Rung Ho! by Talbot Mundy Page 1 of 339

CHAPTER I


Howrah City bows the knee
More or less to masters three,
King, and Prince, and Siva.
Howrah City pays in pain
Taxes which the royal twain
Give to priests, to give again
(More or less) to Siva.

THAT was no time or place for any girl of twenty to be wandering unprotected.

Rosemary McClean knew it; the old woman, of the sweeper caste, that is no caste at all,-the hag with the flat breasts and wrinkled skin, who followed her dogwise, and was no more protection than a toothless dog,-knew it well, and growled about it in incessant undertones that met with neither comment nor response.


"Leave a pearl of price to glisten on the street, yes!" she grumbled.

"Perhaps none might notice it-perhaps! But her-here-at this time-" She would continue in a rumbling growl of half-prophetic catalogues of evil-some that she had seen to happen, some that she imagined, and not any part of which was in the least improbable.

As the girl passed through the stenching, many-hued bazaar, the roar would cease for a second and then rise again.

Turbaned and pugreed-Mohammedan and Hindoo-men of all grades of color, language, and belief, but with only one theory on women, would stare first at the pony that she rode, then at her, and then at the ancient grandmother who trotted in her wake.



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