THE ABDUCTION

Janet and Bessie had continued their morning rides with Dirrag,
notwithstanding the unpleasant meeting with Prince Kasam, which,
although duly reported by the warrior to the Khan, had not been deemed
of sufficient importance to interrupt their pleasure.

But since then Dirrag had led them through the valley to the south and
east, where the country was more thickly settled, and avoided riding
very far from the walls.

However, on the morning following the arrival of the Grand Mufti Salaman
at Mekran, Bessie pleaded with Dirrag to again take them up the westward
slope, that they might once more look upon the camp of the Prince.
Dirrag hesitated at first, but finally consented and turned the horses’
heads in that direction. The steeds of Mehmet, he reflected, were the
fleetest in the khan’s dominions, and his own trusted cimeter would be
equal to any emergency. Moreover, when a woman pleaded Dirrag’s heart
was water, and Bessie was his favorite.

It was a beautiful morning, and the sun had just risen to cast a golden
glow over the distant plain, where the white dots appeared to their eyes
in increased numbers.

“Kasam’s army is growing,” said Bessie. “Surely there are many more
tents than there were before.”

“The air may be filled with vultures, yet they dare not attack a living
lion,” remarked Dirrag, quietly.

“But why shouldn’t Kasam himself be the lion?” she retorted. “Is he so
much inferior to the mysterious Ahmed Khan?”

“The future will decide that,” said Dirrag. “Those who know my master
have no fear of Kasam of Raab.”

After remaining a short time to watch he picturesque scene spread out
before them they turned their horses to descend the hill. All three were
busy with their own reflections, and had nearly reached the foot of the
incline, with the walls of Mekran less than two miles away, when three
mounted men who had been concealed in a thicket dashed out and, without
warning, fell savagely upon the band. Two with drawn swords engaged
Dirrag in fierce combat, while the third, coming beside Janet, dragged
the girl from her horse, swept her across to his own saddle, and then
galloped away with his victim clasped tight in his arms.

Bessie, reining in her horse, sat as if turned to stone, for she
recognized in the abductor of Janet their old friend Prince Kasam.

With dull eyes and set face she followed the flight of his horse as he
bounded up the hill with his burden, nor could the growls of Dirrag, who
was engaged in beating down the swords of his assailants with mighty
strokes, distract her from the more astounding sight.

Janet, unable to elude the fierce embrace of the man who held her, did
not waste her strength in useless struggles. But after the first
surprise of her capture had passed away she managed to find her voice,
crying out:

“Release me, Prince Kasam!”

“Never!” he answered, exultantly. “You are mine, now–mine forever! And
no earthly power shall ever tear you from my arms.”

“Where are you taking me?”

“To my tent, beloved, there to become my bride. Don’t you know that I
love you–love you–love you!”

He repeated the words at each bound of his great black horse, pressing
her yet closer to his breast, as if a madness possessed him.

“Never will I wed you!” gasped the frightened girl, trembling in spite
of her effort at control. “You are a coward to seize me thus, and you
are mad!” NORFLOXACIN

“Yes, mad with love,” he answered in a desperate voice. “I cannot live
without you, my Janet. Willing or unwilling, it matters not. You shall
be mine, and mine alone!”

She turned and whispered a word in his ear. He laughed.

“So much the better, dear one. We shall not have to wait for a ceremony.
This is not England, nor America, but wild, free Baluchistan, and I am
master of a host. You are mine–you are mine–you are mine!”

He did not see a great bay speeding across from a neighboring grove to
intercept his path. He was kissing the girl’s hair, her neck, her
shoulders; hugging her fast in his wild embrace and blind to everything
else.

The man upon the bay sat motionless, his huge, muscular frame bent
slightly forward to favor the flight of his steed and his eyes fastened
upon the Baluch prince and his fair burden.

The minutes were few before the noble bay of Mehmet pressed upon the
flank of Kasam’s gelding; the abductor felt a stinging blow upon the
neck that lifted him full from his saddle and set him headlong upon the
ground; but as he fell Janet was seized in an iron grasp and torn from
his arms, being instantly transferred to a seat upon the other horse.




The bay never paused in its rapid flight, but swerved and circled until
its head was turned toward Mekran.

Janet, bewildered and stunned by the excitement of her adventure, for a
time lay inert within the strong arms of her rescuer. Then, slowly and
shyly, she turned her face to his, and meeting the look in his grey eyes
she smiled happily and nestled her head against the man’s broad breast.

And it so happened that Ahmed Khan leaned over and kissed the white brow
of the American girl just as his bay bore them past the spot where
Dirrag stood with gory blade looking down upon the two motionless forms
he had slain. Bessie had tumbled from her horse and lay in a heap upon
the ground, sobbing as if her heart was broken.

The warrior smiled significantly as he looked after the flying form of
his master. Then he turned and, not unkindly, shook the weeping girl’s
shoulder.

“Come,” he said, “we will ride back alone to Mekran.”