University of Virginia Library





In the edge of a June evening in the summer vacation of 1827,
I was set down by the coach at the gate of my friend Horace Van
Pelt's paternal mansion—a large, old-fashioned, comfortable
Dutch house, clinging to the side of one of the most romantic
dolls on the North river. In the absence of his whole family on
the summer excursion to the falls and lakes (taken by almost
every “well-to-do” citizen of the United States), Horace was
emperor of the long-descended, and as progressively enriched
domain of one of the earliest Dutch settlers—a brief authority
which he exercised more particularly over an extensive stud, and
bins number one and two.

The west was piled with gold castles, breaking up the horizon
with their burnished pinnacles and turrets, the fragrant dampness


Page 12
of the thunder-shower that had followed the heat of noon
was in the air, and in a low room, whose floor opened out so exactly
upon the shaven sward, that a blind man would not have known
when he passed from the heavily-piled carpet to the grass, I
found Horace sitting over his olives and claret, having waited
dinner for me till five (long beyond the latest American hour),
and in despair of my arrival, having dined without me. The old
black cook was too happy to vary her vocation by getting a
second dinner; and when I had appeased my appetite, and overtaken
my friend in his claret, we sat with the moonlight breaking
across a vine at our feet, and coffee worthy of a filagree cup in
the Bezestien, and debated, amid a true embarras des richesses,
our plans for the next week's amusement.

The seven days wore on, merrily at first, but each succeeding
one growing less merry than the last. By the fifth eve of my
sojourn, we had exhausted variety. All sorts of headaches and
megrims in the morning, all sorts of birds, beasts, and fishes, for
dinner, all sorts of accidents in all sorts of vehicles, left us on the
seventh day out of sorts altogether. We were two discontented
Rasselases in the Happy Valley. Rejoicing as we were in vacation,
it would have been a relief to have had a recitation to read
up, or a prayer-bell to mark the time. Two idle sophomores in
a rambling, lonely old mansion, were, we discovered, a very
insufficient dramatis personæ for the scene.

It was Saturday night. A violent clap of thunder had interrupted
some daring theory of Van Pelt's on the rising of champagne-bubbles,
and there we sat, mum and melancholy, two sated
Sybarites, silent an hour by the clock. The mahogany was bare
between us. Any number of glasses and bottles stood in their
lees about the table; the thrice-fishes juice of an olive-dish and


Page 13
a solitary cigar in a silver case had been thrust aside in a warm
argument, and, in his father's sacred gout-chair, buried to the
eyes in his loosened cravat, one leg on the table, and one somewhere
in the neighborhood of my own, sat Van Pelt, the eidolon
of exhausted amusement.

“Phil!” said he, starting suddenly to an erect position, “a
thought strikes me!”

I dropped the claret-cork, from which I was at the moment
trying to efface the “Margaux” brand, and sat in silent expectation.
I had thought his brains as well evaporated as the last
bottle of champagne.

He rested his elbows on the table, and set his chin between his
two palms.

“I'll resign the keys of this mournful old den to the butler, and
we'll go to Saratoga for a week. What say?”

“It would be a reprieve from death by inanition,” I answered,
“but, as the rhetorical professor would phrase it, amplify your
meaning, young gentleman.”

“Thus: To-morrow is Sunday. We will sleep till Monday
morning to purge our brains of these cloudy vapors, and restore
the freshness of our complexions. If a fair day, you shall start
alone in the stanhope, and on Monday night sleep in classic
quarters at Titus's in Troy.”

“And you,” I interrupted, rather astonished at his arrangement
for one.

Horace laid his hand on his pocket with a look of embarrassed

“I will overtake you with the bay colts in the drosky, but I
must first go to Albany. The circulating medium—”

“I understand.”


Page 14


We met on Monday morning in the breakfast-room in mutual
spirits. The sun was two hours high, the birds in the trees were
wild with the beauty and elasticity of the day, the dew glistened
on every bough, and the whole scene, over river and hill, was a
heaven of natural delight. As we finished our breakfast, the
light spattering of a horse's feet up the avenue, and the airy
whirl of quick-following wheels, announced the stanhope. It was
in beautiful order, and what would have been termed on any pave
in the world a tasteful turn-out. Light cream-colored body, black
wheels and shafts, drab lining edged with green, dead-black harness,
light as that on the panthers of Bacchus—it was the last style of
thing you would have looked for at the “stoup” of a Dutch homestead.
And Tempest! I think I see him now!—his small inquisitive
ears, arched neck, eager eye, and fine, thin nostril—his
dainty feet flung out with the grace of a flaunted riband—his
true and majestic action and his spirited champ of the bit, nibbling
at the tight rein with the exciting pull of a hooked trout—
how evenly he drew!—how insensibly the compact stanhope, just
touching his iron-gray tail, bowled along on the road after him!

Horace was behind with the drosky and black boy, and with a
parting nod at the gate, I turned northward, and Tempest took
the road in beautiful style. I do not remember to have been ever
so elated. I was always of the Cyrenaic philosophy that “happiness
is motion,” and the bland vitality of the air had refined my
senses. The delightful feel of the reins thrilled me to the
shoulder. Driving is like any other appetite, dependant for the
delicacy of its enjoyment on the system, and a day's temperate
abstinence, long sleep, and the glorions perfection of the morning,


Page 15
had put my nerves “in condition.” I felt the air as I rushed
through. The power of the horse was added to my consciousness
of enjoyment, and if you can imagine a centaur with a harness
and stanhope added to his living body, I felt the triple enjoyment
of animal exercise which would then be his.

It is delightful driving on the Hudson. The road is very fair
beneath your wheels, the river courses away under the bold shore
with the majesty inseparable from its mighty flood, and the
constant change of outline in its banks, gives you, as you proceed,
a constant variety of pictures, from the loveliest to the most
sublime. The eagle's nest above you at one moment, a sunny
and fertile farm below you at the next—rocks, trees, and waterfalls,
wedded and clustered as, it seems to me, they are nowhere
else done so picturesquely—it is a noble river, the Hudson!
And every few minutes, while you gaze down upon the broad
waters spreading from hill to hill like a round lake, a gayly-painted
steamer with her fringed and white awnings and streaming
flag, shoots out as if from a sudden cleft in the rock, and draws
across it her track of foam.

Well—I bowled along. Ten o'clock brought me to a snug
Dutch tavern, where I sponged Tempest's mouth and nostrils,
lunched, and was stared at by the natives, and continuing my
journey, at one I loosed rein and dashed into the pretty village
of —, Tempest in a foam, and himself and his extempore
master creating a great sensation in a crowd of people, who stood
in the shade of the verandah of the hotel, as if that asylum for
the weary traveller had been a shop for the sale of gentlemen in

Tempest was taken round to the “barn,” and I ordered rather
an elaborate dinner, designing still to go on some ten miles in the


Page 16
cool of the evening, and having, of course, some mortal hours
upon my hands. The cook had probably never heard of more
than three dishes in her life, but those three were garnished with
all manner of herbs, and sent up in the best china as a warranty
for an unusual bill, and what with coffee, a small glass of new
rum as an apology for a chasse café, and a nap in a straight-backed
chair, I killed the enemy to my satisfaction till the
shadows of the poplars lengthened across the barnyard.

I was awoke by Tempest, prancing round to the door in undiminished
spirits; and as I had begun the day en grand seigneur,
I did not object to the bill, which considerably exceeded the outside
of my calculation, but giving the landlord a twenty-dollar
note received the change unquestioned, doubled the usual fee to
the ostler, and let Tempest off with a bend forward which served
at the same time for a gracious bow to the spectators. So
remarkable a coxcomb had probably not been seen in the village
since the passing of Cornwallis's army.

The day was still hot, and as I got into the open country, I
drew rein and paced quietly up hill and down, picking the road
delicately, and in a humor of thoughtful contentment, trying my
skill in keeping the edges of the green sod as it leaned in and out
from the walls and ditches. With the long whip I now and then
touched the wing of a sulphur butterfly hovering over a pool, and
now and then I stopped and gathered a violet from the unsunned
edge of the wood.

I had proceeded three or four miles in this way, when I was
overtaken by three stout fellows, galloping at speed, who rode
past and faced round with a peremptory order to me to stop. A
formidable pitchfork in the hand of each horseman left me no
alternative. I made up my mind immediately to be robbed


Page 17
quietly of my own personals, but to show fight, if necessary, for
Tempest and the stanhope.

“Well, gentlemen,” said I, coaxing my impatient horse, who
had been rather excited by the clatter of hoofs behind him, “what
is the meaning of this?”

Before I could get an answer, one of the fellows had dismounted
and given his bridle to another, and coming round to the left
side, he sprang suddenly into the stanhope. I received him as
he rose with a well-placed thrust of my heel which sent him back
into the road, and with a chirrup to Tempest, I dashed through
the phalanx, and took the road at a top speed. The short lash
once waved round the small ears before me, there was no stopping
in a hurry, and away sped the gallant gray, and fast behind
followed my friends in their short sleeves, all in a lathering
gallop. A couple of miles was the work of no time, Tempest
laying his legs to it as if the stanhope had been a cobweb at his
heels; but at the end of that distance there came a sharp descent
to a mill-stream, and I just remember an unavoidable milestone
and a jerk over a wall, and the next minute, it seemed to me, I
was in the room where I had dined, with my hands tied, and a
hundred people about me. My cool white waistcoat was matted
with mud, and my left temple was, by the glass opposite me, both
bloody and begrimed.

The opening of my eyes was a signal for a closer gathering
around me, and between exhaustion and the close air I was half
suffocated. I was soon made to understand that I was a prisoner,
and that the three white-frocked highwaymen, as I took them to
be, were among the spectators. On a polite application to the
landlord, who, I found out, was a justice of the peace as well, I was
informed that he had made out my mittimus as a counterfeiter,


Page 18
and that the spurious note I had passed upon him for my dinner
was safe in his possession! He pointed at the same time to a
placard newly stuck against the wall, offering a reward for the
apprehension of a notorious practiser of my supposed craft, to the
description of whose person I answered, to the satisfaction of all

Quite too indignant to remonstrate, I seated myself in the chair
considerately offered me by the waiter, and listening to the whispers
of the persons who were still permitted to throng the room,
I discovered, what might have struck me before, that the initials
on the panel of the stanhope and the handle of the whip had been
compared with the card pasted in the bottom of my hat, and the
want of correspondence was taken as decided corroboration. It
was remarked also by a bystander that I was quite too much of
a dash for an honest man, and that he had suspected me from
first seeing me drive into the village! I was sufficiently humbled
by this time to make an inward vow never again to take airs
upon myself if I escaped the county jail.

The justice meanwhile had made out my orders, and a horse
and cart had been provided to take me to the next town. I
endeavored to get speech of his worship as I was marched out of
the inn parlor, but the crowd pressed close upon my heels and
the dignitary-landlord seemed anxious to rid his house of me. I
had no papers, and no proofs of my character, and assertion went
for nothing. Besides, I was muddy, and my hat was broken in
on one side, proofs of villany which appeal to the commonest

I begged for a little straw in the bottom of the cart, and had
made myself as comfortable as my two rustic constables thought
fitting for a culprit, when the vehicle was quickly ordered from


Page 19
the door to make way for a carriage coming at a dashing pace up
the road. It was Van Pelt in his drosky.

Horace was well known on the road, and the stanhope had
already been recognized as his. By this time it was deep in the
twilight, and though he was instantly known by the landlord, he
might be excused for not so readily identifying the person of his
friend in the damaged gentleman in the straw.

“Ay, ay! I see you don't know him,” said the landlord, while
Van Pelt surveyed me rather coldly; “on with him, constables!
he would have us believe you knew him, sir! Walk in, Mr. Van
Pelt! Ostler, look to Mr. Van Pelt's horses! Walk in, sir!”

“Stop!” I cried out in a voice of thunder, seeing that Horace
really had not looked at me. “Van Pelt! stop, I say!”

The driver of the cart seemed more impressed by the energy
of my cries than my friends the constables, and pulled up his
horse. Some one in the crowd cried out that I should have a
hearing or he would “wallup the comitatus,” and the justice,
called back by this expression of an opinion from the sovereign
people, requested his new guest to look at the prisoner.

I was preparing to have my hands untied, yet feeling so
indignant at Van Pelt for not having recognized me that I would
not look at him, when, to my surprise, the horse started off once
more, and looking back, I saw my friend patting the neck of his
near horse, evidently not having thought it worth his while to
take any notice of the justice's observation. Choking with rage,
I flung myself down upon the straw, and jolted on without further
remonstrance to the county town.

I had been incarcerated an hour, when Van Pelt's voice,
half angry with the turnkey and half ready to burst into a laugh,
resounded outside. He had not heard a word spoken by the


Page 20
officious landlord, till after the cart had been some time gone.
Even then, believing it to be a cock-and-bull story, he had
quietly dined, and it was only on going into the yard to see after
his horses that he recognized the debris of his stanhope.

The landlord's apologies, when we returned to the inn, were
more amusing to Van Pelt than consolatory to Philip Slingsby.


It was about seven o'clock of a hot evening when Van Pelt's
exhausted horses toiled out from the Pine Forest, and stood, fetlock
deep in sand, on the brow of the small hill overlooking the
mushroom village of Saratoga. One or two straggling horsemen
were returning late from their afternoon ride, and looked at us,
as they passed on their fresher hacks, with the curiosity which
attaches to new-comers in a watering-place; here and there a
genuine invalid, who had come to the waters for life, not for
pleasure, took advantage of the coolness of the hour and crept
down the footpath to the Spring; and as Horace encouraged his
flagging cattle into a trot to bring up gallantly at the door of
“Congress Hall,” the great bell of that vast caravanserai
resounded through the dusty air, and by the shuffling of a thousand
feet, audible as we approached, we knew that the fashionable
world of Saratoga were rushing down, en masse,to tea.

Having driven through a sand-cloud for the preceding three


Page 21
hours, and, to say nothing of myself, Van Pelt being a man,
who, in his character as the most considerable beau of the
University, calculated his first impression, it was not thought
advisable to encounter, uncleansed, the tide of fashion at that
moment streaming through the hall. We drove round to the
side-door, and gained our pigeon-hole quarters under cover of the

The bachelors' wing of Congress Hall is a long, unsightly,
wooden barrack, divided into chambers six feet by four, and of
an airiness of partition which enables the occupant to converse
with his neighbor three rooms off, with the ease of clerks calling
out entries to the leger across the desks of a counting-house.
The clatter of knives and plates came up to our ears in a confused
murmur, and Van Pelt having refused to dine at the only
inn upon the route, for some reason best known to himself, I
commenced the progress of a long toilet with an appetite not
rendered patient by the sounds of cheer below.

I had washed the dust out of my eyes and mouth, and overcome
with heat and hunger, I knotted a cool cravat loosely round
my neck, and sat down in the one chair.

“Van Pelt!” I shouted.

“Well, Phil?”

“Are you dressed?”

“Dressed! I am as pinguid as a pate foie gras—greased to the
eyelids in cold cream!”

I took up the sixpenny glass and looked at my own newly-washed
physiognomy. From the temples to the chin it was one
unmitigated red—burned to a blister with the sun! I had been
obliged to deluge my head like a mop to get out the dust, and not
naturally remarkable for my good looks, I could, much worse


Page 22
than Van Pelt, afford these startling additions to my disadvantages.
Hunger is a subtle excuse-finder, however, and, remembering
there were five hundred people in this formidable crowd,
and all busy with satisfying their hunger, I trusted to escape
observation, and determined to “go down to tea.” With the
just-named number of guests, it will easily be understood why it
is impossible to obtain a meal at Congress Hall out of the stated
time and place.

In a white roundabout, a checked cravat, my hair plastered
over my eyes a la Mawworm, and a face like the sign of the
“Rising Sun,” I stopped at Van Pelt's door.

“The most hideous figure my eyes ever looked upon!” was his
first consolatory observation.

“Handsome or hideous,” I answered, “I'll not starve! So
here goes for some bread and butter!” and leaving him to his
“appliances,” I descended to the immense hall which serves the
comers to Saratoga, for dining, dancing and breakfasting, and in
wet weather, between meals, for shuttlecock and promenading.

Two interminable tables extended down the hall, filled by all
the beauty and fashion of the United States. Luckily, I thought,
for me, there are distinctions in this republic of dissipation, and
the upper end is reserved for those who have servants to turn
down the chairs and stand over them. The end of the tables
nearest the door, consequently, is occupied by those whose
opinion of my appearance is not without appeal, if they trouble
their heads about it at all, and I may glide in in my white roundabout
(permitted in this sultry weather), and retrieve exhausted
nature in obscurity.

An empty chair stood between an old gentleman and a very
plain young lady, and seeing no remembered faces opposite, I


Page 23
glided to the place, and was soon lost to apprehension in the
abysm of a cold pie. The table was covered with meats, berries,
bottles of chalybeate water, tea appurtenances, jams, jellies, and
radishes, and, but for the absence of the roast, you might have
doubted whether the meal was breakfast or dinner, lunch or
supper. Happy country! in which any one of the four meals
may serve a hungry man for all.

The pigeon-pie stood, at last, well quarried before me, the
debris of the excavation heaped upon my plate; and, appetite
appeased, and made bold by my half hour's obscurity, I leaned
forward and perused with curious attention the long line of faces
on the opposite side of the table, to some of whom, doubtless, I
was to be indebted for the pleasures of the coming fortnight.

My eyes were fixed on the features of a talkative woman, just
above, and I had quite forgotten the fact of my dishabille of complexion
and dress, when two persons entered who made considerable
stir among the servants, and eventually were seated directly
opposite me.

“We loitered too long at Barhydt's,” said one of the most beautiful
women I had ever seen, as she pulled her chair nearer to the
table and looked around her with a glance of disapproval.

In following her eyes to see who was so happy as to sympathize
with such a divine creature even in the loss of a place at table, I
met the fixed and astonished gaze of my most intimate friend at
the University.



Overjoyed at meeting him, I stretched both hands across the
narrow table, and had shaken his arms nearly off his shoulders, and
asked him a dozen questions, before I became conscious that a pair


Page 24
of large wondering eyes were coldly taking an inventory of my
person and features. Van Pelt's unflattering exclamation upon
my appearance at his door, flashed across my mind like a thunderstroke,
and coloring through my burned skin to the temples, I
bowed and stammered I know not what, as Ellerton introduced
me to his sister!

To enter fully into my distress, you should be apprized that a
correspondence arising from my long and constant intimacy with
Tom Ellerton, had been carried on for a year between me and his
sister, and that, being constantly in the habit of yielding to me in
matters of taste, he had, I well knew, so exaggerated to her my
personal qualities, dress, and manners, that she could not in any
case fail to be disappointed in seeing me. Believing her to be at
that moment two thousand miles off in Alabama, and never having
hoped for the pleasure of seeing her at all, I had foolishly suffered
this good-natured exaggeration to go on, pleased with seeing
the reflex of his praises in her letters, and Heaven knows, little
anticipating the disastrous interview upon which my accursed star
would precipitate me! As I went over, mentally, the particulars
of my unbecomingness, and saw Miss Ellerton's eyes resting inquisitively
and furtively on the mountain of pigeon bones lifting
their well picked pyramid to my chin, I wished myself an ink-fish
at the bottom of the sea.

Three minutes after, I burst into Van Pelt's room, tearing my
hair and abusing Tom Ellerton's good nature, and my friend's
headless drosky, in alternate breaths. Without disturbing the
subsiding blood in his own face by entering into my violence, Horace
coolly asked me what the devil was the matter?

I told him.

“Lie down here!” said Van Pelt, who was a small Napoleon


Page 25
in such trying extremities; “lie down on the bed, and anoint your
phiz with this unguent. I see good luck for you in this accident,
and you have only to follow my instructions. Phil Slingsby, sunburnt,
in a white roundabout, and Phil Slingsby, pale and well
dressed, are as different as this potted cream and a dancing cow.
You shall see what a little drama I'll work out for you!”

I laid down on my back, and Horace kindly anointed me from
the trachea to the forelock, and from ear to ear.

“Egad,” said he, warming with his study of his proposed plot,
as he slid his fore-fingers over the bridge of my nose, “every circumstance
tells for us. Tall man as you are, you are as short-
bodied as a monkey (no offence, Phil!); and when you sit at
table, you are rather an under-sized gentleman. I have been astonished
every day these three years, at seeing you rise after dinner
in Commons' Hall. A thousand to one, Fanny Ellerton thinks
you a stumpy man.”

“And then, Phil,” he continued, with a patronizing tone, “you
have studied minute philosophy to little purpose if you do not
know that the first step in winning a woman to whom you have
been overpraised, is to disenchant her at all hazards, on your first
interview. You will never rise above the ideal she has formed,
and to sink below it gradually, or to remain stationary, is not to
thrive in your wooing.”

Leaving me this precocious wisdom to digest, Horace descended
to the foot of the garden to take a warm bath, and overcome
with fatigue, and the recumbent posture, I soon fell asleep and
dreamed of the great blue eyes of Fanny Ellerton.


Page 26


The soaring of the octave flute in “Hail Columbia,” with which
the band was patriotically opening the ball, woke me from the
midst of a long apologetic letter to my friend's sister, and I found
Van Pelt's black boy Juba waiting patiently at the bed-side with
curling-tongs and Cologne-water, ordered to superintend my toilet
by his master, who had gone early to the drawing-room to pay
his respects to Miss Ellerton. With the cold cream disappeared
entirely from my face the uncomfortable redness to which I had
been a martyr, and, thanks to my ebony coiffeur, my straight and
plastered locks soon grew as different to their “umquhile guise”
as Hyperion's to a satyr's. Having appeared to the eyes of the
lady, in whose favor I hoped to prosper, in red and white (red phiz
and white jacket), I trusted that in white and black (black suit
and pale viznomy), I should look quite another person. Juba
was pleased to show his ivory in a complimentary smile at my
transformation, and I descended to the drawing-room, on the best
terms with the coxcomb in my bosom.

Horace met me at the door.

Proteus redivivus!” was his exclamation. “Your new name
is Wrongham. You are a gentle senior, instead of a bedeviled
sophomore, and your cue is to be poetical. She will never think
again of the monster in the white jacket, and I have prepared her
for the acquaintance of a new friend, whom I have just described
to you.

I took his arm, and with the courage of a man in a mask, went
through another presentation to Miss Ellerton. Her brother had
been let into the secret by Van Pelt, and received me with great


Page 27
ceremony as his college superior; and, as there was no other person
at the Springs who knew Mr. Slingsby, Mr. Wrongham was
likely to have an undisturbed reign of it. Miss Ellerton looked
hard at me for a moment, but the gravity with which I was presented
and received, dissipated a doubt if one had arisen in her
mind, and she took my arm to go to the ball-room, with an undisturbed
belief in my assumed name and character.

I commenced the acquaintance of the fair Alabamian with great
advantages. Received as a perfect stranger, I possessed, from
long correspondence with her, the most minute knowledge of the
springs of her character, and of her favorite reading and pursuits,
and, with the little knowledge of the world which she had gained
on a plantation, she was not likely to penetrate my game from my
playing it too freely. Her confidence was immediately won by the
readiness with which I entered into her enthusiasm and anticipated
her thoughts; and before the first quadrille was well over, she had
evidently made up her mind that she had never in her life met one
who so well “understood her.” Oh! how much women include
in that apparently indefinite expression, “He understands me!

The colonnade of Congress Hall is a long promenade laced in
with vines and columns, on the same level with the vast ball-room
and drawing-room, and (the light of heaven not being taxed at
Saratoga) opening at every three steps by a long window into the
carpeted floors. When the rooms within are lit in a summer's
night, that cool and airy colonnade is thronged by truants from
the dance, and collectively by all who have anything to express
that is meant for one ear only. The mineral waters of Saratoga
are no less celebrated as a soporific for chaperons than as a tonic
for the dyspeptic, and while the female Argus dozes in the drawing-room,
the fair Io and her Jupiter (represented in this case, we


Page 28
will say, by Miss Ellerton and myself) range at liberty in the fertile
fields of flirtation.

I had easily put Miss Ellerton in surprised good humor with
herself and me during the first quadrille, and with a freedom based
partly upon my certainty of pleasing her, partly on the peculiar
manners of the place, I coolly requested that she would continue
to dance with me for the rest of the evening.

“One unhappy quadrille excepted,” she replied, with a look
meant to be mournful.

“May I ask with whom?”

“Oh, he has not asked me yet; but my brother has bound me
over to be civil to him—a spectre, Mr. Wrongham! a positive

“How denominated?” I inquired, with a forced indifference,
for I had a presentiment I should hear my own name.

“Slingsby—Mr. Philip Slingsby—Tom's fidus Achates, and a
proposed lover of my own. But you don't seem surprised.”

“Surprised! E-hem! I know the gentleman!”

“Then did you ever see such a monster! Tom told me he
was another Hyperion. He half admitted it himself, indeed; for
to tell you a secret, I have corresponded with him a year!”

“Giddy Miss Fanny Ellerton!—and never saw him!”

“Never till to-night! He sat at supper in a white jacket and
red face, with a pile of bones upon his plate like an Indian tumulus.”

“And your brother introduced you?”

“Ah, you were at table! Well, did you ever see in your travels,
a man so unpleasantly hideous?”

“Fanny!” said her brother, coming up at the moment, “Slingsby


Page 29
presents his apologies to you for not joining your cordon to-night—but
he's gone to bed with a head-ache.”

“Indigestion, I dare say,” said the young lady. “Never mind,
Tom, I'll break my heart when I have leisure. And now, Mr.
Wrongham, since the spectre walks not forth to-night, I am yours
for a cool hour on the colonnade.”

Vegetation is rapid in Alabama, and love is a weed that thrives
in the soil of the tropics. We discoursed of the lost Pleiad and
the Berlin bracelets, of the five hundred people about us, and the
feasibility of boiling a pot on five hundred a year—the unmatrimonial
sum total of my paternal allowance. She had as many
negroes as I had dollars, I well knew, but it was my cue to seem

“And where do you mean to live, when you marry, Mr.
Wrongham?” asked Miss Ellerton, at the two hundredth turn on
the colonnade.

“Would you like to live in Italy?” I asked again, as if I had
not heard her.

“Do you mean that as a sequitur to my question, Mr. Wrongham?”
said she, half stopping in her walk; and though the sentence
was commenced playfully, dropping her voice at the last
word, with something, I thought, very like emotion.

I drew her off the colonnade to the small garden between the
house and the spring, and in a giddy dream of fear and surprise
at my own rashness and success, I made, and won from her a
frank avowal of preference.

Matches have been made more suddenly.


Page 30


Miss Ellerton sat in the music-room the next morning after
breakfast, preventing pauses in a rather interesting conversation,
by a running accompaniment upon the guitar. A single gold
thread formed a fillet about her temples, and from beneath it, in
clouds of silken ringlets, floated the softest raven hair that ever
grew enamored of an ivory shoulder. Hers was a skin that seemed
woven of the lily-white, but opaque fibre of the magnolia, yet of
that side of its cup turned toward the fading sunset. There is no
term in painting, because there is no touch of pencil or color that
could express the vanishing and impalpable breath that assured
the healthiness of so pale a cheek. She was slight, as all southern
women are in America, and of a flexible and luxurious gracefulness
equalled by nothing but the movings of a smoke-curl. Without
the elastic nerve remarkable in the motions of Taglioni, she appeared,
like her, to be born with a lighter specific gravity than her fellow-creatures.
If she had floated away upon some chance breeze
you would only have been surprised upon reflection.

“I am afraid you are too fond of society,” said Miss Ellerton,
as Juba came in hesitatingly and delivered her a note in the handwriting
of an old correspondent. She turned pale on seeing the
superscription, and crushed the note up in her hand, unread. I
was not sorry to defer the denouement of my little drama, and taking
up the remark which she seemed disposed to forget, I referred
her to a scrap-book of Van Pelt's, which she had brought home
with her, containing some verses of my own, copied (by good luck)
in that sentimental sophomore's own hand.

“Are these yours, really and really?” she asked, looking pryingly


Page 31
into my face, and showing me my own verses, against which
she had already run a pencil line of approbation.

Peccavi!” I answered. “But will you make me in love
with my offspring by reading them in your own voice.”

They were some lines written in a balcony at daybreak, while
a ball was still going on within, and contained an allusion (which
I had quite overlooked) to some one of my ever-changing admirations.
As well as I remember they ran thus:—

Morn in the east! How coldly fair
It breaks upon my fevered eye!
How chides the calm and dewy air!
How chides the pure and pearly sky!
The stars melt in a brighter fire,
The dew in sunshine leaves the flowers;
They from their watch, in light retire,
While we in sadness pass from ours!
I turn from the rebuking morn,
The cold gray sky and fading star,
And listen to the harp and horn,
And see the waltzers near and far:
The lamps and flowers are bright as yet,
And lips beneath more bright than they—
How can a scene so fair beget
The mournful thoughts we bear away.
'Tis something that thou art not here
Sweet lover of my lightest word!
'Tis something that my mother's tear
By these forgetful hours is stirred!
But I have long a loiterer been
In haunts where Joy is said to be,
And though with Peace I enter in,
The nymph comes never forth with me'


Page 32

“And who was this `sweet lover,' Mr Wrongham? I should
know, I think, before I go farther with so expeditious a gentleman.”

“As Shelley says of his ideal mistress—

`I loved—oh, no! I mean not one of ye,
Or any earthly one—though ye are fair!'
It was but an apostrophe to the presentiment of that which I have
found, dear Miss Ellerton! But will you read that ill-treated
billet-doux, and remember that Juba stands with the patience of
an ebon statue waiting for an answer?”

I knew the contents of the letter, and I watched the expression
of her face, as she read it, with no little interest. Her temples
flushed, and her delicate lips gradually curled into an expression
of anger and scorn, and having finished the perusal of it, she put
it into my hand, and asked me if so impertinent a production deserved
an answer.

I began to fear that the eclaircissement would not leave me on
the sunny side of the lady's favor, and felt the need of the moment's
reflection given me while running my eye over the letter.

“Mr. Slingsby,” said I, with the deliberation of an attorney,
“has been some time in correspondence with you?”


“And, from his letters and your brother's commendations, you
had formed a high opinion of his character, and had expressed as
much in your letters?”

“Yes—perhaps I did.”

“And from this paper intimacy he conceives himself sufficiently
acquainted with you to request leave to pay his addresses?”

A dignified bow put a stop to my catechism.


Page 33

“Dear Miss Ellerton!” I said, “this is scarcely a question
upon which I ought to speak, but by putting this letter into my
hand, you seemed to ask my opinion.”

“I did—I do,” said the lovely girl, taking my hand, and looking
appealingly into my face; “answer it for me! I have done
wrong in encouraging that foolish correspondence, and I owe perhaps
to this forward man a kinder reply than my first feeling
would have dictated. Decide for me—write for me—relieve me
from the first burden that has lain on my heart since—”

She burst into tears, and my dread of an explanation increased.

“Will you follow my advice implicitly?” I asked.

“Yes—oh, yes!”

“You promise?”

“Indeed, indeed!”

“Well, then, listen to me! However painful the task, I must
tell you that the encouragement you have given Mr. Slingsby, the
admiration you have expressed in your letters of his talents and
acquirements, and the confidence you have reposed in him respecting
yourself, warrant him in claiming as a right, a fair trial
of his attractions. You have known and approved Mr. Slingsby's
mind for years—you know me but for a few hours. You saw
him under the most unfavorable auspices (for I know him intimately),
and I feel bound in justice to assure you that you will like
him much better upon acquaintance.”

Miss Ellerton had gradually drawn herself up during this splendid
speech, and sat at last as erect and as cold as Agrippina upon
her marble chair.

“Will you allow me to send Mr. Slingsby to you,” I continued,
rising—“and suffer him to plead his own cause?”


Page 34

“If you will call my brother, Mr. Wrongham, I shall feel
obliged to you,” said Miss Ellerton.

I left the room, and hurrying to my chamber, dipped my head
into a basin of water, and plastered my long locks over my eyes,
slipped on a white roundabout, and tied around my neck the identical
checked cravat in which I had made such an unfavorable
impression on the first day of my arrival. Tom Ellerton was
soon found, and easily agreed to go before and announce me by
my proper name to his sister; and treading closely on his heels,
I followed to the door of the music-room.

“Ah, Ellen!” said he, without giving her time for a scene, “I
was looking for you. Slingsby is better, and will pay his respects
to you presently. And, I say—you will treat him well, Ellen,
and—and, don't flirt with Wrongham the way you did last night!
Slingsby's a devilish sight better fellow. Oh, here he is!”

As I stepped over the threshold, Miss Ellerton gave me just
enough of a look to assure herself that it was the identical monster
she had seen at the tea-table, and not deigning me another glance,
immediately commenced talking violently to her brother on the
state of the weather. Tom bore it for a moment or two with
remarkable gravity, but at my first attempt to join in the conversation,
my voice was lost in an explosion of laughter which would
have been the death of a gentleman with a full habit.

Indignant and astonished, Miss Ellerton rose to her full height
and slowly turned to me.

Peccavi!” said I, crossing my hands on my bosom, and looking
up penitently to her face.

She ran to me, and seized my hand, but recovered herself instantly,
and the next moment was gone from the room.

Whether from wounded pride at having been the subject of a


Page 35
mystification, or whether from that female caprice by which most
men suffer at one period or other of their bachelor lives, I know
not—but I never could bring Miss Ellerton again to the same interesting
crisis with which she ended her intimacy with Mr. Wrongham.
She proffered to forgive me, and talked laughingly enough
of our old correspondence; but whenever I grew tender, she referred
me to the “sweet lover,” mentioned in my verses in the
balcony, and looked around for Van Pelt. That accomplished
beau, on observing my discomfiture, began to find out Miss Ellerton's
graces without the aid of his quizzing-glass, and I soon found
it necessary to yield the pas altogether. She has since become
Mrs. Van Pelt, and when I last heard from her was “as well as
could be expected.”


The last of August came sweltering in, hot, dusty, and faint,
and the most indefatigable belles of Saratoga began to show symptoms
of weariness. The stars disappeared gradually from the
ball-room; the barkeeper grew thin under the thickening accounts
for lemonades; the fat fellow in the black band, who “vexed”
the bassoon, had blown himself from the girth of Falstaff to an
“eagle's talon in the waist;” papas began to be waylaid in their


Page 36
morning walks by young gentlemen with propositions; and stage-coaches
that came in with their baggageless tails in the air, and
the driver's weight pressing the foot-board upon the astonished
backs of his wheelers, went out with the trim of a Venetian gondola—the
driver's up-hoisted figure answering to the curved proboscis
of that stern-laden craft.

The vocation of tin-tumblers and water-dippers was gone. The
fashionable world (brazen in its general habit) had drank its fill
of the ferrugineous waters. Mammas thanked Heaven for the
conclusion of the chaperon's summer solstice; and those who
came to bet, and those who came to marry, “made up their
books,” and walked off (if they had won) with their winnings.

Having taken a less cordial farewell of Van Pelt than I might
have done had not Miss Ellerton been hanging confidingly on his
arm, I followed my baggage to the door, where that small epitome
of the inheritance of the prince of darkness, an American stage-coach,
awaited me as its ninth inside passenger. As the last person
picked up, I knew very well the seat to which I was destined,
and drawing a final cool breath in the breezy colonnade, I summoned
resolution and abandoned myself to the tender mercies of
the driver.

The “ray of contempt” that “will pierce through the shell of
the tortoise,” is a shaft from the horn of a new moon in comparison
with the beating of an American sun through the top of a
stage-coach. This “accommodation” as it is sometimes bitterly
called, not being intended to carry outside passengers, has a top
as thin as your grandmother's umbrella, black, porous, and cracked;
and while intended for a protection from the heat, it just suffices
to collect the sun's rays with an incredible power and sultriness,
and exclude the air that makes it sufferable to the beasts of


Page 37
the field. Of the nine places inside this “dilly,” the four seats
in the corners are so far preferable that the occupant has the outer
side of his body exempt from a perspirative application of human
flesh (the thermometer at 100 degrees of Fahrenheit), while,
of the three middle places on the three seats, the man in the centre
of the coach, with no support for his back, yet buried to the
chin in men, women, and children, is at the ninth and lowest degree
of human suffering. I left Saratoga in such a state of happiness
as you might suppose for a gentleman, who, besides fulfilling
this latter category, had been previously unhappy in his love.

I was dressed in a white roundabout and trowsers of the same,
a straw hat, thread stockings, and pumps, and was so far a blessing
to my neighbors that I looked cool. Directly behind me, occupying
the middle of the back seat, sat a young woman with a
gratis passenger in her lap (who, of course, did not count among
the nine), in the shape of a fat and a very hot child of three years
of age, whom she called John, Jacky, Johnny, Jocket, Jacket,
and the other endearing diminutives of the namesakes of the great
apostle. Like the saint who had been selected for his patron, he
was a “voice crying in the wilderness.” This little gentleman
was exceedingly unpopular with his two neighbors at the windows,
aud his incursions upon their legs and shoulders in his occasional
forays for fresh air, ended in his being forbidden to look out at
either window, and plied largely with gingerbread to content him
with the warm lap of his mother. Though I had no eyes in the
back of my straw hat, I conceived very well the state in which a
compost of soft gingerbread, tears, and perspiration, would soon
leave the two unscrupulous hands behind me; and as the jolts of
the coach frequently threw me back upon the knees of his mother,
I could not consistently complain of the familiar use made of my


Page 38
roundabout and shoulders in Master John's constant changes of
position. I vowed my jacket to the first river, the moment I
could make sure that the soft gingerbread was exhausted—but I
kept my temper.

How an American Jehu gets his team over ten miles in the
hour, through all the variety of sand, ruts, clay-pits, and stump-thickets,
is a problem that can only be resolved by riding beside
him on the box. In the usual time we arrived at the pretty village
of Troy, some thirty miles from Saratoga; and here, having
exchanged my bedaubed jacket for a clean one, I freely forgave
little Pickle his freedoms, for I hoped never to set eyes on him
again during his natural life. I was going eastward by another

Having eaten a salad for my dinner, and drank a bottle of iced
claret, I stepped forth in my “blanched and lavendered” jacket
to take my place in the other coach, trusting Providence not to
afflict me twice in the same day with the evil I had just escaped,
and feeling, on the whole, reconciled to my troubled dividend of
eternity. I got up the steps of the coach with as much alacrity
as the state of the thermometer would permit, and was about
drawing my legs after me upon the forward seat, when a clammy
hand caught me unceremoniously by the shirt-collar, and the voice
I was just beginning to forget cried out with a chuckle, “Dada!

“Madam!” I said, picking off the gingerbread from my shirt
as the coach rolled down the street, “I had hoped that your infernal

I stopped in the middle of the sentence, for a pair of large blue
eyes were looking wonderingly into mine, and for the first time I
observed that the mother of this familiar nuisance was one of the


Page 39
prettiest women I had seen since I had become susceptible to the
charms of the sex.

“Are you going to Boston, sir?” she inquired, with a half
timid smile, as if, in that case, she appealed to me for protection
on the road.

“Yes, madam!” I answered, taking little Jocket's pasty hand
into mine, affectionately, as I returned her hesitating look; “may
I hope for your society so far?”

My fresh white waistcoat was soon embossed with a dingy yellow,
where my enterprising fellow-passenger had thrust his sticky
fist into the pockets, and my sham shirt-bosom was reduced incontinently
to the complexion of a painter's rag after doing a sunset
in gamboge. I saw everything, however, through the blue eyes
of his mother, and was soon on such pleasant terms with Master
John, that, at one of the stopping-places, I inveigled him out of
the coach and dropped him accidentally into the horse-trough,
contriving to scrub him passably clean before he could recover
breath enough for an outcry. I had already thrown the residuum
of his gingerbread out of the window, so that his familiarities for
the rest of the day were, at least, less adhesive.

We dropped one or two way-passengers at Lebanon, and I was
left in the coach with Mrs. Captain and Master John Thompson,
in both whose favors I made a progress that (I may as well depone)
considerably restored my spirits—laid flat by my unthrift
wooing at Saratoga. If a fly hath but alit on my nose when my
self-esteem hath been thus at a discount, I have soothed myself
with the fancy that it preferred me—a drowning vanity will so
catch at a straw!

As we bowled along through some of the loveliest scenery of
Massachusetts, my companion (now become my charge) let me a


Page 40
little into her history, and at the same time, by those shades of
insinuation of which women so instinctively know the uses, gave
me perfectly to comprehend that I might as well economize my
tenderness. The father of the riotous young gentleman who had
made so free with my valencia waistcoat and linen roundabouts,
had the exclusive copyhold of her affections. He had been three
years at sea (I think I said before), and she was hastening to show
him the pledge of their affections—come into the world since the
good brig Dolly made her last clearance from Boston bay.

I was equally attentive to Mrs. Thompson after this illumination,
though I was, perhaps, a shade less enamored of the interesting
freedoms of Master John. One's taste for children depends
so much upon one's love for their mothers!

It was twelve o'clock at night when the coach rattled in upon
the pavements of Boston. Mrs. Thompson had expressed so
much impatience during the last few miles, and seemed to shrink
so sensitively from being left to herself in a strange city, that I
offered my services till she should find herself in better hands, and,
as a briefer way of disposing of her, had bribed the coachman,
who was in a hurry with the mail, to turn a little out of his way,
and leave her at her husband's hotel.

We drew up with a prodigious clatter, accordingly, at the Marlborough
hotel, where, no coach being expected, the boots and
bar-keeper were not immediately forthcoming. After a rap “to
wake the dead,” I set about assisting the impatient driver in getting
off the lady's trunks and boxes, and they stood in a large
pyramid on the sidewalk when the door was opened. A man in
his shirt, three parts asleep, held a flaring candle over his head
and looked through the half-opened door.


Page 41

“Is Captain Thompson up?” I asked rather brusquely, irritated
at the sour visage of the bar-keeper.

“Captain Thompson, sir!”

“Captain Thompson, sir!!” I repeated my words with a voice
that sent him three paces back into the hall.

“No, sir,” he said at last, slipping one leg into his trowsers,
which had hitherto been under his arm.

“Then wake him immediately, and tell him Mrs. Thompson
is arrived.” Here's a husband, thought I, as I heard something
between a sob and a complaint issue from the coach-window at
the bar-keeper's intelligence. To go to bed when he expected
his wife and child, and after three years' separation! She might
as well have made a parenthesis in her constancy!

“Have you called the captain?” I asked, as I set Master John
upon the steps, and observed the man still standing with the candle
in his hand, grinning from ear to ear.

“No, sir,” said the man.

“No!” I thundered, “and what in the devil's name is the reason?”

“Boots!” he cried out in reply, “show this gentleman `forty-one.'
Them may wake Captain Thompson as likes! I never
hearn of no Mrs. Thompson!”

Rejecting an ungencrous suspicion that flashed across my mind,
and informing the bar-keeper en passant, that he was a brute and
a donkey, I sprang up the staircase after a boy, and quite out of
breath, arrived at a long gallery of bachelors' rooms on the fifth
floor. The boy pointed to a door at the end of the gallery, and
retreated to the banisters as if to escape the blowing up of a



Page 42

“Come in!” thundered a voice like a hailing trumpet. I took
the lamp from the boy, and opened the door. On a narrow bed
well tucked up, lay a most formidable looking individual, with a
face glowing with carbuncles, a pair of deep-set eyes inflamed and
fiery, and hair and eyebrows of glaring red, mixed slightly with
gray; while outside the bed lay a hairy arm, with a fist like the
end of the club of Hercules. His head tied loosely in a black
silk handkerchief, and on the light-stand stood a tumbler of brandy-and-water.

“What do you want?” he thundered again, as I stepped over
the threshold and lifted my hat, struck speechless for a moment
with this unexpected apparition.

“Have I the pleasure,” I asked, in a hesitating voice, “to address
Captain Thompson?”

“That's my name!”

“Ah! then, captain, I have the pleasure to inform you that
Mrs. Thompson and little John are arrived. They are at the
door at this moment.”

A change in the expression of Captain Thompson's face checked
my information in the middle, and as I took a step backward,
he raised himself on his elbow, and looked at me in a way that
did not diminish my embarrassment.

“I'll tell you what, Mr. Milk-and-water,” said he, with an
emphasis on every word like the descent of a sledge-hammer;
“if you're not out of this room in two seconds with your `Mrs.
Thompson and little John,' I'll slam you through that window, or
the devil take me!”

I reflected as I took another step backward, that if I were
thrown down to Mrs. Thompson from a fifth story window I should
not be in a state to render her the assistance she required and


Page 43
remarking with an ill-feigned gayety to Captain Thompson that
so decided a measure would not be necessary, I backed expeditiously
over the threshold. As I was closing his door, I heard
the gulp of his brandy-and-water, and the next instant the empty
glass whizzed past my retreating head, and was shattered to pieces
on the wall behind me.

I gave the “boots” a cuff for an untimely roar of laughter as
I reached the staircase, and descended, very much discomfited and
embarrassed, to Mrs. Thompson. My delay had thrown that lady
into a very moving state of unhappiness. Her tears were glistening
in the light of the street lamp, and Master John was pulling
away unheeded at her stomacher and crying as if he would split
his diaphragm. What to do? I would have offered to take her to
my paternal roof till the mystery could be cleared up—but I had
been absent two years, and to arrive at midnight with a woman
and a young child, and such an improbable story—I did not think
my reputation at home would bear me out. The coachman, too,
began to swear and make demonstrations of leaving us in the
street, and it was necessary to decide.

“Shove the baggage inside the coach,” I said at last, “and drive
on. Don't be unhappy, Mrs. Thompson! Jocket, stop crying,
you villain! I'll see that you are comfortably disposed of for the
night where the coach stops, madam, and to-morrow I'll try a little
reason with Captain Thompson.” How the devil can she love
such a volcanic specimen! I muttered to myself, dodging instinctively
at the bare remembrance of the glass of brandy-and-water.

The coachman made up for lost time, and we rattled over the
pavements at a rate that made Jocket's hullybaloo quite inaudible.
As we passed the door of my own home, I wondered what would be


Page 44
the impression of my respectable parent, could he see me whisking
by, after midnight, with a rejected woman and her progeny upon
my hands; but smothering the unworthy doubt that re-arose in my
mind, touching the legitimacy of Master John, I inwardly vowed
that I would see Mrs. Thompson at all risks fairly out of her

We pulled up with a noise like the discharge of a load of paving-stones,
and I was about saying something both affectionate and consolatory
to my weeping charge, when a tall handsome fellow, with a
face as brown as a berry, sprang to the coach-door and seized her
in his arms! A shower of kisses and tender epithets left me not
a moment in doubt. There was another Captain Thompson!

He had not been able to get rooms at the Marlborough, as he
had anticipated when he wrote, and presuming that the mail would
come first to the post-office, he had waited for her there.

As I was passing the Marlborough a week or two afterward, I
stopped to inquire about Captain Thompson. I found that he was
an old West India captain, who had lived there between his cruises
for twenty years more or less, and had generally been supposed a
bachelor. He had suddenly gone to sea, the landlord told me,
smiling at the same time, as if thereby hung a tale if he chose to
tell it.

“The fact is,” said Boniface, when I pushed him a little on the
subject, 'he was skeared off.”

“What scared him?” I asked very innocently.

“A wife and child from some foreign port!” he answered laughing
as if he would burst his waistband, and taking me into the
back parlor to tell me the particulars.