The others looked at him in surprise but readily agreed. Before they left the room Daleham noticed the Hindu engineer’s absence for the first time.
“By Jove, I’d forgotten Chunerbutty,” he exclaimed. “I wonder where he is? Perhaps he doesn’t know we’re going to have supper. I’d better send the boy to tell him.”
“Indeed no, he is fery well where he is,” hiccoughed Parry, who, seated by a table on which drinks had been placed, had not been idle. “This is not a night for black men, look you.”
“Yes, Daleham, Parry’s right,” said Granger. “Let us keep to our own colour tonight. Things might be said that wouldn’t be pleasant for an Indian to hear.”
“Forgive my putting a word in, Daleham,” added Dermot. “But I have a very particular reason, which I’ll explain afterwards, for asking you to leave Chunerbutty out.”
“Yes, we don’t want a damned Bengali among us tonight, Fred,” said a young planter bluntly.
“Oh, very well; if you fellows would rather I didn’t ask him I won’t,” replied their host. “But I’m afraid his feelings will be hurt at being left out when we’re celebrating my sister’s safe return. He’s such an old friend.”
“Oh, hang his feelings! Think of ours,” cried another of the party.
“All right. Have it your own way. Let’s go in to supper,” said the host.
The hastily improvised meal was a merry feast, and the loud voices and the roars of laughter rang out into the silent night and reached the ears of Chunerbutty sitting in his bungalow eating his heart out in bitterness and jealousy. Noreen, presiding at one end of the long table, was the queen of the festival and certainly had never enjoyed any supper in London as much as this impromptu meal. General favourite as she always was with every man in the district, this night there was added universal gladness at her escape and the feeling of satisfaction that the outrage on her had been so promptly avenged. While the girl was pleased with the warmth and sincerity of the congratulations showered upon her, she was secretly delighted to see the high esteem in which all the other men held Dermot. He was seated beside her and shared with her the good wishes of the company. His health was drunk with all the honours after hers, and the planters did not spare his blushes in their loudly-expressed praises of his achievements. Cordiality and good humour prevailed, and, although the fun was fast and furious, Parry was the only one who drank too much. Before he became objectionable, for he was usually quarrelsome in his cups, he was dexterously cajoled out of the room and safely shepherded to his bungalow.
THE MAKING OF A GOD
Parry’s departure served as a hint to Noreen that it was time for her to say good-night to her guests and withdraw. As soon as she left the room there was an instant hush of expectancy, and all eyes were turned to Dermot. The servants had long since gone, but, after asking his host’s permission, he rose from his place and strolled with apparent carelessness to each doorway in turn and satisfied himself that there were no eavesdroppers. Then he shut the doors and asked members of the party to station themselves on guard at each of them. The planters watched these precautions with surprise.