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CHAPTER III.

0, love, in such a wilderness as this ! — Gertrude of Wyoming.

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MORTON, en route for the barbarous districts of which Vinal had expressed his disapproval, stopped by the way at a spot which, though wild enough at that time, had ceased to be a wilderness. This was the Notch of the White Mountains, perverted, since, into a resort of quasi fashion. Here, arriving late at the lonely hostelry of one Tom Crawford, he learned from that worthy person, to whom his face was well known, that other guests, from Boston, like himself, were seated at the tea table. Accordingly, descending thither, he saw four persons. The first was a quiet-looking man, with the air of a gentleman, and something in his appearance which seemed to indicate military habits and training. Morton remembered to have seen him before. At his side, and under his tutelary care, sat two personages, who, from their dimensions, must have been boys of some seven years old, but from the solemnity of their countenances, might have passed for a brace of ancient philosophers. They looked so much alike that Morton thought he saw double. Each was seated on a volume of Clark's Commentaries, to raise his chin to the needful height above the table cloth. Both were encased in tunics, strapped about them with shining morocco belts.

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Their small persons were terminated at one end by morocco shoes of somewhat infantile pattern, and at the other by enormous heads, with chalky complexions, pale, dilated eyes, wrinkled foreheads, and mouths pursed up with an expression of anxious care, abstruse meditation, and the most experienced wisdom.

In amazement at these phenomena, Morton turned next towards the fourth member of the party; and here he encountered a new emotion, of a kind quite different. Hitherto, in his college seclusion, he had not very often met, except in imagination, with that union of beauty, breeding, and refinement which belongs to the best life of cities, and which he now saw in the person of a young lady, a year or two his junior. He longed for a pretext to address her, but found none; when her father - for such he seemed — broke silence, and accosted him.

I beg your pardon; is it possible that you are the son of John Morton ? '

“ Yes.”

“ He was my father's old friend. I thought I could scarcely mistake your likeness to your mother."

“I believe I have the pleasure of speaking to Colonel Leslie.”

Leslie inclined his head.

“My title clings to me, I find, though I have no right to it now."

He had left the army long before, exchanging the rough frontier service for pursuits more to his taste.

“Upon my word,” pursued Leslie, "after conversing for

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some time with the new comer on the scenery and game of the mountains,“ you seem to be au fait at this sort of thing."

“ At least I ought to be ; I have spent half my college vacations here."

“ It is unlucky for us that we must set out for home in the morning. You might have given us good advice in our sightseeing.”

“ Crawford will tell you that I am tolerably well qualified to be a guide.”

“You do not look like a collegian. They are generally thin and pale with studying.”

“Oftener with laziness and cigar smoke."

“Very likely. You seem too hardy and active for a student.”

Morton's weak point was touched.

“I can do well enough, I believe, in that way. Crawford was boasting, last year, that he could outwrestle any man in New England. I challenged him, and threw him on his back.”

“ You! Crawford is twice as heavy and strong as you are.

“I am stronger than I seem,” replied Morton, with great complacency.

And Leslie, observing him with an eye not unused to measure the thews and sinews of men, saw that, though his frame was light, and his shoulders not broad, yet his compact proportions, deep chest, and muscular limbs, showed the highest degree of bodily vigor.

“ You are quite right. I would enlist you without asking the surgeon's advice."

Here the nurse, attendant on the two philosophers, ap

peared at the door; and they, obedient to the mute summons, scrambled gravely from their seats, and, with solemn steps, withdrew. Miss Leslie presently followed, and Morton and her father were left alone. “ You are from Harvard

are you not?Yes.” “Do you know Horace Vinal ?” Very well; he is

my

classmate.” “ Is he not thought a very promising young man?” “ He is our first scholar." “I hear him spoken of as a young man of fine abilities.” " And he knows how to make the best of them.” “Not at all dissipated." 6 Not at all.” “ And a great student.” “Digs day and night." " A little ambitious, I suppose." " A little.” “But very prudent."

Uncommonly so.” “ An excellent young man,” exclaimed Leslie; “I think very highly of Horace Vinal."

Morton cast a sidelong glance at him, and there was a covert smile in his eye. He began to see a weak spot in his companion.

“He will certainly make his way in the world,” pursued Leslie.

“ No doubt of it.”

“ He is not so fond of out-door exercises as you seem to be.”

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“He is good at one kind of exercise."
“ What's that?”
“He can draw the long bow.”

Leslie did not see Morton's meaning, and took the words literally, as the latter intended he should.

“What, have you an archery club at college ?”

“No; but there are one or two among us who use the long bow, now and then, and Vinal beats them by all odds. But he is very modest on the subject, and never alludes to it. In fact, there are very few who know his skill in that way.”

“ It is all the better for his health to have some amusement of the kind.”

“ Yes, it would be a pity if his health should suffer."

“I have often thought that his mind was too active for his constitution.”

Morton cast another sidelong look at Leslie. Though he admired the daughter, he refrained with difficulty from quizzing the father. “ You seem to know Vinal

very

well." “ Yes, thoroughly; I have known him from childhood; he is the son of my wife's sister, and I am his guardian. I watch his progress with great interest.”

“ You will see him, I dare say, reach the top of the ladder. At least, it will be no fault of his if he does not.”

“I am very glad to hear my good opinion of him confirmed by one who has seen so much of him."

And, rising, he left the room.

“A very good young man, this seems to be,” he thought to himself, as he did so.

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