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defaced. The queen said, 'Have a new coinage, with your own image and superscription, made; but deface not the image of your father. How shall that son obtain the favour of heaven who mars his father's work?'
There is no doubt that women were put to death in the palace for infidelity to their lords, and why should they not?
never saw any of them put to death.
They were sometimes flogged, too, for minor offences, and the floggings in the palace were terribly severe. That several had been
walled up in the
can be no doubt.
palace, buried alive, there
The queen often spoke of them, and after the death of her husband she would not go about at night in consequence. But I believe the commonest death was beheading, or being shot by the female guards of the palace. I do not believe that any women were walled up or buried alive during my time in the palace. The queen my mistress would not have allowed it. Her influence in the state was very great, and the king her son always consulted her in political matters.
As to the way in which the women were
walled up, I have already said I never saw it, but I have heard the queen talk of it. The arms and the feet of the victim were tied, and a string united the two. This string was attached to a bolt or iron ring, prepared for the purpose in the wall, and another string was passed round the waist, and attached to the same bolt or ring behind. The victim thus stood up, with her back to the wall, usually in a corner or recess, her head being uncovered. Masons attached to the palace, or eunuchs who had learned the art of masonry, then commenced to build a wall from the floor upwards-a stout, substantial wall, to shut up the victim in her tomb alive; cutting off a corner, or merely filling up a recess thereby, so that no injury was done to the room. It must have been terrible to the victim as the bricks rose higher and higher-to her waist, her breast, her eyes-till all light was shut out, and with it all hope. God is great; and may God and the Prophet preserve us from sin!
AMUSEMENTS AT COURT.
THE QUEEN cared little for amusement after the death of her husband Umjid Aly Shah. She would sit for hours at night poring over the Koran. The story-tellers' tales were her chief pleasure.
But Wajid Aly her son, the ex-king, was very fond of games and amusements of all kinds, and of music and singing and dancing. Even during the lifetime of his father, Wajid Aly would often dress as a female, and amuse the ladies of the harem by dancing as a woman. But this was done secretly at that time, he knew his father would not approve of it. When he became king, however, of course he did exactly as he pleased. He wrote much poetry, chiefly love songs, in very choice Persian and Urdu, and filled up all
his leisure hours with music and dancing, greatly to the disgust of the queen his mother.
In one of the months of the cold weather annually he had a play acted in his household, in which he and the ladies of the court took part, and which I saw several times. This play represented the abduction of a very beautiful girl, called Ghyzalah, by an evil monster (one of the genii of Arabic tales), and her subsequent restoration by Rajah Indra.
One of the king's wives was annually chosen to represent Ghyzalah, and, as she was very beautiful, the honour of representing her was eagerly sought in the harem; others were dressed as peris, with silver wings. Another represented Rajah Indra (the king of the peris, or fairies of Hindu mythology). Others were dressed up as evil genii and their attendants, with black ornaments and black wings and blackened faces. None wished to act these last parts, but at the expression of the king's wishes none could refuse.
The play was acted in the silver bara
dhurry of the Kaiser Bagh palace in Lucknow, which was divided for the purpose into three compartments. One of these compartments was richly decorated and fitted up as Rajah Indra's court, the pillars being covered with silver paper, and the richest ornaments lavished on the ceiling and walls, whilst at night it was a blaze of light with chandeliers and mirrors. In the centre was Indra's throne, and there the lady representing him sat in state in the richest apparel, attended by crowds of peris. It was a beautiful sight. Whilst all this was going on within, fountains without were playing scented waters, and the richest and choicest flowers were in the garden near. The seats of the garden were gilded or silvered over, so as to shine amid the flowers and fountains; in the daytime the sun's rays lit up the whole, and in the night thousands of lamps. The play lasted ten days, and for ten days and nights this gorgeous scene continued.
In another compartment a room was fitted up as a royal bedroom, and, on the first day of the play, Ghyzalah, beautiful as a houri,