Chicago Sunday Tribune, March 29, 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. 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, they start on their journey to the coast. The party is overpowered and taken in custody by brigands. The leader, recognizing the colonel, dispatches Ramabai and Pundita to Allaha for ransom for the white king, his daughter, and Bruce. Unballah journeys to the lair of the bandits. The colonel is delivered to him and he orders that Kathlyn and Bruce be killed.
CHAPTER XIII LOVE
The golden sands, the purple cliffs, the translucent blue of the heavens, and the group of picturesque rascals jabbering and gesticulating and pressing about their chief, made a picture Kathlyn was never to forget.
“Patience, my little ones!” said the chief, showing his white strong teeth in what was more of a snarl than a smile. “There is plenty of time.”
Bruce leaned toward Kathlyn.
“Stand perfectly still, just as you are. I believe I can reach the knot back of your hands. This squabbling is the very thing needed. They will not pay any attention to us for a few minutes, and if I can read signs they’ll all be at one another’s throats shortly.”
“But even if we get free what can we do?”
Kathlyn was beginning to lose both faith and heart. The sight of her father being led back to Allaha by Durga Ram, after all the misery to which he had been subjected, shook the courage which had held her up these long happy weeks. For she realized that her father was still weak, and that any additional suffering would kill him.
“You mustn’t talk like that,” said Bruce. “You’ve been in tighter places than this. If we can get free, leave the rest to me. So long as one can see and hear and move, there’s hope.”
“I’m becoming a coward. Do what you can. I promise to obey you in all things.”
Bruce bent as far as he could, and went desperately to work at the knot with his teeth. Success or failure did not really matter; simply, he did not propose to die without making a mighty struggle to avoid death. The first knot became loose, then another. Kathlyn stirred her hands cautiously.
“Now!” he whispered.
She twisted her hands two or three times and found them free.
“Mine, now!” said Bruce. “Hurry!”
It was a simple matter for her to release Bruce.
“God bless those rupees!” he murmured. “There’ll be a fine row in a minute. Keep perfectly still, and when the moment comes follow me into the cave. They have left their guns in there.”
“You are a brave and ready man, Mr. Bruce.”
“You called me John once.”
“Well, then, John,” a ghost of a smile flitting across her lips. Men were not generally sentimental in the face of death.
“There are nine of us!” screamed one of the brigands.
“And I claim one bag because without my help and brains you would have had nothing,” roared the chief. “Who warned you against the opium? Ha, pig!”
The first blow was struck. Instantly the chief drew his knife and lunged at the two nearest him.
“Ha! Pigs! Dogs! Come, I’ll show you who is master!”
The remaining brigands closed in upon their leader and bore him upon his back.
“To the tiger with him!”
“Now!” cried Bruce.
He flung the rope from his hands, caught Kathlyn by the arm, and running and stumbling, they gained the cave, either ignored or unobserved by the victorious brigands.
They dragged the stunned leader to his feet and haled him to the cage, lashing him to a wheel. Next, they seized the rope which operated the door and retired to the mouth of the cave.
“Rob us, would he!”
“Take the lion’s share when we did all the work!”
“I will give it all to you!” whined the whilom chief, mad with terror.
“And knife us in the back when we sleep! No, no! You have kicked and cuffed us for the last time!”
Bruce picked up one of the rifles and drew Kathlyn farther into the cave.
“Get behind me and crouch low. They’ll come around to us presently.”
The rascals gave the rope a savage pull, and from where he stood Bruce could see the lean striped body of the furious tiger leap to freedom.
“Keep your eyes shut. It will not be a pleasant thing to look at,” he warned the girl.
But Kathlyn could not have closed her eyes if she had tried. She saw the brute pause, turn and strike at the helpless man at the wheel, then lope off, doubtless having in mind to test his freedom before he fed. The remaining brigands rushed out and gathered up the bags of rupees.
This was the opportunity for which Bruce had waited.
“Come. There may be some outlet to this cave. Here is another rifle. Let us cut for it! When thieves fall out; you know the old saying.”
They ran back several yards and discovered a kind of chasm leading diagonally upward.
“Thank God! We can get out of this after all. Are you strong enough for a stiff climb?”
“I’ve got to be—John!”
“Trust me, Kathlyn,” he replied simply. He had but one life, but he determined then and there to make it equal or outlast the six lives which stood between him and liberty.
The brigands, having succeeded in their mutiny, bethought themselves of their prisoners, only to find that they had vanished. Familiar with the cave and its outlet, they started eagerly in pursuit. They reasoned that if an they started eagerly in pursuit. They reasoned that if an old man was worth three bags of rupees, two young people might naturally be worth twice as much. And besides, being tigers, they had tasted blood.
A shout caused Bruce to turn. Instantly he raised his rifle, and pulled the trigger. The result was merely a snap. The gun had not been loaded. He snatched Kathlyn’s rifle, but this, too, was useless. The brigands yelled exultantly and began to swarm up the ragged cliff. Bruce flung aside the gun and turned his attention to a boulder. Halfway up the chasm had a width which was little broader than the shoulders of an ordinary man. He waited till he saw the wretches within a yard or so of this spot, then pushed this boulder. It roared and crashed and bounded, and before it reached the narrow pathway Bruce had started a mate to it. Then a third followed. This caused a terrific slide of rocks and boulders, and the brigands turned for their lives.
“That will be about all for the present,” said Bruce, wiping his forehead. “Now if we can make that village we shall be all right. Bala Khan’s men will not leave with the camels till they learn whether we are dead or alive. It will be a hard trek, Miss Kathlyn. Ten miles over sand is worse than fifty over turf. I don’t think we’ll see any more of those ruffians.”
“Kathlyn,” she said.
“Or, better still, at home they call me Kit.”
They smiled into each other’s eyes, and no words were needed. Thus quickly youth discards its burdens!
That he did not take her into his arms at once proved the caliber of the man. And Kathlyn respected him none the less for his control. She knew now; and she was certain that her eyes had told him as frankly as any words would have done; and she fell into his stride, strangely embarrassed and not a little frightened. The firm grasp of his hand as here and there he steadied her sent a thrill of exquisite pleasure through her.
Love! She laughed softly; and he stopped and eyed her in astonishment.
“What is it?”
“Nothing,” she answered.
But she went on with the thought which had provoked her laughter. Love! Danger all about, unseen, hidden; misery in the foreground, and perhaps death beyond; her father back in chains, to face she knew not what horrors, and yet she could pause by the wayside and think of love!
“There was something,” he insisted. “That wasn’t happy laughter. What caused it?”
“Some day I will tell you—if we live.”
“Live?” Then he laughed.
And she was not slow to recognize the Homeric quality of his laughter.
“Kit, I am going to get you and your father out of all this, if but for one thing.”
“And what is that?” curious in her turn.
“I’ll tell you later.” And there the matter stood.
The journey to the village proved frightfully exhausting. The two were in a sorry plight when they reached the well.
The camel men were overjoyed at the sight of them. For hours they had waited in dread, contemplating flight which would take them anywhere but to Bala Khan, who rewarded cowardice in one fashion only. For, but for their cowardly inactivity, their charges might by now be safe in the seaport toward which they had been journeying. So they brought food for the two and begged that they would not be accused of cowardice to Bala Khan.
“Poor devils!” said Bruce. “Had they shown the least resistance those brigand chaps would have killed them off like rats.” He beckoned to the head man. “Take us back to Bala Khan in the morning, and we promise that no harm shall befall you. Now, find us a place to sleep.”
Nevertheless, it was hard work to keep that promise.
Bala Khan stormed and swore that death was too good for the watery hearts of his camel men. They should be crucified on the wall. Kathlyn’s diplomacy alone averted the tragedy. Finally, with a good deal of reluctance, Bala Khan gave his word.
So Bruce and Kathlyn planned to return to Allaha, and it was the Khan himself who devised the method. The two young people should stain their skins and don native dress. He would give them two camels outright, only they would be obliged to make the journey without servants.
“But if harm comes to you, and I hear of it, by the beard of the prophet, I’ll throw into Allaha such a swarm of stinging bees that all Hind shall hear of it. Now go, and may Allah watch over you, infidels though you be!”
Umballa sent a messenger on before, for he loved the theatrical, which is innate in all Orientals. He desired to enter the city to the shrilling of reeds and the booming of tom-toms; to impress upon this unruly populace that he, Durga Ram, was a man of his word, that when he set out to accomplish a thing it was as good as done. His arrival was greeted with cheers, but there was an undertone of groans that was not pleasant to his keen ears. Deep in his heart he cursed, for by these sounds he knew that only the froth was his, the froth and scum of the town. The iron heel; so they would have it in preference to his friendship. Oh, for some way to trap Ramabai, to hold him up in ridicule, to smash him down from his pedestal, known but as yet unseen!
He wondered if he would find any more of those anonymous notes relating to the inviolable person of Ramabai. Woe to him who laid them about, could he but put his hand upon him! He, Durga Ram, held Allaha in the hollow of his hand, and this day he would prove it.
So he put a rope about the waist of Colonel Hare, and led him through the streets, as the ancient Romans he had read about did to the vanquished. He himself recognized the absurdity of all these things, but his safety lay in the fact that the populace at large were incapable of reasoning for themselves; they saw only that which was visible to the eye.
On the palace steps he harangued the people, praising his deeds. He alone had gone into the wilderness and faced death to ransom their lawful king. Why these bonds? The king had shirked his duty; he had betrayed his trust; but in order that the people should be no longer without a head, this man should become their prisoner king; he should be forced to sign laws for their betterment. Without the royal signature the treasury could not be touched, and now the soldiers should be paid in full.
From the soldiers about came wild huzzahs.
Ahmed and Lal Singh, packed away in the heart of the crowd, exchanged gloomy looks. Once the army was Umballa’s, they readily understood what would follow: Umballa would acclaim himself, and the troops would back him.
“We have a thousand guns and ten thousand rounds of ammunition,” murmured Lal Singh.
“Perhaps we had best prevail upon Ramabai to strike at once. But wait. The Colonel Sahib understands. He knows that if he signs anything it will directly proved his death-warrant. There is still an obstacle at Umballa’s feet. Listen!”
Sadly Umballa recounted his adventure in full. The daughter of the king and his friend, the American hunter, were dead. He, Umballa, had arrived too late.
The colonel, mad with rage, was about to give Umballa the lie publicly, when he saw a warning hand uplifted, and below that hand the face of Ahmed. Ahmed shook his head. The colonel’s shoulders drooped. In that sign he read danger.
“They live,” said Ahmed. “That is enough for the present. Let us begone to the house of Ramabai.”
“The Colonel Sahib is safe for the time being.”
“And will be so long as he refuses to open the treasury door to Umballa. There is a great deal to smile about, Lal Singh. Here is a treasury, guarded by seven leopards, savage as savage can be. Only two keepers ever dare approach them, and these keepers refuse to cage the leopards without a formal order from the king or queen. Superstition forbids Umballa to make way with the brutes. The people, your people and mine, Lal Singh, believe that these leopards are sacred, and any who kills them commits sacrilege, and you know what that amounts to here. So there he dodders; too cowardly to fly in the face of superstition. He must torture and humiliate the Colonel Sahib and his daughter. Ah, these white people! They have heads and hearts of steel. I know.”
“And Umballa has the heart of a flea-bitten pariah dog. When the time comes he will grovel and squirm and whine.”
“He will,” agreed Ahmed. “His feet are even now itching for the treadmill.”
The colonel was taken to one of the palace chambers, given a tub and fresh clothing. Outside in the corridors guards patrolled, and there were four who watched the window. He was a king, but well guarded. Well, they had crowned him, but never should Umballa, through any signature of his, put his hand into the royal treasury.
Besides, this time he had seen pity and sympathy in the faces of many who had looked upon his entrance to the city. The one ray of comfort lay in the knowledge that faithful Ahmed lived.
He dared not think of Kathlyn. He forced his mind to dwell upon his surroundings, his own state of misery. Bruce was there, and Bruce was a man of action and resource. He would give a good account of himself before those bronze devils in the desert made away with him. He feared not for Kathlyn’s death, only her future. For they doubtless had lied to Umballa. They would not kill Kathlyn so long as they believed she was worth a single rupee.
Umballa came in, followed by four troopers, who stationed themselves on each side of the door.
“Wait!” thundered the colonel. Suddenly he turned to the troopers. “Am I your king?”
The four men salaamed.
“Then I order you to arrest this man Durga Ram for treason against the person of your king!”
The troopers stared, dumfounded, first at the colonel, then at Umballa.
“I command it!”
Umballa laughed. The troopers did not stir.
“Ah,” said the colonel. “That is all I desire to know. I am not a king. I am merely a prisoner. Therefore those papers which you bring me can not lawfully be signed by me.” The colonel turned his back to Umballa, sought the latticed window and peered forth.
“There are ways,” blazed forth Umballa.
“Bah! You black fool!” replied the colonel, wheeling. “Have I not yet convinced you that all you can do is to kill me? Don’t waste your time in torturing me. It will neither open my lips nor compel me to take a character brush in my hand. If my daughter is dead, so be it. At any rate, she is at present beyond your clutches. You overreached yourself. Had you brought her back it is quite possible I might have surrendered. But I am alone now.”
“You refuse to tell where the filigree basket is hidden?”
“You refuse to exercise your prerogative to open the doors of the treasury?”
Umballa opened the door, motioning to the troopers to pass out. He framed the threshold and curiously eyed this unbendable man. Presently he would bend. Umballa smiled.
“Colonel Sahib, I am not yet at the end of my resources,” and with this he went out, closing the door.
That smile troubled the colonel. What deviltry was the scoundrel up to now? What could he possibly do?
Later, as he paced wearily to and fro, he saw something white slip under the door. He stooped and picked up a note, folded European fashion. His heart thrilled as he read the stilted script:
“Ahmed and I shall watch over you. Be patient. This time I am pretending to be your enemy, and you must act accordingly. A messenger has arrived from Bala Khan. Your daughter and Bruce Sahib are alive, and, more, on the way to Allaha in native guise. Be of good cheer, Ramabai.”‘
And Umballa, as he lifted his fruit dish at supper, espied another of those sinister warnings. “Beware!” This time he summoned his entire household and threatened death to each and all of them if they did not immediately disclose to him the person who had placed this note under the fruit dish. They cringed and wept and wailed, but nothing could be got out of them. He had several flogged on general principles.
Kathlyn and Bruce returned to Allaha without mishap. Neither animal nor vagabond molested them. When they arrived they immediately found means to acquaint Ramabai, who with Pundita set out to meet them.
In their picturesque disguises Kathlyn and Bruce made a handsome pair of high caste natives. The blue eyes alone might have caused remarks, but this was a negligible danger, since color and costume detracted. Kathlyn’s hair, however, was securely hidden, and must be kept so. A bit of carelessness on her part, a sportive wind, and she would be lost. She had been for dyeing her hair, but Bruce would not hear of this desecration.
So they entered the lion’s den, or, rather, the jackal’s.
At Ramabai’s house Ahmed fell on his knees in thankfulness; not that his Mem-sahib was in Allaha, but that she was alive.
During the evening meal Ramabai outlined his plot to circumvent Umballa. He had heard from one of his faithful followers that Umballa intended to force the colonel into a native marriage; later, to dispose of the colonel and marry the queen himself. Suttee had fallen in disuse in Allaha. He, Ramabai, would now apparently side with Umballa as against Colonel Hare, who would understand perfectly. As the colonel would refuse to marry, he, Ramabai, would suggest that the colonel be married by proxy. However suspicious Umballa might be, he would not be able to find fault with this plan. The betrothal would take place in about a fortnight. The Mem-sahib would be chosen as consort out of all the assembled high caste ladies of the state.
Ahmed threw up his hands in horror, but Lal Singh bade him be patient. What did the Mem-sahib say to this? The Mem-sahib answered that she placed herself unreservedly in Ramabai’s hands; that Umballa was a madman and must be treated as one.
“Ramabai, why not strike now?” suggested Ahmed.
“The promise Umballa has made to the soldiers has reunited them temporarily. Have patience, Ahmed.” Lal Singh selected a leaf with betel-nut and began to chew with satisfaction.
“Patience?” said Ahmed? “Have I none?”
So the call went forth for a bride throughout the principality, and was answered from the four points of the compass.
Between the announcement and the fulfilment of these remarkable proceedings there arrived in the blazing city of Calcutta a young maid. Her face was very stern for one so youthful, and it was as fearless as it was stern. Umballa’s last card, had she but known the treachery which had lured her to this mystic shore. The young maid was Winnie, come, as she supposed, at the urgent call of her father and sister, and particularly warned to confide in no one and to hide with the utmost secrecy her destination.
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.