And while he bit his nails in futile wrath and smoked till his tongue grew bitter, some miles away there was much confusion in the jungle by the water. Tents were being set up, native bearers and coolies were running to and fro, building fires, carrying water, hobbling the pack elephants. Wandering in and out of this animated scene was a young man, clean shaven, deeply tanned, with blue eyes which were direct, small pupiled, yet kindly. Presently he called to one of the head men.
“Ali, you might send three or four men on to the bungalow to clean up things. We shall make it tomorrow. It’s but two hours’ ride, but there’s no hurry; and besides there’s a herd of elephants behind us somewhere. They’ve come up far for this time of year.”
“Any news worth while?”
Ali made a gesture; it signified a great many things.
“Bruce Sahib will not believe.”
“Believe what?” said Bruce, emptying his pipe against his heel.
“There is a white queen in the city.”
“What? What bally nonsense is this?”
“It is only what I’ve been told, Sahib. Hare Sahib is dead.”
Bruce let his pipe slip through his fingers. “Hare? Good lord!”
“Yes, Sahib. But that is not all. It seems the king went mad after we went to Africa. You remember how Hare Sahib saved him from the leopard? Well, he made Hare Sahib his heir. He had that right; the law of the childless king has always read so in Allaha. The white queen is Hare Sahib’s daughter.”
Bruce leaned against a tent pole. “Am I dreaming or are you?” he gasped.
“It is what they tell me, Sahib. I know it not as a fact.”
“The king dead, Hare dead, and his daughter on the throne! How did she get here? And what the devil is a chap to do?” Bruce stooped and recovered his pipe and swore softly. “Ali, if this is true, then it’s some devil work; and I’ll wager my shooting eye that that sleek scoundrel Umballa, as they call him, is at the bottom of it. A white woman, good old Hare’s daughter. I’ll look into this. It’s the nineteenth century, Ali, and white women are not made rulers over the brown, not of their own free will. Find out all you can and report to me,” and Bruce dismissed his servant and fell to pacing before his tent.
The native who had spread this astounding news in Bruce’s camp was already hastening back to the city, some fourteen miles away. He had been a bheestee (water carrier) to the house of Ramabai up to the young banker’s incarceration. To him, then, he carried the news that a white hunter had arrived outside the city—“Bruce Sahib has returned!”
Ramabai lost no time in taking this news to Kathlyn.
“Ramabai, I have saved your life; save mine. Go at once to him and tell him that I am a prisoner but am called a queen; tell him I am Colonel Hare’s daughter, she who traveled with him on the same ship from Hongkong to Singapore. Go! Tell him all, the death of my father and Umballa’s treachery. Hasten!”