The emphasis with which these words were spoken showed how seriously they were meant, and the Maharajah, whose yellow skin had for a moment become darker, silently inclined his head.
Colonel Baird rose from his seat.
“As to the affair touching Mrs. Irwin, I demand that a thorough investigation shall be immediately set on foot, and require that it shall be conducted with unsparing rigour, without any underhand tricks and quibbles. The insult that has been offered by some of your subjects to an officer of His Majesty and a British lady is so heinous that not only the criminals themselves, but also the instigators of the crime, must be delivered up to suffer their well-merited punishment. I allow you twenty-four hours. If I do not receive a satisfactory report from you before the expiry of this time, I shall myself conduct the inquiry. You may rest assured that the information required will then be obtained within the shortest space of time.”
He made a military bow and descended the steps of the terrace, this time taking the shortest way. The cavalry dashed off amid a jingling of swords and accoutrements. The Maharajah followed their departure with lowering, flashing eyes. He then ordered his servant to fetch his body physician, Mohammed Bhawon. And when, a few minutes later, the lean, shrivelled little man, with his wrinkled brown face and penetrating black eyes, dressed entirely in white muslin, was ushered into his presence, he beckoned to him graciously, inviting him to be seated by him on the gold-embroidered cushion.
A second imperious wave of the hand dismissed the attendant. Placing his arm confidentially round the neck of the physician, the Maharajah talked long and intimately to him in carefully hushed tones—but in a friendly and coaxing manner, as one talks to someone from whom one demands something out of the way, his eyes flashing the while with passionate rage and deadly hate.
In vain did Heideck, on the day following the night-attack, wait for a message from Edith, giving him an opportunity of seeing her again. He was prepared to be taken to task by Irwin on account of his evening visit at the villa. But the Captain did not show himself.
In the early morning Heideck had been summoned to the Colonel to report on the incident of the preceding night. The conversation had been short, and Heideck gained the impression that the Colonel observed a studied reserve in his questions.
He evidently desired the German to believe that in his own conviction they had only to deal with bold burglars, who had acted on their own responsibility. He mentioned quite incidentally that the dead man had been recognised as one of the Maharajah’s bodyguard. To Heideck’s inquiry whether the killing of the man could involve him in difficulties with the civil authorities, the Colonel answered with a decisive—