Part II, Chapters XXV – XXVI: Summary and Analysis
Miss Quested is carried out of the courtroom by a mass of Indians. A riot is beginning. She is rescued by Fielding, who takes her to his victoria, ignoring Aziz’s call to him. Students, placing garlands around Fielding’s neck, pick up the shafts and carry them through the main bazaar. Despite the ill-feeling against Miss Quested, more garlands are flung around her neck and Fielding’s.
As the procession continues, Mahmoud Ali tries to incite attacks on the English; Nawab Bahadur attempts to calm the crowd; Hamidullah says there must be an orderly procession. Aziz again accuses Fielding of desertion. Mahmoud Ali starts a rumor that Nureddin has been tortured. Howling, the mob heads for the hospital.
Dr. Panna Lal averts disaster, first by clowning to appease the mob, then by producing Nureddin. The Nawab Bahadur gives a speech during which he announces he will give up his British title and be known as Mr. Zulfiqar. The crisis over, he asks Hamidullah to bring Fielding and Amritrao to his residence.
That evening, Miss Quested requests an interview with the reluctant Fielding. She tells him she had not been feeling well before the expedition to the caves. Fielding posits three or four possibilities to explain her behavior: that Aziz did attempt to assault her; that she accused him out of malice; or that she had a hallucination.
Miss Quested traces her “illness” back to Professor Godbole’s song at the tea party. She agrees she could have had a hallucination in the caves. Fielding tells her that he believes McBryde exorcised her by asking a straightforward question. This leads to talk of ghosts, Mrs. Moore, and the supernatural; they both affirm rationalism. She asks about Aziz’s opinion of her; Fielding softens it.
Fielding goes on to suggest the fourth possibility: it might have been someone else. Miss Quested offers, “the guide,” but seems to lose interest. Hamidullah arrives and, pointedly ignoring Adela, asks Fielding to come over for the victory celebration. Fielding tells Hamidullah that Miss Quested has been explaining her conduct. She admits her mistake, but Hamidullah is still furious. He has overheard their talk about the guide and says sardonically, “Of course some Indian is the culprit, we must never doubt that.”
Hamidullah again invites Fielding to the Nawab Bahadur’s residence; Miss Quested announces she will go to the Dak Bungalow. They argue about the plan until Hamidullah sees Heaslop arriving. Adela goes out on the verandah to see him. Inside, Fielding tells Hamidullah that Mrs. Moore is dead.
Miss Quested returns, having learned of Mrs. Moore’s death from Heaslop. She asks Fielding if she can stay at the college during his absence. Heaslop comes in uncertain of where Miss Quested should go, and Fielding invites her to stay at the college. Hamidullah brutally reminds Heaslop of Mrs. Moore’s death and the son’s false claim in court that she had reached Aden.
Later, driving out to the Nawab’s residence, Fielding is horrified to hear Amritrao tell Hamidullah that Miss Quested should pay 20,000 rupees as compensation.
The plot is now past the point of dramatic climax and is winding down. Rumor continues to create its intended dissension, yet despite Mahmoud Ali’s rumors, the riotous mob is calmed without bloodshed.
In terms of character development, there are two definite shifts in this section. One concerns Fielding and Miss Quested, who have been only acquaintances, then estranged by the trial, and now begin to know each other better. The other is the sudden prominence of Hamidullah, who has previously been a dignified presence in the background.
The question that runs through the novel now, is: What really happened? Fielding offers various possibilities, but Miss Quested loses interest in determining which might be true. Hamidullah’s entrance, just as she agrees it might have been the guide or one of a gang of Pathans, confirms the Muslim’s underlying suspicion of the English....
(The entire section is 1,201 words.)