Chandrashekhar (Mullick)/Part5/Chapter 4


THE tall individual came and silently sat by Dalani’s side.

Dalani had been weeping, but terror had dried up her tears and she remained motionless. The stranger also remained silent.

During the time all this happened another heavy calamity had been brewing for her elsewhere.

Secret orders had been sent to Mahammad Taqui Khan to send Dalani to Monghyr after rescuing her from the hands of the English. Taqui had thought that as soon as the Englishmen were captured or killed, Dalani would naturally fall into his hands; therefore, he did not think it necessary to give any special instructions to his people with regard to her. Subsequently when he discovered that the Begum was not in the boat of the defunct Englishmen, he found himself in a quandary. One cannot tell what unknown miseries the Nawab’s wrath might prepare for him on account of his remissness and neglect. Oppressed with this apprehension he boldly struck out a plan to hoodwink the Nawab. A rumour had been afloat that as soon as war broke out, the English would release Mir Jafar from his captivity and replace him on the throne. If the English came out victorious, then Mir Kasim’s subsequent knowledge of the deception could not possibly harm him. It was enough if he could save his neck for the present. If, on the other hand, Mir Kasim turned out victorious, then some means must be devised for keeping the truth from him. One must be careful to guard against any severe orders for the present. When he had fixed on this wicked resolve, he sent a report to the Nawab that very night bristling with a tissue of falsehoods.

Taqui wrote that the Begum had been found in Amyatt’s boat. He had brought her with all due honour and kept her in the fort. But he could not send her to the Nawab without special orders. He had heard from the Englishmen’s comrades, servants, crew, sepoys, and other survivors, that the Begum had lived in the boat as Amyatt’s mistress. Both had slept on the same bed. The Begum herself had admitted all this. She was now a Christian, and refused to go to Monghyr. “Don’t force me,” says she, “let me go my own way, please. I have a mind to go to Calcutta and live with Mr. Amyatt’s friends. If you do not let me go I will try to escape, and if you attempt to send me to Monghyr by force, I am sure to commit suicide.” Whether she should be sent to Monghyr under these circumstances, or kept there, or allowed to go her own way, were matters for which he awaited orders. No sooner the orders came than he would proceed to their carrying out. To this effect Taqui indited a report.

That very night a mounted courier started with the report for Monghyr.

People say that our mind sometimes shadows forth distant and unknown calamities. Not that it is true: but the moment the mounted courier left Murshidabad with the report, a thrill ran across Dalani’s frame. That very moment the tall individual by her side spoke the first words. Whether it was his voice, or the first quickenings of an approaching calamity, whatever it might be, that very moment she felt a cold shiver shoot across her body.

“I know you,” began the man at her side, “you are Dalani Begum.”

Dalani gave a start.

“I know you have been abandoned in this lonely place by a wicked scoundrel,” continued the man.

The torrent from her eyes again broke loose and the stranger resumed, “Where do you intend to go now?”

Suddenly the fear left her. Dalani had found good reasons for it. She again wept. The tall man repeated his question.

“Where shall I go!” cried Dalani. “I have no place to go to. There is only one place, but that is very far, who will take me there?”

“You had better give up all idea of going to the Nawab," said the stranger.

Dalani was amazed and tremulously asked, “Why do you say so?”

“You are sure to get into danger,” said the stranger.

“Let there be danger,” she replied with a shudder, “I do not mind, I have no other refuge. Better danger by the side of one’s husband, than safety elsewhere.”

“Then get up,” said the stranger. “I will leave you with Mahammad Taqui at Murshidabad, he will send you to Monghyr. But follow my advice yet. War has already begun. The Nawab is making arrangements for sending his household to the Fort of Rhotasgarh. Do not go to Monghyr now.”

“Whatever might befall, I am determined to go.”

“You are not destined to visit Monghyr.”

Dalani was very much perturbed. “Who knows what is written in the book of Fate!” she exclaimed, “Come, I am ready to follow you to Murshidabad. So long there is life in me, I will not give up hopes of seeing the Nawab.”

"I know that very well, come,” said the stranger. In the dark night the two started for Murshidabad. The moth rushed towards the flame.