that all Ame
rican villages are towns in miniature ; chil
dren dressed in hoops and wigs. Is this so,

66 A little; there is too much desire to imi
tate the towns perhaps, and possibly too- little
feeling of country life."

" This is a very natural consequence, after
all, of people's living entirely in such places,"
observed Sir George Templemore. " One sees
much of this on the continent of Europe,
because the country population is merely a
country population ; and less of it in England,
perhaps, because those who are at the head of
society consider town and country as very
distinct things."

" La campagne est vraiment delicieuse en
Amerique" exclaimed Mademoiselle Viefville,


in whose eyes, however, the whole country was
little more than campagne,

The next morning our travellers proceeded
by the way of Schenectady, whence they
ascended the beautiful valley of the Mohawk
by means of a canal boat, the cars that now
fly along its length not having commenced
their active flights at that time. With the
scenery every one was delighted, for while it
differed essentially from that through which the
party had passed the previous day, it was
scarcely less beautiful.

At a point where the necessary route di
verged from the direction of the canal, carriages
belonging to Mr. Effingham were in readiness
to receive the travellers, and here they were
also favoured with the presence of Mr. Bragg,
who fancied such an attention might be agree
able to the young ladies, as well as to his




"Tell me, where is fancy bred,
Or in the heart, or in the head ?
How begot, how nourished ? "

Song in Shakspeare.

THE travellers were several hours in ascend
ing the mountains, by a country road that
could scarcely be surpassed by a French wheel-
track of the same sort. Mademoiselle Viefville
'protested twenty times in the course of the
morning, that it was a thousand pities Mr.
Effingham had not the privilege of the corvee,
that he might cause the approach to his terres
to be kept in better condition. At length they
reached the summit, a point where the waters
began to flow southward, when the road became
tolerably level. From this time their progress


became more rapid, and they continued to
advance two or three hours longer at a steady
pace. Aristobulus now informed his compa
nions that, in observance of instructions from
John Effingham, he had ordered the coachman
to take a road that led a little from the direct
line of their journey, and that they had been
travelling for some time on one of the more
ancient routes to Templeton.

" I was aware of this," said Mr. Effingham,
" though ignorant of the reason. We are on
the great western turnpike."

" Certainly, sir, and all according to Mr.
John's request. There would have been a
great saving in distance, and, agreeably to my
notion, in horse-flesh, had we quietly gone
down the banks of the lake. 1 '

" Jack will explain his own meaning in his
own good time," returned Mr. Effingham,
"and he has stopt the carriage and alighted
with Sir George ; a hint, I fancy, that we are
to follow their example." Sure enough, the
second carriage was now stopped, and Sir
George hastened to open its door.


" Mr. John Effingham, who acts as cice
rone," cried the baronet, "insists that every
one shall put pied a terre at this precise spot,
keeping the important reason a secret, however,
in the recesses of his own bosom."

The ladies complied, and the carriages were
ordered to proceed with the domestics, leaving
the rest of the travellers by themselves, appa
rently in the heart of a forest.

" It is to be hoped, Mademoiselle, there are
no banditti in America," said Eve, as they
looked around them at the novel situation in
which they were placed, and this, apparently,
by a mere caprice of her cousin.

" Ou des sauvages," returned the governess,
who, in spite of her ordinary intelligence and
great good sense, had several times that day
cast uneasy and stolen glances into the bits
of dark wood they had occasionally passed.

" I will insure your purses and your scalps,
mesdames" cried John Effingham, gaily, "on
condition that you will follow me implicitly,
and by way of pledge for my faith, I solicit


the honour of supporting Mademoiselle Vief-
ville on this unworthy arm."

The governess laughingly accepted the con
ditions ; Eve took the arm of her father, and
Sir George offered his to Grace ; Aristobulus,
to his surprise, being left to walk entirely alone.
It struck him, however, as so singularly im
proper that a young lady should be supported
on such an occasion by her own father, that he
frankly and gallantly proposed to Mr. Effing-
ham to relieve him of his burthen ; an offer
that was declined with quite as much distinct
ness as it was made. " I suppose cousin Jack
has a meaning to his melo-drama," said Eve,
as they entered the forest ; " and I dare say,
dear father, that you are behind the scene,
though I perceive determined secrecy in your

" John may have a cave to show us, or some
tree of extraordinary height, for such things
exist in the country."

" We are very confiding, Mademoiselle, for
I detect treachery in every face ^around us ;


even Miss Van Courtlandt has the air of a con
spirator, and seems to be in league with some
thing or somebody. Pray, heavens, it be not
with wolves."

" Des loups r exclaimed Mademoiselle Yief-
ville, stopping short, with a mien so alarmed
as to extort a general laugh. " Est-ce qu'il
y a des loups, et des sangliers, dans cetteforet ?"
" No, Mademoiselle, 1 ' returned her com
panion, " this is only barbarous America,
and not civilized France. Were we in le de-
partement de la Seine we might apprehend some
such dangers, but being merely in the moun
tains of Otsego, we are reasonably safe."

" Je respire," murmured the governess, as
she reluctantly and distrustfully proceeded,
glancing her eyes incessantly to the right and
to the left. The path now became steep and
rather difficult ; so much so, indeed, as to in
dispose every one to conversation. It led
beneath the branches of lofty pines, though
there existed, on every side of them, proofs
of the ravages man had committed in that noble
forest. At length they were compelled to stop


for breath, after having ascended considerably
above the road they had left.

" I ought to have said that the spot where
we entered on this path is memorable in the
family history," observed John Effingham to
Eve, " for it was the precise place where one
of our predecessors lodged a shot in the shoul
ders of another."

" Then I know precisely where we are ! "
cried our heroine, " though I cannot yet ima
gine why we are led into this forest, unless it
be to visit some spot hallowed by a deed of
Natty Bumppo's !"

" Time will solve this mystery as well as
all others. Let us proceed." Again they as
cended, and, after a few more minutes of toil,
they reached a sort of table-land, and drew
near an opening in the trees, where a little
circle had evidently been cleared of its wood,
though it was quite small and untilled. Eve
looked curiously about her, as did all the
others to whom the place was novel, and she
was lost in doubt.

" There seems to be a void beyond us," said

M 5


the baronet ; " I rather think Mr. John Effing-
ham has led us to the verge of a view."

At this suggestion the party moved on in a
body, and they were well rewarded for the toil
of the ascent, by a view that was almost Swiss
in character and beauty.

" Now, indeed, do I know where we are,"
exclaimed Eve, clasping her hands in rapture.
" This is the * vision/ and yonder is our blessed
home ! "

The whole artifice of the surprise was ex
posed, and after the first burst of pleasure had
subsided, all to whom the scene was new, felt
that they would not have missed this piquante
introduction to the valley of the Susquehannah
on any account.

That the reader may understand the causes
of so much delight, and why John Effingham
had prepared this scene for his friends, we
shall stop to give a short description of the
objects that now met the eyes of the travellers.
It is known that they were in a small open
spot in a forest, and on the verge of a precipit
ous mountain ; the trees encircled them on


every side but one, and on that one lay the
panorama, although the tops of tall pines, that
grew in lines almost parallel to the declivity,
rose nearly to a level with their eyes.

Hundreds of feet beneath them, directly in
front, and stretching leagues to the right, was
a lake embedded in forests and hills. On the
side next the travellers a fringe of forest broke
the line of water, and, on the other, the
landscape was limited by high broken hills, or
low mountains rather, that were covered with
farms, beautifully relieved by patches of wood,
in a way to resemble the scenery of a vast
park, or a royal pleasure ground. High
valleys lay among these uplands, and in every
direction comfortable dwellings dotted the
fields. The dark hues of the evergreens,
with which all the heights near the water
were shaded, were in soft contrast to the
livelier green of the other foliage, while the
meadows and pastures were luxuriant with a
verdure unsurpassed by that of England or
Switzerland. Bays and points added to the
exquisite outline of the glassy lake on the shore,


while one of the former withdrew towards the
north-west, in a way to leave the eye doubtful
whether it saw the termination of the trans
parent sheet or not. Towards the south, bold,
varied, but cultivated hills, also bounded the
view, all teeming with the fruits of human la
bour, and yet all relieved by pieces of wood, in
the way already mentioned, so as to give the
entire region the character of park scenery. A
wide, deep, even valley, commenced at the
southern end of the lake, or nearly opposite
the stand of our travellers, and stretched away
south, until concealed by a curvature in the
range of the mountains. Like all the hill tops,
this valley was verdant, peopled, wooded in
certain places, though less abundantly than
the mountains, and teeming with the signs of
life. Roads wound through its peaceful re
treats, and might be traced working their way
along the glens, and up the weary ascents for
miles in every direction.

At the northern termination of this lovely
valley, and on the margin of the lake, lay the
village of Templeton,, immediately under the


eyes of the party. The distance, in a straight
unbroken line, from their stand to the centre
of the dwellings, could not be much less than a
mile ; but the atmosphere was so pure, and the
day so calm, that it seemed much less. The
children, and even the dogs, were seen running
about the streets, while the shrill cries of boys
at their gambols ascended distinctly to the

As this was the Templeton of the Pioneers,
and as the progress of society during half a
century is connected with the circumstance, we
shall give the reader a more accurate notion
of its present state than can be obtained from
incidental allusions. We undertake the office
more readily because this is not one of those
places that shoot up in a day under the un
natural efforts of speculation, or which, fa
voured by peculiar advantages in the way of
trade, becomes a precocious city while the
stumps still stand in its streets ; but a sober
country town, that has advanced steadily, pari
passu, with the surrounding region, and offers
a fair specimen of the more regular advance-


ment of the whole nation in its progress to
wards civilization.

The appearance of Templeton, as seen from
the height where it is now exhibited to the
reader, was generally beautiful and map-like.
There might be a dozen streets principally
crossing each other at right angles, though
sufficiently relieved from this precise delinea
tion to prevent a starched formality. Perhaps
the greater part of the buildings were painted
white, as is usual in the smaller American
towns, though a better taste was growing in
the place, and many of the buildings had the
graver and chaster hues of the grey stones of
which they were built. A general air of neat
ness and comfort pervaded the place, it being
in this respect as unlike a continental Euro
pean town, south of the Rhine, as possible;
if, indeed, we except the picturesque bourgs
of Switzerland. In England, Templeton
would be termed a small market town, so far
as size was concerned ; in France, a large
bourg; while in America it was in common
parlance, and by legal appellation, styled a


Of the dwellings of the place, fully twenty
were of a quality that denoted ease in the con
dition of their occupants, and bespoke the
habits of those accustomed to live in a manner
superior to the great mass of their fellow-
creatures. Of these, some six or eight had
small lawns, carriage-sweeps, and the other
similar appliances of houses that were not
deemed unworthy of the honour of bearing
names of their own. No less than five little
steeples, towers, or belfries, for neither word
is exactly suitable to the architectural prodi
gies we wish to describe, rose above the roofs,
denoting the sites of the same number of
places of worship, an American village usually
exhibiting as many of these proofs of liberty
of conscience, caprices of conscience would
perhaps be a better term, as the dollars and
cents of the neighbourhood will, by any prac
ticable means, render attainable. Several light
carriages, such as were suited to a moun
tainous country, were passing to and fro in
the streets, and here and there a single horse
vehicle was fastened before the door of a shop,


or of a lawyer's office, denoting the presence
of some customer from among the adjacent

Templeton was not sufficiently a thorough
fare to possess one of those monstrosities, a
modern American tavern, or a structure whose
roof should overtop that of all its neighbours,
including even the churches. Still its inns
were of respectable size, well piazza'd, to use
a word of our own invention, and quite enough

Near the centre of the place, in grounds of
rather limited extent, still stood that model of
the composite order, which owed its existence
to the combined knowledge and taste of Mr.
Richard Jones and Mr. Hiram Doolittle. We
will not say that it had been modernized, for
the very reverse was the effect, in appearance,
at least ; but it had, since last presented to the
reader, undergone material changes, that were
directed by the more instructed intelligence of
John Effingham.

This building was so conspicuous by posi
tion and size, that as soon as they had taken


in glimpses of the entire landscape, which was
not done without constant murmurs of plea
sure, every eye became fastened on it as the
focus of interest. A long and common silence
denoted how general was this feeling, and after
the building had attracted their gaze, the
whole party took seats on stumps and fallen
trees before a syllable was uttered. Aristo-
bulus alone permitted his look 'to wander,
and he was curiously examining the counte
nance of Mr. Effingham, near whom he sat,
with a longing to discover whether the expres
sion was that of approbation or otherwise of
the fruits of his cousin's genius.

" Mr. John Effingham has considerably re
generated and re-vivified, not to say transmo-
graphied, the old dwelling," he said, cautious
ly using terms that might leave his own opi
nion of the changes doubtful ; " the work of
his hand has excited some speculation, a good
deal of inquiry, and a little conversation
throughout the county. It has almost pro
duced an excitement !"

" As my house came to me from my father,"


said Mr. Effingham, across whose mild and
handsome face a smile was gradually stealing,
" I knew its history ; and when called on for
an explanation of its singularities, would refer
them confidently to the composite order. But
you, Jack, have supplanted all this by a style
of your own, for explanations of which I shall
be compelled to consult the higher autho

" Do you dislike my taste, Ned ? To my
eye the structure has no bad appearance from
this spot."

" Fitness and comfort are indispensable re
quisites for domestic architecture, to use your
own argument. Are you quite sure that
yonder castellated roof, for instance, is altoge
ther suited to the deep snows of these moun
tains ?"

John Effingham whistled, as a gentleman
will sometimes whistle, and endeavoured to
look unconcerned, for he well knew that the
very first winter had demonstrated the unsuit-
ableness of his plans for such a climate. He
had actually felt disposed to cause the whole


to be altered privately at his own expense;
but, besides feeling certain that his cousin would
resent a liberty that inferred an indisposition
to pay for his own buildings, he had a reluct
ance to admit in the face of the whole country
that he had made so capital a mistake in a
branch of art on which he prided himself more
than common ; almost as much, indeed, as his
great predecessor, Mr. Richard Jones.

< { If you are not pleased with the appearance
of your dwelling, Ned," he said, "you can
have at least the consolation of looking at some
of your neighbours' houses, and perceiving that
they are a great deal uglier. Of all abortions
of this sort, to my taste, a Grecian abortion is
the worst ; mine is only Gothic, and that, too,
in a style so modest, that I should think it
might pass unmolested by any very furious

It was so unusual to see John Effingham
on the defensive, that the whole party smiled ;
while Aristobulus, who stood in salutary fear
of his caustic tongue, both smiled and won


"Nay, do not mistake me, John," returned
the proprietor of the edifice under discussion ;
" it is not your taste that I will call in question,
but your provision against the seasons. In
the way of mere outward show, I really think
you deserve high praise, for you have trans
formed a very ugly dwelling into one that is
almost handsome, in despite of proportions, and
of the necessity of regulating the alterations
by prescribed limits. Still, I think there is
a little too much of the composite left about
even the exterior."

" I hope, cousin Jack, you have not rashly
innovated on the interior," cried Eve ; " I think
I shall remember that, and nothing is more
pleasant than the catism of seeing things that
you remember in childhood pleasant, I mean,
to those whom the mania of mutation has not

"Do not be unnecessarily alarmed, Miss
Effingham," replied her kinsman, with a pet-
tishness of manner that was altogether extraor
dinary in a man whose mien in common was
so singularly composed and masculine : " you


will find all you knew, when a kitten, in its
proper place. I could not rake together again
the ashes of Queen Dido, which were scattered
to the four winds of heaven, I fear, nor could
I discover a reasonably good bust of Homer ;
but respectable substitutes are provided, and
some of them have the great merit of puzzling
all beholders to tell to whom or what they be
long; which, I believe, was the great character
istic of most of Mr. Jones's inventions. 1 '

" I am glad to see, cousin Jack, that you
have, at least, managed to give a very respecta
ble ' cloud colour 1 to the whole house."

" Ay ; it lay between that and an invisible
green," the gentleman answered, losing his
momentary spleen in his natural love of the
ludicrous ; " but finding that the latter would
be only too conspicuous in the droughts that
sometimes prevail in this climate, I settled down
into the yellowish drab, which is, indeed, not
unlike some of the richer volumes of the clouds."

" On the whole, I think you are fairly en
titled, as Steadfast Dodge, Esquire, would say,
to ' the meed of our thanks.' "


" What a lovely spot !" exclaimed Mr,
Effingham, who had already ceased to think
of his own dwelling, and whose eye was roam
ing over the soft landscape, athwart which the
lustre of a June noontide was throwing its
richest glories. " This is truly a place where
one might fancy repose and content were to be
found for the evening of a troubled life."

" Indeed, I have seldom looked upon a more
bewitching scene," answered the baronet. " The
lakes of Cumberland will scarce compete with

" Or that of Brienz, or Lungern, or Nemi,"
said Eve, smiling in a way that the other un
derstood to be a hit at his nationality.

" C^est charmant ! " murmured Mademoiselle
Viefville, " un si beau calme fait penser a I'eter-

" The farm you can see lying near yonder
wood, Mr. Effingham," coolly observed Aristo-
bulus, " sold last spring for thirty dollars the
acre, and was bought the summer before for

" Chacun a son gout / " said Eve.


" And yet, I fear this glorious scene is
marred by the envy, rapacity, uncharitableness,
and all the other evil passions of man !" con
tinued the more philosophical Mr. Effingham.
Perhaps it were better, as it was so lately,
when it lay in the solitude and peace of the
wilderness, the resort of birds and beasts."

" Who preyed on each other, dearest father,
just as the worst of our own species prey on
their fellows."

" True, child, true ; and yet I never gaze
on one of these scenes of holy calm, without
wishing that the great tabernacle of nature
might be tenanted only by those who have a
feeling for its perfection."

" Do you see the lady," said Aristobulus,
"that is just coming out on the lawn, in front
of the ' Wigwam ?'" for that was the name John
Effingham had seen fit to give the altered and
amended abode ; "here, Miss Effingham, more
in a line with the top of the pine beneath us."

"I see the person you mean ; she seems to
be looking in this direction."

" You are quite right, Miss ; she knows that


we are to stop on the Vision, and, no doubt,
sees us. That lady is your father's cook, Miss
Effingham, and is thinking of the late breakfast
that has been ordered to be in readiness against
your arrival."

Eve concealed her amusement, for by this
time she had discovered that Mr. Bragg had
a way peculiar to himself, or, at least, to his
class, of using many of the commoner words
of the English language.

It would, perhaps, be expecting too much of
Sir George Templemore not to look for a smile
on such an occasion.

"Ah!" exclaimed Aristobulus, pointing to
wards the lake, across which several skiffs were
stealing, some in one direction, some in another ;
" there is a boat that I think must contain the

" Poet !" repeated John Effingham ; " have
we reached that pass of luxury at Templeton ?"
" Lord, Mr. John Effingham, you must have
very contracted notions of the place, if you
think a poet a great novelty in it ! The lake
and mountains have been poetized a dozen


times in the last ten years. Why, sir, we have
caravans of wild beasts nearly every summer ! "

" This is, indeed, a step in advance of which
I was ignorant. Here, then, in a region that
so lately was tenanted by beasts of prey, beasts
are already brought as curiosities. You per
ceive the onward state of the country in this
fact, Sir George Templemore."

" I do, indeed ; but I should like to hear
from Mr. Bragg what sort of animals are in
these caravans."

" All sorts, sir, from monkeys to elephants.

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Online LibraryJames Fenimore CooperEve Effingham : or, Home → online text (page 11 of 13)