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tion hour had not arrived, she must wait. The visitor was annoyed at this, and said loudly, 'Am I not mother of a queen? Is not my daughter married to the king? If half the power of the state is hers, do I not share in the other half?' The servants, of course, explained that they were only obeying orders. At the usual hour, the vizier's wife was introduced, and the queen received her with great dignity. The vizier's wife, after the usual ceremonies, complained of the queen's servants, and my mistress answered that they had received their orders from her, and could not be blamed for executing them. It was to be regretted, she added, that the vizier's wife had consented to bandy words with them—they being rude and uneducated. The vizier's wife made no suitable apology, but went away in a huff.
That afternoon the queen saw her son, the king, and explained the matter to him, stating that she would not receive the vizier's wife again unless she made a proper apology for her rudeness. The king sent for his father-in-law, and next day the vizier's wife
came to the queen's durbar, threw herself at her feet, and begged pardon for her rudeness in arrogating to herself equality with a princess of the royal house of Delhi, widow and mother of kings.
Of all the attendants of the queen, there was none enjoyed so much of her confidence, or to whom she showed so much favour, as Bahara Nissa. Bahara Nissa, with her father and mother and sister, came from the Punjab, and the whole family were proficients in music and singing. Her father, Kala Baha, usually played the drum or tambourine, whilst the two girls danced, and the mother sang. Both the girls were tall, slim, light-coloured, and handsome. They were considered highly educated in Lucknow, and their father had taken every pains to render them accomplished. On their journey from the Punjab to Oudh, a man of some property, Hafiz, had attached himself to the party, out of love for Bahara Nissa. But she would never marry
him. Kala Baha probably expected that, in such a court as that of Wajid Aly Shah, their accomplishments of singing and dancing would raise them to the highest pitch of favour; and he was not mistaken.
When they were introduced at court, the eldest girl, Rushkee Alum, was married by the king forthwith, by muta marriage, and this was the only one of his muta marriages that the queen my mistress honoured by her presence. Generally, indeed, when she saw all her son's wives drawn up to receive her, as they sometimes were-for instance, at Nowa Roz, on New Year's day—she could not refrain from laughing to see the congregation of all kinds of women, and walked on with her handkerchief at her mouth, receiving their salaams and congratulations. She was a princess born, and they were chiefly women of no rank by birth.
When Rushkee Alum was thus added to the number of the king's wives by muta, Bahara Nissa was taken into the service of the queen my mistress. The father and mother of the two girls also got apartments
in the palace, and Bahara Nissa entered into an agreement not to marry for five years. She got a thousand rupees a month from the queen for her attendance, besides rich and valuable presents on all festive occasions. It was not usual for the queen to take up thus with dancing or singing girls, or with strangers of any kind, and therefore, Bahara Nissa's case being so exceptional, she had all the more influence in consequence. The queen trusted her in every matter, and her good sense and prudence, for two years at least, justified this confidence.
At the end of about two years, however, it so happened that a ranee, widow of a rajah from Nanpara, in the Baraitch district, came to court to prefer some complaint of oppression to the queen, accompanied by her brother-in-law, the late rajah's younger brother. The young man's name was Pearee Sahib, and he was tall and good-looking, and of a light colour. Bahara Nissa saw him in the courtyard more than once, and was smitten with love for him. What! can we conquer our own hearts? Of course, she