Anandamath (Dawn over India)/Part 1/Chapter 7

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Mahendra soon discovered that it would do him no good to stay on at the inn, wrapped in idle thoughts and apprehensions. He decided to go into the town, and from there to search for his wife and child with the help of government officials. He had not gone far when he found a bullock-cart trudging along with a heavy guard of sepoys of the British army of occupation.

The British had long been expert in collecting revenue. At different centres they had their collectors who realised taxes and revenues to be shipped to the treasury of the East India Company in Calcutta. Thousands of men, women and children might die of starvation; yet there must be no cessation in the collection of taxes. This years collection, however, fell short of expectations. If mother earth refused to yield wealth, humans could not create it. All that could be collected, however, was being shipped at once to the British treasuries in Calcutta.

In those days robberies were so prevalent that the bullock-carts bearing the tax money were guarded by fifty fully armed sepoys with bayonets drawn. Their captain was an Englishman, who rode a horse in the rear. During the daytime the heat was so great that the sepoys were forced to travel by night. Confronted with this procession of the tax-cart and its guards, Mahendra stepped aside. The sepoys spotted him. Realising that it was not the time for quarrels, Mahendra moved to the edge of the jungle.

'Look, there goes a robber!' said a sepoy. When the sepoy saw the rifle in Mahendras hands, he was all the more convinced of this. He rushed towards Mahendra, shook him by the shoulders, called him thief, struck him and snatched the rifle away from him. Mahendra, furious with anger, returned a mighty blow. The sepoy reeled under Mahendras blow and fell unconscious on the road. Three others then grabbed Mahendra, and dragged him forcibly to the English captain, alleging that he had killed a soldier with one blow. The English captain was smoking his pipe, and under the influence of liquor. He said stupidly: 'Catch that villain and marry him.'

The sepoys could not understand. How could they marry a male armed robber! They hoped the captain would, of course, change his order when he became sober. So they tied Mahendra's hands and feet and placed him on the bullock-cart. Mahendra knew it was useless to exert his strength against such odds. And again, what would he gain by freedom? He was so sad at his separation from his wife and child that he cherished no desire to prolong his life. The sepoys tied Mahendra well and routinely proceeded along the road as before.