Kopal-Kundala/On the Way

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Chapter II.

On the Way.

On the day Moti Bibi or Lutufonissa took leave of Nobokumar and set out for Burdwan, she could not reach Burdwan the same day; she remained in another chuttee. At evening she was talking alone with Pesmon, when Moti suddenly asked Pesmon—

"Pesmon, what did you think of my husband?" Pesmon, a little astonished, said, "What should I think of him?" Moti said, "Is he a handsome man or not?"

Pesmon was very angry with Nobokumar. She had been very eager to get the ornaments which Moti had given to Kopal-Kundala, and she had intended one day to ask for them. That hope had now been uprooted; and for this reason she felt a dire resentment against Kopal-Kundala and her husband. So she replied to the question of her mistress, "What does it signify whether a beggarly Brahman be handsome or ugly?"

Moti understood her companion's thoughts, and said with a laugh, "Suppose the beggarly Brahman becomes a noble, then will he be a handsome man or not?"

Pes. What do you mean?

Moti. Why, don't you know that the Begum has promised that, if Khasru be made king, my husband is to be a noble?

Pes. That I know, but why should your farmer husband be noble?

Moti. What other husband have I?

Pes. He who will be.

Moti said with a smile, "Two husbands for a chaste woman like me, that is very wrong. Who is that over there?"

Pesmon knew the man pointed out by Moti. He was a resident of Agra, and one of Khan Azim' s followers. Both got anxious. Pesmon called him, and the man came, and, making an obeisance to Lutufonissa, put a letter in her hand, and said, "I was taking the letter to Orissa; it is of the utmost importance." On reading the letter, all Moti Bibi's hopes and aspirations disappeared. The purport of the letter was as follows:—

"Our efforts have been unsuccessful. Even on his death-bed Akber Shah has defeated us by the strength of his intellect. His death has taken place, and by his orders, the Prince Selim has now become Jahangir Shah. Do not be anxious on Khasru's account. Quickly return to Agra to guard against any one doing you an injury."

How Akber Shah defeated this conspiracy is written in history; it is not necessary to relate it in this place.

Moti dismissed the messenger with a present, and read the letter to Pesmon. Pesmon said, "What are you going to do now?"

Moti. There is nothing to be done now.

Pes. (thinking for a moment). What does it matter? You will be in exactly the same position as you were before. Every lady in the Mogul Emperor's palace is greater than the queen of any other kingdom.

Moti (smiling). That is no longer possible; I cannot remain any longer in the royal palace. Meheronissa will very soon be married to Jahangir. I know Meheronissa well from a child; when she once gets in the palace, she will become emperor; Jahangir will be emperor in name only. She must know that I attempted to bar her path to the throne. What, then, will happen to me?

Pesmon, almost crying, said, "What are you going to do then?"

Moti said, "There is one hope. How does Meheronissa feel towards Jahangir? Considering how firm she is, if she is not in love with Jahangir, but is really fond of her husband, Jahangir will never win her, not if he kills a hundred Sher Afghans. But if Meheronissa is really enamoured of Jahangir, then there is no further hope.

Pes. How will you find out Meheronissa's feelings?

Moti laughed and said, "What is impossible to Lutufonissa? Meheronissa is the friend of my childhood; I will go to Burdwan tomorrow, and remain two days with her."

Pes. If Meheronissa loves the king, what will you do?

Moti. My father is in the habit of saying, "In the field action is decided upon."

Both remained silent for a moment. Moti's lips curled with a slight smile. Pesmon asked, "Why are you laughing?"

Moti said, "A new idea has entered my head."

Pesmon asked what it was, but Moti did not tell her. Neither shall we inform the reader. It will become known hereafter.