The Arab Bint

A story of Kipling's East, explaining exactly how and why Lt. Knox's green silk pyjamas came into the possession of Noorudda, daughter of Sheik Ali Moufik.

J. RUSSELL WARREN January 1 1925

The Arab Bint

A story of Kipling's East, explaining exactly how and why Lt. Knox's green silk pyjamas came into the possession of Noorudda, daughter of Sheik Ali Moufik.

J. RUSSELL WARREN January 1 1925

The Arab Bint

A story of Kipling's East, explaining exactly how and why Lt. Knox's green silk pyjamas came into the possession of Noorudda, daughter of Sheik Ali Moufik.

J. RUSSELL WARREN

I.

"THESE women," said Fanshawe, "look as if butter wouldn't melt in their mouths-but give them a chance!"

He stood in the shadowed archway of his house, waiting for his boat to come in alongside the river bank.

From the narrow street that opened a few yards to his left Arab women were streaming down to the river for water. Upon their heads they balanced their water-jars, great, flat-bottomed, fat-bellied vessels of tinned copper, with long, thin necks, graceful spouts and angled handles.

The women were unveiled. The yashmak is little seen in Mesopotamia, and then only among the upper classes. The peasant does not observe the Moslem scruple against women exhibiting their faces to strange men. Only if you stare hard at one will she draw her garment across her face.

Fanshawe thought yashmaks would have been an improvement. The bints (girls) were not, to European eyes, beautiful. They were uniformly small (curious that while the male Arab is usually six feet anything, his women folk are all five feet nothing). With their black robes pulled up above their heads they had a bottle shape. Their noses were flat, and, in the case of the married ones, pierced with nose-rings. Their lips were thick, and the tatooed line above and below the mouth emphasized the effect.

But, to be just, they walked barefooted with the grace that comes from habitually carrying weights upon the head. And their eyes were large, soft and limpid. Most of these eyes glanced covertly at the tall figure in the archway, dropped shyly, and then glanced again.

“Little hussies,” said Fanshawe, and looked away. He was not in any respect a ladies’ man.

Languidly, yet with eyes that missed nothing, he watched the pageant of the water-front, passing and re-

passing in the pitiless glare of the morning sun.

Most of the passers-by saluted the Political Officer; the Arabs gravely, the Christians obsequiously, the boys with broad, impudent, grins. Fanshawe acknowl edged their greetings with a mechanical pluck at the brim of his helmet. His eyes observed them all, but his thoughts were upon the steamer moored to the opposite bank of the river.

To him, the only white man in Kum Salieh, the arrival of a river boat was an event. It might bring mails—and letters from home are an unequalled solace in exile. It certainly brought a sight of English faces, the chance of a chat in a Christian tongue with skipper and mate and engineer, and

possibly a European passenger. And occasionally it brought the seeds of some intriguing incident into his languid, uneventful life.

AT LAST the boat came alongside, a crazy, shallow ■ canoe, paddled by a burly Arab in a shirt and a skullcap. Fanshawe crossed the road to a sort of little wharf edged with piles of split palm-trunks, descended the rough steps, and stepped into the boat.

“Steamer,” he said, curtly, reclining in the flimsy seat of packing-case wood.

Perched in the stern behind him the boatman drove the craft through the water with vigorous strokes of his paddle. It shot across the yellow river like a water-beetle. In a few minutes it pulled up alongside the steamer, and the boatman clawed it along to the after sponson.

Fanshawe stepped aboard, and walked up the companion to the upper deck. There he met the mate, a slim young man with a large, humorous mouth and twinkling eyes.

“Morning, Carson,” said Fanshawe. “Any mail for me?”

“Nothing much, I’m afraid.” There was genuine commiseration in Carson’s tone. He understood. “We left before the mail was sorted. But there’s a parcel of stuff from Basra—books, by the look of it-—and a case of Perrier below.”

“Not too bad,” said Fanshawe, carefully concealing the disappointment in his voice.

The mate looked up at him suddenly, his eyes sparkling with secret delight.

“Biggest joke out,” he announced. “See that blightykneed youngster by the rail?”

Fanshawe nodded. He had already observed an immaculate young man in the very latest thing in sunresisting shirts.

“Straight from home,” Carson elucidated. “Coming upriver he got properly tangled up, and we simply can’t spoil the joke by unravelling him. An Arab bint."

Fanshawe stiffened. He did not like the sound of this. It suggested the kind of joke that stirred up trouble in the country he was giving the best years of his life to keep peaceful and contented.

“I’ll call him,” said Carson gleefully unregardful, “andlet him tell you the yarn.”

“Do,” said the Political.

A moment later Carson brought forward the youth. He was snub-nosed and round-eyed, and his pink face, and white knees exposed between shorts and puttees, betrayed that he had only recently made the acquaintance of the Mesopotamian sun.

“Mr. Knox,” Carson announced, “this is Captain Fanshawe, our Political Officer here.”

“How do you do, sir?” said the youth with some uneasiness.

BENEATH lowered lids Fanshawe eyed him keenly.

He decided that he liked the cub. He was raw, of course, and he was pudgy, but in spite of his obvious embarrassment he looked straight. There was a slightly peevish tilt to his eyebrows, a faint touch of weakness in the good-natured mouth. But his eyes were clear and innocent.

“Mr. Knox is worried,” Carson remarked suggestively, his mouth twitching.

The boy seized the opening.

“I’m in a devil of a hole,” he began nervously, “and these sailors here only laugh at me and won’t help me out of it.” He cast an indignant glance at Carson, who chuckled delightedly. “If you’d tell me what I’m to

do--”

His glance was imploring. He saw in Fanshawe a man not given to practical jokes; a man used to hearing other people’s troubles and offering sympathy, advice and help. The Political nodded gravely.

“Tell me all about it.”

“Well, you see, I’m new to this country, just out front home. They sent me straight here as soon as I landed at Bombay.” Fanshawe marked the slight fretfulness in the tone. "I’m on my way up to Baghdad to join my regiment the —th Sikhs. Well, on the way up-river we banked in for the night above some place called Ezra’s Tomb, and just after sundown I went for a stroll along the river bank, by an Arsfb camp. And there was,” he blushed like a girl in his embarrassment, “a woman there. She’d just been bathing or something. Of course, I turned round pretty quick and went the other way,”

“Quite,” said Fanshawe, repressing a smile,

“But a little later on the girl came up to me and held out a flower—-one of those yellow marsh things. I thought it was very nice of her. I don’t know anything about their beastly customs. I took it. And then up came a hefty old Arab—her father, I suppose—and a lot moreAnd they all jabbered in their beastly Arabic. I couldn’t make out a word, so I yelled for Carson here. He came down and translated. And what do you think he told me they said?”

Fanshawe suppressed his smile with difficulty. He knew what was coming.

“He said that because I’d seen the wretched creaturr bathing, she was obliged by their beastly customs to offer to be my wife. The flower was a sort of symbol, don’t you know? By taking it, they told me, I accepted thelady. That’s what they toll me. So she came aboard— “What?” Fanshawe jumped and threw a reproachful glance at Carson.

“He accepted the lady,” the mate retorted grinning, “so we had to bring her along, until they could be married conveniently. She’s been well chaperoned.”

“You ought to know better,” Fanshawe answered shortly. “Where’s the bint?”

“Below,” said the rueful subaltern. “Of course, I

mean to say—” He reddened again painfully. “She’s been below all the time.”

He turned anguished eyes to the Political.

“For Heaven’s sake, get me out of this, sir. I can’t—I simply can’t report to the regiment with a black wife in tow already, can I? And I don’t want to marry her. I mean to say, she’s a gargoyle. She’s got nice eyes,” he admitted judicially, “but her mouth’s awful, and she’s tattooed. And—Oh, you understand! But, you see,” his tone was very earnest and anxious, “if I’ve sort of compromised the poor little devil or anything like that I don’t want to leave her in the lurch, you know. If there’s anything' I can do, short of marrying her—”

Fanshawe put him out of his misery.

“Carson’s been fool enough to pull your leg,” he said. “There’s no need for you to marry the lady; You may have slightly damaged her matrimonial prospects, but I think she’ll be mollified pretty easily. Don’t you worry. I’ll take charge of her and éither send her back by the next P-boat or settle her somewhere here. It’ll be quite all right.” ' ‘

“You’re sure,” asked the boy anxiously, “she isn’t hopelessly compromised and all that? I don’t know much about these natives ideas.”

"It’ll be quite all right,” repeated Fanshawe, smiling. “You’re a brick, sir,” said the boy, gratefully. - * Fanshawe wiped his forehead.

“I rather think,” he drawled, “I’d like to see the bint.”

CARSON, hugely entertained, fetched the girl. She was of the usual marsh Arab type, dressed in a black aba and pyjama trousers. A heavy pair of silver bangles clanked round her slim, bare ankles. Her soft, dark eyes met Fanshawe’s boldly, but with a shadow of apprehension very evident in their depths.

“O girl,” said the Political, in the dialect, “what is your name and the name of your father?” j “I am,” she answered calmly,

“Noorudda, daughter of Ali Mou. fik of the ibn Amala.”

Fanshawe nodded comprehendingly. Ali Moufik was sheikh of an insignificant marsh Arab tribe, rather given to sniping at river_ boats and petty peculation.

“Do you think, girl,” he demanded sternly, “that you can claim as a husband an English effendi, were you the daughter of twenty sheikhs?”

“It is the custom,” she answered,

“and he accepted the flower.”

“These customs are for your own people. Girls of the Arabui do not lift their eyes to an English effendi.

You will go ashore at once. Will you return to your people, or will you stay in Kum Salieh? There may be one who needs a handmaid.”

She flashed out at him:

“The daughter of Ali Moufik is handmaid to no Kum Salieh crow.

I will return to my people.” , ’ ,

“Be it so. Put your belongings and yourself in my boat, and my boatman shall take you to my house.”

Defiantly, with a sweeping, backward glance, the girl descended the companion.

“The lady,” Fanshawe announced, a twinkle in his eye, “has accepted her divorce quite meekly.”

“It’s awfully good of you, sir,” said Knox, in grateful admiration.

He drifted away. Fanshawe gave the mate a little sermon on playing practical jokes that might cause trouble among the natives, and then, changing the subject, gossipped amicably about the news and rumors that floated up and down the river.

II.

'XIT'HEN the steamer cast off to * v resume her voyage, Fanshawe stepped into his boat and recrossed the river.

He was a little puzzled by the affair of Noorudda. The custom she had mentioned existed. Her explanation of her action was not incredible, but it was unlikely. Even in the circumstances of this case, it was not likely that an Arab girl would try to ensnare an Englishman into a marriage. He had an uneasy feeling that the whole thing was a

pretext; that something lay beneath it all, something significant, ominous.

At his doorway he was met by his servant, Peter, wonder in his eyes.

“Your wife,” said Peter, showing his white teeth, “has arrived. I have given her the room over the arch.”

“My what?” For once in his life Fanshawe was genuinely staggered. “What the devil do you mean?”

Peter shrugged his shoulders resentfully.

“Is she not your wife? How was I to know? She came from the steamer in your boat. She said she was your wife and that she was to have the best room in the house.”

In spite of his exasperation Fanshawe could not resist a grin of appreciation at the girl’s coolness.

He went up to the room above the arch, opened the door and stepped in. The girl had flung off her aba and, in her under-robe and trousers, sat on the floor by the window. With a quick movement she rose, came to him, swaying sinuously, and dropped on her knees before him, “The face of my lord is clouded,” she murmured. “In what have I offended my lord?”

“You shameless little hussy,” said Fanshawe. Then, . in Arabic: “How dare you, girl, tell my servants that you are my wife?”

She raised wondering eyes to him. Her acting -was perfect.

“Am I not your wife?” she asked innocently. “Did you not take me from the pale man? Did you not send me hither to your house in your own boat?”

Fanshawe eyed her sternly.

_ “Girl, your heart is full of lies. Now tell me the truth. Why have you come to Kum Salieh?”

She shook her head.

“I have told you. The pale man took me for his wife. Then you—”

He interrupted her.

“Why.did you do it?You made that an excuse for getting aboard the boat-with-wheels and coming hither Why?”

“I have told my lord,” she insisted stubbornly. Fanshawe regretted that it was impossible to beat a woman. Instead he called Peter.

“Take this girl away,” he commanded; “hand her over to the cook and let her have work in the kitchen till the next downriver steamer comes in.”

“All right,” said Peter.

Fanshawe took tiffin at a table by the window—shut fast to keep out the heated air from outside. The food— the tinned salmon drenched with vinegar, the tinned peaches, the beet sugar arid condensed milk for the tea— was all covered with little squares of muslin weighted with glass beads, to keep off the flies. As he ate he read one of the new novels the steamer had brought him, and at intervals slew a fly or two.

TIFFIN over, he retired to his bedroom, whither Peter had brought his bed from the roof. Taking • off his .sweat-soaked clothes and slipping into his thinnest pyjamas, he laid his wrist-watch on the floor beside the bed and composed himself for his siesta. He slept little. The mosquito net increased the heat to an uncomfortable extent, but it was necessary, not to keep out mosquitoes, but to shut out the flies, whose tickling legs and sticky buzz would have wrecked all chances of sleep.

Just before sundown, as he was at last dozing off, thehoot of a siren woke him. Mechanically he stretched out his hand for his watch. It was not there.

“Rum!” said Fanshawe.

Hig fingers groped about the floor. He sat up and looked about the room.. There was no doubt about it; the watch was gone.

“M’m,” said Fanshawe.

, His servants would not have taken the watch; they were either too trustworthy or too scared. -Suspicion naturally fell upon Noorudda. It would have been quite easy for her, when the household was more or less asleep, to slink up to his room and do a little quiet pilfering.

“Little hussy!” said Fanshawe. He called Peter.

“Tell that girl who came to-daÿ to pack up her belongings. A steamer is coming in. She will go down-stream by it. Make her wait in the courtyard. I shall be down presently.”

By the time he had taken his bath, and dressed, the girl was waiting, stoically patient, in the courtyard. Beside her was a bundle tied in an old black aba.

“Ah, yes,” said Fanshawe, eyeing the bundle critically. “Open it.” The girl’s eyes met his, startled, apprehensive, but she did not move. He motioned to Peter.

“No,” she snapped, and stooping/ untied the bundle.

A few personal belongings wêfé revealed—eat-Hngs, glass bracelets, beads, all the tfUttipery gewgaws dear to the native tVóinan, a brassjtooking-pot, and a copper ladle, and then, not only Fanshawe’â wrist-watch, collar-studs, and spare sock-suspenders, but a pair of gold sleeve-links, a signet ring, two tiepins, a suit of emerald green silk pyjamas, and a dozen revolver cartridges. These Fanshawe had never seen before, but he presumed them to be the property of the ingenuous Mr. Knox. He marvelled at the native lack of discrimination in picking up unconsidered trifles, useful or not.

“Perfect magpie,"said Fanshawe. “So it was a little looting expedition, was it? Not affection for our blighty-kneed young friend, but your thieving propensities, took you aboard the P-boat. You're a naughty, naughty girl. I’ve a great mind to write to your father and tell him what a naughty girl yoo are.”

As this was all in English, the girl did not understand a word. She stood, submissive, glancing upward

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beneath her long lashes. She was prepared for almost any fate now that she had been discovered. But seeing no chance of escape, she accepted the situation with native philosophy.

GINGERLY Fanshawe stooped, picked up the assortment of stolen trifles, and handed it to the impassive Peter. With a gesture of indignation the girl bent over and swept away from his fingers the things that were really hers. A tiny scrap of paper fluttered down, and, before she could retrieve it, lay before the Englishman’s eyes. Upon it was scrawled, apparently with a very blunt scrap of pencil:

P.90.

Now in the East a small thing may stand for a very great deal. A word, a figure, a sign unintelligible in itself, may be the signal for anything from an amorous assignation to wholesale massacre or a Holy Wiar. Nothing, in such a country as Fanshawe helped to rule, was too small to be overlooked. These scrawled markings on a scrap of paper might mean riothing, or they might stand for something upon which hung hundreds of lives.

Dealings with people deeply versed in the art of dissimulation had taught Fanshawe to control his facial muscles. His expression revealed not the slightest interest in the bit of paper. Carelessly he signed to the girl to tie up the bundle again.

“Take her,” he said to Peter, “and put her aboard the steamer. Stay and see that she goes off by it, and let not her wiles bewitch you.”

Peter’s suddenly hang-dog expression aroused suspicion that the lady’s wiles had already been exerted upon him, not without effect.

Fanshawe stood thinking. He was no Sherlock Holmes, but his work entailed a little deductive thought at times. What was the girl doing with that bit of paper, and what was its significance? He reflected that of the three or four river steamers now on their way down from Baghdad, one was the Baghailieh. And the Baghailieh had been, in the days of the war, called the P.90. That letter and those figures were still upon her grey funnel, more noticeable and more easily recognized by a native than the lengthy

name inscribed in Roman characters around her stern.

He began to understand. The girl had schemed to come up-river, not merely to do a little pilfering, but so that she could get aboard the P.90 coming down. The chit had been the mark by which she was to recognize that particular boat. But why the P.90 rather than any other? Noorudda’s personal acquisitiveness was a side issue. There was more in it than that.

He strolled out on to the water-front. The steamer had banked in above the bazaar. He turned, in her direction. The sun was dropping in the western sky, but the air was still stiflingly hot. Kum Salieh slept. Hardly a soul was to be seen. In shadowed doorways a few coolies and vagrants curled upon the flagstones in apparent comfort.

KEEPING in the slight strip of shade close to the wall, Fanshawe passed along the water-front. Every movement sent warm trickles of sweat down his «back. He came abreast of the P-boat, and crossing the gang-plank, climbed to the upper deck. There he met the skipper, a grizzled Scotsman named Fraser, and accompanied him forward for the usual peg of lime-juice.

“Didn’t expect you so soon,” said Fanshawe, sipping his drink. “You must have got through well.”

“No’ so badly,” Fraser admitted deprecatingly. “We passed a wheen other boats stuck on the banks. But we snoogled through wi’out a scrape. Luck, ye ken,” he added modestly.

Fanshawe noted an unusual constraint in the Scotsman’s manner.

“Got anything unusual aboard?”

He dropped the question casually, but he was watching intently for the result. The skipper eyed him in silence. There was no need of secrecy before Fanshawe, but Fraser was not in the habit of revealing his inward state of mind.

“Weel,to tell ye the truth, Fanshawe,” he said at last, “I have. And I’m a wee bit worried about it. I’ve got in my cabin a wee box of pearls. Worth thousands, they tell me. Weel, ye ken what the river is, Fanshawe. There’s a devil of a lot of desultory sniping and pickpocketing going on. These marsh Arabs’d scupper a

ship’s company of their own relations for a two-anna bit. Ye know that these moonless nights, when we ha’ to bank in, we post a sentry at the end of the gang-plank so that we shan’t ha’ the ship looted and all our throats cut while we’re asleep.” Fanshawe nodded. The sniping at river steamers in the southern regions of his district was a sore point with him. It spoilt the otherwise perfect tranquility of the country, and was extraordinarily difficult to put down.

He glanced down the companion to the ower deck. There, perched upon a winch, squatted Noorudda. Her gazelle eyes were bent upon one of the armed guard. The sepoy was cleaning his rifle, casting sheepish glances in her direction at intervals.

“If any of these down-river Buddhus get wind of what I’ve got in my cabin,” complained Fraser, “they’ll loot the ship and scupper every soul aboard.”

“M’m,” said Fanshawe. “If you’ll take my tip, Fraser, you’ll keep those pearls about you and never let them off your person. And when you’re banked in, either you or the mate’ll keep a watch.”

He sat chatting until the boat left and then stepped ashore. From the lower deck a pair of limpid, long-lashed eyes watched him go.

III.

THE sun had dropped beneath the level horizon. The westward sky was flooded with crimson, and gold, sapphire and apple-green, and a pearly iridescence. The river shone golden, the plain was bathed in the rosy light of the after-glow. The crawling melon-plants and tangled scrub caught the light in golden spots. Away to the east, against a darkening sky of velvet blue, the peaks of Push-i-Ku stood out, clear cut, delicately fretted, flushed with rosy pink, turning to softest heliotrope as they faded in the gathering darkness.

The Baghailieh lay alongside the western bank. A thin wisp of blue smoke curled upward from her funnel and hung in the still air. Ashore, her crew were driving stakes into the earth, making a holdfast for the mooring ropes. Their voices, and the ringing thuds of the mailets, reverberated in the clear, calm stillness.

Away down-stream the roofs of long plaited rush Arab huts rose above the scrub. The deep red of fires glowed. Women came, laden with chickens and eggs and water-melons, and sold them to passengers and crew. From the bridge Fraser eyed them sourly.

“I dinna like this spot,” he said. “Too near they Buddhus. But it’s the only place for a couple o’ miles where ye can get the stakes to hold, and deep water at the bank.”

Instinctively he felt for the box that lay in his trouser pocket. It was there, safe enough. He watched a slim figure in a black aba step daintily across the gangplank, her bangles clanking, her dark eyes glancing back languishingly at the naik (corporal) of the guard. In her hand she carried a bundle. It contained, among her own personal belongings, the skipper’s silver flask and a box of his best cigars, but it did not contain the pearls.

The quick, tropical darkness fell. The stars leapt out. A sentry was posted at the far end of the gang-plank and stood woodenly, staring across the starlit plain.

Away up-stream the faint chug-chugchug of a motor-boat palpitated through the still air. It grew steadily louder, and then stopped.

In the dense shadow beneath the roof of the upper deck the passengers sat chatting and smoking. One by one they retired to the rugs on the deck that served as beds.

A small black figure appeared amongst ahe scrub, advancing towards the boat. The sentry opened his mouth to challenge, but the figure uttered a warning hiss. She crept up to him and stood talking in low tones. Slowly she moved away, looking back enticingly. The sepoy wavered hesitatingly, he took a step forward, another. He threw a backward glance over his shoulder at the boat. Then the two disappeared in the darkness. Silence save for the soft plash of the ripples against the steamer’s side.

Slowly other figures became visible in the gloom moving silently towards the vessel. The stars glimmered on steel Nearer and nearer they crept, nearer still Something spat fire from the cabin window on the landward side. A sharp

report cut the air. another and another. Replies blazed from the shore and bullets snicked through the roof and spattered on the rails. Pandemonium awoke. Scared passengers huddled together, yelping helplessly. The guard rose up, seized their rifles and blazed away in the darknes,

DOWN the river bank, a revolver in each hand, Fanshawe came racing. His jaw was set and his eyes glinted in the starlight. Behind him were three of his Arab police.

“All right, Fraser?” he sang out, as he ran by.

“A’ richt,” the skipper’s gruff tones responded. “I’ll send the guard on after ye.”

The firing from on shore had ceased. The black figures had disappeared in the darkness. All was still.

At the head of his men Fanshawe stumbled through the scrub towards the spot where the embers of the village fires still glowed. At any moment bullets might come whistling out of the darkness. At any instant dark figures might rise from the scrub.

He tripped over something, and nearly fell. Bending, he examined the object. It was the sentry. He was already dead. A jagged tear in his uniform, a spreading black stain, showed where he had been stabbed.

“That,” said Fanshawe, “settles it!” He strode into the village. It was silent, apparently deserted. A couple of pi-dogs raised a whining snarl and showed their teeth at him. He went straight to the opening of the nearest hut.

“0 Ali Moufik,” he called softly.

A figure inside the hut moved and made querulous noises.

“Who calls me?”

“Come out, Ali Moufik, and see.” Slowly a big figure emerged from the hut. His eyes shifted in the starlight as he faced his accuser.

“Do you know,” asked Fanshawe gently, “who calls you!?”

The man fidgeted.

“It is Efansha,” he answered sulkily. “It is. Why, 0 sheikh, do you and your men try to rob the steamer? Why do you fire shots out of the darkness?”

“0 Efansha, it is not I nor my men. It is wandering Bedouin who have done this thing. Do you not find us asleep, I and my men?”

“Asleep? So asleep that you are not awakened by the firing about your ears? 0 Ali Moufik, am I one born without brains?”

“I tell you the truth.”

“Then how comes it that a soldier of the Sirkar (Government) is found stabbed to death at the edge of your village?”

“0 Efansha, it was done by the Bedouin as they fled.”

“Turn out your men,” said Fanshawe, crisply.

They came doubtfully. Behind them the faces of women and children peered in terror from the huts. And two of the men were bleeding, where Fraser’s revolver bullets had found a mark.

„ “0 Ali Moufik,” said Fanshawe softly, “it is decreed that in this country there shall be peace, that none shall take what is another’s and that none shall slay another. If he does, he shall in turn be slain. That your men may understand this, that the tribes may know that the arm of Efansha is long to reach and swift to punish, you shall die here before them, 0 breaker of the law.”

With all his faults, the Arab is a stoic. Ali Moufik faced the firing party without a tremor and died without a groan.

A murmur of awe rose from the crowd. Fanshawe saw that the execution had had its effect. He turned and made his way back towards the steamer, his men at his heels.

At the edge of the village, where they stopped to pick up the body of their comrade, a small, dark figure glided out of the shadow, and looked at Fanshawe with soft, seductive, inviting eyes.

“You little devil,” he said bitterly, ”1 wish I could shoot you too.”

IV.

XT EXT day he made up a small packet -t x 0f sleeve-links, pyjamas, ring, tie-pins and revolver cartridges, and addressed them to Second Lieutenant Knox of the —th Sikhs. In a note to accompany them he wrote:

“Your wife, last time I saw her, was well, but I am very much afraid that she will come to a bad end.”