When they arrived at the station the passenger train had just drawn out. For a while Kathlyn felt beaten. She would be compelled to wait another week. It was disheartening.
“Why not try the freight, then?” cried Winnie.
“You little angel! I never thought of that!”
But the crew would not hear of it. It was absolutely against the company’s rules. Kathlyn could have cried.
“It isn’t money, miss, it’s the rules,” said the conductor kindly. “I can’t do it.”
Kathlyn turned in despair toward the station. It was then she saw the boxed lion on the platform. She returned to the conductor of the freight.
“Why isn’t that lion shipped?”
“We can’t carry a lion without an attendant, miss. You ought to know that.”
“Very well,” replied Kathlyn. She smiled at the conductor confidently. “I’ll travel as the lion’s attendant. You certainly can not object to that.”
“I guess you’ve got me,” admitted the conductor. “But where the dickens will we put the cat? Every car is closed and locked, and there is not an empty.”
“You can easily get the lion in the caboose. I’ll see that he doesn’t bother any one.”
“Lions in the caboose is a new one on me. Well, you know your dad’s business better than I do. Look alive, boys, and get that angora aboard. This is Miss Hare herself, and she’ll take charge.”
“Oh, I’ll be brave. I’ve just got to be. But I’ve never been left alone before.”
The two girls embraced, and Winnie went sobbing back to the maid who waited on the platform.
What happened in that particular caboose has long since been newspaper history. The crew will go on telling it till it becomes as fabulous as one of Sindbad’s yarns. How the lion escaped, how the fearless young woman captured it alone, unaided, may be found in the files of all metropolitan newspapers. Of the brown man who was found hiding in the coat closet of the caboose nothing was said. But the sight of him dismayed Kathlyn as no lion could have done. Any-dark skinned person was now a subtle menace. And when, later, she saw peering into the port-hole of her stateroom, dismay became terror.
Who was this man?
THE UNWELCOME THRONE
Kathlyn sensed great loneliness when, about a month later, she arrived at the basin in Calcutta. A thousand or more natives were bathing ceremoniously in the ghat—men, women and children. It was early morn, and they were making solemn genuflections toward the bright sun. The water-front swarmed with brown bodies, and great wheeled carts drawn by sad-eyed bullocks threaded slowly through the maze. The many white turbans, stirring hither and thither, reminded her of a field of white poppies in a breeze. India! There it lay, ready for her eager feet. Always had she dreamed about it, and romanced over it, and sought it on the wings of her spirit. Yonder it lay, ancient as China, enchanting as storied Persia.