First, however, the lash should bite the father till he dropped in his chains; thus she would be able to anticipate the pain and degradation.
And always there would remain the little dark-haired sister. She would marry him; she would do it to save her father and sister. Then the filigree basket heaped with rubies and pearls and emeralds and sapphires! As for the other, what cared he if he rotted? It gave him the whip hand over the doddering council. Master he would be; he would blot out all things which stood in his path. A king, till he had gathered what fortune he needed. Then let the jackals howl.
Accompanied by torch bearers, servants and the professional flogger, he led the way to the cell and flung open the door triumphantly. For a moment he could not believe his eyes. She was gone, and through yonder window! Hell of all hells of Hind! She was gone, and he was robbed!
“Out of your reach this time, you black devil!” cried the colonel. “Go on. Do what you please to me, I’m ready.”
Umballa ran to the tabouret and jumped upon it. He saw the trampled grass. Elephants. And these doubtless had come from the colonel’s camp. He jumped off the tabouret and dashed to the door.
“Follow me!” he cried. “Later, Colonel Hare, later!” he threatened.
The colonel remained silent.
Up above, in the palace, Umballa summoned a dozen troopers and gave them explicit orders. He was quite confident that Kathlyn would be carried at once to her father’s bungalow, if only for a change of clothes. It was a shrewd guess.
As the iron door changed upon the sill Colonel Hare leaned against the pillar and closed his eyes, praying silently.
At the bungalow Pundita fell at Kathlyn’s feet and kissed them.
“Mem-sahib!” she cried brokenly.
“Pundita!” Kathlyn stooped and gathered her up in her arms.
After that Ramabai would have died for her under any torture.
“Now, Ahmed, what did my father mean when he said ’curse or no curse’?”
“It’s a long story, Mem-sahib,” said Ahmed evasively.
“It was in a temple in the south. The Colonel Sahib took a sapphire from an idol’s eye. The guru, a very wise and ancient priest, demanded the return of it. The Colonel Sahib, being a young man, refused. The guru cursed him. That is all.”