GURPS Steampunk: 1850 Britain tries to keep up with Prussia in the arms race.
"May I have this dance, Miss Bosworth?"
"Certainly, your Lordship."
The handsome Captain of Iron Cavalry led her out to the floor, his steel-grey uniform perfectly complementing her silvery blue dress. As they took their places he said, "I must tell you I'm just dazzled by this ball you've thrown for us."
She smiled in graceful acceptance. "It's not often we stand up a new Royal Regiment. It's a better excuse for a ball than most have."
The dance pulled them apart for a few measures. When he returned Captain York took her hand and led her into the next figure. "Miss Bosworth, this is not 'a' ball. You've made it the event of the season. Everyone is here." Grace flushed prettily and looked aside. "And most of all, you brought the ones who'd vowed to have nothing to do with us. I'm astonished."
"Hardly so difficult, your Lordship. Convince the right sort to say they will attend, and everyone of any consequence wishes to be seen here as well!"
"I'm still amazed to see that Countess dancing with Coleman--he was an artilleryman. I'd heard she'd sworn to never let her son 'buy a commission with soot on it.'"
"Yes, your scholarship boys are dancing creditably. All easy enough, once you became a fashionable regiment. Just think, she may invite him to bring his mount to Hyde Park for a ride."
"I can hardly bear the thought of what one of our ironclads would do to that lovely turf." He shuddered delicately without losing a step of the dance. "But we are fashionable now. Something we owe to you. And England owes to you. Can you imagine our fate if the ton had taken a stand against us?"
"Oh, I'm sure you would have managed no matter what." As the music ended he bowed her out and took her hand to lead her back to her aunt.
"Oh, we'd gallantly stick to our guns. But if we have no money to keep them running, if we get the worst young officers, if we're put in an overseas garrison, well, when Prussia's moving fortresses take the field we wouldn't be there to stop them. Now Parliament loves us and gives us the best, so we can be sure of beating anything else on the field." Captain York halted and looked her in the eye. "Miss Bosworth--Grace--you may have done more to save England in the next war than any soldier alive."