In her madness Kathlyn turned the tide; and when her father’s arms closed round her she sank insensible upon his breast.
[Illustration: Kathlyn turned the tide.]
BATTLE, BATTLE, BATTLE
“Kit, Kit!” cried Kathlyn’s father when she came to her senses. “My girl, my girl!”
They left the palace immediately.
The overthrow of Umballa seemed to be complete. Everywhere the soldiers surrendered, for it was better to have food in the stomach than lead.
When Kathlyn left the palace a thunder of cheers greeted her. Kathlyn was forced to mount the durbar throne, much as she longed to be off. But Bruce anticipated her thought and despatched one of the revolutionists to the house of Ramabai. Kathlyn held out her hands toward the excited populace, then turned to Ramabai expressively. Ramabai, calm and unruffled as ever, stepped forward and was about to address the people, when the disheveled captain of the guard, whom Umballa had sent to the arena lions, pushed his way to the foot of the platform.
“The arena lions have escaped!”
And there were a dozen lions in all, strong, cruel, and no doubt hungry!
Panic. Men who had been at one another’s throat, bravely and hardily, turned and fled. It was a foolish panic, senseless, but, like all panics, uncontrollable. Those on the platform ran down the steps and at once were swallowed up by the pressing trampling crowd.
Bruce and the colonel, believing that Kathlyn was behind them, fought their way to a clearing, determined to secure nets and take the lions alive. When they turned Kathlyn was gone. For a moment the two men stood as if paralyzed. Then Bruce relieved the tension by smiling. He laid his hand on the colonel’s shoulder.
“She has lost us; but that will not matter. Ordinarily I should be wild with anxiety; but to-day Kathlyn may go where she will, and nothing but awe and reverence will follow her. Besides, she has her revolver.”
At the same time Kathlyn was fighting vigorously to get free of the mob, Winnie was struggling with Pundita, striving to wrench the dagger from the grief-stricken wife’s hand.
“No, no, Pundita!”
“Let me go! My lord is dead, and I wish to follow!”
As the latter’s eyes opened wildly Winnie heard a pounding at the door. She flung open the door.
“Pundita?” cried the man.
Winnie caught him by the sleeve and dragged him into the chamber.
“Highness,” he cried, “he lives!” And he recounted the startling events of the morning.
“They live!” cried Pundita, and covered her face.
To return to Kathlyn: by and by she was able to slip into a doorway, and the bawling rabble passed on down the narrow street. The house was deserted, and the hallway and what had been a booth was filled with rubbish. Kathlyn, as she leaned breathlessly against the door, felt it give. And very glad she was of this knowledge a moment later, when two lions galloped into the street, their manes stiff, their tails arched. Doubtless, they were badly frightened.