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A Thrilling Story of German Intrigue Among
the Fierce Hillmen of India During the War
KING WITNESSES THE FASCINATING DANCE OF A DUSKY
BEAUTY-BY RESISTING HER CHARMS HE OUTWITS
ONE WHO WOULD GLADLY SEE HIM DEAD
Synopsis. At the beginning of the world war Capt. Athelstan
King of the British Indian army and of its secret service, is ordered
to Delhi to meet Yasmini, a dancer, and go with her to Khinjan to
quiet the outlaws there who are said by spies to be preparing for a
jihad or holy war. On his way to Delhi King quietly foils a plan to
assassinate him and gets evidence that Yasmini is after him.
CHAPTER II Continued.
Within ten minutes Hyde was asleep,
snoring prodigiously. Then King pulled
out the knife again and studied it for
half an hour. The blade was of bronze,
with an edge hammered to the keen
ness of a razor. The hilt was of near
ly pure gold, in the form of a woman
dancing. The whole thing was so ex
quisitely wrought that "age had only
6oftened the lines, without in the least
impairing them. It looked like one of
those Grecian toys with which Roman
women of Nero's day stabbed their
lovers. But that was not why he be
gan to whistle very softly to himself.
Presently he drew out the general's
package of papers, with the photograph
on the top. He stood up, to hold both
knife and papers close to the light in
It needed no great stretch of imagi
nation to suggest a likeness between
the woman of the photograph and the
other, of the golden knife-hilt. And
nobody, looking at him then, would
have dared suggest he lacked imagina
tion. If the knife had not been so ancient
they might have been portraits of the
same woman, in the same disguise,
taken at the same time.
"She knew I had been chosen to
work with her. The general sent her
word that I am coming," he muttered
to himself. "There must have been a
6py watching at Peshawur, who wired
to Rawal-Pindl for this man to jump
the train and go on with the job. Why
should she give the man a knife with
her own portrait on it? Is she queen
of a secret society? Well we shall
i He lay back with his head on the
pillow, and before five minutes more
had gone he was asleep. His mobile
face in repose looked Roman, for the
sun had tanned his skin and his nose
was aquiline. In museums, where
sculptured heads of Roman generals
and emperors stand around the wall
on pedestals, it would not be difficult
to pick several that bore more than a
faint resemblance to him. He had
breadth and depth of forehead and a
jowl that lent itself to smiles as well
as sternness, and a throat that ex
pressed manly determination in every
He slept like a boy until dawn; and
he and Hyde had scarcely exchanged
another dozen words when the train
screamed next day into Delhi station.
Then he saluted stiffly and was gone.
Delhi boasts a round half-dozen rail
way stations, all of them designed with
regard to war, so that to King there
was nothing unexpected in the fact
that the train had brought him to an
unexpected station. He plunged into
its crowd much as a man In the mood
might plunge Into a whirlpool. The
station screamed echoed, reverberated,
hummed. At one minute the whole
building shook to the thunder of -a
grinning regiment; an instant later it
clattered to the wrought-steel ham
mer of a thousand hoofs, as led troop
horses danced into formation to Invade
the waiting trucks. Soldiers of nearly
every Indian military caste stood about
everywhere. Down the back of each
platform Tommy Atkins stood in long
straight lines, talking or munching
great sandwiches or smoking.
Threading his way in and out among
the motley swarm with a great black
cheroot between his teeth and sweat
running into his eyes from his helmet
band, Athelstan King strode at ease
at home Intent amused awake
and almost awfully happy, ne was
not in the least less happy because
perfectly aware that a native was fol
lowing him at a distance, although he
did wonder how the native had con
trived to pass within the lines. At the
end of fifteen minutes there was not a
glib staff officer there who could have
deceived him as to the numbers and
destination of the force entraining.
"Kerachl!" he told himself, chewing
the butt of his cigar and keeping well
ahead of the shadowing native. lie
did not have to return salutes, because
he did not look for them. Very few
people noticed him at all, although he
was recognized once or twice by for
mer messmates. At his leisure In his
own way, that was devious and like a
string of miracles he filtered toward
the telegraph office. The native who
had followed him all this time drew
closer, but he did not let himself be
troubled by that
ne whispered proof of his idHitily
to the telegraph Clerk, who was a Royal
engineer, new to that job that morn
ing, and a sealed telegram was handed
to him at once. Because It was war
time, and the censorship had closed
on India like a throttling string, it
was not In code. So the Mlrza All, of
the Fort, Bombay, to whom it was
addressed, could be expected to read
between the lines.
Cattle Intended, for slaughter, dispatched
Bombay on Fourteen down. Meet train.
Will be inspected en route, but should be
dealt with carefully on arrival. Cattle
Inclined to stampede owing to bad scare
received north of Delhi. Take all pre
cautions and rotlfy Abdul.
"Good!" he chuckled. "Let's hope
we get Abdul too. I wonder who he
Still uninterested in the man who
shadowed him, he walked back to the
office window and wrote two tele
grams; one to Bombay, ordering the
arrest of All Mlrza of the Fort, with
an urgent admonition to discover who
his man Abdul might be, and to seize
him as soon as found ; the other to the
station in the north, insisting on close
confinement for Suliman.
That being all the urgent business,
he turned leisurely to face his shadow,
and the native met his eyes with the
engaging frankness of an old friend,
coming forward with outstretched
hand. They did not shake hands, but
the man made a signal with his fingers
that is known to not more than a dozen
men in all the world, and that changed
the situation altogether.
"Walk with me," said King, and the
man fell Into stride beside him.
ne was a Rangar which Is to say a
Rajput who, or whose ancestors had
turned Mohammedan. Like many Raj
puts he was not a big man, but he
looked fit and wiry; his head scarcely
came above the level of King's chin,
although his turban distracted atten
tion from the fact. The turban was of
silk and unusually large.
The whitest of well-kept teeth,
gleaming regularly under a little black
waxed mustache betrayed no trace of
betelnut or other nastlness. King was
not so sure that the eyes were brown,
and he changed his opinion about their
color a dozen times within the hour.
Once he would even have sworn they
The man was a regular Rangar
dandy, of the type that can be seen
playing polo almost any day at Mount
Abu that gets Into mischief with a
grace due to practice and heredity
"I Have a Message for You."
but that does not manage its estates
too well, as a rule, nor pay its debts
la a hurry.
"My name Is Rewa Gunga," he said
In a low voice. "I have a message for
"From her!" said the Rangar, and
without exactly knowing why, or be
ing pleased with himself. King felt ex
cited. They were walking toward the sta
tion exit. King had a trunk check in
his hand, but return! it to his pocket,
not proposing just yet to let the
Rangar overhear instructions regard
ing the trunk's destination ; he was too
good-looking and too overbrimming
with personal charm to be trusted thus
early in the game. Besides, there was
that captured knife, that hinted at lies
and treachery. Secret signs as well as
loot have been stolen before now.
"I'd like to walk through the streets
and see the crowd."
ne smiled as he said that, knowing
well that the average young Rajput of
good birth would rather fight a tiger
with cold steel than walk a mile or
two. He drew fire at once.
"Why walk, King sahib? Are we
animals? There is a carriage waiting
her carriage and a coachman whose
ears were born dead. We might be
overheard in the street. Are you and
I children, tossing stones Into a pool
to watch the rings widen !"
"Lead on, then," answered King.
Outside the station was a luxurious
ly modern victoria, with C springs
and rubber tires, with horses that
would have done credit to a viceroy.
The Rangar motioned King to get in
first, and the moment they were both
seated the Rajput coachman set the
horses to going like, the wind. Rewa
Gunga opened a jeweled cigarette case.
"Will you have one?" he asked with
the air of royalty entertaining a blood
equal. King accepted a cigarette for polite
ness' sake and took occasion to admire
thr man's slender wrist, that was
doubtless hard and strong as woven
steel, but was not much more than half
the thickness of his own. One of the
questions that occurred to King that
minute was why this well-bred young
ster whose age he guessed at twenty
two or so had not turned his attention
to the army.
"My height !"
The man had read his thoughts 1
"Not quite tall enough. Besides
you are a soldier, are you not? And
do you fight?" Then, after a minute
of rather strained silence: "My mes
sage is from her."
King accepted the rebuke with a lit
tle inclination of the head. He spoke
as little as possible, because he was
puzzled. He had become conscious of
a puzzled look in the Rangar's eyes
and it only added to his problem if the
Rangar found in him something inex
plicable. The West can only get the
better of the East when the East is too
"She has jolly well gone North!"
said the Rangar suddenly, and King
shut his teeth with a snap. He sat bolt
upright, and the Rangar allowed him
self to look amused.
"She has often heard of you," he
"I've heard of her," said King.
"Of course! Who has not? She has
desired to meet you, sahib, ever since
she was told you are the best man In
King grunted, thinking of the knife
beneath his shirt. Again, it was as if
the Rangar read a part of his thoughts,
If not all of them. It is not difficult to
counter that trick, but to do it a man
must be on his guard, or the East will
know what he has thought and what
he is going to think, as many have dis
covered when it was too-late.
"Her men are able to protect any
body's life from any God's number of
assassins, whatever may lead you to
think the contrary. From now forward
your life is in her men's keeping!"
"Very good of her, I'm sure," King
murmured, ne was thinking of the
general's express order to apply for a
"passport" that would take him into
Khinjan caves mentally cursing the
necessity for asking any kind of favor
and wondering whether to ask this
man for it or wait until he should meet
Yasmini. The Rangar answered his
thoughts again as if he had spoken
"She left this with me, saying I am
to give it to you! I am to say that
wherever you wear it, between here
and Afghanistan, your life shall be safe
and you may come and go !"
King stared. The Rangar drew a
bracelet from an inner pocket and
held it out. It was a wonderful bar
baric thing of pure gold, big enough
for a grown man's wrist, and old
enough to have been hammered out in
the very womb of time. It looked al
most like ancient Greek, and it fas
tened with a hinge and clasp that
looked as if they did not belong to it
and might have been made by a not
very skillful modern jeweler.
"Won't you wear it?" asked Rewa
Gunga, watching him. "It will prove
a true talisman ! What was the name
of the Johnny who had a lamp to rub?
Aladdin? It will be better than what
he had ! He could only command a lot
of bogles. This will give you authority
over flesh and blood ! Take It, sahib !"
So King rut it on, letting It slip up
his sleeve out of sight with a sensa
tion as the snap closed of putting
handcuffs on himself. But the Rangar
"That is your passport, sahib ! Show
It to a hlllman whenever you suppose
yourself 11 danger. The Raj might
go to pieces, but while Yaminl lives "
"Her friends will boast about her, I
King finished the sentence for him
because it is not considered good form
By Talbot Mundy
Copyright by the Dobbs-MerriU Company
for natives to hint at possible dissolu
tion of the Anglo-Indian government.
Everybody knows that the British will
not govern India forever, but the Brit
ish who know it best of all, and work
to that end most fervently are the
only ones encouraged to talk about it.
For a few minutes after that Rewa
Gunga held his peace, while the car
riage swayed at breakneck speed
through the swarming streets. King,
watching and saying nothing, did not
believe for a second the lame expla
nation Yasmini had left behind. She
must have some good reason for wish
ing to be first up the Khyber, and he
was very sorry indeed she had slipped
away. It might be only jealousy, yet
why should she be jealous?
It was the next remark of the
Rangar's that set him entirely on his
guard, and thenceforward whoever
could have read his thoughts would
have been more than human. He had
known of that thought-reading trick
ever since his ayah (native nurse)
taught him to lisp Hlndustanee; just
as surely he knew that Its Impudent
use was intended to sap his belief in
"I'll bet you a hundred dibs," said
the Rangar, "that 6he decided to be
there first and get control of the situ
ation! She's slippery, and quick, and
like all women, she's jealous !" -
The Rangar's eyes were on his, but
King was not to be caught again. It is
quite easy to think behind a fence, so
to speak, if one gives attention to it.
"She will be busy presently fooling
those Afridis," he continued, waving
his cigarette. "She has fooled them
always, to the limit of their bally bent.
Yasmini plays her own game, for
amusement and power a good game
a deep game! You have seen already
how India has to ask her aid in the
Hills ! She loves power, power,
power not for its name, for . names
are nothing, but to use it."
"now long have you known her?"
The Rangar eyed him sharply.
"A long time. She and I played to
gether when we were children. It Is
because she knows me very wrtl that
she chose me to travel North with you,
when you start to find her in the
King cleared his throat, and the
Rangar nodded, looking into his eyes
with the engaging confidence of a child
who never has been refused anything,
in or out of reason. King made no ef
fort to look pleased.
Just then the coachman took a last
corner at a gallop and drew the horses
up on their haunches at a door in a
high white wall. Rewa Gunga sprang
out of the carriage before the horses
were quite at a standstill.
"Here we are!" he said, and King
noticed that the street curved here so
that no other door and no window
overlooked this one.
ne followed the Rangar, and he was
no sooner into the shadow of the door
than the coachman lashed the horses
and the carriage swung out of view.
"This way," said the Rangar over
his shoulder. "Come!"
It was a musty smelling entrance, so
dark that to see was scarcely possible
after the hot glare outside. Dimly
King made out Rewa Gunga mounting
stairs to the left and followed him.
When he guessed himself two stories
at least above road level, there wa3 a
sudden blaze of reflected light and he
blinked at more mirrors than he could
count. Curtains were reflected in each
mirror, and little glowing lamps, so
cunningly arranged that it was not pos
sible to guess which were real and
which were not. King stood still.
Then suddenly, as if she had done It
a thousand times before and surprised
a thousand people, a little nut-brown
maid parted the middle pair of cur
tains and said "Salaam!' smiling with
teeth that were as white as porcelain.
King looked scarcely interested and
not at all disturbed.
Rewa Gunga hurried past him,
thrusting the little maid aside, and led
the way. King followed him into a
long room, whose walls were hung
with richer silks than any he remem
bered to have seen. In a great wide
window to one side some twenty wom
en began at once to make flute music.
Silken punkahs swung from chains,
wafting back and forth a cloud of san
dalwood smoke that veiled the whole
scene In mysterious, scented mist.
"Be welcome!" laughed Rewa Gun
ga; "I am to do the honors, since she
is not here. Be seated, sahib."
King chose a divan at the room's
farthest end, near tall curtains that
led Into rooms beyond. He turned his
back toward the reason for his choice.
On a little ivory-inlaid ebony table
about ten feet away lay a knife, that
was almost the exact duplicate of the
one Inside his shirt. He could sense
hushed expectancy on every side
could feel the eyes of many women
fixed on him and began to draw on
his guard r.s a fighting man draws on
armor. There and then he deliberately
set himself to resist mesmerism, which
Is the East's chief weapon.
Rewa Gunga, perfectly at home,
sprawled leisurely along a cushioned
couch with a grace that the West has
not learned yet ; but King did not make
the mistake of trusting him any better
for his easy manners, and his eyes
sought swiftly for some unrhythmic,
unplanned thing on which to rest, that
he might save himself by a sort of
Glancing along the wall that faced
the big window, he noticed for the first
time a huge Afridi, who sat on a stool
and leaned back against the silken
hangings with arms folded.
'Who is that man?" he asked.
"'Tie? Oh, he is a savage just a
big savage," said Rewa Gunga, looking
"Why is he here?"
He did not dare let go of this chance
side Issue. He knew that Rewa Gun
ga wished hlra to talk of Yasmini and
to ask questions about her, and that If
he succumbed to that temptation all
his self-control would be cunningly
sapped away from him until his se
crets, and his very senses, belonged to
some one else.
"What Is he doing here?" he insisted.
"He? Oh, he does nothing. He waits,"
purred the Rangar. "He Is to be your
body-servant on your journey to the
North, ne is nothing nobody at all I
except that he is to be trusted ut
terly because he loves Yasmini. He Is
obedience! A big obedient fool! Let
him be !"
"No," said King. "If he's to he my
man I'll speak to him!"
ne felt himself winning. Already
the spell of the room was lifting, and
he no longer felt the cloud of sandal
wood like a veil across his brain.
"Won't you tell him to come here to
Rewa Gunga laughed, resting his silk
turban against the wall hangings and
clasping both hands about his knee. It
was as a man might laugh who has
been touched in a bout with foils.
"Oh ! Ismail !" he called, with a
voice like a bell, that made King stare.
The Afrldl seemed to come out of a
deep sleep and looked bewildered, rub
bing his eyes and feeling whether his
turban was on straight. lie combed
his beard with nervous fingers as he
gazed about him and caught Rewa
Gunga's eye. Then he sprang to his
"Come !" ordered Rewa Gunga.
The man obeyed.
"Did you see?" Rewa Gunga
chuckled, "ne rose from his place like
a buffalo, rump first and then shoulder
after shoulder! Such men are safe!
Such men have no guile beyond what
will help them to obey! Such men
think too slowly to invent deceit for
its own sake !"
The Afridi came and towered above
them, standing with gnarled hands
knotted Into clubs.
"What Is thy name?" King asked
"Ismail !" he boomed.
"Thou art to be my servant?"
"Aye! So said she. I am her man.
I obey !"
"When did she say so?" King asked
him blandly. The hlllman stroked his
great beard and stood considering the
question. King entered a shrewd sus
picion that he was not so stupid as he
chose to seem. His eyes were too
hawk-bright to be a stupid man's.
"Before she went away," he an
swered at last.
"When did she go away?"
He thought again, then "Yesterday,"
"Why did you wait before you an
swered?" The Afridi's eyes furtively sought
Rewa Gunga's and found no aid there.
Watching the Rangar less furtively,
but even less obviously, King was
aware that his eyes were nearly closed,
as if they were not interested. The
fingers that clasped his knee drummed
on it Indifferently, seeing which King
allowed himself to smile.
"Never mind," he told Ismail. "It is
no matter. It is ever well to think
twice before speaking .once, for thus
mistakes die stillborn. Onjy the monkey-folk
thrive on quick answers is it
not so? Thou art a man of many inches
of thew and sinew hey, but thou
art a man ! If the heart within those
great ribs of thine is true as thine
arms are strong I shall be fortunate
to have thee for a servant !"
"Aye!" said the Afridi. "But what
are words? She has said I am thy
servant, and to hear her Is to obey!"
"Then, take me a telegram!" said
He began to write at once on a half
sheet of paper that he tore from a let
ter he had in his pocket, transposing
Into cypher as he went along.
Yasmini has gone North. Is there any
reason at your end why I should not
follow her at once?
ne addressed it in plain English to
his friend the general at Peshawur,
and handed It to Ismail, directing him
carefully to a government office where
the cypher signature would be recog
nized and the telegram given prece
dence. Ismail stalked off with it, striding
like Moses down from Sinai hook
nose hawk-eye flowing beard dig
nity and all, and King settled down to
guard himself against the next at
tempt on his sovereign self-command.
Now he chose to notice the knift
on the ebony table as if he ad not
seen it before. He got up and reached
for It and brought it back, turning it
over ind over In his hand.
"A sirange knife," he said.
Yes from Khinjan," said Rewa
Gunga, and King eyed him as one wolf
"What makes you say It is from .
"She brought It from Khinjan caves
herself! There Is another knife that
matches it, but that Is not here. That
bracelet you now wear, sahib, is from?
Khinjan caves too ! She has the secret
of the caves 1"
'I have heard that the 'neart of the
mils' Is there," King answered. "la
the 'neart of the Hills' a treasure?
Rewa Gunga laughed.
"Ask her, sahib! Perhaps she wlli
tell you! Perhaps she will let yon
see! Who knows? She Is a woman of
resource and unexpectedness let her
women dance for you a while."
King' nodded. Then he got up ano)
laid the knife back on the little table.
A minute or so later he noticed that
at a sign from Rewa Gunga a woman
left the great window place and spir
ited the knife away.
"May I have a sheet of paper?" he
asked, for he knew that another fight
for his self-command was due.
Rewa Gunga gave an order, and a
mnid brought scented paper on a sil
ver tray. He drew out his own foun
tain pen, and since his one object was
to give his brain employment, he wrote
down n list of the nnmes he had mem
orized in the trnln n the journey from
Peshawur, not thinking of a use for
the list until he had finished. Then,
though, a real use occurred to him.
While he began to write more than
a dozen dancing women swept into the
room from behind the silk hangings in
a concerted movement that was all
lithe slumberous grace. Wood-wind'
music called to them from the great
The Afrldl Came and Towered Above
deep window. They began to chant,
still dreamily, and with the chant the
dance began, in and cut, round and
round, lazily, ever so lazily, wreathed
In buoyant gossamer that was scarcely
more solid than the sandalwood smoke
they wafted into rings.
King watched them and listened to
their chant until he began to recognize
the strain on the eye muscles that pre
cedes the mesmeric spell. Then he
wrote and read what he had written
and wrote again.
"What have you written?" asked a
quiet voice at his ear; and he turned
to look straight in the eyes of Rewa
Gunga, who had leaned forward to
read over his shoulder. Just for one
second he hovered on the brink of
quick defeat. Having escaped the
Scylla of the dancing women, Charyb
dis waited for him in the shape of eyes
that were pools of hot mystery. It was
the sound of his own voice that brought
him back to the world again and saved
his will for him unbound.
"Read it, won't you?" he laughed.
"If you know, take this pen and mark
the nnmes of whichever of those men
are still in Delhi."
Rewa Gunga took pen and paper and
set a mark against some thirty of the
names, for King had a manner that
King began to watch the dance
again, for it did not feel safe to look
too long Into the Rangar's eyes. It was
not wise Just then to look too long at
anything or to think too long on any
"Ismail is slow about returning."
said the Rangar.
"I wrote at the foot of the tar," said
King, "that they are to detain him
there until the answer comes."
King tricks the Rangar and
rescues some of Yasmini' cut
throats, whom he takes north
with him as grateful body
guards. (TO BE CONTINUED.)
Famous Family of Preachers.
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V x .