Изображения страниц

mastery over Latin and Greek, yet it was allowed by common consent that he could have outstripped his compeers in study, as he did in all athletic pastimes, if he had chosen to do so. The power was there, but it remained unemployed. He delighted rather to be the Ajax of the schoolboy band than dux in his class. Long after his school days were over he would pleasingly revert to those halcyon times, and ever remember them with a sigh. He loved to wander again over the old haunts, and in fancy revisit the sunny scenes of earlier years; to think of forest walks—to roam through thicket shades that even in mid-day were said to be peopled by elves and sprites; and there was a joy again to behold that brook where he would once

-paddle in the burn From simmer morn till dine "

Now a profession had to be thought of; the world was before him.

One morning Captain and Mrs. De Bohun were seated in the little back room, whose glass-door opened into the shrubbery, and which apartment, from the fact of there being divers dusty volumes arranged on dusty shelyes, was called the study; this was a misnomer in the general acceptation of the term. In one corner stood a number of walking-sticks, with two or three superannuated fishing-rods. Over the oldfashioned fireplace was a gun-rack, on which lay Godfrey's fowling-piece, and there, too, an old sword, which an ancestor had wielded in the Wars of the Roses. His hunting-whip hung behind the door; on some pegs were a pair or two of rusty dog-couples. Two foxbrushes, the antlers of a stag, a stuffed badger, and other trophies of the chase, were arranged in conspicuous positions. An antiquated whist-table stood in the centre, which would have been indisputably improved by a fresh covering of green

baize. The window-curtains painfully reminded the beholder of the numerous summer suns they had defended; and, indeed, the same air of shabby gentility pervaded this as every other part of that venerable hall. The only studies there ever carried on were such as were suggested by the newspaper, the Army List, or, more than all, when Godfrey studied how to liquidate urgent claims. I repeat, he and the partner of his cares were seated in the study, the former looking over the County Gazette, the latter silently engaged at her knitting, when the servant entered with a letter, the superscription of which was in a bold round hand.

A letter from Moreton, Susan,” said the father to Mrs. De Bohun, as he broke the seal of the epistle, “to inform us of the vacation, I. suppose,” continued he, before he had noted the contents. “Yes, it is so," first reading the half-dozen lines, then throwing the missive into Mrs. De Bohun's lap.

Godfrey crossed his legs, wistfully looked at the fire, and after a few moments of reflective silence, asked of the mother if Moreton were seventeen or eighteen next birthday.

“He will be eighteen, my dear, on the 25th of next morth," said Mrs. De Bohun, throwing down her knitting, as if to consider


a moment. “Yes, I am right-eighteen next month."

“Be a man directly,” replied the captain, as he shuffled in his chair, and drew closer to the fire, then taking up the poker, with military precision aiming a mortal blow at a huge coal, which crumbled beneath his vigorous thrustm"yes, he'll be a directly. He must enter the profession; my interest, my connexions, will get him in, I am sure.'

“In the army, I suppose you mean, Godfrey, as you always extol the life of a soldier ?

“Oh, yes, of course, my love, I mean the army; to be sure I do. Besides, Susan, independent of its recommendations as the profession of a gentleman, there are other advantages-collateral interests. A dashing officer is courted in society; he has the chances of making a good bargain-he can marry well. Indeed, I have heard yourself declare that half the young ladies in Christendom are in love with the red coat. Moreton must have a person of property, and that's the long and short of it, or all my scheming and hopes are at an end. He is handsome, of old family, and every way eligible for making a good speculation. He must have one with a fortune; he must, indeed,” repeated Godfrey, as he recrossed his legs, folded his arms, and then looked fixedly at the fire.

“But, my dear Godfrey,” said Mrs. De Bohun, after a brief silence, “I never yet heard our son express his desires relative to a profession; and as regards his matrimonial alliance, that time will not be yet; and in his case-I mean, with his independent spirit—it will be a matter of chance, perhaps, rather than prudence in choice. The unsettled life of a soldier is ill-suited for a wife and family. Moreton is a youth of strong passions, wayward, and of his own way of thinking; and, depend upon it, if his affections should happen to become fixed, he would strive desperately for the object of his attachment. Love hearkens not to the reasoning of wisdom. Young folks in this are obstinate, when docile and obedient in

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »