To the rest, unaware, his triumph seemed complete, his risky adventure justified beyond cavil. They all admitted as much;—even Vincent, who abjured superlatives and had privately taken failure for granted. Roy, in a fit of modesty, ascribed it all to ‘luck.’ By the merest chance he had caught Dyan, on his own confession, just as the first flickers of doubt were invading his hypnotised soul; just when it began to dawn on him that alien hands were pulling the strings. He had already begun to feel trapped; unwilling to go forward; unable to go back; and the fact that no inner secrets were confided to him, had galled his Rajput vanity and pride. In the event, he was thankful enough for the supposed slight; since it made him feel appreciably safer from the zeal of his discarded friends.
Much of this he had confided to Roy, in fragments and jerks, on the night of their amazing exit from Delhi; already sufficiently himself again to puzzle frankly over that perverted Dyan; to marvel—with a simplicity far removed from mere foolishness—“how one man can make a magic in other men’s minds so that he shall appear to them an eagle when he is only a crow.”
“That particular form of magic,” Roy told him, “has made half the history of the world. We all like to flatter ourselves we’re safe from it—till we get bitten! You’ve been no more of a fool than the others, Dyan—if that’s any consolation.”
The offending word rankled a little. The truth of it rankled more. “By Indra, I am no fool now. Perhaps he has discovered that already. I fancy my letter will administer a shock. I wonder what he will do?”
“He won’t ‘do.’ You can bank on that. He may fling vitriol over you on paper. But you won’t have the pleasure of his company at Jaipur. He left his card on us before the Dewali. And there’s been trouble since; leaflets circulating mysteriously; an exploded attempt to start a seditious ‘rag.’ So they’re on the qui vive. He’ll count that one up against me: but I’ll manage to survive.”
And Dyan, in the privacy of his heart, had felt distinctly relieved. Not that he lacked the courage of his race; but, having seen the man for years, as it were, through a magnifying lens, he could not, all in a moment, see him for the thing he was:—dangerous as a snake, yet swift as a snake to wriggle out of harm’s way.
He had not been backward, however, in awakening his grandfather to purdah manoeuvres. Strictly in private—he told his cousin—there had been ungoverned storms of temper, ungoverned abuse of Roy, who was suspected by ‘the Inside’ of knowing too much and having undue influence with the old man. ‘The Inside,’ he gathered, had from early days been jealous of the favourite daughter and all her belongings. Naturally, in Dyan’s opinion, his sister ought to marry; and the sooner the better. Perhaps he had been unwise, after all, insisting on postponement. By now she would have been settled in her lawful niche instead of making trouble with this craze for hospital nursing and keeping outside caste. Not surprising if she shrank from living at home, after all she had been through. Better for them both, perhaps, to break frankly with orthodox Hinduism and join the Brahma Samaj.