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above the rent, which my father and uncles were afraid to refuse them. My mother had died at my birth, and my only female companion was a cousin, the daughter of a younger brother of my father, who was five or six years older than I, and who took care of me.
At length, what with exactions, and what with bad crops, things went from bad to worse, and one year the Sepoys came down upon us to force my father and uncles to pay the rents due, for they were much in arrears. My father and uncles ran away, and I and my cousin were taken off as slaves to the palace in Lucknow. I was about seven years of age, and I am an old woman now of near thirty, but I cannot tell exactly how old I am, or how old I was. This I know, that my father was a good Soonny* Mussulman, and that at the court they brought me up as a Sheeah; but I have always been an unhappy creature-unhappy and miserablesince the time when I killed my mother at
* The Soonnies are the Protestants; the Sheeahs, the Roman Catholics of Moslemism.
my birth. What luck or good fortune can the child expect that kills its mother?
Arrived at the palace, we were washed and dressed, and taken into the queen's apartments. I was speechless with astonishment at the grandeur of the rooms. ceiling was beautifully painted, the walls were richly ornamented with large mirrors and gilt edgings. Chandeliers hung from the roof, and the floor was covered with a large carpet, and in the centre of the carpet was a white cloth. Upon the upper end of this white cloth was a smaller and richer carpet, with cushions, and a large pillow for the back gorgeously trimmed with thick gold fringe. The cushions were covered with crimson velvet, with flowers of gold thread worked on them. With her back leaning against the large round pillow sat the queen smoking her hookah.
dressed in light-coloured clothes, all of one colour. She preferred light blue, lavender, or straw-coloured garments, with rich embroidery, and she wore much jewellery, noserings, ear-rings, bracelets, anklets, and such
like, all adorned profusely with precious stones. The queen was considered by us natives as very handsome; whether Europeans would think so or not, I do not know, for your ways and thoughts are not as ours. She was of the middle height, and at that time light and cheerful; not gloomy and sorrowful, as she was afterwards, when the kingdom was taken away from her son, and when she went to London to see the English queen, and ask for her son's kingdom back again. She had many sorrows after that time. I speak of the time when her husband was alive and on the throne, and when she was young and happy. Her complexion, when I first saw her, was a clear yellow. She was thin and finely formed; her eyes large, black, and lustrous; her hair of a dark-brown, not black; her features prominent; and her hands and feet small and delicate. She grew fat, and lost her delicate. fragile beauty long before she went to England. But I am speaking of long, long
When we were first brought into the
queen's presence, my cousin and I, the queen spoke kindly to us, and sent for sweetmeats. But I could not eat, I was too busy gazing around; all was new and beautiful to me; I thought, surely this is Peristan (the country of the Peris), and these are surely Peris, not mortals. But I was told to eat, and I did so, and found the sweetmeats so delicious, that I soon forgot everything else. We were asked whether we were Sheeahs or Soonnies, and the queen was sorry to hear that we were Soonnies. To me, ignorant as I was, the difference was a small matter; but my cousin was better instructed, and told me afterwards I must always continue to be a Soonny in heart, whatever they taught me. I was well fed, and my duties were light, so that I did not dislike living in the palace; but it was not so with my cousin—she was refractory, and was often punished.
A year passed away. I cannot remember much of that far-off time. Good living and light work made me fat and well-looking. My father and his brothers had got money enough to pay their debts, and came to
Lucknow to pay the money, and to reclaim my cousin and myself. My cousin was quite willing to go, but I was not so willing. When I was taken to see my father, who was waiting at the palace, I told him I did not want to go home. He was sorrowful, and lamented. I could not bear to see him so sad, and I said, Well, if I go home you must give me khoormas, pillaus, and curries, such as I get here to eat; not khodo, and dhall, as I got at home before. When the queen heard that I was not willing to go home she sent for me again and spoke kindly to me: her heart was good. She sent word to my father that I should be brought up at the palace and taught to prepare her hookah, and that he might come occasionally to see me. But my father was not content, and one day when the king, Umjid Aly Shah, was going through the streets of Lucknow in his janpan or chair, my father threw himself on the ground before him, and begged for justice and mercy. The king asked what was the matter, and my father said he would die if his daughter were not restored to him, for she