Three months later it was guest-night in the messroom of a certain famous light cavalry regiment, who bear the reputation of being the fastest corps in the English service. Of a truth, they do “plunge” a little too wildly; and stories are told of bets over ecarte in their anteroom that have been prompt extinction forever and aye to the losers, for they rarely play money down, their stakes are too high, and moderate fortunes may go in a night with the other convenient but fatal system. But, this one indiscretion apart, they are a model corps for blood, for dash, for perfect social accord, for the finest horseflesh in the kingdom, and the best president at a mess-table that ever drilled the cook to matchlessness, and made the ice dry, and the old burgundies, the admired of all newcomers.
Just now they had pleasant quarters enough in York, had a couple of hundred hunters, all in all, in their stalls, were showing the Ridings that they could “go like birds,” and were using up their second horses with every day out, in the first of the season. A cracker over the best of the ground with the York and Ainsty, that had given two first-rate things quick as lightning, and both closed with a kill, had filled the day; and they were dining with a fair quantity of county guests, and all the splendor of plate, and ceremony, and magnificent hospitalities which characterize those beaux sabreurs wheresoever they go. At one part of the table a discussion was going on but they drank singularly little; it was not their “form” ever to indulge in that way; and the Chief, as dashing a sabreur as ever crossed a saddle, though lenient to looseness in all other matters, and very young for his command, would have been down like steel on “the boys,” had any of them taken to the pastime of overmuch drinking in any shape.
“I can’t get the rights of the story,” said one of the guests, a hunting baronet, and M. F. H. “It’s something very dark, isn’t it?”
“Very dark,” assented a tall, handsome man, with a habitual air of the most utterly exhausted apathy ever attained by the human features, but who, nevertheless, had been christened, by the fiercest of the warrior nations of the Punjaub, as the Shumsheer-i-Shaitan, or Sword of the Evil One, so terrible had the circling sweep of one back stroke of his, when he was quite a boy, become to them.
“Guard cut up fearfully rough,” murmured one near him, known as “the Dauphin.” “Such a low sort of thing, you know; that’s the worst of it. Seraph’s name, too.”
“Poor old Seraph! He’s fairly bowled over about it,” added a third. “Feels it awfully—by Jove, he does! It’s my belief he paid those Jew fellows the whole sum to get the pursuit slackened.”
“So Thelusson says. Thelusson says Jews have made a cracker by it. I dare say! Jews always do,” muttered a fourth. “First Life would have given Beauty a million sooner than have him do it. Horrible thing for the Household.”