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Kotahbagh, disturbed for a day, has resumed the slumbrous existence which it shares with half a million similar institutions. By day its cattle go out and its cattle come in. By night its fires flare and fade. Nothing has changed.
Parmala is forgotten, for Tota the tanner has is reputation to consider, and it is simpler to believe her dead than alive. Not that the matter is of any interest in Kotahbagh.
Piri Ram, by dint of mortgaging his house and field, all that were left to him, is in a position to lend you fifty rupees at an interest of not less than fifty per cent. A week ago he could have obliged you with fifty thousand. Over the rare pipe of charas that a new fakir brings down from the hills he dreams of the day when he will oblige you with fifty thousand again. It is a pleasant dream.
Tota squats by his back door and, with a new knife, industriously scrapes his hides. As he scrapes he mumbles to himself--for he also dreams--of a day when he will have amassed enough rupees to enable him to settle down in Piri Ram’s house and to forget forever the peculiar odour of hides.
But they do not dream alone. By every house in the street, from Piri Ram’s at one end to Tota’s at the other, there sits a dreamer. Priest and potter, merchant and usurer, tanner and tinker and tailor--not one but has a vision, and not one whose vision is not directly related to that glint of silver rupees. When they look into the future, as they always do, they see a mist of silver rupees--nothing more nor less. But they see no farther than their own feet.
So it is that they know nothing, and deservedly know nothing, of an old garden--hard by, yet what worlds away!--where the great experiment of life is even now evolving itself without the aid of one single silver rupee.
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