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The Three Sapphires   By:

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THE THREE SAPPHIRES

BY W. A. FRASER

AUTHOR OF "FOOL'S GOLD," ETC.

ILLUSTRATED BY ARTHUR HEMING

NEW YORK GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY

Copyright, 1918, By George H. Doran Company

Copyright, 1918, by Street & Smith Corporation

Printed in the United States of America

[Illustration: THERE WAS A COUGHING ROAR AND A LEOPARD, TURNED BY THE SHOT, BOUNDED INTO THE JUNGLE.]

ILLUSTRATIONS

THERE WAS A COUGHING ROAR AND A LEOPARD, TURNED BY THE SHOT, BOUNDED INTO THE JUNGLE

PUNDIT BAGH SHOT INTO THE AIR A QUIVERING MASS OF GOLD AND BRONZE IN THE SUNLIGHT

GREAT AS WAS THE ELEPHANT'S STRENGTH, SHE COULD NOT BREAK THE PYTHON'S DEADLY CLASP

THE GRAY STALLION'S THUNDERING GALLOP ALL BUT DROWNING THE BLASPHEMOUS REPROACH

THE THREE SAPPHIRES

PART ONE

Chapter I

From where they were on the marble terrace that reached from the palace to a little lake the Lake of the Golden Coin Lord Victor Gilfain and Captain Swinton could see the intricate maze of Darpore City's lights down on the plain, six miles away.

Over the feather topped sal forest behind the palace a gorgeous moon was flooding the earth with light, turning to ribbons of gold the circling ripples on the jade lake, where mahseer and burbel splashed in play.

Rajah Darpore was leaning lazily against the fretwork marble balustrade just where the ghat steps dipped down under the water. He was really Prince Ananda, the shazada , for down in the city of glittering lights still lived his father, the maharajah; but it had become customary to address the prince as rajah.

A servant came and took their empty sherry glasses.

Prince Ananda was saying in his soft Oriental voice that the Oxford training had set to truer rhythm: "After that gallop up in the tonga I always find it restful to come out here and have my sherry and bitters before dinner."

"It's ripping; I mean that." And Lord Victor Gilfain stretched his slim arm toward the blinking lights of Darpore.

"I hope you're comfortable in the bungalow," the prince said solicitously. "I hadn't time when you arrived this morning to see just how you were placed. I haven't any bungalows up here, either; they're all in the cantonments."

"We're fitted up regal," Lord Victor answered; "horses, servants everything."

"Well, I'm very glad you came," Ananda said. "At Oxford we often talked about the shooting you were to have here, didn't we?"

"Rather."

"But I never thought Earl Craig would let you come. Having lived in India in his younger days, I fancied he'd be gun shy of the country."

Lord Victor laughed. "I got marching orders from the gov'nor."

The prince tapped a cigarette on the marble rail, lighted it from the fireball a watchful servant glided into range with, blew a puff of smoke out toward the little lake, and, with a smile, murmured dreamily: "I wonder if I knew the girl?"

"You didn't, old chap; though you've pipped the gov'nor's idea all right. Swinton here is my keeper; he's supposed to be immune."

"Well, you're safe at Darpore. There's absolutely nobody here just now. Everybody's in Calcutta."

"I fancy the gov'nor cabled out to ask about that before he packed me off." And Gilfain chuckled, a tribute to his reputation for gallantry.

"I should say you're in good hands, too." Ananda's white teeth showed in a smile that irritated Swinton. When Prince Ananda had met them at the train Swinton had seen his black eyes narrow in a hard look. He had been wondering if the prince knew his real position that he was Captain Herbert, of the secret service. But that was impossible. Probably the prince was mistrustful of all Europeans.

Then Ananda resumed, in an introspective way: "That's England all over; they're as much afraid of breaking caste by marrying lower down as we are here. In fact" Darpore raised his hand and pointed to the distant city "the maharajah is sitting yonder, probably in his glass prayer room, listening to some wandering troubadour singing the amorous love songs of 'Krishna and the Milkmaids,' and his mind is quite at rest, knowing that the Brahman caste is so strong that it protects itself in the way of misalliance... Continue reading book >>




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