Quickly as a cat springs he caught her hands and wrenched them toward him, dragging her toward the door. Winnie sprang up from the cushions, her eyes ablaze with the fighting spirit. Too soon the door closed in her face and she heard the bolt outside go slithering home.
Said Umballa from the corridor: “To you, pretty kitten, I shall come later. I need you for my wife. When I return you will be all alone in the world, truly an orphan. And do not make your eyes red needlessly.”
Winnie screamed, and Kathlyn fought with the fury of a netted tigress. For a few minutes Umballa had his hands full, but in the end he conquered.
Outside the garden of brides three men waited in vain for the coming of Kathlyn and her sister.
The god Juggernaut did not repose in his accustomed niche in the temple that night. The car had to be pulled up and down a steep hill, and on the return, owing to the darkness, it was left at the top of the hill, safely propped to prevent its rolling down of its own accord. When the moon rose Juggernaut’s eyes gleamed like the striped cat’s. Long since he had seen a human sacrifice. Perhaps the old days would return once more. He was weary at heart riding over sickly flowers; he wanted flesh and bones and the music of the death-rattle. His cousins, War and Pestilence, still took their tithes. Why should he be denied?
The whispering became a murmuring, and the murmuring grew into excitable chattering; and by ten o’clock that night all the bazaars knew that the ancient rites of Juggernaut were to be revived that night. The bazaars had never heard of Nero, called Ahenobarbus, and being without companions, they missed the greatness of their august but hampered regent Umballa.
Always the bazaars heard news before any other part of the city. The white Mem-sahib was not dead, but had been recaptured while posing as the zenana physician in an attempt to rescue her sister, the new queen. Oh, the chief city of Allaha was in the matter of choice and unexpected amusements unrivaled in all Asia.
Yes, Umballa was not unlike Nero—to keep the populace amused so they would temporarily forget their burdens.
But why the sudden appearance of soldiers, who stood guard at every exit, compelling the inmates of the bazaars not to leave their houses? Ai, ai! Why this secrecy, since they knew what was going to take place? But the soldiers, ordinarily voluble, maintained grim silence, and even went so far as to extend the bayonet to all those who tried to leave the narrow streets.
“An affair of state!” was all the natives could get in answer to their inquiries. Men came flocking to the roofs. But the moonshine made all things ghostly. The car of the god Juggernaut was visible, but what lay in its path could not be seen.
Umballa was not popular that night. But this was a private affair. Well he knew the ingenuity and resources of his enemies at large. There would be no rescue this night. Kathlyn Mem-sahib should die; this time he determined to put fear into the hearts of the others.