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ON HER MAJESTY'S SERVICE.

I DO not know that I had anything to do
at Dahomey, when I used to put this magnificent
heading outside my letters to my
brother Tom; but I do know the name of
my appointment, which is more than most
of us did. I was called Sub Vice-Consul,
and I think I was the only salaried
functionary of the kind extant. I was appointed
because Sir Hector Stubble, Her Majesty's
Ambassador at Dahomey, had quarrelled with
everybody about him, so violently and so often
that the service could no longer go on. I
need scarcely add that he also quarrelled
with me. He would not have anything to
say to the Honourable Mr. Faddleton, our
secretary, because he lisped; nor to his
first attaché, because he squinted; nor to
the six other attachés, for equally cogent
reasons.

Between the Consulate and the Embassy
there was open war; one pretending to all
authority, and the other granting none.
A person arriving as I did in Dahomey,
from any other quarter of the world, and
finding himself in an official situation,
might have thought easily enough that
he had lost his way and got into the
Inquisition.

Sir Hector Stubble had set every living
being within his influence by the ears. He
had a talent for it. You could not walk
across the street with a British subject, whom
you met by accident, without that British
subject immediately falling foul of every
other British subject in the placeand there
were a good many of themall at loggerheads.
Slander and backbiting, complaints
and annoyances, quarrels and jars of all
kinds were going on from morning till
night. The very cats and dogs about the
premises learned to look shyly at each
other.

I never could account for, or explain to
myself how a man so thoroughly respectable
as Sir Hector could have contrived to make
himself so disagreeable. He was a man of
fair average capacity, upright, and hard-working.
But a more hard, stern, unjust,
unkind, unloveable man never stood within
the icy circle of his own pride and ill temper.
He was haughty and stiff-necked beyond any
man I have ever seen. He trampled on
other men's feelings as deliberately and
unflinchingly as if they were wooden puppets
made to work his will. He was not a great-minded
man, for he had favourites and
jealousies and petty enmities; he had small
passions, and by no means an intellect mighty
enough to make you forget them. He
was a fine specimen of the British Bigwig,
and would have figured well as the head
of a public school, or the principal of a
college.

He had been at Dahomey nearly all his
life. Dahomey was a very bad school for the
rearing of an English gentleman. He had
exercised too much power over others so
long, that at last he could speak to none save
in the grating language of harsh command.
He seemed to look upon mankind as a mere
set of tools: when he wanted an instrument
he took it; and when he had done with it,
he put it aside. Perhaps it was the long
habit of dealing with persons placed in an
improper position of subordination to him
which made him treat every one under him
as a slave. Nature never could have made
a man so thoroughly unamiable.

Sir Hector Stubble had no heart, no
feeling, no eyes, ears, thoughts for any
one but Sir Hector Stubble. For him the
world was made, and all that in it is;
other people had no business there except
in so far as they were useful to him. His
private secretary or his valetany one upon
whom his completeness in any way depended
would have appeared to him an individual
of much more importance than the greatest
practical thinker who ever served
mankind.

No one had ever owed him a service or a
kind word. In seventy long years of a life
passed in honour and fair public repute, he
had never gained a private friend. He had
been appointed at twenty-one to a position
for which he was unripethat of Secretary
of Embassy at Dahomey. He had passed
nearly the whole of his subsequent life among
slaves and orientals, until he had become
incapable of holding equal commerce with
free men.

Now, this kind of thing will not do among
Englishmen; few Englishmen are so much
superior to the rest of their countrymen, as

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