“It is all very fine, my dear, for you to say so; but depend upon it, for a young lady in your position and circumstances, there is nothing equal to a wealthy husband, and an establishment of your own. But what I shall do without you I really do not know; but I expect it must come to that some day or other.” Here the good lady sank back among her cushions, and resigned herself to her fate, her Ayah, and her last new novel.
For several months all went pleasantly enough with the Bartons, much more so, indeed than had been anticipated by her little ladyship; for she found that as wife of the judge, the highest civil functionary in the station, she was leader of fashion, and took precedence of all other ladies in Goolampore; and Edith, for a time, found herself relieved from the importunities that beset her at Calcutta. Not that she lacked admirers, but certainly at present their attentions were not sufficiently marked to give her any annoyance.
The worthy judge was retrenching. His expenses were scarcely one fourth of what they had been at the Presidency. He had attained his object, and all things for the time being couleur de rose.
“Come here pretty one,” said he as he noticed Edith dismounting, after her usual ride around the race course and band stand, one beautiful evening. “Listen! here is something in the papers that will greatly interest you, or I am much mistaken.” Edith was soon at his side, all attention, when the gentleman proceeded to read as follows:—“Extract from general orders. His Excellency the Commander in Chief has been pleased to appoint Lieutenant Arthur Carlton, H.M. Light Dragoons, to act as A.D.C. on the staff of General D——, at Goolampore. That officer will proceed and assume his duties at that station forthwith.” Edith could not conceal her joy at this unexpected event, and retired to her chamber in a flutter of agitation, but happier in heart than she had been for many months past.
It was the anniversary of Her Majesty’s birthday, and, as was customary at all military stations, it was celebrated by a military display in the morning, theatricals, and a supper and ball at night. The Assembly rooms, as they were called at Goolampore, were built by Government. It was a building of considerable length, divided into three rooms, eighty feet long, by forty feet wide. The end one was fitted up in very handsome style as a theatre, the other two communicating with it by means of enormous folding doors, and were used on ordinary occasions by the military department for holding courts martial, courts of enquiry, committees, &c. The other was at the disposal of the political agents or chief magistrate to transact such business as they might deem necessary. But on such occasions as the present, or others of a similar character, the whole three were brilliantly illuminated and thrown open for the amusement of the elite of the station.
“I say Hopkins, as you know everything and everybody, tell me, who is that young fellow in staff uniform, dancing with Miss Effingham?” enquired a Colonel of the N.I.