“Marker said it looked as if they were being put up to the job from over the frontier.” “Gad, then it’s my turn to look out,” said Thwaite. “If it’s the gentlemen from over the frontier they won’t stop at Forza. Lord, I hate this border business, it’s so hideously in the dark. But I think that’s all rot. Any tribal row here is sure to be set down to Russian influence. We don’t understand the joint possession of an artificial frontier,” he added, with an air of quoting from some book.
“Did you get that from Marker?” Holm asked crossly. “He once said the same thing to me.” His temper had suffered badly among the hills.
“We’d better get you to bed, my dear fellow,” said Thwaite, looking down at him. “You look remarkably cheap. Would you mind going in and trying to find Mrs. Logan, Haystoun? I’ll carry this chap in. Stop a minute, though. Perhaps he’s got something to say to you.”
“Mind the north gate . . . tell Andy I’m all right and make him look after himself . . . he’s overworking . . . if you want to send a message to the other people you’d better send by Nazri . . . if the Badas mean business they’ll shut up the road you go by. That’s all. Good luck and thanks very much.”
Lewis found Mrs. Logan making a final inspection of the supper-room. She ran to the garden, to find the invalid Holm in Thwaite’s arms at the steps of the verandah. The sick warrior pulled off an imaginary cap and smiled feebly. “Oh, Mr. Holm, I’m so sorry. Of course we can have you. I’ll put you in the other end of the house where you won’t be so much troubled with the noise. You must have had a dreadful journey.” And so forth, with the easy condolences of a kind woman.
When Thwaite had laid down his burden, he turned to Lewis.
“I wish we had another man, Haystoun. What about your friend Winterham? One’s enough to do your work, but if the thing turns out to be serious, there ought to be some means of sending word. Andover will want you to stay, for they are short-handed enough.”
“I’ll get Winterham to go and wait for me somewhere. If I don’t turn up by a certain time, he can come and look for me.”
“That will do,” said Thwaite, “though it’s a stale job for him. Well, good-bye and good luck to you. I expect there won’t be much trouble, but I wish you had told us in the morning.”
Lewis turned to go and find George. “What a chance I had almost missed,” was the word in his heart. The errand might be futile, the message a blind, but it was at least movement, action, a possibility.
FRIEND TO FRIEND
He found George sitting down in the verandah after waltzing. His partner was a sister of Logan’s, a dark girl whose husband was Resident somewhere in Lower Kashmir. The lady gave her hand to Lewis and he took the vacant seat on the other side.