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a tale




And let the aspiring youth beware of love,—
Of the smooth glance, beware; for 'tis too late,
When on his heart the torrent softness pours.
Then wisdom prostrate lies, and fading fame
Dissolves in air away.


A few months passed over the heads of Ellen Langton
and her admirers, unproductive of events, that, separately,
were of sufficient importance to be related. The
summer was now drawing to a close, and Doctor Melmoth
had received information that his friend's arrangements
were nearly completed, and that, by the next home-bound
ship, he hoped to return to his native country.
The arrival of that ship was daily expected.

During the time that had elapsed since his first meeting
with Ellen, there had been a change, yet not a very
remarkable one, in Fanshawe's habits. He was still the
same solitary being, so far as regarded his own sex, and
he still confined himself as sedulously to his chamber, except
for one hour—the sunset hour—of every day. At


Page 24
that period, unless prevented by the inclemency of the
weather, he was accustomed to tread a path that wound
along the banks of the stream. He had discovered that
this was the most frequent scene of Ellen's walks, and
this it was that drew him thither.

Their intercourse was at first extremely slight. A bow
on the one side, a smile on the other, and a passing word
from both,—and then the student hurried back to his solitude.
But, in course of time, opportunities occurred for
more extended conversation; so that, at the period with
which this chapter is concerned, Fanshawe was, almost
as constantly as Edward Walcott himself, the companion
of Ellen's walks.

His passion had strengthened, more than proportionably
to the time that had elapsed since it was conceived;
but the first glow and excitement which attended it, had
now vanished. He had reasoned calmly with himself and
rendered evident to his own mind the almost utter hopelessness
of success. He had also made his resolution
strong, that he would not even endeavor to win Ellen's
love, the result of which, for a thousand reasons, could
not be happiness. Firm in this determination, and confident
of his power to adhere to it,—feeling, also, that time
and absence could not cure his own passion, and having
no desire for such a cure,—he saw no reason for breaking
off the intercourse that was established between Ellen
and himself. It was remarkable, that, notwithstanding
the desperate nature of his love, that, or something
connected with it, seemed to have a beneficial effect upon
his health. There was now a slight tinge of color in his
cheek, and a less consuming brightness in his eye. Could
it be that hope, unknown to himself, was yet alive in his
breast?—that a sense of the possibility of earthly happiness
was redeeming him from the grave?


Page 25

Had the character of Ellen Langton's mind been different,
there might perhaps have been danger to her from
an intercourse of this nature, with such a being as Fanshawe;
for he was distinguished by many of those asperities
around which a woman's affection will often cling.
But she was formed to walk in the calm and quiet paths
of life, and to pluck the flowers of happiness from the
way-side, where they grow. Singularity of character,
therefore, was not calculated to win her love. She undoubtedly
felt an interest in the solitary student, and perceiving,
with no great exercise of vanity, that her society
drew him from the destructive intensity of his studies,
she perhaps felt it a duty to exert her influence. But it
did not occur to her, that her influence had been sufficiently
strong to change the whole current of his thoughts
and feelings.

Ellen and her two lovers (for both, though perhaps, not
equally deserved that epithet) had met, as usual, at the
close of a sweet summer day, and were standing by the
side of the stream, just where it swept into a deep pool.
The current, undermining the bank, had formed a recess
which, according to Edward Walcott, afforded at that
moment a hiding place to a trout of noble size.

`Now would I give the world,' he exclaimed, with great
interest, `for a hook and line,—a fish spear, or any piscatorial
instrument of death! Look, Ellen, you can see the
waving of his tail from beneath the bank.'

`If you had the means of talking him, I should save
him from your cruelty, thus,' said Ellen, dropping a pebble
into the water, just over the fish. `There! he has
darted down the stream. How many pleasant caves and
recesses there must be, under these banks, where he
may be happy! May there not be happiness in the life
of a fish?' she added, turning with a smile to Fanshawe.


Page 26

`There may,' he replied, `so long as he lives quietly
in the caves and recesses of which you speak. Yes,
there may be happiness, though such as few would envy;
—but then the hook and line'—

`Which, there is reason to apprehend, will shortly destroy
the happiness of our friend the trout,' interrupted
Edward, pointing down the stream. `There is an angler
on his way towards us, who will intercept him.'

`He seems to care little for the sport, to judge by the
pace at which he walks,' said Ellen.

`But he sees, now, that we are observing him, and is
willing to prove that he knows something of the art,' replied
Edward Walcott. `I should think him well acquainted
with the stream; for, hastily as he walks, he
has tried every pool and ripple, where a fish usually hides.
But that point will be decided when he reaches yonder
old bare oak tree.'

`And how is the old tree to decide the question?' inquired
Fanshawe. `It is a species of evidence of which
I have never before heard.'

`The stream has worn a hollow under its roots,' answered
Edward,—`a most delicate retreat for a trout.
Now, a stranger would not discover the spot; or, if he
did, the probable result of a cast would be the loss of hook
and line,—an accident that has occurred to me more than
once. If, therefore, this angler takes a fish from thence,
it follows that he knows the stream.'

They observed the fisher, accordingly, as he kept his
way up the bank. He did not pause when he reached
the old leafless oak, that formed with its roots an obstruction
very common in American streams; but throwing
his line with involuntary skill, as he passed, he not only
escaped the various entanglements, but drew forth a fine
large fish.


Page 27

`There, Ellen, he has captivated your protegee, the
trout,—or at least one very like him in size,' observed
Edward. `It is singular,' he added, gazing earnestly at
the man.

`Why is it singular?' inquired Ellen Langton. `This
person perhaps resides in the neighborhood, and may
have fished often in the stream.'

`Do but look at him, Ellen, and judge whether his life
can have been spent in this lonely valley,' he replied.
`The glow of many a hotter sun than ours has darkened
his brow; and his step and air have something foreign in
them, like what we see in sailors, who have lived more in
other countries than in their own. Is it not so, Ellen?—
for your education in a sea port must have given you
skill in these matters. But, come,—let us approach nearer.'

They walked towards the angler, accordingly, who still
remained under the oak, apparently engaged in arranging
his fishing tackle. As the party drew nigh, he raised
his head and threw one quick, scrutinizing glance towards
them, disclosing, on his part, a set of bold and rather
coarse features, weather beaten, but indicating the age of
the owner to be not above thirty. In person he surpassed
the middle size, was well set, and evidently strong and

`Do you meet with much success, Sir?' inquired Edward
Walcott, when within a convenient distance for conversation.

`I have taken but one fish,' replied the angler, in an
accent which his hearers could scarcely determine to be
foreign, or the contrary. `I am a stranger to the stream,
and have doubtless passed over many a likely place for

`You have an angler's eye, Sir,' rejoined Edward. `I


Page 28
observed that you made your casts as if you had often
trod these banks, and I could scarcely have guided you
better myself.'

`Yes, I have learnt the art, and I love to practise it,' replied
the man. `But will not the young lady try her skill?'
he continued, casting a bold eye on Ellen. `The fish
will love to be drawn out by such white hands as those.'

Ellen shrank back, though almost imperceptibly, from
the free bearing of the man. It seemed meant for courtesy,
but its effect was excessively disagreeable. Edward
Walcott, who perceived and coincided in Ellen's feelings,
replied to the stranger's proposal.

`The young lady will not put the gallantry of the fish
to the proof, Sir,' he said, `and she will therefore have
no occasion for your own.'

`I shall take heave to hear my answer from the young
lady's own mouth,' answered the stranger, haughtily.
`If you will step this way, Miss Langton'—here he interrupted
himself,—`if you will cast the line by yonder sunken
log, I think you will meet with success.'

Thus saying, the angler offered his rod and line to Ellen.
She at first drew back,—then hesitated,—but finally
held out her hand to receive them. In thus complying
with the stranger's request, she was actuated by a
desire to keep the peace, which, as her notice of Edward
Walcott's crimsoned cheek and flashing eye assured her,
was considerably endangered. The angler led the way
to the spot which he had pointed out, which, though not
at such a distance from Ellen's companions but that words
in a common tone could be distinguished, was out of the
range of a lowered voice.

Edward Walcott and the student remained by the oak,
the former biting his lip with vexation; the latter, whose
abstraction always vanished where Ellen was concerned,


Page 29
regarding her and the stranger with fixed and silent attention.
The young men could at first hear the words
that the angler addressed to Ellen. They related to the
mode of managing the rod; and she made one or two casts
under his direction. At length, however, as if to offer
his assistance, the man advanced close to her side, and
seemed to speak; but in so low a tone, that the sense of
what he uttered was lost, before it reached the oak. But
its effect upon Ellen was immediate, and very obvious.
Her eye flashed, and an indignant blush rose high on her
cheek, giving to her beauty a haughty brightness, of
which the gentleness of her disposition in general deprived
it. The next moment, however, she seemed to recollect
herself, and restoring the angling rod to its owner,
she turned away, calmly, and approached her companions.

`The evening breeze grows chill, and mine is a dress
for a summer day,' she observed. `Let us walk homeward.'

`Miss Langton, is it the evening breeze, alone, that
sends you homeward?' inquired Edward.

At this moment, the angler, who had resumed and
seemed to be intent upon his occupation, drew a fish from
the pool which he had pointed out to Ellen.

`I told the young lady,' he exclaimed, `that if she
would listen to me a moment longer, she would be repaid
for her trouble;—and here is the proof of my words.'

`Come, let us hasten towards home,' cried Ellen, eagerly;
and she took Edward Walcott's arm, with a freedom
that, at another time, would have enchanted him.
He at first seemed inclined to resist her wishes; but complied,
after exchanging, unperceived by Ellen, a glance
with the stranger, the meaning of which the latter appeared
perfectly to understand. Fanshawe also attended her.


Page 30
Their walk towards Doctor Melmoth's dwelling was almost
a silent one, and the few words that passed between
them, did not relate to the adventure which occupied the
thoughts of each. On arriving at the house, Ellen's attendants
took leave of her, and retired.

Edward Walcott, eluding Fanshawe's observation with
little difficulty, hastened back to the old oak tree. From
the intelligence with which the stranger had received his
meaning glance, the young man had supposed that he
would here await his return. But the banks of the stream,
upward and downward, so far as his eye could reach, were
solitary. He could see only his own image in the water,
where it swept into a silent depth; and could hear only
its ripple, where stones and sunken trees impeded its
course. The object of his search might indeed have
found concealment among the tufts of alders, or in the
forest that was near at hand; but thither it was in vain to
pursue him. The angler had apparently set little store
by the fruits of his assumed occupation; for the last fish
that he had taken lay yet alive on the bank, gasping for
the element to which Edward was sufficiently compassionate
to restore him. After watching him as he glided
down the stream, making feeble efforts to resist its current,
the youth turned away, and sauntered slowly towards
the College.

Ellen Langton, on her return from her walk, found
Doctor Melmoth's little parlor unoccupied, that gentleman
being deeply engaged in his study, and his lady
busied in her domestic affairs. The evening, notwithstanding
Ellen's remark concerning the chillness of the
breeze, was almost sultry, and the windows of the apartment
were thrown open. At one of these, which looked
into the garden, she seated herself, listening almost unconsciously
to the monotonous music of a thousand insects,


Page 31
varied, occasionally, by the voice of a whippoorwill, who,
as the day departed, was just commencing his song. A
dusky tint, as yet almost imperceptible, was beginning to
settle on the surrounding objects, except where they were
opposed to the purple and golden clouds, which the vanished
sun had made the brief inheritors of a portion of his
brightness. In these gorgeous vapors, Ellen's fancy, in
the interval of other thoughts, pictured a fairy land, and
longed for wings to visit it.

But as the clouds lost their brilliancy, and assumed
first a dull purple, and then a sullen grey tint, Ellen's
thoughts recurred to the adventure of the angler, which
her imagination was inclined to invest with an undue singularity.
It was, however, sufficiently unaccountable,
that an entire stranger should venture to demand of her
a private audience; and she assigned, in turn, a thousand
motives for such a request, none of which were in any
degree satisfactory. Her most prevailing thought, though
she could not justify it to her reason, inclined her to believe
that the angler was a messenger from her father.
But wherefore he should deem it necessary to communicate
any intelligence, that he might possess, only by
means of a private interview, and without the knowledge
of her friends, was a mystery she could not solve. In
this view of the matter, however, she half regretted that
her instinctive delicacy had impelled her so suddenly to
break off their conference, admitting, in the secrecy of
her own mind, that, if an opportunity were again to occur,
it might not again be shunned. As if that unuttered
thought had power to conjure up its object, she now became
aware of a form, standing in the garden, at a short
distance from the window, where she sat. The dusk had
deepened, during Ellen's abstraction, to such a degree,
that the man's features were not perfectly distinguishable;


Page 32
but the maiden was not long in doubt of his identity,
for he approached, and spoke in the same low tone in
which he had addressed her, when they stood by the

`Do you still refuse my request, when its object is but
your own good, and that of one who should be most dear
to you?' he asked.

Ellen's first impulse had been, to cry out for assistance
—her second was, to fly;—but rejecting both these measures,
she determined to remain, endeavoring to persuade
herself that she was safe. The quivering of her voice,
however, when she attempted to reply, betrayed her apprehensions.

`I cannot listen to such a request from a stranger,' she
said. `If you bring news from—from my father, why is
it not told to Doctor Melmoth?'

`Because what I have to say is for your ear alone,'
was the reply; `and if you would avoid misfortune now,
and sorrow hereafter, you will not refuse to hear me.'

`And does it concern my father?' asked Ellen, eagerly.

`It does—most deeply,' answered the stranger.

She meditated a moment, and then replied, `I will not
refuse,—I will hear—but speak quickly.'

`We are in danger of interruption in this place,—and
that would be fatal to my errand,' said the stranger. `I
will await you in the garden.'

With these words, and giving her no opportunity for
reply, he drew back, and his form faded from her eyes.
This precipitate retreat from argument was the most probable
method, that he could have adopted, of gaining his
end. He had awakened the strongest interest in Ellen's
mind, and he calculated justly, in supposing that she
would consent to an interview upon his own terms.


Page 33

Doctor Melmoth had followed his own fancies in the
mode of laying out his garden; and, in consequence, the
plan that had undoubtedly existed in his mind, was utterly
incomprehensible to every one but himself. It was an
intermixture of kitchen and flower garden,—a labyrinth of
winding paths, bordered by hedges and impeded by shrubbery.
Many of the original trees of the forest were still
flourishing among the exotics, which the Doctor had transplanted
thither. It was not without a sensation of fear,
stronger than she had ever before experienced, that Ellen
Langton found herself in this artificial wilderness, and in
the presence of the mysterious stranger. The dusky
light deepened the lines of his dark, strong features, and
Ellen fancied that his countenance wore a wilder and a
fiercer look, than when she had met him by the stream.
He perceived her agitation, and addressed her in the
softest tones of which his voice was capable.

`Compose yourself,' he said, `you have nothing to fear
from me. But we are in open view from the house,
where we now stand; and discovery would not be without
danger, to both of us.'

`No eye can see us here,' said Ellen, trembling at the
truth of her own observation, when they stood beneath a
gnarled, low-branched pine, which Doctor Melmoth's
ideas of beauty had caused him to retain in his garden.
`Speak quickly; for I dare follow you no farther.'

The spot was indeed sufficiently solitary, and the stranger
delayed no longer to explain his errand.

`Your father,' he began,—`Do you not love him?
Would you do aught for his welfare?'

`Every thing that a father could ask, I would do,' exclaimed
Ellen, eagerly. `Where is my father; and when
shall I meet him?'


Page 34

`It must depend upon yourself, whether you shall meet
him in a few days or never.'

`Never!' repeated Ellen. `Is he ill?—Is he in danger?'

`He is in danger,' replied the man; `but not from illness.
Your father is a ruined man. Of all his friends,
but one remains to him. That friend has travelled far,
to prove if his daughter has a daughter's affection.'

`And what is to be the proof?' asked Ellen, with more
calmness than the stranger had anticipated; for she possessed
a large fund of plain sense, which revolted against
the mystery of these proceedings. Such a course, too,
seemed discordant with her father's character, whose
strong mind and almost cold heart were little likely to
demand, or even to pardon, the romance of affection.

`This letter will explain,' was the reply to Ellen's
question. `You will see that it is in your father's hand;
and that may gain your confidence, though I am doubted.'

She received the letter, and many of her suspicions of
the stranger's truth were vanquished by the apparent openness
of his manner. He was preparing to speak further,
but paused,—for a footstep was now heard, approaching
from the lower part of the garden. From their situation,
at some distance from the path, and in the shade of the
tree, they had a fair chance of eluding discovery from
any unsuspecting passenger; and when Ellen saw that
the intruder was Fanshawe, she hoped that his usual abstraction
would assist their concealment.

But, as the student advanced along the path, his air
was not that of one, whose deep, inward thoughts withdrew
his attention from all outward objects. He rather
resembled the hunter, on the watch for his game; and
while he was yet at a distance from Ellen, a wandering
gust of wind waved her white garment and betrayed her.


Page 35

`It is as I feared,' said Fanshawe to himself. He then
drew nigh, and addressed Ellen with a calm authority
that became him well, notwithstanding that his years
scarcely exceeded her own. `Miss Langton,' he inquired,
`what do you here, at such an hour, and with such a

Ellen was sufficiently displeased at what she deemed
the unauthorized intrusion of Fanshawe in her affairs;
but his imposing manner and her own confusion prevented
her from replying.

`Permit me to lead you to the house,' he continued, in
the words of a request, but in the tone of a command.
`The dew hangs dank and heavy on these branches, and
a longer stay would be more dangerous than you are

Ellen would fain have resisted; but, though the tears
hung as heavy on her eye lashes, between shame and anger,
as the dew upon the leaves, she felt compelled to accept
the arm that he offered her. But the stranger, who,
since Fanshawe's approach, had remained a little apart,
now advanced.

`You speak as one in authority, young man,' he said.
`Have you the means of compelling obedience? Does
your power extend to men?—Or do you rule only over
simple girls? Miss Langton is under my protection, and,
till you can bend me to your will, she shall remain so.'

Fanshawe turned, calmly, and fixed his eye on the
stranger. `Retire, Sir,' was all he said.

Ellen almost shuddered, as if there were a mysterious
and unearthly power in Fanshawe's voice; for she saw
that the stranger endeavored in vain, borne down by the
influence of a superior mind, to maintain the boldness of
look and bearing, that seemed natural to him. He at
first made a step forward,—then muttered a few half audible


Page 36
words;—but, quailing at length beneath the young
man's bright and steady eye, he turned and slowly withdrew.

Fanshawe remained silent, a moment, after his opponent
had departed; and when he next spoke, it was in a
tone of depression. Ellen observed, also, that his countenance
had lost its look of pride and authority; and he
seemed faint and exhausted. The occasion that called
forth his energies had passed; and they had left him.

`Forgive me, Miss Langton,' he said, almost humbly,
if my eagerness to serve you has led me too far. There
is evil in this stranger, more than your pure mind can
conceive. I know not what has been his errand; but let
me entreat you to put confidence in those to whose care
your father has entrusted you. Or if I,—or—or Edward
Walcott;—but I have no right to advise you; and your
own calm thoughts will guide you best.'

He said no more; and, as Ellen did not reply, they
reached the house, and parted in silence.