Now, this woman of the zenana believed not in the God of your fathers and mine. She was a pagan; her Heaven and hell were ruled by a thousand gods, and her temples were filled with their images. Yet this thing, remorse, was stabbing her with its hot needles, till no torture devised by man could equal it.
She was the poor foolish woman who loved Durga Ram; loved him as these wild Asiatic women love, from murder to the poisoned cup. Loved him, and knew that he loved her not, but used her for his own selfish ends. There you have it. Had he loved her, remorse never would have lifted its head or raised its voice. And again, had not Umballa sought the white woman, this butterfly of the harem might have died of old age without unburdening her soul. Remorse is the result of a crime committed uselessly. Humanity is unchangeable, for all its variety of skins.
And here was this woman, wanting to tell some one!
Umballa had done a peculiar thing: he had not laid hand upon either Ramabai or Pundita. When asked the reason for this generosity toward a man who but recently put a price on his head, Umballa smiled and explained that Ramabai was not only broken politically, but was a religious outcast. It was happiness for such a person to die, so he preferred that Ramabai should live.
Secretly, however, Ramabai’s revolutionary friends were still back of him, though they pretended to bow to the yoke of the priests.
So upon this day matters stood thus: the colonel, Kathlyn, Bruce and Winnie were prisoners again; Ahmed was in hiding, and Ramabai and his wife mocked by those who once had cheered them. The ingratitude of kings is as nothing when compared to the ingratitude of a people.
A most ridiculous country: to crown Kathlyn again (for the third time!) and then to lock her up! Next to superstition as a barrier to progress there stands custom. Everything one did must be done as some one else had done it; the initiative was still chained up in the temples, it belonged to the bald priests only.
But Umballa had made two mistakes: he should have permitted the white people to leave the country and given a silken cord to the chief eunuch, to apply as directed. There are no written laws among the dark peoples that forbid the disposal of that chattel known as a woman of the harem, or zenana. There are certain customs that even the all powerful British Raj must ignore.
The catafalque of the dead king rested upon the royal platform. Two troopers stood below; otherwise the platform was deserted. When Ramabai and Pundita arrived and mounted the platform to pay their last respects to a kindly man, the soldiers saluted gravely, even sorrowfully. Ramabai, for his courage, his honesty and justice, was their man; but they no longer dared serve him, since it would be at the expense of their own lives.
“My Lord!” whispered Pundita, pressing Ramabai’s hand. “Courage!” For Pundita understood the man at her side. Had he been honorless, she would this day be wearing a crown.