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had been made in the way of exceptions to the rule had not turned out quite successful. Youthful officers who had been admitted to balls at which her daughters were present had not always conducted themselves like models of propriety. Some had exaggerated refreshment; others had exaggerated affection; and a few, still more scandalously, had exaggerated a combination of the two. As Mrs. Myrtle remarked, 'Gentlemen who were gentlemen ought to behave themselves as such;' and it happened, unfortunately, that scarcely any of the gentlemen, so called, with whom she had been brought into social contact, had come up to her ideal. There was a general jealousy, too, on the part of the 'second class' society, as it called itself, half seriously and half cynically, of the intrusion of the first class. The latter, in India, draw rather a sharp line in their associations; not sharper, perhaps, than they draw in England, but marked in a greater degree, because they have a more or less personal knowledge of those whom they do not include in their circle, and those whom they do not include in their circle have a more or less personal knowledge of them. These are conditions inseparable from a limited community, in which the small people are a little larger than they would be at home, and, though living in a society which has only an official standard, are apt to take colonial views as to one person being as good as another. These are very small matters to discuss, but they will intrude themselves in India; and I am referring to things as they are, rather than things as they ought to be.

Apart, too, from the awkward fact of gentlemen not always behaving as such when admitted to inferior circles, there was a special jealousy on the part of the second class' men, who fared far worse than their female friends when exposed to the inroads of the superior rank. The one sex could make some allowances for offences committed in their cause; but the other sex found themselves inconveniently supplanted, and by no means able to hold their own

against the attractions of their rivals. So, between one consideration and another, there was, at the time to which I refer, a more than usually strong line drawn between classes in Junglepore; and the hopes of any of the first class being admitted to the second class ball-a subscription affair just coming off- seemed very small indeed. Valiant attempts had been made on the part of our Artillery friends and others to make acquaintance with the Misses Myrtle, but with a strong tendency towards failure rather than success. Had the ladies exclusively adhered to the millinery line there would have been no hope; for unmarried gentlemen, even though 'behaving themselves as such,' could not go to the shop with the continual excuse of wanting bonnets and ball-dresses. But, happily for occasional opportunities, Mrs. Myrtle had found it necessary, in the absence of ladies in the station, to extend her commercial operations to articles required by men. She very prudently, in fact, enlarged her stock-in-trade to such matters as wine, beer, brandy, gunpowder, riding-whips, and other odd things, including a couple of saddles, which were very carefully avoided by everybody— buying a saddle in a milliner's shop would have been rather too strong a concession even for the distracted days of the mutinies. But the wine, the beer, the brandy, the gunpowder, and the riding-whips, notwithstanding the appalling prices of those articles, gave an excuse for gentlemen who had nothing else to do to pay visits to the establishment; and there, if they were very fortunate, they might chance to see one of the Miss Myrtles. But even then a glimpse included most of the gratification; for those young ladies were understood to be 'above the business,' and never interfered in commercial transactions. Their shop, too, was quite like a private house; you could not enter the drawing-room, in which the stockin-trade was displayed, without a sense of interference with an interesting family. So exclusive, indeed, were the beauties of Junglepore, that their numerous admirers

of the upper class had very little opportunity of gratifying their admiration except at church on Sundays, when staring, at any rate, was privileged, and indulged in, I am afraid, to a very improper extent.

The party in the verandah were in the last stage of laziness. Talking, even, had become a bore. And the horses in front being now engaged with their gram, the only sound heard was the occasional popping of a bottle of soda-water, as one after another-of the men, not the horses-sought the resource of a 'peg.' A very ordinary incident, or rather an incident which would have been ordinary in ordinary times, came to their relief; a gentleman on foot was heard inquiring of a native servant which was the mess kote.'

'Somebody going to drop us a ticket. That's a novelty, at any rate-reminds one that one is a gentleman.'

This remark was made by Honeydew, the junior lieutenant of the troop, a 'pretty' specimen of a boy, who sought to carry off his juvenile appearance by treating things in general with a cool air of patronage, and measuring them by a 'gentlemanly' standard upon all possible occasions.

'Don't think he looks much like one himself,' observed Captain Gallivant, the senior officer of the group. Competition Wallah, I suspect; wonder if he's brought a wife.'

'He's new at any rate,' said Larkall, another lieutenant, ' and if he brings us some fun I'll forgive him.'

'You and your fun will ruin us with the Myrtles,' growled Gallivant. He was about to explain why, when Honeydew exclaimed

By Jove!-friend of mine-have him in.'

Honeydew was off the verandah in an instant, and in another minute had brought back the stranger, who had just gained the information he sought, and was proceeding on his way. With cheerful affability Honeydew presented him all round to his friends- Mr. Mildmay, civil service, just appointed

to this lovely place-Bloaker's Joint, you know.' Bloaker was the magistrate and collector, and one of the unpopular officials who were so seldom seen or heard of.

Mildmay was at once made at home, promptly supplied with a peg, and offered his choice of half a dozen cheroot-cases, represented in their extremes by Gallivant's embroidered bijou, in which reposed some delicate Number Threes, and Honeydew's young portmanteau, bursting with an uncompromising crowd of Number Ones. Mildmay was at his ease at once, as men are apt to be who are early placed in positions of respect and responsibility, but there was little in his appearance to distinguish him from the ordinary youth of Britain. He had a keen, clever face, but was insignificant in his general exterior, and might have passed for an industrious clerk on a high stool and a low salary. There are such men in all grades of life, from dukes downwards, and perhaps I might say upwards too. As Honeydew once said in his patronizing way, 'Kings are an odd lot to look at in these days.' Honeydew, by the way, who dressed not wisely but too swell, was not very proud of his friend's inattention to outward effect. The matter was probably in his mind when he said presently

'And how came you here in this lowly manner, on foot?'

'I carried myself because I had nothing to carry me,' was the careless answer. 'My solitary horse is on the road, and so is my heavy baggage. I came up from Calcutta in light marching order for the sake of speed, and am staying at the Dâk Bungalow. I arrived only this morning, and as you were the only man I knew in the station, I thought I would leave my first card at your mess after presenting myself of course to Bloaker.'

'Who did not ask you to dinner, of course, so you'll dine with us.'

'Delighted,' was the quiet reply, involving no reference to the want of hospitality elsewhere. But my walk brought me a pleasant adventure. I met two of the most charm

ing girls you ever saw, and saved the life of the prettiest.'

'You-you don't say so!' gasped Gallivant, with an earnestness that made them all laugh.

'I do indeed,' proceeded Mildmay. 'I was passing near the church, not much admiring the edifice by the way—'

'It was a very gentlemanly church,' interposed Honeydew, 'before the Hon. the East India Company's 99th Mutineers spoiled the steeple.'

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Well, I was passing by the church when two young ladies riding ponies came cantering by. There was one of the most hideous faqueers you ever saw, painted like a stage devil, crouching by the side of the road; and the nearest pony shied at him, as the animal well might no ordinary shy, but a bound from one side of the road to the other. The girl must be a very good rider to have kept her seat as she did; but she was in great danger of losing it immediately after; for the pony, upon being urged to pass the monster again, took to rearing, and I thought would have fallen upon his rider. It was at this juncture that I went to her assistance, seized the bridle in what I am bound to pronounce a very dexterous manner, and not only stopped the brute, but caught the girl in my arms just as she had lost her seat and was falling to the ground.'

There was a general murmur of interest, above which was heard a sympathetic, By Jove!' from the susceptible Gallivant. ' And what then?' asked half a dozen voices.

'Well, just as she was safely on her feet, and she and her sister were thanking me in the prettiest manner possible, up came the two syces, of course too late to be of any use, and after them, riding another pony, came a young cub of a fellow, a little younger than the girls, and evidently a brother, from the utter insensibility he showed to their beauty. He thanked me, too, in a surly way, then said that the damsel in distress might have his pony and he would take hers; and this being settled, and the syces

busy changing the saddles, I had no excuse for remaining, so made my most insinuating bow and passed on.'

'And what were the girls like?' chorused the group, and Honeydew added in addition, 'One was a chestnut and the other was a bay -wasn't it so?'

Honeydew's illustrative mode of description was very properly rebuked by his friends, Gallivant being particularly indignant. I don't think Mildmay either much liked the way of putting the case, but he proceeded good-humouredly

'Well, one was dark-I mean as to her hair and eyes-and the other lighter and brighter. They were both beautiful girls, the lighter one especially. I particularly noticed her hair, because her hat fell off, and it all came down; and when she raised her eyes I noticed that they were the colour of the cornflower, with a deep light like that of a sapphire.'

Bravo!' said Gallivant, 'you beat Honeydew at description. You are a lucky fellow-we all know who were the girls you met-they had grey habits, hadn't they?'

"Yes,' interposed Honeydew, 'not quite gentlemanlike. Mofussil, you know, wouldn't do for the Row, or even the course in Calcutta.'

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two milliners in the station-living at its two extreme ends, about four miles apart. When Larkall and his friends have exhausted all other ways of being witty, they go out in the middle of the night, steal Mrs. Myrtle's board, and plant it in Mrs. Ivy's compound; and by way of justice to both parties, bring Mrs. Ivy's board away and set it up in Mrs. Myrtle's compound. As the two are something more than rivals, and not upon speaking terms, it takes about three days' negotiation on the part of mediating friends to effect an exchange. The consequence of games such as this is, that people like the Myrtles are afraid of us, and won't let us go to their balls, even when we are so hard up for society as we are at present. There is one just coming off now, and we are trying to get invitations through a very decent fellow, a railway contractor, who not setting up to be anybody in particular, manages to have the run of the only pleasant society in the place. He is doing everything he can for us, but I know he will not succeed.'

Before Mildmay could make any comment upon these important revelations, the noise of hoofs was heard, and a rider, unexceptionably mounted, dashed up to the verandah. It was no other than Mr. Siding, the railway contractor, just alluded to. He was a pleasant-looking, off-hand person, scrupulously dressed in rather a sporting manner, contrasting, therefore, remarkably with most of the officers, whose mufti had become somewhat accidental after all the campaigning they had gone through. Honeydew, who did not consider him quite a gentleman, resented this careful array as much as he deprecated the negligence of some of his friends, and declared that Siding always looked commercial state of cleanliness.'

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But most of the men took very kindly to him, and to do Siding justice, it must be said that he repaid their attentions with profuse hospitality -rather a rare thing in Jungle pore in those days.

His presence upon this occasion was hailed with great interest, for

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There was a roar of laughter at this humble if not insolent epistle, followed, however, by expressions of disgust. Then came a little talk upon the subject, in the midst of which Larkall declared that he had an idea. 'You accuse me,' he said, of doing you harm with my fun. We'll see now if it can't be to your service. Siding, dine with me at the mess to-night, and help us to talk over my plot.'

There was not too much time for Siding to accept the invitation, and make a hasty change of toilet at his bungalow close by. For the dressing-bugle went while they were talking, and they all separated to meet again in the bare, whitewashed bungalow adjoining, where the mess was held-an institution now, by the way, shorn of most of its glories, for the plate was at a bank in Bombay, and the arrangements were generally in the rough. There was the band to be sure, but it had had no new music for a year and a half. There were drawbacks, but they did not interfere with a pleasant evening, nor prevent the discussion of Larkall's plot, and a determination upon a course of action in pursuance thereof.

III.

On the following morning, in accordance with previous arrangement, Mildmay went to breakfast with Siding, who, hearing for the first time that his new friend was at the Dâk Bungalow, insisted upon putting him up until he could find a house for himself. Breakfast over, and a cheroot discussed, the pair stepped into Siding's buggy— which had grasshopper springs and the best stepper in the station between the shafts-and drove out upon the business which had brought them together. Mildmay seemed nervous, and on the way said

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Upon my honour, if I think about this affair inuch more I shall insist upon returning. I feel ashamed already of the part I am expected to play.'

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Nonsense,' answered Siding; if I introduce you as Mr. Mildmay, C.S., neither the mamma nor the girls will have anything to do with you. If I present you in the comparatively humble position of a patrol in the Customs Department-a post held by the late Mr. Myrtle-they will make a great deal of you, and not only get you a ticket for the ball, but enable you, with a little management, to get our three friends in besides.'

'Well, I suppose I am pledged -and I must change my name too. If Bloaker hears of this, and reports me, I shall be in a nice scrape.'

'Never mind; you'll get out of it, I dare say. I'll write a name for you on my card. What shall it be? Something like your own, eh? It won't look well to call you Mildlet's take the other syllable, and make you May. It's a pretty name, and will interest the girls at once.'

'Well, as you please; but I feel very like a swindler.'

The high-stepper was by this time wafting the pair upon the grasshopper springs through the gate and into the compound ofneed I say Mrs. Myrtle? Siding, as a friend of the family, did not drive up to the entrance of the 'infernal shop,' but went round to the back of the house, where a

young lady in white was reading in the verandah.

Disturbed by the noise of wheels, the young lady in white raised her head, and Mildmay recognized his friend of the preceding day, whom he had rescued from the refractory pony.

Mildmay felt frightfully confused, although the sight was so far from being unexpected that the lady was the main object of his visit. She was even more unmistakably impressed, for she coloured deeply as she rose from her seat and took the card which the syce placed in her hands.

'You will find mamma within,' she said, hurriedly, after returning the gentlemen's salute; then adding abruptly, I will go and tell her,' as an excuse for a hasty disappear

ance.

Mrs. Myrtle was serving some customers. What an awful situation,' thought Mildmay-but Adelaide, the elder of the daughters, was in the apartment opening upon the verandah, and received the visitors with less embarassment than her sister, but some confusion as far as the stranger was concerned. Siding, who was subject to no weakness of the kind, soon put her at her ease, however, and told all the necessary falsehoods about his friend with the most unblushing assurance. Adelaide the bay beauty, according to Honeydew's description-was a beauty beyond doubt; and when Flora presently joined them he was doubtful for some minutes which to most admire. Adelaide's eyes were hazel, and her style was generally the richer and more sunny of the two. But the cornflower orbs with the sapphire light were soon shining in his heart beyond all hope of removal. The more he gazed, and the more she talkedfor Mildmay could not take much part in the conversation-the more convinced was he that a crisis in his life had come which comes to few men more than once. And with it arose the bitter remembrance that he was an impostorthat he was gaining her friendship, and his quick perceptions told him that it might be something more,

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