The city of Madras, the seat of Government and Capital of the Presidency of that name, although not possessing all the facilities for an agreeable sojourn to the lover of pleasure and amusement that may be found at the capitals of the sister Presidencies—Bengal and Bombay—it having neither the healthy climate of the one, or the wealth of the other. Yet there are times and seasons when Madras is very enjoyable: just after the south-west monsoons, when all nature is clothed in verdant beauty, and a delightful coolness pervades the air, the Neilgerie Hills cannot be surpassed by those of Mahableshwa or any other sanitary station in India, even the Capital itself, whose shores are washed by the boiling surf from over the triple reefs of rocks during the rainy season; but that time being past, a more tranquil state of things pervades the ocean, and cool sea breezes waft over the city. At the time of which I am writing, Madras was more than usually gay, several vessels of war were in port and a number of crack corps had arrived from Europe and elsewhere, officered by a set of men whose fathers and great-grandfathers before them had served their country either in the army or navy; they served not for pay but for honor, and to uphold the high and honourable name bequeathed them by their ancestors. Many of these came into the regiment not to save but to spend money, and it was surprising to the calculating natives the enormous sums they managed to get through during their short stay at any of the large towns or stations where Europeans do most congregate.
The stream of fashionable life was now at its height, now in full force when Lady Chutny’s magnificent bungalow was thrown open for receptions; and it was not long before the fame of her ladyship’s fetes and assemblies spread far and wide. Sir Lexicon was known to be exceedingly wealthy, and it will be remembered that Mrs. Fraudhurst, on quitting England, had drawn out of the bank her capital of ten thousand rounds. This sum, together with a large amount given her by the planter for the express purpose of giving entertainments in town, had been paid into the bank of Madras, in Lady Chutny’s name. The sum was actually only one lae and a half of rupees, but dame rumour, with her hundred tongues, had quadrupled it.
The season was now at its height, and her ladyship had issued cards for an entertainment that was to exceed anything before attempted in Madras The spacious verandahs to the right, left and rear of the bungalow were converted into lounging halls, half drawing-room, half conservatory, while the compound and gardens were brilliantly illuminated with countless colored lamps and lanterns. Hundreds presented themselves for admission to the fairy-like scene, and it was allowed by all to be a perfect success, a gem of the first water of entertainments, and such, as many of the guests had seldom witnessed. Her ladyship, elegantly attired, and flushed with pride and pleasure