Chicago Sunday Tribune, March 15, 1914
The photo-drama corresponding to the installments The Adventures of Kathlyn may now be seen at a number of the leading motion picture theaters. By this unique arrangement with the Selig Polyscope Company it is, therefore, possible and only to read The Adventures of Kathlyn in The Sunday Tribune, but also to keep pace with each additional installment at the moving picture theater.1
SYNOPSIS OF PREVIOUS CHAPTERS
Kathlyn Hare, believing her father, Col. Hare, in peril has summoned her, leaves her home in California, to go to him in Allaha,India. Umballah2, pretender to the throne of that principality, has imprisoned the colonel, named by the late king as his heir, because he fears the American may insist on his his royal rights.
Upon her arrival in Allaha she is informed by Unballah that her father is dead and that she is the queen and must marry him forthwith. Her refusal infuriates him, but as Kathlyn’s beauty and spirit have made a strong appeal to the people, and especially to the soldiers, who hate Unballah, he yields the point for the time being. A priest announced that no woman may rule unmarried, but because of the young queen is not conversant with the laws of the state she will be given seven days to decide.
When Kathlyn reiterates, at the expiration of the week of grace, her refusal to marry Umballah she receives sentence time from the supreme tribunal that she is to undergo two ordeals with wild beasts. If she survives, she is to be permitted to rule without hinderance.
John Bruce, an American and fellow passenger on the boat which brought Kathlyn to Allaha, saves her life. The elephant which carries her from the scene of her trials becomes frightened and runs away, separating her from Bruce and the rest of the party.
After a ride filled with peril she takes refuge in a ruined temple. The holy men and villagers, believing her to be an ancient princess risen from the tomb, allow her to remain as the guardian of the sacred fire. But Kathlyn’s haven is also the abode of a lion, and she is forced to flee from it with the savage beast in pursuit. She escapes and finds a retreat in the jungle, only to fall into the hands of a band of slave traders, who bring her to Allaha to the public mart. She is sold to Unballah, who, finding her still unsubmissive, throws her into the dungeon with her father.
Bruce and his friends effect the release of Kathlyn and the colonel. Unballah, with a company of soldiers, starts in pursuit. Shots are exchanged when the opposing forces meet, and Kathlyn is struck by a bullet.
CHAPTER XI THE WHITE ELEPHANT
It was the shock of the bullet rather than the seriousness of the wound that had toppled Kathlyn into the river. In the confusion, the rattle of musketry, the yelling of the panic-stricken pack coolies who had fled helter-skelter for the jungle, the squealing of the elephants, she had forgot to crouch low in the howdah. There had come a staggering blow, after which sky and earth careened for a moment and became black; then the chill of water and strangulation, and she found herself struggling in the deepest part of the ford, a strange deadness in one arm. She had no distinct recollection of what took place; her one thought was to keep her head above water.
Instantly the firing ceased; on one side because there were no more cartridges, on the other for fear of hitting the one person who had made this pursuit necessary.
Kathlyn struggled between the elephant which carried Ramabai and Pundita and the boat or barge which held the eager Umballa and his soldiers. The mahout, terrorized, had slid off and taken to his heels ingloriously. Thus, Ramabai could do nothing to aid Kathlyn. Nor could the elephant ridden by the colonel and Bruce be managed.
Umballa was quick to see his advantage, and, laughing, he urged his men toward the helpless girl. The colonel raised his rifle and aimed at Umballa, but there was no report, only a click which to the frantic man’s ears sounded like the gates of hell closing in behind him.
“Forward!” shouted Umballa.
She was his again; he would have the pleasure of taking her from under the very eyes of her father and lover. His star never faltered.
Bruce stood up in the howdah, ready to dive; but the colonel restrained him.
“Don’t waste your life! My God, we can’t help her! Not a bullet in either gun. God’s curse on all these worthless stones men call guns! . . . There, he’s got her! Not a shell left! Kit! Kit!” The colonel broke down and cried like a child. As for Bruce, hot irons could not have wrung a tear from his eyes; but Kit, in the hands of that black devil again!
“Colonel,” said Bruce, “I’d going to get some cartridges.”
He realized then that Kathlyn’s future depended upon him alone. The colonel was a broken man. So he struck the elephant, who lumbered ashore. The moment Kathlyn was safe in the barge Umballa would probably give orders to resume firing. He could do so now with impunity.
The soldiers drew Kathlyn into the barge. Umballa saw that she was wounded in the fleshy part of the arm. Quickly he snatched off the turban of one of the soldiers, unwound it and began to bandage Kathlyn’s arm.
The man, for all his oriental craftiness, was still guileless enough to expect some sign of gratitude from her; but; as he touched her she shrank in loathing. His anger flamed and he flung her roughly into a seat.
“Suffer, then, little fool!”
My arm pains me badly.
Meantime the colonel and Bruce dismounted and tried to stem the tide of fleeing coolies; but it was no more effective than blowing against the wind. They found, however, an abandoned pack containing cartridge cases, and they filled their pockets, calling to Ramabai and Pundita to follow them along the river in pursuit of Umballa’s barge, which was now being rapidly poled up-stream. They might be able to pick off enough soldiers, sharpshooting, to make it impossible to man the barge. They were both dead shots, and the least they could do would be to put the fight on a basis of equality so far as numbers were concerned.
The colonel forgot all about how weak he was. The rage and despair in his heart had once more given him a fictitious strength.
“The curse, the curse, always the curse!”
“Don’t you believe that, Colonel. It is only misfortune. Now I’m going to pot Umballa. That will simplify everything. Without a head the soldiers will be without a cause, and they’ll desert Kathlyn as quickly as our coolies deserted us.”
“Where is Ahmed?”
“Ahmed? I had forgot all about him! But we can’t wait now. He’ll have to look out for himself. Hark!”
Squealing and trumpeting and thunderous crashing in the distance.
“Wild elephants!” cried the colonel, the old impulse wheeling him round. But the younger man caught hold of his arm significantly.
The soldiers poled diligently, but against the stream, together with the clumsiness of the barge, they could not make headway with any degree of speed. It was not long before Bruce could see them. He raised his rifle and let go; and in the boat Umballa felt his turban stir mysteriously. The report which instantly followed was enough to convince him that he in particular was being made a target. He crouched behind Kathlyn, while two or three of the soldiers returned the shot, aiming at the clump of scrub from which a film of pale blue smoke issued. They waited for another shot, but none came.
The reason was this: the herd of wild elephants which Bruce and the colonel had heard came charging almost directly toward them, smashing young trees and trampling the tough underbrush. Some of them made for the water directly in line with the passing boats. Kathlyn, keenly alive to the fact that here was a chance, jumped overboard before Umballa could reach out a staying hand.
To Kathlyn there was only death in the path of the elephants; to remain on the barge was to face eventually that which was worse than death. Her arm throbbed painfully, but in the desperate energy with which she determined to take the chance she used it. Quite contrary to her expectations, her leap was the best thing she could have done. Most of the barges were upset and the great beasts were blundering across the river between her and the barges.
Bruce witnessed Kathlyn’s brave attempt and dashed into the water after her. It took him but a moment to bring her to land, where her father clasped her in his arms and broke down again.
“Dad, dad!” she whispered. “Don’t you see our God is powerfulest? I believed I was going to be trampled to death, and here I am, with you once more.”
They hurried back as fast as Kathlyn’s weakness would permit to where they had left their own elephants, doubting that they should find them, considering that it was quite probable that they had joined their wild brethren. But no; they were standing shoulder to shoulder, flapping their ears and curling their trunks. So many years had they been trained to hunt elephants that they did not seem to know what to do without some one to guide them.
Bruce ordered one of them to kneel, doubtfully; but the big fellow obeyed the command docilely, and the colonel and Bruce helped the exhausted girl into the howdah. The colonel followed, while Bruce took upon his own shoulders the duties of mahout. Pundita got into the other howdah and Ramabai imitated Bruce. The elephants shuffled off, away from the river. For the time being neither Bruce nor Ramabai gave mind to the compass. To make pursuit impossible was the main business just then.
Later Umballa, dulled and stupefied from his immersion, stood on the shore, with but nine of the twenty soldiers he had brought with him. Evidently, his star had faltered. Very well; he would send for the other sister. She was the Colonel Sahib’s daughter, and young; she would be as wax in his hands. A passion remained in Umballa’s heart, but it was now the passion of revenge.
When he had recovered sufficiently he gave orders to one of the soldiers to return to the city, to bring back at once servants, elephants and all that would be required for a long pursuit. The messenger was also to make known these preparations to the council, who would undertake to forward the cable submitted to them. All these things off his mind, Umballa sat down and shivered outwardly, while he boiled within. He was implacable; he would blot out his enemy, kith and kin. Colonel Hare should never dip his fingers into the filigree basket–never while he, Durga Ram, lived.
Quite unknown, quite unsuspected by him, for all the activity of his spies, a volcano was beginning to grumble under his feet. All tyrants, the petty and the great, have heard it: the muttering of the oppressed.
Perhaps the fugitives had gone thirty miles when suddenly the jungle ended abruptly and a desert opened up before them. Beyond stood a purple line of rugged hills. Ramabai raised his hand, and the elephants came to a halt.
“I believe I know where I am,” said Ramabai. “Somewhere between us and yonder hills is a walled city, belonging to Bala Khan, a Pathan who sometimes styles himself as a rajah. He has a body of fierce fighting men; and he lives unmolested for two reasons: looting would not be worth while and his position is isolated and almost impregnable. Now, if I am right, we shall find shelter there, for he was an old friend of my father’s and I might call him a friend of mine, since I sell sheep for him occasionally.”
“Bala Khan?” mused Bruce, reminiscently. “Isn’t he the chap who has a sacred white elephant?”
“It is the same,” answered Ramabai. “We can reach there before sundown. It would be wise to hasten, however, as this desert and those hills are infested with lawless nomadic bands of masterless men–brigands, you call them. They would cut the throat of a man for the sake of his clothes.”
“Let us go on,” said the colonel. “I don’t care where. I am dead for want of food and sleep.”
“And I, too,” confessed Kathlyn; “My arm pains me badly.”
“My poor Kit!” murmured her father gloomily. “And all this because I told you half a truth, because in play I tried to make a mystery out of a few plain facts. I should have told you everything, warned you against following in case I failed to turn up.”
“I should have followed you just the same.”
“Shall I rebind the arm?” asked Bruce, turning.
“No, thanks.” She smiled down at him. “This bandage will serve till we reach Bala Khan’s.”
“By the way, Colonel, is there a pair of binoculars in the howdah?”
“Yes. Do you want them?”
“No. Just to be sure they were there. We may have occasion to use them later, in case this place Ramabai is taking us to should turn out hostile. I like to know what is going on ahead of me.”
“Poor Kit!” reiterated the colonel.
“Never mind, dad; you meant it all for the best; and you must not let our present misfortunes convince you that that yogi or guru cast a spell of evil over you. That is all nonsense.”
“My child, this is the Orient, Asia. Things happen here that are outside the pale of logic. Bruce, am I not right?”
“I have seen many unbelievable things here in India,” replied Bruce reluctantly. “Think of yesterday and to-day, Miss Kathlyn.”
“Yes; but the curse of a priest who believes in different gods, who kotows before a painted idol! I just simply can’t believe anything so foolish. Dad, put the thought out of your mind for my sake. So long as we have the will to try we’ll see California again before many weeks.”
“Do you feel like that?” curiously.
“In my soul, dad, in my soul.” She stared dreamily toward the empurpling hills. “I can’t explain, but that’s the way I feel. Some day we shall be free again, reenter the life we have known and all this will resolve itself into an idle dream. Ahmed has said it.”
“No, he is alive somewhere back there.”
Bruce turned to look at her again, but Kathlyn was still gazing at the hills without seeing them.
“A white elephant,” mused the colonel. “Do you know it for a fact that this Bala Khan has a white elephant?” he called across to Ramabai.
“I have never seen it Sahib. It is what they say.”
“A pair of mottled ears is the nearest I ever came to seeing a white elephant, and I’ve hunted them for thirty years, here, in Ceylon, in Burma, in Africa. There was once a tiger near Madras that hadn’t any stripes. The natives would not permit him to be killed because they held that, being unique, he was sacred. A sacred white elephant! Poor simple-minded fools!” The colonel felt in his pockets, then dropped his hands dispiritedly. How long since he had tasted tobacco? “Bruce, have you got a cheroot in your pocket? I think a smoke would brace me up.”
Bruce laughed and passed up a broken cigar, which the colonel lighted carefully. The weariness seemed to go out of his face magically.
“This Bala Khan should be Mohammedan,” said Bruce. “The Pathan despises the Hindu.”
“There are Hindus in yonder city; quite as many,” said Ramabai, “as there are Mohammedans. Even the Pathan expects that which he can not understand.”
“Isn’t that the wall behind that sand-hill? Let me have the glasses a moment. Colonel. . . . H’m! The walled city, all right. Some people moving about outside. Dancers, I should say.”
“Professional,” explained Ramabai.
“Nothing religious, then? By George!”
“What is it?” asked the colonel.
“Take a look. There’s an elephant being led into the city gates.”
The colonel peered eagerly through the glasses.
“The sun is shining on him. . . . No! he is . . . white! A white elephant! I’d give ten thousand this minute to own it. There, it’s entered the gate. Well, well, well! And I’ve lived to see it! Poor old Barnum, to have carried around a tinted pachyderm! He’s white as any elephant flesh could be. Those dancing chaps are going in, too. What caste would those dancers be, Ramabai?”
“Pariahs, quite possibly; probably brigands.”
The rim of the sun was sinking rapidly as Bruce drew his elephant to a halt before the gate of the white walled city. The guard ran out, barring the way.
“I am Ramabai, a friend of Bala Khan. I am come to pay him a visit. Direct me to his house or his palace.”
The authority in Ramabai’s voice was sufficient for the guard, who gave the necessary directions. The party continued on into town. It was an odd place for a walled city. There wasn’t a tree about, not a sign of boscage, except some miles away where the hills began to slope upward. Bruce wondered what the inhabitants fed upon. It was more like an Egyptian village than anything he had ever seen in India. Bruce asked for his rifle, which he laid carelessly in the crook of his arm. One never could tell.
Presently they came upon a group in the center of which were the dancers at their vocations. They ceased their mad whirlings at the sight of the two elephants. There were nine of these men, fierce of eye and built muscularly. No effeminate Hindus here, mused Bruce, who did not like the looks of them at all. The surrounding natives stared with variant emotions. Many of them had never seen a white man before. Their gaze centered upon the colonel. Kathlyn was almost as dark as Pundita, and as for Bruce, only his European dress distinguished him from Ramabai, for there was scarcely a shade difference in color. But the colonel, having been weeks in prison, was as pale as alabaster and his hair shone like threads of silver.
On through the narrow streets, sometimes the sides of the elephants scraping against the mud and plaster of the buildings, and one could easily look into the second stories. No one seemed hostile; only a natural curiosity was evinced by those standing in doorways or leaning out of windows.
The house of Bala Khan was not exactly a palace, but it was of respectable size. A high wall surrounded the compound. There was a gateway, open at this moment. A servant ran out and loudly demanded what was wanted.
“Say to your master, Bala Khan, that Ramabai, son of Maaho Singh, his old friend, awaits with friendly greetings.”
“Kit,” whispered Kathlyn’s father, “this chap Ramabai wouldn’t make a bad king. And look!” excitedly. “There’s the sacred elephant, and if he isn’t white, I’ll eat my hat!”
Kathlyn sighed gratefully. That her father could be interested in anything was a good sign for the future. A few days’ rest and wholesome food would put him half-way on his legs. Her own vitality was an inheritance from her father. The male line of the family was well known for its recuperative powers.
The servant ran back into the compound and spoke to a dignified man, who proved to be a high caste Brahmin, having in his charge the care of the white elephant. He disappeared and returned soon with the Khan. The pleasant face, though proudly molded, together with the simplicity of his appearance, conveyed to Kathlyn the fact that here was a man to be trusted, at least for the present. He greeted Ramabai cordially, struck his hands and ordered out the servants to take charge of what luggage there was and to lead away the elephants to be fed and watered.
Courteously he asked Kathlyn how she had become injured and Ramabai acted as interpreter. He then ushered them into his house, spread rugs and cushions for them to sit upon and mildly inquired what had brought the son of his old friend so far.
Colonel Hare spoke several dialects fluently and briefly told (between sips of tea and bites of cakes which had been set out for the guests) his experiences in Allaha.
“The rulers of Allaha,” observed Bala Khan, “have always been half mad.”
Ramabai nodded in agreement.
“You should never have gone back,” went on Bala Khan, lighting a cigarette and eying Kathlyn with wonder and interest. “Ah, that Durga Ram whom they call Umballa! I have heard of him, but fortunately for him our paths have not crossed in any way.” He blew a cloud of smoke above his head. “Well, he has shown wisdom in avoiding me. In front of me, a desert; behind me, verdant hills and many sheep and cattle, well guarded. I am too far away for them to bother. Sometimes the desert thieves cause a flurry, but that is nothing. It keeps the tulwar from growing rusty,” patting the great knife at his side.
Bala Khan was muscular; his lean hands denoted work; his clear eyes, the sun and the wind. He was in height and building something after the pattern of the colonel.
“And to force a crown on me!” said the colonel.
“You could have given it to this Umballa.”
“That I would not do.”
“In each case you showed forethought. The Durga Ram, when he had you where he wanted you—-” Bala Khan drew a finger suggestively across his throat. “Ramabai, son of my friend, I will have many sheep for you this autumn. What is it to me whether you Hindus eat beef or not?” He laughed.
“I am not a Hindu in that sense,” returned Ramabai. “I have but one God.”
“And Mahomet is His prophet,” said the host piously.
“Perhaps. I am a Christian.”
Bruce stirred uneasily, but his alarm was without foundation.
“A Christian,” mused Bala Khan. “Ah, well; have no fear of me. There is no Mahdi in these hills. There is but one road to Paradise and argument does not help us on the way.”
Lowly and quickly Pundita translated for Kathlyn so that she might miss none of the conversation.
“The Colonel Sahib looks worn.”
“Now, in my travels I have been to Bombay, and there I dressed like you white people. I have the complete. Perhaps the Colonel Sahib would be pleased to see if he can wear it? And also the use of my barber?”
“Bala Khan,” cried the colonel, “you are a prince indeed! It will tonic me like medicine. Thanks, thanks!”
“It is well.”
“You have a wonderful elephant out there in the compound,” said Bruce, who had remained a silent listener to all that had gone before.
“Ah! That is a curiosity. He is worshiped by Hindus and reverenced by my own people. I am his official custodian. There is a saying among the people that ill will befall me should I lose, sell, or permit him to be stolen.”
“And many have offered to buy?” inquired the colonel.
When the colonel appeared at supper, simple but substantial, he was a new man. He stood up straight, though his back still smarted from the lash. Kathlyn was delighted at the change.
After the meal was over and coffee was drunk, the Khan conducted his guests to his armory, of which he was very proud. Guns of all descriptions lined the walls. Some of them Bruce would have liked to own, to decorate the walls of his own armory, thousands of miles away.
The colonel whispered a forgotten prayer as, later, he laid down his weary aching limbs upon the rope bed. Almost immediately he sank into slumber as deep and silent as the sea.
Kathlyn and Bruce, however, went up to the hanging gardens and remained there till nine, marveling over the beauty of the night. The Pathan city lay under their gaze with a likeness to one of those magic cities one reads about in the chronicles of Sindbad the Sailor. But they spoke no word of love. When alone with this remarkable young woman, Bruce found himself invariably tongue-tied.
At the same hour, less than fifty miles away, Umballa stood before the opening of his elaborate tent, erected at sundown by the river’s brink, and scowled at the moon. He saw no beauty in the translucent sky, in the silvery paleness of the world below. He wanted revenge, and the word hissed in his brain as a viper hisses in the dark of its cave.
Dung fires twinkled and soldiers lounged about them, smoking and gossiping. They had been given an earnest against their long delinquent wages; and they were in a happy frame of mind. Their dead comrades were dead and mourning was for widows; but for them would be the pleasures of swift reprisals. The fugitives had gone toward the desert, and in that bleak stretch of treeless land it would not be difficult to find them, once they started in pursuit.
In the compound the moonlight lay upon everything; upon the fat sides and back of the sacred white elephant, upon the three low caste keepers, now free of the vigilant eye of their Brahmin chief. The gates were barred and closed; all inside the house of Bala Khan were asleep. Far away a sentry dozed on his rifle, on the wall. The three keepers whispered and chuckled among themselves.
“Who will know?” said one.
“The moon will not speak,” said another.
“Then, let us go and smoke.”
The three approached the elephant. A bit of gymnastics and one of them was boosted to the back of the elephant to whom this episode was more or less familiar. Another followed; the third was pulled up, and from the elephant’s back they made the top of the wall and disappeared down into the street. Here they paused cautiously, for two guards always patrolled the front of the compound during the night. Presently the three truants stole away toward the bazaars which in this desert town occupied but a single street. Down they went into a cellar way and the guru’s curse stalked beside them. For opium is the handmaiden of all curses.
Perhaps twenty minutes later slight sounds came from the front of the compound wall. A rifle barrel clattered upon the cobbles. Then, over the wall, near the elephant, a head appeared, then a body. This was repeated four times, and four light-footed nomads of the desert lowered themselves into the compound. They ran quickly to the gate and noiselessly unbarred it. Outside were five more desert nomads, gathered about the insensible bodies of the sentries.
These nine men were the dancers who had entered the town in advance of Kathlyn. For weeks they had lain in wait for this moment. They had spied upon the three low caste keepers and upon learning of their nocturnal junkets into the opium den had cast the die this night.
With the utmost caution they approached the sacred elephant, took off his chains and led him from the compound. Immediately six of the marauders trotted far ahead toward the gate they knew to be the least guarded. The sacred elephant, passing through the streets, attended by three men, aroused no suspicions in any straggler who saw. So remote was the walled city, so seemingly impregnable, and so little interfered with that it was only human that its guardians should eventually grow careless.
When the keepers, straggling under the fumes of the drug, returned near daybreak, first to find the gate open, second to find their sacred charge gone, they fled in terror; for it would be death, lingering and painful, for them to stay and explain how and why they had left their post.
The wild and lawless brigands knew exactly what they were about. There were several agents of European and American circuses after this white elephant, and as it could not be purchased there was no reason why it could not be stolen.
When the Brahmin arrived at sunrise to find his vocation gone he set up a wailing which awakened the household. The Khan was furious and ordered a general search. He vowed death to the foul hands which had done this sacrilege!
Kathlyn and the others were genuinely sorry when they heard the news. They were in the armory when the Khan announced what had taken place.
Said he: “Come, you are all skilled hunters. Find me my elephant and these guns and newer and surer ones shall protect you from Durga Ram, should he take it into his head to come this way.”
The colonel, Bruce and Ramabai set off at once. After they had gone a camel rider entered the compound and sought audience with Bala Khan. Kathlyn and Pundita were in the compound at the time and the former was greatly interested in the saddlebags, attached to one of which was a binocular case. Kathlyn could not resist the inclination to open this case. It contained an exceptionally fine pair of glasses, such as were used in that day in the British army. No doubt they were a part of some loot.
Suddenly an idea came to her. She asked permission (through Pundita) to ride the camel outside the town. After some argument the servant in charge consented.
Upon a knoll outside the city–a hillock of sand three or four hundred feet in height–Kathlyn tried the glasses. From this promontory she had a range of something like fifteen to twenty miles. Back and forth her gaze roved and suddenly paused.
1 The movie serial was 13 chapters, with each chapter released every two weeks. The novelization is much more detailed, and therefore in twenty-six chapters.
2 “Umballa” is spelled as “Umballah” in the Chicago Tribune story, when it is spelled without the “h” in Mr. MacGrath’s novel. This may be an indicator for copyright purposes as to where copy was picked up from.
In the novelization, which was published after the release of the final motion picture chapter, The Tribune ceased to provide titles to each chapter starting with the Seventh Chapter.