§ 16. Suspicious watching of his sons.

Hamida Banu, the superintendent (mahaldar) of the harem of Muhammad Muazzam Bahadur Shah, from the province of Multan petitioned the Emperor, “Very often at night in the prince's private chamber, where his be­loved ones come, he takes with himself his pen-case and memorandum-book. Out of regard for etiquette it is not allowed by the Court regulations that the mahaldar or her deputy should be present at that time. When your Majesty gave this old slave woman [the writer] her congee you told her orally, and you also inserted it in a [subsequent] royal letter, that whenever the prince would call for his pen-case this old bondmaid or her deputy Sharf-un-nisa should be present. These are the facts. What order in this matter?”

The Emperor wrote in answer, “If you cannot in etiquette go to the prince's private chamber, what eti­quette is there in your refusing to send him the pen-case? In any case in future do not at all leave the pen-case in the inner apartments. I have also sent an order to the nazir that whenever the prince in the outer apart­ments needs [writing materials] he should produce the pen-case, so that the prince may keep it with himself only till the necessary signatures are finished; thereafter the nazir should keep it under his own seal. The nazir should tell my foolish son that his captivity for so many years has not made him wise, as he has taken such audacious steps! Even now the matter has not gone out [of my hand]. Distance cannot prevent [me from] punishing [him]. (Verse)

Here is the polo-ball, and here is the field,
You inconsiderate, utterly ignorant man.”

Text.–MS. N. 20a 6–20b 12.

Notes.–Prince Muazzam after having been confined by his father from 1687, was finally released in 1695, and on 13th July. 1696, went to Multan as governor, (M. A. 382). Here he remained for two years, nominally a viceroy, but still watched by his jealous father's spies. The mahaldar was the highest female servant and controlled the harem,—a sort of female major domo. She evidently acted as a spy in the interests of the Emperor.