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Title: The Kentuckian in New-York, Volume I (of 2)

or, The Adventures of Three Southerns

Author: William Alexander Caruthers

Release Date: July 4, 2011 [eBook #36613]

Language: English

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[Pg 1]

THE

KENTUCKIAN

IN

NEW-YORK.


OR, THE

ADVENTURES OF THREE SOUTHERNS.

BY A VIRGINIAN.

"Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon."—Burns.


IN TWO VOLUMES.
VOL. I.

 

 

NEW-YORK:
PUBLISHED BY HARPER & BROTHERS,
NO. 82 CLIFF-STREET.

1834.

[Pg 2]


Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1834,
By Harper & Brothers,
In the Clerk's Office of the Southern District of New-York.

[Pg 3]


NEARLY READY.

HELEN. A new Tale. By Maria Edgeworth—forming the tenth volume of Harper's Uniform Edition of her Works. Containing two beautiful Engravings on steel.

TALES AND SKETCHES,—such as they are. By W. L. Stone, Esq. In 2 vols. 12mo.

THE FROLICS OF PUCK. In 2 vols. 12mo.

THE KENTUCKIAN IN NEW-YORK. By A Virginian. In 2 vols. 12mo.

GUY RIVERS. A Novel. By the Author of "Martin Faber." In 2 vols. 12mo.

MRS. SHERWOOD'S WORKS. Uniform Edition. With Engravings on steel. 12mo.

PAULDING'S WORKS. Uniform Edition. Revised and corrected by the Author. 12mo.

[Pg 4]

[Pg 5]


THE
KENTUCKIAN IN NEW-YORK.

CHAPTER I.
CHAPTER II.
CHAPTER III.
CHAPTER IV.
CHAPTER V.
CHAPTER VI.
CHAPTER VII.
CHAPTER VIII.
CHAPTER IX.
CHAPTER X.
CHAPTER XI.
CHAPTER XII.
CHAPTER XIII.
CHAPTER XIV.
CHAPTER XV.
CHAPTER XVI.
CHAPTER XVII.
CHAPTER XVIII.
CHAPTER XIX.


CHAPTER I.

Towards the latter part of the summer of 18—, on one of those cool, delightful, and invigorating mornings which are frequent in the southern regions of the United States, there issued from the principal hotel on the valley-side of Harper's Ferry two travellers, attended by a venerable and stately southern slave. The experienced eye of the old ferryman, as he stood in his flat-bottomed boat awaiting the arrival of this party, discovered at once that our travellers were from the far South.

The first of these, Victor Chevillere, entered the "flat," leading by the bridle a mettlesome southern horse; when he had stationed this fine animal to his satisfaction, he stood directly fronting the prescriptive Charon of the region. This young gentleman, who appeared to be the principal character of the party just entering the boat, was handsomely formed, moderately tall, and fashionably dressed.[Pg 6] His face was bold, dignified, and resolute, and not remarkable for any very peculiar fashion of the hair or beard which shaded it. He appeared to be about twenty-three years of age, and though so young, much and early experience of the world had already o'ershadowed his face with a becoming serenity, if not sadness. Not that silly, affected melancholy, however, which is so often worn in these days by young and romantic idle gentlemen, to catch the errant sympathies of some untravelled country beauty.

The next personage of the party (who likewise entered the boat leading a fine southern animal), was a fashionable young gentleman, about the middle size; his face was pale and wan, as if he had but just recovered from an attack of illness. Nevertheless there was a brilliant fire in his eye, and a lurking, but too evident, disposition to fun and humour, which illness had not been entirely able to subdue. Augustus Lamar, for such was his name, was the confidential and long-tried friend of the first-named gentleman: their mutual regard had existed undiminished from the time of their early school days in South Carolina, through their whole college career in Virginia up to the moment of which we speak.

The third and more humble personage of the party bore the time-honoured appellation of Cato. He was a tall old negro, with a face so black as to form a perfect contrast to his white hair and brilliant teeth. He was well dressed and cleanly in[Pg 7] his person, and rather solemn and pompous in his manners. Cato had served the father of his present highly honoured young master, and was deeply imbued with that strong feudal attachment to the family, which is a distinguishing characteristic of the southern negroes who serve immediately near the persons of the great landholders.

Our travellers were now smoothly gliding over that most magnificent "meeting of the waters" of the Shenandoah and Potomack, which is usually known by the unpretending name of "Harper's Ferry." It was early morning; the moon was still visible above the horizon, and the sun had not yet risen above those stupendous fragments whose chaotic and irregular position gives token of the violence with which the mass of waters rent for themselves a passage through the mountains, when rushing on to meet that other congregation of rivers, with whose waters they unite to form the Bay of the Chesapeake. The black bituminous smoke from the hundred smithies of the United States' armory, had just begun to rise above the towering crags that seemed, at this early period, to battle with the vapours which are here sent up in thick volumes from the contest of rocks and rivers beneath.

Old Cato had by this time assumed his post at the heads of the three horses, while our southerns stood with folded arms, each impressed with the scene according to his individual impulses. As they approached nearer to the northern shore, Che[Pg 8]villere, addressing Lamar, observed: "An unhappy young lady she must be who arrived at our hotel last evening. I could hear her weeping bitterly as she paced the floor, until a late hour of the night, when finally she seemed to throw herself upon the bed, and fall asleep from mere exhaustion;" and then, turning to the weather-beaten steersman, continued: "I suppose we are the first passengers in the 'flat' this morning?"

"No, sir, you are not; a carriage from the same tavern went over half an hour ago. There was an old gray-headed man, and two young women in it, besides the driver, and the driver told me that they were all the way from York State,—the mail stage, too, went over."

"The same party," said Chevillere, abstractedly; "Did you learn where they were to breakfast, boatman?"

"About ten miles from this, I think I heard say."

They were soon landed and mounted, and cantering away through the fog and vapours of the early morning. Nor were they long in overtaking a handsome travelling-carriage, which was moving at a brisk rate, in accordance with the exertions of two fine, evidently northern, horses. The carriage contained an elderly, grave, formal, and magisterial gentleman; his locks quite gray, and hanging loose upon the collar of his coat; his countenance harsh, austere, and forbidding in the extreme. By his side sat a youthful lady, so enveloped in a large black mantle, and travelling hat and veil, that but[Pg 9] little of her form or features could be seen, except a pair of brilliant blue eyes.

It is not to be denied, that these sudden apparitions of young and beautiful females, almost completely shrouded in mantles, drapery, or veils, are the very circumstances fully to arouse the slumbering energies of a lately emancipated college Quixotte. A lovely pair of eyes, brimful of tears,—a "Cinderella" foot and ankle,—a white and beautifully turned hand and tapered fingers, with perhaps a mourning ring or two,—or a bonnet suddenly blown off, so as to dishevel a magnificent head of hair, its pretty mistress meanwhile all confusion, and her snowy neck and temples suffused with blushes,—these are the little incidents on which the real romances of human life are founded. How many persons can look back to such a commencement of their youthful loves! nay, perhaps, refer to it all the little enjoyment with which they have been blessed through life! We venture to say, that those who were so unfortunate as never to bring their first youthful romance to a fortunate denouement, can likewise look back upon such occurrences with many pleasing emotions. A bachelor or a widower, indeed, may not always recur with pleasure to these first passages in the book of life,—but the feelings even of these are not altogether of the melancholy kind. The fairy queens of their spring-tide will sometimes arise in the present tense, until they almost imagine themselves in the possession again of youth and all its[Pg 10] raptures,—its brilliant dreams, airy castles, "hair-breadth 'scapes," and miraculous deliverances,—cruel fathers, and perverse guardians, and stolen interviews, and lovers' vows and tokens,—winding up finally with a runaway match—all of the imagination.

After the equipage before alluded to had been for some time left behind, our travellers began to descry, at the distance of several miles, the long white portico of the country inn at which they proposed to breakfast. The United States mail-coach for Baltimore was standing at the door, evidently waiting till the passengers should have performed the same needful operation. Servants were running hither and thither, some to the roost, others to the stable, as if a large number of the most distinguished dignitaries of the land had just arrived.

But, behold, when our travellers drew up, they found that all this stir among the servants of the inn was called into being by the real or affected wants of a number of very young gentlemen. We say affected, because we are sorry to acknowledge that it is not uncommon to see very young and inexperienced gentlemen, on such occasions, assume airs and graces which are merely put on as a travelling dress, and which would be thrown aside at the first appearance of an old acquaintance. At such times it is by no means rare to see all the servants of the inn, together with the host and hostess, entirely engrossed by one of these over[Pg 11]grown boys or ill-bred men, while their elders and superiors are compelled either to want or wait upon themselves. At the time we notice, some young bloods of the cities were exercising themselves in their new suit of stage-coach manners.

"Here waiter! waiter!" with an affectedly delicate and foreign voice, cried one of these youths, enveloped in a brown "Petersham box" coat, and with his hands stuck into his pockets over his hips. Under the arm of this person was a black riding-switch, with a golden head, and a small chain of the same precious metal, fastened about six inches therefrom, after the fashion of some old rapier guards. He wore a rakish-looking fur cap, round and tight on the top of his head as a bladder of snuff; this was cocked on one side after a most piratical fashion, so as to show off, in the best possible manner, a great profusion of coarse, shining black hair, which was evidently indebted to art rather than nature for the curls that frizzled out over his ears, while the back part of his head was left as bare and defenceless as if he had already been under the hands of a deputy turnkey. He practised what may be called American puppyism, as technically distinguished from the London species of the same genus. "Here waiter! waiter!" said he, "bring me a gin sling,—and half-a-dozen Bagdad segars,—and a lighted taper,—and a fresh egg,—and a bowl of water, and a clean towel,—and polish my boots,—and dust my coat,—and then send me the barber, do you hear?"[Pg 12]

"O, sir! we has no barber, nor Bagdab segars neither; but we has plenty of the real Baltimores,—real good ones, too,—as I knows very well, for I smokes the old sodgers what the gentlemen throws on the bar-room floor."

"It is one of the most amusing scenes imaginable," said Victor Chevillere to Augustus Lamar, as they sat witnessing this scene, "when the waiter and the master pro tempore are both fools. The fawning, bowing, cringing waiter, with his big lips upon the qui vive, his head and shoulders constantly in motion, and rubbing his hands one over the other after the most approved fashion of the men of business. In such a case as that which we have just witnessed, where puppyism comes in contact with the kindred monkey-tricks of the waiter, I can enjoy it. But when it happens, as I have more than once seen, that the waiter is a manly, sensible, and dignified old negro of the loftier sort, such as old Cato,—then you can soon detect the curl of contempt upon his lip,—and he is not long thereafter in selecting the real gentlemen of the party,—always choosing to wait most upon those who least demand it."

"I would bet my horse Talleyrand against an old field scrub, that that fellow is a Yankee," answered Lamar.

"He may be a Yankee," continued Victor Chevillere, "but you have travelled too much and reflected too long upon the nature of man, to ascribe every thing disgusting to a Yankee origin. For[Pg 13] my part, I make the character of every man I meet in some measure my study during my travels, and as we have agreed to exchange opinions upon men and things, I will tell you freely what I think of that fellow who has just retreated from our laughter. I have found it not at all uncommon, to see the most undisguised hatred arise between two such persons as he of the stage-coach,—the one from the north, and the other from the south,—when in truth, the actuating impulse was precisely the same in both, but had taken a different direction, and was differently developed by different exciting causes.

"The puppyism of Charleston and that of Boston are only different shades of the same character, yet these kindred spirits can in nowise tolerate each other. As is universally the case, those are most intolerant to others who have most need of forgiveness themselves. The mutual jealousy of the north and south is a decided evidence of littleness in both regions, and ample cause for shame to the educated gentlemen of all parties of this happy country. If pecuniary interest had not been mixed up with this provincial rivalry, the feeling could easily have been so held up to the broad light of intelligence, as to be a fertile source of amusement, and furnish many a subject for comedy and farce in after-times."

This specimen was by no means the only one among the arrivals by the stage-coach. Every waiter in the house was pressed into the service of[Pg 14] these coxcombs,—some smoked,—some swaggered through the private rooms,—others adjusted their frizzled locks at the mirrors with brushes carried for the purpose,—and all together created a vast commotion in the quiet country inn.

As our two young southerns sat in the long piazza, eying these stage-coach travellers and waiting for breakfast, the same equipage which they had passed on the road, and containing our northern party, drew up to the door.

Not many minutes had elapsed before a black servant stood in the entry between the double suite of apartments, and briskly swung a small bell to and fro, which seemed to announce breakfast, from the precipitate haste with which the gentlemen of the stage-coach found their way into the long breakfasting-hall of the establishment. Our southerns followed their example, but more quietly, and by the invitation of the host. At the upper end of the table stood the hostess, who, like most of her kind in America, was the wife of a wealthy landholder and farmer, as well as tavern-keeper. She was a genteel and modest-looking woman, and did the honours of the table like a lady at her own hospitable board, and among selected guests. It is owing to a mistake in the character of the host and hostess, that so many foreigners give and take offence at these establishments. They often contumaciously demand as a right, what would have been offered to them in all courtesy after the established usages of the country.[Pg 15]

On the right of the hostess sat the youthful lady who had spent such an unhappy night at the ferry,—in the hearing of Victor Chevillere,—and whom they had passed on the road. She was still so enveloped in her travelling dress and veil as to be but partially seen. On the same side, unfortunately, as he no doubt thought, sat Chevillere with Lamar. The grave-looking old gentleman, the companion of the youthful lady mentioned, sat immediately opposite to her. The gentlemen of extreme ton (as they wished to be thought), were ranged along the table, already mangling the dishes, cracking and replacing the eggs, and apparently much dissatisfied with the number of seconds they had remained in heated water. Nor were they long in striking up a conversation, as loud and full of slang as their previous displays had been. During this unseemly and boisterous conduct, some more tender chord seemed to be touched within the bosom of the lovely young female, than would have been supposed from the character of the assailants. Victor Chevillere turned his head in that direction, and saw that her face had become more deadly pale; at the same moment he heard her say, in an under-tone, to the old gentleman her companion, "My dear sir, assist me from this room,—my head grows dizzy, and I feel a deathlike sickness."

Chevillere was upon his feet in an instant, and assisted the lady to rise; by this time, the old gentleman having taken her other arm, they carried rather than led her into one of the adjoining apart[Pg 16]ments, where, after depositing their beautiful burden upon a sofa, Chevillere left her to the care of the hostess, who had followed, and returned to the breakfast-table.

Let us describe a country breakfast for the uninitiated. At the head of the table was a large salver, or japanned waiter, upon which was spread out various utensils of China-ware,—the only articles of plate being a sugar-dish and cream-pot. On the right of this salver stood a coffee and tea-urn, of some composition metal, resembling silver in appearance. At the other end of the table, under the skilful hands of the host, was a large steak, cut and sawed entirely through the sirloin of the beef. Half-way up the table, on either side, were dishes of broiled game, the intermediate spaces being filled up with various kinds of hot bread, biscuit and pancakes (as they are called in some parts of the north). This custom of eating hot bread at the morning and evening meal, is almost universal at the south. Immediately in the centre stood a pyramid of fresh-churned butter, with a silver butter-knife sticking into the various ornaments of vine-leaves and grapes with which it was stamped.

To this fare Chevillere found his friend Lamar doing the most ample justice, nor was his own keen appetite entirely destroyed by the temporary indisposition of the lady who had so much excited his curiosity and his sympathy. He could have congratulated himself on the little occurrence[Pg 17] which had given him some claims to a farther acquaintance, and doubtless could have indulged in delightful reveries as to the fair and youthful stranger,—had not all his gay dreams been put to flight by the boisterous laughter and meager attempts at wit of the other travellers. As he returned towards the table, the one whom we have more particularly described elevated a glass, with a golden handle, to his large, full, and impudent eye. Chevillere returned the gaze until his look almost amounted to a deliberate stare. The "bloods" looked fierce, and exchanged pugnacious looks, but all chance of a collision was prevented by the return of the hostess. Notwithstanding the disagreeable qualities of most of the guests at the table, Chevillere found time to turn the little incident of the sudden indisposition and its probable cause several times in his own mind; and, as may be well imagined, his mental soliloquy resulted in no injurious imputation upon the youthful lady,—there was evidently no trait of affectation.

At length the meal was brought to a close,—not however, before the driver of the mail-coach had wound sundry impatient blasts upon his bugle,—general joy seemed to pervade every remaining countenance after the departure of the coxcombs. Both the northern and southern travellers, who were journeying northward, and who had breakfasted at the inn, were soon likewise plodding along at the usual rate of weary travellers by a private conveyance.[Pg 18]


CHAPTER II.

The misery of the young and the beautiful is at all times infectious. Few young persons can withhold sympathy in such a case,—especially if the person thus afflicted be unmarried—of the other sex—and near one's own age.

Victor Chevillere could not expel from his imagination the image of the fair stranger. Again and again did he essay to join Lamar in his light and sprightly conversation, as they, on the day after the one recorded in the last chapter, pursued their journey along the noble turnpike between Fredericktown and Baltimore. The same profound revery would steal upon him, and abide until broken by the merry peals of Lamar's peculiarly loud and joyous laughter, at the new mood which seemed to have visited the former. When a young person first begins to experience these abstracted moods, there is nothing, perhaps, that sounds more harsh and startling to his senses, than the mirthful voice of his best friend. He looks up as one would naturally look at any unseemly or boisterous conduct at a funeral. He seems to gaze and wonder, for the first time, that all things and all men are jogging on at their usual gait. Thus were things moving upon the Fredericktown[Pg 19] turnpike: Lamar riding forty or fifty paces in front, singing away the blue devils; Chevillere in the centre, moody and silent; and old Cato, stately as a statue on horseback, bringing up the rear.

From hearing sundry merry peals of laughter from Lamar's quarter, Chevillere was induced at length to forego his own society for a moment, to see what new subject his Quixotic friend had found for such unusual merriment; and a subject he had indeed found in the shape of a tall Kentuckian. The name of the stranger, it seems, was Montgomery Damon. He was six feet high, with broad shoulders, full, projecting chest, light hair and complexion, and a countenance that was upon the first blush an index to a mind full of quaint, rude, and wild humour. His dress was any thing but fashionable; he wore a large, two-story hat, with a bandana handkerchief hanging out in front, partly over his forehead, as if to protect it from the great weight of his castor. His coat and pantaloons were of home-made cotton and woollen jeans, and he carried in his hand a warlike riding-whip, loaded with lead, and mounted with silver, with which, now and then, he gave emphasis to his words, by an unexpected and sonorous crack.

Our Kentuckian was no quiet man; but, like most of his race, bold, talkative, and exceedingly democratic in all his notions; feeling as much pride in his occupation of drover, as if he had been a senator in Congress from his own "Kentuck," as he emphatically called it. He was a politician, too, inas[Pg 20]much as he despised tories, as he called the federalists, approved of the late war, and had a most venomous hatred against Indians, of whatever tribe or nation. We shall break into their dialogue at the point at which Victor became a listener.

"How did it happen," said Lamar, "that you did not join the army either of the north or south, when your heart seems to have been so entirely with them?"

"O! as to jineen the army to the north," said Damon, "I was afraid the blasted tories would sell me to the British, me and my messmates, like old Hull, the infernal old traitor, sold his men for so much a head, jist as I sell my hogs. As to t'other business, down yonder, under Old Hickory, I reckon I did take a hand or so aginst the bloody Injins."

"You prefer a fight with Indians, then, to one with white men."

"To be sure I do; I think no more of taking my jack-knife, and unbuttonin the collar of a Creek Injin, than I would of takin the jacket off a good fat bell-wether, or mout-be a yerlin calf. Old Hickory's the boy to sculp the bloody creters; he's the boy to walk into their bread-baskets; and Dick Johnston ain't far behind him, I can tell you, stranger; he's the chap what plumped a bullet right into old Tecumseh's bagpipes. Let him alone for stoppin their war-whoops."

"You were a rifleman, I suppose," said Lamar.[Pg 21]

"Right agin, stranger. Give me a rifle for ever; they never spiles meat, though, as one may say, Injin's meat ain't as good as blue-lick buck's; but for all that, it's a pity to make bunglin work of a neat job; besides, your smooth bores waste a deal of powder and lead upon the outlandish creters."

"Were you ever wounded?" asked Lamar.

"Yes! don't you see this here hare-lip to my right eye? Well! that was jist the corner of an Injin's hatchet. Bob Wiley jist knocked up his arm in time to save me for another whet at the varmints; if so mout be that we ever has another brush with 'em, and Bob goes out agin, maybe I may do him a good turn yet; he's what I call a tear down sneezer (crack went the whip). He's got no more fear among the Injins than a wild cat in a weasel's nest; O! it would have done your heart good to see him jist lie down behind an old log, and watch for one of the varmint's heads bobbin up and down like a muskovy drake in a barn yard, and as sure as you saw the fire at the muzzle of his gun, so sure he knocked the creter's hind sights out. You see he always took 'em on the bob, jist as you would shoot a divin bird, and that's what I always called taking the bread out of the creter's mouth, for he was watchin for the same chance."

"Did you scalp the slain?" said Lamar.

"No!" replied Damon, "we had plenty of friendly Injins to do that, and it used to make me[Pg 22] laugh to see the yallow raskals sculpin their kin; that's what I call dog eat dog."

"Do you think an Indian has a soul?" said Lamar.

"Ha! ha! ha!" roared the Kentuckian, giving a crack of unusual emphasis, "that's what I call a stumper; but as you're no missionary, I 'spose I'll tell you. I knows some dumb brutes—here's this Pete Ironsides that I'm ridin on, has more of a Christian soul in him than any leather-skin between Missouri and Red River. Why! stranger! what's an Injin good for, more nor a wild cat? You can't tame ne'er a one of 'em."

"But those missionaries you spoke of, don't you think they will civilize, if not Christianize them?"

"Ha! ha! ha!" shouted Damon, with another loud crack, and rolling a huge quid of tobacco to the opposite side of his mouth, "they might as well mount the trees and preach to the 'coons and tree-frogs; one of your real psalm-singers mout tree a coon at it, but hang me if he can ever put the pluck of a white man under a yellow jacket. Catch a weasel asleep or a fox at a foot race. I rather suspicion, stranger, that I've seen more Injins than your missionaries, and I'll tell you the way to tame 'em;—slit their windpipes and hamstring 'em."

"Perhaps you are an enemy to religion, or prejudiced against the missionaries?"

"No! no! stranger, no! I likes religion well enough of a Sunday; but hang me if I should not[Pg 23] die of laughin to see 'em layin it down to the redskins. I'd as soon think of going into my horse stable and preachin to the dumb brutes. Old Pete here knows more now than many an Injin, and he's got more soul than some Yankees that mout be named; but come, stranger, here's a public house, let's go in and cut the phlegm."

"Agreed," said Lamar, "but it must be at my expense."

"Well," said Damon, "we'll not quarrel about that;" and turning to Victor, "Stranger, won't you join us in a glass of tight?"

"No! I thank you," said Chevillere, "but I will look on while you and my friend drink to the better acquaintance of us all."

After the parties had refreshed themselves and their horses, and remounted, the conversation was resumed. "Well now," said the Kentuckian, addressing Victor, "I wish I may be contwisted if you ain't one of the queerest men, to come from the Carolinas, I have clapped eyes on this many a day. You don't chaw tobacco, and you don't drink nothin; smash my apple-cart if I can see into it."

"I am one of those that don't believe in the happy effects of either brandy or tobacco," replied Chevillere.

"Then you are off the trail for once in your life, stranger, for I take tobacco to be one of God's mercies to the poor. Whether it came by a rigular dispensation of providence (as our parson used[Pg 24] to say), or in a natural way, I can't tell; but hang me, if when I gets a quid of the real Kentuck twist or Maryland kite-foot into my mouth, if I ain't as proud a man as the grand Turk himself. It drives away the solemncholies, and makes a fellow feel so good-natured, and so comfortable; it turns the shillings in his pocket into dollars, and his wrath into fun and deviltry. Let them talk about tobacco as they choose among the fine gals, and at their theatres, and balls, and cotillions, and all them sort of things; but let one of 'em git twenty miles deep into a Kentuck forest, and then see if a chew of the stuff ain't good for company and comfort."

"But you did not tell me," resumed Lamar, "whether you had ever shot at a white man?"

"No! no! I never did; and I don't know that I ever will. I think I should feel a leetle particlar, at standin up and shooting at a real Christian man, with flesh and blood like you and me. You see, when we boys of the long guns shoot, we don't turn our heads away and pull trigger in a world of smoke, so that nobody can tell where the lead goes; we look right into the white of a fellow's eye, and can most always tell which side of his nose the ball went, and you see that would be but a slayin and skinnen business among white people; but as to shootin and sculpin Injins, that's a thing there is no bones made about, because out on the frontiers at the west, if a man should stand addlin his brains about the right and the wrong of the thing, the red devils would just knock them out to settle[Pg 25] the matter, and sculp him for his pains into the bargain. Shooting real Christian men's quite another thing. It's what I ha'nt tried yet; but when we Kentuck boys gits at it, it won't all end like a log-rollin, with one or two broken shins and a black eye. But I'm told the Yankees always sings a psalm before they go to battle. Now, according to my notion, a chap would make a blue fist of takin a dead aim through double sights, with the butt end of a psalm in his guzzle."

"Some person must have told you that as a joke," said Lamar.

"No, no, I believe it, because we had just such a fellow once in our neighbourhood—a Yankee schoolmaster—and we took him out a deer-driving two or three times, and he was always singing a psalm at his stand. He spoilt the fun, confound him! Hang me if I didn't always think the fellow was afraid to stand in the woods by himself without it. I went to his singin school of Saturday nights, too; but I never had a turn that way. All the master could do, he could'nt keep me on the trail,—I was for ever slipping into Yankee Doodle; you see, every once in a while, the tune would take a quick turn, like one I knowed afore, so I used to blaze away at it with the best of 'em, but the same old Yankee Doodle always turned up at the end. But the worst of it was, the infernal Yankee spoiled all the music I ever had in me; when I come out of the school, I thought the gals at home would have killed themselves laughin' at me. They said[Pg 26] I ground up Yankee Doodle and Old Hundred together, all in a hodge-podge, so I never sings to no one now but the dumb brutes in the stable, when they gits melancholy of a rainy day. Old Pete here raises his ears, and begins to snort the minute I raises a tune."

"Your singing-master was, like his scholar, an original."

"An original! When he come to them parts, he drove what we call a Yankee cart, half wagon and half carriage, full of all sorts of odds and ends; when he had sold them out, he sold his horse and cart too, and then turned in to keepin a little old-field school; and over and above this, he opened a Saturday night singin-school,—and I reckon we had rare times with the gals there. At last, when the feller had got considerable ahead, the word came out that he was studyin to be a doctor; and sure enough, in a few months, he sold out the school for so much a head, just like we sell our hogs; then off the Yankee starts to git made a doctor of; and hang me if ever I could see into that business. How they can turn a pedlar into a doctor in four months, is a leetle jist over my head. It's true enough they works a mighty change in the chaps in that time. Our Yankee went off, as well-behaved and as down-faced a chap as you would wish to see in a hundred, and wore home-made clothes like mine; but when he had staid his four months out, and 'most everybody had forgot him, one day as I was leanen up against one of the poplar trees in[Pg 27] the little town, I saw a sign goin up on the side of a house, with Doctor Gun in large letters. I'll take my Bible oath, when I saw the thing, I thought I should have broke a blood-vessel. Howsomever, I strained 'em down, till an old woman would have sworn I had the high-strikes, with a knot o' wind in my guzzle. But I quieted the devil in me, and then I slipped slyly over the street, behind where the doctor was standing with his new suit of black; one hand stuck in his side, and the other holding an ivory-headed stick up to his mouth in the most knowing fashion, I tell you. I stole up behind him, and bawled out in his ear, as loud as I could yell, 'faw—sol—law—me.' Oh! my grandmother! what a smashin rage he flew into; he shook his cane—he walked backwards and forwards—and didn't he make the tobacco juice fly? I rather reckon, if I hadn't had so many inches, he'd have been into my meat; but the fun of it all was, the feller had foreswore his mother tongue; dash me if he could talk a word of common lingo, much less sing psalms and hymns by note; he rattled off words as long as my arm, and as fast as a windmill. Some of the old knowing ones says they've got some kind of a mill, like these little hand-organs, and that chops it out to the chaps eny night and morning, pretty much as I chop straw to my horses; but I'm going in to see that doctor-factory, when I git to Philadelphia, if they don't charge a feller more nor half a dollar a head."

"I hope we shall travel together to Philadelphia,"[Pg 28] said Lamar; "and if so, I will introduce you into the establishment, free of expense."

"Thank you, sir, thank you," said the Kentuckian; "but I'm rather inclined to think that we will hardly meet again after to-day; 'cause, you see, I'm 'bliged to do a might of business in Baltimore afore I can go on. After that, then I can go on as I please; as I'm only goin to see the world abit, afore I settle down for life."

"But," said Lamar, "if you will call at Barnum's, and leave word what day you will set out, I will see that we travel together, for I will suit my time to yours; and I would advise you to send your horse a short distance into the country, both for the sake of convenience and economy."

"What! part with old Pete here! Bless my soul, stranger! he would go into a gallopin consumption! or die of the solemncholies, if a rainy spell should come on, and he and I couldn't have a dish of chat together; and then I shouldn't know no more what to do in one of your coaches nor a cow with a side-pocket."

"My word for it," replied Victor, "you would soon enjoy yourself inside of a stage-coach. Come, let us make a bargain. I will engage to have your horse well taken care of in the country, and provide him with a groom that will soon learn his ways, and be able to cheer him up when he gets low-spirited."

"Yes, do!" said Lamar, jocosely; "we are anxious to have your company during our visit to[Pg 29] the cities. We are from Carolina, and you are from Kentuck; and after you get through with your business, we shall all be on the same errand—pleasure and improvement."

"And a wild-goose chase it's like to be, I'm afraid; especially if I'm to be of your mess. But suppose you should meet with some fine lady acquaintances, what, in the name of old Sam, would you do with me? I should be like a fifth wheel to a wagon."

"Were you never in the company of fine ladies?" asked Chevillere.

"Yes! and flummuck me if ever I want to be so fixed again; for there I sat with my feet drawn straight under my knees, heads up, and hands laid close along my legs, like a new recruit on drill, or a horse in the stocks; and, twist me, if I didn't feel as if I was about to be nicked. The whole company stared at me as if I had come without an invite; and I swear I thought my arms had grown a foot longer, for I couldn't get my hands in no sort of a comfortable fix—first I tried them on my lap; there they looked like goin to prayers, or as if I was tied in that way; then I slung 'em down by my side, and they looked like two weights to a clock; and then I wanted to cross my legs, and I tried that, but my leg stuck out like a pump handle; then my head stuck up through a glazed shirt-collar, like a pig in a yoke; then I wanted to spit, but the floor looked so fine, that I would as soon have thought of spittin on the win[Pg 30]dow; and then to fix me out and out, they asked us all to sit down to dinner! Well, things went on smooth enough for a while, till we had got through one whet at it. Then a blasted imp of a nigger come to me first with a waiter of little bowls full of something, and a parcel of towels slung over his arm; so I clapped one of the bowls to my head, and drank it down at a swallow. Now, stranger, what do you think was in it?"

"Punch, I suppose," said Lamar, laughing; "or perhaps apple toddy."

"So I thought, and so would anybody, as dry as I was, and that wanted something to wash down the fainty stuffs I had been layin in; but no! it was warm water! Yes! you may laugh! but it was clean warm water. The others dipped their fingers into the bowls, and wiped them on the towels as well as they could for gigglin; but it was all the fault of that pampered nigger, in bringin it to me first. As soon as I catched his eye, I gin him a wink, as much as to let him know that if ever I caught him on my trail, I would wipe him down with a hickory towel."

"But I suppose you enjoyed yourself highly before it was all over?" said Chevillere.

"When it was all over, I was glad enough; I jumped and capered like a school-boy at the first of the holydays."

"Have you never been invited out since?" asked Lamar.

"O yes, often," said Damon; "but you don't[Pg 31] catch a weasel asleep again. I like to give a joke, and take a joke; but then the joke was all on one side. If I can take a hand in the laugh, I don't care whether a person laughs at me, or with me."

"But what say you?" said Chevillere; "shall we send your horse to the country with ours?"

"Why! as you gentlemen seem to speak me so fair, and to know the world so well, I don't care if I do send old Pete out to board awhile. I shouldn't be surprised though if he should give me up for lost, and fret himself to death. But I must see the man that goes to the country with them; 'cause Pete couldn't bear shabby talk; he's what I call a leetle particular in his company for a dumb brute."

"The man rides behind us," said Chevillere, "who will perform that duty. Cato! this gentleman wishes to speak to you."

"Did you call, your honour?"

"Yes. Cato! Mr. Damon wishes to give you some charges about his horse, which you are to take into the country with ours."

"Cato," said Damon, "tell the farmer who takes the horses, that old Pete Ironsides here has been used to good company, and that he has been treated more like a Christian nor a horse, and that I wish him indulged in his old ways."

During this harangue, Cato cast sundry glances from his master to the speaker, as if to ascertain whether he was in earnest, or only playing off one of those freaks in which the young men had so often indulged in his presence. Being accustomed, how[Pg 32]ever, to treat with respect those whom his master respected, and seeing his eye calm and serious, he bowed with grave deference, saying, "It shall be done as you direct, your honour;" and then fell back.

"Now," said Damon, "that's what I call a well-bred nigger. I would venture that old Scip would'nt have puzzled me with the warm water; 'cause he knows that I'm not one of them there sort of chaps what knows all their new-fangled kick-shaws. He knows in a case of real needcessity, or life and death, as I may say, either to man, woman, or horse, I'm more to be depended on than a dozen such chaps as went along here in the stage this morning."

"You saw the dandies in the stage, then?" asked Victor.

"Yes, and one of 'em popped his head out of the window, and says to me as they went by, 'Country,' says he, 'there's something on your horse's tail.'—'Yes,' says I, 'and there's something in his head that you hav'nt got, if his ears ain't so long.'"

Thus were our acquaintances and their new companion jogging along when the distant rumbling of wheels upon the pavements and the dense clouds of black smoke which seemed to be hanging in the heavens but a short distance ahead, announced that they were soon to enter the monumental city.

There is not, perhaps, a feeling of more truly unmixed melancholy, incident to the heart of an inexperienced and modest student, than that which[Pg 33] steals over him upon his first entrance into a strange city; a feeling of incomparable loneliness, even deeper than if the same individual were standing alone upon the highest blue peak of the far stretching Alleghany. The vanishing rays of twilight were extending their lengthening shadows; the husbandman and his cattle were seen wending their way to their accustomed abodes for the night; and the feathered tribes had already sought the resting-places which nature so plentifully provides for them in our well-wooded land. The sad, and it may be pleasing reflections which such sights produced, were occasionally interrupted by the clattering of a horse's hoofs upon the turnpike, as some belated countryman sought to redeem the time he had spent at the alehouse; or as the solitary marketman, with more staid and quiet demeanour, sped upon a like errand. Occasionally the scene was marred by some besotted and staggering wretch, seeking his lowly and miserable hut in the suburbs. At intervals too, the barking of dogs and the lowing of cattle contributed their share to remind our friends that they were about to take leave of these quiet and pastoral scenes, for an indefinite period, and to mix in the bustle and gay assemblage of city life. Often, at such junctures, there is a presentiment of the evil which awaits the unhappy exchange. Warning clouds of the mind are believed to exist by many of the clearest heads and soundest hearts: we do not say that our heroes were thus sadly affected, nor that the Kentuckian had a fore-[Pg 34]taste of evil; but certain it is, that all were silent until they arrived at the place of separation. All things having been previously settled, they exchanged salutations, and departed upon their separate routes. They passed a variety of streets in that most gloomy period of the day when lamp-lighters are to be seen, with their torches and ladders, starting their glimmering lights first in one direction and then in another, as they hurry from post to post. Draymen were driving home with reckless and Jehu-like speed; and the brilliant lights which began to appear at long intervals, gave evidence that the trading community carried their operations also into that portion of time which nature has allotted for rest and repose to nearly all living things. Our travellers now alighted at Barnum's; but as their adventures were of an interesting character, we shall defer them till a new chapter.[Pg 35]


CHAPTER III.

After a substantial meal had been despatched, our travellers repaired to the livery-stable, to inspect in person the condition of their horses. The establishment was lighted with a single lamp, swung in the centre of the building. The approach of the two young gentlemen was not therefore immediately noticed by old Cato and another groom (who proved to be the coachman of the equipage they had left on the road), as they were busily engaged in rubbing down their horses, the dialogue between them was not brought to a close at once.

"Who did you say the gentleman was?" said old Cato.

"His name is Brumley," replied coachee.

"And the young lady is his daughter, I suppose?" continued Cato.

"Oh! as to that, I cannot say," continued coachee, "but I believe she is only his step-daughter; they calls her Miss Fanny St. Clair, and sometimes of late the old gentleman calls her Mrs. Frances; but between you and me and the horse-stall, there is some strange things about this family; I rather guess that Sukey, the maid up yonder, could tell us something that would make us open our eyes, if she was not so confounded close; all that I know[Pg 36] about it is, that the harsh old gentleman sometimes gives her a talk in the carriage that throws her a'most into a faintin' spell. But I could never see into it, not I; I don't somehow believe in all these little hurrahs the women kicks up just for pastime."

Our travellers did not think proper to listen further to the gossip of the grooms, and having executed their business at the livery, they retraced their steps to the splendid establishment at which they had put up. Notwithstanding the doubtful source from which Chevillere had gained his latest information concerning the singularly interesting young lady whom they had seen at the inn, it made its impression. Corrupt indeed must be that channel of information relative to a beautiful and attractive female, apparently in distress, which will not find an auditor in the person of a sensitive young man just emancipated from college. On such occasions, and with such persons, the credibility of all witnesses is the same, and the most improbable tale is taken at once, and made the foundation of a whole train of reveries, dreams, and plans.

It is not to be denied that Victor Chevillere had worked his imagination up to a very romantic height, and had allowed his curiosity concerning the youthful lady to reach such a pitch that little else gave occupation to his fancies.

He was in this state of mind, leisurely marking time with lazy steps, and in an abstracted mood, as he ascended the grand staircase of the establish[Pg 37]ment, when his attention was again riveted by the sound of the lady's voice in earnest entreaty with the old gentleman.

"Consider, my dear Frances," said the latter, "that your health is now nearly re-established, and that these are subjects that you must dwell upon; why not, therefore, become accustomed to it at once?"

"For heaven's sake! for my dear mother's! never, sir, mention that fearful marriage, and more fearful death to me again! Why should I recall hideous and frightful dreams!"

Chevillere was compelled to move on, but it must be confessed that his steps were slower than before; and it may be readily imagined, that his fancy and his curiosity were not much allayed by the shreds of conversation which he had involuntarily overheard. When he had ascended to his own apartment, and could indulge freely in that bachelor recreation of pacing to and fro, the two words still involuntarily quickened his movements whenever they flashed through his mind—-"marriage" and "death" were words of opposite import certainly, viewed in the abstract, and we doubt whether he had ever connected them together before;—-"Fearful marriage! and more fearful death!" what could it mean? to whom could they refer? Only one of them could refer to her, that was certain; who then was married and died so fearfully? Ah! thought he, I have it! her mother has married this old man, and died suddenly; and he has got[Pg 38] the fortune of both in his hands! Suspicious circumstance! If fortune puts it in my power, I will watch him narrowly! I disliked his countenance from the first!—must be cool, however, and deliberate—must watch—and wait! pshaw, what am I at! Thus ended Victor Chevillere's solution of the enigma, when Lamar stepped into the room and disturbed his revery.

"What! still musing, Chevillere. By my troth, she must be a witch; but it will be glorious news to write to our friend Beverly Randolph, of old Virginia. What say you? Shall I sit down and indite an epistle? Let me see—how do such narratives generally begin? Cupid, and darts, and arrows—blind of an eye—shot right through the vitals of a poor innocent youth that never did him any harm—never was struck before—covered with a panoply, and shield, and armour, and all that; and then worship prostrate before the shrine; and vows, and tears, and tokens; and then the dart is taken out—and the wound heals up—and then—'Richard's himself again!' What say you to that, or rather what would Randolph say to that, think you?"

"He would say that Augustus Lamar was still the same mirth-loving fellow, without regard to time or place."

"Then it is a serious affair, and too true to make a joke of! Well, then I have done! She's a beautiful young creature, it is true; but then from what I had seen of your cold philosophy, I did not[Pg 39] think you were the man to be slain at first sight, and surrender at discretion before a single charge."

"I will acknowledge to you, Lamar, that my curiosity is most painfully excited with regard to that unhappy young lady, but nothing more, I assure you. Some facts have, without my seeking, come to my knowledge, with which you are entirely unacquainted, and which have tended greatly to increase that curiosity. I cannot at this time explain; as soon as my own mind is satisfied on the subject, my confidence shall not be withheld from you."

"Lovers are truly a singular set of mortals—-here is a young lady (and a Yankee too, perhaps) of some dozen hours' acquaintance, and with whom you have never exchanged a dozen words; and yet you are already entrusted with profound secrets, which excite you in the most painful manner!"

"Come, come, Lamar, I see you are determined to misunderstand me. Let us drop the subject. What do you think of the Kentuckian?"

"I think he is an admirable fellow; and I intend to patronise him; and induct him into fashionable life; but do you think his singularities are the natural products of the life, manners, and climate of Kentucky?"

"I cannot decide whether there is much in him that is peculiar to Kentucky. Some of the most elegant and accomplished gentleman I have seen were natives of that state."[Pg 40]

"He takes a laugh at his expense admirably."

"He does, but you must be careful not to exceed the limits he has laid down for himself and us, in that respect. For my own part, I entertain a serious respect for Damon and his unsophisticated honesty, degenerating, as it sometimes does, into prejudices and ludicrous fancies."

"Good night, and pleasant dreams to you. I will call early to interpret them for you."

As Lamar closed the door, Chevillere drew from his pocket a little basket segar-case, from which he extracted a genuine Havana, and lighting a taper at the candle, and throwing himself into one of those easy attitudes familiar to smokers, with his head back, and his eyes closed, gave himself up to those absorbing reveries, generally delightful in proportion to the goodness of the segar, which a southern knows so well how to enjoy. To be fully relished, segars should be resorted to only in the evening, and then in moderation. The sensibility is blunted by excess, and in that case, tobacco, like the intoxicating drinks, will sometimes conjure up frightful images upon the wall of a dimly-lighted chamber, or among the embers of a dying fire. Victor, however, had not converted his capacity for enjoyment into fruitful sources of mental and physical suffering—-he sat for a long time gently throwing the fragrant results of his efforts into various columns, wreaths, and pyramids. Not that his mind dwelt upon these things for a moment; he was far distant in spirit; his imagination was calling up[Pg 41] delightful dreams of love and friendship, with thoughts of a beloved cousin, of his friend and room-mate Beverley Randolph—his mother, his home, and the scenes of his childhood, and finally, of the lady of the black mantle. He beheld airy castles,—romantic adventures,—bridal scenes—and flowers,—assemblies,—parties,—and the high hills of the Santee.

Aladdin's lamp never wrought more rich and highly-coloured scenes of enchantment than did this same Havana; but the most pleasant dream must come to an end, as well as the richest flavoured segar—and so did Chevillere's. Tossing the little hot remnant from him with a passionate jerk, as if in anger at the insensible cause of his interruption, he bounced into the centre of the floor and began to pace to and fro, in his accustomed mood, clenching his fists now and then, and by his whole appearance showing a perfect contrast to the calm and delightful revery attendant upon the first stage of tobacco intoxication.

In this mood we shall leave him to seek his rest, while we recount in the next chapter what farther befel our late collegians on the following morning.[Pg 42]


CHAPTER IV.

A brilliant morning found our collegians refreshed in health and elastic in spirits. The more gloomy fancies of the previous night, which had beset Chevillere both in his waking and sleeping hours—like the mists of the morning, had been dispelled by the bright sunshine, and the refreshing breezes of the bay. After the usual meal had been some time despatched; and while Chevillere was leisurely turning over the papers of the day (Lamar having departed in pursuit of the Kentuckian) he was surprised by the entrance of Mr. Brumley (the austere gentleman), who saluted him with the most friendly greetings of the hour and season, and concluded by inviting him into their private parlour. It may be readily imagined that this invitation was not tardily complied with, for he now imagined that the whole history of the lady would be unravelled by a single word—so sanguine is youthful hope, and so apt are we, at that interesting period, to jump to those conclusions which are desirable, without ever considering the previous steps, and painful delays, and necessary forms, and conventional usages which inevitably intervene between our highest hopes and their fruition. How often would the ardent wishes and the bold hands of youth seize upon futurity, de[Pg 43]spoiling it of the thin veil which separates us from what we wish to know, especially when this could be learned by dispensing with the accustomed formalities and wholesome restraints of refined society. A train of kindred thoughts was passing through the mind of Chevillere as he was ushered into a small but elegant saloon, connected with the back chambers by folding-doors, which were now closed. On the left of the door, and between the windows opening upon a great thoroughfare, sat the lady who occupied his thoughts. She was sitting, or rather reclining upon one end of a sofa, her head resting upon her hand in a thoughtful mood. As is true of most daughters of this favoured land, nature had evidently in nowise been thwarted, either in her mental or physical education. She appeared to possess that naivetÚ which is so apt to be the result of a mixed town, and country education; with just enough of self-possession to show that native modesty had been properly regulated by much good society, but not too much to forbid an occasional crimsoning of the neck and face. Her eyes were blue, shaded by long dark lashes, and so sparkling and joyous in their expression, that the evident present sorrow which hung over her spirits, could not efface the impression to a beholder, that they were naturally much more inclined to beam with mirth and gayety, than to weeping; her features were regular—arch in their expression, and finely formed—her complexion of the finest shade—with a rich profusion of light[Pg 44] brown hair, braided and parted on the forehead without a single curl; her figure was just tall enough to be elegant and graceful, and exhibited the graces of that interesting period, when the school-girl is merging into the reserved woman.

As Chevillere was ushered into the presence of this youthful lady, the old gentleman presented him as Mr. Chevillere, of South Carolina, and the lady by the name of (his step-daughter) Frances St. Clair; she assumed the erect position barely long enough to return the salutation of the gentleman, then reclined again and lapsed apparently into her sad mood; for a moment she pressed her handkerchief to her face as if she would drive away some horrible image, and then waited a moment as if she expected her father to speak upon some previously settled subject. Perceiving, however, that she waited in vain, she with some difficulty forced herself to say, "Mr. Chevillere, I requested my father to invite you to our apartments to"—here she seemed overpowered and stopped. Chevillere seeing her distress, replied, "Madam, you do me too much honour; but I see you are distressed—let me say then, without any farther formality, that if there is any way in the world by which I can lighten that distress, command me."

"It is about these very emotions that I would speak," she answered; "I was afraid you might think the scene at the breakfast-table two days since was got up in some silly girlish affectation, in pretended disgust at the rudeness of the[Pg 45] young men present; but believe me when I say, their conduct would at many times in my life have furnished me with an ample fund for laughter; it was not in their manners, it was in the subject of one of their discourses that I felt so much affected—I tried to subdue my feelings, but the more I tried the more they overcame me; the truth is, some painful recollections were awakened"—Here again she covered her face with her handkerchief, and seemed to be for a moment almost suffocated. The lady resumed; "Nor should I have thought it proper to offer this explanation to one who is apparently a perfect stranger; but, sir, I have known you for some time by reputation."

"Indeed, madam, I must be indebted to some most flattering mistake for my present good fortune; I am but just emancipated from college walls and rules, and have, of course, even a reputation to make for myself."

"No! no!" said the youthful lady (a beautiful smile passing swiftly over her sad countenance), "there can be no mistake about it," and drawing from her work-bag a small bit of paper, rolled up in the shape of a letter, she presented it to him; adding, "Do you know that hand-writing?"

He gazed upon the signature for an instant, and then exclaimed, "My honoured mother's! by all that's fortunate! then indeed we are old acquaintances—with your permission; and I am perfectly content with the reputation which you spoke of, when I know that it originated in such a source."[Pg 46]

"Your mother was indeed a prudent and a modest, but still a devoted herald of your good qualities."

"Believe me, dear lady, that I shall be more proud than ever to appear in your eyes to deserve some small share of her maternal praise; it was always inexpressibly dear to me for its own sake, but now I shall endeavour doubly to deserve it. You saw her, I suppose, at the White Sulphur Springs?"

"We did, sir; and a most fortunate circumstance it was for me; for being an invalid, she did every thing for me that my own mother could have done. Oh! how I regretted that my mother did not come, merely to have made her acquaintance."

"Your mother! is your mother alive, madam?"

"I hope and trust she is—and well; she was both when we last heard from her, and that was but a few days since; but your agitation alarms me! you know no bad news of my mother?" laying her hand upon his arm.

"None, madam! none. I don't know what put the foolish idea into my head, but I thought that both your own parents were dead."

"You alarmed me," said she. "I conjured up every dreadful image—I imagined that you had been commissioned by some of our friends here, to break the painful intelligence to me—but you are sure she is well?"

Chevillere smiled, as he answered "You forget that I am a total stranger to her, and she to me."[Pg 47]

"True! true! But tell me how you left your charming young cousin Virginia Bell, of whom I heard your mother speak so often. She told me, I think, that she was at some celebrated school in North Carolina?"

"At Salem. She is well, I thank you, or was well when I came through the town: my mother intends to take her home with her on her return."

"So she told me," said the lady.

"She did not tell you, I suppose, for I believe she does not know, that I have promised the hand of the dear girl in marriage, though she is scarcely sixteen yet. You must know that I had in college two dear and beloved friends—the one, Mr. Lamar, you have seen; the other is Mr. Beverley Randolph, of Virginia—we were both class and room-mates. Randolph has gone on a journey through the Southern States, as he pretends; but, I believe, in truth, to take a sly peep at his affianced bride. If he likes her looks, it is a bargain; and if not, he will pass it all off for a college joke." Here he was interrupted by the lady gasping; and on looking in her face, he found she was as pale as marble, and terribly agitated. She asked her father for water, which he handed to her instantly, while Chevillere rang violently at the bell.

"It will all be over in a minute," said she; "it is only a return of the suffering to which I am subject."

Many strange ideas flitted through Chevillere's mind during this interruption of the conversation.[Pg 48] He now recollected that one of the subjects of discourse between the vulgar fops, at the breakfast-table the previous morning, had been some runaway marriage—and "the fearful marriage and more fearful death" still sounded in his ears, and now the same subject again introduced by himself produced like consequences,—he thought it strange and incomprehensible; he cheered himself, however, with the reflection, that his mother was not likely to form an intimacy with persons against whom there was any charge of crime; nay, more, he felt assured that they must have been well sustained by public opinion, or introduced to her acquaintance by some judicious friend.

"If I have unaptly said any thing offensive, I hope Miss St. Clair will believe me, when I say that such a design was the farthest from my thoughts."

"Rest easy on that score," said she; "I am now well again: you said nothing that it was not proper for you to say, and me to hear, had I not been a poor silly-headed girl."

"Well, Miss Frances, I am anxious to hear your opinion of Western Virginia."

"My opinion is not worth having; but such as it is, you are welcome to it, or rather to such observations as a lady might make. First, then, I was delighted with the wild mountain scenery, and the beautiful valleys between the mountains; such are those, you will recollect, perhaps, in which all of those springs are situated. I doubt very much,[Pg 49] whether Switzerland, or Spain, could present as many rich and beautiful mountain-scenes, as we have passed between Lexington and the White Sulphur and Salt Sulphur springs. We have similar scenes along and among the highlands of the Hudson, it is true; perhaps they are more grand and majestic than these; but then, there is such a stir of busy life, such an atmosphere of steam, and clouds of canvass, that one is perpetually called back in spirit to the stir and bustle of a city life. But here, among the rugged blue mountains of 'old Virginia,' as these people love to call it, there are the silence and the solitude of nature, which more befit such contemplations as the scenes induce. We can seat ourselves in one of the green forests of the mountains we have just left, and imagine ours to be the first human footsteps, which have ever been imprinted upon the soil; and we can repose amid the shades and the profound and solemn silence of those scenes, with a calmness and a serenity, and a soothing, delightful, melancholy feeling, which no other objects can produce. The very atmosphere seems teeming with these delightful impressions; primitive nature seems to have returned upon us with all its balmy delights,—quiet and peacefulness. The profound solitude would become tiresome, perhaps, to those who have no resources in unison with such scenes, or to those who admire and feign to revel in them, because it is fashionable just now to do so. But to an educated mind, a natural and feeling, and I[Pg 50] may say devout heart, they furnish inexhaustible food for contemplation, and ever-renewing sources of delight and improvement."

"They are such scenes," replied Chevillere, "as I love to dwell upon, even in imagination. But come, Miss Frances, I see by the hat and mantle upon the table, that I have interrupted some intended promenade; shall I have the honour to be of your party?"

"Unquestionably, young gentleman—you may take the whole journey off my hands; Frances was only going out among the shops," said Mr. Brumley.

The plain, but tasteful apparel was soon adjusted, and the youthful pair sallied forth upon the promised expedition.

The tide of human life seems to be ever rolling and tossing, and ever renewing, and then rolling on again. Pestilence, and death, and famine may do their worst, but the tide is still renewed, and still moves on to the great sea of eternity.

Who that walks through the busy and thronged streets of a populous city, and sees the gay plumage, the fantastic finery, the smiling faces, and the splendid equipages, could ever form an adequate idea of the real suffering and wo, which constitute the sum of one day's pains in a city life? If all the miserable—the lame, the blind, the poor, the dumb, the aged, and the diseased, could be poured out along one side of the gay promenades, while fashionables were parading along the other, a much[Pg 51] truer picture of life in a city would be seen. Such were the ideas of Victor Chevillere, as he escorted his timid and youthful companion through the gay throng from shop to shop.

As they emerged into a part of the city less thronged, interchange of opinions became more practicable.

"I am impatient to hear your opinion of the Southerns," said Chevillere; "you had the finest opportunity imaginable to see our southern aristocrats at the springs."

"Oh! I was delighted with the little society in which I moved there," replied she; "and, but for one unhappy, and most untoward circumstance for me, my enjoyments would have far surpassed any thing which I had ever laid out for myself again in this world."

"You excite my curiosity most strangely," said he; "and, if it would not appear impertinent or intrusive, I should like to know two things: first, what untoward circumstance you speak of? and next, what great bar has been placed between you and happiness, that you should have laid off so small a share for yourself in all time to come?"

"Oh! sir, your questions are painful to me, even to think of; how much worse then must have been the reality of those circumstances, which could poison the small share of happiness which is allotted to us under the most favourable circumstances. I would gratify your curiosity if I could, but indeed, indeed, sir, I cannot now relate to you the whole[Pg 52] history of my life; and nothing less could explain to you the cruel train of circumstances by which I am surrounded, and from which there is no escape."

"One question you can, and I am sure you will, answer me.

"Could a devoted friend, with a cool head and a resolute hand, effect nothing in freeing you from this persecution?"

"I will answer you, sir, most plainly. You misunderstand my allusions, in the first place; for I am not persecuted now, nor can I say that I have been. It may seem enigmatical to you, but it is all that I can in prudence say. There is no person on this side of the grave who can relieve me from the cause of those emotions which you have unhappily witnessed; nay, more! if those persons were to rise from the dead, who were, unfortunately for themselves and for me, the cause of my painful situation, my condition would be incomparably worse than it is now."

"Painful, indeed, must those circumstances be, and incomprehensible to me, which seem to have been produced by the death of some one; and yet, if that person should rise from the dead, you would be more miserable than ever," said Chevillere.

During the latter part of this speech, the lady, as was often her custom, pressed her handkerchief to her face, as if she would by mechanical pressure drive off disagreeable images from the mind; and then said, "Now, sir, let us drop this subject."[Pg 53]

"One more question, and then I have done; and believe me, it is not idly asked. Were the circumstances you spoke of developed so recently as your visit to the Virginia springs?"

"Oh! by no means, sir; the untoward circumstance there that I spoke of, was the frequent and unexpected presence of one who forcibly reminded me of all the painful particulars; and what made it so much worse was, that wherever I moved, he moved; he followed the same route round the watering-places, and seemed purposely to throw himself in my way; and even now I dread every moment to encounter him; and the more so, as I have heard lately that his mind is unsettled. Poor gentleman, I pity him."

By this time they had arrived in a part of the city from which Washington's monument could be seen, elevating its majestic column above a magnificent grove of trees.

"Suppose we extend our walk," said the gentleman, "to yonder beautiful grove."

To this the lady readily assented. They found rude seats, constructed perhaps by some romantic swain; or by some country-bred youths, who came there, after the toils of the day, to refresh themselves with the pure and invigorating breezes which sweep the green, fresh from their dear and longed-for homes. Here they seated themselves, to enjoy this delightful mixture of town and country.

"This is a noble monument to the great and good[Pg 54] father of our Republic; and worthy of the high-minded and public-spirited people of Baltimore," said Chevillere. "Give me such evidence as this of their veneration for his memory, and none of your new-fangled nonsense about enshrining him in the hearts of his countrymen. Let him be enshrined in the hearts of his countrymen as individuals; but let cities, communities, and states enshrine him in marble. These speak to the eyes; and hundreds, and thousands will stand here, amid these beautiful shades, and think of him with profound veneration, who would never otherwise look into any other kind of history. The effect of such works as these is admirable; not only in showing veneration for the great dead, but also upon the living, in purifying the heart and ennobling its impulses."

"Baltimore, indeed, has set a noble example," said the lady.

"And richly will she be rewarded. A few years hence, the far West will be brought to her doors; and she will grow up to be a mighty city. Standing on the middle ground, between the angry sectionists of the North and the South, she will present a haven in which the rivals may meet, and learn to estimate each other's good qualities, and bury or forget those errors which are inseparable from humanity. But see! Miss St. Clair," said he, "what a singular looking man is just emerging from within the column!"

"Heavens!" said the lady, in extreme terror,[Pg 55] "that is the person! Do take me from this place! I would not encounter him for the world!"

She was too late; for already had the object of her apprehension caught a glimpse of her person; and no sooner had he done so, than with rapid strides he advanced directly towards them. The lady shook with terror and agitation. When he had approached almost in a direct line to within some forty or fifty feet, he riveted a long and steady gaze upon the lady, and another of shorter duration upon her companion, still walking onward. Victor stood and gazed after him until he was entirely without the enclosure.

He was a well-dressed man, apparently about fifty-five years of age, tall, and straight in his carriage as an Indian; his hair was slightly silvered; his countenance expressed wildness, but was steady and consistent in the expression of present purpose; his eye was dark and deep, and, when you looked upon it steadily for a short time, appeared as if you were gazing at two black holes in his head; his complexion was sallow; its characteristics—energy and deep determination.

"And that is the maniac?" said Chevillere, in a half-abstracted mood.

"I said not so," replied the lady; "but he is, indeed, that most unfortunate man, whose whole business seems to be to haunt me in my travels; otherwise our meeting has been most strangely accidental and untoward."[Pg 56]

"If he is in ill health," said Victor, "he may have gone to the Springs without intending to meet you; and now, when the season is nearly over, and he is likewise on his return, there is nothing more natural than his visiting this monument—every stranger does so,—do not, therefore, aggravate your distress by supposing these meetings to have been sought on his part. I will endeavour to find him, and demand of him whether he seeks to annoy an unhappy invalid by pursuing her from place to place, and what are his motives."

"Oh! sir, for Heaven's sake, do not think of such a thing. He is a powerful and a fearful man, when in his right mind; and even in his derangement, might do you some harm, especially if you went as commissioned by me. Besides, sir, if he was undoubtedly sane and respectful, he might demand, as a right, to see me, and converse with me too. Nay, he might possibly have some claim to control my actions; but you see he does not. Let him alone, therefore, and do not involve yourself in any of my troubles. I am inextricably entangled, and pinioned down to a certain routine of suffering, perhaps unexampled, and that too by no crime of my own."

"Dear lady," said Chevillere, taking her hand, as he saw her blue eye filling with tears, and just ready to run over; "you cannot imagine how much I feel interested for you; and what I am about to say, as it will risk your displeasure, is the very best evidence that I can give of my deep in[Pg 57]terest in your future peace and contentment. Believe me, dear lady, that though I am young, and may be inexperienced,—I am not an indifferent observer of the secret machinery of men's actions. I have been a steady observer and a thinker for myself, without regard to the opinion of individuals or the world, when I was conscious that I was right, and that they were wrong. Listen to me, then, with patience, while I give you my opinion, with regard to the difficulties which seem to be accumulating around you. Of course, this opinion must be a general one; as the circumstances upon which it is founded are only such as are of a general character. Nor do I seek for more confidence on your part towards me; I cannot expect that you should unfold the intimate relations of your family and your friends to a comparative stranger. This, then, is my (of course vague) opinion—I have generally observed, in my intercourse with mankind, that the most trying situations and the deepset distress are often brought about by a small mistake—misfortune—or crime in the beginning. The latter of these I would defy the most malignant misanthrope to look upon your countenance and charge you with; one of the two former, then, is the point upon which all your distress, and ill health, and melancholy hangs. My advice then is, upon this general view of the case, that you go back to that point, and rectify it as speedily as possible; and do it boldly and fearlessly,[Pg 58] as I am sure you can. Burst asunder these chains that fetter you, whatever they may be."

"I see," said the lady (tears fast stealing down her cheeks), "that I am always destined to make the same unhappy impression on every acquaintance, male or female, valued or unvalued. Before I have grown many degrees in their good opinion, some of these unlucky things are seen to develop themselves, and then I am subject to the greatest misfortune to which an honourable and a sensitive mind can be exposed; that is, to be supposed weak or wicked, though at the same time conscious of pure and upright motives. To be plain with you, sir, I must tell you again, that in order for me to be relieved of that which trammels me in some shape or other at every step, the grave must give up its own; and the law must give up its own; and the avaricious must annul their decrees; and the dead of half a century must undo their work; and the wisdom of the sage must be instilled into the mind of a child; and the slanders, and the wild and wicked fancies of the lunatic must be convinced by reason or actual demonstration of the foregoing things—before the point you speak of can be seized upon, and turned to my advantage."

"Then, indeed, is it a hard case, and I will not distress you further on the subject; I will not add my persecution to that of others—I will not say enemies; for one so young and so artless, so innocent and so unfortunate, can have no enemies."

"And therein consists part of my distress," re[Pg 59]plied she. "Is it not strange that I have not an enemy living, to my knowledge, who has ever wilfully injured me in word or deed? unless, indeed, it be yon wretched old man, whose mind is now, and whose heart, I fear, has always been wrong. Now, sir, let me beg of you, in future, whenever any of these little occurrences embarrass me during my stay here, to take no notice of them whatever; let me move along as quietly and as unobtrusively as possible. I love the retirement of the country, and to the country and retirement I will go. My mother loves me, and knows all my actions, and their motives too; and even my father loves me in his own way. They will be my companions for the remainder of a short and weary life."

The colloquy was cut short by their return to the hotel.

Lamar, as has been already announced, was a humorous gentleman, and would not lose an opportunity of enjoying the remarks of one so new to the busy world and its ways as Damon. He was not long in finding out the retired quarters of the gentleman of the west. At the bar-room he inquired if there was such a lodger in the house.

"No," said the barkeeper (so are these functionaries called), "but he is expected every minute."

Lamar seated himself near the files of morning papers which lay strewed along a reading-desk, and awaited the arrival of his singular new acquaintance. In a few minutes Damon stalked in.[Pg 60] A new black hat and blue frock-coat had so much altered his appearance, that Lamar did not recognise him until he took off his hat, wiped his dripping brows with the handkerchief which he still carried in it, and then, seeing Lamar for the first time, waved it over his head.

"Hurrah! for old Kentuck!" was his characteristic exclamation.

"Why, Damon, you have been under the tailor's hands," said Lamar.

"I believe I was in Old Sam's hands last night; but come up-stairs, and I will tell you all about it."

They proceeded to the third story into a small apartment, dimly lighted through a single window. Damon, after seating Lamar, threw aside his coat, and drawing from under the head of his bed the one in which Lamar had first seen him, he quickly inserted his arms through what remained of the garment,—the lappels were torn off on each side down to the waist, so that all the front of the coat was gone, leaving nothing but the long straight back, collar, and sleeves. What remained was smeared with mud, and torn in many places. He next proceeded to pull out of his pocket a collar, and parts of two sleeves of a shirt, spreading them on the bed, as a milliner would do her finery; and holding out both his hands with the palms upward in the manner of an orator,——

"There!" said he, "that's what I call a pretty[Pg 61] tolerable neat job, to shirt a stranger the first night he comes to town."

Lamar, who by this time began to see a little into the affair, asked, "But, Damon, how did all this happen? you seem to have been discomfited."

"Now I'll be smashed if you ain't off the trail, stranger, for you see I've only showed you half yet."

Upon which he drew from his other pocket a pair of spectacles, bent, bloody, and broken,—then a wig,—and, lastly, the remains of a little black rattan with a gold head and chain broken into inches. He displayed these on the bed as he had done the others; only drawing his handkerchief as a line between them. Upon this he fell, rather than sat, back into a chair just behind him, and burst out into a loud, long, and hearty laugh, seemingly excited afresh at the sight of his spoils.

"Well, now," said he, "I wish I may be horn swoggled, if ever I thought to live to see the day when I should 'sculp' a Christian man; but there it is, you see; I left his head as clean as a peeled onion."

"But how? and when? and who was your antagonist in this frolic?"

"Frolic!" exclaimed Damon; "well, now, it's what I would call a regular row; I never saw a prettier knock down and drag out in all the days of my life, even in old Kentuck."

"But do tell me," said Lamar, "was anybody seriously hurt?"[Pg 62]

"There was several chaps in the circus last night with their heels uppermost, besides them suple chaps on the horses; I can tell you that."

"Oh! you were in the circus, were you?"

"Yes; and there was a rip-roaring sight of slight o'hand and tumblin work there, besides their ground and lofty tumblin they had in the handbills."

"You did some of the ground tumbling yourself then?" asked Lamar.

"No, I did the slight o'hand work, as you may see by the skin that's gone off these four marrow-bones."

"And who did the ground tumbling?" asked Lamar.

"There was a good deal done there last night; the chaps in the ring and the chaps in the pit all did a little at it; flummuck me if I didn't think the heels of the whole house would be uppermost before they were done; what an everlastin pity 'tis, these critters elbows ain't as suple as their heels."

"Then you think all the people of Baltimore a little limber in the heels."

"I can't say as to that; but I wish I may be hackled, if there was not so much flyin up of the heels there last night, that I was fidlin and tumblin all night in my sleep, jumpin through hoops, and tanglin my legs in their long red garters, which the circus riders jumped over; and then I thought they had my poor old horse, Pete Ironsides, jumpin over bars, and leapin through fiery balloons, until[Pg 63] at last they smashed his head right into a tar barrel, and then maybe I didn't fly into a tear down snortin rage! I was crammed full of fight then, and so I got to slingin my arms about in my sleep, till I knocked out that head-board there,—then I woke up, and I wish I may be hanged if I didn't think it was all a dream; till I found that the forepart of my coat had run away from the tail, and that I had got an odd collar among my linen. And then on t'other hand I began to think it was all true, and rung the bell, and sent the nigger down to the stable to see if Pete had his head in a tar barrel sure enough; presently the nigger came back, grinen and giglin, and said Pete had gone to the country two hours ago; so I run the little nigger down stairs, and sent my old boots after him to get blacked; and as I was dodgin through that long entry there, I saw the bottles, and tumblers, and lemon-skins; so ho! said I, there's the mad dog that bit me last night."

"Then you began in a frolic at least," said Lamar.

"Only a small breeze or so; a few tumblers of punch, made of that doubled and twisted Irish whiskey; it was none of your Kentuck low wines, run off at a singlin, for I have made many a barrel. It was as strong as pison, and it raised the Irish in me pretty quick, or rather old Kentuck, for I jumped up and kicked the table over, and broke things, afore I would have been cleverly primed with the low wines."

"Were you drinking all alone?"[Pg 64]

"No; there was half-a-dozen milksops set down; I believe they board here; but no sooner had I kicked the table over, and begun to smash things a little, than they all sneaked out one by one, until they were all gone but one, and I rather suspicion that he's a blackleg, for he stuck pretty close to me till the row at the circus was over, and then when I had got clear, he come up here with me, and sent for the chap who furnished me with my new hat and coat; but it wasn't all for nothin, as he thought, for he presently proposed that we should go down street a piece, and see some fine fellers, he said, who were friends of his, and who were going to have a night of it. Well, said I, 'a little hair of the dog is good for the bite,' and down we went to a large room up four pair of stairs in a dark alley. And there, sure enough, there was a merry-looking set of fellers; but you see they overdid the job, for I soon smelt a rat; they most all of 'em pretended to be too etarnal drunk. I said nothin though, but 'possumed too a little; only sipped a little wine, and that made me straight instead of crooked. But at last they proposed a game of cards. Well, said I, I'm not much of a dabster at it, but if the stake ain't high, I don't care if I do take a fling or two; so down we set to it, and they pulled out their cards for loo. Stop! stop! said I, we must have new cards; I never play with other men's cards. They began to suspicion, maybe, that they had got the wrong sow by the ear, but they sent and got some new packs, and[Pg 65] then we took a smash or two at the game, and I'm a Cherokee if I didn't give 'em a touch or two of old Kentuck. I won all the money they had, but it wasn't much, and they made me pay most of that for the refreshments, as they said the winners always paid for them things."

"But you have not yet told me how you got into the row," said Lamar; "I wish to know the whole story—come, let us have it?"

"Well, it's soon told. As I was telling you, the black-leg chap and I went to the circus, and we had'nt set long in the pit before there was a young gal come in, and set on one end of the same bench. She was'nt so ugly neither, but I took pity on her because she looked like a country gal, and there was no women settin near her. After a while, three chaps come down from the boxes above, and set right down by the gal, and began to push one another over against her; at last the one next her, and he was the same chap you saw in the stage yesterday morning, only he had on them green specks—well, he put his arm round her, and called her his dear, and all that; well, you see, I had heard tell of these city gals, and I thought if she was pleased it was none of my business; but presently I heard her sobbing and crying, with her apron up to her eyes, and she told them they were no gentlemen, or they would not treat a poor girl so away from home. So the Irish whiskey, or old Kentuck, I don't know which, began to rise in my throat. I jumped up and raised the war-whoop. 'Old Kentuck [Pg 66] for ever!' said I; and with that, I took the back of my hand and knocked the chap's hat off, and his 'sculp' went with it. Call your soul your own, said I; he jumped up and gin me a wipe with that little black switch across the nose; it had hardly cleverly touched me, afore I took him a sneezer, between the two eyes, glasses and all; he dropped over like a rabbit when you knock 'em behind the head; I rather suspicion he thought a two year old colt's heels had got a taste of his cocoanut.

"Then the other two took it up, and both on 'em seized me, and swore they would carry me to the police office; but I took 'em at cross purposes, for while one of them held the collar of the old home-made, I fetched the other a kick that sent him over the benches a rip roaring, I tell you. The other little chap was hangin on to me like a leech to a horse's leg; I jist picked him up and throwed him into the ring upon the sand, for I did'nt want to hurt him: but then the real officers come up and clamped me. I wished myself back in old Kentuck bad enough then; but while they held me there, like a dog that had been killen sheep, the little gal came up to me, and said she would go and bring her father, to try and get me off; and then she asked me where I lived,—I told her in old Kentuck; then she asked me where I put up, and I put my mouth to her ear and told her; and I could hardly get it away again without givin her a smack, for she would pass for[Pg 67] a pretty gal even in old Kentuck; well, this morning, her and her father were here by times to thank me, and the old man invited me to stop at his house as I go home; it's on the same road we came down yesterday."

"Did the girl go to the circus by herself?" asked Lamar.

"No; the old man stopped at the door to buy a ticket, and she went on, and lost him."

"But you have not told me how you came by this scalp," said Lamar, taking up the large black scratch with curled locks.

"Oh! you see, I grabbled that in the scuffle, and slipped it into my pocket."

"How did you get away from the officers?"

"Oh! that's the way I lost the old 'home-made;' you see they began to pull me over the benches, and I told 'em I would walk myself if they would let me, and so they did, but they held on to my coat. I kept pretty cool until they got outside of the house, and then a crowd gathered round, and they began cologueing together, until I saw my way out a little, and then I jist slipped my foot behind one of 'em and pushed him down, and tumbled the other feller over him, and then I showed them a clean pair of heels. They raised the whoop—and I raised my tail like a blue-lick buck, for you see I had'nt much coat to keep it down;—dash me if it was'nt tail all the way to the collar, and stood out straight behind like it was afraid of my pantaloons. I made a few turns to throw 'em[Pg 68] off the trail, and then with a curly whoop, and a hurrah! for old Kentuck, I got to my own door, where I found the black-leg chap. Now you know the whole business, and I suppose you can tell me whether there is any danger of their finding me out in that little excuse for a coat that blasted tailor, who was so stingy with his cloth, made me."

"I should suppose there was none in the world. Have no fear on that head; there is not a magistrate in town who would not honour you in his heart for what you did."

"I should think so too, if they had any gals of their own. The fact is, if there was a little knockin down and draggin out once in a while among them dandy chaps, they would take better care how they sleeved decent men's daughters."

"Well, good day, Damon," said Lamar; "send for me or Chevillere if you get into trouble."[Pg 69]


CHAPTER V.

It will readily be perceived, by the reader, that Beverley Randolph, the person to whom the following letter was written, is one of the three southerns.

Victor Chevillere to B. Randolph.

Baltimore, 18—.
"Dear Randolph,

"Five long years have we lived under the same roof, pursued the same studies, or rather the same studies pursued us;—engaged in the same dissipation, drank of the same sour wine, shed the same vinous tears, discussed the same dinners and suppers, enjoyed the same dances,—stag dances, I mean,—played the same music, belonged to the same society, and, I was going to say, fallen in love with the same nymphs; but that brings me to the subject of this letter. I am in for it! Yes, you may well look surprised! It is a fact! Who is the lady? you ask. I will tell you,—that is, if I can; her name is St. Clair. O! she is the most lovely, modest, weeping, melancholy, blue-eyed, fair-haired, and mysterious little creature you ever beheld. If you could only see her bend that white neck, and rest her head upon that small hand, her [Pg 70]eye lost in profound thought, until the lower lid just overflows, and a tear steals gently down that most lovely cheek; and then see her start up stealthily to join again in the conversation, with the most innocent consciousness of guilt imaginable;—but what is it that brings these tears to sadden the heart of one so youthful and so innocent? 'There's the rub,' as Hamlet says. Yourself, Lamar, and I were unanimous, as you perhaps remember, that men generally suffer in proportion to their crimes, even in this world. I here renounce that opinion, with all others founded upon college logic. A half-taught college boy, in the pride of his little learning and stubborn opinions, is little better than an innocent. But, you ought to see this fair sufferer in order fully to appreciate the foregoing opinion. You would see child-like innocence—intelligence—benevolence; in short, all that is good, in her sad but lovely countenance.

"But to return to college logic; what is it? Conclusions without premises, ends without means; and opinions adopted without any of the previous and inevitable pains and penalties attendant upon the acquirement of human knowledge, or, in other words, without experience! I would take one of our old break-of-day club to tell the flavour of a ham, or the difference between a bottle of Bordeaux and Seignette brandy, as soon as any one; but what else did they know? or rather what else did we know? Nothing! not literally nothing, but truly nothing. If I now wanted a judicious opinion upon any subject, I would go to an ex[Pg 71]perienced man! one that had suffered in order to learn; an original thinker for practical ends.

"You ask me concerning my cousin, Virginia Bell; her with whose miniature, infantile as it was, you fell so desperately in love, and whom, yet unseen, I promised to yourself. She flourishes, Randolph, and is as beautiful as you could desire; she is yet unengaged in heart or hand, so far as I know; but you know, that the little sly, dear, delightful creatures will complete a whole life-time of love affairs, while fathers, and brothers, and guardians, and affianced lords unloved, may be looking on none the wiser. And they will look as innocent, and as demure, and as child-like, as my dear beautiful little enigma of the Black Mantle.

"You say you 'hate Yankees;'—my dear fellow, you forget that you and I would be considered Yankees in London or Paris. The national denomination we have abroad, is 'the nation of Yankees,' or the 'universal Yankee nation.' 'Tis galling to our southern pride, I grant you, that we should be a mere appendage, in the eyes of a foreigner, to a people who are totally dissimilar to us. We must brook it until we can outdo them, in literature at least. They are (say many) retailers of wooden nutmegs—unfair dealers, and a canting, snivelling, hypocritical set; tell me where the country is, where the population is growing dense—where means of living are scarce—land high—trades overstocked—professions run down—and manufactures injured by foreign competition, [Pg 72] in which the little arts of trade, and 'tricks upon travellers' do not also flourish. Let the population of your 'old dominion' be once multiplied by wholesome legislation, or rather let the yearly emigrants be induced to stay in the land of their sires, and the same cunning usages will prevail. As to the 'canting and snivelling,' you must allow something for the descendants of the Pilgrims. Besides, tell me, liberal sir, if you have not, in the very bosom of your great valley, as genuine Presbyterians and Roundheads as ever graced the Rump Parliament, or sung a psalm on horseback. And to give the devil his due, these same Presbyterians are no bad citizens of a popular government. But there is the lady of the Black Mantle. Observe that she was born north of the Potomac, yet I would wager any thing that you could not look steadily upon her face for one minute, and curse the Yankees as I have heard you do. I know you will say, therein lies the cause of my sudden conversion to Yankeeism. By no means! I had begun to find out that the Yankees had souls like other people, before I had ever seen her.

"I approve of your determination to travel, and that even to the south, rather than not to travel at all; but is there not some danger lest a Virginian should become more bigoted, by travelling among a people still more bigoted than himself. I know your disposition; it is to hug up your dear southern prejudices within your own bosom. Lamar and I are becoming liberal, and then we will cast out [Pg 73]devils for you. Do not forget that I shall have a mother and cousin there by the time you arrive at the high hills of the Santee. Lamar has taken desperately to a six foot Kentuckian, as fine a specimen as you could wish to see; he is what may be called an American yeoman of the west.

"Yours truly,

"Victor Chevillere."


B. Randolph to V. Chevillere.

"Salem, North Carolina, 18—.
"Dear Chevillere,

"Thus far I have flown before the wind—sand, I should have said. At any rate, here I am, in this town of German religionists. Here dwells the first unanimous people I have ever seen. They are Moravians; and every thing is managed by this little community for the common benefit. They have one tavern, one store, one doctor, one tanner, one potter, and so on in every trade or occupation. Besides these, they have a church and a flourishing female seminary. The latter is conducted upon the utilitarian plan—each lady, in turn, has to perform the offices of cook, laundress, and gardener; and, I need hardly say, that it is admirably conducted. After I had visited all these establishments—for every respectable looking stranger is waited upon by some one appointed for that purpose to conduct him thither,—I returned to the large, cool, and comfortable inn, and had [Pg 74]scarcely seated myself to enjoy the comforts of nicotiana, when a small billet was handed to me by a handsomely dressed and polite black servant with a glazed hat, which not a little astonished me, you may be sure. I had not a living acquaintance in the whole state that I knew of; except, indeed, old Father Bagby, the master of ceremonies to the little community. It could not be a challenge from some Hans Von Puffenburg of these quiet burghers: so I concluded it must be a billet-doux from some of the beautiful creatures at the seminary on the hill. You can easily imagine, therefore, that I was no long time in tearing it open; when, behold! it was, in good truth, from a lady. Can you guess who? No. Then take the note itself entire.

"'Dear Sir,

"'If, as I believe, you are the same Mr. Randolph who was a room and class-mate of my son Victor Chevillere, in college, I will be very glad to see you. The servant will show you to our little parlour.

"'M. J. Chevillere.'

"'I am the luckiest dog alive,' said I, jumping nearly over the negro's head, 'Is your young mistress here also.'

"'Yes, masta, she is just leaving school for home, so please you.'

"'Please me!' said I; 'to be sure it does please me; I never was more pleased in all my life. For [Pg 75]I was just about to forswear these eternal pine-barrens and sand-hills, and face to the right-about. So lead the way to your two mistresses.' Whereupon he led the way, hat in hand, to a room in the inn; and there, Chevillere, sat your honoured mother. Commend me to our southern matrons in high-life. Not that I know any thing against your northern ladies, old or young; but there is in our mothers a mild dignity, hospitality, and politeness, which makes every one at home. But I need not describe to you your own. But I will not promise you as much of the little blushing southern brunette, who gracefully arose on your mother's saying, 'Mr. Randolph, my adopted daughter Virginia Bell Chevillere.' I saw in an instant that you had told her of our college bargain, and my falling in love with her miniature. By-the-by, you ought to break that slanderous miniature, or the head of the dauber who perpetrated it. Her beauty never could be delineated on ivory or canvass. Can any one paint the living, breathing soul of a very young and beautiful female? No! and I'll tell you why. If a man had the genius to do so, the very enthusiasm which always attends it would throw him into very unpainter-like raptures at the sight of such a one; and that's the true reason why artists so seldom succeed in delineating young females. A precious piece of logic for you. But to return to the original of the picture; there was a blushing consciousness about the little Bell, as everybody calls her, which was truly charming. Her jet black hair and eyes shone like ebony; her [Pg 76]brilliant white teeth and brunette complexion were radiant with blushing smiles at this first reception of her long-promised husband. There was no girlish pouting, or childish affectation, as is too often the case when the parties have been laid off for each other; she was at the same time modest and self-possessed; her fairy figure glided about, as if her little fairy foot scarcely touched the carpet. I tell you these things, because you asked me to do so in all plainness of speech. Your cousin is all that a cousin of my dearest friend should be—lovely, intelligent, and interesting.

"Your mother intended to wait here for some male friend, who has diverged a day's ride from their route home from the Springs; but she has now determined to leave this place to-morrow. I shall escort them as far as the Chevilleres' proud family seat, Belville. You will, therefore, hear no more complaints of the dreariness of the eternal pine-barrens, or the fever-and-ague appearance of the poor; except, that I will say now, once for all, that the poor of a slave-country are the most miserable and the most wretched of all the human family. The grades of society in this state are even farther apart than in Virginia. Here, there is one immense chasm from the rich to the abject poor. In the valley of Virginia, or in the country where you are, there are regular gradations. The very happiest, most useful, and most industrious class of a well-regulated community, is here wanting. Their place is filled up by negroes; in consequence of [Pg 77]which, your aristocrats are more aristocratic, and your poor still poorer. The slaves create an immeasurable distance between these two classes, which can never be brought together until this separating cause be removed. You know I am no abolitionist, in the incendiary meaning of the term; yet I cannot deny from you and myself, that they are an incubus upon our prosperity. This we would boldly deny, if a Yankee uttered it in our hearing; but to ourselves, we must e'en confess it. If I am, therefore, an abolitionist, it is not for conscience-sake, but from policy and patriotism.

"We can never rival those northern people, until we assume the modern tactics in this provincial warfare; that is, throw aside all useless baggage, and concentrate our energies upon a single point at a time. I have done with this theme for the present, and will repair to your friends.

"Your mother knows nothing of our college-treaty, therefore she little thinks what a masked enemy she has let into the camp. Little Bell smiles, and enjoys our mutual understanding highly. But there lies the mischief; she smiles too innocently, and too calmly, and too openly, and has lost too much of that blushing mood in which she first received me; and I have thought several times that the little arch gipsy was laughing at me. If she had not been your cousin, and my affianced bride for the last five years, I should have taken leave. You know I never could stand to be exhibited; and would prefer being shot, at any time, [Pg 78]to being laughed at. I shall watch the little fairy, and see if she is making me her butt; if so, I will see them safe to Belville, and then—you shall hear from me again.

"You requested me to point out to you any thing in which I should observe that the Carolinas differed from Virginia. I must say then, with the judges, when they are pronouncing sentence, 'however painful may be the duty imposed upon me,' that your country appears more miserable the more deeply I penetrate it. Not that you lack splendid mansions, and magnificent cotton-fields varied with flowers, rich and tropical gardens, the orange and the 'pride of India,' your wild and fragrant swamp-flowers, princely hospitality, accomplished men and women,—not that you lack any of these. But the seeds of decay are sown at the very point where energy—enterprise—national pride—industry—economy—amusements—gayety—and above all, intelligence, should grow, namely, with your yeomanry!

"I would not, if I could, have your young men and women transformed to spinning-jennies. Heaven forefend! I would have your lowest class of whites elevated to the dignity of intelligent and independent yeomen. How would I effect it? you ask. Apply the grand lever by which all human movement is brought about—hope! Has a poor North Carolinian hope? See him, on some cloudless morning, when the glorious rays of the sun are gladdening the hearts even of the unintelligent [Pg 79]creation, standing within the door of his pine-log cabin, his hands in his pockets, his head leaning against the door in melancholy mood. Some half-dozen pale and swollen-faced children are sitting on a bench against the side of the hut, endeavouring to warm away the ague in the sunbeams. The wife lies sick in bed. The little fields are barely marked out with a rotten and broken-down pole-fence, and overgrown with broom, or Bermuda-grass, and blackberry-bushes. A miserable horse stands beyond the fence, doubtful whether there is better grazing within or without. A little short-cotton and sweet-potato patch, flanked by an acre of scrubby Indian corn; and, added to these, five poor sheep, two goats, and a lean cow, complete the inventory of his goods and chattels. You have all his cause for hope! You have, too, his causes for fear. He has in his pocket a summons for debt, contracted for sugar and tea, and other needful comforts, for his sick wife and children.

"Had he any cause for hope? God knows he had none in this world. But you will say the picture is exaggerated. As I am a true man and a southern, it is not.

"I was benighted, and sought lodgings in the very house I have described. 'Who lives here,' said I, on riding to the door. 'One Fifer,' said a white-headed, half-grown girl, so weak that she could scarcely stand. I sat up nearly all night with the sick woman and children. On relieving the poor man's embarrassments in the morning, I [Pg 80]received the heart-felt thanks of the wretched family; and almost rode my horse to exhaustion, to get away from the wretched image imprinted on my memory.

"Is this man a sample of the yeomanry of your country? I say, in deep and profound sorrow, I believe that he is. Where, then, does the evil lie? This is a question which every southern must soon ask himself, and one which Nullification cannot answer.

"Here, then, is a triumphant answer—an answer in deeds, instead of words—in the happiness, the prosperity, and the substantial wealth of these simple and primitive Moravians. Here, where I am writing, is an industrious, intelligent, and healthy community, in the very heart of all the misery I before described. Let us then improve by the lesson, seek out the sources of their prosperity, find the point where their plans diverge from ours, and, my word for it (if there be no reason in the case), we become a great, a flourishing, and a happy people.

"But I must take one small exception to the Moravian political economy. They require all the young gentlemen to be enrolled on one list, and all the willing young ladies on another; and the first gentleman on the list must marry the first lady; so that they are drafted for marriage, as our Virginia militia are drafted for duty. I do not know that this is certainly true; but if it be true, that a youth must marry the first that comes up, nolens [Pg 81]volens, I would put in a plump negative. This excepted, they are worthy of all imitation, even to the drinking of home-brewed in their pewter mugs, and smoking long pipes around their council-table, when their little legislature meets.

"There are no slaves in this little nation, and labour is no disgrace. In the extensive grounds, belonging to the female seminary, I saw many pretty little arms bared to work; not Moravian young ladies only, but elegant and aristocratic young ladies from all parts of the southern states, without distinction, and of every sect and denomination; and I never saw more beautiful complexions. The little gipsies would come in from their work in the morning, blooming as roses. Here is a complete refutation of the assertion, that the whites cannot work in a southern climate; here are as fine lands, and as fine husbandry and horticulture, as can be found in any country; here are the first paved streets south of Petersburg; here the first town, in which water is conveyed by pipes, as in Philadelphia; here the first stone-fences and grass-plots.

"Your mother and little Bell are cheerful and happy. Indeed, the latter looks as if she had never suffered for a moment. How happy a life is that of a girl at a boarding-school, exempt from all the pains and penalties of collegians—the 'hair-breadth 'scapes'—the formal trials for riding other people's horses,—ringing church bells,—building fences across the road,—hanging cake and beer signs at [Pg 82] magistrates' and elders' doors,—burnings in effigy, fights at country weddings and dances,—exploring expeditions in the mountains and caverns, professedly for geological, but really for depredating purposes,—shooting house-dogs,—expeditions upon the water, and skating upon the ice,—swimming, duelling, fighting, biting, scratching,—firing crackers and cannons in college entries,—heavy meat suppers, with oceans of strong waters,—and then headache, thirst, soda and congress-water in the morning, and perhaps a visit from the doctor or the president,—presentments by the grand jury for playing at cards and overturning apple-carts,—personating ghosts with winding-sheets, and getting knocked on the head for their pains,—serenading sweethearts, and taking linchpins out of wagons,—making sober people drunk and drunken people sober,—battling with watchmen, constables, and sheriffs,—running away from the tailors and tavern-keepers,—kissing country girls, and battling with their beaux,—tricks upon the tutors, and shaving the tails of the president's horses,—stealing away the lion or the elephant at an animal show, and pelting strolling players,—putting hencoops upon churches, painting out signs, and carrying off platforms,—throwing hot rolls under the table, and biscuit at the steward's head,—playing musical seals at prayers, and saying prayers at rows,—gambling in study hours, and filching at recitation,—having one face for the president and another for the fellows,—and, finally, being sent home with a letter [Pg 83]to your father, informing him that you are corrupting the morals of your teachers in these pranks. These are a few of the classical studies into which the dear little innocents are never initiated, while they form no small part of collegiate education in America, as we can testify from experience.

"Many a fine fellow makes the first trial of a stump speech, with an extract from an Irish sermon at a drunken row; his head perhaps stuck three feet through the window of the little bar in a tavern, and his audience sitting round on the beer-tables, armed with sticks, stones, and staves. One, who with drunken gravity keeps his head and stick moving all the while, says, that he concurs fully in opinion with the speaker; though, if asked what the subject is, he swears it is the Greek question. The question and the laugh go round. One avers stoutly that it is Catholic emancipation; a third vociferates that it is a complete justification of Brutus for killing CŠsar; a fourth thinks it a part of the recitation of the day, while the most drunken man of the company jumps down from his seat on the table, and swears that he can see through the fellow clearly, 'it's nothing but sleight of hand;' with which he exclaims, as he rubs his eyes and looks round, 'Bless my soul, boys, how drunk you all are; come, I'll help you to your room before matters get worse,' leading off the soberest man in the room. The party then breaks up in a regular row; I think I see the old fellows now, marching off two and two with the true would-be sober and [Pg 84]drunken gravity, every man thinking that he is completely cheating his neighbour, by his picked steps and exactly poised head and shoulders, like a drunken soldier on drill. One gets into a carriage rut; another climbs into a pig-sty, and thinks he is getting over the college fence. A third falls over a cow, while a fourth takes off his hat to a blind horse, mistaking him in the dark for the president. At length they are lodged in bed, with boots, hats, and clubs, like soldiers expecting a surprise. Some murder a song or two in a drunken twang, while the rest snore in chorus.

"But next comes the awful reward of transgression in the morning; dry throats, aching limbs, torn coats, sick stomachs, haggard countenances, swelled heads. The trembling and moody toilet is made; the bell rings for prayers; and a more repentant set of sinners never assembled under its sound. All wonder what has become of the joyous feelings of the previous night, and think with shame of such actions and speeches as they can recollect. Hereupon follows a gloomy and melancholy day. They are home-sick. Relations, friends, and the scenes of childhood, with all their quiet, innocent, and heartfelt pleasures, glide before the imagination. The head becomes dizzy; the heart palpitates; the hands tremble, and the sight grows double. Then comes the fear of illness, and death in a strange land. Associates of the 'row' are avoided; several chapters in the Bible are read; repentance is promised; sleep settles [Pg 85]the nervous system; and next morning they arise gay and happy. This continues until the scene is repeated, and so on, until one half forswear brandy and the other half become confirmed sots.

"Here is a coherent epistle for you. But if you dislike it, send it back, and I will divide it into—first—secondly—thirdly, et cetera, as the old president did his sermons.

"B. Randolph."

[Pg 86]


CHAPTER VI.

After the visit to the monument, Chevillere daily inquired concerning the health of the interesting invalid; and as regularly was indisposition pleaded for her non-appearance. Late in the evening of the third day, he was slowly pacing the pavement in front of the hotel; now and then throwing a wistful glance at the lighted window of the lady, when all at once he suddenly wheeled round, and grasping in the dark, was surprised to find that a person whom he had supposed to be impertinently dogging his steps, had eluded his grasp. He grimly smiled at his own exasperation for an imaginary cause, hastily adjusted his cloak, and turned down the street leading most directly to the bay.

When he arrived at the quiet and deserted wharf, and the rapid flow of his impetuous blood was retarded by the cool invigorating breeze which swept over the face of the water, he saw an old yawl lying on the dock, with its broad bottom turned to the bay. Negligently leaning his person at full length against its weather-beaten bottom, and drawing down his hat close over his brows, he surrendered himself to one of those habitual reveries which the southern well knows how to enjoy.[Pg 87] Had his mind and feelings been attuned to such things at the time, the scene itself would have furnished no uninteresting subject, with its hundred little lights, gleaming in the intense fog and darkness, and the numberless vessels that lay upon the bosom of the waters, with their dark outlines dimly visible, like slumbering monsters of their own element. He heeded them not; yet were his feelings insensibly impressed with the surrounding objects, and deeply tinctured with the profound gloom of the time and scene. The direct current of his thoughts pointed, however, in the direction of the invalid. Her extreme youth, beauty, and apparent innocence,—her deep distress and profound melancholy, naturally produced a corresponding depression in his own otherwise elastic spirits. He was perfectly unconscious of the time he had spent in this way, when accidentally turning his head to one side, he was struck with the appearance of something intercepting the line of vision in that direction. He was just about to approach the cause of his surprise, when a deep voice, issuing from the very spot, added not a little to his superstitious mood, by the exact manner in which it chimed in with the present subject of his meditations.

"A beautiful young woman in affliction is a very dangerous subject of meditation, under some circumstances."

"An honest heart fears no danger from any earthly source," was the reply.[Pg 88]

"Honesty is no guard against external danger in this world, whether moral or physical," said the figure.

"Discernment may lend a hand to honesty in such a case."

"Ha! ha! ha!" hideously retorted the intruder; "Discernment, said you? Man's discernment is a mighty thing; by it he reads the past, the present, and the future; what can withstand his mighty vision? He can descry danger at a distance, and bring happiness within his grasp; he can tell the objects of his own creation, and his Creator's first beginning; he can read the starry alphabet in yonder heavens, and fathom the great deep; he can laugh at the instinct of grovelling creation, and thunder the dogmas of reason in the teeth of revelation itself! Discernment, indeed! ha! ha! ha! why, man is not half so well off as the brutes. What is their instinct but God's ever present and supporting hand; but man—he has neither perfect reason nor instinct! He has the conscience of an angel, and the impulses of a devil; and reason sits between them, for an umpire, with a fool's cap upon her head! Impulse bribes reason, and reason laughs at conscience. Impulse leads downward, like the power of gravity; and conscience struggles upward like the nightmare: but reason and discernment will traffic and bargain with impulse for one moment, and blind or cheat conscience the next! Turn mankind loose with all their reason without providence, and they will butt each other's[Pg 89] foolish brains out! Bribed conscience makes hypocrites,—frightened conscience makes fanatics,—but reason-drilled conscience makes incarnate devils!"

"But," said Chevillere, involuntarily interested by this wild rhapsody, "a tender, conscience-instructed reason, and christianized impulses, make an honest and a discerning man, too."

"Instructed reason! who teaches man's reason, but the inward devils of his impulses? A few good parents may point upward, periodically, but the impulses pull down! down! down! for ever! no intermission. If they would let go, I myself could plunge into the sea; but the deeper we plunge, the harder they pull! The farther we sink, the heavier they become. Oh! man! of what a cursed race art thou! Think you the inhabitants of the moon are likewise under the ban of God's displeasure?"

"I indulge in no such impracticable dreams," said Chevillere.

"No! no! you dream of paradise; but remember what I now tell you, your paradise will not be without its Eve, and its serpent too!"

"To whom do you allude?"

"To the lady of whom you were thinking but now."

"You know not what you say," said Chevillere.

"Do I not? Perhaps you would have me speak more plainly! Perhaps you could screw up your resolution to the point, that I might amputate your[Pg 90] hopes one by one, as a poor fellow sees the surgeon carrying off his bloody limbs; nay, I could do it!"

"Why, sir, you never saw me till within the hour."

"Have I not? perhaps not; I would to heaven I could say as much about the lady."

"To what lady do you so often allude?"

"To the lady with the black mantle."

"Hold, she is all innocence and purity."

"Innocence and purity! Eve was innocent and pure too! yea, and surpassingly beautiful! but she fell! Alas! her daughters are like her."

"Come, sir," said Chevillere, with some exasperation, "let us put a stop to this discourse; it is not pleasing to me, and I feel sure it is not useful to you."

"Be it so," said the intruder, drawing up his long goat's-hair cloak, and pulling a flat cloth cap closely over his gray locks, as they for a moment became visible by the reflection of the long horizontal rays of a lamp from the deck of a neighbouring vessel; "be it so, sir; there is no convincing a child that a beautiful candle will burn until it scorches its fingers."

"In God's name, then, out with it, sir! what is it that seems to burn so upon your tongue? come, out with it!" said Chevillere, sharply.

"For what do you take me, young man? a gossip or a stripling! I am neither one nor the other; I am old enough to be your father; as well born and as well educated as he ever was; and (not[Pg 91]withstanding your southern blood and aristocratic notions) it may be as proud; farewell, sir, and the next time I offer to pull you from the edge of a precipice, perhaps you will listen with more respect to one of double your age, who can have no interest in deceiving you. Farewell, sir!"

"Stay! stay! a moment,—one word more. Did you not visit Washington's monument three days ago, and see me there for the first time?"

"I could answer either yes or no to that question. How do you know, sir, that we have not met before, centuries ago? Do you not sometimes foresee a whole scene, just as it afterward takes place? Do you not sometimes look upon a strange face with a shudder? Does not a feature—a smile—or an expression of them combined—sometimes awake the slumbering memory of ages? Is it not so? have you never communed with the dead?"

"Never, sir."

"I have, often! often!—and many times have I been warned of approaching evils, by these dreamy conversations; I never dream of seeing my father smile upon me, that something good does not speedily follow; nor of snakes and serpents, unattended by bad news or bad fortune. Of these things I usually dream the night before meeting the lady yonder, after a long absence."

"I supposed as much," said Chevillere.

"How, sir."

"I supposed that you had dreamed something against that pure and unfortunate young lady."[Pg 92]

"Would to Heaven it were all a dream! Sunshine would again break into the dark regions of my thoughts."

"Suppose I should undertake and pledge my life to convince you that it is so."

"You might convince me of your sincerity, but not of your power. Can you raise the dead?"

"No, but what has raising the dead to do with the lady?"

"More than you imagine, perhaps."

"Ah, I see it is useless to attempt what I proposed and hoped to effect for the sake of the lady's peace. Have you no friends with you in this city?"

"Yes, I have a dog! there sits the best friend I ever had, save one!"

"My dear sir! permit me to say I think you far from being well."

"I never felt better in health than I do at this moment."

"But we are not judges of our own ailments: Physicians do not often prescribe for themselves."

"I tell you, sir, I am well!"

"Have it so, sir! but if you are the person whom I met a few days since at the monument, I would mildly and respectfully recommend to you to think no more of the lady you saw there with me. You certainly labour under some grievous error, with regard to her, at least."

"You will find, when it is too late, perhaps, that others instead of me are labouring under fatal[Pg 93] errors concerning that young lady! Farewell, sir, farewell. When next we meet, you will listen with a more attentive ear to what I have to say; you will have observed many strange things yourself, and you will naturally seek, rather than repel a solution of the mystery." Then with a signal to his dog, he hastily went from the wharf, leaving Chevillere in no enviable state of mind.

Youthful thoughts will not long voluntarily dwell upon the gloomy aspect even of the circumstances surrounding themselves; it was very natural, therefore, that Chevillere should reflect with much complacency upon the tendency of his friend Lamar's laughing philosophy; nor was he long in threading his way to the lodgings of the Kentuckian. He had calculated with great certainty upon finding his friend there, and on ascending the three flights of stairs, he heard the voices of both in full chorus of laughter, that of Lamar indicating his most joyful mood. He rapped at the door once or twice before he was heard. "Come in!" shouted the backwoodsman, "what the devil's the use of knocking with every mug of punch." Lamar sprang to his feet at the sight of his friend, with volumes of smoke rolling over his head, and laying one hand on Chevillere's back and another on his breast, cried in the true mock heroic;—"'Be thy intents wicked or charitable, thou com'st in such a questionable shape, that I will speak to thee.' 'Revisit'st thou thus the glimpses of the moon, making night hideous, and us[Pg 94] fools of' liquor—'so horribly to shake our dispositions, with thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls; say, why is this?' But, by old Shakspeare's beard, you look like a ghost indeed! why, whence com'st thou, man? see his cloak, too! it is covered with sawdust!"

"Hurrah for old Kentuck!" said Damon, "he's been to the circus! I say, stranger, was there any knockin down and draggin out there. O! black eyes and bruises! what a rascally appetite I've got now for a knock down; I swear I think my hands will git as tender as a woman's, if I don't git a little now and then jist to keep 'em in."

"I may be soiled from leaning against a boat at the dock," said Chevillere.

"You certainly have the air of one who had tried a few perils by land and sea," said Lamar.

"The fact is, I do not feel well, nor in high spirits, and I came here on purpose to see if Damon could not brighten me up a little."

"To be sure I can," said he; "but why didn't you come sooner, and then we could all have gone to the circus together; that's the place for my money; you see you want something to make your blood circulate: a small taste or two would soon bring you round."

"A taste of what?" asked Chevillere.

"A small bit of a regular row, to be sure; all in good-nature, you know; a man needn't git in a passion, in takin a little exercise after bein cooped up here all day, in one of these cocklofts—why, if I sit here an hour, and go down in the street,[Pg 95] by hokies, but I want to snort directly; I feel like old Pete when he's been stabled up for a week or two, and jist turned loose to graze a little; and I'll tell you what it is, stranger, I'm for making a straight coat-tail out of this place, and that in a hurry, for I've got through all my business now, and I'm keen to be among the Yorkers; for I've heard tell there's smashin work there every night."

"Have you any acquaintances there?" asked Lamar.

"No; but I expect to find some of our Kentuck boys there, who come round by the lakes; and if I do, I rather reckon we'll weed a wide row."

"Take care you do not run against old Hays in your mad pranks," said Chevillere.

"They say he's a little touched with the snappin-turtle, but I'm thinkin he'd hardly try old Kentuck at a fight or a foot-race."

"He has had a good many fights and foot-races in his day," said Chevillere.

"Yes," said Damon, "but always with rogues; he'd find it rather a different business at an honest ground-scuffle, where every man had to take care of his own ears."

"You think, then, he could not be so successful in Kentucky as he is in New-York, at his occupation," said Lamar.

"He'd be off the scent there, and I rather think he'd soon look like the babes in the woods; you see he has the rogues in the city like a coon[Pg 96] when he's treed; an old dog's better than a young one in such a fix."

"But come, Damon, go on with your adventures of the day which Chevillere's entrance interrupted."

"Not till we have wet our whistles; come, stranger (to Chevillere), you have'nt drank nothin since you came into the room, nor into the city either, for what I know."

"You know," said Chevillere, "that I am a cold water man, upon taste and principle both."

"And that's what I call ra'al hard drink; well, here's to the little gal of the circus, and the little gal down yonder at the hotel; cold water's but a sorry drink to pledge such warm-hearted creters—but I see talking of them makes you look solemncholy again, and so here goes for my day's work; let me see—where did I leave off?"

"At the commission house where you carried the letter," said Lamar.

"Ah, by the hokies! so it was. Well, you see, I marched into the great store, as they had told me it was, with my nose uppermost, like a pig in the wind, I had an order on them for some of the eel-skins—but I soon brought my snout down agin; ho! ho! thought I, here's a pretty spot of work! I'm a Turk if I aint tetotally dished."

"What was the matter?" said Chevillere.

"Why, instead of all the fine things loomin out in the wind as I expected for such great marchants, I found nothing but a long empty store, and no[Pg 97] shelves even, and there sat two or three starched lookin dogs, on so many old rum bar'ls; I swear I thought in a minute about our old still-house, and the school-master, and the miller, and the blacksmith, and the stiller, talkin politics over the bar'ls, and takin a swig every now and then out of the old proof-vial."

"Well! you presented your draft," said Lamar, "and what then?"

"No I did'nt—I got a straddle of a bar'l too; I thought I would take a dish of chat, for that was about the most I expected to get. Rat me! but I began to feel a little particular about the gizzard in thoughts of sellin old Pete to get home on; I put on a long face. It's everlastin dull times for business, said I. 'O sir, you are quite mistaken, business is taking a look up—it's getting very brisk indeed.' And he rubbed his hands, and looked as glad as if he had had a drink of that hot punch. So, thought I, I'm off the trail; but I thought I would tree him next time. 'The best horses, said I, will stumble sometimes.' 'Sir?' said he, I said 'the honestest men sometimes make bad speculations.' 'Oh!' said he, 'I understand you! but I hope business is brisk and money plenty this season in the west.' Now, thought I, he's got the boot on the wrong leg this time; 'yes, said I, we can't complain, but I must say I thought it looked a little dull hereabouts.' 'O, you western men are such driving fellows, that you can't put up with our slow way of makin money.' He's feedin me on[Pg 98] soft corn, thought I. 'We do a little now and then, but getting the money afterward is all our trouble,' said I. 'Why, sir, you have hit the nail upon the head; that's the difficulty everywhere,' said he. I thought I would run him into a stand 'fore long; but he hoisted his tail and flung me clean off the trail agin. 'Can't I sell you half a dozen bar'ls of cognac brandy to-day,' said he. I snapped my fingers and jumped up, and by the long Harry I was near raisin the whoop; for I thought old Pete and the money was all safe, and so it was. 'O! the hunters of Kentucky! old Kentucky;' and he began to sing and caper round the table.

"Did he pay the money?" asked Chevillere.

"Not exactly; these city chaps keep their money buried, I believe, for you never see none of it; I reckon they're 'fraid it'll spile; howsomever, he gave me an order on the bank for the eel-skins."

"Then you took your leave," said Lamar.

"No; he asked me if I had ever seen an auction of a ship's cargo; I said no, I had never seen more nor a Kentuck vendue: he asked me to go along; I'm your man, said I, for I expected there would be smashin work if a whole ship-load was to be sold, for I have seen some very clever little skrimmages at a vendue; well, when we got there, there was boxes and bags all laying in rows, and little troughs laying under them, like them we catch sugar-water in. Some had little long spoons made on purpose to suck sugar with, and some had little augers for boring holes; presently the crier began.[Pg 99] 'Seven, seven, seven—eight, eight, eight cents a pound, going, going,' and smash went the little mallet; 'how many do you take, sir? twenty, or the hundred boxes?' said he. 'Take the hundred,' said a man, that looked like he wasn't worth the powder that would blow him up."

"Could you always tell who bid?"

"No; they mostly did it by winkin, I believe; sometimes one fellow would grunt this side and another that side; I kept my head bobbin after them first one side and then the other; but whenever I looked in their faces their eyes looked as sleepy as a dog in fly-time, just waitin to snap a fellow that was buzzin about his ears."

"Did you find out at last who were the bidders?"

"No; they shut up their faces like steel-traps. Once or twice, maybe, I saw a dyin-away wrinkle round a feller's mouth, like the rings in the water when you throw a stone in; but they soon faded away, and they looked as smooth and deceitful as a pool of deep water itself agin."

"They tasted and tried the articles, of course, before they bought?"

"Yes; some of them had their mouths daubed, like children suckin 'lasses candy; and some of their big noses was stuck full of Bohea tea, outside and in, like old Pete when he's had a good feed of chopped rye and cut straw."

"And what sort of a man was the auctioneer?"

"Why, his mouth went so fast when he got to[Pg 100] 'going, going, going,' that you couldn't say stop, if you had had your mouth fixed; but his face I didn't like at all."

"What was there in his face objectionable?"

"O! I can't tell exactly, it looked out of all sort of nature; a good deal I don't know howish. One thing I'll be sworn to, you would never see such a one in old Kentuck; there every man wears his Sunday face on week days."

"I suppose you mean that the man was disfigured with affectation," said Chevillere.

"You've hit it, stranger, you've hit it; that's the very word I wanted to be at, but I couldn't get it out. Well, from the vendue I took a stroll round town, to see the lads and lasses; how they carried their heads in these parts, and maybe to see how they carried on their sparkin in a big town like this; for, to tell you the truth, that's one of the things I never could see how they carried on here."

"How did you manage such things in the west? Is there any thing peculiar in your method?"

"I can't say we're different from other folks in the country, but you see we have abundance of chances to court the gals a little; for there's our weddings."

"There are weddings here, too, I hope," said Lamar.

"Yes, and a pretty business they make of 'em; I blundered into a church the other day, and what should be goin on there but a weddin; and smash[Pg 101] my apple-cart, if there wasn't more cryin and snifflin than I've seen at many an honest man's funeral, and all in broad daylight, too; and when the parson had got through his flummery, with his long white mornin gown, they all jumped into carriages, and off they went away into the country somewhere, to hide themselves. I rather suspect they had stole a march on the old folks, else they wouldn't have run so as if the devil was at their heels."

"How do you conduct such things in the west?" asked Lamar.

"Oh! there we have quiltings, skutchings, and sewin frolics, and makin apple butter, and all such like; and they always wind up at the little end with a rip-sneezin dance, and that's where we do the sparkin; well, presently a weddin grows out of it, and maybe then there isn't a little fun agoing, dance all night, and play all sort of games, at least all them sort that wind up in kissin the gals, and that they manage to bring about by sellin pawns, and one thing or other. For my part, I never could see into any but the kissin part, and that you know was the cream of the joke."

"They do not often go to church to get married then," said Chevillere.

"No; I never saw anybody married at church before t'other day, and I hope it'll be a long time before their new-fangled ways travels out to old Kentuck; there our gals and boys stands up before the parson a few minutes, and he rolls his tobacco[Pg 102] two or three times over his teeth, and chaws a few words, and it's all over before you could say 'God save the commonwealth' three times; and what's the use in makin three bites of a cherry?"

"But you have wandered from your point," said Lamar; "you started out on an expedition to see how the lads and lasses carried themselves here."

"O! ay, sure enough; well, one of the first things I come across was a parcel of gals and boys on horseback, and I'm flummucked if it wouldn't have been a pretty tolerable show in the land of hogs and homminy. The gals rode well enough, considering how they were hampered with clothes and trumpery; but the men! O smashy! how they rode! bobbin up and down on the saddle, with three motions to the horse's one. I'm an Injin if old Pete Ironsides wouldn't have kicked up his heels and squealed at the very first motion of the rider goin ahead of him; and then the saddles were stuck on the shoulders of the animals, like a hump on a man's back, or a pair of haims to hitch traces to. One of them chaps would ride a saddle about twice as hard as a horse. I was lookin evry minute for one of 'em to light behind his saddle."

"Did all the gentlemen and ladies you met carry themselves so unnaturally?" said Lamar.

"No; I met one young lady dressed in black that I thought I had seen before somewhere, and her spark too; but they were too busy to see me.[Pg 103] She looked more coy and shamefaced, like our country gals, than any of them."

"How did the gentleman bear himself? was he polite and respectful in his carriage?" said Lamar, smiling, and looking at Chevillere.

"Oh, yes! he bowed his head close down to the bonnet of the pretty little lady, and walked that way all through the street, as if he was afraid to lose so much as a word; sometimes she seemed to be just ready to cry, and looked pale and frightened. I rather suppose her old dad's a little sour or cross, maybe; but for all I couldn't help thinkin what a clever nice young couple they would make to stand up before the parson."

Chevillere attempted reserve of manner, but blushed and smiled in spite of himself, as he asked Damon, "Not your chaw-tobacco parson, I hope?"

"And why not? what if he would roll his chaw-tobacco into one cheek at you, while he coupled you up with the other? I'll be bound you'd look at somebody else's pretty cheeks more nor you would at the parson's chaw-tobacco; besides, what harm is there in a parson's chawin? I know an old one who would no more git up into his pulpit of a Sunday without a good smart plug in his mouth, than I would strike my own brother when he's down. I've seen him afore now, when his wind held out longer than his tobacco, run his finger first into one jacket-pocket, and then into the other, and at last he'd draw a little piece of pigtail, just up to the top of the water (as you may say), and then he'd let it go again."[Pg 104]

"Some virtuous shame, in view of the congregation, I suppose," said Chevillere.

"Yes, that was it; but I never heard any of the sarmont after the old boy's ammunition run out."

"Why, what had his tobacco to do with your listening?"

"A great deal; no sooner would the old feller begin to fumble in his pockets, than my hand always run into mine, of its own accord, and lugged out a chunk of a twist just ready to hand to the old man, and then when I'd find it couldn't be, I naturally took a plug myself, and chawed for the old boss till his wind flagg'd."

"Or, in other words, his desire for the weed made you desire it, to cure which you chewed for yourself, and flattered your conscience all the while that you were rendering him a service," said Chevillere.

"Very like! very like! for I know it makes a feller husky dry to see another famishin for a little of the cretur."

"Not so much so, perhaps, as if a dry person, as you call him, should see another drinking, and could get none himself."

"Oh! but that's a case out of all nature, as one may say, in these parts, anyhow, where liquor runs down the streets, after a manner."

Chevillere and Lamar, both rising, exchanged the usual salutations, and the good night! good night! went the rounds of all present.[Pg 105]


CHAPTER VII.

"Were you not delighted with the wild and mountainous scenery of the country around the Virginia Springs?" said Victor Chevillere to Miss St. Clair, on the morning after the scene related in the last chapter, as the lady reclined, in a pensive mood, in the room before described.

"Oh, sir, you forget that I was too feeble in mind and body to enjoy the scenery around me then, or to partake of the enthusiasm of my friends on the subject. The rich and romantic scenery of the White Sulphur was highly attractive to me, when I became somewhat convalescent; yet I shall carry with me through life a sad remembrance of scenes, which to many others of my age and sex will ever be associated with the gay dance, the enlivening gallopade, the stirring music, and with adventurous equestrian excursions among the mountains."

"I believe," said Chevillere, "that the most melancholy reflections may be and are much softened and mellowed in after-life, by being associated in the mind with the profoundly poetical feelings excited by the constant view of quiet mountain scenery; such as the well-remembered, long, long[Pg 106] line of blue peaks, stretching far away until they reach the clouds and the horizon."

"It is indeed true," said she, "that kind and beautiful nature, in the season of green leaves and flowers, will sometimes almost tempt us to believe that misery is not the inevitable lot of the human family; but when the consciousness of the one and the beauty of the other are together present to us, it depends entirely upon the degree, whether the beauty softens the suffering or not."

"In other words," said he, "whether the evil be so irremediable that hope cannot enter the heart; that the ravishing beauty of nature cannot excite benevolence, devotion, and love."

"That was not entirely my case," said she, "for I am grateful for having felt some pleasing excitement at the time, and for being able now to call up many pleasurable remembrances, clouded as they are for the most part with sadness."

"If I have been rightly informed, you did not visit all the other springs around the White Sulphur."

"My health would not permit of our making the entire fashionable round."

"Oh, then you have missed much pleasure," said he. "There are the Sweet Springs, rising out of the earth like a boiling caldron, with brilliant little balloons of gas ever ascending to the top of the water, and bursting in the sunbeams. There is not perhaps in the world such another natural fountain of soda-water. And there is the Salt[Pg 107] Sulphur, with its high romantic hills covered with herds, and its beautiful meadows, and its long village of neat white cottages, and its splendid assembly-rooms, and its sumptuous banquets of wild game and artificial luxuries. But, above all, there is the Warm Spring, with its clear blue crystal baths, large enough for a troop of horse to swim in; there, likewise, is an extensive green lawn, flanked on the one side by the same kind of neat white cottages, and on the other by the line of blue mountains, rising abruptly from the plain within gun-shot of the baths. On a clear moonlight night, one may see the invalids sitting out on the green in front of their doors, enjoying the placid scenery of the valley, and the profound and solemn monotony of the overhanging mountains,—sometimes, indeed, interrupted by the bustle of a new arrival, the neighing of horses, the crash of the wheels, the hoarse voices of the coachmen as they exchange advice upon the descent into the valley, or by the meeting of old friends and fellow-invalids, perhaps acquaintances of a former season, and fellow-sufferers with the gout, bantering each other upon their speed."

"From what little I saw of them, I think they perfectly justify the southern enthusiasm which we found everywhere on the subject; and I should think that there is no finer opportunity of seeing southern fashionable society."

"True; our wealthiest and most fashionable people resort thither every season. Yet I cannot[Pg 108] say in truth, from what I have observed myself, that our aristocracy are seen there to the best advantage. They are too much in their holyday suit of manners,—too artificial,—too unnatural. I have seen people who were agreeable at home, become affected and disagreeable at watering-places. I have also seen some who were reserved at home, become quite affable there. The latter effect, however, was by no means so common as the former."

"I did not see much affectation, or many unnatural people at the White Sulphur," said the lady.

"I cannot say that it is one of the besetting sins of the southern fashionables; all I meant to say was, that they show more of it there than at home."

"For my own part, I was delighted with the generous, free, and open-hearted manner in which I was treated by the few female acquaintances I made; and I am almost ashamed to acknowledge that they were far more intelligent and accomplished than my prejudices had taught me to expect."

"You acknowledge, then, that you had some provincial prejudices. Let me see! then I must take you regularly to account, and catechise you."

"Well," said the lady, as lightly as her habitual sadness ever permitted, "I will answer truly."

"I know you will speak truly whatever you do answer; but will you speak the whole truth in answer to whatever I shall ask?"[Pg 109]

A sad and afflicted expression appeared upon her countenance as she replied, "I need hardly say to Mr. Chevillere, that those questions which are proper for him to ask and for me to hear shall be fully answered."

"You do me but justice in supposing that I would not discredit my new dignity, by propounding questions which would lessen me in the eyes of a fair witness; but, to tell you the truth, I seriously meditated putting a few in addition to such as were local, and perhaps in a more serious mood than these might demand."

"Proceed, sir, proceed," said the lady, somewhat perturbed; "I must reserve the right to answer or not. No trifling impediment, however, shall prevent me from gratifying your curiosity."

"Would you consider it a great misfortune to reside in the southern states?"

"Places and countries are to me nearly alike."

"How so? You surely prefer your native land to all others?"

"Unhappiness soon makes us indifferent to mere locality; situated as I am, many would prefer new scenes."

"Does not affliction enlarge the heart, and extend the affections?"

"I believe that slight sufferings make us captious—great ones, humane and benevolent."

"Is it a natural consequence, that, when benevolence becomes universal, personal affections and partialities wither in proportion?"[Pg 110]

"Certainly not, as a consequence; but it is questionable whether blighted hopes do not generally precede the enlarged philanthropy spoken of."

"May not much travelling and experience of the world produce the same effect?"

"I cannot speak experimentally on that point; but I think it is very probable they do upon a masculine mind."

As Chevillere was about to continue his half-serious, half-jesting questions, Mr. Brumley abruptly entered, and announced to his daughter-in-law his determination to proceed northward early on the following morning; and almost at the same moment, old Cato, with his stately step, profound bow, and cap in hand, presented a letter to his master, which he instantly knew by the superscription to be from Randolph. Presenting his regards to them both, he retired to peruse the epistle, which will be found in the next chapter.[Pg 111]


CHAPTER VIII.

B. Randolph to V. Chevillere.

"Belville, High Hills of the Santee, S. Carolina.
"Dear Chum,

"The deserts of Africa are not to be compared, for loneliness, to a South Carolinian swamp. Oh! the comforts and blessings of a corduroy turnpike! These, you know, are made of poles laid down in the bottom of the swamps for a road, in humble imitation of that same most durable web. But the swamps gone through, and myself safely landed here—this Belville of yours is a most desirable place. Your father must have been a man of taste, friend Victor. The grove of Pride of India trees, in front of the villa, stands exactly as you left it; the vines run up and around Bell's window as beautiful as ever; the pigeons wheel over the garden and cotton-fields as gayly as of old. The flowers which perfume this delightful and balmy air, send up their sweets from the garden and the lawn as they have done these forty years; at least so testifies old Tombo the gardener. Your favourite horse thrives, and is none the worse for a trial of his speed and bottom which I made the other day in a race with my own impetuous [Pg 112]thoughts. Your mother seems happier than I have ever seen her; and little Virginia Bell is the fairest flower on the Chevillere estate. Will you believe it! she introduced me to the housekeeper on my arrival as having been her affianced bridegroom ever since she was three months old, and then enjoyed a school-girl laugh. By St. Benedict, that laugh cut nearer to my heart than a funeral sermon.

"Why have you not written to her and extolled some of my good qualities? She will never find them out! and as to my becoming a serious, sighing suitor, I am ten times farther from it than I was the first day I blundered into such dangerous company. If I were to elongate my phiz by way of preparative for a sigh, she would split her little sides with laughing at me. The fact is, I begin to think myself pretty considerably of an ass among the ladies, as your Yankees would express it. What shall I do? shall I run for it? or shall I stand here and die of the cold plague? If I laugh, she laughs with me; if I look serious, she laughs at me; if we visit, I am laughed at; if we are visited, I am stared at; and thus it is, day after day, and week after week. To your mother, I no doubt appear like a more rational creature, but before Miss Bell I am utterly at a loss and dumbfoundered.

"How can I show your charming cousin that I am not the fool she takes me for? must I shoot somebody? That would be too bloody-minded. Must I write a book? Sicken and become in[Pg 113]teresting? Ah! I have it! I'll get the fever and ague (no hard matter you know here); but then a man looks so unromantic with his teeth, and his hands, and his feet all in motion like a negro dancing 'Juba.' A lady would as soon think of falling in love with a culprit on the gibbet. I shall certainly try what absence will do; but then suppose that I am a bore, and no one entreats me to stay! Your mother might deem it indelicate, under the circumstances, for she certainly sees that I am a lost sinner; then I should be blown, indeed, with all my sins upon my head! without one redeeming quality for the little Bell to dwell upon in my absence. If I had rescued somebody from a watery grave—stopped a pair of runaway horses—saved somebody's life—shot a robber—been wounded myself—should turn out to be some lord's heir in England—had jumped down the Passaic or the Niagara—distinguished myself against the Indians or the Algerines—or even killed a mad dog—it would not be so desperate a case for the hero of a love affair.

"But here I am—a poor forlorn somebody, without a single trait of heroism in my composition, or a solitary past deed of the kind to boast of; unless it may be bursting little brass bombs under the tutor's windows in College, or shaving a horse's tail, or one side of a drunken man's whiskers, or laying two drunken fellows at each other's door. Suppose I should get old Tombo, the gardener, into the river by stratagem, merely that I might pull him out again; as he seems to be a universal [Pg 114]favourite here. But then suppose I should drown him in these mock heroics? Ah, I see I shall have to remain plain Beverly Randolph all my days! Alas! the days of chivalry are gone! If I could splinter a lance with some of these Sir Hotheads, or Sir Blunderbys, the case might not be so desperate.

"Thank Heaven, however, that the age of poetry is not gone too; for poetry, you know, is but the shadow or reflection of chivalry—heroism—and action! First an age of deeds, and then an age of song—so here goes for the doggerel. But let me see; are there not more than two ages? what succeeds to an age of poetry? One of philosophy! What succeeds philosophy? Cynicism or infidelity—next a utilitarian age, and lastly we have a mongrel compound of all—then we have revolutions, bloodshed, sentiment, religion, and spinning-jennies. Now you see I have hit it! we live in the mongrel age; a hero of this era should fight—write—pray—and spin cotton! Let's see how all these could be united into a picture suitable for a frontispiece to a work of the current age. First there must be a spinning-jenny to go by steam, to the wheel of which there must be a hand-organ. The steam must be scattered against an enemy; a long nosed fellow with the real nasal twang must be seen upon his knees attending the jenny, and singing doggerel to the music of the hand-organ—there's a pretty coat of arms for you, and suitable for the present age.

[Pg 115]

"But seriously, my dear Chevillere, what am I to do? I cannot get on without your assistance, and yet I am ashamed to ask it; however, I shall leave all these things to time—fate—and a better acquaintance between the charming Miss Bell and your humble servant.

"I find you have more negroes here than we have in Virginia, in proportion to the whites; and existing under totally different circumstances, so far as regards the distance between them and their masters.

"With us slavery is tolerable, and has something soothing about it to the heart of the philanthropist; the slaves are more in the condition of tenants to their landlords—they are viewed more as rational creatures, and with more kindly feelings; each planter owning a smaller number than the planters generally do here, of course the direct knowledge of, and intercourse between each other is greater. Every slave in Virginia knows, even if he does not love, his master; and his master knows him, and generally respects him according to his deserts. Here slavery is intolerable; a single individual owning a hundred or more, and often not knowing them when he sees them. If they sicken and die, he knows it not except through the report of those wretched mercenaries, the overseers. The slaves here are plantation live-stock; not domestic and attached family servants, who have served around the person of the master from the childhood of both.

[Pg 116]

"I have known masters in Virginia to exhibit the most intense sorrow and affliction at the death of an old venerable household servant, who was quite valueless in a pecuniary point of view.

"Here, besides your white overseers, you have your black drivers;—an odious animal, almost peculiar to the far south. It is horrible to see one slave following another at his work, with a cow-skin dangling at his arm, and occasionally tying him up and flogging him when he does not get through his two tasks a day. These tasks I believe are two acres of land, which they are required to hoe without much discrimination, or regard to age, sex, health, or condition; now I have seen stout active fellows get through their two tasks by one o'clock, while another poor, stunted, bilious creature toiled the whole day at the same portion of labour. Another abomination here, and even known in some parts of Virginia, is that the females are required to work in the field, and generally to do as much as the males. This system is unworthy even of refined slave-holders. But the hardest part is to tell yet; they receive their provisions but once a week, and then, each has for seven days, either one peck of Indian corn, or three pecks of sweet potatoes, without meat, or any thing else to season this dry fare.

"I will confess to you that, at first, I thought this allowance much more niggardly than I now consider it. In order to see how they lived, I went into the thickest of the quarter, on purpose to share [Pg 117]a part of their food myself, and observe a little of their economy; I found two or three stout fellows standing at a large table, or frame, into which were fixed two grindstones, or rather one was fixed and the other revolved upon it, like two little mill-stones; the upper stone was turned by a crank, at which the two slaves seemed to work by turns. The arrangements for this labour they made among themselves. I then went into the best looking hut of the quarter, just as they had all drawn round a large kettle of small homminy, in the centre of which I was pleased to see a piece of salt fat pork about the size of a large apple. The family consisted of six persons. They had all clubbed their portions of food into a common stock.

"'How often do you draw meat?' said I; they informed me that they had none except at Christmas, and that none were able to buy meat except those who finished their two tasks early in the day, and then cultivated their own little 'patches,' as they are called. I then went round the huts to see how many had meat, and was much rejoiced to find that more than three-fourths lived substantially well.

"I was exceedingly amused at one thing in these singular little communities, which was, that matches of convenience are almost as common among them as among their more fashionable masters. I suspect it would puzzle some of your fashionable belles to guess how these have their origin, and what is the fortune upon which they are founded. [Pg 118]I will tell you, if you have never observed it yourself. The most active and sober hands, who are able to finish their tasks early, and of course live well, are always in great demand for husbands; and a well-favoured girl is almost sure to select one of these for her helpmate in the true sense of the word. Nor is this excellence confined to the males; many of the women are in as much demand among the lazy fellows for their prowess in the field, as the active men are among the women.

"While the mothers are at work in the field, their helpless offspring are all left under the care of the superannuated women, in a large hut, or several large huts provided for that purpose; and a more unearthly set of wrinkled and arid witches you never saw, unless you have more curiosity than most of your Carolinians. These scenes, especially if visited by moonlight, transport a man into the centre of Africa at once; there is the dark, sluggish stream, the dismal-looking pine-barrens, and the palmetto, the oriental-looking cabbage-tree, aided by the foreign gibberish, and the unsteady light of the pine logs before the door, now and then casting a fitful gleam of light upon some of these natives of the shores of the Niger, with their tattooed visages, ivory teeth, flat noses, and yellow and blood-shot eyeballs.

"I do not observe much difference between the North and South Carolinians, except in the case of those who inhabit the most southern portions of the latter state. There your rich are more princely [Pg 119]and aristocratic, and your poor more wretched and degraded; but to tell you the plain truth, many of your little slaveholders are miserably poor and ignorant; and what must be the condition of that negro who is a slave to one of these miserable wretches? They are uniformly hard and cruel masters, and the more fortune or fate frowns upon them, the more cruel they become to their slaves. This is a singular development of human character, and not easily accounted for, unless we suppose them to be revenging themselves of fate.

"Most of the accomplished ladies whom I have seen, were educated either at Salem or at the north, and sometimes at both,—the preference being given to New-York and Philadelphia. Therein Virginia has the advantage; for scarcely a town of two thousand inhabitants is without its seminary for girls. I have myself visited those at Richmond, Petersburg, Fredericksburg, Charlottesville, Staunton, Lexington, Fincastle, &c. &c. This, you will acknowledge, shows deep-seated wisdom and foresight in the people; for if our wives and mothers are intelligent, their offspring will be so too.

"Virginia Bell has just stolen into the parlour in the south wing, where I am now writing, so there is an end of slavery, and education, and all that sort of thing; unless, indeed, your humble servant may be said to have surrendered his freedom, and to be now undergoing a new sort of schooling. Her look is arch and knowing, as if she had read [Pg 120]every word I have written; I will finish my letter when she goes out.

"There now, I breathe more easily,—she is gone! 'Mr. Randolph,' said she, 'I have a very great curiosity to see the letter of a young gentleman; I never saw one in my life.' 'Indeed!' said I, 'then I will write you one before I leave my seat.'

"'No, no, no!' said she, blushing just perceptibly, 'you understand me very well; I mean such letters as you write to my cousin; there would be something worth reading in them; as for your letters to young ladies, I have seen some of them. O! deliver me from the side-ache, and weeping till my eyes are red with irrepressible laughter; if they would write naturally and simply, it would not be so bad. There would then be only the natural awkwardness of the subject; but to get upon stilts, merely because the letter is to a lady, is too bad. But you have not answered my question; do you intend to show me that letter?'

"'I will show you a better one.'

"'No, no! I want to see none of your set speeches upon paper, all so prim and formal; if you care any thing for my good opinion, you will show me one of your careless ones,' said she.

"'Care any thing for your good opinion!' said I, rising, and trying to seize her hand, which she held behind her; 'I value your opinion more than that of the whole sex besides.' She raised her eyes in mock astonishment, and puckering up her [Pg 121]beautiful little lips, whistled as if in amazement, and then deliberately marched out of the room, saying, as she stood at the entrance, 'Finish your copy like a good boy, and be sure not to blot it, and you shall have some nuts and a sweet cake;' and I crushed the unfortunate epistle with chagrin. She certainly takes me for a fool, and truly I begin to think she is not very far wrong.

"B. Randolph."

[Pg 122]


CHAPTER IX.

V. Chevillere to B. Randolph.

"Baltimore, 18—.

"You will have learned by the previous letters[A] of Lamar and myself, every interesting circumstance which has occurred to us, together with our sage observations upon men and things as they were presented.

[A] These letters are omitted, of course, as the same information has been already given to the reader.

"Lamar spends more than half his time with the Kentuckian,—he declares that he will never rest satisfied until he persuades him to remove to the high hills of the Santee, where he can have him for a neighbour. He has found a new source of amusement to-day, in the supposed discovery that Damon is in love with the pretty country girl, on whose account, you will recollect, he got into the affray at the circus. Her father invited him to pay them a visit, and Lamar has been trying to persuade him to take advantage of it immediately, and has even offered to accompany him. I have no doubt he would succeed, had not the Kentuckian's idol, Pete Ironsides, been sent into the country [Pg 123]'to board,' as he calls it. As it is, he has determined upon accepting the invitation as he returns.

"My own affairs are assuming too sombre a hue for me to enjoy Lamar's foolery as I used to do, when we three lived together, and when you and I were made joint partakers of his animal spirits; I in fact lived upon his stock in trade in that respect, while you added no little to the joint concern; I was always, I fear, but a sullen companion for such merry fellows. But have you never observed that the most lasting and ardent friendships are formed of such materials? Even in married life, you will, in nine cases out of ten, see the most opposite qualities form the most durable and happy connexions. This is running, I know, right in the teeth of the romantic twaddle of the day, about congenial sentiments, and the like; but is it not true? Look around you, and see in every instance if the lively woman has not chosen a serious husband; the man of genius, a dull drone; the bigot and fanatic, a romp; the pious lady, a libertine. These observations, however, like most others of the college stamp, may be destined to give place to others of a very different character. When I look back upon all the various revolutions of opinion which the mind undergoes, before it arrives even at our present state of maturity, I am dismayed, and almost afraid to look forward.

"Nor is it in matters of abstract opinion alone, I fear, that we are destined to undergo changes. Our hopes must be in some measure paralyzed, our[Pg 124] hearts made colder, and our youthful friendships broken asunder! Look what sad havoc a single year has already made in our own catalogue. Where now is that noble band of young and generous spirits, who but a single twelvemonth ago were all the world to each other? Two of them have surrendered the bright hopes of young life upon its very threshold, and the others are scattered abroad over land and sea. But I have wandered from the subject of our adventures, which we have promised faithfully to record.

"Is it not strange how fate seems to play with us, when once we are fairly embarked upon life's great current? I am now completely wound up in perplexities and embarrassments, which, a week ago, I never once thought of. The actors in this new drama in which I am confessedly entangled, were then perfect strangers to me; and how handsomely has providence, or fate, or whatever you may choose to call it, paved the way for my more complete introduction into these new mysteries? The lady becomes intimate with my mother, though coming from opposite ends of the Union. She travels home again and is taken ill on the road, at the very time when Lamar and I strike into the same road. It seemed, too, as if I was placed at the table where our acquaintance commenced, in the very position where I could not avoid making a tender of my services; and now that I have become almost a part of their little family here, I find that they have been afflicted in some way[Pg 125] beyond measure. They seem to be surrounded with mysteries and strange connexions; more than once have I gone specially to break the spell, and clear away the trammels which render this most strange and interesting young lady miserable. Various methods have I devised to acquire the secret, but they have always ended in awkwardness and embarrassment. It is no easy matter to initiate one's self into the midst of family secrets, when one is comparatively a stranger; yet it must be done, and that shortly. I feel that it is necessary to my own peace; indeed it is necessary in order that I may see my own way clearly, to have these cruel doubts solved. Every hour but adds to my entanglement, and if there is a shadow of foundation for the phantasies of the lunatic, the sooner I make the plunge the better. Yet how simple I become; if I had now the decision of character for which I once had credit in college, I should not long suffer the dreams of a maniac to disturb my good opinion of this most lovely and interesting girl. You may talk of your embarrassments and difficulties with Bell's untamable humour; they are all child's play,—mere romping,—but the case is not so easy of adjustment here; the old gentleman has just announced, that he shall resume his journey early to-morrow morning; so that something must be effected this afternoon or evening. If there is no other way, I will formally seek an interview with the lady, and, however painful it may be to her, I will ask her to explain[Pg 126] her strange fear of the lunatic; of course I must avow the reason; you shall hear the result.

"P.S. 12 o'clock at night—I have broken the ice, my dear fellow, and no doubt you will think I have got a cold bath for my pains.

"Soon after dark I knocked at the door, and waited some little time with throbbing pulses, to hear that gentle and silvery voice bid me 'come in!' for I had seen the old gentleman go off in a carriage, to the theatre, as I hoped. No summons came—I repeated my knock with the same result. I do not know what prompted me to an act so rude, but I mechanically pushed open the door before I had reflected a moment. I was in the presence of the little fairy. She held in her hand an open letter, which was wet with tears; her head was leaning far back against the wall; her comb, carrying with it the large rolls of her fair brown hair, was partly lying on the window, and partly stuck into its place; the pearl of her cheeks was still wet with recent tears. I did not know which was now worst, to retreat or go forward. At first I thought she had fainted, and would have sprung to the bell; but I soon saw that she slumbered gently and peacefully. Randolph, there is something heavenly in the slumbers of a young, innocent, and beautiful female; but I will leave my reflections for another time. I was about to retreat, and had so far closed the door as to hide my person, when she suddenly awoke and said,[Pg 127] 'Come in, dear father, come in!' the lights had not yet been brought, but I could see the crimson mantling her neck and cheeks as she discovered who the visiter was, and replaced her hair at the same time.

"I felt confused and ashamed, and stammered some vague attempt at an apology. She made light of my intrusion; but one thing attracted my attention particularly. Just as the maid set the lights upon the table in the centre of the room, I thought that I recognised my mother's handwriting in the letter which she now hastily folded up and thrust into her reticule. As I mentioned, she had been weeping over it. This set my imagination to work; I could not divine on what theme my mother could write to her; still less what subject for grief they could have between them. I inquired if she was well; she said 'yes, as well as usual, but exhausted for want of sleep the previous night.' I instantly connected her want of sleep and restlessness with my mother's letter; and before I had sufficiently reflected upon the import of the question, I asked her whether her first acquaintance with my mother had not been formed during her late visit to the springs. She answered in the affirmative. 'But why do you ask?' said she, searchingly. 'For no particular reason, but the question occurred to me, from seeing the handwriting of the letter you have just folded up. I thought it strange that you should receive a letter from my mother, when I have received none,' 'This letter,' said she, 'was not received at this[Pg 128] place; I was merely refreshing my memory with its contents.' 'It is not often,' said I, 'that my mother writes so as to bring tears into the eyes of her friends, and if you would not consider the expression of the wish too impertinent, and that too when I have little expectation of its being granted, I would say that I never before had so much curiosity to see one of her letters.'

"'Your curiosity,' said she, 'should be gratified immediately, but this letter alludes to circumstances which would perhaps be uninteresting to you; but even were they otherwise, it would excite your curiosity still more to read the letter, when I am unable to give such explanations now as it requires.'

"'You labour under a most grievous error,' said I, 'if you suppose there are any circumstances connected in any way with the present distress of Miss Frances St. Clair, which would be uninteresting to me. The express object of my visit to-night was to ask that very explanation. It may seem strange and impertinent that I should seek that which you evidently avoid; but my excuse is, and it is the only one that I can plead, that this is your last evening in the city; will Miss St. Clair be offended, if I acknowledge that upon this explanation turns my happiness? I am fearful of giving offence by acknowledging that any previous history is necessary of one who carries in her countenance a refutation of all calumnies.'

"I had ventured to seize her unresisting hand,[Pg 129] but as I concluded the sentence, she withdrew it, and covered her face with her handkerchief, pressing it hard, and breathing short. At the same time I noticed some confusion with her distress, though without anger. This imboldened me to proceed.

"'It may appear like double presumption in me to ask an explanation before I can proffer a suit, which may be instantly and indignantly rejected, either with or without your history.'

"'I will not prudishly affect to misunderstand you, in either of the prominent points of your remarks,' said she, her head sinking in modest guise, 'but before I reply to them, will you tell me whence you have ever heard any thing against me.'

"The question went straight to my suspicious heart, and rankled there; insomuch that I coughed and hemmed at it several times ineffectually; her eyes being riveted on me all the while, like a judge's upon a detected thief—I felt that her pure and searching gaze was far more honest than my own, and I should speedily have begun an explanation if her father had not at that instant entered the room. I thought he saw and disrelished the matter in hand, for he seated himself in a chair, in a certain manner, by which one understands a person to say, 'I'll stay all night, if you have no objections.' I will be up by daylight in the morning, lest the old gentleman steal a march upon me.

"Yours truly,

"V. Chevillere."
[Pg 130]


CHAPTER X.

B. Randolph to V. Chevillere.

"Savannah, 18—.
"Dear Friend,

"After despatching my last letter, not knowing exactly what else to do with myself in the present state of affairs, I set out on horseback, telling the family that I wished to see a little more of Carolina, but inwardly resolved to follow the horse's nose wherever he might lead, and continue thus to ride and thus to be led until I might gather up my scattered thoughts and determine what course to pursue.

"I will not deny, that on the second day in the afternoon, about three o'clock (truth is always precise, you know), I discovered in one corner of the storehouse of my thoughts a secret design to try 'Bell' by a leave-taking, absence, and reappearance. If you had been upon the ground to charge me with the intention, I should no doubt have sworn upon a stack of Testaments that it was not so; and I could have done so honestly. You have looked inwards too often not to know, that in wandering through the dreary passages of one's own mind, we blunder by accident upon many obscure[Pg 131] motives, which, if boldly charged with them before we set out on such a pilgrimage, we should stoutly deny.

"When the horses were brought up on the gravelled road, and all things in readiness for my departure, I cast a furtive glance at that too-knowing and too-beautiful little brunette, who calls you cousin, to see how she was about to feel on the solemn occasion. Her looks were perfectly inexplicable. I have thought of them ever since, but for my life I cannot say in what feelings they had their origin. There was neither sorrow, joy, love, hatred, revenge, hope, despair, nor any other definable emotion. There was a scarcely perceptible smile, a slight shutting of the corner of one eye, and a mock solemnity of the other unruly features, as if one was winking to the other rebels as much as to say, 'wait till he's out of hearing, and we will have a rare laugh at his expense.' It was just such a look as would make a man say, 'Zounds and fury, madam, you'll never see me again; farewell, for ever;' and then be laughed at for his pains.

"But what sort of a look was it? It was a very knowing look, I am sure of that. She looked as if she read all the inward workings of my moral machinery. It was a serio-comic look; produced, no doubt, by the idea that she was scanning me thoroughly, while I imagined that I could see just as clearly through her. In other words, as I have somewhere else beautifully expressed it, she thought[Pg 132] me 'pretty considerable much of an ass,' and I am pretty considerable much of her opinion, at least before ladies. It is somewhat singular that this tendency to display my weak side should have developed itself at the very time when I most desired to appear to advantage.

"At last the parting moment came. I had bidden your mother farewell in the breakfast-room, and then proceeded to the front door, where stood Virginia Bell.

"'I think it very doubtful,' said I, 'whether I shall be enabled to take your aunt's house in my route home.'

"'You are not going to run away with cousin's favourite horse, are you?' said she.

"By the Great Mogul! in my earnestness to invent a pathetic lie, I forgot to arrange the consistency of the plot.

"'True, true!' said I, stammering; 'then I must indeed run my head into danger again!' saying which I sprang upon your horse, and rode like a country doctor who has no practice. By-the-by, that was nearer to an avowal than I have ever come yet; your joyous, fun-loving creatures are the most difficult to address in the world.

"Oh! if I only had such a one in love with me, what a race I would lead her! I would punish the whole class of unapproachable little mischievous misses! I would make her ogle me at church; hang on my arm to the theatre; sigh by the fire-side, and weep when she went to bed; I would[Pg 133] almost break her heart before I would take the least pity upon her.

"I am curious to know what sort of wives these same little romps make. Do they romp it through life, or do they settle down into your miserable, sad, melancholy drones, who greet their husbands when they come home with a sigh, or inexpressible look, that drives more men to the bottle than all the good wine and good company in the world?

"You ask me, at least I know you would ask me, what I saw, or what occurred on the road to the place from which this letter is dated. I will tell you what I have not seen since I entered this land of nullification. I have not seen a clear limpid river that could be forded on horseback. Your water-courses are dark, deep, still, and gloomy. The foliage on their banks is superlatively rich and abundant, but it is occasionally interspersed with a species of natural beauties which I don't admire, namely, little alligators; by-the-by, I never see alligators, lizards, or tadpoles, that I do not think of those weary days when we read together Ovid's Metamorphoses.

"Of a southern swamp I had no proper conception. I thought they were black, dismal holes, covered with old black logs, and black snakes, and frogs, and vapours; instead of which, they bear a nearer resemblance, in the summer, to a princely (or Prince's) botanical garden. The very perfume upon the olfactories is far more delightful than the[Pg 134] greatest assemblage of artificial odours. Then there are the rich and variegated flowers of all hues, sizes, and colours, set amid the deep green of the rich shrubbery. The soil of which these swamps are composed is as black as tar, and pretty much of the same consistence.

"I observe, as I travel farther south, that bread is seldom seen upon the table. What is called here small homminy is used in its place, at breakfast, dinner, and supper.

"I saw no ploughs in your fields. Horses seemed to be used only for carriages, racing, and for the private use of gentlemen and ladies. I saw no brick houses; your mother's and that of Col. S. being the only two I saw in the whole state. I saw many private mansions very tastefully built and ornamented; some of them were splendid, but mostly built of wood and painted white.

"After three days pretty constant riding after my horse's nose, he brought me to the banks of the Savannah, at a little miserable-looking town, or village, called Purysburg. Here I found a steamboat just about to depart for Savannah. I immediately engaged passage for myself, servant, and two horses (one of which is yours; confound him, I say, for betraying me). I amused myself by shooting at the alligators, as we glided along the water, and had kept up the sport some time, when a mellow distant sound came along the surface of the water, like an exquisitely played Kent bugle.[Pg 135] It was decidedly the most enchanting music I ever heard, and seemed nearer and nearer until it appeared to rise from under the very bow of the boat. You will be surprised when I tell you that it was made through a straight wooden tube, about five feet long. The musician was a tall, ebony-coloured old African, who stood up in one of your singular-looking batteaux, amid half-a-dozen other negroes, who seemed to be at their luncheon. It looked much like a boat on the Niger; indeed, I found my imagination carrying me into such distant regions, that I instinctively bit my lip to see whether I was awake or dreaming.

"The city of Savannah became distinctly visible at a distance of about seven miles. A brilliant city indeed it is. You cannot imagine any thing finer than the view from the river. It is situated on a high bluff, and commands an extensive view up and down the stream. In the latter direction, on a clear day, you can see, without glasses, the lighthouse on the island of Tybee.

"By-the-by, I have been down among those islands; they are all inhabited, and by a class of men as much like our real old-fashioned Virginia gentlemen as can well be imagined. This city is nobly built, and is laid out on a magnificent scale, having a public square, containing a grove of pride of India trees, in the centre of every four squares, and a row of the same along each side of every street.[Pg 136]

"Talk of Philadelphia, and New-York, and Boston, and Richmond, and New-Haven—Savannah outstrips them all, both in artificial and natural beauty. It seems the residence of the prince of the world and his nobility.

"Yours, most truly,

"B. Randolph."
[Pg 137]


CHAPTER XI.

V. Chevillere to B. Randolph.

"Baltimore, 18—.
"Dear Friend,

"Though I had but two hours' sleep, I was up betimes to catch a parting glimpse of an interesting person who need not be named. When I descended into the great vestibule of this extensive establishment, I found the door of their parlour open, and the entry nearly blocked up by bandboxes, trunks, and all the little paraphernalia of which you and I are as yet quite ignorant. A carriage stood at the door; the lady and the old gentleman sat side by side upon the sofa, the former in her travelling habit, while the latter held in his hand a cup of coffee, which he sipped, giving directions from time to time to the servants. I paid them the compliments of the morning, not in the most bland and courtly style, for to tell you the truth I felt a little inclined to poaching, and the old gentleman looked to me not unlike a vigilant and surly gamekeeper; however, he received me with a welcome, perhaps it was a northern one; but of that I will tell you more when we get fully into the enemy's country, as your namesake of[Pg 138] Roanoke would say. My presence seemed to hurry the old gentleman's coffee down his throat, hot as it was, and in ten minutes, before I had exchanged ten words with the lady, all was pronounced in readiness.

"The old gentleman did not leave her for a moment. I of course handed her to the carriage, and took, as I supposed, a last look. I suppose I must have appeared dolorous enough. The parting moment came, the last pressure of the hand was given, the door closed, whip cracked, and the carriage had gone some time, before I found myself standing in the middle of the street, my head turned to one side just far enough to catch a glimpse of Lamar in his nightgown, half-way out of a three-story window, laughing with that complacent self-satisfaction which is peculiar to him. 'Half-past four and a dark stormy morning,' cried he, in true watchman style. I pulled my hat down over my face, and walked away from the hotel as fast as my impetuous blood would drive me; indeed, I felt provoked at the time. I had not walked far, before I recollected having felt something in my hand, as if it had found its way there by accident, while I was exchanging adieus with my enslaver. I had mechanically, while abstracted in the street, thrust it into my waistcoat pocket. I now drew it forth,—it was a small roll of paper, which you might have put into a thimble,—I opened it very carefully, in hope that there might be some even carelessly-scribbled line, which I could preserve as a me[Pg 139]mento. By heavens, Randolph, there was a memento upon it! and evidently intended for my eye alone.

"The writing was in pencil, and scarcely legible; with some difficulty I could make out these words.

"'The explanation sought by Mr. Chevillere has not been surreptitiously avoided by me, nor will it ever be; but if he is wise, he will forget one who has already extended the influence of her unhappiness too far.'

"I read these lines over again and again. I walked round Baltimore as if it had been a hamlet. It seemed to me that every person whom I met could read in my countenance something strange and hurried. At length, however, I found my way to the breakfast table. Lamar, as my bad luck would have it, sat almost opposite to me. I do not think I ever saw him perfectly disagreeable before; all his remarks seemed to me mal-apropos, and he is not usually so unfortunate, you know. I made a hasty breakfast, and hurried out on purpose to avoid him, but in vain! he was with me in an instant. 'All settled, I suppose, Chevillere,' said he. 'Yes, all is settled for our journey to New-York,' said I, 'except our bills, and that you may attend to as soon as you please.' I ordered old Cato to see the luggage on board the steamboat for Philadelphia: Lamar did the same. 'But, Chevillere,' said he, 'you are not going to leave the Kentuckian,' upon which he set off to summon our new companion.[Pg 140]

"Our next epistle will in all probability be from Philadelphia or New-York; we shall only stay a short time in the former place, as we conceive the other to be the true point from which to make observations.

"Yours truly,

"V. Chevillere."
[Pg 141]


CHAPTER XII.

B. Randolph to V. Chevillere.

"High Hills of the Santee, 18—.
"Dear Friend,

"From the city of Savannah, I paid my first visit to our old heathen dad, Neptune, and if first impressions of the sea were not as common and as numerous as doggerel verses in a modern lady's album, I might be tempted to become sublime for your edification. I was rowed down from the city, in a beautiful boat made of a single cypress, by the hands of the gentleman who was so polite as to give me this gentle passage. By this you may know that they take as much pride in their boats as the Venetians themselves. It was beautifully painted, and rowed by eight well-formed negroes. Inside of the seat at one end was a marooning chest, as they called it, full of all kinds of liquors and cold meat, with the necessary utensils for their use. The gentleman was an islander; and during the few hours in which we were gliding over the seventeen miles between the city and the ocean, he entertained me with an account of his marooning expeditions. These are their excursions upon the Sea Islands, for purposes of fishing[Pg 142] and hunting. These islanders are a peculiar, but delightful people; however, I must not keep you too long in the sea-breeze; at some other time, perhaps, I may indite you a history of these hospitable and isolated gentlemen.

"When I left Savannah, I determined to pursue a different route from the one by which I came. I therefore crossed the Savannah river fifteen or sixteen miles above the city; I then crossed the country in as straight a line as I could draw upon the map, between the ferry and the high hills of Santee; and in a short time found myself in as complete solitude as ever Crusoe experienced upon his desolate island. Nothing was to be seen but the tall and gloomy-looking pines, stretching away into the bosom of the atmosphere, and the interminable sands which lay before me as far as the eye could reach. Twilight presently came on, and those horrible musicians, the tree-frogs, began to chirp and sing. The dolorous note of the whippoorwill was heard, with a horn accompaniment from the throat of a screech-owl. Here was a pretty serenade for a man with his heart attuned for melody, and his stomach attuned for a slash at a cold ham, for I had had no dinner. I struck up an accompaniment from my own pipes, but I soon found that the vacuum was too profound for a due modulation in concert pitch with this sylvan band. I wished them all at the d—l, with their shrill pipes and full crops, and set my horse, or rather your horse, at full gallop, in a vain effort to[Pg 143] escape from the intended honour; but the harder I rode, the more enthusiastic they became. I soon made another comfortable discovery; I found that I had been riding for the last two hours in a perfect wilderness, in utter contempt of what two pioneer wheels had made for a highway; nor could I tell the north from the south, nor the east from the west, having foolishly enough turned the horse round and round in order to gaze at the stars. 'Like master like man,' my servant did the same, as if he could read in the pine tops more than I could in the heavens. All my astronomy had gone with my dinner; I could see nothing in the starry regions but what is sometimes called the Frying-pan. Oh! the shades of Thales of Miletus, who first imported astronomy into Greece! to think that a bachelor of such heavenly arts could not look into the face of the Frying-pan without thinking of grilled chickens and rashers of bacon, and the crackling of fire, and the sputtering of fat. I dismounted, and ordered Sam to do likewise, and try to find me a piece of flint by which to strike a light; he declared that he had not seen a stone or a rock since he came into the Carolinas. 'So much for geology and astronomy,' said I. 'I rader tink they all bad fur empty stumuck, masta,' said Sam, considering himself privileged by the exigencies of the case. 'True enough, Sam,' said I, 'it would be an apt scholar that could produce bread or a stone either by his learning, in our circumstances.'

"As I mounted, Sam mounted, not a word more[Pg 144] having been uttered; he seemed to be aware of the fact, that language generally fails with the food; a man's ideas in such a case run fast enough, but they are all in humble life; below stairs, diving among pots, and pans, and pantries, and receptacles for cold victuals. As the ideas ran, so ran the horses, until the water began to splash our legs from a thick bushy swamp, into which we found that we had initiated ourselves. 'Now Sam,' said I, 'we are swamped.' Sam said nothing aloud, but was evidently muttering something to himself, being engaged, as I supposed, at his secret devotions, for you must know that he would be a Puritan. Like most of his race, however, he has more faith in the effect of singing hymns, than devotions of any other kind. I saw that he was itching for a trial at his usual relief in all his troubles. I therefore told him not to suppress it on my account, but to give it free utterance; the idea of it naturally excited ludicrous recollections of old Noll and the veteran Rumpers, but Sam saw the new vein I had so inappropriately fallen into, and therefore resisted his inward strivings. I must say, en passant, that I think him honest and sincere in his faith, I therefore do not ridicule him.

"We waded through the black regions of this little pandemonium for some three-quarters of a mile, before the dry sand again greeted our hearing. The Frying-pan still stared me in the face, and the sylvan band still plied their pipes. We had not proceeded far by land before we came[Pg 145] directly against a fence. I was truly glad to see it, for I was sure it must lead to some inhabited place, and accordingly ordered Sam to let us into the field, which we found to be an immense plain covered with cotton,—the most beautiful of all crops. We rode between the rows, for many a weary foot, until at length the glimmering of many lights greeted our longing eyes. We made directly for them, and soon stood in the midst of an immense negro quarter. On inquiring whether their master's house was near at hand, we found that it was many miles distant. The overseer's house, they told us, was not more than half a mile off; but to these animals I have always had an utter aversion. I therefore bought some fodder for the horses, and two fowls for ourselves, from the driver, who had the privilege of raising them, and employed his wife to pick and grill them upon the coals, and a delightful and savoury prelude they soon sent up to my famished senses; a heartier or a sweeter meal was never made than I thus took; a fowl seasoned with salt, and a large pot of small homminy, served direct to my mouth from a large wooden spoon, without the cumbrous intervention of plates, knives, and forks. Our meal being finished,—for you must know Sam and I dined at the same time and from the same table, which was none other than the ground floor, covered with the head of a barrel,—hunger is a wonderful leveller of distinctions,—as I was saying, our meal being finished, a goodly number of the more aged,[Pg 146] respectable, and intelligent blacks of the quarter assembled to entertain us, or be entertained themselves, I scarcely know which. Many of these negroes, I found, were born in Africa, and one poor tattooed fellow claimed to be of royal blood. He told me that his father, the king, had a hundred children. I asked if any of those present could write; they replied that there was one man in the quarter who could write in his own language, and several of them went out and brought in a tall, bald-headed old fellow, who seemed to come with great reluctance. After being told what was desired, he acknowledged to me that he could write when he last tried, which was many years previous. I took out my pocket-book, tore out a blank leaf, and handing him a pen from my pocket inkstand, requested him to give me a specimen. He took the head of the barrel on his lap, and began, if I recollect right, on the right side of the page; the following is a fac simile of his performance:

fac simile

[Pg 147]

"The following is a liberal translation into English:—

"'In the name of God the merciful! the compassionate! God bless our Lord Mohammed his prophet, and his descendants, and his followers, and prosper them exceedingly. Praise be to God the Lord of all creatures! the merciful, the compassionate king of the day of judgment! Thee we adore, and of thee we implore assistance! Guide us in the right way, the way of those with whom thou art well pleased, and not of those with whom thou art angry, nor of those who are in error. Amen!'

"The original is written in Arabic. The old fellow's name is Charno, which it seems he has retained, after being enslaved, contrary to their general custom in that respect. I became quite affected and melancholy in talking to this venerable old man, and you may judge from that rare circumstance that he is no common character.

"I now fixed my saddle under my head in a cotton shed to rest for the night; but, weary as I was, I could not directly get to sleep for thinking of sandy deserts, old Charno, chicken suppers, negro quarters, and Virginia Bell! You see she is still the heroine, let my wanderings lay the scenes where they will.

"I have no doubt but you will say, on the reception of this letter, 'Well! I thought Randolph[Pg 148] would run his nose into all the out-of-the-way places in Carolina,' I plead guilty! I have a sort of natural instinct for unbeaten paths, and the one by which I arrived at Belville shall be given in my next; until then, fare thee well.

"B. Randolph."
[Pg 149]


CHAPTER XIII.

Victor Chevillere to B. Randolph.

"New-York, 18—.
"Dear Friend,

"At length we have arrived in this flourishing city, not, however, without having experienced many vicissitudes of weather, humour, and adventure, the two latter especially; how could we help it, when the Kentuckian formed so large a part of our little crew, by steamboat and stage? His animal spirits are worth a million.

"You cannot conceive any thing more agreeable to an emancipated and sombre student, than to get a comfortable high backed leather seat in one of these fine northern coaches, his cloak collar put up like a mask, and the rim of his cap drawn down to meet it, just leaving a peeping-hole sufficient to see and enjoy every thing worth enjoying, at the same time defying the gaze of intruding eyes.

"If there should fortunately happen to be such a reckless, yet generous spirit as Damon among the company, the student's happiness is complete, for you cannot imagine what a protector he is against intruders. In our American stage-coaches (and perhaps in all others) there are sometimes[Pg 150] men, full of brandy eloquence, which is kept so constantly on the stretch by repeated libations; or boisterous politicians, with their mouths so full of the last importation of news from Washington, or of the contents of the morning papers, that a complaisant young man is almost compelled to make himself ridiculous, by getting into a political controversy.

"Damon took all that sort of work off our hands, in the most generous and chivalrous spirit imaginable. His eye was ever bright and ready; there was no sinking into dull student-like lethargy one moment, and flashing out into erratic folly the next; he was ready with lance in rest, to take a tilt against anybody's windmill; at home upon all subjects, being exactly in such a state of refinement as not to be ashamed to show his ignorance, and always eager to acquire information. Nor is his mind dull or unapt; he will rebut or ridicule an adversary with astonishing shrewdness. One of his peculiarities amused me much; he was evidently more excited in the stage-coaches than in the boats. He was never satisfied until he had let down the front glasses, so that he could see the horses; then he would talk fluently to his near neighbour, and keep his neck stretched all the while, so as to have all the horses in view, throwing out occasional digressive remarks as to their various powers, as thus, 'that's my little hearty, make a straight back to it;' and then turning to[Pg 151] his antagonist he would continue his remarks, as if nothing had drawn off his attention.

"But I must not take up all your time with our comic adventures. When I get into that vein more completely, you shall have his exploits in the city. By-the-by, I suggested to Lamar that he should take that part of the correspondence off my hands, but he said, 'Randolph knows I'm not one of the writing sort, therefore you must write for us both; action,' said he, with a mock heroic flourish, 'is my forte.'

"We are comfortably situated at the City Hotel in Broadway. After we had selected our rooms, I sallied out into that gay and brilliant promenade, which intersects the city from north-east to south-west. You may there see, on a fine sunshiny afternoon, all the fashion and beauty of this great city; the neat, tasteful, Parisian costume, in close contrast with the more sober guise of London. There you may hear intermingled the language of the Gaul, the German, and the modern Roman. To the right and left you see the spires of various Christian temples; and smiling faces, and happy hearts, will greet you at every step.

"To a secluded college novice like myself, there is something new and moving in all this life and bustle; it irresistibly brings to my mind ideas of gay feats, tilts, tournaments, and brilliant fairs. Within the finished bow-windows are wealth and splendour, and brilliancy, which we poor southerns have not seen in our own native land; marble[Pg 152] buildings, stores with granite columns, and the streets crowded with immense omnibuses (these are stages to transport persons from one part of the city to another); splendid private equipages, republican liveries, and carts loaded with merchandise.

"Seeing some trees and a comfortable green plat a little farther up the street, I worked through the crowd of persons, and carts, and stages, and found myself in the midst of the far famed Park, and immediately in front of that proud edifice the City Hall. I ascended the marble platform, and surveyed the gay throng, as they moved on in one continued and dense current, with merry faces, miserable hearts, and empty heads and pockets; but to talk of these stale things, you know, in the present age, is all stuff and sheer nonsense. I therefore put my reflections in my portfolio to carry home with me, and proceeded to the house-keeper's room, as I had been directed, to obtain the good lady's pilotage, or that of some deputy, to the governor's room, which I readily found. There is nothing remarkable in the two rooms which contain the paintings, except that they command from the windows a fine view of the park and the surrounding streets. Yes, there are two venerable old stuffed chairs. The one in the north wing was used by Washington at his inauguration as first President of the United States, and the one in the east room by the elder Adams. There are portraits of George Washington, George Clinton, Alexander Hamil[Pg 153]ton, Commodore Bainbridge, Monroe, Jackson, Duane, Varick, Livingston, Clinton, Willet, Radcliff, Captain Hull, Governor Lewis, Macomb, Yates, Van Buren, Brown, Perry, La Fayette, Decatur, Tompkins, Colden, Allen, Paulding, Hone, Stuyvesant, Bolivar, Columbus, Monkton, Williams: some of these last are only half-length. Over the portrait of Washington is a blue flag rolled up, with the following inscription in golden letters:—'This standard was displayed at the inauguration of George Washington, first President of the United States, on the 30th day of April, 1789. And was presented to the Corporation of New-York by the Second Regt. of N. Y. State Artillery, Nov. 25th, 1821.'

"While I was standing at one of the front windows again looking over the moving masses of Broadway, I saw a lady approach on the eastern footway of the Park, with a hurried step, until she came nearly opposite to the Hall. Crossing Chatham, she turned abruptly down one of the narrow streets running at right angles to the eastern line of the Park. There was something in the figure and carriage of this lady which, unknown at first to my consciousness, quickened my pulsations; but when she approached to the nearest point in her course, I felt morally certain that it was none other than that mysterious charmer, who by her father's connivance, or rather management, slipped through my fingers at Baltimore, and that, too, without my even having asked her address in this[Pg 154] city. The recollection of this latter circumstance prompted me instantly to seize my hat and hurry after her. Throwing the accustomed fee to my obliging pilotess, I walked with all possible haste to the corner of the street which I supposed she had taken. I found that a little crowd of ragged urchins had collected upon some occasion of their own, and asked the most intelligent-looking among them if he had seen a lady in black go down that street,—pointing down the hill from Tammany Hall; and, by way of reply, one of the most disgusting, discordant, and ill-timed peals of laughter that I ever heard burst upon my senses.

"'Lady in black!' said the most forward fellow, 'you will find plenty of black ladies down that street, with black eyes to boot.' I retreated in perfect disgust with these precocious vagabonds, not, however, before I was saluted with another peal of laughter, accompanied by the epithets—'greenhorn,' 'young 'un,' 'bumpkin,' &c. &c.

"You cannot conceive of any more thoroughly disgusting feeling than that produced upon the mind of a young man bred up in the country, upon this first exhibition of the detestable forms which vice and dissipation assume in every large city,—young females with bloated countenances,—boys with black eyes and bruised faces, with their disgusting slang and familiar nicknames, of Sal, Bet, Kate, Tom, Josh, Jack, or Jim, and their unmeaning oaths, Billingsgate wit, and filthy and ragged garments. There are certain districts of the city in which these are always to be seen, I am in[Pg 155]formed,—but of these more anon. I turned down the street, and pursued the course which I supposed the lady had taken, until I got to the bottom of what had once been a deep glen in its rural days. I could see nothing but entrances to tanyards, and warehouses full of leather and morocco. The houses, too, looked at least a century and a half behind those on the hill, in architectural taste. Turning to a woman who was sweeping the little narrow pavement in front of one of the houses, I asked her what part of the city I was in.

"'This is called the swamp, sir,' was the reply.

"'This,' thought I to myself, 'is a very different affair from our swamps.' Just at that moment, casting my eye along one of the narrow streets, I caught a glimpse of the same figure, attended only by her maid, entering a low, Dutch, dingy-looking house, with the gable end to the street. I walked as rapidly as I could in the same direction, and was within some twenty yards of the house, when two young men issued from the door, with the air and dress of gentlemen. I did not immediately observe their faces, because my mind was intently occupied with the lady, and the probable cause of her visit to such a strange part of the city. These reflections were suddenly interrupted by some one slapping me on the back, and exclaiming in my ear, 'Ha! my Chevillere! you here! how do you do? what brought you here?' but I am resolved to put your curiosity to a serious test; names in my next. Yours, truly,

"V. Chevillere."
[Pg 156]


CHAPTER XIV.

V. Chevillere to B. Randolph.
(In continuation.)

"New-York, 18—.

"Who do you think it was who met me at such an unlucky moment, just, perhaps, as I was about to stumble upon some clew to unravel the mysteries of this fair little breathing ignis fatuus? It was no other than young Arthur, our old schoolfellow, from Kentucky. He has come hither to attend a course of medical lectures, though they have medical lectures in his own State. Arthur was not of our class, nor yet one of the glorious three, but he was an old and respected friend and schoolmate, and therefore his acquaintance could not be cut quite so unceremoniously at the very moment of its renewal; and even if I had made some silly excuse to avoid him for the moment, he would undoubtedly have seen me kicking my heels in the street, 'like a strange dog in a crowd,' as Damon has it; so I reluctantly wheeled about with him. His companion was also a student of medicine, and a native of this city; he was introduced to me by the name of Hazlehurst. I am aware you are anxious to know what they could be seeking[Pg 157] in the identical house in which I had just blockaded my fair fugitive. I wish, as heartily as you can do, that I could explain that matter to our mutual satisfaction. I pumped our inchoate doctors in vain; they explained their own visit to the house very satisfactorily, upon the grounds of professional business, in the name and on behalf of their preceptor, for it seems Arthur has been here all the summer; but they neither saw nor heard of any lady in the premises, and all further inquiries were of course ended by the interpretation which Arthur chose to put upon my inquiries concerning a fair fugitive, so soon after my arrival. He was not a little pleased to hear that Lamar was in the city, in close league with a countryman of his own.

"By-the-way, Arthur is a noble fellow and an accomplished gentleman. He has all the prerequisites of natural capacity and elementary acquirements, for the study of his arduous profession. I know no young gentleman who has chosen a profession in every way better suited to his peculiarities of mind and temperament. You will doubtless recollect that he always had a fondness for the natural sciences, and this, after all, is the true 'condition precedent' for making a profound and philosophic physician. How lamentable it is that such minds are always thrown in the background in our colleges! This results from that everlasting dingdong hammering at languages, before the pupil has discovered their uses, and without any regard to his peculiarities of mind.[Pg 158] Those students who, like Arthur, exhibit an apt capacity for the study of things, and their properties and relations, are almost always dull at the study of their representatives, or, in other words, languages; why, then, do the instructers in these institutions destroy the energies and the vigour of such a mind, by making him fail at those things for which nature has disqualified him, or, rather, for which nature has too nobly endowed him? I am no enemy to the study of the vehicles by which we communicate with our fellow-men, but I am an enemy to the uniform, monotonous drilling, which all collegians in this country receive alike, because I have observed in this process, that third-rate minds invariably rank first. There are, in every college, numbers of young gentlemen who have parrot-like capacities, and memories that retain little words; but who, if required to originate ideas of their own, would soon show the native barrenness of their understandings.

"Look around you now in the world, and see what has become of these distinguished linguists! One out of a hundred, perhaps, has received a professorship in some new institution, and the others are all falsifying the promises of their precocious youth; while of the thoughtful and abstract dunces, as they were considered in college, many are building up lasting reputations, upon the deep and solid foundations which our hackneyed systems of education could not develop. Necessity and the world develop them; and these, we soon find, are[Pg 159] very different from college life. Now, college discipline should imitate the world in this respect; it should develope every man's peculiar genius. Neglect of this is the true reason why so many men distinguish themselves in the world, who were considered asses in college, and why so many who were considered amazingly clever in college, are found to be little better than asses in the world.

"Now that I have somewhat recovered from the chagrin of Arthur's mal-apropos appearance, I am really glad that he is here. I must surely see the lady again. Indeed, I am resolved to do so, if I have to stay here twelve months; and then Arthur's presence will much facilitate our design of surveying the under-currents of the busy world. You know that I am not prone to trust the surface of things. I shall therefore follow him into many places besides his fashionable resorts. He tells me that a malignant epidemic is said to be prevailing here, and that their visit to the sick person before mentioned was with a view to ascertain whether the patient really had malignant symptoms. They think she had not. I was not so much interested in the affairs of their patient during the discussion on the subject, as I was in their possible consequences upon others,—but of that more in my next. Young Doctor Hazlehurst seems to be a very fashionable personage, but gentlemanly in his manners, and unaffected in his deportment.

"They walked with me to our hotel, in order to see Lamar, but unfortunately he was out. How[Pg 160]ever, Arthur left college greetings for him, and young Hazlehurst left his address, and invitations for us both to call at his father's house, who, it seems, lives in the city; so you see we have made the first step towards seeing both the upper and under-currents during our sojourn. Whatever they bring forth shall be as faithfully chronicled as your own adventures. Truly,

"V. Chevillere."
[Pg 161]


CHAPTER XV.

V. Chevillere to B. Randolph.
(In continuation.)

"New-York, 18—.

"The little coincidences of real life are of much more frequent occurrence than is generally allowed by our prim historians. Arthur and his companion had not long departed, when Lamar and Damon came in. I mentioned their visit to the former, when, picking up the card and examining it with evident surprise, he placed his finger upon the number of the street, and held it across the table for Damon to see it, who immediately exclaimed, 'Well! I'm flambergasted now! if that ain't what I call a leetle particular.'

"'Why, what is the matter?' said I, astonished in my turn at their astonishment.

"'Oh, nothing more,' said Lamar, 'than that Damon and myself have but just come from the very door upon which that name and number are placed.'

"'Are you acquainted with the family?' said I.

"'No,' replied he; 'I was standing opposite to the door in question, when a young lady alighted from her carriage and entered the house; not,[Pg 162] however, before she suddenly stopped and took a searching look at your humble servant.'

"'Had you ever seen her before?'

"'If I am not mistaken she is the same young lady whom I saw two years ago at the Virginia springs, when I obtained leave from college to go there on account of my health; she was then quite young; just entering her teens, I should suppose.'

"'Ah! ha! have I caught you at last?' said I, as Lamar began to redden under a searching glance; 'then there was some foundation for the stories which followed you upon that occasion.'

"'Bah!' said he, 'they were all nonsense; but come, Damon, tell Chevillere what fine stump speeches you heard this morning at a New-York election.'

"I saw his drift in amusing me with Damon, and I was indeed quite willing to be so amused.

"'Smash me if I heard any speeches,' said Damon, 'nor saw any candidates either; they manage them things here quite after a different fashion.'

"'Why, how do they manage them, if they have no candidates and no speeches?' said I.

"'By the art of hocus pocus, I believe,' continued Damon; 'I had whetted my appetite for a New-York speech till I was completely on a wire edge, by the time we got to the polls; then they had a parcel of chaps standing behind a little counter, with gold headed poles, like freemasons in a cake-shop, playing at long-pole with the boys.[Pg 163] Why! where's the election,' said I, to a chap outside the counter, with one black eye too many. 'Right under your nose,' said he; 'clap down your tickets and kiss the calf-skin, as I did just now;' and then he cramm'd my hands full of little bits of paper, 'H—l in the West,' said I, 'are we going to have no speeches, no drink, no fighten?' 'O!' said he, 'there's plenty of drink in the bar-room next door, and you can get your stomach full of fight, if you will walk down to the Five Points.'

"'And how do the people know whom they vote for?' said I to Lamar.

"His answer satisfied me that Damon's account of the business was nearly correct as to matters of fact; and that the New-Yorkers never have what we call 'stump speeches,' and never personally know, or even see their representatives. These city mobocracies, composed as they are, principally of wild Irish, are terrible things; but I must adhere to our bargain, to have nothing to do with politics.

"Lamar has evidently ripped up an old wound this morning, and I am truly rejoiced thereat; we shall take an early day to pay the visit spoken of, at which time I shall observe the gentleman's movements, and see if I cannot treasure up a little ammunition for future use, wherewithal to pay off old scores against him.

"You recollect, perhaps, the old woman's comfort in a time of great famine; 'she thanked God her neighbours were as bad off as herself.' I find[Pg 164] very little comfort in this truly philanthropic doctrine, save from occasionally amusing myself with anticipations of Lamar's more fashionable dilemma.

"The Kentuckian's pulsations seem to be regulated by a gigantic and equipoised animal impulse. There is very little sinking of the heart in gloomy anticipation, with him; he enjoys the present, uninterrupted by the past or future. After all, are not these hardy and free sons of the west the happiest of all created beings? They enjoy nearly every thing that we do, perhaps not exactly in the same degree, but certainly with as much of the heart, if not so much of the head; I really envy Damon his hearty and joyous laughs, such as I could once indulge in myself, and I have often asked what is it that has made the change? Can you answer the question, Randolph?

"I once thought that you and Lamar would laugh it on through life, but it seems that you have scarcely started, each in his distinct career, before you begin sowing the seeds of your future sorrows, don't be frightened; it is the appointed race we must all run, sooner or later; we cannot be joyous and jovial college-lads all our days; but we may, and I hope will, be calm and tranquil old country gentlemen.

"But pshaw! I grow old before my time; 'sufficient for the day is the evil thereof;' lay that flattering unction to your soul, and all will soon be well, that is now ill with you.

"The more I see of these northern states, the[Pg 165] more I am convinced that some great revolution awaits our own cherished communities. Revolutions, whether sudden or gradual, are fearful things; we learn to feel attachments to those things which they tear up, as a poor cripple feels attached to the mortified limb, that must be amputated to save his life. A line of demarkation in such a case is distinctly drawn between the diseased and the healthy flesh. Such a line is now drawing between the slave and free states, I fear. God send that the disease may be cured without amputation, and before mortification takes place. I know that this latter is your own belief. What think you now, since you have seen the greater extent of the disease? Truly,

"V. Chevillere."
[Pg 166]


CHAPTER XVI.

B. Randolph to V. Chevillere.

"Belville, High Hills of the Santee.
"Dear Friend,

"I have heard of weeping willows, but I never saw weeping pines and black Jacks (scrub oaks) before I came into South Carolina; these are made so by the moss which here grows from the trees in long pendulous masses, which makes them look like gigantic weeping willows.

"On the day of my arrival here, I was again benighted within a few miles of Belville, and again found my way into Christendom by a delightful custom which prevails among your city refugees. You know that they have a little village erected here among your sandhills, which is entirely owned by wealthy residents of Charleston; to these they retire during the sickly season, and of course they are now full of fashionables. Before each door is a large wooden pillar, with a hearth on the top of it, a kind of rude imitation of our urn. On these they kindle pine-knot fires to keep the mosquitoes away from the premises, and the effect is doubtless at all times brilliant; but it is doubly so when they are the means of restoring a poor benighted[Pg 167] traveller to the region of hope and comfort; such was the case with your humble servant. I had but just begun to look out for the usual concert, and the Frying-pan, and the swamp, when I discovered these fires away to my right; I was not more than a mile out of my road.

"This little mushroom village was entirely deserted when I passed through it before; I was therefore surprised to find carriages standing by each cabin, and fine ladies promenading along the sandy roads with their attendant beaux.

"Sounds of infantile laughter, sweet music, and the still sweeter notes of frying-pans (very different affairs from my assortment), saluted my delighted ears as I cantered through the encamped throng. I did not stop, because the distance was but short to your own house, at which I soon arrived, and, for once in my life, not before I was wanted.

"As I briskly rode up the long sandy avenue, I heard a strange confusion of noises and sounds from the direction of the quarter, which you have here dangerously near, but from benevolent views I suppose; I next discovered Bell walking to and fro along the little esplanade which surmounts the front portico, wringing her hands, weeping, and calling upon your mother's name most piteously. I dismounted, and ran towards the nearest entrance with all my speed, and there I met the dear girl, just in time to catch her in my arms for fear of a worse resting-place. As soon as she had recovered a little from her exhaustion, the effect of her pre[Pg 168]vious excitement, she exclaimed, 'Oh! Mr. Randolph, how glad I am to see you!'

"'Not more so than I am to see you, my dear Bell; but tell me the cause of all this noise at the quarter, and of your alarm.'

"She told me, as well as she could for her short and convulsive breathing, that the driver had undertaken, in the absence of the overseer, to whip a young negro who is a great favourite among his fellows; and it seems that he had beaten him unmercifully. Some time after, a party had assailed his house where he had shut himself in; as I came up, they had just succeeded in breaking down the door; but the bird had been some time flown, out of a back window. Your mother had gone to drink tea with one of the refugees, a city acquaintance of hers, at the little encampment before mentioned. Under these circumstances, I seized a cudgel and departed to the scene of action, not, however, with Bell's consent. She declared that they would murder me, and clung to my garments until I gently disengaged myself and committed her to her maid. It is not to be denied that I almost blessed the rebellion, for its showing me that I was a person to be preserved in the eyes of your cousin.

"When I arrived upon the ground, it was some minutes before I could make the principal actors conscious of the presence of any one not in the number of their confederates; however, by dint of lungs and violent gesticulations, I at length[Pg 169] gained an audience, and no sooner had I done so, than the victory was gained. I merely promised to have the matter investigated, and the offender punished himself, if he should prove, upon investigation, to have whipped the favourite either without cause, or unmercifully, with cause. This desirable conclusion to the affair could not have been brought about in every quarter in this neighbourhood, or at any one where they had been less accustomed to have their mutual wrongs redressed.

"When I returned to the house, the news of the result had preceded me, and Bell had retired to her room; she soon, however, again made her appearance, more beautiful, if possible, than when I left her; she found it exceedingly difficult to amalgamate her present evident gratitude with her former comico-quizzico treatment of me,—and though the latter decidedly had the advantage, the struggles between the little devil of mischief within, and a proper behaviour to me on the present occasion, kept me quite amused, considering our late excitement, until your mother, who had been sent for, arrived with a number of gentlemen from the sandhills. With these we formed quite a party; your mother was less moved than I expected, owing, I suppose, to her having so long been in the habit of putting her energies to the test. She was undisguisedly pleased to see me.

"Among the gentlemen who returned with her, my green eyes soon discovered a suitor of Bell's; whether one formerly discarded, or at present[Pg 170] encouraged, I could not tell; but I rather suspect the latter, as your mother's visit was to his sister, and Bell had excused herself from going upon some grounds, for which he was now taking her to task.

"I was not so much surprised as I have been, at her easy control of my poor generalship, when I saw with what admirable discipline she managed her troops, both raw militia and regulars; of course I class myself with the latter.

"I was not too much delighted to hear many parties and excursions talked of and arranged; what a selfish animal I must have become since I have undertaken this southern tour! I wonder if the northern air and manners have had the same effect upon you and Lamar?

"After our visiters had departed (you see I am domiciliated), Bell said to me, starting up suddenly, 'Mr. Randolph, if my memory serves me, you told me at the door, on the morning of your departure, that indispensable business would put it entirely out of your power to take our house in your way home; I hope you have heard favourable accounts from that urgent business?'

"The little devil within was now completely triumphant; and then, to make my intended pathos still more ridiculous, by inventing more than half of my speech! I had a great mind to say, 'Oh, Mr. Randolph, how glad I am to see you!' and almost run into her arms; but your mother's dignity, Chevillere, though it is mild and benevolent,[Pg 171] keeps me always on my good behaviour in her presence; so I only answered, 'The horse! the horse! you forget the horse!' and then she enjoyed a peculiarly sincere and triumphant laugh; and the first, too, with which she has greeted my return. I love them so much that I can almost bear to hear her laugh at myself, provided it is at my knavery and not at my folly.

"B. Randolph."
[Pg 172]


CHAPTER XVII.

V. Chevillere to B. Randolph.

"New-York, 18—.

"I told you in my last of our surprise at the little coincidence of the number on the card, and that on the house where the lady alighted, with whom Lamar had exchanged some intelligent glances in her more girlish days; but I did not complete the relation, which I will do presently.

"In the mean time, was there ever a man of any travel or adventure, who has not been alarmed at these seeming accidents, or, what is more probable, made superstitious by their frequent recurrence? I think that I hazard nothing in saying, that more of such strange coincidences have occurred to me than I have ever seen in any work of fiction; not the clap-traps, and other little contrivances, which are intended to electrify the blunted nerves of veteran readers; but the coincidences of ordinary life in society, which reveal to us occasionally the finger of Providence in the course we vainly suppose we are chalking out for ourselves. What is it to a man to possess the will, when all the circumstances upon which that will is to operate, are ready arranged to his hand? I[Pg 173] do not repine at this, if it be a fact. On the contrary, it is often a matter of consolation to me to think, how narrow is the choice which the Creator has given us; thereby, of course, decreasing our means of doing wrong; nor is this all his beneficence to us,—he has made it easier for us to do right than wrong; often leaving us but two plain roads to follow, the right one being the easier, plainer, more attractive to a cultivated head and heart, and more profitable in this world. There! you see I never preach beyond this world; and hard enough it is to see clearly all around us in that.

"This brings me, by a very circuitous route you will no doubt think, to the further coincidence spoken of.

"As Damon does not take up his abode with us, besides other reasons, he was not of our party when we went to pay our respects to the Hazlehurst family. On entering the parlour, we found the young gentleman who had invited us, with Arthur and the lady, who were sitting, at the time of our entrance, engaged in an apparently interesting conversation, in the recess of one of the windows. Arthur and Lamar seemed pleased to meet again. The lady smiled upon Lamar, and acknowledged her recollection of his countenance. She is elegant and lofty; not in height, indeed, for she is not remarkably tall, but lofty in her demeanour and bearing. There are none of the gentle whisperings which come directly from the[Pg 174] heart of a certain little unhappy runaway. The one would captivate an assembly; the other has made terrible inroads upon the heart of a single gentleman; and this brings me to the matter with which I began this epistle.

"Lamar, having mentioned to Arthur something about the young lady we had met on our travels, and having thrown many gratuitous remarks and glances towards me, the lady seemed at length to take some interest in the subject, and in Lamar's description. She then appealed to me for the name.

"'Miss St. Clair!' exclaimed she, when I had succeeded in uttering it, 'and have you really fallen into her toils? Alas, I pity you!'

"Why the plague should she pity me, Randolph? It was evident enough that she did not mean the mock pity, which is only another way for saying, 'how I am rejoiced!'

"'But,' continued she, 'the lady is a dear and valued friend of mine, and you shall see her.'

"'But when?' said I, eagerly, awakening out of a brown study.

"All laughed; and I cannot say from my own experience, that I like the sport any better than yourself.

"You could have amused yourself (it was no amusement to me) with the odd looks of Lamar, in presence of the object of a first and youthful attachment. There is something pure and primitive in these boyish loves, and they are too much[Pg 175] out of fashion in the present age, even in this country. It is not certainly because matches of mere convenience have supplanted them, so much as because it has become too much the custom to treat very young affairs of the heart with ridicule and contempt. People are apt to say 'Oh! it is nothing more than puppy love!' (a refined expression truly) and to throw derision upon all such demonstrations, at the very time, too, when we are most sensitive upon such subjects, and when our impressions of the fair one are but too easily modified by the pretended opinions of our seniors and superiors. Opposition, direct and serious, will indeed sometimes make the youth steady in his course, but ridicule of the object, never!

"From the little I know of the science of political economy and human happiness, I am inclined to run right into the teeth of the prevailing doctrines on this subject. I have never known a couple who married, whether young or old, upon the strength of a first and mutual passion, who were not contented, prosperous, and happy. There are doubtless exceptions to this sweeping rule, but I have not seen them.

"Its enemies urge that the youthful pair are not capable of estimating each other's qualifications. But do age and experience qualify them? Or is the judgment of so much avail in these matters as is pretended? Look at the men most remarkable for discretion and judgment; I will venture to say you will find that most of them have trusted too[Pg 176] much to their judgments, and too little to their hearts, to be happy. The truth is, that nature has made the heart the magnetic point of mutual attraction in these affairs, and the head of the wisest man is here out of its sphere.

"It is too true, that many of your slow, cautious, miserly characters, attempt to reduce the whole business to a question in the single rule of three; as thus: if Caroline B. with a sweet face and a prudent turn makes a thrifty wife, what will Adeline B. make, with a sweet face, thrifty ways, and a heavy purse?

"Thanks be to an overruling providence, they are often carried a rule or two farther in their mathematics than they intended; the honey-moon winds up with doleful calculations, in the ashes of the chimney-corner, with the end of their rattans; such as Vulgar Fractions, Profit and Loss, Tare and Trett, et cetera.

"You must not imagine, from what I have here said, that I am one of those dreamers who contend that the world might again become a paradise; if, in these things, men would always consult the dictates of the heart.

"If we look forward at the marriages which are to come, we can discern nothing. This you may think is too true to make a joke of, and too serious to discuss. But look back over all the world that you have seen, and I think you will own that Providence or destiny has had a great design constantly in view in their fulfilment. The human[Pg 177] character has been equipoised, extremes have been avoided, the humble elevated, the exalted humbled; all the genius, and the wit, and the judgment, and the virtues, have not been suffered to be concentrated in the descendants of a single pair, but have been as nearly as possible divided among us, the descendants of the multitude. Opposite, or rather diverging characters, are frequently enamoured of each other—the brave man loves the gentle woman; the gentle man, the gay woman; and thus in their descendants we have the grand compromise of nature.

"There is a sermon, now for the text—'neither is the battle to the strong nor the race to the swift.'

"V. Chevillere."


V. Chevillere to B. Randolph.
(In continuation.)

"New-York, 18—.

"The day being Sunday, I sent old Cato this morning to arouse Lamar quite early, in order to ascertain if he was disposed to walk before breakfast, and view some of the boasted parks, groves, and gardens of these hospitable Gothamites. Old Cato soon returned, saying that Lamar had but that moment fallen asleep, but that he would be with me as soon as he could make a hasty toilet; hasty it indeed was, for he was not many minutes[Pg 178] behind Cato, in his morning-gown and slippers, yawning and stretching his clenched fists through the room as if he had sat in his chair all night.

"'Beshrew me, Chevillere,' said he, 'but you are an uneasy and restless spirit, to be waking a man up at all hours of the night in this style. I thought, at least, when I saw old Cato's grisly head, that you had had a surfeit, or a fit of indigestion.'

"I suppose then you are disappointed to find me well; but tell me, Lamar, how you intend to spend the day?

"'Why, I have not laid it down in a regular campaign, but I suppose, as you are too much of a Roundhead to kill the day with me at cards, that I shall have to submit myself to be whined to death with nasal psalmody, at some conventicle or other. Be that as it may, Damon shall sit on the stool of repentance as well as myself.'

"'In the mean time, suppose we walk to the Battery and Castle Garden?'

"'Agreed!' said he, 'provided you wait till I jump into a more seemly garb.'

"We were soon arm in arm, sauntering down the southern extremity of Broadway, which terminates in a beautiful oval grass-plot, called the Bowling Green; surrounded by a handsome iron railing, and containing a young and an old grove of trees; in imitation, doubtless, of human life, the young to supplant the aged. During the colonial government, there stood in the centre of this beau[Pg 179]tiful spot a painted leaden equestrian statue of George the Third, but as soon as the revolutionary war broke out, it was melted into bullets, and shot at his own ships and soldiers. On the opposite side of the right branch of Broadway, in a southwesterly direction, is the Battery—a noble lawn, covering some acres of the southern extremity of Manhattan Island, and of course looking into the Bay of New-York. What is by a misnomer called Castle Garden, stands out in the waters of the bay on the south-west side, and is connected with the lawn by a wooden bridge of some thirty or forty yards length, and not too strong to give way under some future pressure. Castle Garden is a castellated structure, without turrets and battlements, built of hewn stone, and pierced with a row of port-holes. It seems to have been built for warlike purposes, but is now used as a public promenade, and exhibition garden, having tiers of seats inside, and around an extensive area, in the manner of an amphitheatre. In the centre of the area is a little temple or dome, supported on columns. Surmounting the whole body of the castle is an esplanade, protected by plain railings; from the top of this extends high into the air a flag-staff, from which, on national festivals, the 'star spangled banner' proudly floats over the blue waves which beat against its base.

"It was here that the corporation entertained Lafayette, a platform having been thrown over the area, and a canvass marquee over the top; this[Pg 180] ball-room is said to have been capable of containing from six to ten thousand persons.

"Lamar and I mounted the esplanade, and seated ourselves upon the benches, just within the railing.

"We could see the ships of every nation, as they rode triumphantly over the waters of this magnificent bay, gliding about like 'things of life;' marine birds screaming and diving among them, and sometimes the porpoises in their clumsy gambols, shooting their black masses above the water and down again; steamers with their gay pennants, thundering noises, and deafening bells; the rude music and songs of the sailors, the hoarse voice of the pilot, as he stepped on board some outward-bound vessel, and the 'ay! ay!' of the sailor, as the order reached his ears, through the rattling of the shrouds, and the whistling of the breeze.

"Farther out in the bay, between us and the ocean, is a beautiful chain of islands; first Ellis's, then Bedloe's, and lastly, next the ocean, Staten Island.

"Gay throngs of well-dressed people began now to crowd the gravelled walks of the Battery; maids attending on children were seen with their little charges, gambolling over the green in their Sunday suits; the emancipated mechanics, with their snow-white jackets and collars; and the happy negro, with his tawdry and cast-off finery, as free (personally, not politically, free) as any of the loungers. There was something in this Sun[Pg 181]day scene inexpressibly soothing and delightful to my feelings.

"Every southern should visit New-York. It would allay provincial prejudices, and calm his excitement against his northern countrymen. The people here are warm-hearted, generous, and enthusiastic, in a degree scarcely inferior to our own southerns. The multitude move as one man, in all public-spirited, benevolent, or charitable measures. Many of these Yorkers are above local prejudices, and truly consider this as the commercial metropolis of the Union, and all the people of the land as their customers, friends, patrons, and countrymen.

"Nor is trade the only thing that flourishes. The arts of polished and refined life, refined literature, and the profounder studies of the schoolmen, all have their distinguished votaries,—I say distinguished, with reference to the standard of science in our country.

"This much I have written before going to church. The further adventures of the day, in the evening.

"V. Chevillere."
[Pg 182]


V. Chevillere to B. Randolph.
(In continuation.)

"10 o'clock P. M.

"About ten o'clock this morning the bells began to ring, from Trinity to St. John's. A forest of steeples seemed to have let loose their artillery at once upon us tardy Christians. These gongs seemed to take effect in about fifteen minutes, for simultaneously the houses poured out their thronging occupants, until the streets literally swarmed with these church-going people.

"'Whither shall we bend our steps?' said I; 'here are various routes to heaven; which do you choose, Episcopal, Methodist, or Presbyterian?'

"'Not any one of the three,' said he.

"'Indeed! Perhaps Jewishly inclined?'

"'No; I thought that you were aware of my partiality for the close-communion Baptists,' said he, with mock gravity.

"'But seriously, Lamar, you accused me of wishing to drag you to some conventicle or other; choose for us both; indeed for three, for here comes Damon.'

"'Then,' said he, 'I choose the most celebrated preacher! you will thus be most likely to see a certain demure little runaway.'

"'And there,' said I, 'you will be most likely to see her friend, with Arthur by her side.'

[Pg 183]

"Damon now coming up, was asked by me where he would choose to spend the forenoon of the day.

"'I can't tell exactly,' replied he, 'for the truth is, I feel pretty much like a fish out of water even of week days; but Sunday I'm completely dished; I was thinking of walking out into the country, and bantering somebody for a foot-race.'

"I proposed that we should all go and hear Dr. ——, and forthwith led the way, my two companions following on, much like truant boys on their return march to school. We entered a low white church, I don't recollect where exactly, but on the western side of Broadway. The preacher was already in the pulpit, and the aisles and pews on the lower floor were crammed with hearers, insomuch that we were compelled to seek seats in the small gallery, where with great difficulty we found them.

"The preacher, who had already begun, was a commanding-looking gentleman, clothed in black, and, like most of our dissenting clergymen, without gown or surplice; his features were large and well-formed; his forehead lofty beyond any thing I have ever seen, but falling back at the top until it was lost in little short bristly curls; his attitudes were lofty and dignified. He had, as I said before, announced the portion of Scripture which he was attempting to elucidate, before we entered the church. The subject seemed to be, the practicability and means of a direct revelation from[Pg 184] God! When he spoke of the Great Spirit who rules our destinies revealing himself, and his manner of doing it, he was almost sublime. I must try to recollect a few passages for your edification, but you must remember that they are transposed into my own language.

"He painted in vivid and striking colours, the utter incapacity of man to conceive identically of such a being as God. 'The little puny brain of man,' said he, 'which you may hold in the hollow of your hand, cannot contain a true conception of God in all his majesty! the little arteries and fibres of our poor heads would rend and burst asunder with such an idea.

"'To form one single correct thought of so great a Spirit, you must first conceive of those things which surround him; as, when we view a painting of some earthly object, there must first be a background to relieve the eye. So when you would conceive of that great Being truly and fully, you must be able to realize the duration of eternity, obliterate the little periods of time and chronology, which require a starting and a resting-place in our human minds,—soar out of the reach of the sickly atmospheres which surround these little planets, and stand erect in the broad and fathomless light of God's own atmosphere! Could the human eye see with such rays, and stretch its glances over the great waves and boundless oceans of light in which he dwells, one single ray of it would blast your optic nerves.[Pg 185]

"'Even here upon earth, if we are suddenly brought from a dark dungeon into the bright rays of his reflected glory, our little optical machinery quails and dances with the shock; but take that same creature from his gloomy dungeon, and place him in the glassy sea of light in which God dwells! The utter horrors of such a moment, if they did not instantly explode the soul into its elements, would be worse than the terrors of convulsions, and earthquakes, and the black and fathomless chasms of the sea. And yet! some of us desire in our hearts a direct revelation to ourselves from this sublime Being! Know you what you desire? You desire that God should stretch out his mighty power, and draw away the friendly veil of the heavens, and burst upon an astounded world in all his fearful attributes! Before such an immediate presence, the sun and moon would become dark in contrast. The natural laws which he has given us for our protection, of gravitation, electricity, and magnetism, would burst loose from their reflected positions, and all animate and inanimate nature would fall before their First Great Cause! We cannot have direct physical intercourse with God. We are physically incompetent to encounter him, either in his goodness or in his wrath.

"You say in your hearts, that there is mystery in this revelation of the Bible! Can mystery be separable from sublime or profound greatness, when viewed through human powers? Are not height, and depth, and space, and air, all mysterious[Pg 186] to your minds, when beyond the reach of the eye? Is not darkness alone profoundly mysterious? mysterious in its effects and in its properties! Can any mind analyze darkness? Is it positive or negative? Does it extend through eternal and measureless space? or is it only a creative property dependent upon the functions of the eye? Our darkness is to one part of creation light, and our light their darkness.

"Is measureless space a positive creation, or a negative nonentity! No human intellect can fathom these subjects; not from any of their delusive properties, but from our limited capacities! These then are but the beginning of those things which interpose between us and our great and sublime Creator!

"You can now, perhaps, form some idea of the difficulties of revealing God to man!

"What would you have with a more powerful and sublime revelation than this? Would you disorganize the minds of the whole human family, by opening to them frightful volumes which would craze and bewilder, rather than direct them? Do you complain of mystery, and yet call upon God for more?

"But the greatest difficulty between us and a direct revelation from our Creator, has yet to be considered.

"This revelation of the Bible was necessarily conveyed to us through the medium of human language. Now let us examine what this human[Pg 187] language is. It is a system of words or signs, which convey to our minds the ideas of things. These words only represent such ideas as we ourselves have formed from the things we have seen, and their various combinations. How then can these signs and symbols convey identical ideas of God and his attributes? All the imperfections of this revelation then are confessedly owing to our imperfections, both as it regards mind and language.

"I have given you but a faint outline of this powerful and vehement speaker's discourse. During its delivery I once or twice turned to Lamar and the Kentuckian, to see how they were affected. The former had insensibly risen during the fervency of the preacher's eloquence, and stood leaning over the balustrade, drinking in the sounds of a voice which are truly powerful though not musical, until he came to a pause; he then sank into his seat, a grim smile passing over his pale sickly features, clearly showing to those who knew him, how intently he had listened. Damon chewed tobacco at a prodigious rate, and the more eloquent the speaker became, the more energetic was the action of his jaws. His eye was wild and savage, like that of a forest animal when it suddenly finds itself in the midst of a settlement. He sometimes cracked his fingers together, for the same purpose, I suppose, that he used to crack his whip when travelling on horseback, to give emphasis and round his periods.[Pg 188]

"But I had not long to consider these effects upon different characters, for at this moment Lamar pointed over the balustrade at two moving figures on the lower floor. You already guess, if you are any thing of a Yankee, what these were. Lamar and I simultaneously arose to our feet and gazed at the heads which filled up every crevice, as a veteran soldier would have gazed at so many bristling bayonets upon an impregnable bastion. We soon heard the steps of a carriage let down, and then the rolling of the wheels. Lamar bit his lip till the blood almost started from it. Whether the pressure was increased by his having seen that Arthur joined the ladies near the door, I shall not undertake to say.

"The sermon now being over we had merely to throw ourselves into the tide of human figures which moved down stairs, to be carried safely to the bottom.

"When there, Damon drew one long and whistling breath, and an inarticulate sound not unlike the snort of a whale.

"'I'm flambergasted! if that ain't what I call goin the whole cretur, he'd go to Congress from old Kentuck as easy as I could put a gin sling under my jacket. O Christopher! what a stump speech he could make, if he would only turn his hand to it, instead of wasting his wind here among the old wives!'

"'Well, Lamar, what did you think of him?'

"'Think of him! (rousing himself from a brown[Pg 189] study), I never knew before that I had nerves in the hairs of my head.'

"'And where did you now obtain that precious piece of anatomical news?'

"'In the church, to be sure! Were not my locks dancing all the while to the music of that eccentric man's voice? The cold chills ran over me, as if I had been under the influence of miasma.'

"I watched Damon through an unusually long silence, while he several times snapped his fingers and took a fresh chew of tobacco.

"'I'll tell you what it is, that's what I call a real tear-down sneezer,' ejaculated he; 'he's a bark-well and hold-fast too; he doesn't honey it up to 'em, and mince his words—he lets it down upon 'em hot and heavy; he knocks down and drags out; first he gives it to 'em in one eye and then in 'tother, then in the gizzard, and at last he gits your head under his arm, and then I reckon he feathers it in, between the lug and the horn; he gives a feller no more chance nor a 'coon has in a black jack.'

"'Then you give him more credit for sincerity than you usually do men of his cloth,' said I.

"'Yes, yes! there's no whippin the devil round the stump with him; he jumps right at him, tooth and toe-nail, and I'm flambergasted if I don't think he rather worsted the Old Boy this morning; and he's the best match I ever saw him have, he looks so stout and soldier-like; and then his eye! Did you see his eye, stranger? I'm shot if he didn't[Pg 190] look as if he could'a jumped right a-straddle of the devil's neck, and just run his thumbs in, and scooped out his two eyes, as easy as I would scoop an oyster out of his shell.'

"'You don't go to church often when you are at home?'

"'No; but I would go, if we had such a Samson as this; he raises old Kentuck in me in a minute. I feel full of fight, and ready for any thing now! But our old parson! he's an entirely different cut in the jib. He whines it out to us like an old woman in the last of pea-time; he doesn't thunder it down to 'em like this chap, and like old Hickory did the grape-shot at New-Orleans.'

"We had now arrived at that point of the street where we were to separate. Damon abruptly informed us of his intention to return soon to Baltimore. I asked him if he was not pleased with New-York.

"'O, yes;' said he, 'it's a real Kentuck of a place, a man can do here what he likes; they don't look at the cut of a feller's coat, but at the cut of his jib. I could wear my coat upside down here, and my hat smashed all into a gin-shop, and nobody has time to turn round and look at me. Yes, yes, stranger, they are a whole-souled people, and I like 'em, but I have staid long enough.'

"Here we separated for the day. Lamar intends to try and prevail upon him to accompany us to the theatre, and the Italian opera. I have great curiosity to see him at the latter place. Pe[Pg 191]drotti, they say, can tame a tiger with her melodious and touching voice. As you may suppose, I am anxious to hear it myself, and to see its effects upon one so unschooled in the music of luxurious and effeminate Italy.

"I have written you more at length than I intended, but I could not do otherwise in return for your amusing, friendly, and satisfactory epistle. We shall meet again, as in days of yore, and then we will gather up all these scribblings, and enjoy these scenes again. In the mean time, believe that I wish you success in your present suit, for the sake of three of us,—but more particularly and selfishly that of

"V. Chevillere."
[Pg 192]


CHAPTER XVIII.

V. Chevillere to B. Randolph.

"New-York, 18—.
"Dear Chum,

"Events which seem to me worth recording, crowd upon us so fast now, that it is almost impossible to give you, according to promise, even a profile view of our movements.

"This morning, about the same hour at which we went to church yesterday, we strolled down Wall-street (and we seemed the only strollers there) to see the Shylocks in their dens, if any such could be found. I was instantly struck with the concentrated looks, and absorbed countenances of all the persons we met. Most of them were running in and out of the banks, with their little bank books in their hands, making mental calculations of notes to be taken up, deposites where made, and how much. Brokers were standing behind their counters, ready to commence their brisk, and (in this country) almost unhazardous game. Many of them amass immense fortunes; it is not at all uncommon for one of these houses to loan to a state several millions at once.

"We went upon 'change at the hour of twelve.[Pg 193] There, in the large room of the rotunda, or circular part of the exchange, merchants, and brokers, and bankers, and moneyed men meet, pretty much after the same fashion as our jockeys and racers upon the turf. The light falls from the dome upon these faces, and reveals the best study for a picture I have ever seen. The seller and the sellee, the shaver and the shavee, or diamond cut diamond, as Damon expresses it:—bear with me but a moment while I go over these dull details, and in return I will tell you something more of the lady with the black mantle.

"The most predominant expression that I saw upon 'change was affectation; the affectation of business; not the silly school-boy affectation which wears off with the improving mind, but that which is first put on by business men, to disguise the real operations of the mind, and which afterward grows into a confirmed habit, and is seen deeply set in wrinkles, long after the first exciting cause has disappeared.

"This symptom, among the moneyed men, varies according to character and strength of mind in the individual. One man I saw standing with his back against a window, his thumbs stuck into the armholes of his waistcoat, his quill toothpick tight between his teeth,—his features large and fleshy, his complexion between a copper and an apoplectic dapple of blue and red,—his teeth large, white, and flat, his eye small and gray, and his head grizzled; he had evidently been a free, but what[Pg 194] is called a temperate liver. I tried to trace back through the wrinkles in this man's face, what the emotions were which in his younger days he had attempted to engrave upon it, and which long habit had now made part of his nature; but I should first attempt to describe the expression itself. His upper lip was turned into a curl of contempt; his eye was thrown a little down, and the eyelid raised high, so as to show much of the white of the eye, as when a person is in the attitude of profound thought upon some far distant subject. This man had, I thought, the best chosen affectation; it expressed profound abstraction in one direction, when he was no doubt really abstracted in another.

"His right-hand neighbour had not been so fortunate in his selection of a vizor for the moneyed masquerade. He had chosen comedy; and attempted to hide pounds, shillings, and pence under a comic visage. It was not well chosen. His business-laugh was too horrid. It displayed teeth, gums, and throat, and was too affectedly sincere. He too frequently passed his glances quickly round from one face to the other, to see if they enjoyed the sport. This species of affectation had its origin in a settled contempt for the sense of his associates, and an exalted conception of his own, and especially of his powers to amuse. He frequently drew the corners of his mouth towards his ears, by a voluntary motion, without exercising the corresponding risible muscles; elevating his eyebrows at[Pg 195] the same time in a knowing way. Do this yourself, and you will have the expression instantly. His only additional comic resource consisted in sticking one thumb directly under his chin, like a pillar. This man is celebrated on 'change for telling what he considers a good story.

"Another description of affectation here seen, and by far the most common, is the affectation of decision, firmness, stability, and concentrated purpose.

"Various methods, I saw, had been practised through long lives to attain this safe look. Some, to whom it was not natural to do so, pushed out the under jaw, like a person who (to use a Southern term) is jimber-jawed. Others carried the head on one side, drew up the muscles at the outer angle of one eye, and kept the nostrils distended. Others clenched the teeth, looked fierce and steady, and habitually patted one foot upon the floor, as if in high-spirited impatience. Some looked pensive and sad, and occasionally drew long sighs. Beware of these, if you ever trade in the money-market.

"The most ludicrous of all moneyed whims is a desire to make others suppose that you think yourself poor. A heartless man begging for sympathy is, of all kinds of affectation, the most contemptible. But the most dangerous of all others, and the most apt to deceive a candid and upright mind, is the affectation of being unaffected. Such is the sin of those who affect bold, independent, and reck[Pg 196]less looks. If good fortune had not made them brokers, bad fortune (they seem to say) might have made them robbers.

"There is yet another class to describe—the sincere and the honest. These are easily descried. Something like an electric intelligence passes from the eye of one honest man to that of another. These are usually modest, retiring, and humble. I speak of real humility, which is best displayed in a respect for the understanding of other men; a desire to place one's companions at their ease; and a tenderness and sympathy towards the failings of the bankrupt, the vicious, and the unfortunate generally.

"Not that these indications occur only on 'change; they may be seen in the pulpit, at the bar, at the bedside, and behind the counter. As you read my descriptions, try to produce the expression upon your face; then call up some individual of your acquaintance, who may have sat for such a picture—poor, indeed, in its finish, but if it convey to you the idea, my ambition is satisfied. This is a severe test, but I think you may muster up dramatis personŠ for all the characters.

"As I am now upon this subject, permit me to make one or two general remarks.

"I have learned to hold no intimacy with those men who are harsh and uncompromising towards unfortunates and criminals. These feelings often arise from the identical weaknesses, or faults, which drove their victims to ruin. You have,[Pg 197] doubtless, seen two slaves quarrel because one belonged to a rich and the other to a poor man.

"As one well-fed dog is sure to be snarlish to a poorer brother—poor human nature—this currish principle is but too true when applied to us.

"There is none who appears so virtuously indignant at crime as the man who is a rogue in his heart. A horse-stealer who has blundered into better fortune is scandalized at his former craft; and a sheep-stealer can weep in the very face of the lamb which another has stolen.

"Those ladies, the purity of whose characters is most questionable, are uniformly the first to cease visiting an openly suspected sister.

"But I see plainly that if I go on, the subject must become too revolting; at all events I must give it to you in broken doses; and by the time Arthur introduces me into the human catacombs, where the living are soul-dead, you will be ready to take another view of those dark and dismal abodes, and attempt further observations of humanity in its darker developments.

"A malignant disease, as Arthur thinks, has broken out in the portions of the city alluded to; if so, I will remain with him. This is the time to see fearful sights; and we Southerns, you know, have looked the grim monster too often in the face in this shape to be easily frightened from a cherished purpose.[Pg 198]

"Damon begins to be very uneasy under these reports of sudden deaths, and black infections sweeping through the air."


V. Chevillere to B. Randolph.
(In continuation.)

"New-York, 18—.

"I have seen her, Randolph, and seen her far more captivating and beautiful than ever!

"Yesterday, after I had finished the former part of this letter, I met, on my way down to dinner, Arthur and young Hazlehurst. The latter had come expressly to invite Lamar and myself to spend the evening at their house. As you may suppose, it was not refused; we pressed them to go in with us, as they had not yet dined, to which they finally consented.

"I find Hazlehurst an intelligent young man, but with many erroneous opinions concerning the south, of which he must be disabused. He imagines us to be a generous and hospitable people, but in a rather semi-barbarous state.

"As this very subject occupied our attention in presence of the ladies, I prefer giving you an imperfect sketch of the discourse. I must not omit a table lecture of Lamar's on nicotiana, however impatient you may be to hear more of a certain fair one.[Pg 199]

"The subject of tobacco was introduced simultaneously with the segars, after most of the company had retired. One having been offered to young Hazlehurst, he declined it, saying that he did not use tobacco in any shape.

"'Not use tobacco! not smoke!' said Lamar; 'why, sir, you have yet to experience one of the most calm, delightful, and soothing pleasures of which human nerves are sensible.'

"'I have always understood,' said the other, 'that the stimulus leaves one far more miserable than if he had not applied it.'

"'Then you labour under some mistake,' said Lamar; 'and if you will permit, and your doctorships will forbear laughter, I will explain to you the effects of a fine segar upon my system, and "suit the action to the word."

"'When a man takes a genuine, dappled Havana segar in his mouth, places his legs upon a hair cushioned chair, his head thrown back on that upon which he sits, or against the wall; his arms folded upon his chest,—the following phenomena occur:

"'First stage. He becomes heroic and chivalrous, or perhaps eloquent; if the last, and thinks himself alone, you will see him wave his hand in the most graceful and captivating style of oratory. His eye is the soul of imaginary eloquence, his features are all swelled out until they seem grand—gloomy—and profound; his nostrils pant and show their red lining, like a fiery and blooded steed. He[Pg 200] rolls out thick volumes of smoke, and puffs it from him like a forty-two-pounder. He draws down his feet, and raises his head and looks after it, as if victory or conviction had been hurled upon its clouds. Perhaps some one laughs at him, as you laugh now at me.

"'He replaces his legs, leans back his head again; the second stage is come; he smiles, perhaps, at the laurels just won; he closes his eyes, delightful visions of green meadows and lawns, fragrant flowers, meandering streams, limpid brooks, beautiful nymphs, twilight amid tall and venerable trees, and lengthening shadows, flit before his imagination. His face now is towards the heavens; his features are calm and serene; he wafts the smoke gently upward in long continued columns, and wreaths, and garlands; his hands fall by his side—the diminished stump falls from his hand.

"'And now, in the third stage, he is in a revery. A servant touches him three times, and tells him a gentleman wants to see him; he kicks his shins; servant retreats. Eyes being still closed, he draws a long sigh or two, but full, pleasant, and satisfactory. Servant returns; shakes him by the shoulder; he jumps up and throws an empty bottle at his head, as I do this one, at that grinning fellow there (making a mock effort), and then the trance is over.

"'Now where are the bad effects, except upon Cato's shins, if he should happen to be the man?'

[Pg 201]

"We all applauded Lamar for his treat, with three hearty cheers, in a small way.

"I am sorry to see a little sly, stealthy, unmentionable coldness arising between Lamar and Arthur. I first discovered it in little acts of what the world calls politeness, but which I call formality, towards each other. They are unconscious of it, as yet, for it seems to have sprung up by irresistible mutual repulsion between them: deep seated self appears to have warned each of a dangerous rival in the other. These are little secret selfishnesses of the soul, which lie deep, dark, and still, running in an unseen current, far below the soundings of the self-searching consciousness. How mysterious is the mind of man! We may draw up the flood-gates, and let loose the dammed-up waters in order to find some secret at the bottom; but the flood rolls by, and the secret still lies buried as profoundly as before. At some future day, when the thunder and the storms shall come, these secrets may, perhaps, be washed up to the surface, like wonders of the deep, when least expected!

"At about eight o'clock, Lamar and I sallied out to find Mrs. Hazlehurst's house in Broadway; amid music from clarionet, violin, and kent bugle. These were stationed in the balconies of the different museums. Carriages were just setting down their company at the old Park Theatre. Little blind and lame boys sat about the iron railing at St. Paul's church, grinding hand-organs, and[Pg 202] making music little better than so many grindstones—all for a miserable pittance which they collect in the shape of pennies, perhaps to the amount of a dozen a day.

"Negroes were screaming 'ice-cream' at the top of their lungs, though it is now becoming cold in the evenings and mornings. At every corner some old huckster sang out 'Hot corn! hot corn!' though the regular season of 'roasting-ears,' has long since passed by. Little tables of fruit, cakes, and spruce-beer were strewed along the walks and under the awnings, which often remain extended during the night.

"We at length found the house, and entered with palpitating hearts. I had a sort of presentiment that I was to meet Miss St. Clair, from what the lively Isabel had said.

"When we entered the saloon she was nowhere to be seen! my disappointment was no doubt visible, for I saw an arch smile upon Isabel's countenance, and, I must say, a very singular one upon that of her brother. The idea first struck me that he is either now, or has been, a suitor of the absent lady! Was there a lurking jealousy at the bottom of my own heart, at the very time that I was fishing up green monsters from Lamar's mental pandemonium? Randolph, Oh! the human heart is deceitful above all things; and it oftener deceives ourselves than others. We have radiated rays of light for our mental vision outwards which we may[Pg 203] extend ad infinitum, but once turn our observations inwards, and it is like inverting the telescope.

"We were presented to the lady of the mansion immediately upon our entrance. She is benignant and bland, yet aristocratic withal. She discovers a warm heart towards the South, probably from an idea of a kindred aristocratic feeling in us. The two are, however, very different in their developments. It is necessary here to have many more bulwarks between this class and those below them than is needful with us; as there is here a regular gradation in the divisions of society. The end of one and the beginning of the next are so merged, that it would be impossible to separate them without these barriers. What are they? you would ask. They consist in little formalities,—rigid adherence to fashion in its higher flights,—exhibition of European and Oriental luxuries, et cetera, et cetera.

"We were presented to the company in general; most of the fashionable ladies were sitting or standing around a fine-toned upright piano-forte, at which two of the party were executing, in a very finished style of fashionable elegance, some of Rossini's compositions, accompanied by a gentleman on the flute. And in good truth, they produced scientific and fashionable music; but, Randolph, it was not to my taste. You know that I have cultivated music as a science, from my earliest youth; that I am an enthusiast here, and not altogether a bungler in my own execution. I have[Pg 204] now discovered either that I lack taste, or that the fashionable world is therein deficient. You shall decide between us at another time.

"Lamar very soon contrived (how, heaven only knows) to throw me completely in the shade; but the first evidence I had of it was his sitting bolt upright between the gay Isabel and her mother. He had already betrayed them into laughter,—not fashionable laughter, for I saw the old lady wiping the tears from her eyes. It is almost impossible for any one to adhere long to conventional forms, when he is of the party,—so manly, generous, and sincere is he. My chagrin at not finding myself situated equally to my heart's content did not escape him, and he perhaps discovered my awkwardness, for he attempted to draw me into a discussion concerning the provincial rivalry of the North and South. I evaded his friendly hand, but soon the younger lady renewed the attack.

"'Come, Mr. Chevillere, you will tell us what peculiarities you have observed, as existing between the northern and southern ladies as to polish,—fashion,—education,—any thing! This gentleman is so wonderfully free from prejudices and rivalry, that he declares the instant he beholds a beautiful woman, he forgets that she has a local habitation upon earth. You, sir, I hope, are not so catholic an admirer of beauty?'

"'I too, madam, am always disarmed of local prejudices when I see a beautiful northern lady; but that is not what you wish me to answer. If I[Pg 205] understood you right, I suppose you wish to know whether any peculiarity in fashion, habits, or manners strikes us at first sight disagreeably.'

"'Precisely. Your general opinion of us.'

"'I am glad to be able to say, then, that with regard to this city I am a perfect enthusiast. Every thing is arranged as I would have it. Nature appears to be the criterion here in matters of taste; utility and improvement seem to prompt the efforts of your men of talents, and that delightful politeness to prevail, which consists in placing all well-meaning persons at their ease, without useless conventional forms.'

"I hate this formal speech-making, Randolph, across a room at people, so I thought I would be myself at once. I therefore continued my remarks for the remainder of the evening rather more in a nonchalant way, and as an introduction to a more free and easy tone to the company. I asked Lamar to repeat his lecture of the day, on smoking. Hazlehurst, as soon as he heard the subject mentioned, began to describe it to a party of young ladies who stood round the piano. Their curiosity was excited immediately; and though Lamar frowned at me, the ladies entreated until he was forced to comply.

"He set the room in a perfect roar of laughter, and then a delightful confusion prevailed. Lamar did not repeat exactly the same things which he had treated us with at the dinner-table, but he preserved the stages, dwelling a much shorter[Pg 206] time on the heroic, and much longer on the two latter.

"He introduced a heroine into his shades and bowers, and painted Isabel as he saw her at the Springs; so, at least, I suspect from a certain mantling of the colour into her cheeks.

"'Then,' said he, speaking of the third stage, 'his hands fall by his side, his eyes are closed, he sighs profoundly, but comfortably and somnolently; perhaps he is married; his wife steals gently up and kisses him. 'My dear, the milliner's bill has come.'—'O dam the miller!' In a short time she returns—'My dear, my pin money is out: come now, you are not asleep, I know: and that is not all—the carriage wants painting; the house wants repairs; the children want toys; servants want wages.' He rolls his head over on one shoulder, opens his eyes, and fixes them in a deliberate stare, as I do now, upon Miss Isabel.' This last idea became either too sentimental or too ludicrous for Lamar; and he jumped up in an unsuppressed fit of laughter. You know Lamar, therefore I need not tell you that this is a very imperfect sketch of the manner in which he acted the ludicrous and careless, but hen-pecked, husband. I do not wonder that he laughed, when he looked at Isabel, for her face was indescribably arch and sanctimonious.

"Hilarity and glee seemed now to be the order of the evening with all except poor Arthur. I thought that Lamar would actually sow the seeds[Pg 207] of a future quarrel, while discussing something relating to the West. How introduced I do not know, unless Lamar was talking of Damon. However, Arthur stated one fact which surprised us all, and of which we had been all equally ignorant. He stated that Kentucky had one more college than any other State in the Union; half as many as all New-England; and more than North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, united.

"While these things were going on, I heard a gentle and scarcely perceptible step behind me, on the carpet; and seeing the other gentlemen rise, I mechanically rose also—to be electrified by the vision of Miss St. Clair. She was pale and trembling, but far more beautiful than I had ever seen her. It was not the beauty of the waxen figure, or the picture; it was the beauty of feeling, sensibility, and tenderness. You have seen that little plant which shrinks at the rude touch of man, Randolph; that should be her emblem.

"She glided into a rather darkened recess of the room, near where I stood, and seated herself alone, as if to be out of the reach of observation; yet by some means I was seated by her side, almost as dumb as a statue. I even longed for more of Lamar's delineations, if for nothing else but to see her smile again, and light up those features which nature evidently made to smile. Her hair was still parted over the forehead in the Grecian manner; a single ringlet stole down behind her ear. Her[Pg 208] dress was simplicity itself, exceedingly plain and tasteful.

"I need not tell Miss St. Clair how much gratified I am at again meeting her in a circle composed almost entirely of my friends and my friends' friends; but, if I have been rightly informed, we are more indebted to accident than to any benevolent designs on her part for this meeting.

"'A strange accident indeed, my being here. Not less so than your own. But you are not a believer in accidents.'

"How beautiful a little act sometimes appears, Randolph, when it sits upon the countenance of one so artless by nature that you can see all the machinery which she imagines is so completely hidden, as a child often hides its eyes and vainly supposes itself unseen. This ruse, intended to draw me into some argument about accidents, and to avoid the real case at issue, really amused me; I was willing, however, to follow her lead for a time. 'Accidents,' said I, 'seem to us, at first sight, to be without the usual train of cause and effect; but, if they were all placed in my hands, I think I could govern the destinies of the world, so long as I could control my own destiny.'

"'I do not understand you, sir,' said she, with the simplest cunning imaginable; feigning deep interest, though her countenance would not join in the plot.

"'The condition,' I continued, 'and the present circumstances of every individual now in this room[Pg 209] might be traced back to some accident which has happened—to the person, his father, or his grandfather; the death of one friend, the marriage of another, may affect the destinies of the persons themselves and all connected with them.'

"Ah, Randolph! there was a tender chord touched. Did you ever see a person shot through and through? The countenance expresses a whole age of misery in an instant. The soul is conscious of it before the body. One will even ask whether he is shot—while his countenance proclaims death more forcibly than a hundred tongues could utter it. There is a writhing, convulsive, retreating misery; part of which I saw I had inflicted upon this gentle being. This mystery must be solved. The system on which she is treated by those around her is false.

"You have, perhaps, seen a whole family after the death of one of its members, religiously observe profound silence on the subject. Should any one rudely or even gently mention the deceased, all are instantly horrified. Each fears that the feelings of all the rest have been shocked. At this moment, a calm and judicious friend, when the ice is once broken, may cure all this amiable weakness by steadily and tenderly persevering. I was determined to try the experiment in this case. A bold measure, when you consider the person and the circumstances.

"'Miss St. Clair,' said I, after she had recovered[Pg 210] her composure; 'allow me to ask whether your family is related to that of General St. Clair?'

"'I believe not,' she composedly answered.

"'Has your father been long dead?'

"'Not a very long time: and the loss is the greater, as I have never known the value of a brother or a sister.'

"'You do not seem to labour under the usual disadvantages of step-daughters.'

"'Never was step-father more devoted and affectionate than mine, in his own peculiar way; and with that I am quite contented.'

"Now, Randolph, you know that impertinence had no share in dictating these questions, but could impertinence have gone farther? what ramification could I next attempt? Here was nearly the whole genealogical tree, but farther down there was no hope of touching the true branch.

"Her own gentle heart alone remained to be suspected. How could I suspect it, Randolph? so young, so pure, so gentle, so beautiful! Alas! that is but a poor protection against suitors. Besides, she is said to be rich. Must the question be asked? I resolved upon it! Was I not justifiable in doing so? Am I not an avowed suitor? at least have I not shown myself ready to become so? The opportunity was good; the company were all engaged in little coteries around the saloon. My previous questions seemed rather to have tranquillized her than otherwise; it was a trying moment![Pg 211] but no other step could be gained until this obstacle was surmounted. I therefore proceeded to make one or two anxious inquiries, critical as it regards my happiness, but which a lover cannot confide even to the ear of Randolph.

"My object was to know whether I had aught to fear from rivalry. Her lips moved, but no sound issued from them. I resumed; 'Believe me, that this pain would not have been inflicted, if my supposed relation to yourself had not imboldened me to ask whether any other man were so happy as to render me miserable.'

"'I see no impropriety in answering your question, though it can avail nothing; my affections are now as they have always been—disengaged.'

"These words were wafted along the vestibule of my ear, like some gentle breathings of magic; you have heard the soft vibrations of the Ăolian harp, as a gentle summer breeze bore them along the air, redolent of the rich perfumes of summer flowers, and attuned to the wild music of songsters without.

"Sweeter, far sweeter, was her voice; a silvery voice is at all times the organ of the heart, but when it dies away in a thrilling whisper from the profoundness of the internal struggle, the ardent sympathy of the hearer is involuntary. Tragedians understand this language of the heart, insomuch that custom has now established the imitation, in deep-toned pathos.

"She placed emphasis on the word affections;[Pg 212] why was this, unless her hand is engaged without them? This idea flashed upon me with electric force; you can well imagine how suddenly it broke asunder the links of the delicious revery of which I have attempted to give you a glimpse. Another more painful question than any of the former now became absolutely necessary; consequently I resumed: 'I think that I know Miss St. Clair sufficiently well to presume with a good deal of certainty that her hand is not pledged where her heart cannot accompany it?'

"'My hand, sir, is like my affections.'

"Her head now hung down a little, and her eye sought the carpet; my own expressive glances, sanguine as they perhaps had occasionally been, were themselves much softened and humbled; but again I summoned my scattered thoughts to the charge.

"'Will Miss St. Clair grant me an interview on the morrow, or some other day more convenient to herself?'

"The words had hardly escaped my mouth, when Isabel stood before us. Lamar was soon by her side. I also arose.

"'My dear Frances,' said she, taking my seat, and locking her hand where I would have given kingdoms to have had mine; 'we are talking of making up a little equestrian party to the Passaic Falls. Will you be of the company? Pray join us, like a dear girl; it is only fifteen miles.'

"The lady addressed shook her head gravely.[Pg 213] Isabel arose, and turning to me, 'I leave the case in your hands, sir, and you are a poor diplomatist for a southern, if you do not succeed in persuading her to go.'

"I was much alarmed to hear many ladies calling for shawls and bonnets. I was not long, therefore, in urging the case, for it was emphatically my case.

"'I cannot go,' said she; 'in the first place, I have not been on horseback since my boarding-school days; and in the next place, I could not undergo the fatigue.'

"'But if all these objections could be obviated?' I eagerly inquired.

"'Then I should certainly be pleased to go, and still more pleased to gratify others by going.'

"To make the story a short one, as my letter has already become too long, she finally consented that I should drive her in a cabriolet, provided her father, who was not present, thought it proper for her to go.

"I reported progress to Isabel, who looked sly and arch; her brother was as solemn as a tombstone. I do not say this in triumph, Randolph, for God knows I have little cause as yet. I merely state the fact in all plainness and honesty, that you may have the whole case before you.

"'This augurs well for you, Mr. Chevillere,' whispered the lively girl.

"'I am not so certain of that,' said I.

"Finally, we agreed to go, 'weather permitting,' [Pg 214] as they say at country sales, on the day after to-morrow.

"I did not urge this interview any farther, for a reason which you will easily perceive. What has become of you? I write two pages to your one now. Is the North more prolific than the South in incidents?

"Your Friend and Chum,

"V. Chevillere."
[Pg 215]


CHAPTER XIX.

V. Chevillere to B. Randolph.

"New-York, 18—.
"Dear Friend,

"Certainly I must be one of the most unfortunate fellows that ever lived. And none the less so because the bitter strokes come upon me in the midst of apparent prosperity; but before I tell you of one disappointment, I must tell you of the things which preceded it, in the order of their occurrence.

"On the evening after the assemblage of our little party at Hazlehurst's, Lamar, Damon, and myself went to the Italian Opera; and to please Lamar no less than Damon, we took seats in the pit.

"The assemblage was brilliant beyond any thing I have seen, in the two lower tiers of boxes. All the fashion, and wealth, and beauty of this fair city seemed to be assembled around us, with their gay plumage and foreign head-attire, and opera-glasses. As a shading to this gay picture, there were the gentlemen, with enormous whiskers and mustaches curling sentimentally and greasily[Pg 216] over the upper lip; their teeth glistening through the bristles, ghastly as Peale's mummy itself.

"The passion for hairy visages is a singular characteristic of this phrenological age. Large and frizzled locks puffed out on each side of the head to hide the absence of development are easily enough accounted for; but this supererogatory disfiguration of ugly faces is altogether unaccountable on the same principles.

"'I'll be dad shamed if it ain't all cowardice, and I hate to see it practised,' said Damon.

"There is, perhaps, more truth in this remark than you would at first suppose. No man is so desirous to appear fierce, courageous, and even piratical as he that is a dastard in his heart. Indeed most men are fond of making a parade of those qualifications with which they are least endowed by nature.

"There is one bewhiskered class, however, from whom we ought to expect better things; I mean young and thoughtless men, who are led away by fashion; many of whom have rubbed through the walls, if not through the studies, of college; and whose taste ought to have been more refined by associating with gentlemen, however great their stolidity or idleness.

"Finally, as to whiskers, I have seen most of the American naval and military heroes; and I cannot now recall a single one of them who ever wore remarkable whiskers, or bristles on the upper[Pg 217] lip. Nor have I ever seen a polished southern gentleman remarkable for either. There is one fact which, if generally known, would root out the evil at its source; and that is, that men who flourish large whiskers are very apt to become bald!

"'O! corn-stalks and jews-harps!' said Damon, after worrying on his seat during the performance of the overture by the orchestra; 'will they tune their banjoes all night, and never get to playin?'

"'That is called fine Italian music,' said Lamar.

"'Yes! yes!' replied he, 'there's 'four-and-twenty fiddlers' sure enough! but I rather suspicion that it would puzzle some of our Kentuck gals to dance a reel to that music. O my grandmother! what jaunty heels they would have to sling after such elbow-greese as that. But you are stuffing me with soft corn—I see you are by your laughing. They know better than to pass that for music; no, no, catch a weasel asleep!'

"The opera now commenced, and I must own that I saw more of Damon than I did of the play. He was struck dumb with astonishment; seemed scarcely to believe his own senses, but looking round the house after an unusual silence, and seeing the audience serious and apparently attentive, he burst into a cachinnation.

"'Well,' said he, with a long breath, 'I wish I may be tetotally smashed in a cider-mill, if that don't out-Cherokee old Kentuck; why that ain't a chaw-tobacco better nor Cherokee! Just wait a[Pg 218] minute, and they'll raise the whoop, it's likely; and if they do, if I don't give them a touch of Kentuck pipes that'll make them think somebody's busted their biler. Look! some of the men have got rings in their ears too; and leather skinned. Now I'm snagged if I was to meet that feller in a Mississip cane-brake, and my rifle on my arm, if I wouldn't be apt to let the wind through his whistle cross-ways.'

"'Not if he was to speak to you, and tell you he was a Christian like yourself?'

"'Speak to me! he would do a devilish sight better to play dummy: for sure as he spoke, I should let fly at him, because I wouldn't know but he belonged to some of those far away tribes of Black-feet, or the likes of that.'

"'But you do not really think that they look and speak any thing like the western savages, Damon?' said I.

"'I'm smashed if I don't bet that I can put blankets and leggins on the whole tribe, and pass them through the Cherokee nation for friendly Black-feet.'

"The incomparable Prima Donna (as she is called here) now made her first appearance; her voice is exquisite, Randolph, and her execution beyond the conception of an unsophisticated student.

"The music is pleasing to the ear, and may touch an Italian heart, but it found no response from mine. I tell this to you in all sincerity and[Pg 219] confidence, but it would lower a man, I fear, to say so in the fashionable circles.

"'Well, Damon, would the Italian ladies pass for squaws?'

"'No, no; they are better than the men, and they are right pretty too, if they didn't talk such outlandish gibberish; but that dark skinn'd man there, I swear Pete Ironsides would kick him if he was to go in my stable; for he hates an Injin, as I do an allegator; poor Pete! I reckon he thinks I'm skulped.'

"'Pete is well cared for, I will guaranty,' said Lamar, very pathetically.

"'Look! look!' exclaimed Damon; 'what's that under the green umbrella there, at the front of the stage among the lights?'

"'That is the prompter, to put them right when they go wrong.'

"'Yes, yes! I see, I see!' continued he; 'he gives them a wink every now and then.'

"In the operas it is very frequently the case that one of the subordinate characters comes to the front of the stage after the principals have made their exit, and explains what rare sport is coming.

"'What does that fellow slip out here every now and then like a dropped stitch for?'

"We explained to him the meaning of it, as well as we understood it ourselves.

"'Ay, ay! I see it now; he is the Nota Bene!'

"We found great difficulty in getting Damon to understand, with his shrewd natural view of things,[Pg 220] that an opera was nothing more than a common play; the parts being sung, instead of spoken.

"'Now I wish my head may be knocked into a cocked-hat, if a man had told this to me of the Yorkers in old Kentuck, if I wouldn't have thought he was spinnin long yarns; there is no sense in it, nor there's no fun in it, as they all take it up there in the pews; if so moutbe now that they were all of my way of thinking, and would only join in a leetle touch of the warwhoop, why we might show them fellers a little of the real Cherokee, that I rather suspicion they haven't seen.'

"'Why, what would you do, Damon?'

"'Jist set them four-and-twenty fiddlers to playin of something like Christian reels; hand the gals down on the floor; then I reckon there would be a little sort of a regular hand-round! Confound their jimmy simequivers, and their supple elbows! Smash me, if they don't think the whole cream of the ball lies in rattlin the bones of their elbows. Give me your long sweeping bow hands, that saws the music right in under your ribs, and sets your legs to dancin, whether they will or not. Do you think them fellers ever made anybody feel in the humour for a hand-round?'

"'I can't say that I think they ever did.'

"'No, nor they never will! they may set people's teeth on a wire edge, or make their flesh crawl, or set them into an ague fit with their shakin, and grindin, and squawkin. And now I think of it, the whole business sounds more like grinding ram[Pg 221]rods in an armory, than any thing I ever come across; there's the squeakin of the wheels, that would go for them goose guzzles them fellers are pipin on. The ramrods on the grindstones will go for the fiddles,—only I don't see any fire flyin out of the catgut, but I've been watchin sharp for it some time. Then there's the old leather bellows groanin and gruntin away, jist like those two fellers seesawin there, on them two big-bellied fiddles, and the leather bands flappin every time they come round, keeps the time for the whole concern.'

"'Well, have you seen any fire yet?' after a long pause.

"'Yes, plenty of it! they make it fly out of my eyes, if they don't out of the catguts; confound them, I say, they keep me all the time drawin down first one eye and then another, first one corner of my mouth and then another, jist as if a horse was on a dead strain, and you were bowing your neck and stickin your leg straight in the ground, and then strainin with all your might as if you could help him; but this is worse! a confounded sight worse! for every now and then all the fiddlers and trumpeters comes rattlin down their tinklin quivers, like a four-horse load of china, goin to the devil down a steep hill at the rate of ten knots an hour; and then it all dies away agin, as if horses, wagon, and chinaware had all gone over a bank as high as a church steeple. Then! I begin to draw a long breath[Pg 222] agin, and feel a little comfortable. But here's a dyin away sound! hop and come agin, rising and whooping, until the whole team's going full tilt, pull dick, pull devil, here they go again! old Nick take the hindmost. See their elbows now, how they move out and in, out and in, like spinning jinnies. And see that feller that sets at the top of the mob, on the high chair in the middle, how his head goes. See how he looks at that book before him, as if that stuff could be put down there in black and white.'

"'It is all down there, Damon.'

"'Come, come, now, strangers, you have stuffed me enough! I can't swallow that exactly neither! All the lawyers in Philadelphia couldn't write down half the wriggle-ma-rees one of them chaps has made since I set here! Smash my apple-cart, if I wouldn't like jist to see a goosequill goin at the rate of one of them elbows. Ink would fly like mud at a scrub-race, and when it was done it would look like my copy-book used to do at school; more stops than words.'

"'But you keep your eye on the orchestra all the while; why not look on the stage?'

"'I do, I do; and that puzzles me the blamedest,—how they all come out square at the stops, fiddlers and all. Every now and then they seem to git into a fair race, and one feller's eye is poppin out of his head, and the veins on the woman's neck is ready to burst, and the fiddlers and the pipers and the trumpeters are all puffin and blowin, like[Pg 223] our Kentuck jockeys at a pony sweepstakes; and then all at once, jist as there begins to be a little sport, to see who has the wind and the bottom, their heads begin to move first one side and then the other all so kind, and ready to make a draw game of it, blabbering all the time; till the trumpeter sees they're pretty well blown, then he begins to come down a little with his toot! toot! toot! That's to call all hands off, you see, and they slip down as easy and as quiet as if it had all been in fun. Then they all clear out but one, and he watches his chance till they're all gone. Then he comes here to the front, and flaps his wings and crows over them, as if he had done some great things, if we hadn't been here to show fair play.'

"I am sure, Randolph, that I give you but a poor idea of the reality, but you must supply the deficiencies by your imagination. Damon talked incessantly, and I enjoyed it far more than I could have done the opera, even if I had been a perfect Italian scholar. I find that I must defer the account of our disappointment till another time, when I will tell you some matters of interest.

"Truly yours,

"V. Chevillere."

END OF VOL. I.


TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE

Alternate, archaic, and inconsistently spelled words have been retained.

Punctuation has been made consistent including the use of quotation marks.

page 36: "faintin" changed to "faintin'" (a faintin' spell)

page 57: "ear" changed to "dear" (Believe me, dear lady,)

page 114: "doggrel" changed to "doggerel" so as to be consistent with other places this word is used (and singing doggerel to the music)

 

 


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