Chandrashekhar (Mullick)/Part6/Chapter 4

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CHAPTER IV.
JOHN STALKARTT

IT has transpired in the foregoing chapter that Kulsam had an interview with Warren Hastings. In giving the details of her own story she had to describe Foster’s doings in extenso.

History has given Warren Hastings the character of a tyrant. Men of action are sometimes forced into facts of oppression in obedience to a call of duty. He who is charged with the administration of a government, though himself a just and generous man, is often compelled to these acts of oppression for the good of the empire. When he finds that the entire kingdom is likely to be benefited by the oppression of a few, then he considers that oppression to be a part of his duty. At all events it does not stand to reason that those who like Warren Hastings are capable of building empires are not generous and just. He who has no justice and generosity in his composition, is incapable of attaining such high achievements as the creation of an empire or the like, as from his very nature he is not exalted but ignoble, and such achievements are not for the ignoble.

Warren Hastings was both generous and just. He was not the Governor yet. After dismissing Kulsam he bent his mind on hunting out Foster; when he found him Foster was ill. The first thing he did was to place him in the hands of a doctor. With the care and treatment of a good physician Foster soon recovered.

Then he began to investigate into his conduct. Through fright Foster confessed his guilt. Warren Hastings laid his case before the council and got him dismissed. He had a mind to bring him up before a court of law, but no trace of the witnesses could be found; moreover, Foster had amply paid for his misdeeds, hence he desisted.

But Foster could not appreciate this nobility; he was too narrow-minded. He imagined that he had been severely punished for a trivial offence. Like all petty-minded guilty servants he began to nourish a mortal grudge against his quondam masters, and was firmly determined to wreak his vengeance.

A Swiss or a German, named Dyes Sombre commonly known as ‘Samru,’ had enlisted under the banners of Mir Kasim. In the Mussalman camp at Udaynala Samru was present with his soldiers. Foster went to him. At first he artfully sent a messenger to Samru. Samru thought that he would be able to penetrate the secrets of the English through this man and he took Foster up. Concealing his real name, Foster gave him self out as one Mr. John Stalkartt and entered Samru’s tent. When Amir Hossein was busy in finding out Foster, the latter was there.

After bestowing Kulsam in a suitable place, Amir Hossein went out in search of Foster. He had heard from the attendants about him that avery strange thing had happened—an Englishman had enlisted in the Mussalman army and he was to be found in Samru’s tent. Amir Hossein bent his steps in that direction.

When Amir Hossein entered the tent, Samru and Foster were talking together. After he had taken his seat, Samru introduced Foster to him as Mr. John Stalkartt and Amir Hossein fell into a conversation with him.

After talking on various subjects Amir Hossein asked, “Do you know an Englishman named Lawrence Foster?”

Foster’s face flushed crimson, and fixing his eyes on the ground be altered out in a husky voice:

“Lawrence Foster you say? Why, I don’t know any such man.”

“Have you never heard his name?”

“Name! Lawrence Foster! Yes! Why? No!” stammered out Foster after a moment’s hesitation.

Amir Hossein did not pursue the subject any further, and began to talk on other matters. But he observed that Stalkartt had ceased to take any interest in the conversation, and once or twice, he tried to get away. Amir Hossein prevailed on Stalkartt to stay a litt0le longer. The conclusion he arrived at was that the man knew all about Foster, but would not tell.

A short time after, Foster fetched his hat and sat down covered. Amir Hossein knew that this was against English etiquette. Moreover, while Foster adjusted his hat, Amir Hossein’s eyes fell on a bald scar in his head. Did Foster put his hat on to hide the mark ?

Amir Hossein took his leave. Returning to his tent he had Kulsam brought to him and said, “Come with me.” Kulsam followed.

He again entered Samru’s tent; Kulsam waited outside. Foster had not left the tent yet. Addressing Samru, Amir Hossein said, “If you have no objection, a slave-girl would pay her respects to you———she has got some important business.”

Samru gave his permission. Foster's heart went pitapat and he rose to depart. Amir Hossein caught him by an arm with a smile and urged him to resume his seat. Then he called Kulsam. Kulsam came in and stood motionless at the sight of Foster.

“Who is this man?” asked Amir Hossein of Kulsam.

“He is Lawrence Foster,” was the ready answer.

Amir Hossein seized Foster’s arm. “What have I done?” protested Foster.

Without deigning a reply, Amir Hossein addressed Samru and said, “Sir, there is an order of the Nawab to arrest this man; kindly direct some sepoys to hiring him with me. ”

“What’s the matter?” asked Samru in surprise.

“I will tell you later on,” said Amir Hossein. Samru gave some guards with him and Foster was taken closely secured.