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The Lamp in the Desert   By: (1881-1939)

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THE LAMP IN THE DESERT

by

ETHEL M. DELL

Author of The Way of an Eagle , The Knave of Diamonds , The Rocks of Valpré , The Swindler, and Other Stories , The Keeper of the Door , The Bars of Iron , The Hundredth Chance , The Safety Curtain, and Other Stories , Greatheart

1919

[Illustration: "He knelt beside her, his arms comfortingly around her."]

Drawn by D.C. Hutchinson

I DEDICATE THIS BOOK TO

MY DEARLY LOVED

ELIZABETH

AND TO THE MEMORY OF HER GREAT GOODNESS

WHEN SHE WALKED IN THE

DESERT WITH ME

"He led them all the night through with a light of fire."

PSALM lxxviii, 14.

Lamps that gleam in the city, Lamps that flare on the wall, Lamps that shine on the ways of men, Kindled by men are all.

But the desert of burnt out ashes, Which only the lost have trod, Dark and barren and flowerless, Is lit by the Hand of God.

To lighten the outer darkness, To hasten the halting feet, He lifts a lamp in the desert Like the lamps of men in the street.

Only the wanderers know it, The lost with those who mourn, That lamp in the desert darkness, And the joy that comes in the dawn.

That the lost may come into safety, And the mourners may cease to doubt, The Lamp of God will be shining still When the lamps of men go out.

CHAPTER

PART I

I. BEGGAR'S CHOICE II. THE PRISONER AT THE BAR III. THE TRIUMPH IV. THE BRIDE V. THE DREAM VI. THE GARDEN VII. THE SERPENT IN THE GARDEN VIII. THE FORBIDDEN PARADISE

PART II

I. THE MINISTERING ANGEL II. THE RETURN III. THE BARREN SOIL IV. THE SUMMONS V. THE MORNING VI. THE NIGHT WATCH VII. SERVICE RENDERED VIII. THE TRUCE IX. THE OASIS X. THE SURRENDER

PART III

I. BLUEBEARD'S CHAMBER II. EVIL TIDINGS III. THE BEAST OF PREY IV. THE FLAMING SWORD V. TESSA VI. THE ARRIVAL VII. FALSE PRETENCES VIII. THE WRATH OF THE GODS

PART IV

I. DEVIL'S DICE II. OUT OF THE DARKNESS III. BLUEBELL IV. THE SERPENT IN THE DESERT V. THE WOMAN'S WAY VI. THE SURPRISE PARTY VII. RUSTAM KARIN VIII. PETER IX. THE CONSUMING FIRE X. THE DESERT PLACE

PART V

I. GREATER THAN DEATH II. THE LAMP III. TESSA'S MOTHER IV. THE BROAD ROAD V. THE DARK NIGHT VI. THE FIRST GLIMMER VII. THE FIRST VICTIM VIII. THE FIERY VORTEX IX. THE DESERT OF ASHES X. THE ANGEL XI. THE DAWN XII. THE BLUE JAY

PART I

CHAPTER I

BEGGAR'S CHOICE

A great roar of British voices pierced the jewelled curtain of the Indian night. A toast with musical honours was being drunk in the sweltering dining room of the officers' mess. The enthusiastic hubbub spread far, for every door and window was flung wide. Though the season was yet in its infancy, the heat was intense. Markestan had the reputation in the Indian Army for being one of the hottest corners in the Empire in more senses than one, and Kurrumpore, the military centre, had not been chosen for any especial advantages of climate. So few indeed did it possess in the eyes of Europeans that none ever went there save those whom an inexorable fate compelled. The rickety, wooden bungalows scattered about the cantonment were temporary lodgings, not abiding places. The women of the community, like migratory birds, dwelt in them for barely four months in the year, flitting with the coming of the pitiless heat to Bhulwana, their little paradise in the Hills. But that was a twenty four hours' journey away, and the men had to be content with an occasional week's leave from the depths of their inferno, unless, as Tommy Denvers put it, they were lucky enough to go sick, in which case their sojourn in paradise was prolonged, much to the delight of the angels.

But on that hot night the annual flitting of the angels had not yet come to pass, and notwithstanding the heat the last dance of the season was to take place at the Club House. The occasion was an exceptional one, as the jovial sounds that issued from the officers' mess house testified... Continue reading book >>




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