I cant, said Juseen Dazé, until you have made the Sutlej in the valley run up the Donga Pa.
No riddles, said Madu, and he shook his hatchet above Juseen Dazés white head.
Give all your money to the headmen of the village, said Juseen Dazé; and they will hold a communal Council, and the Council will send a message that your wife must come back.
So Madu gave up all his worldly wealth, amounting to twenty-seven rupees, eight annas, three pice, and a silver chain, to the Council of Kodru. And it fell as Juseen Dazé foretold.
They sent Athiras brother down into Suket Singhs regiment to call Athira home. Suket Singh kicked him once round the Lines, and then handled him over to the Havildar, who beat him with a belt.
Come back, yelled Athiras brother.
Where to? said Athira.
To Madu, said he.
Never, said she.
Then Juseen Dazë will send a curse, and you will wither away like a barked tree in the springtime, said Athiras brother. Athira slept over these things.
Next morning she had rheumatism. I am beginning to wither away like a barked tree in the springtime, she said. That is the curse of Juseen Dazé.
And she really began to wither away because her heart was dried up with fear, and those who believe in curses die from curses. Suket Singh, too, was afraid because he loved Athira better than his very life. Two months passed, and Athiras brother stood outside the regimental Lines again and yelped, Aha! You are withering away. Come back.
I will come back, said Athira.
Say rather that we we will come back, said Suket Singh.
Ai; but when? said Athiras brother.
Upon a day very early in the morning, said Suket Singh; and he tramped off to apply to the Colonel Sahib Bahadur for one weeks leave.
I am withering away like a barked tree in the spring, moaned Athira.
You will be better soon, said Suket Singh; and he told her what was in his heart, and the two laughed together softly, for they loved each other. But Athira grew better from that hour.
They went away together, travelling third-class by train as the regulations provided, and then in a cart to the low hills, and on foot to the high ones. Athira sniffed the scent of the pines of her own hills, the wet Himalayan hills. It is good to be alive, said Athira.
Hah! said Suket Singh. Where is the Kodru road, and where is the Forest Rangers house?
It cost forty rupees twelve years ago, said the Forest Ranger handing the gun.
Here are twenty, said Suket Singh, and you must give me the best bullets.
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