Durgesa Nandini/Book 1/Chapter 20

 

CHAPTER XX.

FROM ROOM TO ROOM.


After regaining her freedom, Bimala conceived it to be her first duty to bring intelligence of the disaster to Virendra Singha; and with this view in breathless haste she directed her steps towards Virendra's bed-chamber.

She had not gone half-way when the war-cry of allalla[1] ho! burst upon her ear.

"Is it the victorious shoat of the Pathan soldiers?" exclaimed she distractedly. A loud uproar then breaking upon her ear convinced her that the inmates of the castle had risen up.

Flying to Virendra Singha's bed-room, Bimala witnessed the same noise and bustle there, the Pathans having broken open the door and entered the room. She peeped in and discovered Virendra with his waist fast bound, playing his sword like a maniac—his body deluged with blood. His exertions were presently rendered fruitless, for by a stroke of a long sword of a powerful Pathan, his weapon flew from his grasp and fell at a distance; Virendra Singha was taken prisoner.

Filled with despair at what she saw and heard, she left the place. Thinking that there was time yet to save Tilottama, she ran for the place. While on her way, she perceived it to be no easy task to go to Tilottama,—the Pathan soldiers having overspread every creek and corner of the castle. There could be no room for doubt that the enemy had taken the castle.

Bimala saw that on her way to Tilottama's chamber, she should fall into the hands of Pathan soldiers. She immediately turned. Utterly distracted, she bethought herself how she could, in this time of imminent peril, bring Jagat Singha and Tilottama, tidings of the disaster. She was thinking of this, when she saw some soldiers coming that way after plundering another room. Exceedingly terrified, she hastily hid herself behind a chest. The men entered the room and began to plunder it. Bimala saw that there was no chance of her escaping their hands, for when they would come to the chest, she should certainly be discovered. Mustering courage, she remained there for a little while, and cautiously peeping over the edge of the chest, began to watch the proceedings of the soldiers. She was endowed with matchless courage;—her courage rose with the prospect of danger. While they were each occupied in plundering, she emerged from her place of concealment, and with stealthy steps attempted to slip away. Bent on plunder, the men did not see her,—she was on the point of leaving the door, when a soldier came up from behind, and caught hold of her hand. She turned and saw—Rahim Shaikh!

"Now, run-away," exclaimed he, "where shall you go now!"

Falling a second time into the grasp of Rahim, Bimala turned pale; but this lasted for a moment. Through the force of her powerful intellect, her face was again restored to cheerfulness.

"I must" thought she, "secure my end through this very fellow! Hush!" said she, "soft, come with me."

Saying this, she took Rahim's hand, and dragged him out. The man followed nothing loth.

"O fie!" said Bimala, when they were alone, "is this your deed? Where did you go, leaving me? There's not a place which I have not searched for you." Again the same loving side-glance! The ire of the magnanimous Shaikh was quenched.

"I searched for the general," said he, "to give him information of Jagat Singha. Failing to find him, I came back to the roof, but missed you. I have since been looking for you in every direction."

"Seeing your delay," said Bimala, "I concluded you had forgotten me; and have accordingly come in search of you. But now what's the use of delaying any longer? Your people have captured the castle; and it is time we got ready for our flight."

"Not to-night," answered Rahim, "to-morrow morning. How shall I go without telling it to the general? Next morning, I will take his leave and go."

"Let us go then," returned Bimala, "and at once secure my ornaments and that sort of thing,—or else some other soldiers may steal them."

"Very well," replied the soldier. The object of Bimala in taking Rahim with her was simply to escape the hands of other soldiers; and a circumstance which happened soon after, bore testimony to the sagacity of her foresight. They had not gone far, when they came upon a second party of marauders. On seeing Bimala, they cried out, "A wench! a wench! a wench!"

"Mind your several affairs, comrades," said Rahim; "don't look this way."

The soldiers understood and desisted. "Rahim," said one, "you are lucky, only if the general do not wrest the dear morsel from your mouth."

Rahim and Bimala passed on. Bimala took Rahim to a room below her bed-chamber.

"This is my nether chamber," said she; "collect whatever in it you choose. Above this is my bed-chamber. I’ll go and bring thence my ornaments and such gear." Saying this, she threw him down a bunch of keys.

Finding the room loaded with articles, Rahim eagerly fell to unlocking the chests. Not a vestige of doubt now lingered in his mind as to Bimala's perfect honesty of purpose. On coming out, she fixed the fastening chain from the outside and locked the door. Rahim remained a prisoner in the room.

Bimala then ran upstairs. Tilottama's and her own apartment lay far removed in the interior of the castle, so that the plundering soldiery did not yet reach so far,—nay, it might well be doubted whether Tilottama and Jagat Singha had yet heard the din and the clamour. Instead of at once entering the chamber, impelled by curiosity, Bimala began to view the manner of the lovers through a chink in the door. Who can over-ride nature! Bimala could afford to be curious at such a terrible moment. She was rather surprised at what she saw.

Tilottama was seated on the couch; Jagat Singha stood by, holding the lily hands of the beauteous damsel. Jagat Singha was also wiping his eyes.

"This is perhaps the watery passage of Farewell," thought Bimala. "Whatever it may be, certain it is that these two have not yet dreamt the impending disaster. O! Love alone is mighty in this world! In this universal hubbub, he has rendered this couple stone deaf, although they possess the sense of hearing."

 

 

  1. Alla in Arabic means God.