now,' the sadhu said consolingly. 'You
haven't failed. If anyone failed, it was I; I did not make myself
clear. But no harm has come of it. Drastic measures are sometimes
necessary, particularly when contrary tendencies are so deeply
imbedded as were yours. The Guru who speaks through me does not make
mistakes; nor, in the long run, does an earnest disciple make
mistakes.' He smiled luminously at Sri Nag. 'This
has been a year of great tapasya for you, my dear son. You have done
very well; just ask yourself if a year ago you would have understood
what I have been saying today. But come now, you and your family
must have nourishment. The field seems to be teeming with mice.'
trash,' Akhu said scornfully, 'littering
up the grass, if you will excuse the pun.' He and his
colleagues laughed loudly.
Sri Nag shot them a
sharp glance and said, 'Shhhh!' He
surprised himself and the mice as well, at the command in his voice.
It was the first threatening sound he had made in a year, but it was
not accompanied by the old irresistible urge to strike. 'Be
quiet,' he said more gently.
The sadhu had paid
no attention to this exchange. Looking out over the field, which
indeed seemed to be alive with the movement of small furry bodies,
he said reflectively, 'You and your wife have
strength enough left to catch a few, haven't you? Start on!'