Page:Views in India, chiefly among the Himalaya Mountains.djvu/32

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without opening his lips, "spoke with his eyes" to an attendant, who, retiring, returned with a small parcel, which he placed between the great men. The envelopes were speedily removed, and the jewellers, who were stationed behind, recognising the diamond, assured their master, that it was the veritable kohi noor.

Nothing now remained but the repossession of the two lacs; which was speedily accomplished. Runjeet despatched a picked body of his satellites to the residence of his unfortunate guests, with orders to bring away, without any reservation, the money and jewels belonging to the party. These commands were literally obeyed; not only every ornament being taken, but rich dresses also, together with the swords, shields, and matchlocks, which were mounted in gold or silver. The maha-rajah appropriated every thing which he thought worthy of retention to his own use, sending back those articles which he considered to be of little or no value, observing to his courtiers, that it was useless to get a bad name for such rubbish. Nothing more being procurable, and some feeling of policy or remorse preventing him from taking the lives of those whom he had so shamefully pillaged, Runjeet Singh allowed the females to escape to Loodianah, where they were some time afterwards rejoined by their husbands, on whom the British government settled 50,000 rupees, (five thousand pounds a year,) which they continue to enjoy. The Mogul and Affghan horse-dealers, who frequent the fair at Hurdwar, (if their reports may be relied upon,) would give us reason to believe that the situation of the ex-king of Cabool excites great interest and compassion, and that the tributaries of Runjeet Singh would be delighted, were the British to restore Shah Sujah to the throne. These men seem to be much puzzled to guess the reason that the English do not invade the maha-rajah's territories; they abhor the Seiks, because they are gradually seizing the Affghan dependencies, and they fancy that the Lahore chieftain pays six cowries in the rupee to the Company, for permission to hold the countries he has conquered, and to receive their revenues, our non-interference system being otherwise unaccountable.

Runjeet Singh, though owing the greater portion of his acquisitions to craft of the lowest kind, and of the most unjustifiable nature, is possessed of talents of no common order, which, if properly cultivated, would have secured for him an ascendancy based upon a more honourable foundation; but with too many of the vices of the Asiatic character, he has also a very large proportion of those ridiculous notions which are obsolete in countries illuminated by the light of science. The Seik ruler is a great believer in omens, and not only consults the stars, but also the chirpings of birds, previous to any measure of importance. He has lately suffered from ill health, but the remedies prescribed by European physicians have been neglected, for the advice of soothsayers. These personages took upon themselves to discover the cause of the malady of the sovereign, which some old beggar-woman had naturally enough attributed to the oppression of his people. Upon consulting the stars, they found Saturn in the ascendant, a planet which, according to general belief, always exerts a baleful influence. There was no difficulty now in tracing the liver complaint and dysentery of the lion of the Punjab, to its true source: but what was to be done in such an emergence? the dislodgment of a planet from the sky being beyond the power of the maha-rajah, great as he undoubtedly is. Nevertheless, it was necessary to hit upon some method to get rid of the malignant influence, and it was determined to transport the planet in