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Chicago Sunday Tribune, March 22, 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. The same night the sacred white elephant, the Khan’s most possession, is stolen.
CHAPTER XII THE PLAN OF RAMABAI ELEPHANT
When Kathlyn returned to the compound it was with the news that she had discovered a group of men, some twelve or fifteen miles to the west. They had paused at what appeared to be a well, and with them was the sacred white elephant. Bala Khan was for giving orders at once to set out with his racing camels to catch and crucify every mother’s son of them on the city walls. But Ramabai interposed.
“As I came toward the compound I was given a message. The man who gave it to me was gone before I could get a good look at his face. These men who stole the sacred white elephant are brave and desperate. At the first sign of pursuit they promise to kill the elephant.”
“And by the beard of the prophet,” cried Bala Khan, his face purpling with passion, “these men of the desert keep their promises. And so do I. I promise later to nail each one of them to the walls to die hanging to nails!”
“But just now,” said Ramabai quietly, “the main thing is to rescue the elephant, and I have a plan.”
“Let me hear it.”
“From what you told me last night,” went on Ramabai, “those nomads or brigands are opium fiends.”
Bala Khan nodded.
“Bruce Sahib, here, and I will undertake to carry them doctored opium. I know something about the drug. I believe that we saw the thieves last evening as we came through the streets. My plan is this: we will take five racing camels, go north and turn, making the well from the west. That will not look like pursuit.”
“But five camels?” Bala Khan was curious.
“Yes. In order to allay the suspicions of the brigands, Kathlyn Mem-sahib and my wife must accompany us.”
The colonel objected, but Kathlyn overruled his objections.
“But, Kit, they will recognize us. They will not have forgot me. They will know that we have come from the town, despite the fact that to all appearances we come from the West.”
Bruce also shook his head. “It doesn’t look good, Ramabai. Why not we three men?”
“They would be suspicious at once. They would reason, if they saw Kathlyn Mem-sahib and my wife with us that we were harmless. Will you trust me?”
“Anywhere,” said the colonel. “But they will simply make us prisoners along with the elephant.”
“Ah, but the Colonel Sahib forgets the opium.” Ramabai laid his hand upon the colonel’s arm. “Let them make prisoners of us. The very first thing they will do will be to search the saddle-bags. They will find the opium. In a quarter of an hour they will be as dead and we can return.”
“It is a good plan,” said Bala Khan, when the conversation was fully translated to him. “And once the elephant is back in the compound I’ll send a dozen men back for the rogues. Ah! they will play with me; they will steal into my town, overcome my guards, take the apple of my eye! Ramabai, thou art a friend indeed. Haste and Allah fend for thee! Umballa may arrive with an army, but he shall not enter my gates.”
Guided by a servant, Bruce and Ramabai set off for the opium den. The proprietor understood exactly what they desired. There were times when men entered his place who were in need of a long sleep, having money tucked away in their fantastic cummerbunds.
So, mounted upon five swift camels, the party started off on a wide circle. Whether they caught the brigands at the well or on the way to their mountain homes was of no great importance. Ramabai was quite certain that the result would be the same. The colonel grumbled a good deal. Supposing the rascals did not smoke; what then?
“They will smoke,” declared Ramabai confidently. “The old rascal of whom we bought the opium has entertained them more than once. They are too poor to own pipes. Have patience, Colonel Sahib. A good deal depends upon the success of our adventure this morning. If I know anything about Umballa, he will shortly be on the march. Bala Khan has given his word.”
Had it not been for liberal use of opium the night before, the brigands would not have tarried so long at the well; but they were terribly thirsty, a bit nerve shattered and craved for the drug. The chief alone had fully recovered. He cursed and raved at his men, kicked and beat them. What! After all these weeks of waiting, to let sleep stand between them and thousands of rupees! Dogs! Pigs! Did they not recollect that Bala Khan had a way of nailing thieves outside the walls of his city? Well, he for one would not wait. He would mount the sacred white elephant and head toward the caves in the hills. Let them who would decorate the walls of Bala Khan. The threat of Bala Khan put life into the eight followers, and they were getting ready to move on, when one of them discovered a small caravan approaching from the west.
Camels? Ha! Here was a chance of leaving Bala Khan’s city far in the rear. And there would be loot besides. Those helmets were never worn by any save white men. The chief scowled under his shading palm. Women! Oh, this was going to be something worth while.
When the caravan came within hailing distance the chief of the brigands stepped forward menacingly. The new arrivals were informed that they were prisoners, and were bidden to dismount at once.
“But we are on the way to the city of Bala Khan,” remonstrated Ramabai.
“Which you left this morning!” jeered the chief.
“But I am selling opium there!”
“Where is it? Give it to us!” cried one of the brigands.
The chief thought quickly. If his men would smoke they should suffer the penalty of being left at the well to await the arrival of the tender Bala Khan. The white elephant was worth ten thousand rupees. He might not be obliged to share these bags of silver. His men could not complain. They had discharged him. Let them have the pipes. He himself would only pretend to smoke.
But the first whiff of the fumes was too much for his will power. He sucked in the smoke, down to the bottom of his very soul, and suddenly found peace. The superdrug with which the poppy had been mixed was unknown to Ramabai, but he had often witnessed tests of its potency. It worked with the rapidity of viper venom. Within ten minutes after the first inhalation the nine brigands sank back upon the sand, as nearly dead as any man might care to be.
At once the elephant was liberated, and the party made off toward the town. Colonel Hare, suspicious of everything these days, marveled over the simplicity of the trick and the smoothness with which it had been turned. He began to have hope for the future. Perhaps this time they were really going to escape from this land accursed.
There was great powwowing and salaaming at the gate as the sacred white elephant loomed into sight. The old Brahmin who had charge of him wept for joy. He was still a personage, respected, salaamed to, despite the preponderance of Mohammedans. His sacred elephant!
Bala Khan was joyous. Here was the sacred elephant once more in the compound, and not a piece out of his treasure chest. He was in luck. In the midst of his self-congratulations came the alarming news that a large body of men were seen approaching across the desert from the direction of Allaha. Bala Khan, his chiefs and his guests climbed to the top of the wall and beheld the spectacle in truth. It required but a single look through the binoculars to discover to whom this host belonged.
“Umballah!” said Ramabai,
“Ah! Durga Ram, to pay his respects.” Bala Khan rubbed his hands together. It had been many moons since he had met a tulwar.
The colonel examined his revolver coldly. The moment that Umballa came within range the colonel intended to shoot. This matter was going to be settled definitely, here and now. So long as Umballa lived, a dread menace hung above Kathlyn’s head. So, then, Umballa must die.
Bala Khan was for beginning the warfare at once, but Bruce argued him out of this idea. Let them first learn what Umballa intended to do. There was no need of shedding blood needlessly.
“You white people must always talk,” grumbled the Khan, who was a fighting man, born of a race of fighters yet to bow the head to the yoke. “It is better to kill and talk afterward. I have given my word to protect you, and the word of Bala Khan is as sound as British gold.”
“For that,” said Bruce, “thanks.”
“Keep your men from the walls,” cried Kathlyn, “and bring me the white elephant. I would deal with this man Umballa.”
Her request was granted. So when Durga Ram and has soldiers arrived before the closed gates they beheld Kathlyn mounted on the white elephant alone.
“What wish you here, Durga Ram?” she called down to the man on the richly caparisoned war elephant.
“You! Your father and those who have helped you to escape.”
“Indeed! Well, then, come and take us.”
“I would speak with Bala Khan,” imperiously.
“You will deal with me alone,” declared Kathlyn.
Umballa reached for his rifle, but a loud murmur from the men stayed his impulse.
“It is the sacred white elephant, Highness. None dare fire at that,” his captain warned him. “Those with him or upon him are in sanctity.”
“Tell Bala Khan,” said Umballa, controlling his rage as best he could, “tell Bala Khan that I would be his friend, not his enemy.”
“Bala Khan,” boomed a voice from the other side of the wall, “cares not for your friendship. Whatever the Mem-sahib says is my word. What! Does Allaha want war for the sake of gratifying Durga Ram’s spite? Begone, and thank your evil gods that I am not already at your lying treacherous throat. Take yourself off, Durga Ram. The people of Bala Khan do not make war on women and old men. The Mem-sahib and her friends are under my protection.”
“I will buy them!” shouted Umballa, recollecting the greed of Bala Khan.
“My word is not for sale!” came back.
Kathlyn understood by the expression on Umballa’s countenance what was taking place. She smiled down at her enemy.
“So be it, Bala Khan,” snarled Umballa, his rage no longer on the rein. “In one month’s time I shall return, and of your city there will not be one stone upon another when I leave it!”
“One month!” Ramabai laughed.
“Why are you always smiling, Ramabai?” asked Bruce.
“I have had a dream, Sahib,” answered Ramabai, still smiling. “Umballa will not return here.”
“You could tell me more than that.”
“I could, but will not,” the smile giving way to sternness.
“If only I knew what had become of Ahmed,” said the colonel, when the last of Umballa’s soldiers disappeared whence they had come, “I should feel content.”
“We shall find him, or he will find us, if he is alive,” said Kathlyn. “Now let us make ready for the last journey. One hundred miles to the west is the Arabian gulf. It is a caravan port, and there will be sailing vessels and steamships.” She shook him by the shoulders joyously. “Dad, we are going home, home!”
“Kit, I want to see Winnie!”
The word sent a twinge of pain through Bruce’s heart. Home! Would he ever have a real one? Was she to go out of his life at last? Kathlyn Hare.
“But you, Ramabai?” said Kathlyn.
“I shall return to Allaha, I and Pundita,” replied Ramabai.
“It will be death!” objected Bruce and Kathlyn together.
“I think not,” and Ramabai permitted one of his mysterious smiles to stir his lips.
“Ramabai!” whispered Pundita fearfully.
“Yes. After all, why should we wait?”
“What is all this about?” inquired Kathlyn.
“Allaha is weary of Umballa’s iron heel, weary of a vacillating council. And the time has arrived when the two must be abolished. A thousand men await the turn of my hand. And who has a better right to the throne of Allaha than Pundita, my wife?”
“Good!” cried Kathlyn, her eyes sparkling. “Good! And if we can help you——”
“Kit,” interposed the colonel, “we can give Ramabai and Pundita only our good wishes. Our way lies to the west, to the seaport and home.”
And the party returned to the compound rather subdued. This quiet young native banker would go far.
“And if I am ever queen, will my beautiful Mem-sahib come back some day and visit me?”
“That I promise, Pundita, though I have no love for Allaha.”
“We will go with you to the coast,” said Ramabai, “and on our return to Allaha will see what has become of the faithful Ahmed.”
“For that my thanks,” responded the colonel. “Ahmed has been with me for many years, and has shared with me many hardships. If he lives, he will be a marked man, so far as Umballa is concerned. Aid him to come to me. The loss of my camp and bungalow is nothing. The fact that we are all alive to-day is enough for me. But you, Bruce; will it hit you hard?”
Bruce laughed easily. “I am young. Besides, it was a pastime for me, though I went at it in a business way.”
“I am glad of that. There is nothing to regret in leaving this part of the world.” Yet the colonel sighed.
And Kathlyn heard that sigh, and intuitively understood. The filigree basket of gems. Of such were the minds of men.
But the colonel was taken ill that night, and it was a week before he left his bed, and another before he was considered strong enough to attempt the journey. Bala Khan proved to be a fine host, for he loved men of deeds, and this white-haired old man was one of the right kidney. He must be strong ere he took the long journey over the hot sands to the sea.
A spy of Umballa’s watched and waited to carry the news to his master, the day his master’s enemies departed from the haven of Bala Khan’s walled city.
When the day came the Khan insisted that his guests should use his own camels and servants, and upon Ramabai’s return the elephants would be turned over to him for his journey back to Allaha. Thus, one bright morning, the caravan set forth for what was believed to be the last journey.
And Umballa’s spy hastened away.
All day long they wound in and out, over and down the rolling mounds of sand, pausing only once, somewhere near four o’clock, when they dismounted for a space to enjoy a bite to eat and a cup of tea. Then on again, through the night, making about sixty miles in all. At dawn they came upon a well, and here they decided to rest till sunset. Beyond the well, some twenty-five miles, lay the low mountain range over which they must pass to the sea. At the foot of these hills stood a small village, which they reached about ten o’clock that night.
They found the village wide awake. The pariah dogs were howling. And on making inquiries it was learned that a tiger had been prowling about for three or four nights, and that they had set a trap cage for the brute. The colonel and Bruce at once assumed charge. The old zest returned with all its vigor and allurement. Even Kathlyn and Pundita decided to join the expedition, though Pundita knew nothing of arms.
Now, this village was the home of the nine brigands, and whenever they were about they dominated the villagers. They were returning from a foraging expedition into the hills, and discovered the trap cage with the tiger inside. Very good. The tiger was no use to any but themselves, since they knew where to sell it. They were in the act of pulling the brush away from the cage when they heard sounds of others approaching. With the suspicion which was a part of their business they immediately ran to cover to see who it was.
Instantly the chief of the brigands discovered that these new arrivals were none other than the white people who had given him and his men a superdrug and thereby mulcted them out of the sacred white elephant which was to have brought them a fortune.
Unfortunately, the men of Kathlyn’s party laid aside their weapons on approaching the cage to tear away the brush. Eight brigands, at a sign from their chief, surrounded the investigators, who found themselves nicely caught.
The natives fled incontinently. So did Bala Khan’s camel men.
“Death if you move!” snarled the chief. “Ah, you gave us bad opium, and we dropped like logs! Swine!” He raised his rifle threateningly.
“Wait a minute,” said Bruce coolly. “What you want is money.”
“Ay, money! Ten thousand rupees!”
“It shall be given you if you let us go. You will conduct us over the hills to the sea, and there the money will be given you.”
The chief laughed long and loudly. “What! Am I a goat to put my head inside the tiger’s jaws? Nay, I shall hold you here for ransom. Let them bring gold. Now, take hold,” indicating the trap cage. “We shall take this fine man eater along with us. I am speaking to you, white men, and you, pig of a Hindu! Chalu! I will kill any one who falters. Opium! Ah, yes! You shall pay for my headache and the sickness of my comrades. Chalu! And your white woman; she shall give a ransom of her own!”
The village jutted out into the desert after the fashion of a peninsula. On the west of it lay another stretch of “sand. They followed the verdure till they reached the base of the rocky hills, which were barren of any vegetation; huge jumbles of granite the color of porphyry. During the night they made about ten miles, and at dawn were smothered by one of those raging sand-storms, prevalent in this latitude. They had to abandon the trap cage and seek shelter in a near-by cave. Here they remained huddled together till the storm died away.
“It has blown itself out,” commented the chief. Then he spoke to Ramabai. “Who is this man?” with a nod toward the colonel.
“He is an American.”
“He came for Allaha?”
“Yes,” said Ramabai unsuspiciously.
“Ha! Then that great prince did not lie.”
“What prince?” cried Ramabai, now alarmed.
“The Prince Durga Ram. Three fat bags of silver, he said, would he pay me for the white hunter with the white hair. It is the will of Allah!”
The colonel’s head sank upon his knees. Kathlyn patted his shoulder.
“Father, I tell you mind not the mouthings of a vile guru. We shall soon be free.”
“Kit, this time, if I return to Allaha, I shall die. I feel it in my bones.”
“And I say no!”
The chief turned to Ramabai. “You and the woman with you shall this day seek two camels of the five you borrowed from Bala Khan. You will journey at once to Allaha. But do not waste your time in stopping to acquaint Bala Khan. At the first sign of armed men each of those left shall die in yonder tiger cage.”
“Then be the first to taste the tiger’s fangs!”
The chief called to his men to seize Ramabai and Pundita, when Kathlyn interfered.
“Go, Ramabai; it is useless to fight against these men who mean all they say, and who are as cruel as the tiger himself.”
“It shall be as the Mem-sahib says,” replied Ramabai resignedly.
One morning Umballa entered the judgment hall of the palace, disturbed in mind. Anonymous notes, bidding him not to persecute Ramabai and his wife further, on pain of death. He had found these notes at the door of his zenana, in his stables, on his pillows. In his heart he had sworn the death of Ramabai; but here was a phase upon which he had set no calculation. Had there not been unrest abroad he would have scorned to pay any attention to these warnings; but this Ramabai—may he burn in hell!—was a power with the populace, with low and high castes alike, and for the first time, now that he gave the matter careful thought, his own future did not look particularly clear. More than ever he must plan with circumspection. He must trap Ramabai, openly, lawfully, in the matter of sedition.
Imagine his astonishment when, a few minutes after his arrival, Ramabai and Pundita demanded audience, the one straight of back and proud of look, the other serene and tranquil! Umballa felt a wave of bland [Transcriber’s note: blind?] hatred surge over him, but he gave no sign. Ramabai stated his case briefly. Colonel Hare and his daughter were being held prisoners for ransom. Three bags of silver—something like five thousand rupees—were demanded by the captors.
The council looked toward Umballa, who nodded, having in mind the part of the good Samaritan, with reservations, to be sure. Having trod the paths of the white man, he had acquired a certain adroitness in holding his people. They had at best only the stability of chickens. What at one moment was a terror was at another a feast. For the present, then, he would pretend that he had forgot all about Ramabai’s part in the various unsuccessful episodes.
To the council and the gurus (or priests) he declared that he himself would undertake to assume the part of envoy; he himself would bring the legal king of Allaha back to his throne. True, the daughter had been crowned, but she had forfeited her rights. Thus he would return with Colonel Hare as soon as he could make the journey and return.
“He is contemplating some treachery,” said Ramabai to his wife. “I must try to learn what it is.”
In his shop in the bazaars Lal Singh had resumed his awl. He had, as a companion, a bent and shaky old man, whose voice, however, possessed a resonance which belied the wrinkles and palsied hands.
“The rains,” said Lal Singh, “are very late this year. Leather will be poor.”
All of which signified to Ahmed that the British Raj had too many affairs just then to give proper attention to the muddle in Allaha.
“But there is this man Ramabai. He runs deep.”
“He has been conspiring for months.”
“Then why does he not strike?”
“He is wary. He is wary; a good sign.” Lal Singh reached for his pipe and set the water bubbling. “In a few weeks I believe all will be ready, even the British Raj.”
“Why will men be sheep?”
Lal Singh shrugged. “Only Allah knows. But what about this guru’s curse you say follows the Colonel Sahib?”
“It is true. I was there,” said Ahmed. “And here am I, with a price on my head!”
“In the business we are in there will always be a price on our heads. And Umballa will bring back the Colonel Sahib. What then?”
“We know what we know, Lal Singh,” and the face under the hood broke into a smile.
Five days passed. The chief of the brigands was growing restless. He finally declared that unless the ransom was delivered that night he would rid himself of them all. The tiger was starving. In order to prove that he was not chattering idly he had the prisoners tied to the wheels of the cage. It would at least amuse him to watch their growing terror.
“Look! Some one is coming!” cried Kathlyn.
The chief saw the caravan at the same time, and he set up a shout of pleasure. Three fat bags of silver rupees!
Umballa, the good Samaritan, bargained with the chief. He did not want all the prisoners, only one. Three bags of silver would be forthcoming upon the promise that the young woman and the young man should be disposed of.
“By the tiger?”
Umballa shrugged. To him it mattered not how. The chief, weary of his vigil, agreed readily enough, and Umballa turned over the silver.
“The guru, my Kit! You see? This is the end. Well, I am tired. A filigree basket of gems!”
“So!” said Umballa, smiling at Kathlyn. “You and your lover shall indeed be wed—by the striped one! A sad tale I shall take back with me. You were both dead when I arrived.”
Presently Bruce and Kathlyn were alone. They could hear the brute in the cage, snarling and clawing at the wooden door.
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.