The drilling was ended, the last evolution made, the halt commanded, and the order to disband spoken.
Like a fragile piece of potter’s work, the magic ranks broke apart, and each gun fell to the ground with a heavy “thud,” like an iron weight.
“I say, George, I am deuced tired of this turning and twisting, and I’ll be glad when the term ends, and I am set free from this place.”
“Well, I can’t say that I will, Le Grande,” replied George Marshall, as handsome a cadet as wore the uniform, and one highly ambitious for promotion. “I came to this institute, because I was always fascinated by military display, and I intend to make this my lifelong profession.”
“Whew! how tired I am! Well, you are welcome to it. As for me, it’s the last life I should choose. I like the uniform very well, especially when I go where the girls are—they always give a cadet’s suit a second glance—but as for the ‘profession of arms,’ as you call it, excuse me.”
“What! would you like, Le Grande, always to be playing lady’s man?”
“Oh! yes; and that reminds me, George, that I have a new lady-love; she is at Madam Truxton’s. To-day, at intermission, let’s saunter down to the seminary, and catch a glimpse of the girls. Maybe I’ll see her.”
“I can’t; at intermission I must study my Legendre. Look at the clock now; it’s late.”
“Bother the Legendre! you are the strangest fellow I ever saw—care no more for the girls than a ‘cat does for holidays.’ Won’t you go?”
“Not to-day, Le Grande. I am very busy.”
The clock struck nine, and George Marshall, with the other disbanded cadets, hurried to the duties of the day—to the hard task of study that awaited them within the grim walls of the citadel.
For a moment before turning to his books, George Marshall looked out of the window, far away to the blue, misty harbor. There he saw again old Fort Defiance, standing grim, stern, and dark against the morning sky—the only object that marred the brightness of the blue heaven and the blue water, melting together in the distance.
“How beautiful the harbor is to-day! And yet how sullen the fort looks,” said the young cadet as he surveyed the scene. “I see the flag of my country floating, and all is peaceful and quiet in the waters. Thank God for such a country! But I must hasten to my duties.”
“Leah, dear, what troubles you this morning? Your melancholy look distresses me. Is it any sorrow that you dare not unfold to your loving
These lines Lizzie Heartwell slipped into the leaves of a book that lay upon Leah’s desk, while she was absent at a music recitation.
By and by the bell sounded for the half hour’s release from study. Then Leah stepped across the room, and gently taking Lizzie by the arm, said, “Come, let’s walk.”