When he finally obtained his freedom and stood up, Olga had passed out again into the passage. He threw a last kiss to his small sweetheart, and hurried after her.
THE NEW LIFE
“It isn’t in the least what I thought it would be,” said Olga.
“Nothing ever is,” said Nick.
He was sprawling on a charpoy on the verandah of their new abode, smoking a cigarette with lazy enjoyment.
Though within sound of the native city, their bungalow stood well outside. It was surrounded by a compound of many tangled shrubs that gave it the appearance of being more isolated than it actually was. Not so very far away from it, down in the direction of Will Musgrave’s growing reservoir, there stood a dak-bungalow; and immediately beyond this were corn-fields and the native village that clustered along the edge of the river. The cantonments were well out of sight, more than a mile away along the dusty road, further than the polo-ground and race-course.
Behind the bungalow, approached only through a dense mass of tall jungle grass, stretched the jungle, mile upon mile of untamed wilderness, home of wild pig and jackals, monkeys and flying foxes. Very quiet by day was that long dark tract of jungle, but at night strange voices awoke there that seemed to Olga like the crying of unquiet spirits. Neither by day nor night did she feel the smallest desire to explore it.
The native city of Sharapura held infinitely greater fascinations for her. Some of its buildings were beautiful, and she was keenly interested in its inhabitants. She never entered it, however, save under Nick’s escort. He was very insistent upon this point, and he would never suffer her to linger in the long, narrow bazaar, with its dim booths and crafty, peering faces.
Down by the river there was a mosque about which pigeons circled and cooed perpetually, but beggars were so plentiful all round it that it was next to impossible to pause near the spot without being beset on all sides, a matter of real regret to the English girl, who longed to wander or stand and admire at will.
In His Excellency the Rajah she was frankly disappointed. He had been educated in England, and had acquired a patronizing condescension of demeanour which she found singularly unattractive. He never treated her with familiarity, but she did not like the look of his dusky eyes. They always smiled, but to her there was something unpleasant behind the smile. In her private soul she deemed him treacherous.
He invariably wore European costume, with the exception of his green turban with its flowing puggaree. He was an excellent and graceful horseman, and spoke English with extreme fluency.
Nick spent a good many hours of every day at the Palace, and they were always on the best terms; yet Olga never saw him go without a pang of anxiety or return without a thrill of relief.