The day he was four years and four days old he was taught, as all little Mohammedans are taught, to understand what he was, what the world about him was, and to recognise that neither he himself, nor the world he lived in were the Beginning and the End of all things. It was a stately ceremonial, not beautiful, and lavish, and expensive like the Festival of the Mystic Palace, but one which left its mark for always on the mind of the child.
Despite his dislike to books as the only way of learning to be wise, he never forgot the day in the Great Mosque, when, before all his relations, he had to stand up dressed in his simple every day clothes and take the Holy Book from the hands of the high priest. And he never forgot the high priest’s words:
“Read in the Name of Him who hath made all things in Heaven and earth, and Who hath given men power to be wise.”
“Bismillah!—Irruhman-nirruheem!” he had answered as in duty bound, which means, “Thanks be to Him who is merciful in this world and merciful in the next world.”
In this way young Prince Akbar learned that every man has power to be wise, and that the great mystery of birth and death is a merciful mystery.
Thus the summer passed and in early autumn King Humayon, who had now wasted nearly a whole year in amusement, found it necessary to quell rebellion in a neighbouring province.
So the governorship of Kabul was made over to a trusted noble of the Court, one Shurruf Khan by name, who was made as it were Regent for little Prince Akbar, who was left with his attendants in regal state at the palace in the Bala Hissar, while Queen Humeeda went back to India, taking Bija with her, on a visit to her mother’s relations.
Roy, whose story had become known in the Court, was now made equerry to the young prince, and very handsome he looked in his chain armour, with the noonday sun all rayed and shiny in gold on his breast, in token that he claimed to be a Sun-hero. As, indeed, seemed likely, since the Afghan sentry’s old Suryamer friend had a tale about a young Rajah who had been kidnapped and, it was supposed, left in the desert to die. But whether Roy was the young Rajah or not, who could tell? They might send the story to Suryamer and see what befell. Meanwhile Roy was happy, and little Akbar and he became more and more like elder and younger brother. How much in after years the prince owed to the companionship of this friend of his childhood it is impossible to say. Perhaps it accounts for the marvellous way in which the Great Emperor Akbar ruled his Hindoo subjects.
Humayon had expected to return in a month’s time, but luck was against him. A King cannot waste a whole year in amusement and so let wicked men have time to hatch plots without suffering for it. And Humayon did suffer. He had to march and counter-march with winter coming on apace, until he was struck down by sudden illness. At first the news caused no alarm, for he was known to be strong and healthy; but there came a day when folk began to whisper that the King was said to be lying unconscious, that death might come any moment.