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under a false name, and with a false account of his condition in life. Truly, his fraud was on the generous side; but it was no less fraud for all that, and he felt how much to his discredit his motives might be misconstrued. He experienced, too, not a few of the practical difficulties of the swindler who pretends to be what he is not. He knew nothing of the society into which he had intruded, had none of what may be called its watchwords, and was in danger of betraying himself every time he ventured out of the very shallow water in which he could alone feel safe. But for Siding he would have sunk even in that. But Siding was completely unabashed, and played his part with such easy assurance as to give him a certain inspiration. When Mrs. Myrtle came in he made himself as pleasant to that large lady as he had been to her daughters in her absence; and Mildmay was appalled to find the interest which his own assumed character gave him in her eyes. He had evidently made a favourable impression upon all three ladies, and their cordiality cut him like a knife. Siding saw the advantage already gained, and presently put in an appeal for the ball. It was received in the readiest manner. Of course Mr. May should have a ticket, which could be easily given, as Mrs. Myrtle had still several to spare. The latter was a welcome piece of news, but Siding was too prudent to avail himself of it at the time. Questions, as he afterwards said, might have been asked, and the further appeal would be better made in writing. The preliminary point gained, Siding rose to go, and Mildmay, however disposed to stay all day, felt it a wonderful relief to accompany him.
Once more in the free air Mildmay breathed again, and his heart bounded higher than the grasshopper springs with a renewed sense of freedom. But his conscience smote him awfully, and he needed all Siding's worldly philosophy to carry him through the course to which he was committed. At Siding's bungalow, after tiffin,
however, he was induced to write a note asking for three more tickets, for friends, whose names he took care not to mention, and then he awaited the event in something like the spirit of a criminal condemned to execution. It must be confessed, however, that consideration for his friends would never have borne him through the ordeal, and that whatever his original motive, that which impelled him now was the pure selfishness of love. For the sake of the cornflower eyes with the sapphire light he would have gone anywhere and done anything. I mention this fact lest the reader should assign to Mildmay more of the character of an angel of conscientiousness than he had a fair right to claim.
You may be sure, too, that he was fairly demoralized when the four tickets punctually came in the course of the afternoon.
Our three friends of the Artillery had no scruples about availing themselves of the opportunity which they had taken so much pains to obtain. Their names were not mentioned in the previous application, so that they had not been personally refused, and neither of them was afflicted with sufficient modesty to spoil his pleasure upon the occasion. That they should care so much about a ball seems more compatible with the character of young ladies fresh from school than that of officers in Her Majesty's service. But allowance must be made for the hard life they had led for many months past, and the stagnant state of Junglepore, giving so little play to the reaction which sets in after a severe campaign. Moreover, the difficulties thrown in their way aroused their ardour. The same pleasure offered to them in the natural course of things would probably have been received with comparative indifference. However that may be, they were certainly remarkably ready for the festivity upon the night when it came to pass.
This was only two nights after
Mildmay's call upon the Myrtles, and there had been no meeting in the meanwhile between the new allies. The scene of the entertainment was a garden house a short distance from the station, lent by a native banker for the occasion, with the customary courtesy of his class. Thither our friends betook themselves with some punctuality after
Appearances promised well upon their arrival. The grounds were light with coloured lamps, which would have looked brighter but for the moon taking the duty somewhat out of their hands. Between the two the effect was highly festive; and if the reader will picture to himself an eastern garden with its narrow walks and its sunken beds, its broad-leaved trees, and its manycoloured flowers, its streams, its fountains, and its fruits that scent the air, he will save me a great deal of trouble in description. Perhaps, however, I should mention that the house in the midst looked as much like a fairy palace as a house can be expected to look that has been built by men and paid for by money. And it should also be added that the stranger who admired it from without was destined to a fresh kind of sensation when he regarded it from within. The apartments were large and lofty, and all being thrown open, were presented at once to the eye. But I cannot say that their appearance was strictly oriental.
houses of great men in the East have very little about them that is eastern, except the private apartments, including those devoted to the ladies of the family, where, I need scarcely say, visitors are not introduced; and the mansion in question was not occupied, and only occasionally visited by its owner. It was given up, therefore, to all those incongruous accessories which native gentlemen, who are generally ready to buy and hold it a degradation to sell, are apt to find accumulate upon their premises. Their idea of furnishing, one would suppose, to be that of crowding as many movables as possible into a certain prescribed space. In the
apartments devoted to the ball there was a decidedly curious gathering. Chandeliers of all fashions and all dates hung from the ceiling, less for their light than as independent decorations, for the greater number were not illuminated at all. On the floors, except where a clearance was made for dancing, were tables of European patterns, of every possible kind-dining-room tables, drawing-room tables, card-tables, sofa-tables, and even dressing-tables with looking-glasses set upon them in regular form; and upon all these tables objects of more or less ornament were lavishly displayed. Here you might see a cruet-stand, there a statuette; here a mariner's compass; there a dumpy level used by engineers. Upon a sideboard stood an architect's model of some almshouses, and upon a pedestal, intended for a statue, was an English rat-trap, designed upon improved principles. Stuffed birds and animals were in every direction. The walls were embellished with looking-glasses and pictures wherever they could be placed. The latter were of uncertain schools of art as far as the paintings were concerned.
prints included most of those painfully familiar works given away by the Art Union of London, but were for the most part French, of a sentimental and affectionate character, all highly coloured as you may suppose, and producing a gorgeous effect. There was a certain proportion of native works of art, and the furniture, too, included specimens of wood carvings from Bombay, Chinese cabinets, and a great many articles of Eastern manufacture. In some of the smaller apartments were beds, of Britishi or native origin, as the case might be, having the appearance of being placed there less for use than to be stowed out of the way. This, indeed, was the general effect of the furniture and decorations, which suggested the idea of being displayed for sale.
V. Dancing was well on, both inside and outside of the house, to the music of a military band stationed in the verandah, when our friends arrived. Their appearance -the military men being in uniform-created some surprise; and a few of the guests looked as if they regarded their presence as an intrusion. Presently, one of the committee, to prevent mistakes, asked them, civilly enough, if they had received invitations, and these being produced there was nothing more to be said. So the new comers soon made themselves at home, and established very amicable relations with everybody. Mrs. Myrtle presently took an opportunity of telling Mildmay that he had made a mistake in bringing officers to the ball, but of course excused him on account of his want of knowledge of the customs of the society. daughters, by the way, not nearly so exclusive as their mother, were rather glad of the mistake than otherwise; and the sentiment, I suspect, was shared by most of the girls present.
And the officers, it must be said, in the language of Mrs. Myrtle, being gentlemen, behaved themselves as such.' They were guilty of none of the exaggerations alluded to just now. By different modes they all succeeded in pleasing Gallivant by an impartial course of 'spooning' with his partners; his partners; Honeydew by that genial audacity which was always the admiration of his friends; and Larkall by a light jocularity which was equally his own, and always at the disposal of others. As for Siding, his foot was evidently upon his native heath, and his name was Macgregor to all intents and purposes. His cleanliness, Honeydew always maintained, was more commercial in evening dress than in morning; but this æsthetic objection was not perceptible to the ordinary eye, which saw nothing that was not charming in the shiny precision of his toilet, and the healthy assurance which marked his deportment. The only one of the party who caused scandal
was Mildmay. The manner in which he appropriated Flora Myrtle to himself, was by one and all, with the exception of the lady, pronounced to be simply disgusting. He never left her side, and as Gallivant sullenly remarked, There was no getting near her.' Mildmay danced with her as often as decency would allow; and when anybody attempted to appropriate her in the intervals, the pretender was always told that she was tired, and preferred sitting down. This was very sad to see, and there was but one excuse for Mildmay-that he was desperately in love.
Thus matters proceeded until supper, which passed over harmoniously enough, with the exception of a little dispute between two of the ball committee, one accusing the other of interested motives in ordering an extra case of champagne to be opened-the liberal gentleman being a dealer in that refreshment, and entrusted with its supply upon that occasion. The matter was hushed up, but caused a little scandal and some severe remarks from Honeydew, who enlarged to his friends upon the awkwardness of meeting men with whom it was more probable than not that you had unsettled accounts. I have met six people this evening,' he said, 'to whom I owe bills. By Jove, it's very like coming to a meeting of one's creditors.'
After supper the proceedings enlivened, as is usual at that period; but there was less dancing and more walking about the garden; and the guests, it might be observed, did not walk alone, nor usually, when in couples, with persons of the same sex. There was, indeed, a great deal of love-making going on, which I hope ended happily. for some of our friends the intruders, they were not destined to get through the night without embarrassment.
I have mentioned how badly Mildmay was conducting himself. After supper he was worse than before, and fairly carried Flora away from everybody, walking with her among orange trees, and sitting by her near fountains in a most
abandoned manner. He thought she had never looked so lovely-he had seen her just twice previously -as on that evening. The cornflower eyes looked a little darker than by day, and the sapphire light a great deal deeper. Her hair and her complexion were both more brightly beaming; and the happiness which shone in her face was a world of beauty in itself. She was faultlessly attired, too, in a cloud of some zephyr material which gave one an idea of what muslin must be in a happier state of existence. In such a radiant presence who would not I wish to abide? If there be any, Mildmay was certainly not of the number. And Flora could bestow that presence upon no more loved object. Mildmay was not, as has been hinted, a 'beauty man,' but he was always a favourite with women. Flora had recognized in him a congenial spirit from the first; and the sympathy understood in silence was now confirmed by words. An eloquent tongue had had a great deal to do with the conquest on Mildmay's part.
Among the orange and the lime trees, and the broad leaves of the plantain, and the gorgeous flowers, and the fountains-away from the lights and the people, though within hearing of the swelling bursts of the band the pair plighted their troth, and vowed never to dwell apart, but to link their destinies together. Flora was all happiness and Mildmay was all happiness, too, but his happiness was clouded by the unpleasant recollection that he was an impostor. His was a venial offence, doubtless, but he was not sure how the delicate susceptibilities of Flora might regard it.
Let us leave the lovers sitting by a fountain and speaking no more in words, and follow the fortunes of their friends. Siding is merely flirting with a pronounced young lady of rather dusky hue, who had been walking in beauty like the night with partner after partner for the last two hours. Honeydew is merely flirting, too, but in a more lofty manner, under the shade of what he called a very gentle
manly style of plantain. Larkall was also talking with a lady, but he was only making her laugh, and had taken up the most conspicuous position he could find for the purpose. Gallivant was more deeply engaged in making violent love to no less a person than Adelaide Myrtle, whom he had persuaded to rest on a bank not far from the fountain where her sister and Mildmay were saying so much in silence. It appeared, however, that his attentions were not quite acceptable to the young lady. Her beauty, of a prouder character than that of Flora, could well express the disdain with which she received his appeals, and there was no need to listen to the conversation of the pair in order to learn that his suit had no chance. And Gallivant's trouble, it appeared, was not destined to end here.
The party was breaking up, and Mrs. Myrtle, accompanied by a friend, who was no other than Mr. Mango, the manager of the ball, who had written the letter to Siding, was proceeding to look for her daughters. For girls so carefully brought up as it was Mrs. Myrtle's boast that they should be, they were left to take their own course with tolerable freedom that evening-one reason, I fancy, being that Mildmay's attentions were not less approved by the elder than the younger lady, and that it would have appeared invidious to interfere in one case without interfering in the other. But they were now decidedly due, and Mrs. Myrtle went in search of them. She and her friend came first upon Adelaide at the moment when that young lady was repulsing Captain Gallivant in a very decided manner, and the officer, pressing his suit with ardour, was endeavouring to take her hand.
All the British matron was aroused in Mrs. Myrtle at the sight, and her sudden presence had an equally sudden effect upon the Captain. He rose, and muttered some excuse, while Adelaide, with a cry of surprise, threw herself into her