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THE JHEE’S DISCOVERY
It was the month of Jaishta (May-June) in Bengal, and the earth languished under the scorching rays of the sun and sent up a voiceless prayer to the Rain God to come soon and refresh the fields and jungles with the welcome “harsh” (rainy season).
Yet, in spite of the intense heat, a young and defeated nurtured Bengali Indy was travelling.
She was on her way to pay a visit to her parents in Jaw, for after marriage the bride returns to her childhood home and remains there, paying visits from time to time to her husband’s home until the day comes when she goes to live there.
It is a Bengali custom that Ladies, especially young ladies, must always wear their jewellery, even when travelling.
Arms, wrists, neck and ankles, bare of jewels, are a sign of widowhood or dire poverty. Our young heroine was accordingly adorned with jewels and she was also richly attired.
Was she not the daughter of a wealthy man and going to visit her mother-in-law?
So her mother had lovingly dressed her in an exquisite gold embroidered Benares silk saree of finest texture and superb workmanship, and the jewellery, which adorned her graceful arms, neck and ankles, was in keeping with the richness of her costume.
Twelve bearers took turns in carrying the covered palanquin or palki in which she travelled. They had been in her father’s service for many years and were known to be trustworthy.
A faithful her (maid) accompanied her, sometimes walking beside the palki and at other times sitting within, to fan her young mistress and help to enliven the weary journey with tales of former travels.
Two men-servants, whom in Bengal we call durwans and who are permitted to bear arms in defence of their masters’ goods, completed the party.
One of them walked on either side of the palanquin and each carried a naked sword in his hand.
These two men were tried and trusted retainers of the young lady’s father and were prepared to defend their master’s daughter even at the cost of their lives.
The route lay through a lonely country district with stretches of rice fields scattered between, and villages nestling here and there among groves of trees.
At one of these villages, the party halted awhile for rest and refreshment, and then ou again in the fierce heat of a close Indian day.
Thus many miles had been passed, and the evening shades were beginning to cool the wearer someday when the travellers drew near to a group of trees not far from a small tank (artificial lake).
The palki-bearers sighted this ideal resting place and asked the three to inform their young mistress of it and beseech that they might stop there and refresh themselves with a draught of water, after which they would be able to travel still faster.
A gracious consent was readily given by the fair one within the palanquin.
She had found the heat almost beyond endurance, and pitied the bearers who had the weight of her palki and herself added to their sufferings.
The palanquin was gently set down under a large and shady tree, and the durians respectfully withdrew a little distance to permit the hee to raise the covering, so that their kind mistress might also enjoy the grateful shade and cosiness of the grove.
The spot was lonely mid their responsibility great, so the men decided among themselves that they should divide into two parties.
Six should remain with the guard to protect their fair charge in case of any untoward happening while the other six refreshed themselves at the lake.
This plan was no sooner agreed upon than the first six trooped off gleefully towards the tank. The others stretched themselves in the shade and relaxed their limbs in the interval of waiting.
Time passed needed till it dawned upon some of those who waited that they still thirsted and that the first six seemed too long away.
They asked the jhes to obtain leave for them to go and hurry the others up and refresh themselves at the same time so that the journey might soon be resumed as the evening sun was nearing the horizon, and if they delayed further night would overtake them.
The young lady gave the desired permission and the second six soon disappeared towards the tank. They too were long away!
The three felt uneasy but kept their fears to themselves. Suddenly she too disappeared.
Without a word to her mistress, she had decided to see what the bearers were doing at the tank.
Climbing up a tree, she crept along ou overhanging branch and a dreadful sight met her horrifying game.
|Author||Maharanee Sunity Devee|
|No. of Pages||172|
|PDF Size||28 MB|
Bengal Dacoits And Tigers Book PDF Free Download