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told but of hopes that were cheering, of happiness sanguinely anticipated. They were joyous in the glowing expectations of future honours, and panted for opportunities to climb the rugged mount of fame. They had not seen service, in the real acceptation of the term ; had not suffered from the rigorous cold of northern regions, nor wasted under the sickly and enervating influence of a torrid zone. Their young minds might exult in the bauble trappings of professional livery, and with new scenes and new life awhile be fascinated. They might dream of prowess, of crimson fields and dread encounters, but such with them were yet to come; and well, indeed, would it be if the career on which they were now entering proved felicitous as the pictures they had portrayed -well, verily, would it be, if the looked-for sunshine were not obscured by darkling shadows. Others were there exulting in the strength and pride of manhood's matured perfection ; some of whom, from the bronzehued features, had evidently been the longdwellers in foreign lands—perchance where
Eastern suns scorch the arid Indian plainor in the tropic clime of the Western world.
There, too, sat some veteran heroes— heroes in the fullest signification of the word. Time had silvered their locks, which once, like those of the younkers by their side, bore no trace of its flight. Colonel Sommerton was of the latter class, but, as previously stated, his frame so compactly knit together, and with such energy and activity conjoined, he looked an individual on whom years
would long fall powerless. Seated at the end of the board, he was the beau-ideal of the fine, jovial, good-tempered chairman, with face beaming with benignity, and which, after lighted up with the crimson draught, when it shook off the tinges of its sombre shades, indicated a generous and free-born soul; and he would then seem as light-hearted as many of those by whom he was surrounded. Some who had mistaken his occasional fits of melancholy had deemed his taciturnity intermitting periods of pride. Those who knew him best were aware that Sommerton's soul was too expanded to give place to those empty notions which the world calls pride. He had at all times a proper self-respect; knew precisely the bounds between friendly freedom and rude familiarity; and never forgot that he was a gentleman. He could not avoid those occasional attacks of despondency, and this his compeers well knew. They regarded the peculiarity as a bodily infirmity, and often, very good-naturedly sought some diversion, some stimulating change to relieve the ennui under which he suffered; or they sent round the bottle with forced march, and often had he thus been persuaded to drink deep of the Lethean draught, and “lave all remembrance away.”
When the cloth was drawn, wines of celebrated vintages came on; the delicious Sauturne, sparkling Moselle, Château-Margot, old Madeira, crusted Port, cooling ices, foreign fruits, and all the etceteras, succeeded a meal which would have well entertained a crowned head. Sommerton generally took a pretty liberal quantity of a remote vintage, but at the public table his conduct was ever decorous and guarded. He was impressed with the responsibility of his position, and would on no account place an ill example before the eyes of his young officers. Captain De Bohun, in accordance with his moderate habits, drank little. In other parts of the table glasses were drained and replenished with celerity, and in no great length of time, they became noisy and loquacious. The worthy chaplain considered it one of his orthodox customs to daily engulf the major part of a bottle of port; but whether he did it for his infirmities' sake, it is not meet to say, yet one thing may safely be averred, he drank the generous juice with seeming gusto. It was unanimously conceded without the sign or semblance of opposition, that the parson's judgment on wines was unequalled, and report whispered his opinions were equally to be trusted in deciding on the virtues of the strong waters that made their appearance at a more advanced hour in the evening. He had not been the spiritual helper so many years of the
regiment, as to be unable to know something about the various qualities of those liquids which he had seen so freely procured as oblations to the tippling god.
There too was another gentleman who had cures to effect, but these were of the body. This was Surgeon M‘Leech, and like him who had the cure of souls, he never wished to think of his profession after he had once drawn his chair to the dinner-table. Not by any means that he was a man devoid of goodfeeling—far from it, as perhaps few had a kinder heart, or were possessed of more sterling worth ; but this was one of his peculiarities, and who has not his peculiarities? It was, indeed, a thing that ran counter with his feelings to be drawn forth by any case, however urgent, after he had once sat down to dinner. M‘Leech, at the time now spoken of, was on the shady side of forty. Though presenting some inclination to corpulency, there was a nimble sprightliness in his step, and a high flow of spirits, which made him forget he had turned the zenith. His sandycoloured hair had become thinned by years; but those merry twinkling orbs, so full of fun and raillery, made one almost say, in the words of the poet, that
" There was a laughing devil in his eye!"