Durgesa Nandini/Book 2/Chapter 17

 

CHAPTER XVII.

Durgesh 106b.png

THE LAST MOMENTS.


Immediately after the flight of Bimala,? an official of Katlu Khan hastily entered the prison of Jagat Sin?gha and said,

"Prince!" the Nabab is? dying, an?d wants to see you."

"How's that?" exclaimed the Prince, astonished.

"Some enemies? enter?ed th?e inner apart??ment" said the man, "and have fled after strik?ing the Nabab. He is ?still alive, but has no?t long to live. Pray, Sir, make h?aste or it? will be ?too late."

"And why does? he wis?h to see me at s?uch a moment?" asked the Prince?.

"I don't know tha?t" said he, "?I am a mere messenger."

The Prince went to the interior with the person. There he saw that the light was really flickering, about to sink into eternal night. Round the dying man thronged Osman, Aesha, his youthful sons, the partner of his fortunes, his mistresses, servants, courtiers, &c. The air was filled with wailing and lamentation; loudly wept almost every one of that crowd; the infants wept without understanding what the matter was; all were crying aloud save one. It was Aesha. Tears were trickling down her cheeks plentifully. She sat silent, holding in her lap the head of her father.

Jaga?t Singha saw that? her manner was awfully calm, like a flame unfanned by the lightest breath of air.

As the Prince entered, a courtier named Khwaja took hold of his hand, and brought him? to? t?he side of Kat?lu Khan.

Ad?dress?i?ng him as if he had been a deaf person, the courtier said,

"The Princ?e ?Jagat Singha is come."

"Your enemy, I die." s?aid he faintly; ?"resign? all anger and enmity."

"Very ?well," said Jagat Singha, understanding him; "I do so now."

"A request—promise," said Katlu Khan, in the same tone.

"What shall I promise?" aske?d Jagat Singh?a.

"Your hand," said Katlu Khan.

Understanding his intention, Osman ?took Jagat Singha's hand and placed Katlu Khan's in ?it.

A fire spread over Jagat Singha's body, but he did not prevent the action.

Katlu Khan went on,

"Lads all—war—O I die of thirst!"

Aesha? poured the sherbet in?to his mouth.

"'Tis? no use—fighting—peace."

Ka?tlu Khan ?stopped. Jagat Singha ma?de no reply. The fo?rmer remained fixing? his? gaze on the Prince's fac?e, expect?ant of a reply. Not recei?ving any, he said with an effort,

"Refuse?"

"If the Pathans ?acknowledge? the supremacy of the Emperor," the Prince s?aid, "I can promise to try for peace."

"Orissa?"—said Katlu Khan in a half articulate voice.

"If my endeavours do not fail," returned the Prince, understanding h?im, "your sons will not be deprived of Orissa."

The features of Katlu Khan, which had been befo?re writhing in the agonies of death?, brightened up with joy. He sai?d,

"You—free—?God—good."

Jagat Singha was going away, when Aesha bent down her head, and said something to her father. Katlu Khan first looked at Khwaja Isa, and t?hen at? the departing Prince. Khwaja Isa said to the Prince,

"Perhaps the N?abab has something more to say."

The Prince returned.

"?Your? ear," said Katlu Khan.

The Prince understood. He drew closer ?to the dying person, and brought his ear near to? the lips of Katlu Khan.

"V?ira,"—said he still more ?indistinctly.

He paused a little, and then went on,

"Vir?endra Sin??gha—O! I thirst!?"

Ae?sha aga?in poured ?the drink into his mouth.

"Virendra Singha's daughter"—

The Prince felt as if an adder had stu?ng him; he started and slightly drew himself up. Katlu Khan went on,

"The orphan—I am a sinner—O thi?rsty!"

Aesha repeatedly poured the drink into his mouth. But now articulation became difficult. He breathed hard and said,

"I burn!—I burn!—chaste—you'll see that."

"What?" asked the Prince.

His voice entered like a thunder-peal into Katlu Khan's ear. He continued,

"Never saw—so chaste—didn't see—didn't touch—you—how thirsty!—O I die, I die, dear Aesha."

No more articulation. He had exerted beyond his power. His exhausted head fell down dead on her lap. Aes?ha's? name was the last word which Katlu Khan articulated, as the flickering spirit went out into the darkness of death, and life and the world passed away from him.