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74
CHANDRASHEKHAR.

Morning had pretty far gone at the time. No one Was in the house except Shaibalini. The Nawab’s people took her for the Begum.

Shaibalini was told that she must accompany them to the fort. Suddenly a mischievous idea struck her mind. The poets go mad in chanting the praises of Hope. She is the source, no doubt, of much happiness in this world, but she is alone responsible for all misery. Whatever sins are committed, are done in the hope of gain. Only virtuous acts are not done with any such motive. The actions of those who are prompted to them by the hope of earning heaven cannot be called virtuous. Deluded by this very Hope, without any demur, Shaibalini got into the palanquin.

The eunuch first took her into the fort and then carried her within the harem into the Nawab’s presence. The Nawab found she was not Dalani, he further found that Dalani was not so wonderfully beautiful; over and above, he found that there was none so bewitching in his whole harem.

“Who are you?” asked the Nawab.

“I am a Brahmin woman.”

“Why have you come here?”

“Your Highness’ servants have brought me.”

"They mistook you for the Begum. Why hasn’t the Begum come?”

“She is not there.”

“Then where is she?”

Shaibalini had seen Galstaun and Johnson carry Dalani and Kulsam away from Protap’s house. She did not know who the ladies were. She had taken them for serving maids or dancing-girls. But when the Nawab’s men informed her that the Begum was in that house and Shaibalini’s presence was required before