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with the settled determination of re-entering the service. After my return I fell in love married. I then had a good fortune, and my wife would not hear of my rejoining the army; consequently, I settled on my patrimonial estate, spending three months in the year in town; the remainder was monotonously passed in the country. I am now father of seven daughters and one boyMoreton, whom you know—with whom remain the honours and perpetuation of my house.
“ In early life I lived fast, nor will the careful retrenchment of succeeding years, though ever so strictly observed, so far retrieve the follies of early life as to rid my inheritance of incumbrance. But lo! many an old family has been in the same position-gentlemen of blood and spirit will fall into these inconsistencies. Sir William Wildoats' estate has not been free for three generations, and the world says Lord Lavish's father had dipped so deeply into his property, as to suggest to the present heir the propriety of making a good match, which he did by marrying the only child of a London merchant; and thus a plebeian prop has saved an old house. You see, colonel, in the service, gentlemen acquire rather expensive habits—at least it was too truly so with regard to my own case ; and, you see, when I went up to town, my club friends made those annual visits costly. However, it is no use repining now. Policy and prudence must follow.”
“Well, you have given me a sketch of your own history, captain, since we parted at the Pillars of Hercules; now, if you will not deem me tedious, I will hurry over mine. The grilled bone won't be ready yet, and as you will not have any more time, I will tell you a few particulars relative to the hitherto fortunes of Tom Sommerton. In the life of most soldiers there is something of interest, and certainly it must be greater when the tale is told to an old friend."
“I shall with much attention, I am sure, listen to your story.”
Sommerton's history was long, but not tedious. It was the romantic narrative of no common life. He had married one whom
he devotedly loved, and two boys were the fruit of their union. The mother died soon after the birth of the second. His sons grew up and were long his constant care. Born and bred in stormy times, they caught the martial spirit of the age. They entered the army, and both fell by their father's side on the plains of the Peninsula. These crushing bereavements for ever clouded the mind of the solitary sire, and the world since then to him presented another aspect. Moreton De Bohun was the image of one of these sons, and Sommerton offered to get him a commission, to make him his protege and heir!
“Hark!—their steps along the corridor. Here they are, and the grilled bone will be up in a trice.”
At that moment Moreton and the ensign opened the door. Godfrey, in despite of all he could do, heaved a deep sigh. Sommerton raised the glass to his lips, filled it again and again, then with an effort that showed his power of mind, as of body, assumed the gay character he was two hours before when presiding at the mess-room table. His history had been told !
After the two young gentlemen had entered the room, the conversation at first appeared to flag. Captain De Bohun felt dull. The tale to which he had listened had rendered him taciturn. Yet there was a reflection consolatory to his thoughts, as Moreton had, through the curious fact of bearing a resemblance to one of the colonel's deceased sons, found in him a firm and invaluable friend. Godfrey well knew that Sommerton had now great interests whenever he chose to exert them; that his consummate bravery had won the favour of those high in power—hence, if Moreton conducted himself with tact and propriety, he might one day be in an enviable position. “How fortunate-how very
fortunate that my boy is so like the departed youth—very fortunate indeed !” chuckled the captain inwardly, and then silently drank success to his projects in a bumper of claret.
“And pray, how have you young gentlemen amused yourselves ?" said the colonel, with a benignant smile towards the juniors of the group. “I fear you have been dull in our absence, Moreton ?” continued he.
“Not in the least-not in the least."
“ And would you really like the life of a soldier, Moreton ?” replied Sommerton.
“I should, indeed!” was the prompt reply.
“But, remember, it is not altogether sleeping upon a bed of roses, and especially in these times; and the honours—the real honours of a soldier are dearly purchased,” observed the colonel.
“A soldier's life in the piping times of peace, is, I doubt not, listless. But, sir, this is an age when an honourable goal is open to the brave and adventurous. The restless energies and activity of youth disclaim tranquillity and repose," rejoined Moreton.
Right, my young friend—you are right. You are the man, I perceive, to climb the stormy heights of ambition. Gentlemen, it is long since I have felt so happy as at this hour. My choicest corks shall be drawn. Here," said he to his servant, “take the keys, go down into the cellar, and bring a couple of bottles from the large hamper in the corner. Captain, you shall have a glass