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The correspondence ceased. Clark jealousy and bitterness, went to Balti. wrote not, or bis letters failed to reach more, and followed her husband in his her. She may have written-doubtless carriage to a party at the home of the she did. He may have received them young lady with whose name his had -perhaps he did, and tossed them idly been connected. From her hackneyby.
coach, outside, faint with fatigue and At last there came a report on the exhaustion, but filled with the fury of wings of gossiping tongues that he was her scorned love, her eyes blinded by paying his court to a beautiful lady of tears, her nerves quivering with excitethe North. They were engaged to be ment, she looked at the illuminated married !
mansion, saw the flashing of lights, Stung to the quick, Zulime resolved heard the swell of the music, the measupon a bold step. She followed to ured tread of dancers, and at last-bitPhiladelphia. She hurried to Mr. Coxe, ter, bitter sight !—the well-known form and demanded to know the truth of of the man she loved came out upon the these stories. She thundered in his ear veranda, and paced slowly along, with the fact that she was married to Daniel a fair girl hanging upon his arm. Clark. She was his wife. Who was It was true, then. She went back to this woman who had won away her Philadelphia. husband? Where was the false husband A few weeks afterward she married who had been unfaithful to her ?
Mr. Gardette.* Mr. Coxe smiled.
Zulime was a Frenchwoman. Mr. Cose asked for the proof of her Daniel Clark died on the 16th of marriage. Alas, she could find none, August, 1813. The preceding illness She searched for records, but they were was brief and severe. Few friends were lost or destroyed. The priest had dis- about him. Boisfontaine, the agent, appeared. He had gone to Ireland. says he was continually with him. The witnesses were out of reach, and Lubin, a faithful body-servant, was depossibly beyond all knowledge.
voted in his attentions. Mr. Relf, his Mr. Coxe said, Why be so foolish as partner, was near him in the last to persist in so absurd a claim? Why hours. insist upon this idea, which you can What took place on the day of his bring no testimony to support? What death? figure can you make in assertion of The establishment of Mrs. Gaines' yourself as a wife, if Daniel Clark, the claim carries with it this statement of great merchant, the powerful politician, facts : is against you ?
Clark had made his will in 1811. She saw a lawyer. He was probably He appointed his partners, Richard a confidant as well as friend of Mr. Relf and Beverly Chew, his executors, Coxe. He produced a letter from Mr. and made his mother, Mary Clark, sole Clark, announcing his engagement to legatee. Miss C-, of Baltimore.
But he made another will in 1813. One against many, Zulime succumbed. In that he declared Myra Davis to be
Her daughter Myra would have his daughter, and only legitimate child, sought and triumphed.
and left to her the whole of his estate! There is a story that Zulime, sad with Col. Joseph Deville, Degontine Belleher lost and aching heart, stung with chasse, James Pitot, and Chevalier De
la Croix, were executors. All were wellOrleans. Private virtue was held of little value.
known citizens of New Orleans and Scarcely a prominent merchant had a lawful wife; yet none were without an establishment, a mis
intimate personal and business friends tress, and, in most cases, a numerous family. A of Clark. gentleman of an older day than this, who knew the
Such a will, it is asserted, did exist merchants of forty years ago, in the Crescent City, could then hardly count one, in thirty of his acquaintance, who was lawfully married.
* This marriage took place in Auguet, 1808.
previous to Daniel Clark's death. It fort, and even elegance, was a man of was entirely in his handwriting, duly marked character, subject to serious signed and sealed. He had shown it to outbreaks of temper, when provoked, several intimate friends, read it to some, and received at his mansion no very informed others of its contents, and wide circle of society. Myra had a spoken of its existence to others still. limited acquaintance and few intimate Four months before his death, says M. friends. At this distance of forty years, Boisfontaine, he spoke to me of a new there are very few persons in Wilmingwill. Twenty-five days before his death, ton who retain a distinct knowledge of he said, “It is done." Ten days later Colonel Davis' daughter Myra. he handed a package to the Chevalier The current of life shifted. There De la Croix for his inspection, in my came to her guardian's home a young presence, saying, “It is my will.” The gentleman from New York, William day before his death he again referred Wallace Whitney. He brought with to it, and said it was placed in his pri- him ample letters of introduction; but vate room, in a “ little black case." for some reason, Colonel Davis failed to
The end drew near. Under the fervid regard him favorably. If he met with summer sun, the rich merchant was
no very warm response in that quarter, dying. Two hours before he died, he however, he had ample compensationonce more referred to the subject which he gained the love of Myra. seemed so much to agitate him.
At this discovery, her guardian grew It was natural that it should do so. fearfully angry. He forbade the correIt was justice to his daughter—the child spondence between the lovers. He intiof the woman whom he had loved. mated that he had another and more
In this last moment he solemnly distinguished alliance in view. From charged Boisfontaine and Lubin to fail some of his disclosures she gained the not in handing to De la Croix, when all first intimation that he was not her should be over, the precious "little father. black case.”
The correspondence, of course, conThen he became unconscious
tinued. At length Whituey wrote to And then, says Mrs. Gaines—then, say Colonel Davis that he would again visit the witnesses wbose depositions support his house, and assert the propriety of her—Relf, the partner, turned to the his addresses, and claim from him an armoire, took up the bunches of keys, acknowledgment of his position as a and left the room. Lubin followed suitor. At this, the wrath of the guardhim a moment after, and passed the ian knew no bounds. He raged and door of the private room. He tried to threatened. He would shoot the audaenter, but it was locked. He heard a cious lover. He would challenge him. • noise, as of rustling among papers. He should not leave Wilmington alive.
When the little black case came to be Myra became seriously alarmed. examined, no will was there !
In this condition of affairs, she reInstead of it, Messrs. Relf and Chew solved that she must meet her lover, produced the will of 1811. It was ad- and warn him not to come. This she mitted to probate; and they assumed must do in secret. She secured the charge of the dead merchant's great services of a faithful servant, to take estates.
her, late at night, in the carriage to In 1812, Colonel Davis, with his Wilmington. Retiring to her chamber, family, including his little daughter she waited till the household sank into Myra, removed to Philadelphia, and quiet, and then hurried down to meet some years later he took up his resi- the old coachman. The night was dark dence at a handsome place on the out- and stormy. Rain fell in torrents. She skirts of Wilmington. Here passed the had hastily gathered a slender supply later years of Myra's girlhood. Her of clothing into her trunk, and the ser. supposed father, though living in com- vant helped her carry it to the carriage.
In trembling anxiety lest the hounds, ing was already far spent, and all was which had been carefully tied up by the ready for the ceremony, when it was servant, might still give an alarm, or discovered that no license had been that some other mischance should be procured. The bridegroom was tray them, the frightened girl sprang noyed, the bride trembled, the bridesinto the carriage, and they drove silent- maids fluttered with additional tremors ly down the avenue. Apprehensive of
of excitement. A messenger was depursuit, they fancied they heard noises spatched, to ride with all speed, upon behind them. They did not pause to the swiftest horse in the stables, to Wilopen the avenue-gates, but pressed the mington, to procure the license. But a horses against them, and burst them stupid servant gave him, instead, an old outward. Hurrying down the road, the blind animal, who stumbled and blunturnpike-gate was closed and fastened. dered along in the rain and mud. They dared not call the keeper, lest his Finding a magistrate with difficulty, it suspicions should be aroused. A rush was ten o'clock before he returned and from the horses burst this new obstacle. the ceremony could proceed.
Midnight had chimed from the old Just as it was over, says the old lady, town-clock on Market-street Hill, when who was then the fair young bridesthey drove into Wilmington. A light maid, the storm, which had prevailed in the window of a familiar dwelling during all the evening, ceased. The sigralled the wet and trembling girl. wind fell, the night calmed, and from An intimate female friend, who had among the scattered clouds the moon been apprised of the intended flight by shone with peaceful rays across the a brief note in the course of the day, lawn. was patiently waiting for her. On the Was it a premonition for the bride ? breast of her companion she sobbed her Mr. Whitney took his wife to New relief. So far, all was safe.
York, and they dwelt for perhaps two Mr. Whitney was expected to come years at Binghamton, the home of his by the steamboat from Baltimore. He family. would land, on the river-side, at New It was a season of rest before a lifeCastle, five miles away. At daylighttime of labor; two years of peace before Myra set out to intercept him. Not thirty of contention and struggle. meeting him, she took the boat for Bal. Mrs. Whitney had learned her parenttimore, hoping she might see him there. age. From Davis himself she gathered Instead of that, he had set out at the that she had been deceived, during all same time she did, and they unknow- her gir
her girlhood. Little by little, she ingly crossed each other's paths. For- pieced together the fragments of evitunately, her friends at New Castle de- dence, till at last the Truth burst upon tained him, when he arrived ; and on her-that the wealth of her father, Daniel . her prompt return, they happily met. Clark, of New Orleans, who died twenty
The guardian's anger spent its force. years ago, was justly hers! He learned that the lovers were about This Truth took possession of her life. to be married, in Philadelphia. Myra It was her inspiration. It absorbed ber was of age. He had much to lose by faculties, and gave but one color to her declining a reconciliation. He offered thoughts. She took it up as the ind x her his home for her wedding; and she to a life of exertion. Seized by this gladly accepted.
conviction, she has been, since that Early in the autumn, when (as one moment, only the embodiment of a of the bridesmaids, at this distance of Purpose, fixed, resolute, mad. She has thirty-six years, tells us), the fires were been a thousand times thwarted; she lighted on the hearths, the wedding has never failed. Against opposition, took place.
over difficulties, in spite of obstacles, The Genius of the Romantic seemed she has accepted no result but Success, still to be the ruling spirit.
and never doubting that she would at
tain it, thirty-four years' battle has ed, and the Chief-Justice (whose interbrought victory at last.
est through bis relative seems to have Seven times, now, has her case ceased), and Judge Grier, joined him. claimed the attention of the highest Catron's opinion is most upfriendly, and court of law. First there was a decision reviews with caustic severity the appain 1839, which did not assist her. rently weak points in the claimant's Again in 1841; this was technical, but case. In summing up, he said: favorable. Again in 1844, with similar “If the decision in 12th Howard result. In 1847 she first gained decided [his own opinion of 1851] be over
Justice Wayne, her steady thrown, ruin must be the consequence friend, alınost her advocate, declared to very many who have had confidence for the Court that her claim to property in its soundness.” in New Orleans, now occupied by parties Relying upon it as conclusive, an whose title came from Relf and Chew, immense amount of the disputed propexecutors of the will of 1811, was valid. erty had changed hands, and become He decided that she was the legitimate vastly improved, in the intervening nine daughter of Daniel Clark, and conse- years. He added.(this is directly denied quently, under the laws of Louisiana, by Judge Davis in the decision of 1868) could not be dispossessed entirely, as that Clark was a ruined man at his the will of 1811 assumed to do. She decease. “His failure was very large; must be “forced heir” to a portion. his estate was wholly insolvent. The In this case, Chief-Justice Taney did purchasers have in fact paid his dehts not sit, a near family relative being in- to a large amount. Many of them are terested ; Justice McLean did not; and yet unpaid.” The property claimed, he Justice Catron, being indisposed, did said, “has probably increased in value not. It was the first decided success. five hundred-fold since 1820,” the date
In 1851 came adversity. Judge Ca- of Relf and Chew's sales, whence the tron pronounced the opinion of the defendants derived their title. Court, unfavorable to every claim which Judge Grier was scarcely less proMrs. Gaines set up. A bill in equity, nounced in his views. He closed his claiming the share to which her mother dissent with these vigorous words: (Zulime) would, as the legal wife of “I wholly dissent from the opinion Daniel Clark, be entitled by the Louisi- of the majority of the Court in this ana law, in spite of the will of 1811, case, both as to the law and the facts. was summarily dismissed, on the ground But I do not think it necessary to vinthat she was not the legitimate child of dicate my opinion by again presenting Daniel Clark.
to the public view a history of the To this, of course, Judge Wayne, scandalous gossip which has been buried joined by Judge Daniel, dissented. under the dust of half a century, and
But again, in 1860, there was a new which a proper feeling of delicacy decision. In the interim, the destroyed should have suffered to remain so; I will of 1813 had been admitted to therefore dismiss the case, as I hope, probate, and this probate, upon appeal, for the last time, with the single resustained in the Louisiana courts, its mark, that if it be the law of Louisiana contents being established by the rec- that a will can be established by the ollections of those who heard it read dim recollections, imaginations, or inby Clark. This important point, gained ventions of anile gossips, after forty-five in 1856, had claimed victory from the years, to disturb the titles and possesjaws of defeat. The whole case-law, sions of bona fide purchasers, without fact, technicalities, side-issues, every notice, of an apparently indefeasible thing-was reviewed, and upon every legal title, Haud equidem incideo, miror point decided in favor of Mrs. Gaines, magis." (I do not indeed envy your Justice Wayne once more speaking for position, but rather wonder at it.) the Court. Justice Catron again differ- The particular case decided was
against Duncan N. Hennen, of New history, though not fully, soon after, Orleans, who held title for a square of commencing her suits in 1834, Mrs. ground, bounded by Phillippi, Circus, Whitney was left, amid the pestilence and Poydras Streets. This had come of New Orleans, a widow in 1836. The into his hands through the following yellow-fever struck down her husband transfers :
in a few hours. She was alone, with 1820. Sold by Relf and Chew, execu- three little children, a slender fortune, tors of Daniel Clark, and attorneys in few friends, in the midst of actual enefact for Mary Clark, to Azelic Lavigne. mies, for her bold claims had produced
1836. Azelic Lavigne to J. Hiddles- the most bitter opposition. A fearful ton,
Duty stood before her. 1836. J. Hiddleston to New Orleans Somewhat later, she met General and Carrollton Railroad Co.
Gaines. He was warmly interested in 1844. N. 0. & C. R. R. Co. to D. N. her history; and he could not, doubtHenuen.
less, resist the winning eloquence of her After twenty-six years' possession, nine address, or her piquant charms of perof which had been in confirmation of a son. They were married, and thence decision of this Court, Hennen was dis- till now the heroine of the story is not possessed by this decree.
Myra Davis, Myra Clark, nor Myra The decision of 1860 would seem to Clark Whitney, but Myra Clark Gaines. be conclusive and final. It was so in- The law's delays were fearfully expentended to be. But Mrs. Gaines was still sive. The little fortune received at her resisted. Once more, in 1868, her marriage soon melted-she had spent the claims have been confirmed. Her old whole of her husband's estate. She had friend Judge Wayne, and her old-can borrowed of his family, and she had borwe say opponent ?-Judge Catron, are rowed of every one who was bold enough off the bench. Judge Davis spoke the to listen to her persuasive voice, for she opinion of himself, Chief-Justice Chase, " talked the money out of their pockand Associates Nelson, Clifford, and cts.” Nobody could listen fifteen minField, while Judges Grier, Swayne, and utes to her without sharing in her enMiller dissented.
thusiasm and perfect conviction of This decision--seventh mandate from ultimate success. She had feed the the Supreme Court of the United States ablest lawyers in the land with princely -is surely final. Opening it, Judge retainers, when she had money; and Davis said :
she had more than once plead her own “It was supposed, after the decision case when money could not be obin Gaines vs. Hennen (24 Howard), tained. She knew the law perfectly. that the litigation, pursued in one form She bad mastered details as well as or another for over thirty years by the principles. She knew precedents, and complainant, to vindicate her rights in did not stumble upon quibbles. Once, the estate of her father, was ended." it is said, she spoke two hours and a And in conclusion, he asked :
half to a jury, and won her case. “Can we not indulge the hope that Once more with a friend and partthe rights of Myra Clark Gaines in the ner in her struggle, she fought forward. estate of her father, Daniel Clark, will General Gaines devoted his time and now be recognized ?”
his fortune to the work. For ten years Such is the outline of the progress of the gallant old General and his beautithe Gaines Case through thirty-four ful young wife planned and executed years of law. The legal reader can turn their campaigns together. She had to the books, and study the reports at youth, fire, and energy; he had wealth, leisure. Our sketch will be completed position, and a chivalrous devotion to with a brief reference to the moving her cause. spirit of the long effort.
Should you search over the files of Married in 1832, learning her true some old newspapers, about 1841, you