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old father, who will prove the most serious obstacle to the undertaking, unless he is well managed. His name is Morton, and a soldier he is, as you would fain be thought. The first difficulty is an introduction. I have managed that. The colonel is a pattern of hospitality, and I have procured a flattering letter of introduction from an old friend, given, by good luck, to one Captain Creighton. Who the deuce the true one is, I do n't know. You can see from the epithets, that it never was intended for you. Who, for instance, ever thought of your bravery, and high moral worth? But no matter. What do you think of the scheme?'
* A capital one, by St. George! Give me the rhino, my Buck., and I will lay siege like a good general.'
• A good captain, you mean home-made and poorly commissioned, but nevertheless quite a good one, taking his personal beauty into account, for a speculator in marriage portions.'
From the few scraps of conversation which have been detailed, something may be gathered concerning the nature of the relation which subsisted between Captain Creighton and his dear friend,' Mr. Robert Buckley. It was a limited partnership between two fortune-hunters, whereof the former was the special, and the latter the general partner; the one employing the advantages of a good person and easy address, to secure an heiress, while the other furnished the necessary capital with which to maintain appearances.
Colonel Morton, already alluded to, was an old soldier, who had seen some service, and was now retired upon a large fortune, to devote his attention to the education of an only daughter. While engaged in warfare with the savages upon the frontiers, he had acquired credit for great craftiness, without, however, detracting from a character for honesty and generous feeling. He was fond of a joke, even though himself the subject; and the many of a practical nature which he planned and executed, showed that he had not left all his tact for stratagem in the frontier settlements. Among other things, he well knew that, as she grew up, the beauty and reputed wealth of his only child would attract many suitors. He felt it his duty, and one to which he was prompted by affection, to watch over her, and secure her guileless heart from the thousand snares that would be spread before her. Accustomed to command, his authority over her was supreme ; and she was fitted, no less by education than force of habit, to bow in implicit obedience.
Captain Creighton found no difficulty in effecting a lodgment in the elegant mansion of Colonel Morton. Buckley had not exaggerated the reputation of the latter for hospitality; and upon the production of his introductory epistle, the worthy captain was welcomed with all the warmth of an old acquaintance. He was presented to Miss Alice, as an officer in the British service, now on a visit to this country, and as an acquaintance of her father's old friend, Mr. Willoughby, of whom she had often heard him speak. The young lady greeted him in a manner becoming a soldier's daughter, warmly and frankly. In truth, the Englishman had no bad face or figure, as many a belle in the metropolis attested; and his reputation in the profession in which her father had distinguished himself, led him to expect many advantages in attacking the heart of the beautiful Alice.
The Briton tested well the hospitality of the gallant colonel, into whose good graces he so far insinuated himself as to become a somewhat intimate friend and favorite. Military tactics were Morton's hobby, and Creighton could talk flippantly of scenes in the continental wars of Europe. His suit proceeded scarcely less favorably with the lovely daughter. He was indeed somewhat mortified, and thrown aback, by being foiled in one of the strongest points of attack which he had meditated. Unlike most of her countrywomen, he found Alice wholly insensible to very many charms which he could display, as purely English. She deemed it inconsistent with her ardent ideas of patriotism, to pay a whit more respect to a foreigner, than was due to an American. If she allowed a prejudice either way, it was in favor of her own countrymen. The captain, too, was hardly less disappointed in finding her by no means so accessible to flattery as Buckley had represented. Nevertheless, liis suit prospered well. He saw with pleasure her entire dependance on the wishes and feelings of her father, and the good quarters which he occupied in his mind, led him to look for assistance from the gallant soldier.
Captain Creighton considered the judicious advances which he had made, as quite successful, and conducive to the end for which he had sought the hospitable roof of his host. One thing only, at length, gave him serious apprehensions. This was the arrival of another visitor, who had, as the captain saw every reason to believe, a design upon the hand and fortune of the young lady. Mr. Wilmot was a young man like himself, and, as he was pained to perceive, possessed of a no less pleasing exterior. He had been once before a visitor at Colonel Morton's, and Creighton noted well the warm reception with which he met from the lovely daughter. Two days had not elapsed, before he discovered that while his rival was near, he could never hope to succeed in a direct attempt upon the affections of Miss Alice. It was then, he thought, high time to bestir himself, if he meant that the prize should not be wrested from his very grasp. He was sure of the ascendancy with her father, and he determined to lose no time in making sure of his approbation, when that of the daughter must necessarily follow. He accordingly sought the first opportunity for conversing with the colonel upon the subject nearest his heart.' Nothing could exceed the apparent gratitude with which he received the proposal for uniting his daughter with the kinsman of an English earl. He gave the captain's hand a true soldier's grip, while a tear stood in his eye.
• Receive you, my noble friend !' said he ; 'by my soul! Captain, you are just the son-in-law I have always wished to possess; frank and generous. She is yours, Sir, beart and hand.'
Nay, my good Sir, you do me injustice. The inclinations of the lady must, by all means, be consulted.'
To be sure, captain, she should not marry against her will; but she will most surely consent. I have thoughỉ many times she loved you, by my sword, captain.'
I can but beg of you,' returned the Briton, afraid lest too much freedom might be given to the wishes of the lady, to give your sanction and influence to my suit. I observe with what filial affecVOL. XI.
tion she regards the slightest expression of your wishes and feelings. To know that I had your approbation, might influence while it would not force her.'
* Right, captain,' said Morton,' and nobly spoken. I will try her to-night; the sooner the better, you know, lest difficulty might arise from that fellow of a Wilmot, who, between you and I, and this bottle of port, captain, I believe to be a veritable fortune-hunter.'
*I have no doubt of it,' said Captain Creighton, chiming in with a remark so suitable to his own ends.
• His own fortune is mere nothing,' continued the colonel, “and he thinks mine would make a very pretty addition to it. Yours, you told me, was five thousand per annum, which you intend transferring to this country. You shall have forty thousand, as Alice's portion, on the wedding-day, and at my decease, an equal sum will await you. Of course you will desire an early marriage. I shall urge it.'
'I beg you will not mention her fortune, Sir,' said Creighton, yet drinking in his promises with most exquisite pleasure; "it is the least, nay nothing, of her recommendations. Lest you mistake me for a fortune-hunter, too, I must really decline any, at first, unless a little, perhaps, to meet present wants, until my funds can be safely invested here.'
* By the way,' rejoined his host, 'I think I gathered a hint yesterday, unintentional no doubt on your part, that there was some difficulty in the transmission of your remittances from Europe ?'
• Indeed, Sir!-- but it is nothing. I shall undoubtedly be in cash again in a few days. At least, I have so
some funds left in the city yet.'
I beg you will make free with my purse, captain. A soldier's money, you know, is common stock.'
• Really, colonel, you make me blush. I cannot consent to accept any thing. My present necessities are small, and though it is troublesome to be quite out, I shall be relieved in a week or two, without doubt.'
• Nay, captain, I shall take no refusal. I know well your military pride ; but recollect, I too am a soldier, and have seen such times myself.'
* The amount must be small then, my dear Sir; I cannot consent to trouble you for more than fifty dollars — for one week, and no more.'
• Be it so then. There is a check on the bank in the village. You can get it cashed yourself, or send a servant.'
Captain Creighton chose to take a walk and go himself to the village, elated beyond measure at the prospect of complete success in his schemes.
• Could any thing be more cordial,' said he to himself, “than the reception of the colonel ? Right glorious, by my guardian saints ! Thanks to my lucky stars, I shall come out whole at last! Forty thousand now, and as much more by and by! Then my English banker shall fail, and my annuity be lost, clear as a whistle! First I must cut Buckley. “A third !' 'I would see him in the bottomless pit, ere he should finger a cent of it. I could not so wrong my good friend, the colonel, as to give that scape-gallows an independence.' Musing thus, Captain Creighton entered the banking-house to cash his check. What was his surprise at receiving in answer, from the proper officer, that not a cent could be paid on it. “Colonel Morton had no funds in deposit.'
• Colonel Morton no funds here !'
*Not a cent,' said the cashier: ‘he has already over-drawn some thousands; and we have learned this week that he is utterly bankrupt.
'A bankrupt!' exclaimed the captain, in unfeigned astonishment and horror.
*I hope he does not owe you, Sir ?'
"A mere trifle, Sir,' returned Creighton, composing himself, he knew not exactly how: 'I thought he was estimated wealthy.' 'So he was, Sir; and until this week, his name was good for thou
He has been engaged in some heavy speculations, which have proved unsuccessful, and which will draw all he is worth, if not much more.'
Strong was the contrast in Creighton's feelings as he entered and as he left the banking-house. The bubble was burst, and all his hopes blasted.
Strange beyond measure ! The fates seem combined against me. I must off to-night to town, and see Buckley - and upon
the whole, I believe it would not be right to cut him so suddenly. The speculation was of his own planning, though, thank heaven! and he must bear the loss. Strange that Colonel Morton should fail! I understand now why he would urge a speedy marriage. The old fellow thought I had a fortune, and so planned to palm her off before I should learn that they were pennyless. That would have been . biter bit,' by my soul!
Mr. Wilmot still remained at Colonel Morton's, an honored guest. Only a few days after the abrupt departure of Creighton, he sought an interview with the old soldier, and in modest terms requested the hand of his daughter. Alice, he said, had smiled upon his suit, and but awaited the consent of her father to unite her fate with his.
* My consent,' said the colonel, cannot be refused, when Alice fixes her affections upon one so worthy as Mr. Wilmot. But, Sir, a soldier's character should be marked by frankness. I deem it my duty to say, that if with Miss Morton you expect to marry an heiress, you will be very much mistaken.'
• Colonel Morton,' replied the other, ‘has very much misunderstood my character, if he imagines I sought the hand of an heiress and not that of Miss Morton.'
'I beg of you to comprehend me. It is quite poetical and romantic, I know, to disclaim all thoughts of fortune in love affairs. But I must say, I do not deem them unworthy of consideration. He who proposes marriage to a lady with a fortune, is entitled to a release if she loses it.'
* Allow me, colonel, to differ from you. It is not romance, or poetry alone that forbids the making of marriage a matter of bargain — of profit and loss
•I will not reason the point with you,' rejoined the colonel ; 'but
I deem it my duty to inform you of the true state of my
affairs. You are aware that I have ventured deep in speculation; and I have this week learned that it has been not only unsuccessful, but has involved me deeply beside. A draft for three thousand dollars has this moment been returned from the bank protested, and for want of that sum, I fear I must go to jail, as the creditor is inexorable.'
• To jail !' exclaimed Wilmot. “Colonel Morton a bankrupt! Is it possible you speak the truth ?
Too true, I assure you, Sir. My house and establishment are all under attachment for a large sum.'
Wilmot walked away, while the colonel watched narrowly the effect of this announcement. Screened within a recess by a curtain, the former found a pen and ink, and taking a blank from his pocket, he drew upon his banker for the sum of three thousand dollars, to the order of Colonel Morton. Advancing, he laid the paper
before the latter.
* Mr. Wilmot,' said the soldier, evidently surprised,do you know what you do? I am already involved beyond my means, and can never return a dollar of it. I really, Sir, cannot be so bad as to
“Stay, Colonel Morton,' said Wilmot ; ‘I will take no refusal. With your own and Alice's consent, already gained, I intend yet to become your son-in-law. Think you I could, think you Alice could, rejoice at a wedding, while you were in jail ?'
The veteran started to his feet, and rang the bell for his daughter. He paced the room in silence until she entered. Pausing, he placed her hand in that of Wilmot, while his manly countenance gleamed with an expression of heart-felt joy.
Children, you have my blessing. He is worthy of you, Alice; I have tried him. Strive but to be as worthy of him. You, Sir, will pardon the jealous care of a father over his child. I have played upon you this trick, that your worth might be tested; and thank God! I have found a son-in-law who is not wanting in weight. My fortune is yet whole, and shall never be ventured in rash speculation. That gallant rascal Creighton sued for your hand, Alice, and I tried him in the same scale. He kicked the beam, and went off with a flea in his
1 bad no doubt of you, Wilmot; but you are generous enough to forgive an old soldier's stratagem.'
The same day, Colonel Morton laughed heartily over the following paragraph, in an evening paper:
* An Englishman, calling himself CAPTAIN CREIGHTON, who bas spent some time in great style in this city, was yesterday arrested at his hotel, on the suit of a London house. His real name is BENTLEY. Managing some business for the bouse just mentioned, he became a defaulter and forger to a large amount, and fled to this country. The money has been spent in display, under his military title.'
W. A. B.
How like is this picture! — you 'd think that it breathes :
What life! what expression ! wbat spirit !
"That want is its principal merit!'