Chicago Sunday Tribune, May 24, 1914
The photo-dramas corresponding to the installments The Adventures of Kathlyn may now be seen at a number of the leading motion picture theaters. By this unique arrangement with the Selig Polyscope Company it is, therefore, possible not only to read The Adventures of Kathlyn in The Sunday Tribune, but also to keep pace with each additional installment at the moving picture theater.1
SYNOPSIS OF PREVIOUS CHAPTERS
Kathlyn Hare, believing her father, Col. Hare, in peril has summoned her, leaves her home in California, to go to him in Allaha,India. Umballah2, pretender to the throne of that principality, has imprisoned the colonel, named by the late king as his heir, because he fears the American may insist on his his royal rights.
Upon her arrival in Allaha she is informed by Unballah that her father is dead, she is to be queen and must marry him forthwith. Because of her refusal, she is sentenced to undergo two ordeals with wild beasts.
John Bruce, an American and fellow passenger on the boat which brought Kathlyn to Allaha, saves her life. The elephant which carries her from the scene of her trials becomes frightened and runs away, separating her from Bruce and the rest of the party. After a ride filled with peril she takes refuge in a ruined temple. The holy men and villagers, believing her to be an ancient princess risen from the tomb, allow her to remain as the guardian of the sacred fire. But Kathlyn’s haven is also the abode of a lion, and she is forced to flee from it with the savage beast in pursuit. She escapes and finds a retreat in the jungle, only to fall into the hands of a band of slave traders, who bring her to Allaha to the public mart. She is sold to Unballah, who, finding her still unsubmissive, throws her into the dungeon with her father.
Bruce and his friends effect the release of Kathlyn and the colonel. Umballah’s attempt to recapture them is unsuccessful, and the fugitives are given shelter in the palace of Bala Khan. Supplied with camels and servants by that hospitable prince, the party endeavors to reach the coast, but are overpowered by brigand and the encounter results in the colonel being delivered to Umballah. Kathlyn and Bruce escape from their captors and return to Allaha, where Kathlyn learns that her father, while nominally king, is in reality a prisoner. Kathlyn’s resourcefulness and bravery are the means of rescuing him, and once more they steal away from Allaha, but return broken hearted when they learn that Winnie, Kathlyn’s young sister, has come to India. Umballah makes her a prisoner. She is forced to enter the palace and in turn is crowned queen of Allaha. One attempt to get Winnie out of the closely guarded palace almost costs Kathlyn her life, but the second plan succeeds.
The people of Allaha at last, weary of Unballah’s misrule, rise against him, with Ramabai whiose wife, Pundita, is the lawful queen, at their head and the colonel and Bruce fighting with him. The revolutionists are being overpowered by Unballah’s soldiers when Kathlyn assumes command of the scattered forces. She saves the day for them. To escape from the arena lions which have become free and caused a panic, Kathlyn enters a deserted house and climbs the roof. When she leans over the parapet to call for aid she is seen by Umballah, who is fleeing from the rebels. Mad for revenge, he sets fire to the house and Kathlyn’s refuge is soon a mass of flames.
CHAPTER XXI THE WHITE GODDESS
WHEN the lions sniffed the acrid smoke the two of them fell to roaring thunderously. They reared and attempted to climb the ladder, only to fall back jarringly. They ran up and down the hall, struck with that inborn terror of fire. They dared not descend in face of the lurid smoke which rose from that sparkling magic which they had feared since the beginning of time.
Alas, Kathlyn could have descended now without fear of the beasts molesting her, but it was too late. Finally she threw down the trap and the smoke cleared a little, but the inferno below went on crackling merrily.
The houses on each side were single storied. She would break every bone in her body if she jumped. There were four cartridges in the revolver. She held it in her and studied it in a curiously detached manner. She could faced wild beasts, men, steel and lead; but fir, the most horrible of all tortures. . . Why hadn’t she killed him as he leered up at her from the street?
From the lions the denizens of this part of the bazaars had fled inside their houses, but the sight of the fire and its nearness drove them terrified into the street. They began taking out their valuables. The household goats bleated, and children screamed and women shrieked.
But none of them could help the white goddess upon yonder doomed roof. And why should they make the attempt? Did she not bear a charned life? Was she not the reincarnation of some ancient goddess? She had done something in heaven to offend the gods, and these things were her punishments. The gods would liberate her when the proper moment arrived.
The painted dancing girl in the house where Umballa had taken temporary refuge began to gather her trinkets, her amber and turquoise necklaces, bracelets and anklets. These she placed in a brass enameled box and tucked it under her arm. Next she shook the sodden Umballa by the sleeve.
“Come!” she cried.
“I would sleep,” he muttered.
She seized a bowl containing some flowers and cast the contents into his face. “Fire, fire and death!” she shrilled at him.
The douche brought the man out of his stupor.
“Fire?” he repeated.
This time he followed her docilely, wiping his face on his sleeve.
They heard a great shouting in the street, but did not tarry to learn what had caused it.
One of Umballa’s bearers, upon realizing what his master had done, had run down the street for aid. He had had two objects in view—to save the white goddess and to buy his freedom.
A few hundred yards away, in another street, the colonel, Bruce and Ahmed were dragging a net for the purpose of laying it for a lion at bay in a blind alley. Into their presence rushed the wild-eyed bearer.
“Save the white goddess!” he cried.
Bruce seized him by the shoulder. “What is that?”
“The white goddess, Sahib! She is on the roof of a burning house. Durga Ram, my master, set fire to it. He is drunk and hiding in a house near by.”
“The man is mad,” declared the colonel. “Kit would not have lost her way this far. He is lying. He wants money.”
Ahmed spoke. The bearer fell upon his knees.
Three shots, at intervals!
The colonel and Bruce stared into each other’s eyes.
“God in Heaven!” gasped the colonel; “those are revolver shots!”
“Bring the net!” shouted Ahmed. To the trembling bearer he said: “Lead us; we follow. And if you have spoken the truth you shall not only have your freedom, but rupees for your old age.”
A lion’s net is a heavy affair, but with the aid of the keepers the men ran as quickly and lightly as if burdenless. Smoke. There was a fire. The hearts of the white men beat painfully. And the same thought occurred to both of them; they should have gone to Ramabai’s house first, then turned their attention to the lions. And Umballa was hiding in a house near by!
Well for them that they entered the doomed quarter as they did. Kathlyn saw them, and the muzzle of the revolver which she was pressing to her heart lowered, the weapon itself slipping from her hand to the roof. God was not going to let her die like this.
“Spread out the net!” commanded Bruce. “Kathlyn, can you hear me?” he shouted, cupping his hands before his mouth. Faintly he heard her reply. “When I give the word, jump. Do not be afraid.”
Kathlyn stepped upon the parapet. A great volume of smoke obscured her for a moment. Out of the windows the vivid tongues of flame darted, flashing upward. She summoned all her courage and waited for the call of the man she loved. Inside a floor gave way with a crash and the collateral walls of the building swayed ominously. A despairing roar accompanied the thunder of falling beams. The lions had gone to their death.
Without hesitation Kathlyn flung herself into space. A murmur ran through the crowd which had, for the moment, forgot its own danger in the wonder of this spectacle. The men holding the net threw themselves backward as Kathlyn struck the mesh. Even then her body touched the street cobbles and she was bruised and shaken severely, but, oh, alive, alive! There rose the great shouting which Umballa and the dancing girl had heard.
Shortly after the house collapsed. The fire spread to the houses on each side.
Bruce seized the bearer by the arm. “Now, the house which Umballa entered?”
Eagerly enough the slave directed him. For all the abuse and beatings the slave was to have his hour. But they found the house empty, except for a chattering monkey and a screaming parrakeet, both attached to pedestal perches. Bruce liberated them and returned to the colonel.
“Gone! Well, let him hide in the jungle, a prey to fear and hunger. At least we are rid of him. But I shall die unhappy if in this life we two fail to meet again. Kit!”
“John!” She withdrew from her father’s arms and sought those of the man who loved her and whom she loved, as youth will and must. “Let him go. Why should we care? Take me to my sister.”
Ahmed smiled as he and his men rolled the net. This was as it should be. For what man was a better mate for his golden-haired Mem-sahib? And then he thought of Lal Singh, and he choked a little. For Lal Singh and he had spent many pleasant hours together. They had worked together in play and in war, shared danger and bread and glory, all of which was written in the books of the British Raj in Calcutta.
It was the will of Allah; there was but one God, and Mahomet was His prophet. Then Ahmed dismissed Lal Singh and the past from his thoughts, after the philosophical manner of the Asiatic, and turned to the more vital affairs under hand.
At Ramabai’s house there was a happy reunion; and on her knees Pundita confessed to her lord how near she had been to Christian damnation. She had fallen from grace; she had reverted to the old customs of her race, to whom suicide was no sin, Ramabai took her in his arms and touched the forehead with his lips.
“And now,” said the colonel, “the king!”
Ramabai’s head sank.
“What is the matter? Is he dead?”
“If I knew that,” answered Ramabai, “I would rest content.”
“But you searched the royal prison?”
“And found nothing, nothing!”
“What do you believe?”
“I believe that either the council or Umballa has forestalled us. We shall visit the council at once, They are prisoners. If they have had no hand in the disappearance of the king then we are facing a stone wall over which we can not leap. For Umballa has fled, whither no one knows, and with him has gone the secret. Come; we shall go at once to the palace prison.”
The council which had ruled so long in Allaha was very humble indeed. They had imprisoned the king because he had given many evidences of mental unbalance. Perhaps unwisely they had proclaimed his death. Durga Ram had discovered what they had done and had held it over their heads like a sword blade. That the king was not in his dungeon, why and wherefor, was beyond their knowledge. They were in the power of Ramabai; let him work his will upon them. They had told the truth. And Ramabai, much as he detested them, believed them. But for the present it was required that they remain incarcerated till the king was found, dead or alive.
In the palace soldiers and servants alike had already forgot Umballa. To them it was as if he had not existed. All in a few hours. There was, however, one man who did not forget. Upon a certain day Umballa had carelessly saved his life, and to his benefactor he was now determined to devote that life. This man was the majordomo, the chief servant in the king’s household. It was not that he loved Umballa; rather that he owed Umballa a debt and resolved to pay it.
Two days later, when the fires were extinguished and the populace had settled back into its former habits, this majordomo betook himself to Umballa’s house. It was well guarded, and by men who had never been close to Umballa, but had always belonged to the dissatisfied section, the frankly and openly mutinous section. No bribery was possible here; at least, nothing short of a fabulous sum of money would dislodge their loyalty to Ramabai, now the constitutional regent. No one could leave the house or enter it without scrutiny and question.
The servants and the women of the zenana remained undisturbed. Ramabai would have it so. Things had been put in order. There had not been much damage done by the looters on the day of the revolt. They had looked for treasure merely, and only an occasional bit of vandalism had marked their pathway.
On the pain of death no soldier might enter the house.
The majordomo was permitted to enter without question. He passed the guards humbly. But once inside, beyond observation, he became a different man. For in Umballa’s house, as in Ramabai’s, there were secret chambers, and to-day the majordomo entered one of them—through a panel concealed behind a hanging Ispahan rug.
On the night after the revolt, Umballa, sober and desperate, had slunk back disguised as a candy seller. The house was not guarded then; so he had no difficulty in gaining admittance. But he had to gain entrance through a window in the zenana. He would not trust either his servants, his slaves, or his chief eunuch. To the women of his own zenana he had always been carelessly kind, and women are least bribable of the two sexes.
Umballa entered at once his secret chamber and food and water were brought, one of the women acting as bearer. On the morning after the guards arrived, and Umballa knew not how long he might have to wait. Through one of the women he sent a verbal message to the majordomo with the result that each day he learned what was taking place in the palace. So they hunted for the king.
He was very well satisfied. He had had his revenge; and more than this, he was confident when the time came he would also gain his liberty. He had a ransom to pay: the king himself!
Now then, Ramabai felt it incumbent on him to hold a banquet in the palace, there to state to his friends, native and white, just what he intended to do. And on the night of this sober occasion he sat in the throne room before a desk littered with documents. As he finished writing a note he summoned the majordomo.
“Have this delivered at once to Hare Sahib, whom you will find at his bungalow outside the city. Tell him also that he must be present to-night, he, his friend and his daughters. It is of vital importance.”
Pundita, who was staring out of the window, turned and asked her lord what he was sending the Colonel Sahib that he could not give him at the banquet.
“A surprise, an agreeable surprise.”
The majordomo cocked his ears; but Ramabai said nothing more.
At the colonel’s bungalow there was rejoicing. Ramabai had written that, since the king could not be found he would head the provisional government as regent, search for and arrest Umballa, and at any time the Colonel Sahib signified would furnish him with a trusty escort to the railway, three days’ journey away. He added, however, that he hoped the Colonel Sahib would be good enough to remain till order was established.
The majordomo contrived to tarry long enough to overhear as much of the conversation as needed for he understood English—and then returned to the city to carry the news to Umballa. To him Umballa gave a white powder.
“To-night, you say, Ramabai gives a banquet?”
“Well, put this in his cup and your obligation to me is paid.”
The majordomo stared a long time at that little packet of powder. A cold sweat formed upon his brow under his turban.
“Well?” said Umballa ironically.
“Huzoor, it is murder!”
Umballah shrugged and held out his hand for the packet.
The majordomo swallowed a few times, and bowed his head. “It shall be done, Huzoor. My life is yours to do with as you please. I have said it.”
“Begone, then, and bring me the news on the morrow that Ramabai is dead. You alone know where the king is. Should they near the hut in which I have hidden him, see that he is killed. He is also useless.”
The majordomo departed with heavy heart. Ramabai was an honest man; but Durga Ram had spoken.
At the banquet, with its quail and pheasant, its fruits and flowers, its rare plates and its rarer goblets for the light wines high castes permitted themselves occasionally to drink, Ramabai toyed idly with his goblet and thoughtlessly pushed it toward Kathlyn, who sat at his right.
Imbued with a sense of gratitude for Ramabai’s patience and kindness and assistance through all her dreadful ordeals, Kathlyn sprang up suddenly, and without looking reached for what she supposed to be her own goblet, but inadvertently her hand came into contact with Ramabai’s. What she had in mind to say was never spoken.
The majordomo stood appalled. This wonderful white woman over whom the gods watched as they watched the winds and the rains, of whom he had not dared speak to Umballa. She? No! He saw that he himself must die. He seized the goblet ere it reached her lips, drank and flung it aside, empty. He was as good as dead, for there were no antidotes for poisons Umballa gave. Those seated about the table were too astonished to stir. The majordomo put his hands to his eyes, reeled, steadied himself, and then Ramabai understood.
“Poison!” he gasped, springing up and catching the majordomo by the shoulders. “Poison, and it was meant for me! Speak!”
“Lord, I will tell all. I am dying!”
It was a strange tale of misplaced loyalty and gratitude, but it was peculiarly oriental. And when they learned that Umballa was hidden in his own house and the king in a hut outside the city, they knew that God was just, whatever His prophet’s name might be. Before he died the majordomo explained the method of entering the secret chamber.
The quail and pheasant, the fruits and wine remained untouched. The hall became deserted almost immediately. To the king, first; to the king! Then Umballah should pay his debt.
They found the poor king in the hut, in a pitiable condition. He laughed and babbled and smiled and wept as they led him away. But in the secret chamber which was to have held Umballa there was no living thing.
For Umballa had, at the departure of the majordomo, conceived a plan for rehabilitation so wide in its ramifications, so powerful and whelming, that nothing could stay it; once it was set in motion. The priests, the real rulers of Asia; the wise and patient gurus, who held the most compelling of all scepters, superstition! Double fool that he had been, not to have thought of this before! He knew that they hated Ramabai, who in religion was an outcast and a pariah, who worshiped but a single God whom none had ever seen, of whom no idol had been carved and set up in a temple.
Umballah threw off his robes and donned his candy seller’s tatters, left the house without being questioned by the careless guard, and sought the chief temple.
To cow the populace, to bring the troops to the mark, with threats of curses, famine, plague, eternal damnation! Superstition! And this is why Ramabai and his followers found an empty chamber.
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.