Kopal-Kundala/In the House of the King

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Chapter IV.

In the House of the King.

Moti arrived at Agra. It is no longer necessary to call her Moti. In a few days her heart had undergone an entire change.

She saw Jahangir, who received her with the same respect as before, and asked after her brother, and how she had fared on the way. What Lutufonissa said to Meheronissa was true. After some talk on other matters, Jahangir, on hearing Burdwan mentioned, asked, "You were two days with Meheronissa; what did she say about me?" Lutufonissa frankly informed him of Meheronissa's love. The King, hearing it, remained silent; a tear or two dropped from his large eyes.

Lutufonissa said, "Refuge of the world! your slave has given you good news; hitherto you have ordered no reward for me."

The King laughed and said, "Lady, your desires are boundless."

Lu. Refuge of the world, what is my fault?

King. I have made the king of Delhi your servant. Do you desire any further reward?

Lutufonissa laughed and said, "Women have many desires."

King. What is your last wish?

Lu. First, let it be ordered that your slave's request will be granted.

King. If it will not harm the kingdom in any way.

Lu. (laughing.) The Emperor of Delhi's affairs cannot be harmed for the sake of me.

King. Then I agree; what is your wish? let me hear.

Lu. I want to marry.

Jahangir broke into a loud laugh: "Truly, this is a new wish; and have you decided on a bridegroom?"

Lu. Yes; it only awaits the king's order. There can be no proper betrothal without the king's order.

King. What is the necessity for my consent? Whom do you intend to float in this sea of happiness?

Lu. Your slave is not an adulteress because she has served the king of Delhi. Your slave asks permission to marry her own husband.

King. Indeed! Then what is to become of this old servant?

Lu. I will give him Meheronissa, empress of Delhi.

King. Who is Meheronissa, empress of Delhi?

Lu. She who will be.

Jahangir thought that Lutufonissa knew for certain that Meheronissa would become empress of Delhi, and therefore she wanted to leave the royal harem through vexation at the defeat of her own desires. Thinking this, Jahangir was pained, and remained silent. Lutufonissa said, "What! does not the king agree to this betrothal?"

King. I am not unwilling; but what is the necessity of being married again to your husband?

Lu. Through ill fortune my first husband did not receive me as his wife. Now he will not be able to abandon the slave of the refuge of the world.

The king laughed merrily, and then became grave. He said, "Dear one! I cannot refuse you anything. If you are so inclined, do so. But why should you abandon me? Do not the moon and sun both shine in the same sky? Do not two flowers bloom on the same stalk?"

Lutufonissa fixed her large eyes on the king, and said, "Small flowers may bloom, but there cannot be two lotuses on the same stalk. Why should I remain as a thorn beneath your jewelled throne?"

Lutufonissa went away to her house. She did not divulge to Jahangir the reason for her new desire. Jahangir thought what it was natural to infer, and gave the matter no further thought. He knew nothing of the secret meaning. Lutufonissa's heart was made of stone. Even Selim's princely beauty, that conquered all women, had not charmed her. But this time the worm had entered the stone.