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CHANDRASHEKHAR.

Shaibalini did not sleep—she was meditating her plight with eyes shut. Ramcharan had come to the conclusion from her closed eyes that she was asleep. Her deep absorption prevented her from hearing Protap’s footfall. Protap had come up with the musket in his hand. Presently he leaned it up against the wall. His mind was a little distraught, and he had placed it rather carelessly; the result was, it slipped down. At the sound Shaibalini opened her eyes and saw Protap; she rubbed her eyes and sat up, and with a loud exclamation cried -

“What is this! who are you?”

With these words she fainted away on her bed. Protap fetched some water and sprinkled the face of the lifeless Shaibalini. Bathed in water, her face beamed like a dew-washed lotus. The water coursing down her tresses rendered them moist and flaccid and began to drip, and the hair shone like conferva clinging to the lotus.

Soon Shaibalini was brought to. Protap got up on his feet. Quietly she asked him, “Who are you? Are you Protap or some Divinity come to try me in the shape of man?”

“Yes, I am Protap,” said Protap.

“For once in the boat it seemed to me, I heard your voice; but instantly I thought it must be a mere fancy. I had waked up in the midst of a dream, and that is why I mistook it for a fancy.”

With these words she uttered a deep sigh and remained silent. Finding her thoroughly recovered, Protap was silently leaving fhe room, when Shaibalini called out, “Don’t go yet.”

Reluctantly Protap turned back.