A good many gentlemen and ladies that lived in the town and in the diggings, or near it, had come before this and had been dancing away and enjoying themselves, though the room was pretty full of diggers and all sorts of people. But as everybody was quiet and well behaved, it didn't make much odds who was there.

But, of course, the Commissioner was the great man of the whole place, and the principal visitors, like the Mr. Dawsons and some others, were bound to come along with him. Then there were the other Government officers, the bankers and surveyors, lawyers and doctors, and so on. All of them took care to come a little late with their wives and families so as to be in the room at the same time as the swell lot.

Bella Barnes was going to marry a surveyor, a wildish young fellow, but a good one to work as ever was. She was going to chance his coming straight afterwards. He was a likely man to rise in his office, and she thought she'd find a way to keep him out of debt and drinking and gambling too.

Well, in comes the Commissioner and his friends, very grand indeed, all dressed like swells always do in the evening, I believe, black all over, white tie, shining boots, white kid gloves, flower in their buttonhole, all regular. People may laugh, but they did look different from the others -- showed more blood like. I don't care what they say, there is such a thing.

Close by the Commissioner, laughing and talking, was the two Mr. Dawsons; and -- I saw Aileen give a start -- who should come next, cheek by jowl with the police magistrate, whom he'd been making laugh with something he'd said as they came in, but Starlight himself, looking like a regular prince -- their pictures anyhow -- and togged out to the nines like all the rest of 'em. Aileen kept looking at him as he lounged up the ballroom, and I thought she'd fall down in a faint or bring herself to people's notice by the wild, earnest, sad way she looked at him. However he'd got his clothes and the rest of it that fitted him like as if they'd been grown for him, I couldn't think. But of course he'd made all that right when he went to Sydney, and had 'em sent up with his luggage in Mr. Dawson's drag.

Though he didn't seem to notice anything, I saw that he knew us. He looked round for a moment, and smiled at Aileen.

'That's a pretty girl,' he said to one of the young fellows; 'evidently from the country. I must get introduced to her.'

'Oh, we'll introduce you,' says the other man. 'They're not half bad fun, these bush girls, some of them.'

Well, a new dance was struck up by the band just after they'd got up to the top of the room, and we saw Starlight taken up and introduced to a grand lady, the wife of the head banker. The Commissioner and some of the other big wigs danced in the same quadrille. We all moved a bit higher to get a good look at him. His make-up was wonderful. We could hardly believe our eyes. His hair was a deal shorter than he ever wore it (except in one place), and he'd shaved nearly all but his moustache. That was dark brown and heavy. You couldn't see his mouth except when he smiled, and then his teeth were as white as Warrigal's nearly and as regular. There was a softness, too, about his eyes when he was in a good temper and enjoying himself that I hardly ever saw in a man's face. I could see Aileen watching him when he talked to this lady and that, and sometimes she looked as if she didn't enjoy it.

He was only waiting his chance, though, for after he'd had a dance or two we saw him go up to one of the stewards. They had big rosettes on, and presently they walked round to us, and the steward asked the favour of Aileen's name, and then begged, by virtue of his office, to present Lieutenant Lascelles, a gentleman lately from India, who had expressed a wish to be introduced to her. Such a bow Starlight made, too. We could hardly help staring. Poor Aileen hardly knew whether to laugh or to cry when he sat down beside her and asked for the pleasure of a dance.

She wouldn't do that. She only came there to see him, she said, and me; but he persuaded her to walk round the room, and then they slipped into one of the supper-rooms, where they were able to talk without being disturbed, and say what they had in their hearts. I got Gracey to take a turn with me, and we were able to have our little say. She was, like Aileen, miserable enough and afraid to think of our ever having the chance of getting married and living happy like other people, but she told me she would wait and remain faithful to me -- if it was to her life's end -- and that as soon as I could get away from the country and promise her to leave our wild lives behind she was ready to join us and follow me all over the world. Over and over again she tried to persuade me to get away like Jim, and said how happy he was now, and how much better it was than stopping where we were, and running terrible risks every day and every hour. It was the old story over again; but I felt better for it, and really meant to try and cut loose from all this cross work. We hadn't too much time. Aileen was fetched back to her seat, and then Starlight went off to his friends at the other end of the room, and was chaffed for flirting with a regular currency lass by one of the Dawsons.

'I admire his taste,' says the Commissioner. 'I really think she's the prettiest girl in the room if she was well dressed and had a little more animation. I wonder who she is? What's her name, Lascelles? I suppose you know all about her by this time.'

'Her name is Martin, or Marston, or some such name,' answered Starlight, quite cool and pleasant. 'Deuced nice, sensible girl, painfully quiet, though. Wouldn't dance, though, at all, and talked very little.'

'By Jove! I know who she is,' says one of the young chaps. 'That's Aileen Marston, sister to Dick and Jim. No wonder she isn't over lively. Why, she has two brothers bush-rangers, regular out-and-outers. There's a thousand on each of their heads.'