Elinor Wyllys


"Why, how now, count? Wherefore are you so sad?"

SHAKSPEARE. {sic--this is the Cooper family's usual spelling of the name}

{William Shakespeare, "Much Ado About Nothing", II.i.289}

"WELL, Jenny, you are going to leave us to-day, it seems," said Mr. Wyllys, the next morning, at breakfast. "I am sorry for it; but, I suppose your mother has a better right to you than we have."

"I promised mamma I would not stay after to-day, sir. Aunt Agnes is to carry me over to Longbridge, before dinner."

"You must come back again, as often as you can, child. It always seems to me, that Harry and you belong here, as much as you do anywhere else. How long do you suppose your mother will stay at Longbridge?"

"We are going to New York next week. Father wishes to be in Charleston early in October."

"I can't bear to think of your going so soon. If you are once in Carolina, I suppose, we shan't see you again until next June; but, mind, you are to pass all next summer with us," said Elinor.

"That is to say, Nelly, if she has no more important engagement," added Mr. Wyllys, smiling.

"Even a very important engagement need not interfere," said Miss Agnes. "We shall be very happy, Jane, to see any Charleston friend you may see fit to bring with you."

"I don't think there is the least danger that any Charleston friend will come with me;" said Jane, blushing a little.

"Have you selected a friend from some other place, Jenny?" asked her uncle.

"Oh, no, sir!" was the answer; but her colour continued to rise, and she appeared a little uneasy. As for Harry, he had taken no part in the conversation, but seemed very busy with his knife and fork.

"Pray remember, Jane," said Elinor, "I am to have timely notice of a wedding, in my capacity of bridesmaid."

"Who knows, Nelly, but you may call upon Jane first. You have fixed upon your friend, I take it; eh, Harry?"

"I hope so;" Hazlehurst replied, in a low voice, and he drank off a cup of hot coffee with such rapidity, that Miss Wyllys looked at him with astonishment.

Elinor made no answer, for she was already at the other end of the room, talking gaily to her birds.

As Harry rose from table and walked into the next room, he tried to feel very glad that Jane was to leave them that day; he sat down, and took up a paper; but, instead of reading it, silently followed a train of thought by no means agreeable.

In the course of the morning, according to the arrangement which had been made, Harry drove the ladies to Longbridge. He thought he had never passed a more unpleasant morning in his life. He felt relieved when Elinor, instead of taking a seat with him, chose one inside, with her aunt and Jane; though his heart smote him whenever her sweet, cheerful voice fell upon his ear. He tried to believe, however, that it was in spite of himself he had been captivated by June's beauty. Was he not, at that very moment, carrying her, at full speed, towards her father's, and doing his best to hope that they should meet but once or twice again, for months to come? Under such circumstances, was not a man in love to be pitied? For some weeks, Hazlehurst had not been able to conceal from himself, that if he occupied the position of the lover of Elinor, he felt like the lover of Jane.

As he drove on, in moody silence, the party in the carriage at length remarked, that he had not joined in their conversation at all.

"Harry does not talk so much as he used to;" observed Miss Wyllys; "don't you think he has grown silent, Jane?"

"Perhaps he has," she replied; "but it never struck me, before."

"Do you hear, Harry?" said Elinor; "Aunt Agnes thinks the air of Paris has made you silent. It ought surely to have had a very different effect."

"This detestable road requires all a man's attention to keep out of the ruts;" he replied. "I wish we had gone the other way."

"If Aunt Agnes has no objection, we can come back by the river road," said Elinor. "But your coachmanship is so good, you have carried us along very smoothly; if the road is bad, we have not felt it."

Harry muttered something about holes and ruts, which was not heard very distinctly.

"Out of humour, too; very unusual!" thought Miss Agnes. There was a something unnatural in his manner, which began to give her a little uneasiness; for she saw no good way of accounting for it.

The ladies were driven to the door of the Bellevue Hotel, where the Grahams had rooms. They found several visiters with Mrs. Graham, among whom, the most conspicuous, and the least agreeable, were Mrs. Hilson and her sister, both redolent of Broadway, elegant and fashionable in the extreme; looking, it is true, very pretty, but talking, as usual, very absurdly.

Mrs. Graham had scarcely kissed her daughter, before Mrs. Hilson gave Elinor an important piece of information.

"I am so delighted, Miss Wyllys, to hear this good news--"

"My cousins' return, do you mean? Did you not know they had arrived?"

"Oh, yes; we heard that, of course, last week; but I allude to this morning's good news, which I have just heard from this fascinating little creature;" added the lady, catching one of Mrs. Graham's younger children, as it slipped past her.

Elinor looked surprised, when Mrs. Hilson condescended to explain.

"Mrs. Graham is to pass the winter in New York, I hear."

"Indeed!" exclaimed Elinor, turning with joyful eagerness towards Mrs. Graham. "Are you really going to stay so near us?"