[Challenges to the Reign of Akbar]

The terror which accompanied my father’s renown, without any extraordinary effort, carried all before it on the left of the enemy; but the left wing of the imperial army having been repulsed by Mahommed Hûsseyne Mirza, that chief gained ground considerably on that side, and there stood embattled, in no little confidence of success. Some troops of the advanced guard, however, arriving on the spot, served for some time to keep him in check.

In these circumstances, my father being personally exposed to an incessant discharge of rockets from all quarters, it so happened that one of the rebel sirdars let off a rocket, which by accident taking the direction of one of their own elephants which carried a load of five hundred of these horrible implements of destruction, the whole immediately exploded, one after another, in the direction of their own ranks. These rockets striking at the same time among the other elephants and camels which carried the same destructive projectiles, to the number of a hundred thousand, all exploded in turn; and the elephants in their affright rushing upon their own army, the most tremendous confusion took place, nearly fifty thousand horses being either destroyed or dreadfully mutilated by the rockets. The effects of this fearful explosion were not less destructive among the men, and the whole immediately dispersing in every direction, might be said, to all appearance, to have met with total anni­hilation.

My father, after proceeding a short distance in advance, suddenly checked his career, discreetly retaining in his hands the reins of strict discipline: while intent on observing the strange discomfiture which was at work among the enemy, who were flying in every direction, as if pursued by an hundred thou­sand warriors foaming with vengeance. In these circumstances, left with a few only of his personal retinue, my father was attacked by Mahommed Hûsseyne Mirza with his division, and for some time stood opposed to the most imminent personal danger. Maun Sing Derbaury, one of his attendants, combatted suc­cessfully in defence of his master; but Rajah Ragudas, another, was killed on the spot; while the faithful Woffadaur, a third, having received three wounds in his arm and hands, was borne from his horse, and compelled to combat on foot for the life of his benefactor.

Fortunately, the assailants seemed still unapprized that they were in presence of the emperor; and it was at such a crisis that three of the enemy’s horsemen were seen making directly for his person. Two of these unaccountably turned aside, and passed on without attacking him; but the third continued to approach until close upon him. My father had seized a javelin from his armour-bearer, and was about to transfix him through the breast, when the man called for mercy, and declared that he came for the express purpose of announcing the splendid opportunity that lay before him; for that, panic-stricken by the exploding of the rockets, the enemy had neither strength nor courage for further resistance: and having thus delivered himself he rode away.

It was afterwards discovered that these three men had actually demanded to be employed against the person of the emperor, whom for some reward they had probably engaged to destroy. But approaching the spot where he fought, two of the assassins, appalled by the majesty of his presence, reined their horses the other way and withdrew: the third with greater boldness advanced close up to the emperor; but observing him couch his lance, and that death was otherwise inevitable, his only resource was to salute him with the annunciation of his victory, an expedient by which he contrived to escape with life.* My father continued to maintain the unequal conflict without shrinking, until the troops of the centre drawing near, gave positive information of the entire discomfiture and dispersion of the rebels. He then gave orders that the imperial troops should pursue to the utmost extremity, and not suffer a man to escape alive.

They now began to collect the spoil, and nearly two thousand elephants, two thousand valuable Parthian horses (horses of Irâk) in mailed caparisons, and fifty thousand* dromedaries, with the small guns on their backs, were led to my father’s presence. Shûjayet Khaun was foremost to congratulate him upon the magnitude of his victory, which could be ascribed alone, he said, to the interposition of Providence, with the influence, perhaps, of his own glorious destiny; for no one, he observed, could have calculated on the presence of the emperor so entirely unexpected, or that the defeat of an enemy’s force so greatly superior should have been so strangely accomplished.

Having made his offering of praise and thanksgiving to the Dispenser of Vic­tory, my father proceeded slowly towards the city of Ahmedabad, and while on his way thither, it was announced to him that Seyf Khaun Koukah had nobly fallen in the battle, and had departed to the mercy of his Creator. For a mo­ment he became deeply affected by the report; but recovering his self-possession, he became sufficiently composed to listen to the particulars of his foster-brother’s fate, who was the brother of Zeyne Khaun.

It is curious to relate, that some days previous to this battle of Ahmedabad, my father had given an entertainment to his Ameirs, at which were present a number of Shanahbein,* or blade-bone soothsayers, of whom he demanded, if their science enabled them to declare to whom, on the impending conflict, the victory would incline. They pronounced without hesitation, that the victory would be with him who was the object of homage, but that one of his most dis­tinguished nobles would fall a martyr in the conflict. That same night Seyf Khaun expressed to my father his earnest hope that this destiny might be his alone, for he was come to die in the cause of his benefactor; and as he wished, so it came to pass. In the course of the battle, he had received two desperate wounds in the face, and he was hastening, covered with blood, to present him­self to his sovereign, when intercepted by the division of the enemy under Ma­hommed Hûsseyne Mirza, he fell, sword in hand, fighting to the last gasp.

Mahommed Hûsseyne Mirza, who had usurped to himself the title and dignity of King of Gûjerat, was led, in his flight from the scene of discomfiture, through a grove or thicket of baubûl trees, the thorns of which being extremely sharp and strong, one of them pierced the foot of his horse, which fell, and the Mirza was constrained to continue his flight on foot. At this moment Guddah Ally Beg, one of those who had the privilege of unreserved access to the presence of my father, overtook and secured the fugitive; so tying his hands behind, lest he might attempt to escape, he placed him on horseback, and brought him to my father. Two other persons, however, claiming the merit of his capture, my father directed his prisoner to decide the point. “Alas!” replied the captive chief, “the emperor’s salt has been my captor:” that is, the guilt of ingratitude for the bounty of my sovereign has led me into the snare. Moved with compas­sion at his sad reverse, however merited, my father directed that his hands should be unbound from behind, and secured before him. He was then consigned to the custody of Maun Sing Derbaury; but that chief, when he imploringly begged for a draught of water, ungenerously beating him with both hands about the head, my father interposed, and expressing his high displeasure, directed his attendants to relieve the unfortunate man from his own reserve. On this the Mirza seems to have intimated to his conqueror, that it would be advisable not yet to lay aside his precautions, for that, although one of the princes of Gûjerat had been defeated, and was his prisoner, there were three others still at large in the wilderness, who might yet occasion much trouble and alarm.

Slowly continuing his march towards the city, my father now transferred the care of Hûsseyne Mirza to Râi Sing,* whose daughter has at present a place in my domestic establishment, with orders to mount him, with his hands bound, on the back of an elephant, and so convey him into the town. While he was thus proceeding, another body of troops suddenly made its appearance in great force in the midst of the jungle, which although at the moment unknown, was after­wards discovered to be a division of Gûjerat, thirty thousand strong, under Ekhtiaur-ul-Moulk, one of the most powerful chiefs of the province, who now professed to be on his way to do homage at the feet of the emperor.

The imperial troops, naturally enough, becoming alarmed at this fresh display of a hostile force, my father ordered his martial music to strike up once more, and his warriors, mounted on fresh horses, again drew out for battle. In the mean time, Rajah Maun Sing,* Shûjayet Khaun, and Rajah Bugwandas,* with some light troops, advanced towards the strangers, and immediately commenced an attack; a volley of arrows, and a fire from nearly five thousand camel-guns, together with a simultaneous discharge of two thousand rockets, being directed at once upon the supposed enemy.

In this situation of affairs, Rajah Bugwandas sent a message to my father, re­minding him that it was no longer safe to risk the escape of Mahommed Hûs­seyne Mirza, and he therefore entreated his orders to strike off the rebel’s head, as events seemed to have assumed an aspect of rather an alarming tendency. Such, however, was my father’s compassionate disposition, that, notwithstanding the numerous proofs of ingratitude and perfidy on the part of the family, he could not by any argument be prevailed upon to consent to this act of ven­geance, however just. It was nevertheless carried to consummation without further ceremony, for the unfortunate Mirza, by a hint from Râi Sing, acting under the directions of Rajah Bugwandas, was suddenly thrown from the back of the elephant to the earth, and his head struck off by Sheir Mahommed.

But to return to Ekhtiaur-ul-Moulk. That chief, when he found it unavoidaable, had dispatched a messenger to assure the emperor, that so far from any hostile design, he was come with no other intention, than of humbly testifying his loyalty at the foot of the throne. The imperial troops having, however, as we have seen, in the confusion of the sudden alarm, commenced the attack, the message could never be delivered, and he now applied his efforts to make his escape towards the hills. He was, however, soon pursued, and finally overtaken by Sohraub Beg the Tûrkomân, who, dismounting from his horse, immediately struck off his head.* Perceiving what had happened, his followers, at least such of them as were well mounted, fled in all directions, although ten thousand of them were thus unnecessarily put to the sword.

After this second victory on the same day, my father entered Ahmedabad without further accident. He remained here for the short period of seven days only; when leaving the province under the government of the Khaun Khanan, the son of Beyram Khaun, he returned to the metropolis.

It was subsequent to this, that the attention of my father was engaged in the conquest of Bengal, and the reduction of the impregnable fortresses of Chittore and Rintumpour, both of which latter undertakings he conducted in person. A chief of the name of Jeimul, who commanded the garrison of Chittore, while viewing the operations of the besiegers through one of the embrasures of the place, he shot through the head with his own hand; and the piece with which he exhibited this proof of his skill as a marksman, to which he gave the name of Droostandauz (straightforward—never to miss), is still in my possession. It must indeed have been a gun of matchless excellence, since my father is known, on good authority, to have killed with it, at different times, of birds and beasts not less than twenty thousand head; which is not less a proof of his singular skill than the good­ness of the piece. I am myself not without some skill in the use of this weapon, being exceedingly fond of field sports of every kind, and having frequently with the same piece killed twenty antelopes of a day. I made, however, a vow, that after attaining to the age of fifty, I would never more make use of a fowling-piece, and this was occasioned by the following extraordinary circumstance.

One day being engaged on a hunting party, among a herd of deer or antelopes which we had in view, I perceived one coloured and marked so beautifully, that I singled it out for my own pursuit, strictly forbidding any of my retinue from ac­companying me, knowing, indeed, that the animal would be rendered wilder by the appearance of numbers. I discharged my piece, the same Droostandauz, at the creature repeatedly, without perceiving that my shot had any effect. As often as I closed upon the animal it bounded off, as if in entire derision. At last, after a third shot, I had once more approached close to the antelope, when giving a sudden spring, it in an instant disappeared altogether. Either from the sudden spring, or from some cause that I am unable to explain, I fell into a swoon, and remained in a state of total insensibility for the space of two hours; until, indeed, impatient at my non-appearance, my son Khoorum* hastened to the spot in search of me, and applying rose-water to my temples, succeeded at last in re­storing me to my faculties. I continued, however, in a state of debility and anxiety of mind for nearly a month; and from that day I solemnly vowed that, after attaining the age of fifty years, I would never make use of my gun in the chase.

Before I dismiss the subject of my royal father, I cannot omit to observe, that in the article of abstinence he was so far scrupulous, that for nearly three months in the year he never tasted animal food; but for the whole of the month in which he was born, he strictly forbid that any animal whatever should be deprived of life. It must however be acknowledged, that he did not keep the fast in the month of Ramzaun; but at the festival at the conclusion, he never failed to repair to the Eidgah, where he performed with due solemnity the double course of prayer, with all the other prescribed acts of devotion: and to compensate for his omission of the general fast, he bestowed their freedom upon three hundred slaves, and distributed fifty thousand rupees among the poor.

Among those who had been most closely attached to me during the period of my minority, was Jummaul-ud-dein Anjû, who had, indeed, in the time of my father, given the strongest proofs of devotion to my interests. He had hitherto held the rank of one thousand, but with the title of Ezz-ud-Dowlah, I now raised him to that of twelve thousand, a dignity never before conferred on any of the Ameirs of my father’s court or my own. I bestowed upon him, at the same time, the insignia of the great drum and standard, a sword set with diamonds, a baldric similarly enriched, and a charger with embroidered and jewelled caparison. Thus did I accumulate upon him an hundred-fold the distinctions which he had held under my father’s government, and still further aggrandized him by investing him with the government of Bahar, with the most ample powers for the exercise of his authority. And yet more, I conferred upon each of his eleven sons the rank of one or two thousand horse, according to circumstances: so that, among all the nobles of my court, none ever attained to such distinction, excepting alone the family of Ettemaud-ud-Dowlah, his children and relatives, to whose hands, indeed, have now been consigned all the cares of my govern­ment.