“He has got his reward,” he said, “and he has no further claim upon your generous compassion; but is there no one to help me get the body away?”
“They are all out,” said the maid; “the butler invited them to spend a jolly evening with him in the town.”
Edith and Heideck exchanged a significant look; neither of them now doubted in the least that the audacious attack had been the result of a plot to which the Indian servants were parties, and each guessed that the other entertained the same suspicion as to who was the instigator of the shameful outrage.
But they did not utter a syllable about it. It was just because they had been brought as near to each other by the events of this night as fate can possibly bring two young beings of different sex, that each felt almost instinctively the fear of that first word which probably would have broken down the last barrier between them. And Captain Irwin’s name was not mentioned by either.
It was noon the next day when Captain Irwin stepped out of the Colonel’s bungalow and turned towards home. The interview with his superior officer appeared to have been serious and far from pleasant for him, for he was very pale. Red spots were burning on his cheeks, and his deep-set eyes flashed darkly, as though with suppressed wrath. A few minutes later the Colonel’s horse was led to the door, and a company of lancers under the command of a sergeant rode into the courtyard.
The commander came out in full uniform, and, placing himself at the head of the company, galloped towards the Maharajah’s palace.
The cavalry drew up before the palace gates, and Colonel Baird shouted out in a loud commanding voice to the servants lounging at the door that he wished to speak to the Maharajah.
A few minutes passed, and a gorgeously attired palace official made his appearance with the answer that His Highness could not receive at present; the Colonel would be informed as soon as the audience could be granted.
The commander leapt from the saddle, and with jingling spurs walked firmly into the palace, trailing his sword noisily over the marble floor.
“Tell the Prince I desire to see him at once,” he called out in a threatening voice to the palace officials and servants who followed him in evident embarrassment. It was evident that no one dare disobey such a peremptory command. All gates flew open before the Englishman, and he had hardly to wait a minute in the anteroom before the Prince consented to receive him. On a small high-raised terrace of the ground floor the Maharajah sat at luncheon. He purposely did not change his easy attitude when the English resident approached, and the glaring look which his dark eyes cast at the incomer was obviously intended to intimidate.
With his helmet on his head and his hand resting on his sword the Colonel stood straight before the Prince.