On December 29th, the Selig Polyscope Company released the first installment of a photo drama corresponding to the chapters of the novel The Adventures of Kathlyn, appearing in The Tribune on January 4th and January 11th. 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 CHAPTER I
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.
CHAPTER II THE UNWELCOME THRONE
KATHLYN sensed great loneliness when, about a month later, she arrived at the basin in Calcutta. A thousand or more natives were bathing ceremoniously in the ghat-men, women and children. It was early morn, and they were making solemn genufiections toward the bright sun. The water-front swarmed with brown bodies, and great wheeled carts drawn by sad-eyed bullocks threaded slowly through the maze. The many white turbans, stirring hither and thither, reminded her of a field of white poppies in a breeze. India! There it lay, ready for her eager feet. Always had she dreamed about it, and romanced over it, and sought it on the wings of her spirit. Yonder it lay, ancient as China, enchanting as storied Persia.
If only she were on pleasure bent! If only she knew some one in this great teeming city! She knew no one; she carried no letters of introduction, no letters of credit, nothing but the gold and notes the paymaster at the farm had hastily turned over to her. Only by constant application to maps and guide books had she managed to arrange the short cut to the far kingdom. She had been warned that it was a wild and turbulent place, out of the beaten path, beyond the reach of iron rails. Three long sea voyages: across the Paciftc (which wasn’t), down the bitter Yellow Sea, up the blue Bay of Bengal, with many a sea change and many a strange picture. What though her heart ached, it was impossible that her young eyes should not absorlt all she saw and marvel over it. India!
The strange elusive Hindu had disappeared after Hongkong. That was a weight off her soul. She was now assured that her imagination had beguiled her. How should he know anything about her? What was more natural than that he should wish to hurry back to his native state? She was not the only one in a hurry. And there were Hindus of all castes on all three ships. By now she had almost forgot him.
There was one bright recollection to break the unending loneliness. Coming down from Hongkong to Singapore she had met at the captain’s table a young man by the name of Bruce. He was a quiet, rather untalkative man, lean and sinewy, sun and wind bitten. Kathlyn had as yet had no sentimental affairs. Absorbed in her work, her father and the care of Winnie, such young men as she had met had scarcely interested her. She had only tolerated contempt for idlers, and these young men had belonged to that category. Bruce caught her interest in the very fact that he had but little to say and said that crisply and well. There was something authoritative in the shape of his mouth and the steadiness of his eye, though before her he never exercised this power. A dozen times she had been on the point of taking him into her confidence, but the irony of fate had always firmly closed her lips.
And now, waiting for the ship to warp into its pier, she realized what a fatal mistake her reticence had been. A friend of her father!
Bruce had left the Lloyder before dinner (at Singapore), and as Kathlyn’s British-India coaster did not leave till morning she had elected to remain over night on the German boat.
As Bruce disappeared among the disembarking passengers and climbed into a rickshaw she turned to the captain, who stood beside her.
“Do you know Mr. Bruce?”
“Very well,” said the German. “Didn’t he tell you who he is? No? Ach! Why, Mr. Bruce is a great hunter. He has shot everything, written books, climbed the Himalayas. Only last year he brought me the sack of a musk deer, and that is the most dangerous of all sports. He collects animals.”
Then Kathlyn knew. The name had been vaguely familiar, but the young man’s reticence had given her no opportunity to dig into her recollection. Bruce! How many times her father had spoken of him! What a fool she had been! Bruce knew the country she was going to, perhaps as well as her father; and he could have simplified her journey to the last word. Well, what was done could not be recalled and done over.
“My father is a great hunter, too,” she said simply, eying wistfully the road taken by Bruce into town.
“What? Herr Gott! Are you Colonel Hare’s daughter?” exclaimed the captain.
He seized her by the shoulders. “Why did you not tell me? Why, Colonel Hare and I have smoked many a Burma cheroot together on these waters. Herr Gott! And you never said anything! What a woman for a man to marry!” he laughed. “You have sat at my table for five days, and only now I find that you are Hare’s daughter! And you have a sister. Ach, yes.! He was always taking out some photographs in the smoke-room and showing them to us old chaps.”
Tears filled Kathlyn’s eyes. In an Indian prison, out of the jurisdiction of the British Raj, and with her two small hands and woman’s mind she must free him! Always the mysterious packet lay close to her heart, never for a moment was it beyond the reach of her hand. Her father’s freedom!
The rusty metal sides of the ship scraped against the pier and the gangplank was lowered; and presently the tourists flocked down with variant emotions, to be besieged by fruit sellers, water carriers, cabmen, blind beggars, and maimed, naked little children with curious, insolent black eyes, women with infants straddling their hips, stolid Chinamen; a riot of color and a bewildering babel of tongues.
Kathlyn found a presentable carriage, and with her luggage pressing about her feet directed the driver to the Great Eastern Hotel.
Her white sola-topee (sun helmet) had scarcely disappeared in the crowd when the Hindu of the freight caboose emerged from the steerage, no longer in bedraggled linen trousers and ragged turban, but dressed like a native fop. He was in no hurry. Leisurely he followed Kathlyn to the hotel, then proceeded to the railway station. He had need no longer to watch and worry. There was nothing left now but to greet her upon her arrival, this golden houri from the verses of Sa’adi. The two weeks of durance vile among the low castes in the steerage should be amply repaid. In six days he would be beyond the hand of the meddling British Raj, in his own country. Sport! What was more beautiful to watch than cat play? He was the cat, the tiger cat. And what would the Colonel Sahib say when he felt the claws? Beautiful, beautiful, like a pattern woven in an Agra rug.
Kathlyn began her journey at once. Now that she was on land, moving toward her father, all her vigor returned. She felt strangely alive, exhilarated. She knew that she was not going to be afraid of anything hereafter. To enter the strange country without having her purpoae known would be the main difficulty. Where was Ahmed all this time? Doubtless in.a cell like his master.
Three days later she stood at the frontier, and her servant set about arguing and bargaining with the mahouts to engage elephants for the three days’ march through jungles and mountainous divides to the capital. Three elephants were necessary. There were two howdah elephants and one pack elephant, who was always lagging behind. Through long aisles of magnificent trees they passed, across hot blistering deserts, dotted here and there by shrubs and stunted trees, in and out of gloomy defiles’ of flinty rock, over sluggish and swiftly flowing streams. The days were hot, but the nights were bitter cold. Sometimes a blue miasmic haze settled down, and the dry raspy hides of the elephants grew damp and they fretted at their chains.
Rao, the khidmutgar Kathlyn had hired in Calcutta, proved invaluable. Without him she would never have succeeded in entering the strange country; for these wild-eyed Mohammedan mahouts (and it is pertinent to note that only Mohammedans are ever made mahouts, it being against the tenets of Hinduism to kill or ride anything that kills) scowled, at her evilly. They would have made way with her for an alina-piece. Rao was a Mohammedan himself, so they listened and obeyed.
All this the first day and night out. On the following morning a leopard crossed the trail. Kathlyn seized her rifle and broke its spine. The jabbering of the mahouts would have amused her at any other time.
“Good, Mem-sahib,” whispered Rao. “You have put fear into their devils’ hearts. Good! Chup!”
he called. “Stop your noise.”
After that they gave Kathlyn’s dog tent plenty of room.
One day, in the heart of a natural clearing, she saw a tree. Its blossoms and leaves were as scarlet as the seeds of a pomegranate.
“Oh, how beautiful! What is it, Rao?”
“The flame of the jungle, Mem-sahib. It is good luck to see it on a journey.”
About the tree darted gay parrakeets and fat green parrots. The green plumage of the birds against the brilliant scarlet of the tree was indescribably beautiful. Everywhere was life, everywhere was color. Once, as the natives seated themselves of the evening round their dung fire while Kathlyn busied with the tea over a wood fire, a tiger roared near by. The elephants trumpeted and the mahouts rose in terror. Kathlyn ran for her rifle, but the trumpeting of the elephants was sufficient to send the striped cat to other hunting grounds. Wild ape and pig abounded, and occasionally a caha wriggled out of the sun into the brittle grasses. Very few beasts or reptiles are aggressive; it is only when they feel cornered that they turn. Even the black panther, the most savage of all cats, will rarely offer battle except when attacked.
Meantime the man who had followed Kathlyn arrived at the city.
Five hours later Kathlyn stepped out of her howdah, gave Rao the money for the mahouts and looked about. This was the gate to the capital. How many times had her father passed through it? Her jaw set and her eyes flashed. Whatever dangers beset her she was determined to meet them with courage and patience.
“Rao, you had better return to Calcutta. What I have to do must be done alone.”
“Very good. But I shall remain here till the Mem-sahib returns.” Rao salaamed.
“And if I should not return?” affected by this strange loyalty.
“Then I shall seek Bruce Sahib, who has a camp twenty miles east.”
“Bruce? But he is in Singapore!” -a quickening of her pulses.
“Who can say where Bruce Sahib is? He is like a shadow, there to-day, here to-morrow. I have been his servant, Mem-sahib, and that is how I am to-day yours. I received a telegram to call at your hotel and apply to you for service. Very good. I shall wait. The mahout here will take you directly to Hare Sahib’s bungalow. You will find your father’s servants there, and all will be well. A week, then. If you do not send for me I seek Bruce Sahib, and we shall return with many. Some will apeak English at the bungalow.”
“Thank you, Rao. I shall not forget.”
“Neither will Bruce ‘Sahib,” mysteriously. Rao salaamed.
Kathlyn got into the howdah and passed through the gates. Bruce Sahib, the quiet man whose hand had reached out over seas thus strangly to reassure her! A hardness came into her throat and she swallowed desperately. She was only twenty-four. Except for herself there might not be a white person in all this sprawling, rugged principality. From time to time the new mahout turned and smiled at her curiously, but she was too absorbed to note his attentions.
Durga Ram, called lightly Umballah, went directly to the palace, where he knew the Council of Three solemnly awaited his arrival. He dashed up the imposing flight of marble steps, exultant. He had fulfilled his promise; the golden daughter of Hare Sahib was but a few miles away. The soldiers, guarding the entrance, presented their arms respectfully; but instantly after Umballah disappeared the expression on their faces was not pleasing.
Umballah hurried along through the deep corridor, supported by exquisitely carved marble columns. Beauty in stone was in evidence everywhere and magnificent brass lamps hung from the ceiling. There was a shrine topped by an idol in black marble, incrusted with sapphires and turquoises. Durga Ram, who shall be called Umballah, nodded slightly I as he passed it. Force of habit, since in his heart there was only one religion-self.
He stopped at a door guarded by a single soldier, who saluted but spat as soon as Umballah had passed into the throne room. The throne itself was vacant. The Council of Three rose at the approach of UmbaIla.
“She is here,” he said haughtily.
The council salaamed.
Umballah stroked his chin as he gazed at the huge candles flickering at each side of the throne. He sniffed the Tibetan incense, and shrugged. It was written. “Go,” he said, “to Hare Sahib’s bungalow and await me. I shall be there presently. There is plenty of time. And remember our four heads depend upon the next few hours. The soldiers are on the verge of mutiny, and only success can pacify them.”
He turned without ceremony and left them. With oriental philosophy they accepted the situation. They had sought to overturn him, and he held them in the hollow of his hand. During the weeks of his absence in America his spies had hung about them like bees about honey. They were the fowlers snared.
Umballah proceeded along the corridor to a flight of stairs leading beneath the palace floor. Here the soldiers were agreeable enough; they had reason to be. Umballah gave them new minted rupees for their work, many rupees. For they knew secrets. Before the door of a dungeon Umballah paused and listened. There was no sound. He returned upstairs and sought a chamber near the harem. This he entered, and stood with folded arms near the door.
“Ah, Colonel Sahib.”
“Umballah?” Colonel Hare, bearded, unkempt, tried to stand erect and face his enemy. “You black scoundrel!”
“Durga Ram, Sahib. Words, words; the patter of rain on stone roofs. Our king lives no more, alas!”
“He is dead. Dying, he left you this throne—you, a white man, knowing it was a legacy of terror and confusion. You knew. Why did you return? Ah, pearls and sapphires and emeralds! What? I offer you this throne upon conditions.”
“And those conditions I have refused.”
“You have, yes, but now—” Umballah smiled. Then he suddenly blazed forth: “Think you a white man shall sit upon this throne while I live? It is mine. I was his heir.”
“Then why didn’t you save him from the leopard? I’ll tell.you why. You expected to inherit on the spot, and I spoiled the game. Is that not true?”
“And what if I admit it?” truculently.
“Umballah, or Durga Ram, if you wish, listen. Take the throne. What’s to hinder you? You want it. Take it and let me begone.”
“Yes, I want it; and by all the gods of Hind I’ll have it—but safely. Ah! It would be fine to proclaim myself when mutiny and rebellion stalk about. Am I a pig to play a game like that? Tch! Tch!” He clicked his tongue against the roof ot his mouth in derision. “No; I need a buckler tin all this roily water subsides and clears.”
“And then, some fine night, Hare Sahib’s throat? I am not afraid of death, Umballah. I have faced it too many times. Make an end of me at once or leave me to rot here, my answer will always be the same. I will not become a dishonorable tool. You have offered me freedom and jewels. No; I repeat, I will free all slaves, abolish the harems, the buying and selling of flesh; I will make a man of every poor devil of a coolie who carries stones from your quarries.”
Umballah laughed. “Then remain here like a dog while I put your golden daughter on the throne and become what the British Raj calls prince consort. She’ll rebel, I know; but I have a way.” He stepped outside and closed the door.
“Kit, my daughter? Good God, what is she doing here when I warned her?” Hare tugged furiously at his chains. “Durga Ram, you have beaten me. State your terms and I will accept them to the letter. . . Kit, my beautiful Kit, in this hell hole!”
“Ah, but I don’t want you to accept now. I was merely amusing myself.” The door shut and the bolt shot home.
Hare fell upon his knees. “My head, my head! Dear God, save me my reason!”
The moment Kathlyn arrived at the animal cages of her father she called for Ahmed.
“Ah, Mem-sahib, they say he is dead. I know not. One night-the second after we arrived-he
was summoned to the palace. He never came back.”
“They have killed him!”
“Perhaps. They watch me, too; but I act simple. We wait and see.”
Kathlyn rushed across the ground intervening between the animal cages and the bungalow. There was no one in sight. She ran up the steps to be greeted inside by the suave Umballah.
“You?” her hand flying to her bosom.
“I, Miss Hare.” He salaamed, with a sweeping gesture of his hands.
Sadly the wretch told her the tale; the will of the king, his death and the subsequent death of her father in his, Durga Ram’s, arms. Yonder urn contained his ashes. For the. first time in her young life Kathlyn fainted. She had been living on her nerves for weeks, and at the sight of that urn something snapped. Daintily Umballah plucked forth the packet and waited. At length she opened her eyes.
“You are a queen, Miss Hare.”
“You are mad!”
“Nay; it was the madness of the king. But mad kings often make laws which must be obeyed. You will accuse me of perfidy when I tell you all. The note which brought you here was written by me and substituted for this.”
Duly Kathlyn read:
Kathlyn—if not heard from, I’m held captive in Allaha. The royal title given to me by the king made me and my descendaIits direct heirs to the throne. Do not come to Allaha yourself. Destroy sealed document herewith.
The Council of Three entered noiselessly from the adjoining room. At the four dark, inscrutable faces the bewildered girl stared, her limbs numb with terror. Gravely the council told her she must come with them to the palace.
“It is impossible!” she murmured. “You are all mad. I am a white woman. I can not rule over an alien race whose tongue I can not speak, whose habits I know nothing of. It is impossible. Since my father is dead, I must return to my home.”
“No,” said Umballah.
“I refuse to stir!” She was all afire of a sudden: the base trickery which had brought her here! She
was very lovely to the picturesque savage who stood at her elbow.
As he looked down at her, in his troubled soul Umballah knew that it was not the throne so much as it was this beautiful bird of paradise which he wished to cage.
“Be brave,” he said, “like your father. I do not wish to use force, but you must go. It is useless to struggle. Come.”
She hung back for a moment; then, realizing her utter helplessness, she signified that she was ready to go. She needed time to collect her stunned and disordered thoughts.
Before going to the palace they conducted her to the royal crypt. The urn containing her father’s ashes was deposited in a niche. Many other niches contained urns, and Umballah explained to her that these held the ashes of many rulers. Tears welled; into Kathlyn’s eyes, but they were of a hysterical character.
“A good sign,” mused Umballah, who thought he knew something of women, like all men beset with vanity. Oddly enough, he had forgot all about the incident of the lion in the freight caboose. All women are felines to a certain extent. This golden-haired woman had claws, and the day was coming when he would feel them drag over his heart.
From the crypt they proceeded to the palace zenana (harem), which surrounded a court of exceeding beauty. Three ladies of the harem were sitting in the portico, attended by slaves. All were curioUsly interested at the sight of a woman with white skin, tinted like the lotus. Umballah came to a halt before a latticed door.
“Here your majesty must remain till the day of your coronation.”
“How did my father die?”
“He was assassinated on the palace steps by a Mohammedan fanatic. As I told you, he died in my arms.”
“His note signified that he feared imprisonment. How came he on the palace steps?”
“He was not a prisoner. He came and went as he pleased in the city.” He bowed and left her.
Alone in her chamber, the dullness of her mind diminished and finally cleared away like a fog in a wind. Her dear, kind, blue-eyed father was dead, and· she was virtually a prisoner, and Winnie was all alone. A queen! They were mad, or she was in the midst of some hideous nightmare. Mad, mad, mad! She began to laugh, and it was not a pleasant sound. A queen, she, Kathlyn Hare! Her father was dead, she was a queen, and Winnie was all alone. A gale of laughter brought to the marble lattice many wondering eyes. The white cockatoo shrilled his displeasure. Those outside the lattice saw this marvelous white-skinned woman, with hair like the gold threads in Chinese brocades, suddenly throw herself upon a pile of cushions, and they saw her shoulders rock and heave, but heard no sound of wailing.
After a while she fell asleep, a kind of dreamless stupor. When she awoke it was twilight in the court. The doves were cooing and fluttering in the cornices and the cockatoo was preening his lemon colored topknot. At first Kathlyn had not the least idea where she was, but the light beyond the lattice, the flitting shadows, and the tinkle of a stringed instrument assured her that she was awake, terribly awake.
She sat perfectly still, slowly gathering her strength, mental and physical. She was not her father’s daughter for nothing. She was to fight in some strange warfare, instinctively she felt this; but from what direction, in what shape, only God knew. Yet she must prepare for it; that was the vital thing; she must marshal her forces, feminine and only defensive, and watch.
Rao ! Her hands clutched the pillows. In five days’ time he would be off to seek John Bruce; and there would be white men there, and they would come to her though a thousand legions of these brown men stood between. She would play for time; she must pretend docility and meet quiet guile with guile. She could get no word to her faithful khidmutgar; none here, even if open to bribery, could be made to understand. Only Umballah and the council spoke English or understood it. She had ten days’ grace; within that time she hoped to find some loophole.
Slave girls entered noiselessly. The hanging lamps were lighted. A tabouret was set before her. There were quail and roast kid, fruits and fragrant tea. She was not hungry, but she ate.
Within a dozen yards of her sat her father, stolidly. munching his chupatties, because he knew that now he must live.
One of the chief characteristics of the East Indian is extravagance. To outvie one another in celebrations of births, weddings, daaths and coronations they beggar themselves. In this the Oriental and the Occidental have one thing in common. This principality was small, but there was a deal of wealth in it because of its emerald mines and turquoise pits. The durbar brought out princes and princelings from east, south and west, and even three or four wild-eyed ameers from the north. The British government at Calcutta heard vaguely about this fete, but gave it scant attention for the simple fact that it had not been invited to attend. Still, it watched the performance covertly. Usually durbars took months of preparation; this one had been called into existence within ten days.
Elephants and camels and bullocks; palanquins, gharries, tongas; cloth of gold and cloth of jewels; color, confusion, maddening noises, and more color. There was very little semblance of order; a rajah preceded a princeling, and so on down. The wailing of reeds and the muttering of kettle drums; music, languorous, haunting, elusive, low minor chords seemingly struck at random, intermingling a droning chant; a thousand streams of incense, crossing and recrossing; and fireworks at night; fireworks which had come all the way across China by caravan-these things Kathlyn saw and heard from her lattice.
The populace viewed all these manifestations quietly. They were perfectly willing to wait. If this white queen proved kind they would go about their affairs, leaving her in peace; but they were determined that she should be no puppet in the hands of Umballah, whom they hated for his cruelty and money leeching ways. Oh, everything was ripe in the state for murder and loot-&nd the reaching, holding hand of the British Raj.
As Kathlyn advanced to the canopied dais upon which she was to be crowned, a hand filled with flowers reached out. She turned to see Ahmed.
“Bruce Sahib,” she whispered.
Ahmed salaamed deeply as she passed on. The impression that she was dreaming again seized her. This could not possibly be real. Her feet did not seem to touch the carpets; she did not seem to breathe; she floated. It was only when the crown was placed upon her head that she realized the reality and the finality of the proceedings.
“Be wise,” whispered Umballah coldly. “If you take off that crown now, neither your gods nor mine could save you from that mob down yonder. Be advised. Rise!”
She obeyed. She wanted to cry out to that sea of bronze faces: “People I do not want to be your queen. Let me go!” They would not understand. Where was Rao? Where was Bruce? What of the hope that now flickered and died in her heart, like a guttering candle light? There was a small dagger hidden in the folds of her white robe; she could always use that. She heard Umballah speaking in the native tongue. A great shouting followed. The populace surged.
“What have you said to them?” she demanded.
“That her majesty had chosen Durga Ram to be her consort and to him now forthwith she will be wed.” He salaamed.
So the mask was off! “Marry you? Oh, no! Mate with you, a black?”
“Black?” he cried, as if a whiplash had struck him. across the face.
“Yes, black of skin and black of heart. I have submitted to the farce of this durbar, but that is as far as my patience will go. God will guard me.”
“Yes, my God and the God of my fathers!”
To the mutable faces below she looked the queen at that instant. They saw the attitude, but could not interpret it.
“So be it. There are other things besides marriage.”
“Yes,” she replied proudly; “there is death.”
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.