Puslapio vaizdai

his steps, the captured gun over his shoulder. Maharaj Kunwar, clearing the way for the “I wonder —no; I won't believe that she would barouche, scattered the dark band to the left dare todo anything to Kate. She knows enough and right. Tarvin wondered what this might of me to be sure that I 'd blow her and her old portend. The escort halted with the customary palace into to-morrow. If she 's half the wo- rattle of accoutrements at the rest-house door, man she pretends to be, she 'll reckon with me the barouche behind them. A single trooper, before she goes much further.”

two hundred yards or more in the rear, lifted In vain he attempted to force himself into his voice in a deferential shout as he pursued this belief. Sitabhai had shown him what sort the carriage. He was answered by a chuckle of thing her mercy might be, and Kate might from the escort, and two shrill screams of dehave tasted it ere this. To go to her now—to light from the occupants of the barouche. be maimed or crippled at the least if he went A child whom Tarvin had never before seen to her now — was impossible. Yet he decided stood upright in the back of the carriage, and that he would go. He returned hastily to Fibby, hurled a torrent of abuse in the vernacular at the whom he had left not three minutes before flick- retreating trooper. Again the escort laughed. ing off flies in the sunshine at the back of the “ Tarvin Sahib! Tarvin Sahib!” piped the rest-house. But Fibby lay on his side groaning Maharaj Kunwar. “Come and look at us.". piteously, hamstrung and dying.

For a moment Tarvin fancied this a fresh Tarvin could hear his groom industriously device of the enemy; but reassured by the polishing a bit round the corner, and when the sight of his old and trusted ally, the Maharaj, man came up in response to his call he flung he stepped forward. himself down by the side of the horse, howling Prince,” he said, as he took his hand,“ you with grief.

ought not to be out." “ An enemy hath done this — an enemy hath “Oh, it is all right,” said the young man done this!” heclamored. “My beautiful brown hastily, though his pale little face belied it. “I horse, that never did harm except when he gave the order, and we came. Miss Kate gives kicked through fullness of meat! Where shall I me orders; but she took me over to the palace, find a new service if I let my charge die thus?” and there I give orders. This is Umr Singh

“ I wish I knew! I wish I knew!” said Tar- my brother, the little Prince; but I shall vin, puzzled, and almost despairing. “There'd be king." be a bullet through one black head, if I were The second child raised his eyes slowly, and just a little surer. Get up, you! Fibby, old looked full at Tarvin. The eyes and the low, man, I forgive you all your sins. You were a broad forehead were those of Sitabhai, and the good old boy, and — here 's luck."

mouth closed firmly over the little pearl-like The blue smoke enveloped Fibby's head for teeth, as his mother's mouth had closed in the an instant, the head fell like a hammer, and the conflict on the Dungar Talao. good horse was out of his pain. The groom, “ He is from the other side of the palace,” rising, rent the air with grief, till Tarvin kicked answered the Maharaj, still in English. “ From him out of the pickets and bade him be gone. the other side, where I must not go. But when Then it was noticeable that his cries ceased I was in the palace I went to him,- ha! ha! suddenly, and, as he retreated into his mud- Tarvin Sahib,-- and he was killing a goat. house to tie up his effects, he smiled, and dug Look! His hands are all red now.” up some silver from a hole under his bedstead. Umr Singh opened a tiny palm at a word

Tarvin, dismounted, looked east, west, north, in the vernacular from the Maharaj, and flung south for help, as Sitabhai had looked on the it outward at Tarvin. It was dark with dried dam. A wandering gang of gipsies with their blood, and a bearded whisper ran among the lean bullocks and yelping dogs turned an angle escort. The commandant turned in his saddle, of the city wall, and rested like a flock of un- and, nodding at Tarvin, muttered,“ Sitabhai clean birds by the city gate. The sight in itself kibeta !” Tarvin caught the first word, and it was not unusual, but city regulations forbade was sufficient for him. Providence had sent camping within a quarter of a mile of the walls. him help out of a clear sky. He framed a plan

“Some of the lady's poor relatives, I sup- instantly, pose. They have blocked the way through the “But how did you come here, you young gate pretty well. Now, if I were to make a imps ?” he demanded. bolt of it to the missionary's, they 'd have me, “Oh, there are only women in the palace would n't they ?” muttered Tarvin to himself

. yonder, and I am a Rajput and a man. He can“On the whole, I've seen prettier professions not speak any English at all," he added, pointthan trading with Eastern queens. They don't ing to his companion; “ but when we have seem to understand the rules of the game.” played together I have told him about you,

At that moment a cloud of dust whirled Tarvin Sahib, and about the day you picked through the gipsy camp, as the escort of the me out of my saddle, and he wished to come too, to see all the things you show me, so I Umr Singh smiled as the horse began to trot, gave the order very quietly, and we came out and urged Tarvin to go faster. This the Maof the little door together. And so we are here. haraj forbade. He wished to see the sight comSalaam bolo, baba,” he said patronizingly to fortably from his seat in the barouche. As he the child at his side, and the child slowly and passed the gipsy camp, men and women threw gravely raised his hand to his forehead, still gaz- themselves down on the sands, crying, “ Jai ! ing with fixed, incurious eyes on the stranger. Jungle da badshah jai !" and the faces of the Then he whispered something that made the troopers darkened. Maharaj Kunwar laugh. “He says,” said the " That means," cried the Maharaj Kunwar, Maharaj Kunwar, “ that you are not so big as “ Victory to the king of the desert.' I have no he thought. His mother told him that you money to give them. Have you, Tarvin Sahib?” were stronger than any man, but some of these In his joy at being now safely on his way to troopers are bigger than you."

Kate, Tarvin could have flung everything he “Well

, what do you want me to do?” asked possessed to the crowd — almost the Naulahka Tarvin.

itself. He emptied a handful of copper and “Show him your gun, and how you shoot small silver among them, and the cry rose again, rupees, and what you do that makes horses but bitter laughter was mingled with it, and the quiet when they kick, and all those things.” gipsy folk called to one another, mocking. The

“ All right," said Tarvin. “But I can't show Maharaj Kunwar's face turned scarlet. He them here. Come over to Mr. Estes's with me.” leaned forward, listening for an instant, and

“ I do not like to go there. My monkey is then shouted: “By Indur, it is for him! Scatter dead. And I do not think Kate would like to their tents !” At a wave of his hand the escort, see us. She is always crying now. She took wheeling, plunged through the camp in line, me up to the palace yesterday, and this morn- driving the light ash of the fires up in clouds, ing I went to her again; but she would not see slashing the donkeys with the flat of their me."

swords until they stampeded, and carrying Tarvin could have hugged the child for the away the frail brown tents on the butts of their blessed assurance that Kate at least still lived. reversed lances. " Is n't she at the hospital, then ?” he asked Tarvin looked on contentedly at the dispersal thickly.

of the group, which he knew would have stopped “Oh, the hospital has all gone phut. There him if he had been alone. are no women now. They all ran away.” Umr Singh bit his lip. Then, turning to the

“No!” cried Tarvin. “Say that again, lit- Maharaj Kunwar, he smiled, and put forward tle man. What for ? "

from his belt the hilt of his sword in sign of “ Devils," said the Maharaj Kunwar, briefly. fealty. “What do I know ? It was some women's talk. “ It is just, my brother,” he said in the verShow him how you ride, Tarvin Sahib.” nacular.“ But " — here he raised his voice

Again Umr Singh whispered to his compan- a little —" would not drive the gipsy folk too ion, and put one leg over the side of the ba- far. They always return." rouche.“ He says he will ride in front of you,

" Aye,"cried a voice from the huddled crowd, as I told him I did," interpreted the Prince. watching the wreck of the camp, significantly; “Gurdit Singh, dismount!”

“ gipsies always return, my King." A trooper flung himself out of the saddle at So does a dog," said the Maharaj, between the word, and stood to attention at the horse's his teeth. “Both are kicked. Drive on.” head. Tarvin, smiling to himself at the perfec- And a pillar of dust came to Estes's house, tion of his opportunity, said nothing, but leaped Tarvin riding in safety in the midst of it. into the saddle, picked Umr Singh out of the Telling the boys to play until he came out, barouche, and placed him carefully before him. he swept into the house, taking the steps two

“Sitabhai would be rather restless if she could at a time, and discovered Kate in a dark corsee me," he murmured to himself, as he tucked ner of the parlor with a bit of sewing in her his arm round the lithe little figure. “ I don't hand. As she looked up he saw that she was think there will be any Juggutting while I carry crying: this young man in front of me.”

"Nick!" she exclaimed voicelessly. “ Nick.As the escort opened to allow Tarvin to take He had stopped, hesitating on the threshold; his place at their head, a wandering priest, who she dropped her work, and rose breathless. had been watching the episode from a little dis- “ You have come back! It is you! You are tance, turned and shouted with all the strength alive!" of his lungs across the plain in the direction Tarvin smiled, and held out his arms. “Come of the city. The cry was taken up by unseen and see!” She took a step forward. voices, passed on to the city walls, and died “Oh, I was afraid -_-" away on the sands beyond.

“ Come !" VOL. XLIV.-50.


[ocr errors]



you to.”

She went doubtfully toward him. He caught achieved an instantaneous change of front, and her fast, and held her in his arms.

met her, smiling. For a moment she let her head lie on his “ Certainly," he said, "I have been working breast. Then she looked up. “This is n't what it as a blind.” I meant," she protested.

“A blind?" she repeated. “To cover what?" “Oh, don't try to improve on it,” Tarvin “ You.” said hastily.

“What do you mean ? " she inquired, with “She tried to poison me. I was sure when a look in her eyes which made him uncomforI heard nothing that she must have killed you.

table. I fancied horrible things."

“ The Indian government allows no one to “ Poor child! And your hospital has gone remain in the state without a definite purpose. wrong! You have been having a hard time. I could n't tell Colonel Nolan that I had come But we will change all that. We must leave courting you, could I ?” as soon as you can get ready. I've nipped her “I don't know. But you could have avoidclaws for a moment; I 'm holding a hostage. ed taking the Maharajah’s money to carry out But we can't keep that up forever. We must this — this plan. An honest man would have get away.”

avoided that.” “We?" she repeated feebly.

“Oh, look here!”exclaimed Tarvin. “Well, do you want to go alone?”

“How could you cheat the King into thinkShe smiled as she released herself. “I want ing that there was a reason for your work? how

could you let him give you the labor of a thou“And you?”

sand men ? how could you take his money? “I'm not worth thinking of. I have failed. O Nick!” Everything I meant to do has fallen about He gazed at her for a vacant and hopeless me in a heap. I feel burnt out, Nick — burnt minute. “Why, Kate,” he exclaimed,“ do you out!”

know you are talking of the most stupendous “ All right. We 'll put in new works, and joke the Indian empire has witnessed since the launch you on a fresh system. That 's what I birth of time ? " want. There shall be nothing to remind you This was pretty good, but it was not good that you ever saw Rhatore, dear.”

enough. He plunged for a stronger hold as “ It was a mistake," she said.

she answered, with a perilous little note of “ What?”

breakdown in her voice, “ You make it worse." “Everything. My coming. My thinking I “Well, your sense of humor never was your could do it. It's not a girl's work. It 's my strongest point, you know, Kate.” He took work, perhaps; but it 's not for me. I have the seat next her, leaned over, and took her given it up, Nick. Take me home.”

hand, as he went on. “ Does n't it strike you Tarvin gave an unbecoming shout of joy, and as rather amusing, though, after all, to rip up folded her in his arms again. He told her that half a state to be near a very small little girl they must be married at once, and start that a very sweet, very extra lovely little girl, but night, if she could manage it; and Kate, dread- still a rather tiny little girl in proportion to the ing what might befall him, assented doubtfully. size of the Amet Valley ? Come, does n't it?" She spoke of preparations; but Tarvin said that “Is that all you have to say ?” asked she. they would prepare after they had done it. They Tarvin turned pale. He knew the tone of finalcould buy things at Bombay - stacks of things. ity he heard in her voice; it went with a cerHe was sweeping her forward with the onrush tain look of scorn when she spoke of any form of his extempore plans when she said suddenly: of moral baseness that moved her. He recog“ But what of the dam, Nick? You can't leave nized his condemnation in it and shuddered. that "

In the moment that passed while he still kept “Shucks!"exclaimed Tarvin, heartily. “You silence he recognized this for the crisis of his don't suppose there's any gold in the old river, life. Then he took strong hold of himself, and do you?”

said quietly, easily, unscrupulously : She recoiled quickly from his arms, staring “Why, you don't suppose that I'm not goat him in accusation and reproach.

ing to ask the Maharajah for his bill, do you?” “Do you mean that you have always known She gasped a little. Her acquaintance with that there was no gold there ? ” she asked. Tarvin did not help her to follow his dizzying

Tarvin pulled himself together quickly, but changes of front. His bird's skill in making his not so quickly that she did not catch the con- level flight, his reeling dips and circling returns fession in his eye.

upon himself, all seemed part of a single im“ I see you have,” she said coldly.

pulse, ever remaining confusing to her. But Tarvin measured the crisis which had sud- she rightly believed in his central intention to My descended on him out of the clouds; he do the square thing, if he could find out what it


[ocr errors]


was; and her belief in his general strength hand on his lightly, in mute petition for having helped her not to see at this moment that he even seemed to doubt him, “I know you, Nick. was deriving his sense of the square thing from You like to make the better seem the worse her. She could not know, and probably could reason; you like to pretend to be wicked. But not have imagined, how little his own sense who is so honest ? 0 Nick! I knew you had of the square thing had to do with any system to be true. If you were n't, everything else of morality, and how entirely he must always would be wrong." define morality as what pleased Kate. Other He took her in his arms. “Would it, little women liked confections; she preferred moral- girl ?” he asked, looking down at her. ity, and he meant she should have it, if he had must keep the other things right, then, at any to turn pirate to get it for her.

expense." “ You did n't think I was n't paying for the He heaved a deep sigh as he stooped and show?" he pursued bravely; but in his heart kissed her. he was saying, “She loathes it. She hates it. “ Have you such a thing as a box?” he asked, Why did n't I think? Why did n't I think? ” after a long pause. He added aloud: “I had my fun, and now * Any sort of box ? ” asked Kate, bewilI've got you. You 're both cheap at the price, deredly. and I 'm going to step up and pay it like a lit- “No — well, it ought to be the finest box in tle man. You must know that."

the world, but I suppose one of those big grapeHis smile met no answering smile. He boxes will do. It is n't every day that one mopped his forehead, and stared anxiously at sends presents to a queen.” her. All the easiness in the world could n't Kate handed him a large chip box in which make him sure what she would say next. She long green grapes from Kabul had been packed. said nothing, and he had to go on desperately, Discolored cotton-wool lay at the bottom. with a cold fear gathering about his heart. “That was sold at the door the other day,” “Why, it 's just like me, is n't it, Kate, to work she said. “ Is it big enough ? ” a scheme on the old Rajah ? It 's like a man Tarvin turned away without answering, empwho owns a mine that 's turning out $2000 a tied something that clicked like a shower of month, to rig a game out in this desert coun- pebbles upon the wool, and sighed deeply. Totry to do a confiding Indian prince out of a few paz was in that box. The voice of the Mahathousand rupees?" He advanced this recently raj Kunwar lifted itself from the next room. inspired conception of his conduct with an air “ Tarvin Sahib — Kate, we have eaten all of immemorial familiarity, born of desperation. the fruit, and now we want to do something

" What mine?” she asked with dry lips. else."

“ The · Lingering Lode,' of course. You've “One moment, little man,” said Tarvin. heard me speak of it?”

With his back still toward Kate, he drew his “ Yes; but I did n't know

hand caressingly, for the last time, over the “That it was doing that? Well, it is — right blazing heap at the bottom of the box, fondalong. Want to see the assay ?”

ling the stones one by one. The great green “No," she answered. “No. But that makes emerald pierced him, he thought, with a reyou - Why, but, Nick, that makes you — " proachful gaze. A mist crept into his eyes : the

“ A rich man? Moderately, while the lead diamond was too bright. He shut the lid down holds out. Too rich for petty larceny, I guess.” upon the box hastily, and put it into Kate's

He was joking for his life. The heart-sick- hands with a decisive gesture; he made her ening seriousness of his unseriousness was mak- hold it while he tied it in silence. Then, in ing a hole in his head; the tension was too much a voice not his, he asked her to take the box for him. In the mad fear of that moment his to Sitabhai with his compliments. “No,” he perceptions doubled their fineness. Something continued, seeing the alarm in her eyes; “ she went through him as he said “ larceny.” Then won't, she dare n't, hurt you now. Her child 's his heart stopped. A sure, awful, luminous per- coming along with us; and I 'll go with you, ception leaped upon him, and he knew himself of course, as far as I can. Glory be! it 's the for lost.

last journey that you 'll ever undertake in this If she hated this, what would she say to the infernal land. The last but one, that 's to say. other? Innocent, successful, triumphant, even We live at high pressure in Rhatore- too high gay, it seemed to him; but what to her ? He pressure for me. Be quick, if you love me.”. turned sick.

Kate hastened to put on her helmet, while Kate or the Naulahka. He must choose. Tarvin amused the two princes by allowing The Naulahka or Kate ?

them to inspect his revolver, and promising at “ Don't make light of it,” she was saying. some more fitting season to shoot as many coins “ You would be just as honest if you could n't as they should demand. The lounging escort afford it, Nick. Ah,” she went on, laying her at the door was suddenly scattered by a trooper

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

from without, who flung his horse desperately consciously he clasped Umr Singh so closely through their ranks, shouting, “A letter for to his breast that the child cried out.

, Tarvin Sahib!”

The whisper rose, and it seemed to Tarvin Tarvin stepped into the veranda, took a as if some one were sobbing behind the shutcrumpled half-sheet of paper from the out- ters. Then followed a peal of low, soft laughstretched hand, and read these words, traced ter, and the muscles at the corner of Tarvin's painfully and laboriously in an unformed round mouth relaxed. Umr Singh began to struggle hand :

in his arms.

“ Not yet, young man. You must wait until DEAR MR. TARVIN: Give me the boy, and - ah! thank God!" keep the other thing.

Your affectionate Kate reappeared, her little figure framed
FRIEND. against the darkness of the doorway. Behind

her came the eunuch, crawling fearfully to TarTarvin chuckled, and thrust the note into his vin's side. Tarvin smiled affably, and dropped waistcoat pocket. “There is no answer,” he the amazed young Prince into his arms. Umr said; and to himself: “You 're a thoughtful Singh was borne away kicking, and before they girl, Sitabhai; but I'm afraid you 're just a lit- left the courtyard Tarvin heard the dry roar tle too thoughtful. That boy's wanted for the of an angry child, followed by an unmistakable next half-hour. Are you ready, Kate ? " yelp of pain. Tarvin smiled.

The princes lamented loudly when they were “They spank young princes in Rajputana. told that Tarvin was riding over to the palace That 's one step on the path to progress. What at once, and that, if they hoped for further did she say, Kate ? entertainment, they must both go with him. “ She said I was to be sure and tell you that “We will go into the great Durbar Hall," she knew you were not afraid. “Tell Tarvin said the Maharaj Kunwar, consolingly, to his Sahib that I knew he was not afraid.'” companion at last,“ and make all the music- “Where 's Umr Singh ?” asked the Mahaboxes play together."

raj Kunwar from the barouche. “I want to see that man shoot,” said Umr “ He's gone to his mother. I 'm afraid I Singh. “I want to see him shoot something can't amuse you just now, Little man. I 've dead. I do not wish to go to the palace.” forty thousand things to do, and no time to do

“You 'll ride on my horse," said Tarvin, them in. Tell me where your father is." when the answer had been interpreted, “ and “I do not know. There has been trouble I'll make him gallop all the way. Say, Prince, and crying in the palace. The women are alhow fast do you think your carriage can go?” ways crying, and that makes my father angry. “ As fast as Miss Kate dares."

I shall stay at Mr. Estes's, and play with Kate." Kate stepped in, and the cavalcade galloped “ Yes; let him stay," said Kate, quickly. to the palace, Tarvin riding always a little in “ Nick, do you think I ought to leave him?" front, with Umr Singh clapping his hands on “ That 's another of the things I must fix,” the saddle-bow.

said Tarvin. “But first I must find the Ma“We must pull up at Sitabhai's wing, dear," harajah, if I have to dig up Rhatore for him. Tarvin said. “You won't be afraid to walk in What 's that, little one ?" under the arch with me?"

A trooper whispered to the young Prince. "I trust you, Nick," she answered simply, “This man says that he is there," said the getting out of the carriage.

Maharaj Kunwar. “He has been there since “ Then go into the woman's wing, give the two days. I also have wished to see him." box into Sitabhai's hands, and tell her that " Very good. Drive home, Kate. I 'll wait I sent it back. You 'll find she knows my here." name.”

He reëntered the archway, and reined up. The horse trampled under the archway, Kate Again the whisper behind the shutter rose, and at its side, and Tarvin holding Umr Singh very a man from a doorway demanded his business. much in evidence. The courtyard was empty, “I must see the Maharajah,” said Tarvin. but as they came out into the sunshine by the “Wait,” said the man. And Tarvin waited central fountain the rustle and whisper behind for five minutes, using his time for concenthe shutters rose, as the tiger-grass rustles when trated thought. the wind blows through it.

Then the Maharajah emerged, and amia“One minute, dear,” said Tarvin, halting, bility sat on every hair of his newly oiled

“ “if you can bear this sun on your head.” mustaches.

A door opened, and a eunuch came out, For some mysterious reason Sitabhai had beckoning silently to Kate. She followed him withdrawn the light of her countenance from and disappeared, the door closing behind her. him for two days, and had sat raging in her Tarvin's heart rose into his mouth, and un- own apartments. Now the mood had passed,

« AnkstesnisTęsti »