In Clive's Command eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 411 pages of information about In Clive's Command.

“And what was the name of the Angrezi Sahib?”

“His name?—­It was Higli—­no, Digli Sahib—­accursed be the day I first saw him.”

Desmond drew a long breath.

“And what became of the bibi and the chota bibi?”

“They were taken away.”

“Whither?”

“I do not know.”

The answer was glib; Desmond thought a little too glib.

“Why then, khansaman,” he said, “I fear it would be vain for me to reason with the man I spoke of.  He has eaten the salt of Merriman Sahib; his lord’s injury is his also.  But you acted for the best.  Allah hafiz! that will be a morsel of comfort even if this man’s knife should find its way between your ribs.  Not every dying man has such consolation.  Live in peace, good khansaman.”

Desmond, who had been squatting in the oriental manner—­an accomplishment he had learned with some pains at Gheria—­rose to leave.  The khansaman’s florid cheeks again put on a sickly hue, and when the seeming lascar had gone a few paces he called him back.

“Ahi, excellent khalasi.  I think—­I remember—­I am almost sure I can discover where the two bibis are concealed.”

“Inshallah! {’please God!’—­a common exclamation} That is indeed fortunate,” said Desmond, turning back.  “There lies the best chance of averting the wrath of this much-wronged man.”

“Wait but a little till I have clad myself duly; I will then go to a friend yonder and inquire.”

He went into his hut and soon returned clothed in the garments that befitted his position.  Walking to a hut at the end of the block, he made pretense, Desmond suspected, of inquiring.  He was soon back.

“Allah is good!” he said.  “The khitmatgar yonder tells me they were taken to a house three coss {the coss is nearly two miles} distant, belonging to the great faujdar Manik Chand.  It is rented from him by Digli Sahib, who is a great friend of his Excellency.”

“Well, khansaman, you will show me the way to the house.”

But the khansaman appeared to have donned, with his clothes, a sense of his own importance.  The authoritative tone of the lascar offended his dignity.

“Who are you, scum of the sea, that you tell a khansaman of Bengal what he shall do?  Hold your tongue, piece of seaweed, or by the beard of the Prophet—­”

The threat was never completed, for Desmond, stepping up close to the man, caught him by the back of the neck and shook him till his teeth rattled in his head.

“Quick!  Lead the way!  Foolish khansaman, do you want your fat body shaken to a jelly?  That is the way with us khalasis from Gujarat.  Quick, I say!”

“Hold, khalasi!” panted the khansaman; “I will do what you wish.  Believe me, you are the first khalasi from Gujarat I have seen—­”

“Or you would not have delayed so long.  Quick, man!”

With a downcast air the man set off.  The sun was getting high; being fat and soft, the khansaman was soon in distress.  But Desmond allowed him no respite.  In about two hours they arrived at the house he had mentioned.  The gate was ajar; the door broken open.  Hastily entering, Desmond knew instinctively by the appearance of the place that it was deserted.

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In Clive's Command from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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