When Kathlyn arrived she was placed under the canopy: another bit of kindly attention on the part of Umballa to twist the white man’s heart. But nothing could have happened more to the satisfaction of Bruce.
“Kathlyn Hare,” he called out softly in Spanish, “do you hear and understand me?”
“Yes,” she replied in the same tongue. “Do nothing desperate. Don’t throw away your life. I have a sister in America. Will you tell her?”
“Listen. Under no circumstances leave the canopy. The lions come from the other side. We are not only going to rescue but save you. Attend me carefully. Behind you is a door. There will be an explosion in the center of the arena. There was to be another under our friend Umballa, but the battery was old. Press over toward that door. I have the key.”
“Ah, Mr. Bruce!”
“Kathlyn, my name is John.”
“The lions, the lions!” howled the populace.
It seemed to Bruce that he had been suddenly flung back into antiquity and that Nero sat yonder, squinting through his polished emerald. The great, tawny African brutes blinked and turned their shaggy heads this way and that, uneasily. Kathlyn stood very still. How, how could they save her? At length the lions espied her, attracted by the white of her robe. One bounded forward, growling. The others immediately started in pursuit.
Suddenly the center of the arena opened and a tremendous roar followed. A low wail of terror ran round the arena. Surely this Mem-sahib had all the gods with her. A great crevice had opened up between Kathlyn and the lions, one of which lay dead. Then came the rush toward the exits, a mad frantic rush. Not even Umballa, who knew that not the gods, but man had contrived this havoc, not even Umballa waited, but fled, beating down all those who blocked his path.
Bruce and Ramabai dropped over the railing to Kathlyn’s side. But the key upon which their escape depended would not unlock the door.
THE COURT OF THE LION
When Bruce dropped down into the arena to Kathlyn’s side he had never given a thought to the possibility of the key not being the right one. Trapped!—and Ahmed but a few yards away with a zenana gharry, ready to convey them to the camp, freedom! It took the heart out of him for a moment. The confusion all about, the pall of dust, the roaring of the frightened lions which had escaped destruction, the shrill cries of the panic-stricken populace, who now looked upon the white Mem-sahib as the daughter of Shaitan, these dulled his inventive faculties for the nonce. Here was the confusion, properly planned, and he could not make use of it. Possibly, when no further explosion shook the air, the mob and the soldiers would return out of curiosity. And then, good-by!
But the sight of a lion emerging from the murk, the wrong side of the crevice, roused him thoroughly.