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“But your mother has n't seen you for so The woman of the desert rose from the ground long, dear."
beside it, and held out her arms. “Very well; I will go."
“I heard the message come,” she said to “ Then I will tell them to get the carriage Kate, “and I knew what was required. Give ready."
me the child to carry in. Nay, my Prince; Kate turned to leave the room.
there is no cause for fear. I am of good blood.” No, please; I will have my own. Who is “Women of good blood walk veiled, and do without there?"
not speak in the streets," said the child, doubt“ Heaven-born, it is I," answered the deep fully. voice of a trooper.
“One law for thee and thine, and another “Achcha! Ride swiftly, and tell them to for me and mine," the woman answered, with send down my barouche and escort. If it is a laugh. “We who earn our bread by toil cannot here in ten minutes, tell Sirop Singh that not go veiled, but our fathers lived before us I will cut his pay and blacken his face before for many hundred years, even as did thine, all my men. This day I go abroad again.” heaven-born. Come then, the white fairy can
“ May the mercy of God be upon the hea- not carry thee so tenderly as I can.” ven-born for ten thousand years," responded She put her arms about him, and held him to the voice from without, as the trooper threw her breast as easily as though he had been a himself into the saddle and clattered away. three-year-old child. He leaned back luxuri
By the time that the Prince was ready a ously, and waved a wasted hand; the grim gate lumbering equipage, stuffed with many cush- grated on its hinges as it swung back, and they ions, waited at the door. Kate and Mrs. Estes entered together, the woman, the child, and half helped and half carried the child into it, the girl. though he strove to stand on his feet in the There was no lavish display of ornament in veranda and to acknowledge the salute of his that part of the palace. The gaudy tile-work on escort as befitted a man.
the walls had faked and crumbled away in “Ahi! I am very weak,” he said, with a many places, the shutters lacked paint and little laugh, as they drove to the palace. “Cer- hung awry, and there were litter and refuse in tainly it seems to me that I shall never get well the courtyard behind the gates. A queen who in Rhatore."
has lost the king's favor loses as well much Kate put her arm about him and drew him else in material comforts. closer to her..
A door opened, and a voice called. The three “ Kate,” he continued, “if I ask anything plunged into half darkness, and traversed a of my father, will you say that that thing is long, upward-sloping passage, foored with good for me?"
shining white stucco as smooth as marble, which Kate, whose thoughts were still bitter and communicated with the Queen's apartments. far away, patted his shoulder vaguely as she The Maharaj Kunwar's mother lived by preflifted her tear-stained eyes toward the red erence in one long, low room that faced to the height on which the palace stood.
northeast, that she might press her face against “How can I tell, Lalji?” She smiled down the marble tracery and dream of her home into his upturned face.
across the sands, eight hundred miles away, " But it is a most wise thing."
among the Kulu hills. The hum of the crowded * Is it?" asked she, fondly.
palace could not be heard there, and the foot“ Yes; I have thought it out by myself. I steps of her few waiting-women alone broke the am myself a Raj Kumar, and I would go to silence. the Raj Kumar College, where they train the The woman of the desert, with the Prince sons of princes to become kings. That is only hugged more closely to her breast, moved at Ajmir; but I must go and learn, and fight through the labyrinth of empty rooms, narrow and ride with the other princes of Rajputana, staircases, and roofed courtyards with the air and then I shall be altogether a man. I am go- of a caged panther. Kate and the Prince were ing to the Raj Kumar College at Ajmir that familiar with the dark and the tortuousness, the I may learn about the world. But you shall silence and the sullen mystery. To the one they see how it is wise. The world looks very big were part and parcel of the horrors amid which since I have been ill. Kate, how big is the she had elected to move; to the other they world which you have seen across the Black were his daily life. Water? Where is Tarvin Sahib? I have wished At last the journey ended. Kate lifted a to see him too. Is Tarvin Sahib angry with me heavy curtain as the Prince called for his or with you ? "
mother, and the Queen, rising from a pile of He plied her with a hundred questions till white cushions by the window, cried passionthey halted before one of the gates in the flank ately : of the palace that led to his mother's wing. “Is it well with the child ?"
· The Prince struggled to the floor from the women in her hospital slipping away one by woman's arms, and the Queen hung sobbing one, her work unraveled, and all hope of good over him, calling him a thousand endearing brought to wreck; and she saw Tarvin dying names, and fondling him from head to foot. atrocious deaths, and, as she felt, by her hand. The child's reserve melted, he had striven for “What is it ? " she asked wearily, as the woa moment to carry himself as a man of the Raj- man plucked at her skirt. Then to the Queen, put race; that is to say, as one shocked beyond “ This is a woman who alone of all those whom expression at any public display of emotion - I tried to benefit remained at my side to-day, and he laughed and wept in his mother's arms. Queen.” The woman of the desert drew her hand across “ There has been a talk in the palace," said her eyes, muttering to herself, and Kate turned the Queen, her arm round the Prince's neck — to look out of the window.
“ a talk that trouble had come to your hospi“How shall I give you thanks?” said the tal, Sahiba." Queen at last. “O my son
my little son “ There is no hospital now," Kate answered child of my heart, the gods and she have made grimly. thee well again! But who is that yonder ? " “You promised to take me there, Kate, some
Her eyes fell for the first time on the woman day,” the Prince said in English. of the desert, who stood by the doorway draped “The women were fools," said the woman in dull red.
of the desert, quietly, from her place on the “She carried me here from the carriage,” ground. “A mad priest told them a lie, that said the Prince, “ saying that she was a Raj- there was a charm among the drugs-" put of good blood."
“ Deliver us from all evil spirits and exor“I am of Chohan blood-a Rajput and a cisms,” the Queen murmured. mother of Rajputs," said the woman, simply, “A charm among her drugs that she handles still standing. “ The white fairy worked a mi- with her own hands, and so forsooth, Sahiba, racle upon my man. He was sick in the head they must run out shrieking that their children and did not know me. It is true that he died, will be misborn apes and their chicken-souls but before the passing of the breath he knew given to the devils. Aho! They will know in me and called me by my name."
a week — not one or two of them, but many – “And she carried thee!” said the Queen, with whither their souls go: for they will die, the a shiver, drawing the Prince closer to her, for, corn and the corn in the ear together.” like all Indian women, she counted the touch Kate shivered. She knew too well that the and glance of a widow things of evil omen. woman spoke the truth.
The woman fell at the Queen's feet. “For- “But the drugs!” began the Queen. “Who give me, forgive me!" she cried. “I had borne knows what powers there may be in the drugs?" three little ones, and the gods took them all, She laughed nervously, glancing at Kate. and my man at the last. It was good - it was “Dekho! Look at her," said the woman, so good — to hold a child in my arms again. with quiet scorn. “She is a girl and naught Thou canst forgive," she wailed, “ thou art so else. What could she do to the Gates of Life?" rich in thy son, and I am only a widow.” “She has made my son whole; therefore she
“ And I a widow in life," said the Queen un- is my sister," said the Queen. der her breath. “Of a truth, I should forgive. “She caused my man to speak to me before Rise thou.”
the death hour; therefore I am her servant as The woman still lay where she had fallen, well as thine, Sahiba,” said the other. clutching at the Queen's naked feet.
The Prince looked up into his mother's face “Rise, then, my sister," the Queen whispered. curiously. “She calls thee thou,'” he said, as
“We of the fields," murmured the woman of though the woman did not exist. “ That is not the desert —"we do not know how to speak to seemly between a villager and a queen— thee the great people. If my words are rough, does and thou!" the Queen forgive me?"
“ We be both women, little son. Stay still "Indeed, I forgive. Thy speech is softer than in my arms. Oh, it is good to feel thee here that of the hill-women of Kulu, but some of the again, worthless one." words are new."
“ The heaven-born looks as frail as dried “I am of the desert, a herder of camels, a maize," said the woman, quickly. milker of goats. What should I know of the “A dried monkey, rather," returned the speech of courts? Let the white fairy speak for Queen, dropping her lips on the child's head. me.”
Both mothers spoke aloud and with emphasis, Kate listened with an alien ear. Now that that the gods, jealous of human happiness, she had discharged her duty, her freed mind might hear and take for truth the disparagewent back to Tarvin's danger, and the shame ment that veils deepest love. and overthrow of an hour ago. She saw the “Aho! my little monkey is dead," said the
Prince, moving restlessly. “I need another one. leaned over her son more closely, her eyes hu
. Let me go into the palace and find another mid with mother-love. monkey."
“ He is asleep,” she said at last. “What was “ He must not wander into the palace from the talk about his monkey, Miss Sahib ? ” this chamber,” said the Queen, passionately, “It died,” Kate said, and spurred herself to turning to Kate.“ Thou art all too weak, be- the lie. “I think it had eaten bad fruit in the loved. O Miss Sahib, he must not go!” She garden." knew by experience that it was fruitless to cross “In the garden ? " said the Queen, quickly. her son's will.
“ Yes; in the garden.” “ It is my order,” said the Prince, without The woman of the desert turned her eyes turning his head. “I will go.”
from one woman to the other. These were “Stay with us, beloved,” said Kate. She matters too high for her, and she began timwas wondering whether the hospital could be idly to rub the Queen's feet. dragged together again, after three months, Monkeys often do,” she observed. “I have and whether it was possible she might have seen as it were a pestilence among the monkeyoverrated the danger to Nick.
folk over there at Banswara.” “ I go,” said the Prince, breaking from his “ In what fashion did it die ? " insisted the mother's arms. “I am tired of this talk." Queen.
“ Does the Queen give leave?” asked the “I- I do not know," Kate stammered, and woman of the desert under her breath. The there was another long silence as the hot afterQueen nodded, and the Prince found himself noon wore on. caught between two brown arms, against whose “ Miss Kate, what do you think about my strength it was impossible to struggle. son?” whispered the Queen. “Is he well, or
“Let me go, widow !” he shouted furiously. is he not well?”
" It is not good for a Rajput to make light “He is not very well. In time he will grow of a mother of Rajputs, my King," was the un- stronger, but it would be better if he could go moved answer. “If the young steer does not away for a while." obey the cow, he learns obedience from the The Queen bowed her head quietly. “I yoke. The heaven-born is not strong. He will have thought of that also many times sitting fall among those passages and stairs. He will here alone; and it was the tearing out of my stay here. When the rage has left his body he own heart from my breast. Yes; it would will be weaker than before. Even now”- the be well if he were to go away. But” — she large, bright eyes bent themselves on the face stretched out her hands despairingly toward of the child—“even now," the calm voice con- the sunshine—“ what do I know of the world tinued,“ the rage is going. One moment more, where he will go, and how can I be sure that heaven-born, and thou wilt be a prince no he will be safe? Here, even here — " She longer, but only a little, little child, such as I checked herself suddenly. “Since you have have borne. Ahi ! such as I shall never bear come, Miss Kate, my heart has known a little again."
comfort; but I do not know when you will go With the last words the Prince's head nodded away again.” forward on her shoulder. The gust of passion “I cannot guard the child against every evil,” had spent itself, leaving him, as she had fore- Kate replied, covering her face with her hands; seen, weak to sleep.
“but send him away from this place as swiftly “Shame! oh, shame!” he muttered thickly. as may be. In God's name, let him go away!” " Indeed, I do not wish to go. Let me sleep." “ Such hai ! Such hai ! It is the truth, the
She began to pat him on the shoulder, till truth!” The Queen turned from Kate to the the Queen put forward hungry arms, and took woman at her feet. back her own again, and, laying the child on “ Thou hast borne three ? ” she said. a cushion at her side, she spread the skirt of “ Yea, three, and one other that never drew her long muslin robe over him, and looked long breath. They were all men-children,” said the at her treasure. The woman crouched down woman of the desert. on the floor. Kate sat on a cushion, and lis- “ And the gods took them ? " tened to the ticking of the cheap American clock Of smallpox one, and fever the two others.” in a niche in the wall. The voice of a woman “ Art thou certain that it was the gods ? " singing a song came muffled and faint through “I was with them always till the end." many walls. The dry wind of noon sighed “ Thy man, then, was all thine own ? " through the fretted screens of the window, and “We were only two, he and I. Among our she could hear the horses of the escort swishing villages the men are poor, and one wife suffices.” their tails and champing their bits in the court- “ They are rich among the villages. Listen yard a hundred feet below. She listened, think- now. If a co-wife had sought the lives of those ing ever of Tarvin in growing terror. The Queen three of thine — "
“I would have killed her. What else?” The Queen laughed a little through her The woman's nostrils dilated, and her hand tears. “Only a year or two, Miss Kate. Dost went swiftly to her bosom.
thou know how long is one night when he is “ And if in place of three there had been not here?” one only, the delight of thy eyes, and thou “ And he can return at call; but no cry will hadst known that thou wouldst never bear an- bring back mine own. Only a year or two. other, and the co-wife working in darkness had The world is dark also to those who do not sought for that life? What then?”
sit behind the curtain, Sahiba. It is no fault “ I would have slain her, but with no easy of hers. How should she know?” said the death. At her man's side and in his arms 1 woman of the desert under her breath to the would have slain her. If she died before my Queen. vengeance arrived I would seek for her in Against her will, Kate began to feel annoyed hell."
at this persistent exclusion of herself from the “Thoucanst goout into the sunshineand walk talk, and the assumption that she, with her own in the streets and no man turns his head," said great trouble upon her, whose work was prethe Queen, bitterly. " Thy hands are free, and eminently to deal with sorrow, must have no thy face is uncovered. What if thou wert a place in this double grief. slave among slaves, a stranger among stranger “ How should I not know ? " said Kate, impeople, and "- the voice dropped — " dispos- petuously. “Do I not know pain? Is it not sessed of the favor of thy lord ? "
The woman, stooping, kissed the pale feet “ Not yet," said the Queen, quietly -"neiunder her hands.
ther pain nor joy. Miss Kate, thou art very " Then I would not wear myself with strife, wise, and I am only a woman who has never but, remembering that a man-child may grow stirred beyond the palace walls. But I am into a king, would send that child away beyond wiser than thou, for I know that which thou the power of the co-wife."
dost not know, though thou hast given back "Is it so easy to cut away the hand ? ” said my son to me, and to this woman her husthe Queen, sobbing.
band's speech. How shall I repay thee all I “Better the hand than the heart, Sahiba. owe?" Who could guard such a child in this place ?" “Let her hear truth,” said the woman under
The Queen pointed to Kate. “She came her breath. “We be all three women here, from far off, and she has once already brought Sahiba — dead leaf, flowering tree, and the him back from death."
blossom unopened." "Her drugs are good, and her skill is great, The Queen caught Kate's hands and gently but-thou knowest she is only a maiden, who pulled her forward till her head fell on the has known neither gain nor loss. It may be Queen's knees. Wearied with the emotions of that I am luckless, and that my eyes are evil the morning, unutterably tired in body and
thus did not my man say last autumn – but spirit, the girl had no desire to lift it. The it may be. Yet I know the pain at the breast small hands put her hair back from her foreand the yearning over the child new-born head, and the full, dark eyes, worn with much as thou hast known it."
weeping, looked into her own. The woman " As I have known it."
of the desert flung an arm round her waist. "My house is empty, and I am a widow and * Listen, my sister," began the Queen, with childless, and never again shall a man call me an infinite tenderness. “ There is a proverb to wed."
among my own people, in the mountains of the “As I am as I am."
north, that a rat found a piece of turmeric, and "Nar; the little one is left, whatever else may opened a druggist's shop. Even so with the go, and the little one must be well guarded. pain that thou dost know and heal, beloved. If there is any jealousy against the child it Thou art not angry? Nay; thou must not were not well to keep him in this hotbed. Let take offense. Forget that thou art white, and him go out."
I black, and remember only that we three be But whither? Miss Kate, dost thou know? sisters. Little sister, with us women 't is thus, The world is all dark to us who sit behind the and no other way. From all except such as curtain."
have borne a child the world is hid. I make " I know that the child of his own motion my prayers trembling to such and such a god, desires to go to the princes' school in Aimir. whom thou savest is black stone, and I tremHe has told me that much," said Kate, who ble at the gusts of the night kause I believe had lose no word of the conversation from her that the devils ride by my windows at such piace en the cushion, bowed forwani with her hours; and I sit here in the dark knitting wool chin supported in her hands. " It will be only and prepanng sweetmeats that come back unfor a ver or twe"
tastettrom my lori's uable. And thou, coming from ten thousand leagues away, very wise and not in thy eyes. By what magic, then, wouldst fearing nothing, hast taught me, oh, ten thou- thou speak to women? There was a charm sand things. Yet thou art the child, and I am among the drugs, they said, and their children still the mother, and what I know thou canst would be misshapen. What didst thou know not know, and the wells of my happiness thou of the springs of life and death to teach them canst not fathom, nor the bitter waters of my otherwise ? It is written in the books of thy sorrow, till thou hast tasted sorrow and grief school, I know, that such things cannot be; but alike. I have told thee of the child — all and we women do not read books. It is not from more than all, thou sayest? Little sister, I have them that we learn of life. How should such told thee less than the beginning of my love a one prevail, unless the gods help her — and for him, because I knew that thou couldst not the gods are very far away. Thou hast given understand. I have told thee my sorrows—all thy life to the helping of women. Little sister, and more than all, thou sayest, when I laid my when wilt thou also be a woman ?” head against thy breast? How could I tell The voice ceased. Kate's head was buried thee all? Thou art a maiden, and the heart in deep in the Queen's lap. She let it lie there thy bosom, beneath my heart, betrayed in its without stirring. very beat that it did not understand. Nay; that “Aye,” said the woman of the desert. “The woman there, coming from without, knows mark of coverture has been taken from my head, more of me than thee. And they taught thee my glass bangles are broken on my arm, and I in a school, thou hast told me, all manner of am unlucky to meet when a man sets forth on healing, and there is no disease in life that thou a journey. Till I die I must be alone, earning dost not understand? Little sister, how couldst my bread alone, and thinking of the dead. But thou understand life that hast never given it? though I knew that it was to come again, at Hast thou ever felt the tug of the child at the end of one year instead of ten, I would still the breast? Nay; what need to blush ? Hast thank the gods that have given me love and thou? I know thou hast not. Though I heard a child. Will the Miss Sahib take this in paythy speech for the first time, and, looking from ment for all she did for my man? A wanderthe window, saw thee walking, I should know. ing priest, a childless woman, and a stone in And the others — my sisters in the world — the water are of one blood.' So says the talk know also. But they do not all speak to thee as of our people. What will the Miss Sahib do I do. When the life quickens under the breast, now? The Queen has spoken the truth. The they, waking in the night, hear all the earth gods and thy own wisdom, which is past the walking to that measure. Why should they tell wisdom of a maid, have helped thee so far, as thee? To-day the hospital has broken from un- I, who was with thee always, have seen. The der thee. Is it not so ? And the women went gods have warned thee that their help is at an out one by one ? And what didst thou say to end. What remains ? Is this work for such as them ? "
thee? Is it not as the Queen says ? She, sitThe woman of the desert, answering for her, ting here alone, and seeing nothing, has seen spoke. “She said, “Come back, and I will that which I, moving with thee among the sick make ye well.'”
day by day, have seen and known. Little sis* And by what oath did she affirm her ter, is it not so ?” words?”
Kate lifted her head slowly from the Queen's “ There was no oath,” said the woman of knee, and rose. the desert; " she stood in the gate and called.” “ Take the child, and let us go,” she said
* And upon what should a maiden call to hoarsely. bring wavering women back again ? The toil The merciful darkness of the room hid her that she has borne for their sake? They can- face. not see it. But of the pains that a woman has “ Nay," said the Queen; “ this woman shall shared with them a woman knows. There was take him. Go thou back alone.” no child in thy arms. The mother-look was Kate vanished.
(To be concluded in the next number.)