Page images

recollect, dear girl, every pursuit has its dangers; and whether in the field or here, in the bosom of my best friends, the same good Providence guards and protects us. Do not then distress yourself and me by fruitless regrets, the few hours we have to be together; I have more cause than you to sorrow, for I never knew till now how much I was loved, and how painful it would be to leave you all.” As he concluded, a tear stood in his own eye, and he affectionately kissed his sister, who, now totally overcome, hastily retired to compose her shattered spirits.

As the day of separation approached, Conrad's spirits were observed to flag; his light merry conversation and joyous laugh became less frequently heard; he at times stood lost in thought, or the contemplation of his fond companions ; and when he entered the parlour on the last evening, he took his usual seat among the group round the fire in gloomy silence, which, for some minutes, not any of the party seemed inclined to break. There is a certain awe attendant on a deep and long preserved silence, which renders it an exertion to break it; each party feels unwilling to be the first to interrupt the cogitations of the others; and thus it extends,

until some chance circumstance puts a period to it. Such was the case in the present instance; for the entrance of a servant, with the apparatus for that social meal so appropriately eulogised by Cowper, tended to dispel its influence on the minds of all present. Emily had been permitted to spend the previous week at the Parsonage, that she might enjoy as much of her brother's society as possible, and she therefore increased their domestic circle on this occasion.

Various were the tributary offerings of affection Conrad received ; every little article that was deemed useful to the


soldier presented with the love of each ; and had the wishes and feelings alone of his young friends been consulted, his baggage would have been swelled to an enormous size.

Among the articles he promised to take with him, and to use constantly, was a netted purse, the gift of Agnes Camden, whose soft blue eye sparkled through her tears, as he assured her, that although, when replenished with coin, it would be esteemed from its utility, yet, when devoid of that requisite, as he supposed it would most frequently be, he should consider it more valu


able, from its reminding him solely of the love of the fair donor.

Family prayers, as usual, concluded the evening; after which, Mr. Camden turned to his son in affection, and kindly pressing his hand, said, — “You are now, my dear Conrad, on the eve of your departure, to be launched into a dazzling but deceitful world; you have been educated in retirement, and your youth and inexperience will be taken every advantage of, to mislead and corrupt you. It will require great and constant watchfulness on your part, to keep clear of vice; the army is the theatre of idleness and dissipation; and those who pass the ordeal unscathed are the more commendable. Be careful in the choice of your friends; for on them, in a great measure, depends the happiness or misery of your future life.

Your principles are good — adhere strictly to them, and never allow persuasion, or the fear of ridicule, to induce you to give up your better judgment in any point where to yield is sin, and where, in deviating from the path of rectitude, you will be sure to abandon that of happiness. The temptations in the life you are about to adopt are manifold; and many will be the apparent and

sunken rocks you must avoid : of these, I can but speak generally, for my acquaintance with the world has been but slight, and Mr. Yorke, I know, has given you the kindest and most suitable advice on the subject; therefore I can only entreat you to profit by it, for should any thing happen to me, if you do your duty, he will not fail to stand


friend. In the discharge of your duty, see you are not carried away by your passions; cool courage should influence the actions of the wise and good man; and always keep in mind, that mercy and humanity are the brightest flowers in the victor's wreath. Now, having warned you of your darger, I must leave the rest to that power, which is alone able to protect you, and may you be rewarded, my dear fellow, for your dutiful and affectionate conduct to me.”

66 Talk not, dear sir, of my reward: what can I ever do to repay you


kindness to an orphan stranger? But for you, I might have been brought up in a workhouse, or in scenes of still greater depravity; whereas I have found in you every relation that nature or circumstance deprived me of. By my conduct in future, I will show you I have not forgotten what I owe


you: on this, perhaps the only night I may ever spend under your cherished roof, pardon me, my best friend, for the faults of my youth, the grief and displeasure I have at times caused you, and give me a parent's blessing, to protect me in my future life.”

As Conrad spoke, he knelt before Mr. Camden, who, laying his hand on the head of the young soldier, said, solemnly, “ May the God of all power and might, who is the Author and Giver of all good things, bless and watch over you, my dear boy! May he render you an ornament to your profession, and restore you to your home and friends, when your country shall no longer require your services !”

As Conrad rosé, Mr. Camden affectionately embraced him, after which, all retired to their respective chambers. Conrad could not sleep: he thought long and deeply on the peaceful and happy home he was leaving for the first, and it might be for the last time; of his forlorn condition, without any in the world to look to, but the friends he was now to bid adieu to for an indefinite period. A dark and fearful combiŋation of present evils seemed to hover over him ; but the anticipated pleasure of an active

« PreviousContinue »