Thank God! At last it was over! But while applause hummed and fluttered, there sprang on to the platform, unannounced, a wiry keen-faced man, with the parted beard of a Sikh.
“Brothers—I demand a hearing!” he cried aloud; “I who was formerly hater of the British, preaching all manner of violence—I have been three years detained in Germany; and I come back now, with my eyes open, to say all over India—cease your fool’s talk about self-government and tossing mountains into the sea! Cease making yourselves drunk with words and waving your Vedic flags and stand by the British—your true friends——”
At that, cries and counter-cries drowned his voice. Books were hurled; no other weapon being handy; and Roy noted, with amused contempt, that Chandranath hastily disappeared from view.
The Sikh laughed in the face of their opposition. Dexterously catching a book, he hurled it back; and once more made his strong voice heard above the clamour. “Fools—and sheep! You may stop your ears now. In the end I will make you hear——”
Shouted down again, he vanished through a side exit; and, in the turmoil that followed, Roy’s hand closed securely on Dyan’s arm. Throughout the stormy interlude, he had stood rigidly still: a pained, puzzled frown contracting his brows. Yet it was plain he would have slipped away without a word, but for Roy’s detaining grasp.
“You don’t go running off—now I’ve found you,” said he good-humouredly. “I’ve things to say. Come along to my place and hear them.”
Dyan jerked his imprisoned arm. “Very sorry. I have—important duties.”
“To-morrow night then? I’m lodging with Krishna Lal. And—look here, don’t mention me to your friend the philosopher! I know more about him than you might suppose. If you still care a damn for me—and the others, do what I ask—and keep your mouth shut——”
Dyan’s frown was hostile; but his voice was low and troubled. “For God’s sake leave me alone, Roy. Of course—I care. But that kind of caring is carnal weakness. We, who are dedicated, must rise above such weakness, above pity and slave-morality, giving all to the Mother——”
“Dyan—have you forgotten—my mother?” Roy pressed his advantage in the same low tone.
“No. Impossible. She was Devi—Goddess; loveliest and kindest——”
“Well, in her name, I ask you—come to-morrow evening and have a talk.”
Dyan was silent; then, for the first time, he looked Roy straight in the eyes. “In her name—I will come. Now let me go.”
Roy let him go. He had achieved little enough. But for a start it was not so bad.
[Footnote 16: An Indian dish.]
“When we have
fallen through storey after storey of our vanity and
aspiration, it is then that we begin to measure the stature of our