University of Virginia Library




“Even a child is known by his doings.”

It is always a surprising, but a no less comfortable fact in
human life, that no sooner does an event become inevitable,
than all the hopes and projects that hung upon its decision are
subdued to acquiescence. The mariner goes down calmly in
the ship from which there is no deliverance. The criminal
accepts the rope he can not avoid, and millions “die with
resignation” when death becomes certain; and, to resignation
to death in life so frequent, in the indissoluble compact
of marriage, the inevitable is the great argument.

The fine castle in the air, which Uncle Walter had built,
in the shape of an independent home, in which he might set
up housekeeping with his beloved nieces; the wise plans of
charity that Eleanor had founded on the contingent fortune,
and a tour to Italy, the land of her desires, which Grace had
projected with her sister, and Uncle Walter, all vanished
with the lost lawsuit, and this most unworldly trio, reverted,
with hardly a sigh of regret, to the beaten track of their
daily life.

The winter was wearing on; Mr. Esterly was ordained
rector over one of the fullest and most fashionable congregations
of the city. The gossips who mark every straw that
blows athwart the path of a popular unmarried clergyman,
did not fail to speculate upon his assiduous visits at Mrs.


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“How odd people are!” said Miss Anne Carlton to her
mamma. “What do they mean by teazing me about Mr.
Esterly. It is too absurd.”

“Not exactly absurd, my dear.” We take the liberty to
express Mrs. Herbert's emphasis by italics. In no other
mode can her oracular style be rendered. “There would
be nothing inconsistent with propriety or probability in Mr.
Esterly addressing you.”

“Addressing me! O, that's quite une autre chose. I
flatter myself I have had admirers quite equal in every way
to the Rev. Francis Esterly, but the idea of being engaged
to him is quite horrid.”

“Not horrid, Anne!—I wish, my dear child, you would
study accuracy of expression—not horrid, but not fitting. A
fortune like your's, would be rather an encumbrance to a
clergyman, though he might so use, and dispense it—”

“O, mamma!” cried the reverent young lady, interrupting
her mother, “there is no use in your moralizing yourself
into a fog about it. Clergymen are just as fond as other
men of marrying fortunes, and care just as little as others
how, as you say, they use and dispense them. But to return
to the Rev. Francis Esterly: I would not marry him if he
were to offer himself forty times over. Eleanor and Grace
are quite welcome to him. Their fortunes won't encumber
him. Do you think he sincerely fancies either of them?”

“I am not sure. I make it a rule never to be confident.
The most sagacious may be at fault as to who will marry
who; but this much I will say—if either, Grace.”

“O, of course, Grace,” replied the young lady, petulantly,
“she is always putting herself forward, and Eleanor is so
retiring—worth a million of Grace, I could tell them, if they
asked my advice. Miss Grace Herbert, with all her out-spokenness,
keeps her cards to herself, and plays them well,
too, while poor Eleanor thinks nothing of the game. It's


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my private opinion, mamma, that Grace is just finessing with
Esterly, to catch that king of trumps, Copley.”

“I wish, Anne, you would not use the phrases of the
whist-table, they are not graceful `for so young a lady.'”

“Then, in plain phrase, Grace will never accept the
reverend, while she has the faintest hope of Horace Copley.”

“But she can not have even the faintest hope.”

“Why, if you please, ma'am?” Now the mother was on
the point of saying what the daughter was longing to hear;
but both were, in their different modes, wise in their generation,
and neither would confess to the other her secret
speculations and hopes upon the ulterior possibilities in the
case of Horace Copley. The self-believing oracle answered
oracularly. “I can't tell you, Anne, all the grounds of my
opinion. So many circumstances come into the formation
of our conclusions, which, after all, may be erroneous; you
know Copley admires Grace; certainly she is very clever,
and she is thought beautiful, though you and I are not of
that opinion; and it is impossible to say what a young person
of her powers may accomplish. But I have known
Horace Copley from his childhood, and I think I know him
thoroughly. Copley is not altogether an open character.
Not so frank as I like, for frankness indicates—hem—hem—
many virtues.”

“That's right, mamma, club them, I hate items.”

“My dear,” recommenced Mrs. Herbert, reprovingly, “I
was going on to say, that Copley is the sort of man to amuse
himself, now flirting with Mrs. Tallis, and now playing upon
Grace's vanity, while he has all the while a serious purpose
at heart, that he will cautiously withhold till the right time

“O, fiddle-faddle, mamma! he knows he can have any
girl in New York for the asking. What's the use of caution?


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No, I'll tell you what it is: he is a pretty gay boy, and
means to enjoy his freedom a little longer. I have heard
some nice gossip about him, as secret as he is.”

“My dear Anne, you should never listen to such sort of
gossip, nor allude to it. A young lady of true delicacy
should be ignorant of every thing of the kind, and never
imagine the possibility of its existence. It's quite time to
find out your husband's aberrations after you are married.”

“Well, mamma, you are funny! But do tell me, was
there not some talk of a match between Copley and me
among you old folks when we were children?”

“Anne, I request you not to use such terms. It's neither
polite nor respectful. If there is any virtue I do admire, it
is reverence.”

“Oh, so do all old people! but you know I never mean
any thing by what I say, so, please answer my question.”

“Well, my dear, there was among us some talk of the
kind you allude to, neither serious, nor quite jesting. Your
dear father's beautiful estate adjoined Elm Grove, and old
Mr. Copley had a passion for a great landed property. He
had lived in England, and was quite the English gentleman,
and your father was quite different; he liked bonds and
mortgages, and stocks, and so on; he acquired his fortune
by commerce, you know.”

“No, I do not know. I never knew how papa got his
great fortune; what kind of commerce was it?”

“Merchandise, Anne.”

“Yes, but what kind?”

“Why, he dealt in the staff of life—flour.

“Oh, he was a flour merchant, then?”

Mrs. Carlton nodded assent, but she forbore telling her
daughter that his fortune was made and moulded in a
baker's shop.


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“My child,” resumed Mrs. Herbert, “our country is progressive.
One should not look to antecedents; the chances
are, that more than half our fashionable people would run
their heads against mechanics or tradespeople, or something
of that very disagreeable sort. We have our snobs—a
species of vulgarity and humbug, out of place, and quite
ridiculous in our democratic republic.”

“But, mamma,” said the young lady, after a thoughtful
pause, “our antecedents, as you call them, were gentry,
were they not?”

“Ye—yes. You surely know, Anne, that I was distantly
related, through my mother, to my husband's family.” Mrs.
Herbert sunk her antecedent father, who began a peddler,
and ended a millionare.

“It is provoking,” said Anne, “that our gentle blood
should come through the Herbert channel. There's not one
of them I desire to be related to—I except Eleanor. Well,”
she continued, rising, and trying before a glass some flowers
she had been rearranging for her hair, “we shall see how it
will end. The plot thickens. Here is this wonderful young
lawyer coming to see old Mr. Herbert. Hum! he sees no
one, heeds no one, but Grace. Would you let them droop
on the right side, mamma? So—is not that effect charming?
The dress of the head `exige beaucoup de génie,' as
Madame says. I should like to solve the mystery of Grace's
attractions. She has height; but Madame Lakay says her
figure is not comparable to mine—nor is her complexion to
Eleanor's—nor is she in any thing to Eleanor.”

It may well be asked, why such a thing as Anne Carlton
should be able to do a kind of justice to Eleanor? In the
first place, she had no rivalry with her. But better than
that, the sweetness of Eleanor's temper, her Christianly
wisdom and simplicity, surrounded her with an atmosphere


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that exorcised the bad and elicited the good. In Scripture
phrase, “she overcame evil with good.”

Mrs. Herbert resumed: “If you were acquainted with
science, Anne, you would know the positive demands the
negative. Copley appreciates the advantage of fortune and
position—Grace disdains them. He is secretive—she disdains

“Yes, indeed; she is as proud as if she were an empress.”

“O, no, my dear, not exactly proud. You should analyze
—you should study human nature.”

“I never shall. It is the dullest study in human life;
those that study it most make the greatest blunders, in my
judgment. I would like to know if any analysis of human
nature would tell me why Horace Copley did not dance with
Grace last evening, but once with me, and ever so many
times with Mrs. Tallis.”

“With whom did Grace dance, Anne?”

“She did not dance. She was talking the first half of the
evening with the reverend, and the last half with the lawyer.”

“You don't say Mr. Esterly was there?

“He was. Why should he not be? I am sure neither
you nor he think there is any harm in dancing.”

“Certainly not; but a clergyman should not shock public

“O, I rather think Mr. Esterly cares more for his own
conscience than for public opinion,” said Anne, for once, in
her contrarieties to her mother, hitting a sound truth. “But
perhaps,” she added, “he bowed his head to that Dagon,
public opinion, for he went home early, and left the field to
Lisle, who, I'll answer for it, does not know a polka from a

Did Mr. Copley lead Mrs. Tallis out to supper?” asked
Mrs. Herbert, with the air of one who is making out the
points in a case.


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“No—but he did lead me out to supper. And now what
do you say?”

“That's well; but I can't quite interpret him. One must
see with one's own eyes. Perhaps he wished to pique
Grace. He may have intended to make capital with you,
for I am sorry to say, Anne, you seem to prefer the ultra-fashionable
young men, who flirt with married ladies. Or,
after all, he may think that Grace is on the brink of an engagement
with Esterly, and so thrown out.”

“Oh, mamma, that is as satisfactory as if you had `seen
with your own eyes.' Would it not be delightful to have
Grace married? Such a dull marriage, too! Three girls
are two too many for one house.”

“My dear, you know it's my pride that you all live in

“Yes, but the music would be better if there were but
one instrument. Poor Eleanor, she is a dear; but I always
thought it would be her fate to be an old maid!”