Karim’s confession took every one by surprise, and it was corroborated by Jadu Babu in the witness-box. The judge then asked Sadhu why he pleaded guilty.
“Incarnation of Justice,” was the reply, “it was the Daroga Babu (Sub-Inspector of Police) who frightened me into making a confession. He told me again and again that he had quite enough evidence to hang me, and advised me to escape death by admitting the charge of murdering Karim. While I was shut up alone in jail, I had no one to consult or rely on. Through fear, my wits entirely left me and I resolved to obtain mercy by making a false confession.”
These circumstances, strange as they may appear to the Western reader, were no novelty to the Sessions Judge. In charging the jury, he commented severely on the conduct of the station police and directed them to return a verdict of not guilty, which they promptly did.
Ghaneshyam Babu did not let the matter drop. He moved the District Magistrate to prosecute Ramani Babu and his bailiff, Srikrishna, for conspiring to charge an innocent man with murder. Both were brought to trial and, despite the advocacy of a Calcutta barrister, they each received a sentence of six months’ rigorous imprisonment. Justice, lame-footed as she is, at length overtook a pair of notorious evil-doers.
The Biter Bitten.
Babu Chandra Mohan Bai, or Chandra Babu, as he was usually called, was a rich banker with many obsequious customers. He was a short choleric man, very fond of his hookah, without which he was rarely seen in public. He had no family, except a wife who served him uncomplainingly, and never received a letter or was known to write one except in the course of business. His birthplace, nay his caste, were mysteries. But wealth conceals every defect, and no one troubled to inquire into Chandra Babu’s antecedents. This much was known—that he had come to Kadampur fifteen years before my tale opens with a brass drinking-pot and blanket, and obtained a humbly-paid office as a clerk under a local Zemindar. In this capacity he made such good use of the means it offered of extorting money that he was able to set up as a moneylender at Simulgachi, close to Kadampur. When people learnt that a new Shylock was at their service, they flocked to him in times of stress. His usual rate of interest being only 5 per cent, per mensem, he cut into the business of other moneylenders, and in four or five years had no serious competitor