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Each young man left his house silently. Rang Bahadur avoided looking at his sisters as he tiptoed past them, his father snoring on a nearby charpai. He stole along the high mud wall of the house, crossed the large courtyard and ran unnoticed between the water buffaloes tethered near their feeding troughs. In two or three minutes he crept up to Ram Lakhan's doorway. Wordless, they shot behind twin, idled bullock carts, down a narrow deserted alley and ran past the Shankarji shrine where Radhu Prasad and Bhagwat and Dhirendra Singh waited with their friend, Ram Pujar. Shoeless, shirtless, in blast-furnace heat. "Hsssst! Rabi!", came a voice using Rang Bahadur's nickname. "We're all here!" It was Suddhu Singh, eyes ablaze, his movements like those of a ferret. It was he who had it in for Mangal Ram..."Let's go; we're off then,"Suddhu whispered to the gang.He was breathing hard

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