|Chapter Title||THE OLD SOLDIER.|
|Newspaper Title||Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 - 1876)|
|Trove Title||Harry Linton's Downfall: A Story of Old Sydney|
HlARRY LLNTON'S DOWNFALL. A STORY OF OLD STD.Er. BT R. A. ATKIcSO. t(lriftten c pre.sdy for Ote Portland Guardian.) CHAPTER 111. Tns OL. SoLntIr. '" A man wos he, whose very sicht would : .tftle him the mirror of kn ghthod ; Who never bowed his stuhborn knee 'To anyth.n: but chialry,T, Nor ever stooped to blow but laid Ri`.t worstipful on shoalier blade. Bedibra.s. Sir John Winter, Knight, was a retired Colonel in the army. He had come out to t Sydney some fifteen years before our story orcns. Naturally of a noble gunerous dis position, he was addicted to one absorbing 1 rice which corroded all his better nature;" chtngirg the erore brae liberal 'oldier, into a mean, miserly gambler. There seems sometin? .reapge in the idea that a gamb ler, of all men in the world, can be miserly, somet.inh at first sight incongruous between the teris; yet, although not perhaps a oisetrn the usual acceptance of the term, b-t apparently the reserse, still a gambler is partly actuated by the same teflings which T.rrvade the veriest skin-flint thabt ever aired. The ore engrossing idea of hi- mind is gain, hbox to nin money. F.,r this iurpate he t will risk comfort, triends, life, ,ea, honor its. It. W! ere he difr from the misrr prol<r, is in the war he employs the money he has gained, and in this respect, for ell the distinction brtween the two is very broad, yet the ditierence is in one respect small, the r.wir Fpry!r is a cowardly miser, the gamb Ier a despIratel! brave one. To boti, the trenty they gain is useless, for all purposes of enjao?rent. They have no hesitation in bri ging themselves to death's door, rather tLan ex;ecd the smallest sum for the nes.s cesatr s of lite. Tte miser proper generally boards his gold, end feasts his eyes uton it; the gambler, on the other hand, uses Es gold as a means, wuereby he hopes, to gain more. Both feel an incomprehensible delight in acquiring gold, and the doing t is the chief I end and arm of their existence. Sir John Winter, although sunk deeply into the mire, had, as yet, managed to keel his boner unsullied, that is, "honor" in the aorldly acceptation of the word. Ilis debts, i of honor, were regularly paid, and, although the tradesmen with whom he dealt did not sc k in rery high terms of his punctuality, I in discharging his liabilities, yet he always I manauged to meet his gambling debts promptly. He had married at middle age and his wife, bad died a few years afterwards, in giving birth to a daughter. At the time of which we are speaking, Sir John was ap proaching sixty years of age. Dora Winter bad accompanied her father to Sydney when very young, and, now at the age of nineteen was a pretty accomplished girl. Reader, aid you ever attempt to de scribe a lovely girl, and, .1 so, did you never discover bow utterly impossible it was to do so to your own satisfaction, to say nothing of that of other people? It you ever hvre attempted the discription, and never felt the difficulty, then all I can say is, that you are a wonderful fellow, a rival of Anthony Trol lope, and I wish "more power to your elbow,"--,it would be unnecessary to wish the same to your pen.) It is comparatively easy to describe ey es, nose, mouth, heir, &c., but after all is done what hare we before us! A lovely wax-work, free from crooked fingers, turned-in to-s and other evils uhich vat is heir to, yet still inanimate, and how unlike the copy I Truly ue hare formed our .PYadort, but tgn we give her life? make her eyes to soften with tenderness, sparkle with mirth, flash with anger, or melt with pity; describe the peach-bloom of the cheek$ the-,-but enough I Let me try and speakof ])ora as she was at the time our story opens; a sweet laee, lighted up with eyes that sivnllcd the Australitn sky in the depth of their clear azure; sunny chesout har flowing in ringlets from a thir brow. Lier figure rather alight ntl tall, antd always .graceful. Such weas orn in persot her mind anti disposition will be sohown in ithe tory, The love between father and daughter had strengthened year by year. In the brast of the parent it shone like a light in dark
ness; and, even the stream of vice upon which he was borne, could not extinguish it. As time rolled on Dora saw, and tram t bled at, the fatal propensities to which her father so weakly yielded. She once dared to remonstrate with him, but his answer had been so stern, and his frown so terrible, that the poor girl, ever ntter, sank appalled from mentioning a subject, the thoughts of which rendered her daily life wretched. Though naturally of a lively vivacious dis position, this one thought rendered hier melancholy and pensive, save occasionally when the pent tiup feelings wotld break forth in merry laughter, and brilliantly flashing eve', but only for a moment, for again the old look of sadness would cloud the brow, and the gamester's daughter with a deep sigh would relapse into melancholy. " Fair was she, and young, but alas I before her extended " Dreary and vast, and silent, the desert of life with its pathway, " Marked by the graves of those who had suf. fered before her." When Colonel Winter retired from the army, he was a man of broken fortunes-all that remained of a once noble property was the rental of three small farms, amounting in all to some six or seven hundred pouends per annum. He felt miiiscrablc-ashamed of himself. If he could only tear himself away from the temptations of English society from the "set " he had fallen amonut--he thought he could conquer his gambling pro. pensities. And so he looked wildly around hintm for some spot in the wide world where lie could rest peaceably, beyond the influence of the ratthng dice ar fatal cards. At length his attention was drawn to the penal settle. ment of New South Wales, through reading in a work written by Colone. David Collins, late Judge-Advocate and Secretary of that colony, that " the bond Jide settler, who should be a man of some property, must come from England." lie therefore em harked for Sydney with his infant daughter, in charge of an old and faithful domestic, and landed during the governorship of Captain llunter, l.N., a man of virtous principles and warm benevolence; but who was too quiet for the post he occupied. Colonel "inter had not been on shore a week before he regretted the step he had taken. He found the cost of housekeeping to be enor mous, and his income to be scarcely suffcient to keep up an appearance of respectability. Perhaps it may not be uninteresting to my readers if I give the following quotation from "Lang's N.S. Wales :"-" 'The price of a cow about a year after Governor Hunter arrived in the colony was £50; a horse cost £90; and a sheep, of the .Cape breed, £7 10s; a breeding sow sold for £5; geese and turkeys for a guinea each, and ducks for 10s a couple. Mutton was 2s a pound, goats' flesh Is 61, and butter Ss. Wheat sold for 12s a bushel, and barley for 10s. Articles of I the most common description, however, for domestic use, were often sold at the most ex travagant prices. For example, ' at a sale in Sydney. in March, 179S, twenty-two shillings were paid for one common cup and saucer!" t Under then existing circumstances, it is strange that the Colonel should relapse into t his old habits, but so it turned out. Instead of being out of the influence of the gaming table, he had rushed into a very hot-bed of gambling and vice of all kinds. One night, returning from his accustomed haunt, the Colonel was set upon by three foot.psds. The old soldier defended himself 'allantly with a walking-cane which he car. ried, " cutting" and "pointing" in fine style, and making his assailants" heads rattle again with the well-delivered blows he le velled at them. But for all this, it would bare gone hard with the old mat had not as sistance arrived, in the shape of a fine, stal warn young fellow, clad in the uniform of at British offier of infantry, the very sight of whose flasting sword, as it fled from its t sheath, caused the three ruffians to take to ( their heels and fly. "You have my best thanks, sir I" said Sir John, making desperate efforts, in his ex- Ii citement, to sheath his cane in a button-hole of his frock coat. "To whom am I indebted for this opportune .id ?" " My name is Harry Linton, a lieutenant t in the seventy-third," replied the other. Fron that time an intimacy sprung tip be tween the old and young soldier. Lieutenant I Linton had the entree to the Colonel's house, and in course of time a warm affection sprung ] up between Dora and the handsome young officer. Young Linton certainly was a fine fellow-courageous, and generous to a fault. Yet his very virtues rendered him liable to I give way to temptation, and certainly the town in which he was quartered was not the best school of morality in the world. The 73rd Regimentof the Line superseded the New South Wales Corps, afterwards em- t bodied as the 102nd Regiment of the Line, which was raised in England, for the colonial service in the years 1790 and 1791. Harry Linu:on was the son of a country squire living in Shropshire, and heir to a fine propenty. Hle had joined the 73rd at his father's wish, who, having once held a commission himself, was anxious that his son should also see life from a military point of view. Between the elder Linton and the officer commanding the regiment a friendship of long standing existed, and on that account alone he desired his son to serve in a corps ordered on the unenviable " colonial see vice." " Good bye, harry," said the old squire. " I'll allow you one thousand a year, no more. I shall be lonely when you are gone. Had your poor mother lived it would have been easier to bear-but it's only right Joe should be made a man of. Good bye l Church and State I Fear God, honour the King I Avoid claret, and stick to port I ' And with this advice harry Linton sailed for Botany Bay. Sir John Winter saw with pleasure the love which had sprung tip between his daughter and young linton, It was a pleas ing reflection to thie old man that when hisl death-hour arrived he could leave his daugh ter under the protection of one swhom hle al ready loved as a Son. Of late he had had one continual run of'ill-luck at the gaming tablet and was already deeply involved--ht principal debts being owed to a mnan named Levi, a notorious "black-leg," who lived on 5his wits, and managed to realise a princely fortune out of the frailties of others, The rreader will doubtless remember tho conver I sation that Wilkins had overheard and told Sto AIr. Cash, relative to the conditions upon ltwhich Linton was to wed the fair Dora. l Wilkins' report eas quite true-such condi. tions hlad been made, and for all the colonel I cutsed his fate and " bad luck," yet he was in a desperate position, and must make a bold I dash, ye, though he sacrificed the feelings Sof lila well beloved daughter at the shrine of his fancled honor.