On the North-West frontier of India stood the little fort of Darlinger. It had been erected two years previous to the opening of this story, and was occupied by three companies of a Punjaubi regiment under the command of Major Ackworth. It was intended to act as a check to the incursions of the fierce tribes across the frontier. One of these raids had recently been made, and the major was about to start with two and a half companies and two field-guns to punish the invaders. He was a strict officer but not unpopular, being very particular about the comfort and well-being of those under his command; in other respects, however, he was a silent and reserved man. He had lost his wife a year before, and this had completely broken him down; the only being he seemed now to care for was his daughter Nita. Nita's mother had intended to return to England with her daughter just before death put an end to the plan. The major talked often of the necessity of sending Nita home, but so far it had only been talk. "I have quite made up my mind at last, Nita, when I return from this expedition, to pack you off to your uncle in England; you are getting a great deal too old to be knocking about in a barrack-yard, and there are no ladies here who would keep you up to the mark. I know that you are a favourite with all the officers, but that only makes matters worse. You have been a regular tomboy for the last five years, and it is quite time that you were taught to behave as a young lady."