Meanwhile the elder wife was eating her heart with vexation and forming resolutions to give her husband a curtain lecture. But he slept that night in the parlour and on the morrow took both meals with Nalini. When a woman fails to gain her object she is apt to take refuge in tears, which are generally enough to force a mere man to bend to her wishes. Jadu’s wife watched for an opportunity of having it out with her husband. On finding him alone, she burst into lamentations, beating her heart and praying that God would put an end to her wretched life. He calmly asked what was the matter and, on receiving no reply, went to bed. Presently she asked, “What has induced you to put me to shame?” Jadu Babu pretended ignorance, and thus made her only the more angry.
“Oh, you Neka” (buffoon), she groaned, “didn’t you swear to separate from Nalini, and have you not taken all your meals with him ever since? Is that the action of a truthful man?”
“Well, I should like to know how Nalini has injured me?”
“I say that he is your enemy!”
“Tut, tut, you ought to be ashamed of yourself! Where could I find a brother so faithful and obedient as he? You wish to live apart from him? Very well; I have made separate arrangements for you.” Then in dispassionate tones Jadu Babu pointed out the treachery of Debendra and his parasite. The woman’s eyes were opened. She fell at her husband’s feet and implored his pardon. Then she suddenly rose, went across the courtyard to Nalini’s room, and knocked at his door. He came out and, seeing his sister-in-law there at an unusual hour, asked anxiously whether Jadu was ill. She reassured him and took him by the hand to his brother, in whose presence she asked him to forgive and forget the offence. Nalini was nothing loth; and harmony was soon restored in the family.
Meanwhile old Hiramani had not failed to report progress to her patron daily. He was delighted to think that the rift in the Basu lute was widening, and promised her a handsome reward when the estrangement should take place.
On learning the failure of the plot, he paid Hiramani a surprise visit, abused her roundly, and, when she retorted in the like strain, he administered a wholesome correction with his shoe. On his departure she ran to Jadu Babu’s house intending to have it out with his wife for her breach of faith. The doorkeeper, however, roughly denied her entrance; and when she threatened to report him to his mistress, he ran her out by the neck. Hiramani went home in a state of impatient anger and despair, and for several days she dared not show her face in the village. The spell cast by her malice was broken.
Debendra Babu in Trouble.
One chilly morning in February a Mohammadan neighbour of Nalini’s named Sadhu Sheikh burst into his parlour crying, “Chota Babu, Chota Babu (lit. ‘little babu,’ used for younger brother, to distinguish him from the elder, styled ’bara babu’), Siraji is dying!”