Page:Chandrashekhar (1905).djvu/31

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
21
CHANDRASHEKHAR

not overcome avarice and they could not own a defeat. They would never admit they could not succeed in an enterprise, and it was better to desist; nor would they admit there was vice in any particular action and therefore they should not do it. Nowhere in the world can be found men equal in power and arbitrary will to the English men who first established British dominion in India.

Lawrence Foster was a man of this type. He did not try to resist the temptation. Among the Englishmen in Bengal at that period, the word virtue was extinct. He did not consider the feasibility or unfeasibility of the action, but only thought, “now or never.”

Thus resolved, on the night before he started for Calcutta, Foster, furnished with arms, palanquin, bearers, and some factory peons, set out after dusk in the direction of Vedagram.

That night the Vedagram folk heard with alarm that dacoits had attacked Chandrashekhar’s house. Chandrashekhar was not at home; he had gone to Murshidabad on receipt of a cordial invitation from one of the officials of the Nawab and had not yet returned. On hearing the noise, screams, crack of fire-arms and cries of weeping, the villagers left their bed, went out, and saw that dacoits were plundering Chandrashekhar’s house and many torches were blazing. No one went forward. Standing at a distance they saw the dacoits file out one by one after plundering the house; they also saw with surprise some bearers emerge from the house carrying a palanquin on their shoulders. The doors of the palanquin were closed and the English factor of Purandarpore were walking along side. Seeing this, they silently moved away in fear.

After the dacoits had left, the neighbours entered the house, but did not find many of the articles missing—