But when the red and gold bedecked camel did finally come up the marble-paved pathway with silent soft elastic swing, little Akbar forgot all about the part he was playing, and when he saw his sister, just ran up to her and hugged her tight, and said breathlessly: “Ah! you are a nice little girl!”
And a very nice little girl she was! Very small for her age, with a little oval delicate face, big hazel eyes, and brownish hair all plaited in tiny, tiny little plaits on her forehead.
And she was dressed just like a grown-up, with little ear-rings and wristlets and anklets and necklaces and rings, with the dearest, daintiest of flimsey gauze veils set with little silver stars wound all about her! Never, said Head-nurse, had been such a darling little marionette, and when the small person fell gracefully at her brother’s feet and begged his favour in a little piping voice, that stern believer in court etiquette was perfectly enchanted.
“It will be a real boon to the First-Gentleman-of-the-World, the Courtly-one-of-Courts, etc., etc., to have the society of his equals,” she said with a darkling look at Princess Sultanum’s Head-nurse, who had brought Prince Ibrahim and Baby Amina to welcome their cousin.
But, after all, Bakshee Bani Begum did not turn out so demure as she looked! Indeed, when Head-nurse was not by, she was a regular tomboy; and after a whole morning spent in most lady-like fashion either playing with her dolls, or stringing beads, while Down, the cat, on her lap blinked and purred and stared out on the world with her big blue eyes and her little white feet tucked well inside, she would, when the women retired to get ready the mid-day meal, spring up like a squirrel, scattering beads and cats as if they were of no account! Then the garden would re-echo to children’s laughter.
And she would let Mirak, as she elected to call her brother, swing her for hours, but she obstinately refused to tumble down!
“But, Bija,” expostulated the little lad, “the princess did tumble down in the story.”
“I am not a princess in a story,” said Bija calmly, “I am Her Royal Highness Princess Bakshee Bani Begum.”