Elinor Wyllys


"Hardly, I should think; time and tide, you know; wait for no man--not even to be sketched."

"But Hazlehurst told me his friend Hubbard had promised to immortalize the Petrel and her crew by a picture; perhaps he chose the moment of departure; you say she appeared to great advantage then."

"I should think he would prefer waiting for some more striking moment. Who knows what adventures they may meet with! Mr. de Vaux expects to win a race; perhaps they may catch a whale, or see the sea-serpent."

"No doubt Mr. Stryker would try to catch the monster, if they were to meet with him; his fishing ambition is boundless," said Mrs. Creighton.

"But there is no fashionable apparatus for catching sea-serpents," observed Elinor; "and Mr. Stryker's ambition is all fashionable."

"Stryker is not much of an Izaak Walton, certainly," remarked Ellsworth. "He calls it murder, to catch a trout with a common rod and a natural fly. He will scarcely be the man to bring in the sea-serpent; he would go after it though, in a moment, if a regular European sportsman were to propose it to him."

"I almost wonder we have not yet had an English yacht over here, whale-hunting, or sea-serpent-hunting," said Mrs. Creighton; "they are so fond of novelty and wild-goose chasing of any kind."

"It would make a lion of a dandy, at once," said Ellsworth, "if he could catch the sea-serpent."

{"lion" = social celebrity}

"A single fin would be glory enough for one lion," said Elinor; remember how many yards there are of him."

"If Stryker should catch a slice of the serpent, no doubt he will throw it into his chowder-pot, and add it to the receipt," said Mr. Wyllys.

"Well, Miss Wyllys, I think you and I might engage to eat all the monsters he catches, as Beatrice did Benedict's slain," said Mrs. Creighton.

{"Beatrice and Benedict..." = characters in Shakespeare's play "Much Ado about Nothing"}

"Do you intend to make up with Stryker, a la Beatrice?" asked the lady's brother. "It is some time now that you have carried on the war of wit with him."

"No, indeed; I have no such intentions. I leave him entirely to Miss Wyllys; all but his chowder, which I like now and then," said the lady, carelessly.

"I am sorry you will not be here, Mrs. Creighton, for the pic-nic to the ladies, which de Vaux is to give when he comes back," said Mr. Wyllys; "Mr. Stryker will give us a fine chowder, no doubt."

"Thank you, sir; I should enjoy the party exceedingly. I must not think too much of it, or I might be tempted to break my engagement with the Ramsays."

"Have you really decided to go so soon?--I was in hopes we should be able to keep you much longer," said Miss Wyllys.

"I should be delighted to stay; but in addition to my visit to the Ramsays, who are going to town expressly for me, I must also pick up my little niece."

Miss Wyllys then made some inquiries about Mr. Ellsworth's little girl.

"She was very well and happy, with her cousins, when I heard from my eldest sister, a day or two since," he replied. "She has been with me very little this summer; I hope we shall be able to make some pleasanter arrangement for the future," he added, with a half-glance at Elinor.

"My brother has a very poor opinion of my abilities, Miss Wyllys; because I have no children of my own, he fancies that I cannot manage his little girl."

"I am much obliged to you, Josephine, for what you have done for her, as you very well know."

"Oh, yes; you are much obliged to me, and so forth; but you think Mary is in better hands with Mrs. Ellis, and so do I; I cannot keep the little thing in very good order, I acknowledge."

"It must be difficult not to spoil her, Mrs. Creighton," remarked Mr. Wyllys. "She is a very pretty and engaging child--just the size and age for a pet."

"That is the misfortune; she is so pretty that Frank thinks I make a little doll of her; that I dress her too much. I believe he thinks I wear too many flowers and ribbons myself; he has become very fastidious in his taste about such matters lately; he wishes his daughter to dress with elegant simplicity; now I have a decided fancy for elegant ornament."

"He must be very bold, Mrs. Creighton, if he proposes any alteration to you."

"I agree with you, entirely," said the lady, laughing; "for the last year or two I have been even less successful in suiting him than of old. He seems to have some very superior model in his mind's eye. But it is rather annoying to have one's taste in dress criticised, after having been accustomed to hear it commended and consulted, ever since I was fifteen."

"You must tolerate my less brilliant notions for the sake of variety," said her brother, smiling.

"I shall hope to make over Mary's wardrobe to some other direction, before she grows up," said Mrs. Creighton; "for you and I would certainly quarrel over it."

The party rose from table. Elinor felt a touch of nervousness come upon her, as she remarked that Mr. Ellsworth seemed to be watching her movements; while his face had worn rather a pre-occupied expression all the morning, seeming to threaten something important.

The day was very pleasant; and as Mr. Wyllys had some business at certain mills on Chewattan Lake, he proposed a ride on horseback to his friends, offering a seat in his old-fashioned chair to any lady who chose to take it.

{"chair" = a light, one-horse carriage}

Mrs. Creighton accepted the offer very readily.

"I have not been in any carriage so rustic and farmer-like these twenty years," she said.

"I shall be happy to drive you, if you can be satisfied with a sober old whip like myself, and a sober old pony like Timo."

"It is settled then; you ride I suppose, Miss Wyllys."

Elinor assented; Mary Van Alstyne was also to go on horseback.