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THE DAUGHTER OF BRAHMA
I. A. R. WYLIE
THE NATIVE BORN, DIVIDING WATERS
THE GERMANS. ETC.
THE BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY
Copyright, I. A. R. Wylie, 1912
Printed and Bound, February, 1913
BRAUNWOBTH & CO.
BOOKBINDERS AND PRINTERa
BROOKLYN, N. Y.
CONTENTS ^^f^^ - ^ i
BOOK I /^if'^
CHAPTER * PAGE
I Under the Curse 1
II In Which the Judge Hears Unpleasant Things . 11
III The Spartan's Son 27
IV In the Buried Temple 40
V Mr. Eliot Proves Himself a Judge of Character 59
I After Twelve Years 7i
II The Proselyte 90
III Fate Decides 104
IV Sarasvati 120
V Two People Interfere 137
VI The Awakening 149
VII Mrs. Chichester's Ball Suffers an Interruption 163
VIII The Rights of Freedom 180
I Diana Decides 203
II David's Wife 214
III An Intruder ........ 222
IV Diana to the Rescue 239
V Paying the Price 253
VI Rama Pal 271
VII The Goal Passed 278
I The Sappers 301
II The Parting of the Ways 310
III Betrayed 323
IV The Choice 335
V In Pursuit . . â¢â 346
VI In Which History Threatens to Repeat Itself . 357
Vll Harvest 371
VIII The Daughter of Brahma 380
THE DAUGHTER OF BRAHMA
THE DAUGHTER OF
UNDER THE CURSE
"X/OU have read enough," Mrs. Hurst said. "I am
A tired, and the hght troubles me. Put it out â it will
seem cooler in the darkness,"
"Very well â or shall I screen it? Then if you should
want anything â "
Mrs. Hurst turned a little and measured her companion
from head to foot.
"You are afraid," she said, a faint note of amusement
creeping into her tired voice. "I wonder why. Do you
expect that a cobra will take the opportunity to do away
with you or that there is a thug under the bed? Pray
look and see. You will perhaps feel easier in your mind."
The English nurse bit her lip.
"I am not afraid, Mrs. Hurst," she said resentfully. "I
only thought it would be more convenient. But of
course â "
She made a movement as though to turn out the small
2 THE DAUGHTER OF BRAHMA
lamp which stood by the bedside, but her mistress
stretched out a detaining hand.
"Wait!" she said. "I thought I heard something â â¢
horses' hoofs â Hsten !"
The invahd had hfted herself on her elbow, her head
raised in an attitude of tense concentration, her brows
contracted with the effort. The nurse turned toward the
open window â sharply, as one expecting a sudden attack.
"It was nothing," she said in a dry voice. "I heard
Mrs. Hurst smiled. She let herself sink back and her
hair hung about her face like a black curtain.
"He will be here in five minutes," she said decidedly.
"You have not learned to distinguish sounds." Then
she raised her tired eyes again to the nurse's face. "Why
are you so afraid ?" she asked.
Nurse Campden shrugged her shoulders. The move-
ment was rude and in her own coutnry she had been noted
for the suavity of her manners. But her nerve was gone
and the offspring of a cheap London suburb broke
through the hard layer of acquired polish. She looked
back fearfully at the window.
"I should think there was cause enough, Mrs. Hurst,"
she said almost in a whisper. "Last week a house was
broken into and the owner murdered. And only yester-
day poor Mr. Harris â who knows whose turn it will be
The smile deepened about Mrs. Hurst's firm mouth.
"You have been listening to the ayahs," she said.
"There is nothing to fear" â a subtle change of expres-
sion passed over her young face which seemed to make
UNDER THE CURSE 3
it old and hard â "and if there were, we should not be
afraid," she finished quietly.
Nurse Campden said nothing. She was gazing about
â her with wide-open straining eyes, trying to penetrate
the shadows that shifted noiselessly in the farthest cor-
ners of the room. The silence oppressed her. While
she had read aloud, her own voice, breaking in upon the
absolute hush, had sounded strangely threatening, but
this silence was more terrible. It was full of inaudible
movement. If she looked toward the open window she
knew that every now and again something white would
flit across the darkness. It should have comforted, but
instead it added to her terror. She knew that it was
one of the commissioner's levies on his way round the
compound, but he, too, seemed unreal, a ghostly intan-
gible something which was all part of the shadows and
movements. She tried to concentrate her attention on
familiar objects. Everything was in its place. The
silver ornaments blinked at her from the dressing-table;
close at hand a small pile of white delicate linen lay in
readiness ; a general atmosphere of refinement, almost of
luxury, pervaded the low-built room. On the surface
â quiet; and beneath, the constant noiseless activity.
Nurse Campden had little imagination, but she heard it.
Suddenly she cried out with that sharpness v/liich be-
tokens long self-repression. Mrs. Hurst turned her head.
"Who is there ?" she asked quietly.
The curtains hanging over the doorway parted. A
woman's dark face peered through the opening.
"Tea for the Mem-Sahibâ Mem-Sahib like tea ?"
"It is well, Sita. Bring it here. I am thirsty."
4 THE DAUGHTER OF BRAHMA
Nurse Campden drew back. The native woman
glided over the uncarpeted floor and placed the tray on
the table by the bedside. There was a soft musical jingle
of silver ornaments.
"Pour out for Mem-Sahib?"
"Yes, pour out."
The brown shapely hands performed their task. Nurse
Campden watched them and her trembling lips were
drawn back in uncontrollable abhorrence. The ayah
caught the expression and for an instant her eyes nar-
rowed, then flashed back to the pale face against the
"Mem-Sahib better soon â little Sahib come," she said
softly, and withdrew, the curtains falling with a faint
rustle behind her.
Nurse Campden shuddered.
"I hate these black creatures," she said unsteadily.
"They frighten me to death with their stealthy ways.
You have nerve, too, Mrs. Hurst â and you so young,
"My grandfather was one of the men who made India,"
was the quiet, almost indifferent answer. "My father
was born out here and is buried in Lucknow. My son
will be born and will die out here as I shall do. It is
in the blood." Then with a swift yet smooth movement
she drew herself upright and held out her arms. "Wal-
ter !" she said joyfully.
The man who had been standing hesitating on the
threshold of the room came quickly forward. The move-
ments of the slight agile figure seemed to betoken youth,
yet as he removed his pith helmet the pale light revealed
UNDER THE CURSE 5
the face of a man who had seen more than youth recks
of â anxiety, responsibility, perhaps fear. He bent over
her and touched her hand.
"I was afraid of startling you," he said in a low voice,
"but I had to have a look in and see how you were get-
ting on. Are you all right ?"
"Yes, yes, quite all right. You have had news ?"
"Lai Pandra has confessed. There is to be a big meet-
ing to-night at some place outside the village. He is to
act as guide. All the ringleaders will be there â among
them the Chitpaven Brahman, Nana Balagi. That is proof
enough that there is more in it all than mere dacoity. It
will be a big haul for us â if we are successful."
"There will be no danger?"
"I hope to get off with a few priestly curses,"
"Is Lai Pandra to be trusted?"
"That's what none of us knows. I am taking thirty
Sikhs with me."
They looked at each other steadily. Mrs. Hurst had
sunk back again, but her eyes had never left her hus-
"Is there any chance â that you will be back in time?"
Hurst glanced at the nurse.
"In three or four hours â if all goes well."
Nurse Campden nodded. She had recovered some-
thing of her self-possession.
"We can expect no change before then," she said.
"And if things don't go well ?"
He held out his thin brown hand and his wife took it
and pressed it.
6 THE DAUGHTER OF BRAHMA
"In that case, there isn't much to be said. I should like
him to be called David â after your grandfather, you
know. It would be a good omen. There are no famous
names on my side."
She smiled faintly.
"There is yours."
"I am one of hundreds."
"Not after to-night. And supposing it isn't a 'he' ?"
"We've both made so sure, haven't we? Well, I leave
it to you. Anyhow, you will act for the best. Good-by,
He bent and kissed her and she put her arms round
his neck and drew him close to her. A sudden exclama-
tion broke from him.
But she pushed him gently away.
"You must lose no time," she said. "Come back with
He nodded, his eyes shining at her from under the
"You're splendid !" he said. "Jean â you're more made
for this sort of thing than I am."
"That's not true." There was a vague impatience in
her tone. "You ought not to have bothered about me.
A wife is always a nuisance. Good-by."
"Good-by, Jean !"
He made no attempt to kiss her again, but went to the
window. Nurse Campden followed him. His back was
turned to the light, but in the part darkness she saw
UNDER THE CURSE 7
enough of his face to startle even her blunted susceptibili-
ties. The rigid stoicism was gone. His fine, almost too
delicate features were working as though in an agony;
the perspiration stood out in great beads on his forehead.
"Mr. Hurst," she said in a rapid undertone, "couldn't
you get some one to take your place ? I feel it my duty
to tell you that it would be better if you did not leave the
house to-night. Any excitement or agitation might have
serious results for your wife â or the child."
He looked at her. The mask had sHpped back instantly
to its place.
"I have spoken to my wife," he said. "She perfectly
understands. She will be neither agitated nor excited. I
leave her in good hands. Good night !"
He went down the two steps which led into the com-
pound. Once Nurse Campden fancied he hesitated and
looked back at the lighted room, but she could not be
sure and the next instant the darkness had engulfed him.
In the absolute quiet the two women could hear the
sentry's challenge, the answer, a word of command and
then the steady tramp of marching feet on the highroad.
Nurse Campden shivered and came back from the win-
"You must not allow yourself to be frightened, Mrs.
Hurst," she said with a weak attempt at professionalism.
"You must think of your responsibility."
Mrs. Hurst smiled, and the smile had become scornful.
"I am not frightened, but I am rather tired. As you
do not like to sit in the dark, take the light into the next
room. I will call you when I want you."
8 THE DAUGHTER OF BRAHMA
Nurse Campden glanced back over her shoulder. Then
she took up the lamp. There was panic in the wide-open
"Very well, Mrs. Hurst â as you wish it."
She went quickly toward the door and passed out.
The room was now in darkness, save for the light that
filtered through the thin curtain. It was a red curtain,
and the reflection on the opposite wall was red, too â like
a luminous smear of blood. Mrs. Hurst looked at it and
then out into the silent compound. Then her eyes closed.
But she did not sleep. She was listening, and her trained
ears heard sounds which the nurse had only suspected
â steady footfalls, the rustle of some lithe animal
through the long grasses, and the sigh of a sud-
den short-lived breeze. Though she saw nothing, she
knew when the sentry passed her window on his round
and when at length he ceased from his vigilance. Of
what use? The Sahib was gone. The Mem-Sahib slept
and the night was long. The scornful smile flickered
once more about the compressed lips. She stretched out
her hand and felt for the revolver on the table beside
her. Her fingers glided almost caressingly over the
smooth barrel. Then she drew a quiet sigh of satisfac-
tion and lay still.
Thus the hours passed. The red luminous smear
faded from the wall ; the unseen and soundless movement
sank into a hush that was full of a dread expectancy. In
breathless holy silence, the wdrld awaited the first signal
of the dawn. Mrs. Hurst opened her eyes suddenly.
She had slept a little, but in her sleep she had heard
somethmg which her waking ears could not have heard.
UNDER THE CURSE 9
Beneath the veil of silence there was again sound, and
this time it was not the fall of a footstep, not the move-
ment of some animal in the long" grasses, nor the sighing
of a breeze. Mrs. Hurst lifted herself on her elbow.
"Walter !" she said aloud.
No answer. But it was as though her voice had torn
the veil asunder. In the unreality of things one reality
stood out â a reality which had brushed against the cur-
tains by the window and then slid slowly, gently to the
ground. Mrs. Hurst rose from her bed. She did not
take the revolver or call out. She felt her way across
the room toward the gray patch of light that was
brightening rapidly along the horizon. At the window
she stumbled over something. She bent down. Her
hands touched a man's face. Still she was silent. She
knelt and her fingers passed rapidly over the familiar
tunic. Quite suddenly they stopped in their search. For
a moment she knelt there motionless. It was as though
she were listening. Then she rose slowly and carefully
from her knees.
"Nurse !" she called. "Nurse !"
In the next room there was the sound of a sudden
startled movement. A chair was overturned. Nurse
Campden, dazed with sleep, stood between the curtains.
She held the lamp in her unsteady hand and the pale
light struggled vainly with the increasing brightness.
But the motionless something at Mrs. Hurst's feet was
still in shadow. Nurse Campden took a stumbling step
"Mrs. Hurst," she mumbled, "you shouldn't have got
up. You â "
10 THE DAUGHTER OF BRAHMA
Mrs. Hurst raised her hand. She stood with her
back to the dawn, upright, commanding, her figure mag-
nified by the gray uncertain background.
"I want you to arouse the servants," she said slowly.
"My husband has been murdered. No â you are not to
scream or faint. You will do as I tell you. There is
my son to be considered. Now â go !"
In the following moment of suspense, her will power
closed with the other's weakness and predominated.
Wordless, hypnotized. Nurse Campden obeyed. The
curtains fell in their place â there was a sound of running
uncertain footsteps along the corridor and then a low
confused murmur. Mrs. Hurst bent her head.
"My beloved!" she said.
That was all. She went back quietly to her bed and
lay there as she had lain there before, tearless, patient,
awaiting her hour.
And in the first flush of the Indian morning, her son,
David Hurst, was given her.
IN WHICH THE JUDGE HEARS UNPLEASANT THINGS
"IV TO," said the judge indignantly. "I don't believe
1 1 it. Go away ! Do you take me for a fool ? Go
away, I tell you ! What â I told you â ? At three o'clock
in the afternoon? Nonsense!"
He grunted and rolled over and there was silence save
for the soft regular movement of the punka. The
native who had taken up his position at the foot of the
judge's improvised couch remained, unsmiling and im-
"Three o'clock, Sahib," he repeated solemnly. "Sa-
hib's horse outside."
"Go away!" said the judge. "I didn't expect it in the
drawing-room." He pulled his handkerchief farther
over his face and feigned sleep. Then as though con-
scious that his impassive Nemesis was about to reiterate
his information for the third time, he kicked away the
chair which supported his nether limbs and sat up.
"Now, what the devil is the matter?" he demanded.
"Three o'clock, Sahib. Sahib's horse outside."
"Yes, yes, I've heard all about that. What I ask is,
what do I want with a horse at three o'clock in the after-
noon? You don't know? Well, I'm sure I don't,
12 THE DAUGHTER OF BRAHMA
though you seem to think I ought. Let me see â what
clothes have I got on? That might give me a hint."
He got up and inspected himself thoughtfully. "My
best breeches, eh? A silk tie â and I perceive that my
new and most comfortless toppers await me. Son of the
Night, there is a lady in the case â cherches la femme as
our French friends say, though with a different accent.
There, give me my coat. I shall remember in a minute."
He seated himself again and stretched out a stockinged
foot for the boot which the native held in readiness. It
was a somewhat tight squeeze, and the judge groaned
softly. "It must be an altogether exceptional lady," he
muttered. "Who the devil â " He stopped and a slow
smile dawned over his face. "I have it ! Of course !
Son of the Night, you should have been more insistent.
I'm going to be late for tea. Now, just cast an eye over
me and tell me what I look like."
The native glanced at the massive figure in spotless
duck and bowed his head reverently.
The judge chuckled. "Well, that's one way of getting
out of it, anyhow," he said. "Now for it!" He adjusted
his sun-helmet carefully, took his riding-crop from the
table and limped out on to the veranda. A wave of dry
lifeless air greeted him, and he stood for a moment in the
shadow evidently more than half inclined to turn back.
But the syce with the big raw-boned horse stood at the
bottom of the steps, stoic and unrelenting, and the judge,
apparently bowing to the dictates of Fate, crossed the ru-
bicon into the blazing sunshine and swung himself heavily
into the saddle with a groan which the pigskin echoed.
The horse took an involuntary step forward and the judge
UNPLEASANT THINGS 13
repeated his chuckle. "Fm getting too much for you,
Sarah Jane," he said regretfully. "However, I dare say
you'll bear me as long as I want you. Now then, old
lady, make an effort, will you ?"
The "old lady" complied with his request and ambled
sedately out through the compound gates and on to the
highroad. Without any apparent indication from the
judge, she took the turning to the right and broke into a
trot that lasted until they had left the last human habi-
tation behind them. No one had witnessed their prog-
ress. The European quarter was wrapped in profound
slumber and such natives as were visible lay about in the
shade of their dirty tumble-down dwellings and deigned
the passer-by not so much as a glance. Nevertheless, as
though fearing unseen witnesses, both horse and rider
kept up a certain appearance until the last hut was out of
sight when the "old lady" immediately relapsed into her
amble and the judge collapsed in his saddle like a man
suddenly deprived of his back-bone.
He was tall, heavily built, with a figure and a square-
cut, ruddy face which seemed to combine to represent
strength and a robust good nature. Irritable, parchment-
skinned Anglo-Indians were wont to look upon his appar-
ently blooming health and unimpaired nervous system
very much in the light of a personal insult. The fewest
were clever enough to see beneath the surface and those
who did were discreet enough to hold their peace. A man
who successfully "keeps up appearances" year after year
in a tropical temperature deserves to have his secrets re-
spected, and the judge had never been heard to complain.
He carried himself bravely in the eyes of the world and
14 THE DAUGHTER OF BRAHMA
if at the present moment he hung in the saddle with
bowed shoulders and a white puffy face that was not
good to look on, there was at least no one to note the pass-
ing weakness â not even the "old lady", though in any
case she would not have counted.
That worthy animal had her own burdens to carry â in
every sense of the word â and plodded on through the
blinding heat with a mechanical stoicism which suggested
that a brick wall would not have stopped her. Evidently
she was well-acquainted with the road and her present
destiny. At a sudden bend, which revealed a low white
bungalow lying well back among a pleasant clump of trees,
she jerked her head and resumed her canter with a spirit
wholly inconsistent with her previous performance. The
judge sat up, like a man aroused from sleep by a well-
known signal. He straightened his shoulders and as
though obeying some command of the will, color ebbed
slowly back into his cheeks. The moment's rest "behind
the scenes" was over and it was as a dashing cavalier that
he swung into the compound and drew rein at the veranda
steps. A native servant lay curled up in the shade, ap-
parently undisturbed in his slumbers by the sound of
horse's hoofs and the judge bent over in his saddle and
tickled him playfully in the ribs with his whip.
"Now, then, Josephus, bestir yourself, will you? No,
it's all right, I'm not the tenth avatar. Just help my
mortal remains out of the saddle â so, that's better. Ah,
then I (Jtn expected !" He ran up the steps with the
agility of a boy, one big hand outstretched, his square
face transformed. "Do you know, I was afraid I had
dreamt it !"
UNPLEASANT THINGS 15
His hostess, who had advanced out of the shade of the
porch to meet him, smiled faintly.
"I hope it was not a nightmare. Judge!"
"It was a day-dream," he answered, "and, alas, day-
dreams have a trick of proving delusive. It took all the
eloquence of my boy and my boots to persuade me that
your note of this morning was not a pleasant trick of my
"Your boots ?" she queried.
He looked down at the articles in question and then at
her. His expression was ludicrously reproachful.
"My dear friend, can't you see?"
"They certainly are very beautiful â "
"And an intolerable tight-fit. Do you think I should
sacrifice so much for my appearance to please any one?"
She laughed quietly.
"I accept the compliment, but come in. I have ordered
tea in the drawing-room. You will be thirsty."
He followed her, endeavoring to control a grimace
of pain, for the patent leather boots, following the laws
of their species, had contracted. Once in the shady
drawing-room, he chose the first strong chair and sat
down with a sigh of relief.
"It will be some time before you get me to move
again," he said conclusively. "I have suffered much and
I claim my just reward."
She seated herself opposite him but close to the open
window, so that her gaze could wander over the sun-
scorched plain that undulated toward the hills. The
smile hovering about her straight-cut mouth was contra-
dicted by her eyes, which were grave and preoccupied.
i6 THE DAUGHTER OF BRAHMA
"You need not be afraid," she said. "I am not so in-
considerate as to ask a busy man like yourself to call on
me in the hottest time of the afternoon for the pure
pleasure of saying how-do-you-do. I have something
serious to talk to you about, and I wanted to be alone."
The judge opened his small blue eyes wide, but made no
immediate answer, allowing the entrance of a native with
a silver tea-tray to fill up the silence. During the noise-
less arranging of the cups he took the opportunity to
study his hostess with a frank and uncritical admiration.
A critical observer would have admitted that she made
a striking but not beautiful picture, though he might have
been hard put to it to explain the latter limitation. Perhaps
the exceptional about her was too emphasized; for the
human taste has erected conventional standards in human
beauty, to trespass against which may bring even perfec-
tion very near to the repugnant.
The woman seated by the window was, indeed, not per-
fect, but so nearly did she touch that high ideal that it
was difficult to understand why for many eyes she was
physically almost displeasing. True, it depended on the
eyes. The ladies of Kolruna declared among themselves
that there was something about Mrs. Hurst's beauty
that made them "go cold all over," as they expressed it,
but the newly arrived subalterns raved about her and
wanted to marry her. Which was an innocent enough
form of insanity, for Mrs. Hurst's attitude toward them
was scarcely even maternal. As a consequence they ended
by calling her a "hard woman", and their admiration be-
came tinged with a nervous respect. Her very height and
bearing seemed to claim that much tribute from them.
UNPLEASANT THINGS 17
Her shoulders were broad and straight like a man's and
suggested strength, though they were perhaps a little