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As Sakina finishes the story, Shabanu hears her young cousins shrieking outside. She looks out the window and sees they have used a ladder to climb the mango tree, but they have knocked the ladder down and cannot climb down. Shabanu runs out, knowing that Dadi will be angry if she is in the courtyard when Rahim- sahib arrives, but she cannot ignore their cries. She leans the ladder against the tree and climbs up, just as Rahim-sahib's jeep pulls up.

She strains to reach the frightened boys when Rahim-sahib approaches her. He holds the ladder and helps her get the boys down from the tree. He teasingly scolds her for climbing trees, and they laugh. When he comments that country girls usually cover their mouths when they laugh, Shabanu, baring her teeth, impudently tells him her teeth are beautiful, and she has no reason to cover them. He laughs again, and Shabanu leads her cousins inside.

The men seal themselves in a room and talk until the end of the next day. Mama, Bibi Lal, and Kulsum talk in another room. At the end of the second day, Mama emerges from the room, and Shabanu accosts her. She tells Mama that Phulan should be with them if they are discussing her fate. Mama scolds her, telling her that Shabanu and Phulan will do whatever the adults decide. Shabanu's heart pounds as she realizes that, somehow, her own fate hangs in the balance as well. Mama retreats into the other room, and Shabanu wakes Phulan in her panic.

Shabanu races out into the courtyard, runs up to the window of the women's room, and peers in, begging to be allowed inside. The women relent and inform Shabanu that they have decided on a course of action already. Shabanu waits tensely as Mama rouses Phulan. Shabanu examines the women's faces, trying to determine the nature of their decision. None of them look at her, and her heart sinks. Phulan enters reluctantly and indifferently. When she sits, Bibi Lal proclaims that the wedding will go ahead "as planned": Phulan will marry Murad. Nazir Mohammad has agreed to leave Murad's land and irrigation canals alone. Rahim-sahib, Nazir Mohammad's brother, has asked to marry Shabanu.

Shabanu is speechless with horror until protests rise in her throat. She refuses to marry him: he is over fifty years old and already has three wives. The women try to calm her, pointing out that Rahim-sahib is rich and a syed, a respected religious leader. Shabanu will be twenty years younger than his other wives. She will be the most beautiful and certainly his favorite: during the talks with the other men, Rahim-sahib could not stop talking about the beautiful young woman he met in the courtyard. Her marriage to him, moreover, will ensure peace between Murad and Nazir Mohammad. Even Phulan joins in the voices placating and begging Shabanu: she and Shabanu will live close to one another when she marries Rahim-sahib. Shabanu turns to her bitterly, rebuking her for forgetting her grief over Hamir so easily.

Shabanu understands that she has been sacrificed to save Phulan and Murad. She flatly refuses to obey her mother. She tells the women that she will go to live with Sharma. Before Shabanu can utter another word, her mother slaps her forcefully, commanding the girl to be silent and obey.