P. Hamilton (Peter Hamilton) Myers.

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feel convinced, as she now did, that all her suspicions were unfounded ;
and when Henrich re-appeared, with freshened features and smiling
face, the last vestige of her fears had departed.

" Let us hasten and find poor Emily," she said, " who may have
fainted upon the road, for her fright, I believe, was greater, if possi-
ble, than mine."

Miss Roselle, however, had reached home nearly senseless, and
scarcely able to articulate ; but she had succeeded in informing her
frightened hostess that Blanche had been carried forcibly off by a
horrid-looking bandit, armed to the teeth, and that she herself
had narrowly escaped the same fate. Her ar^i^'al, however, had for-
tunately been retarded by the indirect route which she had taken,
and before any alarm could be communicated to the neighbors,
Blanche and Henrich were distinctly seen at a distance, descending
the hill side, and approaching towards home.

" She's rescued — she's rescued," shouted Emily, and darting from
the house, she hastened to meet her friend with every token of
delight. Visions of chivalrous knights of the silver cross or the


golden plume, began to pciss through her mind, and she only-
regretted that she did not see her swooning cousin, hanging, with
dishevelled hair, across the pommel of the saddle, held by one gaunt-
leted hand of her rescuer, while another guided his fiery steed.
Reluctantly pardoning the approaching hero for the absence of the
horse and its accessaries, she was conning fit phrases to commend
his bravery, when the merry smiles of Blanche and something in
the appearance of her companion began to impress her with a mor-
tifying presentiment of the true stat<3 of the case. As this was at
once verified by her cousin's explanation. Miss Roselle was not a
little discomfited, but inasmuch as Henrich politely took his leave
after consigning his charge to her care, she still entertained the hope
that he might be a bandit after all, who had indulged in a sudden
fit of magnanimity. Convinced that this was not probable, her
hopes successively fell to a smuggler and a housebreaker, and she was
sure he bore a resemblance to some pictures she had seen of such
characters, who were quite apt, she said, to be handsome, with small
white necks, and waving hair. That he did not dare to accompany
them quite home, that he departed in the direction of the woods on
pretence of having forgotten his gun, that he did not mention his
name or inquire Blanche's, or ask permission to call and learn if she
had quite recovered, were so many arguments for her opinion ; and
Miss Montaigne, much amused, did not care to controvert a posi-
tion which, however convinced of its incorrectness, she had no means
of disproving. On reaching home they found Mrs. Sniff fully
inclined to adopt the views of Emily, but when the cousins had with
much difficulty agreed upon a tolerably correct description of the
stranger, she could not fail to recognise the picture as that of Mr.
Huntington, on whom she had previously bestowed a glowing pane-
gyric in their presence. Emily was therefore driven from the last
foothold of her romantic theory, and abaQdoning it with little
grace she contrived to throw the burden of her blunder on the
widow to wliose unnecessary warnings all their alarm was attjibnta-


ble. Mrs. Sniff was a lady of meek inaiiners, when policy dictated
humility, and she shouldered the reproach manfully, only hoping
that the dear young ladies might never find occasion to credit her
assertions more fully.

To Henrich the adventure was fraught with interest ; the impres-
sion made by the charms of Blanche, and especially by her artless
and graceful deportment, hung around him like a spell. Her swoon
and recovery, her succeeding alarm, and her final rehef from appre-
hension, had presented with rapid transition, so many phases of a
beauty, which dazzled alike in each, and seemed an epitome of every
variety of lovehness. Mingled with this admiration, a strong curi-
osity pervaded his mind. Who was this fascinating stranger, and
from what region, benighted by her absence, had she come, to
irradiate the New World with her charms ? Such were the ques-
tions which, in a moment of enthusiasm, Henrich mentally pro-
pounded, and which, smiling at his own ardor, he determined
speedily to solve. Not that it could avail him aught to know. If
the bright picture would bear a close and continued inspection, if
there was no dark reverse to its first dazzling surface, his fears at
once suggested some other barrier, high and insuperable, which
would intervene between himself and so attractive an object. Hope,
like the hooded falcon, refused to soar, and gained with difficulty
even an upward glance of aspiration. How strange a feature of
the human heart is that which adjusts its doubts to the magnitude
of its desires, and sees, by the light whicb streams from some
coveted goal, only the obstacles which crowd the path of attain-
ment !

But Henrich reflected with pleasure that politeness demanded of
him a visit to the strangers after their singular meeting ; and he did
not hesitate to call upon them on the same evening. He was
received with? evident pleasure by both the ladies, and the event of
the day formed the theme of no httle merriment.

"It was really very ridiculous of us, Mr. Huntington," said


Blanche, " and you must be generous enough not to tell the story
greatly to our disadvantage : please to throw in a few additional
marks of blood, for our excuse and, if possible, the wolf's head and

" It is quite unnecessary. Miss Roselle," replied Henrich ; " the
rivulet in which I washed told me that your fears were fully justi-
fiable. I httle thought that my encounter with the beast would be
the cause of so much suffering."

" Do not speak of it," Blanche rejoined ; " the joke is well worth
its cost — but pray, tell us, what were your own sensations at so
strange an interruption to your reverie ?"

'* You will laugh," answered Henrich, " when I tell you, that at
first I fully beheved I had startled a covey of partridges ; the flutter-
ing of dresses was not unlike the noise of their wings, and the fallen
tree, which is the frequent resort of these birds, doubtless confirmed
the illusion."

" This is really quite too bad !" exclaimed Miss Montaigne ; " I
had fully hoped to make you own to a little fi'ight or trepidation,
or something that might make an offset to our fears ; but instead of
that, it seems we have all the ridicule to ourselves, and have nar-
rowly escaped being shot, as birds, besides."

" You are truly unfortunate," said Henrich. " I do not see that
your misery admits of any palliation."

" Well, well," continued Blanche, laughing ; " we may at least
be thankful that Mr. Huntington did not mistake us for owls
instead of partridges, which our stupidity would have rendered quite

The interview was prolonged somewhat beyond the limits of a
formal call, and when Henrich rose to depart, it was with a reluc-
tance that surprised himself Mrs. Sniff politely asked him to
repeat his visit, and, unconsciously, his eye turned to Miss Mon-
taigne, with^the hope of hearing the invitation seconded from the
only quarter which could give it value ; but Blanche, with instinc-


tive delicacy, remained silent, and Emily, to whom, in her character
as an elder sister, such a duty more properly pertained, saw fit to
follow her cousin's example. After a moment's hesitation, the visiter
replied ceremoniously, and withdrew. With admiration undimi-
nished, hope unaugmented, curiosity unsated, he returned slowly and
thoughtfully to his home. If Miss Montaigne had given the sim-
plest form of assent to the widow's polite request — a bow, a smile,
or even a marked look, there would have been a little loop on which
to hang a httle hope of favor ; now there was none, and he might
not again seek their presence. The rumors of their rank, which
Mrs. Sniff sedulously diffused, doubtless by way of aiding their
design of seclusion, did not fail soon afterwards to reach his ears,
and confirmed him in the mortifying belief that the omission of the
much coveted invitation was by no means accidental.



" She's beautiful, and therefore to be woo'd ;
She is woman, and therefore to be won.'"— Shaks ,— Henry VI.

Major St. George Grover was a man who had made some
converts to the doctrine of total depravity ; yet he was far from
being a polemic, and might have found it difficult to tell what were
his own views on that much mooted point. Of an aristocratic and
wealthy family in England, he had long pursued an unremitting
career of profligacy in that country, whence he had but recently
transplanted his vices into the New World, where, it need scarcely be
said, they took deep root, and produced an abundant harvest ; not
dissimilar, indeed, to some indigenous crops in the same soil, for
earth, unfortunately, has no clime in which sin is an exotic.

Major Grover was one of the individuals who had accompanied
Lord Cornbury on board the St. Cloud, where he had been a silent
observer of events, had been struck with Miss Montaigne's beauty,
had stared at her with relentless effrontery, and, scarcely aside, had
laughed merrily with Ensign Midge over some jeering remarks upon
her charms. He' had at once resolved on becoming acquainted
with so attractive a person ; and he saw with delight that her com-
panion was a simpleton, and her protector a priest of the proscribed
school. For many days he had lost trace of the strangers, but he
discovered their retreat at length, and learned, by singular assiduity,
the history and situation of their hostess, with the prominent traits
of her character. He learned, too, that beau Shiel was a distant
relative of the widow, rather beyond speaking distance, it is true,


but privileged, of course, at any time to resume the claims of kin.
Shiel on his request did not hesitate to call on Mrs. Sniff, much to
her delight, and to express his regrets that the cares of business had
prevented him for some little time preceding from keeping bright the
chain of friendship between himself and his respected cousin. But
the widow said it was not to be spoken of, and she w^as sure she was
much obliged to Mr. Shiel for remembering her at all ; and so a
footing was very soon established for that gentleman in the dove-cot ;
and he knew, as he expressed himself to Major Grover, exactly
where he stood. He did not know where the ladies stood, how-
ever, for, equally to his own chagrin and that of Mrs. Sniff, they did
not descend to the drawing-room, and the widow was compelled to
manufacture two extempoi-aneous headaches in their behalf. She
took the opportunity, however, to hint at the scrupulosity of rank,
and informed Mr. Shiel that she would try to prevent a recurrence
of his disappointment, if he would do her the honor to dine with
her on the ensuing day, an invitation at which he secretly exulted,
and which, after a very studious perusal of some blank tablets, to
make sure that he had no other engagements, he graciously

But now came Mrs. Sniff's turn to be delighted, aye, to be
thrown into a very paroxysm of silent ecstasies ; for Mr. Shiel
craved the very particular favor of being allowed to bring with him
bis friend, the Honorable Major Grover, a gentleman of ancient
family, who could trace his lineage back to the days of the Con-
quest, and was even suspected of having had ancestors before that
period ; but that was mere conjecture. The favor was of course
readily accorded, and the visitor took his leave, with a profusion of
courteous words and gestures, in which line, however, he scarcely
transcended the remarkable exploits of the widow, who seemed to
respond with a sort of mesmeric motion to all the grimaces and
genuflections of her visitor.

It had been a rash and unconsidered thing, Mrs. Sniff's invitation


had, and the subject lay all that night upon her mind vAih pecuhar
heaviness. Strange \dsions haunted her sleep. Her lodgers had
again proved refractory, and would not leave their rooms, and her
illustrious visiters and herself were vainly trying to dine upon a pair
of boiled ej^aulettes, which defied all her attempts at carving, and
were quite deficient in gravy besides. If she tried to propitiate
Blanche, she was pelted with glass shppers for her pains ; and
Emily, taught by her fi-iend's example, proved equally intractable.
The dews of anxious thought were upon the widow's brow when
she awoke in the morning, which was necessarily at an early hour ;
for, to secure such a result, she had compelled a bantam rooster,
famed for his vociferous greetings of the dawn, to take lodgings in
her room. She set earnestly about the labors of the day, and
engaged in the preparations for dinner with such enthusiasm, as to
quite overlook the minor matter of breakfast, a meal which, by the
customs of that age, was clearly entitled to precedence. She was
fortunately, however, reminded of this slight blunder by a voracious
serving girl, whose seldom-sated appetite proved a faithful monitor
on the occasion.

Fearful that Blanche and Emily would in some way slip
through her fingers, after all, it was not until the latest allowable
minute that she informed them of her expected guests ; they
were only some of her particular friends, she said, who would
take things quite as they found them, and were not to be treated
with ceremony. Major Grover was so fond of his beloved England,
that he longed to see any one who had recently trod its blessed
shores, so Mr. Shiel had said, and she thought it was a very pretty
sentiment, and one which did equal honor to his heart and his
gizzard — which last word was a la2mis UngucB of the widow, occa-
sioned by a sudden remembrance of a contemplated chicken fricasee,
in which those parts of the dissected fowl were to figure.

Miss Montaigne did not absent herself from the great dinner, for
she had not the heart to disappoint her anxious hostess, and,


doubtless, was not quite devoid of curiosity to see one of the lions of
New York society ; while Emily was delighted beyond bounds at
an event so full of promise. The visiters came in due season, and
were introduced in due form. The widow and Miss Eoselle, who
were both elaborately dressed, seemed equally to captivate the
obliging Shiel, who quite gave up the beautiful Blanche to the
attentions of his friend. That these were anything but pleasing to
her would have been quite apparent to an indifferent observer ; but
Grover, being quite fascinated by his companion, fell into the com-
mon error of believing that she was equally pleased. It will not be
necessary to record more minutely the events of a day, memorable
only for laying the foundation of an acquaintance, which the major
strove sedulously to improve, and which led to some striking results.
For a while he persecuted Blanche with attentions seemingly
respectful, but which took no form sufficiently definite to admit of
eflfectual repulse. She avoided him when she could, and when she
could not, was coldly civil, and ceremoniously polite. Thus affairs
stood for a few weeks, when an event occurred which wrought a
marked change in the designs of the suitor. He chanced one even-
ing at a restaurateur's to hear the name of Roselle pronounced in a
foreign accent, and upon observation he discovered two Frenchmen
of the lower class, conversing together in their own language, and
in a low tone of voice. A little attention enabled him to perceive
that the colloquists were sailors who had formed part of the crew of
the St. Cloud, and that they were discussing some events connected
with its capture. Seemingly engrossed in some other matter, he
contrived to pay the closest attention to their discourse, which was
the less guarded, because they supposed their dialect to be unintelli-
gible to the other individuals present.

From this conversation Grover learned the important fact that the
younger of the two ladies passing under the name of Roselle was, in
reality, a daughter of the celebrated Baron Montaigne, who, on arriving
at New York, had assumed the obscurer name which she now bore,


and that she only awaited vSorae expected opportunity to be provided
by her father, for leaving the city. This information was full of
interest to the listener, and for a while he could not decide how best
to avail himself of its advantages. Despite his self-flattery, he was
conscious that he had as yet made no advances in Blanche's affec-
tions adequate to his exertions ; and it was now a solace to his pride
to beheve that if he was baffled it was by one, conscious of rank
temporarily obscured, which might claim an equality with his own.
What then if he should abandon his irrational prejudices against
matrimony, and seek this peerless beauty with an honest love ? The
hymeneal fetters could not be as onerous as they had been repre-
sented, especially if one were disposed to wear them loosely, as he
certainly should do. Blanche would adorn any circle ; her dowry,
if not immediate, would, doubtless, be princely at some future day ;
and he would carry her back to England to eclipse the crowds of
Lady Janes and Lady Annes, whose virtuous mamas had denounced
him as an irreclaimable rou^^ and had shown as much perturbation
at his appearance in their guarded circles, as the cluttering hen when
the hawk hovers in the air. He would, besides, have the credit of
great generosity and disinterestedness ; for he would woo and wed
the stranger in her assumed name, seemingly ignorant of her true
rank and expected patrimony. Thus would he also pay the higher
compliment to her attractions, and make more sure of her regard.
But on the last point he indulged no fears ; the thought of a refusal
did not enter into his mind, and would have been scouted as
the very ravings of delirium. Having thus resolved, he kept his
own counsel and lost no time in inaction. There was, at once, a
marked change in the character of his addresses to Blanche, who,
finding no coolness sufficient to discourage him, rejoiced at the
prospect of being soon able to give him a peremptory dismissal.
She was not kept long awaiting such an opportunity, but found it a
difficult thing to convince her astonished suitor that she really
rejected his offer. It was again and again renewed, and the haughty



major found himself under the mortifying necessity of crying up his
value, and explaining the magnanimity of his proposal. His wealth,
his rank, his family, were all dilated upon as creating a disparity of
advantages in his favor, which might w^ell entitle him to look for a
different answer. But no different answer came. Blanche was
obliged to him for his good opinion ; she had endeavored, since the
first suspicion of his sentiments, to discourage him, and she begged
that her decision might be considered final and conclusive.

Grover retired from this interview, — not a lover, — but a madman.
Opposition had inflamed his passion, wounded his vanity, awakened
his pride, and called into intense action every evil part of his nature.
He was capable of making a mock of every moral obligation, when
his mind w^as undisturbed ; what he could do in its present dangerous
ebullition, remains to be seen.



"Win her with gifts, if she respect not words ;
Dumb jewels often, in their silent kind,
More quick than words, do move a woman's mind."

— Two Oentlemen of Verona.
" Within the oyster's shell uncouth
The purest pearl may hide : —
Trust uie— you'll find a heart of truth
Within that rough outside."— Jl/rs. Osgood.

The movements of Major Grover for the few days succeeding the
events last related were of a singular character. He was much
alone, was often wrapt in contemplation, and occasionally gave way
to unusual expressions of feehng. At times he was closeted with a
rough sailor-like man, to whom, in the presence of third parties, he
talked loudly of cargoes and consignments, but for whose private ear
he had other themes. Captain Snell had just arrived in the city,
and his ship, anchored off Staten Island, had not yet been able to
get into port, notwithstanding the most favorable winds that ever
wafted keel. He had, indeed, a rich cargo of goods, which he had
procured with much labor and peril on the high seas, and he wanted
a market and protection while he disposed of his property : he
wanted, as he significantly said, " to be winked at" by the govern-
ment. He needed in short exactly what Grover could procure for
him, which the latter very well knew, and he played his card

" It's only a wedding trip. Captain Snell," he said, summing up
the substance of many previous remarks to his acquiescent auditor ;
" a few weeks' absence, a httle assistance, perhaps, in conveying my


bride to the vessel, and your evidence if necessary afterwards, that
it was all fair and voluntary — that's all."

"That's all easy enough, major," rephed the sailor, — "I did
something such a job once for a count in Lisbon, and she was quiet
enough when we got back ; they won't prosecute their husbands, of
course, and have to make the best of it."

" That's it, exactly," said Grover, who next proceeded to explain
the details of his proposed plan, to all of which the other listened
attentively, and pronounced it easily practicable.

"It isn't anything at all," he said ; "I thought it must be a hfe
and death aflfair, at least, from the way you tacked and shifted
around the subject before you came to it ; but it aint anything, that
aint, and she hves where she is so easily to be got at, too ; just let
me know when you are ready — that's all."

Grover, who was quite in earnest in his infernal scheme, proceeded
to make the necessary arrangements, yet without taking any one
fully into his confidence. The temporary absence of the wddow and
Emily was to be procured ; and Shiel w^as considered the fitting
agent for this part of the entei^^rise. On the day selected he invited
the ladies to take a drive with him on Long Island ; and easily
accepting Blanche's excuse, which had been anticipated, he found
httle difficulty in persuading the other two to accompany him.
That there was mischief on foot of some kind, he very wtII knew,
but of what particular variety, he w^as ignorant. It would have been
easy to lure the servant girl from home, who was a colored slave
about twenty years old ; but as such a measure might excite
Blanche's suspicions, it w^as resolved rather to kidnap and dispose of
her at some southern market. UnwilHng, however, to resort to
these extreme measures, while there remained the slightest hopes of
success by milder means, and still flattering himself that Miss Mon-
taigne might already have repented her decision, Grover resolved to
make first a final efl:brt at persunsion. He had, indeed, exhausted
every variety of blandishment ; he had practised all those pleasing


arts whicli a life of gallantry had tanglit him ; but he would make
one additional effort, and fortify it, if necessary, by disclosing to
Blanche the mesh with whicli she was surrounded, and from which
she could indulge no hope of escape.

It was a calm afternoon in June that had been selected for this
daring and atrocious exploit, and Miss Montaigne, seated alone in the
little parlor which has been described, was reflecting upon the
marked events which had recently diversified her life, and changed
it from one of singular monotony to one of unusual and varied
action. What fortune was in store for her in that mysterious future
which seemed thickly shrouded from her view, it was impossible to
conjecture. Separated since infancy from every near relation, she
was about to join a parent who manifested no affection for her, and
one whose Huron wife and half Huron daughter would occupy
towards her the legal relation of mother and sister. With such
companions she was to pass her time, buried in the forest, and even
of less consequence than her Indian sister, who doubtless at least
possessed the affection and regard of her savage relations. Of Myr-
tle and her mother she could only think as of tawny and blanketed
women, like those of their race whom she had seen during her

Online LibraryP. Hamilton (Peter Hamilton) MyersThe King of the Hurons → online text (page 5 of 29)