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'-The Tiger's Awakening.

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The Tiger's Awakening. BY FRED G. IIT-TNAE. 0 A THRILLING STORY OF ADVENTURE. I CHAPTER V. AN EVENING AT THE PALACE. ",tad now behold the young Scotsman and wife amidst the roaring, life-teeming of Earn Shri Omra's capital—be gazing *b«ad with serious, thoughtful eyes; she •^fning with eager, curious glances to right left. The bazaar especially, with its of untold voices and its traffic that on, ever-changing as a kaleidoscope, to her a source of constant interest. it was a jeweller's or silk merchant's that attracted her attention; now some -ueInaker or coppersmith, working away "nder a dirty striped awning that leaned f5ain3t the smoke-blackened walls of a marble ^Qiple or palace; now a naked, aah-smeared squatting at a street corner in a per- Jf^ly rigid attitude, or a blind old beggar "pasting out his alms bowl with piteous anon some nautch girls jostling against yelling bhisti (water carrier) or vendor of balancing an unsteady tray *Pon his turbaned head. Now she and her would ride aside to allow passage to tonga drawn by cebu oxen, or to a string Of 8eemingly over-loaded camels, or to a see- ^wing mountain of an elephant that rolled lesser traffic aside as the ocean steamer the waves of the sea. Occasionally our Jfiends met some Thakoor (noble) with a fol- ding of sowars, shimmering with silk and ■«teel and gold, or else a troop of the Maha- rajah's red-turbaned bodyguard, prancing *ith unconcealed contempt through the crowd, and staring with hostile looks *^the Europeans in passing. when, after a while, the girl began to feel fa.tigned, she and her husband diverted their towards the eyer-open gates of the ■Residency, where Hector paid a visit to the *}ck bed of his friend the secretary, while re^ed on the shaded stoop that over- looked the compound. After partaking with of a tiffin "a deux"—the crusty doctor J^Oiainmg invisible—the Scotsman said good- ie to the invalid, whereupon he and his remounted their animals and set out the Sacred Tank beyond the city, to view i^e famous purple fishes that gave Pritnagar Ij8 chief importance in the eyes of all devout Hindus. By the time they got back to town sun was getting low in the sky; so, with- tarrying by the way, they rode straight to the palace gates. The sentriep here on j^y had evidently already received their instructions, for a non-commissioned officer at once stepped forward, making a profound ^bJisance, and seized the bridle of the planter's horse. The other men of the guard *ell back, and the havildar led the Europeans through the resounding archway on to a £ *eat red, sanded courtyard, half filled with Altering soldiers, bustling courtiers, syces, 2na.houts, and countless other servants. ^bove the sea of heads our friends saw the white facade of the splendid marble that had sheltered untold generations Potentates, Hindu and Mohammedan alike. touch of the latter had left the most |*>^3picuous traces. The palace, once entirely "lilt in the Hindu style, had gradually been inverted into a veritable masterpiece of ^do-Saracenic architecture, than which not finer specimen could be found in the whole of the Deccan. To the rear of the palace proper, with its pilasters and niches and bal- conies and carved atone balustrades, its won- derful filigree open work and multi-coloured ^laid patterns, the huge, but graceful, cupola the palace-mosque climbed like a golden Pineapple into the pale blue ether, and thus stamped the whole with the hall-mark of The eye-aching white and gold of the UQlldings-the living, throbbing turquoise below, the blood-red court, with its ^owds of gorgeously-arrayed humanity, flash- 111 £ weapons, banners, elephants, and arched- bested, plumed steeds—all this presented a Combination of vivid, glowing life and colour which a (Jerome or a Verestchagin would revelled. But even as Flora sat gazing in •dniiration upon this brilliant picture, the treen-clad Chobdar (court usher), with his &olden wand, was seen parting the throng, and presently made his bow before the viBi. J^rs, whom he invited to dismount. Hector ~»d often been the Maharajah's guest in the bld-en days, and was familiar with all these 8Cenes; but not so his young wife, who took in everything with the greatest curiosity and pleasure. For a moment, to be sure, she drew Closer to her husband as the sentries in the horseshoe portico flashed their cruel- poking tulwars in salute; but Hector's self- ^eseeaed carriage quickly re-aeaured her. jJia fore-finger touched the rim of his topi dignified response, his grey hunter's eyes Meanwhile flitting from one to the other with Peculiarly attentive look. There was a vast v difference between these men and the soldiers lounging outside in the court. The former a Promiscuous lot of condottieri, and kad, apparently, been recruited from every corner of India, their numbers including, besides the proud Rajputs, who officered them, Mahrattas, Ghoorkhas, JatB, and Dograe, Bajaris" Sikhs, and Nairs from the Extreme south. Their armament showed as ^Uch variety as there were races—tulwars, wo ads words, scimitars, yataghans, lances, wields, battle-axes, flintlock and matchlock Martini, Snider, and Remington rifles. These were the ordinary troops of Pritnagar, *nd a very different type from those that ,-nd a very different type from those that Warded the palace gate. For this was a task that the Maharajah did not care to entrust to anyone but his own Prastorian Guard of which was carefully composed of picked marksmen from Afghanistan and the hills around the Khyber Pass. These I fellows, one more wild and truculent-looking than the other, carried splendid Lee-Metford ines. Hector himself possessed not a finer Weapon of precision, although, as an ardent of Nimrod, he always made a point of investing in the latest improvements in the *ay of "shooting irons." None of these guards had ever looked upon the Maharajah's Sogresi friend with much favour, even in the old days; but the looks with which they now Pleasured him as he and his wife passed inside ^ere bo frankly hostile and malevolent that Hector could not help noticing the circum- stance. But in other respects the sentries' "ehaviour was polite enough; so that the Scotsman dismissed the half-formed idea of •complaining formally to the ruler. Still, he Pondered whether the servants reflected their toaster's frame of mind, and whether their ^narked hostility was the outcome of a hint from "above." Nevertheless, his face showed nought but calm self-confidence as, preceded by the Chobdar, he conducted Flora into the dewan-i-khae (hall of audience). This apart- Bient^-a huge, domed octagon, with alabaster walls inlaid with geometrical designs of tur- TUoiae, agate, and mother-of-pearl—was crammed with a perfect tulip-bed of nobles, jourtiers, and officers in gorgeous costumes; but, heedless of this vast issembly, the eyee cf the visitors looked straight ahead in a Btare of amazement. For there, at the far end of the hall, re* '-<g among soft cushions on a throne of i, beaten silver, eat their friend, Ran "'a, B.A., his left oand holding his • ■ sword, whilst his right arm lay ca iross the neck of an enormous rc At first Flora, tineaey, but dete to show the white feather, walked brave show of un- concern; but J d she encountered the great greer e monster cat and lIaw the huge w iid bare in a snarl, Bhe changed c :d aer steps began to falter. Hector pow^ jwallowing his own tInoomfortable sen mm. quietly drew her arm through f .end tc-o. her up to the dais, *ifch eyes flrn" .1 upon the Maharajah. "Welcome— times welcome! So triad you ha*- )mmenced the Prince, rising from", h' r.I releasing the tiger's golden colla • c\U ,i his hand. "Excuse • < larajah." responded Heetor in II ',t." accorded ill with the other's cor; .< g, "but before I thank you for ne I shall feel much obliged to will be good enough to have that moved from here. My wife iw e~- ned to the presence of each dan'?ir(.M 0" "Oh, ce n all means! I must really apologise r vr- thoughtlessness," and, turning r--T Lrtendants, the Maharajah signed t( ake the beast away. "Not that th, v faintest need for alarm," he eon 1 -lingly as he shook hands inth ? i v aans. HRoti is the best- maaiK* s kind and as tame as a fox- terrier ri' dat he invited them to be eeatef "He ( be." commented the Scots- man, osfcically, "for just now he imiU* fd species to perfection." "Y i -f plained Ram Shri Omra, turn- ing v.. I v. r ithan apologetic shrug, "it's all anr parcel of this wretched mum- mer 'is I am obliged to take a rehic- tanl .'•sitt- V U remember what I told. you on Manchuria about barbaric ep'< :^ir fttvi 60 forth? I assure you I have no v iTi !?■ "f tigers, but the tame tiger has be of Pritnagar court from time in: :;vmt r ind I am expected to follow in n": Hihcrv Dotsteps in this matter, as in o v fire? a* they say in romantic It "?'(- itioi of disgnst with his surround- ? r.i lowarer, long since begun to jar 'ip'i.i r:1 t's Berves, and upon being thus co.vij.iif she made haste to change the r-il- d t vhich he Maharajah, in M" • ■• erceivel. He had guffi. 1 ;tcitly accept the rebuke. v:>r. "lust be ired out and hi > <r:~y y —r g ride," ie remarked, r ,n:. y.) .• v, iv ng a signo his attendan', p-ii- ■t: u. conduct you to the dining- r •• lie f'rscended fron the dais, ■ i p, (/ cihis arm to he young En1. wot, stter a heeitifeing glance he. look it and aoompanied hf -9- an adjoining hall, followed by Hector and the principal men of the Maharajah's suite, consisting of his grey-bearded Wazir (Prime Minister), some of his Thakoors, and a. dozen Rajput officers of high rank. The planter, happening to glance over his shoulder, looked straight into the eyes of the possessor of the square chin and the fierce moustaches, whom the Prince had called by the name of Govind Lal-the man whom Hector had seen in the carriage at Bhundawal! The Rajput evi- dently stood high in the Maharajah's favour, and bore himself like a recognised favourite. The glance which he flung at the European in reply to the latter's look spoke, of haughty defiance-no attempt now of evading Hector's gaze! A certain dark suspicion that had taken root in our friend's heart grew four- fold intensified in that short exchange of glances. More than ever did he believe that the mysterious man on the footboard of the railway carriage was identical with Ram Shri Omra's favourite; and, if this was really the case, what was he to think of the master who, presumably, had employed him as a spy? But this was no time for threshing the matter out. and all Hector could do under the cir- cumstances was to stifle his emotions, what- ever their nature, and to pretend that nothing was wrong. Only the Prince and his guesits sat down to table; the suite remained standing round in attitudes of easy attention. The Maha- rajah, being a Mohammedan, excused himself from joining them in their meal, and sat, instead, discoursing volubly. The young wife did not fail to notice that the dinner, which consisted of at least fifty different dishes, was served upon gold by attendants dressed in liveries of pale green satin, and that the wallahs, who went the round from time to time. sprinkling the diners with ottar of roses, wore electric-blue silk, with stars of gold embroidered upon their breasts. The scene was certainly most picturesque one— the stalwart, serious Britisher in his khaki riding suit and tall, spurred boots; the beau- tiful, fresh-complexioned girl in her tight- fitting habit of white pique; and the Mahar rajah, with his Italian complexion and black Velasquez beard set off by his plumed, bejewelled turban and his kaftan of helio- trope silk, stiff with gold embroidery and flashing with inserted gems. The setting of this central picture—consisting of the atten- dant semi-circle of nobles and officers, each glittering like a Quetzal bird-was likewise most effective. In short, so far as the spec- tacular part of the entertainment was oon- TItiIfIIV I "The tall, dark figure silhouettcdl against the moon-whitened door." -1 cerned, you could not have surpassed it if you had ransacked both hemispheres for materiel. you had ransacked both hemispheres for materiel. The Maharajah seemed to be in capital spirits, and kept chatting away with that brilliancy that had secured him the entree to so many English drawing-rooms in times gone by. Imagine Haroon-al-Rashid discus- sing in faultless Anglo-Saxon such varied and ultra-modern topics as the Henley result, the relationship of Gaelic to Sanskrit, Wagner's "Ring der Nibelungen," and the latest book of the most sensational female writer in England, and you will have a portrait of this ruler as he struck the fancy of his European guests! Perhaps his conversation exhibited a stronger exotic flavour than hitherto; but, if so, this was merely in keeping with his general Orientalisation, nor did either of his listeners seem to notice anything out of the way. For the rest, Ram Shri Omra found himself com- pelled to sustain the burden of conversation well-nigh alone, for Flora felt worried on her husband's account, and, therefore, only answered in monosyllables, whilst Hector, more preoccupied than was his wont, scarcely once opened his mouth. Dinner over, Flora w.wd have fain retired, for she felt really fatigued with her long ride, besides which she was desirous of questioning her husband as to the reason of his silence. The Maharajah, however, represented to her that there was to be a regular entertainment in honour of his guests, followed by fireworks; and, as Hector, in answer to his wife's look of inquiry, merely gave a shrug, she con- sented to be conducted back to the audience hall. This had in the meantime been lighted up; the throne had been removed, and in its place stood three soft velvet lounges. Ram Shri Omra led his fair partner to the one in the middle, and then seated himself on the couch to the left, Hector taking the seat on her right. The old Wazir, Govind Lai, and the remainder of the suite grouped them- selves behind the trio. whilst the crowd of courtiers and officers of minor rank squatted on the carpets that had been spread out for the purpose in the background and along the walls. The Maharajah, having obtained the lady's permission to smoke, ordered his hookah to be brought for himself and a box of cheroots for the young planter. Then he clapped his hands and the entertainment began. It was the first of its kind that Flora bad ever witnessed. Small wonder, them, that she gradually shook off her feeling of depres- sion and watched the various performances with increasing interest. The Nautchnis (dancing girls)—lithe, graceful, bronze-hued creatures, all gleaming with soft silks and gauzes, and jingling (if so rude an illustra- tion may be permitted) like an abajo of Spanish sumpter mules—were succeeded by a troupe of jugglers, whose tricks fairly staggered the English girl, so innocent of the ways of the East. A tall, grave-looking man (in whom Hector thought he recognised Tippoo the Nair, whose ohild he had saved from-the buffaloes earlier in the day) flung a rope end into the air, where it remained, as if caught by some invisible hand; then a boy (it was, indeed, the saiue youngster!) began climbing up the rope, and presently vanished from sight, having seemingly melted into thin air. Thereupon the man below exclaimed something and held out his hands, and, in (reply, down came a large pineapple from nowhere, and was deftly caught by the juggler; then a peach, a melon, a bunch of grapes. Finally, the boy re-appeared in mid- air, and came sliding down to the ground, nimbly as a monkey. His father calmly gathered up the rope, and, after a long and expressive gaze at Hector, retired and made way for some other performer, who astonished the spectators (and the English, girl in Parti- cular) by burying a mango seed in a handful of soil, and then, before their very eyes, growing therefrom a perfect, though diminu- tive, specimen of a mango tree, which was duly handed, round for inspection.* This wizard was succeeded by another, whose juggling feats would have turned Oinquevalli green with envy; by some performing dogs and monkeys; and then again by Tippoo's little boy, who delighted and enthralled Flora by an exceedingly clever exhibition of rope walking. Last of all came the tarn of the. Sapwallah (snake charmer)—the identical old Macchiavelli face whom our friends had seen before. Dumping down his basket in the middle of the floor, he squatted in front of it and commenced playing a shrill and un- melodious tune upon his toumril or reed pipe. Presently a flat head with gleaming eyes and a puffed-out neck appeared above the basket's edge, and then a great speckled cobra glided to the ground, followed by another, and yet another, until a full dozen of these dangerous serpents were undulating on the red-and-white tiled floor in front of the musician- It was a most uncanny sight, and caused the English- woman to squirm uneasily upon her seat; but the old sapwallah knew his trade. He changed his three-note tune to a long, low, vibrating whistle in the same key, and as he did so the cobras, rearing up to their full length, glided towards him, and one by one twined themselves round his legs and arms and neck, until the man's figure was almost hidden behind a moving maze of glittering, scaly forms. Still playing, he raised himself upon his feet and stood facing the Maharajah and his guests, terrible as Red Kali herself, under his poison-charged load of life. Loud applause greeted his performance, where- upon, crouching down again, he once more changed his tune. At the same time, an assistant placed a huge bowl of buffaloes' milk close beside the basket, and one by one the cobras disengaged themselves and wriggled towards the irresistible bait, from which they began to drink with avidity. When all had drunk themselves into a state of semi-stupor, the charmer stepped forward, laid his reed pipe aside, and, picking up the snakes as if they had been so many lengths of rope, re-placed them in their basket and- covered them up. "Thank Heaven that nothing has hap- pened!" sighed Flora when all was over. "I do detest those creepy, crawly things; I have been quite ill with suspense." "In that case, I owe you an apology for having permitted this item to be introduced at all," responded Ram Shri Omra politely. "I thought, however, that you would like to see a sapwallah at work, as you had never seen one before." "Oh," said Flora quickly, "it was very inte- resting, indeed, and I thank you very much for all the amusements you have provided for us this evening. But with your permis- sion, Maharajah, I should be glad now to withdraw." No Frenchman could have excelled the Maharajah's bow. "By all means, if it is your wish. All that remains is the fireworks, and those you can view from your own window. Good-night to you, my dear Mrs. Cameron, and pleasant dreams! I am charmed to have been privileged to act as your host. Good-night, Cameron, old chap. See you at Chota Hazri in the morning!" CHAPTER VI. FLORA'S DREAM. A fat eunuch preceded Hector and his wife up the broad white marble staircase and along a splendid alabaster gallery-a long, gleaming vista of sculptured columns sup- porting noble Moorish arches, through which the moonlight poured in a flood of bluish silver. At the end of this colonnade the man threw open a door, and, with a. bow, stood aside to let them enter, whereupon he with- drew. The apartment, which was sparsely lighted by a hanging lamp of dull crimson glaes, proved upon inspection to be a sump- tuously-furnished bedroom overlooking an artificial lake flanked by two of the palace wings. The young English wife examined with delight the walls, all covered with beau- tiful, fantastic designs of flowers, birds, and arabesques, standing out in blue and green and scarlet bas-relief from the gold-coloured ground; and the rich furniture, especially the charpoy (bedstead), which was carved out of Amboyna wood and inlaid with patterns of ivory and mother-of-pearl "Look! There go the fireworks," said Hector, as, with a hissing, rushing sound, a rocket sprang up into the dark-blue velvet sky, where it burst into a shower of dazzling sparks. They knelt upon the divan that stood in the window recess, and, leaning on the marble balustrade, watched the pyro- technic display. Rockets, wheels, and foun- tains of fire were succeeded by more elaborate items. There were representatives of temples, palaces, and cities in various glowing colours; and, ftnally, to crown it all, a. great, fierce battle raged and surged among the clouds, the. effect being enhanced by the reflection in the tank below. This fight brought the display to a close. The crowds of spectators who had assembled at the windows and in the open galleries ,speedily dispersed, and all was still once more. For a while husband and wife eat by the window with hands interlaced, conveTBing together in an undertone and gazing out upon the shining cupolas and minarets and sugar- loaf pagodas that reared their heads above the dirk palace wing on the opposite side of the tank. Presently they retired to rest; the crimson lamplight died, and glorious moonlit Silence reigned supreme. A gentle breeze whispered now and again among the palm fronds; occasionally a night bird would flit through the air in soundless flight, or some fish would leap from the water in a. curve of silver, falling ba-ck into its native element with a faint splash; but otherwise the still- ness remained unbroken. An hour passed like this—two hours. In the chamber where Hector and his wife lay slumbering nothing could be heard save the deep, long-drawn breathing of the sleepers. The moonlight, pouring in unchecked through the open window, threw into bold relief the strong, manly features of the young Scotsman and the flawless cameo-profile of the girl beside him. Here, as outside, dwelt a sublime calm. Suddenly an inky shadow fell across the carved stone fretwork of the window balus- trade, and slowly-very, very slowly-a tur- baned head climbed into view until its bearded chin rested upon the marble. Two black eyes, glowing like live coals, looked in at the unconscious sleepers; then an arm slid stealthily over the balustrade, and a supple, dark-clad body followed with a serpen- tine writhe. Next moment the midnight visitor had thrown a leg across the railing and stepped upon the divan, whence he noise- lesaly descended to the floor. And now, with his band upon the hilt of his yataghan, he bent over the slumbering planter, nodded; once or twice, and then stole cat-like to Flora's side. Greedily his eyes devoured her calm, beautiful features, surrounded by a. T)reading glory of hair. His lips twitched, a id his breath came in hissing gusts. She w Is wrapped in a, profound sleep, peaceful aa any child's. Her lips were slightly parted, and just showed a pearly gleam of small, white teeth, and her bosom gently rose and fell under the white cambric. Lower and lower he bent, until his face almost touched hers; and as he did so the girl stirred slightly in her sleep, and a troubled expression crept over her countenance. The intruder instantly drew back to the foot of the bed, but the girl, beyond uttering a long, low moan, made no further sign. Straightening himself up, the stranger now gazed upon the sleeping man, and an expression almost demoniacal in its intensity appeared in his dark eyes, while his brown, nervous fingers twisted themselve* more ttghfly than ever round the hilt of hie weapon. From one to the other he looked, his handsome face dis- figured by the raging devils within him. Once the shimmering blade half emerged from its purple velvet sheath; but just then Flora. stirred and flung her arms above her head, and the intruder once more tip-toed on his bare feet to her side to drink in her beauty in a long, burning gaze. But the girl's repose must have been thoroughly disturbed, for her face showed an expression of strained anxiety that swiftly deepened into abject terror. Her breast commenced to heave vehemently, and her hands moved jerkily upon the pillow. The nocturnal visitor had barely time to drop full length upon the Persian rug on which he stood before a sha-rp cry burst suddenly from Flora's lips, and the girl awoke and sat up, with panic written in her great blue eyes. "What is the matter?" exclaimed Hector, startled into instant wakefulness, and taking her hand, which was trembling like an aspen leaf. The listener beside the bed edged further into the shade, and softly drew hia yataghan from the sheath. "Oh, Hector, I have had ench an awful dream! panted the young wife, cuddling into her husband's strong, protective arms and looking round her with quick, nervous glances. He stroked her wavy hair soothingly. **A nightmare—is that what it is, lassie? Never mind, you'll be feeling better in a minute. Try to forget all about it." "But I cannot—it was all so terribly vivid," wailed Flora, shuddering anew. "The smallest 1 detail seems to have burnt itself upon my memory. I cannot shake off the clinging horror of that dream." "Is it so bad as all that? Come, tell me all about it, dear; it may somewhat ease your mind." "First of all I dreamt that I had gone for a walk by myself and lost my way in the jungle. After a while I heard a rustling in the thicket, and presently I realised, with a shock, that it was a tiger, who was coming directly my way. I stood frozen to the spot, overcome with terror; but the beast, instead of crouching for a spring, walked up to me, purring and with his tail up like a tame cat. Rubbing his great whiskered head against my head, he looked up in my face, for all the world as if he wanted me to play with him." "I think," interrupted Hector, with a dark frown, "that the Maharajah's uncouth pet is responsible for this extraordinary dream of yours." "The worst is still to come," continued the girl, drawing his arm closer round her. "I was anxious, of course, to get rid of the animal, and tried various means of sending it away; but no, the tiger kept cloee to me, even after I had regained the use of my limbs and was moving on. There he was, fawning upon me as much as ever, and even trying to lick my face from time to time. At last, annoyed by his persistence, I stopped short and told him angrily to go away; but. instead of doing so, he æ.t down like a dog upon his haunches and grinned in my face. Yes, grinned; and at the same time his tiger's face changed and assumed a human expression. Horror-struck, I tried to flee; but what I saw fascinated me beyond the possi- bility of stirring a single step. Every instant the features of the monster grew more and more man-like, till suddenly I recognised that new, but still grinning, face—it was that of our host the Maharajah!" Saying which she gave a violent shudder and hid her face in her husband's breast. "Certainly, a nightmare if ever there was one," commented Hector, moodily. "I'm not surprised at your waking after that. But come, my love, forget all about it. Try and go to sleept" "I cannot, Hector, I cannot," moaned the girl, still shivering in his arms. "I should dream of that horror again. No, no; I would rather lie awake till morning." "Very well, then. Let us get up and sit by the window for a. spell. The night is calm and lovely, and there in the East you can see the first streak of dawn. In a couple of hours the sun will be up; so do try to forget what you have dreamt." He got up and donned some clothing, while Flora followed his example. It was a good thing for the hidden intruder that he had in the meantime moved entirely under the bed, else he would surely have been discovered at this juncture. As it was, the girl's small, bare feet touched the rug within six inches of his hand. She was, however, totally unconscious of anyone's presence save her own and Hector's, and, having thrown a light shawl over her shoulders, joined her husband at the window, whence they watched the blue and silver glories of the moonlit Indian night. Slowly—very slowly—the hidden man edged back from under the bed, until he once more lay full length upon the rug. Then softly, softly, moving half an inch at a time, he raised himself upon his knees and stole a glance across the bed at the pair seated in the window recess. Still, they were wrapt in silent acontemplatkm of the fairy landscape without, and the young man's hand was caressing his wife's. With eyesi that caught and reflected the moonlight like small helio- graphs, the stranger raised himself upon hia feet, and, moving soundlessly, made a step towards the door; ano-ther step, and a third. and he reached it, still unnoticed, and, glancing finally over his shoulder, placed his hand upon the bolt. The risk of discovery was now greater than ever. Had either of the two Europeans chanced to turn their head, they must infallibly have seen the tall, dark figure silhouetted against the moon- whitened door. But it almost seemed as if Nature herself were smiling upon his designs, for just then a puff of wind caused the palms outside to rustle and sigh, while in the dis- tance the plaintive howling of a jackal broke upon the night. This combination of sounds made just enough noise to drown the faint rasping of the bolt as the intruder gently drew back and turned the handle of the door. Next moment he was gone, and "Where does this draught come from?'1 queried Flora, looking round. "Why, Hector, the door is open f" "So it is, by Jove!" exclaimed the young man, jerking from his seat and bounding towards the door and out into the corridor. But not a soul was to be seen. Right and left, above and below, his keen grey eyes roved in vain. A bat come flitting through one of the Moorish arches, and zigzagged for a few minutes inside tne colonnade; but beyond that there was no sign of life anywhere. "I could have vowed that you bolted the door when we went to bed," said Flora. anxiously, as he came back into the room with a stern, pale face; "in fact, I remember distinctly—you specially got up to do so." "I know I did." remarked her husband grimly, pitting his hand under the pillow and drawing forth the Army revolver, without which he never travelled. "Stay where you are, Flora. I am going to have a look round the room." He struck a match, and looked under the bed, and then walked round to the side where his wife had lain. The first match had gone out; he now struck another, and stooped to explore the black shade there. Immediately he started back with a sup- pressed cry; then he stooped again and hurriedly picked up something that had lain upon the rug—the purple velvet siheath of a yataghan, encrusted with enormous rubies. Hector knew it at once, for he had often seen it in the waistband of its owner—of Ram Shri Omra himself! (To be continued.)

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