Silence. A low roar from the inner shrine told her that for the present she was safe. To-morrow she must fly, whither did not matter. Toward four o’clock she fell into a doze and was finally awakened by the sound of voices raised in anger.
Poor sheep! They had discovered the shattered idol. It did not matter at all that the return of their ancient goddess was to bring back prosperity. She had broken their favorite idol. Damnation would come in a devil’s wind that night.
The holy man who had missed the chance of claiming the miraculous appearance of Kathlyn as a work of his own now saw an opportunity to rehabilitate himself in the eyes of those who had made his holiness a comfortable existence. With a piece of the idol in his hand, he roused Kathlyn and shook the clay before her face, jabbering violently. Kathlyn understood readily enough. She had unwittingly committed a sacrilege.
The natives gathered about and menaced her. Kathlyn rose, standing in the sarcophagus, and extended her hands for silence. She was frightened, but it would never do to let them see it. What Hindustani she knew would in this case be of no manner of use. But we human beings can, by facial expression and gesture, make known our messages with understandable clearness. From her gestures, then, the holy men gathered that she could recreate the god. She pointed toward the sun and counted on her fingers.
The premier holy man, satisfied that he understood Kathlyn’s gestures, turned to the justly angered villagers and explained that with his aid their priestess would, in five suns, recreate Vishnu in all his beauty. Instantly the villagers prostrated themselves.
“Poor things!” murmured Kathlyn.
The holy men sent the natives away, for it was not meet that they should witness magic in the making. They then squatted in the clay court and curiously waited for her to begin. There was a well in the inner shrine. To this she went with caution. The lion was evidently foraging in the jungle. Kathlyn filled the copper vessel with water and returned. Next, she gathered up what pieces of the idol she could find and pieced them together. Here was her model. She then approached one of the fakirs and signified that she had need of his knife. He demurred at first, but at length consented to part with it. She dug up a square piece of clay. In fine, she felt more like the Kathlyn of old than she had since completing the leopard in her outdoor studio. It occupied her thoughts, at least part of them, for she realized that mayhap her life depended upon her skill in reproducing the hideous idol.
As the two old hypocrites saw the clay take form and shape and the mocking face gradually appear, they were assured that Kathlyn was indeed the ancient priestess; and deep down in their souls they experienced something of the awe they had often inspired in the poor trusting ryot.