The train arrived. All the passengers began to load their luggage and board the train. Nawab Saheb’s assistants started to load his luggage too. Meanwhile, a woman greeted Samlal from the gangway of the train compartment. He greeted her back and gestured towards the SDO with his eyes, suggesting he was the one departing. The woman hid herself, but Nawab Saheb saw her. However, he pretended not to have seen her and boarded the train. Samlal also got into the same cabin as him.

As the train left the station, Nawab Saheb, reclining on the berth, spoke (in Urdu), “Who was that woman who greeted you?”

Samlal: She is a courtesan from Bihar Sharif. Once, I had helped her in a case under Section 60.

The Nawab nodded knowledgeably. “The police are excessive at times,” he said. “At the slightest disagreement, they file cases against dissenters under Section 60.”

“That was not the case here,” said Samlal.

“Then what was the matter?”

“It was a matter of legal dispute, sir. I am unsure whether I should tell you about it,” hesitated Samlal. The Nawab assured him, “You’ll not get into any trouble because of me. You’re an affable man and I like such people.”

Samlal smiled and said, “My life is in your hands hereafter, sir.

Nawab Saheb: Don’t worry!

“Her name is Naseeban,” said Samlal. “They say that she is still a virgin. Babu Haldhar Singh is a circle officer in Bihar Sharif. When he saw Naseeban, he tried several times to talk her into visiting him, but she did not agree. He got angry and sought help from his friend, Nitneshwar Babu, the police inspector, who got a case registered against her under Section 60. Babu Haldhar Singh did all he could to bring the case under his jurisdiction. She hired me as a mukhtar knowing that I was his friend. Somehow, I managed to get her released.”

Nawab Saheb appeared to be impressed. He straightened up from his reclining position and said, “I see. You seem to be quite an interesting fellow. I had thought that such a long journey would be a dry affair. But you are a godsend for me.”

Samlal: Sir, I am humbled.

Nawab Saheb extended his hand and so did Samlal. Clasping his hand, Nawab Saheb said, “Consider me as your friend.”

Samlal: As it pleases you, sir. I’m your humble servant.

Nawab Saheb: Just one thing, please forgive my impoliteness.

Samlal: Sir, you’re embarrassing me.

Nawab Saheb: If possible, please call Naseeban here so we can chit-chat during the rest of the journey. However, please don’t tell her that I’m the new SDO.

Samlal felt slightly uneasy at this order. But he agreed to do so when the train halted at the next station. He worried that the circle offices’ men would be lurking around.

Nawab Saheb asked if she was the mistress of one of the officers.

“No, she is not a mistress,” said Samlal. “She is, after all, a courtesan! Things are done discreetly here and she is still a novice.”

Nawab Saheb got restless and said, “Please don’t delay further, you must go at once.”

When the train stopped at Mokama, Samlal got off and went into Naseeban’s wagon and asked her to follow him. But Naseeban refused to accompany him, pointing out that it would bring on Haldhar Singh’s ire. Despite Samlal’s many requests, she didn’t go with him and he went back to the Nawab alone. Nawab Saheb was desperately strolling back and forth in front of Naseeban’s compartment. He sought to bribe her with a ten rupee note via Samlal and even suggested intimidation.

Somehow, Samlal managed to convince Naseeban and brought her along with him to the first-class compartment. Upon seeing Naseeban alight from her compartment and walk towards the first class, Nawab Saheb quickly got onto the train and pretended to read the newspaper while reclining on his berth.

When Naseeban came, he put down the newspaper, and bearing a solemn look on his face, said, “Please have a seat, Bai-jaan.”

He switched on the fan and chatted with her the whole journey. When the train was two or three stations from its final destination, he sent Naseeban back to her carriage.