V. The Escape.

The unsuccess of that dainty fair tears the heart into shreds. Despite a thousand difficulties Rup Mati made her way across the intervening country, and was but twenty miles from Sārangpur when the pursuit party of Adham Khān came up with her. The horsemen learnt that a woman had taken refuge in a village and had called her brothers to rescue her from oppression. Now the father of Rup Mati was already dead and her mother had become the wife of her husband’s brother. When the news came to his ears he had sent for Rup Mati’s brothers. They hastened to the village and came into conflict with the horsemen. An angry altercation followed upon their interference, and Rup Mati’s brothers were killed.

Thus for the second time the dainty fair fell into the hands of the tyrant. When Māndu was reached, she was carefully guarded and so strict a watch was kept over her that escape was impossible. The intent of Adham Khān was to take revenge on the pretence that Rup Mati herself had resisted his horsemen. She was brought before him, but, when he renewed his overtures of love, that faithful lady spoke and said: ‘My heart is wearied of these thy proffers. There is no hope that, what I gave to Bāz Bahā­dur, the same I should give unto thee, to thee, above all, who dost commence thy wooing by the murder of my brothers.’

When she found escape was beyond hope, she promised to receive him after three days and entered the harem. Adham Khān, on his part, held to the belief that the stream of time would wash away her sorrow and grief and that he would bring his intent to the goal of achievement of union. He turned to hunting and sport and spent some time in this way.

‘In love who braver than a Hindu wife?
Her lamp extinguished, death is one with life:
And like a moth she seeks the burning flame,
And faithful ever, quits this world of strife.’*

Behold, now, to what doom the torturing heavens brought the fortunes of the helpless lady.

Well she knew that Adham Khān had killed her brothers. This weighed heavily upon her, and she had firmly resolved to make choice of the doom of death before converse of love. For to her thinking not only had Adham Khān slain her beloved, but carried away by lust he had not stayed his hand from killing her brothers. With no intent of fulfil­ment she made promise and sent a message to Adham Khān:

‘O victor mine, the conquered have no resource save to obey the orders of the conqueror. They whom fate has broken need no fresh enemies. Modesty and repute, honour and respect are transient things. Yet is it the custom that the conquerors show generosity to the con­quered. My glory is my union with Bāzid Khān. Through love of him I have sung in his assemblies and to the doing of love be it set down that Bāz Bahādur sought from me such proofs of affection. Now I pray thee, the master, to show mercy on me, the slave. None knoweth what the morning will bring forth from out the night. Behold the end of this empire and the fall of our fortune, how my state is like unto them as a reflection in a mirror. Thou dost say in thy heart, “I have attained unto the heaven of power”, yet fear thou the grinding of the revolving millstone.

‘’Twere but just that thou shouldst send to tell the tale of us poor wretches in the ear of the Emperor Akbār, for of a surety on hearing of our misery he will not refrain from tears. Abandon then this thy evil purpose.

‘O Adham Khān, beauty and grace thou sayest are mine, yet of what avail will these be to thee? for with me they will turn to dust. My brothers are dead, nor is it for me to crave for this life of a day. The imperial throne whence sprang our content has fallen in the dust, and all my brothers have perished to preserve my wretched life. I pray that therefrom thy noble heart may learn a lesson and that thou wilt leave us miserable creatures in peace.’

When this message was borne to Adham Khān, he sent a letter in answer saying: ‘These matters will not prevail to stay me from my course. If thou dost make estimate of my love and look to the flood of passion, which is rising in my heart like a wave, thou wouldst not consider me deserving to be tortured thus. Thou dubbest me conqueror, but ’tis thou who hast conquered me. Though the four quarters of the world unite to rob me of union with thee, yet will I make sacrifice of all my earthly bliss, of all my hopes of Paradise and of all that therein is, for one minute of thy love.’

In a moment the links of the chain of hope were broken. Welcome to thee, despair, who putteth end to grief. The last of hope is the beginning of despair, and therein the beloved findeth a secret path to the heart of the lover, wherefrom others shrink. The dainty fair knew that matters had passed all bounds and that the tyrant could scarce endure till the passing of the three appointed days. She sent word and said that within those days her sorrow would minish and thereafter he might make his way to her private apartments.

‘O tyrant! fear the groans of the oppressed!
For to the door of God are they addressed,
And at the hour of prayer the doorway parts,
For his acceptance to refresh their hearts.’*