In due course his case came on for hearing before the Deputy Magistrate. Ghaneshyam Babu secured the services of a fighting member of the Calcutta bar and was indefatigable in his efforts to unearth the nefarious plot against his brother. Proceedings lasted for four days in a court packed with spectators. The Sub-Inspector and his accomplices told their story speciously enough. A burglary had really been committed and the jewellery found in Kumodini Babu’s outhouse was proved to have been part of the stolen goods. The issue was—who placed them there? On this point the Sub-Inspector’s evidence was not by any means satisfactory. He finally broke down under rigorous cross-examination, and was forced to admit that it was quite possible that some one acting on his behalf had hidden the property in Kumodini Babu’s lumber-room. The battle of the markets was related in all its dramatic details. Shopkeepers and ryots alike, seeing that justice was likely to prevail, came forward to depose to acts of tyranny by Ramani Babu’s servants and their allies, the police. Evidence of the prisoner’s high character was forthcoming, while his age and dignified bearing spoke strongly in his favour. The Magistrate saw that he had been the victim of an abominable conspiracy and released him amid the suppressed plaudits of the audience. His reasons for discharge contained severe strictures on the local police, and even suggested their prosecution. Thus, after weeks of agonising suspense and an expenditure on legal fees running into thousands of rupees, Kumodini Babu was declared innocent. He took the humiliation so much to heart, that he meditated retiring to that refuge for storm-tossed souls, Benares. But Ghaneshyam Babu strongly dissuaded him from abandoning the struggle, at least until he had turned the tables on his enemies. So Kumodini Babu moved the District Magistrate to issue process against Ramani Babu and the Sub-Inspector. He met with a refusal, however, probably because the higher authorities thought fit to hush up a glaring scandal which might “get into the papers,” and discredit the administration. Ramani Babu, therefore, was not molested, but his accomplice was departmentally censured, and transferred to an unhealthy district. Kumodini Babu also thought of discontinuing the market which had been the fount and origin of his misfortunes. Here again his brother objected that such a course would be taken to indicate weakness and encourage further attacks. His advice was followed. The new market throve amazingly, while Ramani Babu’s was quite deserted.
A Foul Conspiracy.