Umballa edged out of danger and sat up, feeling tenderly of his throat. Next he picked up his turban and crawled to the open door. He pulled himself up and stood there, weakly. But there was venom enough in his eyes. The tableau lasted a minute or two; then slowly he closed the door, bolted it, and departed.
This ominous silence awoke the old terror in Kathlyn’s heart far more than oral threats would have done. There would be reprisal, something finished in cruelty.
“My dear, my dear!” She ran over to her father and flung her arms about him, supporting him and mothering him. An hour passed.
“All in, Kit, all in; haven’t the strength of a cat. Ah, great God; if that strength had but lasted a moment longer. Well, he’s still alive. But, O, my Kit, my golden Kit, to see you here is to be tortured like the damned. And it is all my fault, all mine!” The man who had once been so strong sobbed hysterically.
“There were rare and wonderful jewels of which I alone knew the hiding place. But God knows that it was not greed; I wanted them for you and Winnie . . . I knew you were here. Trust that black devil to announce the fact to me . . . God! what I haven’t suffered in the way of suspense! Kit, Kit, what has he done to you?”
Briefly she recounted her adventures, and when she had done he bowed his head upon her bare shoulder and wept as only strong men, made weak, weep.
To Kathlyn it was terrible. “Father, don’t, don’t! You hurt me! I can’t stand it!”
After a while he said: “What shall we do, Kit; what shall we do?”
“I will marry him, father,” she answered quietly. “We can take our revenge afterward.”
“If it will save you.”
“Child, let me rot here. What! Would you trust him, knowing his false heart as you do? The moment you married him would be my death warrant. No, no! If you weaken now I shall curse you, curse you, my Kit! There has been horror enough. I can die.”
“Well, and so can I, father.”
Silence. After a cockatoo shrilled; a laugh came faintly through the window, and later the tinkle of music. Up above the world was going on the same as usual. Trains were hurrying to and fro; the great ships were going down the sapphire seas; children were at play, and the world wide marts were busying with the daily affairs of men.
“Jewels!” she murmured, gazing at the sky beyond the grilled window. Was there ever a precious stone that lay not in the shadow of blood and misery? Poor, poor, foolish father! As if jewels were in beauty a tithe of the misery they begot!
“Ay, Kit, jewels; sapphires and rubies and emeralds, diamonds and pearls and moonstones. And I wanted them for my pretty cubs! Umballa knew that I would return for them and laid his plans. But were they not mine?”
“Yes, if you intended to rule these people; no, if you thought to take them away. Do you not know that to Winnie and me a hair of your head is more precious than the Koh-i-noor? We must put our heads together and plan some way to get out.”