Marker laughed. “You are an honest fool, Fazir Khan. That sort of thing is past now. We live in the wrong times and places for it. We cannot keep them here, but we must send them on a goose-chase. Do you understand?”
“I understand nothing. I am a simple man and my ways are simple, and not as yours.”
“Then attend to my words, my friend. Our expedition must be changed and made two days sooner. That will give these two Englishmen three days only to checkmate it. Besides, they are ignorant, and to-morrow is lost to them, for they go to a ball at the Logan woman’s. Still, I fear them with two days to work in. If they go north, they are clever and suspicious, and they may see or fancy enough to wreck our plans. They may have the way barred, and we know how little would bar the way.”
“Ten resolute men,” said the chief. “Nay, I myself, with my two sons, would hold a force at bay there.”
“If that is true, how much need is there to be wary beforehand! Since we cannot prevent these men from meddling, we can give them rope to meddle in small matters. Let us assume that they have been sent out by their Government. They are the common make of Englishmen, worshipping a god which they call their honour. They will do their duty if they can find it out. Now there is but one plan, to create a duty for them which will take them out of the way.”
The chief was listening with half-closed eyes. He saw new trouble for himself and was not cheerful.
“Do you know how many men Holm has with him at the Forza camp?”
“A score and a half. Some of my people passed that way yesterday, when the soldiers were parading.”
“And there are two more camps?
“There are two beyond the Nazri Pass, on the fringe of the Doorab hills. We call the places Khautmi-sa and Khautmi-bana, but the English have their own names for them.”
“I know the places. They are Gurkha camps. The officers are called Mitchinson and St. John. They will give us little trouble. But the Forza garrison is too near the pass for safety, and yet far enough away for my plans.” And for a moment the man’s eyes were abstracted, as if in deep thought.
“I have another thing to tell of the Forza camp,” the chief interrupted. “The captain, the man whom they call Holm, is sick, so sick that he cannot remain there. He went out shooting and came too near to dangerous places, so a bullet of one of my people’s guns found his leg. He will be coming to Bardur to-morrow. Is it your wish that he be prevented?
“Let him come,” said Marker. “He will suit my purpose. Now I will tell you your task, Fazir Khan, for it is time that you took the road. You will take a hundred of the Bada-Mawidi and put them in the rocks round the Forza camp. Let them fire a few shots but do no great damage, lest this man Holm dare not leave. If I know the man at all, he will only hurry the quicker when he hears