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Tales of Destiny   By: (1861-1917)

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Introduction 1

Chap. I. The Maid of Jhalnagor. Told by the Rajput Chief 5

II. The Hollow Column. Told by the Tax Collector 19

III. What the Stars ordained. Told by the Astrologer 35

IV. The Spirit Wail. Told by the Merchant 60

V. The Blue Diamonds. Told by the Fakir 101

VI. The Tiger of the Pathans. Told by the Afghan General 128

VII. Her Mother Love. Told by the Physician 146

VIII. The Sacred Pickaxe, Told by the Magistrate 170



Just without one of the massive bastioned gates of the city of Fathpur Sikri there stood in the year 1580 a caravanserai that afforded accommodation for man and beast. Here would alight travellers drawn by the calls of homage, by business, or by curiosity to the famous Town of Victory, built, as the inscription over the gateway told, by "His Majesty, King of Kings, Heaven of the Court, Shadow of God, Jalal ad din Mohammed Akbar Padishah."

At the time of our story Akbar was at the zenith of his glory. He had moved his court from Agra, the capital of his predecessors on the throne of the Moguls, after having raised for himself, on the spot where the birth of a son had been promised him by a hermit saint, this superb new city of Fathpur Sikri, seven miles in circumference, walled and guarded by strong forts at its seven gateways. Emperor and nobles had vied with each other in erecting palaces of stately design and exquisite finish of adornment. A beautiful mosque commemorated the good deeds of the saint, and provided a place of prayer for those of the Moslem faith. In the palace of the Emperor was a magnificent audience hall, with marble columns and stone carved galleries, in the centre of which stood the throne of gold sprinkled with rubies, emeralds, and diamonds, surrounded by a silver railing, and covered by a canopy of rich crimson brocade. In this audience hall the great and good Akbar was wont to receive not only his subjects, rich and poor, the former assembled to pay their court, the latter to lay their grievances before the Imperial judge; but he also extended welcome to strangers from afar. On the question of religion his mind was at this period in a state of change, for he had broken from the strict faith of the Moslem, had publicly announced that there was good in all beliefs, had overthrown ceremonial rules, whether of Islam or of Hinduism, and had proclaimed all things lawful except excess. His thoughts thus drifting toward a new religion, a divine faith that would bring into one fold the votaries of all religions, he was glad at his court to give audience to learned doctors from distant lands as well as from every part of India. All were welcome Brahmins and Buddhists, Moslem schoolmen, Hindu fanatics, pantheists, the worshippers of fire, the Jews whose prophets are Abraham and Moses, even Christian padres from far off Europe. It was Akbar's delight to listen to their expositions and discussions, and to the defence of their varied dogmas.

Thus did the fame of the king for tolerance, benevolence and wisdom become noised abroad far and wide, so that visitors flocked in ever increasing numbers to the beautiful city. At our caravanserai without the gate there would often, in the cool of an evening, be gathered together on the shaded veranda a group of travellers representing diverse races and classes. Some of the town dwellers, too, would be there, resting and refreshing themselves after their walk to the city walls, while from the near by camp of the Rajputs, who formed a portion of the royal bodyguard, there would oftentimes stroll over a few men at arms... Continue reading book >>

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