Having drunk his king’s peg, he was well fortified against any personal qualms. The passion he had had for Kathlyn was dead, dead as he wanted her to be.
Whom the gods destroy they first make mad; and Umballa was mad.
The palanquin waited in vain outside the wall of the garden of brides—waited till a ripple of the news eddied about the conveyance in the shape of a greatly agitated Lal Singh.
“He is really going to kill her!” he panted. “He lured her to her sister’s side, then captured her. She is to be placed beneath the car of Juggernaut within an hour. It is to be done secretly. The people are guarded and held in the bazaars. Ahmed, with an elephant and armed keepers, will be here shortly. I have warned him. Umballa runs amuck!”
Suddenly they heard voices in the garden, first Umballa’s, then Kathlyn’s. Sinister portents to the ears of the listeners, father and lover and loyal friends. The former were for breaking into the garden then and there; but a glance through the wicket gate disclosed the fact that Umballa and Kathlyn were surrounded by fifteen or twenty soldiers. And they dared not fire at Umballa for fear of hitting Kathlyn.
The palanquin was lastly carried out of sight.
At the end of the passage or street nearest the town was a gate that was seldom closed. Through this one had to pass to and from the city. Going through this gate, one could make the hill (where the car of Juggernaut stood) within fifteen minutes, while a detour round the walls of the ancient city would consume three-quarters of an hour. Umballa ordered the gates to be closed and stationed a guard there. The gates clanged behind him and Kathlyn. This time he was guarding every entrance. If his enemies were within they would naturally be weak in numbers; outside, they would find it extremely difficult to make an entrance. More than this, he had sent a troop toward the colonel’s camp.
The gates had scarcely been closed when Ahmed, his elephant and his armed keepers came into view. The men sent Pundita back to camp, and the actual warfare began. They approached the gate, demanding to be allowed to pass. The soldiers refused. Instantly the keepers flung themselves furiously upon the soldiers. The trooper who held the key threw it over the wall just before he was overpowered. But Ahmed had come prepared. From out the howdah he took a heavy leather pad, which he adjusted over the fore skull of the elephant, and gave a command.
The skull of the elephant is thick. Hunters will tell you that bullets glance off it as water from the back of a duck. Thus, protected by the leather pad, the elephant becomes a formidable battering-ram, backed by tons of weight. Only the solidity of stone may stay him.
Ahmed’s elephant shouldered through the gates grandly. For all the resistance they offered that skull they might have been constructed of papier mache.