1. Word from Tikamgarh




At one point, shortly after her disappearance. I feared that Monsieur Roland would take his own life. He was naturally prone to melancholy but he had now turned to dark and morbid thoughts arising out of deepest despair. "She has cut the heart out of me," he had cried, as I knocked a vial of poison from his hand. "Bernier," he wept, "I swear I cannot live without her."


The arrival of the registered letter from India had revived his hopes. It was the first word he had received from her in over a year. Monsieur's hands trembled when he placed the envelope in my hands. It contained a postcard and a folded note. The message was cryptic, as one might expect from her . . . .


Monsieur studied the contents of the envelope, glanced at the note, scarcely reading it and thrust the papers back at me. He bowed his head and wept. "She loves me, yet, Bernier." He looked up then in wild desperation. “She loves me, Bernier?” his voice trailing off.


He paced about his study in agitation and then, turning to me, said: "You must find her. Find her and bring her back to me. Spare no expense. If she is India, then go there. If she is on the dark side of the moon, then go there. Find her."