And the boy who was to grow to be a greater man even than his grandfather, though he could scarcely be a more lovable one, plucked a posy of the tulips and laid them on the plain marble slab which bore nothing but the words, “Heaven is the eternal home of the Emperor Babar.” And when Bija, with many a little feminine ceremonial, had deposited her nosegay of sweet violets, and Head-nurse and Foster-mother had offered up their respects, they all went and sat down on a grassy spot, and Dearest-Lady, who was always full of youthful curiosities concerning all things, began to question Roy, who as a mere lad had been allowed to come with them, as to what he could remember of the time before he was picked up in the desert.
“Hold my hand, child, and think,” she said at last, “mayhap it may come to thee then. The touch of kinship has power, and if I do not mistake me, there is that in thy blood that is in mine—royalty!”
So she clasped Roy’s slim long-fingered hand and held it tight, and the boy’s face changed, his eyes grew startled, he shivered slightly.
“Yea!” he said, “now I do remember. Mother was like you, and she told me I had the mark of Kingship strong enough, for all the rebels might say—” As he spoke, he drew down his loose garments, and there upon the clear olive of his breast, just above the heart, showed a small dark stain.
Dearest-Lady bent close to look at it. “What is’t?” she asked.
“Mother said it was the sign of uttermost truth, and that we all had it,” he replied, speaking dreamily.
“But who were we?” persisted Dearest-Lady, her kind eyes on the lad’s.
Just at that moment, however, Tumbu, who had, of course, accompanied them, burst out with a series of shrill, short barks, and Roy was on his feet in a second, his hand on Old Faithful’s sword, lest any newcomer might bring danger to his little master. But as it turned out Tumbu was only excited by a water-rat! All the same the interruption prevented Dearest-Lady’s question from being answered, for the spell was broken.
“Yea! thou wilt be true to the very uttermost, of that I am sure,” said Dearest-Lady, half pleased, half amused at the young Rajput’s quick leap to arms, “and so long as I have charge of the Heir-to-Empire thou shalt be his esquire. So go call the litter-men, boy, it is time we returned. I must remember I am gaoler as well as grand-aunt.”
CRUEL BROTHER KUMRAN
If Dearest-Lady was in truth a gaoler, she was a very kind one, and her prison the pleasantest prison in the world. It would take too long to tell how happily the next four months passed, not only for the two children, but for Roy and Foster-father, Head-nurse and Foster-mother. Even misshapen Meroo, in the kitchen, felt the better for helping to cook the Khanzada Khanum’s dinner. For that was one of Dearest-Lady’s