Bruce did not have to seek Bala Khan. The night of Kathlyn’s defiance Ahmed had acquainted them with his errand. He was now on his way to Bala Khan. They need trouble themselves no longer regarding the future.
“All goes well,” said Ramabai; “for, to reach the hiding-place, we must pass the city of Balakhan. I know where this cape is. It is not large. It juts off into the sea, the Persian Gulf, perhaps half a dozen miles. At high tide it becomes an island. None lives about except the simple fishermen. Still, the journey is hazardous. The truth is, it is a spot where there is much gun running; in fact, where we found our guns and ammunition. I understand that there are great secret stores of explosives hidden there.”
“Any seaport near?” asked the colonel.
“Perhaps seventy miles north is the very town we stopped at a few weeks ago.”
The colonel seized Kathlyn in his arms. She played at gaiety for his sake, but her heart was heavy with foreboding.
“And the filigree basket shall be divided between you and Pundita, Kit.”
“Give it all to her, father. I have begun to hate what men call precious stones.”
“It shall be as you say; but we may all take a handful as a keepsake.”
Two days later the expedition was ready to start. They intended to pick up Ahmed on the way. There was nothing but the bungalow itself at the camp.
Umballa was thereupon secretly taken from the treadmill. He was given a camel and told what to do. He flung a curse at the minarets and towers and domes looming mistily in the moonlight. Ransom? He would destroy them; aye, and take the treasure himself, since he knew where it now lay, this information having been obtained for him. He would seek the world, choosing his habitation where he would.
Day after day he followed, tireless, indomitable, as steadfast upon the trail as a jackal after a wounded antelope, never coming within range, skulking about the camp at night, dropping behind in the morning, not above picking up bits of food left by the treasure seekers. Money and revenge; these would have kept him to the chase had he been dying.
As for Bala Khan, he was at once glad and sorry to see his friends. Nothing would have pleased him more than to fall upon Allaha like the thunderbolt he was. But he made Ramabai promise that if ever he had need of him to send. And Ramabai promised, hoping that he could adjust and regulate his affairs without foreign assistance. They went on, this time with Ahmed.
Toward the end of the journey they would be compelled to cross a chasm on a rope and vine bridge. Umballa, knowing this, circled and reached this bridge before they did. He set about weakening the support, so that the weight of passengers could cause the structure to break and fall into the torrent below. He could not otherwise reach the spot where the treasure lay waiting.