'One word, sahib,' said Subdul Khan, whose hand was still on Snow-queen's bridle. He spoke low and mysteriously, and Tom, fearing that he had made some uncomfortable discovery about his mare's soundness, stooped down to listen. But all Subdul Khan said was, 'Let me entreat my master to be careful. There are traitors in this place.' Before Tom could ask him to explain, Snow-queen, free at last, had set off, with her long, easy stride, tossing her mane and snorting joyously. The rapid movement was exhilarating. Tom's spirits rose till he felt ready to defy the universe.

'What do we care for traitors?' he said to his horse in 오피알바 English. 'We could escape, you and I together, if we were put to it, old friend! I can see you dashing through a crowd of them like a whirlwind. There! gently! gently!' Snow-queen, excited by her master's voice, and in mere wantonness of heart, had tossed up her heels and redoubled her pace. 'We are coming into civilised quarters, Snow-queen, and we must behave like civilised beings.'

They had crossed the Maidan, a wilderness of burnt-up grass, where the native troops, whose huts could be seen as a low, white line in the distance, were drilled and trained under their European officers. They were coming now upon a road, on either side of which the bungalows of the English military and civil officers, with the humbler dwelling-places of Eurasian and European clerks and mechanics, were scattered.

Here Tom drew up and waited for Hoosanee, who was some distance behind him. The gallop over the Maidan had satisfied Snow-queen for the moment, and she stood perfectly still, while her master, stroking her glossy neck caressingly, looked out before him.

It was very early indeed. The sun had not yet leapt over the rim of the vast plain; but the eastern heavens were glowing like a furnace, and from the dreadful zenith star after star was fading out. Beneath the sky the plain, with its villages and groves and burnt-up fields, and multitudes of freshly-kindled morning fires, round which, like busy ants, the people clustered, lay outstretched mysteriously. Not the Elysian fields themselves could have been more peaceful than this early morning scene.