Page:Chandrashekhar (1905).djvu/165

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.




WITH great difficulty Chandrashekhar had brought Shaibalini home.

After a long absence he again entered his house. He found it more frightful than a forest. Hardly any straw was left on the thatch—most of it had been blown off by the wind. In some places the thatch had given way, in others, cattle had eaten off the straw, and the neighbours had helped themselves to the bamboo framework for their fuel. The yard was overgrown with a thick jungly growth, reptiles fearlessly glided about, and the door leaves had been all taken away hy thieves. In the open rooms not a single article of furniture could be found; some had been stolen, and the rest Sundari had removed to her own house. Rain had found admission into the rooms and rendered them damp; here the rot had settled, there the mould had fastened. Rats, cockroaches, bats, roamed about in shoals. With a heavy sigh, Chandrashekhar entered the house taking Shaibalini by the hand.

He viewed the spot where he had once stood and watched his mass of books gradually reduce themselves into ashes. Chandrashekhar cried “Shaibalini!”

Shaibalini did not answer. Seated at the door of a room, she gazed at the sweet—oleander, as if seen in some past dream. She did not reply to a single word of what Chandrashekhar said and began to look round with wide-open eyes. Now and again a faint smile flickered on her mouth and for once it seemed she pointed her finger at some imaginary object with a distinct smile.

The village was now alive with the news of Chandrashekhar’s return home with Shaibalini. People flocked to see them ; Sundari came first.