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"Well, suppose I return home, do you think my husband will reinstate me?”

“Oh, ho! why shouldn’t he do it? As if it is such an easy matter after all not to do it.”

“But remember, I have been abducted by the Englishman, do I maintain my caste any longer?”

Sundari looked intently at her face in astonishment. She began to dart sharp soul-piercing glances at her, and the proud Shaibalini, like a serpent wincing under the touch of the medicinal root, dropped her face. “Will you speak the truth?” asked Sundari somewhat sternly.

“Yes, I will.”

“Even on these waters of the Ganges?"[1]

“Yes. There is no need of your asking, I will tell you without it. Up till now I have held the Englishman at arm’s length. It cannot harm the religious scruples of my husband to take me back.”

“Then make no doubt. He is a pious man, he will never do an unjust thing; what is the good of wasting time on unprofitable talk?”

Shaibalini remained buried in thought for a while and then water stood in her eyes.

“Supposing I do go,” she said, wiping her tears. “Suppose also, that my husband takes me back, but will my infamy be ever wiped away?"

Sundari made no answer. “Would not the little girls of the neighbourhood,” continued Shaibalini, “hereafter point their fingers at me and say, ‘look, there is she who was abducted by an Englishman!’ God forbid! if a son is born to me, who will accept my invitation at his rice

  1. The Ganges is Considered very sacred by the Hindus, and when a person makes a statement by touching its water, he is put on the highest form of oath.