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CHANDRASEKHAR

it,” and laid down the book. “If he will not come,” she went on, “I can go to him if he only wishes it. But then why should he remember me! I am no better than one among a thousand slaves.” Again she returned to her book and again she threw it down in disgust and said, “Well, why should God dispose of things in such a way! Why should one be made to pine away for another! If that is His will, then why should not one desire for the person who is within one’s reach! Why this desire, to have one who cannot be had! Why should I, a mere creeper, aspire to climb up a sal tree!” The girl then put her book away and stood up. The weight of her thick curly tresses falling from the small faultless head like a cluster of serpents began to tremble, the dazzling scarf embroidered with gold and scattering sweet perfumes began to flutter, and the slightest motion of her limbs rolled waves of beauty along the room—waves such as are born of the slightest stir in fathomless waters.

The girl then took up a lute and began to tune it, and slowly and softly crooned a song, as if she was afraid of an audience. Just at this moment, the salute of the near sentinel and the footfall of palanquin-bearers met her ears. She started up and hastening to the door found it was the Nawab’s tonjon. Nawab Mir Kasim Ali Khan got out of the tonjon and entered the apartment.

“Dalani Bibi,[1] what song were you singing? ” asked the Nawab after taking his seat. Perhaps, the real name of the young lady was Dowlatunnissa. The Nawab used to call her “Dalani” for the sake of brevity. For this reason all the household used to call her Dalani Begum, or Dalani Bibi.

  1. Bibi is an honorific for Mahomedan ladies of rank