Chandrashekhar (Mullick)/Part3/Chapter 4


THE moon was shedding her silver light. Extensive tracts of sandy plain stretched far away on either side of the Ganges. In the light of the moon the sand ranges had assumed a whiter hue and the water of the Ganges had attained a deeper blue. The water of the river was deep blue, the rows of trees on the banks were deep green and the firmament above was a blue sheet set with gems. At such a moment the mind is often affected with a sense of vastness all around. The eternal river, eluding the utmost range of vision, like the dimly visible destiny of man, has faded away into the unknown. The limitless river below, the endless tracts of sand on the flanks, the countless trees on the banks, the infinite sky overhead with its wreaths of stars without reckoning-who ever counts his own personality at such a supreme moment! Is man more glorious than the particles of sand on the bank along which the line of boats was fastened?

Among this line, a big barge could be seen with a guard of sepoys on it. Two sepoys with rifles across their shoulders stood still like carved statues. In the interior, costly carpets of different variety, bedsteads, pictures, figures, and other articles were shining in the soft eflulgence of crystal lamps. Inside were a few Englishmen. Two of them were playing at chess, the third was sipping his glass and reading, and the fourth was playing on a musical instrument.

Suddenly every one was startle.d All at once a piercing wail came shooting across the stillness of the night.

In placing a check Amyatt asked Johnson, “What is that?” “Whose check has captured the king, yours or mine?” abstractedly asked Johnson in return.

The wail waxed sharper. The voice was not unpleasant, but in that silent waste of waters this nocturnal cry appeared hideous.

Amyatt left the game and stood up. He went out and looked round. He could see no one; nor was there any cremation-ground near by anywhere. The sound started from somewhere in the middle of the sandy plain.

Amyatt alighted from the boat and followed the sound. After proceeding a little, he saw somebody sitting alone in that sandy plain.

He drew near and found a woman wailing aloud. Amyatt did not know Hindustani well. “Who are you?” he asked, “Why are you crying?”

The woman could not understand anything of his Hindustani and continued to cry lustily. Unable to get any answer time after time, he waved her to follow him. The woman got on her feet. Amyatt, went in advance and she walked behind weeping. The woman was no other than that vile sinner Shabalini.