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a series of ever-changing features, varying only to present the landscape in some new combination of beauty or majesty, now reflecting the superb hues of sunsets of unsurpassed splendor; the towers and pillars and mountains of gorgeously colored clouds, hanging over the setting sun, like friends or followers at some conqueror's death scene; sometimes forming a broad road of golden fire directly banding the lake, so vivid that the eye is pained by, as well as delighted, with its richness; to be succeeded, it may be, in the still evening, by the bright and well-defined but warm pathway of light thrown from a single star. The waters are smooth as the
repose, in some of the hours, while at others, they are in all the wilder grace of waves of the deep, deep green, such as Niagara shows at that curve, the like of which the world never elsewhere sees; fringed and softened as the wave breaks by its border of foam. These are some of the pictures which are ever open in the free gallery of Nature, and like unto which, no painter painteth.
In the early part of the month of December, of the year immediately succeeding the period when the first settlers of Aurora arrived there, there was seen approaching the settlement, from the direction of the ferry, or of the bridge, as would now be said, a yawl; such an one apparently as would be in use by the larger class of vessels that navigated Lake Ontario. It was urged forward by a couple of oars which were handled (and in a manner that showed the exercise to be a practised one,) by two sailor-like-looking men. They were by no means the only occupants of the craft. It had a full complement of passengers, and the persons on shore by whom it was seen, observed that the three, who, beside the oarsmen were in it, comprised a gentleman of mature age, a lady, finely formed and young, and an old man, who seemed, like those who were at the oars, to be a sailor. There was also a full allowance of luggage of different species, but all with a neat and wellarranged air about its condition. The boat moved easily forward but not rapidly. The sailor who was in attendance sat at the bow, as if to keep a look-out, or to act as pilot. Its course was near the shore which it skirted in silence, until it reached the mouth of the small creek that runs through the southern part of the village, and which is now on or adjacent to the premises of Richard Morgan, Esq. On reaching here, it was suddenly changed in its course, and a landing was made. The lady sprang out gracefully enough, and was assisted, with the kind manner of one who was in intimate relation with her, by the gentleman. When these were from the boat, by the strength of the three sailors, she was drawn up on the beach, though heavy and unwieldy, so far as to be out of the reach of annoyance by the waves, should a heavy blow come up. This done, and the trunks, etc., brought on shore, the entire party held a brief conference, which ended, leaving the lady for the time under the protection of the crew of the boat, while the gentleman went to the nearest house.
Rather rude was the dwelling architecture of Aurora, just that beginning of its career, but the rough exterior may hide the jewel, and the application to the very first house for temporary met by an offer of hospitality, which needed no other introduction than
the word stranger. This information was received by the girl with a delight that showed itself in the charm which pleasure ever gives to the face of beauty.
These words anticipate a description. This was Ellen Grey, daughter of Colonel Hubert Grey, whose conduct in his country's service on the continent had won for him a brilliant reputation for all that gives lustre to the soldier's character. The sailor who had acted as pilot was devotedly attached to the Colonel and his family, and had passed many years in his service, though John Gossine always declared that he had no peace on land, and that all he asked was a deck to walk on and a wave to float on.
For reasons which the narrative will subsequently reveal, the Colonel had taken the rather toilsome and unusual — though by no means so unusual then as it would be now route by the way of the Oswego and Seneca river from Lake Ontario to the Cayuga lake. The boat and crew belonged to the fine fore-topsail schooner Chatham,' whose usual voyage was from Kingston to the settlement, then in its infancy, but now the capital of the British possessions in part- Toronto. She had arrived at Oswego about a week previous, and Colonel Grey had, by enterprise and courage, and in many places of difficulty by portage and rapids, by very arduous labor, succeeded in arriving with the boat at this his place of destination. Their progress, since they entered the Cayuga, had been rapid, having been enabled to use a sail until the last two miles, when the wind utterly deserted them.
Mr. Mitchell, at whose house they found such kindness, had emigrated from Berkshire in Massachusetts; that family which has furnished statutes for every niche in society. He had heard of the fertility of these shores from the representations of Lieutenant Van Benschoten, who drew the military lot on which Aurora is situate, and who was much more eulogistic of his western possessions than careful about them. He was gratified that his country had remarked him, and there it ended. Mr. Mitchell, was a quiet, observing, and generous hearted man, and a man of the world enough to recognize that his new guests were people who had seen the pleasant things of life.
Rest and refreshment after such a journey were the first duties, and frequently during the afternoon did Colonel Grey congratulate his daughter on their having so soon found the shelter of a roof; nor did he fail to impress the fact, that they had been fortunate in John Gossine, who seemed to appreciate it, but not quite so warmly as did the Colonel.
• This is a nice house, doubtless, Colonel," said he,' and Mr. Mitchell seems to be one of the right sort; but I want to know who would want to live ashore, if he could help it. I think, Sir, that if the Chatham' was out at anchor in this pretty bay, I would rather winter aboard than in the best house there is in this place.'
The Colonel doubted whether the winds of the winter would not change his followers' opinions, if he had the opportunity to put them in practice.
While all these incidental affairs were transacting, there sprung up a north-west wind, which, though it did not blow severely, brought with it an air so keen and piercing that all the parties to our narrative were glad to find shelter, and even Gossine confessed, that the · Chatham' out at anchor in the bay, in this temperature, would be uncomfortable. The lady, bred with the polished manners of really well-bred people, found as much as possible in the house and its arrangements to be pleased with, and the Colonel seemed more happy, so Gossine said, than he had been since they left Oswego.
That night was in truth a bitterly cold one. The wind lulled with the set of the sun, and the air was keen with the chill that the blow had brought from the north. In the morning the lake smoked like a caldron, being so much warmer than the atmosphere. Except around the beach, where for a few rods there was a black and glassy covering of tough young ice, the waters glistened and sparkled in the bright sun, as free as if it were a summer day. Indeed, the Cayuga at this place has very seldom in the record of very many years been frozen over. The body of water is too deep, and too constantly renewed by the springs at the bottom, whose outlet it is. It was closed in 1835, '36, '39 and 49; but never for a longer period than forty-eight hours. The writer of these sketches was assured by Major Jacobs, the old Cayuga Chief, who left here in 1794, that he knew no instance, traditionary or from observation, of its having been closed. Cold as it was, the boat was ordered to return, and the sailors promptly obeyed. A row of twelve miles was not a very formidable affair, and that was to be the extent of their task that day. They were directed by Colonel Grey to cross over the lake and go down under the lee of the west shore. The young ice bent and cracked under the weight of the boat as it was pushed over it to the water, and resisted breaking so long that Gossine accompanied the boat to the outer edge, where boat and all broke through, and John had practical experience of the temperature in a way
which had not entered into his theories. But he was soon up again, and as the craft was sent ahead under the strong muscles of the experienced oarsman, he watched its progress until it was scarcely visible in the shadows of the deep forests on the other side of the lake.
Colonel Grey also watched the departure of the boat until he saw, by the aid of a glass which he had brought with him, that it was turned to the north, and was making good headway. The day was devoted to the prepartions for a lengthened stay, which, much to the surprise of Mr. Mitchell
, was announced as likely to be during the winter. The liberality of the offer made for the use of a portion of his house, and the winsome manner of his guests, soon produced a bargain satisfactory to all. Society in that sparse settlement was an object; and a society that at once fascinated and paid, was a treasure indeed.
Mr. Mitchell's house stood on the spot where there has since stood for
many years a quaint old store-house, one of the relics of the days when stores were few and scattered, and when timber and wood were plentier than now. It has a strange large roof, out of all proportion, and a second story, which would hold in itself the harvest of a township. The ceiling in the lower story is curiously low and inconvenient, and the old house has indeed only its age as a virtue. Nevertheless, in its day of usefulness, which was prior to the date of our narrative, it was
esteemed a remarkable building, and was for many years
the an active and extensive trade.
There were but few houses in the village in the year after its first settlement. The few settlers that were there, had, with few exceptions, no landed estate in their own right. The titles were not clear, and there were only the germs of that population and that wealth which have since distinguished this location.
The cold did not diminish during the day, and the night brought with it additional severity, so that the north wind which had arisen had blown the ice on the beach into little hummocks that looked like the Esquimaux huts, as they are depicted in the view of such voyages as Sir John Franklin made.*
These hummocks were formed all along the shore; and were the object of curiosity to the new-comers, from the plastic wreathings and whirlings of the ice. About ten o'clock, the Colonel heard a loud • Sail ho !' from the clear voice of Gossine, who ran from the beach hastily to apprise him that the Chatham's' yawl was on the return. The Colonel suggested that he might be mistaken as to the boat, it being yet as far off as Levanna Point. Gossine declared it was none other, as he knew the sail ; having, he said, taken it himself out of one of the lockers of the schooner, and he could not be mistaken in its color, which was after the fashion of those nautical dry goods that never see the wash-tub. The wind blew fresh, and it was soon evident that he was right. The yawl ran the last mile rapidly, and was soon hauled over the ice again into the little creek. The explanation of her return was soon made. The ice had formed so thick in the shoal water near the bridge that the yawl could not make any progress, and the sailors feared that if they remained thereabout it would end in their being
Colonel Grey came to Aurora from the following singular circumstances : Gold and love are the great motive powers of society. Philip Grandlet, of Oxford, bequeathed to Ellen Grey an ample fortune, payable when she became of age, on the condition that she should marry Lewis Grey, a cousin of Ellen, and a relative of the testator. But there was appended to this legacy the farther condition, that if, before the expiration of the young lady's twentieth year, this Mr. Lewis Grey should not personally claim her hand, by application to herself, then the bequest should be hers without the restriction. If he requested her hand, and was refused, the fortune became his own.
Grandlet had died in the August preceding the date of our narrative, and the charming Ellen would attain her majority on the first of March.
Lewis Grey was already wealthy; rich beyond the compass of most
"The writer of these sketches recollects having seen Sir John Franklin in the city of Albany, a number of years since, when he was passing through on his way north. He came up to the rooms of the old Albany Library, which were then up three or four impassible stair-cases, in a building since removed for the widening of State-street. A hardware store was on the first floor. Paul HOCHSTRASSER, a precise old German, was the Librarian. Sir John was introduced by Mr. G. S. LANSING, then a representative in congress from that district. His visit to the library was to consult a curious and very old volume, in black leather binding, which was entitled, “Orbis Terre Typois.' It was said to contain some singular charts. The book-men of Albany ought to have kept track of that volume. Sir John had a grave and quiet and rather melancholy expression of face.
men's hopes. He was one of the vulgar rich; men who knew the power of money, as connected with the wants and necessities of others. It was his idol, or rather shared his affections with himself, though he did not know even the luxury of making himself happy. He had, as that kind of rich men always have, cringing flatterers investing their money at so much per cent.; but he did not or would not see, that in the thinnest possible distance beneath, lay the most unmitigated contempt. He had courage and energy, and could be aroused to actions of vigor when his pride or interest was concerned.
And to such a wooer was the fortune of pretty Ellen bound, if he could see and of herself ask her alliance. His character was too well known by her, to allow of the thought being for a moment entertained of a life passed with such a man. The golden chain often enters the soul as well as the iron. It was true that if the interview did take place, Mr. Lewis Grey would have been, wealth or no wealth, most summarily rejected, probably to his own intense astonishment; but it was the policy of Ellen and the Colonel, and a just and laudable one it was, if possible to keep the fortune and avoid the condition ; and if they could only succeed in keeping out of the way until March, they were safe.
Colonel Grey had been ordered to Montreal, which he gladly obeyed; and arriving there, easily obtained leave of travel in the States for a few months. The climate of Canada was too severe for a winter's residence there by Ellen; and the Colonel had taken passage from Kingston in the · Chatham,' and arrived at Oswego, where he quietly devised the best plan for the object he had in view. Hearing of the banks of the Cayuga as being then in a process of settlement, and as combining seclusion with a pleasant climate, and one of the last places where he would probably be sought for, he made the journey which we have already described. Communicating only to his friend, the captain of the Chatham,' his residence, Colonel Grey prepared calmly to keep a vigilant guard against any surprise during the winter, and to make his house as agreeable as possible. The two sailors had been sent back to Oswego with an earnest request to Captain Clemens to acquaint him of any movement of the much-dreaded Lewis Grey.
Nor was this caution unnecessary. Lewis Grey was not the man to lose a prize so brilliant as that of the bequest of Grandlet, and he was quite enough of a young man to like it the more, with the pretty appendage that was its contingency. The time for action he knew, as well as the other parties, was brief, and he adopted the most vigilant movement immediately. On the day that the Colonel arrived at Aurora, he sailed from England, taking his passage, most fortunately for the perplexed Ellen, in the Cumberland,' a ship described in the advertisement as that remarkably fast sailing vessel,' but the performance of which was directly opposite; it being to Grey's impatience a doubtful question, on some days, whether it was stern-way or head-way that she was making. He was exceedingly provoked at having made such an unlucky choice, but on the ocean submission to fate is a philosophy soon learned
The winter days passed on merrily. In the daughter of their host,