But the nobles as they passed out of the assembly, and the people who heard the tale outside, said it was a strange happening that the innocent child should so claim his right. And cruel brother Kumran’s party laid their heads together once more, and swore it was time to end Prince Askurry’s foolish hesitation. They must get at the child somehow.
But by this time, if Prince Askurry had not quite made up his mind how he should treat Baby Akbar, he had quite settled that no one else—least of all cruel brother Kumran—should have anything to do with the child. So the little prince was carefully watched and guarded, rather to Foster-father’s and Old Faithful’s relief. Indeed, as time went on they almost forgot to watch themselves, being accustomed to see the sentry walking up and down before the entry to the narrow stairs that led up to the three rooms in the old bastion which were given them as lodgings. They were large, comfortable rooms, and the inner one was used by Foster-mother, Head-nurse and Baby Akbar, the outer one by the two men and the two boys, while the middle one, a great wide hall of a place, they used as a living room. It was lighter than the others, since it had slits of windows—without glass, of course—high up in the walls, and though these let the cold as well as the winter sunshine into the room, there was a roaring great fireplace, which kept the farther end of the hall nice and warm. And here on very frosty nights the women folk would drag their beds and sleep, while during the snowy days they would spread quilts on the floor, and Baby Akbar would have high jinks with Tumbu and Down, who were his constant playmates. Then, when he was tired, Roy would cradle his young master in his arms and sing to him. Not lullabies, for little Akbar’s mind kept pace with his body, and every month saw him more and more of a boy and less and less of a baby.
“Tell me how Rajah Rasalu did this,” or “Tell me how Rajah Rasalu did that,” he would say; and so Roy’s boyish voice would go over the old story of endless adventures, which has delighted so many Indian children for so many generations.
So time passed quite merrily until one night, when something dreadful happened. So dreadful that it will really require another chapter to describe it. But it was one night when Roy had been telling the little prince how “Rajah Rasalu’s friends forsook him for fear.” And as this is rather a nice story, it shall be told here.
“You know, great Kingly child,” began Roy, “how Rajah Rasalu was born and how Rajah Rasalu set out into the world to seek for fortune, taking with him his dear horse, Baunwa-iraki, his parrot, Kilkila, who had lived with him since he was born, besides the Carpenter-lad and the Goldsmith-lad, who had sworn never to leave their young master. So he journeyed north to a lonely place, all set with sombre trees. And the night was dark, so he set a watch, and the goldsmith took the first, while the young prince slept by the Carpenter-lad, on a couch of clean, sweet leaves. And lest the heart of the prince should sink, they sang a cheering song: