Chandra Shekhar/Part 5/Chapter 4
what dalani did
he stalwart man came and silently took his seat by Dalani. She was then weeping, but she controlled her tears out of fear, and remained absolutely silent and motionless. The man too kept perfectly quiet.
Simultaneously with this strange incident, was growing up, elsewhere, a fresh misfortune for Dalani!
Mahammad Taki had private instructions from the Nawab to anyhow rescue Dalani Begum from the hands of the English and send her to Monghyr.
Mahammad Taki thought that the deliverance of the Begum would follow, as a matter of course, if he could either capture or kill the Englishmen, who had been carrying her away with them. He therefore did not deem it necessary to give any special instruction to his men about the Begum. Subsequently, when he found that the Begum was not in the boat of the Englishmen, his men had killed, he felt that his position was quite insecure. There was absolutely no knowing what step the Nawab might not take against him, to punish his carelessness and negligence of duty. Apprehending the Nawab's displeasure and the serious consequences which might follow from it, Mahammad Taki, out of fear, made up his mind to deceive the Nawab. At that time, it was a wide-spread rumour that as soon as the war would break out, the English would release Mirzaffer from his captivity, and again install him on the Guddee of Bengal. So Mahammad Taki thought that if the English would gain, it would matter very little even if Mir Kashim would come to know of the trick he was intending to play with his royal master. Besides, it was absolutely necessary for him to anyhow prevent, at least for the present, any unpleasant order against him. If Mir Kashim would beat the English, thought Mahammad Taki, he would be able to devise means by which the Nawab could be kept in the dark about his conduct. Having thus made up his mind to play false with his master, Mahammad Taki sent to the Nawab, on the very night Dalani met the stalwart man on the isolated bank of the Ganges, a letter, full of gross and mischievous lies.
He wrote to say that the Begum had been found in Amyatt's boat and that he had brought her to the fort at Murshidabad, where she was now being kept with every mark of honour and respect. But he could not send her to the Nawab's royal court without a special order; for, he had come to know from Amyatt's servants that the Begum had been living with Amyatt as his mistress, and the Begum herself had admitted her guilt. She has embraced Christianity as her religion and is quite unwilling to go to Monghyr. She says, "Let me go away—I will go to Calcutta and live there with Amyatt's friends. If you will not let me off, I will seek every opportunity to steal away—if you will send me to Monghyr I will commit suicide." Under such circumstances, he could not but await instructions as to whether he would let off the Begum—detain her at Murshidabad—or send her to Monghyr. He would act according to the order he would now receive.
A messenger on horse-back started for Monghyr that very night, with that fatal letter.
It is said that misfortunes which are still far off, sometimes cast their shadows on our minds to indicate their approach. It may not be an absolute truth, but at the very moment the messenger left Murshidabad with Mahammad Taki's letter to the Nawab, every hair of Dalani's body suddenly stood up on its end, and the stalwart man, by her side, spoke out for the first time. Be it for his voice or the gloom of a fore-shadowed evil or something altogether different, Dalani all on a sudden shuddered at that evil moment.
The stalwart man said, "I know you—you are Dalani Begum."
Dalani got startled.
The man said, "I know too that you have been thrown into this lonely region by a wicked profligate."
Tears again came out from Dalani's eyes, in torrents. The stranger enquired, "Where do you mean to go now?"
Dalani was frightened at the sight of the stalwart figure of her present companion in solitude, but his words dispelled all fear from her mind—she found sufficient reason not to be afraid of him. But nevertheless, she did not reply to the query and began to weep, as before. The man repeated his question, and then Dalani said,
"Where shall I go? I have no place in this world to resort to. I have only one place of shelter, but that is far off from this desolate shore—who will take me there?"
"You better banish from your mind your desire to go to the Nawab again," replied the man.
"Why?" enquired Dalani, in surprise and with great anxiety.
"Evil will betide you if you will do so," was his cruel reply.
Dalani shuddered at this gloomy forecast, and she said, almost choked with emotion, "Let it be so—I must go there; for, I have no other shelter in this world. It is thousand times better to face misfortune and be by the side of one's lord than to be away from him to be safe."
"In that case, come," said the man. "I will take you along with me to Mahammad Taki at Murshidabad. He will send you to Monghyr. But, better listen to my advice—the war has commenced and you should not go there now. The Nawab is making necessary arrangements to send the members of his household to the fort at Ruhidas."
"Whatever misfortune may befall me, I must go there," said Dalani with an impressive determination.
"It is the decree of the inexorable fate that you shall not see Monghyr again," was the stern reply of the mysterious man.
Dalani Begum anxiously said, "Who can say what is in store for me? I will go to Murshidabad with you. So long as the last spark of life will be in me, I will not give up the hope of beholding my beloved lord again."
"I know that very well," said the stalwart man. "Come with me."
In that dark night, Dalani set out for Murshidabad with her strange and unknown companion. Poor soul, she was going there to give her life, just as a charmed fly approaches a blazing fire, quite unsuspicious of the impending death!