22 artukul tried to reason his wife out of this

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( 22 ) Artukul tried to reason his wife out of this wholly unjust suspicion: “Why on earth,” he said, “should he commit such a crime as that?” ( 23 ) The mother only replied: “The baby had gold ornaments on his body. Who knows?” It was impossible to reason with her after that. 2 ( 24 ) Raicharan went back to his own village. Up to this time he had had no son, and there was no hope that any child would now be born to him. But it came about before the end of a year that his wife gave birth to a son and died. ( 25 ) All overwhelming resentment at first grew up in Raicharan’s heart at the sight of this new baby. At the back of his mind was resentful suspicion that it had come as a usurper in place of the little
Master. He also thought it would be a grave offence to be happy with a son of his own after what had happened to his master’s little child. Indeed, if it had not been for a widowed sister, who mothered the new baby, it would not have lived long. ( 26 ) But a change gradually came over Raicharan’s mind. A wonderful thing happened. This new baby in turn began to crawl about, and cross the doorway with mischief in its face. It also showed an amusing cleverness in making its escape to safety. Its voice, its sounds of laughter and tears, its gestures, were those of the little ( 27 ) Master. On some days, when Raicharan listened to its crying, his heart suddenly began thumping wildly against his ribs, and it seemed to him that his former little Master was crying somewhere in the unknown land of death because he had lost his Chan-na. ( 28 ) Phailna (for that was the name Raicharan’s sister gave to the new baby) soon began to talk. It learnt to say Ba-ba and Ma-ma with a baby accent. When Raicharan heard those familiar sounds the mystery suddenly became clear. The little Master could not cast off the spell of his Chan-na, and therefore he had been reborn in his own house. ( 29 ) The arguments in favour of this were, to Raicharan, altogether beyond dispute: (i.) The new baby was born soon after his little master’s death. (ii.) His wife could never have accumulated such merit as to give birth to a son in middle age. (iii.) The new baby walked with a toddle and called out Ba-ba and Ma-ma. There was no sign lacking which marked out the future judge. ( 30 ) Then suddenly Raicharan remembered that terrible accusation
of the mother. “Ah,” he said to himself with amazement, “the mother’s heart was right. She knew I had stolen her child.” When once he had come to this conclusion, he was filled with remorse for his past neglect. He now gave himself over, body and soul, to the new baby, and became its devoted attendant. He began to bring it up, as if it were the son of a rich man. He bought a go-cart, a yellow satin waistcoat, and a gold-embroidered cap. He melted down the ornaments of his dead wife, and made gold bangles and anklets. He refused to let the little child play with any one of the neighbourhood, and became himself its sole companion day and night. As the baby grew up to boyhood, he was so petted and spoilt and clad in such

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