Anandamath (Dawn over India)/Part 1/Chapter 8

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At Mahatma Satya's command, Bhavan chanted hymns and set out for the inn where Mahendra Singh should have been and where he expected to gather some news of the missing man. He followed such a route that very soon he, too, faced the sepoys and the tax-cart. He, too, stepped aside as Mahendra had done. But the suspicion of the sepoys was now so aroused that they at once seized Bhavan.

'Why do you treat me so, friends?' asked Bhavan.

'You are a bandit, villain,' replied a sepoy.

'Don't you see I am a holy man in yellow robes? How can I be a robber? Do I look like one?'

'There are many yellow-robed holy men acting as robbers these days.' And the sepoy shook Bhavan by the neck.

In the dark Bhavan's eyes flashed with anger. But he controlled himself, and said with much humility, 'My Lord, deign to command, and your orders shall be obeyed at once.'

The sepoy was pleased with Bhavan's humility and said: 'Carry this load upon your head, villain.'

As Bhavan began to walk with a load on his head another sepoy said: 'No, he will run away. Tie him tight in the spot where the other robber lies.'

Bhavan was curious to find out who the other man might be. So he dropped the load from his head, and slapped the sepoy who tried to put it (the load) back on his head. The sepoy then tied him hand and foot, and threw him beside the other captive. Bhavan recognised Mahendra Singh.

The sepoys became noisy again and the wheels of the cart began screeching.

'Mahendra Singh, I know you,' Bhavan whispered, 'and I am here to help you. It is not necessary now that you know who I am. Please do as I tell you; and do it carefully. Place the knot of the rope that ties your hands on the moving wheel of the cart.'

Mahendra was surprised beyond words; yet in silence translated Bhavan's suggestion into action. Moving a little in the dark, he pressed the knot against the wheel. The knot was soon cut by the friction. In the same way he freed his feet. Thus freed, he lay quiet on the cart beside Bhavan, until Bhavan, too, had freed himself. Both kept silent. The sepoys had to pass by the hill from where the Mahatma had reconnoitered the landscape. The moment the sepoys reached the spot, they noticed a man standing on a mound at the foot of the hill.

'There, there is another rogue of a robber,' shouted the lieutenant, 'go and catch him too. We will make him carry some of our things.'

A sepoy ran to catch the man, who did not move an inch. The sepoy caught him, and the man said nothing. The sepoy brought him to the lieutenant. Still the man did not utter a word. The lieutenant ordered that a bundle be placed upon the man's head. It was done. The lieutenant turned and walked alongside the moving cart. Just then the sound of a pistol shot was heard. The lieutenant, shot in the head, fell on the road. In a moment he was dead.

A sepoy caught the silent man by his hand and said: 'This bandit has killed the lieutenant.'

The man still had a pistol in his hand. He threw down the bundle from his head; and struck the sepoy with the butt end of his pistol. The sepoys head was fractured, and he could not molest the man anymore. As if at a signal, two hundred armed men rushed out of the jungle and surrounded the sepoys with victory calls. The sepoys were awaiting the arrival of their English captain. An Englishman never stays drunk when danger comes. The captain, suspecting bandits, had rushed to the cart and at once ordered his sepoys to form themselves into a column. The column formation was instantly executed. Then at the second command the sepoys pointed their rifles. All of a sudden someone snatched the captains sword away from his belt; and in a second cut off his head. The captain fell headless on the road, and his order to fire remained unuttered. A man, standing on the cart, was waving a blood-stained sword in the air as he shouted: 'Victory, victory! Kill the sepoys, kill the sepoys.'

The shouting man was Bhavan.

The sepoys were terror-stricken and helpless for a moment to see their English captain's head so dramatically chopped off. Taking advantage of this hesitation the energetic invading forces killed or wounded many of them. Then they approached the tax-cart and took possession of the boxes full of coins. Defeated and discouraged the remnant of the sepoys ran away in all directions.

The man who had first stood up on the mound and had then taken the leadership in the fight approached Bhavan. They embraced each other affectionately.

'Brother Jiban,' Bhavan said, 'your vow for national service is blessed indeed.'

'Blessed be your name, Bhavan,' Jiban said. Then Jiban began making preparations for the removal of the treasure to its proper place. And soon he departed with his attendants for another destination.

Bhavan stood there alone.