Chicago Sunday Tribune, January 25, 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, deceived by a forged message, believes her father, Col. Hare, who is hunting in India, has summoned her to him. She starts immediately for Allaha, leaving her younger sister, Winnie, at home on their wild animal farm in California.
Umballah2, a protege of the King of Allaha, hopes to succeed to the throne. Allaha, being an independent principality, the childless ruler has the right to appoint his heir. On a previous visit to Alaha Col. Hare had saved the life of the king, and as a reward a decoration carrying with it royal honors and the rights of succession had been conferred upon 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.
In the meantime, the King of Allaha has died and Unballah and the three councilors of the kingdom have thrown Col. Hare into prison. On Kathlyn’s arrival in Allaha she is informed by Unballa that her father is dead and that she is the queen. She is forced to enter the palace and is detained there until the day she is to be crowned. An elaborate durbar is arranged, the central figure of which is Kathlyn, protesting and grief stricken. In her extremity she thinks of John Bruce, a fellow passenger on the boat, who is hunting in the vicinity of Allaha. Her father’s servant, Ahmed, approaching to present her with flowers, she whispers his name and tells him to bring Bruce to her aid. When the crown is placed upon her head Unballah announces that she is to be married to him forthwith. Her horrified 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. The durbar ends and Kathlyn is escorted in state in the palace.
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.
CHAPTER IV HOW TIME MOVES
Meantime Lal Singh was hurrying on a racing camel toward the railway, toward Simla, more than a thousand miles away. He was happy. Here was the long delayed opportunity for the hand of the British Raj: a captive white woman. What better excuse was needed? There would be armed Sikhs and Gurhas and Tommies near Rawal Pindi. Ai! how time moved, how fate twisted! How the finest built castle in schemes came clattering down! At the very moment when he had secretly worked upon the king to throw himself into the protecting arms of the British Raj–assassinated! The council? Umballah? Some outsider, made mad by oppression? The egg of Brahma was strangely hatched–this curious old world!
Ahmed remained hidden in the bazaars, to await the ordeals. Nothing should harm his mistress; he was ready now and at all times to lay down his life for her; in this the British Raj came second. He had sent a courier to Bruce Sahib’s bungalow, but the man had returned to report that it was still unoccupied.
And while he bit his nails in futile wrath and smoked till his tongue grew bitter, some miles away there was much confusion in the jungle by the water. Tents were being set up, native bearers and coolies were running to and fro, building fires, carrying water, hobbling the pack elephants. Wandering in and out of this animated scene was a young man, clean shaven, deeply tanned, with blue eyes which were direct, small pupiled, yet kindly. Presently he called to one of the head men.
“Ali, you might send three or four men on to the bungalow to clean up things. We shall make it tomorrow. It’s but two hours’ ride, but there’s no hurry; and besides there’s a herd of elephants behind us somewhere. They’ve come up far for this time of year.”
“Any news worth while?”
Ali made a gesture; it signified a great many things.
“Bruce Sahib will not believe.”
“Believe what?” said Bruce, emptying his pipe against his heel.
“There is a white queen in the city.”
“What? What bally nonsense is this?”
“It is only what I’ve been told, Sahib. Hare Sahib is dead.”
Bruce let his pipe slip through his fingers. “Hare? Good lord!”
“Yes, Sahib. But that is not all. It seems the king went mad after we went to Africa. You remember how Hare Sahib saved him from the leopard? Well, he made Hare Sahib his heir. He had that right; the law of the childless king has always read so in Allaha. The white queen is Hare Sahib’s daughter.”
Bruce leaned against a tent pole. “Am I dreaming or are you?” he gasped.
“It is what they tell me, Sahib. I know it not as a fact.”
“The king dead, Hare dead, and his daughter on the throne! How did she get here? And what the devil is a chap to do?” Bruce stooped and recovered his pipe and swore softly. “Ali, if this is true, then it’s some devil work; and I’ll wager my shooting eye that that sleek scoundrel Umballah, as they call him, is at the bottom of it. A white woman, good old Hare’s daughter. I’ll look into this. It’s the nineteenth century, Ali, and white women are not made rulers over the brown, not of their own free will. Find out all you can and report to me,” and Bruce dismissed his servant and fell to pacing before his tent.
The native who had spread this astounding news in Bruce’s camp was already hastening back to the city, some fourteen miles away. He had been a bheestee (water carrier) to the house of Ramabai up to the young banker’s incarceration. To him, then, he carried the news that a white hunter had arrived outside the city–“Bruce Sahib has returned!”
Ramabai lost no time in taking this news to Kathlyn.
“Ramabai, I have saved your life; save mine. Go at once to him and tell him that I am a prisoner but am called a queen; tell him I am Colonel Hare’s daughter, she who traveled with him on the same ship from Hongkong to Singapore. Go! Tell him all, the death of my father and Umballah’s treachery. Hasten!”
Bruce was eating his simple evening meal when Ramabai arrived.
“Yes. Your face is familiar.”
“You have been twice to my bank. I am Ramabai.”
“I remember. But what are you doing here?”
“I have come for aid, Sahib, aid for a young woman, white like yourself.”
“Then it is true? Go ahead and let me have all the facts. She is Hare Sahib’s daughter; Ali told me that. Precious rigmarole of some sort. The facts!”
“She is also the young lady who traveled in the same boat from Hongkong to Singapore.” Ramabai paused to see the effect of this information.
Bruce lowered his fork slowly. The din about him dwindled away into nothing. He was again leaning over the rail, watching the phosphorescence trail away, a shoulder barely touching his: one of the few women who had ever stirred him after the first glance. In God’s name, why hadn’t she said something? Why hadn’t she told him she was Colonel Hare’s daughter? How was he to know? (For Hare, queerly enough, had never shown his young friend the photographs of his daughters.) Perhaps he had been at fault; he, too, had scarcely stirred from his shell. And where was that scoundrel Rao?
“I shall enter the city as soon as I can settle my bungalow. This rather knocks me out.”
“No, Sahib; don’t wait: come back with me!” Quickly he outlined the desperate straits in which Kathlyn stood. “To-morrow may be too late.”
“Ali!” called Bruce, rising.
“The Pasha. No questions. Give him water. Use the hunting howdah. Both guns and plenty of cartridges. That’s all.” The young man ran into his sleeping tent and presently came forth with a pair of ugly looking Colts; for this was before the days of the convenient automatics. “All aboard, Ramabai!” Bruce laughed; the sound was as hard and metallic as the click of the cartridge belt as he slung it round his waist; but it was music to Ramabai’s ears. “Trust me. There shan’t be any ordeals; not so you would notice it. . . . Great God! A white woman, one of my kind! . . . All right, Ali; quick work. Thanks!”
“There will be many pitfalls, Sahib,” said Ramabai.
“I have some influence with the populace, but Umballah has the army, paid for. The priests and the council are back of him. And, after all, the priests are most to be feared. They can always sway the people through fear.”
Bruce laughed again. “Either Kathlyn Hare will be free to-morrow or Umballah and the council meat for the jackals . . . or I shall be,” he added, in afterthought. “Now, do not speak till I speak. I wish to think, for I’ve got to act quickly; I can’t make any mistakes when I get there.”
Far away a brown figure in clout and drab turban watched the young man. When he saw the elephant with the hunting howdah he knew that he had the information for which his master had detailed him to follow, night and day, the young banker Ramabai. The white hunter was coming hot-foot to the city. He turned and ran. Running was his business; he was as tireless as a camel and could run twenty and thirty miles at a stretch. The soles of his feet were as tough as elephant’s hide. Thus he reached the city an hour before Bruce and Ramabai.
When Bruce and the native banker arrived at the gate coolies stood about with torches. Suddenly beyond the gate half a regiment drew up. The officer in charge raised his hand warningly.
“The white hunter is Bruce Sahib?”
“Yes.” Bruce spoke the dialects with passable fluency.
“Good. The Sahib will be pleased to dismount.”
“I am on my way to the palace.”
“That is impossible, Sahib.” At a sign from the officer the troopers extended their guns at half aim. It was a necessary precaution. These white sahibs were generally a mad people and were quick to shoot. “Please dismount, Sahib. It is the orders.”
Bruce’s mahout, who was a Rajput Mohammedan, turned his head to learn what his master had to say. Bruce, pale under his tan, nodded. The mahout reached down with his silver tipped goad and touched the elephant on the knee. The big brute slowly and ponderously kneeled. Bruce stepped out of the howdah, followed by Ramabai, who saw that in some unaccountable manner they had been betrayed. He was sick at heart.
Two troopers stepped forward and took possession of the rifles which were slung on each side of the howdah. Bruce accepted the situation philosophically; argument or protest was futile. Next they took away his cartridge belt. He trembled for a moment with apprehension, but the troopers did not search him further; and he thanked God for the wisdom which had made him strap his revolvers under his armpits.
“What now?” he demanded.
“The Sahib will be given his guns and ammunition the hour he starts back to camp.”
“And in the meantime?”
“The Sahib is free to come and go about the city so long as he does not approach the palace. If he is found in the vicinity of the zenana he will be arrested and imprisoned.”
“This is all very high-handed.”
“Sahib, there is no British Raj here. The orders of the regent and the council are final. Submit.”
Ramabai stepped forward. By a kind of clairvoyance he saw what was coming.
“Ramabai, the orders are that you shall retire to your house and remain there till further orders.”
“I am the queen’s body-guard.”
“Ai! Well said! But I do not take my orders from the queen–yet. Obey. The Sahib may accompany you if he wishes; there are no orders against that. The Sahib’s elephant will be lodged in the royal stables; the mahout will see that he is fed and watered.”
“We have been betrayed,” said Ramabai. “I know not how.”
“You were followed. A moment,” said Bruce, turning to the officer. “I have a servant by the name of Rao. I believe he acted as bearer to the young lady at the palace. What has become of him?”
The officer smiled and shook his head.
“Rao is a prisoner, then,” thought the young man. “That black scoundrel Umballah is at least thorough.” Aloud he said: “We shall go at once to your house, Ramabai.”
And all through the night they planned and planned, but not knowing where the first ordeal was to take place, nor the hour, they found themselves going round in a circle, getting nowhere. To a man of action like Bruce it was maddening. He walked out of the house into the garden and back again at least a dozen times, always to find Ramabai with his head held despairingly in his hands. Another time Bruce opened the door to the street; two troopers squatted on each side of the threshold. Umballah was in earnest. The rear gate was also guarded. How to get Ramabai out, that was the problem.
He slept a little before dawn, and was aroused by voices below. He listened.
“I am Jawahir Lal, the water carrier. Each day at dawn I water the garden of Ramabai to pay a debt.”
Bruce looked toward Ramabai, who slept the sleep of the profoundly wearied. A bheestee, perhaps a messenger.
“Go around to the rear gate, which can be opened,” said the trooper.
Bruce went to the window overlooking the garden. He saw the water carrier enter through the bamboo gate, heard the water slosh about jerkily as the bheestee emptied his goatskin. He watched the man curiously; saw him drop the skin and tiptoe toward the house, glance to right and left alertly. Then he disappeared. Presently at the head of the stairs Bruce heard a whisper–“Ramabai!”
“Who is it?” Bruce whispered in the dialect.
Ahmed. Who was Ahmed?
Bruce shook Ramabai. “Ahmed is here. Who is he?” he asked softly.
“Ahmed?” drowsily. Then, wide awake enough: “Ahmed? He was Hare Sahib’s head animal man. Where is he?”
“Hush! Not so loud. Come up, Ahmed; I am Bruce. Let us speak in English.”
“Good!” Ahmed came into the chamber. “To see Bruce Sahib is good. To-morrow my master’s daughter is to be carried into the jungle. The Mem-sahib is to be tied inside a tiger trap, bait for the cat. That is the first ordeal.”
“Shaitan!” murmured Ramabai.
“Go on, Ahmed.”
“The cage will be set near the old peepul tree, not far from the south gate. Now, you, Sahib, and you, Ramabai, must hide somewhere near. It is the law that if she escapes the ordeal from unexpected sources she is free, at least till the second ordeal. I know not what that is at present or when it is to take place. The troops will be there, and the populace, the council, the priest and Umballah. I shall have two swift camels near the clump of bamboo. I may not be there, but some one will. She must be hurried off before the confusion dies away. Must, Sahib. There must be no second ordeal.”
“But how am I to get out of here?” asked Ramabai. “Guards all about, and doubtless bidden to shoot if I stir!”
“Tch! Tch!” clicked Ahmed. He unwound his dirty turban and slipped out of the ragged shirtlike frock. “These and the water skin below. A bheestee entered, a bheestee goes out. What is simpler than that? It is not light enough for the soldiers to notice. There is food and water here. Trust me to elude those bhang-guzzlers outside. Am I a ryot, a farmer, to twist naught but bullocks’ tails?”
“Ahmed,” said Bruce, holding out his hand, “you’re a man.”
“Thanks, Sahib,” dryly. “But hasten! At dawn to-morrow, or late to-night, Ramabai returns with a full water skin. The Mem-sahib must at least stand the ordeal of terror, for she is guarded too well. Yet, if they were not going to bind her, I should not worry. She has animal magic in her eye, in her voice. I have seen wild beasts grow still when she spoke. Who knows? Now, I sleep.”
Bruce and Ramabai had no difficulty in passing the guards. The white hunter was free to come and go, and the sleepy soldiers saw the water skin which Ramabai threw carelessly over his head. They sat down against the wall again and replenished the dung fire. Bruce and Ramabai wisely made a wide detour to the peepul tree, which they climbed, disturbing the apes and the parrakeets.
Somewhere near eight o’clock they heard the creaking of wheels and a murmur of voices. Shortly into their range of vision drew a pair of bullocks, pulling a tiger trap toward the clearing. This cage was of stout wood with iron bars. The rear of the cage was solid; the front had a falling door. The whole structure rested upon low wheels, and there was a drop platform which rested upon the ground. An iron ring was attached to the rear wall, and to this was generally tied a kid, the bleating of which lured the tiger for which the trap was laid. The moment the brute touched the bait the falling door slid down, imprisoning the prowler.
When Bruce saw this damnable thing he understood, and he shook with horror and voiceless rage. He caught Ramabai by the arm so savagely that a low cry came from the brown man’s lips.
“Patience, Sahib!” he warned. “Without you what will the Mem-sahib do? They will tie her in that and liberate a tiger. The rest lies with you, Sahib.”
“Ramabai, as God hears me, some one shall pay for this! . . . The nineteenth century, and I am wide awake! I may not be able to kill the brute with these revolvers, but I’ll stop him, even if I have to use my bare hands. . . . Kathlyn Hare!”
“Hush!” again warned Ramabai, hugging his perch.
Later by half an hour Bruce witnessed a spectacle such as few white men, happily for their reason, are permitted to see. Kathlyn, in her royal robes (for ordeals of this character were ceremonials), a necklace of wonderful emeralds about her throat, stepped from her palanquin and stood waiting. From other vehicles and conveyances stepped Umballah, the council and the yellow robed priests. Troops also appeared, and behind them the eager expectant populace. They were to be amused. There were many of them, however, who hoped that a miracle would happen.
“Ramabai,” whispered Bruce, “she is as beautiful as a dream. If I had only known! Well, there’s going to be a miracle. See how straight she stands; not a sign of fear in her face. There’s a woman . . . a woman for me!” he added under his breath.
He saw the bejeweled turban of Umballah bend toward the girl, and it was hard to resist taking a pot at the man. Kathlyn shook her head. Thereupon she was led to the trap, her hands bound and the rope round her waist attached securely to the ring.
Ah, they talked about it that night in the surging bazaars, in the palace, wherever two persons came together: how the white hunter had appeared from nowhere, rushed toward the trap as the tiger approached, entered and dropped the door, blazed away at the beast, who turned tail and limped off into the jungle. Ai! It was a sight for eyes. They could laugh behind Umballah’s back, the gutter born, the iron heeled upstart; they could riddle (confidentially) the council with rude jests. The law was the law; and none, not even the priests in their shaven polls and yellow robes, might slip beyond the law as it read. The first ordeal was over. Nor, as the law read, could they lay hands upon this brave young man. Ai! it was good. Umballah must look elsewhere for his chief wife; the Mem-sahib would not adorn his zenana. It was more than good, for now there would be a second ordeal; more amusement, perhaps another miracle. True, they had taken away the pistols of the white Sahib, but he had his hands.
“Thank you,” Kathlyn had said. “Somehow I knew you would come.” And what she had seen in his eyes had made her tremble visibly for the first time that day.
She was conducted back to the palace. The populace howled and cheered about her palanquin to the very gates. Not in many a big rain had they had such excitement.
The fury in Umballah’s heart might have disquieted Bruce had he known of its existence.
Kathlyn, arriving in her chamber, flung herself down upon her cushions and lay there like one dead, nor would she be comforted by the worshiping Pundita. Bruce had saved her this time, but it was not possible that he could repeat the feat.
Having convinced Umballah and the council that she would not marry her persecutor, the council announced to the populace that on the next fete day the queen would confront the lions in the elephant arena. What could one man do against such odds? Lions brought from the far Nubian deserts, fierce, untamable.
That night there was a conference between Bruce, Ahmed and Ramabai.
“They have taken my guns away, and God knows I can’t do the impossible. Where the devil were your camels, Ahmed?”
“Umballah has his spies, Ramabai,” said Ahmed, smiling, as he got into his bheestee rags, which Ramabai had surrendered willingly enough: “Ramabai, thou conspirator, what about the powder mines you and your friends hid when the late king signified that he was inclined toward British protectorate? Eh? What about the republic thou hadst dreams of? Poor fool! It is in our blood to be ruled by kings, oppressed; we should not know what to do with absolute freedom. There! Fear not. Why should I betray thee? The mines. The arena is of wood.”
“But there will be many of my friends there,” said the bewildered Ramabai. Who was this strange man who seemed to know everything?
“Put the mines in the center of the arena. What we want is merely terror and confusion. Pouf! Bang! There’s your miracle. And a little one under the royal pavilion. And Umballahn and the council sleep in Shaitan’s arms. Welcome, my lambs!” And Ahmed laughed noiselessly.
“By the lord!” gasped Bruce. “But the fuses? No, no, Ahmed; it can not be done.”
“In the house of my friend Lal Singh there is a cellar full of strange magic–magic with copper wires that spit blue fires. Eh, Sahib? You and I know; we have traveled.”
“Batteries, here, in this wilderness?”
“Even so. To you, Ramabai, the powder; to me, the spitting wires; to you, Bruce Sahib, patience. Umballah shall yet wear raw the soles of his feet in the treadmill. He shall grind the poor man’s corn. I know what I know. Now I must be off. I shall return to-morrow night and you, Ramabai, shall gather together your fellow conspirators (who would blow up the palace!) and bring the mines to the arena.”
And while Kathlyn gazed through the marble lattice at the bright stars another gazed at the sunny heavens in a far country, a sprite of a girl with dark tearful eyes. Father gone, sister gone; silence.
But a few yards away from Kathlyn a man plucked at his chains, praying to God that he might not lose his reason. With the finished cruelty of the East, Umballah had not visited Colonel Hare again. There is nothing like suspense to squeeze hope and courage from the heart of man.
On the night before the ordeal men moved cautiously about the elephant arena. It was only after much persuasion and argument could Bruce hold the men. At the testing of Lal Singh’s wires and batteries they had started to fly. This was devil’s fire.
At the end of the arena, in a box which Bruce was to occupy, by order of the council (where they proposed to keep an eye upon Umballah and to wring his heart), the key to the wires was laid. This box was directly over a wooden canopy where the mahouts loafed between fights. Back of this canopy was a door which led outside. Through this Bruce proposed to lead Kathlyn during the confusion created by the explosion. They had carried off the keeper (who was also guardian of the arena), and the key to this door reposed in Bruce’s pocket.
On the day of the ordeal only the bedridden remained at home. The temples, the palaces, the bazaars, all were deserted as thoroughly as if the black wings of the plague had swept through the city. Even the crows and the kites were there, the one chattering; the other soaring high above.
Ramabai was forced to sit with the council, much to his terror. After much pleading the council was prevailed upon to permit him to sit with Bruce. A cordon of soldiers was accordingly detailed to surround Bruce’s box at the rear.
When Kathlyn arrived she was placed under the canopy: another bit of kindly attention on the part of Umballah to twist the white man’s heart. But nothing could have happened more to the satisfaction of Bruce.
“Kathlyn Hare,” he called out softly in Spanish, “do you hear and understand me?”
“Yes,” she replied in the same tongue. “Do nothing desperate. Don’t throw away your life. I have a sister in America. Will you tell her?”
“Listen. Under no circumstances leave the canopy. The lions come from the other side. We are not only going to rescue but save you. Attend me carefully. Behind you is a door. There will be an explosion in the center of the arena. There was to be another under our friend Umballah, but the battery was old. Press over toward that door. I have the key.”
“Ah, Mr. Bruce!”
“Kathlyn, my name is John.”
“The lions, the lions!” howled the populace.
It seemed to Bruce that he had been suddenly flung back into antiquity and that Nero sat yonder, squinting through his polished emerald. The great, tawny African brutes blinked and turned their shaggy heads this way and that, uneasily. Kathlyn stood very still. How, how could they save her? At length the lions espied her, attracted by the white of her robe. One bounded forward, growling. The others immediately started in pursuit.
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.