Pulin, however, would take no denial. He became so insistent that Nalini reluctantly gave him a letter of introduction to Babu Kaliprasanna Som, Secretary of the Ramnagar High School, who, he said, was looking about him for a fourth master. Pulin lost no time in delivering it and was immediately appointed to the vacant post.
English education in Bengal is not regarded as a key which opens the door of a glorious literature, but simply and solely as a stepping-stone in the path of worldly success. The Department seems to aim at turning out clerks and lawyers in reckless profusion. Moreover, academic degrees are tariffed in the marriage market. The “F.A.” commands a far higher price than the “entrance-passed,” while an M.A. has his pick of the richest and prettiest girls belonging to his class. Hence parents take a keen interest in their boys’ progress and constantly urge them to excel in class. With such lessons ringing in his ears, the Bengali schoolboy is consumed with a desire to master his text-books. The great difficulty is to tear him away from them, and insist on his giving sufficient time to manly games. When a new teacher takes the helm, he is closely watched in order to test his competence. The older lads take a cruel pleasure in plying him with questions which they have already solved from the Dictionary. Pulin did not emerge from this ordeal with credit, and the boys concocted a written complaint of his shortcomings, which they despatched to the Secretary of the School Committee, The answer was a promise to redress their grievances.
At 10.30 next morning Kaliprasanna Babu entered Pulin’s classroom and stood listening to his method of teaching English literature. Presently one of the boys asked him to explain the difference between “fort” and “fortress”. After scratching his head for fully half a minute he replied that the first was a castle defended by men, while the second had a female garrison! The Secretary was quite satisfied. He left the room and sent Pulin a written notice of dismissal. The latter was disheartened beyond measure by this unkind stroke of fortune. He shook the dust of Ramnagar from his feet and returned home to lay his sorrows before Nalini, seasoning the story with remarks highly derogatory to Kaliprasanna Babu’s character. In order to get rid of an importunate suitor Nalini gave him another letter of introduction, this time to an old acquaintance named Debnath Lahiri who was head clerk in the office of Messrs. Kerr & Dunlop, one of the largest mercantile firms of Calcutta. Pulin was heartily sick of school-mastering, and the prospect of making a fortune in business filled his soul with joy. He borrowed Rs. 30 from Debendra Babu and took the earliest train for Calcutta. On arriving there he joined a mess of waifs and strays like himself, who herded in a small room and clubbed their pice to provide meals. Then he waited on Debnath Babu, whom he found installed in a sumptuous office overlooking the river Hughli. The great man glanced at his credentials and, with an appearance of cordiality, promised to let him know in case a vacancy occurred in the office. For nearly a month Pulin called daily for news at Messrs. Kerr & Dunlop’s, and generally managed to waylay the head clerk, whose reply was invariably, “I have nothing to suit you at present”.