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The Excursion Party for Niagara-Astor House-James Mordaunt
ONE year, subsequent to the events already detailed, passed rapidly away. George Melville, who was now approaching the close of his junior collegiate year, found that health began to give way before the serious attacks of dissipation. He had gradually yielded to the luring pleasures which are freely spread before young men of his class, until the naturally strong constitution, with which he had been blessed, was broken. His parents attributed his pale countenance and lifeless eye to a severe application to study. As vacation was near at hand, Mr. Melville counselled a long journey, by easy distances, on horseback. To this end, he purchased for his son a fine saddle horse, and sent it to Clinton. George, however, could not think of the proposal unless his boon companion and friend, Thomas Griswold, accompanied him. This difficulty was finally overcome, and the two friends, on the 29th of July, left Clinton, most splendidly mounted, determined to see as much of the great State of New York as could be travelled over, in this knight-errant style, during a three months' vacation. Their route nearly inclosed the western part of the Empire State. We will leave
the two friends to pursue their way in search of stirring events and the bloom of health to introduce the reader to other scenes.
“Ring the bell, Clara! I shall never succeed in getting Carlo to obey orders. Carlo, lie down! lie down! down, Carlo! that's a good fellow !"
It was of no avail. Carlo insisted upon having his curiosity gratified in the examination of several new dresses which had just been sent from Stewart's. He already had torn a piece out of one, and just as he caught a second in his teeth, Bell Mortimer requested her cousin Clara Edgemonte to ring for the servant.
Carlo seemed to understand the meaning of the bell-ringing, for he immediately desisted, and very respectfully approached his beautiful mistress, from whose face all frowns on account of her pet Carlo immediately disappeared; and, while she kindly turned to acknowledge the instinctive contrition of Carlo, gracefully reaching forward her hand to caress him, and casting her eyes upon him with the affection of a guileless heart, Bell Mortimer appeared in truth not only lovely, but beautiful. Nature had lavished rich endowments upon her person. Her form was the perfection of womanly grace and elegance. The snowy garniture of her arm, tinctured here and there with the rosy blushes of youth and health, was, if we may be allowed the appellation, peerless. Her dark, full eye, crested with exquisitely delicate brows, fell upon the beholder instantly to stir the soul and awaken thoughts of that wisdom which had deigned to create for this earth so much loveliness. Bell Mortimer was truly too beautiful for earth. She seemed
not one who could stem the torrents of trial and affliction; who could proudly rise superior to taunt and bitter woe, and illustrate the undying, unyielding, persevering courage of a true woman. She seemed rather made for Heaven, to add a joy among the angels. Oh! well for Bell Mortimer was it, that Heaven has inclosed the future within an impenetrable tomb—has placed before its entrance a veil which no mortal may remove, which time only is permitted to lift. But we must not anticipate.
The dresses were duly examined; the pros and cons duly weighed; the necessities for their advantageous application duly illustrated.
“I must say, Clara, that tissue' is perfectly lovely. It will become you even better than the 'India silk' you wore at Mrs. Glover's. What do you think of this peach-blossom silk' for me?"
“Let me examine it. IIold it up more to the light. There—so! It is really just the thing for your complexion, Bell. Dark hair and dark eyes, cousin mine, will grow irresistible under the influence of that shade. I really think the manufacturer had some one just like you in his mind when he designed it.”
“Well, Clara, if you think so, I vote at once in favor of adding it to my wardrobe. But I have got two dresses the start of you on the catalogue. I am determined one of those' organdies' shall become your personal property,' as that young sprig of the bar expressed it last night.”
“By the way, Bell, now that you have referred to James Mordaunt, did you notice how skillfully he wins one over to his way of thinking, how ready he is with his flattery, and how easily he assumes
phases of character. I prophesy he will become either a great man or a great rogue. I don't like his eye; but suppose I am doing violence to your feel. ings, as your father has introduced him into our circle, and regards him, evidently, with great friendship and esteem.”
“Oh, Clara, do not mind Mr. Mordaunt; he will never be anything to me, so please, ma chère amie, attend to this important business. You know we start for Niagara next week, and all these dresses must be fitted and finished.”
Thus the young ladies ran on until the loud-pealing gong of that time-honored hotel, the Astor, announced their dining hour.
One week from that day a party of eight ladies and gentlemen occupied four seats in the Hudson River morning train for Albany. It consisted of Hon. B. F. Mortimer, Mr. H. B. Edgemonte, Madams Mortimer and Edgemonte, Bell Mortimer, Clara Edgemonte, James Mordaunt, Esq, and Frederick Mortimer, Bell's brother.
“Bell,” said Mr. Edgemonte, “this early rising seems to paint your face superbly.”
“ Thank you, Uncle Harry, for the compliment; but I know very well all about the partiality of your eyesight. I am disposed to credit you for sincerity, but if nothing else betrayed my ever kind uncle's partiality, those beautiful bouquets which, so very mysteriously, were spirited into Clara’s and my chamber last night, would become sad tell-tales against you. There now, Clara, see Uncle Harry's confusion; I told you where the bouquets came from. You would have it that either Fred or Mr. Mordaunt was the spirit.”
There is generally but little pleasure to be derived from a ride in the swift-winged steam car. Modes of travelling, so far as viewing scenery is in question, obey that general law of mechanics, “what is gained in speed is lost in power," and vice versâ. There is nothing which will take the place of a private carriage, if the traveller desires to look upon the face of the country. But the expansion of empire has brought into active usefulness so many new principles, the genius of man has laid open so many hidden paths of invention and discovery, that beauties of scenery are now left for the poet, the painter, the scholar, the recluse. He who would grasp the reins of power; who would be great in the forum; who would spread the seas with his merchant fleet; or, who would control the little coterie around him, of mechanical, professional, or mercantile mind; or of one, or all, must be great in practical wisdom; ready with practical illustration. Like a Napoleon, he must grasp the detail, ever remembering that “drops make an ocean.” This is an age when man
“In a moment speaks to man, though empires intervene,
And makes the sun portray himself, engraves with morning sheen; Constructs the giant eye, which glares on suns before unknown; The glass which scans the atom systems, living in his own
Through rocks, o'er hills and plains, he goes, upon the car enshrined, Which mocks the fleetness of the deer and leaves the wind be
We shall not attempt to describe the beauties of the lovely Hudson. The little party of friends, for whom we desire to bespeak an interest from our readers, were familiar with all the magnificent views which a day-boat trip from New York to Albany