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The Blessingtons, from infancy, were most fondly attached to each other ; they knew no other relation, though of kind friends they had many; as two seeds cast by the wind to a distance from the parent stem, mingle their branches, and gain strength from the approximation of each other, so Conrad and Emily loved and mutually supported each other; and as their years increased, and reason matured, infantine love ripened into an effectionate esteem.
Mr. Camden intended to educate Conrad for the church, with a view to his eventually enjoying his own living; but how often do we see our fondest hopes controverted by some untoward and unforeseen event! From an early age he had evinced a partiality for a military life, little consonant with his patron's wishes for him. As a child, drums, trumpets, and swords were his only delight; and when his mind developed, and books became his amusement, those of military adventure, heroic daring, and hairbreadth escapes, formed his sole enjoyment. Often was he detected drilling Agnes and Lucy Camden; and even dogs and cats, and other domestic animals, were known by the names of those military heroes with which Master Bless
ington had thought proper to dub them. Bold, active and enterprising, yet, generous, amiable, and light hearted, he was the leader in very enero hazardous sport, and the chosen companion of all the young people in the neighbourhood. Application he had none; and Mr. Camden saw, with infinite regret, that his uncongenial taste increased with his age and size.
Ernest Bonner, a nephew of Mr. Yorke's, who had been in the habit of spending much of his time, during his youth, at the Grove, and consequently was well known to our hero, had entered the army at an early age; and just at the time that Conrad was eighteen, and beginning to feel, and urge Mr. Camden to think, that the church was not the profession he was fitted either to ornament or succeed in, Bonner, having obtained leave of absence, came to pay his uncle a visit. He
older than Conrad, fond of his profession, and a wild reckless fellow. The baneful influence of his company was soon visible to Mr. Camden, in Conrad's utter desertion of study, and constant absence from home. At length, he began to see with pain, that if he desired the youth's happiness, he must sacrifice his own fondly
anticipated plans: he had endeavoured, by every means in his power, to change his obnoxious bent, but without success; for although, when he had expressed his great objection to his adopting the life of a soldier, Conrad promised to endeavour to yield the point, yet he plainly saw, where such an infatuation existed, it was cruel and impossible to expect compliance: he therefore resolved, when next the subject should be broached, that he would not withhold his consent.
An opportunity soon presented itself. Ernest's accounts of the line of life he so ardently desired, inflamed Conrad's young and ardent imagination; his days were spent in the company of this pleasant but dangerous friend, and his nights in dreaming of the fancied delights of his favourite pursuit.
It was one evening at the commencement of the
year 1809, after spending the whole day at the Grove, that Conrad was returning slowly home; his arms were folded, and he appeared in deep and painful thought, from the frequent changes in his fine open countenance. eminently handsome, being nearly six feet in height, of an erect, well-proportioned figure;
the fire of his dark hazle eye was tempered by long silken lashes, his nose was roman, mouth small, but beautifully formed, while his complexion, though almost too fair. for a man, enhanced the brilliancy of his appearance.
When he came to a spot whence the Parsonage was visible in the gloom of the twilight, he stopped abruptly, and for a moment contemplated the peaceful home of his childhood, at the same time saying, "I must leave it - I cannot endure the thought of the monotonous life my best friend destines me for. Come what may, I must be a soldier !” He then hurried forward, and in a few minutes entered the cherished dwelling he had determined so soon to quit. The family were at tea when he joined them, and he placed himself at the table in silence. Mr. Camden, who was reading the newspaper, laid it down at his entrance, and said, while a smile of welcome illumined his countenance, “ What has detained you so late to night, Conrad, at the Grove? You spend so much time there now, that I suppose you will forsake us altogether soon.”
- Not forsake you, my dear sir, – that I could never do, after your parental care of me; but,
for a time only, I must leave you."
Mr. Camden looked grave, but Conrad continued.
My wishes have unfortunately been for some time opposed to yours, with regard to entering the church; nevertheless, I have endeavoured to warp my mind according to your desire, for I feel I ought to do all in my power to testify my gratitude; but it is impossible, I am convinced, unless I am a soldier, I can be a successful or a happy man.” He paused, and Mr. Camden said,
66 This declaration, Conrad, does not surprise me; you have been so devoted to Ernest Bonner's society, the last few weeks, that I must own I anticipated something of the sort. As far as my own feelings are concerned, you know I have always expressed my aversion to your leaving me; but I have confidence in you, and am sure you both desired, and have endeavoured to follow my wishes. Now, although I think it would be equally weak and foolish of any parent or guardian, to yield so important a point, as the choice of a profession he considered advantageous to the fancies of the youth, yet I should pronounce him bigotted and tyrannical, and perfectly unfit for the proper discharge of