Daphne and Hari draw closer together. After an assignation with him in the Bibighar Gardens, on a night of rioting and protest, she returns home, claiming she's been raped. On flimsy evidence, Merrick arrests Hari.
Daphne dies giving birth to Hari's daughter, and her aunt, Lady Manners, decides to raise the child herself. About to be posted to the war front, Teddie Bingham and his fiancee, Susan Layton, decide to bring forward their marriage.
The arrangements for Susan and Teddie's wedding are threatened, but Merrick provides a solution. The Layton family gathers at Mirat, but what should be a happy occasion is overshadowed by unexplained incidents.
Merrick apologizes to Sarah Manners about his presence at the wedding and explains the connections between Mirat and Mayapore, where Daphne was attacked. The events of that night also trouble Lady Manners as she works to procure Hari's freedom from jail.
Sarah tells Susan about her husband, and they learn of great bravery from an unexpected quarter. Sarah embarks on a journey to bring comfort to a wounded man, and in Calcutta comes face to face with the war and its pain.
While visiting Merrick in Calcutta, Sarah meets Jimmy Clark, who challenges many of the values by which she lives. In Pankot, another daughter of the regiment confesses her own act of rebellion long ago.
On her homeward journey Sarah meets Count Bronowsky, the Nawab's chief minister. He is taking the Nawab's secretary Ahmed Kasim to meet his father, the ex-chief minister of Ranpur, released from prison where he has been detained with other Congress leaders since 1942. Ahmed's elder brother Sayed has been captured fighting alongside the Japanese as a member of the Indian National Army, and he must break the news to his father. By the time Sarah returns to Pankot, Susan's baby has been born and Mabel has been buried - but not as Barbie believes she should have been. Merrick returns secretly to Pankot, badly disfigured by burns, to have an artificial arm fitted. Failure and pain drive him almost to the point of madness - but it is Susan whose hold on sanity suddenly snaps. Re-enacting an old ritual for dispatching a scorpion, she wraps her baby son in his christening gown and surround him with a ring of burning kerosene. As her terrified young ayah looks on, she chants 'Little prisoner, go free.'
Susan's baby is saved, but Susan drifts into mental isolation. Mildred returns Barbie's gift of spoons, and Barbie decides to present them to the Officer's mess. She arrives at the Adjutant's house in a downpour and, hearing strange sounds, she forces her way in. There she finds Mildred and the Adjutant making love. Barbie has now left Rose Cottage, but she returns to fetch a trunk, and finds Ronald Merrick on the verandah, looking for the Laytons. He tells her that Edwina Crane has left a suicide note saying 'There is no god, not even on the road from Dibrapur.' Barbie is shattered - she has just been offered a job at the Infants' School in Dibrapur. She sets off in a rickshaw - but on the way down the steep hill the runners lose control and rickshaw is overturned. Months later Sarah finds her, distraught, in Ranpur mission hospital. Outside her window the vultures circle the towers of silence where the Parsees expose their dead.
Bombay, 5 August, 1945. A young English Intelligence officer, Guy Perron, witnesses the interrogation of a returning Indian prisoner of war suspected of collaborating with the INA in Germany. The interrogating officer is Major Merrick. Afterwards he questions Perron, and discovers the young man was educated at the same school as Hari Kumar. Also present at the interrogation is Captain Purvis, alcoholic and suicidally depressed. He sends Perron with a bottle of rare Scotch whisky to attend a party at the flat of a beautiful Maharanee, with order to report back on any careless talk about the fleet which is assembling off-shore for the invasion of Malaysia. At the party he fins Sarah Layton, who has come to Bombay to welcome her father home, and also Count Bronowsky and young Ahmed Kasim. Sarah is escorted by Ronald Merrick. Perron and Merrick discover that Purvis has attempted suicide. They get him to hospital. Sarah, who is staying with her uncle and aunt in the same block of flats as Purvis, invites Perron for a meal. There Perron meets Colonel Layton for the first time. The colonel has clearly suffered as a prisoner-of-war, and he is also concerned about one of his men, who has been accused of treachery. Merrick has resolved that Perron shall join him in his task of rooting out INA suspects. Perron, who dislikes and distrusts him, has other ideas.
It is 7 August 1945, and the atomic bomb has just been dropped on Hiroshima. In Ranpur, Barbie is dead. Sarah learns to her great distress that Ronald Merrick, with Colonel Layton's approval, is about to announce his engagement to Susan. She turns for help to an old friend - Nigel Rowan, an officer on the Governor's staff in Ranpur and a school friend of Guy Perron. Rowan knows more about Merrick's past than anyone, but he retreats behind a wall of official silence.
A week later, news reaches Pankot of the Japanese surrender. Merrick, to the great relief of Perron and Nigel Rowan, is recalled to Delhi, Perron learns that by blackmailing a young hospital orderly Merrick has gained access to Susan's psychiatric records. He also learns that his own longed-for demobilization has come through. The arrangements are supervised by Sarah Layton and, as they talk of Hari Kumar, they are drawn closer together than ever before. In the deserted Summer Residence guest house, they make love.
In August 1947 Guy Perron, now a Cambridge history lecturer, returns to India on the eve of Independence to observe the last days of British rule. He discovers that Merrick has married Susan, but has subsequently been killed, ostensibly in a riding accident. No-one is anxious to discuss the details. Sarah is distant when they meet again - she is involved, with Ahmed Kasim, in managing the Nawab's household. The Nawab himself faces a dilemma - whether to opt for political independence for his small state, or to integrate with the forthcoming Indian Union Territory. In the end, he chooses integration. Perron questions Nigel Rowan about Merrick's death, and learns the non-unexpected truth - Merrick was murdered. The facts are recorded, but a murdered Englishman is a undesirable fact at a time when India's independence is threatening to release a Pandora's Box of troubles.
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