“Look! Some one is coming!” cried Kathlyn.
The chief saw the caravan at the same time, and he set up a shout of pleasure. Three fat bags of silver rupees!
Umballa, the good Samaritan, bargained with the chief. He did not want all the prisoners, only one. Three bags of silver would be forthcoming upon the promise that the young woman and the young man should be disposed of.
“By the tiger?”
Umballa shrugged. To him it mattered not how. The chief, weary of his vigil, agreed readily enough, and Umballa turned over the silver.
“The guru, my Kit! You see? This is the end. Well, I am tired. A filigree basket of gems!”
“So!” said Umballa, smiling at Kathlyn. “You and your lover shall indeed be wed—by the striped one! A sad tale I shall take back with me. You were both dead when I arrived.”
Presently Bruce and Kathlyn were alone. They could hear the brute in the cage, snarling and clawing at the wooden door.
The golden sands, the purple cliffs, the translucent blue of the heavens, and the group of picturesque rascals jabbering and gesticulating and pressing about their chief, made a picture Kathlyn was never to forget.
“Patience, my little ones!” said the chief, showing his white strong teeth in what was more of a snarl than a smile. “There is plenty of time.”
Bruce leaned toward Kathlyn.
“Stand perfectly still, just as you are. I believe I can reach the knot back of your hands. This squabbling is the very thing needed. They will not pay any attention to us for a few minutes, and if I can read signs they’ll all be at one another’s throats shortly.”
“But even if we get free what can we do?”
Kathlyn was beginning to lose both faith and heart. The sight of her father being led back to Allaha by Durga Ram, after all the misery to which he had been subjected, shook the courage which had held her up these long happy weeks. For she realized that her father was still weak, and that any additional suffering would kill him.
“You mustn’t talk like that,” said Bruce. “You’ve been in tighter places than this. If we can get free, leave the rest to me. So long as one can see and hear and move, there’s hope.”
“I’m becoming a coward. Do what you can. I promise to obey you in all things.”
Bruce bent as far as he could, and went desperately to work at the knot with his teeth. Success or failure did not really matter; simply, he did not propose to die without making a mighty struggle to avoid death. The first knot became loose, then another. Kathlyn stirred her hands cautiously.
“Now!” he whispered.
She twisted her hands two or three times and found them free.
“Mine, now!” said Bruce. “Hurry!”