“You lie!” thundered the young man.
Two guards came in quickly.
“I say you lie! She was seen to enter here!”
“This man is mad! Besides, it is sacrilege for him to enter our presence in this manner,” cried one of the council. “Seize him!”
A fierce struggle between the guards and Bruce followed; but his race to the city and the attendant excitement had weakened him. He was carried away, still fighting manfully.
In the meantime Umballa concluded that the reunion had lasted long enough. He caught Kathlyn roughly by the shoulder and pulled her away.
“Behold, Colonel Sahib! Mine! I bought her this day in the slave mart. Legally mine! Now will you tell me where that silver basket lies hidden, with its gold and game?”
“Father, do not tell him!” warned Kathlyn. “So long as we do not tell him he does not put us out of the way!”
“Dad, poor dad!”
“Little fool!” said Umballa.
Kathlyn struggled to reach her father again, but could not. Umballa folded his arms tightly about her and attempted to kiss her. This time her strength was superhuman. She freed her hands and beat him in the face, tore his garments, dragged off his turban. The struggle brought them within the radius of the colonel’s reach. The prisoner caught his enemy by the throat, laughing insanely.
“Now, you black dog, die!”
THE COLONEL IN CHAINS
The colonel and Umballa swayed back and forth. Umballa sank to his knees and then fought madly to rise but the hands at his throat were the hands of a madman, steel, resistless. The colonel’s chains clinked sharply. Lower and lower went Umballa’s head; he saw death peering into the cell. His cry rattled in his throat.
Not a sound from Kathlyn. She watched the battle, unfeeling as marble. Let the wretch die; let him feel the fear of death; let him suffer as he had made others suffer. What new complications might follow Umballa’s death did not alarm her. How could she be any worse off than she was? He had polluted her cheeks with his kisses. He had tortured and shamed her as few white women have been. Mercy? He had said that day that he knew not the word.
“Ah, you dog! Haven’t I prayed God for days for this chance? You black caha! Die!”
But Umballa was not to die at that moment or in that fashion.
That nervous energy which had infused the colonel with the strength of a lion went out like a spark, and as quickly. Umballa rolled from his paralyzed fingers and lay on the floor, gasping and sobbing. Hare fell back against the pillar, groaning. The cessation of dynamic nerve force filled him with racking pains and a pitiable weakness. But for the pillar he would have hung by his chains.
Kathlyn, with continued apathy, stared down at her enemy. He was not dead. He would kill them both now. Why, she asked with sudden passion, why this misery? What had she done in her young life to merit it? Under-fed, dressed in grass, harassed by men and wild beasts—why?