It being his last day’s march, he had sent his servants and baggage on several hours in advance, and being well armed and well mounted, he started from his halting place about daylight, alone, and pursued his course along the high road, in the best possible spirits, feeling well contented with the position of things in general, and his own in particular.
About noon, being somewhat heated and thirsty, he turned his horse’s head to the right, and rode quietly some distance into the jungle, and finding a cool shady spot by a small running stream, dismounted, and taking off the saddle from his charger, gave him a feed of gram or corn, and allowed a sufficient length of tether to enable him to crop the soft grass which grew in the immediate vicinity of the running stream just alluded to, while he rested and regaled himself with some biscuits, brandy punnee, and his favourite German pipe. He had taken up his position at the foot of a small tree, with his back against the trunk, his famous tiger-rifle lying by his side and the hilt of his sabre within convenient handling distance, for the time and place was such that these precautions could not, with safety, be neglected. While thus resting, he sank into a deep reverie; his thoughts wandering back to his school boy days, in merry old England, ere he had sighed for a sword and feather or longed to seek the bubble reputation at the cannon’s mouth, or dreamed of scenes by flood and field, beneath the scorching suns, over the arid plains, or amid the wild trackless jungles of Industan.
Then Vellenaux, the home of his happy youth with its architectural grandeurs, its magnificent parks and rich woodland scenery, passed in review like a panorama before his mental vision, but fair as these visions were, another far brighter rose before which all others paled or faded by comparison. Edith, in all her glorious beauty, now riveted his every thought, engrossed the whole stretch of his imagination, and for the time rendered all else opaque and obscure; for had she not promised to become his wife, to share with him the varied fortunes of a soldiers’ life, to be the joy and solace of his riper years, and heart in heart and hand in hand, to glide together, as it