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“But when we reach the world of light,
“What now seem random strokes, will there
“ Thou’rt right," quoth Dick,
no more I'll grumble That this world is so strange a jumble; My impious doubts are put to flight, For my own carpet sets me right.”
AN INDIAN TALE.
Miss Crompton, Author of "Tales of Life in Earnest,” &c.
It is a hard task to read the past lives of kings in the East, for every page is full of the cruel wrongs done by man to man.
The name of Akbar alone recalls the memory of a wise and good Sultan, who ruled in love over his people. He lived more than three hundred years ago, and the princes of his time were not taught to read and write. Few persons could then be found in his kingdom who knew the use of a book, and Akbar sought far and near to bring these sages to his court that he might learn all they could teach him.
It was in the reign of Akbar that a very poor man brought up his only son Casim to speak the truth, and keep honest, with hardly food enough to eat.
When Casim was ten years old, he made up his
mind to try and work for his own living, and begged of his father to let him do so.
But, my son, what place do you think a boy of your age can be fit for?
Casim said he was used to work hard all day, and besides that, his father had taught him the use of figures ; and in the city of Agra they had a friend who might help him to find bed and board until able to pay for his living. This was very true, and the father felt his son was right, and that it was his duty to consent ; but he said Casim must wait until a caravan came by, which means, a large party of men with camels and horses, going through the land to trade from place to place.
A new vest and turban were all that Casim wanted, or could have, to make ready for his travels.
In a few days the time of parting came, and with many tears, Casim bid farewell, and left his home.
Hope was strong in the boy's heart, for all was new in the world before him. When near Agra Casim was left to go on alone to find the house of his father's friend. His mind was full of thought as to what he should
say, and he soon reached the street, but alas ! all was changed, -the good man was dead, and his things were sold up.
Poor Casim! His bright castles in the air were gone at once; he had not a soul to speak to.
Hungry and sad, he sat down on a door-step and wept—his face bent down upon his hands.
After awhile some one passed by, and thus spoke to him: “My child, why are you alone in the streets so late to-night ?"
Casim told his sad tale.
Casim was half-afraid to obey; and the stranger said, in a kind tone,“ Come, you have nothing to fear." Then Casim rose, and went with his guide through the finest part of the city till they came to a grand house built of white stone. Here a small key opened the
gate, and Casim soon stood in a lovely garden full of flowers-it was like fairy-land.
Casim again felt afraid, not knowing who the stranger could be; but the gate was shut behind him, and he could not go back.
From the garden they went into a noble hall, and then into a large and lofty room.
Casim did not know what to think-his guide seemed to move about as if he were a prince, and this his palace. Was he going to make a slave of the lost child ? Casim was bid to sit down and tell the tale of his short life and travels.
Having done this, the stranger said, "My name is Abal, and I will be your friend so long as you behave well. You may stay here with me. I will feed and clothe you; and to begin, you may now come with me to supper."
This was like a grand feast to the eyes of poor hungry Casim, who had never seen so much food as was then set before him. He could not eat much, from joy and wonder.
After supper Casim was shown to a pretty room where a bed was made ready for him,--he lay down and slept till morning.
At day-break he rose up, and looked about, and felt as if still in a dream. A new dress was by his bedside, his old clothes having been taken away.
Abal called him to the eating-room, and giving him small
purse with some money in it, said—“You will join a class of boys like yourself, and study as they do, to prepare for the work of future years. I give you this purse, as you may need some pocket-money."
Casim asked leave to write to his father, and begged to send the purse to him,
This was granted, and then his mind was free to attend to anything he might have to do.
Every day was spent with boys of his own age, under an able master, who let them be free for sports when duty was done.
At the end of a year, Abal again called for Casim
and said, “I will now give you a proof of the trust I can place in your good conduct. I have chosen you from the rest of the class to enter on the service of the Sultan, and great will be your reward if you succeedlisten to my words. It is the will of our master,
the great Akbar, that the men in this empire who are called Brahmins, should tell him their secrets that he may judge if they are wise and good. This they refuse to do, and you will be sent as one of their tribe, and trained in all they have to teach, and you until you
hear from me again.” Casim had no time to think what all this meant, but he knew it was his duty to obey Abal and the Sultan, and said he would do his best to please them.
A letter was written to a holy man named Keidar, a chief amongst the Brahmins, to make him believe that Casim was an orphan of his own tribe, and knew no one but Abal, the favourite of the Sultan Akbar. This letter was put into a trusty hand to be given up with Casim into the charge of Keidar. The aged Brahmin was found near the door of his small house, sitting under the shade of a fine tree, with his supper of fruit and herbs on a table, and a vase of fresh water from the spring that flowed through his garden.
Casim was kindly asked to sit down, and when the Brahmin had read the letter, he said to the bearer, “Tell Abal, the servant of Akbar, that an orphan child is ever welcome in the home of Keidar, and he shall be cared for."
The man went his way, and the boy was left behind.
As Casim was supposed to know nothing of his birth, no questions were asked, and he freely told of his life and friends in the schools of Abal.
Casim soon began to love the old man, and was an apt pupil ; his mind had been stored from books, but now he was led to think and judge, so as to be able to act rightly at any time in his life.
In a few months he began to see things in a new light and ask himself, "Is it right to stay here till I
know all the secrets of a good man who treats me as his own son ?" Still, Casim thought his first duty was to obey Abal and his master.
But when Keidar spoke of truth, that to be honest and true in all things is our first duty, and the root of all that is noble, the words struck sadly on the soul of his pupil.
In time Casim felt that to stay and learn all the secrets of the Brahmin, only to betray them, was a great sin; and yet he could not bear to break his word with Abal. What must he do? How could he be true to both ? He could bear his false life no longer, and come what might, made up his mind to go back to Abal and bear his anger.
Casim prayed leave for a visit to Agra. Keidar could not refuse this request of the son of his heart. It was but right he should mix with boys again, and soon let him depart with a Brahmin going to the city.
Casim went to the well-known gate of the palace, and was at once shown into the presence of Abal, who had saved him from grief and misery.
As is the custom to this day in the East, the youth bent low before his master, and in silence waited for an order to speak.
Abal saw that something was amiss, and in a stern voice said, "Who sent for you? What brings you here ?"
Casim then spoke the truth, that he could not betray the secrets of Keidar, who had treated him as a son, and to whom he already owed more than the true service of a life could repay.
Abal looked at the boy before him, and still spoke in a cold and harsh tone.
“ Have you thought of what you give up in the loss of my favour, and the rich rewards of Akbar, who can also take away your life if he chooses ?"
“My lord,” said Casim, “I cannot hold your favour, if I must play false to the wise and holy Keidar.”
Abal. “Do you not fear the anger of Akbar ?"