“A soldier,” said I.
“Then ask that lady.”
I flew to Artemisia, who shook her head at me. “She will not—she will not, Sir,” I exclaimed, “let me be a soldier like you.”
“No, my dear, I know she will not; she cannot spare you to go to the wars and get killed, so you must make up your mind never to be a soldier.”
“Then,” answered I proudly, “I will be a poet.” Hereupon Artemisia and Serventius laughed, and informed me that the profession of a poet, if such it might be termed, was the most laborious, thankless, and ill requited of any, and that to be a poet, was in fact little better than being an honourable mendicant. The Church and the Bar were mentioned, but as I expressed a decided antipathy to them, Serventius named the medical profession.
“Yes,” said I, with great glee, “I like that, and I will be a doctor;” for the bustle, importance, visiting, and gossiping of the honourable fraternity of physicians, had given me an idea that the profession itself was one of unmingled pleasure! Hapless choice! Miserable infatuation! And shall I most blame myself for selecting that which has caused my present fatal situation, or the foolish fondness which placed in the hands of a child, the decision of his future fate? But, let me proceed; the first faint glimmerings of dawn are stealing into my grated cell, and, at noon—I shudder...
Shortly after this memorable conversation, Andrea and Servilius appeared overwhelmed with affliction, and one evening brought home with them a large package, containing as I supposed, new clothes; next morning, I found that those which I had been accustomed to wear had been removed whilst I slept, and in their stead, suits of the very deepest mourning appeared. I dressed myself in one of these, and upon asking Servilius and his wife the meaning of this change, was answered by Andrea with so wild a burst of grief, and incoherent lamentation, that I durst inquire no further. After they had gone forth to their daily employment I also quitted the cottage for a stroll, and detected a woman pointing me out to her children as “a poor, little boy, who had probably lost both his parents.” “That I have not,” said I, sharply, “for I breakfasted with them not half an hour ago!” The woman stared at me with an expression of doubt, and muttering something that sounded extremely like “little liar,” turned from me, and went her way.
(To be concluded in our next.)
* * * * *
SPIRIT OF DISCOVERY
ORIGIN OF PRAIRIES.