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“Come not near our fairy queen.”

Before mid-winter, Linwood joined Eliot Lee
at West Point, and the young men renewed their
acquaintance on the footing of friends. There was
just that degree of similarity and difference between
them that inspires mutual confidence and begets
interest. Herbert, with characteristic frankness,
told the story of his love, disappointment and
all. Eliot felt a true sympathy for his friend, whose
deserts he thought would so well have harmonized
with Bessie's advantage and happiness; but this
feeling was subordinate to his keen anxiety for his
sister. This anxiety was not appeased by intelligence
from home. Letters were rare blessings
in those days—scarcely to him blessings. His
mother wrote about every thing but Bessie, and his
sister's letters were brief and vague, and most unsatisfactory.
The winter, however, passed rapidly
away. Though in winter quarters, he had incessant
occupation; and the exciting novelty of military
life, with the deep interest of the times, to an ardent
and patriotic spirit, kept every feeling on the strain.

Eliot had that intimate acquaintance with nature
that makes one look upon and love all its aspects,


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as upon the changing expressions of a friend's face;
and as that most interests us in its soul-fraught
seriousness, so he delighted even more in the wild
gleams of beauty that are shot over the winter
landscape, than in all its summer wealth. To eyes
like his, faithful ministers to the soul, the scenery
of West Point was a perpetual banquet.

Nature, in our spring-time, as we all know (especially
in this blessed year of our Lord 1835), rises
as slowly and reluctantly from her long winter's
sleep as any other sluggard. On looking back to
our hero's spring at West Point, we find she must
have been at her work earlier than is her wont; for
April was not far gone when Eliot, after looking
in vain for Linwood to accompany him, sauntered
into the woods, where the buds were swelling and
the rills gushing. At first his pleasure was marred
by his friend not being with him, and he now for
the first time called to mind Linwood's frequent
and unexplained absences for the last few days.
Linwood was so essentially a social being, that
Eliot's curiosity was naturally excited by this sudden
manifestation of a love of solitude and secrecy.

He however pursued his way; and having
reached the cascade which is now the resort of
holyday visiters, he forgot his friend. The soil
under his feet, released from the iron grasp of
winter, was soft and spongy, and the tokens of
spring were around him like the first mellow smile
of dawn. The rills that spring together like laughing


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children just out of school (we borrow the
obvious simile from a poetic child), and at their
junction form “the cascade,” were then filled to
the brim from their just unsealed fountains. Eliot
followed the streamlet where it pursues its headlong
course, dancing, singing, and shouting, as it
flings itself over the rocks, as if it spurned their
cold and stern companionship, and was impatiently
running away from the leafless woods to a holyday
in a summer region. He forced his way through
the obstructions that impeded his descent, and was
standing on a jutting point which the stream again
divided, looking up at the snow-white and feathery
water, as he caught a glimpse of it here and there
through the intersecting branches of hemlocks,
and wondering why it was that he instinctively
infused his own nature into the outward world:
why the rocks seemed to him to look sternly on
the frolicking stream that capered over them, and
the fresh white blossoms of the early flowering
shrubs seemed to yearn with a kindred spirit
towards it, when his speculations were broken by
human voices mingling with the sound of the waterfall.
He looked in the direction whence they
came, and fancied he saw a white dress. It might
be the cascade, for that at a little distance did not
look unlike a white robe floating over the gray
rocks, but it might be a fair lady's gown, and that
was a sight rare enough to provoke the curiosity
of a young knight-errant. So Eliot, quickening


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his footsteps, reached the point where the streamlet
ceases its din, and steals loiteringly through the
deep narrow glen, now called Washington's Valley.
He had pressed on unwittingly, for he was
now within a few yards of two persons on whom
he would not voluntarily have intruded. One was
a lady (a lady certainly, for a well-practised ear
can graduate the degree of refinement by a single
tone of the voice), the other party to the tête-à-tête
was his truant friend Linwood. The lady was
seated with her back towards Eliot, in a grape-vine
that hung, a sylvan swing, from the trees; and
Linwood, his face also turned from Eliot, was
decking his companion's pretty hair with wood
anemones, and (ominous it was when Herbert Linwood
made sentimental sallies) saying very soft
and pretty things of their starry eyes. Eliot was
making a quiet retreat, when, to his utter consternation,
a lady on his right, till then unseen
by him, addressed him, saying, “she believed she
had the pleasure of speaking to Lieutenant Lee.”
Eliot bowed; whereupon she added, “that she was
sure, from Captain Linwood's description, that it
must be his friend. Captain Linwood is there
with my sister, you perceive,” she continued; “and
as he is our friend, and you are his, you will do us
the favour to go home and take tea with us.”

By this time the tête-à-tête party, though sufficiently
absorbed in each other, was aroused, and
both turning their head, perceived Eliot. The
lady said nothing; Linwood looked disconcerted,


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and merely nodded without speaking to his friend.
The lady rose, and with a spirited step walked towards
a farmhouse on the margin of the Hudson,
the only tenement of this secluded and most lovely
little glen. Linwood followed her, and seemed earnestly
addressing her in a low voice. By this time
Eliot had sufficiently recovered his senses to remember
that the farmhouse, which was visible
from West Point, had been pointed out to him as
the temporary residence of a Mr. Grenville Ruthven.
Mr. Ruthven was a native of Virginia, who some
years before had, in consequence of pecuniary misfortunes,
removed to New-York, where he had held
an office under the king till the commencement of
the war. His only son was in the English navy, and
the father was suspected of being at heart a royalist.
His political partialities, however, were not so
strong but that they might be deferred to prudence:
so he took her counsel, and retired with his wife
and two daughters to this safe nook on the Hudson,
till the troubles should be overpast.

Eliot could not be insensible to the friendly and
volunteered greeting of his pretty lady patroness,
and a social pleasure was never more inviting than
now when he was famishing for it; but it was so
manifest that his presence was any thing but desirable
to Linwood and his companion, that he was
making his acknowledgments and turning away,
when the young lady, declaring she would not take
“no” for an answer, called out, “Stop, Helen—
pray, stop—come back, Captain Linwood, and introduce


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us regularly to your friend; he is so ceremonious
that he will not go on with an acquaintance
that is not begun in due form.”

Thus compelled, Miss Ruthven stopped and
submitted gracefully to an introduction, which Linwood
was in fact at the moment urging, and she
peremptorily refusing.

“Now, here we are, just at our own door,” said
Miss Charlotte Ruthven to Eliot, “and you must
positively come in and take tea with us.” Eliot
still hesitated.

“Why, in the name of wonder, should you not?”
said Linwood, who appeared just coming to himself.

“You must come with us,” said Miss Ruthven,
for the first time speaking, “and let me show your
friend how very magnanimous I can be.”

“Indeed, you must not refuse us,” urged Miss

“I cannot,” replied Eliot, gallantly, “though it is
not very flattering to begin an acquaintance with
testing the magnanimity of your sister.”

Helen Ruthven bowed, smiled, and coloured; and
at the first opportunity said to Linwood, “your
friend is certainly the most civilized of all the
eastern savages I have yet seen, and, as your friend,
I will try to tolerate him.” She soon, however,
seemed to forget his presence, and to forget every
thing else, in an absorbing and half-whispered conversation
with Linwood, interrupted only by singing
snatches of sentimental songs, accompanying


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herself on the piano, and giving them the expressive
application that eloquent eyes can give. In
the meanwhile Eliot was left to Miss Charlotte, a
commonplace, frank, and good-humoured person,
particularly well pleased at being relieved from the
rôle she had lately played, a cipher in a trio.

Mr. and Mrs. Ruthven made their appearance
with the tea-service. Mr. Ruthven, though verging
towards sixty, was still in the unimpaired vigour of
manhood, and was marked by the general characteristics,
physical and moral, of a Virginian: the
lofty stature, strong and well-built frame, the open
brow, and expression of nobleness and kindness of
disposition, and a certain something, not vanity, nor
pride, nor in the least approaching to superciliousness,
but a certain happy sense of the superiority,
not of the individual, but of the great mass of
which he is a component part.

His wife, unhappily, was not of this noble stock.
She was of French descent, and a native of one of
our cities. At sixteen, with but a modicum of
beauty, and coquetry enough for half her sex, she
succeeded, Mr. Ruthven being then a widower, in
making him commit the folly of marrying her, after
a six weeks' acquaintance. She was still in the
prime of life, and as impatient as a caged bird of
her country seclusion, or, as she called it, imprisonment,
where her daughters were losing every opportunity
of achieving what she considered the chief
end of a woman's life.


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Aware of her eldest daughter's propensity to
convert acquaintances into lovers, and looking
down upon all rebels as most unprofitable suiters,
she had sedulously guarded against any intercourse
with the officers at the Point.

Of late, she had begun to despair of a favourable
change in their position; and Miss Ruthven
having accidentally renewed an old acquaintance
with Herbert Linwood, her mother encouraged his
visits from that admirable policy of maternal manœuvrers,
which wisely keeps a pis-aller in reserve.
Helen Ruthven was one of those persons, most uncomfortable
in domestic life, who profess always
to require an object (which means something out
of a woman's natural, safe, and quiet orbit) on
which to exhaust their engrossing and exacting
desires. Mr. Ruthven felt there was a very sudden
change in his domestic atmosphere, and though
it was as incomprehensible to him as a change in
the weather, he enjoyed it without asking or caring
for an explanation. Always hospitably inclined, he
was charmed with Linwood's good-fellowship; and
while he discussed a favourite dish, obtained with
infinite trouble, or drained a bottle of Madeira with
him, he was as unobservant of his wife's tactics
and his daughters' coquetries as the eagle is of the
modus operandi of the mole. And all the while,
and in his presence, Helen was lavishing her flatteries
with infinite finesse and grace. Her words,
glances, tones of voice even, might have turned a
steadier head than Linwood's. Her father, good,


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confiding man, was not suspicious, but vexed when
she called his companion away, just, as he said,
“as they were beginning to enjoy themselves,” to
scramble over frozen ground or look at a wintry
prospect! or to play over, for the fortieth time, a
trumpery song. Helen, however, would throw her
arms around her father's neck, kiss him into good-humour,
and carry her point; that is, secure the undivided
attentions of Herbert Linwood. Matters
were at this point, after a fortnight's intercourse,
when Eliot entered upon the scene; and, though
his friend Miss Charlotte kept up an even flow of
talk, before the evening was over he had taken
some very accurate observations.

When they took their leave, and twice after they
had shut the outer door, Helen called Linwood
back for some last word that seemed to mean
nothing, and yet clearly meant that her heart went
with him: and then

So fondly she bade him adieu,
It seemed that she bade him return.”

The young men had a long, dark, and at first
rather an unsocial walk. Both were thinking of
the same subject, and both were embarrassed by it.
Linwood, after whipping his boots for ten minutes,
said, “Hang it, Eliot, we may as well speak out;
I suppose you think it deused queer that I said
nothing to you of my visits to the Ruthvens?”

“Why, yes, Linwood—to speak out frankly,
I do.”


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“Well, it is, I confess it. At first my silence
was accidental—no, that is not plummet and line
truth; for from the first I had a sort of a fear—no,
not fear, but a sheepish feeling, that you might
think the pleasure I took in visiting the Ruthvens
quite inconsistent with the misery I had seemed to
feel, and, by Heavens, did feel, to my heart's core,
about that affair at Westbrook.”

“No, Linwood—whatever else I may doubt, I
never shall doubt your sincerity.”

“But my constancy you do?” Eliot made no
reply, and Linwood proceeded: “Upon my soul, I
have not the slightest idea of falling in love with
either of these girls, but I find it exceedingly pleasant
to go there. To tell the truth, Eliot, I am
wretched without the society of womankind; Adam
was a good sensible fellow not to find even Paradise
tolerable without them. I knew the Ruthvens
in New-York: I believe they like me the
better, apostate as they consider me, for belonging
to a tory family; and looking upon me, as they must,
as a diseased branch from a sound root, they certainly
are very kind to me, especially the old gentleman—a
fine old fellow, is he not?”

“Yes—I liked him particularly.”

“And madame is piquant and agreeable, and
very polite to me; and the girls, of course, are
pleased to have their hermitage enlivened by an
old acquaintance.”

Linwood's slender artifice in saying “the girls,”


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when it was apparent that Miss Ruthven was the
magnet, operated like the subtlety of a child, betraying
what he would fain conceal. Without appearing
to perceive the truth, Eliot said, “Miss
Ruthven seems to restrict her hospitality to old
acquaintance. It was manifest that she did not
voluntarily extend it to me.”

“No, she did not. Helen Ruthven's heart is in
her hand, and she makes no secret of her antipathy
to a rebel—per se a rebel; however, her likes
and dislikes are both harmless—she is only the
more attractive for them.”

Herbert had not been the first to mention Helen
Ruthven; he seemed now well enough pleased to
dwell upon the subject. “How did you like her
singing, Eliot?” he asked.

“Why, pretty well; she sings with expression.”

“Does she not? infinite!—and then what an
accompaniment are those brilliant eyes of hers.”

“With their speechless messages, Linwood?”
Linwood merely hemmed in reply, and Eliot added,
“Do you like the expression of her mouth?”

“No, not entirely—there is a little spice of the
devil about her mouth; but when you are well acquainted
with her you don't perceive it.”

“If you are undergoing a blinding process,”
thought Eliot. When the friends arrived at their
quarters, and separated for the night, Linwood
asked and Eliot gave a promise to repeat his visit
the next evening to the glen.


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