< --Previous Up Next–>
Chicago Sunday Tribune, May 10, 1914
The photo-dramas 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 not 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, she is to be queen and must marry him forthwith. Because of her refusal, she is sentenced to undergo two ordeals with wild beasts.
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. Umballah’s attempt to recapture them is unsuccessful, and the fugitives are given shelter in the palace of Bala Khan. Supplied with camels and servants by that hospitable prince, the party endeavors to reach the coast, but are overpowered by brigand and the encounter results in the colonel being delivered to Umballah. Kathlyn and Bruce escape from their captors and return to Allaha, where Kathlyn learns that her father, while nominally king, is in reality a prisoner. Kathlyn’s resourcefulness and bravery are the means of rescuing him, and once more they steal away from Allaha, but return broken hearted when they learn that Winnie, Kathlyn’s young sister, has come to India. Umballah makes her a prisoner. She is forced to enter the palace and in turn is crowned queen of Allaha.
Kathlyn succeeds in gaining admittance to Winnie’s room, where she is discovered by Umballah, who orders her immediate execution. Her father and friends appear on the scene almost at the moment that she is to be offered as a sacrifice to the god Juggernaut and carry her away from under the car which is about to crush her.
During the progress of a public exhibition Kathlyn, who is present disguised as an animal trainer, reveals herself to the people and demands that their queen be allowed to leave the royal box and with her face the lions in the arena. This dramatic appeal is part of a carefully rehearsed program and when Winnie joins her the trap door on which they stand upon opens and the sisters disappear from the gaze of the astonished multitude.
CHAPTER XIX MAGIC
Through the tunnel, into the street, into the care of Ahmed and Lal Singh, then hurriedly to the house of Ramabai. The fact that they had to proceed to Ramabai’s was a severe blow to Bruce and the colonel. They had expected all to be mounted the instant they came from the tunnel, a swift unobstructed flight to the gate and freedom. But Ahmed could not find his elephants. Too late he learned that the mahouts he had secretly engaged had misunderstood his instructions and had stationed themselves near the main entrance to the arena!
The cursing and railing against fate is a futile thing, never bearing fruit: so Ramabai suggested his house till transportation could be secured. They perfectly understood that they could not remain in the house more than a few hours; for Umballa would surely send his men everywhere, and quite possibly first of all to Ramabai’s.
Still, Ramabai did not appear very much alarmed. There were secret stairways in his house that not even Pundita knew; and at a pinch he had a plan by which he could turn away investigation. Only in the direst need, though, did he intend to execute this plan. He wanted his friends out of Allaha without the shedding of any blood.
“Well,” said Ahmed, angrily casting aside his disguise; “well, Ramabai, this is the crisis. Will you strike?”
Lal Singh’s wrinkled face lighted up with eagerness.
“We are ready, Ramabai,” he said.
“We?” Ramabai paused in his pacing to gaze keenly into the eyes of this old conspirator.
“Yes, we. For I, Lal Singh, propose to take my stand at your right hand. I have not been idle. Everywhere your friends are evincing impatience. Ah, I know. You wish for a bloodless rebellion; but that can not be, not among our people. You have said that in their zeal your followers, if they knew, would sweep the poor old king out of your path. Listen. Shall we put him back on the throne, to perform some other mad thing like this gift of his throne to the Colonel Sahib?”
Ramabai, watched intently by the two conspirators for the British Raj and his white friends, paced back and forth, his hands behind his back, his head bent. He was a Christian; he was not only a Christian, he was a Hindu, and the shedding of blood was doubly abhorrent to his mind.
“I am being pulled by two horses,” he said.
“Act quickly,” advised Ahmed; “one way or the other. Umballa will throw his men round the whole city and there will not be a space large enough for a rat to crawl through. And he will fight like a rat this time; mark me.”
Ramabai paused suddenly in front of his wife and smiled down at her.
“Pundita, you are my legal queen. It is for you to say what shall be done. I had in mind a republic.”
Lal Singh cackled ironically.
“Do not dream,” said Ahmed. “Common sense should tell you that there can be no republic in Allaha. There must be an absolute ruler, nothing less. Your Majesty, speak,” he added, salaaming before Pundita.
She looked wildly about the room, vainly striving to read the faces of her white friends; but their expressions were like stone images. No help there, no guidance.
“Is the life of a decrepit old man,” asked Lal Singh, “worth the lives of these white people who love and respect you?”
Pundita rose and placed her hands upon her husband’s shoulders.
“We owe them our lives. Strike, Ramabai; but only if our need demands it.”
“Good!” said Lal Singh. “I’m off for the bazaars for the night. I will buy chupatties and pass them about, as they did in my father’s time at Delhi, in the Great Mutiny.”
And he vanished.
Have you ever witnessed the swarming of bees? Have you ever heard the hum and buzz of them? So looked and sounded the bazaars that night. At every intersection of streets and passages there were groups, buzzing and gesticulating. In the gutters the cocoanut oil lamps flickered, throwing weird shadows upon the walls; and squatting about these lamps the fruit sellers and candy sellers and cobblers and tailors jabbered and droned. Light women, with their painted faces, went abroad boldly.
And there was but one word on all these tongues: Magic!
Could any human being pass through what this white woman had? No! She was the reincarnation of some forgotten goddess. They knew that, and Umballa would soon bring famine and plague and death among them. Whenever they uttered his name they spat to cleanse their mouths of the defilement.
For the present the soldiers were his; and groups of them swaggered through the bazaars, chanting drunkenly and making speech with the light women and jostling honest men into the gutters.
All these things Lal Singh saw and heard and made note of as he went from house to house among the chosen and told them to hold themselves in readiness, as the hour was near at hand. Followed the clinking of gunlocks and the rattle of cartridges. A thousand fierce youths, ready for anything, death or loot or the beauties of the zenanas. For patriotism in Southern Asia depends largely upon what treasures one may wring from it.
But how would they know the hour for the uprising? A servant would call and ask for chupatties. Good. And the meeting-place? Ramabai’s garden. It was well. They would be ready.
Flicker-flicker danced the lights; flicker-flicker went the tongues. And the peaceful oriental stars looked down serenely.
Umballah remained in the palace, burning with the fires of murder. Messenger after messenger came to report that the fugitives were still at large. Contrary to Ahmed’s expectations, Umballa did not believe that his enemies would be foolhardy enough to seek refuge in the house of Ramabai. The four roads leading out of the city were watched, the colonel’s bungalow and even the ruins of Bruce’s camp. They were still in the city; but where?
A king’s peg, and another; and Umballa stormed, his heart filled with Dutch courage.
Ramabai made his preparations in case the hunters entered the house. He opened a secret door which led into a large gallery, dim and dusty but still beautiful. Ancient armor covered the walls; armor of the days when there existed in Delhi a peacock throne; armor inlaid with gold and silver and turquoise, and there were jewel-incrusted swords and daggers, a blazing helmet which one of Pundita’s ancestors had worn when the Great Khan came thundering down from China.
“Here,” said Ramabai to the colonel, “you will be safe. They might search for days without learning this room existed. There will be no need to remain here now. Time enough when my servant gives warning.”
They filed out of the gallery solemnly. Kathlyn went into the garden, followed by Bruce.
“Do you know,” said Kathlyn, “the sight of all that armor, old and still magnificent, seemed to awaken the recollection of another age to me?”
He wanted to take her in his arms, but he waited for her to continue the thought.
“I wonder if, in the dim past, I was not an Amazon?”
She stretched out her arms and suddenly he caught them and drew them down.
“I love you, Kathlyn!”
“No, no!” She struggled back from him.
“With all my heart and soul. You are as irresistible as breathing. And I want you for my wife, Kit!”
“No, John! Perhaps my poor father is right. A curse of some sort seems to be hanging over us. For look; how many times has everything looked bright, only to turn out like this? The cable, saying that Winnie was on her way, the brigands. Ahmed’s long sleep, the mistake this afternoon of the mahouts. I wonder if my own God has forsaken us?”
No, no! I refuse to let you be dragged into this. I want you to go, to go now while there is still time. I command it. As you may, we cannot tell what may happen. The rebellion may prove a fizzle; but, one way or the other, there will be death. I want you to leave us; for we are indeed accursed!”
The men at her side laughed. =To her ears it was the same laughter she heard in the desert. In her heart she knew that he would not go. Was she glad?
“My life is mine, Kit,” he said, releasing her hands; “and I give it to you. But I promise not to speak of love again till you are safe and sound on the broad Pacific. There are Ahmed and Lai Singh, and Bamabai, and I will be their lieutenant. By the Lord Harry, besides yourself there is only one thing I want; my hand round the throat of the black devil who has caused all this. He seems to bear a charmed life. Never have I had a good opportunity to get near him. But patience!”
“Let us return to father and Winnie,” she said.
During this talk in the garden Umballah had not been inactive. He ordered his captain of the guard to proceed at once to the house of Ramabai and learn if they were there, or had been.
The captain salaamed and departed with his men.
As Bruce and Kathlyn reached the door leading into the house they were met by Ramabai, whose face was grave.
“Ah, Mem-sahib, you ought not to have come out here. You might be seen.” The servant who had been watching the street burst in with the cry: “Soldiers!”
The Colonel, Winnie and Pundita appeared. For a moment they believed that Ramabai was going to guide them to the secret gallery. But suddenly he raised his head and stared boldly at the gate. And by that sign Bruce and the colonel understood: Ramabai had taken up the dice to make his throw. The two men put their hands on their revolvers and waited.
Soon the captain and his men came rushing in, only to stop short at a sign from Ramabai.
“Be with me on the morrow, and I promise out of my own chest will I pay you your arrears and earnest money for the future. On the other hand, what will you gain by taking us prisoners to Umballa?”
“My lord’s word is known. I myself will take charge of the affairs at the palace; and Umballa shall go to the burning ghats. I will announce to him that I found you not.”
The captain and his men departed, while Ramabai and his friends reentered the house, to find the imperturbable Lal Singh decked out in his lawful finery.
“All is ready,” he announced.
“Dawn,” replied Ramabai.
“The servant goes forth for the chupatties.”
Dawn. The garden was filling with silent armed men. With Ramabai, in the secret gallery, were the chiefs. Ramabai indicated the blazing swords.
“My friends, choose among these weapons. The gems are nothing, but the steel is tried and true.”
Lal Singh selected the simplest, salaamed and slid the scabbard through his cummerbund.
As for Kathlyn, she could not keep her eyes off the beautiful chain cuirass which had once upon a time been worn by one of Pundita’s forebears, a warrior queen.
“Beautiful, beautiful!” she exclaimed. “Pundita, may I put it on? And tell me the story of the warrior queen. To be brave like that, to fight side by side with the man she loved!” She put the cuirass on.
The sky was yellow when the little army started off upon its desperate enterprise. A guard was left behind for the women.
Pundita solemnly gave each of the girls a dagger. War! Rebellion! Great clamor and shouting before the palace stairs!
“Give us Umballa and the council!”
Umballa heard the shouting, and at first did not understand; but soon the truth came to him. The city was in revolt. He summoned what servants he could trust and armed them. And when the captain of the guard entered to seize Umballa he was himself overpowered. The despatch with which this was accomplished stunned the soldiers, who knew not what to do without their leader.
When Lal Singh staggered into the house of Ramabai holding his side in mortal agony, dying, Kathlyn felt the recurrence of that strange duality which she had first known in the Temple of the Lion.
“We have failed,” whispered Lal Singh. “The palace soldiers betrayed us! All are prisoners, shortly to be shot.… The secret gallery … Food and water there!— Fly!” And thus Lal Singh gave up his cobbler’s booth.
As in a dream Kathlyn ran from the house into the street.
With the sun breaking in lances of light against the ancient chain armor, her golden hair flying behind her like a cloud, on, on, Kathlyn ran, never stumbling, never faltering, till she came out into the square before the palace. Like an Amazon of old, she called to the scattering revolutionists, called, harangued, smothered them under her scorn and contempt, and finally roused them to frenzy.
In her madness Kathlyn turned the tide; and when her father’s arms closed round her she sank insensible upon his breast.
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.