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Then Hunsa, having repeated the appeal to Bhowanee, strode toward the goal, and reaching it, cast the iron shot to the ground, holding up his hand in triumph. His was the hand of a gorilla, thick skinned, rough and hard like that of a workman, and now it showed no sign of a burning. "What say you, Ajeet Singh?" Sookdee asked.

Sookdee, Ajeet Singh, and Hunsa, accompanied by twenty men, and Gulab Begum took the road, the Gulab travelling in an enclosed cart as befitted the favourite of a raja, and with her rode the wife of Sookdee as her maid. Ajeet rode a Marwari stallion, a black, roach-crested brute, with bad hocks and an evil eye. The Ajeet sat his horse a convincing figure, a Rajput Raja.

His life was forfeit, and they've offered him his life back to come here and turn Approver to become a spy, not for us but as a spy on us for them. Ajeet would know that information of his coming to me would be carried to them by spies the spies are always with me and his life wouldn't be worth two annas.

Bootea clawed at his face; she kicked and fought; her voice screaming a call to Ajeet. There was a heavy rolling thump of hoofs upon the roadway, unheard of Hunsa because of the vociferous struggle. Then from the shimmer of moonlight thrust the white form of a big Turcoman horse that was thrown almost to his haunches, his breast striking the back of the decoit.

"What discredits Hunsa's story," Barlow said thoughtfully, "is that the Gulab was in the protection of Ajeet Singh who was but a thakur at best really a protector of decoits." "To save Kumari's life she had been given to the yogi, and he would act not out of affection for the girl's standing as a princess, but to prevent discovery, bloodshed, and, her life.

"Ajeet has told why the men were brought for what purpose?" "Yes, Gulab; to kill Amir Khan." "And when they refused to go on this mission, the Dewan, to get them in his power, connived with Hunsa to make the decoity so that their lives would be forfeit, then if the Dewan punished them for not going the Raja of Karowlee could not make trouble.

Ajeet was forced to admit that it was the one thorough way, but he persisted that they were decoits and not thugs. At this Sookdee laughed: "Jamadar," he said, "what matters to a dead man the manner of his killing? Indeed it is a merciful way. Such as Bhowanee herself decreed in a second it is over. But with the spear, or the sword ah!

Go!" and he looked at Ajeet; "talk it over amongst yourselves, and send to me one of your wives that will lead a company lend your women your tulwars."

"And forget not, Ajeet, that we are here among the Mahrattas far from our own forests that we can escape into if there is outcry," Sookdee interjected. "If the voices are hushed and the bodies buried beneath where we cook our food, there will be only silence till we are safe back in Karowlee. The Dewan will not protect us if there is an outcry he will deny that he has promised protection."

It had been arranged that Ajeet would escort Bootea, with two Bagrees as attendants, to the grove of trees half a mile down the road. He had insisted on this in the way of a negative support to the murder. As there would be no fighting this did not reflect on his courage as a leader. And as to complicity, Hunsa knew that as the leader of the party, Ajeet would be held the chief culprit.