Krishnakanta's Will (Chatterjee, Roy)/Part 1/Chapter 12

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CHAPTER XII.

A little after Rohini had left, Gobindalal walked into the inner parts of the house, ascended the stairs and entered his bedroom. His wife was there. She was seated at a little distance from Rohini, and was silent. She had wished to speak a word of comfort to her, but she abstained lest it might move her so as to make her burst into tears. As her husband entered she walked up and winked to him as a hint that she wished to have a word with him. He stepped out with her, and she took him aside and said, "What is Rohini here for? What's your business with her?"

"I have something to ask her in private," said Gobindalal.

"Why in private? What is it you wish to ask her?" said his wife.

"You are jealous, my dear," he said with a smile, giving her a quick glance. "There is no fear of my falling in love with Rohini."

The words uttered pointblank struck her with sudden shame. She left him abruptly, and, running downstairs, strolled into the kitchen.

"Tell me a story," she said to the female cook who was busied in preparing the meal, as she gave her in fun a pull by the hair. "I want an amusing story, one that will make me laugh, for I feel rather dull. You can tell it cooking."

"Why, my lady, a nice good time it is for story-telling," she said. "But at night when I have leisure I will tell you a story that will make your sides split with laughter."

Meanwhile Gobindalal seated himself at a little distance before Rohini and said, "Now, girl, I hope you will tell me the honest truth and not try to keep anything back."

Rohini wanted to make a clean breast of everything to Gobindalal.

"Uncle says," continued he, "you stole into his room to secure his will and put a forged will in its place. Is it true?"

"No," said Rohini.

"What is true then?"

"It is useless to tell it, I fear," she said after a pause.

"Why?" asked Gobindalal.

"Because... you will not believe my words."

"How do you know that?" said Gobindalal. "I know what to accept as true and what not. I sometimes believe what other people will not like to believe."

Rohini blessed him in her heart. "His inside," she said to herself, "is as good as his outside."

"Come, let me know the truth," continued Gobindalal, "and I may do you a kindness."

"How?"

"I may intercede with my uncle for you."

"If you do not . . . ?"

"You know what your punishment will be."

"Yes, I shall be disgraced and turned out of the village. But I do not care. I have lost my good name, and that is what makes me feel very miserable."

"Poor girl," thought Gobindalal, "she repents now for what she has done."

"I understand, Rohini," said he, "that the reproaches of your conscience is punishment enough for your guilt."

"Oh, I am very very unhappy," she said. "How I wish I had never done anything to lose my good name. But it can be restored, I know it can, if you would be kind to me."

"I do not know what I can do for you," said Gobindalal, "until I have had the whole truth."

"What do you want to know?"

"What was it you destroyed?"

"A forged will," said Rohini.

"Where was it?"

"In the drawer."

"You put it there, of course?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

"I was persuaded by Haralal Babu to steal your uncle's will and put the false will of his making in its place."

"When did you steal it?"

"On the night of the very day it was written."

"Why did you steal again into his room last night?"

"To take away the false will and put your uncle's again where it was."

"What was in the false will?"

"In it your cousin's share was three-fourths of the whole property, and yours . . . one-sixteenth."

"What made you think of replacing my uncle's will in the drawer?" said Gobindalal, fixing his eyes on Rohini.

She was silent.

"Come, I must have an answer to this," he said again.

Rohini knew not what answer to make. She loved him secretly; and now she thought of the gulf between them. Could he care to love her? It seemed to her he could not. And the thought so distressed her that she burst into tears.

"Why, what makes you weep, girl?" said Gobindalal in some surprise. "I am sure I said nothing that could hurt you."

"Oh, no, you never can, you are so very kind," she said. "But don't ask me, oh, don't, I pray. I cannot tell you. It is a secret which I must carry in my bosom to the end of my life. It is a great happiness, yet a great pain. I wish I had been dead. I wish I could die. It is a disease, a weakness for which there is no remedy."

He understood her. He saw her heart as in a mirror, and he very much pitied her.

"Don't talk of dying, Rohini," he said. "We all have our duties to perform for which we have come into the world. You sin to wish to go off before your time, and death never comes for courting, you know."

He paused for a moment, and then said, "Rohini, I think you will do well to live away."

"Why?" she said, looking at him.

"I wish we might never meet again," he said, speaking very seriously.

Rohini saw that he had her secret, and she hung down her head for shame. She was, however, happy that Gobindalal understood she loved him.

"You must leave this place, Rohini," he said again after a while, and in a rather decided tone of voice.

"If I must," said she, "I can be ready to leave at a moment's notice. I think I should like this change after all I have undergone here."

"I think," said he, "I will buy you a house in Calcutta. You can get your uncle to live with you as your guardian, and I will see that he has a place under a good master there."

"It is very kind of you to say that, sir, very; but I fear your uncle will not spare me."

"Well, I will see to that," he said. And he rose and left the room, bidding Rohini go to his wife.