Part 1 out of 7
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The Coming Conquest of England
by August Niemann
Translated by J. H. Freese
I. THE COUNCIL OF STATE
II. THE OFFICERS' MESS
III. A RUSSIAN COMRADE
IV. THE CIRCASSIAN BEAUTY
V. THE CAPTAIN'S WIFE
VI. THE OUTRAGE
VII. THE MAHARAJAH
VIII. THE PAMIRS
IX. THE GERMAN EMPEROR
X. FIVE LAKHS OF RUPEES
XI. THE MOBILISATION
XII. THE CAMP OF LAHORE
XIII. THE BATTLE
XIV. IN THE PANIC-STRICKEN CITY
XV. THE COURT-MARTIAL
XVI. THE PROFESSOR
XVII. DOWNING STREET
XVIII. THE YOUNG RUSSIAN CAPTAIN OF DRAGOONS
XIX. ON THE ROAD TO SIMLA
XX. A FRIEND IN NEED
XXI. EDITH'S ADVENTURES
XXII. THE ETHICS OF ESPIONAGE
XXIII. HOMEWARD BOUND
XXIV. THE ADVENTURES OF THE CALEDONIA
XXV. A SUSPICIOUS FISHING-SMACK
XXVI. CAMILLE PENUROT
XXVII. EBERHARD AMELUNGEN
XXVIII. THE FATE OF A SPY
XXIX. A WOMAN'S TREACHERY
XXX. EDITH'S LAST JOURNEY
XXXI. THE STOLEN DOCUMENT
XXXII. NEWS OF AN OLD FRIEND
XXXIII. THE LANDING IN SCOTLAND
XXXIV. THE BATTLE OF FLUSHING
XXXV. AT HAMPTON COURT
I recall to mind a British colonel, who said to me in Calcutta:
"This is the third time that I have been sent to India. Twenty-
five years ago, as lieutenant, and then the Russians were some
fifteen hundred miles from the Indian frontier; then, six years
since, as captain, and the Russians were then only five hundred
miles away. A year ago I came here as lieutenant-colonel, and the
Russians are right up to the passes leading to India."
The map of the world unfolds itself before me. All seas are
ploughed by the keels of English vessels, all coasts dotted with
the coaling stations and fortresses of the British world-power. In
England is vested the dominion of the globe, and England will
retain it; she cannot permit the Russian monster to drink life and
mobility from the sea.
"Without England's permission no shot can be fired on the ocean,"
once said William Pitt, England's greatest statesman. For many,
many years England has increased her lead, owing to dissensions
among the continental Powers. Almost all wars have, for centuries
past, been waged in the interests of England, and almost all have
been incited by England. Only when Bismarck's genius presided over
Germany did the German Michael become conscious of his own
strength, and wage his own wars.
Are things to come to this pass, that Germany is to crave of
England's bounty--her air and light, and her very daily bread? or
does their ancient vigour no longer animate Michael's arms?
Shall the three Powers who, after Japan's victory over China,
joined hands in the treaty of Shimonoseki, in order to thwart
England's aims, shall they--Germany, France, and Russia--still fold
their hands, or shall they not rather mutually join them in a
In my mind's eye I see the armies and the fleets of Germany,
France, and Russia moving together against the common enemy, who
with his polypus arms enfolds the globe. The iron onslaught of the
three allied Powers will free the whole of Europe from England's
tight embrace. The great war lies in the lap of the future.
The story that I shall portray in the following pages is not a
chapter of the world's past history; it is the picture as it
clearly developed itself to my mind's eye, on the publication of
the first despatch of the Viceroy Alexieff to the Tsar of Russia.
And, simultaneously like a flash of lightning, the telegram which
the Emperor William sent to the Boers after Jameson's Raid crosses
my memory--that telegram which aroused in the heart of the German
nation such an abiding echo. I gaze into the picture, and am
mindful of the duties and aims of our German nation. My dreams,
the dreams of a German, show me the war that is to be, and the
victory of the three great allied nations. Germany, France, and
Russia--and a new division of the possessions of the earth as the
final aim and object of this gigantic universal war.
This volume is the authorised translation of Der Weltkrieg deutsche
Traume (F. W. Vobach and Co., Leipsic). The translator offers no
comment on the day-dream which he reproduces in the English
language for English readers. The meaning and the moral should be
obvious and valuable.
LONDON, September, 1904.
THE COMING CONQUEST OF ENGLAND
THE COUNCIL OF STATE
It was a brilliant assemblage of high dignitaries and military
officers that had gathered in the Imperial Winter Palace at St.
Petersburg. Of the influential personages, who, by reason of their
official position or their personal relations to the ruling house,
were summoned to advise and determine the destiny of the Tsar's
Empire, scarcely one was absent. But it was no festal occasion
that had called them here; for all faces wore an expression of deep
seriousness, amounting in certain cases to one of grave anxiety.
The conversation, carried on in undertones, was of matters of the
The broad folding-doors facing the lifesize portrait of the
reigning Tsar were thrown wide open, and amid the breathless
silence of all assembled, the grey-headed President of the Imperial
Council, Grand Duke Michael, entered the hall. Two other members
of the Imperial house, the Grand Dukes Vladimir Alexandrovitch and
Alexis Alexandrovitch, brothers of the late Tsar, accompanied him.
The princes graciously acknowledged the deep obeisances of all
present. At a sign from the Grand Duke Michael, the whole company
took their places at the long conference table, covered with green
cloth, which stood in the centre of the pillared hall. Deep,
respectful silence still continued, until, at a sign from the
President, State Secretary Witte, the chief of the ministerial
council, turned to the Grand Dukes and began thus:--
"Your Imperial Highnesses and Gentlemen! Your Imperial Highness
has summoned us to an urgent meeting, and has commissioned me to
lay before you the reasons for, and the purpose of, our
deliberations. We are all aware that His Majesty the Emperor, our
gracious Lord and Master, has declared the preservation of the
peace of the world to be the highest aim of his policy. The
Christian idea that mankind should be 'ONE fold under ONE shepherd'
has, in the person of our illustrious ruler, found its first and
principal representative here on earth. The league of universal
peace is solely due to His Majesty, and if we are called upon to
present to our gracious Lord and Master our humble proposals for
combating the danger which immediately menaces our country, all our
deliberations should be inspired by that spirit which animates the
Christian law of brotherly love."
Grand Duke Michael raised his hand in interruption. "Alexander
Nicolaievitch," he said, turning to the Secretary, "do not omit to
write down this last sentence WORD FOR WORD."
The Secretary of State made a short pause, only to continue with a
somewhat louder voice and in a more emphatic tone--
"No especial assurance is required that, in view of this, our noble
liege lord's exalted frame of mind, a breach of the world's peace
could not possibly come from our side. But our national honour is
a sacred possession, which we can never permit others to assail,
and the attack which Japan has made upon us in the Far East forced
us to defend it sword in hand. There is not a single right-minded
man in the whole world who could level a reproach at us for this
war, which has been forced upon us. But in our present danger a
law of self-preservation impels us to inquire whether Japan is,
after all, the only and the real enemy against whom we have to
defend ourselves; and there are substantial reasons for believing
that this question should be answered in the negative. His
Majesty's Government is convinced that we are indebted for this
attack on the part of Japan solely to the constant enmity of
England, who never ceases her secret machinations against us. It
has been England's eternal policy to damage us for her own
aggrandisement. All our endeavours to promote the welfare of this
Empire and make the peoples happy have ever met with resistance on
the part of England. From the China Seas, throughout all Asia to
the Baltic, England has ever thrown obstacles in our way, in order
to deprive us of the fruits of our civilising policy. No one of us
doubts for a moment that Japan is, in reality, doing England's
work. Moreover, in every part of the globe where our interests are
at stake, we encounter either the open or covert hostility of
England. The complications in the Balkans and in Turkey, which
England has incited and fostered by the most despicable methods,
have simply the one object in view--to bring us into mortal
conflict with Austria and Germany. Yet nowhere are Great Britain's
real aims clearer seen than in Central Asia. With indescribable
toil and with untold sacrifice of treasure and blood our rulers
have entered the barren tracts of country lying between the Black
Sea and the Caspian, once inhabited by semibarbarous tribes, and,
further east again, the lands stretching away to the Chinese
frontier and the Himalayas, and have rendered them accessible to
Russian civilisation. But we have never taken a step, either east
or south, without meeting with English opposition or English
intrigues. To-day our frontiers march with the frontier of British
East India, and impinge upon the frontier of Persia and
Afghanistan. We have opened up friendly relations with both these
states, entertain close commercial intercourse with their peoples,
support their industrial undertakings, and shun no sacrifice to
make them amenable to the blessings of civilisation. Yet, step by
step, England endeavours to hamper our activity. British gold and
British intrigues have succeeded in making Afghanistan adopt a
hostile attitude towards us. We must at last ask ourselves this
question: How long do we intend to look on quietly at these
undertakings? Russia must push her way down to the sea. Millions
of strong arms till the soil of our country. We have at our own
command inexhaustible treasures of corn, wood, and all products of
agriculture; yet we are unable to reach the markets of the world
with even an insignificant fraction of these fruits of the earth
that Providence has bestowed, because we are hemmed in, and
hampered on every side, so long as our way to the sea is blocked.
Our mid-Asiatic possessions are suffocated from want of sea air.
England knows this but too well, and therefore she devotes all her
energies towards cutting us off from the sea. With an insolence,
for which there is no justification, she declares the Persian Gulf
to be her own domain, and would like to claim the whole of the
Indian Ocean, as she already claims India itself, as her own
exclusive property. This aggression must at last be met with a
firm 'Hands off,' unless our dear country is to run the risk of
suffering incalculable damage. It is not we who seek war; war is
being forced upon us. As to the means at our disposal for waging
it, supposing England will not spontaneously agree to our just
demands, His Excellency the Minister of War will be best able to
give us particulars."
He bowed once more to the Grand Dukes and resumed his seat. The
tall, stately figure of the War Minister, Kuropatkin, next rose, at
a sign from the President, and said--
"For twenty years I served in Central Asia and I am able to judge,
from my own experience, of our position on the south frontier. In
case of a war with England, Afghanistan is the battle-ground of
primary importance. Three strategic passes lead from Afghanistan
into India: the Khyber Pass, the Bolan Pass, and the Kuram Valley.
When, in 1878, the English marched into Afghanistan they proceeded
in three columns from Peshawar, Kohat, and Quetta to Cabul, Ghazni,
and Kandahar respectively. These three roads have also been laid
down as our lines of march. Public opinion considers them the only
possible routes. It would carry me too far into detail were I to
propound in this place my views as to the 'pros and cons' of this
accepted view. In short, we SHALL find our way into India.
Hahibullah Khan would join us with his army, 60,000 strong, as soon
as we enter his territory. Of course, he is an ally of doubtful
integrity, for he would probably quite as readily join the English,
were they to anticipate us and make their appearance in his country
with a sufficiently imposing force. But nothing prevents our being
first. Our railway goes as far as Merv, seventy-five miles from
Herat, and from this central station to the Afghan frontier. With
our trans-Caspian railway we can bring the Caucasian army corps and
the troops of Turkestan to the Afghan frontier. I would undertake,
within four weeks of the outbreak of war, to mass a sufficient
field army in Afghanistan round Herat. Our first army can then be
followed by a ceaseless stream of regiments and batteries. The
reserves of the Russian army are inexhaustible, and we could place,
if needs be, four million soldiers and more than half a million of
horses in the field. However, I am more than doubtful whether
England would meet us in Afghanistan. The English generals would
not, in any case, be well advised to leave India. Were they
defeated in Afghanistan only small fragments of their army at most
would escape back to India. The Afghans would show no mercy to a
fleeing English army and would destroy it, as has happened on a
previous occasion. If, on the other hand, which God forbid! the
fortune of war should turn against us, we should always find a line
of retreat to Turkestan open and be able to renew the attack at
pleasure. If the English army is defeated, then India is lost to
Great Britain; for the English are, in India, in the enemy's
country; as a defeated people they will find no support in the
Indian people. They would be attacked on all sides by the Indian
native chieftains, whose independence they have so brutally
destroyed, at the very moment that their power is broken. We, on
the other hand, should be received with open arms, as rescuers of
the Indian people from their intolerable yoke. The Anglo-Indian
army looks on paper much more formidable than it really is; its
strength is put at 200,000 men, yet only one-third of this number
are English soldiers, the rest being composed of natives. This
army, moreover, consists of four divisions, which are scattered
over the whole great territory of India. A field army, for
employment on the frontier or across it, cannot possibly consist of
more than 60,000 men; for, considering the untrustworthiness of the
population, the land cannot be denuded of its garrisons. As a
result of what I have said, I record my conviction that the war
will have to be waged in India itself, and that God will give us
The words of the General, spoken in an energetic and confident
tone, made a deep impression upon his hearers; only respect for the
presence of the Grand Dukes prevented applause. The greyhaired
President gave the Minister of War his hand, and invited the
Minister for Foreign Affairs to address them.
"In my opinion," said the diplomatist, "there is no doubt that the
strategical opinions just delivered by His Excellency the Minister
for War are based upon an expert's sound and correct estimate of
the circumstances, and I also am certain that the troops of His
Majesty the Tsar, accustomed as they are to victory, will, in the
event of war, soon be standing upon the plain of the Indus. It is
also my firm conviction that Russia would be best advised to take
the offensive as soon as ever the impossibility of our present
relations to England has been demonstrated. But whoever goes to
war with England must not look to one battleground alone. On the
contrary, we must be prepared for attacks of the most varied kinds,
for an attack upon our finances, to begin with, and upon our
credit, as to which His Excellency Witte could give better
information than I could. The Bank of England, and the great
banking firms allied with it, would at once open this financial
campaign. Moreover, a ship sailing under the Russian flag would
hardly dare show itself on the open seas, and our international
trade would, until our enemy had been crushed, be absolutely at a
standstill. Moreover, more vital for us than considerations of
this sort would be the question: What of the attitude of the other
great Powers? England's political art has, since the days of
Oliver Cromwell, displayed itself chiefly in adroitly making use of
the continental Powers. It is no exaggeration to say that
England's wars have been chiefly waged with continental armies.
This is not said in depreciation of England's military powers.
Wherever the English fleet and English armies have been seen on the
field of battle, the energy, endurance, and intrepidity of their
officers, sailors, and soldiers have ever been brilliantly
noticeable. The traditions of the English troops who, under the
Black Prince and Henry V., marched in days of yore victorious
through France, were again green in the wars in the eighteenth
century against France and against Napoleon. Yet infinitely
greater than her own military record has been England's success in
persuading foreign countries to fight for her, and in leading the
troops of Austria, France, Germany, and Russia against each other
on the Continent. For the last two hundred years very few wars
have ever been waged without England's co-operation, and without
her reaping the advantage. These few exceptions were the wars of
Bismarck, waged for the advantage and for the glory of his own
country, by which he earned the hatred of every good Englishman.
While the continent of Europe was racked by internal wars, which
English diplomacy had incited, Great Britain acquired her vast
colonial possessions. England has implicated us too in wars which
redounded to her sole advantage. I need only refer to the bloody,
exhausting war of 1877-8, and to the disastrous peace of San
Stefano, where England's intrigues deprived us of the price of our
victory over the Crescent. I refer, further, to the Crimean War,
in which a small English and a large French army defeated us to the
profit and advantage of England. That England, and England alone,
is again behind this attack upon us by Japan has been dwelt upon by
those who have already addressed you. Our enemies do not see
themselves called upon to depart in the slightest degree from a
policy that has so long stood them in such good stead, and it must,
therefore, be our policy to assure ourselves of the alliance, or at
least, where an alliance is unattainable, of the benevolent
neutrality of the other continental Powers in view of a war with
England. To begin with, as regards our ally, the French Republic,
a satisfactory solution of our task in this direction is already
assured by the existing treaties. Yet these treaties do not bind
the French Government to afford us military support in the case of
a war which, in the eyes of shortsighted observers, might perhaps
be regarded as one which we had ourselves provoked. We have
accordingly opened negotiations through our Ambassador with M.
Delcasse, the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, and with the
President of the Republic himself. I have the supreme satisfaction
of being in a position to lay before you the result of these
negotiations in the form of a despatch just received from our
Ambassador in Paris. It runs, in the main, as follows: 'I hasten
to inform Your Excellency that, in the name of the French Republic,
M. Delcasse has given me the solemn assurance that France will
declare war upon England at the moment His Majesty the Tsar has
directed his armies to march upon India. The considerations which
have prompted the French Government to take this step have been
further explained to me by M. Delcasse in our conference of this
day, when he expressed himself somewhat as follows: "Napoleon, a
hundred years ago, perceived with rare discernment that England was
the real enemy of all continental nations, and that the European
continent could not pursue any other policy but to combine in
resisting that great pirate. The magnificent plan of Napoleon was
the alliance of France with Spain, Italy, Austria, Germany, and
Russia, in order to combat the rapacity of England. And he would,
in all probability, have carried his scheme through had it not been
that considerations of domestic policy determined the Tsar
Alexander I., in spite of his admiration for Napoleon's ability, to
run counter to the latter's intentions. The consequences of
Napoleon's defeat have shown themselves sufficiently clearly during
the past hundred years in the enormous growth of the English power.
The present political constellation, which in many respects is very
similar to that of the year 1804, should be utilised to revive
Napoleon's plan once more. Russia has, of course, the first and
most vital interest in the downfall of England, for, so long as
Great Britain controls all the seas and all the important
coastlines, it is like a giant whose hands and feet are fettered.
Yet France is also checked in her natural development. Her
flourishing colonies in America and the Atlantic Ocean were wrested
from her in the eighteenth century. She was ousted by this
overpowering adversary from her settlements in the East Indies and--
what the French nation feels perhaps most acutely--Egypt,
purchased for France by the great Napoleon with the blood of his
soldiers, was weaned away by English gold and English intrigues.
The Suez Canal, built by a Frenchman, Lesseps, is in the possession
of the English, facilitating their communications with India, and
securing them the sovereignty of the world. France will
accordingly make certain stipulations as the price of its alliance--
stipulations which are so loyal and equitable that there is no
question whatever of their not being agreed to on the part of her
ally, Russia. France demands that her possessions in Tonking,
Cochin China, Cambodia, Annam, and Laos shall be guaranteed; that
Russia be instrumental in assisting her to acquire Egypt, and that
it pledge itself to support the French policy in Tunis and the rest
of Africa." In accordance with my instructions, I felt myself
empowered to assure M. Delcasse that his conditions were accepted
on our side. In answer to my question, whether a war with England
would be popular in France, the Minister said: "The French people
will be ready for any sacrifice if we make Fashoda our war-cry.
British insolence never showed itself more brutal and insulting
than over this affair. Our brave Marchand was on the spot with a
superior force, and France was within her rights. The simple
demand of an English officer, who possessed no other force but the
moral one of the English flag, compelled us, however, under the
political circumstances which then obtained, to abandon our
righteous claims, and to recall our brave leader. How the French
people viewed this defeat has been plainly seen. The Parisians
gave Marchand a splendid ovation as a national hero, and the French
Government seriously contemplated the possibility of a revolution.
We are now in a position to take revenge for the humiliation which
we then endured, probably out of excessive prudence. If we
inscribe the word FASHODA on the tricolour there will not be in the
whole of France a man capable of bearing arms who will not follow
our lead with enthusiasm." It appeared to me to be politic to
assure myself whether the Government or the inspired press would
not perhaps promise the people the recovery of Alsace-Lorraine as
the price of a victorious issue of the war. But the Minister
replied decidedly, "No. The question of Alsace-Lorraine," he
declared, "must remain outside our view as soon as we make up our
minds to go in for practical politics. Nothing could possibly be
more fatal than to rouse bad blood in Germany. For the German
Emperor is the tongue of the balance in which the destinies of the
world are weighed. England in her own esteem has nothing to fear
from him. She regards him more as an Englishman than a German.
Her confidence in this respect must not be disturbed; it forms one
of the props on which British arrogance supports itself. The
everlasting assurances of the German Emperor, that he intends peace
and nothing but peace, appear, of course, to confirm the
correctness of this view. But I am certain that the Emperor
William's love of peace has its limits where the welfare and the
security of Germany are seriously jeopardised. In spite of his
impulsive temperament, he is not the ruler to allow himself to be
influenced by every expression of popular clamour, and to be driven
by every ebullition of public feeling, to embark on a decisive
course of action. But he is far-seeing enough to discern at the
right moment a real danger, and to meet it with the whole force of
his personality. I do not, therefore, look upon the hope of
gaining him for an ally as a Utopian dream, and I trust that
Russian diplomacy will join with ours in bringing this alliance
about. A war with England without Germany's support would always
be a hazardous enterprise. Of course we are prepared to embark
upon such a war, alike for our friendship with Russia and for the
sake of our national honour, but we could only promise ourselves a
successful issue if all the continental great Powers join hands in
this momentous undertaking."'"
Although the fact of an offensive and defensive alliance with
France in view of a war with England could not have been unknown to
the majority of the assembled company, yet the reading of this
despatch, which was followed with breathless attention, evidently
produced a deep impression. Its publication left no room for doubt
that this war had been resolved on in the highest quarters, and
although no loud manifestation of applause followed its reading,
the illustrious assemblage now breathed freely, and almost all
faces wore an expression of joyous satisfaction.
Only one man, with knitted brows, regarded the scene with serious
disapproval. For decades past he had been regarded as the most
influential man in Russia--as a power, in fact, who had constantly
thwarted the plans of the leading statesmen and had carried his
opinions through with unswerving energy.
This solitary malcontent was Pobiedonostsev, the Chief Procurator
of the Holy Synod, who, despite his grey hairs, was detested only
less than he was feared.
His gloomy mien and his shake of the head had not escaped the
presiding Grand Duke, and the latter evidently considered it to be
his duty to give this man who had enjoyed the confidence of three
successive Tsars an opportunity of recording his divergent opinion.
At his summons the Chief Procurator arose, and, amid complete
"It cannot be my duty to deliver an opinion as to the possibility
or on the prospects of an alliance with Germany, for I am as little
acquainted as any here present with the intentions and plans of the
German Emperor. William II. is the greatest sphinx of our age. He
talks much, and his speeches give the impression of complete
sincerity; but who can guess what is really behind them? That he
has formulated a fixed programme as his life's work, and that he is
the man to carry it out, regardless whether public opinion is on
his side or not, thus much appears to me to be certain. If the
subjection of England is a part of his programme, then the hopes of
the French Minister would, in fact, be no Utopia, only supposing
that the Emperor William considers the present the most suitable
time for disclosing to the world his ultimate aims. It would be
the task of our diplomatic representative at the Court of Berlin to
assure himself on this point. But it is quite another question
whether Russia really needs an alliance either with Germany or with
the Western Power just referred to, and my view of the case leads
me to answer this question in the negative. Russia is, at the
present time, the last and sole bulwark of absolutism in Europe,
and if a ruler called by God's grace to the highest and most
responsible of all earthly offices is to remain strong enough to
crush the spirit of rebellion and immorality which here and there,
under the influence of foreign elements, has shown itself in our
beloved country, we must, before all things, take heed to keep far
away from our people the poison of the so-called liberal ideas,
infidelity, and atheism with which it seems likely to be
contaminated from the West. In like manner, as we, a century ago,
crushed the powerful leader of the revolution, so also shall we to-
day triumph over our foe--we single-handed! Let our armies march
into Persia, Afghanistan, and India, and lead throughout all Asia
the dominion of the true faith to victory. But keep our holy
Russia uncontaminated by the poison of that heretical spirit, which
would be a worse foe than any foreign power can be."
He sat down, and for a moment absolute silence reigned. The Grand
Duke made a serious face, and exchanged a few whispered words with
both his nephews.
Then he said: "All the gentlemen who have here given us their views
on the situation are agreed that a declaration of war upon England
is an exceedingly lamentable but, under the circumstances,
unavoidable necessity; yet before I communicate to His Majesty, our
gracious Lord, this view, which is that of us all, I put to you,
gentlemen, the question whether there is anyone here who is of a
contrary opinion. In this case, I would beg of him to address us."
He waited a short while, but as no one wished to be allowed to
speak, he rose from his chair, and with a few words of thanks and a
gentle bow to the dignitaries, who had also risen in their places,
notified that he regarded the sitting, fraught with momentous
consequences for the destiny of the world, as closed.
THE OFFICERS' MESS
The place was Chanidigot, in British East India. The blinding
brightness of the hot day had been immediately followed, almost
without the transition to twilight, by the darkness of evening,
which brought with it a refreshing coolness, allowing all living
things to breathe again freely. In the wide plain, which served as
the encampment ground for the English regiment of lancers, all was
alive again with the setting of the sun. The soldiers, freed from
the toil of duty, enjoyed themselves, according to their ideas and
dispositions, either in playing cards, singing, or merrily
drinking. The large tent, used as a messroom by the officers, also
showed signs of life. Dinner was over, and a number of gentlemen
sat down to a game of cards, as was their daily custom. But here
the amusement was of a less harmless character than in the case of
the private soldiers. For not innocent bridge, but "poker" was the
order of the day, a game much affected in America and also in some
parts of England, a game which is solely determined by chance
together with a certain histrionic bluffing on the part of the
players, and the stakes were rather high. It was mostly played by
the younger gentlemen, who could not do without their nerve-tonic
in the evenings, in the monotony of camp life. The older men sat
apart at tables, talking and drinking whisky-and-soda, and smoking
their short pipes. Amongst them there was also a gentleman in
civilian dress. The hospitality with which he was treated showed
that he was not one of the officers of the regiment, but their
guest. The sound of his name--he was addressed as Mr. Heideck--
would have betrayed his German origin, even had his appearance not
proclaimed it. He was of but medium height, but athletic in build.
His erect, soldiery bearing and the elasticity of his movements
plainly betokened his excellent health and considerable bodily
strength. A foreigner can hardly present better credentials to an
Englishman than these qualities. Perhaps, more than anything else,
it was his distinguished appearance, in conjunction with his
amiable and thoroughly gentlemanly bearing, that had so quickly
opened the usually very exclusive officers' circle to the young
German, with his clever, energetic features, and his honest blue
Judged by his profession he did not, perhaps, belong to their
society, according to the ideas of some of these gentlemen. It was
known that he was travelling for a large commercial house in
Hamburg. His uncle, the head of the house, imported indigo. And
since the Maharajah of Chanidigot was the owner of very extensive
indigo fields, young Heideck had been detained here a whole
fortnight by commercial negotiations with the prince. He had
succeeded, during this time, in gaining the lively sympathies of
all, but particularly of the older British officers. In Indian
garrisons every European is welcome. Heideck was also invited to
those social functions at which the ladies of the regiment were
He had always refused an invitation to cards with polite firmness,
and to-day also he was at most an uninterested and unconcerned
Presently the door of the tent opened and a tall, but extremely
slim officer joined the circle of his comrades, jingling his spurs
with a self-conscious, almost haughty attitude. He was in undress
uniform and talked to one of the gentlemen, who addressed him as
Captain Irwin, about just returning from a fatiguing ride for the
inspection of an outpost. He demanded from one of the orderlies in
attendance a refreshing drink, the favourite whisky-and-soda, then
he drew close to the gaming-table.
"Room for a little one?" he asked. And place was readily made for
For a little while the game of poker went on in the same quiet way
as before. But suddenly something extraordinary must have
happened. All the gentlemen, except Captain Irwin and one of the
players, laid down their cards, and the unpleasantly penetrating
voice of Captain Irwin was heard.
"You are an old fox, Captain McGregor! But I am aware of your
tricks and cannot be taken in by them. Therefore, once more, six
Every poker-player knows that, so far from being considered
dishonourable, it is a chief sign of skill in the game, where each
man plays for his own hand, for one to deceive the rest as to the
value of the cards he holds. The name of "bluff," which has been
given to this game, is itself sufficient to show that everyone has
to try his best to puzzle his adversaries.
But this time Irwin appeared to have met his match in McGregor.
For the Captain replied calmly: "Six hundred and fifty. But I
advise you not to see me, Irwin."
"Seven hundred and fifty."
"Thousand!" shouted Irwin with resounding voice, and leant back in
his chair smiling, as if certain of victory.
"You had better consider what you are about," said McGregor. "I
have given you warning."
"A convenient way to haul in seven hundred and fifty rupees. I
repeat: A thousand rupees."
"One thousand and fifty!"
All the gentlemen present in the tent had risen and stood round the
two players, who, their cards concealed in their hands, watched
each other with sharp glances. Hermann Heideck, who had stepped
behind Irwin, noticed on the right hand of the Captain a
magnificent diamond ring. But he also perceived, by the way the
bright sparkle of the stone quivered, how the gambler's fingers
Captain McGregor turned to his companions. "I take the gentlemen
to witness that I have advised my comrade Irwin not to see me at
"To the devil with your advice!" Irwin interrupted almost
furiously. "Am I a boy? Will you see me at two thousand,
McGregor, or will you not?"
"Very well, since you insist upon it--three thousand."
"Five thousand five hundred."
One of the higher officers, Major Robertson, laid his hand lightly
upon the shoulder of the rash gambler.
"That is too much, Irwin. I do not care to interfere in these
things, and since you do not belong to my regiment, I can only
speak to you as a comrade, not as a superior. But I am afraid you
will be in difficulties if you lose."
Angrily the Captain fired up--
"What do you mean by that, sir? If your words are intended to
express a doubt as to my solvency--"
"Well! well--I did not mean to offend you. After all, you must
know best yourself what you are justified in doing."
Irwin repeated with a defiant air--
"Ten thousand! I am waiting for your answer, McGregor."
The adversary remained as calm as before.
"Ten thousand five hundred."
"Are you drunk, Irwin?" whispered the young Lieutenant Temple into
the Captain's ear, from the other side. But he only glanced round
with a furious look.
"Not more than you. Leave me alone, if you please."
"Twenty-one thousand," came the calm response from the other side
of the table.
A short, awkward pause followed. Captain Irwin nervously gnawed
his small dark moustache. Then he raised his slim figure and
Once more the Major considered it his duty to endeavour to stop the
"I object," he said. "It has been always a rule that the pool
cannot be raised by more than a thousand rupees at a time. This
limit has long since been passed."
A rude, hoarse laugh escaped Irwin's lips.
"It appears you want to save me, Major. But I am not in need of
any saviour. If I lose I pay, and I don't understand why the
gentlemen are so concerned on my behalf."
The Major, who at last saw that all his good endeavours were
misplaced, shrugged his shoulders. Lieutenant Temple, however,
thought he had a good idea, and with an apparently unintentional,
though violent, movement pushed against the light camp-table, and
sent ashtrays, bottles, glasses, and cards flying on the ground.
But he did not gain anything by this, for the two players held
their cards firmly in their hands, and did not allow this
contretemps to disturb their sangfroid for a single moment.
"Fifty-one," said McGregor.
"A lakh!" cried Irwin, who was now pale from excitement.
"Really?" asked McGregor calmly, "that is a fine bid. A lakh--that
is, reckoned at the present rate of exchange, 6,500 pounds sterling.
You will be a wealthy man, Irwin, if you win. Now, then, I see you."
With trembling fingers, but with a triumphant look, the Captain
laid down his cards.
"Straight flush," he said hoarsely.
"Yes, a strong hand," replied the other, smiling. "But which is
your highest card?"
"The king, as you see for yourself."
"That's a pity, for I have also, as it happens, a straight flush,
but mine is up to the ace."
Slowly, one after the other, he laid down his cards--ace of hearts,
king of hearts, queen of hearts, knave of hearts, ten of hearts.
One single exclamation of surprise came from the lips of the
bystanders. None of them had ever seen the coincidence of such an
Captain Irwin sat motionless for a moment, fixing his unsteady eyes
straight upon his adversary's cards. Then he suddenly sprang up
with a wild laugh, and left the tent with jingling steps.
"This loss spells ruin for Irwin," said the Major gravely. "He is
not in a position to pay such a sum."
"With his wife's assistance he could," chimed in another; "but it
would eat up pretty well the rest of her fortune."
"I call you, gentlemen, to witness that it is not my fault," said
McGregor, who thought he perceived a certain degree of reproach in
the faces of the bystanders; but all agreed with him.
Lieutenant Temple, who alone of all those present kept up a certain
superficial friendship with Irwin, remarked, "Somebody must go
after him to see that he does not do something foolish in his first
He turned as if to leave the room, but a call from McGregor stopped
"It will be no use, Temple, unless you are able to calm him in some
way or other. In my opinion there is only one thing to do. He
must be persuaded that the whole affair is only a joke, and that
the cards had been shuffled beforehand."
The Lieutenant went back to the table.
"The suggestion of this way of putting it does you honour, Captain;
only I have my doubts if any of us would have the courage to go to
him with this manifest lie."
The silence of the others appeared to confirm this doubt, when the
decisive voice of the German guest interrupted with--
"Will you entrust me, gentlemen, with this mission? I know Captain
Irwin only slightly, it is true, and should have no reason to
interfere with his private concerns; but I hear that it is his
wife's property which has been at stake here, and as I consider
Mrs. Irwin a very honourable lady I would gladly do my best to save
her from such a heavy pecuniary loss."
McGregor held out his hand.
"You would place me under a great obligation, Mr. Heideck, if you
could succeed in this matter, but I warn you that there is no time
Heideck quickly left the tent, but when he had come out into the
delicious moonlight night the first thing that met his eye was
Captain Irwin, some twenty yards distant, standing by his horse.
The servant held the animal by the bridle, and Captain Irwin was
about to mount. On coming nearer he saw the servant move off and
perceived that Irwin held a revolver in his hand. With a quick
motion he seized the officer's wrist.
"One moment, Captain Irwin."
Irwin started, turned round, and looked with fury at Heideck.
"I beg your pardon," said the German, "but you are labouring under
a mistake, Captain. The game was all a jest; they were playing a
trick upon you. The cards were arranged beforehand."
Irwin made no reply, but whistled to his servant and went back into
the tent, revolver still in hand, without a single word to Heideck.
Heideck followed. Both gentlemen stepped up to the card-table, and
Irwin turned to McGregor.
"You tell me the game was all a got-up thing, do you?" he asked.
"As a lesson to you, Irwin--you who always plunge as a madman, and
imagine yourself a good player, when you have not the necessary
cold blood for gambling."
"Well," said Irwin, "that is a story that I will take care goes the
round of all the garrisons in India, as an instance of kind
comrade-like feeling, so that everyone may be warned against coming
along here and being induced to take a hand. I never in my life
came across a more despicable story; but it certainly is a lesson
for me, that only honourable persons should be--"
"No, Captain Irwin," said McGregor, standing bolt upright,
levelling at his insulter a withering look from his great blue
eyes, "you should rather think of your poor wife, whom you would
have made a pauper if this game had not been all a hoax."
Irwin reeled back; the revolver fell from his grasp.
"What," he gasped--"what do you mean? It was, then, no joke,
after all. I, then, really lost the money? Oh, you--you-- But
what do you take me for? Be quite certain that I will pay. But,"
he cried, collecting himself, "I should like to know what the real
truth is, after all. I ask this question of you all, and call you
rogues and liars if you do not tell me the truth. Have I only
really been played with, or has the game been a straightforward
"Captain Irwin," replied the Major, advancing towards him, "I, as
the senior, tell you, in the name of our comrades, that your
behaviour would have been unpardonable unless a sort of madness had
seized you. The game was a straightforward one, and only the
generosity of Captain McGregor--"
Irwin did not wait for the conclusion of the sentence, but, with a
bound, was again outside the tent.
A RUSSIAN COMRADE
Hermann Heideck lived in a dak bungalow, one of those hotels kept
going by the Government, which afford travellers shelter, but
neither bed nor food. On returning home from the camp he found his
servant, Morar Gopal, standing at the door ready to receive his
master, and was informed that a newcomer had arrived with two
attendants. As this dak bungalow was more roomy than most of the
others, the new arrivals were able to find accommodation, and
Heideck was not obliged, as is usual, to make way as the earlier
guest for a later arrival.
"What countryman is the gentleman?" he inquired.
"An Englishman, sahib!"
Heideck entered his room and sat down at the table, upon which,
besides the two dim candles, stood a bottle of whisky, a few
bottles of soda-water and the inevitable box of cigarettes. He was
moody and in a bad humour. The exciting scene in the officers'
mess had affected him greatly, not on account of Captain Irwin,
who, from the first moment of their acquaintance, was quite
unsympathetic to him, but solely on account of the beautiful young
wife of the frivolous officer, of whom he had a lively recollection
from their repeated meetings in social circles. None of the other
officers' wives--and there were many beautiful and amiable women
among them--had made such a deep and abiding impression upon him as
Edith Irwin, whose personal charms had fascinated him as much as
her extraordinary intellectual powers had astonished him. The
reflection that this graceful creature was fettered with
indissoluble bonds to a brutal and dissolute fellow of Irwin's
stamp, and that her husband would perhaps one day drag her down
with him into inevitable ruin, awoke in him most painful feelings.
He would so gladly have done something for the unhappy wife. But
he was obliged to admit that there was no possibility for him, a
stranger, who was nothing to her but a superficial acquaintance, to
achieve anything in the way he most desired. The Captain would be
completely justified in rejecting every uncalled-for interference
with his affairs as a piece of monstrous impudence; and then, too,
in what way could he hope to be of any assistance?
A sudden noise in the next room aroused Heideck from his sad
reverie. He heard loud scolding and a clapping sound, as if blows
from a whip were falling upon a bare human body. A minute later
and the door between the rooms flew open and an Indian, dressed
only in cummerbund and turban, burst into the room, as if intending
to seek here protection from his tormentor. A tall European,
dressed entirely in white flannel, followed at the man's heels and
brought his riding-whip down mercilessly upon the naked back of the
howling wretch. Heideck's presence did not, evidently, disturb him
in the least.
At the first glance the young German perceived that his neighbour
could not be an Englishman, as his servant had told him he was.
His strikingly thin, finely-cut features, and his peculiarly oval,
black eyes and soft, dark beard betrayed much more the Sarmatic
than the characteristic Anglo-Saxon type.
The man's appearance did not make an unfavourable impression, but
he could not possibly overlook his behaviour. Stepping between him
and his victim he demanded, energetically, what this scene meant.
The other, laughing, let drop the arm which had been again raised
"I beg your pardon, sir," he said with a foreign accent, "a very
good boy, but he steals like a crow, and must have the whip
occasionally. I am sure that he has concealed somewhere about him
the five rupees which have been stolen from me again to-day." On
saying this, as if he considered this information quite sufficient
explanation, he again caught hold of the black fellow, and with a
single wrench tore the turban from his head. From the white, red-
bordered cloth a few pieces of silver fell and rolled jingling over
the tiles; and at the same time a larger object fell at Heideck's
feet. He picked it up and held in his hand a gold cigarette-case,
the lid of which was engraved with a prince's coronet. On handing
it to the stranger, the latter bowed his thanks and made his
apologies like a man of good breeding. The Indian the while took
the opportunity, in a few monkey-like bounds, to make good his
escape. The sight of the coat-of-arms on the cigarette-case
aroused in Heideck the desire to make nearer acquaintance with his
impetuous neighbour. As though he had quite forgotten the
extraordinary manner of his entrance into the room, he asked,
blandly, if he might invite his neighbour, whom accident had thus
thrust upon him, to a cigar and a "nightcap."
The other accepted the invitation with amiable alacrity. "You are
also a commercial traveller, sir?" inquired Heideck; and on
receiving an affirmative answer, continued, "we are then
colleagues. Are you satisfied with your results here?"
"Oh, things might be better. There is too much competition."
"No. Bronze goods and silk. Have brought some marvellous gold
ornaments from Delhi."
"Then probably your cigarette-case comes from Delhi also?" The
oval eyes of the other shot over him in an inquiring glance.
"My cigarette-case? No--are you travelling perhaps in skins,
colleague? Do you deal in Cashmir goats?"
"I have everything. My house trades in everything."
"You do not come from Calcutta?"
"No! not from Calcutta."
"Bad weather down there. All my leather is spoilt."
"Is it so damp there?"
"Vapour bath, I tell you; a real vapour bath!"
Heideck had long since made up his mind that he had a Russian
before him. But, in order to be quite on the safe side, he made a
jocular remark in Russian. His new acquaintance looked up
"You speak Russian, sir?"
"But you are no Russian?"
"No; I am a German, who, during a temporary stay in Russia, have
picked up a little knowledge of languages. We merchants go about a
The gentleman who, according to his statement, travelled in bronze
and silk was evidently delighted to hear in a place where he had
least expected it the familiar tones of his mother tongue, and
Heideck did his utmost, with almost an excess of zeal, to keep him
in good humour. He called his servant and bade him get some hot
"It's quite chilly to-night," he said, turning to his guest. "A
hot brandy-and-water is not to be despised."
"Ah," said the Russian, "stop a moment; better chuck the water away
and let something more palatable take its place."
He went into his room and returned immediately with a bottle of
sherry and two bottles of champagne.
"I will, with your permission, brew in this kettle a bowl in
Russian fashion. Sugar must go in too; for this champagne,
prepared for English taste, is too dry, and must be sweetened to
make it palatable for us." He poured the bottle of cognac, which
the servant had brought, together with the sherry into the
champagne and filled the glasses.
In German fashion the two gentlemen touched glasses. As they did
so, Heideck once more attentively observed his new acquaintance.
The lurking expression with which he felt that the eyes of the
other were fixed upon him made him start for a moment. What if the
Russian perhaps only had the same intention as himself, and only
wanted to make his tongue wag with the champagne? At all events,
he was now on his guard.
"May I ask you to try one of my Havannah cigars?" asked the Russian
in passing his cigar-case. "The Indian cigars are not bad and very
cheap. The Beaconsfield is my favourite brand. But now and then
one must smoke something else for a change."
Heideck accepted with thanks, and now began a fairly good booze, in
which the Russian set the example. He was, however, evidently not
so proof against the effects of the tasty and strong drink as was
the German. With each minute he became more loquacious, and soon
began to address his new friend as "Dear old chap," and to narrate
all manner of more or less compromising stories. He also, induced
by several adroit questions on the part of Heideck, began to prate
of his family affairs. He mocked at an old aunt of his, who was
wont to cover her hair with roses the better to conceal bald spots,
and added that this aunt was a great favourite at the Court of the
Tsar, on account of her incomparable gossiping stories. It
apparently never occurred to him that such intimate family
relations were a rather strange subject for conversation in a
In the course of his conversation he mentioned that not long before
he had been in China.
"We are too slow, dear chap, much too slow," he declared; "with
fifty thousand men we could take all that we want, and we ought to
have attacked those Japanese long since."
"Tell me, then," said Heideck, with apparent indifference, "how
strong really is the army of the Governor-General of Turkestan?"
The Russian looked up, but it was not because he was thinking what
answer to give; for, after having tossed off a glass of soda-water,
"If you want to live well, my dear fellow, you must go to
Manchuria. Salmon, I tell you--ah! and they cost next to nothing--
and pretty girls in abundance! You can buy furs, too, for next to
nothing at all. What costs in St. Petersburg ten thousand rubles,
you can get in China, up there in the north, for a hundred."
"Then of course you have brought some beautiful furs with you?"
"Furs in India? they would be eaten by the ants in a second. For
my own personal use, I have certainly brought one with me, which in
St. Petersburg would be worth, at the least, five thousand rubles.
I shall have use enough for it later on, in the mountains. You can
smell it a mile away, it has been pickled so well."
Again there was a short pause, and then after gazing intently at
his vis-a-vis, Heideck suddenly said--
"You are an officer?"
Without being able to collect himself the Russian stared into his
"Let us be candid with each other," he rejoined, after long
reflection. "You are also a soldier, sir?"
"I need not deny it in reply to a comrade. My name is Captain
Hermann Heideck of the Prussian General Staff."
The Russian rose and made a correct bow. "And my name is Prince
Fedor Andreievitch Tchajawadse, Captain in the Preobraschensky
regiment of the Guards."
They then once more touched glasses: "To ourselves as good
comrades" rang their mutual toast.
"Comrade, I will tell you something," said the Russian. "General
Ivanov is on the march towards the Indian frontier. The Tsar has
given up his theosophy; he intends to declare war upon England."
Heideck would have wished to learn more, but the Prince had
addressed himself to the good liquor somewhat more than his head
could stand, and he began to sing indecent French chansons, only to
pass of a sudden to melancholy Russian popular songs. In his
present condition it was impossible to think of continuing a
sensible conversation with him further.
Heideck already found himself somewhat perplexed what to do with
his intoxicated guest, when a new surprise was sprung upon him.
The door to the next room opened and a tall, handsome young fellow,
of at most eighteen years, appeared on the threshold.
He was garbed in a sort of fantastic page's dress, which in any
other country but that of rainbow-hued picturesque India would have
looked like that of a masquerader. The blue gold-embroidered
jacket was girded with a red silk scarf, and the loose red trousers
disappeared at the knees in patent leather topboots, the elegant
shape of which showed the contour of the smallest of feet. Thick
golden locks fell like waves almost down to the shoulders of the
boyish youth. The handsome oval face had the complexion of a
blushing rose; the great, blue eyes, however, showed the energy of
a strong will.
As soon as the Prince had set eyes on the young visitor, he stopped
"Ah! Georgi?" he stammered.
Without uttering a syllable, the page had advanced towards him, and
had quickly raised the intoxicated man from the chair. Prince
Tchajawadse flung his arm round the boy's shoulders, and without
bidding his German comrade as much as "good night," allowed himself
to be led away.
Heideck did not doubt for a moment that this slender page was a
girl in disguise. The splendid build and the strange expression of
untamed energy in the admirably regular features were the
unmistakable characteristics of the Circassian type. This so-
called Georgi could be none other but a child of the Caucasian
Mountains; and Tchajawadse also, as his name showed, was a scion of
those old Caucasian dynastic houses which in days of yore had
played a role in that mountain land, which Russia had so slowly,
and with such difficulty, finally subjugated.
THE CIRCASSIAN BEAUTY
Captain Heideck's statement that he travelled for a Hamburg firm
was not really an untruth. As a matter of fact he was engaged in
commercial undertakings, which served as a cloak for the real
object of his travels.
He had been commissioned by the chief of the General Staff to study
the Indian military organisation, and, in particular, the strategic
importance of the North-west frontier, and for this purpose
unlimited leave had been granted him.
But the General had expressly stated to him--
"You travel as a private gentleman, and should you come into
conflict with the English, we shall in no manner accept
responsibility for your actions and adventures. We furnish you
with a passport in your own name, but, of course, without denoting
your military rank. It is also a matter of course that we should
not fail to disclose it in case inquiries are addressed to us in
this regard. In a certain sense you may be said to travel at your
own risk. Your own tact must be your safest guide."
Hereupon Heideck entered into correspondence with his uncle, and
received from him the necessary letters of introduction to his
Indian agents. He reached the northern provinces by way of Bombay
and Allahabad, visiting on the way all the more important garrison
towns--Cawnpore, Lucknow, Delhi, and Lahore. After finishing his
business in Chanidigot, his intention was to proceed further north,
making his way to Afghanistan by way of the Khyber Pass. It was
purely with a view to this journey that he had wished to become
more intimate with the Russian. He was absolutely certain that the
Russian had received a commission from his Government similar to
his own, and certain hints that the Prince had let drop
strengthened his opinion that the latter intended to take the same
route as himself. Accordingly, it could only redound to the
advantage of the German officer if he joined his Russian comrade,
who would be in a position to procure him valuable introductions
when once on Russian territory.
When Heideck woke early the next morning the Prince's potent bowl
of the evening before made itself perceptible in various
disagreeable after effects; but the cold bath that Morar Gopal got
ready for him, added to a cup of tea, put him on his legs again.
It was an Indian morning of dazzling beauty into which he stepped.
February in the Indus Valley in 29 degrees longitude has a
temperature like that of May in Rome. In the hours of midday the
thermometer usually rises to 100 degrees Fahr.; but the evenings
are refreshingly cool, and the nights, with their damp fogs, even
Heideck made his toilet on this morning with special care, for he
had been invited to a conference with the Minister of the
Maharajah, in order to negotiate with him about some indigo
The Minister lived in a house on the outskirts of the town. It was
a one-story building, with broad airy verandahs, situate in the
middle of a large garden. When Heideck arrived, the staircase of
the entrance hall was occupied by a crowd of divers people waiting
to be received. But he, as a representative of the white race, was
saved the tiresome annoyance of waiting his turn. The porter,
dressed in white muslin, and adorned, as a sign of his office, with
a broad red scarf, conducted him at once into the Minister's study,
a room furnished in European style.
It was only in his outward appearance, namely, his colour and his
features, that the Minister looked like an Indian. Both dress and
manners were those of a Western diplomatist. Giving Heideck his
hand, he told him that His Highness himself wished to negotiate
with him about the indigo business.
"The price you intend to pay is exceedingly low," he whispered in a
tone of disapproval.
Heideck was evidently prepared for this objection.
"Your Excellency may be right in saying that the price offered is
lower than in former years; but it is still very high, if the
changes which have since occurred in the market values are taken
into consideration. In Germany a substitute has been found in
aniline, which is so cheap that within a measurable distance of
time no indigo whatever will be bought. If I may be permitted to
give His Highness any advice, I would recommend him in the future
to establish an industry instead of planting indigo."
"And which, may I ask, are you thinking of?"
"Oil mills and cotton mills would appear to me to be the most
profitable. You could with them meet both European and Japanese
An Indian servant came with a message, and the Minister invited
Heideck to drive with him to the Maharajah. They entered an open
carriage horsed by two quick Turkestan horses. The yellow
uniformed coachman, who had an extraordinary likeness to a dressed-
up monkey, clicked his tongue, and away they went through spacious
grounds to the palace, whose white marble walls soon gleamed
through the foliage of the palms and tamarinds.
During the short drive Heideck pondered on the innumerable battles
that had seethed over this ground, before English sovereignty had,
as it seemed, stopped for ever all religious struggles, all bloody
insurrections, and all the incursions of foreign conquerors. Here,
on this place, where Alexander the Great's invincible hosts had
fought and died, where Mohammedans and Hindoos, Afghans and
worshippers of the sun had fought their sanguinary conflicts, works
of peace had been established which would endure for generations to
come. It was a triumph of civilisation; and a student of India's
historical past could scarcely fail to be impressed by it.
The Maharajah of Chanidigot was, like the majority of his fellow-
countrymen, a believer in Islam, and the exterior view of his
palace at once betrayed the Mohammedan prince. Away from the main
building, but connected with it by a covered gallery, was a small
wing--the harem, the interior of which was sufficiently guarded
from prying eyes. Here, as in the adornment of the palace, the
most splendid lavishness had been employed. Heideck thought the
while with pity on the poor subjects of the Maharajah whose slavery
had to provide the means for all this meretricious luxury. The
Minister and his companion were not conducted into the large
audience hall, which was set apart for special functions, but into
a loggia on the first floor. Between the graceful marble pillars,
which supported it, one looked out into an inner court, which, with
exotic plants, afforded an enchanting spectacle. A gently
splashing fountain, springing from a marble basin in the centre,
cast up a fine spray as high as the loggia and dispersed a
The Minister left him waiting for a considerable time, but then
returned and gave him a mute sign to accompany him to the Prince.
The room in which the Maharajah received them was strangely
furnished, presenting to the eyes of a European a not altogether
happy combination of Eastern luxury and English style. Among
splendid carpets and precious weapons, with which the walls were
adorned, there hung glaring pictures of truly barbaric taste--such
as in Germany would hardly be met with in the house of a fairly
well-to-do citizen. Similar incongruities there were many, and
perhaps the appearance of the Prince himself was the most
incongruous of them all. For this stalwart man with the soft black
beard and penetrating eyes, who in the picturesque attire of his
country would doubtless have been a handsome and imposing figure,
made an inharmonious impression in his grey English suit and with
the red turban on his head.
He sat in an English club chair, covered with red Russia leather
and gently inclined his head in response to Heideck's deep bow.
It did not escape the notice of the German officer that the
Maharajah looked extremely annoyed, and Heideck concluded that it
was the low price he had offered for his indigo which had made him
so. But the first words of the Prince reassured him. "As I
learn," he said in somewhat broken English, "you are in fact a
European, but no Englishman, and so I hope to hear the truth from
you. I am quite ready to reward you for your information."
"I am accustomed to speak the truth, even without reward,
The Maharajah measured him with a mistrustful look. "I am a true
friend of England," he continued after a short hesitation, "and am
on the best of terms with the Viceroy; but things are now happening
which I cannot possibly understand. This very morning I received a
message from Calcutta, which absolutely astonished me. The Indian
Government intends to mass an army corps at Quetta, and calls upon
me to despatch thither a contingent of a thousand infantry, five
hundred cavalry, a battery, and two thousand camels. Can you tell
me, sir, what makes England mass such a large force at Quetta?"
"It will only be a precautionary measure, Highness! perhaps
disturbances have broken out again in Afghanistan."
"Disturbances in Afghanistan, do you say? Then Russia must have a
hand in it. Can you perhaps give me more definite information?"
Heideck had to express his inability to do so, and the Maharajah,
who did not conceal his vexation, began to open his heart to the
stranger in a rather imprudent way.
"I am a faithful friend of the English, but the burden they lay
upon us is becoming every day more intolerable. If England is bent
upon war, why should we sacrifice our blood and treasure upon it?
Do we not know full well what powerful foes England has? You do
not belong to this nation, as my Minister informed me; you are in a
position, therefore, to instruct me about these matters. It is
true I have been in Europe, but I was not permitted to go beyond
London, whither I had proceeded to congratulate the late Queen on
her birthday. I have seen nothing but many, many ships and a
gigantic dirty town. Are there not in Europe strong and powerful
states hostile to England?"
Such questions were disagreeable for Heideck to answer, and he
therefore preferred to avoid giving a definite reply.
"I have been in India for nearly a year," he replied, "and know
about such political matters only what the India Times and other
English newspapers report. Of course, there is always a certain
rivalry among the European great Powers, and England has, during
the past few decades, become so great that she cannot fail to have
enemies; but on this point, as also on that of the present
political situation, I do not venture to express an opinion."
The Maharajah gloomily shook his head.
"Transact the business with this gentleman in the way you think
best," he said, turning abruptly to his Minister, a wave of the
hand at the same time denoting to the young German that the
audience was at an end.
As Heideck again stepped into the loggia he saw Captain Irwin
appear at the entrance door in company with an official of the
Court. The British officer started on perceiving the man who
passed for a commercial traveller. He cast at him a malicious
look, and an almost inimical reserve lay in the manner with which
he returned Heideck's salutation. The latter took little notice,
and slowly wended his way through the extensive park, in whose
magnificent old trees monkeys were disporting themselves. The
Maharajah's communication to him as to the English orders which he
had received, taken in conjunction with General Ivanov's advance,
entirely preoccupied him. After this he was no longer in doubt
that serious military events were impending, or were even then in
full swing. Quetta, in Beluchistan, lying directly on the Afghan
frontier, was the gate of the line of march towards Kandahar; and
if England was summoning the Indian princes to its aid the
situation could be none other than critical. War had certainly not
yet been declared, but Heideck's mission might, under the
circumstances, suddenly acquire a peculiar importance, and it was,
at all events, impossible to make at this moment any definite plans
for the immediate future.
The walk to his bungalow in the immediate vicinity of the English
camp took perhaps an hour, and was sufficient to give him a keen
appetite. He was not, therefore, at all disappointed to find his
Russian comrade sitting at breakfast in a shady spot before the
door of the hotel, and, heartily returning his salutation, he lost
no time in seating himself at the table. Prince Tchajawadse looked
pale, and applied himself to soda-water, which, contrary to all
established usage, he drank without the slightest admixture of
whisky. The appetising dish of eggs and bacon was standing
untouched before him, and he smiled rather sadly when he saw what
an inroad his guest made upon it.
They had hardly exchanged a few commonplace words when two Indian
girls made their appearance, offering all sorts of nicknacks for
sale. The younger, whose bare breast glowed like bronze, was of
marvellous beauty, even the paint on her face could not destroy the
natural grace of her fine features. Yet, beautiful as she was, she
was as great a coquette. She had evidently determined to make an
impression on the Russian. Stepping behind his chair, she held her
glittering little wares before his face. Her manner became more
and more intimate. At length she slipped a golden bracelet on her
slender brown wrist and bent, in order that he should notice it, so
far over his shoulder that her glowing young breast touched his
Prince Tchajawadse was of too passionate a temperament to long
resist such a temptation. His eyes flashed, and with a rapid
movement he turned round and embraced the girl's lithe body with
A stop was put to further familiarities, however, for this little
adventure, which was very distasteful to Heideck, was suddenly
Without being perceived by those sitting at the table, the handsome
young page of the Prince had stepped from the door of the bungalow
with a plate of bananas and mangoes in his hand. For a few seconds
he regarded with flashing eyes the scene just described, and then,
stealing nearer with noiseless steps, flung, without saying a word,
the plate with the fruit with such vigour and unerring aim at the
dark beauty, that the girl, with a loud cry, clasped her hand upon
her wounded shoulder, while the fragments of china fell clattering
to the ground.
The next moment she and her companion had disappeared in hurried
flight. The Prince's face was livid with rage; he sprang up and
seized the riding-whip which lay near him.
Heideck was on the point of intervening in order to save the
disguised girl from a similar punishment to that which his new
friend had meted out the day before to his Indian "boy," but he
soon saw that his intervention was unnecessary.
Standing bolt upright and with an almost disdainful quiver of his
fair lips, the young page stepped straight up to the Prince. A
half-loud hissing word, the meaning of which Heideck did not
understand, must have suddenly pacified the wrath of the Russian,
for he let his upraised arm fall and threw the whip on to the
"Go and fetch us another plate of dessert, Georgi," he said
quietly, as if nothing had happened. "It's a confounded nuisance,
that these Indian vagabonds don't allow one a moment's peace."
A triumphant smile played across the face of the Circassian beauty.
She threw a friendly glance at Heideck and silently returned to the
bungalow. Full of admiration and not without a slight emotion of
envy for the happy possessor of such an entrancing female beauty,
Heideck followed her with his eyes, as she tripped gracefully away
with her lithe graceful figure. A remark was just on the point of
passing his lips, acquainting the Prince that he had discovered the
certainly very transparent secret of his disguised lady companion,
when he was prevented doing so by a fresh incident.
An English soldier in orderly's uniform stepped up to the table and
handed Heideck, whom he must have known by sight, with a military
salute, a letter.
"From the Colonel," he said, "and I am ordered to say that the
matter is urgent."
With surprise, Heideck took the missive. It contained in polite,
but yet somewhat decided terms, a request that Herr Hermann Heideck
would favour him with a visit as soon as possible. This,
considering the high official position that Colonel Baird occupied
in Chanidigot, was tantamount to a command, which he was bound to
obey without delay or further excuse.
Baird was the commander-in-chief of the detachment stationed in
Chanidigot, consisting of an infantry regiment, about six hundred
strong, a lancer regiment of two hundred and forty sabres, and a
battery of field artillery. As in all the other residences of the
great Indian chiefs, the British Government had stationed here also
a military force, strong enough to keep the Maharajah in respect
and to nip all seeds of insurrection in the bud. As Colonel Baird,
moreover, occupied the position of Resident at the Court of the
Prince, and thus combined all the military and diplomatic power in
his own person, he had come to be regarded as the real lord and
master in Chanidigot.
His bungalow was in the centre of the camp, which lay in the middle
of a broad grassy plain. It consisted of a group of buildings
which surrounded a quadrangular courtyard, adorned with exotics and
a splashing fountain.
As it appeared, he had given orders that Heideck was to be admitted
immediately on arrival; for the adjutant, to whom he had announced
himself, conducted him at once into the study of his superior
Quite politely, though with a frigidity that contrasted with his
former behaviour towards the popular guest of the officers' mess,
the fine man, with his martial carriage, thanked him for his prompt
"Please be seated, Mr. Heideck," he began. "I have been very
unwilling to disturb you, but I could not spare you this trouble.
I have received the intelligence that you were received by the
Maharajah this morning."
"It is true. I had to talk to him about some business; I am on the
point of purchasing from him a large consignment of indigo for my
"I have, of course, nothing to do with your business; but I must
inform you that we do not approve of direct communication between
Europeans and the native princes. You will, therefore, for the
future, be best advised to communicate with me when you are
summoned to the Maharajah, so that we may arrive at an
understanding as to what you may, or may not, say to him. We
cannot, unfortunately, trust all the Indian princes, and this one
here is, perhaps, the most unreliable of them all. You must not,
however, regard what I say to you as an expression of any want of
confidence in yourself. The responsibility of my position imposes
upon me, as you see, the greatest possible prudence."
"I understand that completely, Colonel!"
"At this very moment the situation appears to be more than ever
complicated. I shall be very much surprised, if we are not on the
eve of very disquieting times. The Governor-General of Turkestan
is marching this way, and his advance guard has already passed the
Heideck had difficulty in concealing the excitement, which this
confirmation of Tchajawadse's story aroused in him.
"Is that certain, Colonel? What do the Russians want in
"What do the Russians want there? Now, my dear Mr. Heideck, I
think that is plain enough. Their advance means war with us.
Russia will, of course, not openly allow this at present. They
treat their advance as a matter which only concerns the Emir and
with which we have nothing to do. But one must be very simple not
to discern their real intentions."
"And may I ask, Colonel, what you are thinking of doing?"
Colonel Baird must really have held the young German for a very
trustworthy or, at least, for a very harmless personage, for he
replied to his question at once--
"The Russian advance guard has crossed the Amu Darya and is
marching up the Murghab Valley upon Herat. We shall take our
measures accordingly. The Muscovites will have been deceived in
us. We are not, after all, so patient and long-suffering as to let
our dear neighbours slip in by the open door. I think the Russian
generals will pull long faces when they suddenly find themselves
confronted in Afghanistan by our battalions, by our Sikhs and
The adjutant made his appearance with what was evidently an
important message, and as Heideck perceived that the Colonel wished
to speak privately to his orderly officer, he considered that
politeness required him to retire.
The words of the Colonel, "The Russian advance into Afghanistan
means war," rung unceasingly in his ears. He thanked his good
fortune for having brought him at the right moment to the theatre
of the great events in the world's history, and all his thoughts
were now solely directed as to the "where and how" of his being
able, on the outbreak of hostilities, to be present both as
spectator and observer.
That his Russian friend was animated by the same desire he could
all the easier surmise, owing to the fact that Prince Tchajawadse
belonged, of course, to one of the nations immediately concerned.
He hastened, therefore, to acquaint him with the results of his
interview with Colonel Baird. The effect of his communications
upon the Prince was quite as he had anticipated.
"So, really! The advance guard is already across the Amu Darya.
War will, then, break out just in the proper quarter," exclaimed
the Russian in a loud outburst of joy. "In our army the fear
prevailed that the Tsar would never brace himself up to the
decision to make war. Powerful and irresistible influences must
have been at work to have finally conquered his love of peace."
"You will, of course, get to the army as soon as possible?"
inquired Heideck; and as the Prince answered in the affirmative, he
continued: "I should be grateful to you if you would allow me to
join you. But how shall we get across the frontier? It is to be
hoped that we shall be allowed to pass quietly as unsuspected
"That is not quite so certain; we shall probably not be able to
leave India quite as readily as we entered it; but, at any rate, we
must try our best. We can reach Peshawar by rail in twelve hours
and Quetta in fifteen. Both these lines of railway are not likely
at present to be blocked by military trains, but we shall do well
to hasten our departure. In all probability we shall, either by
way of Peshawar or Quetta, soon meet with Russian troops, for I
have no doubt that a Russian army corps is also on the march upon
Cabul, although the Colonel, as you say, only spoke of an advance
guard moving on Herat."
"I would suggest that we go by way of Peshawar and the Khyber Pass,
because we should thus reach Cabul most speedily and with the
"We will talk more of this anon, comrade! At all events, it is
settled that we travel together. I hope most fervently that in the
great theatre of the world your nation is at this present moment
standing shoulder to shoulder with mine against England."
THE CAPTAIN'S WIFE
As a married man, Captain Irwin was not quartered in one of the
wooden barracks of the English camp, but had his own bungalow in
It was a house of one story with a broad verandah, was surrounded
by a large well-kept garden, and formerly served a high official of
the Maharajah as a residence. Apart from it lay two smaller
buildings used as servants' quarters, of which, however, only one
was at present in use.
The sun of that same day, that had brought Hermann Heideck face to
face with such momentous matters affecting his future for his final
decision, was sinking rapidly into the heavens as he passed through
the cactus hedge and bamboo thicket of the garden surrounding
He was attired in an evening dress of the lightest black cloth,
such as is prescribed by English custom for a visit paid at the
dinner-hour in those climes.
He did not come that evening of his own initiative, for Irwin's
morning salutation did not promise anything in the way of an
invitation. A letter from Mrs. Irwin had, to his surprise, begged
his company at this hour. He had gathered from the tone of the
letter that something especially urgent required his presence, and
he was not slow in supposing that the reason was the unfortunate
party at poker in which the Captain had taken part.
What, however, could have induced Mrs. Irwin to appeal to him was
still an enigma, for his relations to the beautiful young wife had
until then not been of a confidential nature. He had met her on
several occasions in big society functions, at the officers' polo-
parties, and at similar gatherings, and if, attracted by her grace
and intellect, he had perhaps paid more attention to the Captain's
wife than to any of the other ladies of the party, their relations
had been strictly confined within conventional limits, and it would
never have occurred to him to imagine himself specially favoured by
The dainty Indian handmaid of the lady received him and conducted
him to the verandah. Mrs. Irwin, who, dressed in red silk, had
been seated in a rocking-chair, advanced a few steps to meet him.
Once more Irwin felt himself enchanted by the charm of her
She was a genuine English beauty of tall and splendid proportions,
finely chiselled features, and that white transparent skin which
lends to Albion's daughters their distinctive charm. Abundant dark
brown hair clustered in thick, natural folds round the broad
forehead, and her blue eyes had the clear, calm gaze of a
personality at once intelligent and strong-minded.
At this moment the young wife, whom Heideck had hitherto only known
as the placid and unemotional lady of the world, certainly seemed
to labour under some excitement, which she could not completely
conceal. There was something of embarrassment in the manner with
which she received her visitor.
"I am exceedingly obliged to you for coming, Mr. Heideck. My
invitation will have surprised you, but I did not know what else to
do. Please let us go into the drawing-room; it is getting very
Heideck did not notice anything of the chilliness of which she
complained, but he thought he understood that it was only the fear
of eavesdropping that prompted the wish of the young wife. As a
matter of fact, she closed the glass door behind him, and motioned
him to be seated in one of the large cane chairs before her.
"Captain Irwin is not at home," she began, evidently struggling
with severe embarrassment. "He has ridden off to inspect his
squadron, and will not be home, as he told me, before daybreak."
Heideck did not quite understand why she told him this. Had he
been a flirt, convinced of his own irresistibility, he would
perhaps have found in her words a very transparent encouragement;
but he was far from discerning any such meaning in Edith's words.
The respect in which he had held this beautiful young wife, since
the first moment of their acquaintance, sufficiently protected her
from any such dishonourable suspicions. That she had bidden him
there at a time when she must know that their conversation would
not be disturbed by the presence of her husband, must assuredly
have had other reasons than the mere desire for an adventure.
And as he saw her sitting before him, with a look of deep distress
on her face, there arose in his heart no other than the honest wish
to be able to do this poor creature, who was evidently most
unhappy, some chivalrous service.
But he had not the courage to suggest anything of the sort before
she had given him in an unequivocal way a right to do so. Hence it
was that he waited in silence for anything further that she might
wish to say. And there was a fairly long and somewhat painful
pause before Mrs. Irwin, evidently collecting all her courage, went
on: "You witnessed the scene that took place last evening in the
officers' mess between my husband and Captain McGregor? If I have
been rightly informed, I owe it solely to you that my husband did
not, in the excitement of the moment, lay hand on himself."
Heideck turned modestly away.
"I did absolutely nothing to give me any claim to your gratitude,
Mrs. Irwin, and I do not really believe that your husband would
have so far forgot himself as to commit such a silly and desperate
deed. At the last moment, a thought of you would certainly have
restrained him from taking such a step."
He was surprised at the expression of disdain which the face of the
young wife assumed as he said this, and at the hard ring in her
voice, when she replied--
"Thoughts of me? No! how little you know my husband. He is not
wont to make the smallest sacrifice for me, and, maybe, his
voluntary death would not, after all, be the worst misery he is
capable of inflicting on me."
She saw the look of utter surprise in his eyes, and therefore
"You will, I know, consider me the most heartless woman in the
world because I can talk to a stranger like this; but is not in
your country loss of honour regarded as worse than death?"
"Under certain circumstances--yes; but your husband's position is
not, I hope, to be viewed in this tragic light. Judging from the
impression that Captain McGregor's personality has made upon me, I
should say that he is not the man to drive Mr. Irwin to take an
extreme course on account of a recklessly incurred debt at cards."
"Oh no! you judge of that honourable man quite correctly. He would
be best pleased to forego the whole amount, and with the intention
of bringing about such an arrangement he called here this
afternoon. But the foolish pride and unbounded vanity of Irwin
brought all his good intentions to naught. The result of
McGregor's well-meant endeavours was only a violent scene, which
made matters a thousand times worse. My husband is determined to
pay his debt at any price."
"And--pardon me the indiscreet question--is he capable of doing
"If he uses my fortune for the purpose--certainly! and I have at
once placed it at his disposal; and I further told him that he
could take everything, even the last penny, if this sacrifice on my
part would suffice to get rid of him for ever."
Heideck could scarcely believe his ears. He was prepared for
anything on earth except to hear such confessions. He began to
doubt this woman, who hitherto had seemed to him to be the paragon
of all feminine virtues, and he sought an opportunity of escaping
from further confessions of the kind, which, as he told himself,
she would repent of in the course of an hour or so.
"Nobody can expect of you, Mrs. Irwin, that for a criminal
recklessness, a hasty action on the part of your husband, who was
probably deep in his cups, you should make such a tremendous
sacrifice; but, as you have now done me the honour to consult me on
these matters, it is perhaps not unbecoming on my part if I tell
you that your husband should, in my opinion, be forced to bear the
consequences of his action. You need not be at all apprehensive
that these consequences will be very serious. McGregor will
certainly not press him; and as we seem to be on the threshold of a
war, his superior officers are not likely to be too severe upon him
in this matter. He will, perhaps, either find an opportunity to
rehabilitate his compromised honour or will find his death on the
battlefield. Within a few weeks, or months, all these matters
which at present cause you so much trouble will present quite a
"You are very kind, Mr. Heideck, and I thank you for your friendly
intentions; but I would not have invited you here at this unusual
hour had it been solely my intention to enlist your kind sympathy.
I am in a most deplorable plight--doubly so, because there is no
one here to whom I can turn for advice and assistance. That in my
despair I thought of you has, no doubt, greatly surprised you; and
now I can myself hardly understand how I could have presumed to
trouble you with my worries."
"If you would only, Mrs. Irwin, show me how I can be of service to
you, I would pray you to make any use you will of me. I am
absolutely and entirely at your disposal, and your confidence would
make me exceedingly happy."
"As a gentleman, you could not, of course, give any other answer.
But, in your heart of hearts, you probably consider my conduct both
unwomanly and unbecoming, for it is true that we hardly know each
other. Over in England, and certainly in your German fatherland
quite as well, such casual meetings as ours have been could not
possibly give me the right to treat you as a friend, and I do not
really know how far you are influenced by these European
"In Germany, as in England, every defenceless and unhappy woman
would have an immediate claim upon my assistance," he seriously
replied. "If you give me the preference over your friends here, I,
on my part, have only to be grateful, and need not inquire further
into your motives."
"But, of course, I will tell you what my motives are. My friends
in this place are naturally my husband's comrades, and I cannot
turn to them if I do not intend to sign Irwin's death warrant. Not
a single man amongst them would allow that a man of my husband's
stamp should remain an hour longer a member of the corps of
officers in the British Army."
"I do not quite understand you, Mrs. Irwin. The gambling debt of
your husband is, after all, no longer a secret to his comrades."
"That is not the point. How do you judge of a man who would sell
his wife to pay his gambling debts?"
This last sentence struck Heideck like a blow. With dilated eyes
he stared at the young wife who had launched such a terrible
indictment against her husband. Never had she looked to him so
charming as in this moment, when a sensation of womanly shame had
suffused her pale cheeks with a crimson blush. Never had he felt
with such clearness what a precious treasure this charming creature
would be to a man to whom she gave herself in love for his very
own; and the less he doubted that she had just spoken the simple
truth, the more did his heart rise in passionate wrath at the
miserable reptile who was abandoned enough to drag this precious
pearl in the mire.
"I do not presume to connect your question with Captain Irwin,"
said Heideck, in a perceptibly tremulous voice, "for if he were
really capable of doing so--"
Edith interrupted him, pointing to a small case that lay on the
little table beside her.
"Would you kindly just look at this ring, Mr. Heideck?"
He did as he was asked, and thought he recognised the beautiful
diamond ring that he had yesterday seen sparkling on Irwin's
finger. He asked whether it was so, and the young wife nodded
"I gave it to my husband on our wedding-day. The ring is an
heirloom in my family. Jewellers value it at more than a thousand
"And why, may I ask, does your husband no longer wear it?"
"Because he intends to sell it. Of course, the Maharajah is the
only person who can afford the luxury of such articles, and my
husband wishes me to conclude the bargain with the Prince."
"You, Mrs. Irwin? And why, pray, does he not do it himself?"
"Because the Maharajah will not pay him the price he demands. My
husband will not let the ring go under two lakhs."
"But that is a tremendous sum! That would be paying for it twelve
"My husband is, all the same, certain that the bargain would come
off quite easily, provided I personally negotiated it."
It was impossible to misunderstand the meaning of these words, and
so great was the indignation they awoke in Heideck, that he sprang
up in a bound from his chair.
"No! that is impossible--it cannot be! He cannot possibly have
suggested that! You must have misunderstood him. No man, no
officer, no gentleman, could ever be guilty of such a low, mean
"You would be less surprised if you had had the opportunity to know
him, as I have had, during the short time of our wedded life.
There is practically no act or deed of his that would surprise me
now. He has long since ceased to love me; and a wife, whose person
has become indifferent to him, has, in his eyes, only a marketable
value. It may be that some excuse can even be found for his way of
regarding things. It is, possibly, an atavistic relapse into the
views of his ancestors, who, when they were sick of their wives,
led them with a halter round their necks into the marketplace and
sold them to the highest bidder. They say it is not so long ago
that this pretty custom has gone out of vogue."
"No more, Mrs. Irwin," Heideck broke in; "I cannot bear to hear you
speak like that. I must say that I still consider the Captain to
have been out of his mind when he dared to expect such a thing of
The young wife shook her head with a severe quiver of the lips.
"Oh no! he was neither intoxicated nor especially excited when he
asked me to do him this 'LITTLE' kindness; he probably considered
that I ought to feel myself intensely flattered that His Indian
Highness thought my insignificant person worth such a large price.
I have certainly for some time past been quite conscious of the
fact that, quite unwittingly, I have attracted the notice of the
Maharajah. Immediately after our first meeting he began to annoy
me with his attentions. I never took any notice, and never, for
one moment, dreamt of the possibility that his--his--what shall I
call it--his admiration could rise to criminal desires; but, after
what I have experienced to-day, I cannot help believing that it is
"But this monstrosity, Mrs. Irwin, will be past and gone as soon as
you indignantly repudiate the suggestion of your abandoned
"Between him and me--yes, that is true. But I am not at all