The house master Mr. Trevor John addressed all the boarders assembled in the school compound of the Daly College, the premier residential school set up the English at Indore. Well boys” he said “today is booking out day”. All senior boys who wish to book out may give their names to the house Prefect. But remember boys, to be back by six in the evening; it’s the dead line”. Robin Singh a student of Class X looked at the sky. It was bright and sunny. Oh! He thought what fun to cycle out for a long cross country ride. His thoughts were interrupted by a gentle tap on his shoulder. It was the Vice Principal, Mr. Gopal Singh.
“Hey Robin, what’s your plan? Going for a swing on your cycle?” he asked.
“Sir” Robin replied
The entire school knew that Robin was an ace long distance cyclist. Only at the last state level meet he had won the 10,000 meters race in record time. His sports master had high hopes of Robin making it big on the international scene.
Robin set out on his cycle a sleek Raleigh gifted to him after his last victory by the Raja of Dewas. He drove under a clear blue sky towards the nearby Military cantonment of MHOW or as the British called it the Military Headquarter of War. at breakneck speed as he tested the machine and his own endurance to the limit. He soon crossed the cantonment which was about twenty miles from his school. In a few moments Mhow was left behind. The road now became quite desolate with hardly a pedestrian and only the odd truck to keep him company. He headed forward and soon saw a small road winding away among the hills. He slowed down and turned into a side road. It was a lonely road lined all along with lush green trees. After a few minutes he decided to take a rest and parked his cycle under the shade of a large Banyan tree. Taking out his canteen from the small bag at the back of his cycle, he took a swish of the cold water and thought of the next state level meet. He meant to win it. Just then he was startled to see the flight of birds from a tree some distance away. Obviously the birds had been frightened. Intrigued he put the bottle back and looked in the direction of the flight of the birds. A moment later he heard a scream. It was a chilling sound that shattered the tranquility of the area. He looked in the direction of the sound. Just ahead was a small hill that hid the horizon from his eyes. The spirit of adventure fired him as he headed towards the small hill. He was sure the scream was that of a man, perhaps in dire danger. He quickly climbed the hill and taking shelter behind a clump of trees looked down. An eerie sight met his eyes. A brown colored jeep was parked and near it stood four men. It was apparent that one of the men was held firmly by two of the men while a third man stood in front. Robin noted that he wore dark glasses with curved dagger in his right hand.
Instinctively he hit the ground and looked on, fearful that he had stumbled at the scene of a gigantic crime. The man with dark glasses hissed “Karim Bhai, why do you want to die. Tell us where the opium is and I will let you go scot free.” The man called Karim whimpered “Patel sahib, spare me… I don’t have the opium.”
“You mean you sold it?”
“Then where is the cash? The opium was worth a fortune”
“I lose it… but I will pay… “
“You scoundrel… “
Robin saw the blade flash in the sun as it descended with great force and entered the stomach of the man called Karim”
“Die, you… you insect”
Robin saw Patel Bhai stab Karim repeatedly. The man slumped forward as Patel Sahib sheathed his blood covered dagger. The other two men laughed “Patel sahib, it is good you have killed the bastard, he was a real snake”
“Yes” Patel sahib replied.
“It was a fine ploy to call him here” one of the men commented “Sahib you are a real genius, even the local police inspector is in your pay”
At this all laughed. Startled Robin held his breath as he took in the gory scene. He thought it best to leave and slowly he started to back away. Unwittingly his hand dislodged a small stone that hurtled down the hill side.
“What is it?” the man called Patel sahib shouted and then his eagle eye espied Robin moving away.
“There is a boy” He shouted “By the grace of Krishna catch him and kill him; I want no witness to this”
“Huzoor” the two men replied in unison as they headed towards Robin.
“Idiots” Patel sahib shouted ‘come with me in the jeep, we shall soon catch the scoundrel’
Robin slid down quickly to his cycle. His ears reverberated with what he had heard. He knew he was on his own, with these desperados behind him. He remembered reading Sherlock Holmes and words of the famous detective to his friend Dr. Watson rang in his eyes “Watson the game is afoot… “
He quickly climbed into the saddle as he remembered that in this case he was the game.
Robin took stock of the situation. He realized that if he cycled on the road, there was a good chance of the crooks catching him on their jeep. So he turned of the metal led road and headed into the bypassed clumps of trees and rocks that dotted the scene. Shout from behind alerted him to the jeep following him to the country side. Patel sahib looked at the other two men sternly and said “Smasher, cock your pistol and keep it ready; the moment you get the boy in your sight, shoot to kill”
“Huzoor” the man called Shamsher replied as he pulled out a sinister looking revolver and held it towards the fleeing boy. Robin, now obvious to the scenic beauty cycled for dear life. He remembered that just next to the cantonment there was a small police post; so he headed in its general direction. Behind him he could hear the jeep following, its engine chugging away ominously. The jeep found following Robin a difficult proposition as the countryside was undulating and dotted with rocks and trees, allowing Robin to stay clear ahead. He took great gulps of air as he cycled forwards his heart pulsating like a machine. Ahead he was heartened at the sight of a small wood and he cycled towards it with gusto. Seeing Robin head towards the clump of trees Patel Sahib shouted “Get the boy Shamsher – otherwise we may lose him” Shamsher took aim and fired. The stillness of the countryside was shattered with a shot, but as the jeep was in motion, Shamsher’s aim was not steady and he missed the weaving boy. Robin crossed the small wood and heaved a sigh of relief as he saw the main road ahead and a little ahead the Police post. He cycled powerfully towards it. He entered the compound and headed towards the small office. He entered the door and saw a small office. He entered the door and saw small man sitting there. Robin could make out that he was sub inspector. Startled the policeman look at Robin and asked “Boy, what are you doing here?”
Robin didn’t like the look on the man’s face, but all the same he replied “Sir I have just seen a murder take place, some distance away from here and the killers are following me in a jeep”
“A brown colored Jeep? “Asked the Inspector.
“Yes sir” Robin replied, but he wondered how the inspector could have known the color of the jeep. The Inspector motioned him to sit down.
“Don’t worry” he said, “I shall soon catch them, but you stay here and don’t go anywhere”
Robin looked out of the door and his heart missed a beat as he saw the same jeep enter the compound. He could make out the three hoodlums sitting inside.
“Are these the men?” the inspector asked. Robin nodded his head with a faint trace of doubt in his mind. Motioning Robin to keep sitting the Inspector went outside towards the jeep. He reached the jeep as the occupants got down. Robin could make out that they were known to the Inspector. He saw Patel Sahib smiling broadly as he shook hands with the inspector. Aghast Robin saw the inspector pointing towards the office with his thumb. God! Thought Robin, this man is in league with Patel sahib. He did not tarry a moment but quickly climbed out of the window; landing with a soft thud outside. He wishes he had his cycle with him, but realized it would be dangerous to try and get it as it was parked in the compound. Robin put his athletic body to good use as he stealthily headed into the countryside. He ran parallel to the road, taking cover now and then to conceal his movement. He wondered at the reaction of the men as they went into the police post. Obviously they would not be pleased at his escape. As he ran he kept his eye on the road hoping to see a police patrol vehicle to help him. He knew that the men in the jeep were hardened criminals. Soon out the corner of his eye he espied a blue colored Gypsy and instinctively knew it to be a police patrol vehicle. He stopped and waved his arms widely to attract the attention of the occupants. They saw him and slowed down. Robin headed towards the patrol Gypsy with alacrity. Panting he stopped by its side and looked at the policemen with hope and anticipation. He was reassured at their sight. There were two of them inside. One of them, a kindly looking man with a large moustache smiled at Robin.
What is it son?” he asked softly
Robin quickly narrated the sequence of events. The man listened intently. It was obvious that he believed Robin. Just as Robin finished the brown colored jeep appeared from behind. He saw Patel sahib and his henchmen sitting in the jeep. Police Gypsy they accelerated and sped forward.
“They are the men” Robin gasped “They are getting away”
The man smiled “They won’t get far son”
He tuned the wireless set and spoke into the mike
“Inspector Tripathi calling. A Runaway jeep with possible criminals is fleeing on the Mhow road. Intercept and arrest”
He switched of the set and grinned “Let’s see how far they get. And you son better go home”
Robin smiled, greatly relieved “But please take me back to the police post as my cycle is parked there”
Robin climbed into the Gypsy as it reversed. Just then the wireless crackled. The voice came clear and sharp “Good show Tripathi. Jeep with noted smuggler Patel sahib apprehended along with Sub Inspector Ramu”
The inspector grinned “That was the DSP”
Robin reached the school. He cycled slowly into the vast compound. The roll call was over. Only the house master was standing with a register. Seeing Robin approach he looked a little severely and said “You are fifteen minutes late Robin; A deadline is a deadline”
“Well no out pass for you next Sunday” the House Master said with an air of finality
Robin smiled weakly. He wondered whether he should tell the House Master about the extraordinary happenings of the day, but decided against it. Perhaps he would not believe him. He just walked into the dorm and fell fast asleep.
Two days later Robin was called along with his house master to the Principals Office. Robin entered the room and saw the principal sitting pompously. Sitting in front of the Principal was the House master along with Sub Inspector Tripathi and another man sporting a lot of ribbons on his chest. He was the Inspector General of Police. The Principal beamed “Robin you have done the school proud. The IG tells me that you helped catch Patel Sahib a notorious narcotics smuggler.
The IG smiled “Well down son”.