The storm had burst on India. In the Khyber Pass there was fiercer fighting than even that blood-stained defile had ever seen. The flames kindled by fanaticism and lust of plunder blazed up along the North-west Frontier and burned fiercest around Peshawar, where the Pathan tribes gathered thickest. No news came from the interior of Bhutan.
So far, however, the interior of the land was comparatively tranquil. Sporadic outbreaks in the Bombay Presidency and the Punjaub had been crushed promptly. The great plan of a wide-spread concerted rising throughout the peninsula had come to naught, thanks to the papers that Dermot had found in the man-eater’s den. He had carried them straight to Simla himself, for closer examination had confirmed his first impression and shown him that they were far too important to be confided to any one else.
The information in them proved to be of the utmost value, for they disclosed the complete plans of the conspirators and told the very dates arranged for the advance of the Afghan army and the attacks of the Pathans, which were to take place simultaneously with the general rising in India. This latter the military authorities were enabled to deal with so effectively that it came to nothing.
Incidentally the papers conclusively proved the treason of the Rajah and the Dewan of Lalpuri, and that the Palace was one of the most important centres of the conspiracy. To Dermot’s amazement no action was taken against the two arch-plotters, owing to the incredible timidity of the chief civil authorities in India and their susceptibility to political influences in England. For Lalpuri and its rulers had been taken under the very particular protection of the Socialist Party; and the Government of India feared to touch the traitors. The excuse given for this leniency was that any attempt to punish them might be the signal for the long delayed rising in Lalpuri and Eastern Bengal generally.
A few days after Dermot’s return from Simla orders came to him from the Adjutant General to hand over the command of the detachment to Parker, as he himself had been appointed extra departmental Political Officer of the Bhutan Border, with headquarters at Ranga Duar. This released him from the responsibilities of his military duties and left him free to devote himself to watching the frontier. He was able to keep in communication with Parker by means of signal stations established on high peaks near the Fort, visible from many points in the mountains and the forest; for he carried a signalling outfit always with him.