In Doubt What to Do.
That whole day till evening Kopal-Kundala thought of nothing else but whether it was fitting or not to meet the Brahman. She felt no compunction on the ground of its being improper for a chaste young woman to meet an unknown man at night and alone; as far as that matter was concerned, she was clearly of opinion that, provided the object of the meeting were not wrong, the meeting itself was not wrong. In the same way as a man may meet a man and a woman a woman, so it appeared to her that a woman ought to be able to meet a man. Moreover, it was doubtful whether the Brahman were a man or not. Therefore anxiety on that score was superfluous; but whether good or harm would result from this interview,—it was uncertainty on this score that made Kopal-Kundala hesitate to such an extent. First the conversation of the Brahman, then the sight of the Kapálik, then the dream,—all these reasons made Kopal-Kundala entertain great alarm on her own account; her fear that some harm would soon happen to her had become strong, and she did not consider it altogether improbable that such harm was connected with the arrival of the Kapálik. This Brahman appeared to be his companion—therefore she might fall into disaster by meeting him. He had clearly said that the consultation was about Kopal-Kundala; but it might also be that through him she could get some indication by which she would ascertain this. The young Brahman was taking secret counsel with somebody, and that somebody appeared to be the Kapálik. It was clear, too, that in that conversation somebody's death was being resolved upon, or at any rate eternal banishment. Whose? The Brahman had clearly said that the conspiracy concerned Kopal-Kundala. Then they were planning her death or her eternal exile. Then, if the Brahman was an abettor in these nefarious schemes, there might be danger in going with him alone at night into a terrible forest. But last night she had seen a dream; what was the meaning of that dream? In her dream the Brahman, at a time of dire danger, had come and wished to save her; perhaps that was really to happen, and the Brahman wished to tell her all. She had said in the dream, "Drown me;" but should she say that in real life? Should she abandon the Brahman's aid and plunge into the sea of danger? No, no. Bhobani, fond of her devotees, had kindly pointed out in her dream a means of preservation, and the Brahman now wished to deliver her; if she forsook his aid, she would be drowned. For this reason Kopal-Kundala determined to see him. Whether a wise person would have come to this conclusion, is doubtful; but I have no concern with a wise man's resolution. Kopal-Kundala was not particularly wise, therefore she did not resolve like a wise man. She resolved like a curious woman; like a young woman who was anxious to see a terrible and splendid beauty, like one who had been reared by a Sonyasi, and loved to roam by night in the forests, like one who was stupefied by her intense reverence for Bhobani, like an insect about to fall into the flame of burning fire.
After evening, having finished a portion of the household duties, Kopal-Kundala started for the forest as before. Before going she lighted a light in her bed-chamber. Immediately she left the room the light went out.
On leaving, Kopal-Kundala forgot one thing, namely, where had the Brahman told her to meet him? She must again read the letter. She returned to the house, and looked in the place where she had put the letter that morning, but could not find it. She remembered that, on doing up her hair, she had tied the letter in her top-knot. So she put her fingers in her hair and searched. Not finding the letter, she loosened her hair; still it was not there. Then she searched in different parts of the house. Not finding it anywhere, she concluded that the former place of meeting must be the place, and again started. For want of time, she could not again do up those abundant tresses of hair; so to-day Kopal-Kundala went her way enveloped in her masses of hair, like the time when she was a virgin.
- Sonyasi, a devotee or ascetic; literally, one who has abandoned all desire for worldly things. The life of a Sonyasi is the fourth stage of existence.