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CHANDRASHEKHAR


CHAPTER VIII.
THE STRANGE COURSE OF SIN.

JUST as the daughters of Islam were peeping from their chamber through the slightly parted door, Shaibalini was also similarly engaged in her own chamber. All three were women and all three were oppressed with the same womanly curiosity; at the same time a great terror weighed upon their mind. But the peculiar characteristic of terror is such that it continually draws you on to a sight of the object of it again and again. Thus Shaibalini saw everything from the beginning to the end. When every one had left, finding herself alone in the house, she sat on her bed and fell into a muse.

“What shall I do now?” she thought, "I am alone, but what is the fear in that?—I have nothing to be afraid of in this earth. There is no worse calamity than death. She who is yearning for it day and night, what is there for her to be afraid of? Ah! why don’t I meet that death? Suicide seems to be easy enough, but is it really so? Why, I passed so many days on the water and yet not for a single day could I attempt to drown myself? When every one was asleep at night, I could easily steal our of my cabin and drop into the water— who could prevent me? True, there was a chance of detection, there was the guard. But I never made any attempt. There was the wish for death, but no attempt. Even then I had some hope, and hope does not allow a person to die. But to-day?—yes, this is the fitting time for death. But then Protap has been taken away in durance——I cannot die without knowing his fate. What can happen to Protap? Whatever should chance, how could it affect me? who is Protap to me? I am no better than a vile sinner in his eyes who is he to me? Who, I