Think not I love him, though I ask for him;
’Tis but a peevish boy: — yet he talks well —
But what care I for words?
A week passed in the usual routine of a garrison. Mabel was becoming used to a situation that, at first she had found not only novel, but a little irksome; and the officers and men in their turn, gradually familiarized to the presence of a young and blooming girl, whose attire and carriage had that air of modest gentility about them which she had obtained in the family of her patroness, annoyed her less by their ill-concealed admiration, while they gratified her by the respect which, she was fain to think, they paid her on account of her father; but which, in truth, was more to be attributed to her own modest but spirited deportment, than to any deference for the worthy Sergeant.
Acquaintances made in a forest, or in any circumstances of unusual excitement, soon attain their limits. Mabel found one week’s residence at Oswego sufficient to determine her as to those with whom she might be intimate and those whom she ought to avoid. The sort of neutral position occupied by her father, who was not an officer, while he was so much more than a common soldier, by keeping her aloof from the two great classes of military life, lessened the number of those whom she was compelled to know, and made the duty of decision comparatively easy. Still she soon discovered that there were a few, even among those that could aspire to a seat at the Commandant’s table, who were disposed to overlook the halbert for the novelty of a well-turned figure and of a pretty, winning face; and by the end of the first two or three days she had admirers even among the gentlemen. The Quartermaster, in particular, a middle-aged soldier, who had more than once tried the blessings of matrimony already, but was now a widower, was evidently disposed to increase his intimacy with the Sergeant, though their duties often brought them together; and the youngsters among his messmates did not fail to note that this man of method, who was a Scotsman of the name of Muir, was much more frequent in his visits to the quarters of his subordinate than had formerly been his wont. A laugh, or a joke, in honor of the “Sergeant’s daughter,” however, limited their strictures; though “Mabel Dunham” was soon a toast that even the ensign, or the lieutenant, did not disdain to give.