“I will not stir!”
“Then be carried,” he replied, beckoning his servants.
“Ah! Well, then, we’ll ride together in the palanquin.”
To struggle would reward her with nothing but shame and humiliation; so she bent her head to the inevitable. A passionate longing to be revenged upon this man began to consume her. She wanted the feel of his brown throat in her fingers; wanted to beat him down to his knees, to twist and crush him. But she was a woman and she had not the strength of a man.
“Behold!” cried Umballa later, as he entered the presence of the council, “behold a slave of mine!” He pushed Kathlyn forward. “This day I bought her for five thousand rupees.”
The council stirred nervously.
“Do you not recognize her?” exultantly.
The council whispered to one another.
“Legally she is mine, though she has been a queen. But by running away she has forfeited her rights to the law of the ordeals. Am I not right?”
The council nodded gravely. They had not yet wholly recovered from their bewilderment.
“On the other hand, her identity must remain a secret till I have developed my plans,” continued Umballa.
“You are all courting a terrible reprisal,” said Kathlyn. “I beg of you to kill me at once; do not prolong my torture, my misery. I have harmed none of you, but you have grievously harmed me. One even now seeks aid of the British Raj; and there are many soldiers.”
The threat was ill timed.
The head of the council said to Umballa: “It would be wise to lock her up for the present. We all face a great complication.”
“A very wise counsel,” agreed Umballa, knowing that he had but to say the word to destroy them all. “And she shall have company. I would not have her lonely. Come, majesty; deign to follow your humble servant.” Umballa salaamed.
Kathlyn was led to a cell in the palace prison, whose walls she had but a little while ago viewed in passing, and thrust inside. A single window admitted a faint light. Umballa remained by the door, chuckling softly. Presently, her eyes becoming accustomed to the dark, Kathlyn discovered a man chained to a pillar. The man suddenly leaned forward.
“Kit, my Kit!”
She caught him to her breast in her strong young arms, crooned to him, and kissed his matted head. And they stood that way for a long time.
At this very moment there appeared before the council a wild eyed, disheveled young man. How he had passed the palace guard none of them knew.
“A white woman was brought into this room forcibly a few minutes ago. I demand her! And by the God of my father I will cut out the heart of every one of you if you deny me! She is white; she is of my race!”
“There is no white woman here, Bruce Sahib.”