Chandrashekhar (Mullick)/Part3/Chapter 2


MEANWHILE the letter carried by the ascetic had been duly laid before the Nawab. He came to know where Dalani was. To fetch her and Kulsam, palanquins were despatched to Protap’s house.

Morning had pretty far gone at the time. No one Was in the house except Shaibalini. The Nawab’s people took her for the Begum.

Shaibalini was told that she must accompany them to the fort. Suddenly a mischievous idea struck her mind. The poets go mad in chanting the praises of Hope. She is the source, no doubt, of much happiness in this world, but she is alone responsible for all misery. Whatever sins are committed, are done in the hope of gain. Only virtuous acts are not done with any such motive. The actions of those who are prompted to them by the hope of earning heaven cannot be called virtuous. Deluded by this very Hope, without any demur, Shaibalini got into the palanquin.

The eunuch first took her into the fort and then carried her within the harem into the Nawab’s presence. The Nawab found she was not Dalani, he further found that Dalani was not so wonderfully beautiful; over and above, he found that there was none so bewitching in his whole harem.

“Who are you?” asked the Nawab.

“I am a Brahmin woman.”

“Why have you come here?”

“Your Highness’ servants have brought me.”

"They mistook you for the Begum. Why hasn’t the Begum come?”

“She is not there.”

“Then where is she?”

Shaibalini had seen Galstaun and Johnson carry Dalani and Kulsam away from Protap’s house. She did not know who the ladies were. She had taken them for serving maids or dancing-girls. But when the Nawab’s men informed her that the Begum was in that house and Shaibalini’s presence was required before the Nawab, then it occurred to her that the Begum had been taken away hy the Englishmen. Shaibalini fell into a brown study.

“Have you seen her?” asked the Nawab when he found her silent.

“Yes, I have.”

“Where did you see her?”

“In the place where we were last night.”

“Where is that? In Protap Roy’s house?”

“Yes, if you please.”

“Do you know where the Begum has gone from there?”

“Two Englishmen have forcibly carried her away.”

“What do you say?”

Shaibalini repeated her answer. The Nawab remained silent. He bit his underlip, tore his beard, and sent for Gurgan Khan.

“Do you know,” continued the Nawab, “why the Englishmen took the Begum away?”

“No, I do not.”

“Where was Protap at the time?”

“He also has been taken away in that company.”

“Was there any one else in his house?”

“There was a servant, and he too has been taken away.

“Can you tell me,” again asked the Nawab, “why they have been taken away?”

Hitherto Shaibalini had kept to the truth, now she began falsehoods and said, “No, I can not.”

“Who is Protap? Where does he come from?”

“Shaibalini gave a correct account of him.”

“Why did he come here?”

“He was in search of employment under your Highness.”

“How is he related to you?”

“He is my husband:”

“What is your name?”

“My name is Rupasi.”

Shaibalini gave the above answer with the greatest ease. The wretched sinner had gone there for that very purpose.

“Very well,” said the Nawab, “you can go home now.”

“What home have I got?” cried Shaibalini, “Where shall I go?”

The Nawab remained silent in thought for a second and the next moment asked, “Then where do you propose to go?”

“To my husband. Have. the goodness to send me to him. You are the sovereign, I am laying my grievance before you. My husband has been forcibly carried off by the English, either procure his release or send me to him. If you turn a deaf ear to my prayer and refuse to give me redress, then in this very spot, in your presence, I will kill myself. That is the object of my coming here.”

Gurgan Khan was announced.

“Very well, you can wait here, I am coming,” and the Nawab left Shaibalini and went away.