Durgesa Nandini/Book 2/Chapter 19

 

CHAPTER XIX.

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AESHA'S LETTER.


Aesha sat down to write a letter. Her countenance was serious and grave. She was going to write to Jagat Singha. She took a piece of paper and began. She first wrote, "Dearer than life!" She immediately struck out the expression, and wrote, "Prince!" In doing so, tears streamed down her cheeks, and dripped upon the paper. Aesha tore it, and took up a fresh piece of paper. She had not written many lines, when it also shared the fate of its predecessor. Aesha destroyed it also; and at the third time finished a letter unsullied by a tear. She then began to read what she had written. While doing so, her sight was obstructed by tears. With difficulty she folded the letter, and delivered it to a messenger. The man went in the direction of the Rajput camp. Aesha then lay down alone on the couch, and wept.

Jagat Singha opened the letter, and read as follows:—

"Prince,

"That I did not see you was not owing to any fear I felt in regard to my endurance. Pray, do not charge Aesha with want of endurance; the thought will give me pain. Osman, you know, has kindled a fire in his bosom; and I did not see you, lest I should thereby give him pain. That you should feel pain at my refusal, I could not think. As for my own pain, my happiness and misery I have resigned to the hands of God. If I had had to give you farewell personally, I would have borne that pain easily; that I could not see you, I have borne like a woman of stone.

"Why then do I write this letter? I have a request. If you have heard that I love you more than a sister, pray, forget it. I had determined not to express it in this life, but God has willed otherwise. But now forget it.

"I am not for your love. What I had to give, I have given to you. I do not ask for any return. My affection is so deep-rooted, that I am happy even without your love. But I must have done with this business.

"I saw you unhappy. If ever you see better days, inform Aesha of it;—but should you not like to do so, do not do it. If your heart ever feel pain, will you remember Aesha?

"People may blame me for writing you now, or in future. I am innocent; and you should not much care wkat they may say. Whenever you like, write to me.

"You are going away; you leave this place for the present. These Pathans are not quiet folks; so that the odds are for your having to come to this country again. But you will never see me more. I have decided so, after much reflection. Much confidence should not be placed in a woman's heart, which it is naturally difficult to curb.

"I intend to see you once more only. If you marry in this country, give me notice of it. I will be personally present at your marriage. I have kept some petty ornaments for the fair one that is to be your wife. If I find time, I will deck her person with them, with my own hands.

"Another request. When you receive intelligence of Aesha's death, pray, come here once. Accept, for my sake, what you will find in a chest inscribed with your name. Through the kindness of an affectionate father, although a daughter, I have inherited an amount of wealth which in a poor country might pass for much. Should it not be unacceptable to the race of Abnir, pray, take possession of it.

"The deed of gift you will find in the same chest.

"What more shall I write? I wish to write a great deal more; but 'tis no use. May God make you happy; but never feel unhappy at the thought of Aesha."

After reading the letter, Jagat Singha began to weep; and for a long while paced up and down the camp, holding Aesha's letter in his hand. Then he hastily took up a piece of paper, and dashing off the following lines, delivered the note to the messenger.

"Aesha! you are the glory of the fair sex. Perhaps it is the Will of God to render the world miserable. I am unable to reply to any of your remarks;—your letter has overpowered me. Know this much only that I shall ever cherish you as my dearest sister."

The messenger took the note, and returned to Aesha.