Herbert Escott Inman.

The tear of Kalee online

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contains "

" What ? " she asked. And he said, " Nay, open it
and see."

They gathered round her while she cut the string and
unsealed the covering, and then an exclamation broke from
her lips.

" Oh, Mr. Hamilton, I cannot take this ! " For there
lay roll upon roll of new Bank of England notes.

" It is the reward that was offered for the recovery of
the Tear. There is no reason why you should not keep
it "

" But I did nothing to earn it ; that poor man "

" It was his legacy to you. The one who first led your
husband on to the downward road, now has made it possible
for him to tread the better way. Yes, if in no other way,
you can take this as Jim Booly's legacy."

" Husband, what do you say ? " she said, turning to
him.

" He has nothing to say in the matter," interrupted the
squire. " Keep the money, Constance ; it will enable you
to make a start, have a little butter on your bread, and
not have to undergo the mortification of being under an
obligation to any one."

Then she placed the roll in her husband's hands.

" Take it," she said " take it, Maurice, my husband."
******



388 THE TEAR OF KALEE

Christmas had come and gone, and up at the Hall a
merry party are gathered to watch the passage of the old
year. But they are to do more than that they are to
await the arrival of bride and bridegroom from their short
honeymoon ; for Bruce and Madge are married, and to-night
they will return.

A joyful party, with never a shade of care on any face.
And, if some of them are rather quiet, they are none the
less happy.

The fire flames and leaps, and the great log burning on
the hearth sends showers of sparks dancing up the wide
chimney.

A rattling of wheels and trampling of horses. They
have come. And, with a " Here they are ! " there is a race
to the door, and a clasping of hands and showering of kisses.
And if there is a little shedding of tears, who shall be
surprised, for joy has its tears, and they are holy ones.

" I say, Bruce, here is a letter waiting for you," said
Vic, handing it to him. " It only came last night, and so
we did not send it on."

" From India, eh ! Some of the old friends, I suppose."
Bruce broke the seal as he spoke. " No ; it is from old
Mr. Geary. You remember him, Davenport ? "

He glanced over the contents.

" This will interest you," he said ; but the squire
interrupted.

The letter could wait till after supper, he declared.
And so the whole party agreed to postpone the reading.

But when the meal was over, and once again they all
gathered round the big fire, Madge called upon her husband
to redeem his promise, and Hamilton drew the letter from
his pocket and read aloud

" MY DEAR HAMILTON,

"I am back in harness once more working
among the bazaars, and do not mean to leave again while
life and strength last. You were somewhat interested in the
loss of the famous Tear of Kalee, I think. Perhaps you
would like to hear the sequel to that incident. The other
day a message for our doctor arrived, and he being on his



UNSEALED 389

hack with fever, I went in his stead, and to my surprise I
found the patient was the old high priest of Kalee, a man
greatly reverenced by the natives, as you doubtless knew.
He was the man who was wounded when the Tear was
stolen, and he sacrificed all his caste privileges, and himself
went in search of it. I understood that he had been
successful ; but as penalty for having crossed the sea, he
condemned himself to the most terrible self-torture, among
other things vowing never to speak again till death came.
It did not take long coming. I knew the end was near as
soon as I saw him, and I told the people so.

"The poor old fellow understood, and he had evidently
given his instructions, for as soon as I had spoken, the
attendants lifted him bodily and bore him away, and I
followed the rest.

" Judge of my surprise when I found that it was to the
shrine of his goddess, Kalee, they carried him, and laid him
on the ground before her image.

"I need not go into a description of the place. All
these shrines are much the same, and you know them as
well as I do. But I did notice that hanging upon the
breast of the image there shone one tremendous diamond,
the finest I have ever beheld, flashing with wonderful
inward fires in the torchlight. I could not examine it
closely, for my attention was occupied with the dying man ;
and though he was a heathen, worshipping a vile idol, I
could not help admiring his intense devotion. He lay there,
his eyes fixed upon that great diamond, his lips moving
mutely. Then suddenly he raised himself and spoke one
word in his own tongue, ' Unsealed, and fell back, dead.

"The others told me afterwards that he meant that
death had unsealed his lips. Hamilton, would to Heaven
we could turn these people to Christ ; for if they are so
faithful to the false, what would they be if they knew the
true God ? "

The chaplain ceased reading, and looked up. Aimie
was resting her head on her husband's shoulder ; and her
thoughts were far away in that shrine to which she had
once gone. Maurice, the doctor, Constance, the squire,



390 THE TEAR OF KALEE

each sat there, not caring to break the silence ; and then,
faintly coming through the quiet night air, the bells of
Great Harleyford were heard pealing ringing for the New
Year that was dawning.

Then Constance rose, and going to the piano seated
herself before it, and ran her fingers over the keys singing
her favourite anthem :

" O Lord, open Thou our lips,
And out of our mouths Thy praise shall flow,"

and they all arose and joined in the words.

Thus we leave them, singing the praise of Him who
had dealt mercifully with them, with a New Year of hope
dawning, not one of them now fettered by sin, or embittered
by avarice, or walking with sealed lips.



THE END



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Online LibraryHerbert Escott InmanThe tear of Kalee → online text (page 32 of 32)