University of Virginia Library




“Les cartes ont toujours raison.”

In the open-door life of Mapleton it was soon known that
Alice Clifford was at the mill on the evening of the explosion.
Consequently half the street (as Seymour would have
worded it) poured into Mrs. Clifford's the next morning to
get an explanation of what (as Seymour said again) “the
street thought mysterious.” Some came by right of intimacy,
and some who substitute social cravings for social rights.
Of the latter class, was Miss Clapp, who was attended by
Major Donalphonso Hart. She inquired for Miss Herbert,
and on being told that she was with her friend, who was
too much indisposed to see company, Miss Clapp asked for
Mr. Lisle. He had gone off trout-fishing with young Mr.
Clifford. “Well, I guess,” said Miss Adeline turning to
her escort, “we'll go in, and see the old lady; 'twill seem

The Major bowed acquiescence, saying, “That just meets
my feelings, Miss Adeline. I don't approve of ceremony.”
Neither did Mrs. Clifford, except as a necessary wall to
defend her castle from just such intrusions as she was now
compelled to endure. She was never in a more unfit humor
to receive unwelcome visitors. She had been a good deal
shaken by her child's appalling risks. She had sent poor
Amy off to her mother, and of course had an accumulation
of household affairs to dispose of, and to tell the truth,


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gracious and humane as she was, she had a general shrinking
from new people, and a particular antipathy to the genus
Clapp, so that Miss Adeline's reception was rather chill.

“I can't wonder, ma'am,” she said immediately upon her
introduction, “you appear solemnized; sudden events are
solemn, as I observed to the Major when we heard the explosion.
We were sitting, the Major and me, talking over
Washington, and saying what an interesting place it is, so
many intelligent members, and such affable foreign ambassadors,
and then we went off to speaking of Mrs. Tallis; at
least I was telling the Major—he had never heard of her
before—how they had located in a lovely spot not far from
Grace's sister Esterly, and were after all—you know, ma'am,
probably what I allude to?”

“I have heard Mrs. Tallis' name,” replied Mrs. Clifford,
shrinking from Miss Clapp's unshrinking style of dilation.

“Well, how uncommon, that Grace has not told you about
her, but I suppose she has feelings in that direction. Well,
I was just remarking that the Tallises after all were living
like two doves—as married couples ought to live—(her eye
appealing to the Major) when bang went the mill. `Mercy,'
says I. `Major, was that a thunder-clap?' `Oh, no,' says
he, `no Clapp ever produced so unpleasant a sensation.'
A pretty compliment, wasn't it ma'am?—so quick and

Mrs. Clifford was relieved from the necessity of replying,
by the entrance of her son Max, who, in his frank, cordial
manner, shook hands with the Major, and on his presenting
him to “Miss Adeline,” said, “Miss Clapp is not the stranger
to me, that I am to her. I have frequently heard her
spoken of.” The good-natured creature detected no sinister
meaning in the mischievous curl of Max's lip. She nodded
graciously to him, and when he went on to say, “I suppose
we owe the honor of Miss Clapp's visit to Mapleton to her


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friend, Mr. Lisle,” she actually blushed. This phenomenon
was followed by another. The Major was disconcerted, and
a-hemed, and “hoped Miss Clapp would not owe all her
pleasure in Mapleton to Mr. Lisle?”

“Oh, no, Major,” rejoined Max, “you know the military
candidate always carries the day in our elections, and who
shall dare contend with him, who can wield both `pen and
sword.'” And thrumming on the open piano, he hummed,

“I'll make thee famous by my pen,
And glorious by my sword.”

Miss Adeline's white teeth radiated through her smiling

“By the way, Major,” resumed Max, “has any one
apologized to you for Mr. Lisle's spontaneous appropriation
of your carriage, last evening?”

The Major said, “It needed no apology; whatever he had
was at the service of the ladies; it was all just right.”

“Precisely,” Max said. “Never did horses appear more
opportunely. Poor Miss Herbert had sprained her ankle
coming down Prospect Hill—she has a touch of the heroic,
and she dragged along, upheld by Archy, to the road-side,
where they were met by your man passing with your sublime
ponies. So Lisle took possession, and drove Miss Herbert
home. The girls are pretty well done for with the
walk, and the upshot at the mill. Mother,” he added, “I
am sure you are impatient to go to them?” She was as impatient
as a bird caught by a rash school-boy. “Miss Clapp
will excuse you. She does not stand on ceremony.”

“Would to heaven, she did,” thought Mrs. Clifford; but
Miss Clapp was not to be headed.

“No, to be sure,” she said. “I make no account of ceremony,
and I will excuse your ma with pleasure, after I have
spoken a few words in private to her. Gentlemen, you can


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go out, and walk round. I shall soon make an end,

There was no escape; the enemy had possession of the
citadel. The gentlemen retreated, and Mrs. Clifford submitted.

To do Miss Clapp justice, she was slightly abashed. Our
gracious Mrs. Clifford could be, on occasion, as stately as
Minerva. But Miss Adeline felt that it was an opportunity
not to be lost, and after a small hesitation, and a few preliminaries,
such as may be imagined from Miss Adeline's
indigenous style of conversation, she repeated to Mrs. Clifford
the “views” and “claims” reported in a former part
of her history. Mrs. Clifford manifested her impatience by
parenthetical interruptions, ringing the bell to give various
domestic directions, calling out to Max to drive the hens
from Alice's “flower-beds,” etc., etc. Adeline Clapp was
as persistent as an east wind, but there was an end, and she
concluded with “now, ma'am what do you advise?”

“Nothing, madam. I do not see why you have selected
me as your confidential counselor. My only possible advice
to you would be to forget this childish idea as soon as possible,
and give over the disgusting persecution.”

“Well, now ma'am, I can't conceive why you should be so
roiled. I thought of speaking to you, because Mr. Lisle is,
as it were, a son to you, and I have always heard you spoken
of, ma'am, as a worthy old lady, and I, being an orphan, I
thought you would take an interest. I ain't touchy, and I
don't feel affronted, but I must say you don't use quite the
right words when you mention `childish ideas,' and `persecution.'
I know gentlemen—attorneys at law, too—who
would not hold it `persecution' to have $200,000 thrown
into their hands without conditions—for where I give my
heart, ma'am, there I give my fortune.” Miss Clapp felt
that she had taken a proud stand-point, and she went on.


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“I have been constant, and I have had more than one striking
temptation to be otherwise.” She cast a glance out
the window at the Major's stalwart figure, and added, “I
may have still more, but, as my lawyer says, says he, `It is not
an open question, Miss Clapp; or rather,' says he, `I had
ought to say, Mrs. Lisle; for,' says he, `you are the lawful
wife of Archibald Lisle, Esquire.'” The party thus named,
was, at this moment, coming from the entry through the
open parlor door, and heard distinctly (for Miss Adeline had
not “that excellent thing in woman,” a low voice) the last
clause of her sentence.

“I will leave Mr. Lisle to adjust his own legal affairs,”
said Mrs. Clifford, curtly, and she withdrew, leaving Adeline
Clapp, plaintiff, literally versus Archibald Lisle, defendant.
Miss Adeline, for the first time in her life, shrank from her
position. Her all-sufficiency quailed. She rose from the
sofa, put down her veil, put it up again, and fidgeted with
her gloves, till Mr. Lisle said, with perfect composure, “Miss
Adeline, will you be so good as to explain what you have
just said? Perhaps I did not hear aright. You are too
kind to jest on so serious a subject, and I am sure too just
to impute to me an aspiration to the honor of imparting my
name to you.” Archibald's tone was serious. Miss Clapp
was perplexed, for though she was too obtuse to penetrate
the thinnest veil of irony, she could not quite understand
the smiles in Archibald's eyes, and certain movements of the
muscles of his face that were apparent, though he covered
his mouth with his handkerchief. But whatever was the
character of his emotion, he was firm, and determined, now
that the “hobgoblin” had assumed a tangible form, to clutch

“Really, Miss Adeline,” he said, “you must explain. I
must be absolved from pretensions that, in my wildest fancies,
I never conceived. Speak out, Miss Adeline, it is not your


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style to speak in riddles.” Lisle threw down his hat, folded
his arms, and stood with an air of such absolute tranquillity,
that Miss Clapp took heart of grace, and believed all was
coming out right. “Well, I am sure, Archy, I don't like
riddles. I am always in favor of plain speaking—the Clapps
all are. We mean to deal honorable, and above-board, and
if I have kept dark, and seemed mysterious, it has been
owing to peculiar circumstances. You know the fair sex
are expected to have their lips buttoned up upon some subjects—to
be retiring, as it were—and I have always felt as
if it would appear prettier if you were the first to put in the

“Claim,” interrupted Lisle. “For heaven's sake, Miss
Adeline, tell me what you mean by `claim,' and `peculiar

Fortunately for Lisle, for his heroic coolness was giving
way, the Major tapped at the door, and without waiting for
an answer, opened it, and perceiving, as he afterward elegantly
expressed it, “that his finger was not wanted in that
pie,” he bowed and retreated.

“All I ask, Miss Adeline,” said Lisle, resuming his good-natured
tone, “is that you should unmistify our relations as
briefly as possible, and relieve the Major as well as myself;
for I perceive that he fears, as he might professionally express
it, that I am taking `the shot out of his gun.'”

“Well now, Archibald Lisle,” she replied, “that sounds
like old times, familiar and pleasant. Now sit down,
friendly. I wish you had a stick to whittle—it would relieve
your embarrassment.”

Lisle assured her that he was not in the slightest degree
“embarrassed,” and the intrepid woman proceeded, after a
slight preface of wonder that he had not “understood her
hints last winter in New York,” when she confessed she had
“all but spoken out,” to detail minutely the grounds on


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which she placed the legality and inviolability of a marriage-contract
with Lisle. She did not falter, or look down, or
look aside from beginning to end. Lisle listened without
interruption, as he would have listened to the case of a
client. She proceeded to state the startling amount of her
fortune, and the productive mode of its investment. Still he
was silent. She expressed her thorough disapprobation of
the “Women's Rights” movement, and her cheerful acquiescence
in his unshackled control of “principal and interest.”
And then as she paused, he spoke, and not in an
exultant tone, for Lisle's chivalry toward woman in the abstract
extended to woman in the concrete. “Your generosity
is prodigious, Miss Adeline,” he said, “but I assure you,
you are completely unfettered, and I have no more right than
hope in the case—no lien whatever on your bonds and mortgages,
and factory stock. Your `at the very least $250,000'
—she had thus specified the gross amount—are destined to
more fortunate hands than mine. The castle in the air, you
have so kindly built for me, must dissolve before one small
fact. I was not of age, my dear Miss Adeline, on the
memorable night of that mock-wedding, and I a little wonder
your brother `Dates' should have forgotten that as I was
leaving Cambridge, his hospitality anticipated by two days
the date of my majority. And even if the stringent administration
of the law in Massachusetts held you bound, in
spite of my minority, the fact that Judge Eastly had retired
from the magistracy prior to the `broomstick' marriage would
prevent it being binding—in all events I should doubt the
security of my happiness, as it would still depend on the
precedents alleged in my behalf by your legal adviser being
substantiated by a legal tribunal. So I congratulate you, my
dear Miss Clapp, on your escape from these fancied fetters,
and trust that love is forging others, for you more fitting!”

“Archy! Archy!” called out Max from the lawn.


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Lisle obeyed the summons, and sprang to the door like a
released prisoner.

One should be familiar with certain temperaments to
understand the exact state of Miss Adeline Clapp's feelings
at this juncture. Like the child with his magic lanthorn,
there was one sigh for the picture that had passed, and a
bright look-out for the next to come. Not one pang of the
“woman scorned,” for, as she afterwards expressed herself
in a letter to “Dates,” Archy was fair, and above-board,
and very polite too!

“Every one was liable to mistakes. Lisle was something
uncommon, but then there were good fish in the sea yet.
Major Donalphonso Hart was taller than Lisle, and of a
handsome build, and if he were not a New York lawyer, he
stood high at the bar in his own county; and she had often
seen his name in the papers during the Mexican war; and
after all,” she concluded, “he seems more like one of our
sort of folks than Archy did!”

Miss Adeline's was homeopathic practice; her philosophy
was adapted to her case. “Similia similibus!