Page:Chandrashekhar (1905).djvu/55

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“Then follow me,” said the ascetic

With these words he led the way, and accompanied them to the town. Stopping in front of a small house he knocked at the door and called out, “Ramcharan.”' Ramcharan came and unfastened the door. The ascetic directed him to strike a light.

After lighting a lamp, Ramcharan made his obeisance to the ascetic by prostrating himself at his feet. The ascetic dismissed him saying, “Now you can go back to your sleep.” Ramcharan bestowed a glance on Dalani and Kulsam and went away. Superfluous to say, that he could not sleep that night anymore. Why had the ascetic brought these two young women with him at such a late hour of the night, became uppermost in his mind. He looked upon the ascetic as a god. He knew him to be a man who had subjugated his senses—that faith of his was not shaken. He at last came to this conclusion— "Perhaps, these two women have lately become widows. The ascetic has called them here to persuade them to follow their husbands into the funeral pyre. Confound it all! I could not make out this simple thing all this time!”

The ascetic squatted on a piece of square blanket, the women sat on the bare ground. First of all, Dalani gave an account of herself, then she described all the events of the night without reserve.

After hearing her, the ascetic said to himself, “Who can cancel the inevitable? What is fated must happen, yet no one should overlook the free-will of man. I must do my duty.”

Alas, ascetic! why did you burn your books? All books can be burnt to ashes, but never the book of the heart. Addressing Dalani, he said, “This is my advice—you should not present yourself before the