“I have it, my lord!” she exclaimed, turning to Prince Askurry. “It is a grand idea! We will betroth our little Amina to this young master. That will settle everything and they will be the handsomest couple in the country!”
Now, strange as this may sound to my readers, Prince Askurry, who was accustomed to the Indian habit of settling that quite little boys and girls should marry each other when they grew up, could not help at once seeing that his wife’s suggestion was not such a bad one. It would help him to keep a hold over the little Heir-to-Empire. If King Humayon returned it would make him more inclined to forgive, and if he did not, why! it would prevent cruel brother Kumran from stepping in and getting all, since as father-in-law to the young king he, Askurry, would be Regent.
Still, taken aback, he hummed and hawed.
“It would be a long time to wait until they are old enough to marry,” he began.
“Long!” interrupted the lively Princess gaily. “All the longer for merriment and festivities. Thy daughter, my lord, is already beautiful, and I’ll wager the boy will be a grown man ere we have time to turn round. So that is settled. Therefore come hither, oh nephew! Jallaluddin Mahomed Akbar, since that is thy long name, and kiss thy cousin Amina—Nurse! bring my sweeting hither. Now then, woman,” she continued sharply, addressing Head-nurse, who stood petrified with astonishment and anger at the very idea of such scant ceremony. “If the boy cannot walk, carry him!”
Head-nurse could scarcely speak. To be called “Woman” by an upstart—for Prince Askurry had married Princess Sultanam for her beauty—was too much!
“The Feet-of-the-Most-Condescending-of-Majesties,” she began pompously, “have not yet conferred happiness on the earth by treading it underfoot, neither——”
Here she broke off hurriedly, for at that very instant, as if in denial of her words, Baby Akbar gave a little crow of assent, let go her petticoats, and with outspread balancing arms, and legs very wide apart, launched himself boldly for his very first steps!
“Bismillah!” (Well done!) shrieked Foster-mother in delight.
“Bismillah! Bismillah!” echoed every one in the room, while all eyes full of smiles were on the stalwart young toddler as he lurched forward, his face one broad grin.
Princess Sultanam clapped her hands again. “Thy turban, my lord!” she cried in a flutter of amusement. “Thy turban, quick; as his father is not here ’tis thy place to prevent him falling of himself—thy turban—quick! quick!”
Prince Askurry, full of laughter, pulled off the soft turban he wore—it was all wound round and round to fit the head like a cap—and in obedience to the Indian custom, which always prevents a child from falling of itself in its first attempt at walking, flung it full at the little lad. It caught him between his outspread balancing arms and over he went on to the thick pile carpet.