Aloud he said coolly: “Thanks for the prescription. Are you stopping here long?”
“Oh, I am meteoric visitant. Never very long anywhere. I come and go.”
“Yes—many kinds of business—for the Mother.” He flashed a direct look at Roy; the first since their encounter; fluttered a foppish hand—the little finger lifted to display a square uncut emerald—and went his way....
Roy, left standing alone in the leisurely crowd of men and animals—at once so alien and so familiar—returned to Bishun Singh and Suraj in a vaguely troubled frame of mind.
“Which way to the house of Sir Lakshman Singh?” he asked the maker of chiraghs, his foot in the stirrup.
Enlightened, he set off at a trot, down another vast street, all hazy in the level light that conjured the dusty air to gold. But contact with human anguish, naked and unashamed—as he had not seen it since the war—and that sudden queer encounter with Chandranath, had rubbed the bloom off delicate films of memory and artistic impressions. These were the drop-scene, merely: negligible, when Life took the stage. He had an exciting sense of having stepped straight into a crisis. Things were going to happen in Jaipur.
[Footnote 7: Victory to thee, Maharaj!]
[Footnote 8: Loin-cloth.]
[Footnote 9: Melted butter.]
“God has a few of us, whom
He whispers in the ear;
The rest may reason and welcome....”
“Living still, and the more beautiful for our longing.”
The house of Sir Lakshman Singh, C.S.I.—like many others in advancing India—was a house divided against itself. And the cleavage cut deep. The furnishing of the two rooms, in which he mainly lived, was not more sharply sundered from that of the Inside, than was the atmosphere of his large and vigorous mind from the twilight of ignorance and superstition that shrouded the mind and soul of his wife. More than fifty years ago—when young India ardently admired the West and all its works—he had dreamed of educating his spirited girl-bride, so that the way of companionship might gladden the way of marriage.
But too soon the spirited girl had hardened into the narrow, tyrannical woman; her conception of the wifely state limited to the traditional duties of motherhood and household service. Happily for Sir Lakshman, his unusual gifts had gained him wide recognition and high service in the State. He had schooled himself, long since, to forget his early dreams: and if marriage had failed, fatherhood had made royal amends. Above all, in Lilamani, daughter of flesh and spirit, he had found—had in a measure created—the intimate companionship he craved; a woman skilled in the fine art of loving—finest and least studied of all the arts that enrich and beautify human