When Fatima next went to meet Satwant Kaur, she was shocked to find the room empty. Taking an earthen lamp she went down to the tunnel and pushing the rock aside, came out at the other end. She saw that the dirt on the ground had been recently disturbed, and knew that Satwant Kaur had really gone.
The pain of never again seeing her dear friend and guide, whom she had come to love and respect, was more than she could bear. With dragging feet, she returned to her room and sat down listlessly. She could not respond to her son’s childish prattle, nor did she reply when her maids came for instructions. She tried very hard to control her grief, but her thoughts went again and again to Satwant Kaur, causing her tears to flow afresh.
Many days passed and Fatima tried to gain peace and strength by reciting Japji Sahib, which she learnt from Satwant Kaur. But worry for her friend’s safety and her own sense of loss continued to pierce her heart.
A few days later, Khan Sahib went off on tour. One night, as Fatima lay asleep, she felt someone shaking her arm. She opened her eyes to find Satwant Kaur sitting on the edge of the bed. For a moment she thought she was asleep and dreaming.
Satwant Kaur spoke softly, “Wake up, Fatima Bibi, you are not dreaming. I am really here,” and they clung to each other. “I was trying to find a way to return to my country, Satwant Kaur told Fatima, “when I overheard a plot being hatched against you, I managed to find the tunnel opening and came to warn you.”
Fatima looked frightened but Satwant Kaur continued in a reassuring tone, “You have to be strong now! This is the work of your old enemy, Zainab, who has hired a band of robbers to attack your house tonight, loot all the valuables and kidnap you. Sometime aback, she had sent another old crone to work as a servant in your home. This woman, Hasna, has been to open the main gates after midnight to let the robbers in.”
Fatima went pale with fear, but rallied at Satwant Kaur’s words, “You are a Pathan and must act like one! There is no time to lose. First of all we must get rid of Hasna. Take her to one of the strong rooms and lock her in. Then send one of your trusted servants to the Police camp to bring some men to guard the house. Don’t forget to send some money for quicker results.”
Fatima hurried to Hasna’s room and shook her awake, “Hasna, why did you go to sleep so early? You forgot to bring the glass of milk for the little one and he is crying.”
Hasna got up, apologizing, and brought the milk from the kitchen. As she was crossing the courtyard, Fatima came up to her and took the glass from her.
“Give this to me and you run down to the safe room. Bring my jewelry box as I want to keep it in my room tonight,” Fatima ordered.
Hasna ran down the steps and Fatima and Satwant Kaur quickly banged the heavy door shut and locked it. Hasna began to shout, but became quiet when she heard Fatima say, “You can sit there and enjoy the fruits of your treachery!”
Satwant Kaur now outlined the rest of the plan to Fatima. All the servants were aroused and called into the courtyard. Fatima told them, “I am feeling very frightened as Khan Sahib is not here, so I want you to put on all the lights and go about your chores as you do in the daytime.”
The servants were very devoted to their mistress and willingly obeyed her every command. Soon the sounds of normal household activities filled the air.
Satwant Kaur then asked Fatima to show her the room where the weapons were kept. She picked up the heavy guns and began to load them. When it was past midnight, the robbers became restless. Neither had the household gone to sleep nor had Hasna opened the gates. They had told Hasna that they would announce their arrival by hooting like an owl, but to their chorus of hoots also there was no response.
Fatima heard the strange sounds and became very nervous. She slipped into the tower room where Satwant Kaur sat keeping watch. This room had niches cut into the thick walls. Through these gaps, shots could be fired without exposing the person to the enemy.
Satwant Kaur signaled to Fatima to come up to the gap and look outside. Fatima looked and immediately stepped back when she saw five or six sinister figures lurking in the dark.
Satwant Kaur whispered, “I can take care of these thugs. If they dare to make a move I shall fire. The sounds are sure to scare your servants and create a panic, so it’s better that you go and explain the whole thing to them. This way they will be prepared to remain alert.”
Fatima looked at Satwant Kaur with amazement and respect. “Such an intelligent, fearless and resolute girl! She is fit to be a queen!” she thought. “I have everything, yet I feel so afraid and helpless, but she doesn’t let anything crush her spirits.” With these thoughts running in her mind, Fatima went to speak to the servants.
The robbers now became impatient with waiting and decided to take action. They rushed at the gates to break them down. At the sound of the loud thump Satwant Kaur shouted a warning “Stop, or we will shoot and kill each one of you!”
But the robbers paid no heed and rammed into the gates once again. Immediately Satwant Kaur fired, hitting one of them in the leg. With a yell of pain, he fell of his horse. This stunned the others momentarily. They looked hard to see where the shot had come from but could see nothing. Two of them picked up their hammer at the gate again. Another shot rang out hit one of them in the arm. Those keeping watch began to fire back.
Fatima softly entered the tower room where Satwant Kaur sat fully alert, her eyes shining with excitement.
“We need to attack from both sides,” she told Fatima. “Tell your servants to go into the opposite room and start shooting arrows at the attackers.”
Fatima quickly picked up some bows and a batch of arrows and went and instructed the servants accordingly.
In the next few moments, while Satwant Kaur loosed off one shot after another, arrows rained down upon the thugs from the other side. This completely unnerved the robbers and, quickly turning, they fled.