Chandrashekhar (Mullick)/Part5/Chapter 3

CHAPTER III.
DANCING AND MUSIC.

IN a spacious edifice at Monghyr, lived the brothers Swarup Chand Jagatshetth and Mahatab Chand Jagatshetth. Hundreds of lights were burning in the house at night. In the cool of a vaulted apartment overlaid with marble, countless lights were reflected from the jewellery of a dancing—girl. Water accumulates water, and the bright accumulates brightness. In the dazzling marble columns, in the brilliant musmud embroidered with gold and pearls, in the scent-holders set with sparkling diamonds and precious jewels, in the bright massive pearl-strings hanging round the Shetths’ necks, and in the dancing girl’s jewellery on the forearm, throat, hair and ears, the light was flashing and strains of delicious music floated across the room, mingling the bright with the sweet. The bright mingled with the sweet! When the moon rises in the blue sky at night, then the bright mingles with the sweet; when lightning glances shoot from beauty’s languishing eyes, soft as the nelumbo bathed in water, then the bright mingles with the sweet; when the blooming lotus—cluster reposes on the clear blue water of a tank pierced with the golden shafts of the rising sun, when the long rays of Phoebus slant on the ripplets of blue waterand inflame theliquid drops onthelotus leaves, when Dan Sol awakens the strains of the water-fowls, part the lips of the water-lily and peep in, then the bright mingles with the sweet; and again when the sun tumbles about in the diamond-cut anklets round the feet of your lady, then the bright mingles with the sweet. Once more when at the fall of day the clouds chase the dying sun in the sky ever eluding their grasp, then the bright mingles with the sweet; and yet again when your good lady dangling her ear-drops rushes after you with her flaming tongue, then also the bright mingles with the sweet. When the water of the Ganges is lit up by the moon and the foaming crests of waves thrown up by the wind glitter in the moonlight, then the bright mingles with the sweet; and when the sparkling champagne fizzes up and glistens in its crystal glass, then again the bright mingles with the sweet. When the soft south-breeze mingles with the star-lit night, when the dining—fee[1] of a Bramhin is kept in silver on the leaf—plate corner filled with delicate sweets, then also the bright mingles with the sweet. When the spring cuckoo trills away in a flush of joy at the advent of the morning sun, and lastly, when a woman resplendent with jewels sings in the radiance of rows of lights, then also the bright mingles with the sweet.

The bright mingled with the sweet, but none of that mingled with the heart of the Shetths. What mingled with theirs was Gurgan Khan.

The flames of war had now been kindled throughout Bengal. Without waiting for any orders from Calcutta, Mr. Ellis of Patna had attacked the fort there. At first he succeeded in taking it, but the Mussalman forces despatched from Monghyr combining with the Patna garrison soon recovered it for the Nawab. Ellis and the other Englishmen at Patna, who fell into their hands, were taken as prisoners to Monghyr. Both parties were now preparing for war in right earnest. Gurgan Khan was talking with the Shetths on this subject. The dancing and music was a mere blind; neither the Jagatshetths nor Gurgan Khan paid the least attention to it. They were only following the beaten track— who ever organised a musical party for the sake of the music?

Gurgan Khan had obtained his heart’s desire. He made up his mind to possess the throne of Bengal after defeating both parties when they had been weakened by war. But the first thing necessary to that end was to have the soldiery under his control. The soldiers again, could not be controlled without money; and money could not be had without the help of the Shetth millionaires. Therefore, it was absolutely necessary for him to confer with the Shetths.

Mir Kasim also knew very well that on whomsoever the favour of the millionaire brothers would shine, that party was sure to succeed. He further knew that the Jagatshetths were at heart not friendly towards him, as he had not treated them well. They had been kept closely guarded as prisoners at Monghyr on suspicion. He was quite sure that they would go over to the enemy on the first opportunity; hence be was trying to shut them up within the Fort. But the Shetths had got scent of the plan. Out of fear they had kept clear of all active hostility against Mir Kasim, but now they could find no other means of saving themselves, hence they joined Gurgan Khan. Both had the same object——the ruin of Mir Kasim.

But lest any meeting with them without any apparent cause, should rouse the Nawab’s suspicions, the Jagatshetths had got up this party and invited Gurgan Khan along with the other ministers.

Gurgan Khan came with the Nawab’s leave and sat apart from the other ministers. The Jagatshetths, in doing the honours, talked and stayed with him just as long as they did with the other guests and no more. But the talk with Gurgan Khan was carried on in an undertone, so that others might not overhear. It was to this effect:-

“I want to start a factory with you,” said Gurgan Khan.

"What’s your object?” asked Mahatab Chand.

“To suppress the Nawab’s factory at Monghyr.”

“We must do it I suppose. We don't find any means of getting on without starting a new business like that.”

“If you agree,” said Gurgan Khan, “then you must supply the capital, I shall do the labour.”

Just at this moment, the danseuse Mania approached, and sang in a peculiar strain : “Thou hast learnt guile well, &c., &c.” “For whom is it meant?” asked Mahatab smiling. Then turning to Gurgan, he resumed the conversation: “Very well, we agree. We shall be satisfied if our principal and interest are secure. We only want that we don’t get into trouble.”

While on the one hand, the dameuse sang in different varieties of Indian tunes, such as Kedar, Hambir, Chhayanat, &c.; on the other, Gurgan Khan and the Jagatsetths settled their terms with the help of such artful words as rupee, loss, money-present, &c. When everything had been settled, Gurgan Khan said :

“Have you heard that a new merchant is going to open a factory?”,

“No, we haven’t,” said Mahatab. “Is it Indian or English?”

“Indian.”

“At what place?”

“In all places from Monghyr to Murshidabad. Wherever there is a hill, ungle or plain, there will be a branch.”

"What sort of a capitalist is he?”

“He is not a rich capitalist yet, but one can’t say what might happen.”

“What firm does he carry his dealings with?”

“With the Government factory at Monghyr.”

“Is he a Mussalman or a Hindu?”

“He is a Hindu.”

“What is his name?”

“Protap Roy.”

“Where does he come from?”

“From a place near Murshidabad.”

“I have heard his name, he is an ordinary man.”

“He is a terrible man.”

“What is his object in rushing into this venture so suddenly?”

“He has done it to spite the Company’s factory at Calcutta.”

“He must be secured ; what tempts him most, can you say?”

“It is difficult to say without knowing what prompted him to this enterprise. If he has set about it as a paid servant then he can be bought up in no time. We can give him all kind of landed properties, but if there be something else, it will be a different matter.”

“What else can there be? What other object can he have in rushing into this enterprise?”

At this time the danseuse sang : “The nose—ring shines on the fair, fair face, &c.”

“Is that so?” said Mahatab Chand. “Who is the fair-faced one, pray?”


  1. Among the Hindus the feeding of a Bramhin is regarded as a meritorious act and it is usually accompanied by a dining-fee.