Page:Chandrashekhar (1905).djvu/79

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run away from the Englishman and fall prostrate at Protap’s feet. But I was like a caged bird, I knew not the ways of the world; I knew not that man proposeth but Providence disposeth; that the English cage is made of iron——what power have I to break through it? For no good have I earned this infamy, for nothing have I lost my caste, for nothing have I ruined the prospects of a future life.” It never occurred to the vile woman to consider whether vice should succeed or defeat itself—— much rather it should defeat itself. But one day she will understand it; one day she will be ready to lay down the very bones of her body to accomplish her expiation. If we had no such hope we should not have introduced this picture of sin. Again she thought, “The future life ?——I lost it the very day I set my eyes on Protap. That very day the All-knowing Providence wrote hell for my lot. Even in this life I am in hell—my mind is my hell——else why am I suffering so much? Why did I suffer so long the company of the Englishman—my very eye-sore? Nor is that all; it seems even the very objects of my affection are blighted by my contact; that is perhaps why Protap is in this dangerous plight. Oh, why did I not die?”

Shaibalini again wept; a little while after, she dried her eyes. She frowned, bit her underlip, and for a time her blooming lotus-like face wore an aspect of terrible beauty like the spreading hood of an infuriate serpent. Again she said to herself, “Why did I not die?” Suddenly she took out a pouch from her waist; in it was a sharp small knife. She took the knife, and unclasping the blade began to play with it on her thumb. “Did I take this knife in vain?” she continued, “Why didn't I plant it into my wretched bosom so long? Only because I was deluded by hope! But now?”—and she pressed the point of the blade against her breast. The knife remained in that