Kumran paused at the door to turn an icy cold look of cruelty upon him. “What! Thou wouldst know? Then thou shalt have it, young idolater. It may cool thy hot blood. I will dress him in dust colour like the walls of Kabul and hang him over the battlement at dawn as a mark for my brother’s artillery. Then we shall see the breach in my citadel made! Then we shall see my revenge—but it will not be of my making! His father shall kill him.”
So with a mirthless laugh he followed his men, who were bearing away the Heir-to-Empire, still but half awake.
Roy stood for one second like a stone, too horror stricken for full belief; but the echoing laugh convinced him; with a wild cry he rushed to the narrow window and shook fruitlessly at its iron bars like a wild animal when it is newly caged. But they were immovable.
Yet something must be done—something—something——
The thought of dawn was too dreadful. The beautiful, calm, peaceful April dawn, shadowy grey! Just light enough to see the outline of the Bala Hissar, just light enough to begin upon the breach once more; but too dark to see what was in the line of fire.
Yes! Something must be done, and done swiftly. Not four hours left before the eastern hills would begin to show dark against the coming of day.
Once more Roy felt helpless and hopeless before the great task which seemed to be laid upon him. He alone out of all the little Heir-to-Empire’s guardians knew the dire danger he was in. Yet how could he, a poor, prisoned Rajput lad, save the young prince?
Still he had to be saved; he must be saved; and there was no time to be lost. At dawn the firing would recommence from the Arkaban hill; at dawn the helpless child would be in the half-breached bastion exposed to that fire!
Yes! He, Roy, must get out somehow. If he could only loosen one bar of the window so that he could squeeze through, then he might be able to let himself down by a rope twined out of his long waist-cloth and turban! Thus he might be able to get out of the fort! He might be able to gain the camp on the Arkaban hill before dawn! So he might be able to warn the guns not to fire on the bastion; might be able to tell them that the Heir-to-Empire hung there!
What a number of “might be ables”; but would he be able, even for the first task?
He took up his sword and began forthwith on the iron bar; but the mortar was hard, he could scarcely make a mark upon it. Still, it must be done. In order to free his arms better for the work he took off all his clothes save his flimsy, sleeveless waistcoat and the loin-cloth that was girt about him, and buckled down steadily. But when more than an hour had passed the bar seemed as firm as ever. As he crouched down on the window sill he could see through it to the flat roof of the neighboring palaces; for it was