If only she were on pleasure bent! If only she knew some one in this great teeming city! She knew no one; she carried no letters of introduction, no letters of credit, nothing but the gold and notes the paymaster at the farm had hastily turned over to her. Only by constant application to maps and guide books had she managed to arrange the short cut to the far kingdom. She had been warned that it was a wild and turbulent place, out of the beaten path, beyond the reach of iron rails. Three long sea voyages: across the Pacific (which wasn’t), down the bitter Yellow Sea, up the blue Bay of Bengal, with many a sea change and many a strange picture. What though her heart ached, it was impossible that her young eyes should not absorb all she saw and marvel over it. India!
The strange elusive Hindu had disappeared after Hongkong. That was a weight off her soul. She was now assured that her imagination had beguiled her. How should he know anything about her? What was more natural than that he should wish to hurry back to his native state? She was not the only one in a hurry. And there were Hindus of all castes on all three ships. By now she had almost forgot him.
There was one bright recollection to break the unending loneliness. Coming down from Hongkong to Singapore she had met at the captain’s table a young man by the name of Bruce. He was a quiet, rather untalkative man, lean and sinewy, sun and wind bitten. Kathlyn had as yet had no sentimental affairs. Absorbed in her work, her father and the care of Winnie, such young men as she had met had scarcely interested her. She had only tolerated contempt for idlers, and these young men had belonged to that category. Bruce caught her interest in the very fact that he had but little to say and said that crisply and well. There was something authoritative in the shape of his mouth and the steadiness of his eye, though before her he never exercised this power. A dozen times she had been on the point of taking him into her confidence, but the irony of fate had always firmly closed her lips.
And now, waiting for the ship to warp into its pier, she realized what a fatal mistake her reticence had been. A friend of her father!
Bruce had left the Lloyder before dinner (at Singapore), and as Kathlyn’s British-India coaster did not leave till morning she had elected to remain over night on the German boat.
As Bruce disappeared among the disembarking passengers and climbed into a rickshaw she turned to the captain, who stood beside her.
“Do you know Mr. Bruce?”
“Very well,” said the German. “Didn’t he tell you who he is? No? Ach! Why, Mr. Bruce is a great hunter. He has shot everything, written books, climbed the Himalayas. Only last year he brought me the sack of a musk deer, and that is the most dangerous of all sports. He collects animals.”
Then Kathlyn knew. The name had been vaguely familiar, but the young man’s reticence had given her no opportunity to dig into her recollection. Bruce! How many times her father had spoken of him! What a fool she had been! Bruce knew the country she was going to, perhaps as well as her father; and he could have simplified her journey to the last word. Well, what was done could not be recalled and done over.