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“La Nature fait le mérite,
La Fortune le met in preuve.”

Many fortunate travellers on the western border of
Massachusetts, and not many miles from the Hudson,
have been refreshed at the inn of Reliance Reynolds.
Reliance, as his name indicates, was born in the good
old times. We are aware that the enthusiasts about
the “progress of the age,” deny this golden period
any but a retrospective existence, and maintain that,
retrace the steps of the human family far as you will,
it is like the age of chivalry, always a little behind
you. But we adhere to the popular phraseology, and
call those “good old times,” when the Puritanical nomenclature
prevailed; when such modest graces as
faith and temperance had not been expelled from our
taverns, kitchens, and workshops, by the heroes and
heroines of romance—the Orlandos and Lorenzos, Rosamonds
and Anna Matildas.

Reliance belonged to the “good old times,” too, in
the more essential matter of downright honesty, simplicity
and respectful courtesy. His was a rare character
in New England—a passive spirit, content to fill
and fit the niche nature had prepared for him. It was
not very high, but he never aspired above it; nor very
low, but he never sank below it. He was the marvel
of his neighbours, for he could never be persuaded into
an enterprise or speculation. He never bought a water
privilege, nor an oar bed; subscribed to a county
bank, or “moved to the West;” or in any mode indicated
that principle in man, which, in its humble operations,


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is restlessness,—in its lofty aspirations, a longing
after immortality. Reliance's desires never passed
the bounds of his premises, and were satisfied, even
within them, with a very moderate share of power.
He stood at his door, his hat in his hand, to receive
his guests; he strictly performed the promise of his
sign, and gave “good entertainment to man and
horse;” he rendered a moderate bill and received his
dues with a complacent smile, in which gratitude was
properly tempered with a just sense of his own rights.
In short, as must be already quite manifest, Reliance,
though a pattern landlord, is a very poor subject for a
storyteller; his qualities, like the colours in a ray of
light, all blending and forming one hue, and his life,
presenting the same monotonous harmony.

We should not have forced him from his happy obscurity
into the small degree of notoriety he may incur
on our humble page, but for his being the adjunct
of his wife, an important personage in our narrative.

Mrs. Reynolds, too, like her husband, performed
exactly the duties of her station. She never perhaps
read a line of poetry, save such as might lurk in the
“Poet's Corner” of a village paper, but her whole
life was an illustration of the oldfashioned couplet—

“Honour and shame from no condition rise,
Act well your part, there all the honour lies.”

She never was presidentess of a “society for ameliorating
the condition of the Jews,” or secretary or
treasurer of any of those beneficent associations that
rescue the latent talents of women from obscurity and
mettrent en scene gems and flowers that might otherwise
shine and exhale unnoticed and unknown; but
though humble was her name and destiny, her memory
is dear to the wayfaring. Quiet, order, and
neatness, reigned at her bed and board. No pirates
harboured in her bedsteads, no bad luck, that evil genius
of housewives, curdled her cream, spoiled her


Page 239
butter or her bread, but her table was spread with such
simple, wholesome fare as might have lit a smile on
the wan visage of an old dyspeptic; and this we take
to be the greatest achievement of the gastronomic art.

With the duties of life so peacefully and so well
performed, our good hostess ought, according to all
the rules of happiness, to have been happy; but it is
our melancholy duty to confess she was not, and to
explain the cause. She had been married many years
without having any children; that blessed possession
that, in transmitting the parent's existence, seems to
extend its bounds, and to render even here, the mortal
immortal. In addition to the feeling, common to
all women, who naturally crave the sweetest objects
for their tenderest and strongest affections, Mrs. Reynolds
lamented her childless state with a bitterness of
repining approaching to that of the Hebrew wives.
With everything else in her possession that could inspire
contentment, her mind was fixed on this one
desired good, and, like Hannah of old, she was still a
“woman of sorrowful spirit.” She had endeavoured
to solace herself with the children of her kindred, and
several, from time to time, had been adopted into her
family; but some proved disagreeable, and others
homesick, and there was always a paramount duty or
affection that interfered with her's, till finally her
almost extinguished hopes were gratified, and Providence
gave her a child worthy all her care and love.[1]

In the autumn of 1777, two travellers arrived just
at nightfall at Reynolds's inn. Its aspect was inviting;


Page 240
situated in the heart of a fertile valley that had lately
been refreshed by the early rains of autumn, and in
its bright garb resembling a mature beauty that had
happily harmonized some youthful tints with her soberer
graces. A sprightly, winding stream gave life
and music to the meadows. On every side the landscape
was undulating and fertile, but not then as extensively
cultivated as now, when, to the Tauconnuc
on the south, and the lofty blue outline of the Catskills
on the west, the eye ranges over a rich and enjoyed
country. Beside the accidental charm of a pretty
landscape, the inn had advantages peculiar to itself.
Instead of being placed on the roadside, as most of
our taverns are—for what reason we know not, unless
a cloud of travellers' dust be typical of a shower of
gold to the vision of mine host—Reynolds's inn was
separated from the highway by a court yard, shaded
by two wide spreading elms, and enlivened with a
profusion of autumnal flowers, marigolds, cockscombs,
and china asters.

There was nothing that indicated any claims to particular
civility in the appearance of our travellers.
They were well looking and respectably apparelled;
and, accordingly, having announced their determination
to remain for the night, they were shown to an
inner room, the parlour, par excellence, where Mrs.
Reynolds appeared, and having opened a door which
admitted the balmy air and a view of the western sky,
just then brightened by the tints of the setting sun,
she received their orders for their supper, and retired
without one of those remarks or inquiries by which
it is usual, on such occasions, to give vent to curiosity.
Nothing passed between our travellers in the dull interval
that elapsed before their meal was ready, to give
to our readers the least clue to their origin or destiny.
One of them lulled himself into a doze in the rocking
chair, while the other, younger and more active and
vivacious, amused himself out of doors, plucking flowers,


Page 241
enraging an old petulant cock turkey, and mocking
the scolding of some Guinea hens, the Xantippes
of the feathered race.

The interval was not long. The door opened and
the tea table was brought in, already spread (a mode
we wish others would adopt from our pattern landlady),
and spread in a manner to characterize our bountiful

What a contrast does the evening meal of our humblest
inn present to the leanness of an English tea
table! A cornucopia would have been the appropriate
symbol for Mrs. Reynolds's table. There were
beef steaks, and ham and eggs; hot cakes and toast;
bread and gingerbread; all the indigenous cakes,
such as crullers and nuteakes, &c.; honey, sweet-meats,
apple sauce, cheese, pickles, and an afterpiece
of pies. Kind reader, do not condemn our bill of fare
as impertinent and vulgar. We put it down to show
the scared political economists, that, with us, instead
of the population pressing on the means of subsistence,
the means of subsistence presses on the population.

Our travellers fell to their repast with appetites
whetted by a long fast and a day's ride. Not a word
was spoken, till a little girl, who was sitting on the
doorstep caressing a tame pigeon, perceiving that one
of the guests had garnished his buttonhole with a
bunch of marigolds, plucked a rose from a monthly
rose bush, trained over a trellis at the door, and laid it
beside his plate. He seemed struck with the modest
offering, and, turning with a look of gratitude to the
child, he patted her on her head, and exclaimed instinctively,
Merci, merci, ma petite!” and then
correcting himself, he said, in very imperfect English,
“I thank you, my little girl.”

The child's attention was fixed by the first word he
uttered, and as he addressed his companion in French,
her countenance indicated more emotion than would


Page 242
naturally have been excited by the simple circumstance
of hearing, for the first time, a foreign language.
Qu'elle est belle, cette petite,” he continued, turning
to his companion; “c'est la beaute de mon pays
—voila, brunette, et les yeux, si grands, si noirs, et
la tournure aussi—quelle grâce, quelle vivacite!
Ah! Monsieur, Monsieur, c'est tout-à-fait Fran
.” As he proceeded the child advanced nearer
to him. She shook back the rich, dark curls that
shaded her face, bent her head forward, half parted
her bright lips, and listened with the uncertain and
eager expression of one who is catching a half remembered
tune, the key to a thousand awakening recollections.
It was evident that she did not comprehend the
purport of the words, and that it was the sound alone
to which her delighted ear was stretched.

A smile played about her lips, and tears gathered in
her eyes, and there seemed to be a contrariety of emotions
confounding even to herself; but that which
finally prevailed was indicated by her throwing her
apron over her head, and retreating to the doorstep,
where she sat down, and for some moments, vainly
attempted to stifle her sobs. She had just become
tranquil, when Mrs. Reynolds entered.

The elder traveller said, in an interrogating tone,
“That is your child, ma'am?”

“I call her mine,” was the brief and not very satisfactory

“She resembles neither you nor your husband,” resumed
the traveller.

“No; she does not favour us.”

“I fancied she had a French look.”

“I can't say as to that,” replied the landlady; “I
never saw any French people.”

“My friend here is a Frenchman,” pursued the traveller,
“and the little girl listened to him so intently,
that I thought it possible she might understand him.”

“No, I guess she did not sense him,” replied Mrs.


Page 243
Reynolds, with an air of indifference; and then turning
hastily to the child, “Mary,” she said, “there is
more company; go and see if your father does not
want you.”

She went and did not return. Mrs. Reynolds herself
removed the table. The elder gentleman sat down
to write a letter; while the Frenchman walked to and
fro, opened the doors, and peeped in every direction
to get a glimpse of the little girl, who seemed to have
taken complete possession of his imagination. Once, as
she ran through the passage, he called to her “Doucement!
doucement! mon petit ange
”—she stopped
as if she were glued to the floor. “How call you your
name, my dear?”

“Mary Reynolds, sir.”

“Then Madame there, Mistress Reynolds is your

“She is”—

“Mary, what are you staying for? Here—this instant!”
screamed Mrs. Reynolds from the kitchen
door, in a tone that admitted no delay, and the child
ran off without finishing her sentence.

C'est bien singulier!” muttered the Frenchman.

“What do you find so singular, Jaubert!” asked his
companion, who had just finished his letter, and thrown
down his pen.

“Oh! it is nothing—perhaps—but”—

“`But,' what, my friend?”

“Why, there seems to me some mystery about this
child; something in her manner, I know not what,
that stirs up strange thoughts and hopes in my mind.
She is not one of the pale, blonde beauties of your

“Ah! my good friend, we have all sorts of beauties
in our clime. All nations, you know, have sent us
their contributions. The blue eye and fair skin, the
Saxon traits, certainly prevail in our Eastern States;
but you know we border on New York, the asylum of


Page 244
the dark eyed Huguenots, and it is not impossible that
to this child may have been transmitted the peculiarities
of some French ancestor. Nothing is more common
than a resemblance between a descendant and a
far off progenitor.”

“Ah! it is not only the French, the Norman aspect,
the—do not ridicule me—the Angely traits that
attract me; but you yourself noticed how she listened
to my language, and then this Mistress Reynolds does
not say she is her child, but only she calls her so.”

“Pshaw! Is that all? It is the way of my country
people, Jaubert; their indirectness is proverbial. If
one of them were to say “yes” or “no,” you might
suspect some deep mystery. I confess I was at first
startled with the little girl's emotion, but I soon perceived
it was nothing but shame and embarrassment at
the curiosity she had betrayed. I see how it is, Jaubert;
fruitless and hopeless as is our search, you cannot
bear to relinquish it, and are looking for some
coup de thèâtre—some sudden transition from disappointment
to success.”

We have put into plain English a conversation that
was supported in French, and was now broken off by
the approach of Mrs. Reynolds, who came to tell the
travellers their bedrooms were ready. By the light
of the candle she brought, she discovered Mary concealed
in a corner of the passage close to the door,
where, in breathless stillness, she had been listening.
“You here, Mary!” exclaimed the good woman; “I
thought you had been in bed this half hour. You will
make me angry with you, Mary, if you do not mind
me better than this,” she added in an under tone, and
the child stole away, but without looking either very
penitent or very fearful; and in truth she had cause
for neither penitence nor fear, for she had only gratified
an innocent and almost irrepressible inclination,
and as to Dame Reynolds's anger, it was never formidable.


Page 245

The travellers retired to their respective apartments,
and while the landlady lingered to adjust her parlour,
the letter that had been left on the table caught her
eye. Nothing could be more natural than for her to
look at the superscription. Painfully she spelt out
the first line. “A Monsieur, Monsieur”—but when
she came to the next, her eye was rivetted, “St. Jean
Angely de Crève-Cœur
.” After gazing on it till she
had made assurance doubly sure, she was hastening to
her husband to participate the discovery with him,
when, apparently changing her intentions, she retreated,
bolted the door, and returned to the examination
of the letter. It was unsealed. Reluctant to open it,
she compromised with her conscience, and peeped in
at both ends, but the writing was not perceptible, and
her interest overcoming her scruples, she unfolded the
letter. Alas! it was in French. In vain her eye ran
over the manuscript to catch some words that might
serve as clues to the rest. There was nothing in all
the three pages she could comprehend, but “arrivé à
New York”—“la rivière d'Hudson”—“le manoir
de Livingston

She was refolding the letter, when the following
postscript, inadvertently written in English, caught her
eye; “As we have no encouragement to proceed farther
in our search, and Jean and Avenel are all impatience,
Jaubert will embark in the Neptune, which is
to sail on the first.”

A gleam of pleasure shot across Mrs. Reynolds's
face, but it soon darkened again with anxiety and perplexity.
“Why did I open the letter?” she asked
herself. “Why did I look at it at all? But nobody
will ever know that I have seen it unless I tell it myself;
and why should I tell?” A burst of tears concluded
this mental interrogation, and proved that,
however earnestly her heart might plead before the
tribunal of conscience, yet the stern decision of that
unerring judge was heard. Self-interest has a hard


Page 246
task when it would mystify the path of one who habitually
walks by the clear light of truth straight onward
in the path of duty.

It may seem unnatural to the inexperienced, that
Mrs. Reynolds did not communicate her embarrassment
and irresolution, from whatever cause they proceeded,
to her husband; but she well knew what would
be the result of a consultation; for he, good man,
never viewed a subject but from one position, and we
are all slow to ask advice that we foresee will be
counter to our wishes.

Mrs. Reynolds, so far then from appealing to the
constituted authority of her household, locked her discovery
within her own bosom, and, to avoid all suspicion
and inquiry, she composed herself as soon as
possible, and retired to her bed, but not to sleep; and
at peep of dawn, she was up and prepared to obtain all
the satisfaction that indirect interrogation could procure
from the travellers, and her mental resolution, invigorated
by a night's solitary reflection, was “to act
up to her light.”

They had ordered breakfast at a very early hour,
and she took care to be the only person in attendance
on them. When they were seated at table, she placed
herself in a rocking chair behind them, a position that
happily reconciles the necessity of service with the
dignity of independence, and began her meditated approaches,
by saying to her own countryman, “I believe
you left a letter here last night, sir; I laid it in
the cupboard for fear of accidents.”

“Thank you, ma'am; I ought to have been more
careful. It was a letter of some consequence.”

“Indeed! Well, I was thinking it might be.”

“Ah! what made you think so?”

Now we must premise, that neither of the parties
speaking knew anything of that sensitiveness that
starts from a question as if an attack were made on
private property; but they possessed, in common, the


Page 247
good-natured communicativeness that is said to characterize
the New England people, who, in their colloquial
traffic, as in other barter, hold exchange to be
no robbery.

Most women are born diplomatists, and Mrs. Reynolds
took care to reply to the last interrogatory so
carefully as not to commit herself. “It stands to reason,”
she said, “a letter that is to go all the way over
the wide sea to the old countries, should be of consequence.”

“Yes—it is a long voyage.”

“You have taken it yourself, perhaps, sir?

“I have. I went out an officer on board one of our
cruisers, and was wrecked on the coast of France.”

“Of France! Well, we are hand and glove with
the French now; but I tell my husband it seems to
me like joining with our enemies against those of our
own household.”

“Ah! Mrs. Reynolds, `friends are sometimes better
than kindred.' I am sure my own father's son could
not have been kinder to me than was Monsieur Angely
de Creve-Cœur—hey, Jaubert?”

Ah! vraiment, Monsieur! c'est un bien brave
homme, Monsieur St. Jean Angely

“Angely!” said Mrs. Reynolds, as if recalling
some faded recollection, “Angely—I think I have
heard that name before.”

“It may be. The gentleman I speak of resided
some time in this country.”

“But it can't be the same,” replied Mrs. Reynolds;
“for the person I speak of lived over in Livingston's
manner; and kind to strangers he could not be, for he
deserted his own flesh and blood, and went off early in
the war.”

“It may be the same for all that, and must be. As
to his deserting his children, `thereby hangs a tale;'
but it is a long one.”

“Well, sir, if you have anything to say in his favour,


Page 248
I am bold to say I think you ought to speak it; especially
as the gentleman seems to have stood your friend
in a cloudy day. The story certainly went sadly
against him here.”

“I have not the slightest objection, ma'am, to telling
the story, if you have the patience to hear it; especially
as I see I must wait till Jaubert has finished
two more of your nice fresh eggs—`eggs of an hour,'
Mrs. Reynolds.”

“We always calculate to have fresh eggs, sir. But
what was you going to say of Mr. Angely;” she added,
betraying, in the tremulous tones of her voice,
some emotion more heart stirring than curiosity.
Jaubert turned a glance of inquiry on her that was answered
by a sudden rush of blood to her cheeks; but
the narrator proceeded without noticing anything extraordinary.
“It was my good, or ill luck,” he said,—
“and it is only in the long run we can tell whether
luck be good or ill—but it was my luck to be ship-wrecked
on the coast of Normandy, and good luck it
certainly was, Jaubert, in my distress, to make such a
port as the Chateau de Creve-Cœur—the castle, or, as
we should call it here, Mrs. Reynolds, the estate of
the Angely's. A fine family they are. You may
think what a pleasure it was to me to find a gentleman
acquainted with my country, and speaking my language
as did Mr. St. Jean Angely. He was kind and
affable to me, and always doing something for my
pleasure, but I could see he had a heaviness at his
heart—that he was often talking of one thing and
thinking of another—nothing like so gay as the old
gentleman, his father; who was like a fall flower—one
of your marigolds, Mrs. Reynolds, spreading itself
open to every ray of sunshine, as if there were no
frosts and winter and death at hand. I felt a pity for
the young man. With every thing that heart could
desire, and without a heart to enjoy, he seemed to me
like a sick man seated at a feast of which he could not


Page 249
taste. The day before I was to have come away, he
took me aside, and, after saying that I had won his entire
confidence, he disclosed to me the following particulars:—

“He entered the French army early in life, and
while yet a hotblooded, inconsiderate youth, he killed
a brother officer in a duel, and was obliged to fly his
country. He took refuge in Lisbon. Judgment, I
may say mercy, too—in the dealings of Providence,
Mrs. Reynolds, one is always close on the track of the
other—followed him thither. Mr. Angely found employment
in a mercantile house, and was standing writing
at his desk at the moment of the terrible earthquake
that laid Lisbon in ruins. The timbers of the
house in which he was, were pitched in such a manner
as to form a sort of arch over his head, on which
the falling roof was sustained, and thus he was as it
were, miraculously delivered from danger. From Lisbon
he came to this country. `Mechanics,' says a
Spanish proverb, `make the best pilgrims,' but, I am
sure, not better than Frenchmen; for cast them where
you will, they will get an honest living. Mr. Angely
came up into Livingston's Manor, and there he took a
fancy to a pretty Yankee girl, the only child of a
widow, and married her. He earned a subsistence for
his family by surveying. The country was new, and
skilful surveyors scarce. After a few years his wife
died and left him three children.”

“Three!” repeated Mrs. Reynolds, involuntarily

“Yes, poor things! there were three of them; too
many to be left in these hard times, fatherless and

“Ah sir! and what must we think of the father that
could forsake his little children at such a time?”

“Think no evil, my friend; for Mr. Angely did not
deserve it. He was employed by Mrs. Livingston,
early in the war, to go down the river to survey some


Page 250
land near New York. There he was taken by the
British as a spy, and, in spite of his remonstrances,
sent to England. This was before the French had
taken part with us, and he obtained leave to go to
France, on giving his parole that he would not return
to America. He received a parent's welcome, and the
affair of the duel being nearly forgotten, a pardon was
obtained for him without difficulty. If he could have
forgotten his children, he would have been as happy as
man could be; but his anxiety for them preyed on his
health and spirits; and when I arrived at the chateau,
his friends imagined he was sinking under some unknown
disease. He had not communicated to his
father the fact of his marriage and the existence of his
children when I arrived there. The old gentleman,
kind hearted and reasonable in the main, has all the
prejudices of the nobility in the old countries about
birth, and his son was afraid to confess that he had
smuggled an ignoble little Yankee into the ancient
family of the Greve-Cœurs. So good an opportunity
as I afforded of communicating with his children, could
not be passed by, and he at length summoned courage
to tell the truth to his father. At first he was wroth
enough, and stormed and vapoured; but after a little
while his kind nature got the mastery of the blood of
the Creve-Cœurs, and he consented to the children being
sent for—the boys at least.”

“Only the boys!” exclaimed Mrs. Reynolds, feeling
relieved from an insupportable weight.

“Only the boys. But the old gentleman might
have as well saved all his credit and sent for the girl
too; but that was not his pleasure. Well, Monsieur
Jaubert here, a relative and particular friend of the
family, came out with me to take charge of the children.
We found the boys without much difficulty;
two noble little fellows that a king might be proud of.
After waiting for some time for Monsieur Angely's return,
the overseers of the poor, believing he had abandoned


Page 251
his children bound them out. The little girl
had been removed to some distance from her brothers.
We found the place where she had been, but not the
family. The husband and wife had quarrelled, and
separated, and disappeared; and all the information
we could obtain, was a vague story that such a child
had lived there and had run away; and as nobody in
these troublesome times can do more than look after
their own children, this poor thing was left to her fate.
Hopeless as it appears, Jaubert is not willing to give up
our search. He fancies every brunette he sees is the lost
Marie, and only last evening he would have persuaded
me, that your black eyed little girl might be this stray
scion of the Creve-Cœurs.”

Mrs. Reynolds rose and left the room, and did not
return till she was sufficiently composed to ask, in an
assured voice, “What was their object in looking for the
girl, if the father did not mean to reclaim her?”

“He did mean to reclaim and provide for her,” replied
the traveller, “and for that purpose I have ample
funds in my hands. He only conceded to the old
gentleman her remaining in the country for the present.”

“Had you any direction as to how you were to dispose
of her?”

“Yes, positive orders to convey her to Boston, and
place her under the guardianship of a French lady who
resides there, a friend of Mr. Angely—one Madame

“But could you find no trace of the child?”

“Not the slightest.”

“And you have determined to make no farther

“Why should we? Inquiry is useless, and would but
delay, to a tempestuous season, Jaubert's return with
the boys.”

Our readers are doubtless sufficiently aware, that the
adopted child of our good landlady was the missing


Page 252
child of Monsieur Angely. A few words will be
necessary to explain how she became possessed of

Mrs. Reynolds and her husband were, two years
prior to this period, approaching the close of a winter
day's ride. Their sleigh was gliding noiselessly
through a dry, new fallen snow, when their attention
was arrested by the moanings of a child. To stop the
horses and search for the sufferer from whom the
sounds proceeded, was the instinctive impulse of benevolence.
They had not gone many yards from the
road, when, nestled close to a rock, and in some measure
defended from the cold by a clump of laurels, they
found a little girl, her hands and feet frozen, and nearly
insensible. They immediately carried her to the
sleigh, and put their horses to their utmost speed; but,
as they were none of the fleetest, and the nearest habitation
was at several miles distance, a considerable
time elapsed before they could obtain the means of
restoration, and in consequence of this delay, and of severe
previous suffering, it was many weeks before the
child recovered. In the mean time, though Mrs. Reynolds's
residence was not more than thirty miles from
the place where she had found the child, no inquiry
was made for her. The account she gave of herself
sufficiently explained this neglect. She said she had
no mother; that her father had left home just after the
snows melted and the birds came back; that he had
left her and her two brothers, Jean and Avenel, with
a woman to take care of them; that when this woman
had waited a great while for their father, she grew
tired and was cross to them, and then she too went
away and left them quite alone. Then she said they
had nothing to eat, and she supposed they were the
poor, for the men they called the overseers of the poor
took her and her brothers, and separated them, and she
was carried a great way off to a woman who was very
cross to her, and cross to her own children, and her


Page 253
husband was cross too. One night he came home in
a great passion, and he began to whip his wife with
his big whip, and his wife beat him with the hot shovel,
and she, the child, was scared, ran out of the house,
and far up into a wood, to get beyond their cries; and
when she would have returned, the snow was falling,
and she could not find the path, and she had wandered
about till she was so cold and tired she could go no
further. Her name, she said, was Angely, and she
believed her father was called a Frenchman. The
only parental relic she possessed confirmed this statement.
It was a locket she wore suspended at her
neck. It contained a lock of hair; an armorial crest
was engraven on the back, and under it was inscribed,
“St. Jean Angely de Creve-Cœur.” This simple
story established the conviction, that had been gaining
strength in Mrs. Reynolds's mind, with every day's
attendance on the interesting child, that they had been
brought together by the special providence of God;
and most faithfully did she discharge the maternal
duties that she believed had been thus miraculously
imposed on her. The little girl was on her part happy
and delighted, and though she sometimes bitterly lamented
her father and brothers, yet, as the impressions
of childhood are slight, the recollection of them was
almost effaced when the mysterious energies of memory
were awakened by the sound of a language that
seemed to have been utterly forgotten. These events
occurred during the revolutionary war, a period of disaster
and distress, when a very diligent search for a
friendless child was not likely to be made, and as no
inquiry ever reached Mrs. Reynolds's ear, and as she
deemed the foundling an orphan, she had not hesitated
to appropriate her. Her name was changed from Marie
Angely to Mary Reynolds; and the good woman
seemed as secure and happy as any mother, save when
she was reminded of the imperfection of her title by
the too curious inquiries of travellers. On these occasions,


Page 254
she was apt to betray a little irritability, and to
veil the truth with a slight evasion, as in the instance
which excited the suspicion of our sagacious Frenchman.

Her condition was now a pitiable one. She had the
tenderness, but not the rights of a parent. She was
habitually pure and upright; but now she was strongly
swayed by her affections. She would have persuaded
herself, that the abandonment in which she first found
the child, invested her with a paramount claim; but
the stranger's story had proved that her father had not
voluntarily abandoned her. Then she thought, “It
cannot be for Mary's interest, that I should give her
up;” and her mind took a rapid survey of the growing
property of which the child was the heir apparent.
But she would ask herself, “What do I know of the
fortune of her father?” “But surely he cannot, he
cannot love her as I do.” “Ah I do not know the
feeling of a real parent;” and a burst of tears expressed
the sadness of this conviction, and obliged her abruptly
to withdraw from the presence of her guests, and
leave them amazed at her sudden and violent emotion,
while she retired to her own apartment, to implore
guidance and support from Heaven. Those who
honestly ask for light to point out a way which they
would fain not see, and for power to endure a burden
from which their nature shrinks, are often themselves
astonished at the illumination vouchsafed, and the
strength imparted. This was the experience of Mrs.
Reynolds. She rose from her devotions with the
conviction, that but one course remained to her, and
with a degree of tranquillity hastened to Mary's bed-room.

The child was just risen and dressed. Without any
explanation to her—she was at the moment incapable
of making any—she tied her locket, her sole credential,
around her neck, led her down stairs, and placing
her hand in Jaubert's, she said, “You have found the


Page 255
child!” and then retreated to hide the emotion she
could not subdue.

It was fortunate for her, that she was not compelled
to witness the gay demonstrations of Jaubert's ecstasies,
the graver, but not more equivocal manifestations of
his companion's satisfaction, and the amazement and
curiosity of the little girl, who was listening to the
explanation of the strangers, with childlike animation,
without adverting to her approaching separation from
her who had given her the affection and cares of a

But when she came to be severed from this kind
friend, she made amends for her thoughtlessness. She
clung to her as if nature had knit the bonds that united
them; and, amid her cries and sobs, she promised
always to remember and love her as a mother. Many
have made such promises. Marie Angely kept them.

Ten years subsequent to the events above narrated,
a letter, of which the following is a translation, was
addressed by a foreigner in a high official station in
this country, to his friend.

Dear Berville

“It is, I believe, or should be, a maxim of the true
church, that confession of a sin is the first step towards
its expiation.

“Let me, then, invest you with a priest's cassock,
and relieve my conscience by the relation of an odd
episode in my history. When I parted from you, I
was going with my friend, Robert Ellison, to visit his
father, who has a beautiful place on the banks of the
Hudson. Young Ellison, as you know, is a thorough
republican, and does not conceal his contempt for those
of his compatriots, who, professing the same principles,
are really aristocrats in their prejudices and manners;


Page 256
who, having parted, and as they pretend voluntarily,
with the substance, still grasp at the shadow.
To test these false pretensions, and to mortify an absurd
pride, he joyfully acquiesced in a proposition I
made to him, to lay aside the pomp and circumstance
of my official character, and to be presented to his
friends without any of the accidental advantages with
which fortune has invested me. You will inquire my
motive, for you will not suspect me of the absurdity
of crusading against the follies of society, the most
hopeless of all crusades. No, as our own Moliere

C'est une folie, à nulle autre seconde,
De vouloir se méler de corriger le monde.

My motives were then, in the first place, a love of
ease, of dishabille; an impatience of the irksomeness of
having the dignity of a nation to sustain; and, in the
second place, I wished to ascertain how much of the
favour lavished on me I should place to the account of
the ambassador, and how much I might reserve to my
own proper self.

“You may call this latent vanity. I will not quarrel
with you. I will not pretend that I was moved
solely by a love of truth, by a pure desire to find out
the realities of things; but alas! my dear Berville, if
we were to abstract from the web of our motives,
every thread tinged with self, would not warp and
woof too disappear? Let, then, my motive be what
it might, you will allow the experiment required

“We had some difficulty in settling the precise point
at which to gage my pretensions. `Do not claim a
drop of noble blood,' said my friend, `it would defeat
your purpose.' There is something cabalistic in that
word `noble.' The young ladjes at — would at
once invest you with the attributes of romance; and


Page 257
the old dowagers would persecute you with histories
of their titled ancestors, and anecdotes of lords and
ladies that figured in the drawing-rooms of the colony.
Neither must you be a plain gentleman of fortune,
though that may seem to you a sufficient descent from
your high station; but fortune has everywhere her
shrines and her devotees. You must be the artificer
of your own fortune, a talented young man who has
no rank or fortune to be spoken of. What say you to
the profession of a painter, a portrait painter, since that
is the only branch of the art that gets a man bread in
this country.' I acceded without shrinking, secretly
flattering myself that my friend either underrated my
intrinsic merit, or did the world rank injustice.

“When we arrived we found a large party of the
neighbouring gentry assembled to dine at —. I
was received with great courtesy by the elder Ellison,
and with kindness by Madame, on the ground, simply,
of being an acquaintance of their son's. My friend
took care to prevent any elation from my reception by
saying to me in a low voice, `My father, God bless
him, has good sense, good feeling, and experience, and
he well knows that the value of gold does not depend
on the circulation it has obtained;' and truly if he
had known that I bore the impress of the king's countenance
he could not have received me more graciously.
There might have been more formality in his reception
of the public functionary, but there could not have
been more genuine hospitality. He presented me to
his guests, and here I was first reminded of my disguise.
Instead of the sensation I have been accustomed
to see manifested in the lighting up of the face, in the
deferential bow, or the blush of modesty, no emotion
was visible. No eye rested on me, not a link of conversation
was broken, and I was suffered, after rather
an awkward passage through the ceremony, to retire
to my seat, where I remained, observing, but not observed,
till dinner was announced. From the habit of


Page 258
precedence, I was advancing to lead Madame to the
dining-room, when I encountered my friend's glance,
and shrunk back in time to avoid what must have
appeared an unpardonable impertinence. I now fell
into my modest station in the rear, and offered my
arm to an awkward, bashful girl, who I am sure had
two left hands by the manner in which she received
my courtesy, and who did not honour me so far as to
look up to see who it was that had saved her from the
mortifying dilemma of leaving the drawingroom alone.
I helped my companion from the dish nearest to me,
and waited myself till Madame, reminded by her son
of her oversight, sent me a plate of soup. I was
swallowing this, unmolested by any conversation addressed
to me, when my friend's father said to him,
`When have you seen the French ambassador, Robert?
I hoped you would have persuaded him to pay us a

“`Perhaps he may,' replied my friend, `before the
summer is over. He is at present out of the city on
some excursion.'

“`A prodigious favourite is your son with the French
ambassador, as I hear from all quarters,' said a gentleman
who sat next to Mr. Ellison.

“`Ah! is that so, Robert? Are you intimate with
Monsieur —?'

“`He does me the honour to permit my society,
sir.' Every mouth was now opened in praise of the
ambassador. None of the company had seen him, but
all had heard of his abilities, the charms of his conversation,
his urbanity, his savoir plaire. `You must be
proud of your countryman, M. Dufau?' (this was my
assumed name) said my host, with that courtesy that
finds a word for the humblest guest.

“I said it was certainly gratifying to my national
feeling to find him approved in America, but that, perhaps
it was not his merit alone that obtained him such
distinguished favour; that I had understood he was a


Page 259
great admirer of this country, and though I should do
him injustice to say `he praised, only to be praised,'
yet I believed there was always a pretty accurately
measured exchange in this traffic.

“`The gentleman is right,' said an old Englishman
who sat opposite to me, and who had not before vouchsafed
to manifest a consciousness of my existence; `this
is all French palaver in Monsieur —. He cannot
be such a warm admirer of this country. The man
knows better; he has been in England.'

“I was too well acquainted with English manners
to be startled by any manifestation of that conviction
which an Englishman demonstrates in every part of
the world, that his nation has no equal; but I instinctively
defended my countryman, and eager for an
opportunity to test the colloquial powers so much admired
in the ambassador, I entered the lists with my
English opponent, and thus stimulated, I was certainly
far more eloquent than I ever had been before, on the
history, the present condition, and the prospects of
this country. But alas for the vanity of M. Dufau!
my host, it is true, gave me all the attention he could
spare from the courtesies of the table, but save his ear,
I gained none but that half-accorded by my contemptuous,
testy, and impatient antagonist, who after barking
out a few sentences at me, relapsed into a moody

“I next addressed some trifling gallantries to my
bashful neighbour, fancying that she who was neglected
by everybody else, would know how to appreciate
my attentions; but her eyes were rivetted to a
fashionable beauty at the upper extremity of the table,
and a half a dozen `no sirs' and `yes sirs,' misplaced,
were all the return I could obtain from her. To remain
silent and passive, you know, to me, was impossible;
so I next made an essay on a vinegar faced dame on
my left, far in the wane of life. `If my civilities have
been lead elsewhere, in this market,' thought I, `they


Page 260
will at least prove silver or gold.' But here I received
my cruellest rebuff; for the lady, after apparently
listening to me, said, `I do not understand you.' I
raised my voice, but she, determining to shelter the
infirmity of age at my expense, replied, `I am not so
deaf, sir, but really you speak such broken English,
that I cannot understand you.' This was too much,
and I might have betrayed my vexation, if an intelligent
and laughing glance from my friend had not
restored my good humour, and a second reflection,
suggesting that it was far more important to the old
woman's happiness that her vanity should remain unimpaired,
than it could be to me to have mine reduced,
even to fragments, I humbly begged her pardon, and
relapsed into a contented silence, solacing myself with
the thought, that our encounter was but an illustration
of that of the china and earthen jars. But I will not
weary you with detailing all the trials of my philosophy,
but only confess that the negligence of the
servants was not the least of them—the grinning self-complacency
with which these apes of their superiors
signified to me that my wants might be deferred.

“After all, my humble position would not have been
so disagreeable, if I had been accustomed to it. The
world's admiration, like all other luxuries, in the end
becomes necessary, and then, too, like other luxuries,
ceases to be enjoyed, or even felt, till it is withdrawn
and leaves an aching void. If this is Irish, set it down
to my broken English.

After dinner, I followed the ladies to the drawing-room,
and was presented by my friend to Miss —,
a reigning beauty. She received me with one of
those gracious smiles, that a hacknied belle always
bestows on a new worshipper at her shrine. These
popular favourites, be it clergyman, politician, or beauty,
are as covetous of the flatteries they receive,
as a miser is of gold. No matter how unclean the
vessel from which the incense rises; no matter what


Page 261
base alloy, may mingle with the precious metal.
Have you ever encountered one of these spoiled favourites
in the thronged street, and tried to arrest the
attention for a moment; to fix the eye that was roving
for every tributary glance? If you have, you will
understand without my describing it, the distrait
manner with which the belle received my first compliments.
Even this was not long accorded me, for a
better accredited and more zealous admirer than myself
appearing, she left me to my meditations, which
were not rendered the more agreeable by my overhearing
an old lady say, in a voice, which, though slightly
depressed, she evidently made no effort to subdue to
an inaudible key, `I wonder what possessed Robert
Ellison to bring that French portrait painter here!
How the world has changed since the Revolution!
There is no longer any house where you don't meet
mixed society.' My friend had approached in time
to overhear her as well as myself. `The ignorant old
fool!' he exclaimed, `shall I tell her that artists are
the nobility of every country?'

“`No,' said I, `do not waste your rhetoric; there is
no enlightening the ignorance of stupidity; a black
substance will not reflect even the sun's rays.'

“Ellison then proposed that I should join a party at
whist; but I complained of the heated air of the drawing-room,
and, availing myself of my insignificance, I
followed the bent of my inclinations, a privilege the
humble should not undervalue, and sauntered abroad.
The evening was beautiful enough to have soothed a
misanthrope, or warmed the heart of a stoic. Its peace,
its salutary, sacred voice restored me to myself, and I
was ashamed that my tranquillity had been disturbed.
I contemned the folly of the artificial distinctions of
life, and felt quite indifferent to them—when alone.

“The ground in front of my friend's house slopes to
the Hudson, and is still embellished with trees of the
majestic native growth. Where nature has left anything


Page 262
to be supplied by art, walks have been arranged
and planted; but carefully, so as not to impede the
view of the river, which was now in perfect repose.
A sloop lay in the channel, its sails all furled, idly
floating on the slumbering surface. While I was wishing
my friend were with me, for I am too much of a
Frenchman to relish fully even nature, the favourite
companion of sentimentalists, in solitude, I saw a boat
put off from the little vessel, and row slowly towards the
shore. Presently a sweet female voice swelled on the
stillness of the night, accompanied by the notes of a
guitar, struck by a practised hand. Could any young
man's mercury resist moonlight and such music? Mine
could not, and I very soon left behind me all of terra
that intervened between me and the siren, and
ensconced myself in a deeply shaded nook at the very
water's edge, where I could see and hear without being
observed. The boat approached the spot where I
stood, and was moored at half a dozen yards from my
feet; but as my figure was in shadow, and sheltered
by a thick copse of hazel bushes, I was perfectly concealed,
while, by a flood of moonbeams, that poured on
my unsuspicious neighbours, I saw them as plainly as
if it were daylight. These were two men, whom I
soon ascertained to be the captain of the sloop and an
attendant, and that they were going to a farm house in
the neighbourhood for eggs, milk, &c. The two females
were to remain in the boat till their return.
The lady of the guitar was inclined to go with them
as far as the oak wood on the brow of the hill; but the
captain persuaded her to remain in the boat, by telling
her there was a formidable dog on the place, which
she might encounter. As soon as the captain was gone,
her companion, an elderly, staid looking country woman,
said to her, `Now, child, as I came here for
your pleasure, you must sing for mine. None of your
new-fangled fancies, but good Old Robin Grey.'


Page 263

“`Oh, Robin Grey is a doleful ditty; but anything
to reward you for indulging me in coming on shore.'

“She then sung that touching ballad. The English,
certainly the Scotch, excel us as much in the pathos of
unembellished nature and truth, as we do them in all
literary refinement, ingenuity, and grace. I know not
how much of the tribute that gushed from my heart
was paid to the poetry and music, and how much to
the beautiful organ by which they were expressed, for
the fair musician looked herself like one of the bright
creations of poetry. I would describe her, but description
is cold and quite inadequate to convey an
idea of her, and of the scene with which she harmonized.
It was one of nature's sweetest accords; the
balmy air, the cloudless sky, the river, reflecting like
a spotless mirror the blue arch, the moon and her
bright train; my enchantress, the embodied spirit of
the evening, and her music the voice of nature. I
might have forgotten that I was in human mould, but
I had one effectual curb to my imagination; one mortal
annoyance. Argus, confound him! had followed
me from the house, and it was only by dint of continued
coaxing and caressing that I could keep him
quiet. Before the ballad was finished, however, he
was soothed by its monotonous sadness, and crouching
at my feet, he fell asleep, I believe. I forgot him.
Suddenly `the dainty spirit' changed from the low
breathings of melancholy to a gay French air—the
very air, Berville, that Claudine, in her mirthful moments,
used to sing to us. The transition was so
abrupt that it seemed as if the wing of joy had swept
over the strings of her instrument. I started forth
from my concealment. That was not all. Argus sprang
out, too, and barking furiously, bounded towards the
boat. The old woman screamed, `There is the dog!'
and the young lady, not less terrified, dropped her
guitar, and unhooking the boat, she seized an oar and
pushed it off without listening to my apologies and assurances.


Page 264
In her agitation she dropped the oar, and
her companion, still more tremulous than herself, in
her attempt to regain it, lost the other, which she had
instinctively grasped. As soon as the first impulse
imparted to the boat was expended, it scarcely moved
at all, and I had leisure to explain my sudden appearance,
and to say that my dog, far from being the formidable
animal they imagined, was a harmless spaniel,
who should immediately make all the amends in his
power for the terror he had caused. I then directed
him to the floating oars. He plunged into the water
and brought them to me, but he either did not, or
would not understand my wish that he should convey
them to the boat, which, though very slowly, was evidently
receding from the shore. I then without farther
hesitation, threw off my coat, swam to the boat, and
receiving there the oars from Argus's mouth, I soon
reconducted the boat to its haven. There was something
enchanting to me in the frankness with which
my fair musician expressed her pleasure at the homage
I had involuntarily paid to her art, and the grace with
which she received the slight service I rendered her.
Perhaps I felt it the more for the mortifying experience
of the day. I do not care very nicely to analyze
my feelings, nor to ascertain how much there was of
restored self complacency in the delicious excitement
of that hour.”

“The elderly lady, for lady she must needs be
since my fair incognita called her mother, expressed
a matronly solicitude about the effect of my wet garments,
but I assured her that I apprehended no inconvenience
from them, and I begged to be allowed to
remain at my station till the return of their attendants.
The circumstances of our introduction had been
such as to dissipate all ceremony. Indeed this characteristic
of English manners would have as ill fitted
the trustful, ingenuous, and gay disposition of my new
acquaintance, as a coat of mail her light, graceful person.


Page 265
She sung at my request, our popular opera airs,
with more effect, because with far more feeling, than
our best professed artists. She talked of music, and
of the poetry of nature, with genius and taste; and she
listened with that eager and pleased attention, which is
the second best gift of conversation. I should have
taken no note of the passage of time but for the fidgetting
of the old lady, who often interrupted us with expressions
of her concern at the captain's delay, for
which he, quite too soon, appeared to render an account
himself. As I was compelled to take my leave,
I asked my fair unknown if I might not be allowed to
think of her by some more accurate designation than
the `Lady of the Guitar.'

“`My name is'—she replied promptly, and then,
after a moment's hesitation, added, `No—pardon me,
your romantic designation better suits the adventure of
the night.' I was vexed at my disappointment, but
she chased away the shade of displeasure by the graceful
playfulness with which she kissed her hand to me
as the boat pushed off. I lingered on the shore till she
had reached the vessel, and then slowly retraced my
steps towards the house. I was startled by meeting
my friend, for my mind was so absorbed that I had not
heard his approaching footstep `Ah!' he exclaimed,
`is this your philosophy? turned misanthrope at the
first frown from the world.'

“`My philosophy,' I replied, `has neither been vanquished,
nor has it conquered, for I had forgotten all
its trials.'

“My friend evidently believed, notwithstanding my
disclaimer, that my vanity required some indemnity
for the humiliations it had sustained, and he repeated
to me some assuaging compliments from his father.
`But,' he concluded, `tell me, have you really turned
sentimentalist, and been holding high converse with
the stars?'


Page 266

“`With a most brilliant star,' I replied, and related
my adventure.

“Ellison's curiosity was excited, and he proposed
we should take our flutes, go out in the barge, and
serenade the `Lady of the Guitar.' I, of course, assented,
and the next half hour found us floating around
the little vessel like humble satellites. We played an
accompaniment and sung alternately, he in English,
and I in French; but there was no token given that
the offered incense was accepted; no salutation, save a
coarse one from the captain, who invited us to go `on
board and take some grog.' We of course declined
his professional courtesy. `Then, for the Lord's sake,
lads,' he said, `stop your piping, and give us a good
berth. Sleep, at this time o'night, is better music
than the jolliest tune that ever was played.'

“Thus dismissed, and discomfited by the lady's neglect,
we resumed our oars and were preparing to return
to the shore, when the cabin window was gently
raised, and our fair incognita sung a sweet little
French air, beginning `Adieu, adieu!' We remained,
sound, motion, almost breath suspended till the song
was finished.”

“So sweetly she bids us adieu,
I think that she bids us return,”

said my friend, and we instantly rowed our boat towards
the stern of the vessel. At this moment the
sash was suddenly dropped, and taking this for a
definitive `Good night,' we retired.

“Now, dear Berville, I have faithfully related the
adventures of my masquerade—my boyish pastime,
you may call it. Be it so. This day has been worth
a year of care and dignity. I shall return to New
York in a few days. Till then farewell.


But though M. Constant professed himself satisfied


Page 267
with his day, there was a lurking disquietude at his
heart. He had written to assure himself there was
nothing there he dare not express, and yet he had concluded
without once alluding to the cause of his self-reproach.
He had folded the letter, but he opened it,
and added;—
“P. S. I did not describe to you my friend's vexation
that the responded song was in French. `Ah!'
said he, `I see there is no chance for such poor devils
as I, so long as you are neither married nor betrothed.”'

He again closed the letter, and was for a moment
satisfied that there could be nothing in the nature of
that which he had so frankly communicated that
required concealment. He walked to the window and
eyed the little vessel as a miser looks at the casket
that contains his treasure; then starting from his
reverie, he took from his bosom a miniature, and contemplated
it steadfastly for a few moments; “It is my
conscience that reproaches me,” he said, “and not
this serene, benign countenance. O Emma! thou art
equally incapable of inflicting and resenting wrong,
and shall thy trust and gentleness be returned by even
a transient treachery? Am I so sure of faithfully keeping
the citadel that I may parley with an enemy?”

The result of this self-examination was a determination
to burn the letter, and to dismiss for ever from
his mind the enchantress whose power had so swayed
him from his loyalty. But though he turned from
the window, resolutely closed the blind, and excluded
the moonlight, which he fancied influenced his imagination
as if he were a lunatic; though he went to bed
and sunk into oblivious sleep, the spirit was not laid.
Imagination revelled in its triumph over the will. He
was in France, in beautiful France—more beautiful
now than in the visions of memory and affection. He
was at his remembered haunts in his father's grounds;


Page 268
the “Lady of the Guitar” was with him; she sang his
favourite songs; he saw her sparkling glance, her glowing
cheek, her rich, dark tints,
“The embrowning of the fruit that tells
How rich within, the soul of sweetness dwells;”
he heard the innocent childlike laugh, that,
— “without any control,
Save the sweet one of gracefulness rung from her soul.”
Then there was interposed between him and this embodied
spirit of his joyous clime a slowly moving
figure; a cold, fair, pensive countenance, that had more
of sorrow than resentment, but, still, though its reproach
was gentle, it was the reproach of the stern
spectre of conscience. He cast down his eyes, and
they fell on the word “BETROTHED,” traced in the
sand at his feet. The “Lady of the Guitar” was gaily
advancing towards him. Another step and her flowing
mantle would have swept over the word, and effaced
it forever. He raised his hand to deprecate her approach,
and awoke; and while the visions of sleep still
confusedly mingled with the recollections and resolutions
of the preceding day, he was up and at the
window; had thrown open the blind and ascertained
that the vessel still lay becalmed in the stream. That
virtue is certainly to be envied, that does not need to
be shielded and fortified by opportunity and circumstance.
If the vessel had disappeared, the recollections
of the evening might have been as evanescent and
ineffectual as the dreams of the night; but there it was,
in fine relief, and as motionless as if it were encased in
the blue waters. In spite of M. Constant's excellent
resolutions, he lingered at the window, and returned
there as if he were spellbound. Strange power that
could rivet his eyes to an ill shapen little Dutch skipper!
But that body did contain a spirit, and that spirit,


Page 269
seemingly as perturbed as his own, soon appeared,
moving with a light step to and fro on the deck.

The apartment M. Constant occupied, was furnished,
among other luxuries, with a fine spyglass. To resist
using this facility for closer communion was impossible;
and by its aid he could perceive every motion
of the “lady of his thoughts,” almost the changes of
her countenance. He saw she was gazing on the shore,
and that she turned eagerly to her companion to point
her attention to some object that had caught her eye,
and at the same moment he perceived it was his friend,
who was strolling on the shore. Ellison saw him too,
and waved his handkerchief in salutation. M. Constant
returned the greeting, threw down the glass, and
withdrew from the window with a feeling of compunction
at his indulgence, as if he had again heard
that word betrothed spoken. Why is it that external
agents have so much influence over the mysterious
operations of conscience? Why is it that its energy so
often sleeps while there is no witness to the wrong we
commit? “Keep thy heart, for out of it are the issues
of life.”

After breakfast, Ellison said to M. Constant, “I am
afraid you find your masquerade dull. Let us beguile
the morning by a visit to your `Lady of the Guitar.'
There is nothing lends such wings to time as a pretty
girl. Our guests are a dull concern.”

“A dull concern, when there is a beauty and a fortune
among them!”

“Yes, a sated belle is to me as disagreeable as a
pampered child; as my grandmother's little pet Rosy,
whom I saw the other day, tossing away her sugar
plums, and crying `'Tis not sweet enough;' and as to
fortune, though I am neither a philosopher nor a
sentimentalist, I shall never take the temple of Hymen
in my way to wealth; for of all speculations, a matrimonial
speculation seems to me the most hazardous,


Page 270
and the most disgraceful. But we loiter. Will you
pay your devoirs to our unknown?”

“I believe not; I have letters to write this morning.”

“To Emma? Pardon me—I do not mean to pry
into your cabinet, but if the letters are to her they
may be deferred. She is a dear good soul, and will
find twenty apologies for every fault you commit.”

“If they are to her, such generosity should not be
abused. No, I will not go. But on what pretext will

“Pretext indeed! does a pilgrim seek for a pretext
to visit my Lady of Loretto, or the shrine of any other
saint? Here comes the gardener with a basket of fine
fruit which I have ordered to be prepared, and of which
I shall be the bearer to the sufferers pent in that dirty
sloop this breathless August morning—from mere philanthropy
you know. Commend me to Emma,” he
added gaily; “I will bear witness for you that your
enthusiasm for this unknown was a mere coup de la
, and that when daylight appeared you were as
loyal, and—as dull as a married man.”

Ellison's raillery did not render the bitter pill of
self-denial more palatable to M. Constant. He turned
away without reply, but instead of returning to his
apartment he obtained a gun, and inquiring the best
direction to pursue in quest of game, he sauntered into
a wooded defile that wound among the hills, and was
so enclosed by them as not to afford even a glimpse of
the river. Here he threw himself on the grass, took a
blank leaf from his pocket-book, and began a sonnet to
Constancy, but broke off in the middle; scribbled half
a dozen odd lines from the different songs that had
entranced him on the preceding evening; sketched a
guitar, then rose, and, still musing, pursued his way
up the defile. The path he had taken led him around
the base of an eminence to a rivulet that came frolieking
down a hill, now leaping, and now loitering with
the capricious humour of childhood. He traced it to


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its source, a clear fountain bubbling up from the earth
at the foot of a high, precipitous rock. Clusters of
purple and pink wild flowers hung from the clefts of
the rock, wreathing its bare old front, and presenting
a beautiful harmony in contrast, like infancy and old
age. The rock and the sides of the fountain formed a
little amphitheatre, enclosed and deeply shaded by the
mountain ash, the aromatic hemlock and the lofty basswood.
This sequestered retreat, with its fresh aspect
and sweet exhalations, afforded a delicious refuge from
the fierce heat and overpowering light of an August
day. M. Constant was lingering to enjoy it when his ear
caught the sound of distant and animated voices. He
started, and for a moment thought himself cheated by
the illusions of a distempered fancy; but, as the sounds
approached nearer, he was assured of their reality, and
they affected him like the most painful discord, though
they were produced by the sweet, clear, penetrating
voice of the unknown, and the hitherto welcome tones
of his friend.

The impropriety of a young girl straying off into
such a solitude with an acquaintance of an hour was
obvious, but was perhaps more shocking to M. Constant
than it would have been to a perfectly disinterested
observer. It gave a dreadful jar to his preconceived
notions, and contrasted, rudely enough, with
the conduct of the preceding night, when the lady had,
with such scrupulous delicacy, forborne to show herself
on the deck of the sloop. As they drew nearer
he thought there was something in the gay fimiliar
tones of Ellison, disgusting; and the laugh of the lady,
which before had seemed the sweetest music of a
youthful and innocent spirit, was now harsh and hoydenish.
The strain of their conversation, too, for they
were near enough to be heard distinctly, while the
windings of the path prevented his being seen, though
it was graceful chitchat enough, appeared to him trifling
and flippant in the extreme. As they came still


Page 272
nearer he listened more intently, for he had a personal
interest in the subject.

“And so, my `Lady of the Guitar,”' said Ellison,
“you persist in preserving that scrap of paper, merely,
I presume, as a specimen of the sister arts of design
and poetry. You are sure those scratches are meant
for a guitar, and not a jewsharp, and that the fragment
is a sonnet and not a monody?”

“Certainly it is a sonnet; the poet says so himself.
See here—`Sonnet a la Constance.”'

“Well, it is certainly in the strain of a `lament.' My
friend was in a strait; what he would do he could not.
Constancy is a very pretty theme for a boarding-school
letter, but I am afraid the poor fellow will not find his
inspiration in this tame virtue?”

“Ah! these tame virtues, as you call them,” replied
the lady, “are the salutary food of life, while your
themes of inspiration are intoxicating draughts, violent
and transient in their effects.”

“A very sage lesson, and very well conned. Did
your grandmother teach it to you?”

“No matter—I have got it by heart.”

“O those moral New Englanders, they change all
the poetry of life to wise saws. Thank heaven you
have escaped from them in time to retain some portion
of your original mercurial nature. But now let me
tell you, my sage young friend, that same paper may
prove as dangerous where you are going as a match to
a magazine. So let me advise you, either keep it quite
to yourself, or give it to the winds.”

“You talk riddles, Mr. Ellison; but I will not be
quizzed into believing this little castaway scrap of
paper can be of any import.”

“Let me lable it for you then, if, as I see, it is to
be filled among the precious stores of your pocket-book.”

There was a short pause when the lady, as M.
Constant supposed, looking over Ellison's superscription,


Page 273
read aloud, “Love's Labour Lost,” and then
exclaimed, “Pshaw, Robert, how absurd!” and tore off
the offensive lable, while he laughed at her vexation.

M. Constant felt that it would be very embarrassing
for him to be discovered as a passive listener to this
conversation. He had been chained to the spot by an
interest that he would gladly not have felt, but which
he could not suppress.

Another turn would bring them directly before him.
To delay longer without being seen was therefore impossible.
As he put aside the rustling branches, he
heard Ellison exclaim, “Ha! there are some startled
quails;” but before his friend could take a more accurate
observation, he had sprung around an angle of
the rock, and was beyond sight and hearing.

The gentlemen met before dinner. M. Constant
was walking on the piazza, apparently moody and little
disposed to sympathize with Ellison's extravagant expressions
of admiration of the unknown, or of regret
that the fresh breeze was now wafting the vessel and
its precious cargo far away.

“In the name of Heaven, Constant,” he said, “what
has so suddenly turned you to ice? Last night you
seemed to think it necessary to invent—pardon me—
allege some apology for your prompt sensibility, and
you said it was not the beauty, the voice, the grace, or
any of the obvious and sufficient charms of this young
enchantress—that was your word—that fascinated you,
but it was a resemblance to the glowing beauties of
your own clime; and now, if you had been born at
the north pole and she at the equator, you could not
manifest less affinity.”

“There are certain principles,” replied M. Constant,
coldly, “that overcome natural affinities. I hope you
have passed your morning agreeably.”

“Agreeably? Delightfully! Our incognita is more
beautiful than you described her.”


Page 274

“Is she then still incognita to you?” asked M. Constant
with a penetrating glance.

“Not exactly; she favoured me with her name.”

“Her name! what is it?”

“Pardon me, I am under a prohibition not to tell.”

“The lady certainly makes marked distinctions.
She is as reserved towards others as frank to you.”

“She had her reasons.”

“Doubtless; but what were they?”

“Why, one was that I refused to tell her your

“And why did you that?”

“I had my reasons, too.”

M. Constant was vexed at the mystery his friend affected.
He was annoyed, too, at his perfect self complacency
and imperturbable good nature, and, more
than all, ashamed of his own irritability. He made an
effort to overcome it, and to put himself on a level with
Ellison. He succeeded so far in his efforts as to continue
to talk of the lady with apparent nonchalance
till he was summoned to dinner; but though he tried
every mode his ingenuity could devise, he could not
draw from his friend the slightest allusion to the
lady's extraordinary visit to the shore, or any particular
of their interview, which explained the perfect
familiarity that seemed to exist between them; and
what made this mystery more inscrutable, was the tone
of enthusiasm which Ellison maintained in speaking
of the lady, and which no young man sincerely feels
without a sentiment of respect.

In spite of M. Constant's virtuous resolutions and
efforts, the “Lady of the Guitar” continued to occupy
his imagination, and he determined to take the surest
measures to dispel an influence which he had in
vain resisted. As he parted from his friend at night,
he announced his intention of taking his departure
the following morning. After expressing his sincere
regret, Ellison said, “You go immediately to town?”


Page 275

“No; I go to Mr. Liston's.”

“Ah! is it so?”

“Even so, Ellison; but no more till we meet again.
I have supported my masquerade with little spirit; but
do not betray me, and we, neither of us, shall lose reputation.”

M. Constant had for a long time been on terms of
intimacy and friendship with Miss Liston. This lady
belonged to one of the most distinguished families in
our country. She was agreeable in her person, had a
fund of good sense, was well informed and perfectly
amiable. Such characters are admirable in the conduct
of life, if not exciting to the imagination; that
precious faculty, which, like the element of fire, the
most powerful and dangerous agent, may warm, or
may consume us. Long and intimate friendship between
unfettered persons of different sexes is very
likely to terminate, as that of M. Constant and Miss
Liston terminated, in an engagement.

He had a sentiment of deep and fixed affection for
her, which, probably, no influence could have materially
affected; but when that being crossed his path
who seemed to him to realize the brightest visions of
his youth, he felt a secret consciousness that the fidelity
of his affection was endangered. The little mystery
in which the unknown was shrouded, the very circumstance
of calling her the “unknown,” magnified
the importance of the affair, as objects are enlarged,
seen through a mist. He very wisely and prudently
concluded that the surest way of dispelling all illusion,
would be frankly to relate the particulars to Miss
Liston, only reserving to himself certain feelings which
would not be to her edification, and which he believed
would be dispelled by participating their cause with
her. Accordingly, at their first meeting he was meditating
how he should get over the embarrassment of
introducing the subject, when Miss Liston said, “I
have a great pleasure in reserve for you,” and left him


Page 276
without any further explanation, and in a few moments
returned, followed by a lady, and saying as she re-entered,
“Marie Angely, you and Constant, my best
friends, must not meet as strangers.” A half suppressed
exclamation burst from the lips of both. All
M. Constant's habitual grace forsook him. He overturned
Miss Liston's workstand, workbox, and working
paraphernalia, in advancing to make his bow.
Miss Angely's naturally high colour was heightened to
a painful excess; she made an effort to reciprocate the
common courtesies of an introduction, but in vain; the
words faltered on her lips, and after struggling a moment
with opposing feelings, the truth and simplicity
of her heart triumphed, and turning to Miss Liston, she
said, “Your friend, Emma, is the gentleman I met on
the river.”

Miss Liston had been the confidant of all her romantic
young friend's impressions from her moonlight
interview with the stranger, and it was now her turn
to suffer a full share of the embarrassment of the other
parties. She looked to M. Constant for an explanation.
Never had he, in the whole course of his diplomatic career,
been more puzzled; but after a moment's hesitation
he followed Miss Angely in the safe path of
ingenuousness, and truly told all the particulars of his
late adventures, concluding with a good humoured
censure of his friend Ellison, who had long and intimately
known Miss Angely, and who, to gratify his
mischief-loving temper, had contrived the mystery
which led to the rather awkward denouement.

Thus these circumstances, which might have been
woven into an intricate web of delicate embarrassment
and romantic distress, that might have ended in the
misery of one, perhaps of all parties, were diversted of
their interest and their danger by being promptly and
frankly disclosed.

Miss Angely, whom our readers have already recognised
as the little girl of the inn, had met with Miss


Page 277
Liston at a boarding school in Boston, where, though
Miss Liston was her elder by several years, they formed
an enthusiastic, and, rare in the annals of boarding
schools, an enduring friendship. Marie Angely had
faithfully discharged the debt of gratitude to Mrs. Reynolds,
and though acquiring, as may be supposed,
somewhat of the fastidiousness that accompanies refined
education and intercourse, no one could perceive any
abatement of her respect or affection for her kind protectress,
or the slightest diminution of her familiarity
with her. She passed a part of every summer with
her, always called her mother, and, by the fidelity of
her kindness and the charm of her manner, she diffused
light and warmth over the whole tract of Mrs. Reynolds's
existence. She linked expectations, that might
have been blasted, to a happy futurity, and cherished
and elevated affections, which, but for her sunny influence,
would have been left to wither and perish.
Oh that the fortunate and happy could know how much
they have in their gift!

Miss Angely had been on one of her annual visits
to her humble friend, and was on her way, accompanied
by her, to New York, where she was to join
Miss Liston, when the incidents occurred which we
have related.

There is nothing in the termination of our tale to
indemnify the lover of romance for its previous dulness;
but it is a true story, and its materials must be
received from tradition, and not supplied by imagination.

M. Constant was, in the course of a few weeks, united
to Miss Liston. This lady had long cherished a
hope that her friend would be a permanent member of
her family, and she used every art of affection to persuade
her to remain with her at least so long as she
should decline the suits of all the lovers who were now
thronging around her, attracted by her beauty, or loveliness,
or the eclat she derived from her intimacy with


Page 278
the wife of the ambassador. M. Constant did not very
warmly second his wife's entreaties. He perhaps had
a poignant recollection of certan elective affinities, and
his experience taught him the truth, if indeed he had
not derived it from a higher source, that, in the present
infirm condition of human virtue, it is always
safest and best not voluntarily to “enter into temptation.”

Miss Angely returned to Boston. M. Constant's
union with Miss Liston was one of uninterrupted confidence
and conjugal happiness; but it was not destined
to be of long duration. His wife died in about a year
after their marriage. Among her papers was found a
letter addressed to her husband, written in expectation
of the fatal issue of the event that had terminated her
life, in which she earnestly recommended her friend
as her successor. In due time her request was honoured.
M. Constant married Miss Angely. After residing
for some time in America, they went to France, where
she was received as an ornament to her noble family,
and acknowledged to be “the brightest jewel in its

Far from the mean pride of those who shrink from
recurring to the humble stages in their progress to the
heights of fortune, Madame Constant delighted in relating
the vicissitudes of her life, and dwelt particularly
on that period, when, as Mrs. Reynolds's handmaid, she
considered herself honoured in standing behind the
chair of the wife of the great General Knox.

“The longest day comes to the vesper hour.” Madame
Constant closed at Paris a life of virtue, prosperity,
and happiness, in July 1827.


We would gladly have had it in our power to be exact in dates,
as our story in good faith is true in all, even the least important
particulars. Some few circumstances, and the “spoken words,”
had escaped tradition, and of course were necessarily supplied, as
the proper statue receives a foot or finger from the ruder hand of
modern art. The name of the heroine having been subsequently
merged and forgotten in that of her husband, we have ventured to
retain it. The rest we have respectfully veiled under assumed appellations.