In Clive's Command eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 411 pages of information about In Clive's Command.

“Wishing is no use, my dear.  I vow the Frenchman shall pay dearly for this insolence.  We must make the best of it.”

Meanwhile Monsieur de Bonnefon had gone down to the ghat.  But he did not send a messenger to Chandernagore as he had promised.  He told the jamadar, in Urdu, that his mistress and the chota bibi would remain at his house for the night.  They feared another accident if they should proceed in the darkness.  He bade the man bring his party to the house, where they would all find accommodation until the morning.

In the small hours of that night there was a short sharp scuffle in the servants’ quarters.  The Merriman boatmen and peons were set upon by a score of sturdy men who promptly roped them together, and, hauling them down to the ghat and into a boat, rowed them up to Hugli.  There they were thrown into the common prison.

In the morning a charge of dacoity {gang robbery} was laid against them.  The story was that they had been apprehended in the act of breaking into the house of Monsieur Sinfray.  Plenty of witnesses were forthcoming to give evidence against them; such can be purchased outside any cutcherry in India for a few rupees.  The men were convicted.  Some were given a choice between execution and service in the Nawab’s army; others were sentenced offhand to a term of imprisonment, and these considered themselves lucky in escaping with their lives.  In vain they protested their innocence and pleaded that a messenger might be sent to Calcutta; the Nawab was known to be so much incensed against the English that the fact of their being Company’s servants would probably avail them nothing.

About the same time that the men were being condemned, a two-ox hackeri, such as was used for the conveyance of pardarnishin {literally, sitting behind screens} women, left the house of Monsieur de Bonnefon and drove inland for some five miles.  The curtains were closely drawn, and the people who met it on the road wondered from what zenana the ladies thus screened from the public gaze had come.  The team halted at a lonely house surrounded by a high wall, once the residence of a zamindar, now owned by Coja Solomon of Cossimbazar, and leased to a fellow Armenian of Chandernagore.  It had been hired more than once by Monsieur Sinfray, the secretary to the Council at Chandernagore and a persona grata with the Nawab, for al fresco entertainments got up in imitation of the fetes at Versailles.  But of late Monsieur Sinfray had had too much important business on hand to spare time for such delights.  He was believed to be with Sirajuddaula at Murshidabad, and the house had remained untenanted.

The hackeri pulled up at the gate in the wall.  The curtains were drawn aside; a group of peons surrounded the cart to fend off prying eyes; and the passengers descended—­two ladies clad in long white saris {garment in one piece, covering the body from head to foot} and closely veiled.  A sleek Bengali had already got out from a palanquin which had accompanied the hackeri; in a second palanquin sat Monsieur de Bonnefon, who did not take the trouble to alight.

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In Clive's Command from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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