Newspaper Page Text
The oldjuiest smoked and listened,
and while Mannering was wondering
at his silence, a shower of stones
came through the windows of the
residency, thrown by the turbulent,
fanatical mob without. The priest
rose, smiling. "You see," he said
"The decision is not in my power,
sahib. The people are very much at
tached to the faith of Kali and they
want to be free. Only one thing can
keep them loyaL"
"What is that?" asked Mannering.
The priest leaned forward confi
dentially. "If the sahib will also ac
cept th5 faith of Kali the people will
hear his words," he said.
When he was gone and the few
native servants had dispersed the
mob Mannering paced his room,
thinking. He was a sincerely relig
ious man; he, believed that to become
an idolator would have centain spir
itual consequences; he knew that It
meant the loss of Mary Treyethan,
whom he had loved since he was a
boy. But, if a man should sacrifice
his life for his country, how much the
more should he not sacrifice his soCB
for her, and the woman he loves?
The struggle lasted all night. At
dawn he sent for the priest Muzzur,
entering, found a haggard man with
drawn cheeks and hair streaked with
gray. Mannering had aged twenty
years in that one night
"Muzzur," said Mannering, "pre
pare r a proclamation for the people
stating that I haveMecided to accept
the faith of; Kali, and that I shall at
tend a't the temple tomorrow, when
the annual festival begins, to pros
trate myself before the goddess."
The old priest watched him with a
serene face. He knew the struggle
that Mannering had gone through.
He knew, too, that,the rajah would
not be- oyerpleased at this dramatic
ending of all his plans for carving out
an idolatrous empire In the heart of
flIt shall be done as the sahib says,"
fie answered at la6t, and withdrew.
VThe news buzzed through Bunda-
pur, Within two hours, all tjfeinhab-
itants of the state knew that the god-
dess Kali of the many hands had con-
quered. The enthusiasm was fnde-'
scribable. A huge mob gathered out
side the residency and cheered Itself
hoarse. But Inside Mannering was
pacing up and down, and he paced all
night and none dared disturb him.
At dawn he called the bearers of
his palanquin, and, stepping inside,
he allowed himself to be borne
through the enthusiastic mobs that
lined the streets toward Kali's tem
ple. Bundapur was en fete. The
opening of tha great annual festival
was occasion ror frenzies of fanat
was aware of all this. He knew that
version of Mannering was the cause
of the wildest excitement Through
the streets rushed fanatics, slashing
themselves with knives. The golden
image of the goddess was borne back
from the procession to the accom
paniment of a band of temple women,
who danced and leaped above the
bodles of the prostrate devotees.
x.iQUb, j-o f rvr?
was aware 01 an uus. ne imew mat
no punishment could expiate his of
fense. He was giving his country"
that which infinitely dearer than life.
His love, his soul, his honor; he stared
at the photograph whicn ne was hold
ing. It represented Mary Trevathan
as she had appeared when he was
home four years before. He would
never see her again, but somehow
he felt that at this crisis where dis
honor and honor met, her spirit stood
The palanquin stopped. The cur
tains were drawn back. Mannering
stepped out and entered the gro
tesque temple, walking on a path
strewn with flowers. .Inside he heard
the throbbing of flutes and the sighs
of a' vast multitude of worshipers.
Then he was before the altar, beside
old Muzzur, who "held the' sacrificial
knife and staring into his eyes were
the cruel eyes of Kali, the stone im
age with the many hands, each drip
ping with humjblood.