Once—twice—the knife struck deep; and the writhing thing between his knees was still.
He did not altogether relish the weird journey down to the shore of the Lake; or the too close proximity of the limp burden slung over his shoulder. But his imagination did not run riot, like Roy’s: and no qualms of conscience perturbed his soul. He had avenged, tenfold, Aruna’s injury. He had expiated, in drastic fashion, his own aberration from sanity. It was enough.
The soft ‘plop’ and splash of the falling body, well weighted with stones, was music to his ear. Beyond that musical murmur, the Lake would utter no sound....
“So let him journey through his earthly day:
’Mid hustling spirits go his self-found way;
Find torture, bliss, in every forward stride—
He, every moment, still unsatisfied.”
Next morning, very early, he was closeted with Roy, sitting on the edge of his bed; cautiously, circumstantially, telling him all. Roy, as he listened, was half repelled, half impressed by the sheer impetus of the thing; and again he felt—as once or twice in Delhi—what centuries apart they were, though related, and almost of an age.
“This will be only between you and me, Roy—for always,” Dyan concluded gravely. “Not because I have any shame for killing that snake; but—as I said ... because of Aruna——”
“Trust me,” said Roy. “Amber Lake and I don’t blab. There’ll be a nine days’ mystery over his disappearance. Then his lot will set up some other tin god—and promptly forget all about him.”
“Let us follow their example, in that at least!” Grim humour nickered in Dyan’s eyes, as he extracted a cigarette from the proffered case. “You gave me my chance. I have taken it—like a Rajput. Now we have other things to do.”
Roy smiled. “That’s about the size of it—from your sane, barbaric standpoint! I’m fairly besieged with other things to do. As soon as this blooming ankle allows me to hobble, I’m keen to get at some of the thoughtful elements in Calcutta and Bombay; educated Indian men and women, who honestly believe that India is moving towards a national unity that will transcend all antagonism of race and creed. I can’t see it myself; but I’ve an open mind. Then, I think, Udaipur—’last, loneliest, loveliest, apart’—to knock my novel into shape before I go North. And you——?” He pensively took stock of his volcanic cousin. “Sure you’re safe not to erupt again?”
“Safe as houses—thanks to you. That doesn’t mean I can be orthodox Hindu and work for the orthodox Jaipur Raj. I would like to join ‘Servants of India’ Society; and work for the Mother among those who accept British connection as India’s God-given destiny. In no other way will I work again—to ‘make her a widow.’ Also, I thought perhaps——” he hesitated, averting his eyes—“to take vows of celibacy——”