Krishnakanta's Will (Chatterjee, Roy)/Part 2/Chapter 8

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CHAPTER VIII.

When Rupa was out of the way Nishakar, finding Sona downstairs, called him and said, "How long have you been here?"

"Almost ever since master bought this house, sir," said Sona.

"What do you get a month?" asked Nishakar.

"Three rupees, exclusive of board and lodging."

"You are a very useful servant. You ought to get better wages, I am sure."

Sona was flattered. "You are very kind, sir," he said, "but it is very hard to get an employment here in this part of the country."

"If you go with me to Calcutta I can get you far better wages. I think you can get seven or eight rupees a month or even more."

"Would you kindly take me with you, sir?"

"Oh, I don't mind taking you with me; but yours is a very kind master. Can you make up your mind to leave his service?"

"Indeed our master is very kind, but we don't at all like our mistress. She delights in finding fault with us, and often scolds and abuses us for nothing."

"Oh, I can see that very well. But can you make up your mind to go with me?"

"To speak the truth, sir, I have no mind to stay here, not at all. If you will be so kind as to take me with you I cannot be enough thankful."

"Well, I shall be glad to take you with me. But before you quit your master's service I would wish you to do something—something that will be for your master's good. You have eaten his salt and you ought to do it as a duty you owe to him."

"What is it you wish me to do, sir? I will gladly do it if it will do master good."

"It will undoubtedly, though of course it will go hard with your mistress. But she must have her desert. She has done much harm already, and must be prevented from doing more."

"Certainly she must. But what is it you wish me to do, sir?"

"Your mistress sent a little while ago to tell me that she wished to see me this evening between seven and eight near the banian tree. You know this tree?"

"Oh yes, sir. It is on the bank of the rivulet."

"Yes. I agreed to her proposal and told her that I would wait there to see her. Now you are to keep watch on your mistress. When you see that she has left the house and is on the way to the brook, go and tell your master. But not a word of it to Rupa. Caution is the word."

"Never fear, sir. I will be sure to manage it as cleverly as you could wish it."

Nishakar chuckled. He left the house quickly and was gone.

It was dark already, and the stars glittered in the sky. Nishakar soon reached the banks of the Chitra. He sat down on a stump to wait, which he saw by chance near the banian tree. Beneath the starry vault of the heavens above the rivulet flowed quietly on, the waters sparkling in places where they were not darkened by the shadows of the overgrowing trees. There was nothing to break the dismal stillness of the place except the cries of jackals, and the hooting of owls which he could hear close to him. Far off he could bear some boatmen singing. He cast his eyes toward Gobindalal's house, which looked gay with the light that gleamed through the open windows. He sat watching the light, and could not but feel some pity for Rohini who, in the midst of her fancied security, was happy in the life she was leading. Yet why, he thought, should she not reap the consequence of her sin? She had blighted the happiness of Gobindalal's wife. She had reduced her to the verge of death. He had sworn to his friend to punish her as she deserved. But who was he, he thought again, to punish her? Every one was accountable to God for his own actions. God, who would judge him, would judge her. Yet who knew it was not He who had brought him here for her punishment? It seemed to him it was all His will, and he was the mere instrument.

As he ran over these thoughts in his mind time flew imperceptibly till it had passed on to nine o'clock when, happening to look about him, he noticed a figure approaching the place where he was seated. Like a ghost it came where he sat, and halted.

"Who are you?" asked Nishakar, springing to his feet.

"Who are you, first?" asked Rohini, for it was no other than she.

"I am Rashbehari," said Nishakar, giving her the fictitious name he had given to Gobindalal.

"I am Rohini," she said, throwing back her veil.

"You are late, Rohini," he said smiling.

"Oh, I had to watch for an opportunity, you know, or I would have come earlier," she apologised.

"I was beginning to fear you had forgotten me."

"Forget you!" she said. “Impossible. When I looked upon you for the first time my heart leaped towards you."

She had just spoken these words when all on a sudden she was firmly grasped by the neck from behind.

"Who is it?" she cried in great alarm.

"You will know presently," said a gruff voice, which belonged to the hand that gripped her.

Rohini knew it was Gobindalal. She felt like a doomed woman. In her heart-quake and terror she gasped, "I am innocent. I did not come out here with a bad motive as the gentleman here can tell you."

Nishakar was not there. On Gobindalal's appearance he had slunk away unobserved among the trees on the banks and vanished into the darkness.

"There is no one here," said Gobindalal with a coolness which foreboded evil. "Come home with me."

(To be continued)
Translated by D. C. Roy