III. Evil Omens.

Such is the story of the beginning of the love whereby the union of Rup Mati and Bāz Bahādur was brought to pass. But the overcast sky did not grant love a long reign beneath its roof. One day when the two were enjoying themselves in seclusion, a tiger of the forest slew and de­voured the ambassador who had been sent to the Mogul Court. On the same day the royal crown fell in the dust.

The manner of these happenings was on this wise. When the news of the victories of Akbār reached Māndu, the Afghāns were perforce cast into perplexity, and Rup Mati herself, coming out from behind the curtain, advised her lover to sacrifice pleasure and luxury for a season and to bestir himself to set the affairs of his kingdom in order. The Darbār was being held with full ceremony, and when the bearer of the crown bore it forth to set it on the head of the king it fell to the ground. All present whose eyes had power to see into the future recognized that the end and conclusion of the reign would be evil, in that at the outset this ill omen befell.

The omen, however, passed and naught came of it; but unmeasured terror was born in all hearts when on a night a voice was heard in the royal palace saying, ‘The dainty fair was laid low and none lifted her from the dust’.* Bāzid Khān sent a slave to fetch him who had made utter­ance. The slave returned, saying that the voice was the voice of a beggar, who had fled away.

Thereafter a party of pleasure was held, and Bāzid Khān gave order to a girl to dance before him. She sang in the language of Hindustān and this was the burden of her song: ‘Where now is that Yudeshtira,* who was exalted in dignity and splendour? Naught did these avail him and in tears and woe and sorrow ended his love.’ Bāzid Khān gave order that she should shut her lips on this song, and sending for Rup Mati bade her sing to him. She began with words of parting and separation, and overcome by the thought thereof fell a-weeping. This story I had from Sulimān Khān, who was groom of the bedchamber in the court of Bāzid Khān, and he said that a miracle was wrought. For the violence of her passion was written upon her face and her agony was plain to all.

Be it known that the poets of Hindustān have a liking for tales of parting and separation, for the telling whereof the Persians, who address their poetry to boys, have no taste. Among the Arabs a man is in despair at the thought of separation from his woman, but among the Hindus the manner of love is otherwise, in that its beginning is from the woman to the man.

In this case we ourselves see how a fair lady began to sing verses of separation and was whelmed beneath her despair; and though for a space Rup Mati held in check the passion born of the verses, yet Bāzid Khān burst into tears.

And in this wise the party ended.

A time passed and the spies of the kingdom presented themselves before the throne of the exalted one, telling the news of a great happening, even that a large army, under the leading of Adham Khān, Mogul,* was marching on the capital.

Be it not concealed that Bāz Bahādur, when he became master of throne and crown, desired to exalt the splendour of his kingdom to equality with the glories of the imperial city. But he ignored the need for firm foundation to his kingdom and recked naught of the enmity between regal sway and lust and luxury.

He had, indeed, kept the habit of entering the Darbār in the morning, when he woke from sweet sleep, and devoting himself to the justice of Naushirwān.* Yet was there a block of stumbling, in that his courtiers did not desire that others should have access to the king, and from this malignant influence commenced the decline of his fortunes.

Thereafter Bāzid Khān used to enter the harem, and after his meal to occupy himself with singing and music. Then came his courtiers kindling with their wit and pleasantry the flame of mirth and laughter. After a while he was wont to take a short sleep and on waking would take up affairs of state. On occasion he would devote some time to the army and military affairs. Most of the night he spent in pleasure and enjoyment. Yet for all that the administration of the empire was well conducted, as the methods of Shujā’at Khān were still practised. Bāz Bāha­dur did not give himself time for the work of strengthening his kingdom, and the faithful of the empire, who had been exalted by the orders of Shujā’at Khān, strayed from the path of loyalty and the way of devotion. The corrup­tion of the court was reflected in the manners of the nobles. Not that Bāzid Khān was unversed in the art of war or unendowed with a goodly portion of his father’s spirit. The proof thereof will be manifest in the bloody battles which followed and ended in the defeat of Mullā Pir Mu­hammad, Nāsir-ul-Mulk.* To the stability of empire there is no greater danger than the negligence of kings.

‘Whoso draws sword to make a bid for fame,
Shall stamp upon the coins his royal name.’