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knew it was contrary to her agreement—she was endangering all her court favour, everything, and yet she persevered. She sent a message to him, to say she loved him. He came by stealth. She danced and sang for him, and he was captivated; and they bribed a moollah to marry them. They were married thus privately, and the queen was ignorant of it, and but few of the household even were aware of it. Notwithstanding all the remonstrances of her family, Pearee Sahib lived near the palace, and Bahara Nissa saw him constantly by stealth. He was her lawful husband. She had never been married
It was about three or four months after this marriage that Hafiz, the Mussulman gentleman who had followed Bahara Nissa in the vain hope of marrying her, took very ill, and died. He sent the most pressing messages to her, asking her to visit him once during his illness before he died; but she would not. He wrote to the queen, and the queen gave her permission to go; but she was obstinate, and would not. Perhaps she
feared poison or assassination at his hands, on account of her marriage. How can I tell? But I do not believe he knew anything of her marriage. At all events, after eight or nine days' constant suffering, and always calling upon her name, he died, alone and unfriended by her, for whom he had sacrificed his family, his country, and his wealth.
Bahara Nissa was now likely to become a mother, and feared exceedingly lest the queen should become aware of it, and of the cause, her secret marriage. Days and nights of anxiety and of alarm did Bahara Nissa pass, pondering over what would be her probable fate-for the punishments in a court are severe. At length, she resolved to take medicines, and to produce miscarriage. The queen saw that her favourite was changed, and that gloom and unhappiness were taking the place of her former life, spirits, and gaiety; but the cause was unknown and unsuspected. At length, Bahara Nissa was confined to her chamber, in great suffering, and unable to continue her attendance. The queen
questioned her servants, and one of her old faithful slaves, thinking that Bahara Nissa's career at court was now at an end, told the whole story. At first the queen would not believe it; but when the facts were repeated again and again, she took one of her oldest and most confidential nurses with her, and went direct to Bahara Nissa's chamber. There, of course, she soon discovered the truth of the statement she had heard, and she returned, vexed and angry, to her own apartment.
And now behold how good and kind a mistress our queen was! Another queen would have had both Bahara Nissa and her husband impaled upon red-hot iron stakes, or taken some other vengeance equally signal, for was not punishment well merited by both of them? But our queen was not such. She simply put Pearee Sahib into prison, and banished Bahara Nissa from her presence, giving her, however, an ample allowance, and sending word to her that the crime she had committed in destroying her infant was greater than in breaking her engagement.
Bahara Nissa was long ill. Her life was in danger. Her sister exerted herself in behalf of Pearee Sahib, and he was released after three days. On her recovery, Bahara Nissa came often to pay her respects to the queen, but for a long time she was not admitted, nor were her letters and petitions answered. But the queen's heart was soft, and in a few months she relented, and Bahara Nissa was restored to place and favour.
Years rolled on, and there were rumours that all was not right. It was said the English were very angry with the king, who spent all his time in dancing and singing and fiddling-sometimes in female, sometimes in male attire, surrounded by his wives and eunuchs. The queen my mistress often remonstrated with him, and cried bitterly over his follies and his inattention to her remonstrances. But it was of no avail. Bahara Nissa was a faithful attendant to her, and was faithful also to her husband-a rare thing in a dancing girl.
At length the catastrophe came. One
morning the queen was dressing after her bath, everything as usual, when a large sealed letter was brought in to her. The messenger said it was from the vizier, and was most important. The queen read Persian like a moonshi, and immediately, half-dressed as she was, opened the letter and read it. I was preparing the hookah in the same room. I saw the letter opened. I saw the queen's face turning paler and paler as she read it. At length, holding the letter in her hands, and without stopping to put on her shoes, she walked rapidly out into the courtyard, exclaiming, 'The kingdom is destroyed!' It was in the Dowlut Khana, and the courtyard alone separated us from the king's apartments. Thither went the queen, bareheaded and barefooted, hastily. Several of us followed; one with a muslin sheet or veil, another with the shoes, another with an umbrella. She pushed us aside as we offered one thing and another. 'No, no,' said she, 'I must do without attendance, as I must do without a throne-perhaps without a home or food-in my old age.' And