The Hindu listened with keen attention, and the play of his dark, clever face showed what a lively personal interest he took in this affair nearest his master’s heart.
“Everything shall be done according to your wishes, sahib,” he said, and soon afterwards was lost to view among the innumerable crowd of the two Indian Princes’ servants and followers.
A FRIEND IN NEED
Whilst the Russians were digging their cooking trenches somewhat aside from the main camp, and making all necessary arrangements for bivouacking, Heideck had an opportunity of admiring the magnificence with which these Indian Princes organised their hunting excursions.
The tents of the two Maharajahs were almost the size of a one-floor bungalow, and on peering through the open entrance of one of them into the interior, Heideck saw that it was lavishly hung with red, blue, and yellow silk, and furnished with most costly carpets.
About half a hundred smaller tents were destined to receive the retinue and servants. Behind them again was a whole herd of camels and elephants, which had carried the baggage and material for the tents. The bleating of countless sheep mingled with the hundred-voiced din of the Indians as they busily ran hither and thither, and Heideck computed the number of buffaloes and tethered horses which grazed round the camp at more than three hundred.
The Maharajah of Sabathu regarded the Russians, who had here made halt at his invitation, as his guests, and he discharged the duty of hospitality with genuine Indian lavishness. He had so many sheep and other provisions placed at the disposal of the soldiers that they could now amply compensate themselves for many a day’s privation in the past. But the officers were solemnly bidden to the banquet that was to take place in the Maharajah’s tent.
Heideck’s hope of meeting on this occasion the Maharajah of Chanidigot once more, and of perhaps finding an opportunity of conversation with him, was disappointed.
On returning from a walk through the camp, in which he did not discover anywhere a trace of Edith, back to the Russian bivouac, Heideck learnt from the mouth of Prince Tchajawadse that the Maharajah of Chanidigot had met with a slight accident in the hunting excursion that day, and was under surgical treatment in his tent, whither he had been brought.
It was said that the tusks of a wild boar, which had run between his horse’s legs, had inflicted a severe wound on the foot, and it was in any case certain that he would not be visible that day.
On this occasion Heideck also learnt the circumstances to which the meeting with the two Indian Princes was due.