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Surendranath Banerjea
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 118 pages of information about Tales of Bengal.

His evil star continued in the ascendant.  About a week afterwards, he discovered a heavy deficit in his cash book, kept by Santi Priya, which that rascal failed to explain, and next day the trusty manager did not attend office.  Indeed he has never been heard of since.  This new calamity was Chandra Babu’s “last straw”.  He hastened to realise outstanding debts and left the village, bag and baggage, to the intense relief of its inhabitants, who celebrated his exit by offering puja or namaz (Mohammadan prayers) according to the religion they severally professed.

CHAPTER V

All’s Well That End’s Well.

Every good Hindu feels bound to get his daughter or sister, as the case may be, married before she attains puberty.  Rich people find little difficulty in securing suitable matches for their girls; but Babu Jadunath Basu, widely known as “Jadu Babu,” was not blessed with a large share of this world’s goods; and his sister Basumati was close on her teens.  The marriage-broker had certainly suggested more than one aspirant for her hand, but they were not to Jadu Babu’s liking.  As years rolled by, his anxiety deepened into despair.  A match was at length offered which was passably good, although it did not answer Jadu Babu’s expectations.  He learnt from private inquiry that the boy proposed bore a good character, never mixed with doubtful associates, and had no constitutional defect.  Hindu parents are very careful to ascertain the health of a suitor, and should they suspect any inherited disease, such as consumption, they reject him remorselessly.  It must not be supposed that such lads are always doomed to celibacy, for their unsoundness may be hidden or counterbalanced by a substantial money payment.

Jadu Babu found out that the boy had matriculated at Calcutta and was attending the second year class at a Metropolitan College; more important still, his father, Amarendra Babu, had money invested in Government paper, besides a substantial brick house—­qualifications which augured well for his sister’s wedded happiness.  The next step was to invite his own father, Kumodini Babu, to come from Benares and help him to clinch matters.  The old man pleaded that he had done with the world and all its vanities; so Jadu Babu had to make a pilgrimage to the Holy City, where he induced Kumodini Babu to return home with him.  Three days later the pair went to Calcutta with two friends, in order to make the suitor’s acquaintance.  They were welcomed by Amarendra Babu, who at once sent for his son.  The boy came in with eyes fixed on the ground and shyly took a seat near Kumodini Babu.  He underwent a severe scrutiny, and at last the old man broke silence by asking the lad his name.  Being informed that it was Samarendra Nath, he inquired the names of his father and grandfather, which were promptly given.

“Good boy,” observed Kumodini Babu, “the times are so completely out of joint that youths are ashamed to, utter their father’s name, let alone their grandfather’s.  Where are you studying?”

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