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Chicago Sunday Tribune, February 1, 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, believes her father, Col. Hare, to be in dire peril in Allaha, a principality iof India. The King of Allaha has recently died, and because the colonel once saved his life he names him as his successor. Umballah2, pretender to the throne of Allaha, loves Kathlyn and has forged a message summoning her to her father, whom he has thrown into prison. She leaves her home to California to go to him.
Umballah goes to America and, spying on the household of Col. Hare, seen the lovely Kathlyn and falls in love with her. He determines that she shall come to Allaha and be an innocent aid in the plot against her father. The ruse is successful, and on the boat which carries Kathlyn to India, the Hindu is a passenger.
On her arrival in Allaha she is informed by Unballah that her father is dead and that she is the queen. An elaborate durbar is arranged, the central figure of which is Kathlyn, protesting and grief stricken. When the crown is placed upon her head Unballah announces that she is to be married to 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.
Through the pluck and resourcefulness of John Bruce, an American and fellow passenger on the boat which brought Kathlyn to Allaha, and who has come to her assistance, she escapes unharmed from her two ordeals. With Bruce she flees from Allaha. The elephant which carries her becomes frightened and runs away, separating her from Bruce and the rest of the party. After a ride filled with peril she reaches what she believes is a haven.
CHAPTER V COURT OF THE LION
When Bruce dropped down into the arena to Kathlyn’s side he had never given a thought to the possibility of the key not being the right one. Trapped!–and Ahmed but a few yards away with a zenana gharry, ready to convey them to the camp, freedom! It took the heart out of him for a moment. The confusion all about, the pall of dust, the roaring of the frightened lions which had escaped destruction, the shrill cries of the panic-stricken populace, who now looked upon the white Mem-sahib as the daughter of Shaitan, these dulled his inventive faculties for the nonce. Here was the confusion, properly planned, and he could not make use of it. Possibly, when no further explosion shook the air, the mob and the soldiers would return out of curiosity. And then, good-by!
But the sight of a lion emerging from the murk, the wrong side of the crevice, roused him thoroughly.
“Save yourself!” said Kathlyn in despair: “there is no possible way of saving me. I have never in all my life injured any one, and yet God makes me go through all this. . . . I am mad, you are, the whole world is! . . . Run!”
Bruce laughed; it was that kind of laughter with which men enter battle. He drew Lal Singh’s revolvers and thrust one into her hand.
“Shoot at the keyhole. Leave the lion to me. With the pandemonium no one will note the shots, or if they do, will think that more explosions are on the way. I’ll get you out of this nightmare; that’s what I was born for.”
“There, now!”–as Kathlyn leaned dizzily against one of the supports.
“I’ve gone through a good deal,” she said. Without more ado she pressed the muzzle of the revolver into the keyhole and fired. She heard a shot behind her, another and another; but she kept on firing into and about the keyhole till the revolver was empty.
A firm hand drew her aside.
“Gone to sleep. Let me have a whack at that door.”
“Went back over the wall. Probably to warn Ahmed; maybe gone directly off toward camp. Anyhow, he has faith in me.”
“And, oh! so have I, so have I!”
Bruce bore his weight savagely against the door, once, twice, thrice; and pitched forward on his knees, outside. He was up instantly. He caught Kathlyn by the hand and hurried her along; and all she could think of was Winnie romping toward the canopied studio, her father half asleep on the veranda and the leopard cat sprawled on the divan!
“Sahib! Huzoor!” a voice called. “This way!”
“Ahmed! Ahmed!” cried Kathlyn.
“Yes, heaven born; but hurry, hurry! Umballa will return to search as soon as he can get the better of his legs. Siva take that battery that was worn out! Heaven born, you are now a queen in fact. . . .”
“I want to go home, Ahmed, home!”
“Here’s the gharry. Here, Sahib!” He held out a handful of cartridges toward Bruce. “These fit Lal Singh’s pistols. Hurry, hurry!”
Bruce helped Kathlyn into the vehicle and jumped in beside her, and Ahmed struck the horse. The gharry was a rickety old contrivance, every hinge creaking like some lost soul; but Ahmed had reasoned that the more dilapidated the vehicle, the less conspicuous it would be. He urged the horse. He wanted the flying mob to think that he was flying, too, which, indeed, he was. The gharry rolled and careened like a dory in a squall. A dozen times Bruce and Kathlyn were flung together, and quite unconsciously she caught hold of his lean, strong brown hand. It would not be true to say that he was unconscious of the act.
Presently they entered the paved streets of the bazaars, and the going improved. Kathlyn leaned back.
“I am Kathlyn Hare, and this is the year . . .”
“Come now, Miss Kathlyn, no thinking; leave the whole business to me, the worry and the planning. If we can reach my elephants, all right; we’ll be in Delhi within seven days. The rest of the going will be as simple as falling off a log.”
That Yankee phrase did more to rehabilitate her than all his assurances.
From time to time Bruce stole a glance through the curtained window. Stragglers were hastening along close to the walls, and there were soldiers who had forgot to bring their guns from the elephant arena. Once he heard the clatter of hoofs. A horseman ran alongside the gharry, slowed up, peered down and shrugged. Kathlyn shrank toward Bruce. The rider proceeded on his way. Ahmed recognized him as the ambassador from the neighboring principality, ruled by a Kumor, who was in turn ruled by the British Raj. Kathlyn could not shut out the leer on his face.
By midafternoon the gharry reached Bruce’s camp. Ramabai and Pundita greeted Kathlyn with delight. All their troubles were over. They had but to mount the elephants and ride away.
“Ahmed,” urged Kathlyn, “leave the gharry and come with us.”
“No, Mem-sahib,”–Ahmed gazed at her strangely–“I have work to do, much work. Allah guard you!” He struck the horse with his bamboo stick and careened away.
“Let us be off!” cried Bruce. “We have sixty miles to put between us and freedom in fact. We can not make the railway. Ali, pack! Go to the bungalow and remain there. You will be questioned. Tell the truth. There is not an elephant in the royal stables that can beat Rajah. All aboard! No stops!”–smiling as he helped Kathlyn into the howdah. “We shall be forced to ride all night.”
The elephants started forward, that ridden by Bruce and Kathlyn in the lead, Ramabai and Pundita following a few yards in the rear.
“Mr. Bruce, I am sure Ahmed has some information regarding father. I don’t know what. Who knows? They may have lied to me. He may be alive, alive!”
“I’ll return and find out, once I’ve got you safe. I don’t blame you for thinking all this a nightmare. God knows it is nightmarish. Do you know, I’ve been thinking it over. It appears to me that the king latterly took a dislike to his protege, Umballa, and turned this little trick to make him unhappy. I dare say he thought your father wise enough to remain away. Umballa hangs between wind and water; he can go neither forward nor backward. But poor Ramabai back there will lose his gold for this.”
“Ramabai has always been very kindly to the poor, and the poor man generally defends his benefactor when the night-time comes. To Umballa I was only a means to the end. If he declared himself king, that would open up the volcano upon which he stands; but as my prince consort, that would leave him fairly secure.”
“Only a means,” mused Bruce inwardly, stealing a glance at her sad yet lovely profile. Umballa was a man, for all his color; he was human; and to see this girl it was only human to want her. “Your father was one of the best friends I had. But, oddly enough, I never saw a photograph of you. He might have been afraid we young chaps . . .” He paused embarrassedly. “If only you had taken me into your confidence on board the _Yorck_!”
“Ah, but did you offer me the chance?” she returned.
“I never realized till now that a chap might be too close lipped sometimes. Well, here we are, in flight together!”
That night for the first time in many hours Kathlyn closed her eyes with a sense of security. True, it was not the most comfortable place to sleep in, the howdah; there were ceaseless rollings from side to side, intermingled with spine racking bumps forward, as the elephant occasionally hastened his stride. Kathlyn succeeded in stealing from the god of sleep only cat naps. Often the cold would awaken her, and she would find that Bruce had been bracing her by extending his arm across the howdah and gripping the rail.
“You mustn’t do that,” she protested feebly. “You will be dead in the morning.”
“You might fall out.”
“Then I shan’t go to sleep again till the journey ends. You have been so good and kind to me!”
They came out into the scrub jungle, and the moonlight lay magically over all things. Sometimes a shadow crossed the whitened sands; scurried, rather; and quietly Bruce would tell her what the animals were–jackals, with an occasional prowling red wolf. They were not disturbed by any of the cat family. But there was one interval of suspense. Bruce spied in the distance a small herd of wild elephants. So did Rajah, who raised his trunk and trumpeted into the night. The mahout, fully awake to the danger, beat the old rascal mightily with his goad. Yet that would have failed to hold Rajah. Bruce averted the danger by shooting his revolvers into the air. The wild elephants stampeded, and Rajah, disgruntled, was brought to the compass.
“Strange thing about a gunshot,” said Bruce. “They may never have heard one before; but instinct tells them quickly of the menace. Years ago at home, when I used to fish for bass, during the closed season I’d see thousands of duck and geese and deer. Yet a single gunshot when the season opened and you never could get within a mile of them.”
“That is true. I have fished and hunted with father.”
“Surely! I keep forgetting that it’s ten to one you know more about game than I do.”
Silence fell upon them again. On, on, without pausing. Bruce was getting sleepy himself, so he began munching biscuits. Lighter and lighter grew the east; the moon dimmed, and by and by everything grew gray and the chill in the air seemed sharpest yet.
They were both awake.
Kathlyn and Rajah.
Sunup they stopped by a stream. Bruce dismounted without having the elephant kneel and went to the water to fill his canteen. The hunter in him became interested in the tracks along the banks. A tiger, a leopard, some apes, and a herd of antelopes had been down to drink during the night. Even as he looked a huge gray ape came bounding out, head-on toward Rajah, who despised these foolish beasts. Perhaps the old elephant missed Ali, perhaps he was still somewhat upset by his failure to join his wild brothers the night before; at any rate, without warning, he set off with that shuffling gait which sometimes carried him as swiftly as a horse. An elephant never trots nor really runs according to our conception of the terms; he shuffles, scarcely lifting his feet off the ground.
The mahout yelled and belabored the elephant on the skull. Rajah did not mind this beating at all. Whatever his idea was, he evidently proposed to see it fulfilled.
Cunningly he dashed under some branches, sweeping the mahout off his neck. The branches, with a crash as of musketry, struck the howdah, but it held, thanks to the stoutness of the belly bands and the care with which they had been adjusted round the huge barrel.
Bruce stood up, appalled. For a time he was incapable of movement. Short as the time was, it was enough to give Rajah such headway as he needed. He disappeared from sight. Bruce saw the futility of shooting at the beast. The only thing he could do was to mount up beside Ramabai and Pundita and give chase; and this he did in short order, dragging up the bruised and shaken mahout with him. The pursuing elephant, with this extra handicap, never brought Rajah into sight. But the trail was clear, and they followed.
Surely that poor girl was marked for misfortune. In all the six years Bruce had possessed Rajah he had never exhibited anything but docility. The elephant was not running amuck, though he might eventually work himself into that blind ungovernable rage. Off like that, without the slightest warning! If Kathlyn could only keep him clear of the trees, for the old rogue would do his best to scrape off the irksome howdah.
Kathlyn heard the shouts from behind, but she could not understand whether these were warnings or advice. Could they overtake her before she was flung off? She tried to recall the “elephant talk” Ahmed had taught her in the old days at the farm, but just now she was too dazed. At the end of an hour all sounds from the rear ceased; no more pistol shots to encourage her with the knowledge that friends were near. Rajah must have outstripped them two or three miles.
At length she came into a small clearing amid the tall jungle grass, a dead and brittle last year’s growth. She saw two natives in the act of kicking out a dung fire. Rajah headed directly toward them, the fire evidently being in the line of path he had chosen. This rare and unexpected freedom, this opportunity to go whither he listed, was as the giant fern he used to eat in the days when he was free and wild in Ceylon.
Kathlyn called out to the men, but they turned and fled in terror. To them Rajah was amuck. The elephant passed the fire so closely that the wind of his passing stirred the fire into life again; and this time it crept toward the highly inflammable grass. A few hundred yards beyond Kathlyn turned to see the flames leaping along the grass. Rajah, getting a whiff of the acrid smoke, quickened his stride. The fire followed with amazing rapidity and stopped only when it reached the bed of a trickling stream, no doubt a torrent during the big rains. A great pall of smoke blotted out everything in the rear; blotted out hope, for Bruce could never pick up the trail now.
Kathlyn’s eyes were feverishly dry and bright. It was only a matter of time when the howdah would slip down the brute’s side. She prayed that she might die instantly. Strange fancies flitted through her mind, disordered by all these days of suspense and terror. . . .
And suddenly the jungle came to an end, and a long plowed field opened into view. Beyond this field rose a ruined wall, broken by a crumbling gate, and lounging in the gateway were soldiers. Near by were two elephants employed in piling logs.
Rajah, perforce, slackened his gait. The soldiers became animated. Immediately the two mahouts charged their brutes toward Rajah, who stopped. He had had his sport. He swayed to and fro. One of the mahouts reached forward and clouted Rajah on the knee. He slowly kneeled. The soldiers ran forward to help Kathlyn out of the howdah. At the sight of her skin their astonishment was great.
She was very weak and faint, and the increasing babel of tongues was like little triphammers beating upon her aching head. One of the soldiers gave her a drink of water. He held his canteen high, so that the water trickled into her mouth; no lips but his own must touch the nozzle, otherwise, being a Brahmin, he would be denied. Natives instantly flocked about, jabbering in wonder. Some of the bolder touched her bare arms. The soldiers drove them back angrily. Through the press a horseman pushed forward. The rider stared at the strange captive, started and uttered an astonished cry.
“The white queen of Allaha, whom mine own eyes saw crowned at the durbar there!” he murmured. “By the shroud of the prophet what can this mean? Stop!” he called to the soldiers. Kathlyn looked up dully. “Convey her to his highness the Kumor!” The prince should decide what should be done with her.
The Kumor was big and lazy and sensual. He gazed upon Kathlyn with eyes which sparkled evilly, like a cat’s.
“Who is this woman?” he demanded.
“Highness, she is the white queen of Allaha, but who may say that she is here?” with a smile as evil as his master’s.
“But how came she here?”
The horseman briefly recounted the events as he had seen them in the capital of Allaha.
“Who are you, maiden?” the Kumor asked in English, for, like all potentates, little or great, in India, he spoke English. It presented the delectable pastime of conspiring in two languages; for, from Bombay to Calcutta, from Peshawar to Madras, India seethes, conspires and takes an occasional pot shot at some poor devil of a commissioner whose only desire is to have them combine religion and sanitation.
“I am an American. Please take me to the English commissioner.” Somehow instinct told her that she might not expect succor from this man with the pearls about his gross neck.
“I regret that his excellency the commissioner has gone to Bombay. Besides, I do not know that you tell the truth. Still, I can offer you what pearls and emeralds you may find to your liking.”
“Your Highness, there are those whose coming shortly will cause you much annoyance if you refuse to give me proper aid. There is no possible way for you to cover up my appearance here. Send me to the commissioner’s bungalow, where I may await the coming of my friends.”
“Indeed!” The Kumor saw here a conflict not altogether to his liking. He was lazy, and there was the damnable, unrelenting hand of the British Raj looming in the distance. He shrugged. “Achmet, call the captain of the guard and have him convey this runaway queen to Allaha. Surely, I may not meddle with the affairs of a friendly state.” With a wave of his fat bejeweled hand he appeared to dismiss the matter from his mind.
Kathlyn was led away. The human mind can stand only so many shocks.
Outside the palace courtyard stood Rajah, the howdah securely attached once more, Kathlyn was bidden to mount. A water bottle and some cakes were placed in the howdah beside her. Then a drunken mahout mounted behind Rajah’s ears. The elephant did not like the feel of the man’s legs, and he began to sway ominously. Nevertheless, he permitted the mahout to direct him to one of the city gates, the soldiers trooping alongside.
It appeared that there was a much shorter route to Allaha. Time being essential, Bruce had had to make for the frontier blindly, as it were. The regular highway was a moderately decent road which led along the banks of one of those streams which eventually join the sacred Jumna. This, of course, was also sacred. Many Hindus were bathing in the ghats. They passed by these and presently came upon a funeral pyre.
Sometimes one sleeps with one’s eyes open, and thus it was with Kathlyn. Out of that funeral pyre her feverish thoughts builded a frightful dream.
* * * * * *
The drunken mahout slid off Rajah; the soldiers turned aside. Hired female mourners were kneeling about, wailing and beating their breasts, while behind them stood the high caste widow, her face as tragic as Dido’s at the pyre of Aeneas. Suddenly she threw her arms high over her head.
“I am suttee!”
Suttee! It was against the law of the British Raj. The soldiers began arguing with the widow, but only half heartedly. It was a pious rite, worthy of the high caste Hindu’s wife. Better death on the pyre than a future like that of a pariah dog. For a wife who preferred to live after her husband was gone was a social outcast, permitted not to wed again, to exist only as a drudge, a menial, the scum and contempt of all who had known her in her days of prosperity.
The widow, having drunk from a cup which contained opium, climbed to the top of the pyre where her husband lay, swathed in white. She gazed about wildly, and her courage and resolve took wings. She stumbled down. A low hissing ran about.
“Make the white woman suttee in her place!” cried the drunken mahout.
The cry was taken up by the spectators. Kathlyn felt herself dragged from the elephant, bound and finally laid beside the swathed figure. There could be no horror in the wide world like it. Smoke began to curl up from the underbrush. It choked and stifled her. Sparks rose and dropped upon her arms and face. And through the smoke and flame came Rajah. He lifted her with his powerful trunk and carried her off, for hours and hours, back into the trackless jungle. . . .
Kathlyn found herself, all at once, sitting against the roots of an aged banyan tree. A few yards away an ape sat on his haunches and eyed her curiously. A little farther off Rajah browsed in a clump of weeds, the howdah at a rakish angle, like the cocked hat of a bully. Kathlyn stared at her hands. There were no burns there; she passed a hand over her face; there was no smart or sting. A dream; she had dreamed it; a fantasy due to her light-headed state of mind. A dream! She cried and laughed, and the ape jibbered at her uneasily.
In reality, Rajah, freed of his unwelcome mahout, had legged it down the road without so much as trumpeting his farewell, and the soldiers had not been able to stop him.
How she had managed to get down would always remain a mystery to her. Food and water, food and water; in her present state she must have both or die. Let them send her back to Allaha; she was beaten; she was without the will to resist further. All she wanted was food and water and sleep, sleep. After that they might do what they pleased with her.
For the first time since the extraordinary flight from Allaha Kathlyn recollected the “elephant talk” which Ahmed had taught her. She rose wearily and walked toward Rajah, who cocked his ears at the sound of her approach. She talked to him for a space in monotone. She held out her hands; the dry raspy trunk curled out toward them. Rajah was evidently willing to meet her half-way. She ordered him to kneel. Without even pausing to think it over Rajah bent his calloused knees, and gratefully Kathlyn crawled back into the howdah. Food and water: these appeared at hand as if by magic. So she ate and drank. If she could hold Rajah to a walk the howdah would last at least till she came to some village.
Later, in the moonshine, she espied the ruined portico of a temple.
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 Chapter Six title is “The Court of the Lion.” The Tribune published it as “The Temple of the Lion” and following chapters did not have a chapter title.