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Aly's father, and was only to be used in time of extraordinary need. All this was spent in the reign of her son, the ex-king, Wajid Aly Shah. Once when the queen was away at the garden-house, for a fortnight or so, some of the female slaves left behind broke into this room, and succeeded in opening one of the boxes of jewels. A girl of about sixteen years of age, whom the queen had promised in marriage to an attendant of the king, was the ringleader in this theft. The queen had been very kind to her, and it was a case of signal ingratitude. Only one box had been opened, and that so unskilfully, that great injury had been done to the jewels within. The property had been taken from it during the night, and next morning traces of the burglary and of the theft were apparent. The queen was informed of it, and returned to Lucknow. Suspicion fell upon the slavegirl in question, and she was scourged with canes upon the back, until she confessed. She pointed out in what places in Lucknow the property would be found, and a good deal of it was recovered, but much injured in value.
The queen usually gave audience between the morning and evening meals. Distressed women from the country of all classes would come to her, with petitions, with complaints, with presents. She was ready to hear them all, to do the best she could for all. It was a source of great gain to us her servants, for none got an audience without paying handsomely for it. Whoever came was kept waiting, and put off from day to day, with various excuses, until we thought we could get nothing more out of them, and then, and not till then, were they admitted-just as the native clerks and others do in the Sahibs' Kucherry, where the Sahibs administer justice. Would the poor people not complain? you ask. Of course not. Do they complain at Kucherry? Is it not the custom ? Will the word of one stranger be believed before that of twenty servants? Well, perhaps it was wrong. But it is the custom of this country. God has made Europeans different. You cannot change the nature of man.
THE SKELETON IN THE CLOSET.
EVERYBODY has some enemies, and, good and religious as our queen was, she too had her enemies. These were chiefly the low-born women whom her son married when he became king. It was customary, when the son wished to contract a new marriage, to send the bride to the queen-mother for her approval first. My mistress objected to some, but he took them into his harem all the same; and when she found her remonstrances and her opposition useless, she ceased to object to any of them, approving of all he sent. He had all kinds of wives. Some of them princesses to whom he had been married in his father's lifetime, but when he became king he had black women, Abyssinians, high caste and low, young and old,
Mussulman and Hindu, all kinds of women for wives; and my mistress never recognised and never acknowledged any of them as queens, except the high-born princesses to whom he had been first married.
The chief wife of Wajid Aly, and the mother of the heir-apparent, had not ceremonial honours, and was not attended by a state equal to that of my mistress, and this was the cause of much ill-feeling. Several attempts were made on my mistress's life, and they were all traced to the harem of the king, her son.
Umjid Aly Shah had died of an ulcer, or some such sore on his shoulder, and I have heard the queen, my mistress, say that the sore must have been poisoned by some one, most probably by one of the physicians, bribed by some one who benefited most by his death. Had Umjid Aly Shah lived, I have no doubt the crime would have been found out, and the criminal discovered; but when he died, who was going to tell? who would protect the physician who asserted poison had been used? what witnesses would
come forward against the instigator of the crime, when that man the instigator was all-powerful? Umjid Aly Shah had warned the queen not to allow Wajid Aly to ascend the throne in case he, Umjid Aly, died; but what could she do? She was but a woman. Wajid Aly was the eldest son, and the English Resident, who knew nothing of palace wives perhaps, declared that the eldest son must succeed. And so Wajid Aly became king, and the fate of Oudh was bad, for the wickedness of Lucknow was great. How do I know that? Does not every one know that Lucknow was as the cities that God burnt up once for wickedness? Is it not written in the Koran?
I do not say that Wajid Aly poisoned his father, or that Khash Mehal, his chief wife, tried to murder the queen, my mistress; but I do say that, in the palace, such things were spoken of, and many of the slaves believed such stories to be truths. Would a son murder his father? would a daughterin-law attempt the life of her mother-in-law?' These were the questions I would ask, and