Chapter XII.

"Let us be off at once," Dr. Wade said to his companion; "we can talk as we go along. I have got two rifles with me; I can lend you one."

"I shall take no rifle," Bathurst said decidedly, "or rather I will take one of the shikaris' guns for the sake of appearance, and for use I will borrow one of their spears."

"Very well; I will do the shooting, then," the Doctor agreed.

The two men then took their places on the elephants most used to the work, and told the mahouts of the others to follow in case the elephants should be required for driving the tiger out of the thick jungle, and they then started side by side for the scene of action.

"This is awful news, Bathurst. I could not have believed it possible that these fellows who have eaten our salt for years, fought our battles, and have seemed the most docile and obedient of soldiers, should have done this. That they should have been goaded into mutiny by lies about their religion being in danger I could have imagined well enough, but that they should go in for wholesale massacre, not only of their officers, but of women and children, seems well nigh incredible. You and I have always agreed that if they were once roused there was no saying what they would do, but I don't. think either of us dreamt of anything as bad as this."

"I don't know," Bathurst said quietly; "one has watched this cloud gathering, and felt that if it did break it would be something terrible. No one can foresee now what it will be. The news that Delhi is in the hands of the mutineers, and that these have massacred all Europeans, and so placed themselves beyond all hope of pardon, will fly though India like a flash of lightning, and there is no guessing how far the matter will spread. There is no use disguising it from ourselves, Doctor, before a week is over there may not be a white man left alive in India, save the garrisons of strong places like Agra, and perhaps the presidential towns, where there is always a strong European force."

"I can't deny that it is possible, Bathurst. If this revolt spreads though the three Presidencies the work of conquering India will have to be begun again, and worse than that, for we should have opposed to us a vast army drilled and armed by ourselves, and led by the native officers we have trained. It seems stupefying that an empire won piecemeal, and after as hard fighting as the world has ever seen, should be lost in a week."

The Doctor spoke as if the question was a purely impersonal one.

"Ugly, isn't it?" he went on; "and to think I have been doctoring up these fellows for the last thirty years--saving their lives, sir, by wholesale. If I had known what had been coming I would have dosed them with arsenic with as little remorse as I should feel in shooting a tiger's whelp. Well, there is one satisfaction, the Major has already done something towards turning the courthouse into a fortress, and I fancy a good many of the scoundrels will go down before they take it, that is, if they don't fall on us unawares. I have been a noncombatant all my life, but if I can shoot a tiger on the spring I fancy I can hit a Sepoy. By Jove, Bathurst, that juggler's picture you told me of is likely to come true after all!"

"I wish to Heaven it was!" Bathurst said gloomily; "I could look without dread at whatever is coming as far as I am concerned, if I could believe it possible that I should be fighting as I saw myself there."

"Pooh, nonsense, lad!" the Doctor said. "Knowing what I know of you, I have no doubt that, though you may feel nervous at first, you will get over it in time."

Bathurst shook his head. "I know myself too well, Doctor, to indulge in any such hopes. Now you see we are going out tiger hunting. At present, now, as far as I am concerned, I should feel much less nervous if I knew I was going to enter the jungle on foot with only this spear, than I do at the thought that you are going to fire that rifle a few paces from me."

"You will scarcely notice it in the excitement," the Doctor said. "In cold blood I admit you might feel it, but I don't think you will when you see the tiger spring out from the jungle at us. But here we are. That is the nullah in which they say the tiger retires at night. I expect the beaters are lying all round in readiness, and as soon as we have taken up our station at its mouth they will begin."

A shikari came up as they approached the spot.

"The tiger went out last night, sahib, and finished the cow; he came back before daylight, and the beaters are all in readiness to begin."

The elephants were soon in position at the mouth of the ravine, which was some thirty yards across. At about the same distance in front of them the jungle of high, coarse grass and thick bush began.

"If you were going to shoot, Bathurst, we would take post one each side, but as you are not going to I will place myself nearly in the center, and if you are between me and the rocks the tiger is pretty certain to go on the other side, as it will seem the most open to him. Now we are ready," he said to the shikari.

The latter waved a white rag on the top of a long stick, and at the signal a tremendous hubbub of gongs and tom toms, mingled with the shouts of numbers of the men, arose. The Doctor looked across at his companion. His face was white and set, his muscles twitched convulsively; he was looking straight in front of him, his teeth set hard.

"An interesting case," the Doctor muttered to himself, "if it had been anyone else than Bathurst. I expect the tiger will be some little time before it is down. Bathurst," he said, in a quiet voice. Three times he repeated the observation, each time raising his voice higher, before Bathurst heard him.

"The sooner it comes the better," Bathurst said, between his teeth. "I would rather face a hundred tigers than this infernal din."

A quarter of an hour passed, and the Doctor, rifle in hand, was watching the bushes in front when he saw a slight movement among the leaves on his right, the side on which Bathurst was stationed.

"That's him, Bathurst; he has headed back; he caught sight of either your elephant or mine; he will make a bolt in another minute now unless he turns back on the beaters."

A minute later there was a gleam of tawny yellow among the long grass, and quick as thought the Doctor fired. With a sharp snarl the tiger leaped out, and with two short bounds sprang onto the head of the elephant ridden by Bathurst. The mahout gave a cry of pain, for the talons of one of the forepaws were fixed in his leg. Bathurst leaned forward and thrust the spear he held deep into the animal's neck. At the same moment the Doctor fired again, and the tiger, shot through the head, fell dead, while, with a start, Bathurst lost his balance and fell over the elephant's head onto the body of the tiger.

It was fortunate indeed for him that the ball had passed through the tiger's skull from ear to ear, and that life was extinct before it touched the ground. Bathurst sprang to his feet, shaken and bewildered, but otherwise unhurt.

"He is as dead as a door nail!" the Doctor shouted, "and lucky for you he was so; if he had had a kick left in him you would have been badly torn."

"I should never have fallen off," Bathurst said angrily, "if you had not fired. I could have finished him with the spear."

"You might or you might not; I could not wait to think about that; the tiger had struck its claws into the mahout's leg, and would have had him off the elephant in another moment. That is a first rate animal you were riding on, or he would have turned and bolted; if he had done so you and the mahout would have both been off to a certainty."

By this time the shouts of some natives, who had taken their posts in trees near at hand, told the beaters that the shots they had heard had been successful, and with shouts of satisfaction they came rushing down. The Doctor at once dispatched one of them to bring up his trap and Bathurst's horse, and then examined the tiger.

It was a very large one, and the skin was in good condition, which showed that he had not taken to man eating long. The Doctor bound up the wound on the mahout's leg, and then superintended the skinning of the animal while waiting for the arrival of the trap.

When it came up he said, "You might as well take a seat by my side, Bathurst; the syce will sit behind and lead your horse."

Having distributed money among the beaters, the Doctor took his place in his trap, the tiger skin was rolled up and placed under the seat, Bathurst mounted beside him, and they started.

"There, you see, Doctor," Bathurst, who had not opened his lips from the time he had remonstrated with the Doctor for firing, said; "you see it is of no use. I was not afraid of the tiger, for I knew that you were not likely to miss, and that in any case it could not reach me on the elephant. I can declare that I had not a shadow of fear of the beast, and yet, directly that row began, my nerves gave way altogether. It was hideous, and yet, the moment the tiger charged, I felt perfectly cool again, for the row ceased as you fired your first shot. I struck it full in the chest, and was about to thrust the spear right down, and should, I believe, have killed it, if you had not fired again and startled me so that I fell from the elephant."

"I saw that the shouting and noise unnerved you, Bathurst, but I saw too that you were perfectly cool and steady when you planted your spear into him. If it had not got hold of the mahout's leg I should not have fired."

"Is there nothing to be done, Doctor? You know now what it is likely we shall have to face with the Sepoys and what it will be with me if they rise. Is there nothing you can do for me?"

The Doctor shook his head. "I don't believe in Dutch courage in any case, Bathurst; certainly not in yours. There is no saying what the effect of spirits might be. I should not recommend them, lad. Of course, I can understand your feelings, but I still believe that, even if you do badly to begin with, you will pull round in the end. I have no doubt you will get a chance to show that it is only nerve and not courage in which you are deficient."

Bathurst was silent, and scarce another word was spoken during the drive back to Deennugghur.

The place had its accustomed appearance when they drove up. The Doctor, as he drew up before his bungalow, said, "Thank God, they have not begun yet! I was half afraid we might have found they had taken advantage of most of us being away, and have broken out before we got back."

"So was I," Bathurst said. "I have been thinking of nothing else since we started."

"Well, I will go to the Major at once and see what arrangements have been made, and whether there is any further news."

"I shall go off on my rounds," Bathurst said. "I had arranged yesterday to be at Nilpore this morning, and there will be time for me to get there now. It is only eleven o'clock yet. I shall go about my work as usual until matters come to a head."

The Doctor found that the Major was over at the tent which served as the orderly office, and at once followed him there.

"Nothing fresh, Major?"

"No; we found everything going on as usual. It has been decided to put the courthouse as far as we can in a state of defense. I shall have the spare ammunition quietly taken over there, with stores of provisions. The ladies have undertaken to sew up sacking and make gunny bags for holding earth, and, of course, we shall get a store of water there. Everything will be done quietly at present, and things will be sent in there after dark by such servants as we can thoroughly rely upon. At the first signs of trouble the residents will make straight for that point. Of course we must be guided by circumstances. If the trouble begins in the daytime--that is, if it does begin, for the native officers assure us that we can trust implicitly in the loyalty of the men--there will probably be time for everyone to gain the courthouse; if it is at night, and without warning, as it was at Meerut, I can only say, Doctor, may God help us all, for I fear that few, if any, of us would get there alive. Certainly not enough to make any efficient defense."

"I do not see that there is anything else to do, Major. I trust with you that the men will prove faithful; if not, it is a black lookout whichever way we take it."

"Did you kill the tiger, Doctor?"

"Yes; at least Bathurst and I did it between us. I wounded him first. It then sprang upon Bathurst's elephant, and he speared it, and I finished it with a shot through the head."

"Speared it!" the Major repeated; "why didn't he shoot it. What was he doing with his spear?"

"He was born, Major, with a constitutional horror of firearms, inherited from his mother. I will tell you about it some day. In fact, he cannot stand noise of any sort. It has been a source of great trouble to the young fellow, who in all other respects has more than a fair share of courage. However, we will talk about that when we have more time on our hands. There is no special duty you can give me at present?"

"Yes, there is. You are in some respects the most disengaged man in the station, and can come and go without attracting any attention. I propose, therefore, that you shall take charge of the arrangement of matters in the courthouse. I think that it will be an advantage if you move from your tent in there at once. There is plenty of room for us all: No one can say at what time there may be trouble with the Sepoys, and it would be a great advantage to have someone in the courthouse who could take the lead if the women, with the servants and so on, come flocking in while we were still absent on the parade ground. Besides, with your rifle, you could drive any small party off who attempted to seize it by surprise. If you were there we would call it the hospital, which would be an excuse for sending in stores, bedding, and so on.

"You might mention in the orderly room that it is getting so hot now that you think it would be as well to have a room or two fitted up under a roof, instead of having the sick in tents, in case there should be an outbreak of cholera or anything of that sort this year. I will say that I think the idea is a very good one, and that as the courthouse is very little used, you had better establish yourself there. The native officers who hear what we say will spread the news. I don't say it will be believed, but at least it will serve as an explanation."

"Yes, I think that that will be a very good plan, Major. Two of the men who act as hospital orderlies I can certainly depend upon, and they will help to receive the things sent in from the bungalows, and will hold their tongues as to what is being done; I shall leave my tent standing, and use it occasionally as before, but will make the courthouse my headquarters. How are we off for arms?"

"There are five cases of muskets and a considerable stock of ammunition in that small magazine in the lines; one of the first things will be to get them removed to the courthouse. We have already arranged to do that tonight; it will give us four or five muskets apiece."

"Good, Major; I will load them all myself and keep them locked up in a room upstairs facing the gateway, and should there be any trouble I fancy I could give a good account of any small body of men who might attempt to make an entrance. I am very well content with my position as Commandant of the Hospital, as we may call it; the house has not been much good to us hitherto, but I suppose when it was bought it was intended to make this a more important station; it is fortunate they did buy it now, for we can certainly turn it into a small fortress. Still, of course, I cannot disguise from myself that though we might get on successfully for a time against your Sepoys, there is no hope of holding it long if the whole country rises."

"I quite see that, Doctor," the Major said gravely; "but I have really no fear of that. With the assistance of the Rajah of Bithoor, Cawnpore is safe. His example is almost certain to be followed by almost all the other great landowners. No; it is quite bad enough that we have to face a Sepoy mutiny; I cannot believe that we are likely to have a general rising on our hands. If we do--" and he stopped.

"If we do it is all up with us, Major; there is no disguising that. However, we need not look at the worst side of things. Well, I will go with you to the orderly room, and will talk with you about the hospital scheme, mention that there is a rumor of cholera, and so on, and ask if I can't have a part of the courthouse; then we can walk across there together, and see what arrangement had best be made."

The following day brought another dispatch from the Colonel, saying that the rumors as to Delhi were confirmed. The regiments there had joined the Meerut mutineers, had shot down their officers, and murdered every European they could lay hands on; that three officers and six noncommissioned officers, who were in charge of the arsenal, had defended it desperately, and had finally blown up the magazine with hundreds of its assailants. Three of the defenders had reached Meerut with the news.

Day by day the gloom thickened. The native regiments in the Punjaub rose as soon as the news from Meerut and Delhi reached them, but there were white troops there, and they were used energetically and promptly. In some places the mutineers were disarmed before they broke out into open violence; in other cases mutinous regiments were promptly attacked and scattered. Several of the leading chiefs had hastened to assure the Government of their fidelity, and had placed their troops and resources at its disposal.

But in the Punjaub alone the lookout appeared favorable. In the Daob a mutiny had taken place at four of the stations, and the Sepoys had marched away to Delhi, but without injuring the Europeans.

After this for a week there was quiet, and then at places widely apart--at Hansid and Hissar, to the northwest of Delhi; at Nusserabad, in the center of Rajpootana, at Bareilly, and other stations in Rohilcund--the Sepoys rose, and in most places massacre was added to mutiny. Then three regiments of the Gwalior contingent at Neemuch revolted. Then two regiments broke out at Jhansi, and the whole of the Europeans, after desperately defending themselves for four days, surrendered on promise of their lives, but were instantly murdered.

But before the news of the Jhansi massacre reached Deennugghur they heard of other risings nearer to them. On the 30th of May the three native regiments at Lucknow rose, but were sharply repulsed by the 300 European troops under Sir Henry Lawrence. At Seetapoor the Sepoys rose on the 3d of June and massacred all the Europeans. On the 4th the Sepoys at Mohundee imitated the example of those at Seetapoor, while on the 8th two regiments rose at Fyzabad, in the southeastern division of the province, and massacred all the Europeans.

Up to this time the news from Cawnpore had still been good. The Rajah of Bithoor had offered Sir Hugh Wheeler a reinforcement of two guns and 300 men, and it was believed that, seeing this powerful and influential chief had thrown his weight into the scale on the side of the British, the four regiments of native troops would remain quiet.

Sir Hugh had but a handful of Europeans with him, but had just received a reinforcement of fifty men of the 32d regiment from Lucknow, and he had formed an intrenchment within which the Europeans of the station, and the fugitives who had come in from the districts around, could take refuge.

Several communications passed between Sir Hugh Wheeler and Major Hannay. The latter had been offered the choice of moving into Cawnpore with his wing of the regiment, or remaining at Deennugghur. He had chosen the latter alternative, pointing out that he still believed in the fidelity of the troops with him; but that if they went to Cawnpore they would doubtless be carried away with other regiments, and would only swell the force of mutineers there. He was assured, at any rate, they would not rise unless their comrades at Cawnpore did so, but that it was best to manifest confidence in them, as not improbably, did they hear that they were ordered back to Cawnpore, they might take it as a slur on their fidelity, and mutiny at once.

The month had been one of intense anxiety. Gradually stores of provisions had been conveyed into the hospital, as it was now called; the well inside the yard had been put into working order, and the residents had sent in stores of bedding and such portable valuables as could be removed.

In but few cases had the outbreaks taken place at night, the mutineers almost always breaking out either upon being ordered to parade or upon actually falling in; still, it was by no means certain when a crisis might come, and the Europeans all lay down to rest in their clothes, one person in each house remaining up all night on watch, so that at the first alarm all might hurry to the shelter of the hospital.

Its position was a strong one--a lofty wall inclosing a courtyard and garden surrounding it. This completely sheltered the lower floor from fire; the windows of the upper floor were above the level of the wall, and commanded a view over the country, while round the flat terraced roof ran a parapet some two feet high.

During the day the ladies of the station generally gathered at Mr. Hunter's, which was the bungalow nearest to the hospital. Here they worked at the bags intended to hold earth, and kept up each other's spirits as well as they could. Although all looked pale and worn from anxiety and watching, there were, after the first few days, no manifestations of fear. Occasionally a tear would drop over their work, especially in the case of two of the wives of civilians, whose children were in England; but as a whole their conversation was cheerful, each trying her best to keep up the spirits of the others. Generally, as soon as the meeting was complete, Mrs. Hunter read aloud one of the psalms suited to their position and the prayers for those in danger, then the work was got out and the needles applied briskly. Even Mrs. Rintoul showed a fortitude and courage that would not have been expected from her.

"One never knows people," Mrs. Doolan said to Isobel, as they walked back from one of these meetings, "as long as one only sees them under ordinary circumstances. I have never had any patience with Mrs. Rintoul, with her constant complaining and imaginary ailments. Now that there is really something to complain about, she is positively one of the calmest and most cheerful among us. It is curious, is it not, how our talk always turns upon home? India is hardly ever mentioned. We might be a party of intimate friends, sitting in some quiet country place, talking of our girlhood. Why, we have learnt more of each other and each other's history in the last fortnight than we should have done if we had lived here together for twenty years under ordinary circumstances. Except as to your little brother, I think you are the only one, Isobel, who has not talked much of home."

"I suppose it is because my home was not a very happy one," Isobel said.

"I notice that all the talk is about happy scenes, nothing is ever said about disagreeables. I suppose, my dear, it is just as I have heard, that starving people talk about the feasts they have eaten, so we talk of the pleasant times we have had. It is the contrast that makes them dearer. It is funny, too, if anything can be funny in these days, how different we are in the evening, when we have the men with us, to what we are when we are together alone in the day. Another curious thing is that our trouble seems to make us more like each other. Of course we are not more like, but we all somehow take the same tone, and seem to have given up our own particular ways and fancies.

"Now the men don't seem like that. Mr. Hunter, for example, whom I used to think an even tempered and easygoing sort of man, has become fidgety and querulous. The Major is even more genial and kind than usual. The Doctor snaps and snarls at everyone and everything. Anyone listening to my husband would say that he was in the wildest spirits. Rintoul is quieter than usual, and the two lads have grown older and nicer; I don't say they are less full of fun than they were, especially Wilson, but they are less boyish in their fun, and they are nice with everyone, instead of devoting themselves to two or three of us, you principally. Perhaps Richards is the most changed; he thinks less of his collars and ties and the polish of his boots than he used to do, and one sees that he has some ideas in his head besides those about horses. Captain Forster is, perhaps, least changed, but of that you can judge better than I can, for you see more of him. As to Mr. Bathurst, I can say nothing, for we never see him now. I think he is the only man in the station who goes about his work as usual; he starts away the first thing in the morning, and comes back late in the evening, and I suppose spends the night in writing reports, though what is the use of writing reports at the present time I don't know. Mr. Hunter was saying last night it was very foolish of him. What with disbanded soldiers, and what with parties of mutineers, it is most dangerous for any European to stir outside the station."

"Uncle was saying the same," Isobel said quietly.

"Well, here we separate. Of course you will be in as usual this evening?" for the Major's house was the general rendezvous after dinner.

Isobel had her private troubles, although, as she often said angrily to herself, when she thought of them, what did it matter now? She was discontented with herself for having spoken as strongly as she did as to the man's cowardice. She was very discontented with the Doctor for having repeated it. She was angry with Bathurst for staying away altogether, although willing to admit that, after he knew what she had said, it was impossible that he should meet her as before. Most of all, perhaps, she was angry because, at a time when their lives were all in deadly peril, she should allow the matter to dwell in her mind a single moment.

Late one afternoon Bathurst walked into the Major's bungalow just as he was about to sit down to dinner.

"Major, I want to speak to you for a moment," he said.

"Sit down and have some dinner, Bathurst. You have become altogether a stranger."

"Thank you, Major, but I have a great deal to do. Can you spare me five minutes now? It is of importance."

Isobel rose to leave the room.

"There is no reason you should not hear, Miss Hannay, but it would be better that none of the servants should be present. That is why I wish to speak before your uncle goes in to dinner."

Isobel sat down with an air of indifference.

"For the last week, Major, I have ridden every day five and twenty to thirty miles in the direction of Cawnpore; my official work has been practically at an end since we heard the news from Meerut. I could be of no use here, and thought that I could do no better service than trying to obtain the earliest news from Cawnpore; I am sorry to say that this afternoon I distinctly heard firing in that direction. What the result is, of course, I do not know, but I feel that there is little doubt that troubles have begun there. But this is not all. On my return home, ten minutes ago, I found this letter on my dressing table. It had no direction and is, as you see, in Hindustanee," and he handed it to the Major, who read:

"To the Sahib Bathurst,--Rising at Cawnpore today. Nana Sahib and his troops will join the Sepoys. Whites will be destroyed. Rising at Deennugghur at daylight tomorrow. Troops, after killing whites, will join those at Cawnpore. Be warned in time--this tiger is not to be beaten off with a whip."

"Good Heavens!" the Major exclaimed; "can this be true? Can it be possible that the Rajah of Bithoor is going to join the mutineers? It is impossible; he could never be such a scoundrel."

"What is it, uncle?" Isobel asked, leaving her seat and coming up to him.

The Major translated the letter.

"It must be a hoax," he went on; "I cannot believe it. What does this stuff about beating a tiger with a whip mean?"

"I am sorry to say, Major Hannay, that part of the letter convinces me that the contents can be implicitly relied upon. The writer did not dare sign his name, but those words are sufficient to show me, and were no doubt intended to show me, who the warning comes from. It is from that juggler who performed here some six weeks ago. Traveling about as he does, and putting aside altogether those strange powers of his, he has no doubt the means of knowing what is going on. As I told you that night, I had done him some slight service, and he promised at the time that, if the occasion should ever arise, he would risk his life to save mine. The fact that he showed, I have no doubt, especially to please me, feats that few Europeans have seen before, is, to my mind, a proof of his goodwill and that he meant what he said."

"But how do you know that it is from him. Bathurst? You will excuse my pressing the question, but of course everything depends on my being assured that this communication is trustworthy."

"This allusion to the tiger shows me that, Major. It alludes to an incident that I believe to be known only to him and his daughter and to Dr. Wade, to whom alone I mentioned it."

As the Major still looked inquiringly, Bathurst went on reluctantly. "It was a trifling affair, Major, the result of a passing impulse. I was riding home from Narkeet, and while coming along the road through the jungle, which was at that time almost deserted by the natives on account of the ravages of the man eater whom the Doctor afterwards shot, I heard a scream. Galloping forward, I came upon the brute, standing with one paw upon a prostrate girl, while a man, the juggler, was standing frantically waving his arms. On the impulse of the moment I sprang from my horse and lashed the tiger across the head with that heavy dog whip I carry, and the brute was so astonished that it bolted in the jungle.

"That was the beginning and end of affairs, except that, although fortunately the girl was practically unhurt, she was so unnerved that we had to carry her to the next village, where she lay for some time ill from the shock and fright. After that they came round here and performed, for my amusement, the feats I told you of. So you see I have every reason to believe in the good faith of the writer of this letter."

"By Jove, I should think you had!" the Major said. "Why, my dear Bathurst, I had no idea that you could do such a thing!"

"We have all our strong points and our weak ones, Major. That was one of my strong ones, I suppose. And now what had best be done, sir? That is the important question at present."

This was so evident, that Major Hannay at once dismissed all other thoughts from his mind.

"Of course I and the other officers must remain at our posts until the Sepoys actually arrive. The question is as to the others. Now that we know the worst, or believe we know it, ought we to send the women and children away?"

"That is the question, sir. But where can they be sent? Lucknow is besieged; the whites at Cawnpore must have been surrounded by this time; the bands of mutineers are ranging the whole country, and at the news that Nana Sahib has joined the rebels it is probable that all will rise. I should say that it was a matter in which Mr. Hunter and other civilians had better be consulted."

"Yes, we will hold a council," the Major said.

"I think, Major, it should be done quietly. It is probable that many of the servants may know of the intentions of the Sepoys, and if they see that anything like a council of the Europeans was being held they may take the news to the Sepoys, and the latter, thinking that their intention is known, may rise at once."

"That is quite true. Yes, we must do nothing to arouse suspicion. What do you propose, Mr. Bathurst?"

"I will go and have a talk with the Doctor; he can go round to the other officers one by one. I will tell Mr. Hunter, and he will tell the other residents, so that when they meet here in the evening no explanations will be needed, and a very few words as we sit out on the veranda will be sufficient."

"That will be a very good plan. We will sit down to dinner as if nothing had happened; if they are watching at all, they will be keeping their eyes on us then."

"Very well; I will be in by nine o'clock, Major;" and with a slight bow to Isobel, Bathurst stepped out through the open window, and made his way to the Doctor's.