FICTION

The Little Sahib

GARNETT RADCLIFFE November 15 1933
FICTION

The Little Sahib

GARNETT RADCLIFFE November 15 1933

The Little Sahib

FICTION

GARNETT RADCLIFFE

THE STORV: At Abbot shah, India. Captain Deverell. bunvn as The Little Sahib, is falling in love with Considine Vac hell. She encourages him because she wishes to punish him.

She believes that he sent to his death her fiance. Frank Harley, a subaltern. Harley had written her that Deverell was a tyrant and a bully. Harley was reported killed alter a skirmish with the natives, in which Deverell also participated, but his body was not recovered.

Captain Deverell receives a native who slates that in Dir City a while officer is being held for torture. Disguising hitnsel) as a native holy man and calling himself Afzuz, Deverell goes to Dir City with his servant, Rustum Khan, and finds Harley alive in the thana (Jail). Harley must be rescued immediately if at all.

Pir Khan, a native spy in British pay, threatens to surrender Deverell to the fanatical natives unless paid a huge sum. By a ruse Deverell secures the spy's official papers, and thus has ,the latter in his power.

Deverell and Rustum Khan make preparations for Harley’s rescue.

CONCLUSION

A FEW MINUTES before midnight Rustum Khan crept out of the tent. He was naked saving his loin-cloth, and he gripped a knife between his teeth.

From where he lay to the thana was about eighty yards of undulating sand. Ringing the square, in the centre of which the thana stood, were the tents and picketed camels of the pilgrims. Beyond them was the dark hive of Dir City. Even at that hour the streets hummed with life, although the square itself was deserted.

He could just make out the outline of a sentry squatting in front of the rear door of the thana. This man was alone, but in front a dozen or so of the Haji’s soldiers were gossiping round a fire of dried camel dung. Their shouts and laughter came plainly to Rustum Khan's ears.

Foot by foot the huge Pathan edged himself forward. Almost invisible in the darkness, he pulled himself over the

sand with outstretched elbows and knees, travelling swiftly arid silently as a crawling snake. Ten yards from the sentry he stopped. He took the knife from his teeth, and his muscles bunched like those of a tiger about to charge.

Then with a rush incredibly swift and silent he was on the unsuspecting man. The knife sank to the hilt between the bowed shoulders. His hands flew to the throat and choked the death cry. For several minutes he remained bending over his victim, still as a statue carved of ebony.

While his fingers were still buried in the sentry’s throat a second shadow crept past. There was a sound of a bolt being cautiously eased back. Glancing over his shoulder, he saw the Little Sahib standing in the now open doorway of the thana.

A nod, a whispered word, and he had vanished inside. The Pathan crouched down beside the dead man. who still squatted with bowed head and his jezail lying across his knees. He had heard the rustle of feet on sand. A whiterobed figure with a long jezail was standing at the comer of the thana not twenty yards away.

“Hey. Lai Din! Are you all right?"

The speaker was the naik (corporal) in charge of the

thana guard. A voice he took to be that of the dead sentry answered from the darkness.

"Of course I am all right. Did you think the white man had crept out of his cage and strangled me?"

The naik laughed.

"That would be a miracle since he is too weak to stand. But there is a rumor in the town that the

Little Sahib—the man who is feared throughout the Gomal - has come to Dir to rescue his friend. The Haji himself has sent word that the watch over the thana is to be kept with extra vigilance. Remember that and don’t fall asleep ”

“All right, all right. If the Little Sahib does come he will get a bullet from myjezail.”

One voice grunting Pushtu is very like another. Satisfied that all was well at the back of the thana, the naik returned to his companions.

Deverell had heard the conversation. So they suspected he was in Dir! Had Pir Khan? No; more likelv’it was that red-bearded horse thief. Probably the latter had heard that he had left Abbotshah on a shooting expedition and had put two and two together. He’d gossiped in the bazaar. And rumor, which travels faster than a bullet on the Northwest Frontier, had reached the Haji’s ears.

Be damned to the Haji. All the bulldog in Deverell’s

nature rose to the surface. Little Sahib indeed! Little or not, he'd give these devils a run for their money.

His hand touched the bars he had clung to that morning. Someone was panting in the foul blackness; panting like a tortured animal in a trap.

"Harley? Harley?”

Silence now. Strawrustled and something clanked. "Harley, it’s Deverell. Don’t make a sound for your life. I’m unbolting the gate. Keep quiet.”

"You little sw-ine!” Harley mumbled deliriously. “Think I’ll stay in Kohl and be butchered? Not likely, Deverell. I'm going to save my life. I won’t stay ...”

Deverell’s whisper was as menacing as a snarl.

"Dry up, Harley. You’re not in Kohl now-. Be quiet for your life.”

Even in his fever Harley obeyed the order of his company commander. He was becoming conscious. It was as if that

dreaded voice had summoned him from the sea of delirium. “Deverell. is it really you? Then you didn’t get my note?” Deverell was inside the cage now. He knelt beside Harley on the straw. Burning hands grasped his arm.

“Did you read my note? I left one for you when I deserted from Kohl. I said 1 wouldn’t stick that hell any longer. I couldn't— really I couldn’t. I thought we were all going to be wiped out by the Wazirs. 1 think I was mad. The smell of bltx>d and the w ay the tribesmen yelled I couldn't stand it.” "That’s all right, old lad. 1 burned your note. No one knows what you did except myself. Don’t worry.”

As he spoke he was trying to raise Harley in his arms. Again something clanked.

“What’s that?”

"I’m chained. A sort of collar round my throat.”

Deverell swore. What a fool he was not to have thought of this contingency before. It had been too dark for him to see the chain that afternoon, but he ought to have foreseen this.

Could he break it? His exploring lingers felt a strong band of iron clamped cruelly around Harley’s neck. The chain, also strong and thick, was linked to the collar. The other end w as fastened to a staple driven deep into the wall.

lm|x>ssible to break it. But with a lile he could cut the link connecting the chain to the collar. If only he had had the foresight to bring one.

He heard Harley's whisper. "It’s hopeless. D*ave me and get away yourself. I’m past caring. I think I’m dying.”

The fever was again creeping over his mind. Suddenly his voice rose.

“You'll not get me back to Sandemain, Deverell. Nag, nag, nag, from morning till night. Yes, I did inspect those rifles. Anyway, what does a bit of rust matter? I’m off to the club . .

Deverell clapped his hand to Harley’s mouth. Someone was rapping at the front d;x>rs of the thana with a hilt of a knife. A voice called out in Pushtu.

"Hold your row, white man. Do you want another beating like you got before? Keep quiet, you dog of an unbeliever.”

For a second Deverell fancied the sentry would come inside. His hand went to the hilt of his knife. No, the fellowseemed to have moved away.

Deverell shook Harley’s shoulders, impelling attention. "I'm going to try to get a file. Keep quiet while I'm gone. Don’t make a sound that would bring the guard in.”

His subaltern made no reply. He seemed to have relapsed into a state of semiconsciousness. Deverell laid him down on the straw and crept out of the thana, closing the doors as he jxissed.

AT THE BACK of the thana all was silent. For an instant , Deverell could not see Rust um Khan. Then he perceived the Pathan lying motionless behind the body of the man he had killed.

“Our luck is bad, Rustum. Harley Sahib is chained by the neck. I shall have to fetch a file. But first we must return to the tent.”

The Pathan’s hand touched Deverell’s arm. Natives were crossing the square not thirty yards away. Their white garments flashed in the darkness: their voices came plainly to the watchers’ ears.

When they had gone, Deverell and Rustum returned to the tent, crawling over the sand as lx*fore. Rustum swore with annoyance.

“Had it not been for that chain. Sahib, we should now lxplacing Harley Sahib in the hiding place. What will happen if they discover the dead sentry before we have procured a file?"

“The plan will have failed and we shall have to concoct another. Even if they do find the sentry, there is no evidence to show' by whose liand he was killed. But if Fate is kind I shall have returned with the file before the time comes for the sentries to be changed. They do four hours spell each, and that man had only just come on guard when you killed him. You must stay here and keep watch upon the thana. If I am caught, you at least will be able to escape.”

“If you are caught, Sahib. I will run amok through this accursed town,” the Pathan said grimly. “Ten lives at the least will be the price of thy death. I will run through Dir wfith my knife. And so and soWith savage stabs right and left he illustrated his meaning.

A few minutes later the ragged form of Afzuz the madman hobbled from the tent. He leaned on his staff and muttered prayers. Desperate as need for hurry was, Deverell dart'd not court detection by walking at his normal gait.

He shambled through the pilgrims’ tents lining the edge of the square. Sleeping forms barat'd his way; he kicked them aside with scant ceremony. When dogs barked he shouted and struck at them with his staff.

As he progressed he thought about Harley. Poor devil! A fellow like that should never have come within a thousand miles of the Northwest Frontier. Not his fault. Nature had fashioned him too soft for that sunstee{x*d, savage land where none but the hardest could survive.

“I tried to harden him a bit when we were at Sandemain,” Deverell thought. “Thought I’d lick him into something like a man. But he was bone-lazy and inefficient. He loathed soldiering and he loathed me. Didn’t know the meaning of discipline. Took it as a personal insult if I gave him an order ...”

Yes, as a soldier Frank Harley had been a failure. Big muscles, a line appearance and a taking manner aren’t much use on the Frontier without “guts.” Those were what Frank Harley had lacked. He had proved it by sneaking out of Fort Kohl on the tenth day of the siege in a mad attempt to save his life.

“And I lied myself hoarse giving him an honorable death.” Deverell thought grimly. “1 wasn’t going to have it said that an officer of the Fifth Pilfers had run away. I was perfectly certain the beggar was dead. I knew he must have been taken by the Wazirs, and it’s not once in a thousand times that they spare their prisoners’ lives.”

Well, the one chance in a thousand had come off. Frank Harley had prolonged his life by deserting from Fort Kohl. Whether, however, in view of his present predicament, he wouldn’t have been better advised to stay with his comrades in the fort w'as another matter.

DEVERELL HAD reached the cover of the dark houses beyond the pilgrims’ lines. He jxiused to consider. A mistrfs (blacksmiths' shop was what he wanted. In Dir they were as common as garages in a Western town.

Suddenly he remembered where

he had seen one. He turned down a lane so narrow' he could almost have touched the houses on either side. Stinking, dark and airless. His feet sank into refuse; clouds of angry flies hummed about his face.

Yes, there was the shop he sought. The windows were now secured by iron shutters, the door was closed. In one window twelve feet above the street a lamp wras burning.

Deverell raised his staff. There was a clatter as he sw'ept the ironshod point along a shutter.

In the room above, the owner of the shop heard the sound. He was a Kabuli trader, broad-shouldered and powerful as a bull. His name, as the Pushtu characters on the sign above the door betokened, w'as Karan Dass.

Again the sound was repeated. Karan Dass swore and w'ent to the window. He thrust out his square, black-bearded visage and peered into the street below.

There w'as a shout of insane laughter. The Kabuli seized his lamp and held it so that the light shone into the street. He could now see the disturber of his peace. Afzuz the madman w'as squatting on a heap of filth. He mowed and chuckled as he flung handfuls of something that glittered from hand to hand.

The shout of anger that had been on Karan Dass’s lips died out unuttered. What was the madman playing with? By Allah, those were rupees he was flinging about as if they were pebbles ! Scores of them. They shone like stars on the ground all round.

Karan Dass was not a holy man, and he did know the value of money. And he was much too greedy to think of awakening a neighbor to share the spoil. Very softly he crept down, unbarred the door and stepped out into the street.

Afzuz was gone, but the rupees were still there. He was bending to gather them with avaricious hands when he heard a clang. In swinging his staff for the blow that would have stretched the Kabuli unconscious on the ground, Deverell had struck an iron shop-sign overhead.

Faint as the sound was, it served to warn Karan Dass. His eye glimpsed the descending staff. He threw up his arm and the blow glanced harmlessly to the ground.

The Kabuli’s shout of rage resounded through the street.

“Holy man or not, I’ll slit your throat for that trick, you thieving dog!”

He dropped the lamp and tore a great Khyber knife from his girdle. Active as a cat for all his bulk, he bounded forward. The moon-blade, curved and sharp as any razor, zoomed into the air.

The Little Sahib’s leap for his throat would have done credit to a mongoose. Like a flash of lightning he was under the Kabuli’s guard. His own knife clashed sparks from the knife in the upraised hand.

With a savage yell the Kabuli tore clear. The knife slashed down and blood spurted from Deverell’s shoulder. Again they closed. Locked in a dance of death, they staggered and reeled in the blackness.

They were down now. Fighting like cats, in a mess of blood and filth and garbage. Over and over, stabbing, slashing and gouging. The only sound was their breathing and the zing of blade on blade.

On their knees now, they grappled

breast to breast with straining arms

and throat-clutching fingers. They

glared into each other’s eyes. Then,

as if actuated by the same spring,

they tore clear. The Kabuli’s mouth

Continued on page 28

The Little Sahib

Continued Jrom page 20--

opened in a yell of triumph. The lighter man was staggering backward, flung off his balance for a moment. There was a whoop as the Khyber knife sprang high into the air.

Smack ! Like a criss-cross of lightning the Little Sahib’s knife had flickered into the other’s chest. It was the terrible underhand wrist stab he had learned from Rustum Khan. His stagger liad been a feint. With fient knees, in the very act of falling backward, he had whipped the blade to the other’s heart like the fang of a striking snake.

He caught the falling body and lowered it to the ground. Had the sound of the struggle been heard? No; knife fights were tcx> common an occurrence in Dir to attract much attention. The foul street was still wrapped in its sinister silence.

Noiseless as a ghost, the Little Sahib picked up the lamp and stepped inside the shop. A quick glance showed where the files were kept. I íe selected one and hid it inside his rags.

Suddenly he heard the sound of voices. Too late to escape! He crouched down, the still smoking knife gripped in his hand . . .

RUSTUM KHAN was not, generally speaking, much troubled by nerves, but even he had found the strain of waiting almost unbearable. Every second he expected yells from the thana to announce the discovery of the dead sentry. And that would have been the end of everything so far as their hopes of saving Harley were concerned.

Allah grant the Little Sahib returned quickly! A dozen times the Pathan moved restlessly toward the opening of the tent. But Deverell had told him to stay there and watch what happened at the thana. He dared not disobey.

A shot sounded from the direction of the houses edging the square. Shots were no novelty in Dir. but the Pathan knew instinctively this one had had some connection with his master. Had they killed him? The thought made his lips curl in a snarl of fury while his eyes glowed red.

If they’d killed the Little Sahib! By Allah, he’d make the gutters of Dir run red with blood. He’d go amok. Run mad through the town, slaying all he met.

Now he could hear the sound of voices. Yells of a pursuit. He started toward the entrance of the tent. A shadow rose from the sand to meet him. It was the Little Sahib.

"All right, Rustum Khan. It was easy to avoid those fools in the darkness. 1 had to kill a man in getting the file. Three men of the Haji’s guard chanced down the street and stumbled on the body while I was still in the shop. They are now hunting for the killer in the wrong direction.”

"You are wounded. Sahib.”

“Only a scratch. Have they yet found the sentry?”

“Not yet. Sahib. But the time for his relief must be very near. \Ye must make haste.”

For the third time that night they snaked over the perilous strip of level sand. The dead sentry sat as they had left him. And in front of the thana the remainder of the guard still gossiped.

Harley was tossing in a feverish dose. He started up when Deverell’s hand touched him.

“You’ve come back! I thought I must have dreamed you came.”

“Lie down, and for heaven’s sake keep quiet. Turn your head so that I can get at that bolt. Sorry if I hurt you. but it can’t be helped.”

The file rasped against the bolt holding i the chain to the collar. It was new and sharp. Guided by Deverell’s strong lingers it ate into the rusty iron.

Ding minutes passed. Harley shivered as the waves of fever passed over his body. His ; skin was dry and hot to the touch. OccaIsionally he broke into delirious muttering.

Perspiration poured down Deverell’s face. He had to hold the file in an awkward j position and his hands and wrists ached abominably. The rasping of the file sounded in his ears as if it must be heard all over Dir. ;

The cut must be almost through now. j Gripping the chain, he twisted it until his muscles cracked. No, the bolt still held. Ten minutes more would do it. Wheep,

wheep, wheep . . .

“Sahib!”

It was Rustum Khan’s whisper, sharp and urgent, coming from the blackness beyond the bars of the cage. Without ceasing work for an instant, Deverell turned his head to listen.

“Sahib, make haste. The relieving sentry is coming now. I crept round the comer of the thana and heard the naik detailing the next man. Allah, I hear his step ...”

His ear had caught the rustle of bare feet on sand. In a flash he had glided back to the thana door. Two natives passed within a foot. They went straight to where the dead man sat.

"Lai Din? Why, the fool’s sleeping at his post! Wake—”

Like a black panther, the Pathan hurtled across the intervening space. Aiming for the spot where the naik’s neck joined his shoulder, he struck with all his strength. The steel sank home and the hot blood spurted.

The other man saw the naik reel sideways. Next instant a pair of hands materialized from the darkness and closed about his throat. He was lifted like a child, whirled about and smashed down upon the sand.

Astride his body, fingers still biting like fangs into the bubbling throat, the Pathan j crouched like a tiger that had made his kill. Only a matter of seconds now before the others came. Already a man was beginning to call. He heard alarmed voices, the sound of jezails and swords being snatched up.

INSIDE the thana Deverell had heard the I struggle. Wheep . . . wheep . . . wheep ... He dropped the file and wrenched at the iron with his hands.

He couldn’t break it. Then desperation seemed to give him unnatural strength. The bolt snapped and on the instant he heard Rustum Khan’s roar.

“Sahib, they come. Welcome, you dogs of Dir! Welcome in the name of the Raj !”

Deverell lifted Harley in his arms and ran for the thana door. Too late. He glimpsed white figures running round the side of the thana. The vast black form of his orderly leaped upon the foremost. There was the thud of a falling knife and then a death scream.

“Rustum. back . . . This way ...”

The Pathan heard. Lifting the man he’d knifed high above his head, he sent him spinning into the midst of the others. At the same instant Deverell’s revolver spat red flame from the darkness of the doorway.

Bang! Bang! Bang! The guards had made the fatal error of bunching as they rushed. Cool as if he were on parade, the Little Sahib sent the pelting bullets into the blurred whiteness of the charge. Screaming men rolled upon the sand. And still the red tongues of death flickered through the night.

“Here, Rustum. Take the Sahib. I’ll—”

There was a crash behind as the front door of the thana burst open. Deverell whirled about. Two dim figures were bounding down the passage between the cages, yelling as they came. He heard the whistle of a sword.

Bang! A native screamed and pitched forward in a long sliding fall. Again Deverell pressed the trigger. A harmless click. Something hot sheered against his head. Blood blinded him. He threw up his hands and clinched with an unseen opponent.

They went down. Deverell was underneath. He felt a hand hard and sinewy as an eagle’s talon clutching his face, saw a whitesleeved arm upraised in the darkness. The

knife was about to fall. Instinctively he shut his eyes.

And then came Rustum Khan’s deafening roar as he grasped the fallen sword twohanded. The blade crashed against the stone floor within an inch of Deverell’s head. Something thudded to the ground. The man who had been kneeling on his chest collapsed. The Little Sahib pushed the decapitated trunk off his body and rose to his feet.

“A clean stroke, Rustum. His head had touched the ground before he knew he was dead.”

The Pathan flung down the broken sword. Bending, he again raised Harley in his arms.

“What now. Sahib? For the moment those dogs have drawn off. Allah, they must think that it’s Death himself who has entered the thana!”

He heard the Little Sahib’s voice.

“Make for the tent. I'll follow. Go now —quick before the thana is surrounded.” “And you. Sahib?”

"Go, I said. It is an order. Go!”

THE PATHAN obeyed. The guards, now reinforced by a mob of excited pilgrims, were firing wildly at the back door of the thana. He carried Harley to the other exit. As he stepped out, he heard the crack of Deverell’s revolver answering the jezails.

Make for the tent, the Little Sahib had said. Rustum turned left-handed and darted along the side of the thana. The other side of the building was now an inferno of yelling men and thudding jezails. Not knowing the front door had been opened, the guards were attacking at the rear, believing the white man trapped.

Rustum Khan saw his chance. In the darkness and confusion, when all eyes were concentrated on the back door of the thana, it was possible to reach the tent. He hitched Harley ov,.. his back, dropped on his knees and began to crawl. Ten yards, twenty, thirty. He was still unseen. A sprint would do it now. He darted forward, his feet making no sound upon the sand.

The tent ! He ran inside. To lift the sleeping-boards and roll Harley, who had fainted, into the cavity beneath was the work of a second. Allah, what a din they were making round the thana! It was as if the place were held by twenty men and not one only.

He saw now what Deverell’s plan had been. The Little Sahib had stayed in the thana to give him a chance to reach the tent.

Now the din had risen to a roar, as if all the fiends in hell had broken loose. Natives carrying flares were running across the square. The jezails were concentrated upon the doorway. And still those deadly flashes from the revolver held the crowd at bay.

Another volley split the night like thunder. It died away; men waited and there was no answering flash of flame. Had the devilish white man been killed? Another and another volley was poured into the thana. They had riddled the place now’ with a hail of lead.

Deverell had exhausted his ammunition. He dropped the useless revolver and dragged himself over the blood-slippery stones toward the front entrance. Bullets zipped and whistled about his ears. He heard them pinging from the bars of the cages.

He w’as outside now’. Flattening himself against the wrarm, soft sand, he crept on. Thank heaven, the fools hadn’t thought of guarding that side. He crawled along the wall, expecting each second to feel the shock of a striking bullet.

From the tent Rustum Khan had noted the cessation of the revolver fire. The Little Sahib w’as dead ! At the thought he went mad. Knife in hand, he tore across the square.

He was amok. Twenty lives would be the cost of the Little Sahib’s death. His knife whistled round his head; the war cry of the Bungi Khel clan skirled from his frothing lips. By Allah, there would be a fight now that w’ould make the Frontier wonder! A roaring fight to the death in the narrow’ darkness of the thana. He would stab and slash until the body of his beloved Sahib was hidden three-deep by the slain.

Suddenly a voice rose above the hubbub. !

“The dog of an unbeliever is dead. Charge, brethren. In the name of the Prophet ...”

There was an answering yell. Men sprang to their feet and raced toward the thana. Rustum Khan was engulfed and swept along by a roaring cyclone of humanity. They were following a ragged fanatic with a whirling staff.

“On. brethren. The w hite man is trapped. Allah is great and Mohammed is the prophet of Allah.”

Rustum Khan laughed aloud in his relief. The light of a torch had showed him that it was Afzuz the madman who led the charge. In the darkness and confusion the Little j Sahib had succeeded in mingling with the j ranks of the attackers. He was leading them : now against the thana he had held himself. Now he had dropped the staff and had snatched a torch from a man’s hand.

“I will roast the unbelievers in the fires of hell,” he screamed.

The torch flared comet-wise through the air. It fell upon the tinder-dry thatch that roofed the thana. Flames shot into the air. Like greedy serpents they licked along the straw’. In a moment it seemed the building was a mass of flames that no man could approach . . .

I ATER DEVERELL joined his orderly L in the tent.

“The rest should be easy, Rustum. No one suspects us. They’re still raking in the ashes of the thana for our bodies. I don’t j think it will enter their heads to look for j Harley Sahib in this tent. Nor do I think j Pir Khan will fail us with the camel and j litter. If only Harley Sahib doesn’t die of | the fever ...”

“He won’t. Sahib,” Rustum Khan assured ! him. “He is young and strong and will surely recover. And even the grave in which he now’ lies is better than that cage for a sick man. It is only w’hen a stranger approaches that we need cover it with the boards.”

Pir Khan did keep his side of the bargain Two nights later a sick woman was carried through the main gates of Dir City in a litter strapped on a camel’s back. Men hid their faces and shrank away as the litter passed. By the yellow flag that draped it they knew the woman was suffering from smallpox, the most dreaded disease in the East.

It was not inappropriate that Frank Harley should have left Dir under a yellow flag.

AS LUCK would have it, Considine / \ Vachell was almost the first person to see Deverell on his return to Abbotshah. She had gone out riding in the early morning. All night she had lain awake thinking about Frank.

Then she saw the man responsible for her lover’s death. Dapper and spruce, he was strutting up the tan. And at sight of that trim, immaculate little figure, something seemed to snap in Considine’s brain.

She wheeled her horse. Her mouth was set, her eyes blazing as she galloped toward her enemy. There was nobody else in sight.

Perhaps that was as well. No man w ho is slashed three times across the face by a riding switch likes a witness. Especially not when the striker is a girl he loves.

“That’s my reward for your treatment of Frank Harley,” Considine said. “You’re a coward and a bully. I was secretly engaged to Frank. He sent me letters from Sandemain saying how’ he detested you. I believe you had a spite against him and deliberately threw’ away his life. If I can use his letters to get you turned out of the army. I will. They prove you are unfit to command men.”

She stopped, breathless with anger. The Little Sahib was smiling while blood trickled down his cheek.

“I think I understand. I knew Harley hated me at Sandemain, but I didn’t know he’d written letters on the subject. So, you’re engaged to him?”

“I was.”

“Then you are still. I’ve just left him in the cantonment hospital. He’s pretty low’, but the doctor thinks he will pull through.”

The girl’s face went the color of snow.

“What arc you saying?” she whispered.

“Frank Harley is in the hospital. The Wazirs had taken him prisoner. I’ve-—erheen making arrangements for his release.”

1 íe was just in time to catch her as she fell fainting from the saddle.

Magna est vertías, etc. In this instance, however, the honor of a proud regiment was j concerned, and Considine was the only ! Iverson who ever learned the full truth of how 1 larley came to be in Dir. Harley told her ¡ himself. He had resigned his commission and was on the point of returning to England.

Considine was not altogether surprised. During those days of convalescence she had begun to suspect that Harley was not quite the hero she had imagined. She had been i forced to make certain comparisons.

“So those letters from Sandemain really didn’t mean very much. You were whining because you didn’t like the discipline?” she said.

“That’s about the truth,” Harley agreed. “Deverell is a devil for discipline. And I expect I was a bit slack. The truth is I loathe soldiering. Ix>oking back, I expect Deverell was quite justified in treating me

as he did. I think he wanted to harden me.” "He tried to lick you into something like a man.” Considine said. “You repaid him by writing exaggerated, silly letters that made him out a sort of fiend, and then by deserting at Kohl when he needed every man he had. And now he has saved both your honor and your life. I think I understand why they call him the Little Sahib.”

She took off her engagement ring and put it on the table beside the bed. Harley only smiled. He had never loved Considine as she had loved him; his nature wasn’t capable of deep feeling. All that mattered to him was that he was going away from this fierce land of fierce men, never to return.

It was on the verandah of the club—the spot where she had first seen him— that Considine found Deverell. She went up to him and held out her hand.

“Frank has told me everything. I know now I wras a blind fool. Will you forgive me?” “On condition you give me three dances tonight,” Deverell smiled.

And w'hen their engagement was announced, Mathewson, the long, lean adjutant of Scinde Cavalry, was heard to say that he had seen how it would be from the very first.

The Etui