Caste eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 198 pages of information about Caste.

Kassim held the paper at arm’s length toward Barlow, asking:  “Is this the message thou brought?”

“It is, Commander.”

Kassim whirled on Hunsa, “Where didst thou get it, dog of an infidel?”

“Without the gate of the palace, my Lord.  I found it lying there where the Sahib had dropped it in his flight.”

“Allah! thou art a liar of brazenness.”  He spoke to a Jamadar:  “Have brought the leather nosebag of a horse and hot ashes so that we may come by the truth.”

Then Kassim held the parchment close to the lamp and scanned it.  He rubbed a hand across his wrinkled brow and pondered.  “Beside the seal here is the name, Rana Bhim,” and he turned his fierce eyes on Barlow.

“Yes, Commander; the Rana has put his seal upon it that he will join his Rajputs with the British and the Pindaris to drive from Mewar Sindhia—­the one whose Dewan sent Hunsa to slay your Chief.”

“Thou sayest so, but how know I that Hunsa is not in thy hand, and that thou didst not prepare the way for the killing?  Here beside the name of the Rana is drawn a lance; that suggests an order to kill, a secret order.”  He turned to a sepoy, “Bring the Rajput, Zalim.”

While they waited Bootea said:  “It was Nana Sahib who sent Hunsa and the decoits to slay Amir Khan, because he feared an alliance between the Chief and the British.”

“And thou wert one of them?”

“I came to warn Amir Khan, and—­”

“And what, woman—­the decoits were your own people?”

“Yonder Sahib had saved my life—­saved me from the harem of Nana Sahib, and I came to save his life and your Chief’s.”

Now there was an eruption into the chamber; men carrying a great pot of hot ashes, and one swinging from his hand the nosebag of a horse; and with them the Rajput.

“Here,” Kassim said, addressing the Hindu, “what means this spear upon this document?  Is it a hint to drive it home?”

The Rajput put his fingers reverently upon the Rana’s signature.  “That, Commander, is the seal, the sign.  I am a Chondawat, and belong to the highest of the thirty-six tribes of Mewar, and that sign of the lance was put upon state documents by Chonda; it has been since that time—­it is but a seal.  Even as that,”—­and Zalim proudly swung a long arm toward the wall where a huge yellow sun embossed on gypsum rested—­“even that is an emblem of the Children of the Sun, the Sesodias of Mewar, the Rana.”

“It is well,” Kassim declared; “as to this that is in the message, to-morrow, with the aid of a mullah, we will consider it.  And now as to Hunsa, we would have from him the truth.”

He turned to the Gulab; “Go thou in peace, woman, for our dead Chief had high regard for thee; and Captain Sahib, even thou may go to thy abode, not thinking to leave there, however, without coming to pay salaams.  Thou wouldst not get far.”

CHAPTER XXIII

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Caste from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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