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“With prudence ever ready at our call,
To guide our use of it, is all in all.”

We reckon the hours made happy by the presence of
some people. Does it ever occur to us to reckon those
made happy by the absence of some other people? On the
evening after the reading of the old letters, Eleanor and her
sister were sitting together in Mrs. Herbert's drawing-room.
“Blessings on him who invented the opera, as Sancho says
of sleep,” said Grace; “four evenings this week it has relieved
us from Anne. She kills the atmosphere for me!”
Grace was anti-sympatica to Miss Anne Carlton, her step-mother's
daughter, a young lady about her own age, and a
type of a class of young ladies who vegetate in our society.
The class is easily described: their individuality requires a
mental microscope. She was educated at a fashionable
boarding-school, where learned and excellent professors,
each in his allotted sixty minutes, like a bit of India rubber,
effaced from Miss Anne's mind, as from all but exceptional
absorbents, what his precedent had put in. She was a “perfect
French scholar,” as the phrase goes; that is, she could
write a French note with the natural grace of the language,
and was versed in current phrases on common topics, which
she spoke with a very tolerable accent for an outside barbarian:
(that is, for one who has never seen Paris); and certainly
she read French—French novels—with far more facility


Page 44
than she did any thing English. She excelled in music,
but as she held it vulgar to play in society, her professor's
word must be taken for that. But Miss Anne had accomplishments
that no one could dispute. Her toilette was absolute
perfection, so those versed in those “branches of learning”
maintained. Her dresses, hats, and embroideries, were
imported from the first artistes in Paris, and if her array did
not surpass the “lilies of the field,” it was not the fault of
these great dynasties. She could detect, as well as an English
lady's maid, an imitation lace, or fur, and feel almost
as profound a scorn for the wearer too. Miss Anne was
called “very clever” by her own clique, and she had rather a
gift at a flippant repartee. She was very pretty too, tall,
delicate, well-made—corsets and French art having done
half the making—with very regular features, a fair complexion,
and with that halo of fashionable glory, the “air distingué,”
which she very discreetly never impaired by the
loud tones, and shouts, and pleasant shrieks, and rapid movements,
and audacious pushings of our “fast young ladies.”
In short, to use the parrot-phrase of her society, Miss Carlton
was “decidedly high-bred.”

What “chief end” of woman such a creature is to
answer in life, must be solved by a deeper philosophy than

She was at the opera. Her mother was occupied with
some ladies in her library, organizing a book-club after a
model she had fallen in love with in Boston, during a recent
visit to that emporium of literature. Mrs. Herbert was
great at organizing.

“How I wish Uncle Walter would come in,” said Grace;
“we should have such a nice opportunity, this evening, to
tease him out of his letter. No company—no fear of any.
Ah! there he is; there's his dear old hobbling step. It
speaks to my heart, and my heart answers. Not many footsteps


Page 45
have this magic—I am beginning to listen for the
sound of Frank Esterly's.” She looked archly at her
sister. “But, Eleanor, I am not sure it speaks to my heart
yet—nous verrons. Welcome, dear Uncle Walter.” She
drew his chair to the fire and put a footstool under his feet.
“Now prepare for a siege,” she said, “and a surrender—
but what's the matter—are you not well?”

“Well—yes. But have you forgotten, child, that our
everlasting lawsuit comes up to-morrow?”

“O, yes, I had forgotten it.”

“And you, Eleanor?”

“No, uncle, I must confess to anxious thoughts of it
twenty times to-day.”

“You are a girl of some sense, Eleanor. Here is a cause
to be decided to-morrow, which will make us very rich—or
leave us—”

“Not very poor, Uncle Walter,” said Grace; “we have
enough, and more would only inflict on us more care and
responsibility. Now, is not that as sensibly said as if my
sister Eleanor had spoken it?”

“Upon my word, Grace, it is spoken to the purpose, and
it reminds me of Esterly's last Sunday's homily. You take
his sermons to heart, child.”

“Perhaps I do—but the truth is, we have been up and
down so many times with this interminable lawsuit, that
to me it seems a mere idle play upon our fears and

“I trust, Grace, that your professed indifference is more
sincere than Mr. Horace Copley's.”

“Why more sincere, Uncle Walter? he talks about it as
he would about the chance of a fair or foul day. He told
me at Mrs. Stillman's matinée, that his only interest in its
final settlement is, that he may never again see `Copley
versus Herbert.'”


Page 46

“You are young, Grace.” This exclamation was accompanied
by a peculiar laugh of Uncle Walter's, which had a
slight expression of derision.

“And I hope I shall die young,” retorted Grace, “if I
must become suspicious, distrustful, and unbelieving, as I
grow older.”

“Tut, tut, Grace! Mr. Horace Copley is undoubtedly
the glass of fashion, and a most sweet-spoken and plausible
young gentleman.”

“Uncle Walter!”

“I really do not know that he has any other qualities to
entitle him to your faith; to be sure he drives four-in-hand
admirably; he rides almost as well as the gentry of the
circus; he is the lover of married women, and the flatterer
of young ladies. And yet, Grace, when he has contested
for three years—point by point—a property that I believe in
my soul rightfully belongs to us, and has been so ruled by
three successive decisions, from which he has appealed, I
can not—quite—trust him, Grace, when he assures you at a
`matinée musicale,' that he is indifferent to the result. He
knows that we are not—you, and I, and Nelly—the only
heirs of my father, living. A hundred, or a hundred and
fifty thousand dollars will make a difference to us, though
with his million or more, you may be imposed on by his
matinée musicale declaration that he does not care a pin's
head for such a trifle. No, no, my child, the richer men
are, the more they covet, and if he does not crave the property—if
that be possible—he desires the victory.

“His lawyer, Cranly, knows him thoroughly; he says
Copley is a man of an umbending will. This is a mighty
force—a steam power. If he has as yet applied it only to
lifting the lid of a tea-kettle, he will move a ship with it,
and shipwreck us; and with this inflexible purpose, he has a
subtle, gentle, insinuating manner, that I don't like—”


Page 47

“That you detest, you mean, Uncle Walter.”

“Thank you, Grace, yes—I do—it's false—it's false.”

No man was less addicted to vituperation than Walter
Herbert. He unequivocally expressed his likings and dislikings,
but usually merely by a turn of the eye, a motion
of the lips, some scarcely articulate sound of pleasure, or
displeasure: such an emission of words was as startling as
a sudden shower in a drought.

“What has happened to trouble you, dear uncle?” asked

“That's just what I came home to tell you. Mr. Jones
sent for me this afternoon. He is suddenly taken seriously
ill. His going into court is out of the question—the cause
must come on. It has already once lain over on account of
a similar attack of his. The briefs are ready. Now the
point to be decided is this: Jones has a junior partner—a
young man of ability—destined to the head of his profession,
Jones says. Well, this young man has had the preparation
of our cause. He is thoroughly acquainted with our
ground and our adversary's. He knows all the intricacies of
the case through records, and traditions, etc., etc.—these land-titles
are the devil and all to manage—and in short, though he
has never argued a cause of magnitude, Jones inclines to
our permitting him to go into court with it in preference to
giving it to a practiced pleader, who can not, on so short a
notice, become as perfectly familiar with its details as one
who has worked them out. Besides this, Mr. Horace Copley
has retained the best advocates in the city, with his precious
indifference to the result. Forgive me, girls; I hate sham.
What do you say, children? Will you trust the young

“You and Eleanor must settle it between you,” said
Grace, with girlish pique. Her feathers had been a second
time ruffled by her uncle's persevering disparagement of a


Page 48
young man, who, though not her professed lover, had been
marked in his admiration of her.

“Well, my dear, I rather think we are best qualified to
settle it. What say you, Eleanor?”

“Have you seen the young man, uncle?”


“How does he impress you?”

“Why, at first—I don't mean at first, exactly, for I have
often seen him in Jones's office, but he was always absorbed
in business. I merely noticed a fine countenance, with too
much in it to be worn thin and pale in a lawyer's office; but
an hour ago, when I asked him if he were willing to go forward,
he hesitated; I think it was the hesitation of true
modesty and scrupulousness, not of timidity or self-distrust.
There is a sparkle in his eye that indicates fire in his soul. I
take to the young man greatly. He said that he was thoroughly
familiar with the case, and too much interested in it
to be, as he hoped, embarrassed by self consciousness; and
it seemed to me very plain that it would gratify him to be
trusted with the argument,—I incline to leave it in his

Eleanor had not implicit faith in her uncle's discretion.
“Can not we,” she said, “learn something of his standing
at the bar except from Counselor Jones's opinion? He may
over-estimate him. What is his name?”

“What a jewel of prudence you are, my dear little
Eleanor. His name, `an it please you,' is Archibald Lisle.”

“Archibald Lisle!” echoed both the girls in a breath.

“Yes, young ladies, `Archibald—Lisle.' What is there
startling in the name?”

“He was a classmate of Mr. Esterly's,” replied Eleanor,
blushing at a smile quivering on her uncle's lip, “and is his

“Ah! and he is the friend of your friend, too, Grace?”


Page 49

Grace did not reply immediately. She was wondering how
it was that her sister should be acquainted with facts in Mr.
Esterly's life that she was ignorant of; but returning to the
point, she replied to her uncle: “O, all that I know about
this young lawyer is, that he led me out to dinner at Mr.
Jones's, where you know Mrs. Herbert dragged me. I may
well remember him. He spilt a glass of claret over a new
white silk dress! Eleanor restored it with her magical manipulation
the next day, and so I forgot it. Poor fellow! he
was so embarrassed by his blunder that he did not speak five
words after it, though he had been very charming before,
talking most agreeably. I told this to Horace Copley and
Anne, who made game of his awkwardness; Miss Anne criticising
the tie of his neckcloth, and Copley laughing at his
frock-coat, and shambling gait, which he called the true
`lawyers' clerk's air.' O, now I recall him perfectly—a very
fine face, lighting up as he spoke, and a dark gray, thoughtful
eye, looking a little wearied, as if hard-worked; and when
something pleased him, such a stream of light came pouring
through it. Yes; give the cause to him by all means, Uncle

“Girls are odd fish,” said Mr. Herbert, laughing; “I
saw the young man half an hour ago, but I could not have
described his eye so truly. And you, Eleanor, does the
dark gray, thoughtful eye decide you, or Frank Esterly's
friendship? or perhaps the friendship without the eye?”

“Whatever it is, uncle,” replied Eleanor, “I am quite
willing to trust the advocacy to Mr. Lisle.”

“And so am I—”

“And so are we all—three pretty, verdant young folks
together, the world will probably pronounce us.” And probably
would decree Uncle Walter the most spring-like and immature
of the three, as he had been decided by an attraction
to the young man indefinable to himself, one of those mysterious


Page 50
correspondencies which modern (soi disant) science
calls magnetism.

He was hurrying out of the room, to communicate the
decision to the young advocate, when Grace arrested him,
and in her sweetest voice—its sweetest tone was a syren's to
his ear—“Now, Uncle Walter,” she said, “you can't go a
step, if our bread depends on it, till you have granted me
one favor.”

“What you will, child—let me go. Whatever you have
to ask, take it for granted I have said yes.”

Grace snapped her fingers, and kissing him, cried, “That's
enough—now go, dear old uncle.”

“No, no, Grace—it is not enough,” said Eleanor. “Stop,
Uncle Walter—come back—one moment. We found a long
letter of your's to-day in an old trunk of grandpapa's, that
we were overlooking—”

“A long letter from me, child! It can't be; I never
wrote a long letter in my life—never—but one,” he added,
his face suddenly clouding, “and that letter—surely my
father did not preserve that? Where is the letter, Eleanor?
Grace, where is it?”

Grace thrust her hand into her pocket, and produced it.
He unfolded it and glanced at its contents, then crumpled
it in his hand, and threw it in the grate. In a breath its
substance vanished. “Type of my life,” he said, in a low,
mournful voice. Then crossing his hands behind him, he
walked slowly to and fro. Pausing, and turning to his
nieces, he added, “Ask no more questions, my children.
There was nothing of any import to you in that letter;
nothing to me—now. Its substance is written here,” putting
his hands on his bosom; “it has run a dark thread
through my whole life. Sad, sad, are the results of our ignorance
and our errors.”

He wiped away the tears that gushed over his cheeks,


Page 51
left the room, and slowly and heavily walked out of the

“Eleanor!” exclaimed Grace, “what can this mean? If
we had but read a little further!”

“Thank heaven, that we did not, Grace.”

“It was no discretion of mine, and therefore I can't thank
heaven for it. It is not mere curiosity, Eleanor; Uncle
Walter and I, you know, are the most intimate of friends.
I can not bear to have a leaf in his life that I have not read,
a fold in his heart hidden from me.”

“There is not, dear Grace. It does not seem to me that
the facts of our life are important; but the character that
is formed from them. The herb is worthless after its essence
is distilled.”

“O, my dear sister reason, and religion. Well, I will
try to follow in your shining footsteps, only I must pine to
know what brought that shower of tears over Uncle Walter's
dear old face.”