Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

“ Amiable, good natured, and all that; but very soft, for a man who has seen hard service,” thought Morton, on his part.

The party reassembled in the inn parlor. Masters William and Marlborough, having gained a reprieve from their banishment, busied themselves at the table, the one in poring over Brewster on Natural Magic, the other in solving a problem of Euclid. Leslie viewed these infant diversions by no means with an eye of favor, and soon banished the students to a retirement more suited to their tender years. The sentence overcame all their philosophy, and they were carried off howling.

Morton, meanwhile, was breathing a charmed air; and though diffident in the presence of ladies, and not liberally endowed by nature with the gift of tongues, his zeal to commend himself to the good opinion of Miss Edith Leslie availed somewhat to supply the defect. He had never mixed with the world, conventionally so called, and knew as much of ladies as of mermaids. But having an ardent temperament and a Quixotic imagination; being addicted, moreover, to Froissart and kindred writers; and, indeed, visited with a glimmering of that antique light which modern folly despises, he would have been ready, with the eye of a handsome woman upon him, for any rash and ridiculous exploit. This extravagance did him no manner of harm.

On the contrary, it went far to keep him out of mischief; for in the breast of this youngster a chivalresque instinct battled against the urgency of vigorous blood, and taught his nervous energies to seek escape

rather in ceaseless bodily exercises, rowing, riding, and the like, than in any less commendable recreations.

The close of the evening found him with an imagination much excited. In short, decisive symptoms declared themselves of that wide-spread malady, of which he had read much and pondered not a little, but which had not, as yet, numbered him among its victims. Among the various emotions, novel, strange, and pleasurable, which began to possess him, came, however, the dismal consciousness that, with the morning sun, the enchantress of his fancy was to vanish like a dream of the night.

CHAPTER IV.

What pleasure, sir, find we in life, to lock it
From action and adventure? -- Cymbeline.

MORNING came, and the Leslies departed. Morton watched the lumbering carriage till it disappeared down the rugged gorge of the Notch, then drew a deep breath, and ruefully betook himself to his day's sport. He explored, rod in hand, the black pools and plunging cascades of the Saco; but for once that he thought of the trout, he thought ten times of Edith Leslie.

Towards night, however, he returned with a basket reasonably well filled ; and, as he drew near the inn, he saw a young man, of his own age, or thereabouts, sitting under the porch. He had a cast of features which, in a feudal country, would have been taken as the sign of noble birth ; and though he wore a slouched felt hat and a rough tweed frock, though his attitude was careless, though he held between his teeth a common clay pipe, at which he puffed with much relish, and though he was conversing on easy terms with two attenuated old Vermont farmers, with faces like a pair of baked apples, — yet none but the most unpractised eye would have taken him for other than a gentleman. As soon as Morton saw him, he shouted a joyful greeting,

[ocr errors]

66

to which Mr. Edward Meredith, rising and going to meet his friend, replied with no less emphasis.

“I thought,” said Morton, “ that you meant to do the dutiful this time, and stay with your father and family at the sea shore.”

“Couldn't stand the sea shore," said Meredith, seating himself again;

I came up to the mountains to see what you were doing.”

“ You couldn't have done better, but come this way, out of earshot."

Colonel,” said Meredith, in a tone of melancholy remonstrance, “ this seat is a good seat, an easy seat, a pleasant seat. Why do you want to root me up? ”

“Come on, man,” replied Morton.

“ Show the way, then, Jack-a-lantern. But where do you want to lead me? I won't sit on the rail fence, and I won't sit on the grass.”

“ There's a bench here for you.” “ Has it a back?

Yes, it has a back. There it is." Meredith carefully removed a few twigs and shavings which lay upon the bench, seated himself, rested his arm along the back, and began puffing at his pipe again. But scarcely had he thus composed himself when the tea bell rang from the house. “ Do

you hear that, now? Another move to make ! Didn't I tell you so ?”

“ Not that I remember." “ Please to explain, colonel, what you expect to gain by

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

always bobbing about as you do, like a drop of quicksilver.”

To hear you, one would take you for the laziest fellow in. the universe.

“ There's reason in all things. I keep my vital energies against the time of need, instead of wasting them in unnecessary gyrations. Ladies at the table! New Yorkers in full feather, or I'll be shot! Now, what the deuse have lace and ribbons to do in a place like this ? ”

During the meal, the presence of the strangers was a check upon their conversation.

“ Crawford,” said Meredith, when it was over, “have you had that sofa taken into my room?”.

“ Yes, sir.”
" And the arm chair?”
“ Yes, sir.”
“ And the candles ? ”
“ Yes, sir.”
“ All right. Now, then, colonel, allons."

The name of colonel was Morton's college sobriquet. Meredith led the way into a room which adjoined his bed chamber, and which, under his direction, had assumed an air of great comfort. Morton took possession of the sofa; his friend of the arm chair.

“What's the word with you ? ” began the latter; you bound for the Adirondacks, the Margalloway, or the Penobscot?”

“ To the Margalloway, I think. You mean to go with me, I hope."

66

are

« ZurückWeiter »