Little Akbar interrupted him gravely. “It is as God chooses. Roy always says that. Don’t you, Roy?”
“By my word!” said the sentry, saluting, “you are a proper pair of Kings.”
There were to be three days festival. On the first, that of Pleasure, everybody was to be dressed in white, on the second day of Power all were to be in scarlet, and on the third, the day of Fortune, the day on which little Prince Akbar was to choose his mother, every one was to wear green. Head-nurse and Foster-mother spent all their time in devising wonderful new designs for their darling’s dresses, and Humayon himself added many little fanciful touches, for he had a most wonderful imagination, and this festival, which was to welcome his wife to Kabul and give her back her little son, occupied all his thoughts.
The queen arrived on the first day, but, according to custom, in a closed litter, and she went straight to the secluded balcony arranged for the royal ladies, whence she could see without being seen. So she had the advantage of her little son, who, in a magnificent costume of white and silver, looked such a darling that Queen Humeeda longed to hug him.
“Has my Amma-jan come?” whispered the little Prince to his father, “is she up there behind the lattice of roses?”
“Yea! she is there sure enough, little rogue,” laughed Humayon. “So give a good look right through the flowers.”
“No!” said little Akbar, “I’ve got to shut my eyes; then I can see her with my other eyes.”
But his father was too busy directing the festival to hear what he said.
So the first day passed on and everybody thought it was the very finest entertainment that ever was seen. But the second day surpassed it. The crowds, all in scarlet, filling the gardens, looked like bright roses amid the green leaves, and the blare of golden trumpets, the scattering of golden coins as largesse, the stately processions of soldiers made it, indeed, a marvellous show of power; and this was increased by the arrival of ambassadors from the Shah of Persia, who had so much helped King Humayon. They brought magnificent presents and hearty congratulations on success. So, nothing was lacking; and at night, lit up by red fires, the scene was one never to be forgotten. But with the dawn everything changed! A thousand servants set to work, and in one short half hour the garden showed green. Green carpets, green trees, green water falling from the fountains like liquid emeralds. And by-and-bye came green crowds, every shade of green mixing and mingling in harmony. And inside the arched pavilion of the house of Good Fortune were green rustlings of silk, green shimmerings of satin as three hundred ladies of the Court, all veiled with green veils, took their seats in a semicircle. Three hundred ladies in green all dressed alike! Which was Queen Humeeda? That, it was the part of a child of four to tell, a child who had not seen his mother for two and a half years!