The Rajah's Heir A Novel in 3 volumes
THE RAJAH'S HEIR
[by Charlotte Despard]
IN THREE VOLUMES
SMITH, ELDER, & CO., 15 WATERLOO PLACE
|II.||GENERAL SIR WILFRID ELTON|
|III.||'IN VISIONS OF THE NIGHT'|
|IV.||A MYSTERIOUS LEGACY|
|V.||WHAT THE MOON AND RIVER SAID|
|VI.||AN IRREPARABLE LOSS|
|VII.||THE RAJAH'S HEIR SPEAKS FOR HIMSELF|
|VIII.||THE MASQUERADE AND ITS CONSEQUENCES|
|X.||MEERUT AND THE ELTONS|
|XI.||ON THE BORDERS OF NEPAUL—A JOURNEY THROUGH THE JUNGLE|
|XII.||A VISIT TO JUNG BAHADOOR|
|XIII.||LUCKNOW AND SIR HENRY LAWRENCE|
|XIV.||A MODEL STATE|
|XV.||THE RANEE OF JHANSI|
|XVI.||THE RAJAH'S RECEPTION|
|XVII.||HOW THE NEWS FROM MEERUT WAS RECEIVED AT GUMILCUND|
|XIX.||GENERAL ELTON'S MARCH|
|XX.||THE SOUBAHDAR SUFDER JUNG|
|XXI.||WITHIN THE WALLS OF MEERUT|
|XXII.||THE RAJAH SURPRISED|
|XXIII.||THE SNAKE-CHARMER AND THE VEILED LADY|
|XXV.||AN AWFUL RIDE AND A RESCUE|
|XXVI.||CAPTAIN BERTIE'S FAQUIR|
|XXVII.||THE BREAKING OF THE MONSOON|
|XXVIII.||A LITTLE BAND OF FUGITIVES|
|XXIX.||THE WELCOME OF A SORROWFUL SPIRIT|
|XXX.||CHUNDER SINGH'S PRECAUTIONS|
|XXXI.||THE ENGLISH LADIES IN THE RAJAH'S PALACE|
|XXXIII.||CONTAINING EXTRACTS FROM THE RAJAH'S DIARY, WITH HOOSANEE'S RECOLLECTIONS|
|XXXIV.||GOING THROUGH THE LAND—FROM NORTH TO SOUTH, FROM EAST TO WEST|
|XXXV.||A BRUSH WITH MUTINEERS AND A CLUE TO THE FUGITIVES|
|XXXVI.||IN THE DEADLY TERAI|
|XXXVII.||THE ADVICE OF B¬L NARőN|
|XXXVIII.||THE SHIKARI'S DISCOVERIES|
|XXXIX.||WHAT B¬L NARőN HAD BEEN DOING|
|XL.||THE ELEPHANTS' CHACE|
|XLI.||WHAT THE MORNING BROUGHT|
|XLII.||'DOES PEACE RETURN?'|
|XLIII.||A STRANGE JOURNEY|
|XLIV.||MORE FUGITIVES IN GUMILCUND|
|XLV.||NEWS OF MEERUT—GENERAL ELTON FINDS A NEW SPHERE|
|XLVI.||HOW GUMILCUND RECEIVED HER PRINCE|
|XLVII.||IN THE PALACE|
|XLVIII.||A LETTER FROM ENGLAND|
|XLIX.||SEEN IN THE LIGHT OF MORNING|
|L.||VISHNUGUPTA, THE PRIEST|
|LI.||THE RAJAH WELCOMES A GUEST AND HEARS A STRANGE STORY|
|LII.||GIFTS AND CONGRATULATIONS|
|LIII.||NEWS FROM LUCKNOW—TRIXY'S DETERMINATION|
|LIV.||COMING BACK TO LIFE|
|LV.||IN ENGLAND AGAIN—CONCLUSION|
'A dream and a forgetting. Is our life that?The sages who have searched into the past andfuture say that it is even so. A dream—anotherdream; a beginning—an ending; a beginningagain—an ending again; in all the world nohalt for the trembling spirit until the dizzyheight be reached. And that—when will it be?I accept not the priceless boon alone. Ye HolyOnes, who have been my companions from myboyhood, whose wills have wrought upon mywill, whose bodiless voices have counselled me,ye know what is in my heart. If I had separatedmyself from my kind, from the childrenwho depend upon me for their daily bread, Imight now have attained to the goal of myspiritual desire; instead of going forth uponthis weary flight I might have been basking inthe light of knowledge, as the Divine—nay, thevery Divine myself. But it cannot be. Fortheir sakes I must begin again.'
Slowly and brokenly the words fell upon thesilence. He who spoke them—a man but a fewhours ago in the full pride and glory of life—wasdying. Early that morning he had goneout as was his wont from his palace, he hadridden over fields which he had redeemed fromthe wilderness, he had visited the fair marketsthat his munificence had opened; he had goneon foot, as he had often done before, throughthe crowded streets of the city he governed,when the hand of an assassin struck him down.The blow was dealt before the eyes of the loyalthrongs that pressed round their rajah; yet themiscreant who did the foul deed made no effortto escape.
'He is a Feringhee,' he muttered as (thewounded prince having forbidden violence) thepeople led the assassin to prison. 'He is aFeringhee. He will take away from us ourreligion and customs, and give us foreigners torule over us.'
Weeping and moaning, the attendants of therajah had dressed his wound with such coolunguents as they could procure on the instant,and, while some carried him to his palace, otherswent in hot haste for the European doctor atthe Residency. He let them do what they would,knowing that the doing would ease their pain;but, for himself, he was well aware that the endof his life, as master of these good people andlord of loyal Gumilcund, had come.
When everything that skill and care coulddevise had been done he begged his attendantsto leave him. He wished to be alone.
He had been brought back to his palace atmid-day, and now the evening was drawing on.The golden light of the westering sun stole inthrough perforated marble lattices, and lay inpatches on the white pavement, and made thewater that flowed tinkling through, a trough inthe centre of the apartment shine like rubiesand sapphires. The Arabian carpet on which,propped up with cushions, the rajah lay, hadbeen drawn by his request close to this trough,and his long brown fingers played aimlessly withthe water. As he lay, his lower limbs coveredwith shawls of the richest Oriental workmanship,and the upper part of his body wrapped in apadded cloak of silk embroideries, exhausted ashe was with suffering, the peculiar dignity andbeauty of his appearance must have struckanyone who saw him for the first time. It wasa grand face, finely wrought, noble in formand expression. Those who looked upon itloved it.
The jewelled turban, which he was nevermore to wear, lay beside the rajah on his pillow,and close at hand was a lacquered tray, containinga gold cup, an alabaster casket, and a silverbell.
The words given above, only a few out ofmany, were spoken aloud. The effort of thinkingwas too great for the strength so swiftlyebbing away. Smiling sadly, the rajah put outhis hand for the gold cup. He reached it, buthe could not raise it to his lips, whereupon hetouched the silver bell. While the sound wasstill vibrating through the air, one of the manydusky forms that were thronging the doorwaystood before him.
'Hoosanee,' he said, 'call Chunder Singh.'
Swift and silent as the shadow that sweepsacross a ripe corn-field were the feet of theservant. But he had not far to go. In lessthan a minute a man, slender, but of commandingstature, dressed in snowy white, and wearinga red turban, stood, with head humbly bowedand eyes so dim with tears that he could scarcelysee, before the rajah.
'My master wants me at last,' he said, anaccent of reproach in his voice.
'I am tired. Give me to drink,' said the rajah.
Chunder Singh raised his head and put thegolden cup to his lips. He drank, and thedeath-like languor left his eyes. 'That isenough. I am stronger,' he said.
'I would it were the elixir of life,' murmuredChunder Singh, who was weeping bitterly.
'Your words bring back the past,' said therajah, his lips parting in a sad smile. 'TheElixir of Life! Long ago, when we were boystogether, how diligently we sought for it,Chunder, poring over the ancient Arabic manuscripts!We were to drink of it and live, ageafter age, age after age. We were to bring ourgrey experience to the use and service of thenations. We were to mould a new world,where righteousness would be the law andhappiness—happiness, instead of misery—thecommon lot.'
He paused. 'Dreams!' said Chunder Singh.'Yet I wish now that they might return.'
'Dreams!' echoed the rajah. 'We know—youand I—that we are deathless. What needof elixirs for us? Though I seem to die—thoughto-morrow you will take out this bodyand burn it—the chain of existence has not runout to its limit. I remain.'
'But not with us—not with us!' criedChunder Singh, flinging himself down with hisface to the marble pavement.
He was aroused from his paroxysm of griefby the voice of the rajah. 'You are mistaken.Rise and sit beside me, and I will tell you whatwill make your heart leap with joy.'
Then Chunder Singh rose and dried his eyes,and the rajah spoke. 'There was a momentwhen I thought that this death would be mylast; that when I left the prison of this mortalbody I should go forth into the liberty of unconditionedexistence; for I have lived as asage. By day and by night, at the orderedhours, I have meditated upon the sacred books.I have conquered appetite and passion, andhave worked for the sake of others, looking notfor reward. Is this true, Chunder Singh?'
'It is true, my lord.'
'I know that it is true, and I know that thedoor into the highest heaven stands open. But,'in a low and broken voice, 'I may not enter in.'
'Why will my lord say so?'
'I say what I know, what the Invisible Oneshave revealed to me. It is two years now sincethey spoke to me of this. "Brother," theysaid, "the door stands open. Enter in." Ibowed down with my face to the ground. "Andmy people," I said, "they will enter in withme?" "Nay," said the Holy Ones; "have theylived as you have done?" And I said, "Theywill." And the Holy Ones answered, "Whowill teach them when you have gone? There isno communion between gods and men." ThenI trembled, and my knees smote together."There will rise up others," I said, "like-mindedwith us; and these will teach them." And theysaid, "So it may be; yet who knoweth aughtof that which is to come?" "Promise me,"I said, "that they shall be led into the paththat I have trodden." But to my prayer noanswer was vouchsafed. After that, BrotherChunder, many days went by. Morning, noon,and night I thought of my people, humbly beseechingthe Invisible Ones to grant me theassurance of their final emancipation; but theheavens were as brass over my head, and mywords as empty air. But one night, when I wasmusing, I heard a voice that I had never heardbefore. "Sacrifice," it said, "is the salt of devotion."As I pondered what this might meanthere fell upon me suddenly great awe, and ahorror of darkness enveloped me. More days andnights passed over me, and then I spoke again."It is enough," I said, "I will return again tothe dark forest of conditioned existence, and mypeople shall live." Then at last the InvisibleOnes spoke clearly. "So be it," they said."For your brothers' sakes you shall go throughanother incarnation, and a body is ready."'
Here Chunder Singh trembled.
'Be still,' said the rajah, laying a long brownhand upon his arm. 'Hear me to the end; forI have still stranger things to tell. Across thesea, in the land from which my father's fathercame, there lives a youth, to whom I desire tosend you. He thinks himself wholly of theWest; but our blood runs in his veins. Intohim it is decreed that I shall enter, that, throughhim, I may return to my people and city.Listen, Brother Chunder, and consider carefullywhat I shall say to you. When these eyes areclosed, and you have carried out this body tothe burning, you must go to the land where myfather's father lived; you must find that youthof our race; you must be faithful to him as youhave been faithful to me.'
'But how shall I know him when I see him?'said Chunder Singh.
'You will know him by this, that he is myheir. My last will and testament is in England,in the hands of our agent, with whom you haveoften communicated by letter. He, if you presentthe credentials that I leave with you, willgive you all the information you require. Understand,Chunder, while the youth is in England,amongst the friends of his boyhood, I donot desire that you shall press yourself uponhim. When he has—as I know he will—madeup his mind to become one of us, then you willwait upon and help him. Will you?'
'My lord, thou knowest,' cried the poorfellow, weeping. 'Of what value is Chunder'slife to him now, save as he can carry out thewishes of his master?'
The rajah smiled. 'That is well,' he said,'I am satisfied. This,' laying his hand on thealabaster casket, 'I give to you. It containsgold and