Chicago Sunday Tribune, January 18, 1914
On January 18th, the Selig Polyscope Company released the second installment of a photo drama corresponding to the chapters of the novel The Adventures of Kathlyn, appearing in The Tribune. Every two weeks the Selig Company will release another installment. By this arrangement it is possible not only to read the novel but to see the photo drama at the motion picture theaters.1
SYNOPSIS OF CHAPTERS I AND II
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 Unballa 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.
CHAPTER III THE TWO ORDEALS
UMBALLAH was not a coward; he was only ruthless and predatory after the manner of his kind. A thrill of admiration tingled his spine. The women of his race were chattels, lazy and inert, without fire, merely drudges or playthings. Here was one worth conquering, a white flame to be controlled. To bend her without breaking her, that must be his method of procedure. The skin under her chin was as white as the heart of a mangosteen, and the longing to sweep her into his anna was almost irresistible.
A high priest spoke to Kathlyn.
“What does he say?” she asked.
“That you must marry me.”
“Tell him that I refuse!”
Umballah shrugged and repeated her words. Here the Council of Three interposed, warning Kathlyn that she must submit to the law as it read. There was no appeal from it.
“Then I shall appeal to the British Raj.”
“How?” asked Umballah urbanely.
Swiftly she stepped to the front of the platform and extended her anna. It was an appeal. She pointed to Umballah and shook her head. Her arms. went out again. A low murmur rippled over the pressing crowd; it grew in volume; and a frown of doubt flitted over Umballah’s brow. The soldiers were swaying restlessly. Kathlyn saw this sign and was quick to seize upon its possibilities. She renewed her gesture toward them. It seemed that she must burst forth in their maddening tongue:
“I appeal to the chivalry of Allaha! . . . Soldiers, you now wear my uniform! Liberate me!”
But her tongue was mute; yet her eyes, her face, her arms spoke eloquently enough to the turbulent soldiers. Besides, they welcomed the opportunity to show the populace how strong they were and how little they feared Umballah. At a nod from their leader they came romping up the steps to this dais and surrounded Kathlyn. A roar came from the populace; an elephant trumpeted; the pariah dogs barked.
Umballah stepped back, his hand on his jeweled sword. He was quite unprepared for any such flagrant mutiny-mutiny from his angle of vision, though in law the troopers had only responded to the desire of their queen. He turned questioningly to the council and the priests. He himself could move no further. His confreres appreciated the danger in which their power stood. They announced that it was decreed to give the queen a respite of seven days in which to yield. It would at least hold the bold troopers on the leash till they could be brought to see the affair in its true light by the way of largess in rupees. Umballah consented because he was at the bottom of the sack. A priest read from a scroll the law, explaining that no woman might rule unmarried. Because the young queen was not conversant with the laws of the state she would be”given seven days. Thus the durbar ended.
With a diplomacy which would have graced a better man Umballah directed the troopers to escort Kathlyn to her chamber in the zenana. He had in mind seven days. Many things could be accomplished in that space of time.
“For the present,” he said, smiling at Kathlyn; “the God of your fathers has proven strongest. But to-morrow!. . . Ah, to-morrow! There will be seven days. Think, then, deeply and wisely. Your khidmutgar Rao is a prisoner. It will be weeks ere your presence is known here. You are helpless as a bird in the net. Struggle if you will; you will only bruise your wings. The British Raj? The British Raj does not want a great border war, and I can bring down ten thousand wild hillmen outlaws between whom and the British Raj there is a blood feud; ten thousand from a land where there is never peace, only truce. In seven days. Salaam, heaven born!”
She returned his ironical gaze calmly over the shoulder of a trooper.
“Wait,” she said. “I wish you to understand the enormity of your crime.”
“Crime?” with elevated eyebrows.
“Yes. You have abducted me.”
“No. You came of your own free will.”
“The white men of my race will not pause to argue over any such subtlety. Marry you? I do not like your color.” .
A dull red settled under Umballah’s skin.
“I merely wish to warn you,” she went on, “that my blood will be upon your head. And woe to you if it is. There are white men who will not await the coming of the British Raj.”
“Ah, yes; some brave hardy American; Bruce Sahib, for instance. Alas, he is in the Straits Settlements! Seven days.”
“I am not afraid to die.”
“But there are many kinds of death,” and with this sinister reflection he stepped aside.
The multitude, seeing Kathlyn coming down from the dais, still surrounded by her cordon of troopers,began reluctantly to disperse. “Bread and the circus!”—the mobs will cry it down the ages; they will always pause to witness bloodshed, from a safe distance, you may be sure. There was a deal of rioting in the bazaars that night, and many a measure of bhang and toddy kept the fires burning. Oriental politics is like the winds of the equinox: it blows from all directions.
The natives were taxed upon every conceivable subject, not dissimilar to the old days in Urdu, where a man paid so much for the privilege of squeezing the man under him. Mutiny was afoot, rebellion, but it had not yet found a head. The natives wanted a change, something to gossip about during the hot lazy afternoons, over their hookas and coffee. To them reform meant change only, not the alleviation of some of their heavy burdens. The talk of freeing slaves was but talk; slaves were lucrative investments; a man would be a fool to free them. An old man, with a skin white like this new queen’s and hair like spun wool, dressed in a long black cloak and a broad brimmed hat, had started the agitation of liberating the slaves. More than that, he carried no idol of his God, never bathed in the ghats, or took flowers to the temples, and seemed always silently communing with the simple iron cross suspended from his neck. But hehad died during the last visitation of the plague.
They had wearied of their tolerant king, who had died mysteriously; they were now wearied of the council and Umballah; in other words, they knew not what they wanted, being People.
Who was this fair-skinned woman who stood so straight before Umballah’s eye? Whence had ahe come? To be ruled by a woman who appeared to be tongue-tied? Well, there were worse things than a woman who could not talk. Thus they gabbled in the bazaars, round braziers and dung fires. And some talked of the murder. The proud Ramabai had been haled to prison; his banker’s gold had not saved him. Oh, this street rat Umballah generally got what he wanted. Ramabai’s wife was one of the beauties of Hind.
Through the narrow, evil smelling streets of the bazaars a man hurried that night, glancing behind frequently to see if by any mischance some one followed. He stopped at the house of Lal Singh, the shoemaker, whom he found drowsing over his water pipe.
“Is it well!” said the newcomer, intoning.
“It is well,” answered Lai Singh, dropping the mouthpiece of his pipe. He had spoken mechanically. When he saw who his visitor was his eyes brightened. “Ahmed?”
“Hush!” with a gesture toward the ceiling.
“She is out merrymaking, like the rest of her kind. The old saying: if a man waits, the woman comes to him. I am alone. There is news?”
“There is a journey. Across Hind to Simla.”
“The hour has arrived?”
“At least the excuse. Give these to one in authority with the British Raj, whose bread we eat-” Ahmed slid across the table a very small scroll.
“The Mem-sahib is my master’s daughter. She must be spirited away to safety.”
“Ah!” Lal Singh rubbed his fat hands. “So the time nears when we shall wring the vulture’s neck? Ai, it is good! Umballah, the toad, who swells and swells as the days go by. Siva has guarded him well. The king picks him out of the gutter for a pretty bit of impudence, sends him afar to Umballah, where he learns to speak English, where he learns to wear shoes that button and stiff linen bands round the neck. He has gone on, gone on! The higher up, the harder the fall.”
“There are pistols and guns and ammunition and strange little wires by which I make magic fires.”
“One never knows what may be needed. You have the key?”
“Hare Sahib’s daughter. And Hare Sahib?” with twinkling eyes.
“In some dungeon, mayhap. There all avenues seemed closed up.”
“UmbalIa needs money,” said Lal Singh, thoughtfully.
“But he will not find it,” in afterthought.
These two men were spiders in that great web of secret service that the British Raj weaves up and down and across Hind, to Persia and Afghanistan, to the borders of the Bear.
Even as Lal Singh picked up his mouthpiece again and Ahmed sallied forth into the bazaars Umballa had brought to him in the armory that company of soldiers who had shown such open mutiny, not against the state but against him.
Gravely he questioned the captain.
“Pay our wages, then, heaven born,” said the captain, with veiled insolence. “Pay us, for we have seen not so much as betel money since the last big rains.”
“Money,” mused Umballah, marking down this gallant captain for death when the time came.
“Ai, money; bright rupees, or, better still, yellow
British gold. Pay us I”
“Let us be frank with each other,” said Umballah, smiling to cover the fire in his eyes.
“That is what we desire,” replied the captain with a knowing look at his silent troopers.
“I must buy you.”
The captain salaamed.
“But after I have bought you!” ironically.
“Heaven born; our blood is yours to spill where and when you will.”
From under the teak table Umballah drew forth two heavy baas of silver coins. These he emptied 11pon the table dramatically; white shining metal, sparkling as the candle flames wavered. Umballah arranged the coin in stacks, one of them triple in size.
“Yours, Captain,” said Umballah, indicating the large stack.
The captain pocketed it, and one by one his troopers passed and helped themselves and fell back along the wall in military alignment, brlght-eyed and watchful.
“Thanks, heaven born!”
The captain and his troopers filed out. Umballah fingered the empty bags, his brow wrinkled. Cut off a cobra’s head and it could only wriggle until sunset. Umballah gave the vanishing captain two weeks. Then he should vanish indeed.
The next morning while the council and Umballah were in session relative as to what should be done with Kathlyn in the event of her refusal to bend, two soldiers entered, bringing with them a beautiful native young woman, one Pundita, wife of Ramabai, found in murder.
Umballah wiped his betel stained lips and salaamed mockingly. Not so long ago he had been attentive to this young woman-after her marriage. She had sent him about his business with burning ears’ and a hot cheek, made so by the contact of her strong young hand. Revenge, great or small, was always sweet to Umballah.
To the slave girl who attended Pundita he said:
Go summon the queen. It is for her to decide what shall be done with this woman.
Through the veil Pundita’s black eyes sparkled with hatred.
When Kathlyn came in it was at once explained to her that the woman’s husband had been taken for murder; by law his wife became the queen’s property, to dispose of as she willed. The veil was plucked from Pundita’s face. She was ordered to salaam in submission to her queen. Pundita salaamed, but stoutly refused to kneel. They proceeded to force her roughly, when Kathlyn intervened.
“Tell her she is free,” said Kathlyn.
“Free?” came from the amazed Pundita’s lips.
“You speak English?” cried Kathlyn excitedly.
Kathlyn could have embraced her for the very joy of the knowledge. A woman who could talk English, who could understand, who perhaps could help! Yes, yes; the God of her fathers was good.
Umballah smiled. All this was exactly what he had reason to expect. Seven days of authority; it would amuse him to watch her.
“Tell me your story,” urged Kathlyn kindly. “Be not afraid of these men. I shall make you my lady in waiting. . . so long as I am queen,” with a searching glance at Umballah’s face. She learned nothing from the half smile there.
Kathlyn pardons Pundita.
Pundita’s narrative was rather long but not uninteresting. She had learned English from the old white priest who had died during the last plague. She was of high caste; and far back in the days of the Great Mogul in Delhi her forebears had ruled here; but strife and rebellion had driven them forth. In order that her immediate forebear might return to their native state and dwell in peace they had waived all possible rights of accession. They had found her husband standing over a dead man in the bazaars. He was innocent.
Umballah smoothed his chin. Pundita had not told her queen how he, Umballah, had made the accusation, after having been refused money by Ramabai. He secretly admired’ the diplomacy of the young woman. He did not at this moment care to push his enmity too far. As a matter of fact, he no longer cared about her; at least, not since his arrival at the Hare wild animal farm in California.
“Where is this man Ramabai confined?” demanded Kathlyn.
“In the murderers’ pit in the elephant arena.”
“Send and bring him here. I am certain that he is innocent.”
So they brought in Ramabai in chains. Behind him came a Nautch girl, at whom Umballah gazed puzzledly. What part had she in this affair? He soon found out.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“I am Lalla Ghori, and I live over the shoemaker, Lal Singh, in the Kashmir Gate bazaar. I dance.”
“And why are you here?”
“I saw the murder. Ramabai is innocent. He came upon the scene only after the murderer had fled. They were fighting about me,” naively. “I was afraid to tell till now.”
“Knock off those chains,” said Kathlyn. Of Pundita she asked: “Does he, too, speak English?”
“Yea, heaven born.”
“Then for the present he shall become my bodyguard. You shall both remain here in the palace.”
“Ah, Your Majesty!” interposed Umballah. Pundita he did not mind, but he objected to Ramabai, secretly knowing him to be a revolutionist, extremely popular with the people and the near-by ryots (farmers), to whom he loaned money upon reasonable terms.
“If I am queen; I will it,” said Kathlyn firmly~
“If I am only a prisoner, end the farce at once.”
“Your majesty’s word is law,” and Umballah bowed, hiding as best he could his irritation.
The next afternoon he began to enact the subtle plans he had formed regarding Kathlyn. He brought her certain documents and petitions to sign and went over them carefully with her. Once, as she returned a document, he caught her hand and kissed it. She withdrew it roughly, flaming with anger. He spread his hands apologetiea1ly. He was on fire for her, but he possessed admirable control. He had the right to come and go; as regent he could enter the zenana without being accompanied by the council. But, thereafter, when he arrived with the day’s business she contrived to have Pundita near and Ramabai within. eall. On the sixth day he east all discretion to the winds and seized her violently in his arms. And, though she defended her lips, her cheeks and neck were defiled. She stepped back; the hidden dagger flashed.
“A step nearer,” she cried, low voiced, “and I will strike.”
Umballah recoiled. This was no longer Sa’adi’s houri but the young woman who had mastered the lion in the railway train. Rage supplanted the passion in his heart. Since she would not bend, she should break. As her arm sank he sprang forward like a cat and seized her wrist. He was not gentle. The dagger tinkled as it struck the marble floor. He stooped for it.
“Since you will not bend, break!” he said, and left the chamber, cold with fury.
Kathlyn sank weakly upon her pillows as Pundita ran to her side.
“What shall I do, Pundita?”
“God knows, Mem-sahib!”
“Are you a Christian?”
And so they comforted each other.
There was a garden in the palace grounds, lovely indeed. A fountain tinkled and fat carp swam about in the fluted marble basin. There were trellises of flowers, too. Persian roses, despite the fact that it was still winter. It was called the garden of brides.
Kathlyn, attended by Pundita, awaited there the coming of Umballa and the council. Her heart ached with bitterness and she could not think clearly. The impression that all this was some dreadful nightmare recurred to her vividly. What terrors awaited her she knew not nor could conceive. Marry that smiling demon?—for something occult told her that he was a demon. No; she was ready to die. . . And but a little while ago she had been working happily in the outdoor studio; the pet leopard sprawled at her feet; from the bungalow she heard the nightingale voice of Winnie, soaring in some aria of Verdi’s; her father was dozing on the veranda. Out of that, into this! It was incredible. From time to time she brushed her forehead, bewildered.
In this mood, bordering on the hysterical (which is sometimes but a step to supreme courage), Durga Ram, so-called Umballa, and the council found her. The face of the former was cold, his eyes steady and expressionless.
“Has your majesty decided 7” asked the eldest of the council.
“And your decision is?”
“No, absolutely and finally. There is no reason why I should. o~y any of your laws; but there is a good reason why all of you shall some day be punished for this outrage.”
“Outrage! To be made queen of Allaha?” The spokesman for the council stamped his foot in wrath.
“Think!” said Umballah.
“I have thought. Let us have no more of this cat and-mouse play. I refuse to marry you. I’d much prefer any beggar in the street. There is nothing more to be said.”
“There are worse things than marriage.”
“What manner of indignities have you arranged for me?” Her voice was firm, but the veins in her throat beat so hardily that they stifled her.
Said the spokesman of the council: “We have found a precedent. We find that one hundred and ninety years ago a like case confused the council of that day. They finally agreed that she must submit to two ordeals with wild beasts of the jungle. If she survived she was to be permitted to rule without hindrance. It would be a matter for the gods to decide.”
“Are you really human beings?” asked Kathlyn, her lips dry. “Can you possibly commit such a dreadful crime against one who has never harmed you, who asks for nothing but the freedom to leave this country?”
Pundita secretly caught Kathlyn’s· hand and pressed it.
“Once more !” said Umballa, his compassion touched for the first time. But he had gone too far; for the safety of his own head he must go on.
“I am ready!”
The four men salaamed gravely. They turned, the llowing yellow robes of the council lluttering in the wind, the sun lighting with green and red fires the hilt of Umballa’s sword. Not one of them but would have emptied his private coffers to undo what he had done. It was too late. Already a priest had announced the ordeals to the swarming populace. You feed a tiger to pacify him; you give a populace a spectacle.
That night Umballa did not rest particularly well. But he became determined upon one thing: no actual harm should befall Kathlyn. He would have a marksman hidden near by in both ordeals. What a woman! She was a queen, and he knew that he would go through all the hells of Hind to call her his. Long ere this he would have looted the treasure chests and swept her up on his racing elephant had he dared. Sa’adi’s houri!
A thousand times he heard it through the night:
I am ready!
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.