It was finally arranged to give the exhibition the next day, and messengers were despatched forthwith to notify the city and the bazaars. A dozen times Umballa eyed Ramabai’s back, murder in his mind and fear in his heart. Blind fool that he had been not to have seen this man in his true light and killed him! Now, if he hired assassins, he could not trust them; his purse was again empty.
Ramabai must have felt the gaze, for once he turned and caught the eye of Umballa, approached and whispered: “Durga Ram, wherever I go I am followed by watchers who would die for me. Do not waste your money on hired assassins.”
As the so-called animal trainers were departing Kathlyn managed to drop at Winnie’s feet a little ball of paper which the young sister maneuvered to secure without being observed. She was advised to have no fear of the lions in the arena, to be ready to join Kathlyn in the arena when she signified the moment. Winnie would have entered a den of tigers had Kathlyn so advised her.
Matters came to pass as Ramabai had planned: the night work in the arena, the clearing of the tunnel, the making of the trap, the perfecting of all the details of escape. Ahmed would be given charge of the exit, Lal Singh of the road, and Ali (Bruce’s man) would arrange that outside the city there should be no barriers. All because Ramabai thought more of his conscience than of his ambitions for Pundita.
And when, late in the afternoon, the exhibition was over, Kathlyn stepped upon the trap, threw aside her veil and revealed herself to the spectators. For all her darkened skin they recognized her, and a deep murmur ran round the arena. Kathlyn, knowing how volatile the people were, extended her hands toward the royal box. When the murmurs died away she spoke in Hindustani:
“I will face the arena lions!”
The murmurs rose again, gaining such volume that they became roars, which the disturbed beasts took up and augmented.
Again Kathlyn made a sign for silence, and added: “Provided my sister stands at my side!”
To this Umballa said no. The multitude shouted defiance. In the arena they were masters, even as the populace in the old days of Rome were masters of their emperors.
Winnie, comprehending that this was her cue, stepped forward in the box and signified by gestures that she would join her sister.
The roaring began again, but this time it had the quality of cheers. A real spectacle! To face the savage African lions unarmed! A fine spectacle!
Winnie was lowered from the box, and as her feet touched the ground she ran quickly to Kathlyn’s side.
“Winnie, I am standing on a trap. When it sinks be not alarmed.”
“My Kit!” cried Winnie, squeezing her adored sister’s hand.
The arena was cleared, and the doors to the lions’ dens were opened. The great maned African lions stood for a moment blinking in the sunshine. One of them roared out his displeasure, and saw the two women. Then all of them loped toward what they supposed were to be their victims.