It will be remembered that in the search for the Begum of Runjetpoora, Carlton had brought away with him in his sabretache a small steel casket as a trophy; after his return from the fort, and while dressing for mess, he remembered this circumstance, and was about to open and examine the casket and had already taken it in his hand for that purpose, when footsteps were heard approaching the tent, and not wishing others, to see his little prize he carelessly tossed it into an open trunk, among his wearing apparel, where it remained undisturbed until after his arrival in England, when, in looking over his wardrobe he came across the identical casket which had lain there so long and by him quite forgotten. Unable without the key to open it himself, he sent for a locksmith, who, in a very short time caused the lid to spring open, when, to Arthur’s surprise and delight it was found to contain a number of precious stones of great value, in fact it was the Begum’s jewel case, containing diamonds of the first water, rubies of unusual size, and pearls of great price, which, on being taken to a jeweler, proved to be worth, somewhere about ten thousand pounds. Arthur, although by no means a man of business habits, knew enough to convince him that this sum, together with the five thousand pounds left him by Sir Jasper Coleman, with what might be realized by the sale of his commission, if properly invested, would secure to him an income of not less than twelve hundred a year, a very pretty sum for a man to have of his own for pocket money, although his wife should happen to possess twenty thousand a year. He determined to carry out this arrangement as soon as any suitable opportunity for so doing came to his knowledge, but with the exception of Draycott he told no one of the Begum’s jewels, or his intentions concerning their disposal.
The happy, light Dragoon, in order to be near the lady of his love, had taken up his quarters at Harold’s Hotel, in Albermarle Street, a very quiet, but aristocratic place, leading into Picadilly. Beyond the Bartons and their family circle, he had few intimate friends, in fact, except Draycott, the surgeon of his regiment, with whom he had been on the most intimate terms for years in India, and to whom he revealed all his joys and sorrows, there was not one male friend he cared a jot for in London; of course the men of his club, and those he had met abroad, who, like himself, were now home on leave, dropped in upon him occasionally at his rooms; but his constant visitor and companion in his peregrinations through the labyrinths of the great Babylon during the height of a London season, was Draycott: he was young, clever, high principled, thoroughly good natured, and of an old county family. He had but once only paid a flying visit to the metropolis previous to joining his regiment in India, and now having a few pounds to spare, was determined to enjoy himself in the gay Capital to his heart’s content, and whenever practicable, induced Arthur to give him his society.