“Where is Durga Ram?”
“At the bungalow of Colonel Hare, where he found the daughter.”
Ah, that cleared up everything. Umballa had some definite plan in releasing Colonel Hare. It would confuse the public, who had been given to understand that the hunter was dead; but they would claim that it was an affair of state, in nowise concerning the populace. So Colonel Hare was brought up. Ramabai instantly signaled him to smother his joy. But it was not necessary for the colonel to pretend dejection. He was so pitiably weak that he could scarcely stand and only vaguely understood that he was to follow this man Ramabai, whom he did not recognize.
Ramabai, comprehending his plight, gave him the support of his arm, and together they left the palace. So far all had gone smoothly.
The council had no suspicions. Twenty men had followed Durga Ram and without doubt they were at this moment with him.
“Free!” breathed the colonel, as Ramabai beckoned to a public litter.
“Hush! You are supposed to be my prisoner. Make no sign of jubilation.” Ramabai helped the broken man into the litter and bade the coolies to hurry. “Elephants will be ready to start the moment we reach your camp. This time I believe we can get away in safety.”
“Shall go with us as hostage.”
But Umballa did not go with them as hostage. On the contrary, the moment they left him alone he quickly undid his bonds. He tiptoed past the leopard which flew at him savagely, ripping the post from its socket and wrecking the banisters. Umballa, unprepared for this stroke, leaped through the window, followed by the hampered leopard. It would have gone ill with Umballa even then had not some keepers rushed for the leopard. In the ensuing confusion Umballa escaped.
“He is gone!” cried Bruce. “Ahmed, send a runner to warn Ramabai to head for my camp! Quick! Get the elephants ready! Come, Kathlyn; come, Pundita!” He hastened them toward the elephants. “Umballa made his escape east; it will take him some minutes to veer round to his men. Come!”
They waited at Bruce’s camp an hour. A litter was seen swaying to and fro, with coolies on the run. Ahmed ran forward and hailed it. A moment later Kathlyn and her father were reunited.
“In God’s name, Bruce, let us get out of this damnable country; I am dying for want of light, air, food!”
They lifted the colonel into a howdah and started south, urging the elephants at top speed. No sooner had they left the river than some native boats landed at the broken camp, gleefully picking up things which had been left behind in the rush.
“Our troubles are over, father.”
“Perhaps! So long as I remain in India, there is that curse. Ah, I once laughed at it; but not now.”
Umballa at length found his captain.
“Follow me’” he cried in a fury.