Page images
PDF

“I am glad too, for their sakes,” rejoined the Recluse. “I am not the rich man now that I was when I first became their friend; and I shall not allow any trifling services I have rendered, to interfere with their choosing a wealthier one.” “Oh, shame fall on her, if she should forsake you, after all your goodness,” cried the old woman. “Arthur Wandellyn, thou art a noble creature!” said the stranger, warmly pressing his hand, and fixing his admiring eye upon him. “But,” added he, with an arch smile, “you are not fit for the world you live in. Suppose, instead of taking it for granted that Mary Campbell is going to cast off a disinterested lover, merely because she is mistress of twenty thousand dollars, you should make a little more inquiry into the value of this property P” “You told me it was worth forty thousand,” replied the Recluse. “If I did, I told you truly,” said the stranger, smiling; “for I came both ready and willing to give eighty thousand for this valuable tract.”

The young mau looked upon him with unrestrained surprise. Who could it be that thus lavished gold around him like a successful alchymist! Whoever he was, he continued to speak to the Recluse with more freedom than any other man would have dared ; and he was listened to with increasing and even affectionate respect. After a long conversation, the important paper was placed in Arthur's hands, at Mrs Campbell's repuest. A letter was immediately written to apprise Mary of her good fortune, and the stranger offered to take it to Miss Campbell in person. Vandellyn's reserve had been entirely conquered by the gracious

THE RECLUSE OF THE LAKE. 69

nobility of his character and manners; and, when he bade him farewell, the ensuing morning, he expressed an earnest wish that their acquaintance might be renewed. “Perhaps it may, at some future time,” replied the unknown; and he spoke it so emphatically, that his friend could not drive it from his mind, until a letter from Mary, a few hours after, changed the current of his thoughts. She wrote to tell him she had heard of his late misfortunes, and to reproach him for his unkindness in concealing them from her. She said she did not ask permission for George and herself to work for him, until his debts were paid; that she had resolved upon it, and would not change her purpose. Arthur almost rejoiced at the distress which had procured him such a proof of her attachment and energy; and his curiosity was doubly excited to know how far unexpected wealth would have power to dazzle her unsophisticated nature. Two days elapsed before be received a reply to the letter he had sent by the stranger. Its contents convinced him that Mary rejoiced at her change of fortune, only because it gave her the power of evincing her gratitude to him. Her first request was, that a comfortable house and good nurse should be provided for her grandmother. She then proceeded to tell him that the dark-eyed man who offered to purchase the lead mine, visited her continually, and urged her to marry his eldest son ; who, he said was handsome ; twenty times as rich as Arthur Wandellyn, even when she first knew him ; and, besides all that, he had seen her, and was desperately in love with her. Mary added, she knew not what to make of all this; but her instructress thought him a needy adventurer, who wished to secure her money; and she really wished Mr Vandellyn would come and transact her business with him, without delay. This summons was of course readily obeyed. On his arrival, he was astonished to find how much art had been used to dazzle Mary's ambition, and win her affections from him; and many a time he sighed that hypocrisy should have the power to move so majestically in the disguise of high minded virtue. For various reasons, it seemed desirable that Wandellyn should possess a legal right to protect the orphan and her property; and an immediate marriage was decided upon. The unknown could not be found; but eighty thousand dollars were remitted, with a promise to see Miss Campbell in a few days. A new mansion was purchased in the immediate vicinity of New York; and the morning after a very private wedding, little George accompanied the bride and bridegroom there. Mary was delighted with the tasteful arrangement of everything around her, but what was Vandellyn's surprise when he found all his beloved pictures and statues, with many a valuable addition? Even his birds and flowers were there; and the servant joyfully announced that the horses and greyhounds had arrived ' Before he had time to allude to the mysterious benefactor, whose conduct had been so strangely contradictory, the door opened, and he appeared. Forgetful of his suspicions, Wandellyn eagerly stepped forward to meet him. The stranger

THE RECLUSE OF THE LAKE. 71

seized his hand, and looked upon him with unutterable affection, as he said, “God bless you, Arthur; may your romantic loves be happy.” Then sinking his head upon the young man's shoulder, he added, in a troubled voice, “My son, my son!”

# * * * When the first agitating moments of surprise and happiness were over, Arthur inquired why he had been led to suppose he had no father. “I was obliged to take a long and perilous voyage,” replied the elder Vandellyn. “I thought it very probable I might never return. I wished you to inherit my fortune; yet I feared to trust you with so large a sum in the heyday of youth and passion. If I died, I believed you would, sooner or later, thank me for the precautions I took ; and if I lived I should have the satisfaction of seeing how my son would bear wealth and freedom. I have seen it, Arthur; and it has been balm to my heart that your life, though a visionary one, has been unstained by anything of sin, or shame. But society has its duties, and its pleasures too ; and my dear son must no longer live out of a world which needs all the assistance of the good and the gifted.— When the long winter evenings come, I will tell you, George, how I landed in Mexico; went to view the lead mines in Missouri; and finally hastened to New York, on account of letters I received from my son's trustees; but I shall not tell you how much I have learned to love your sweet sister Mary; nor shall I ask Mrs Vandellyn's pardon, for urging her to marry my son.”

Never was there a happier family than the one now assembled around him, who was once called the Recluse of the Lake. Mary's mind gradually expanded under the influence of her husband and father, until she sympathized with the artist and the poet in his most refined and intellectual pleasures. The grandmother was amply provided for, and many a kind indication of remembrance sent her. As for little George, he was in a perfect ecstasy with everything he saw and heard. His bird-cage was suspended in the breakfast room; but, when he began to sound the praises of its beautiful inmate, Arthur Vandellyn would affectionately part the hair on the boy's forehead, and answer playfully, “Nay, brother George; now I have the handsomest bird-cage; and the handsomest bird in the whole world in it.”

[ocr errors]

To be punctual in our engagements, and just in our dealings, though it may sometimes seem to be contrary to our present advantage, is always sure in the end to promote our true interests.

A fair and honest course of conduct will always be rewarded by the approbation of our fellow-creatures ; and this approbation will naturally be followed by good offices and grateful returns, which will certainly tend to promote, and give success to, all our undertakings.

It is a maxim worthy of being written in letters of gold, that there is no method so certain of defeating the plots of wicked men against us, as by acting uprightly.

« PreviousContinue »