Չորրորդ Հայքի Գրադարան . ճանաչել զիմաստութիւն եւ զխրատ, իմանալ զբանս հանճարոյ . Չորրորդ Հայքի Գրադարան . ճանաչել զիմաստութիւն եւ զխրատ, իմանալ զբանս հանճարոյ . Չորրորդ Հայքի Գրադարան . ճանաչել զիմաստութիւն եւ զխրատ, իմանալ զբանս հանճարոյ . Չորրորդ Հայքի Գրադարան . ճանաչել զիմաստութիւն եւ զխրատ, իմանալ զբանս հանճարոյ . Չորրորդ Հայքի Գրադար

The Eye of Zeitoon


“What care I for my belly, Sahib, if you break my heart?”

Written by Talbot Mundy and originally published in 1920

(Genesis 1:31)

I saw these shambles in my youth, and said 
There is no God! No Pitiful presides 
Over such obsequies as these. The end 
Alike is darkness whether foe or friend, 
Beast, man or flower the event abides. 
There is no heaven for the hopeful dead— 
No better haven than forgetful sod 
That smothers limbs and mouth and ears and eyes, 
And with those, love and permanence and strife 
And vanity and laughter that they thought was life, 
Making mere compost of the one who dies. 
To whose advantage? Nay, there is no God! 
But He, whose other name is Pitiful, was pleased 
By melting gentleness whose measures broke 
The ramps of ignorance and keeps of lust, 
Tumbling alike folly and the fool to dust, 
To teach me womanhood until there spoke 
Still voices inspiration had released, 
And I heard truly. All the voices said: 
Out of departed yesterday is grown to-day; 
Out of to-day to-morrow surely breaks; 
Out of corruption the inspired awakes; 
Out of existence earth-clouds roll away 
And leave all living, for there are no dead!

After we had made room for Monty before the fire and some one had hung his wet jacket up to dry, we volleyed questions at him faster than he could answer. He sat still and let us finish, with fingers locked together over his crossed knee and, underneath the inevitable good humor, a rather puzzled air of wishing above all things to understand our point of view. Over and over again I have noticed that trait, although he always tried to cover it under an air of polite indifference and easy tolerance that was as opaque to a careful observer as Fred’s attempts at cynicism.

In the end he answered the last question first.

“My agreement with Kagig?”

“Yes, tell them!” put in Kagig. “If I should, they would say I lied!”

“It’s nothing to speak of,” said Monty offhandedly. “It dawned on our friend here that I have had experience in some of the arts of war. I proposed to him that if he would take a force and go to find you, I would help him to the limit without further condition. That’s all.”

“All, you ass? Didums, I warned you at the time when you let them make you privy councilor that you couldn’t ever feel free again to kick over traces! Dammit, man, you can be impeached by parliament!”

“Quite so, Fred. I propose that parliament shall have to do something at last about this state of affairs.”

“You’ll end up in an English jail, and God help you!—social position gone—milked of your last pound to foot the lawyers’ bills—otherwise they’ll hang you!”

“Let ‘em hang me after I’m caught! I’ve promised. Remember what Byron did for Greece? I don’t suppose his actual fighting amounted to very much, but he brought the case of Greece to the attention of the public. Public opinion did the rest, badly, I admit, but better badly and late than never. I’m in this scrimmage, Fred, until the last bell rings and they hoist my number.”

“Fine!” exclaimed Gloria, jumping to her feet. “So am I in it to a finish!”

Monty smiled at her with understanding and approval.

“Almost my first duty, Miss Vanderman,” he said kindly, “will be to arrange that you can not possibly come to harm or be prejudiced by any course the rest of us may decide on.”

“Quite so!” Will agreed with a grin, and Fred began chuckling like a schoolboy at a show.

“Nonsense!” she answered hotly. “I’ve come to harm already—see, I’m wounded—I’ve been fighting—I’m already prejudiced as you call it! If you’re an outlaw, so am I!”

She flourished her bandaged wrist and looked like Joan of Arc about to summon men to sacrifice. But the argument ready on her lips was checked suddenly. The night was without wind, yet the outer door burst open exactly as if a sudden hurricane had struck it, and Maga entered with a lantern in her hand. She tried to kick the door shut again, but it closed on Peter Measel who had followed breathlessly, and she turned and banged his head with the bottom of the lantern until the glass shattered to pieces.

“That fool!” she shouted. “Oh, that fool!” Then she let him come in and close the door, giving him the broken lantern to hold, which he did very meekly, rubbing the crown of his head with the other hand; and she stood facing the lot of us with hands on her hips and a fine air of despising every one of us. But I noticed that she kept a cautious eye on Kagig, who in return paid very little attention to her.

“Fight?” she exclaimed, pointing at Gloria. “What does she know about fighting? If she can fight,—let her fight me! I stand ready—I wait for ‘er! Give ‘er a knife, an’ I will fight ‘er with my bare ‘ands!”

Gloria turned pale and Will laid a hand on her shoulder, whispering something that brought the color back again.


Kagig said that one word in a level voice, but the effect was greater than if he had pointed a pistol. The fire died from her eyes and she nodded at him simply. Then her eyes blazed again, although she looked away from Gloria toward a window. The leather blind was tied down at the corners by strips of twisted hide.

She began to jabber in the gipsy tongue—then changed her mind and spat it out in English for our joint benefit.

“All right. She is nothing to do with me, that woman, and she shall come to a rotten end, I know, an’ that is enough. But there is some one listening! Not a woman—not with spunk enough to be a woman! That dirty horse-pond drinking unshaven black bastard Rustum Khan is outside listening! You think ‘e is busy at the fortifying? Then I tell you, No, ‘e is not! ‘E is outside listening!”

The surprising answer to that assertion was a heavy saber thrust between the window-frame and blind and descending on the thong. Next followed Rustum Khan’s long boot. Then came the man himself with dew all over his upbrushed beard, returning the saber to its scabbard with an accompanying apologetic motion of the head.

“Aye, I was listening!” He spoke as one unashamed. “Umm Kulsum” (that was his fancy name for Maga) “spoke truth for once! I came from the fortifying, where all is finished that can be done to-night. I have been the rounds. I have inspected everything. I report all well. On my way hither I saw Umm Kulsum, with that jackal trotting at her heel—he made a scornful gesture in the direction of Peter Measel, who winced perceptibly, at which Fred Oakes chuckled and nudged me—”and I followed Umm Kulsum, to observe what harm she might intend.”

“Black pig!” remarked Maga, but Rustum Khan merely turned his splendid back a trifle more toward her. His color, allowing for the black beard, was hardly darker than hers.

“Why should I not listen, since my heart is in the matter? Lord sahib—Colonel sahib bahadur!—take back those words before it is too late! Undo the promise made to this Armenian! What is he to thee? Set me instead of thee, sahib! What am I? I have no wives, no lands any longer since the money-lenders closed their clutches on my eldest son, no hope, nor any fellowship with kings to lose! But I can fight, as thou knowest! Give me, sahib, to redeem thy promise, and go thou home to England!”

“Sit down, Rustum Khan!”

“But, sahib—”

“Sit down!” Monty repeated.

“I will not see thee sacrificed for this tribe of ragged people, Colonel sahib!”

Monty rose to his feet slowly. His face was an enigma. The Rajput stood at attention facing him and they met each other’s eyes—East facing West—in such fashion that manhood seemed to fill the smoky room. Every one was silent. Even Maga held her breath. Monty strode toward Rustum Khan; the Rajput was the first to speak.

“Colonel sahib, I spoke wise words!”

It seemed to me that Monty looked very keenly at him before he answered.

“Have you had supper, Rustum Khan? You look to me feverish from overwork and lack of food.”

“What care I for my belly, sahib, if you break my heart?” the Rajput answered. “Shall I live to see Turks fling thy carcass to the birds? I have offered my own body in place of thine. Am I without honor, that my offer is refused?”

Monty answered that in the Rajput tongue, and it sounded like the bass notes of an organ.

“Brother mine, it is not the custom of my race to send substitutes to keep such promises. That thou knowest, and none has reason to know better. If thy memories and honor urge thee to come the way I take, is there no room for two of us?”

“Aye, sahib!” said the Rajput huskily. “I said before, I am thy man. I come. I obey!”

“Obey, do you?” Monty laid both hands on the Rajput’s shoulders, struck him knee against knee without warning and pressed him down into a squatting posture. “Then obey when I order you to sit!”

The Rajput laughed up at him as suddenly sweet-tempered as a child.

“None other could have done that and not fought me for it!” he said simply. “None other would have had the strength!” he added.

Monty ignored the pleasantry and turned to Maga, so surprising that young woman—that she gasped.

“Bring him food at once, please!”

“Me? I? I bring him food? I feed that black—”

“Yes!” snapped Kagig suddenly. “You, Maga!”

Maga’s and Kagig’s eyes met, and again he had his way with her instantly. Peter Measel, standing over by the door, looked wistful and sighed noisily.

“Why should you obey him?” he demanded, but Maga ignored him as she passed out, and Fred nudged me again.

“A miracle!” he whispered. “Did you hear the martyred biped suggest rebellion to her? He’ll be offering to fight Kagig next! Guess what is Kagig’s hold over the girl—can you?”

But a much greater miracle followed. Rather than disobey Monty again; rather than seem to question his authority, or differ from his judgment in the least, Rustum Khan forebore presently from sending for his own stripling servant and actually accepted food from Maga’s hands.

As a Mahammadan, he made in theory no caste distinctions. But as a Rajput be had fixed Hindu notions without knowing it, and almost his chief care was lest his food should be defiled by the touch of outcasts, of whom he reckoned gipsies lowest, vilest and least cleansible. Nevertheless he accepted curds that had been touched by gipsy fingers, and ate greedily, in confirmation of Monty’s diagnosis; and after a few minutes he laid his head on a folded goat-skin in the corner, and fell asleep.

Then Monty sent a servant to his own quarters for some prized possession that he mentioned in a whisper behind his hand. None of us suspected what it might be until the man returned presently with a quart bottle of Scotch whisky. Kagig himself got mugs down from a shelf three inches wide, and Monty poured libations. Kagig, standing with legs apart, drank his share of the strong stuff without waiting; and that brought out the chief surprise of the evening.

“Ah-h-h!” he exclaimed, using the back of his hand to wipe mobile lips. “Not since I drank in Tony’s have I tasted that stuff! The taste makes me homesick for what never was my home, nor ever can be! Tony’s—ah!”

“What Tony’s?” demanded Will, emerging from whispered interludes with Gloria like a man coming out of a dream.

“Tony’s down near the Battery.”

“What—the Battery, New York—?”

“Where else? Tony was a friend of mine. Tony lent me money when I landed in the States without a coin. It was right that I should take a last drink with Tony before I came away forever.”

Fred reached into the corner for a lump of wood and set it down suggestively before the fire. Kagig accepted and sat down on it, stretching his legs out rather wearily.

“I noticed you’ve been remembering your English much better than at first,” said Will. “Go on, man, tell us!”

Kagig cleared his throat and warmed himself while his eyes seemed to search the flames for stories from a half-forgotten past.

“Weren’t the States good enough for you?” Will suggested, by way of starting him off.

“Good enough? Ah!” He made all eight fingers crack like castanets. “Much too good! How could I live there safe and comfortable—eggs and bacon—clean shirt—good shoes—an apartment with a bath in it—easy work—good pay—books to read—kindness—freedom—how could I accept all that, remembering my people in Armenia?”

He ran his fingers through his hair, and stared in the fire again—remembering America perhaps.

“There was a time when I forgot. All young men forget for a while if you feed them well enough. The sensation of having money in my pocket and the right to spend it made me drunk. I forgot Armenia. I took out what are called first papers. I was very prosperous—very grateful.”

He lapsed into silence again, holding his head bowed between his hands.

“Why didn’t you become a citizen?” asked Will.

“Ah! Many a time I thought of it. I am citizen of no land—of no land! I am outlaw here—outlaw in the States! I slew a Turk. They would electrocute me in New York—for slaying the man who—have you heard me tell what happened to my mother, before my very eyes? Well—that man came to America, and I slew him!”

“Why did you leave Armenia in the first place?” asked Gloria, for he seemed to need pricking along to prevent him from getting off the track into a maze of silent memory.

“Why not? I was lucky to get away! That cursed Abdul Hamid had been rebuked by the powers of Europe for butchering Bulgars, so he turned on us Armenians in order to prove to himself that he could do as he pleased in his own house. I tell you, murder and rape in those days were as common as flies at midsummer! I escaped, and worked my passage in the stoke-hole of a little merchant steamer—they were little ships in those days. And when I reached America without money or friends they let me land because I had been told by the other sailors to say I was fleeing from religious persecution. The very first day I found a friend in Tony. I cleaned his windows, and the bar, and the spittoons; and he lent me money to go where work would be plentiful. Those were the days when I forgot Armenia.”

He began to forget our existence again, laying his face on his forearms and staring down at the floor between his feet.

“What brought it back to memory?” asked Gloria.

“The Turk brought it back—Fiamil—who bought my mother from four drunken soldiers, and ill-treated her before my eyes. He came to the Turkish consulate, not as consul but in some peculiar position; and by that time I was thriving as head-waiter and part-owner of a New York restaurant. Thither the fat beast came to eat daily. And so I met him, and recognized him. He did not know me.

“Remember, I was young, and prosperous for the first time in all my life. You must not judge me by too up-right standards. At first I argued with myself to let him alone. He was nothing to me. I no longer believed in God. My mother was long dead, and Armenia no more my country. My money was accumulating in a savings bank. I was proud of it, and I remember I saw visions of great restaurants in every city of America, all owned by me! I did not like to take any step that should prevent that flow of money into the savings bank.

“But Fiamil inflamed my memory, and I saw him every day. And at last it dawned on me what his peculiar business in America must be. He was back at his old games, buying women. He was buying American young women to be shipped to Turkey, all under the seal of consular activity. One day, after he had had lunch and I had brought him cigarettes and coffee, he made a proposal. And although I did not care very deeply for the women of a free land who were willing to be sold into Turkish harems, nevertheless, as I said, he inflamed my memory. A love of Armenia returned to me. I remembered my people, I remembered my mother’s shame, and my own shame.

“After a little reflection I agreed with Fiamil, and met him that night in an up-stairs room at a place he frequented for his purposes. I locked the door, and we had some talk in there, until in the end he remembered me and all the details of my mother’s death. After that I killed him with a corkscrew and my ten fingers, there being no other weapon. And I threw his body out of the window into the gutter, as my mother’s body had been thrown, myself escaping from the building by another way.

“Not knowing where to hide, I kept going—kept going; and after two days I fell among sportmen—cow-punchers they called themselves, who had come to New York with a circus, and the circus had gone broke. To them I told some of my story, and they befriended me, taking me West with them to cook their meals; and for a year I traveled in cow camps. In those days I remembered God as well as Armenia, and I used to pray by starlight.

“And Armenia kept calling—calling. Fiamil had wakened in me too many old memories. But there was the money in the savings bank that I did not dare to draw for fear the police might learn my address, yet I had not the heart to leave behind.

“So I took a sportman into my confidence, and told him about my money, and why I wanted it. He was not the foreman, but the man who took the place of foreman when the real foreman was too drunk—the hungriest man of all, and so oftenest near the cook-fire. When I had told him, he took me to a township where a lawyer was, and the lawyer drew up a document, which I signed.

“Then the sportman—his name was Larry Atkins, I remember—took that document and went to draw the money on my behalf. And that was the last I saw of him. Not that he was not sportman—all through. He told me in a letter afterward that the police arrested him, supposing him to be me, but that he easily proved he was not me, and so got away with the money. Enclosed in the package in which the letter came were his diamond ring and a watch and chain, and he also sent me an order to deliver to me his horse and saddle.

“He explained he had tried to double my money by gambling, but had lost. Therefore he now sent me all he had left, a fair exchange being no robbery. Oh, he was certainly sportman!

“So I sold his watch and chain and the horse—but the diamond ring I kept—behold it!—see, on Maga’s hand!—it was a real diamond that a woman had given him; and with the proceeds I came back to Armenia. In Armenia I have ever since remained, with the exception of one or two little journeys in time of war, and one or two little temporary hidings, and a trip into Persia, and another into Russia to get ammunition.

“How have I lived? Mostly by robbery! I rob Turks and all friends of Turks, and such people as help make it possible for Turks as a nation to continue to exist! I—we—I and my men—we steal a cartridge sooner than a piaster—a rifle sooner than a thousand roubles! Outlaws must live, and weapons are the chief means! I am the brains and the Eye of Zeitoon, but I have never been chieftain, and am not now. Observe my house—is it not empty? I tell you, if it had not been for my new friend Monty there would have been six or seven rival chieftains in Zeitoon to-night! As it is, they sulk in their houses, the others, because Monty has rallied all the fighting men to me! Now that Monty has come I think there will be unity forever in Zeitoon!”

He turned toward Monty with a gesture of really magnificent approval. Caesar never declined a crown with greater dignity.

“You, my brother, have accomplished in a few days what I have failed to do in years! That is because you are sportman! Just as Larry Atkins was sportman! He sent me all he had, and could not do more. I understood him. Why did he do it? Simply sportman—that is all! Why do you do this? Why do you throw your life into the hot cauldron of Zeitoon? Because you are sportman! And my people see, and understand. They understand, as they have never understood me! I will tell you why they have never understood me. This is why:

“I have always kept a little in reserve. At one time money in a bank. At another time money buried. Sometimes a place to run and hide in. Now and then a plan for my own safety in case a defense should fail. Never have I given absolutely quite all, burning all my bridges. Had I been Larry Atkins I would not have gambled with the money of a man who trusted me; but, having lost the money, I would not have sent my diamond and the watch and chain! Neither, if the horse and saddle bad been within my reach would I have sent an order to deliver those! That is why Zeitoon has never altogether trusted me! Some, but never all, until to-night!

“My brother—”

He stood up, with the motions of a man who is stiff with weariness.

“I salute you! You have taught me my needed lesson!”

“I wonder!” whispered Fred to me. “Remember Peter at the fireside? Methinks friend Kagig doth too much protest! We’ll see. Nemesis comes swiftly as a rule.”

I shoved Fred off his balance, rolled him over, and sat on him, because cynicism and iconoclasm are twin deities I neither worship nor respect. But at times Fred Oakes is gifted with uncanny vision. While he struggled explosively to throw me off, the door began resounding to steady thumps, and at a sign from Kagig, Maga opened it.

There strode in nine Armenians, followed closely by one of the gipsies of Gregor Jhaere’s party, who whispered to Maga through lips that hardly moved, and made signals to Kagig with a secretive hand like a snake’s head. I got off Fred’s stomach then, and when he had had his revenge by emptying hot pipe ashes down my neck he sat close beside me and translated what followed word for word. It was all in Armenian, spoken in deadly earnest by hairy men on edge with anxiety and yet compelled to grudging patience by the presence of strangers and knowledge of the hour’s necessity.

When the gipsy had finished making signals to Kagig be sat down and seemed to take no further interest. But a little later I caught sight of him by the dancing fire-light creeping along the wall, and presently he lay down with his head very close to Rustum Khan’s. Nothing points more clearly to the clarifying tension of that night than the fact that Rustum Khan with his notions about gipsies could compel himself to lie still with a gipsy’s head within three inches of his own, and sham sleep while the gipsy whispered to him. I was not the only one who observed that marvel, although I did not know that at the time.

The nine Armenians who had entered were evidently influential men. Elders was the word that occurred as best describing them. They were smelly with rain and smoke and the close-kept sweat beneath their leather coats—all of them bearded—nearly all big men—and they strode and stood with the air of being usually heard when they chose to voice opinion. Kagig stood up to meet them, with his back toward the fire—legs astraddle, and hands clasped behind him.

“Ephraim says,” began the tallest of the nine, who had entered first and stood now nearest to Kagig and the firelight, “that you will yourself be king of Armenia!”

“Ephraim lies!” said Kagig grimly. “He always does lie. That man can not tell truth!”

Two of the others grunted, and nudged the first man, who made an exclamation of impatience and renewed the attack.

“But there is the Turk—the colonel whom your Indian friend took prisoner—he says—”

“Pah! What Turk tells the truth?”

“He says that the Indian—what is his name? Rustum Khan—was purposing to use him as prisoner-of-war, whereas in accordance with a private agreement made beforehand you were determined to make matters easy for him. He demands of us better treatment in fulfilment of promise. He says that the army is coming to take Zeitoon, and to make you governor in the Sultan’s name. He offered us that argument thinking we are your dupes. He thought to—”

“Dupes?” snarled Kagig. “How long have ye dealt with Turks, and how long with me, that ye take a Turk’s word against mine?”

“But the Turk thought we are your friends,” put in a harsh-voiced man from the rear of the delegation. “Otherwise, how should he have told us such a thing?”

“If he had thought you were my friends,” Kagig answered, “he would never have dared. If you had been my friends, you would have taken him and thrown him into Jihun River from the bridge!”

“Yet he has said this thing,” said a man who had not spoken yet.

“And none has heard you deny it, Kagig!” added the man nearest the door.

“Then hear me now!” Kagig shouted, on tiptoe with anger. Then he calmed himself and glanced about the room for a glimpse of eyes friendly to himself. “Hear me now. Those Turks—truly come to set a governor over Zeitoon. I forgot that the prisoner might understand English. I talked with this friend of mine—he made a gesture toward Monty. “Perhaps that Turk overheard, he is cleverer than he looks. I had a plan, and I told it to my friend. The Turk was near, I remember, eating the half of my dinner I gave him.”

“Have you then a plan you never told to us?” the first man asked suspiciously.

“One plan? A thousand! Am I wind that I should babble into heedless ears each thought that comes to me for testing? First it was my plan to arouse all Armenia, and to overthrow the Turk. Armenia failed me. Then it was my plan to arouse Zeitoon, and to make a stand here to such good purpose that all Armenia would rally to us. Bear me witness whether Zeitoon trusted me or not? How much backing have I had? Some, yes; but yours?

“So it was plain that if the Turks sent a great army, Zeitoon could only hold out for a little while, because unanimity is lacking. And my spies report to me that a greater army is on the way than ever yet came to the rape of Armenia. These handful of hamidieh that ye think are all there is to be faced are but the outflung skirmishers. It was plain to me that Zeitoon can not last. So I made a new plan, and kept it secret.”

“Ah-h-h! So that was the way you took us into confidence? Always secrets behind secrets, Kagig! That is our complaint!”

“Listen, ye who would rather suspect than give credit!” He used one word in the Armenian. “It was my plan—my new plan, that seeing the Turks insist on giving us a governor, and are able to overwhelm us if we refuse, then I would be that governor!”

“Ah-h-h! What did we say! Unable to be king, you will be governor!”

“I talked that over with my new friend, and he did not agree with me, but I prevailed. Now hear my last word on this matter: I will not be governor of Zeitoon! I will lead against this army that is coming. If you men prevent me, or disobey me, or speak against me, I will hang you—every one! I will accept no reward, no office, no emolument, no title—nothing! Either I die here, fighting for Zeitoon, or I leave Zeitoon when the fighting is over, and leave it as I came to it—penniless! I give now all that I have to give. I burn my bridges! I take inviolable oath that I will not profit! And by the God who fed me in the wilderness, I name my price for that and take my payment in advance! I will be obeyed! Out with you! Get out of here before I slay you all! Go and tell Zeitoon who is master here until the fight is lost or won!”

He seized a great firebrand and charged at them, beating right and left, and they backed away in front of him, protesting from under forearms raised to protect their faces. He refused to hear a word from them, and drove, them back against the door.

Strange to say, it was Rustum Khan who gave up all further pretense at sleeping and ran round to fling the door open—Rustum Khan who took part with Kagig, and helped drive them out into the dark, and Rustum Khan who stood astraddle in the doorway, growling after them in Persian—the only language he knew thoroughly that they likely understood:

“Bismillah! Ye have heard a man talk! Now show yourselves men, and obey him, or by the beard of God’s prophet there shall be war within Zeitoon fiercer than that without! Take counsel of your women-folk! Ye—” (he used no drawing-room word to intimate their sex)—”are too full of thoughts to think!”

Then he turned on Kagig, and held out a lean brown hand. Kagig clasped it, and they met each other’s eyes a moment.

“Am I sportman?” Kagig asked ingenuously.

“Brother,” said Rustum Khan, “next after my colonel sahib I accept thee as a man fit to fight beside!”

We were all standing. A free-for-all fight had seemed too likely, and we had not known whether there were others outside waiting to reinforce the delegation. Rustum Khan sought Monty’s eyes.

“You have the news, sahib?”

Kagig laughed sharply, and dismissed the past hour from his mind with a short sweep of the hand.

“No. Tell me,” said Monty.

“The gipsy brought it. A whole division of the Turkish regular army is on the march. Their rear-guard camps to-night a day’s march this side of Tarsus. Dawn will find the main body within sight of us. Half a brigade has hurried forward to reenforce the men we have just beaten. Are there any orders?”

Fred’s face fell, and my heart dropped into my boots. A division is a horde of men to stand against.

“No,” said Monty. “No orders yet.”

“Then I will sleep again,” said Rustum Khan, and suited action to the word, laying his head on the same folded goat-skin he had used before and breathing deeply within the minute.

Nobody spoke. Rustum Khan’s first deep snore had not yet announced his comment on the situation, and we all stood waiting for Kagig to say something. But it was Peter Measel who spoke first.

“I will pray,” he announced. “I saw that gipsy whispering to the Indian, and I know there is treachery intended! O Lord—O righteous Lord—forgive these people for their bloody and impudent plans! Forgive them for plotting to shed blood! Forgive them for arrogance, for ambition, for taking Thy name in vain, for drinking strong drink, for swearing, for vanity, and for all their other sins. Forgive above all the young woman of the party, who is not satisfied with a wound already but looks forward with unwomanly zest to further fighting! Forgive them for boasting and—”

“Throw that fool out!” barked Kagig suddenly.

“O Lord forgive—”

Fred was nearest the door, and opened it. Maga laughed aloud. I was nearest to Peter Measel, so it was I who took him by the neck and thrust him into outer darkness. Kagig kicked the door shut after him; but even so we heard him for several minutes grinding out condemnatory prayers.

“Now sleep, sportmen all!” said Kagig, blessing us with both hands. “Sleep against the sport to-morrow!”