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98

CHANDRASHEKHAR

monument of the Creative Genius, thou art invincible! Millions of bows to thee!

The rain ceased after a long while but not the storm, only its fury abated. Darkness seemed to gather in deeper shades. Shaibalini knew that ascent or descent of the moist slippery hill was equally impracticable. Remaining where she was, she began to shiver in cold. Her husband’s home at Vedagram full of domestic comforts rose in her memory. "If I could but once more see that abode of happiness before my death,” she thought, “ I should still die in peace! But it is a far cry; I am afraid I am not destined to see the sunrise again. That king of terrors, whom I have invited so often is now at hand.” Who could it be, that at such a moment, in that unfrequented hill, in that impenetrable forest, in that profound darkness, touched Shaibalini with his hand?

At first Shaibalini thought it was some wild animal and moved away. Again the hand touched her—it was the distinct touch of a human hand—but nothing could be seen in the dark. “Who are you?” she cried in a voice distorted with terror, "‘ God or man?” She was not afraid of man but she had a dread of the gods, for the gods deal out rewards and punishments.

No answer. But Shaibalini was aware that God or man, he was seizing her with both hands. The contact of the warm breath was felt along her shoulders. She felt one hand placed against her back and the other gathering up her feet. Then she perceived that she was being lifted up. She gave a little scream Man or God, she could understand that she was being carried to some place in his arms. A little while after she could perceive that taking her in his arms he was picking his way up the hill. Shaibalini thought whoever he might be, he was not Lawrence Foster any way.