In Clive's Command eBook

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

“Indeed, huzur,” said the man in shrill tones of excuse, “we did our best.  But they were many:  our livers were as water.”

“Chup {shut up}, pig!  Wait till you are spoken to,” exclaimed Diggle, turning angrily upon him.

“Achha, sahib! bahut achha, sahib {good, sahib—­very good, sahib}!”

A vicious kick cut short his protestations, and the two passed out of hearing of the two watchers above, the khansaman having brought his quivering flabbiness to Desmond’s side.  Diggle passed into the entrance hall, the native horsemen waiting like statues at the gate.

“It is the sahib!” whispered the shaking khansaman to Desmond:  “Digli Sahib.  He will kill me.  He is a tiger.”

“Silence, fool!” said Desmond sternly:  “there must be a way out.

“Jeldi jao {go quickly}! we shall be too late.”

The man seemed glued to the spot with fear.  The footsteps of Diggle could be heard in the rooms below.  In a few minutes he would reach the upper story; then it would indeed be too late to flee.  If they could gain the back staircase they might slip down and hide in the garden.  But fright appeared to have bereft the khansaman of all power of movement.

Yet Desmond, for more than one reason, was unwilling to leave him.  He knew what Diggle’s tender mercies were; but he also knew that the khansaman, if discovered, would certainly try to purchase his safety by betraying his companion.  So, without more ado, seizing him by the neck, Desmond shook him vigorously.

“Come!” he said in a fierce whisper, “or I shall leave you to face the sahib alone.”

This summary treatment shocked the man from his stupor.  Stepping on tiptoe he darted across the room, through the door communicating with a room beyond, into a narrow passageway at the rear of the house.  Here was a second staircase leading downwards to the servants’ quarters.

“Wait there,” said Desmond when they were halfway down.  “If you hear any one coming up, rejoin me above.”

He himself crept noiselessly back to the upper floor.  No sooner had he reached the top than he heard Diggle moving in the room he had recently left.  He darted to a khashkas {a fragrant plant whose roots are used for making screens} curtain, through the meshes of which he could see into the two intercommunicating rooms.  Diggle was carefully searching the apartment; he clearly knew it was the one lately occupied by the ladies.

As he stooped to pick up a cushion that lay on the floor beside a divan, his eye was caught by a scrap of crumpled paper.  He snatched at it like a hawk and with quick fingers straightened it out—­the fingers of the mittened hand that Desmond knew so well.  On the paper was writing; the characters were English, but Diggle appeared to have some difficulty in making them out.

“‘Your servant Surendra Nath Chuckerbutti,’” he said slowly, aloud.

“Who is Surendra Nath Chuckerbutti?” he asked his man, standing behind.

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