The THREE SAPPHIRES

Concluding Instalment

W. A. FRASER March 1 1919

The THREE SAPPHIRES

Concluding Instalment

W. A. FRASER March 1 1919

The THREE SAPPHIRES

W. A. FRASER

Author of "Moosva,' "Thoroughbreds." etc.

CHAPTER XX—Continued

THEY moved forward, Finnerty feeling the path with the bamboo rod. He hugged the wall on his right, knowing that the passage, skirting the hill edge, must lead to beneath the palace. Suddenly, shoulder high, the gloom was broken by a square opening, and through it Finnerty saw the handle of the Dipper in its sweep toward the horizon. Beneath this port was a ledge to support a machine gun, as the major surmised. Every twenty feet were openings of different shapes; some narrow, vertical slits for rifle fire. Once Finnerty’s rod touched a pillar in the centre of the passage. His fingers read grotesque figures carved upon its sides, and he knew they were in one of the old Hindu rajah’s semi-sacred excavated chambers. Twice, on his right, his hand slipped into space as he felt his way—open doorways from which dipped stone steps to lower exits.

Suddenly his bamboo rod came dead against an obstructing wmll in front. Set in this was a flat steel door, with a keyhole which admitted one of the other keys. Finnerty closed the door, not locking it, but when he had taken two steps he caught a clicking sound behind. Turning in apprehension, he pushed upon the door, but it refused to give. He inserted the key; the bolt was where he had left it, shot back, but the door was immovable. A shiver twitched his scalp. Had he himself touched something that automatically locked the door, or had its swing carried a warning to some one who had electrically shot the bolts. The door itself was massive enough to hold any sort of mechanism; it was like the bulkhead of a battleship.

Twice Finnerty found a closed door in the wall on his right; no doubt within, the chamber beyond were cannon that commanded some road of approach to the hill. Next his hand swept across a four-foot space, and against the farther wall of this stood open a heavy teakwood door; from the passage beyond drifted a nauseating, carrion smell, such as hovers over a tiger’s cage.

Twenty yards beyond, Swinton touched the major’s shoulders and whispered: “I heard something behind;

I feel that we are being followed.”

The major shivered; not through personal fear, but if they were trapped, if they failed, what bloodshed and foolish revolt would follow. To turn back and search was useless; they must keep on. They must be close to the many chambers beneath the palace where the ammunition and guns, no doubt, were kept. It was ominous, this utter absence of everything but darkness.

IX/TTH a gasping breath, Finnerty stood still. A ’’ slipping noise in front had caught his ear, but now, in their own silence, they both heard the slip of velvet feet on the stone floor behind, and in their nostrils struck full the carrion smell.

“Tiger!” Finnerty whispered, and the pulled-back hammers of his gun clicked alarming loud on the death air.

Swinton, too, cocked his rifle, and whispered: “Push

on; I’ll guard the rear!”

In ten paces Finnerty’s gun barrel clicked against iron; it was a door. They were trapped. Behind, the • ning crept closer.

“Light a candle and hold it above my head; I must settle that brute,” he said, in his mind also a thought that perhaps the light would frighten away the animal that trailed them.

As Swinton struck a match it broke, its flickering fall glinting green two devilish eyes in the head of a tiger that was setting himsélf for a spring, ten feet away. The roar of Finnerty’s 10-bore, the two shocks almost in one, nearly burst their eardrums, and Swinton, having slung his rifle, stood keyed to rigidity by the call for steady nerve. There was no rushing charge. A smothered cough from the tiger told that blood choked his lungs.

A man’s voice came from the darkness almost at their elbow, saying: “Sahib, I am Darna Singh—a friend !”

“Come here!” Finnerty answered. “But no treachery!” For he feared it might be an impostor.

Darna Singh drew close, whispering: “The tiger is

dead, so do not make a light. How did the sah'b get here—has he keys for the door?”

Finnerty told how the princess had sent him Darna’s ring of keys.

Concluding Instalment

Darna Singh explained: “I was cast in here by

Ananda to be killed by the tiger who has been let down from his cage. Perhaps they do not know that you are here.”

“Have they heard the gun?” the major asked.

“The doors are very heavy, and through the rock they would not have heard. If they have, the key will not open the door if they wish.”

Then Darna Singh told what lay beyond the door. The magazine was all prepared for blowing up should Ananda’s plan fail, and there be danger of discovery of his imported guns. Wires ran from the magazines to a room in the palace, wThere a switch could bury everything in a second. The passages were lighted by electricity, and the dynamo might have gone wrong, causing the darkness, or it might be an entrapping scheme. There would not be more than one or two German guards at the magazine, where the guns were, and if the sahibs could fall upon these in the dark, Darna Singh could win over the native guards, for they did not love Ananda.

T'HE door opened to a key, showing beyond no glint *of light. They passed through ; this time Finnerty. finding a fragment of rock, fixed it so that the door could not be closed behind them. Hope suggested that the shot had not been heard, for no storm of attack broke upon them.

After a time Darna Singh checked, and, putting his lips close to Finnerty’s ear, whispered: “We are close

to the gun and ammunition room. I will go a little in advance and speak in Hindustani to the sentry; he will think it one of their natives, and as we talk you must overpower him.”

Keeping within striking distance, Finnerty and Swinton followed. As they crept forward, with blinding suddenness an electric glare smote their eyes, and from beneath the reflected light a machine gune stuck forth its ugly nose. Behind a steel shield a Germanflavored voice commanded: “Drop your guns!”

Both men hesitated. To surrender was almost worse than death.

•‘nh"V. or get shot!” the ugly voice called.

“We’ll put them down, major,” Swinton said; “dead men are no help to the Government.”

As they laid down their guns two Prussians slipped into the light and picked them up. From behind the steel shield two others appeared, and following them loomed the gorilla form of Doctor Boelke, his face wreathed in a leer of triumph.

At a command in German, one of the men swung open an iron-barred door, disclosing, as he touched a button, a cell ten feet square. Boelke turned to Finnerty: “Major, you haf intruded without *der

ceremony of an invitation; I now invite you to make yourself at home in der guest chamber.”

“Your humor, like yourself, is coarse,” Finnerty retorted.

“You vill enter der door, or-” Boelke waved a

hand, the bayonets were advanced to within striking distance, while the machine gun clicked ominously.

FINNERTY realized that to resist was suicide; no doubt Boelke would prefer to have an excuse for killing them—there was absolute murder in the bleary animal eyes.

Swinton said in an even, hard voice: “The British

Government will have you shot as a German spy."

“Perhaps Captain Herbert vill be shot as an English spy to-morrow; and now”—Boelke raised his arm— “ven I drop my hand you vill be shot for resisting arrest.”

“We won’t give the hound an excuse for murder,” Finnerty said, leading the way through the door. A German followed them in, and ran his hands over their bodies for revolvers; finding Finnerty’s hunting knife, he took it away. The door was locked, and a guard placed in front of it.

It was only now that the two noticed that Darna Singh had disappeared; nobody seemed to have seen him; he had simply vanished. Probably the guard, even if they saw him, took him to be one of their own

natives—not associated with the sahibs who had dropped into their hands.

CHAPTER XXI

/"'’APTAIN FOLEY sat in Doctor Boelke’s big chair ^ in the doctor’s bungalow, seeing a lovely vision in the smoke which curled upward from his cheroot; he saw himself the possessor of two race horses he would buy when he went back to Europe—perhaps it would have to be in Germany—with the money Boelke had gone to the palace for. The crafty captain had demanded “money down”—the two thousand pounds he was to have for delivering the stolen paper, and that, too, before he showed the paper. To guard against force, he had allowed Marie to keep the document, but Marie should have been in the bungalow; however, she could not be far—she would be in shortly.

From where he sat at Boelke’s flat desk, Foley looked upon a wall of the room that was paneled in richly carved teakwood, and from a brass rod hung heavy silk curtains. On the panel that immediately fronted his eyes was Ganesha, a pot-bellied, elephantheaded god; a droll figure that caught the captain’s fancy, especially when it reeled groggily to one side to uncover an opening through which a dark, brilliant eye peered at him. The captain’s face held placid under this mystic scrutiny, but his right hand gently pulled a drawer of the desk open, disclosing a Mawiser pistol.

When the w'hole panel commenced to slide silently, he lifted the pistol so that its muzzle rested on the desk. Through the opening created in the wall a handsome native stepped into the room, salaamed, and. turning, closed the aperture, then he said: “I am

Nawab Darna Singh, the brother of Rajah Ananda’s princess. May I close the door, sahib?”

Foley lifted the Mauser into view, drawling: “If

you wish; I have a key here to open it, if necessary.” Darna Singh closed a door that led from the front hall to the room, and, coming buck to stand just across the desk from Foley, said: “The major sahib and the

captain sahib are prisoners of Doctor Boelke; they are below in a cell—they will be killed.”

In answer to a question, Darna Singh related how the two men had been captured and how he, not observed, hnd slipped away, and, knowing all the passages, had made his way to the stone steps that led/ from the tunnels to Doctor Boelke’s bungalow.

Foley in his cold, unimpassioned voice asked, “What do you want me to do?” “Save them.”

The captain’s eyes narrowed. “They are not friends of mine; they searched me to-day, and if I play this silly game I chuck in the sea two thousand quid. It’s a damn tall order.”

DARNA SINGH’S voice throbbed with passionate feeling: “I am a rajput, sahib, and we look upon

the sahibs as white rajputs. We may hate our conquerors, but we do not despise them as cowards. I never knew7 a sahib to leave a sahib to die; I never knew a rajput to leave a brother rajput to die.”

Foley puffed at his cigar, and behind his set face went on the conflict the rajut’s appeal to his manhood had stirred. Darna Singh spoke again: “The sahib will not live to be branded a coward, for his eyes show he has courage. And wre must hurry or it will be too late, for these two sahibs have risked their lives to save the British raj against Prince Ananda’s, who is a traitor to the sahib’s king; he is a traitor to his wife, the princess, for to-morrow he will force into the palace the white mem-sahib who is hei'e with Doctor Boelke.

“By gad!” At last the cold gambler blood had warmed. His daughter Marie, eh? That was different! And to funk it—let two Englishmen die! One an Irishman, even! No doubt it was true, he reasoned, for that was why Darna Singh was in revolt against the prince.

“What chance have we got?” Foley asked.

“There will be a guard at the cage.”

“A German?”

“Yes, sahib.”

“They have seen me with Doctor Boelke ; perhaps we can turn the trick. But,” and his hard gray eyes rested on Darna Singh’s face, “If, when we go down there is no chance, I won’t play the giddy goat; I’ll come back.” He handed Boelke’s Mauser to the rajput, saying: “I have a pistol in my belt.”

Darna Singh slid the panel, and they passed from the room to a landing and down a dozen stone steps to a dim-lighted passage. Here the rajput whispered: “I can take the sahib by a dark way to where he can see the cage in which the two sahibs will be.”

“Hurry!” Foley answered, for he was thinking ruefully of his money.

THE underground place was a cross-hatch of many tunnels, and Darna Singh led the way through a circuitous maze till they came to a bright-lighted cross passage, and, peeping around a corner, Foley saw, fifty feet away, a solitary German leaning against the wall, a rifle resting at his side. Raising his voice in the utterance of Hindustani words, Foley rounded the corner at a steady pace, followed by Darna Singh. The sentry grasped his rifle, and, standing erect, challenged. In German Foley answered, “We come from the Herr Doctor.”

The sentry, having seen Foley with Doctor Boelke, was unsuspicious, and, grounding his rifle tight against his hip, he clicked his heels together at attention.

“The two prisoners are wanted above for examination,” Foley said. “You are to bind their arms behind their back and accompany us.”

“The one sahib is a giant,” the other answered, when this order, percolating slowly through his heavy brain, had found no objection.

“Give me the gun; I will cover him while you bind his arms.”

The sentry unlocked the door, took a rope in his hand, and, saying to Foley,

“Keep close, mein Herr," entered the cell.

Finnerty and Swinton watched this performance, in the major’s mind bitter anger at the thought that an Irishman could be such a damnable traitor.

“Will the Herr Kapitäri

give orders in English to these Schweinehund» that if they do not obey they will be killed?”

Foley complied. What he said was: “Major, put your hands behind your back; then when this chap comes close throttle him so quick he can’t speak.”

A hot wave of blood surged in a revulsion of feeling through Finnerty’s heart, and he? crossed his hands behind his back, half turning as if to invite the bondage. When the German stepped close a hand shot up, and, closing on his windpipe, pinned him flat against the W'all, lifted to his toes, his tongue hanging out from between parted lips.

“Bind and gag him, Swinton,” Foley suggested.

In a minute the sentry was trussed, a handkerchief w7edged in his mouth, and he was deposited in a corner. Outside, Foley turned off the cell light, locked the door, and, handing the guard’s gun to Swinton, led the way back to the dark passage.

On the landing above the stone steps, Darna Singh silently moved the carved Ganesha and peered through the hole. Then whispering, “The room is empty,” unlocked and slid open the panel, locking it behind them as they entered Boelke’s room.

'TMIE bungalow7 was silent. There was no sound of servants moving about, no doubt they were over at the palace, waiting for the thing that was in the air.

Out of the fullness of his heart, Foley spoke in lowtones: “Gentlemen, the doctor will be here shortly w7ith money for me, and your presence might irritate him.” “I’ll never forget what you’ve done for us, Foley,” Finnerty said.

“Neither will I if you do me out of tw7o thousand quid by blathering here,” Foley drawled.

Swdnton put his hand on Foley’s arm. “Forgive me for what I said on the trail, and I give you my wrord that what you’ve done for us will be brought to the sircar’s notice; but we’ve got to capture Boelke. We’ve got to nip this revolt; you know7 there’s one on.” “Look here, Herbert,” Foley drawled, “I don’t mind risking my life to help out a couple of sahibs—a fellow’s got to do that—but I’m damned if I’m going to chuck aw'ay a kit bag full of rupee notes.”

“I’ve got nothing to do with the money; that’s a matter you must settle w7ith Boelke,” Swinton said in dry diplomacy; “but if you and the major will hide behind that heavy curtain and capture this enemy to the British raj, I can promise you an unmolested return to England. There’s another thing”—his words were hesitatingly apologetic—“w7e are now your heavy debtors and can’t make demands on you for that paper, but if it gets into Prince Ananda’s hands it will make his revolt possible. He will show it to the chiefs who meet him to-night.”

“And w-ith that I have nothing to do. I’ll deliver the paper to Boelke and take my money; what you do to the Herr Doctor after that is no concern of mine.”

' I 'WICE Foley had laid a A hand on Finnerty’s arm in restraint.

“Never! I swear it. 1 am not afraid.”

With a smile, Swnnton held out his hand, saying “Darna Singh and I are going to blow up the magazine but I’ll just say. thank you, for fear I get pipped."

CHAPTER XXII.

C'OLEY and Major Finnerty took up their positions A in a corner behind a heavy curtain, Foley making two slits in it with a pocketknife. They were clear of thcdoor leading below, and even if Boelke came that way he would rot detect their presence.

In five minutes Marie entered the room, and stooo looking about as if she had expected to see some one She wore a riding habit, and through the curtain slit Finnerty could see that her face was drawn and white, her eyes heavy in utter weariness.

Almost immediately a heavy tread sounded in the hall, followed by the thrust of Boelke’s ugly form through the door. He glared about the room, and. crashing into his chair, asked gruffly: “Vhere is your

“I don’t know,” the girl answered wearily.

“You don’t know! Veil, vhere is der paper?”

“You must get it from my father.”

“I don’t like dot; some one is a liar!”

The girl’s silence at this brutality but increased Boelke’s ugliness. “Your fadder don’t trust me. Being a thief himself, und a traitor, he pays me der same compliment—he refuse to deliver der paper till der money is paid. Here is der rupees, und I vant der paper.” His heavy knuckles beat upon the table.

“You must wait, then, till he comes.”

“He toldt me you had der paper still—for fear he might be robbed. I suppose. Vhere is it?”

“It is hidden."

“Get it; der rajah vaits.”

The girl sat with no movement of response. Fin nerty could see her face draw into a cast ef resolve. Both he and Foley felt that it would be better to wrait for the girl to leave the room before they rushed upon Boelke; there might be shooting.

The doctor’s rage increased. “If your fadder is traitor to me—if der paper is not produced in five minutes, I will send out word that he be shot on sight, und betwmen you two ve vill find der paper.” Boelke sat back in his chair with a snorting growl.

“Listen to me, Herr Boelke,” the girl said in a voice clean cutting as a steel tool that rips iron. “My father is acting loyal to you, though he is a traitor to his own government. He stole that paper because he faced wTiat he called dishonor over gambling debts, and I was blamed for taking it. I was the one who faced dishonor, and, through me, Lord Gilfain. I escaped and made my way to India under false names, not to help, as you thought, but to recover that paper and give it back to the government or destroy it."

“Haf you destroyed it?”

“Y'ou will never get it. Herr Boelke. I have to tell you this—that you may know7 my father did not act the traitor to you.” “Ha, ha! Yrou are as mad as your fadder. If der paper is not here in five minutes do you know vat vill happen you?”

“I am not afraid; I took all these risks when I came here to clear my name.” “Here is der money— my time is short.”

am not aIraid." "No; like your fadder you haf not fear or sense. But vait. You do not feai for your own life-! knos~ dot-but viii you trade dot paper for der life of dei man you Iove-Major Fin nerty?" The listeners heard a gasp. "I mean dot He und der udder fool, Svinton, is below in a cell -caught dere as spiesund to-morrow dey viii bE shot as spies. Dey too1~ care dot nobody see den go in, und I viii take cart dot nobody see dem com out.

Cont'd on page 78

Continued, fronm page 26

A ghastly silence followed, only broken by the sound of the girl’s breathing.

Boelke waited to let this filter through her brain to her heart.

Then she said in a voice that carried

no convincing force: “You are lying to

frighten me.”

“I vil I prove it to yourself. You haf on der riding habit, und now I know you haf been riding to deliver dot paper to der major; but you did not meet him because he is a prisoner below.”

Again there was the hush of a debate in the girl's mind; then she said: “If

you will bring Major Finnerty and Captain Swinton from below, through that door, and let them go as free men. and will swear to not pursue them, I

will give—get the paper, and--”

“Ach, Gott! You haf der paper! You put your hand to your breast!”

The girl cried out, startled, frightened as Boeíke’s gorilla form flung his chair back. He saw the rush of Finnerty and threw back the drawer of his desk; it was empty—Foley had taken the Mauser.

“If y m open your mouth, you’re a dead man!” Finnerty declared: then adding, for relief: “You hound!”

The girl, who had backed to the wall, dropped to a chair, burying her face in an arm on the desk, swept by a flood of confusion and relief.

Foley transferred the packages of rupee notes to his pockets, saying: “I’ve

delivered the paper in Darpore, and am taking my fee,” while Boelke sat blinking into a pistol that stared at him four feet away.

Finnerty said: “We’re going to gag

and bind you, so make no outcry.”

When this little matter was attended to, the doctor was dumped into a big closet and the door locked.

“I’ll have a look at the outside, major,” Foley said. “Fancy I heard some one prowling.”

IITHEN the curtain slipped back to VY place, blotting out Foley, Finnerty gave an inward gasp; he was left alone with the girl whom he had heard offer to barter her more than life—her reputation—for his life. A dew of perspiration stood out on his forehead; he trembled; the shyness that had been a curse to him from his boyhood made him a veritable coward. He was alone with the girl in an atmosphere of love—the most dreaded word in the whole English lexicon.

Marie héld the paper in her hand, looking upon it as though she were crystal gazing, using it as a magnet to focus her own multitudinous emotions. Before her stood a man that was like a Greek god—the man who had twice saved her life; though the saving of her life, while it would have wakened feelings of deep gratitude, could not have filled her soul with the passionate yearning that was there—the surging soul warmth that submerges everything.

The man was like a child. Words utterly failed to shape themselves into a fitting coherence for utterance. He stepped to the wall and swung the little Ganesha panel, peering vacantly into the dark passage. He came back and gazed out into the hall.

“I want to tell you something-”

The girl’s voice started him as though he had been struck; his nerves were frightful. “I want to tell you,” she said again, a, wan smile striving to master her trembling lips, “why I didn’t give up this paper on the trail to-day.” “I understand,” he interrupted; “it would not have cleared you.”

“No; Captain Swinton would have thought that I had given it up under compulsion. But if I had lost it, all I have gone through would have been for nothing. That’s what frightened me so when Doctor Boelke discovered I had it. I did wrong in keeping it; I was selfish.” The girl’s tensed nerves were being slacked by her words; expression was easing the tightened coils as the striking of a clock unwinds the spring; the relief was loosening tears; they flooded the great dark eyes, and one had fallen on the paper, for an instant like a pearl before it was absorbed.

This trivial thing was a power that swept away the bondage of shyness that held the giant. He put his hand on the girl's shoulder; his voice was trembling. ‘‘Marie,” he said, “I must speak—something. Don’t mind, colleen, if you can’t understand what I say; for I feel just like a boy at home in Ireland. I’m just mad with love for you; I can’t live without you. All my life I’ve been alone. I love beautiful things—birds and trees and flowers and animals—and I’ve starved here, where all is treachery and work—nothing but just work.”

IT was a torrent, words trembling from the lips of a man whose soul was on fire, and the blue eyes had turned deep like rich sapphires.

The girl rose from her chair and stood against the wall, holding up her hand as if she would repel him, crying: “You

mustn’t say that; you must not! Oh, my God! Why didn’t you let me diewhy did you save my life, that I might now know the bitterness of living!” Finnerty recoiled. His hand caught the corner of the desk; his voice was husky, full of despair: “You don’t—

don't-I'm too late? Is it Lord Victor that-" "There is no one!" The girl's voice I was almost fierce. "What is it, then? Am I not worthy

“It is I who am not worthy. You not worthy? And you heard, standing behind the curtain, that I bargained my all for your life.”

“Yes, I heard that. Then how are you not worthy of the love of a man if he were a hundred times better than I am?”

“You could not marry me. My father was a traitor, a gambler—we are the same blood.”

Finnerty took a step forward and grasped the girl’s wrist. The touch steadied him. “Hush, colleen: don’t say that. Your father was just a brave, generous Irishman when I knew him before the gambling got into his blood. Fear he did not know. He didn’t know how to do a mean act; he’d give away his last pennv—the gambling got into his blood. Wasn’t that what got him into this? It was India that scorched and seared his soul—the life here. The others had money, and here they lavish it. throw it about, gamble. He tried to keep his end up, for he was game. He was unlucky—it was a second name for him in the service—‘Unlucky’ Foley. I tel! you it got into his blood, the wild Irish blood that boils so easily—that is not cold and slugeish from dilution from the essence of self.”

It was curious the metamorphosis of love, the glamor of it that roused the imaginative sympathy of Finnerty, till, for the girl’s sake, all her geese were swans. And yet there was truth in what he said; only a Celt could have understood Foley as Finnerty did.

Finnerty’s hand had taken the other wrist. He drew the girl’s hands up and placed them either side of his neck, and looked into her eyes. “Colleen, I love you. Nothing in the world is going to take you from me—nothing. I’m going to seal that with a kiss, and neither man nor devil is going to part us after that.’ As his arms went around the girl a tremor shook the earth, the bungalow rocked drunkenly, they heard the crashing of rocks and trees somewhere on the plateau.

CHAPTER XXIII.

{T had been easy for Darna Singh to smuggle Swinton through the tiger garden gate, for the guard were tribesmen of his own—raj puts who really hated Ananda.

And now the two sat in a room of the palace, at Swinton’s elbow a switch that, at a shift, would send a current of eruptive force into the magazine. Through a closed lattice thev looked out upon the terrace thronged with natives— Mussulmans, Hindus, Buddhists; and, gazing, Swinton thought that it was like bringing together diffei-ent. explosives— a spark would perhaps fan a sudden mental conflagration among these fanatics. Silence reigned—a hush hung over the many-colored throng as if something of this held them on guard.

Darna Singh was explaining in a whisper:

“Ananda has called these chiefs to sign a blood pact against the sircar. The two men of the big beards are from Khyber way—Pathans whose trade is war; one is Ghazi Khan and the other is Dhera Ishmael. They will not sign the blood pact unless Ananda shows them the paper wherein the sircar is to force their young men to war. The maharajah will not be here, but whether he is true to the sircar no man knows, and sometimes, sahib, he does not know himself, because of the brandy.”

They could see Burra Moti upon her bended legs on the marble-slabbed terrace, a rich cloth, sparkling with jewels, draping her head and neck and body. Huge gold rings had been driven upon her ivory tusks.

Darna Singh whispered:

“Look, sahib, at the two men that stand beside the elephant’s neck; they are my blood brothers, and when we entered at the teakwood gate I told them of the sapphire bell. They have their mission.”

Beyond, the Lake of the Golden Coin, rich in its gorgeous drape of shadow and moon gold, lay serene, placid, undisturbed by the puny man passion that throbbed like a ticking watch above its rim.

The droning hum of voices, like the buzz of bees, died to silence, and foreheads were bowed to the marble floor as Prince Ananda, clothed in a coarse yellow robe, came forth and strode_ like a Roman senator to a table at which sat with the two Pathans a dozen petty rajahs, nawaba. and Mussulman chiefs.

“They are waiting to have the paper translated to them by a moonshi and to see the sircar’s seal upon it, for they all know that mark,” Darna Singh said.

“What will happen if the paper does not come?” Swinton asked.

“They will not sign the blood bond; they will think that Rajah Ananda has told them lies. Also the two men who are my brothers will place another lie in the mouth of Ananda, if it is Kismet, and at that time the sahib will blow up the mine.”

From below the voice of Ananda came floating up to their ears as he talked to the chiefs in impassioned words of hatred to the British raj. He told them of the machine guns and ammunition he had below; that the great German nation would send an army, for even now they had sent men to train the soldiers of the revolt.

To Swinton it was simply the mad exhortation of a mind crazed by ambition, but he knew that scores of revolts against the British had originated in just this way; the untutored natives, taught hatred of the British from their birth, would believe every word.

The voice of Ghazi Khan, rough as the bellow of a bull as it came through an opening in his heavy, matted beard, was heard asking:

“What will happen if the paper does is written that the sircar commands our sons to cross the black water to fight against the caliph and to destroy Mecca—even to destroy the faith of Mohammed, as thou has said?”

“We also, Rajah Darpore,” the Nawab of Attabad said, “would see first the sealed order of the sircar, that we, too, are forced to cross the black water to the destruction of our caste—to fight battles that are not the battle of India. Thou hast said, rajah, that it is so commanded in a state paper that was to have been put in the Lord Sahib’s hands as he sat in council in Calcutta, and though no doubt it is true we would see it, for war is not to be taken in words that are spoken.”

Ananda explained that the paper would be brought soon by his German officer, and he would show it to them before they signed the pact.

Then Ananda, lowering his voice to tragic intensity, said:* “It is written

that if the three sacred sapphires come into the hand of a man it is because the gods have bestowed upon him wisdom and goodness and power; that he is to lead. It is also written that if, having the three sapphires, he stand beside the Lake of the Golden Coin at midnight in the full bloom of the mhowa tree King Jogwendra will appear in his golden boat if he be selected to lead. I will take the ordeal to-night, for the mhowa is in bloom and the three sapphires have been sent.”

SWINTON saw Ananda throw open his yellow robe, disclosing two sapphires, and heard him say: “The third is here

on the neck of the sacred, elephant in a bell.” *

Twelve times the gong throbbed as it quivered from a blow, and as the last whimpering note died away in a forest echo a circling ripple spread from the shadow of a pipai, and now the rippling waves came fast, darting here and there like serpents of gold or silver in the moonlight.

Men gasped in awe; some touched their forehead^ prone to the marble floor as a boat of gold, its prow a serpent’s head with gleaming ruby eyes, came up out of the water and floated upon the surface.

King Jogwendra clothed in a rich garment, his turban gleaming red and blue and white and gold where the moon flashed upon jewels, rose from a bier and lifted a hand as if to invoke the favor of the gods upon the prince who had called him from his long sleep.

Even Swinton, knowing that it was but a trick of the German engineers, shivered as if he caught afragment of the spell that almost stilled the beating of hearts below.

And then from the sal forest came floating to this stillness of death the soft, sweet “Tinkle, ' tinkle, tinkle, tinkle, tinkle!” of the sapphire bell.

Burrâ Moti threw up her trunk, uttering a cry that was like the sob of a frightened child, and cocked her huge ears. As the bell called again. “Tinkle, tinkle, tinkle!” she thrust her trunk beneath her neck cloth ; but her fingers found no bell; it had been stolen.

With a scream of rage she surged to her feet, and, trampling men, throwing them to one side like bags of chaflF with her ivory spears, she crashed through the table and fled.

“Now, sahib!” Darna Singh cried.

In answer to Swinton’s pull of the lever the plateau rose up, the palace quivered, the waters of the Lake of the Golden Coin swept across the terrace over a flattened, yellow-robed figure that had been Prince Ananda, and then was sucked back to disappear through a yawning crevice.

“Come, sahib; there will be no revolt for Ananda is dead,” Darna Singh said softly.

SOMETIMES when the mhowa tree is in full bloom the soft tinkle of the sapphire bell is heard up in the salcovered hills; then the natives whisper: “The spirit of Rajah Ananda rides forth on the Brown Elephant.”

THE END.