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whilst the plump and rubicund features, the slightly round angles of the mouth, the dimpled chin, bespoke a soul full of sunshine and summer!
Nature had endowed him with vocal powers of a high order, and delighting in convivial pleasures, it was his besetting folly to vex the “ drowsy ear of night” in singing the lyrics of Ferguson and Burns. The unfortunate accomplishment of a fine voice had the effect of making his society courted, and of too frequently drawing him into social pleasures that gave an instability to character, and the desire for an irregular and unsettled life. Often at a late hour would his voice be heard, in finely modulated tone, lamenting that “The flowers of the forest would never bloom again !” and, perhaps, at matin-time, he would be in harmonious strain telling of the good qualities of “The monks of old,” or assuring his hearers that “The Pope he leads a happy life,” amid the fumes of tobacco and the odour of usquebaugh. He had a great delight to tell stories of the frolic and fun which he had in Edinburgh; and some of the hairbreadth escapes, and concerted mischiefs were indeed amusing in the relation.
The entire party for sometime sat on very leisurely and very comfortably. The colonel rose to depart, as was his custom, before any of the others left their chairs; Captain De Bohun accompanied him. When Sommerton was leaving the room, he looked round and missed the ensign and Moreton. " Where are those two young gentlemen ? " said he; “where have they gone ? On inquiry, it was found they had stealthily stolen away to the ensign's private apartment where they were comfortably taking their coffee. The ensign had not yet happily become initiated into the then deemed gentlemanly vice of tippling; eighteen months association with a gay and thoughtless set had not sapped good resolutions, and it was his stout determination not to be led away by those syren-tongued pleasures that have allured so many from better resolves. His every thought was directed towards an honourable advancement in his profession, nor did he conceive, that habits of reflection and propriety of deportment were at variance with such hopes. Instead of becoming slave to his cup, he sought to be an accomplished soldier. The colonel had admired the talents and turn of mind which the ensign gave, and as he himself had a great liking to study his profession as a science as well to consider it a calling of defence, of power and of courage; he became partial to the young officer, and through this partiality afterwards recommended his acquaintance to Moreton, which, as will hereafter be seen, ripened into a sincere intimacy.
In a few moments the colonel and Godfrey were knocking at the ensign's door. • Come in,” cried the latter, conjecturing who claimed admittance.
Sommerton proceeded, being followed by Captain De Bohun, who at the first was unperceived.
“We really wondered what had become of you two young gentlemen,” said the colonel, very good-humouredly, and at the same time in a familiar and patronizing manner placed his hand on the ensign's shoulder, and con
tinued ;“ but here you are, sipping the infusion of Hong Kong, instead of the juice of the grape. Well, well, my dear lads, 'tis a good exchange, and happy will it prove if you always retain the same choice."
The ensign's room differed considerably from the apartments usually occupied by young officers; that is, that certain articles there present and not present, constituted such difference. On a side table were copies of several of the best historical writings, various books on military science, a box of mathematical instruments, together with some ingeniously executed models for the improvement of implements of war. Spread out on the table by which he was sitting were a number of drawings, sketches, and plans, that evinced much artistic skill, and gave indisputable proof that the hand of the draughtsman had been directed by no slight degree of natural taste. Amongst these were representations of fosses, copies of fortifications, sections of breastworks, plans for pontooning, diagramatic figures, showing the relative proportions of lines and battalions,
with similar productions, all worked out with mathematical accuracy.
The colonel's eye was directed to the drawings before him.
“Come, De Bohun, coffee is ready,” said Sommerton, after a pause, and he again yoked himself to the captain's arm, and drew him off towards his own suite of apartments. “ We will leave these two young gentlemen here, as they seem very comfortable in each other's society; and, Moreton, when you have done looking at so much that interests you, and are tired of military conversation, both of you come to my rooms, and we will have a grilled bone at-let me see, 'tis half. past eight-yes, at ten o'clock; what say you both ? Will you do me the pleasure ?"
“We shall be most happy, colonel. At ten o'clock we will be with you.
Whilst the elder gentlemen were proceeding along the corridor, Godfrey declared the ensign to be a young man of great promise. Sommerton persisted in the same opinion, and entered his protest that never did two finer lads enter the service.