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Weird Tales

JULY, 1935

A Grave Is Five Feet Deep

By AALLA ZAATA

Every other night the Englishman dug the grave of a little child one inch deeper—a strange weird tale of India 

"PLACE haunted?" inquired the prospective buyer of the too-anxious owner.

"No," answered Captain Colbraith, and a little gesture seemed to relinquish sappan, cassia and palm trees, white laurel, hibiscus and thickets of red geranium, the whole exquisite estate of Huiplul. The larger part of this flower garden, of great and small growth, he had brought to this place and by infinite labor, by spending a fortune, he owned one of the beauty spots of India. This man would buy it and never know of its different fringes in the spring, of its passion torches in the summer, its later avid verdure, its last whispered deflowering.

The two Englishmen stood silent a moment, gazing at the wonderful grounds, copied partly from English lands and partly from the lands of an Indian prince, the magnificence of the East mingling with the clearly defined methods of English grounds. The residence was of the red sandstone of India, as were the terraces and walks leading to it.

Meredith was not an impressionable man, but some curious thoughts struggled upward in his mind. There was some strange mystery here. A man did not spend fifteen years making a paradise to put it on the market as cheaply as had Colbraith, unless———Without actually intending it, he said impulsively, "You could have sold it ten times over at the price you ask if there is no debarment."

After it was said he regretted it, for Colbraith's face showed strain, the strain of a man who did not sleep well, or who was recovering from fever.

Colbraith's hesitance was so slight that the other would not have noticed it but for his absorbed interest. "I have just decided to sell it; I am leaving the country in a few days, not to return. Come to the house and have a drink."

Meredith paused before entering the porte-cochere. It is almost impossible for anyone, not a cosmopolitan, to imagine such unexampled beauty as is produced here when wealth and landscape knowledge have endorsed the native land.

The residence was on an eminence, but so perfectly incorporated that it appeared almost level, and only the twelve steps at the porte-cochere asserted the fact. The driveway was half a mile in circumference and wide enough for two gigantic motors to pass. The center of this, a small lake, was so crowded with white and pink water lilies that they had to be regularly thinned. Around it were the Kashmir roses, in such loveliness and fragrance that it might have been said of them, as of Kashmir's, that they had been cultivated for forty generations. Red stone steps led down to this lake here and there, and a couple of boats idled on the water, painted the exact shade of its marvelous green. It was a nursery of dreams. Stretching away, as far as the eyes could see, were the crimson and yellow mimosas, the plumes of the tamarisk, the palms, singly and id groups, as potentates, as parliaments.

How could Colbraith give it up?—if be bought it no power on earth could make him relinquish it.

MEREDITH followed Colbraith into the immense hall, hung about with Eastern tapestries, carved with intricate Moorish work, furnished with the Bladewood furniture of Bombay. He would have paused here, would have greatly enjoyed handling the specimens of enamel and ivory, the marvelous damascene work of the Punjab, but a possible buyer must not be too interested.

He looked at Colbraith's back, and if backs told anything this one said he was at the end of his tether and his life was futureless. He had been drinking hard, that was certain. Meredith wondered a little. India is the home of many derelicts, of strange, unbelievable stories, only waiting for death to write the final chapter.

He recalled what he had beard about this man in Calcutta. Report had it that he was returning to England to marry some girl and that the affair—he met her in India—had been going on long before his wife's death. He had actually brought her to this place and kept her a week without his wife's knowledge! The residence was large enough. With servants with whom the fear of a master was as much instilled as the fear of their gods, it could have been managed. Then the wife died, because of his barbarity, for she would not divorce him; and now the girl refused to live in this small palace of beauty.

Frequently women came from England to obtain husbands and then insisted upon returning to England to live. How much of this w...

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