At the bottom of this artificial mound, and near the pathway, a small spud, such as is used for pruning, was stuck into some earth, newly drawn round a splendid tiger lily, and on the handle of the spud, were loosely thrown a white silk jacket, a blue velvet cap, and a light pink scarf—evidencing that no ordinary gardener had been that day employed in bringing into new life the gorgeous beauties of the variegated parterre.
“Little did I think,” mused the young officer, as, leaving his party at the, gate, and hastening towards the cottage, his eye fell upon those articles of dress—“little did I imagine when I threw off these things a few hours since, to obey a summons to the Fort, that on my return to them, it would be with this heavy heart, and as the bearer of these tidings—but I must be cautious in my disclosure. Dear girl, here she is!”
“Why, Ronayne, what in the name of Heaven is the meaning of all this? Are you here to take the castle by storm, with all these armed warriors? A few hours since you were a man of peace, and now I behold in you a most approved and valiant knight of the true American school. Sword, cap, feather, epaulet, blue broad-cloth, and silver. Well it must be confessed that you are not a bad imitation of a soldier, in that garb, and it is in pity to me, I suppose, that you do not wear it oftener. But seriously, Harry, do satisfy my curiosity, and tell me the reason of this unusual—manner of visit!”
The question was asked playfully, but in tones replete with sweetness, by a tall and elegantly-formed girl, who on turning the further circle of the walk, in her approach to her favorite flower-bed, had for the first time, beheld the young officer, and the party stationed at the gate.
“Nay, dear Maria,” returned the youth, deeply grieved at the thought of casting a gloom over the spirits of her who thus rallied him. “I am sorry to say my errand is not one of mere parade—I have come to announce that which will give you pain; and but that I am charged with the agreeable duty of making you a prisoner, I never should have had the courage to be the bearer of the intelligence.”