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"Am I to understand that you hold me responsible for the rumor and the injury?"

The Padre hesitated. His twins, how ever, had him in their grip, and would not let him go till he had paid the utmost debt he owed them.

"Cavendish," he said, "I ask you no questions. I have no right to. Much must, of course, be allowed for the naturally corrupt minds of the natives. I simply put the case before you. Is it reasonable to suppose that an attractive man in your position, with all you have of worldly advantage to confer, could be in constant intimate association with a girl in Anna Harding's class without arousing, not only gossip in the bazaar, but, in her own. mind, hopes-expectations-"

A flash of fire from Cavendish arrested him.

"Please leave Miss Harding's name out of it!" he broke in hotly. "I hope I'm not an ass!"

The Padre rose. He was not a man to be put down, in any case, and, in India, senior chaplains outrank civilian juniors.

"I fear, Cavendish," he said, with dignity, "that it is too late to leave Miss Harding's name out of it. Her name is already in-in the bazaar! I have done. my duty, discharged my responsibility, and I will bid you, now, good morning."

"DID you drop that hint to Cavendish?" asked Captain Towers of him, later in the day.

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HEARING that Cavendish had gone into camp, he went to see her. He found her standing by a rose-tree in her garden, looking at one lonely flower. It was an English rose, its hue more delicate, its poise more drooping than in the homegrown plant. So, thought the Padre, were the hue and poise of the girl who bent above it. But, as she came forward to meet him, he recognized anew her grace, her charm.

The Padre had often wondered at her, and had settled it in his mind that she was what they call a "throw back."

Nature is, as we know, a creature of habit. She loves routine and follows the beaten track. And in most of her human mints, on most of her human coins, she puts the same old stamp. But Nature, after all, is feminine and freaky. She tires, now and again, of her patterns, and, harking back in her memory, drags to the surface an old type that has all the effect of a new one.

The Padre believed that Nature had done this with Anna, that, when fashioning her, she had thrown a look backward, over the seas, to a race whose men, in their youth, go far afield. For Anna Harding was English, so far as the eye could see. There was not a "touch of the tar" on her, from her beautifully molded golden head to the tips of her rosy fingernails, round the half-moons of which were no telltale circles of blue. Her complexion had not a creamy tone in it, but was the wild rose color of England, while, best of all, in her speech she betrayed no accent of the Eurasian, but spoke in the full, sweet, pure tone of the voice of the British Isles. If the "country" had laid its hand upon her at all, it had been to combine with her golden hair the jet black brows and lashes that gave to her blue eyes the subtle charm of sadness.

Was the Padre mistaken in thinking, as she advanced to greet him, that there was more than the charm, that there was the fact of sadness? Were not her lids a little red from weeping? Had Cavendish, then, already taken action? To gain a little time, he walked with her up and down her garden paths. He talked of crotons and panaxes, of roses, lilies, and ferns. He discussed seed-sowing, layering, cutting, grafting, inarching, and budding. He examined her garden frames and soils.

He even described to her an improved variety of water-lift. But all the while, beneath the surface of his consciousness, his remorseless twins kept pinching, punching, prodding, demanding to know why he put off the evil hour.

They came, at last, in their round, to the place where they had started out, and he realized that she had scarcely said a word. A whispering tamarind threw its shade around them, inviting them to stop and rest. The Padre removed his topee from his head, and took out his handkerchief to wipe both perspiration and perplexity from his brow.

Oh, that his wife might do this thing instead of him! How, now, for instance, would she be likely to begin? By what manoeuver would she break the ice?

He looked at the girl before him, simple, beautiful, aloof. He saw that she was hardly thinking of him. Her eyes were on the distant line where the burnished sky and the burnished hills struck from each other fire and fiercest heat. There ought to be no trouble about breaking ice in such an atmosphere as that which bubbled round them.

He had been standing for an hour beside her on the slippery surface of conventional talk, watching for some opening to let him in to the deeper stream of what might be their common thought. The time was fully ripe for him to go, and yet he could not go till he had made his plunge. Perhaps it was his silence that made her look at him and smile, a smile that had no joy or gladness in it. It touched a fiber in him somewhere, a fiber not in the Padre-in the man. He took her hand as if to go, and held it.

"My child," he said, "there is something that I must say to you, and I don't know how to say it. Can't you help me?"

The solemnity of his tone alarmed her. The rose of England died suddenly in her cheek. The fire and passion of the East flared up behind the jet black screen of lashes.

"Has anything happened to him?" she cried impulsively. "Is that the reason why he does not come?"

The ice was broken and she was in the stream. And what an abnormal flood it seemed to be. Were its waters hot? Yes, burning, scorching hot. They were dyeing her head crimson, from its golden crown

to the frill of dainty lace into whose coolness her neck dipped and disappeared. But she was brave. Stemming with courage the tide of thoughts that threatened to engulf her, she waited for him in the middle of the stream. A man could do no less than plunge in after her, so in the Padre


It was many years before he lost the vision of himself struggling in a turbid current of ideas, rising to the surface just long enough to utter words like these:

"Nothing had happened. (Thank God she had spoken of him, herself. One need not mention names.) If he had gone— 't was better so. Ought to have gone before. Men and horses were alike—always cantering-stumbling in the pasture-just to exercise themselves-must n't be taken seriously. Marriage was an important thing-affected a man's career-especially in India. It would n't do-England was the natural place-" and so on, floundering, hopelessly submerged.

And it was longer still before he lost the vision of the girl who had, at first, been with him in the stream, but who gradually rose out of it, receding farther and farther from him, till he heard her saying, as she stood in simple strength upon the shore:


'Please say no more. I see. I understand. But what he-you-none of you understand, is that you cannot care more for his success than I-that I can I do

-care too much for him-and for myself -to marry him if it is not best for him."

THAT night at dinner the Padre waived course after course. The little that he ate, he ate in a silence that Captain Towers did not like to interrupt. The table was beautifully trimmed with flowers, some of which hopped up and flew about like humming-birds in the punka's wind. The butler and the Padre's boy moved in and out, noiseless, attentive, watchful, unobtrusively alert. The cook, the chokra, syces, malis, peons, were squatting in the back veranda, close to the screens before the open doors. They were all as dead men, pillars, posts--any inanimate objects that you like to the two Englishmen whom they so punctiliously served. It was drizzling a bit outside, and the cheroots were offered inside, with dessert. When the Padre pushed his chair back,

Captain Towers, taking it for a sign, ening noise of "tom-tom," cymbal, and said:


wailing, to the burning ghât, where a few fagots, a low fire, a dense smoke, a

Then the Padre told him just what she sickening smell, and an hour's time end had said.

"There must be good English blood there somewhere," was Captain Towers's comment, to which the Padre's irrelevant reply was:

"How I wish my wife were here!"

They talked the matter over quietly between cheroots, while all the compound servants waited patiently for their signal to remove the cloth, not one of them showing the slightest symptom of impatience, though the hour was late.

They said good night, at last, and, as the outcome of their colloquy, the Padre wrote, before he slept, and despatched, as soon as he awoke, the following chit:

My dear Cavendish:

Only my conscience and my sense of responsibility lead me to refer again to the topic we discussed when last we met. I have seen her, and I find that I was right in my assumptions. I feel that, in telling you this, I have discharged my obligation in the matter, and that all further responsibility rests with you. Sincerely yours,

P. R.

"There," said the Padre, as he sealed the note, "I have done my duty, absolved myself from all further responsibility. I can do no more. I must now allow events to take their course."

EVENTS, availing themselves of the Padre's kind permission, proceeded to take their course at once.

It was only a day or two after this that a coolie came running in at noon to say that cholera had broken out in Harding's camp, and that Harding, himself, had died of the disease. To confirm the news his body followed shortly.

Cavendish and Hawkins, having been informed, arrived almost as soon.

The ghastliest bit of life in India comes at the end of it. If a funeral is to be held, it is well that it be held quickly. There is nothing to prevent this with the native, who has but to gather a few flowers, a little fruit, a trayful of sweetmeats, and a crowd of neighbors, all eager to accompany him at a moment's notice, with deaf


But a Church of England burial in India is an almost more distressing thing. The strain after the home customs, the effort to do things decently and in order, contrast pitifully with the unseemly haste of the proceedings. The flimsy coffin, the rude cart, the roughly hewn and shallow grave, the already disintegrating form, are painful discords in the harmony of a service designed for abbeys and cathedrals, and set to the key of calm and long repose.

The four men felt all this as they met, soon after five o'clock, at the foot of Anna Harding's steps, to carry Harding's body out.

There is something fine in the simplicity, shorn of sentiment, with which a Briton does a disagreeable duty. The Padre wore the mien of the man who always expects the worst and usually obtains it; Captain Towers that of him who sows and leaves the crop to Fate-no questions asked; Cavendish's face was pale with the pallor of a man who frankly admits that he enacts a most distressing part; that of Hawkins, dark and thin, carved into lines, chiseled and molded by thoughts of which one could guess neither the nature nor the mood. But it did not occur to one of them to shirk the hour's task.

All were thankful, however, for once, to India that she excludes women from the funeral train. Anna remained at home.

It was a strange funeral procession that wound its way along the road, past the doctor's bungalow, up the hill, toward the cemetery gate. The Padre went before, bearing the Cross and Book. Captain Towers walked behind, laying his weight, from time to time, against the backboard of the cart as the coolies seemed to lag. George Cavendish took the right hand and Hawkins took the left. The male servants of the dead man followed meekly in the rear. So they went up the hill, the rude bier in the midst of them. They reached the sandy plateau encircled by the hills, passed through the gate, and stopped beside the shallow, open grave. The Padre read the Order for the Service at the Grave. When he came to that part where "the earth shall be cast upon the body by

some standing by," Cavendish took a spade and poured the harsh earth, full of stones and gravel, down upon the dead man with a grating sound. Not an unnecessary word was said.

When all was done and the four were left alone, however, Cavendish spoke. His voice was halting, full of self-reproach.

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"I wish to say," he said, "Harding's death seems to make it right that I should tell you-now that she 's alone-thatafter that rumor-and the Padre's noteI went to Miss Harding-and offeredthere was a sudden, swift stiffening of his straight figure line, a backward movement of his lifted head-“I mean to say that I asked her to do me the honor to become my wife-and she declined."

It seemed to occur to none of them to say another word.

Presently the four went down the hill abreast, the silence of the grave around them still.

THAT evening, after dinner, Captain Towers and the Padre sat alone in the middle of the drive, inside their compound hedge. It was one of those Indian nights when the full moon speeds, like a racing craft, through a sky of lighted foam, pitching and tossing, rolling and diving among the waves of light. The hills and the cemetery gate stood out like silhouettes against a great white sheet.

The Padre leaned forward in his chair, his weight upon his elbows, and his head upon his hands. Captain Towers lay back, full-length, in his, his feet upon their rests. Cavendish and Hawkins had both returned to camp. Perhaps a half-hour passed before the Padre spoke: "She was as good as her word," he said. "She loved him too well to marry him."

Captain Towers made no reply. "Not many women love a man like that," continued the Padre's voice.

The big form of his comrade shook itself out of its chair and got upon its feet.

"Well," said the voice within it, “perhaps it's as well, all things considered, that they don't."

With which they appeared to think the subject had been quite thrashed out.

Captain Towers gave the order to have Harding's kit burned up at once, which order was as strictly carried out, perhaps, as could have been expected when Har

ding, himself, was not alive to see to it. There were a few things that really were too useful to destroy-in particular, one excellent flannel shirt that had hung on Harding's bedpost when he died. The rains would soon be on, and flannel shirts were well-known specifics against fevers. It seemed to Harding's syce a thousand pities that a brand-new flannel shirt should not survive to fulfil its mission in the wet southwest monsoon, now nearly due. Mariattal, the cholera goddess, to be sure, had called Harding Sahib when he had it on, but it was universally admitted that when Mariattal called a man, he had to go, whether he wore a shirt or no, and, in point of fact, she called more men without than with one on. Harding's syce, therefore, convinced of the soundness of his reasoning, took the shirt with him back to Rayalpur, and carefully washed it at the Hardings' compound well. There was much going on throughout the compound on that day. One's sahib could hardly die so suddenly, even in India, without a ripple being left behind. There were many important subjects to be discussed, such as, which servants were likely, now, to be cast off, what would be the approximate size of Missy's income, what her future, and other allied topics, equally absorbing. It was scarcely to be expected, under these conditions, that the water-bearer would find it convenient to walk a mile that day to fetch the drinking-water, particularly since there was no one at leisure to observe. So he took it from the compound well.

That night at dinner the Hardings' gray-haired boy pressed vainly on his mistress the soup, the fish, the "side-dish,” and the joint. He did his best, out of pure sympathy and kindness, to make her eat. The ayah, too, stood by, and coaxed her just to taste a little. There would be enormously interesting things said in their "godowns" that night about her, and particularly diverting things about the English sahibs, but they would not go to hear them till they had done their best to make her swallow something, for there was a saying, "If one cannot eat, one cannot live." So they urged her just to take a little.

"I cannot eat," she said, looking at them with wretched, tearless eyes. "Then drink a little water," said the

ayah, and the boy, fetching a porous, earthen water-bottle, filled her tumbler with water from the compound well. She looked at them, half vexed, half grateful, wholly miserable, and, just to please them, drank a very little of the water.

Captain Towers was leisurely enjoying his chota-hazri the next morning when one of the Harding peons came running up, salaaming low, to say:

"Missy done took very sick, and boy say cholera."

Captain Towers hastily swallowed his tea and went, wasting no time in asking idle questions. He knew without them just how it had happened. He arrived at the Harding bungalow without loss of time, where, after assigning suitable destinies to the cook, the boy, the ayah, the malis, and the peons, to every one, in fact, except the syce and water-bearer, who were not in sight, he fell to work.

She was young and she had an even chance to live. Captain Towers knew the ratio well. It was as one to one. "One shall be taken and the other left," is mathematically true in cholera. Captain Towers was something of an enthusiast in his work, albeit his income was a settled thing. And he did his best that day. He fought through the morning hours the almost more than mortal pain. He fought through the afternoon the awful collapse that follows in its train. She was cold. The golden hair, wet and matted with the dews of a great agony, showed dark against the pallor of her face. The sunken eyes were circled with huge rims of black. Her mouth and nose were pinched. The purple lay thick beneath her finger-nails. Coldness and dampness, pallor and shadow gathered round her head. Still Captain Towers struggled on. He called in coolies, in relays, four and four, who rubbed her, cheerfully risking death for a four-anna bit. They were used to breaking stone upon the road, between the furnaces of earth and sky, to them a sterner task than rubbing the hands and feet of Death. Drenched with turpentine to kill the germs, they rubbed to keep the circulation moving.

Twilight fell, like a curtain dropped. A cold wind sprang up. The boy brought in the lights, two small glass lamps, smoking and sputtering their contempt for Russian oil. A bat flew in between the barred


but unglazed windows of the room, and, circling frantically about, hung itself up in a distant corner of the room. Rats ran back and forth in the ceiling cloth above, threatening to pull the tawdry structure down. Now and then there broke from the cemetery hills a peal of ghostly laughter from hyena packs. A shadow, shrouded, motionless, had stood beside the bed all day, watching, not the steady pull of the coolies' hands against the ebbing tide; that did not interest her; not the indomitable pluck of the man who fought against her; that did not move her. Had not experience proved, over and over again, that those things did not determine life or death in cholera? She watched the trembling balance of the life upon the bed, that she might be ready were there so much as a hair's breadth of a downward tipping of the scale. That was her business there. Captain Towers called the shadow Death. But the coolies knew that her name was Mariattal.

At length the form upon the bed stirred slightly. She was conscious. She tried to speak but could not. The ayah, who had lain upon the floor all day, rose up and laid her warm, soft hands upon the arms, and rubbed and kissed them gently. Fresh coolies fell to work. The shadow drew a little farther off. Captain Towers renewed with vigor the efforts that had seemed in vain.

It was about nine o'clock when he appeared upon the veranda where the Padre sat, holding the cross between his closeclasped hands.

"How does it go?" asked the Padre, anxiously.


"Impossible to say. It may go either But she is conscious, and there is some hope. The disease is conquered, and the collapse is passed. But reaction has not yet set in. Where is Cavendish?" "In camp."

"Are you sure she told you that she loved him?",

"How else would you interpret what she said?"

"Then send for him. It is only fair. She is trying to ask for some one, but is too weak to speak. There is a chance that his coming might just turn the scale. Tell him to be quick." And Captain Towers disappeared within.

"I have sent for him," he said, dis

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