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IDALIA

Southron stiletto would be too subtle for the straight stroke and dauntless chivalry of the stalwart Border steel.

At that moment a despatch was handed to Erceldoune by the single servant who lived in the King's Rest, and served him when he was there. The letter was sealed with the royal arms, and marked "On her Majesty's Service." Its contents were but two lines:

Sir Fulke Erceldoune on service immediately. Report to-morrow by 11 a.m. at F. O."

"From the office?" asked the Duke, as his host tossed the despatch aside.

"Yes. On service immediately. East Europe, I dare say."

"Ah! the Cabinet brewing more mischief with their confounded pedagogue's pettifogging, I will bet!" cried his Grace. (The existing Government was his pet foe.) "When are you ordered?"

To-morrow. I shall take the night express, so I shall not need to leave here till midnight," answered Erceldoune, to set at rest any fears his guests might feel that they detained him. "I wish they had sent Buller or Phil Vaughan; I wanted a month more of the deer and the blackcock; but I