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here have you, without fortune, name, birth, or merit; I mean particular merit-"
"Na, na; dinna say that, Lundie. The Muirs are of gude bluid." "Well, then, without aught but bluid, ye 'vc wived four times-"
"I tall ye, but thrice, Lundie. Ye'll weaken auld friendship if ye call it four."
"Put it at ye 'r own number, Davy; and its far more than ye 'r share. Our lives have been very different on the score of matrimony, at least; you must allow that, my old friend."
"And which do you think has been the gainer, Major, speaking as frankly thegither as we did when lads.'
"Nay, I've nothing to conceal. My days have passed in hope deferred, while yours have passed in-"
"Not in hope realized, I give you mine honour, Major Duncan," interrupted the Quarter-master. "Each new experiment I have thought might prove an advantage; but disappointment seems the lot of man. Ah! this is a vain world of ours, Lundie, it must be owned; and in nothing vainer then in matrimony."
"And yet you are ready to put your neck into the noose for the fifth time?"
"I desire to say, it will be but the fourth, Major Duncan,” said the Quarter-master positively; then, instantly changing the expression of his face to one of boyish rapture, he added:-"But this Mabel Dunham is a rara avis! Our Scotch lassies are fair and pleasant; but it must be owned, these colonials are of surpassing comeliness."
"You will do well to recollect your commission and blood, Davy. I believe all four of your wives-"
"I wish, my dear Lundie, ye 'd be more accurate in ye'r arithmetic. Three times one make three."
"All three, then, were what might be termed gentlewomen?" "That's just it, Major. Three were gentlewomen, as you say, and the connections were suitable."
"And the fourth being the daughter of my father's gardener, the connection was unsuitable. But have you no fear that marrying the child of a non-commissioned officer, who is in the same corps with yourself, will have the effect to lessen your consequence in the regiment?"
"That 's just been my weakness through life, Major Duncan; for I've always married without regard to consequences. Every man has his besetting sin, and matrimony, I fear, is mine. And, now that we have discussed what may be called the principles of the connection, I will just ask, if you did me the favour to speak to the Sergeant on the trifling affair?”
I did, David; and am sorry to say for your hopes, that I see no great chance of your succeeding."
"Not succeeding! An officer, and a Quarter-master in the bargain, and not succeed with a Sergeant's daughter!"
"It's just that, Davy."
"And why not, Lundie? Will ye have the goodness to answer just that?"
"The girl is betrothed. Hand plighted, word passed, love pledged, no, hang me if I believe that, either; but she is betrothed."
"Well, that's an obstacle, it must be avowed, Major, though it counts for little if the heart is free."
"Quite true; and I think it probable the heart is free in this case; for the intended husband appears to be the choice of the father, rather than of the daughter."
And who may it be, Major ?" asked the Quarter-master, who viewed the whole matter with the philosophy and coolness that are acquired by use. "I do not recollect any plausible suitor, that is likely to stand in my way."
"No, you are the only plausible suitor on the frontier, Davy. The happy man is Pathfinder."
"Pathfinder, Major Duncan?"
"No more, nor any less, David Muir. Pathfinder is the man; but it may relieve your jealousy a little, to know that, in my judgment at least, it is a match of the father's rather than of the daughter's seeking.'
"I thought as much!" exclaimed the Quarter-master, drawing a long breath, like one who felt relieved; "it's quite impossible, that with my experience in human nature—”
"Particularly hu-woman's nature, David."
"Ye will have ye'r joke, Lundie, let who will suffer. But I did not think it possible I could be deceived as to the young woman's inclinations, which I think I may boldly pronounce to be altogether above the condition of Pathfinder. As for the individual himself—why, time will show.”
"Now, tell me frankly, Davy Muir," said Lundie, stopping short in his walk, and looking the other earnestly in the face, with a comical expression of surprise, that rendered the veteran's countenance ridiculously earnest,-"do you really suppose, a girl like the daughter of Sergeant Dunham can take a serious fancy to a man of your years and appearance, and experience, I might add?"
"Hout, awa', Lundie, ye dinna know the sax, and that's the reason ye'r unmarried in ye'r forty-fifth year. It's a fearfu' time ye've been a bachelor, Major!
"And what may be your age, Lieutenant Muir, if I may presume to ask so delicate a question?"
"Forty-seven; I'll no deny it, Lundie; and if I get Mabel, there 'll be just a wife for every twa lustrums. But I did'na think Sergeant Dunham would be so humble-minded, as to dream of giving that sweet lass of his to one like the Pathfinder."
"There's no dream about it, Davy; the man is as serious as a soldier about to be flogged."
'Well, well, Major, we are auld friends,"—both ran into the Scotch, or avoided it, as they approached or drew away from their younger days, in the dialogue,-"and ought to know how to take and give a joke, off duty. It is possible the worthy man has not understood my hints, or he never would have thought of such a thing. The difference between an officer's consort, and a guide's woman, is as vast as that between the antiquity of Scotland, and the antiquity of America. I'm auld blood, too, Lundie."
"Take my word for it, Davy, your antiquity will do you no good in this affair; and as for your blood, it is not older than your bones. Well, well, man, ye know the Sergeant's answer; and so ye perceive that my influence, on which ye counted so much, can do nought for ye. Let us take a glass thegither, Davy, for auld acquaintance sake; and then ye'll be doing well to remember the party that marches the morrow, and to forget Mabel Dunham as fast as ever you can.'
"Ah! Major, I have always found it easier to forget a wife, than to forget a sweetheart. When a couple are fairly married, all is settled but the death, as one may say, which must finally part us all; and it seems to me awfu' irreverent to disturb the departed ; whereas, there is so much anxiety, and hope, and felicity, in expectation like, with the lassie, that it keeps thought alive.'
"That is just my idea of your situation, Davy; for I never supposed you expected any more felicity with either of your wives. Now, I've heard of fellows who were so stupid as to look forward to happiness with their wives, even beyond the grave. I drink to your success, or to your speedy recovery from this attack, Lieutenant; and I admonish you to be more cautious in future, as some of these violent cases may yet carry you off."
"Many thanks, dear Major; and a speedy termination to an old courtship, of which I know something. This is real mountaindew, Lundie, and it warms the heart like a gleam of bonny Scotland. As for the men you've just mentioned, they could have had but one wife a-piece; for where there are several, the deeds of the women, themselves, may carry them different ways. I think a reasonable husband ought to be satisfied with passing his allotted time with any particular wife, in this world, and not to go
about moping for things unattainable. I'm infinitely obliged to you, Major Duncan, for this and all your other acts of friendship; and if you could but add another, I should think you had not altogether forgotten the playfellow of your boyhood."
"Well, Davy, if the request be reasonable, and such as a superior ought to grant, out with it, man."
"If ye could only contrive a little service for me, down among the Thousand Isles, for a fortnight or so, I think this matter might be settled to the satisfaction of all parties. Just remember, Lundie, the lassie is the only marriageable white female on this frontier."
"There is always duty for one in your line, at a post, however small; but this below can be done by the Sergeant as well as by the Quarter-master-general, and better too.'
"But not better than by a regimental officer. There is great waste, in common, among the orderlies."
"I'll think of it, Muir," said the Major, laughing, "and you shall have my answer in the morning. Here will be a fine occasion, man, the morrow, to show yourself off before the lady; you are expert with the rifle, and prizes are to be won. Make up
your mind to display your skill, and who knows what may yet happen before the Scud sails."
"I'm thinking most of the young men will try their hands in this sport, Major?"
"That will they, and some of the old ones, too, if you appear. To keep you in countenance, I'll try a shot or two myself, Davy; and you know I have some name that way."
"It might, indeed, do good. The female heart, Major Duncan, is susceptible in many different modes, and sometimes in a way that the rules of philosophy might reject. Some require a suitor to sit down before them, as it might be, in a regular siege, and only capitulate when the place can hold out no longer; others again like to be carried by storm; while there are hussies who can only be caught by leading them into an ambush. The first is the most creditable and officer-like process, perhaps; but I must say, I think the last the most pleasing."
"An opinion formed from experience, out of all question. And what of the storming parties?"
"They may do for younger men, Lundie," returned the Quartermaster, rising and winking, a liberty that he often took with his commanding officer, on the score of a long intimacy; "every period of life has its necessities, and at forty-seven it's just as well to trust a little to the head. I wish you a very good even, Major Duncan, and freedom from gout, with a sweet and refreshing sleep."
"The same to yourself, Mr. Muir, with many thanks. Remember the passage of arms for the morrow.'
The Quarter-master withdrew, leaving Lundie in his library to reflect on what had just passed. Use had so accustomed Major Duncan to Lieutenant Muir and all his traits and humours, that the conduct of the latter did not strike the former with the same force as it will probably the reader. In truth, while all men act under one common law that is termed nature, the varieties in their dispositions, modes of judging, feelings, and selfishness, are infinite.
Compel the hawke to sit that is unmann'd,
Or make the hound, untaught, to draw the deere,
Or move the sad a pleasant tale to heere,
MIRROR FOR MAGISTRATES.
It is not often that hope is rewarded by fruition, as completely as the wishes of the young men of the garrison were met by the state of the weather, on the succeeding day. It may be no more than the ordinary waywardness of man, but the Americans are a little accustomed to taking pride in things, that the means of intelligent companions would probably show were, in reality, of a very inferior quality; while they overlook or undervalue advantages that place them certainly on a level with, if not above, most of their fellow-creatures. Among the latter is the climate, which, as a whole, though far from perfect, is infinitely more agreeable, and quite as healthy as those of most of the countries which are loudest in their denunciations of it.
The heats of summer were little felt at Oswego, at the period of which we are writing; for the shade of the forest, added to the refreshing breezes from the lake, so far reduced the influence of the sun, as to render the nights always cool, and the days seldom oppressive.
It was now September, a month in which the strong gales of the coast often appear to force themselves across the country as far as the great lakes, where the inland sailor sometimes feels that genial influence which characterises the winds of the ocean, invigorating his frame, cheering his spirits, and arousing his moral force. Such a day was that on which the garrison of Oswego assembled, to witness what its commander had jocularly called a