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Chicago Sunday Tribune, February 8, 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.
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.
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 terrifying ride she finds herself at the portals of a ruined temple.
CHAPTER VI THE TEMPLE
In the blue of night the temple looked as though it had been sculptured out of mist. Here and there the heavy dews, touched by the moon lances, flung back flames of sapphire, cold and sharp. To Kathlyn the temple was of marvelous beauty. She urged Rajah toward the crumbling portico.
It was a temple in ruins, like many in Hind. Broken pillars, exquisitely carved, lay about, and some of the tall windows of marble lace were punctured, as if the fist of some angry god had beaten through. Under the decayed portico stood an iron brazier. Near this reposed a cracked stone sarcophagus: an unusual sight in this part of the world. It was without its lid. But one god now brooded hereabouts–Silence. Not a sound anywhere, not even from the near-by trees. She saw a noiseless lizard slide jerkily across a patch of moonshine and dissolve into the purple shadow beyond.
What was this temple? What gods had been worshiped here? And why was it deserted? She had heard her father tell of the ruined city of Chitor. Plague? . . . Kathlyn shuddered. Sometimes villages, to the last soul in them, were brushed from existence and known no more to man. And this might be one of them. Yet indications of a village were nowhere to be seen. It was merely a temple, perhaps miles from the nearest village, deserted save by prowling wild beasts, the winds, the sunshine and the moonshine. She looked far and wide for any signs of human habitation.
She commanded Rajah to kneel. So held by the enchanting picture was Kathlyn that the elephant’s renewed restlessness (and he had reason, as will be seen) passed unobserved by her. He came to his knees, however, and she got out of the howdah. Her legs trembled for a space, for her nerves were in a pitiable condition. Suddenly Rajah’s ears went forward, he rose, and his trunk curled angrily. With a whuff he wheeled and shuffled off toward the jungle out of which he had so recently emerged.
“Halt!” cried Kathlyn. What had he heard? What had he seen? “Halt!” But even as she called the tall grass closed in behind the elephant. What water and food she had disappeared with him.
She paused by the brazier, catching hold of it for support. She laughed hysterically: it was so funny; it was all so out of joint with real things, with every-day life as she had known it. Weird laughter returned to mock her astonished ears, a sinister echo. And then she laughed at the echo, being in the grip of a species of madness. In the purple caverns of the temple she suddenly became conscious of another presence. A flash as of moonlight striking two chrysoberyls took the madness out of her mind. This forsaken temple was the haunt of a leopard or a tiger.
She was lost. That magnetism which ordinarily was hers was at its nadir. She hesitated for a second, then climbed into the empty sarcophagus, crouching low. Strangely enough, as she did so a calm fell upon her; all the terrors of her position dropped away from her as mists from the mountain peaks. She had, however, got into the hiding-place none too soon.
She heard the familiar pad-pad, the whiff-whiff of a big cat. Immediately into the moonlight came an African lion, as out of place here as Kathlyn herself; his tail slashed, there was a long black streak from his mane to his tail where the hair had risen. Kathlyn crouched even lower. The lion trotted round the sarcophagus, sniffing. Presently he lifted his head and roared. The echoes played battledore and shuttlecock with the sound. The lion roared again, this time at the insulting echoes. For a few minutes the noise was deafening. A rumble as of distant thunder, and the storm died away.
By and by she peered out cautiously. She saw the lion crossing the open space between the temple and the jungle. She saw him pause, bend his head, then lope away in the direction taken by Rajah.
To Kathlyn it seemed that she had no longer anything to do with the body of Kathlyn Hare. The soul of another had stepped into this wearied flesh of hers and now directed its physical manifestations, while her own spirit stood gratefully and passively aloof. Nothing could happen now; the world had grown still and calm. The spirit drew the sleeves of the robe snugly about her arms and laid Kathlyn’s head upon them and drew her down into a profound slumber.
Half a mile to the north of the ruined temple there lay, all unsuspected by Kathlyn, a village–a village belonging solely to the poor, mostly ryots or tillers of the soil. The poor in Asia know but two periods of time–for rarely do they possess such a thing as a watch or a clock–sunset and sunrise. Perhaps the man of the family may sit a while at dusk on his mud door-sill, with his bubbling water pipe (if he has one), and watch the stars slowly swing across the arch. A pinch of very bad tobacco is slowly consumed; then he enters the hunt (Transcriber’s note: hut?), flings himself upon his matting (perhaps a cotton rug, more likely a bundle of woven water reeds) and sleeps. No one wakes him; habit rouses him at dawn. He scrubs his teeth with a fibrous stick. It is a part of his religious belief to keep his teeth clean. The East Indian (Hindu or Mohammedan) has the whitest, soundest teeth in the world if the betel-nut is but temperately used.
Beyond this village lay a ruined city, now inhabited by cobras and slinking jackals.
Dawn. A few dung fires smoldered. From the doorway of one of the mud huts came a lean man, his naked torso streaked with wet ashes, his matted hair hanging in knots and tangles on his emaciated shoulders. His aspect was exceedingly filthy; he was a holy man, which in this mad country signifies physical debasement, patience and fortitude such as would have adorned any other use. A human lamprey, sticking himself always at the thin and meager board of the poor, a vile parasite, but holy!
The holy man directed his steps to the narrow beaten pathway which led to the temple, where, every morning, he performed certain rites which the poor benighted ryots believed would some day restore the ruined city and the prosperity which attends fat harvests. The holy man had solemnly declared that it would take no less than ten years to bring about this miracle. And the villagers fell down with their foreheads in the dust. He was a Brahmin; the caste string hung about his neck; he was indeed holy, he who could have dwelt on the fat of the land, in maharajahs’ courts. The least that can be said is that he performed his duties scrupulously.
So, then, the red rim of the March sun shouldered up above the rolling jungle as he came into the beaten clay court which fronted the temple. The lion stalked only at night, rarely appearing in the daytime. Once a month he was given a bullock, for he kept tiger and leopard away, and the villagers dwelt in peace. The lion had escaped from Allaha, where the species were kept as an additional sport. Since he had taken up his abode in the temple there had been fewer thefts from the cattle sheds.
The holy man was about to assume his squatting posture in the center of the court, as usual, when from out of the sarcophagus rose languidly a form, shrouded in white. The form stretched its lovely arms, white as alabaster, and presently the hands rubbed a pair of sleepy eyes. Then the form sat down within the sarcophagus, laid its arms on the rim, and wearily hid its face in them.
The watcher was the most dumfounded holy man in all India. For the first time in his hypocritical life he found faith in himself, in his puerile rites. He had conjured up yonder spirit, unaided, alone. He rose, turned, and never a holy man ran faster. When he arrived, panting and voiceless, at the village well, where natives were coming and going with water in goatskins and jars and copper vessels, he fell upon his face, rose to his knees, and poured hands full of dust upon his head.
“Ai, ai!” he called. “It is almost done, my children. The first sign has come from the gods. I have brought you in human form the ancient priestess!” And he really believed he had. “O my children, my little ones, my kids! I have brought her who will now attend to the sacred fires; for these alone will restore the city as of old, the fat corn, the plentitude of fruit. Since the coming of the lion two rains ago the leopard and the striped one have forsaken their lairs. One bullock a month is better than fire, together with the kids and the children. Ai!” More dust.
Naturally the villagers set down their water skins and jars and copper vessels and flocked about this exceptional holy man. They wanted to believe him, but for years nothing had happened but the advent of the lion, whence no one exactly knew, though the holy man had not been backward in claiming it was due to his nearness to the god Vishnu.
They followed him eagerly to the temple. What they beheld transfixed them. A woman with skin like the petals of the lotus and hair like corn sat in the sacred sarcophagus and braided her hair, gazing the while toward the bright sun.
The intake of many breaths produced a sound. Kathlyn turned instantly toward this sound, for a moment expecting the return of the lion. Immediately holy man and villagers threw themselves upon the ground, striking their foreheads against the damp clay. The alien spirit still ruled the substance; Kathlyn eyed them in mild astonishment, not at all alarmed.
“Ai!” shrilled the holy man, springing to his feet. “Ai! She is our ancient priestess, rising from her tomb of centuries! Ai, ai! O thou unholy children, to doubt my word! Behold! Henceforth she shall share the temple with the lion, and later she will give us prosperity, and my name shall ever be in your households.”
Having secured a priestess, he was now determined that he should not lose her. The future was roseate indeed, and when he took his next pilgrimage to holy Benares they would bestrew his pathway with lotus flowers.
“Wood to start the sacred fires!” he commanded.
The villagers flew to obey his orders. He was indeed a holy man. Not in the memory of the oldest had a miracle such as this happened. Upon their return with wood and embers the holy man built the fire, handing a lighted torch to Kathlyn and signifying for her to touch the tinder. The spirit in Kathlyn told her that these people meant her no immediate harm, so she stepped out of the sarcophagus and applied the torch. The moment the flames began to crackle the villagers prostrated themselves again and the holy man besmeared his bony chest with more ashes.
A second holy man appeared upon the scene, wanting in breath. His jaw dropped and his eyes started to leave their sockets. Knowing his ilk so thoroughly well, he flung himself down before the brazier and beat his forehead upon the ground; not in any chastened spirit, but because he had overslept that morning. This glory might have been his! Ai, ai!
Later the two conferred. During the day they should guard the priestess, because, having taken human form, she might some day tire of this particular temple. At night she would be well guarded by the lion.
Several awestricken women came forward with bowls of cooked rice and fruits and a new copper drinking vessel. These they reverently placed at Kathlyn’s feet.
Gradually the spirit which had comforted Kathlyn withdrew, and at length Kathlyn became keenly alive. It entered her mind clearly that these poor foolish people really believed her a celestial being, and so long as they laid no hand upon her she was not alarmed. She had recently passed through too many terrors to be disturbed by a bit of kindness, even if stirred into being by a religious fanaticism.
By pairs the villagers departed, and soon none remained save her self-appointed guardians, the two holy men. Kathlyn felt a desire to explore this wonderful temple. She discovered what must have been the inner shrine. The chamber was filled with idols; here and there a bit of gold leaf, centuries old, glistened upon the bronze, the clay, the wood. The caste mark on the largest idol’s head was a polished ruby, overlooked doubtless during the loot. She swept the dust from the jewel with the tip of her finger, and the dull fire sent a shiver of delight over her. She was still a woman.
As she wandered farther in her foot touched something and she looked down. It was a bone; in fact, the floor was strewn with bones. She quickly discerned, much to her relief, that none of these bones was human. This was, or had been, the den of the lion. There was an acrid unpleasant odor, so she hurried back to the brazier. Vaguely she comprehended that she must keep the fire replenished from time to time in order to pacify the two holy men. At night it would fend off any approach of the lion.
Where was Bruce? Would he ever find her? That philosophy which she had inherited from her father, that quiet acceptance of the inevitable, was the one thing which carried her through her trials sanely. An ordinary woman would have died from mere exhaustion.
Bruce, indeed! At that very moment he was rushing out of the Kumor’s presence, wild to be off toward the road to Allaha, since Kathlyn had not been seen upon it. He found where Rajah had veered off into the jungle again, and followed the trail tirelessly. But it was to be his misfortune always to arrive too late.
To Kathlyn the day passed with nothing more than the curiosity of the natives to disturb her. They brought her cotton blankets which she arranged in the sarcophagus. There were worse beds in the world than this; at least it shielded her from the bitter night wind.
She ate again at sundown and builded high the sacred fire and tried to plan some manner of escape; for she did not propose to be a demi-goddess any longer than was necessary. From Pundita she had learned many words and a few phrases in Hindustani, and she ventured to speak them to the holy men, who seemed quite delighted. They could understand her, but she on her part could make little or nothing of their jabbering. Nevertheless, she pretended.
Finally the holy men departed, after having indicated the sacred fire and the wood beside it. This fire pleased Kathlyn mightily. While it burned brightly the lion would not prowl in her immediate vicinity. She wondered where this huge cat had come from, since she knew her natural history well enough to know that African lions did not inhabit this part of the globe. Doubtless it had escaped from some private menagerie.
The fire, then, giving her confidence, she did not get into the sarcophagus, but wandered about, building in her fancy the temple as it had stood in its prime. The ceilings had been magnificently carved, no two subjects alike; and the walls were of marble and jasper and porphyry. A magic continent this Asia in its heyday. When her forefathers had been rude barbarians, sailing the north seas or sacrificing in Druidical rites, there had been art and culture here such as has never been surpassed. India, of splendid pageants, of brave warriors and gallant kings! Alas, how the mighty had fallen! About her, penury, meanness, hypocrisy, uncleanliness, thievery and unbridled passions. . . . What was that? Her heart missed a beat. That pad-pad; that sniffling noise!
She whirled about, knocking over an idol. It came down with a crash and, being of clay, lay in shards at her feet. (Unfortunately it was the holy of holies in this temple.) How she gained the shelter of the sarcophagus she never knew, but gain it she did, and cowered down within. She could hear the beast trotting round and round, sniffling and rumbling in his throat. Then the roaring of the preceding night was repeated. The old fellow evidently could not find those other lions who roared back at him so valiantly. Evidently fire had no terrors for him. For an hour or more he patrolled the portico, and all this time Kathlyn did not stir, hardly daring to breathe for fear he might undertake to peer into the sarcophagus.
Silence. A low roar from the inner shrine told her that for the present she was safe. To-morrow she must fly, whither did not matter. Toward four o’clock she fell into a doze and was finally awakened by the sound of voices raised in anger.
Poor sheep! They had discovered the shattered idol. It did not matter at all that the return of their ancient goddess was to bring back prosperity. She had broken their favorite idol. Damnation would come in a devil’s wind that night.
The holy man who had missed the chance of claiming the miraculous appearance of Kathlyn as a work of his own now saw an opportunity to rehabilitate himself in the eyes of those who had made his holiness a comfortable existence. With a piece of the idol in his hand, he roused Kathlyn and shook the clay before her face, jabbering violently. Kathlyn understood readily enough. She had unwittingly committed a sacrilege.
The natives gathered about and menaced her. Kathlyn rose, standing in the sarcophagus, and extended her hands for silence. She was frightened, but it would never do to let them see it. What Hindustani she knew would in this case be of no manner of use. But we human beings can, by facial expression and gesture, make known our messages with understandable clearness. From her gestures, then, the holy men gathered that she could recreate the god. She pointed toward the sun and counted on her fingers.
The premier holy man, satisfied that he understood Kathlyn’s gestures, turned to the justly angered villagers and explained that with his aid their priestess would, in five suns, recreate Vishnu in all his beauty. Instantly the villagers prostrated themselves.
“Poor things!” murmured Kathlyn.
The holy men sent the natives away, for it was not meet that they should witness magic in the making. They then squatted in the clay court and curiously waited for her to begin. There was a well in the inner shrine. To this she went with caution. The lion was evidently foraging in the jungle. Kathlyn filled the copper vessel with water and returned. Next, she gathered up what pieces of the idol she could find and pieced them together. Here was her model. She then approached one of the fakirs and signified that she had need of his knife. He demurred at first, but at length consented to part with it. She dug up a square piece of clay. In fine, she felt more like the Kathlyn of old than she had since completing the leopard in her outdoor studio. It occupied her thoughts, at least part of them, for she realized that mayhap her life depended upon her skill in reproducing the hideous idol.
As the two old hypocrites saw the clay take form and shape and the mocking face gradually appear, they were assured that Kathlyn was indeed the ancient priestess; and deep down in their souls they experienced something of the awe they had often inspired in the poor trusting ryot.
Kathlyn had talent bordering on genius. The idol was an exact replica of the original one; more, there was a subtle beauty now where before there had been a frank repulsiveness. It satisfied the holy men, and the unveiling was greeted by the villagers with such joy that Kathlyn forgave them and could have wept over them. She had made a god for them, and they fell down and worshiped it.
Five more days passed. On the afternoon of the fifth day Kathlyn was feeding the fire. The holy men sat in the court at their devotions, which consisted in merely remaining motionless. Kathlyn returned from the fire to see them rise and flee in terror. She in turn fled, for the lion stood between her and the sarcophagus! The lion paused, lashing his tail. The many recent commotions within and without the temple had finally roused his ire. He hesitated between the holy men and Kathlyn, and finally concluded that she in the fluttering robes would be the most desirable.
There was no particular hurry; besides, he was not hungry. The cat in him wanted to play. He loped after Kathlyn easily. At any time he chose a few swift bounds would bring him to her side.
Beyond the temple lay the same stream by which, miles away, Kathlyn had seen the funeral pyre and about which she had so weird a fantasy. If this stream was deep there was a chance for life.
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.