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Title: The Autobiography of an Indian Princess
Author: Sunity Devee, Maharani of Cooch Behar
Language: English
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Transcriber’s Note: Names in this text are sometimes spelt
inconsistently e.g. Profullo/Profulla (presumably due to different
transliterations).



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF AN INDIAN PRINCESS

[Illustration:

    _Lafayette._]       [_Frontispiece._

SUNITY DEVEE, MAHARANI OF COOCH BEHAR, 1921.]



                            THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY
                                  OF AN
                             INDIAN PRINCESS

                      BY SUNITY DEVEE, MAHARANI OF
                               COOCH BEHAR

                           WITH ILLUSTRATIONS

                                 LONDON
                    JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET, W.
                                  1921

                          _All rights reserved_



CONTENTS


    CHAPTER                                           PAGE

       I. MY CHILDHOOD                                   1

      II. MY FAMILY                                     20

     III. FESTIVALS AND FESTIVAL DAYS                   33

      IV. MY ROMANCE                                    42

       V. MY MARRIAGE                                   54

      VI. EARLY MARRIED DAYS                            68

     VII. LIFE AT COOCH BEHAR                           89

    VIII. MY FIRST VISIT TO ENGLAND                    103

      IX. ENGLISH SOCIETY                              123

       X. HAPPY DAYS IN INDIA                          141

      XI. EDUCATION OF THE BOYS                        158

     XII. SAD DAYS                                     182

    XIII. ANOTHER BLOW                                 199

     XIV. VICEROYS I HAVE KNOWN                        215

      XV. LATER YEARS                                  228

          INDEX                                        243



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


    SUNITY DEVEE, MAHARANI OF COOCH BEHAR    _Frontispiece_

    MY HUSBAND                            _Facing page_ 54

    “RAJEY”                                             90

    MAHARANI SUNITY DEVEE, 1887                        110

    FAMILY GROUP AT WOODLANDS                          140

    MY THREE YOUNGER SONS                              156

    “RAJEY” AS MAHARAJAH                               198

    MAHARANI SUNITY DEVEE                              214

    WOODLANDS                                          220

    THE MAHARANI AND HER GRANDDAUGHTER                 239



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF AN INDIAN PRINCESS



CHAPTER I

MY CHILDHOOD


I was born in 1864 at the old house known as “Sen’s House” which my
great-grandfather built at Coolootola, a part of Calcutta where many of
our family lived. My birth was always remembered in connection with a
storm which occurred when I was six days old, a most important time to a
Hindu baby, for then the Creator is supposed to visit the home, and write
upon its forehead the little one’s fate. Perhaps people will think the
stormy weather in the beginning signified a stormy future for me.

No girl could have been more fortunate in her parents than I. My father,
the great Keshub Chunder Sen, is considered one of the most remarkable
men India has ever produced, and my dear mother belonged to the best type
of Hindu woman. Gentle, loving, and self-denying, her whole life was
beautiful in its goodness and its simplicity.

The story of a great religious movement is not one which can be told at
length in a book of memories. The religion for which my father suffered
and which will be for ever connected with his name is the Brahmo or
Religion of the New Dispensation, a religion of tolerance and charity. To
quote my father’s words, “The New Dispensation in India neither shuts out
God’s light from the rest of the world, nor does it run counter to any
of those marvellous dispensations of His mercy which were made manifest
in ancient times. It simply shows a new interpretation of His eternal
goodness, an Indian version and application of His universal love.”

My readers do not perhaps quite know the meaning of Brahmo. A Brahmo is
a person who believes in Brahmoe (One God). There is a Hindu god called
Brahmuna, with four heads—Brahmoe is not that god. Some Western people
may think Brahmins are the same as Brahmos. Once I remember an English
lady saying to me: “I met some Brahmo ladies.…” I asked, “How did you
know they were Brahmos?” “Because they wore lace on their heads.” Others
have an idea that all advanced Indian ladies must be Brahmos.

If my readers by some good fortune have read ancient Indian history they
will know what the real Indian religion was. There was one God and no
belief in caste, in fact there was no such thing as caste. Caste meant
a different thing in those days. It referred to character and life. A
Brahmin lived a pure and holy life, and preached religion. Next to
the Brahmins were the Katnyas; they were rulers, fighting people; they
guarded their families, states, and countries. Then came the Sudhras, who
served the others. But now there are hundreds of different castes, which
makes people rather narrow-minded, for if one believes in caste one can
never believe in universal brotherhood.

From the days of his youth my father was earnest and devout. He must
have gone through much trouble of mind before he decided to fly in the
face of family tradition and take a step which meant partial separation
from his nearest and dearest. My mother was a member of a strict Hindu
family, and their marriage had been solemnised with Hindu rites; but
she did not fail him in the hour of trial. I have often heard my mother
talk of the difficulties of those days, before she left Coolootola
with my father. When he announced his approaching conversion, the “Sen
House” was plunged into a state of agitation, and my mother was by turns
entreated and threatened by angry and dismayed relatives. “Do not go
against our customs,” urged the purdah ladies. “You are one of us. Your
place is here. You must not renounce your caste. Imagine the results
of such a dreadful sin.” When thus reproached, the young girl dreaded
the horrors of the unknown. It may be that she wavered; but if so, it
was not for long; and it was arranged that she should go with my father
to be converted by the Maharshi D. Tagore. On the day fixed for their
departure a note came. My father had written simply, “I am waiting.”
Then my mother knew she must decide her future for good and all. All
the relations were screaming, crying, and threatening my mother, saying
that she would bring disgrace on the family by leaving the house, and
thus losing her caste. But it did not hinder her, because of those three
simple words—“I am waiting”—the call of Love. When she realised their
meaning, she threw off the fetters of the past and went forth to meet
her destiny. There was a round staircase used by the purdah ladies where
she knew my father awaited her. The trembling girl hurriedly traversed
corridors and verandahs until she reached it. Fearfully she descended
the dark steps, her heart beating with fright, until at last she saw my
father. He said quietly: “I want you to realise your position fully.
If you come with me, you give up caste, rank, money, and jewels. The
relations who love you will become estranged from you. The bread of
bitterness will be your portion. You will lose all except me. Am I worth
the sacrifice?”

My mother had had a most beautiful and wonderful vision, which is too
sacred for me to relate. This gave her strength and courage, she did not
hesitate but descended the steps and joined my father. It was a moment
too wonderful for words. They looked into each other’s eyes. He read
perfect faith and courage in hers. She saw in his a love which gave her
confidence to face the future. They passed down the corridor and found
themselves in the first courtyard opposite the great entrance, where the
durwans (gatekeepers) were standing on guard.

Twice my father ordered the durwans to open the door, but they did not
move. It was very still in the courtyard. My mother was frightened.
This was a strange adventure, and hitherto she had hardly seen a man
except her husband. A trembling, slim girl, she stood near my father
with her head-dress pulled quite low. Across the door there was a huge
iron bar, which was too heavy for one man to lift. My father, seeing
that the durwans would not open the door, went to lift the bar and did
so quite easily. Then a voice was heard speaking from the upper floor.
It was my father’s eldest brother. He had watched all that had happened,
and, seeing that my parents were determined, he decided to let them go.
“Let them pass, and open the gate,” he called out to the durwans. The
wondering durwans threw open the door, and my parents passed from the
shadows into the sunlight.

My father took my mother to the beautiful house of Maharshi Debendra
Nath Tagore. The household were all waiting to welcome them, though they
had great doubts whether my father would be able to bring my mother away
from such a strict Hindu family. The Maharshi introduced my mother to
his daughters as if she had been his own child. Although a rich man’s
daughter-in-law and a rich youth’s wife, my mother was wearing a simple
sari with hardly any jewels. She always spoke of the great kindness and
affection she received from this family, and she deeply revered the old
Maharshi. We have always felt that there is a great bond between our two
families.

My parents remained away for some time during which my father’s formal
conversion took place. After some months my grandmother and uncle begged
him to return, and gave him a small house near the big house. There my
parents lived until my father fell seriously ill, and his eldest brother
declared that, in spite of all difficulties, he must come back to the old
home. He came back, and after long suffering and much careful nursing
grew well again. My dear old grandmother and all my aunts and uncles were
very glad to have my father and mother back among them. A few months
later my eldest brother was born, and the Maharshi Debendra Nath Tagore
gave him the name Karuna.

The new arrangement was not without its trials. Our branch of the family
had lost caste, and we underwent all kinds of vexations in consequence.
One great trouble was with the servants. No Hindu would wait upon us, and
a procession of cooks who objected to “Christians” (any one who was not
a Hindu in those days was called a Christian) came and went. My father’s
happy nature enabled him, however, to rise above such discomforts, and,
as he was cheerfully seconded by my mother, caste soon had no terrors for
us.

Our days were full of interest, and some of my earliest recollections are
connected with the female education movement which my father started.
There was an establishment called the Asram where his followers from all
different classes lived in happy disregard of caste and class. This house
was quite close to Coolootola, and there I spent many happy days with my
sister-in-law, then Miss Kastogir, the ideal of my girlhood.

I remember another delightful house which a friend lent to my father
for his people. It was a beautiful place with two big buildings in its
grounds. In these houses the Asram people came and lived for months,
and we stayed there too. I have the happiest memories of this Belghuria
garden-house; it always seemed to me a Paradise on earth. I was a little
girl when I first went there, but I never smell a rose without recalling
the vanished perfume of the roses in that wonderful garden. There were
roses everywhere. They scattered my path with scented softness, and
turned their flushed or sweetly pale faces to meet my wondering eyes.
Roses of youth … the fairest. Are any others ever so treasured?

We were not allowed to pluck the fruit or flowers in the Belghuria
garden, and I remember seeing cards in my father’s clear handwriting
fixed on the trees, which forbade us to hurt the growing loveliness.

My father had indeed a striking personality: tall and broad-shouldered,
he gave one the impression of great strength. I always thought of him
as an immortal; his eyes were “homes of silent prayer.” Lord Dufferin
once remarked to me: “I did not know you were Mr. Sen’s daughter. I’ve
travelled far and seen many handsome men, but never one so handsome.”
Sir A. A. Chowdhuri’s father once said: “Mr. Keshub is no ordinary man,
as you can tell by the perfect shape of his feet and the pink sole.” And
my dear husband often said, “A sculptor would give anything to have your
father’s foot as a model.” The expression of his face, people said, was
like that of Buddha, calm and quiet. His voice was gentle, yet clear,
and even by a large crowd every word could be distinctly heard. He had
wavy hair and wonderfully white even teeth, and there was always a smile
on his face. My father was quite indifferent to caste, although the
Brahmo creed as first practised by Maharshi Debendra Nath Tagore and his
followers included it, and this caused a split between my father and his
old friend. They disagreed on this point, and finally my father left the
Maharshi Tagore, first because of the question of caste, and secondly,
because of the Maharshi’s jealousy of my father’s influence with his
followers. I remember hearing people talk of the powerful influence
of my father’s teachings. Even men with large families gave up their
occupations to follow him. They looked upon him as almost a divinity,
and I myself believe he was gifted with extraordinary powers, as the
following strange incident seems to prove.

In a house at Monghyr, a few hours’ journey from Calcutta, my father
lived at one time with his followers. One morning, after the usual
service was over, a gentleman who had been present waited hoping my
father would say he need not go to the office that day. As my father,
however, said nothing he left looking very sad. After some time my father
said to his followers: “You did not want Mr. ⸺ to go?”

“No, we hoped you would let him stay,” was the reply.

“Do you want him to come back?”

“Well, he’s about a mile away; how can any one overtake him?”

My father smiled and asked for a khole (a sort of drum), and struck it
gently, calling the gentleman by name as he did so. It seems incredible,
but is nevertheless true, that the person thus summoned heard the call as
he stood under a tree by the roadside. “I hear him,” he cried, “I am to
return,” and to the great surprise of all he did return, and related how
he had heard his name called.

My father used to tell us stories from the Bible and other sacred books,
and I remember how much impressed we were with the story of the Ten
Virgins. He described it so well that we could see the whole thing, and I
remarked: “_We_ must be careful not to run out of oil or to fall asleep
when the bridegroom is coming.” He also told us many other stories, and
one was a particular favourite.

There was once a rich Maharajah who was very fond of mottoes and sayings,
and always rewarded handsomely any person who brought him a new one.

In a village near his palace lived four Brahmin brothers who were so poor
they often could not get their daily meal. One day they said to each
other: “Our Maharajah is generous, he richly rewards those who bring him
words of wisdom. Let us try and make some.” These Brahmin brothers were
not only poor but stupid, and could think of nothing. Although by the
next day they were not ready for the visit, they made up their minds to
go and see what they could do. On the way the eldest brother suddenly
stopped saying: “I have got it, I have got it. I am sure I shall receive
a handsome present.” The other three were very much excited and eagerly
asked what it was. “I saw a rat,” he said, “and I thought: ‘Silently
he picks a hole in the wall.’” The brothers thought this splendid and
looked forward to a great reward. A little further on the second brother
stopped, saying: “I have got one too.” “What is it?” they asked. “Bump,
bump, bump, he jumps.” “How did you think of it?” they asked. “Did you
not see a frog jumping from one side of the road to the other?” After a
while the third brother shouted: “Mine is the best.” “What is yours?”
they asked excitedly. “Hither and thither he looks.” “What does that
mean?” they inquired. “Did you not see a squirrel on the branch looking
here, there, and everywhere?” When the palace came in sight the youngest
brother was in tears; he could think of nothing. “You will all receive
your presents,” he said, “I must wait without for you.” But when they
arrived at the door and the kobal took their message to the Maharajah
the youngest brother’s face beamed and he followed the others into the
ruler’s presence.

Each had written his saying upon a piece of paper and it was placed
upon a tray. After a while the Maharajah said, “It grows late. Return
for your rewards to-morrow, when I shall have read your papers,” and
the brothers, bowing, retired. Towards midnight the Maharajah awoke and
bethought himself of the papers brought by the four poor brothers, and
of his promise to read them. He rose from his bed and went towards the
window, that looked out upon the terrace of the palace, with the papers
in his hand. Now it chanced that just at that moment the kobal (page-boy)
was under the window trying to make a hole through the wall through
which to enter and murder the Maharajah. Suddenly he heard the voice of
the Maharajah. “Silently he picks a hole in the wall.” Terrified the
kobal left the hole and hopped across the terrace. “Bump, bump, bump,
he jumps,” the Maharajah continued. The kobal stopped, looking this way
and that in his panic. “Hither and thither he looks,” the voice went on.
The trembling kobal tiptoed away, but the voice reading the youngest
brother’s paper followed him: “The kobal walks on the marble, thud,
thud, thud.” Convinced now that the Maharajah could see him and knew
everything, the wretched kobal fled. Next morning he went to one of the
officers of the palace, and falling at his feet confessed his intended
crime and told how the Maharajah had seen all he did. The officer at once
went to the Maharajah and told him the whole story. When the four poor
brothers arrived soon after at the palace they were amazed to receive as
a reward for their sayings, thousands and thousands of rupees, while the
youngest was given a house and provision for life, the Maharajah saying
he would ever be grateful to him for having saved his life.

Coolootola was the starting point for many of our religious excursions.
We always delighted in these journeys, as they meant “seeing things.” One
of the missionaries, Kaka Babu, who had charge of the money and arranged
all the details of our everyday life, took care of my eldest brother and
me. We travelled sometimes by train, and sometimes in a box-like horse
carriage, which was rather uncomfortable, yet I have gone from Agra to
Jaipur in it.

A certain visit we made to Etawah interested us very much. The house
intended for our use was not ready, and we were obliged to spend the
night in an old place which had once been a public building. My mother
could not sleep, for she had a feeling of horror although there seemed
at first nothing to alarm her. But before long she beheld a most awful
vision, which lasted the rest of the night. She saw in the huge hall
soldiers in red uniforms and Indians struggling together; great pools of
blood were on the floor, and women and children were weeping. At first
my mother thought it was only a dream; but when she opened her eyes she
saw it as vividly as when they were closed, and terrified she longed for
the dawn. At daybreak she told my father of the vision. He was surprised,
as were his followers; for years before during the Mutiny a massacre had
actually taken place in the hall. My father had not told my mother lest
she should be nervous; when she heard the story my mother insisted on
moving into another house, and we left then and there.

I remember a journey to Jubbalpore when I first realised the devotion of
Indian wives to their husbands. We drove to a little house built upon a
rock among the hills, about which there was this story:

“In bygone times a certain Maharajah was going to fight the Mohammedans,
and his wife, who loved him, wished to accompany him.

“It is impossible,” he said. “How can you go with me?” “I will not remain
alone in the palace,” she answered firmly. “But I am going to fight.” “No
matter, my place is by your side.” “You cannot come with me.”

The loving Maharani then said to her husband: “I came to this palace as
your wife, your Maharani. I shall not remain in the palace without you,
my lord, my husband, my Maharajah, not even for an hour. If I am not
allowed to go to the battlefield with you, I, your Maharani, will leave
the palace and go wherever you like to send me. If it is your fate to
return victorious, I shall return as your Maharani to the palace.”

The husband, although a commander and a ruler, spoke to her very gently
in a voice full of love and sympathy: “My beautiful little wife, where
will you go? How can I leave you in discomfort? You are my Maharani and
do not know the hardships of the world.”

“Oh,” she said, “my lord, do you think that I would be happy without you
in this place of luxury and wealth? No, my lord, let me go. You and I
will leave the palace together. You are going to fight for your country,
my brave and handsome young husband, and I, your little wife, will be
thinking of you and your love wherever I may be.”

The story goes that the Maharajah granted his wife’s request, and had
this little house built in one night on a single piece of rock among
the hills. There she anxiously awaited news of him. Alas! the enemy was
victorious and the Maharajah killed. Never would he return and take her
from that place of waiting, back to the palace where they had lived and
loved.

Then came the supreme act of devotion, the willing sacrifice. The widowed
Maharani offered herself, to the flames upon a funeral pyre near the
house on the rock, and I remember that, as darkness fell in that lonely
spot, I felt as if I were living in another world. My childish heart
vaguely wondered what that love could be which made people careless of
life. The future was then mercifully as obscure as the evening shadows.
I was to know later that the agony of the fire is nothing compared with
the fierce flames of aching remembrance. The pang of death is happiness
compared with the weary time of waiting to rejoin the beloved husband who
has gone before. The little house is still standing.

The childhood of an Indian girl of years ago may have some interest now,
and I must say that I do not admire the modern upbringing of children.
Our old system had many defects, but it had also many advantages, chiefly
the ideas of simplicity and duty which were primarily inculcated in the
little ones. Religion was never uninteresting to us and lessons were a
pleasure. I was the second of ten children, and named after Sunity, the
mother of Dhruba. I got up early and by nine o’clock my eldest brother,
“Dada,” and I were ready for school. I went to Bethune College and he to
a boys’ school. We came back at four. I had a second bath. My hair was
arranged and I had a meal of fruit and sweets. Then came the glorious
hour of fun and freedom when the innumerable children of “Sen’s House”
played together.

My mother always helped Dada and me prepare our lessons in both English
and Bengali, and we always prayed with her in a small room next to our
bedroom. There we were taught little mottoes: “Always speak the truth,”
“Respect and obey your parents.” Once I had a very high fever and my
mother told me not to go to school, but I loved my school, and when my
mother had gone to the service I had my bath quietly and dressed, and
went off in the school bus. After a short time I shivered so much that
Miss Hemming, one of the teachers of whom I was very fond, put me on a
couch, covered me up well, and when I felt a little better sent me home.
How often I felt and still feel that I suffered because I disobeyed my
dear mother.

Looking back on those days of childhood I have vivid memories of their
happiness. The great house seemed an enchanted palace. It is difficult
to convey to English readers a real idea of the fascination of its
cool, silent interior with the six courtyards, and the deep wells
which supplied drinking and bathing water. In the zenana part of the
establishment where the strict purdah ladies lived, the rooms ran round
one of these courtyards, and the ladies were never allowed to walk
outside it. When they went into town, the “palkis” came right inside to
fetch them. I remember wonderful games of hide-and-seek which we children
played about the courtyards and the old house. I was too young then to
understand what “conscience’ sake” meant.

The whole of the domestic arrangements at Coolootola were on patriarchal
lines, and strange to relate, family quarrels were rare, although there
was a very large number of women living together under the same roof.
When I say that our household included fifty relations, some idea of the
size of the establishment will be arrived at.

As I grew older I began to feel that I was rather an outsider in the
festivities which the other girls enjoyed, and I discovered this was due
to my loss of caste, but, as every one at Coolootola was very fond of me,
I soon threw aside my real or imaginary troubles. I used to ran about the
zenana, and admire my pretty cousins, who seemed to pass their time doing
woolwork slippers for their husbands. They never liked people to know
this, and the wools and canvas were hurriedly hidden when any one came
in. The mothers looked after the housekeeping and played cards in their
leisure time. I remember one aunt who was famous for her card parties.

My grandmother, who was very handsome, was the head of the house. She
exacted and received the utmost deference from her daughters-in-law, who
never dared to speak to their husbands in her presence. She had a warm
corner in her heart for me. I was never afraid of her, although I used to
wonder whether I should be like the other ladies when I grew up.

My grandmother Thakoorma was a grand cook. Although she was a rich man’s
daughter-in-law, my grandmother cooked and did the household work as if
she were in a poor house. She and her sister-in-law used at one time
to hide their brooms under their beds, each meaning to try and get up
earlier than the other to clean the room; such was their delight in their
housework.

The afternoon was the most delightful time of the day, for then we
bathed, dressed our hair, and arrayed ourselves in dainty muslin saris
preparatory to going on the roof. I loved that hour, and the memory of
it often comes back to me. I close my eyes and dream I am a child again
sitting in the midst of that happy group, and can almost feel the welcome
breeze once more fanning my face. As we sat and told stories we sometimes
caught glimpses of a splash of colour on the roof of distant houses and
knew that other girls were also enjoying the cool of the day.

I used always to associate perfume and soap with my married cousins; in
fact, I believed that some people married on purpose to get unlimited
supplies of soap and scent. “You won’t get married, Sunity,” the cousins
would laugh. “Oh yes, I will,” I would reply. “Then I shall have lovely
perfumes, and as much soap as I want.”

The young wives were never allowed to see their husbands during the day;
but often when I played in the front courtyard I heard my name called
softly and would be asked to convey love-letters between the temporarily
separated couples, who found time long without each other in the first
days of wedlock.

I also remember the open air operas (jatras) which were performed in the
field close to the house. The advent of the players was always the signal
for my father’s youngest brother to nail down the shutters on that side
of the house if he thought the acting of the jatras not quite proper for
the ladies to hear.

One of our customs is for young girls to make vows as they worship before
symbolic figures made of flour, or painted on the ground. “May I have
a good husband,” prays one. “May I be rich,” sighs her worldly-minded
sister. Marriage and wealth are as important in the East as in Mayfair.
My vows, ordered by my father, were planned on different lines, and
usually excited pity or amusement. I promised to give money to the poor,
never to tell a lie, to feed animals and birds, and to give people cool
beverages during the hot weather.

Oh happy days: I can still smell the incense which burnt before the idol
at twilight when the elder ladies made their devotions. From across the
gulf of time I can hear the faint tinkle of the bells, and the peace of
the past pervades my soul. It was a heavenly feeling when Arati (evening
prayer) time came and the elderly ladies, among whom the most prominent
figure was that of my dear old grandmother, bowed themselves in homage to
their god in the sanctuary. The conch shells and the bells sounded, the
flowers and the incense gave out their delicious perfume, and family life
seemed to me heavenly and pure.



CHAPTER II

MY FAMILY


The Asram near Coolootola consisted of two houses joined together, and
there we lived for a time with many of my father’s followers as one big
united family (a thing hitherto unheard of in India), addressing each
other as sisters and aunts, uncles and brothers. My father held a service
in the hall every morning. His motto was “Faith, Love, and Purity,” and
upon this he always acted. His life was a pilgrimage of extraordinary
faith which made him trust in the infinite mercy of God even in the
darkest hour, of love which enabled him to view the failings of others
with perfect charity and compassion, and purity which kept the lustre of
his private life undimmed to the last.

My father formed a Normal School for our girls, called the Native Ladies’
Normal School. This school was at one time the only institution of the
kind in India. To-day there are hundreds of colleges and schools all over
India for Indian girls and women. My father fought for female education.
How keenly he was opposed by the leading men at the time! Curiously
enough, some of the men who spoke most strongly against female education
were the first to bring their wives out of purdah; indeed, to my idea,
they are now too English. Later on my father established a college in
Calcutta named after her late Majesty Queen Victoria. This college will
always be associated with the name of Keshub Chunder Sen. He did not
believe in the importance of university degrees; he maintained that for
a woman to be a good wife and a good mother is far better than to be
able to write M.A. or B.A. after her name. Therefore, only things likely
to be useful to them were taught to the girls who attended the Victoria
College. Zenana ladies also came to the lectures, and the good work
flourished. I always remember the name of Miss Pigot in connection with
the educational movement in India. She was the head of an institution
close to where we lived. One of the objects of this institution was to
train Christian Indian girls to visit Hindu houses and give lessons to
the women who wished to improve their education. Miss Pigot also took
charge of Hindu ladies while their husbands were in England. She always
showed the greatest interest in our family, and called my grandmother
“Mother.”

Miss Pigot is still alive; I am very fond of the dear old lady, she has
been a true friend to us all.

Sadhankanan was the name of the country house belonging to my father,
not far from Calcutta, in which we lived later on. The house itself was
small, but the grounds were charming with their beautiful trees, flowers,
and fruit. There we lived an open-air life among the flowers by which
the air seemed always perfumed. I remember a curious thing happening
there which filled me with fresh admiration for my father and helped
to make me think he was more than human. The gardens at Sadhankanan
were full of snakes. As I stood by a hedge of pineapple trees one day,
I suddenly saw a frog hopping at a tremendous pace in the direction of
the praying-ground where my father and his followers were engaged in
their devotions; it was chased by a snake. The frog jumped straight on
to my father’s knees, and the pursuer, stopping bewildered in front
of his quarry, swayed to and fro for a moment with his hood ominously
raised, then turned and glided away, greatly to my relief, whereupon the
frog jumped down from his sanctuary. “How wonderful he is!” I thought,
“the weakest thing would be safe with him,” and indeed no creature ever
appealed to my father’s pity in vain.

My mother loved Sadhankanan, and I remember how pretty she used to look
among those beautiful surroundings. She was small, with tiny hands and
feet and a wealth of dark hair, and she had a lovely voice which was
heard to the best advantage in our hymns and Bengali songs. Mother’s
gentle influence kept us very much together. She was a woman of strong
convictions, and would never countenance anything which her conscience
told her was wrong. She was a charming story-teller, and would often tell
us fairy tales when we were in bed. We loved these stories and never
wearied of listening to them; some of them I have collected together in a
little volume, and one I will include here.

A Maharajah had two wives, and he loved the second far more than
the first. Yet the first wife was lovely, gentle, unselfish, and
kind-hearted, and the second was just the reverse; she was haughty, vain,
ill-tempered, and very jealous of the first wife. The first wife had a
baby boy, the heir, to whom the Maharajah was very devoted, and much to
the annoyance of the second wife he often played with the baby, who was
just beginning to crawl. One day, while he was playing with the child,
he sang to him over and over again: “I love this face with its toothless
smile,” and the second wife hearing, could not get the expression out of
her head, “toothless smile.” The next time the Maharajah came to see the
second wife he found her crawling on the floor, and thought she had gone
mad. He asked her what she was doing, and when she opened her mouth to
answer he saw, to his horror and disgust, that she had no teeth. “What
have you done to yourself?” he asked angrily. She answered him with a
hideous smile, “Did you not say to your baby that you loved the face
with a toothless smile?” With a furious look he said, “Begone, you are
no longer my wife. Your insane jealousy banishes you for ever from the
palace;” and weeping and lamenting, she was turned away.

My mother lived for my father and his beliefs. The world never troubled
her. “You cannot impede my work, for it is God’s work,” were the words
which formed the keynote of my father’s steadfast faith, and my mother
accepted it with perfect conviction. She never seemed distressed by her
loss of caste, although she was left out of many a family gathering in
consequence. I think my mother, however, sometimes pitied us, for we
shared her fate when festivities took place in the old house, and she
then made much of us in her gentle way. But we led our lives secure in
the belief that the religion practised by my father was the highest. His
life and his teachings were so beautiful that it was impossible not to
try and live up to his ideals, and his yoke was so light that we never
felt it.

In the days of my youth, as well as at the present time, I found the
greatest consolation in religion. Not the fierce fanaticism which
scourges the trembling soul, not the appeal of beautiful music and
gorgeous vestments which attract the eye and drug the heart, but the
simple and direct appeal to God as a father and a friend, the close and
perfect understanding between the Creator and His creature.

We children loved the religious services, and the remembrance of my
father’s face as he prayed often comes back to me. I have another vivid
memory of those days: sometimes, long before the servants were awake, a
beautiful voice filled the dawn with melody. It was one of my father’s
missionaries who, alone upon the roof, sang the praise of God in that
sweet and silent hour. I can hear the echo of his song even now. We
children used to think that we were very near to heaven then, and we
secretly imagined that the singer was an angel visitant.

We were kept quite apart from the world, and light talk and unkind gossip
were things unknown to us. Some of my readers may think that I must have
led a dull kind of life. Possibly I did in the eyes of the world, but it
was happiness to me. As for clothes, we were content with our ordinary
muslin saris, and did not see the beauty of foreign goods.

We are very hospitable in the East. In our home, if unexpected guests
arrived, mother would say to us girls, if we were at home in the
holidays, “Go and take what is wanted out of the store.” One would cut
the vegetables, and dear mother would cook, and within a short time quite
a good meal would be prepared. There is such a nice word used in the
Indian housekeeping world, “bart-auta,” which means “end to an increase”;
we never say: “there is none,” or “it is finished.” The stores should
never be empty, but the new supplies come in before the old are finished.

I was always very much attached to my eldest brother, Karuna. I called
him “Dada” (elder brother); he and I were great friends. I remember that
once a fine idea struck him. “Let’s make soap,” he said; “everybody uses
soap, and there is a lot of money in it. Sunity, we will become very
rich.”

My youngest uncle (my mother’s brother) was asked to be a partner in the
scheme, and we collected quantities of lime, oil, and essences wherewith
we thought to produce the ideal cleanser. These we heaped anyhow into
a frying-pan and began to heat them up. But to our dismay we found
something was wrong. The smoke and flames nearly blinded us, and we were
forced to retreat and let the horrid mess burn itself out.

Coolootola was our playground, and I think if the walls could have spoken
to us they might have related some very strange stories of the old doings
at “Sen’s House.” I always felt the rooms had histories, and I remember a
certain staircase which report said was haunted, and which was the scene
of two uncanny happenings when I was a child. Once when my cousins were
playing hide-and-seek, one of them seemed to be held back by some unseen
force as he ran down the staircase. When at last he managed to shake off
the terror which possessed him, he fainted.

I was equally frightened at the same place, but in a different way. My
father always cooked his own breakfast, and it was a great privilege to
me in my holidays to be allowed to help him. One day he had finished his
breakfast, and I was bringing away the curry which was left, and walking
very carefully down the staircase, my thoughts set on the dish I was
holding, when suddenly I had the impression that a whole army of cats was
after me. I looked back. There was nothing to be seen. I went on, and
again the feeling of being stealthily followed came over me; I felt I
was in the midst of furry, wicked-eyed creatures, and almost heard their
velvety paddings around me. I was suffocated with the presence of cats,
and dreaded the spring which I felt every moment they would make. Shaking
with terror, I kept myself from dropping the dish only by a great effort.

Once when we were playing, my sister Bino and I were left on the roof. I
was like a boy, and ran and jumped, and I said to Bino, “I shall run down
the stairs much faster than you can, and you will be left alone in the
middle of the haunted staircase.” Poor Bino looked alarmed, she was slim
and delicate; she began to run, but long before she reached the terrace
I got there and closed the door, expecting her to cry or try to push the
door, but nothing happened, and I got so frightened I flung open the
door. There was no Bino to be found. I had a fright. I ran up and down
the stairs several times and searched the enormous roof above, but could
not find her. I felt something must have happened to Bino, as “the ghost
lives in the staircase.” I cried a great deal, and then walked slowly
down to the bedroom verandah feeling miserable and most ashamed of
myself. There I found Bino looking quite happy, and instead of scolding
me she said in her sweet way, “I went downstairs when I found the door
closed.” It was a greater punishment than if she had scolded me.

My brothers and sisters have all followed my father’s teachings
throughout their lives. I am sure there is not one of that happy band
of children who played about “Sen’s House” who has not found the
greatest comfort and support from our upbringing. My eldest brother, in
particular, was very religious, and carried on my father’s work, helped
by his wife, who copied many of my father’s prayers and taught in the
Victoria College when it needed teachers.

My second brother, Nirmal, is a most amiable and easy-going man. He is
now in the India Office in London and works hard for the welfare of
Indian students in London, a subject upon which he has very decided
ideas. He is very popular, always ready to help others, and is very happy
in his home life. He married a Miss Luddhi.

My third brother, Profullo, was wonderfully gifted. He was a most
affectionate little friend to me when I was a bride in the big house in
Calcutta, and was almost always with me. On several occasions when I went
to England with my children, and my dear husband could not go, Profullo
went instead and managed everything. He was my children’s favourite
uncle.

A wonderful thing happened to Profullo when he was a few weeks old. He
fell ill, and the doctors gave him up; at the time my father was away
at Belghuria garden-house, and the sad news had to be sent to him. When
at length my father arrived every one was weeping, thinking the boy was
gone. My father entered the room with a lovely rose in his hand, and
they all saw what a wonderful expression there was upon his face. Father
touched Profullo’s face with the flower, and the boy opened his eyes and
said, “Father, have you come?” and from that day he rapidly recovered.
Profullo had several pet names, Pepery, Peter, and Pip and Peroo.

He married an English girl. He was always a devoted follower of my
father’s.

My husband used to say that my father’s great gifts and devoutness were
inherited by my fourth brother, Saral. Every one thought he would become
a missionary. When he was a small boy, he always said he would carry on
my father’s work. He is unselfish, most kind-hearted and simple minded.
His pet name is Bhopal.

My youngest brother’s name is Subrata, and his pet name is Bhajan. He was
my eldest son’s best friend: the boy was devoted to him and asked for him
till the end. Subrata is now a doctor, yet we still regard him as our
baby brother, and I do not think he will ever grow up; he behaves like
a baby. He married a pretty French girl and did well during the War,
although I am sorry to say he did not obtain a permanent post.

My sisters are the dearest of women. The second, Savitri, is quiet and
retiring, with many good qualities. Her pet name is Bino. She is a tall,
handsome girl, the best of wives, and a very good mother. She married a
cousin of my husband’s, and it has been a great happiness and comfort
to me to have her with me all these years in Cooch Behar, where we have
worked hand in hand.

My third sister, Sucharu, is most unselfish, and her experiences have
made her more than usually sympathetic with the sorrows of others. She
was engaged when quite a girl to the Maharajah of Mourbhanj, but his
family came between them and he married a Hindu girl.

My sister suffered for several years, as it is an unknown thing for an
Indian girl to be an “old maid,” and we were disappointed, annoyed, and
distressed that such trouble had befallen her. But my sister loved the
Maharajah just the same all through, and never said an unkind word. “It
is my fate, don’t blame him,” she said.

We tried to persuade her to marry, but nothing would induce her to forget
her lover. Fourteen years passed, during which she was an angel in our
house. Then she found her long-delayed happiness. The Maharajah’s wife
died, and he came back to ask my sister to marry him. The marriage took
place in Calcutta, and for some time the Maharajah and my sister led
the happiest of lives. But Fate, mysterious Fate, ordained that Death,
which had given them happiness, should destroy it. The Maharajah was
accidentally shot at a shooting party, and my sister’s life was darkened
for ever.

She lives for her children and for her stepsons. Some English ladies once
said to me that they had no idea the Maharajah had any children by his
first marriage, as the whole family seemed so united and devoted to the
Maharani.

My fourth sister, Monica, who is very handsome, prayed that luxury might
never come into her life for fear the world should make her forget
God. We call her Moni; she has the most happy, contented disposition
imaginable. No one has ever heard her utter an unkind word. She takes
everything as it comes, quietly and without complaint, and thinks herself
the happiest woman in the world. Her faith in God is wonderful. She
married a Professor in the Education Department, a very clever man, whose
name is Sadhu Mahalanobis.

Sujata, the youngest, has always made sunshine in our midst. She is as
sweet as some lovely flower, and I think her one idea is to give every
one as much pleasure as she can. She was so pretty that when our present
King as Prince of Wales lunched with us he asked, “Who is that very
pretty girl in the sari?” Sujata married a Mr. Sen, brother of my fourth
sister-in-law.

How happy we were! I think that Providence always gives us compensations
for our sorrows. There are some hours the glory of which triumphs over
the darkness which later clouds our lives: some loved voices whose sweet
remembrance deadens the sound of unkind tongues: some faces that in our
memory have always a loving smile.

I am happy and proud to say that my brothers and sisters have always been
most kind and loving to me.

I was not considered a pretty child, but I remember that a great-uncle
once said to my mother: “This little girl, Sunity, will be somebody
one day, for I see a lotus in her eyes.” “I shall have a handsome
son-in-law,” my mother laughingly replied, and I was greatly amused. When
I was twelve I thought I would make a vow never to marry. My ambition
was to be clever, to travel a great deal, and to be a sort of nun. I
asked a school friend of mine named Kamari if she also would promise not
to marry. To my great disappointment she said: “It is too hard a vow to
take,” but added affectionately, “we will try.” Once some of the nuns
from Loretto Convent visited my father’s school, and one of them, looking
at me gently, asked: “Would you like to be a nun?” We frequently visited
this convent, and the kind nuns often came to see us. I admired and loved
those nuns.

Even now whenever I get an opportunity I go to see the Convent Sisters.



CHAPTER III

FESTIVALS AND FESTIVAL DAYS


Many of our customs are full of colour and life, but few people of the
West realise their inner and more sacred meanings. By the foreigner we
are regarded more often than not as picturesque figures with a background
of elephants, tigers and temples, and the poetry of our mythology is
missed by the globe-trotter and the official. I have heard Lakshmi the
Luck-bringer described as “odd-looking,” Kali as a “monstrosity,” and the
figure of Ganesh as “an extraordinary-looking image.” Symbolism is not
understood by those people who call our jewels “bits of glass,” and our
gold “brassy.” I wish I could make Europeans realise how proud India is
of her women, and how well they have merited her pride. Perhaps few of
my readers know any of the stories of the devotion of mothers and wives
which is shown daily in the shadow of the purdah.

“Oh, but you ladies can’t really know what love means,” once remarked a
pretty Englishwoman. This sweeping statement is about as absurd and false
as the Maharajah of musical comedy or the Anglo-Indian novel, but like
most absurdities it has been taken seriously, with the result that many
Englishwomen have no idea of the love that exists between Indian wives
and their husbands.

One of my cousins married a rich young man when she was quite a little
girl. After a few years he died leaving no child. The young widow went
back to her mother and lived the life of a poor woman in her father’s
house. She only ate one meal of vegetables at mid-day. During the cold
months a single blanket was her only covering, and in the hot weather she
slept upon a coarse mat.

She prayed for hours. She was lovely to behold and her sweetness made her
beloved by every one. Yet, from sheer devotion to her husband’s memory,
this delicately brought up girl chose to lead the life of a servant. It
was her tribute to him, the offering of herself.

The question will naturally arise as to what good resulted from this
penance, but it proved (according to her views) my cousin’s love for her
husband, and it showed that she lived up to the traditions of wifely
devotion which are taught us from our infancy.

Every province has its own marriage customs, and child marriages in
Bengal are still most picturesque, although I am sorry to say that
some of the pageantry and the tender sentiment associated with it, is
gradually disappearing. A girl is always married in the home of her
parents, and she fasts the whole day. In the evening married ladies
dress the little bride artistically in new clothes and new jewellery. The
air is sweet with perfumes. Flowers are everywhere. The murmur of many
voices rises and falls, and suddenly the conch shells are sounded by the
ladies of the house, announcing the arrival of the bridegroom.

What a supreme moment for the little bride! Her heart beats fast beneath
the stiff golden embroideries, and the new jewellery suddenly becomes
as heavy as lead. “What will he think of me?” Anxious and perplexed she
goes through the Vasan ceremony, which is performed by the ladies in
the courtyard; but she is keenly alert when she is placed on a piece of
wood and, thus seated, is carried by young relations and friends to meet
her lord and master. The procession passes round the bridegroom and the
bearers hold the bride up in front of him. A scarf is thrown over the
pair and their eyes meet for the first time.

The marriage is not concluded until the morning of the second day, when
the bridegroom takes the bride to his father’s house, and this affords an
opportunity for the hospitality the Indian delights to show. For a mile
or two the route taken by the wedding procession is sometimes sprinkled
with rose-water, and the lights flash. “It is a son who is getting
married,” says the proud father, and he remembers with satisfaction that
this home-coming has been fixed for a lucky day and a lucky hour. The
bride must also be lucky, for does she not walk gently and speak gently?
And is not her forehead of the right shape? Certainly she has not the
prominent forehead that brings bad luck.

When the bride arrives at her future home, her husband’s sisters throw
water and money under the palki, and the jewel-covered little girl is
lifted out by her mother-in-law and placed upon a large plate filled with
milk and alta (a sort of rose-coloured confection), upon which she stands
until the marriage ceremony is over. Then the newly-married couple sit
upon a new cloth and receive presents and blessings from the bridegroom’s
friends and relations.

“May you speak like honey,” whispers a maiden as she touches the pretty
lips of the bride with honey. “May you hear sweetness like honey,” she
continues, as she drops honey into the small ears. Then the bridegroom’s
mother comes forward, gives the bride a pair of bangles and lifts the
head-dress which hides her face. As she does this the guests have an
opportunity of seeing the blushing little face, and begin to praise her
looks, the mother-in-law meanwhile saying, “This is my Lakshmi” (goddess
of luck).

On the third day gifts arrive from the bride’s father: gifts of jewels,
dresses, sweets, scents, soaps—sometimes to the number of five hundred
or a thousand. Porters bring them in and the bride and bridegroom change
into the new robes. This ceremony is called the Feast of Merriment, for
everyone is gay. On the third evening there is another ceremony called
the “Fullsaya” (flower ceremony), when the bride is adorned with flowers
and the rooms are filled with them. The meaning of this is: Nature with
flowers comes to bless the newly united couple.

We thought more of New Year’s Day than Christmas Day, probably because
that was my father’s custom. On New Year’s Day we gave each other
presents, had dinner parties and sent sweets, fruits, and vegetables to
friends. Since we lost my father we have regarded New Year’s Day as of
more importance than ever, because it is the day on which he opened the
Sanctuary at Lily Cottage and preached there his last sermon.

We have a festival which is sometimes held in February, sometimes in
March, according to the moon, called “Hooly.” It was founded in honour of
the Hindu god Krishna, and is one of the most enjoyable days in a Hindu
household. Buckets and huge tumblers are filled with rose-water which is
coloured with red powder. Then the ladies in all the different courtyards
load syringes with the red liquid and, singing and dancing, maid and
mistress, old and young, relations and friends, squirt each other amid
screams of delight. Afterwards presents of garments are made all round,
for the old saris are stained with red. The servants who cannot play put
a little red powder on their master’s and mistress’s feet. This festival
is known as the Merry Festival.

In India, religious festival days are chiefly distinguished by their
entertainments. My readers will perhaps be surprised at this, but it is
true. On festival days banana trees are placed on each side of the house
door, and, at the foot of the trees, large earthern pitchers filled
with water, and a big cocoa-nut. These are the lucky signs denoting an
auspicious occasion. A band plays during the whole of the festival. Every
one’s house is open to rich and poor. Every one receives presents, often
very valuable, and no one is too poor to receive something.

Some years ago a poor Brahmin wanted to have _durga puja_; he was so
poor that he had to beg from door to door in order to get a little money
to buy the _puja_ articles and to entertain at breakfast and dinner the
people who came to see the goddess. This time he could only obtain very
little money, but still he invited a small number of guests and when they
arrived they were surprised to find the goddess not properly dressed.
“How is it,” they asked severely, “that the goddess is left like this?”
The poor Brahmin said: “I am a poor son of my Mother, and my Mother knows
it; I haven’t money with which to dress her. The little I had I used to
entertain my guests; if I had had more I would have invited more guests.”

There is another festival in India called “Bhaikota,” which is held in
the autumn, in October or November, and is in honour of brothers. Early
in the morning sisters bathe, put on new saris and wait for their
brothers. When the brothers are seated, their sisters take small cups
of sandalwood paste and with their little fingers put small paste marks
on the foreheads of their brothers, saying, “As I put this mark on my
brother’s forehead may there be no thorns at the door of Death. As
Death is deathless, may my brother be deathless.” When the sisters say
these words the conch shells are blown, and they give presents to their
brothers, and to their cousins, generally of clothes. This ceremony is
to show what a heavenly relationship there is between a brother and a
sister. The younger sister touches the feet of the elder brother, and the
elder sister puts her hands on the younger brother and blesses him.

“Jamai Tashti” is the name of a ceremony for sons-in-law. The wife’s
parents invite their sons-in-law to their house and the mother-in-law,
in a long head-dress, brings presents and puts them in front of
the sons-in-law. It is a great day for the younger brothers- and
sisters-in-law, they are full of tricks.

I remember once, with some of my girl friends, playing tricks on our
cousins-in-law. We made a dish of straw and prepared betel-leaf with all
sorts of rubbish, such as peelings of nuts, etc., and the cousins had to
eat it, as if they give in or say anything it means that they lose and
others gain.

Between April and May there is a great festival, called “Poonyah” (the
Day of Good Luck). On this day the Maharajah sits on the throne, and all
the high officials, the jemindars and the heads of the districts come. It
is a grand sight; the Maharajah in his gold-embroidered robes, and all
the men in their State garments. The Dewan of the State sits opposite the
Maharajah and on either side of him, covered with cloth, are two pitchers
in which the money is put. In front are lights in little earthern
vessels. After the Maharajah has taken his seat all the landlords and
officials present their tribute in little bundles, which are handed to
the Dewan, who puts them into the pots. Music is played the whole time
outside. Then the personal staff offer His Highness attar, and flowers
and betel-leaf, in golden vessels, making the same offering afterwards to
the princes and to the Maharajah’s wife and mother, after which the same
offerings are made in silver vessels to the officials and landlords. My
husband was, I think, the only Maharajah who never had nautch girls or
actresses at his Court, and the ladies of the palace always sat in the
balcony screened off. After the ceremony was over we had musical parties,
or open-air theatricals known as jatras, but there were no actresses in
them.

Later on, when my husband had this festival, my four handsome sons, three
in their Indian costumes and Rajey in the Royal Yeomanry uniform, looked
fine. After the official tributes had been offered the four boys went up
the steps of the throne on which their father was seated and with bent
heads paid their homage, and my husband put his hand on each son’s head
in turn and blessed him. Some English people who were present on one of
these occasions said they had never seen anything so attractive and so
touching.



CHAPTER IV

MY ROMANCE


My happy home life continued undisturbed until I was thirteen. Indian
girls of that age are more advanced than their Western sisters, but I was
still very much a child, thanks to my parents.

My father’s name is for ever associated with the Civil Marriage Act, as
it was entirely owing to his exertions that the Government passed this
wise measure fixing the marriageable age of men and girls at eighteen and
fourteen respectively.

The fairy prince in my romance was the young Nripendra Narayan Bhup
Bahadur, Maharajah of Cooch Behar, who had been a ward of the Government
since his infancy, and carefully educated to be a model ruler. Colonel
Haughton wrote: “Ever since I have become Commissioner for Cooch Behar,
the honour of the young Maharajah, his future happiness, and the welfare
of the State have been my anxious care.”

This Indian prince’s family records show that he was descended from
one of the oldest ruling families in the country. According to popular
tradition his race had been founded by the love of a god and a maiden,
and through successive ages strife and love have been associated with
the dynasty of Cooch Behar, whose chiefs are always great rulers, great
lovers, and great fighters.

The first wish of the Government was to prevent any palace interference
with the baby Maharajah’s upbringing. When his father, the late
Maharajah, was a ward of the Government, the Maharanis had been very
hostile to the idea of a foreign education, and similar opposition was
what the Government now wanted to avoid. Therefore, for this and other
private reasons which can easily be understood when it is remembered that
the late Maharajah left many wives, the Maharajah was removed, when he
was five years old, to the Wards’ institution at Benares, near which the
members of the Cooch Behar Raj family lived in several houses known as
the Cooch Behar Palace.

When he was eleven, the Government removed him from Benares to Patna,
where he became a student at Government College, and Colonel Haughton’s
anxious instructions to Babu Kasi Kanto Mukerji, who was in charge of the
boy, were “to watch over his conduct and the management of the household:
to see that strangers and unauthorised persons have no access to them:
and generally to discharge such duties with regard to him as a good
parent is bound to do.”

In 1872 Mr. St. John Kneller became his tutor and guardian. The
Maharajah remained in Patna for five years, during which time he and Mr.
Kneller visited the North-Western Provinces, Oudh, and the Punjab, and
in 1877 the Maharajah attended the Durbar at Delhi, when the Queen was
proclaimed Empress of India. The Viceroy, the late Lord Lytton, received
the young ruler most cordially, and presented him with the Kaisar-i-Hind
medal. Now for the first time the Maharajah was saluted with thirteen
guns, and had a European guard of honour to attend him.

So far the experiment of training the ideal ruler for the ideal state
had succeeded beyond the highest expectations of the Government. The
Maharajah had become a clever young man and a keen sportsman and, as Mr.
Dalton remarked at the Chaurakaran ceremony at Cooch Behar in 1876, “His
Highness is fond of his native soil and the people, and enjoys himself
thoroughly, taking an interest in everything.”

But now arose the question of the future. To ensure final success for the
Government’s scheme, it was necessary that the young ruler should marry
an equally advanced girl, who would second him in his (and incidentally
the Government’s) efforts for Cooch Behar.

The difficult problem then arose as to whether an educated wife would
agree to the polygamy hitherto customary with Maharajahs, and to adopt
the many old-fashioned ideas and ways of a Hindu Court. The Government
was keenly alive to the fact that marriage might make or mar their
experiment, and they were determined to do all they could to prevent
failure.

But as it is a principle of the British not to interfere with the
marriage question in India, it was necessary for them to be very discreet
in their plans, which required great tact to carry out with success.

Mr. Jadab Chandra Chuckerbutty, the Magistrate of Cooch Behar, was
deputed to make confidential investigations and find if possible the
enlightened girl whom the Government could approve as the Maharani of
Cooch Behar. He carried out his mission with discretion; but none of the
girls whom he found came up to the required standard.

It was absolutely necessary for the question of the Maharajah’s marriage
to be settled without further delay, as his visit to England was in
contemplation. This journey was a very sore point with the Palace ladies,
and Sir Richard Temple, then the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, had
discussed it rather heatedly.

“During my interview with the Rajah’s mother and grandmother,” wrote Sir
Richard, “these ladies expressed anxiety regarding the Rajah’s visiting
England, which they deprecated on the grounds that after seeing Europe
he would never care for such a place as Cooch Behar nor for such quiet,
homely people as his relatives. I explained that it had not been decided
whether the Rajah should visit England; but that, if he did, it would
only be for a short time, enough indeed to enlarge and strengthen his
mind, but not enough to make him forget his home and kindred; and that,
while giving him the benefit of an English education, we should take
every pains to train and prepare him for the duties he would hereafter
have to discharge as the head of a Hindu State.”

These arguments somewhat pacified the ladies, but they maintained that
only as a married man could the Maharajah go away from India with any
degree of security. At that time they had not realised that the hope of
the Government was that the Maharajah would take one wife only when the
time for his marriage came.

The party from Cooch Behar in search of a bride at last arrived at
Calcutta, and Mr. Chuckerbutty went direct to Prosonna Babu, one of my
father’s missionaries, for advice and help. After several interviews and
discussions Jadab Babu spoke of me. But Mr. Chuckerbutty said: “It is too
much to expect that the Minister’s daughter will be our Maharani;” still
they thought they would try.

When the marriage was first suggested my father was very surprised. He
never gave a thought to worldly or family affairs; his mind was too full
of his religious work; and he refused the offer. But the Government and
the representatives of the State would not be discouraged. They continued
writing to my father, interviewing him, and sending messages urging
that the marriage of the young Prince and myself was most desirable.
My father repeatedly refused. In one of his letters he said that I was
neither very pretty nor highly educated, and therefore I was not a
suitable bride for the young Maharajah.

This unexpected opposition was a set-back to the plans of the Government,
and they determined it must be overcome at any cost. Those in authority
were clever enough to understand that they must discover my father’s weak
point and work upon it, as it was evident the worldly advantages of the
match made no appeal to him.

The messenger went backwards and forwards several times, for Jadab Babu
and others would not hear of any refusal. My father with a troubled mind
prayed and prayed until at last he obtained light from above and realised
that the marriage would be for the spiritual good of the country. Thus
he became in the end persuaded that such a union was a Divine command,
and if he allowed me to marry this young ruler he would be fulfilling the
will of God.

Of course the matter was not mentioned to me, but one day my second
sister Bino remarked confidentially: “Father and mother are talking about
marriage, aren’t they?” “Oh no,” I answered; “it’s nothing particular,
probably one of the young missionaries is going to be married.” “Well,
let me tell you, it’s no missionary, but some one far more important.”
“It doesn’t matter to me,” I said, and I thought no more of it.

Later one of the missionaries remarked with meaning in his voice: “You
will be surprised in a day or two, Sunity. Some very important people are
coming to see the school.”

“So much the better,” I assured him, “for now you have told me I can
study hard and tell the others to do the same.”

The day before the officials arrived from Cooch Behar, I fell ill with
fever. After a restless night, I awoke to find my father and mother
standing by my bedside.

They looked at each other. “Have you told Sunity?” asked my father.

“No,” replied mother, “it is better you should.”

“Listen, Sunity,” said my father. “Has Prosonna Babu mentioned some
visitors who are expected to-day?”

“Yes, he said that some Englishmen are coming to see the school; and,
father,” I faltered, “I can’t get up.”

“Sunity,” answered my father in that loving voice which always made us
children thrill with affection, “it is not the school. These gentlemen
are coming to see you.”

“To see me!” I cried. “Why?” “Sunity,” said my father in a gentle voice,
“these people are coming to see you, and if we all agree, perhaps some
day you will marry a handsome young Maharajah.”

I hid my face in my pillow. I could not speak. Marriage was to me an
undiscussed subject. I had never considered it. I felt so shy I became
quite red in the face.

After a few hours I was told to get ready. Mother gave me some lovely
jewels which looked beautiful on my mauve and gold sari. My hair was
dressed. We drove over to dear Miss Pigot’s school-house, where I usually
had lessons. I was very nervous, and through fear and ague combined I
trembled like a leaf.

I rested a little while on the verandah. While I was there I was given a
strong dose of quinine. I shall never forget the unpleasant taste of that
special draught.

Then I was taken to the drawing-room, where Mr. Dalton and the Bengali
officials awaited me. Mr. Dalton looked kind but critical.

“Won’t you play to me?” he asked.

I obediently seated myself at the piano and played a simple piece of
music. Mr. Dalton watched me up to the piano and back to my seat and as
I talked to him; and wrote a full description to the young Maharajah
afterwards. “Very nice,” he said, in such a charming way that I did not
think he was examining me. He seemed favourably impressed, and so it
proved, for in one of his letters to my father he wrote: “I thought your
daughter a very charming young lady, and in every way a suitable bride
for the Maharajah.”

Letters passed and repassed between Cooch Behar and Calcutta, but nothing
was settled until the 27th of January, 1878, when Mr. Dalton wrote as
follows:—

    “MY DEAR SIR,

    “The Lieutenant-Governor has at last decided that the Rajah is
    to go to England in March, and, looking to the desirability of
    perfecting his bride’s education, it is better that he should
    be married before he starts. Mr. Eden at first saw difficulties
    in the way of a match with your family, but our arguments in
    favour of the proposal have at length found weight with him,
    and he has given his consent.

    “The Rajah has expressed his distaste to being married at all,
    as I told you in a previous letter, principally because he was
    averse to being worried about the matter, and partly because he
    knew that he was not to be permitted to live with his wife at
    once and wished to remain single until of an age to do so. But
    he has come to see that an educated bride is not to be procured
    at all, and is now eager for the alliance with your daughter,
    the idea of which was always pleasant to him, provided he
    could secure his mother’s consent. This consent I have at
    length secured with great difficulty, on terms which Babu Jadab
    Chandra Chuckerbutty will explain to you, and which I hope you
    will agree to.

    “I know it will seem difficult to you to arrange for a wedding
    on the 6th of March, and also that the idea of marrying your
    daughter before she has completed her fourteenth year is
    repugnant to you. But consider the circumstances, and that
    in fact the marriage will not be a marriage in the ordinary
    acceptance of the term but a solemn betrothal, the Rajah
    proceeding to Europe immediately after the ceremony.

    “I have read through your memo. There are some paragraphs which
    I think we can hardly consent to in their entirety, but by a
    little concession on both sides, I have no doubt that, if you
    are really well disposed to this marriage, we may come to an
    agreement which will suit both parties.

    “One of the Rani’s conditions is that one of your relatives,
    not yourself, should give away the bride.

    “The objection to you is principally based on the fact that you
    have been to England. I imagine that, as you will be actually
    present (or may be, if you like), it will not make any great
    difference to you should a brother or uncle actually repeat the
    formula. This is a condition on which great stress is laid, and
    I hope you will not arrest negotiations _in limine_ by refusing
    to accede to it. Remember that we on our side have had great
    difficulties to smooth away, and that we have already conceded
    almost all that we have the power of conceding.

    “Remember, also, that if you care about this alliance, it is a
    question of now or never, for nothing short of the urgency of
    the case (the Rajah going to England in March and the Ranis in
    despair at the idea of his going unmarried) would have brought
    Mr. Eden to change his mind, a thing he rarely does.

                   “With my regards to yourself, etc.”

Observe how in this letter Government smoothed away all my father’s
objections. The marriage was to be merely a “solemn betrothal,” and _hey
presto!_ the age difficulty vanished. Concessions were certain so far as
his religious scruples were concerned, but the words “now or never” throw
a curious side-light upon the Government policy. The Cooch Behar-Sen
alliance was necessary to them, and my father was to be finally “rushed”
into giving his consent. That such was the case is shown by the following
telegram from the Dewan to Babu Chuckerbutty:—

    “Deputy Commissioner says can’t wait too long even if matter
    not published. Must have private assurances of Keshub Babu’s
    consent without delay. Remember preparations. 27-1-78.”

Then the delight of Babu Chuckerbutty found expression in this letter to
Prosonna Babu:—

    “MY DEAR PROSONNA BABU,

    “Such has been the pleasure of God! and I am amongst you to
    re-open the question of marriage.

    “Mountains and oceans stood as barriers before us, but thanks
    to the great Remover of all difficulties, we have managed to
    get over them all.

    “Should we not see in all this, the hand of Him who dispenseth
    of everything human? We have all done all we could: it now
    rests finally with you as to the remainder. I have just now
    arrived here. I left Cooch Behar at midnight day before
    yesterday, and have come in at once. My present address is 6,
    Bhobani Dutt Lane, and my man will lead you to my house. I hope
    that our Maharajah is here.

                              “Yours, etc.,

                                      “JADAB CHUNDER CHUCKERBUTTY.”

The Maharajah wrote to my father as follows:—

    “MY DEAR SIR,

    “I have been asked to let you know what my honest opinion is on
    the subject of polygamy.

    “In reply I beg to inform you that it has always been my
    opinion that no man should take more than one wife, and I can
    assure you that I hold that opinion still.

    “I give below a statement of my religious views and opinions. I
    believe in one true God and I am in heart a Theist.

                              “Yours truly,

                                          “NRIPENDRA NARAYAN BHUP.”



CHAPTER V

MY MARRIAGE


By this time I had become accustomed to talk of my marriage. Often I
wondered with mingled fear and pleasure what sort of future was before
me. At last a day came when I was to see the Maharajah. As my sister and
I waited in my father’s room I remember she said: “He is very handsome,
so I’ve been told, and very, very clever.”

When the Maharajah arrived we were called into the drawing-room. I was
extremely nervous. It had been trying enough to face Mr. Dalton, but I
felt more nervous now that the really critical moment had come.

[Illustration: MY HUSBAND.

Nripendra Narayan Bhup Bahadur, Maharajah of Cooch Behar, 1887.]

We sat round a big table in the drawing-room. Mr. Kneller came with the
Maharajah. They both talked to us for a time. I was so shy I did not
know which was the Maharajah and which Mr. Kneller. Presently a man most
gorgeously dressed came into the room. He brought something which was
placed on the table. After a few minutes my father said: “Sunity, this is
a present from the Maharajah to you.” I looked up, and as I did so I met
the Maharajah’s eyes fixed on me full of love, and I blushed. From that
moment my future husband and I loved each other. He was so handsome and
so charming. He told me afterwards that he had brought the present in his
carriage, but wished to see me first, and if he liked me he would offer
it, and it would be a token of his love.

We met several times later, but always in the presence of others. Yet I
knew the Maharajah loved me.

Notwithstanding our hopes that everything would go smoothly with the
preparations, there were constant worries concerning the religious rites.
After some weeks, when many messages had passed between the Government,
the State, and my father, my sister told me that there was a hitch
about the marriage because the State people would not hear of a Brahmo
alliance. I answered, “One thing is certain, I shall not change my
religion. Yet, Bino, I love the Maharajah and will marry no one else.”

More correspondence followed, and at last the priests from Cooch Behar
came to our house, and promised my father that the marriage should be
arranged as he wished. This was the one thing needful. My father had
come to have an affection for the Maharajah. Indeed, the whole of our
family had fallen captive to the Maharajah’s charm and kindness. He, on
his part, clearly liked them all, and had a deep respect and admiration
for my father. How well I remember the delightful ceremony of “Jurini”
which took place when my marriage was at last settled. On this occasion
my fiancé sent saris to all my relations, gave me the most beautiful
presents, and distributed more than a hundred plates of sweetmeats, etc.,
to the household. It was a perfect day, one of those on which it is
pleasant to look back and forget in its happy memory the sad events of
life.

But the clouds of hostile criticism had been gathering, and at last the
storm broke. For some time questions had been asked as to my father’s
motives in allowing me to be married before the age stipulated in the Act
which he had done so much to have passed. My marriage preliminaries were
really a stormy time in my life, fulfilling the storm omens at my birth.
It is too serious and too long a story to write in this book, but just a
few lines may give my readers an idea of what my father had to go through
in connection with my betrothal. People who did not have full faith in
him and in his doctrines raised unheard-of questions; but the Government
was determined on the marriage.

My father could have published the correspondence. He could have
explained the situation, but serene in the integrity of his motives,
and in his faith in God, he was undismayed by the attacks which were
made upon him. His only response was: “I became a Brahmo when I heard
the Divine call, and I have given consent to this marriage by the same
Divine command. I obey God, not man.”

As Miss Pigot wrote almost prophetically: “The generation that were the
actors have nearly all passed away, and time will have mellowed these
events to the aged survivors. But the new generation, viewing the past
in the light of history, will not refuse the crown of martyrdom to the
sufferings of Keshub Chunder Sen. It is in the course of human events
that by some tragic incident the truest and best men are brought to the
slaughter.”

Having achieved their end and obtained my father’s consent to the
marriage, it might have been assumed that the Government would have
strictly observed their part of the bargain. They had promised to
concede everything, and as it was the spiritual side of the ceremony
that troubled my father, I think Mr. Dalton ought to have spared him any
further worry.

There was one person who was very subtle in his opposition and more
powerful than any English official. This was the Dewan, the late Calica
Das Dutt, Prime Minister. He was not in favour of the marriage, because
he thought he had been ignored. He was an influential follower of my
father’s, and yet all the correspondence relating to the marriage
went through Jadab Babu, who was only a junior officer. His quiet
interference is shown in the following letter written by Mr. Dalton to
Mr. Chuckerbutty:—

    “MY DEAR JADAB BABU,

    “The Dewan tells me that he has already written to you
    regarding my wire as to the extent of Babu Keshub Ghunder
    Sen’s party coming to Cooch Behar for the wedding. Of course,
    my object is to avoid any unnecessary display of Brahmoism.
    In marrying a Brahmo girl the Rajah makes a great concession
    to enlightened ideas, but it is most desirable that this
    connection should be softened as much as possible in the eyes
    of his relatives, at Cooch Behar and elsewhere, who are still
    wedded to the old superstitions, and who would look with horror
    upon any departure from the old Hindu formula.

    “I wish therefore to dissuade Babu Keshub Chunder Sen from
    bringing with him any of those who might be called his
    followers, apart from such as are his immediate relatives. In
    fact, we cannot permit any Brahmo demonstration whatever, and
    those who come must bear in mind that a single speech in any
    way whatever relating to Theism _versus_ Idolatry will not be
    permitted.

    “So far as possible, not only Hindu customs, but also the ideas
    and even the prejudices which arise from these customs must be
    respected: for instance, I disapprove altogether of the idea
    of bridesmaids, an idea at once novel and repulsive to strict
    and bigoted Hinduism. The maiden attendants of the bride should
    remain in the background and on no account be put prominently
    forward except when universal custom allows. Also I would
    suggest that it is quite unnecessary and undesirable that a
    large company of ladies should accompany the party. I fail to
    see what good their presence can do.

    “I think the ladies should be limited to Keshub Babu’s
    immediate family and one or two intimate friends, and as
    regards the male guests, please remember that the amount of
    distinction shown to them here will depend entirely as to their
    social status in Calcutta, and that only such as are entitled
    to be admitted and given a seat at the Lieutenant-Governor’s
    Durbars will be considered here.

    “Babu Keshub Chunder Sen is too sensible a man not to
    understand my reasons for all this. Though, of course, I cannot
    expect him to look at the matter from my point of view.

    “It is possible that he may look upon this marriage as the
    inauguration of a new era in the history of social and
    religious progress. But in Cooch Behar, at all events, he must
    wait for the fructification of his work until the Rajah attains
    his majority.

    “Any of the well known and respected members of the Brahmo
    community who are Babu Keshub Chunder Sen’s personal friends,
    and who would like to come, we will receive with great
    pleasure, and also any of similar rank and position whom he
    may wish to bring outside of the Brahmo community. I hold you
    responsible that a list of the intended party is submitted to
    me at an early date, to enable me to provide for a special
    train, etc.; and such list should contain information as to
    the social status of those composing it.

    “You should telegraph to me the number of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd
    class passengers who will make up the party. It seems to me
    that there can scarcely be more than twenty, or thirty at the
    outside, first-class passengers. I have consulted with the
    Commissioner on this subject, and he agreed altogether with my
    views.

                            “Yours sincerely,

                                               “GODFREY T. DALTON.”

The final arrangements for our journey to Cooch Behar were left in the
hands of Babu Chuckerbutty, and at last everything seemed settled, and
we left Calcutta on the 25th February, 1878. We were quite a large
party, consisting of my father, mother, grandmother, father’s sister,
his younger brother, his special followers, two ladies (wives of
missionaries), some relations, and a girl friend of mine.

I was naturally very excited, for this more or less State journey was
very different from the journeys to which I had been accustomed. It
seemed ages before we reached Cooch Behar, by which time the discomforts
of the journey had reduced our spirits to zero. I remember how dark the
night seemed. We were directed to the house which had been prepared
for us, and all of us were delighted to be in a house again. It was
comfortably furnished.

Soon after my arrival I asked my sister when I should see the Maharajah,
but to my great disappointment I was told that I was not to see him until
my wedding-day. The interval was taken up with elaborate ceremonies.

The Dewan and the State officials came to see me. Seated on a carpet, I
received them and accepted the coin which tradition demanded they should
give, and thanked each by bowing. As I never lifted my eyes, I could not
distinguish one from another.

The day before the wedding the Dewan and a few Raj pandits came to see
my father and talked over the ceremony. They told him that parts of it
would be according to the old Hindu rites. To this my father refused to
consent. All these difficulties have been described and explained in
books written by missionaries of my father, and I need not repeat them
here.

The town was beautifully illuminated and decorated. I felt very nervous,
though very happy at the thought of seeing my betrothed. When the time
drew near, I was sad at the thought of leaving the home that had been
such a happy one.

To our great surprise the time appointed for my departure passed,
and there was no sign of my going away. Then we heard that the State
officials were still discussing the question whether we should be married
before the Maharajah left for England or after his return.

After a long delay I was told to get ready. They dressed me in a
pretty sari and I was soon ready to go. My sister Bino and I went in
one palki, and my grandmother followed in another. A grand escort from
the palace came to fetch me. The time to say good-bye had now come. I
touched my father’s and mother’s feet, and said good-bye to the others.
I realised that I was bidding farewell to my childhood, and that I stood
on the threshold of a new life quite different from anything I had ever
imagined. The thought frightened me, and I broke into loud sobs.

As in a dream I heard my father’s beautiful voice comforting me. His
tender words fell like balm on my aching heart. He whispered one short
sentence which gave me strength for my ordeal.

I dried my tears. Then, accompanied by my sister and followed by my
grandmother, I went to my future home. Never shall I forget that journey
through the crowded streets. I could hear the outcry which greeted our
palkis. The torches flashed with a weird effect. At last the palkis
stopped in the courtyard of the zenana part of the Cooch Behar palace.

I found myself in the midst of a great crowd of women. I stood, the
observed of all, and listened to the various comments on my appearance. I
was outwardly calm, but in reality I was a very scared miserable little
girl. Then a lady came forward bearing lights and flowers. It was the
Maharajah’s mother, and she was performing Varan, or welcoming the bride.

After the Varan the crowd of women made way for us and we were taken
to a reception-room. I was nervous and tired and longing for a rest,
when suddenly I heard a gentle whistle outside. It was the Maharajah!
I knew his whistle well, for I had often heard it at Lily Cottage. I
felt at once that I was not forgotten, that in the darkness there was a
cheery companion who loved me and wanted my love. I would have answered
back in sheer joy, but could not. My sister and I were soon in bed. She
immediately fell into the healthy sleep of tired youth, but I was too
fatigued and nervous, with a thousand and one thoughts worrying me, to be
able to sleep.

The next morning we were up early. It was my wedding day, and I had to go
through a good deal before the ceremony. After my bath, my grandmother
was told that a Hindu priest wished to recite the usual prayers. When
we came out on the verandah, we saw the Brahmin waiting surrounded by
relations of the Maharajah. Some one put a gold coin into my hand which I
was requested to give to the priest of the Raj family.

My grandmother interposed. “No, no,” she said, “our girls don’t do this.”

“What nonsense!” replied the Maharajah’s grandmother. “Why! it means
nothing.”

But we were firm, and I placed the coin on the floor. This was only one
of the petty annoyances which occurred during the day.

In the evening of the marriage the Maharajah’s mother came and spoke to
my mother most harshly. One of her remarks I still remember: “Do you mean
to say you love your daughter? How can you when you do not wish her to
marry a Maharajah? If she does not marry my son according to Hindu rites,
she will not be the Maharani.”

My mother answered gently but very firmly: “I shall be sorry if my
daughter does not marry your son, and I shall take her away from Cooch
Behar; but my daughter shall never marry any one according to Hindu
rites.” This made the Maharajah’s mother furious.

While these disputes and discussions were going on in the palace, my dear
father must have suffered a great deal silently in his house. There was
much hot argument. Both sides were obstinate. Telegrams were dispatched
to Government. Cooch Behar waited. Sunset came. It was the auspicious
hour fixed for the marriage, but no word went forth that it was to take
place.

Gradually silence reigned. The music and the sound of the conch shells
ceased. The voice of the crowd was hushed. All of a sudden everything
stopped. The musicians left the platforms and the town became perfectly
quiet; the illuminations were extinguished one by one.

Then the unexpected happened, and the Gordian knot of caste and creed
was suddenly cut. The news of the final dispute had been conveyed to the
Maharajah. When he realised that the religious obstacles might prove
insurmountable he became so strangely quiet and serious that his people
felt rather nervous and wondered what their young master would do. He
took very strong measures.

Looking at those near him, with determination in every line of his set
young face, the Maharajah, said: “Now give good heed to my words. I am
going to bed. If I am to marry this girl, wake me up. Otherwise have my
horse in readiness, for I shall ride away from Cooch Behar for good and
all to-morrow morning. If I cannot marry this girl, I will marry no one.”

A great hush fell on those who heard, and there was general
consternation. Never before had Nripendra Narayan Bhup so asserted
himself. His councillors saw that their ruler intended to have his own
way.

It was now midnight. My father was alone in his quiet house, as one and
all had left for the palace. His soul was far beyond all earthly things,
for he communed with the God who had never forsaken him. I believe that
in that solemn hour he found the peace so healing to his soul.

Suddenly the sound of carriage wheels broke the stillness of the night.
Steps hurried up the stairs. The door was flung open, and Mr. Dalton,
pale and breathless, stood before my father.

“Mr. Sen,” he cried, “the wedding must and shall take place to-night. The
service shall be exactly as you wish. I’ll be there to see that it is
not interfered with. Come quickly. We’ve not a moment to lose. There is
another auspicious hour at 3 a.m. Let it be then.”

As he spoke he handed my father a written agreement confirming his words,
and told him that the Lieutenant-Governor had telegraphed: “Let the
marriage be performed according to the rites as settled in Calcutta.”

Mr. Dalton almost dragged my father to the waiting carriage, and followed
by some of our friends they made their way with difficulty through the
crowded streets.

Then as in a fairy tale the scene changed. The stillness was broken
by music. The darkness was flooded with light. The whole town was
illuminated in an instant; the band played, the conch shells sounded,
fireworks were sent up. All was joyous and brilliant.

Our wedding was celebrated in an enormous tent: the crowd remarked that
I looked very nice in a pale blue sari with raised gold flowers worked
upon it and a bright red satin veil with masses of gold, the creation of
a French dressmaker. But I felt very nervous when, seated on a piece of
wood, I was carried between lines of soldiers, the Maharajah following
close behind.

He was like a wonderful picture, one mass of gold from head to foot, and
the shimmering fabric seemed moulded to his fine figure. I went through
the ceremony with perfect confidence. The service was performed by the
Rev. Gour Govind Roy, who was one of the staunchest missionaries of our
Church, and all the Maharajah’s Hindu priests were also present.

It was lovely to think that we belonged to each other from that day,
and I was so happy. Certainly never did any girl possess a more perfect
husband than the Maharajah. He was so full of tender thought, and he
planned most exciting surprises in the shape of lovely gifts for me.

But the next few days were very trying. The palace ladies used to
threaten and scold me by turns. “You must become a Hindu,” was their
incessant, wearying refrain, and I was heartily glad when the time came
for me to return to Calcutta.

My husband had already gone to Darjeeling with Mr. Dalton, to interview
the Commissioner before his departure for England.

We left Cooch Behar without regret. Great was my joy and surprise to find
that the Maharajah had arranged to join our train and travel part of the
way with us. Soon after our arrival in Calcutta he left for England, and
I fell to wondering whether the past few weeks had been a dream or not.



CHAPTER VI

EARLY MARRIED DAYS


After we returned from Cooch Behar I found (although I understood little
about such serious matters then) that most of my father’s followers had
raised objections to my marriage. But I believed that nothing could hurt
my father and that no one could do him harm.

These people continually attacked him and plotted to undermine his
authority. The fire of discontent and disloyalty which they kindled
blazed fiercely and dazzled the eyes of the unfaithful. Some of them
even went so far as to threaten to kill him. All those who had feeble
faith left our Church, one after another. Even this did not satisfy
the malcontents, and they built a church of their own which is known
as Sadharan-Somaj. One of their members, who is now dead, published a
book called “The History of the Brahmo-Somaj.” I do not wish to discuss
the subject, but I may say this book plainly shows that not only the
man who wrote it was in the wrong, but all the members of his Church.
They are all responsible for preaching untruths. I have learned from
my babyhood that truth conquers untruth. Yet it is sad to think that
educated and enlightened men should allow such books to be published. I
am waiting for some dutiful son of the Church of the New Dispensation
to write the true history of the Brahmo-Somaj. I hope that the members
of the Sadharan-Somaj do not think we do not believe in our doctrine of
Universal Love. If they would accept the truth of the New Dispensation
they would find us waiting to welcome and love them as brothers and
sisters. It is sad that followers should work against their leader, their
preacher, their minister, and persist in making the gulf wider every day.

Many of my father’s followers insisted that my marriage had been a Hindu
ceremony. Yet it was not an idolatrous one, and I often wonder why the
Government never publicly defended my father and declared the truth.
For the Government was most anxious for the Maharajah to marry me, and
could easily have made the case clear to the public. They also might have
spoken for my father, as they knew that he was the leader of the Brahmos.
However, the marriage was now an accomplished fact, I was Maharani of
Cooch Behar, and it was left for me to prove the success or failure of
the first Indian marriage which had defied traditional custom.

The public are still uncertain by what rites we were married. The
Brahmo Act that my father wished the Government to pass was not agreed
to by other Brahmos, such as Maharshi Debendra Nath Tagore, and others.
Although the Tagores called themselves Brahmos, they wanted their
marriage ceremony to be known as Hindu marriage (non-idolatrous). As they
opposed it, the Act was not passed, but instead of it Act III. of 1872,
in which one of the many things mentioned was that the bride was not to
be under fourteen or the bridegroom under eighteen years of age. But the
Brahmo Marriage Bill, as worded by my father and from which the following
extract is taken, will remove all misunderstandings:—

“I, A.B., am a native of British India. I do not profess the Christian
religion, and I object to be married in accordance with the rites of the
Hindu, Muhammedan, Buddhist, Parsi or Jewish religion.”

It sounds too dreadful to have to say “No” to all religions. One and all,
I believe, resent it, but there is no other law for a Brahmo marriage.

The Maharajah could not be married under this Act as he had his own law
in his State, besides he was an independent ruler and a British marriage
was of no value in Cooch Behar. Our marriage was recognised by the
Government and the State as a Hindu marriage. The Maharajah himself was a
Brahmo, but he was the ruler of a Hindu Raj. As we were not married under
Act III., the age limit did not affect us.

The following letter, which my father wrote to Miss Cobbe, puts the
position clearly.

                                       “Lily Cottage,
                                          “78, Upper Circular Road,
                                              “Calcutta.
                                                 “29th April, 1878.

    “MY DEAR FRIEND,

    “Your kind letter has given me great relief, for which I
    thank you most sincerely. In the midst of my present trials
    and difficulties it is truly a Godsend. My antagonists have
    impeached my character, showered upon me abusive epithets of
    all kinds, and represented me before the public as one who, for
    fame and wealth and worldly advantages, has unhesitatingly sold
    his conscience and his daughter! This is indeed the substance
    of the charges preferred against me, and an insinuation to this
    effect is to be found, I am told, in the so-called protest.
    If my conscience acquits me, none can convict me. Of this I
    am sure, that I never sought a Rajah. I never coveted filthy
    lucre. As a private man I should not probably have acted as
    I have done. I was acting all along as a public man, and one
    course only was open to me. The British Government sought me
    and my daughter; a Christian Government that knew me thoroughly
    to be a Brahmo leader, proposed the alliance, and the weighty
    interests of a State were pressed upon me with a view to induce
    me to accept the proposal and make the needful concessions.
    I found such arguments as these placed before me: ‘Here is
    the Cooch Behar State, a den of ignorance and superstition,
    with a corrupt Court given to dissipation, polygamy, intrigue,
    and oppression. The young Rajah has been saved by the British
    Government acting as his guardian. The women of the Raj family
    have been mostly removed to Benares, and others will follow.
    The administration of the affairs of the State has greatly
    improved in all departments, education, police, revenue,
    health, etc., under the management of competent officers
    appointed by the British Government. The new palace will be
    erected at a cost of about Rs.8,000,000. Not a vestige will
    remain of the old _régime_, and the ground will have been
    thoroughly cleared for political and social improvements
    when the young Rajah will be formally installed and begin to
    govern his immense territory. It is desirable, it is of the
    utmost importance, that he should have an accomplished wife.
    Should he marry a girl of seven or eight in the old style,
    the effects of the education he has hitherto received will be
    neutralised, and he will surely go back into the evil ways from
    which he has been saved. A good and enlightened wife, capable
    of exercising always a healthy influence on the Rajah, is the
    “one thing needful” in the Cooch Behar State.’ The Government,
    in presenting these views before me, seemed to ask me whether
    I would give my daughter in marriage to the Maharajah and thus
    help forward the good work so gloriously begun in the State
    by our benevolent rulers in the interests of millions of the
    subject population. I could not hesitate, but said at once,
    under the dictates of conscience, ‘Yes.’ You have justly said
    that a grave responsibility would have rested upon me, had I
    refused the overtures of the Government. In fact, I wonder how
    you have so clearly realised the position and grasped the real
    secret of the whole affair. I have acted as a public man under
    the imperative call of public duty. All other considerations
    were subordinated to this sacred duty. All other considerations
    were subordinated to this sacred call, this Divine injunction.
    I saw, I felt that the Lord had Himself brought before me in
    the strange ways characteristic of His Providence, the young
    Maharajah of Cooch Behar for alliance with my daughter. Could
    I say No? My conscience bade me obey. And there I was, an
    enchained victim before a strange overpowering dispensation of
    the living providence of God. I did not calculate consequences,
    though most beneficial results I could not fail to foresee. I
    did not go through elaborate logical processes of thought. I
    did not refer to others for advice, though I saw clearly that
    the contemplated step involved risks and hazards of a serious
    character, as the Rajah was an independent chief and might
    fall back upon the evil customs prevalent in his territory. I
    trusted, I hoped with all my heart that the Lord would do what
    was best for me, my daughter, and my country. Duty was mine;
    future consequences lay in the hands of God. So I acceded to
    the main proposal of the Government, and negotiations went on
    between myself and the deputy Commissioners. It was at first
    proposed that the Rajah should marry under the Marriage Act,
    and the Government made no objection. I was assured that the
    Rajah had no faith in Hinduism, but a public renunciation of
    the Hindu faith was objected to on political grounds. Mr.
    Dalton wrote to me: ‘As a fact, he does not believe in it
    (Hindu religion), but profession and faith are two different
    things.’ He added, ‘These are difficulties, but I think they
    may be got over, and when you reflect on the benefits to the
    cause of enlightenment which may result from this marriage, I
    feel sure you will smooth our way as far as you can, even to
    the extent of conceding somewhat to Cooch Behar’s superstition.
    The greatest difficulty I see in the way is the public
    declaration to be made in Cooch Behar by the Rajah that he does
    not profess Hinduism. If that can be dispensed with, I think
    other difficulties may be got over. You must remember that Act
    III. of 1872 does not apply to Cooch Behar, and that there will
    be nothing illegal in leaving out this part of the programme.’
    (Deputy Commissioner’s letter, dated Calcutta, 24th September,
    1877.) Touching the match itself and the question of rites the
    following occurs in the same letter: ‘The Commissioner, Lord
    Ulick Brown, has written to me expressing his warm approval of
    the proposed engagement and asking me to obtain from you in
    writing “what you require,” that is to say, to state in writing
    the points in which the celebration of the marriage must differ
    from the Hindu ceremony.’”

After my return I resumed my life at Lily Cottage like an unmarried girl,
and was not sorry to forget the strenuous days at Cooch Behar. Our home
was very peaceful, and as it was half an hour’s drive from the town we
were right out of the city. Lily Cottage is not isolated now. Houses
have sprung up all round it and not many traces of the surroundings of
my girlhood remain. It is a large house, with a sanctuary, bedrooms, and
drawing-room on the upper story; below is the room that was used by the
missionaries, and the dining- and guest-rooms. The grounds were very
pretty, and I especially remember the little hut outside where father
and the missionaries cooked on Sundays. I used to get up quite early,
and take my bath, for I attended to our prayer-room, and it is a strict
Brahmo rule that this quiet sanctuary may be arranged only by those whose
body and dress are clean. My father plucked flowers from the garden and
brought them to the prayer-room every morning, and the service there
usually lasted until about half-past twelve. After that I breakfasted and
then began my daily lessons.

In India we offer betel leaf if any guest comes, as English people do
cigarettes. Our cooks are high-caste, and they have to bathe before they
enter the kitchen. One maid goes to the market to buy vegetables, fish,
and fruit every morning, other maids have to clean the brass plates,
etc., early in the morning; after this they must bathe before they enter
any of the rooms in the house. The sanctuary at Lily Cottage is very
large; the floor is of marble; and when I went away my mother and sisters
used to arrange the flowers. It was wonderful the designs mother made,
sometimes from the stars she had seen the evening before. After prayers
the children had their breakfast, and then the gentlemen, and then the
ladies. Our chief food in India is milk; very little meat is eaten, but
plenty of vegetables and fruits in their seasons.

The Government had, according to their ideas, discovered for the ideal
wife the ideal governess, a lady of good family, Miss S⸺, a society
woman to her finger-tips, but useless except as a teacher of _les
convenances_. I wanted to learn everything possible about the history of
other nations, and I was anxious to acquire a good general knowledge of
languages. German was the only foreign language which my governess seemed
to think necessary for a Maharani; but, as her German was dominated by
a strong Scottish accent, I doubted its conversational value. It was an
unfortunate experience. No doubt the lady meant well, and regarded me
as an uninteresting pupil. But she frightened and repelled me with her
trying temper, until I became quite cowed, and my education suffered in
consequence. Mrs. White taught me painting, and my sister-in-law taught
me Bengali. She was very clever, and the only language I know well is
Bengali, thanks to her kind help.

I corresponded frequently with my husband in England; his letters were
full of cheery accounts of his visit, and his wish to see me again. He
returned to India in February, 1879, and every one was delighted to
see how he had profited by his travels. The same year he joined the
Presidency College in Calcutta, and lived in a house in Theatre Road.
My husband’s stay in Calcutta was a time of great happiness for me. He
often came to Lily Cottage, where it was decided I should live until
he was eighteen, and I was sixteen. He was very fond of my mother, and
often teased her about the keys which, according to the Bengali custom,
she carried in a knot in her sari. His great delight was to steal these
keys and then enjoy her distress when she discovered her loss. “I can’t
understand why Englishmen hate their mothers-in-law,” he said to the
English ladies of his acquaintance, “mine is the sweetest imaginable, and
I love her as my mother.”

The Maharajah and I went to our church regularly every Sunday morning,
wet or fine, winter or summer. He respected the missionaries and treated
my brothers and sisters as if they were his own, in fact he loved and was
beloved by one and all.

The Maharajah was full of praise of England, and there never lived a more
loyal subject than he. Indeed, in most ways he was as Western in his
ideas as people had anticipated. But he was entirely Indian at heart. The
magic of the East held him. The “Land of the Lotus” was his own beloved
country. His upbringing never eradicated the strong claims of blood.

When I was sixteen and the Maharajah eighteen it was decided that our
“real” marriage should take place in my own dear home. In quiet ways
we had gathered the fragrant flowers of friendship’s garden, and there
we had seen the roses of love which were blooming for us. Our future
lay rich and glowing before us, and our happiness was perfect. We were
married in the Church of the New Dispensation. How well I remember
my wedding morn! As I write I glance at a modest ring, turquoise and
diamonds, which never leaves my finger. It was my husband’s gift to me
on that exquisite day, and I prize it more than all the lovely jewels he
delighted to give me.

Every one rejoiced that day. We were like one united family, and I knew
that all the good wishes and kind words came straight from the hearts of
those present. We started on our new life under the happiest auspices.
We left Calcutta by special train in the afternoon for Burdwan, where we
were to spend our honeymoon. Our saloon was beautifully decorated with
flowers, and a party of friends and relations came to see us off. Just
before the train started I pressed my face against my father’s arm and
had a good fit of sobbing. I knew I was really leaving my childhood’s
home that day. But when I found myself alone in the train with my husband
a heavenly happiness came over me. We were alone together! We two, who
loved each other, and I shall never forget a Bengali song he sang to me
that day: “He who has not undergone suffering cannot know love.”

At Burdwan we were received in state, and I was treated like a strict
purdah lady. The railway station and its approaches were covered in
like a huge tent so that no outsiders could catch a glimpse of me, and
directly the train stopped a bevy of maidens escorted me to a state
carriage. When I was safely on the way to the palace, the draperies were
withdrawn and my husband exchanged greetings with the officials who had
assembled to offer him their congratulations.

The palace at Burdwan is a splendid building, and our rooms were on a
terrace which overlooked the lake. Everything was as romantic as a young
girl’s heart could desire. But early next morning I was awakened by a
dull roar which seemed almost to issue from our rooms. I could hardly
believe I was awake until the roar was repeated, and then in an agony of
fear I called to my husband: “Oh, do see what is the matter. I believe
a tiger is trying to get in.” Another roar made me quiver. My husband
laughed immensely while he explained that the Maharajah of Burdwan’s most
cherished possession was a zoological garden which was quite close to our
apartments. That was my first tiger experience. I had plenty afterwards
at Cooch Behar, and learned that the roar of the tiger in captivity is
feeble compared with the majesty of his voice in the jungle where he is
king.

One day during our stay at Burdwan I visited the Maharanis, who lived in
an old palace. The Dowager Maharani welcomed me cordially and, instead
of bestowing the customary present, she filled my hands with sovereigns
until I could hold no more. She was a sweet old lady, this Maharani who
had given up everything luxurious when she became a widow. She worshipped
her late husband’s slippers, which she placed before his chair, just
as though he were alive and sitting there. I liked the Raj-Kumari, the
daughter of the late Maharajah. All the palace ladies were good-looking,
and I was struck by the large number of pretty faces.

My honeymoon was a very happy one, but after a few days in Burdwan we
returned to Calcutta, and I began to realise the responsibilities of my
position as the wife of the Maharajah of Cooch Behar. At first I was
not allowed to meet Indian gentlemen, not even my husband’s cousins.
When English visitors came, I remember one of these cousins throwing
their cards through the shutters of my door. Readers may wonder why the
Maharajah minded my seeing Indian gentlemen. The good reason was that
there were very few Bengali ladies out of purdah in those days, and my
husband strongly objected to my meeting men who did not bring out their
own wives. Though he was only two years older than me, he was a very
strict husband, and I always respected him as if he had been years older;
he was my hero and ideal husband, and whatever he said I thought was
right. He was very particular about my dress. A lady once remarked: “It
is a pity the Maharani doesn’t wear her lovely pearls next her skin.”

“She is not allowed,” the Maharajah answered with a quiet smile.

“Not allowed!” exclaimed the lady, in great surprise. “You surely do not
disapprove?”

“Yes, I disapprove.”

“But why, Your Highness?”

“Well, simply and solely because I prefer _my_ wife to do what I like. I
don’t care a bit what other women do.”

I don’t believe outsiders ever realised how absolutely Indian the
Maharajah was at heart, and he had the strictest ideas about my
conforming to his ideals. He did not like loud laughter or loud talking.
I was not allowed to ride, dance, or play tennis. In later years, when
my girls did all these things, he was often asked why he allowed his
daughters such privileges.

“I allow Girlie, Pretty, and Baby to be ‘outdoor’ girls, because I do
not know what sort of men they may marry, and if their husbands like
these things they will not be found lacking,” was his reply.

As I was a Bengali girl and had come from Calcutta, where all my people
were, and my husband wished to have a place near, Woodlands was bought
and beautifully furnished. I was delighted with my little sitting-room,
which was so charmingly decorated in pale pink and blue that it looked
like a picture. I still remember some books I had on one table, on
cooking, gardening, etc.

There we spent our early married days. Although my husband liked English
food, and lived like an Englishman, I was faithful to the Indian cookery
with which I was familiar. The hours passed all too swiftly. We began
to entertain. I gave two enjoyable dances and believe I was quite a
successful hostess.

The Maharajah took great pride in me. “Never forget whose daughter you
are,” he would say to me, and this appreciation of my dear father touched
me very much. Any good I may have done in my life is entirely due to his
influence.

In the summer of 1881 I knew I might look forward to the crowning glory
of our happiness, for I was expecting to become a mother. Girl though I
was, I realised how important a part this child might play in my life at
Cooch Behar. For many generations no heir had been born to the ruler’s
chief wife. The succession had always been through the son of a wife
of lower rank. I knew therefore that, if I ever had a son, much of the
ill-feeling of my husband’s relations towards me would disappear.

A strange thing happened that year, when I was staying up in the hills at
Mussoorie. My Indian maid came to me all excitement one morning, saying:
“Maharani sahib, there is a fortune-teller outside who wants to see your
hand.” “Tell him to go away,” I said. But the man refused to leave. “Let
Her Highness but pick out one grain of rice and send it to me,” he urged.
So I picked out a grain and sent it to him. I was surprised when the maid
returned with the message: “Her Highness will have a son, and he will
rule the country.” My father also had a premonition about the expected
baby. A few weeks before the child arrived, there was a ceremony, and
while at prayers, my father said: “A Sebak (a devotee) is coming from
God.” At times the gift of prophecy is given to men like my father.

In the early morning of the 11th April, 1882, my first son was born at
Woodlands. Late at night on the 10th a pandit had read the “Gita,” and
my relations who were present cried as if I were already dead and gone,
as I suffered greatly, and for a couple of hours they did not know if I
should survive the birth. But when the baby made his appearance every one
exclaimed that his arrival was favoured by the lucky stars then in the
ascendant, and still greater was the joy when it was known that the tiny
new-comer possessed the “tika” (a prominence on the forehead), which is
said to be bestowed only on very powerful rulers.

My father was alone in his room deep in prayer when Mazdidi, my cousin,
told him that a prince was born to Cooch Behar. The usual ceremonies
took place, and money and sweets were lavishly distributed. But the
supreme moment for me was when my husband came into my room and sat by my
bedside. “Darling wife,” he whispered, “we have a little boy.” I looked
at him and, though we spoke little, we were so happy. Our thoughts were
full of our reward, for our little son was sent by Heaven in recompense
for all that we had suffered.

Ah! my darling! My Rajey beloved! you are as near to my heart now in
your peaceful paradise as you were on that April morning. You were the
fruition of a great love and a perfect faith, but God decreed that your
life should be as mutable as your birth month. He bestowed on you all
that the world most values. He gave you a beautiful body and a beautiful
mind. Yet your days were as a “tale that is told,” and the only earthly
remains of your beauty and greatness are a few ashes in the rose garden
at Cooch Behar.

My father named this child of promise Raj Rajendra (King of kings), but
he was always called Rajey. His birth was celebrated with great public
rejoicings both at Calcutta and Cooch Behar. On the seventeenth day after
the birth, we gave an evening party, when presents were bestowed on the
lucky baby, and the whole of Woodlands was illuminated. On another day
was the children’s festival, when all sorts of pretty things were given
to the little visitors, and, in fact, for some time we lived in a perfect
whirl of excitement and congratulations.

“Rajey,” as we called him, was a perfectly behaved baby, who hardly ever
cried, and who was so fair that he was nick-named “the English baby.” My
husband allowed me to nurse him myself, a privilege not often permitted
to Royal mothers.

Every one adored Rajey. Dear old Father Lafont, one of the Jesuit Fathers
in Calcutta, always alluded to him as “my boy.” We went to Cooch Behar
for the naming ceremony, and when I arrived there I found, as I had
anticipated, that public feeling had completely changed, and I, as the
mother of a Prince, was popular, both in palace and State. There were
many palace rules to be followed in regard to the heir; one was that the
milk had to be well guarded, and when the cow was milked sentries stood
all round her. Some of my happiest days were spent at Simla, and Rajey
used often to go and see my father, who had a house there. My youngest
brother was only six months older than my boy, so the children were more
like playmates than uncle and nephew. Rajey had the simplest upbringing.
His rank was never put forward, for it was my husband’s wish that his
son should be brought up as simply as possible.

On the 31st October, 1883, the Maharajah completed his 21st year, and
was installed as reigning ruler on the 8th of November by Sir Rivers
Thomson, the Lieutenant-Governor, who made over to him the reins of
government. Rajey and his father looked splendid together, and every one
congratulated me on having such a handsome husband and such a beautiful
son. After a few days in Cooch Behar we returned to Calcutta.

My father had been ailing for a few months; but we little thought that
the end of his journey in this world was so near. He had a fine figure,
but was much reduced by December, 1883. Still we did not think it
possible he would leave us. Nothing I could write would give my readers
an idea of how happy our childhood had been. Our home had been for us
an abode of “sweetness and light”; and now it was to be shattered by
sorrow. To all families such grief must come. To ours, always so united,
the shadow of death seemed unthinkable. Yet my father’s call had come.
On the 1st of January, 1884, early in the morning he expressed a wish
to consecrate the new sanctuary in the grounds of Lily Cottage. His
physicians and all his relations and followers tried to dissuade him,
but he would not listen to them. Though exhausted and very ill, he
was carried down to the sanctuary, where he offered his last and most
impressive prayers.

On the following Tuesday, the 18th January, just before 10 a.m. my father
breathed his last. No one who witnessed it will ever forget the scene at
Lily Cottage that morning. The house, the compound, the roads were full
of people. The weeping of my mother and grandmother was heartrending. In
the first bitterness of my grief I felt that I could never know happiness
again. My father’s missionaries and followers were like sheep without
a shepherd. With him the brightness and joy of our days were gone. My
mother gave up everything in the way of comfort. She wore coarse saris,
discarded her soft bed and slept on a hard, wooden bedstead. Only the
cheapest things were to be seen in her room. But many will have read
about this in the Dowager Lady Dufferin’s book. Her Excellency was a kind
friend to my mother.

My father’s ashes rest in a mausoleum built in front of the new
sanctuary. The ashes of my mother’s body are near his, and close to them
the ashes of my brother, his wife and their baby boy, and next to them my
third brother, Profulla. It is a peaceful spot, this tomb-house in the
garden, and these words of my father are inscribed on his mausoleum:

    “Long since has this little bird ‘I’ soared away from the
    Sanctuary, I know not where, never to return again.

               Peace!      Peace!      Peace!”

After we lost my father we heard the most wonderful singing in the hush
of the hour before twilight; and we could hardly believe that the
rapturous melody which thrilled our souls and seemed to bring heaven
quite near to us could come from the throat of a bird.

Another strange thing happened after the tombstone had been placed
over my father’s grave. One day my mother noticed that a tiny plant
was growing between the crevices in the ground, and she allowed it to
remain. Gradually this plant became a flowering tree, with rich clusters
of bloom. There it blossomed season after season; but when my mother’s
gravestone was being placed, the tree was cut down by a mistake of the
masons, and it never grew again. I often think of that wonderful growth.
It seemed like a bright message of hope from him whose departure had cast
so deep a shadow on all our lives.



CHAPTER VII

LIFE AT COOCH BEHAR


Eight days after I lost my father I held a little daughter in my arms,
and I wondered whether the innocent soul which had come into my keeping
straight from God had met my father’s noble spirit on its upward flight.

Into that house of mourning her birth brought some consolation. We
named her Sukriti (Good deeds), but we always call her Girlie. She is
fascinating rather than lovely.

When Rajey was four years old, as no other son had been born to us, the
Maharajah’s people were most anxious for him to marry again, for they
said if anything happened to the child and the Maharajah also died, the
throne would have to go to another branch of the family. The old Maharani
and the late Calica Das Duth planned out very carefully that it was most
necessary for my husband to marry again. The Maharajah never mentioned
the matter to me, but to the doctor he said when Rajey once had an attack
of false croup: “Durga Das, I shall always be over-anxious about Rajey’s
health until another son is born.” So it was a day of great rejoicing
when my second son Jitendra, whom we called Jit, was born, 20th December,
1886.

I was greatly delighted when I went to live at Cooch Behar to find there
a fine church of the New Dispensation and a girls’ school named after me.

But there was much room for improvement in the country, although
Government had well prepared the way for us. It remained for my husband
to be a ruler in the highest sense of the word, and for me to win the
hearts of our people as a woman, a wife, and a mother. The more I saw
of Cooch Behar the more I liked it. The old tales say that the god Siva
chose it as his earthly home on account of its luxuriant loveliness.

Many legends have gathered round Cooch Behar, mostly of the time when it
formed part of the kingdom of Kamrupa, and when many of the temples and
palaces were built.

[Illustration: _Photo: Johnston & Hoffmann, Calcutta._

“RAJEY.”]

Among the stories is that of a Maharajah of Cooch Behar who had a number
of wives, one of whom was a very pretty girl; she was the favourite wife
and the others were very jealous of her. The Prime Minister had a very
handsome son, who when walking one day in the palace gardens, looked up
and caught sight of her beautiful eyes looking out of a window of the
palace. He gazed at the lovely face, and the girl, who had never seen any
man except her husband, stared back at him. The young man thought he had
never seen any one so beautiful, and in the days that followed he often
came to the garden. Unfortunately, some of the ladies of the palace saw
him looking at the little Maharani in the window. It did not take long
for the Maharajah to learn this, and he promised the wife who told him a
handsome present if she had spoken the truth.

One day when the romantic pair were thus engaged in gazing at each other
from a distance, the Maharajah saw them. Naturally, though unjustly, he
suspected his wife’s fidelity. He sent a message to the Prime Minister
commanding him to dine at the palace that evening. The Dewan, as he
believed, greatly honoured, accepted the invitation.

After dinner the Maharajah said: “I have a present for you to take home.”
When he reached his house, the Prime Minister told his wife to open the
parcel. Directly afterwards he heard a terrible scream, and, rushing into
his wife’s room, found her on the floor unconscious, with a half-open
parcel which contained the head of his son. The Dewan guessed at once
what had happened. Without a word he left his house just as he was, and
started for Delhi, the capital of the Moghul Empire. Arrived there, he
begged an audience, and when admitted to the presence of the Emperor he
told him that Cooch Behar was one of the richest districts in India and
suggested he should try to conquer it. The Emperor made several attacks
on Cooch Behar; but the fort was so strong that each time his army was
driven back from the place now known as Moghulhat.

This story is only one of the many I have heard. Their trend is always
the same. The members of my husband’s ancient race have been brave
soldiers, generous alike to friend and foe, and passionate lovers, and
they have sought afar for their wives.

I have often thought how uncharitable the general public are about the
failings of those in high places. Without knowing them well, without
knowing their inner lives, the public have an unjust habit of writing and
speaking unkindly of rulers and princes. Often the public will compare
their own lives with the lives of their princes—a commoner’s with a
ruler’s life! God has chosen one man to be a ruler and others to be his
subjects. It is unfair to judge hastily without knowing the divine object
of each life; people who rashly judge often do grave injustice to those
who have been called to a high station.

When I first came to Cooch Behar we lived in the old palace, which was
like a town. Hundreds of ladies occupied the various houses of which it
was composed: the late Maharajah’s wives, his mother and grandmother, and
many relations, with all their servants. Whenever there were festivities
all these ladies gathered together and it was like a great crowd in a
small city.

Now we live in the new palace, which is considered one of the finest in
India. It was designed by a Western architect and is built in an eclectic
style. It boasts a fine Durbar Hall, and the east front consists of
a range of arcades along the ground and narrow piers, and the cement
and terra-cotta used in the construction make an effective decoration.
On one side of the palace is the swimming bath, and covered racket and
tennis courts. The gardens are lovely. There is a river on the west, a
town towards the east, and to the north in the far distance stand the
great Himalayas like a fort. In the winter months on clear days we can
see the snow distinctly. In the spring, flowers bloom everywhere, and
as for fireflies, although I have travelled far, I have never seen so
many thousands together; on dark nights they look like little stars
twinkling in the fields. During the rains all the rivers, of which there
are many, are in flood, and then I think of Cooch Behar as something like
Venice. The thunderstorms at times are terrific; our old nurse, Mrs.
Eldridge, used to say: “In all my travels I have never experienced such
thunderstorms.” We had English nurses for all our children, except Rajey.
I was highly amused at Mrs. Eldridge’s surprise when she first came. I
asked her why she appeared to be so interested in me, and received this
blunt reply: “Well, your Highness, when I came to take up my duties with
you, I expected to find a stout, dark, uneducated lady. I must say, now
that I’ve seen you, I’m so taken aback that I can hardly believe my eyes.”

My day was always much occupied. After my morning tea, the children
often brought me flowers from the garden and I used to make sketches
of them, and this was the pleasure and pride of my life. After my bath
I put on a silk sari, which is supposed to be sacred, and arranged the
prayer-room. I loved the effect of the masses of roses, jessamine, and
the bright-hued flowers against the white marble of the altar and floor.
The open windows admitted the sweet air, fresh from the river close by.

I prepared the fruits and sweets for the household, and have often
prepared enough vegetables for fifty people. My readers may perhaps
smile at the idea of a Maharani cutting vegetables! I used to sit on the
floor surrounded by the brass bowls in which the vegetables were washed,
and the maids constantly changed the water for me. I always cut enough
vegetables to fill several large plates, for we generally had eighteen
curries for each meal. I also used to slice betel-nut, which has to be
cut very fine, and sometimes filled several big jars at one time. Often I
made sweets, as both my husband and the children were fond of sweets. I
also prepared pickles of mangoes, and potatoes, and other vegetables; all
this I had learned to do from my dear mother.

Sometimes I used to make up betel leaves into tiny odd-shaped packets
filled with half a dozen different spices, and pinned together with
cloves. Perhaps most English readers do not know what a valuable
digestive the betel leaf is. It strengthens the gums, and completely
neutralises the bad effects of indigestible delicacies.

Sometimes the Maharajah came in while I was cutting the vegetables, and
he would sit and watch me, occasionally saying: “Take care, you’ll cut
yourself,” just as though I were a little girl who did not know how to
peel a potato. Now and again I would get up tableaux and plays to amuse
my relations-in-law, the officers’ wives, and others, and these they
seemed to enjoy greatly. I was very fond of painting, and often spent
hours ornamenting the mantelpieces and the glass panes in the doors. We
made a miniature garden which the children loved. In this garden we had a
tank filled with clear water, in which one day my second son, the present
Maharajah, then a little boy, wanted to have a bath. We tried to dissuade
him, but he insisted on having his own way, so we undressed him and put
him in the tank. He felt the cold but pretended he was quite warm, and he
looked like a picture with only his face and curly head showing above the
water in the little tank surrounded by flowers.

From the day of his accession to the throne the Maharajah devoted all the
earnestness of his nature and his great powers of organisation to plans
for the comfort, well-being, and education of his subjects. New roads
were made; the systematic development of the resources of the State was
undertaken, and hospitals, schools, and public buildings were erected.
Some of these are very fine; the Masonic Lodge in Cooch Behar is one of
the largest in Bengal. The Maharajah took a keen interest in questions
of education and founded a college of which he was very proud. At a
distribution of prizes at this college on one occasion he said: “If I
find any boys guilty of disloyalty they shall be turned out of the State
in twenty-four hours.”

Hindu princes are allowed to marry as many wives as they wish, but the
Maharanis are part of the State, and there is a vast difference between
their position and that of the other palace ladies. The ruler’s wives
are brought to the palace as little girls, there to be married and
afterwards educated, solely, I am obliged to admit, with the idea of
attracting their husband, who, more often than not, never sees half of
them. Nevertheless the pretty ones learn to sing, dance, and cook to
perfection, for in many palaces the Maharajah’s food is never touched
by paid cooks. Some keep accounts. All are busy with their work and, my
mother-in-law told me, they are quite happy. Some of my readers may have
heard that any girl may become a Rajah’s wife. This is absolutely untrue;
the Maharanis must be young girls of good family, and always are. The
Rajah’s wives are not allowed to go out to other houses. It may be my
weakness or my strength, but I have altered my position in this respect
a little; I do see people if urged, but I have often been asked by my
husband’s relations to remember who I am, and not to speak to any and
everybody, and lower my position.

My mother-in-law was a well-built woman, rather short but wonderfully
strong. She was bright and always full of fun. Her kind help made my life
a happy one, and her wise counsel often guided me in hours of difficulty
when I first went to Cooch Behar, after my marriage. She died of cholera
at Woodlands; Rajey, a cousin of mine, and I nursed her through her last
illness.

The Maharajah had a step-brother and sister, both very handsome; they
were very devoted to my dear husband, especially the sister.

There is a custom in the palace that no one shall have a meal before the
Maharajah. For a few years I kept up this custom strictly; but sometimes,
when I was in indifferent health, I found it difficult to wait until one
or two o’clock in the afternoon for my breakfast. The Maharajah came
to know of this and asked me why I did not have my breakfast earlier.
When he heard of the custom he said to his mother, “The Maharani cannot
possibly wait so long. She is to have her meals before me, if I am
delayed.” His mother did not like this at all, but as it was a command
she had to obey.

We do not have many meals in India. Formerly we had breakfast, fruit and
milk every afternoon, and dinner. Now we have quite a late breakfast in
the English way, and afternoon tea. Until I left India I had never tasted
meat. Our delicious fruits would convert the most ardent meat-lover into
a fruitarian.

How I love Cooch Behar with its abundance of birds and flowers! The
scenery is glorious, the beautiful lotus covers the rivers, and at some
of the old religious festivals the temples are lavishly decorated with
the gorgeous pink blossoms. The Cooch Behar climate is splendid; the
winters are like those of the South of France, and the spring is heavenly.

I endeavoured from the first to gain the confidence and affection of
my husband’s subjects, and I never knowingly ran counter to their
prejudices. In Darjeeling and Calcutta I may be considered the Maharani
with advanced Western ideas, but in Cooch Behar I was and am the zenana
lady who enters into the lives of the people. Many who at first looked
upon my marriage with disfavour took me to their hearts when they found
that I was just like all their Maharanis, and that I loved them.

Now when I feel that earthly happiness and myself have parted company,
I like to picture Rajey as he was in those days. He had large sad eyes,
lovely curling hair, and he grew into a straight-limbed slender boy,
beautiful as the legendary sons of Siva.

In January, 1884, soon after we lost my father, we went to Simla. There
Rajey sickened with typhoid fever and became seriously ill, and the
doctors in attendance declared the case to be hopeless. My husband’s
distress was terrible, and I shall never forget his anguished words: “If
God will only spare Rajey’s life, Sunity, you and I would give our lives
for him.”

Our prayers were answered. After six weeks’ fight with death our child
was restored to us. Rajey’s nature was always sweetly unselfish, even as
a little boy. When I used to tell him stories the sad parts always made
him cry.

“How do rulers get their money?” he asked me one day.

“Well, Rajey, by taxing people.”

“Shall I be a ruler?”

“Yes, darling, I hope you will some day.”

“Then,” he announced, his great eyes shining, “I’ll never ask for any
taxes until everybody is well off and quite able to pay.”

Once I met him laden with all his boots and shoes. “Rajey, where are you
going?” I asked. I was told that one of his servants had informed the boy
that he was too poor to buy shoes for his children, and the kind little
Rajey had straightway started off to remedy the trouble.

Rajey was loyal to a degree. His creed was “once a friend, always a
friend.” He never went back after he had extended the hand of friendship
to any one. In later years he was often deceived by those he trusted and
belittled by those who had received innumerable kindnesses from him,
but I never once heard him speak unkindly. His loyalty forbade it, and
although he must have been wounded, he suffered in silence.

I remember another incident of those early days; Rajey was hit by his
bearer, an act which made every one indignant and was immediately
reported to me. My husband, who never permitted any one to touch the
children, told one of the officers to question the bearer, and the man
flatly denied having laid a finger on Rajey.

“I know the boy never tells a lie,” remarked the Maharajah; “send for
Rajey and I will ask him.”

The child came in, and my husband said quietly: “Now were you beaten?” No
answer. “Rajey, tell me the truth, there’s a dear boy.” Still no answer.
“Rajey … do you hear me speaking?” Again no reply. “Well, then,” said my
husband, “go and stand in the corner until you tell me if the bearer hit
you.”

Rajey obeyed and occupied the corner, the tears rolling down his cheeks,
but he refused to tell about the offender, and I believe my husband loved
the boy all the more because of his loyal but misplaced affection for his
servant.

On another occasion when our English secretary’s boys were fighting, and
the younger was getting the worst of the struggle, Rajey cried: “Stop!
it’s not fair; nobody ought to hit a boy smaller than himself.”

He had a strong sense of justice and his father was his ideal. Whatever
my husband did was right in the eyes of his first-born. No one was
so wonderful nor so good as his father. Our doctor once said: “Rajey,
I’m taller than your father.” “You dare say that,” the child answered
in furious tones; “nobody in the world can possibly be taller than my
father.”

Rajey was, even when a small boy, impressed with a sense of the
responsibilities of those whose destiny it is to govern others. He
seemed to realise the hollowness of earthly state, and he never tired of
listening to one of our stories which, like most Indian legends, has a
striking moral. Its simple cynicism may interest my readers.

Once the souls of the poor were standing in front of the closed gates of
heaven. Since they parted from their bodies they had patiently spent many
weary days hoping for admittance to the lovely country where the ills of
life are forgotten. The horrors of their past lives had not yet faded
from their minds, although in this place of waiting they were spared the
pangs of poverty, hunger, and thirst.

The vast multitude gazed yearningly at the gates which did not open.
Suddenly word came, “Make way, make way, O souls, a rich Maharajah’s
spirit is on its way to heaven and must be instantly admitted.”

The poor murmured together, but again the gatekeeper spoke, and the crowd
parted to give place to the soul of the Maharajah.

At last it came. And the poor caught a glimpse of the pomp and
circumstance which attended its passage to heaven. The gates were flung
open, the perfumed air of Paradise came forth for an instant, but the
poor remained outside.

“Ah!” cried the weary spirits. “Is existence still to be the same for
us as it was when we lived upon earth? There the rich always oppressed
us. We were as dust under their feet. We toiled that they might have the
luxuries they demanded. And now that we are dead we still suffer. Why
should we not be admitted to heaven without delay? Alas! there is no
justice at the hands of God since the soul of a Maharajah but lately dead
takes precedence of us.”

“Oh, silence, rebellious ones!” cried the gatekeeper. “Surely, surely,
you know that the road to heaven is an easy one for the poor to traverse.
You have no temptations in your passage save the ills of poverty. You
have not to combat with the lust of the eye, with the arrogance of
riches, with the evil wrought by flattering tongues and the misuse of
power. Think what allurements this ruler must have resisted in order to
prepare himself for heaven. It is a stupendous feat for a Maharajah to
have accomplished, and,” added the gatekeeper unctuously, “we seldom see
them here, therefore it behoves me to give instant admittance to such a
rare arrival.”

And the souls of the poor were silent, for they recognised the words of
wisdom which the gatekeeper had spoken.



CHAPTER VIII

MY FIRST VISIT TO ENGLAND


The year 1887 was expected to be a memorable one for India, as our late
beloved Queen-Empress would celebrate her Jubilee. India was anxious to
show her loyalty to the Sovereign whose high ideals and humanity have
endeared her to all her people. Many of our princes therefore decided
to render their homage in person. My husband made his plans for this
eventful year long beforehand, but he cleverly kept all of us in the
dark as to his intention that I should accompany him to England. It must
be remembered that the conditions of life among Indian ladies were very
different in 1887 from what they are to-day. The Maharani of Baroda, I
believe, had once gone to Switzerland, but for the wife of a ruler to
visit England with her husband caused quite a sensation. I think I am
right in saying that I was the first Maharani to do such a thing, and
I may as well confess that I dreaded the experience. I knew absolutely
nothing about the journey. I was going to be a stranger in a strange
land, and I was sensitive enough to dread being stared at, for I well
knew that this must be my fate in London. We sailed on the P. and O. boat
_Ganges_ or _Ballarat_, I forget which. I remember the captain of the
boat took great pains to ensure our comfort on board. Our suite consisted
of my two brothers Nirmul and Profulla, two A.D.C.’s, J. Raikut and S.
Sing, our English private secretary, the late Mr. Bignell and his family,
and our English nurse, besides our two selves and our three little
children. We also had some Indian servants. I cannot describe my feelings
when I realised that I had actually left India, had passed another
milestone on life’s road, but I little dreamed that the far-off country
for which I was bound was destined to be a land of sorrow for me in the
distant future. The glory of the sea enchanted me. When the boat was out
on the ocean and no land could be seen, all Nature seemed to speak of the
infinite God, and I felt so small. In the dark evenings when the water
gleamed with phosphorescence, it looked as if there were thousands of
stars under the sea responding to the stars above. It really was grand;
a grandeur that no one could describe unless he had actually experienced
it. Before we embarked I had tasted meat for the first time in my life,
and I disliked the flavour so much that for the first few days of the
voyage I ate nothing but a few vegetables. I often had fits of depression
and sometimes left the dinner table to relieve my feelings with a good
cry.

The Maharajah parted from us at Port Said, as it was decided that it
would be easier and less fatiguing for me with my little ones to go by
sea instead of taking the shorter route across Europe. I was delighted
when I first saw Malta and Gibraltar. Mr. Bignell met us at Tilbury
Docks. Just as we were seated in the train, I was handed a message from
Queen Victoria that she wished to see me at Court in my national dress.
It was May, but very cold for the time of year, and my first sight of
London on a Sunday did not raise my spirits. I saw half-deserted streets
swept with a bitter wind which had already chapped my face, and I was
heartily glad when at last we reached the Grosvenor Hotel. There all was
brightness and animation. My husband was so pleased to see me and the
children and to show me the grand suite of rooms which had been reserved
for us. The housekeeper at the Grosvenor had thought of everything that
would make us comfortable, and my memory of her is of a pleasant woman
with plenty of common sense. One thing I did not like. Our luxurious
suite of rooms had no bathroom. I was told I was to have a bath in
my room, but this I would not do. I was shown to a big bath, but was
horrified when I was told that I must pass all those corridors each time
I wanted a bath. I refused point-blank, and they finally prepared a small
room as a bathroom for me.

Kind invitations poured in, and I was happy to see many old friends. I
shall never forget the question Sir Ashley Eden put to me: “What do you
think of our London fog?” for although it was May, I had experienced a
yellow fog. I answered: “Not much, Sir Ashley; I do not think I shall
ever care for the London fog.” We dined at Sir Ashley’s, and there I
first met the present Lord Crewe. We had a large drawing-room at the
hotel which I could never make cosy or comfortable; on rainy days
especially, it felt damp and gloomy. When I went out for drives I used to
see little children with their toy boats in Hyde Park, and I soon got a
nice little sailing yacht for my Rajey, and both mother and son enjoyed
floating this vessel on the Serpentine. Rajey’s little face beamed with
delight when he saw his boat going along. The late Lady Rosebery was most
kind to my little ones; Rajey and Girlie spent some happy afternoons at
her house. The present Lady Crewe was a small girl then, and her brother,
Lord Dalmeny, made a great friend of dear Rajey and always remained the
same.

Soon after we arrived in London I was alarmed to find my baby Jit develop
bronchitis. Both my husband and I were most anxious about the child,
and their own doctors were offered by two Royal ladies, one of whom was
H.R.H. the Princess of Wales, now Queen Alexandra. When Jit got better
the nursery was often honoured by two Royal visitors, H.R.H. the late
Duchess of Teck and our present Queen, then Princess May. These two
charming ladies graciously came and played with my children. It was
lovely to see little Jit in Princess May’s arms. I have seldom met so
sweet a personality as the Duchess of Teck. She simply radiated kindness
and good nature. One glance at her happy, handsome face inspired
confidence. I was greatly honoured when she said she would chaperone
me during the Jubilee festivities. The present Queen was then a tall
graceful girl, with a wild-rose freshness and fairness, and gifted with
the same simple unaffected charm of manner as her mother, which had
already endeared her to me.

It had been intimated to me that Queen Victoria wished to see me
privately before the Court, and it was arranged that I should go to
Buckingham Palace for an audience. The question of what I was to wear had
to be settled. The Maharajah, who always displayed the greatest interest
in my toilets, chose and ordered my gown for this great occasion. I was
extremely nervous, and as I saw my reflection in the mirror in the pale
grey dress I felt more terrified than ever. My maid, seeing me look so
pale and shaken, brought me a glass of port. I never touch wine, except
when it is absolutely necessary. My hand trembled so that I spilt half
of the wine over my gown. Instantly a chorus of “How lucky” arose. But I
gazed rather ruefully at the stains.

“Well, Sunity, it is time for us to start,” said my husband, and I
followed him to the carriage. Lord Cross, who was then Secretary of State
for India, received us, and his wife whispered a few reassuring words to
me before the officials escorted us down the corridors to the small room
where Her Majesty was.

I cannot describe my feelings when I found myself in the presence of the
Queen. To us Indians she was a more or less legendary figure endowed with
wonderful attributes, an ideal ruler, and an ideal woman, linked to our
hearts across “the black water” by silken chains of love and loyalty.
I looked at Her Majesty anxiously, and my first impression instantly
dispelled my nervousness: a short, stout lady dressed in mourning who
came forward and kissed me twice. I made a deep curtsy, and walked a step
backward, and then my husband came forward and bent low over the Queen’s
hand. I experienced a feeling, as did every one with whom Her late
Majesty came in contact, that she possessed great personal magnetism, and
she certainly was the embodiment of dignity. Her conversation was simple
and kindly, and every word revealed her queen, woman and mother. I was
delighted to find that I had not been disappointed in my ideal, and felt
eager to go back to India that I might tell my country-women about our
wonderful Empress. The audience occupied only a few minutes, but nothing
could have exceeded Her Majesty’s graciousness, and I came away proud
and glad, and laughed at myself for my previous terror at being received
by one so gracious. The Maharajah was very pleased at our reception, and
told me how proud he was of me.

The next day we attended the Drawing-room. I wore a white and gold
brocade gown and a _crêpe de Chine_ sari. I waited with the other ladies,
and as it was a cold afternoon I was very glad to find a little cosy
corner and sit down. I looked around me, and was admiring the pretty
dresses and faces when I suddenly saw what I thought was a gentleman
wearing a diamond tiara. I gazed at the face and then discovered
it belonged to a lady who had a thick moustache. I went into the
throne-room, and as I was told by Lady Cross that I need not kiss Her
Majesty when I made my curtsy, as I had already been received privately,
when Her Majesty wanted to kiss me I avoided her! After finishing my
curtsies I went on to the next and the next, and I distinctly heard the
Queen say to the Princess of Wales: “Why would not the Maharani kiss
me?” This made me so nervous that I thought I should drop on the floor.
After I had finished making all my curtsies I went and stood near kind
Lady Salisbury and watched the other ladies pass. One of the duchesses,
an elderly woman in a very low dress trimmed with old lace and wearing
magnificent jewels, to my mind looked extremely miserable. I can still
see her trembling as she curtsied; whether it was the cold or her aged
body was tired I cannot say. I was greatly interested in all I saw; but
shocked at the low-cut gowns worn by the ladies present. The cold was
most trying to complexions and shoulders, the prevailing tints of which
were either brick-red or a chilly reddish-blue. Now that the Courts are
held in the evenings women’s beauty is seen to greater advantage, but I
shall never forget that May afternoon and the inartistic exposure of
necks and arms.

[Illustration: MAHARANI SUNITY DEVEE, 1887.]

We received an invitation for the State ball. My husband chose a gown of
blue and silver brocade for me for this important occasion. Just before
we left the hotel for the palace the Maharajah said: “Sunity, if the
Prince of Wales asks you to dance with him, you _must_; it would be a
very great honour.” “I can’t,” I faltered, “I simply can’t; you know I
do not dance.” “Never mind, you cannot refuse your future king.” “Well,”
I said, “I don’t think I will go; let me send a letter of apology.”
“Impossible! We are bound to attend; it is a command.” I said no more,
but prayed and hoped that I might be overlooked by the Prince. Not so,
however. Soon after we entered the ballroom a message was sent by H.R.H.
asking me to dance with him. I returned the answer that, although I
greatly appreciated the honour, I must refuse as I never danced. Then
came another message: It was only the Lancers, and H.R.H. would show me
the steps.

Again I refused; then, to my great surprise, the late King George of
Greece came up to where I was sitting. “Do come and dance, Maharani,” he
said, “I assure you there is nothing in it.”

“Please forgive me, your Majesty,” I stammered, “but I cannot dance.”
The late King of Denmark, then Crown Prince, also graciously asked me
to dance. By this time I was too nervous for words, and I heard a sweet
voice say: “Oh, look! hasn’t the Maharani tiny little feet?” I glanced
in an agony of shyness at the dais from whence the tones proceeded, quite
close to where I was sitting, and saw that the speaker was none other
than the Princess of Wales! I did not know what to do, and felt for the
moment as if I were all feet. My skirt was rather short, and I could not
tuck my shoes out of sight. I was very glad and relieved when suppertime
came. I went in with the Royal Family to supper. Every one was most
gracious, and the Prince of Wales teased me about my not accepting him as
a partner.

“What do you think of the ball?” asked one of the Princesses. “It is a
grand sight, Ma’am; I think the jewels are wonderful.” I was introduced
to several foreign royalties, and one girl I loved directly I saw her.
She was the Grand Duchess Sergius of Russia, with whom I afterwards
became very friendly.

On the morning of the Jubilee I was early astir. I wore a pale
orange-coloured gown with a sari to match. We left the hotel at a
quarter-past nine. As we drove to the Abbey I was struck with the perfect
behaviour of the crowd.

It was a hot, dusty drive, and I was glad of the shade of my parasol.
Suddenly a shout arose. “Put down that sunshade, please, and let’s have a
look at you.”

“Don’t,” whispered the Maharajah, “you’ll get sunstroke.” I hesitated.
“_Come_ now, put it down.” I closed my parasol, and as I did so was
heartily cheered. “That’s right,” roared the good-humoured crowd, “thank
you very much.”

On entering the Abbey we were escorted to our seats.

It was an impressive ceremony, and the Queen looked inspired when she
came back from the altar. After the service was over, as Her Majesty
walked down the aisle, her eyes met mine, and she smiled. I was the only
Maharani present, and I like to remember this signal honour.

A striking figure in that vast assembly was the late Emperor Frederick
of Germany, who was a very handsome man. His appearance was so noble
it was a delight to watch his looks and dignity. There was a grand but
rather small evening party at Buckingham Palace on the same day as the
Jubilee ceremony at Westminster. Her Majesty, looking very happy, stood
in the middle of the room, with all the foreign Princes and Princesses
in their full-dress costumes, and covered with splendid jewels and
decorations, around her. After making my curtsies to Her Majesty and the
Royal Princesses, I was introduced to several foreign Royalties, one of
whom was the late Grand Duke of Hesse. I shall never forget the charming
way in which the Duchess of Connaught presented him to me; she just said:
“My brother-in-law, the Grand Duke.” I don’t think the world has ever
witnessed such a wonderful Royal gathering as that, with such magnificent
jewels, and full-dress uniforms of brilliant colours, and the array of
medals and orders that covered many breasts. One and all looked happy,
and that in itself made the party a “great success.” Our congratulations
to Her Majesty on her Jubilee were sincere, loyal, and warm.

Life passed very swiftly and pleasantly for me during the Jubilee
celebrations, and I was thoroughly spoiled, much to the delight of my
husband. I have many recollections of that memorable year, and can
picture to myself many of my kind and charming hostesses. I remember
once in the supper-room at Buckingham Palace my husband introduced the
Ex-Kaiser, then Prince William, to me, and the young prince bent down
and kissed my hand. I blushed and my throat grew dry; my hand had never
been kissed before by a man. After the Prince left us I tried to scold
my husband in Bengali, but he laughed, and said: “Sunity, it is a great
honour that your hand should be kissed by the future German Emperor; you
ought to feel proud.” I admired Prince William and the way in which the
foreign Royalties showed their respect for ladies.

We went to Windsor Castle one day to present our gifts to Her Majesty. My
husband chose a little diamond pendant with an uncut ruby in the middle,
and told me to give it to Her Majesty. I said to my husband: “I shall be
too nervous,” but he urged me: “Just a few words, Sunity; it will please
Her Majesty.” Little did my husband know what those few words cost me. We
went by special train to Windsor, and when we arrived at the Castle we
were received by the equerries and high officials. It was the day for
Indians to pay their homage to their Empress. Captain Muir was in command
of the bodyguard on duty. We entered the throne-room where the Queen was,
and I presented our little present with a few words to Her Majesty, who
graciously accepted it and thanked me. I made a deep curtsy and walked
backwards, feeling nervous at the thought of mistakes in my little speech
and curtsy, but people who were present in the room said afterwards
the Maharani of Cooch Behar’s words were clear and her curtsy was most
graceful.

One evening we dined with Mr. and Miss Kinnaird. The table was decorated
with masses of scarlet roses specially sent over from Paris. The
perfume of the roses took my memory back to the old Belghuria garden.
I enjoyed this dinner very much. We were going on to an evening party
at the Guildhall, and the Maharajah asked one of the gentlemen in the
Royal suite who was at the dinner whether full dress or evening dress
was expected. “Ordinary evening dress, your Highness,” was the reply.
However, to our dismay, when we reached the Guildhall we found all the
men were in full dress. My husband felt very uncomfortable at being
the only man in evening dress, and would not go near the Royal dais;
a fact which did not escape the notice of the Prince of Wales. His
Royal Highness sent for my husband. “What’s the matter, Maharajah?” he
inquired, and the reason was explained. The Prince was anxious to know
the name of the gentleman who had made the mistake, but my husband
would not give him away. Thereupon the Prince turned to me and said
with a smile: “Oh, Maharani, you are a very careless wife. You haven’t
dressed your husband properly.” Every one smiled, and the Prince’s
kindly tact put the Maharajah completely at his ease. When we went into
the supper-room, Her Majesty the late Empress Frederick came and stood
beside me and asked many questions about Indian home-life and customs.
Her Majesty said: “How do you address your husband? Do you call him by
his name?” I said: “No, Ma’am, we generally address our husbands in the
third person.” “How would you call your husband if you wanted him now?”
I said: “Ogo.” “What does that mean?” asked the Empress. “Please, dear.”
She laughed, and they all, the Empress included, began to call each other
“Ogo.” Then Her Majesty looked at my hair and asked: “Is that all your
own hair?” “Yes, Ma’am,” I said. “What a lovely lot of hair you have!”

I admired everybody and everything with whole-hearted admiration, but
I think my utmost meed of devotion was paid to Queen Alexandra (then
Princess of Wales), who was as kind as she was beautiful, and so womanly
that my heart went out to her.

I first discovered at a dinner given by a bachelor friend of the
Maharajah’s that punctuality was not considered a virtue in London. The
invitation was for 7.45, but the last guest did not arrive until ten
minutes to nine, and I was told that “no one is ever punctual in London.”
I was so tired that I fainted with the arrival of the soup, but revived
enough to eat dinner, and we afterwards went on to an entertainment
where I saw Letty Lind dance. She was then a pretty girl and danced
exquisitely. To our great pleasure and pride the Prince of Wales came
and sat in our box. My husband said to me in Bengali: “Do ask His Royal
Highness if he will honour us with his company at supper,” and when I did
ask, how graciously he accepted and thanked us! We knew he had a party
of his own, and I could not help thinking: “It must be because H.R.H. is
fond of my husband that he did not refuse,” and I appreciated the honour
all the more. As the Prince left our dining-room, one of the gentlemen
of our party overheard him remark to his equerry: “I _do_ like Cooch
Behar, he is such a straightforward man.” I remember how pleased I was
when these words were repeated to me. That was my husband all through
his life—straightforward. He scorned the subterfuges which those of his
rank often adopt to please a censorious world. He was outspoken, and
one who was never ashamed of his friends, whatever their position might
be. Although he was the proudest of men, his simplicity was such that
he believed his _joie de vivre_ would pass unnoticed, and that he might
sometimes be allowed to live as a man and not as a Maharajah.

Queen Victoria displayed the most kindly interest in our doings. One
day I was invited to take the children to Windsor Castle. I dressed them
in their national costume, which pleased Her Majesty exceedingly. After
a few minutes’ conversation the Queen said to me: “Do you remember this
pendant, Maharani?”

I looked and saw that she was wearing the jewel which we had had the
honour of presenting to Her Majesty. I felt very touched at the thought
of her wearing our gift, and told Her Majesty so.

When we were saying good-bye the Queen graciously said: “You must let the
children have some strawberries and fruit which I have had prepared in
another room.” The children were not shy, and I never saw strawberries
disappear so fast. Rajey soon confined his attention to some magnificent
hothouse grapes. “Come away,” I said, for I began to dread the result of
a prolonged riot in fruit. Both obeyed; but Rajey lifted up two enormous
bunches of grapes and carried them off, much to the delight of Her
Majesty.

I remember, too, how the late Emperor Frederick admired our little Jit,
and taking the boy’s hand in his, said many kind words to him. I also
had the great pleasure of seeing the Empress of Russia, then Princess
Alex of Hesse, a young girl of sixteen, sitting on the carpet in the
corridor playing with some small children and dogs. Her thick plait was
hanging down her back, and when she lifted her large dark eyes, I said to
myself: “What a lovely face and what sad eyes!” It was indeed good to
live in those happy days. What a pleasant picture I have in my memory of
that afternoon of sunshine, friendly faces, and the Queen and Princess
Beatrice waving us farewell!

I was once invited by the late Duchess of Connaught to lunch with H.R.H.
at Windsor Castle. Mrs. Bignell accompanied me. It was indeed a great
honour, as the Duchess did not ask any one but me. I was touched to find
a King’s daughter, a Queen’s daughter-in-law, living like a very ordinary
mother in her own home. I would have given much for my country-women to
have seen the Duchess that day, with her little children.

We went to a grand garden-party at Buckingham Palace, at which thousands
of men and women were assembled; it was a striking sight. I don’t think
any one ever got a better chance of seeing so many pretty faces together.
We were all waiting for the Queen’s arrival when some people came and
asked us to make a passage for Her Majesty to pass. My husband stood
right at the back, but I was always anxious to see everything, and stood
in the front line. To my surprise Her Majesty walked straight up to me
and kissed me, and I believe I was the only woman there whom the Queen
kissed. I was greatly amused the following day when the newspapers made
some sarcastic remarks about the Indian Princess receiving more attention
than any of the others.

Another day we were commanded to dine with Her Majesty at Windsor Castle
and spend the night there. When the train stopped at Windsor station we
found a red carpet on the platform and the Royal carriage in waiting.
Officers came to receive us; I felt quite grand, and how the crowd
cheered us, and many a kind remark I heard from them. We drove up to the
castle, and when we arrived we went straight to our rooms. I never saw
anything so splendid and yet so comfortable. The sitting-room was facing
the park, which was lovely in the sunshine, and the bedroom was all gilt
from ceiling to floor—it was like fairyland. The only thing that puzzled
me was that there should be no bathroom to such a lavishly furnished
suite. I asked my husband in despair: “Can’t I have a bath after such
a journey?” The Maharajah in his calm, quiet way said: “Sunity, there
must be a bath in this room,” and he began to look for a door. Suddenly
he found a button-like knob, and on pressing it a door sprang open, and
there was a large room and a bath; I screamed with joy at the sight. I
was struck with another thing; the face towels were of the finest linen.
We had tea, and the Maharajah told me that if I received a present from
Her Majesty I must thank her nicely. I kept on asking him what the
present was, and why I should have it. My husband did not answer, and
so I left off worrying him. I had not quite finished dressing when the
Maharajah came and said an officer had come to show us where we were to
wait for Her Majesty. This made me more nervous than ever, and I could
not put on my jewels properly, so my husband helped me to carry some
necklets, bracelets, a fan, and gloves. As we came into the ante-room
I was relieved to find that we were the first to arrive and I had time
to put on the jewels and gloves. Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice
entered first, and soon alter Her Majesty walked in with a jewel-case in
her hand. She gave it to me and kissed me and I curtsied several times,
thanking Her Majesty for the gift. It was the decoration C.I., “Crown of
India.” Her Majesty said a few words with it which I appreciated even
more than the present. Her Majesty asked the Princess to pin it on for
me, which H.R.H. did. I was no longer nervous, as both the Princess and
Her Majesty were most gracious and kind and made me feel quite happy.
Prince Henry of Battenberg was a dark, handsome man and seemed very nice.
After a few minutes’ talk we walked into the dining-room. This was not a
big room, but Her Majesty’s own private room. There were portraits of the
Queen’s three daughters-in-law; that of the Princess of Wales as a bride
was exquisite. Her Majesty sat in the middle, my husband on her right,
Princess Beatrice on her left, and then me. When champagne went round and
I refused it, Her Majesty noticed and asked my husband the reason. The
Maharajah said I never took champagne or wine. This did not annoy the
good Queen, but seemed to please her. Her Majesty and Princess Beatrice
both very kindly asked after my dear mother and grandmother, and how
well Her Majesty remembered my revered father; she had a photograph of
him. While we were at dinner we heard another guest had arrived, but he
would not have any English food. After dinner was over this guest came in
to see Her Majesty. He was an Indian Maharajah. We talked for some time
after dinner. Princess Beatrice asked why more of our Indian ladies did
not come to England, as H.M. the Queen loved seeing them. We stayed the
night, but I do not think I slept much; lying in the gold bed I almost
fancied myself a fairy princess. This suite of rooms was the Princess of
Wales’s, so it was a great honour for us to have them.

There was no marked ceremony at these Royal parties, and everything
was delightfully informal. There stand out in my memory a luncheon at
Marlborough House, when the Princess of Wales gave me a lovely Russian
cypher brooch, and a _tête-à-tête_ tea with her on another occasion when
I took my babies with me. Jit was tremendously attracted by our beautiful
hostess, who took his hand, saying as she did so: “What a pretty little
boy! no wonder his mother was so anxious when he was ill.”

The kindness shown me by Queen Alexandra has never varied since those
early days. Fate has dealt heavily with us both. We have each lost our
idolised first-born. We have each lost the best of husbands. We have
equally sorrowed. I think some subtle sympathy draws us together; each
time I have visited her of late I have been struck afresh by her resigned
expression, and I know that the Queen-Mother feels as I do, that “There’s
not a joy the world can give like those it takes away.”



CHAPTER IX

ENGLISH SOCIETY


The Princess of Wales asked me one day what I thought of the shops in
Bond Street, and if I often went to them. But somehow I never went into
any except my dressmaker, Madame Oliver Holmes’s, and Hamley’s toy shop,
where I felt like buying the whole shop, or spending all my time, it
charmed me so much.

I enjoyed the theatres. One of the plays I shall ever remember was
Shakespeare’s “Winter’s Tale.” Mary Anderson acted in it; it was
magnificently staged, and Mary Anderson’s lovely face and good acting
impressed me. One opera I went to—I forget the name—reminded me of our
Indian love story, “Nal and Damayanti,” as swans come and bring love
messages from lovers apart. Her Majesty had graciously lent us her box,
and I think Madame Albani sang. I was much interested in the British
Museum, and could have spent days and days looking at all the wonderful
things in it. At the Naval Review I went to see the boats decorated with
lights—the reflections in the water were splendid. I also went to see
the Royal stable, a visit arranged for me by the late Lord Elphinstone,
and Rajey was put in the Royal coach. I went to see Madame Tussaud’s,
and was delighted with the figures, but had not the courage to go down
into the Chamber of Horrors. I was much impressed by a large picture of
the late Prince Imperial with the Zulus attacking him. I went to see the
Tower of London and was much interested. We also visited Edinburgh: what
a lovely town it is! We went to the castle, and my childhood came back to
me as my eldest brother had told me the story of this castle when we were
children. We went to Holyrood Palace one afternoon. The guide as usual
began to show me every room and every corner of the palace relating all
the stories attached, which took hours, and the Maharajah grew tired, as
I kept him with me, telling him every time he wanted to go: “I won’t be
long.” But when the guide brought some bits of the old paper from the
walls in Queen Mary’s time the Maharajah got quite impatient. It rained
and looked very dark and dismal that afternoon, and I brought away a very
sad picture in my heart of the beautiful Queen being beheaded. I am happy
to know that in our country there has never been a Queen so cruel as to
murder her first cousin.

One evening at dinner, during our stay in London, the Duke of Manchester
sat next to me, and the conversation naturally turned on India and the
rapid progress of the country. I was feeling a little sore, as for
some unaccountable reason my husband had not been given any Jubilee
decoration, and I think I must have let the Duke perceive it. “Well,
Maharani,” he said, “after all Cooch Behar is a very small State. Surely
you don’t expect the Maharajah to get a decoration?”

I got rather excited over this. “If a boy goes to school, Duke,”
I answered, “and does his best but does not get promotion, what
encouragement is there for him to work? The Maharajah has done more than
any other Ruler to improve the condition of his State, and I think his
efforts deserve recognition.”

The Duke was amused. “Why don’t you talk to the Prince of Wales?” he
suggested; “I’m sure he would be delighted at your championship.” I
must here record that when I arrived in India at the close of my visit,
leaving the Maharajah still in England, he cabled that “Her Majesty is
graciously pleased to confer on me the G.C.I.E.;” but although greatly
honoured and proud, I was sorry that it was not the G.C.S.I., which I am
sure is what H.M. meant to give.

We went to Brighton for a few days for the Goodwood Races. We used to go
to the races every day, and enjoyed the drives up the hills much. The
first two days the Maharajah was absent; he was paying a promised visit
to an old friend. When I met His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales at
the races he graciously expressed a wish to be introduced to a cousin of
the Maharajah’s who was with me. H.R.H. said to my cousin he was sorry
the Maharajah was not there; in answer to this my cousin replied that
the Maharajah had gone to Leonard’s, meaning my husband had gone to stay
with Mr. Leonard, but the Prince thought the Maharajah had gone to St.
Leonards, and said a few things about that seaside place. The Prince
kindly introduced me to Mrs. Arthur Sassoon, a very handsome woman. She
kindly asked me to lunch with her, I think at the Prince’s request. At
luncheon I had the honour of sitting on the left of H.R.H., and I saw a
saucer which contained green chillies in front of him.

“Do you like chillies, sir?” I could not resist asking. And the Prince
told me he liked nothing better than Indian dishes, a taste acquired, I
feel sure, when he paid his memorable visit to our country. That luncheon
party was most delightful. The late King Edward had a most wonderful
personality. How he remembered things, and how kindly he spoke of India
and everything there!

In London I was asked to many dances, and I enjoyed them one and all.
They were all full of pretty faces and dresses. The first time I saw Lady
Randolph Churchill she wore a perfectly-fitting maroon-coloured velvet
dress; I was at the time with Prince George of Wales, our present King.
He pointed out Lady Randolph to me and told me who she was.

My husband and I made a similar mistake at two different dances. At the
Duchess of Leeds’ ball, I was engaged for a dance to the Earl of Durham.
When the dance which I thought was his came, and a gentleman happened to
come near me, I asked, “Is this your dance?” the gentleman looked rather
amused and said, “You must have taken me for my brother;” he was Lord
Durham’s twin brother. At another dance we met Lord Abergavenny’s twin
daughters, Lady Violet and Lady Rose Neville; they were both very pretty
and good dancers. My husband was engaged to dance with one, and mistook
the other for her.

I went once to a violin concert; I shall never forget it. Dozens of
pretty girls dressed in white sat in a gallery and played melodies; the
music was beautiful. I went to a very grand dance at Lady Revelstoke’s;
everything was arranged perfectly, I did so enjoy it. At this dance I was
sitting next to Lady ⸺ when I saw a striking sight: a very tall couple
stood at the door at the further end of the room; I had never thought
till then that very tall people could ever be very handsome, but when the
late Lady Ripon and her brother stood in the drawing-room all eyes were
fixed on them, for they were remarkably good-looking.

Lady Abergavenny gave a dance. What a grand sight it was! There were so
many beautiful dresses and lovely faces; the music and the supper both
were excellent, and the hostess was charming. Lord and Lady Headfort, the
present Lady Suffield’s parents, were very kind to the Maharajah and to
me. Everything was well done, and the hostess’s pretty daughters made the
bright scene brighter.

One day we went to a delightful afternoon party at Hatfield House.
Hundreds of guests travelled down by a special train. When we arrived
at the station we found a number of carriages ready to convey us to
the house. As I stood there with my husband waiting for a carriage the
Maharajah of Cutch, who with his brother was already seated, asked us to
get into his carriage. I hesitated a moment, and when I got in, as he
is of higher rank than we are, he asked me to sit beside him. I wanted
to be next my husband, but the Maharajah of Cutch insisted, and so my
husband and the brother sat opposite. In the next day’s newspapers we
were described as the Maharajah and Maharani of Cutch, accompanied by
the Maharajah of Cooch Behar. I was much annoyed, and asked my husband
to contradict the report, but he only regarded it as a joke, and said
teasingly, “Why, Cutch is much better-looking than I am.” After tea the
Princess of Wales, who had been talking to me in the gardens, turned to
Princess Victoria and said: “Now, Victoria, take the Maharani and show
her the Maze. I’m sure she hasn’t seen one yet.”

I certainly had never ventured inside a maze, but I followed Princess
Victoria and Princess Hélène of Orleans unhesitatingly in and out of
the winding paths of the labyrinth until we were really lost. We ran
screaming deeper and deeper into the maze, and, as “time and tide wait
for no man,” we realised that we should probably not be able to return
to London until very late. We were all wearing dainty muslin and lace
gowns; but, regardless of them, we simply broke through the hedges in our
search for an exit, and finally emerged with our dresses in ribbons; mine
streamed behind me, and the Princesses were in no better plight.

Years afterwards, at King Edward’s Coronation, we went to Hatfield again.
When we were received by our host, Lord Salisbury, he looked curiously at
me. “In 1887,” he said, “a Maharani of Cooch Behar came to Hatfield House
and lost herself in our maze. _You_ can’t possibly be the lady, for you
are much too young.” I assured him that I was none other, and woman-like
I was delighted to know that Time had dealt so lightly with me.

The most appreciated compliment that I think was ever paid to me was
uttered as we were returning to town from this garden-party. As we passed
through the crowd to our carriage, I heard a woman remark: “Isn’t she
pretty?”

“Yes,” answered her friend, “but it is not only a pretty face, it is also
a good face.”

The late Lady Salisbury was always very kind to me, and on the night of
an India Office party we dined there first, and our hostess took me on
with her in her cee-spring carriage. I was talking to her as I got in and
forgot the sort of carriage it was, so that I felt very shy indeed as I
found myself half lying down. It was largely owing to her kindness that
I enjoyed the India Office party enormously. We went to an evening party
at the Duchess of Teck’s, and there I was introduced to a blind Prince,
the Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the husband of Her late Majesty’s first
cousin. When I was introduced to him by his wife he paid me a great
compliment. “You are looking beautiful, Princess,” he said. I asked why
he said this. “Because,” he answered, “your voice is so lovely.”

I was not to leave England without experiencing some of the famous
country-house hospitality. We paid a delightful visit to Blair Atholl.
The Duke and Duchess were very kind, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself;
still I did not find the Scotch scenery half so grand as the mountains
of my native land. One day when the Duke was taking Lady Strathmore and
me for a drive we passed some white heather, and she exclaimed: “Oh,
do stop, there’s white heather, the Maharani must have some.” The dear
old Duke got down from the carriage and dutifully gathered the coveted
flowers, while Lady Strathmore explained their mystic properties to me.
“Now you will have luck,” she said as she gave me a spray. It was the
first time I had heard of the superstition, though there are many pretty
legends about flowers in India.

One evening we went with the Duchess to a ball, and she decided to go
home early. I was tired and asked if I might go with her, and so the
Duchess, her sister Lady Strathmore, and I returned to the castle.
I had told my maid to leave my door unlocked, and to sleep in the
dressing-room, but when we tried to open my door none of us could manage
it. One of the ladies therefore went round and woke up the maid, who
simply turned the handle and the door was open. We looked at each other
with surprise, and as I felt rather nervous the kind ladies had a good
search in case there was a burglar. I well remember Lady Strathmore
saying: “There are things in this world which our human eyes cannot see.”
I liked Lady Strathmore, she was such a handsome woman and very clever.
I am very sorry I never accepted any of her kind invitations, but I had
heard about the ghosts of Glamis Castle. The Maharajah was disappointed,
as he was anxious to go and see the old castle, and to shoot, and I
deprived him of both these pleasures. At the Blair gathering a very
unusual compliment was paid to my husband’s dancing; Lady Salterne said:
“It is a dream to dance with the Maharajah of Cooch Behar.”

At Blair Atholl I heard the bagpipes for the first time, but I am afraid
I did not wax enthusiastic over their melody. I look back with pleasure
to the time I spent in Scotland. I was treated like a child, and petted
and spoilt by every one, and I quite enjoyed the experience.

I went to stay with the Morgans at Cambridge; he was the Master of Jesus
College. No one could have received a grander impression of a college
than I did. Mrs. Morgan was most kind-hearted, and, I am sure, although
she was quite young, she must have helped the students when they were in
difficulties. While we were talking our hostess said: “Baby is coming.”
I asked her who “Baby” was, and she said, “My sister.” Soon after “Baby”
arrived—the mother of children. It was sweet to hear her elder sister
call her “Baby.” In the evening a party was given at which we met all the
great wise men. None were good-looking nor young, but all were clever,
and what interesting talks we had. My hostess afterwards told me some of
them exclaimed, “What sparkling eyes!” when they first saw me. The next
day was Sunday, and we went to church three times. A boy with a most
glorious voice sang by himself; it filled the church and thrilled our
hearts.

The Ripons also entertained us at Studley Royal, and there the Maharajah
had some partridge shooting. Studley Royal is a fine house and handsomely
furnished. I enjoyed my stay there thoroughly. Lady Ripon kindly drove me
over to see several interesting ruins. In one, an old building without
any roof, I was struck by a fine carving on a mantelpiece of King
Solomon’s judgment, and I remembered how this story had been told to us
by our dear father at the Asram when we were young. One day I went to see
Mrs. Vyner, Lady Ripon’s mother. On our way we visited a cottage, the
home of a ploughman, whose middle-aged wife welcomed us. How interested
I was to see it! The little cottage was perfectly clean, there was a
small sitting-room, with a few flowers, the paper near the fireplace was
white, and I thought it was white marble, there were two little bedrooms,
and a kitchen where they dined. A heap of potatoes was under a water-tap,
and there was a nice little kitchen garden. Afterwards we drove on to
Mrs. Vyner’s. Mrs. Vyner must have been a lovely woman in her young days.
She sat in her drawing-room all by herself. As we came near the room Lady
Ripon most affectionately called, “Darling, are you there?” I was very
touched. I was there for some time. Mrs. Vyner’s house was furnished with
most valuable things. The marble figures and furniture were wonderful.
Studley Royal is a picturesque and pretty place; many of the rooms have
Indian furniture, and there is a huge stuffed tiger in the hall. In Lady
Ripon’s town house there is a miniature Indian mud village most perfectly
made. We had rather an amusing experience coming back from Ripon. The
station officials had omitted to place a “Reserved” notice on our
carriage, and at Newcastle a North Country magnate invaded our privacy. I
did not like the prospect of travelling with a complete stranger, and my
husband politely told the man: “This is a reserved carriage.”

“There’s nothing to show that it is reserved,” he answered.

“But I tell you it is,” said the Maharajah. “The omission of the ticket
is due to an oversight on the part of the station-master.”

“Well, you haven’t got an option on the train,” the stranger answered
rudely, and with these words he began settling himself and his belongings.

“I’m very sorry,” said my husband, “but you must get out.”

“Must I, indeed? We’ll see about that,” retorted the intruder. At this
moment the Maharajah’s valet came up the platform, and, horrified at
the annoyance we were being caused, he called the guard, who promptly
requested the gentleman to go into another compartment. Looking extremely
uncomfortable, he called to a porter to take his dressing-case, and as he
hurried away he may have heard my husband say: “I’m really very sorry you
are so inconvenienced.”

When the Maharajah spoke to King Edward, then Prince of Wales, about our
journey and the strange conduct of this man, His Royal Highness was much
annoyed.

I could not accept an invitation to Sandringham, as I was in delicate
health, and beginning to feel over-fatigued by much travelling. Her
Majesty graciously intimated that she wished to be godmother to the
expected baby, an honour which we greatly appreciated.

As it was getting cold, the children, in the charge of my brother
Profulla, went back to India a few weeks before I did. It was the first
time I had an English governess, an English nursery maid, and dear old
Mrs. Eldridge. Whether it was fortunate or unfortunate, I do not know,
but every English girl I have had in the house has got married in India;
even Mrs. Eldridge left me to marry a station-master. My friends used to
tease me and say: “Your house is a regular matrimonial agency; if any one
wants to get married, they must come to you.”

The Maharajah wished to do a little hunting, and as I was going all the
way by sea, I left my husband in England. When we arrived at Malta H.R.H.
the Duke of Edinburgh came on board to see me, and I much appreciated his
kind thought. He talked to me for some time, asked me news of London, and
most kindly said he would send his A.D.C. to take me to the Royal Opera
that evening, where his box was at my disposal. While we were talking, an
old lady, one of the passengers, brought a few flowers for a button-hole,
and presented it to H.R.H. How graciously the Duke accepted it, and
pinned it on his coat! After the lady had gone I asked the Duke if he
knew her, and his answer was “No.” This shows what wonderful manners the
Royal Princes have; they can make even perfect strangers feel at ease.

On this homeward voyage, I could not help feeling that I was very
different from the rather timid little person who had set out on the
Great Adventure, and even little Rajey seemed to have become less of a
child. “I am a big boy now, I don’t want people to kiss me when we arrive
in Calcutta,” he told his doctor.

On my arrival at Bombay I found my dear mother with my younger sisters
and brothers awaiting my arrival; also the Dewan of Cooch Behar and the
doctor. What an affectionate welcome I had! My sisters hung round me and
caressed me, and we all talked at the same time and laughed; it was too
lovely for words. They thought I was looking so pretty, and said that
even my hair had grown prettier. Some wanted to brush my hair, others to
dress me in pretty saris, and we talked and talked all day and all night.

We stayed only a very few days at Bombay, and then went on to Calcutta.
I was received at the station by Sir Henry Carnduff, and every one
welcomed me and seemed glad that the visit had proved such a success.
Lord Dufferin informed me that the Queen had written to him saying that
she was “charmed with the little Maharani,” a remark which pleased me
immensely. I drove straight to Woodlands, and there I found numbers of
friends; we had a special service, and a lovely Indian breakfast. On
the following day I went to Lily Cottage, and the welcome I had there I
cannot describe. I had a Varan (welcome) ceremony and wonderful meals and
congratulations continually pouring in; I don’t think any Indian woman
ever had or ever will have such a welcome as I had that first time I
returned from England. It is a glorious memory to have.

When my husband returned from England he had grand welcome receptions. It
is said that such a magnificent elephant procession as he had from the
station to the palace had never been seen before. I was not very well
and could not accompany him to Cooch Behar. Victor was born on the 21st
of May. There were great rejoicings at his birth, which took place at
Woodlands; the Maharajah was delighted. We felt it a great honour that
Queen Victoria should be his godmother; it was the first time an Indian
Maharajah and Maharani had been thus honoured. He was named after her,
and Her Majesty sent him a large silver cup. My great regret is that
Victor never had the privilege of seeing his Empress godmother.

When we went to Cooch Behar I naturally expected all our people to say
something nice to me about our visit to England, and they did, except one
man, the Dewan Calica Das Dutt, whose remarks were somewhat like this:
“What have they gained by going to England? Instead of having the Queen
as godmother to the little Raj Kumar it would have been better if the
Maharajah had had some guns.”

Victor is the sweetest-natured boy imaginable—most tender-hearted, kind,
and unselfish. He adores and worships his brother Jit. As a little boy
he always gave in to Jit; if it was Victor’s birthday Jit must have a
present too. If Victor went anywhere Jit must go too. They were like
twin brothers.

Once at a polo tournament at which I had to give away the prizes, Victor,
then a little boy, and who was present with my other children, suddenly
disappeared. He had seen a lady sitting in a carriage by herself. He
offered to get in and sit with her. “No, dear,” the lady said, “you must
go and watch with the other children.” But Victor insisted: “You are
alone,” he said, “and I must come and sit with you,” and he did. The
lady said to me afterwards, “Some day Victor will be a great man.” His
one desire is to help and to serve others, and he never hesitates to
sacrifice his own comfort and happiness in so doing.

When Jit was a little boy my sister Bino had twins, and when he heard it
he said: “God has given Bino Auntie those as Christmas presents.”

After I returned from England, some English ladies in Simla expected to
find me quite spoilt by being so much with the Royal Family and receiving
such kindness from them, but I heard afterwards they were pleased to
find me otherwise. I certainly began to “live” in a worldly sense. I
entertained and was entertained, and I tried to show our Indian ladies
that it is quite possible for them to have many social interests and
good and true English friends, but I never allowed my devotion to Indian
home-life to lessen. When I visited my relations, I sat on the floor
as of old, and was one of them just as if I had not left the zenana.
Our Indian ladies never weary of listening to the story of my doings
in England. “Go on, go on!” they exclaim, whenever I pause to remember
something else.

We had a tennis party every week, and sometimes twelve sets going, and
always more than two hundred people were invited. Once when the band was
playing the National Anthem Jit from the upstairs verandah sang, “God
save our gracious Queen.” Lady Charles Elliott, who was present, said:
“How I wish Her Majesty could hear the little boy! What a loyal little
fellow he is!”

About this time my husband lost his step-sister, a very charming lady
whose estate was quite close to Cooch Behar. Just before we went to
England she wished to adopt one of our sons, but I did not take the
suggestion seriously. At her death she bequeathed her property to my
husband, who generously gave half to his sister’s mother-in-law. Every
one was anxious that my husband’s share should revert to one of the boys,
but the Dewan would not hear of it, and Panga was added to the State. It
rested ultimately with Rajey to carry out the popular wishes, and now
this State belongs to my third son, Victor.

At a Government House ball I was introduced to the late Archduke Franz
Ferdinand. I thought him handsome in a stolid fashion. I had been looking
at him with some interest, when to my surprise an A.D.C., came up and
told me that His Imperial Highness wished to make my acquaintance. He
was duly presented, but was very silent; I soon discovered, however,
that he did not know the English language. I afterwards asked my friend
the A.D.C. to tell me what remark the Archduke had made. I received this
unexpected reply: “H.I.H. said, ‘What eyes!’”

I met another charming Austrian, Prince Charles Kinsky, at Government
House, and sometimes drove with him. One evening when we were out it grew
rather late. Now, I always liked to hear my children say their prayers,
and wish them good night, for my home was my paradise, and I was most
proud of my nursery. So I told the Prince I must get back, and why. Then
we talked about home-life; he seemed so interested in the conversation,
and I think he paid me the best compliment that a bachelor could pay. He
said: “I hope if ever I marry that my wife will give me as happy a home
as you give the Maharajah.” His words were so earnest that I wondered if
some European ladies had been weighed in the balance and found wanting.

Our mood changed from grave to gay when we discovered that, owing to the
high trap and my trailing skirt, I could not manage to get down. Word
of my plight was sent to the Maharajah, who was playing billiards. He
thought it a great joke, and without any ado he lifted me out and carried
me into the home which Prince Kinsky had been praising so much.

[Illustration: _Photo: Johnston & Hoffmann._

FAMILY GROUP AT WOODLANDS.

Maharani, Girlie, Rajey, Jit, Victor, Mrs. Eldridge (nurse), and others.]



CHAPTER X

HAPPY DAYS IN INDIA


My children led a simple life, and they look back upon it now with happy
memories. They used to go out early in the morning for their walk, come
back and have their baths, then their simple breakfast, then lessons,
after which they dressed and went out for a drive. When they returned,
they had a sing-song, supper, and bed. They were most cheerful children,
and beautifully unselfish. I hope my readers won’t think I say this
because I am their mother, for one and all of my friends used to say,
“What perfect manners these children have!” They were taught riding by an
Australian, named Oakley, who was in charge of my husband’s stables; he
was very proud of their efforts.

Rajey was a beautiful boy, always a little reserved. He was very fond of
horses, and was taught to drive when quite small. He learned high jumping
and steeplechasing, and never minded the falls. He was so brave, and
perhaps for that reason he was most admired. He thought a doctor could do
so much good to poor people. Once he got a little homæopathic medicine
case, and used to give the servants medicine when they needed it. He
loved his eldest sister and was very proud of Jit. These three were very
good friends, and Rajey used to take great care of Girlie. Nurse used to
say that Rajey often asked such questions about heaven and the stars,
such very strange questions, that she once said to me: “I wonder if that
boy will live long?”

Jit was a loving little boy. He was the most spoilt of them all because
he had such winning ways. He used to play conjuring tricks when a very
small boy. The drawing-room full of people had to look very solemn while
he performed these tricks. He would tell his audience to shut their
eyes, and he would go and hide something. He would come back, saying:
“Open your eyes and see, I have _nothing_ in my hands.” We had to close
our eyes again while he fetched back the hidden toy, exclaiming: “_Now_
open your eyes and see, I have _something_ in my hands.” These were his
childish games, and now he is quite clever at conjuring tricks.

Jit used to call me “Dearest.” Once in Darjeeling, while I was in the
nursery with the children before they went to bed and we had been
talking of people sleeping under trees before houses were built, one of
the children asked: “Who built the first house in the world?” and Jit
answered: “Of course, God built the first house.” One of the younger ones
objected: “But He has no hands.” Jit answered: “But the idea of building
came from God.”

Vic was patient and good. I remember his once sitting in my room in a
corner; I was talking to nurse, when suddenly it struck me that Vic was
there, and nurse went and brought him to me. He was cutting his fingers
instead of his nails, which he must have seen some of us doing, and the
fingers looked so sore; the nurse had not the heart to scold him, and how
good he was—not a tear, and they must have pained him much. Victor is the
biggest of my four handsome sons.

Mrs. Eldridge ruled our nursery for sixteen years, and she was of more
importance there than myself. The children loved her.

The boys and girls were all musical, and it was customary for our friends
to drop in at bedtime and listen to the children singing. Very pretty
they looked in their sleeping suits. I always dressed them in English
clothes.

On the 1st July, 1890, my little darling Hitty was born. Just before
his arrival I was very ill; it was a severe kind of influenza, and Dr.
McConnell was asked to come down from Darjeeling; my dear husband thought
I was seriously ill and wanted special medical advice. Hitty was a fine
boy with most glorious eyes; he was the only one born in Cooch Behar.
When I brought him to Calcutta we travelled almost the whole way by boat,
as it was during the rains, and most of the country was under water.
We arrived in Calcutta rather late in the day, and I foolishly gave my
baby a bath, and it was this I am sure which gave him a severe cold that
turned to double pneumonia. The doctor said he had never seen so young
an infant with this severe kind of pneumonia. But he got over it, and I
told my husband I would follow him to Simla after I had taken the baby to
Darjeeling, where the other children were, as I could not trust him with
any one but our dear old nurse. I sent everything on to Simla, but when I
got up to Darjeeling, I found it too difficult to tear myself away, and
in the end I did not go to Simla at all, which put my dear husband to
great inconvenience. For the first time I broke a promise, and for this I
shall ever feel regret.

From Cooch Behar we went up to the hills for the rainy months. The rains
are very trying in Cooch Behar; all the rivers and tanks are flooded, and
the insects! I don’t think my Western readers will believe it, but we
have more than a thousand different kinds of flying insects; and since we
have had electric light they have been worse than ever. My husband used
to have dinner inside a sort of mosquito curtain room in order to escape
from the pests.

Later on we went to Darjeeling almost every season; first we had the
Hermitage, rather a small house where I could not have the English
nursery staff, so the children had to be in another house, while the
Maharajah and I lived in the Hermitage. When I went over to see the
children, very often I would find Girlie and her brothers and some of
the staff dressed up and ready to perform little plays and charades for
my benefit. Girlie was quite clever at arranging these. She was musical,
too, and the Maharajah used to say he sang best when Girlie played his
accompaniments.

Sometimes we went to Simla; we had four houses there called Kennedy
House, which was supposed to be the oldest house in Simla, and had been
Government House. Kennedy House was situated on a ridge and had one of
the finest views in the place. One of the houses, known as Rose-bank,
has been pulled down and the railway station now stands in its place. I
do not know for what reason Lord Curzon, when Viceroy, insisted on my
husband selling this property. It could not be because a Maharajah is not
allowed to have property in Simla, as other Maharajahs have houses there.
It will always be a problem to me and to others. This property was sold
for so little money that it was almost given away. Also, when my husband
was a minor, the Bengal Government bought from him the present Government
House in Darjeeling, for a steam launch and a few thousand rupees. To
this day we do not know why it was sold for so little money, especially
considering the Maharajah was a minor.

My husband thought a great deal of the elephants, without which no Indian
ruler’s establishment is complete. The Pilkhana at Cooch Behar is under
the management of a State Superintendent, and in 1900 fifty-two elephants
were installed there. I have known eighty to be used at a shoot. The huge
animals are beautifully trained, and are so intelligent. The Maharajah
always fed his own elephant with bananas and bread. The faithful animal
knew his voice.

On days of rejoicing the elephants are much used, and their heads are
painted in gay patterns. It is a strange sight to see them salute with
their trunks. The Cooch Behar elephants are almost pets, if such a word
can be used of such huge creatures, and we often used to give them fruit
and rice when we met them in the palace grounds. We Indians think more of
our elephants than of any other animal, and they have always played an
important part in the pageants of our country.

My husband loved animals. I remember once how he tenderly comforted an
unfortunate kitten whose plaintive cries could not at first be located.
The Maharajah directed that the little animal was to be found, and after
a long time it was discovered locked up in the high gallery round the
dome of the Durbar Hall. When the frightened little thing was caught,
it was half mad with terror. My husband took it into the billiard-room,
and sat nursing it, until it quieted down and was able to lap the milk
offered it. He kept the little animal until it was quite comforted, and
then let it go.

Pretty was born in Lily Cottage in the early morning of the 22nd
November, 1891. The Maharajah was very pleased the baby was a girl. I was
very ill after she was born, and as the doctors found the case hopeless,
I was sent to Colombo as a sort of “kill or cure.” I did not die, but
returned home well and strong. My kind mother and brothers and sisters
accompanied me, and I had Girlie too. I was lame, and had to be carried
for months; my eldest brother Dada carried me up to the temple at Kandy,
where Buddha’s tooth is kept. I am sorry we did not see the tooth, but we
did not let the priests know of our visit, or rather that we wished to
see it. The temple is a fine one, and we were surprised to see so many
Buddhist nuns together. They were all young women, and sitting with alms
vessels just outside a room where I believe the tooth is kept. Pretty’s
name is Prativa.

My youngest child is a girl; her name is Sudhira, but she is still called
“Baby.” She came to us on the 7th March, 1894. Before she was born I
was very very ill with pneumonia and pleurisy; nobody thought we would
both live; the doctors said to the Maharajah: “Either the mother or the
child,” and my husband said: “I want my wife,” but he was so happy when
he found us both alive. The Maharajah spoiled all his children, and this
youngest girl he did spoil much; she never would do anything unless she
wished.

In many ways we led a very simple life, although when we entertained
none of the ceremonial adjuncts were wanting. As a family we were ideally
happy, and I loved my little children with the same devotion which I
lavished upon their father.

My great delight was to entertain. The Maharajah and I used to sit
together long before the season, whether in the hills or in Calcutta,
and make out our programme. In the hills we gave one big ball, and two
smaller—one _poudré_ and the other fancy-dress—and dinners and luncheons
almost every day, unless we dined or lunched out, and I am glad to feel
now when I look back to those happy days that nearly every one of these
parties was successful. We often gave Indian dinners, when the guests
sat on the floor and ate with their fingers. The present Lord Suffield,
then Captain Charles Harbord, every time he came, tried to eat with his
fingers, but he never was clever at getting his food to his mouth.

Our entertainments were known to be enjoyable. Our grounds in the
cold weather were always covered with tents big and small. The polo
tournaments were great events, and many of the regimental players
stayed with us for them. We generally gave a garden-party to meet Their
Excellencies the Viceroy and his wife. I remember on one occasion I had
on a pretty blue dress made by Kate Reilly, and Lady Lansdowne admired
it, which made me very proud.

Once I went to see a Maharani, the wife of a rich and educated Maharajah.
He was a friend of my dear husband’s and fond of my youngest son. I
sent messages that I wished to pay my respects to Her Highness, but the
dear lady was laid up with fever. After a few days a message came: would
I mind going to visit her, as she much wished to see me but was still
in bed with fever. Of course I went, delighted to be allowed to see an
up-country Maharani in private; we seldom get a chance of seeing other
Maharanis in their home-life. This was in Simla. I went in a rickshaw.
I waited in the drawing-room for a few minutes, and then was asked to
go up to the bedroom. Never shall I forget that picturesque scene. At
the farther end of the room, on a single bed lay a lovely woman covered
with a gold silk brocade quilt; her face was fair and small, and a huge
square-shaped diamond was in the middle of a plait that surrounded her
head like a crown. Around the bed stood four or five beautiful young
girls, some with great fans and each wearing a different coloured sari
embroidered with gold and a few valuable jewels; they were all fair with
jet-black eyes. I thought I had never before seen so many good-looking
girls together. At the foot of the bed was a huge Big Dane dog; it sat
so still I thought it was stuffed. I went near, and the Maharani looked
prettier than ever as she smiled and talked. The heir came in and stood
for a minute with clasped hands—he was a step-son, and was devoted to his
stepmother; he told me, “My own mother could not have been more kind to
me.” I said I hoped Her Highness would soon be well, and then I remarked
that the heir’s mother, the first Maharani, must have died very young.
“She was lucky, I envy her,” said the Maharani. I was surprised at this.
The Maharani went on, “How happy I would be if I could be like that, but
there is no such luck for me—to leave the Maharajah, my husband, and to
die a happy wife’s death. Would I had such luck.” Little did I then guess
the sufferings of a widow. It was strange that this Maharani should die
a few hours after her husband, and I was told they had the same funeral
pyre.

Our shooting parties were the happiest, gayest affairs imaginable. We
drove miles from the palace right into the jungle to the place where
the shooting camp was pitched, usually on the bank of a river, and it
used to be quite like a little town under canvas. We had dining- and
drawing-room tents, a large number of tents for guests, and the State
band sometimes came out to camp with us. Many guests came to our shooting
camps in those happy years, among them Lord Frederick Hamilton, Colonel
and Lady Florence Streatfeild, Colonel Frank and Lady Eva Dugdale,
Colonel Lumsden, Colonel and Mrs. Baird, Colonel and the Hon. Mrs. Burn,
Lady Hewitt, Lady Bayley, Lady Prinsep, the Duke of Sutherland and Lord
Pembroke, Lord and Lady Minto, Lord and Lady Lansdowne, the Count of
Turin, Lord and Lady Galloway, Sir Edward and Lady Sassoon, the present
Lord Suffield, Lord Ilchester, Lord Hyde, Lord Jersey, Lord and Lady
Lonsdale, Mr. Elphinstone, the Pelham Clintons, the Derek Keppels,
Prince and Princess Henry of Pless, the late Sir Henry Tichborne, and
many others. All these friends invite me to parties when I am in London.
Colonel Evan Gordon, who was our Superintendent for several years, used
to get nougat and chocolate from Paris, and these we took in our howdahs
and while we were waiting for the day’s sport, enjoyed the sweets and
read novels. I might just mention here that Mrs. Evan Gordon is a true
friend of ours. She helped me much in my coming out in English society;
her father, old Sir R. Garth, was the first man I went out for a drive
with. Mrs. Gordon’s sister, Mrs. Pemberton, sent my dear old nurse
Mrs. Eldridge out from England, for which I shall ever be grateful to
both sisters. Mrs. Gordon had built a little thatched-roof church, and
every Sunday Colonel Gordon preached, and all my English staff, and the
bandsman’s family, which was a large one, joined. It was so nice; I like
my staff to keep up their religion.

On one occasion when I was in camp and my husband was out with the
shooters, it grew late and got quite dark, and I became very anxious, as
there was no sign of the return of the Maharajah’s elephants. It grew
later and later—almost dinner time—and I asked the engineer who was in
charge of the camp, Hari Mohum Chatterjee, to fire guns. After a short
time came the welcome sound of their return. True enough they had lost
their way; it was a pitch dark evening, and the poor mahouts did not know
where they were going.

Those were happy times. We put the cares of State completely aside, and
enjoyed every hour with light hearts. Everybody was full of fun and high
spirits.

We were usually out eight or nine hours after big game and returned
to camp about 6.30 p.m. Then came a refreshing hot bath, dressing for
dinner, and a cheery meal partaken of by often no less than twenty
shooters.

Later in the evening my husband talked to the “shikari,” who told him
where to look for big game. We settled the next day’s programme, who
was to go and with whom, and all was excitement. Outside was the lovely
solemn Indian night; the sky of deep sapphire blue lit up with silver
stars was like a canopy over our camp, and the soft winds lifted the
tent openings as if curious to find out what it was we were seeking in
the solitude of the jungle. These were nights of romance, and I always
thought the music sounded more soothing than it did in our palace in the
capital. In the camp everything was natural, and the best of every one
seemed to come to the surface. We were a party of comrades in the truest
sense of the word.

Sometimes, when all was still, we heard the tigers roar in the depths
of the jungle. My husband’s valet once saw a tiger coming down on the
opposite side of the river to drink. He said it was a grand sight. The
moon was at the full and the huge beast looked splendid as it stood by
the swift river.

The tigers used to come so close to the camp in those days that once
while the servants were washing the plates after dinner a big tiger
passed by. I took my eldest girl when she was quite small to one of the
camps, and about midnight we heard tigers roaring, it seemed as if they
were just outside my tent. “Mummy,” called Girlie, “I am so frightened,
may I hold your finger?” and when she held it she was quite comforted;
she thought her mother’s weak finger was a protection from the tiger’s
roaring. I remember listening one night to tigers fighting, and very
terrifying were the sounds. The roar of the tiger in his forest home is
very different from his growl and snarl in captivity.

I was with my husband when I first saw a tiger shot. Just before we left
the camp the Maharajah made me promise not to pull his arm nor touch
his gun. I promised, but when I heard the tiger and saw our elephant
moving his ears, my good resolutions fled, and I began to pull first my
husband’s arm and then his coat. Even now I can see his amused smile as
he looked back at me.

The grass grows very high in the jungle, but it is burned down in
patches, usually in February so that the young grass can grow. The jungle
was always very fascinating to me; the trees covered with wild orchids,
the sweet air, are lovely to look back upon; in those wilds we could read
“the book of nature ever open.”

We lunched at mid-day under the trees. One day I got off my elephant to
look at a little village. A crowd of the villagers had assembled, and one
of them begged me, as the “Mother,” to honour his cottage with the “dust
of my feet.” I complied at once, and as I was going in my host lifted the
mantle from his shoulders and placed it on the ground, saying as he did
so: “Will the ‘Mother’ stand on this?” When this ceremony was completed
his family came to pay their respects. “My home is greatly honoured by
the presence of Lakshmi,” he said gravely. I was touched by this simple
ceremony, and glad to find this village home so clean. There was a garden
well stocked with fruit and vegetables. All was happiness and content,
and as I looked at the clear flowing river and the background of forest,
I felt as near Peace as I should ever be.

One evening I was returning to camp with a friend who had made a very
unhappy marriage. He told me some of his troubles, and as the elephant
made its way through the jungle we heard the thin, sad notes of a
flute. The air was very still. Soon we saw the player, a shepherd, who
was standing on a little hill, against the fading light. He looked so
peaceful and happy.

As we listened and looked my friend sighed: “Oh, I’d give anything to be
in his place.”

One season Count Waldstein of Austria came out to see India and do a
little shooting; we all liked him very much, he was a most charming boy.
He did not seem very strong, but was very keen on shooting tigers. He
went out to camp, but came back with fever and the doctors ordered him up
to Darjeeling, where the poor boy died. I have since met his mother; her
affectionate heart has drawn me nearer to her than hundreds of the ladies
I have met, and her love touched me. I prize her letters more than I can
say.

Sir Benjamin Simpson, who was one of the guardians of the Maharajah,
took many photographs of the shooting-parties at Cooch Behar. An English
maid, after she left me, was staying in a house in Scotland and said she
saw some of the pictures on the films, to her surprise. An Englishman
has published a book about his shooting in India, and has put into it as
illustrations many of the photographs of our shooting camps, calling them
his own! The amusing part is that the Maharajah’s guests, A.D.C.’s, and
staff are in the groups, which the gentleman could not alter.

In our shoots tigers, rhinoceros, buffaloes, leopards, panthers, bears,
bisons, boars, and deer of all kinds fell before the guns, and made a
grand “bag” at the end of the day’s sport. Once when I was out with my
husband after rhinoceros, some wild orchids attracted my attention, and I
cried out longingly, “Can’t I have some of those orchids?” The Maharajah
laughingly answered: “Rhino comes first, Sunity.”

I must tell my readers an amusing story. A nobleman of high position
often came to Cooch Behar for shooting, and after one of his visits
I received a large parcel from Japan containing some very expensive
kimonos. I was delighted with them, and thought the parcel came from
the earl and his wife, so I wrote to the lady and thanked them. In the
meanwhile I got a letter from a friend of ours saying she had sent the
kimonos. After some weeks the countess wrote saying she was so pleased I
liked the kimonos her husband had chosen.

I am sure there can have been few sportsmen to equal my husband. He was
a fine polo-player, good at tennis and rackets, and a wonderful shot;
while riding, driving, wrestling, and dancing seemed to come naturally to
him. His voice was sweet, and he looked his best in his national dress.
I remember Lord Dufferin once remarking, when he saw him in full dress,
“Maharajah, you do your country credit.” My husband had a great desire to
make Indian boys keen about sport, and started football for them at Cooch
Behar. If he had a weakness, it was his kindness to others.

Although he was progressive in his ideas, the Maharajah never approved of
our ladies coming out too freely. He disliked women who smoked and drank
with men. He used to say: “India has not yet arrived at the stage when
her women can mix freely with men.” I have often heard him declare that
unchecked Indian youth is far worse than that of any other country. If he
saw a girl with rouged cheeks and reddened lips, he would say: “You must
never make yourselves look common by painting your faces. God gave women
their good looks. Don’t use Art.”

This ruler, whom so many envied for his wealth and worldly state, was
at heart the simplest soul. He was perfectly happy when we were alone
in Cooch Behar. In the hills we often cooked together on Sundays in our
special kitchen. My husband made vegetable curries, while I was busy with
the sweets. My boys and girls also cooked. Sundays were eagerly looked
forward to by all of us.

After dinner we had music and played cards. Had any one dropped in then
they would have found our house was not that of a Royal Monarch, but of a
happy father and husband surrounded by his loving wife and children.



CHAPTER XI

EDUCATION OF THE BOYS


Rajey’s education was at first entrusted to governesses, but in Lord
Lansdowne’s time, when he was about eleven, we had to settle where he
should go to school. There is a college in Rajputana, founded by Lord
Mayo and known as Mayo College, where only the Rajput and up-country
Princes were educated; no Bengal Prince had the privilege of going there,
whether the Maharajahs in that part did not wish it or whether there was
any caste prejudice I cannot say. However, Lord Lansdowne kindly arranged
that Rajey should be sent there, and Colonel William Lock, the principal,
gave my son a cordial welcome.

[Illustration: MY THREE YOUNGER SONS.

Jit, Victor, and Hitty.]

Mr. B. Ghose was appointed Rajey’s private tutor. Oh, how I felt that
first parting! I knew that Rajey must be trained for the duties of his
position, yet I dreaded giving him over to others. As I bade him farewell
at the Calcutta railway station, I was amazed to see how “grown-up” he
had suddenly become. He was self-possessed and quiet, yet how loving. As
I kissed him, trying to be calm and cheerful, I felt the child was taking
his first real step in life. I see him now, the dear face, the loving
eyes. There was such perfect understanding between us that a look was
sufficient to tell me of what Rajey was thinking, and it is the mother’s
triumph over death that the love between us still exists and that he is
nearer than ever to me now.

I heard that on the night of his arrival Rajey felt the cold exceedingly
and was quite ill. “Won’t you go to bed?” asked Mr. Sen, the late Dewan
who went with him. “No … no …,” replied the child firmly, “it might hurt
Colonel Lock’s feelings.” Rajey was so considerate. He never liked to
inflict pain upon any one.

Rajey was very popular at Mayo College. He studied well, and entered into
all kinds of sports with zest. His hobby was engines and engineering. He
was wonderfully clever in anything connected with mechanics; he used to
say: “When I am grown up, I will be an engine-driver. I will get Rs.20
pay and I will give Rs.18 to Hookmi (a favourite servant) because he
is so much older than I, and I will keep Rs.2 for myself.” He was also
very fond of playing at fighting and building forts. He built one in our
Calcutta Palace garden and another in the Cooch Behar Palace garden which
still exists.

In 1894, Rajey was removed from Mayo College, and I knew I had to face a
longer separation from my first-born. It was very difficult at the time
of my son’s education to know how the young Kumars and future rulers of
India were to be trained and where. Some said an English education would
not be good for these boys. Others said everybody under the British
Empire should learn English and be educated in England if possible, as
it fitted them for work of any sort in life. There was much discussion on
the subject. The Maharajah decided on education in England, because he
had great faith in the discipline of the great English public schools.

When I heard that it was decided Rajey should go to England to
complete his education, I thought I would speak about it to the
Lieutenant-Governor Sir Charles Elliott. I opened my heart to him and
said that it was not right to take young Raj-Kumars away from their
country and people. “I believe in home influence. I do not like the idea
of Rajey’s going such a great distance away from all of us; and he such a
homely boy.”

But Sir Charles Elliott told me: “There is no college in India like an
English public school; it will do your son good, and you will not regret
having sent him.” I told him: “It will be very hard for the boy when he
returns from England to be content with the people of Cooch Behar, who
are so backward.” And I also said: “How can you expect the boy to keep
well in the Cooch Behar climate after being out of it for so many years?
It may not agree with him when he comes back.”

Somehow nobody took much notice of my remarks and suggestions. But
strangely enough when Lord Curzon was Viceroy I heard remarks made by him
“that the Cooch Behar boys were too English, and it was hard on them to
have been sent away from Cooch Behar when they were so young.”

It was disappointing that such a remark should have come from a clever
Viceroy like Lord Curzon. If he had made inquiries he would have found it
was from a Lieutenant-Governor that the advice had come.

I have often thought what a pity it is we have no Indian Eton, where our
boys could be educated without being cut off from their home life. For
our boys love their homes and can have no home-life in England. Many
Indian mothers have a horror of an English education and think that ruin
is bound to overtake their children once they set foot in London.

I am of opinion that my people do _not_ require a Western education.
People seem to forget that thousands of years ago India produced
astronomers, poets, and sages, when most of the European races of to-day
were cave-dwellers. I feel hurt when I hear or read remarks about the
bad taste we are supposed to display in our rush after English ideas.
Boys who are educated in England do not always get the chance of seeing
the right and bright side of English Society, and perhaps get married
to girls who are not of their class. I do not blame either the Indian
students or the Government for the troubles that have arisen, but as a
mother I beg of the English people to go thoroughly into the whole matter
before they judge the students.

Rajey was, I think, the first Maharajah’s son to receive an English
education. “I want my sons to be brought up just as ordinary boys, not
as Indian Princes,” was my husband’s often-repeated wish, and I think
he imagined that England would do the best for them. In May, 1894, Rajey
and his father left India and I did not see my son again for nearly four
years. On their arrival in England, the boy was sent to Mr. Carter’s
Preparatory School at Farnborough.

If Rajey was home-sick he did not say so, and I was happy to know that
he made some very nice friends, amongst them Prince Arthur of Connaught.
The Duke and Duchess were most kind to the little exile, and often
invited him to spend his holidays with their Royal Highnesses at Bagshot.
From there Rajey wrote: “I have a room to myself, a table of my own, a
penknife, a pen and pencil on the table.” I shall always be indebted to
them for their kindness.

Rajey entered Eton in 1897, and was in Mr. Durnford’s[1] house. He became
very popular with the boys. An old Etonian told me that my son possessed
the most beautiful character, and that “no boy was ever more beloved than
Rajey.”

From the age of twelve till he was sixteen my son was separated from me.
I think it was most unkind the way in which the State officials prevented
me from going to England to be with my boy. Every time the question was
raised, they made the excuse of money difficulties, which I know for
certain did not exist. I beg of all Maharani mothers in India that, if
ever they are confronted with the same trouble, they will be firm, uphold
their own judgment, and not allow the officials to interfere with their
home-life. It is cruel to part the heirs when they are so young from
their mothers. Now I think it was perhaps a waste of time to educate a
ruler’s heir in England. The Maharajah did what he and the Government
thought best at the time by sending our boys to England for a thorough
English education, but afterwards the boys felt their lack of knowledge
of the Indian languages very much. They returned home knowing Greek and
French, but they did not know Sanscrit or Urdu and found it difficult
to speak freely and fluently in the Cooch Behar language. I think there
should be Sanscrit teachers in England as well as teachers of Urdu and
Bengali; Sanscrit is the most ancient language, and with a knowledge of
it one can read and learn much that is most helpful. The heir to a State
should have a more general education than the other sons; he should
have some knowledge of law, engineering, accountancy, and agriculture,
otherwise he cannot improve his State nor help the officials. The
education of a Maharajah’s younger sons, too, is a difficulty. A
Maharajah is not allowed to buy any lands in British districts. I do not
know what the reason of this is, but I think I once heard that if the
sons of a ruler or his servants commit any crime they cannot be tried
by British law because of the Maharajah’s own laws, which may account
for it. This comes very hard on the younger sons; they can never make
themselves rich nor independent. They have to live on their father’s
estate on whatever allowance the heir is pleased to give them after
their father’s death. I do not see why a Maharajah’s younger sons cannot
buy lands in British districts and be independent.

We lost our dear mother in 1898, and I do not think she was sorry to go.
The time of separation from my father had been a period of continual
sorrow to her, and Death was a friend who re-united them. Her beautiful
face wore a smile and she looked like one asleep dreaming of happiness.
We could not wish her back again, although our hearts were aching at her
loss.

After my mother had passed away my unmarried sisters lived with my
brother Saral at Lily Cottage. Saral said: “Unless my sisters marry I
shall remain single, and I shall not accept any post that will take me
away from them.” Although he was younger than my third sister he took
care of them like a guardian. He simply lived for his sisters and they
one and all adored him. Eventually he married a Miss Sen of Rangoon and
built a little house in the grounds of Lily Cottage. This brother of mine
nursed my husband in his last illness, for which I shall ever be grateful
to him.

The question of Girlie’s marriage came up in 1899, and we realised for
the first time what difficulties might arise over it. No Maharajah except
my husband was a professed Brahmo, and as our rulers have more than
one wife, it was impossible to find a husband of her own rank for our
daughter. But Mr. Jyotsna Ghosal, of the I.C.S., a member of one of our
best Bengali families and a grandson of Maharshi Tagore, proposed for her
and was accepted.

As Jyotsna is a civilian, he could not get leave long enough to go to
Cooch Behar, so, to the great disappointment of the State people, the
wedding had to be at Woodlands, our Calcutta house. Invitations for the
wedding were sent to a great number of English officials and friends, and
the ceremony took place on the 29th November, 1899, in an enormous tent
in the grounds of Woodlands, and three of our missionaries married the
young couple. Girlie wore a red and gold sari and was literally covered
in jewels from head to foot. She was nearly sixteen, a lovely young girl
with the sweetest disposition; the bridesmaids wore white and gold, and
my husband and the boys looked splendid in their national costumes.

Jyotsna looked very nice in _eau-de-nil_ Benares silk, and every one
remarked how picturesque Girlie looked, and what a happy future seemed
in store for her. Cooch Behar was illuminated in honour of the wedding;
prisoners were released; life pensions were granted, and remissions of
revenue. In the tent there were thousands of seats and hundreds of our
English friends sat there, while on the raised platforms the bride and
bridegroom, the three missionaries, the Maharajah, and the boys were
seated. Girlie had numerous wedding presents; hundreds of beautiful
saris, English and Indian silver sets for dinner, tea, and toilet, and
lovely jewels from the Maharajah and friends. After the wedding was over
about eight hundred guests had dinner together, even the drivers of the
carriages each and all had dinner given to them in an earthenware pot
tied up with muslin, and next day Girlie went to her father-in-law’s
house. The parting was sad, but she was so young and pretty we all
expected her to be happy in her new home. On the third evening was the
flower ceremony and we sent presents, carried by about five hundred
men. Girlie’s mother-in-law had been one of the most beautiful girls in
India; she is very clever and is one of the younger daughters of the
Maharshi Tagore and sister to Sir Rabindra Nath Tagore. Girlie has two
sisters-in-law, but Jyotsna is the only son and adored by his parents.
They welcomed Girlie with great rejoicings and all her new relations are
very proud of her. We knew Jyotsna to be absolutely trustworthy, and
after twenty-two years I can still say that I could not wish for a better
son-in-law.

In 1900 Rajey was at Oxford, and the younger boys at Eton and
Farnborough. All my boys, while in England, made numerous friends. Had
it not been for the kindness of these friends, I should have been more
unhappy and anxious about my boys being so far away from their home.
Rajey was much admired, and had he not been so reserved in character he
might have been quite spoiled.

Those who knew them at the Preparatory School and Eton have been their
best friends. I can never express my gratitude to some of these friends.
Long before I had the pleasure of knowing any of them, they used to ask
my Rajey to go and spend the holidays with them. Mrs. Nicholas Wood is
one of these friends, she has been kind to all my boys. Jit once said:
“She is my adopted mother.”

Lady Amir Ali, whose husband was a judge out here, asked Rajey once
to come from Eton to lunch with her in London. Rajey had leave to go,
dressed himself nicely, and came up to town; but when he arrived in the
street, he found he had forgotten the number. He walked up and down the
street several times, stopped at several houses, but in vain, and had to
return to Eton, disappointed and hungry.

After a short time at Oxford Rajey returned to India; he was growing
up and the Maharajah was anxious to have his son with him, to help in
administrative work and to take a prominent position in the State. It
was a splendid idea. It would have brought father and son together in
close comradeship with a common interest, and Rajey could have assumed
a definite position in Cooch Behar. To my great disappointment, I found
that the Viceroy wished Rajey to join the Cadet Corps. This Cadet
Corps was started by Lord Curzon; no commissions, no prospects, and no
position were attached to it; it could not even be called the Army. The
Maharajahs’ sons lived in some ordinary buildings like a barrack. One day
Rajey, who had been thus forced to join, was out walking when he passed
the General and the Commanding Officer. Afterwards the C.O. was much
annoyed with him because he had not made a proper salute to the General.
Rajey answered: “But, sir, I could not make a military salute because the
General was not in uniform.” The C.O. was, I believe, in a rage, but he
was wrong and my son was right; evidently the C.O. did not know the Army
regulations. Later, Jit and Victor followed Rajey into this corps.

Most unwise remarks were made by the Dewan and Superintendent about Rajey
learning administrative work. The Dewan said bluntly that there was
nothing for the Maharaj Kumar to learn. The Superintendent told me the
Viceroy wished Rajey to devote himself to the Cadet Corps until he was
twenty-six years of age, and then he might return to the State. I was
amazed and could not understand why the heir should be made to stay away
from his State and parents so long! But the State people seemed to know
more about it. They thought: “The Maharaj Kumar is too clever to be with
his father, who is surrounded with such officials as we.” One day a major
remarked to me: “Well, Maharani, you’ve sent Rajey into the Cadet Corps.
What will he learn? Nothing. You might as well send me.” This outspoken
comment was the opinion of many.

I wonder why no Viceroy of India has ever given any of our young Princes
a place on his staff. It would appeal tremendously to our people and
prove that the much-discussed English training meets with its reward. Our
Princes mix on terms of equality with Englishmen at the public schools
and universities. Yet, in their own land, they are denied positions of
honour!

Queen Victoria was loved by the Indians more than people in England
have any idea of, and we often expressed the belief that our happiness
was due to the reign of a Queen. She was known, and will ever be known,
as the “Good Queen.” Indian women appreciated the fact that she was a
good wife, a good mother, and a good woman all round. When the news of
her illness came every one spoke of it with grief. “What shall we do if
anything happens to Queen Victoria?” Although they never had the honour
of seeing their Queen, all Indian women admired and respected our late
Empress, and I well remember when the news came and the guns were fired,
how all the ladies said: “We have lost our Mother.” How I wished I had
seen her once more! My dear friend, Miss Minnie Cochrane, told me that
Her Majesty had several times expressed a wish to see me again, and my
great regret is that I did not have the honour and pleasure of showing
my Victor to his godmother. When I came over in 1902 I went to see her
mausoleum at Frognal, and I wrote a few lines in Bengali, tied them to
a wreath, and presented it. I had brought the children with me on this
visit, and first of all rented Moor Hall, a country house between Battle
and Bexhill; but the place disagreed with us, and the slow train service
completed our disenchantment. We came up to town, and in the winter I
went to Switzerland with the girls. We stayed at Territet and Villeneuve.
The latter I thought was pretty, and some of the old villages were rather
like India with their brick buildings and stone steps; but no scenery in
Europe ever appeals to me like that of my own country.

As the Maharajah was coming over shortly for King Edward’s Coronation,
we returned to London _viâ_ Paris, and I rented Ditton Park, a lovely
place between Slough and Datchet. The King had given a house in Lancaster
Gate to my husband as his guest and aide-de-camp. That summer is one of
my happiest recollections. The children were all growing up. Two of the
boys were at Eton, and the youngest at Farnborough. Rajey was the dearest
companion, and most devoted son that ever gladdened a mother’s heart.
What more had I to wish for?

I remember a wonderful toy railway, lines, tunnels, hills, and everything
in miniature, which the boys constructed in the park, and I opened
this “Ditton Park Route” with great ceremony. Then came the mania for
cricket, when every one played most of the day, and a cart conveyed lunch
to the teams. The boys’ friends often came from Eton without leave on
Sundays—luckily they were not expelled—and revelled in curry teas. It
was all light-hearted merriment and one perpetual romp. They had to fly
back to college; sometimes it got late and my third brother had to drive
them back, and they always sang: “Good-bye, Sally, I must leave you.”
How happy Jit and Victor were! How I had struggled to avoid parting with
the boys when they first went to school, but seeing them so happy with
so many nice little friends my heart bowed down with gratitude that they
should be Eton boys. Even now when they meet their Eton friends they
speak happily of their college days. My poor darling little Hitty was the
one who most wished to stay at home; not that he was unhappy at school,
but he loved being with me. When he came home for the week-ends, every
time I saw him off in the train big tears would roll down his cheeks and
make my heart ache till I saw him again. And now he has gone and left me
to weep over those days of my happy past.

When news came that, owing to the King’s illness, there would be no
Coronation, London wore a most miserable aspect; I don’t think I have
ever seen anything to equal it. But when our beloved Monarch rallied and
recovered, the sad time of doubt and danger through which the nation had
passed, was quickly forgotten.

When I was having my hair dressed to attend the Coronation ceremonies
the attendant said to me: “Perhaps some day the Kaiser will be King
of England.” I asked her why, and she said: “Because he is the son of
the Queen’s eldest child, and ought to be the heir.” I could not help
laughing at the idea, and said: “England can’t be Germany; it will always
be England.”

I went to the Coronation with Rajey, who had a very unsuitable seat
among the tradespeople, owing to some regrettable oversight. He looked
beautiful in white with many jewels. My husband rode in the procession
as one of King Edward’s A.D.C.’s. We were invited to the party at the
Foreign Office, and Rajey was in attendance on the present King, and wore
British uniform. His complexion was fair, and I remember some of my lady
friends in the gallery did not at first recognise him. He had recently
been appointed to a commission in the Westminster Dragoons.

I stood between Princess Frederica of Hanover and Princess Henry of
Pless, and people remarked on the contrast between us, as Princess
Frederica had the loveliest grey hair and Princess Henry of Pless
beautiful fair hair, and my locks were raven black. I heard that my tiara
was voted the prettiest there.

The review held at Buckingham Palace was a wonderful sight. Three times
a message was sent that I should take a position near Her Majesty. I
hesitated, thinking there must be some mistake. As we waited on the
terrace, the King came up and shook hands with me, and Queen Alexandra
asked me to follow her to the tent in the grounds. When we entered I was
directed to sit near His Majesty, and felt most nervous all the time. I
was thinking somebody had made a mistake when they put me in that seat of
honour.

After the presentation of medals to the troops, His Majesty rose and
handed me something, saying a few words as graciously as he alone knew
how to speak. The “something” was the Coronation Medal, and as I was the
only lady to whom one was given, I was touched and very much overcome, as
I curtsied and expressed my gratitude. I remember how amused the Prince
of Wales (now our King) was when the colour came off the red-covered
boxes of Coronation Medals which he was giving away. At the finish his
white gloves were stained vivid crimson, and he and the Grand Duke of
Hesse regarded the effect of the faulty dye as a huge joke.

The Court was gorgeous. I had a handsome dress made by a French milliner
for the occasion. The heavy gold embroidery was unique; it was very like
the Delhi embroidery and was much admired. I believe I looked rather
nice, as an old friend said: “The Maharani looked her best.” The Princess
of Wales, our present Queen, liked the dress very much, and thought it
was a piece of Indian work. Both Their Majesties spoke graciously to me
when I made my deep curtsies. A message was sent from Lady Lansdowne, who
was next the King, that Their Majesties wished me to stand in the front
line so that I might have a good view of the ladies passing. I was most
grateful and impressed by the kind thought of Their Majesties. I often
wondered how their royal minds remembered so many little things.

At the grand State Ball after King Edward’s Coronation one of the ladies,
very handsomely dressed, had forgotten to fasten her waistband; I felt
most uncomfortable seeing this, and longed to tell her but did not like
to. Her appearance was magnificent, but to my mind quite spoiled by the
two strips of ribbon with hooks hanging down.

We lunched with Their Royal Highnesses, the Connaughts. It was one of the
most enjoyable parties to which I have been asked.

I went to a party at Lady Warwick’s and stayed the night, and I found her
as clever as she is handsome and a most charming hostess.

We went to one review, at which we had seats somewhere right away. I was
touched when some of the Princes saluted me in the distance. It pleased
my Rajey. I also went to the Duke of Westminster’s dance.

Shortly after, a polo team was to go from England to Trouville. My
husband could not get away from his duties as the King’s A.D.C. and Rajey
was to play for his father in the team. I am not usually superstitious,
but I had misgivings about this journey. The morning Rajey was leaving
for Trouville it was cold and foggy. When he came to say good-bye I told
him that perhaps the crossing would be very rough and unsafe. He only
laughed. Within a short time after he had started I heard his voice on
the stairs, and he came in and said: “Mother, I just missed the train.”
Then I exclaimed: “Oh, darling, don’t go; your missing the train shows
you are not to go to-day.” But he would not listen to this. He started
by a later train. And that day’s dark fog brought him ill luck and from
that trip his health was never the same.

One day, when I was walking in the garden at Ditton, I received a
telegram from a friend who was at Trouville that Rajey was “getting
better.” Why! I did not even know that Rajey was ill. What did the
telegram mean? Then my husband broke the alarming news that my son had
had a dreadful fall at polo, but luckily the pony stood still and he had
escaped worse injury.

I shall always be grateful to our kind friends, the Hays, for all they
did for my Rajey while he was at Trouville.

The French doctors’ treatment has always been incomprehensible to me.
For days during Rajey’s period of unconsciousness they kept him on
nothing but champagne. When he was able to be moved, my son was brought
to London, and the specialists whom we consulted gave their opinion that
he had not sustained any injury to his head, but my husband was not
satisfied and felt something was wrong.

We went to Lowther Castle to stay with Lord and Lady Lonsdale. It is a
fine castle with very pretty gardens. I admired the rock gardens. One
thing I saw there which I shall never forget and I am grateful to Lord
Lonsdale for having shown it to me, and that is the blue lotus. It blooms
in the evening and closes in the day. It is an extraordinary thing that
in the Hindu mythology it is written that when Ram Chandra went to Ceylon
he worshipped his goddess with the blue lotus, and since then it has
never been seen or heard of in India. When I told my people in India
that I had seen the blue lotus they were so interested and begged me to
try and bring it to them. Lord Lonsdale said he got it from America, and
promised to send me a plant, but it has not yet come. Rajey, who was with
us, was too ill to enjoy the visit, and our friends declared that his
proper place was a darkened room and a rest cure.

After a stay of a few weeks I had to return to India for the arrival of
my first grandchild, and to make preparations to take part in the great
Durbar at Delhi. When I arrived in Calcutta I found Girlie suffering
from a very high fever; Woodlands looked like a nursing home; nurses and
doctors were everywhere, and it was a depressing atmosphere. I watched my
child, and instead of getting better she grew worse. One day, I do not
know what made me think of it, but I suddenly determined to take my child
away to the hills. It was very cold, and the doctors were horrified at my
suggestion, but I took Girlie, first to Kurseong, which is not so high,
and afterwards to Darjeeling, which was quite deserted, and I am thankful
to say within a few days she got better.

I now began to think about the Durbar. I heard that all the Maharanis
present were to be in purdah, and I decided to follow their example, but
my husband told me, unless I was given my rightful position by his side,
he would not take me.

Rajey, who was seriously injured internally, had such a wonderful
constitution that he looked neither ill nor sad, although he was in
the hot sun for hours at the Durbar. It was a magnificent sight, and
I shall never forget the display of jewels worn by our Princes. There
were emeralds of a wonderful deep green, priceless pearls, rubies like
blood, and diamonds dazzling in their brightness; in fact there were
jewels everywhere, even the elephants were decorated with them. I saw a
Maharajah whose gold fan was fringed with beautiful pearls. I shall never
forget the elephant procession; it would have been a perfectly joyful
occasion but for a misfortune. Mrs. H. M⸺ was staying with me in our camp
at the time, and as I had not received a card the Maharajah did not wish
me to go. Mrs. M⸺, on hearing this, said she would make it all right
for me, she was certain to be able to get a card from Sir H. Barnes,
who was an old friend of hers, and I must go. When the morning came,
however, there was still no card and I said I would not go, but Mrs. M⸺
pressed me hard; she was bent upon my going, and against the Maharajah’s
wishes I set out with her. The result was that in the end we made quite
a sensation among the crowd. My coachman was directed by Mrs. M⸺, and we
drove on and on and turned from one road to another and often drove back,
as after a time on certain roads no carriage was allowed to pass. Mrs. M⸺
stopped the carriage dozens of times to ask the mounted policemen where
Sir H. Barnes was, but no one gave her satisfactory answers; we went past
the same places over and over again. Many of my friends, relations, and
acquaintances saw me and wondered what had happened. It got late and the
policemen said we must alight as carriages were no longer allowed to be
there. Several times I told Mrs. M⸺ I wished to return to camp, but she
would not hear of it. We went near the Masjid—the place where English
ladies gathered to see the procession. Mrs. M⸺ wanted me to wait till she
found Sir H. Barnes. The sun was hot, and I felt frightfully insulted
and hurt. Some people who were there asked me to go up the steps, which
I did. When I got inside I tried to smile, but I felt more like crying.
I met some of the Viceroy’s A.D.C.s and told them that I had gone
there without a card and felt nervous. Instead of offering me a chair
or saying something to ease my mind they walked away. Thus that most
enjoyable sight, the elephant procession, is stamped on my mind as “a sad
experience.”

Lady Curzon looked very handsome in her splendid dress. The cheers with
which Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Connaught were
greeted can never be forgotten. Lord Curzon made a grand speech, really
I felt that I could scarcely tire of listening to him, he is such an
eloquent speaker.

In 1904 Rajey was taken ill. Our own doctor diagnosed the complaint as
remittant malaria, a complaint of which I had not heard. He became
rapidly worse, and in despair I wrote to my husband, who was in
Darjeeling, and told him that I thought Rajey ought to have the best
advice in Calcutta. When consulted, the Calcutta physicians declared that
the opinion of a London specialist was necessary, as Rajey’s heart was
affected. He was ordered to England at once, but needless to say he was
not allowed to go until he had received leave from the Cadet Corps. It
was monsoon time and my poor boy went alone. Afterwards I found out to
my intense annoyance that our Superintendent had written privately to
the Calcutta doctors, asking if the Maharaj-Kumar were _actually_ ill,
or merely gone to England to enjoy himself. The doctors were furious at
this, and did not mind telling the Superintendent so. One of them said:
“Does he think I’m open to a bribe?” This trivial incident shows what
used to happen when our personal affairs were in question, but I am
happy to say this state of things is gradually being changed. My darling
son was not allowed to go in search of health without being exposed
to the insult of suspicion, and mud thrown in this manner sticks. It
is impossible not to feel some bitterness over the many cruel rumours
which are entirely without foundation. Let a ruler or prince have but
the slightest failing, it is instantly magnified fourfold and discussed
unmercifully, without a single attempt to counterbalance it by any
remembrance of the victim’s better qualities.

I have been obliged to sit and listen to falsehoods about princes who
were our friends which almost took my breath away, as I realised their
cruelty and injustice. I remember one Maharajah in particular who was
a very kind man, very “English” and very sporting. He knew us well,
and I remember my husband telling me how this Maharajah once saved the
honour of an officer. The latter had had a bad day at the races and was
thousands of rupees in debt. He was a hard-up, smart Army man, and could
not lay his hand on such an amount. What was he to do? The honour of a
British officer was at stake. Suddenly he remembered the Prince and sent
a despairing message telling him of his plight. The kind Prince paid the
debt of honour without a moment’s hesitation. When the Prince died later
people spoke of him most unkindly and hailed his death as the best thing
that could have happened to him.

I always think of that poor Prince in connection with a certain old Sudan
legend:

A little village far away in the jungle was smitten with cholera, and the
panic-stricken people wanted to put the great stone image of their god
into the Ganges until the plague was over. One of the villagers dreamt
that the god appeared and told him that his image could only be moved by
a man who was pure in heart and loved God. The villager related his dream
to the priests, and orders were issued that the people should assemble on
the morrow and try to find a man who could carry out the instructions of
the god. All tried, the so-called best men, the holy, the strongest, the
bravest. But to no avail! The stone image smiled its inscrutable smile
in the scented gloom of the temple, and the priests were in despair. At
last a thick voice broke the stillness, and the villagers saw a man,
whom they all knew to be a hopeless drunkard, come reeling unsteadily
into the sacred precincts of the temple. “What’s all this I hear about
the dream?” he demanded, propping himself up against a worshipper’s
unwilling shoulder. “I tell you it is quite true. The great god knows who
loves him and who loves him not. There’s none here who loves him better
than I do. So mine shall be the hands to give him to the care of Mother
Ganges.” He swayed towards the huge image as he spoke, and the horrified
crowd thought that some dreadful punishment would fall upon him for such
sacrilege.

The drunkard approached slowly; for an instant he pressed his
drink-swollen face against the marigold-wreathed breast of the image;
then clasping it in his arms, he lifted the idol from its recess as if it
were light as a feather, and carried it forth to the bank of the river.

The awe-stricken throng were speechless with amazement that a poor
drunkard should be chosen to show them how, under the cloak of failings
and frailties, there existed a heart which remained pure, and wherein was
to be found “the invisible kingdom of God,” which is all truth and all
love.

[1] Now Sir Walter Durnford, Provost of King’s College, Cambridge.



CHAPTER XII

SAD DAYS


Life went on very much as usual year after year. My children, my duties,
and my social interests filled up most of my time. In 1906 I went to
England with Jit, Pretty, and Baby, and Rajey joined us later. We lived
near Englefield Green at Park Close, where there was a luxurious Roman
bath. One day after luncheon I had washed my hair and was sitting
drying it when the children came running up: H.R.H. the late Duchess of
Connaught and her daughter were in the drawing-room. It was just like her
gracious dear self to pay so delightful a surprise visit. I twisted up my
hair and ran down and expressed my delight and thanked the Duchess. It
was wonderful how she had remembered me and found my address. This kind
action perhaps was little to her but it meant much to me.

Our life was peaceful and untroubled, and I was glad to have my children
with me. The two girls were growing exceedingly pretty, and I was proud
of the admiration they received. I have often been playfully accused of
over-indulging my girls, but I was so proud of them that I loved to see
them wearing pretty things. Pretty was like a gorgeous damask rose just
unfolding to loveliness, but perfectly simple and sweet. Once in Calcutta
she was telephoning to Lord Bury, one of the A.D.C.’s, who asked who she
was. Pretty said: “Don’t you know me? I am Pretty.” Lord Bury, whose
manners are just what an A.D.C.’s should be, said: “Are you?” One evening
at Lily Cottage there was a “jatra.” I left Pretty on the terrace, and my
sister Bino said to me: “That daughter of yours is beautiful; she looks
as if a fairy had dropped her from heaven.” Pretty is musical and loving;
her weakness is she can never say “no.” When she has a grand wardrobe, if
any one comes and admires anything, she feels she must make a present of
it to her. If she goes to buy a dress, perhaps the dress is unbecoming to
her, yet she buys it because the dressmaker wishes her to have it. She
keeps her room beautifully tidy, but as far as her dresses go I do not
think any girl can be more careless. Once in Simla, when we were there
for a few weeks, Lady Minto asked us to a dinner and dance. Pretty was
expecting a new dress that evening; as it did not turn up, I told her
to put on one of her old ones. She was disappointed but obeyed me. Lady
Minto kindly sent her brougham to drive us to Government House, and when
we went in to the brilliantly lighted drawing-room an A.D.C. whom we knew
very well asked Pretty if she had not any other dress; it looked so old
and untidy.

During this second visit to England I was invited to a family luncheon at
Marlborough House, at which I was the only guest. It was a happy simple
meal. Some of the Royal children were at table, and I remember a dear
little boy who played with a book on the floor and ran up to his father
now and then to show him a picture. The baby came in with the sweets,
and the Princess and I talked about our children to our hearts’ content.
I shall always remember that happy scene of Royal home life: the Prince
of Wales all kindness, the Princess, the ideal young matron, handsome
in her fair healthy style, and happy in the possession of her beautiful
children. I only wish my country-women could have seen that picture of
happy home life, it would have impressed them deeply. We talked about
India and the Indians, and H.R.H. told me she liked everything Indian.

The Prince and Princess of Wales visited India in 1905. During their
visit my husband met with an accident at polo, and His Royal Highness
sent frequently to ask how he was.

The Princess went to a zenana party at Belvedere, which was attended by
ladies of the highest rank. Every one was charmed with their future Queen
and she presented us with medals in commemoration of her visit.

Their Royal Highnesses graciously honoured us with their company at
luncheon. We had only a few friends present, among them Sir Patrick
Playfair, who told me afterwards that the Prince of Wales said they had
enjoyed their lunch.

In honour of their visit there was an enormous Indian reception, at
which my daughter Baby, looking very pretty and graceful, presented
a bouquet: and at the laying of the Foundation Stone of the Victoria
Institute both Sir Louis Dane’s daughter and Baby presented bouquets
to Their Royal Highnesses. I remember an old English gentleman saying
afterwards to me: “What a beautiful little girl your Baby is, and how
beautifully she made her curtsy! I shall have to wait until she grows up
and marry her.”

The Cadet Corps was, of course, well to the front on the occasion of
Their Royal Highnesses’ visit, and I must say that for the first time I
was glad it was so ornamental. My boys looked very handsome on horseback
in their white achkans, blue belts, and turbans of white, blue, and gold.

The Maharajah, who was in the prime of life, now suddenly lost his
splendid health. He had become very thin, and began to look ill, which
alarmed us very much, and we decided to go to England and consult the
best specialists. In May, 1910, when we arrived in Bombay, the papers
were full of startling rumours about the health of King Edward; we
already knew from private sources that His Majesty was ill. Just as
we were going on board the steamer the news arrived that our beloved
Sovereign was dead. We were filled with dismay and sorrow, and I feared
the effect the blow would have upon my dear husband in his weak state.
The Maharajah had been so specially honoured with the late King’s
friendship that he lamented his Sovereign more as a beloved friend than
as a great King.

The harbour at Bombay looked most solemn and funereal with the flags
all half-mast high, and as I said farewell to those left behind I felt
terribly sad. The voyage was most gloomy, and I remember that every one
discussed the fateful Halley’s comet which it was supposed might destroy
the earth about the time we should be approaching the coast of Italy. I,
woman-like, was nervous at the prospect when I heard it so definitely
announced. “My goodness!” I gasped, “we shall all be burnt to death.” The
Maharajah turned to me with his loving smile: “What does it matter, my
dear? I’ll hold your little hand and we’ll die together.”

As we neared the end of the voyage, we discovered we should not be in
time to attend our Emperor’s funeral. The Maharajah felt this very much,
as he had been most anxious to be present and pay his last tribute
of respect to his beloved Sovereign. When we reached London how sad
everything was; although the funeral was over the shadow of loss was
still there. The sight of a nation’s grief is overpowering, especially
when, as in this case, it is truly sincere.

We stayed at the Hotel Cecil, and my husband received an unofficial
intimation that he might go to Windsor and see the last resting-place
of the late King. I cannot be thankful enough for the kind thought or
sufficiently grateful that we were allowed to pay this last tribute
of respect to our friend and Sovereign. My husband and I, my brother
Profulla, and one of the A.D.C.s went by motor. It was a sad journey. As
I saw the grey towers of Windsor Castle my mind went back to that bright
day, years ago, when I paid my first visit there. Time brings changes,
and I realised it then. We were received by a dignitary of the Church,
whose name escapes my memory, and he led the way to the Royal vault under
St. George’s Chapel. We descended a flight of stone steps. A door was
thrown open and we entered. King Edward’s coffin was lying on a raised
stone slab in the middle of the vault. A prie-dieu stood near it. I
knelt down and burying my face in my hands offered up a fervent prayer.
My husband knelt too, and as he prayed he wept. It was touching to see
the big man grieving for his King. We placed on the coffin the wreath of
orchids we had brought with us. I had written a few words in Bengali on
the card attached to it, which translated were:

    “With tears of sorrow we present you this, our so Beloved
    Peacemaker. Your work is accomplished.”

The journey back to town was sad. We hardly spoke, for our thoughts were
of our dear King in his last resting-place; never again should we see him.

A few weeks later, I received a message that Queen Alexandra wished to
see me at Buckingham Palace. The late Lady Suffield welcomed me, and
after a few minutes the Queen entered the room.

She was in deepest black, and I thought she looked more _spirituelle_ and
lovelier than ever in her mourning. The Queen kissed me and told me to
come and sit near her. I felt I could have fallen at her feet and wept
as I listened to her simple sad words about her great sorrow and her
love for her husband. There was no bitter rebellion against Fate in the
Queen’s words, but resignation, hope and perfect faith.

“I hardly realise even now that the King is gone, never to come back
again,” Her Majesty said to me, her large eyes full of tears. “At first
I felt as though any moment he might come into the room.” I could not
speak for tears. “I want you to accept this souvenir from me,” and, as
she spoke, the Queen handed me a brooch with the entwined cypher, A. and
E. “Keep it in memory of our friendship.” Her Majesty also gave me a ruby
scarf pin which had belonged to the late King and his cigarette case
for my dear husband. “He was so fond of the Maharajah, and I hope your
husband will wear the pin, the King often wore it,” Her Majesty told me.

I am sure Queen Alexandra would be pleased if she knew how much she is
beloved by the women of India. I often speak to our ladies about her.

We lost no time in consulting specialists about the Maharajah’s health.
Dr. Beasley Thorne advised a course of Nauheim treatment in a private
nursing home. Luckily the Home in Inverness Terrace was not one of the
abodes where sufferers experience discomfort as well as illness. The
only complaint my husband made was that he felt lonely. He wrote me
that unless I went and stayed with him he would not finish his course of
treatment, nor remain in the Home. So I went and stayed there until the
treatment was finished.

Dr. Beasley Thorne was like a father to my husband. Even when in great
pain my husband’s face brightened when he saw the doctor. The Maharajah
had perfect faith in this kind man, who was with him till the last. After
the treatment the Maharajah went to Whitby, but he had misgivings. “I
don’t feel really better, although the doctors say I am,” he wrote.

Troubles followed us in rapid succession. Baby had to undergo an
operation, I lost a very faithful Indian servant, and in October my
husband developed pneumonia. We were then living at 28, Grosvenor Street,
but afterwards we moved into 2, Porchester Gate. Rajey had arrived in
England, and his state of health worried me to distraction. I seemed
beset with difficulties and dangers, and did not know what to do for the
best.

In February, 1911, I took a small house, 6, Lancaster Gate, where I was
ill. As soon as I was able to move I returned to Porchester Gate. Pretty
was ill; in fact, it seemed to me that thick clouds were hanging over me
and made my path very hard to travel. How difficult it is to smile when
one’s heart is breaking!

My husband was ill during the Coronation festivities and I did not at
all want to go out to parties, but he would not bear of my staying away
and had beautiful dresses made for me. It was so hard to have to attend
grand State parties when I longed to be at home with him. On the day I
went to the Abbey I took my Jit with me, and as my husband was ill both
he and I hoped that little Jit would be given a seat near me. Instead of
this he was put right away somewhere and I had to sit with all the other
Maharajahs. Although this was a great honour, my heart was sad and I
longed to have the boy with me.

My husband rallied a little about this time and we went to Court, but
his altered appearance excited every one’s sympathy. Shortly afterwards
pneumonia again set in and he was dangerously ill.

As the Maharajah’s medical advisers were of opinion that change of air
might work wonders, we decided to go to Bexhill, where we rented a little
bungalow facing the sea. The day we left London was marked by an ominous
accident. As I waited on the landing, I heard a sudden fall. I rushed up
the stairs and found my husband sitting on a stair, he had been coming
down when he slipped, missing about five steps. There was a great mirror
at the end of the stairs. Had he gone through, the accident might have
been a fatal one. “An omen, an omen,” said our Indian servants to me.
“Why do you take His Highness to-day? it is an unlucky day.” It can
easily be understood what a shock I received from this mishap. When we
first went to Bexhill we were in great hopes that the change would do my
husband good. We went for one motor drive, but after that he looked worse
and did not care to leave his room. A new doctor was recommended by Dr.
Beasley Thorne, a Dr. Adamson, whom my husband appointed civil surgeon of
Cooch Behar. He was with us in the bungalow. I was frightened to see how
sure my husband felt he would never get well. He was quite prepared to
go, and his world seemed rapidly fading away from him. “Let us be happy
together. My journey is almost at an end. Why do you fear death?” were
remarks he often made at Bexhill.

As I saw him getting more and more ill I spoke to Dr. Thorne and sent a
cablegram for my eldest girl and youngest boy to come.

It was a gentle journey towards the Unknown, and the traveller, who had
to pass alone, was the least concerned. After hours of pain, my husband’s
greeting to my brother was: “Hallo, Nirmal, I don’t feel very bright
to-day.” At the answer: “Yes, sir, it’s been a brave fight,” my husband’s
face lit up; he loved to feel the victory lay with him.

Neither my children nor those with me realised my agony. They were losing
a father and a friend, but I was losing all that made the crown and glory
of life, the love of my girlhood, the beloved husband. They understood
nothing of this, but he did. I saw it when he looked at me, I felt it as
his hand clasped mine, but I knew he wished me to be brave and not hinder
his passing.

My sister’s son-in-law, Dr. Banerjee, was our family doctor. My husband
was very fond of him, and he nursed the Maharajah all through his
illness. His wife, my niece, had often cooked curries at Porchester Gate,
which my husband had greatly enjoyed.

My boys and my brother Saral and the staff nursed my husband day and
night, but it was of no avail. My youngest brother, who had just taken
his medical degree, and of whom my husband was very fond, also nursed
him. This pleased my dear husband.

One night he was very ill, and I said to my nephew, who was attending
him: “You are the one who must save him,” and he did give the Maharajah
something which kept him for a fortnight or more. Another night the
Maharajah talked so affectionately to Jit that the boy left the room
and had a good cry outside. On another occasion I went in and found my
husband with Rajey on one side and Dr. Beasley Thorne on the other.
Looking at me, he said: “I am most happy, and want nothing more.” He used
to listen for my footstep, and though in great pain and sickness his face
always beamed when I came into the room, but he could not bear to see
tears in my eyes. My children always said: “Mother, you must not shed
any tears before father.” It was very hard always to wear a smile when
all I longed to do was to fall on the floor and weep, but I had to look
cheerful and talk brightly.

He liked having my sister Sucharu near him, and when no one else could
persuade him Baby would make him drink barley water or take his food.
Once on seeing his father in pain, Rajey cried and said: “I shall not
come again, it is too painful to see father in such agony.” Perhaps these
young people realised then what the loss of their father would mean to
them, for his influence had dominated them when my affection had made me
weak, and I think he understood them better than I did.

The last words that the Maharajah wrote were on a slip of paper. They
were only two words: “Saral … household.” Most likely he wished this
brother to be always with us. Saral’s wife was very good to me.

We had a very good male nurse, Francis. I shall ever be grateful for
all his devotion to my husband. My eldest girl and my youngest boy, my
brother, and the late Dewan P. Ghose, who was personal assistant to the
Maharajah, arrived in Bexhill about a fortnight before the end. This
Dewan had been his personal assistant for years.

There was a big picture of my father in my husband’s bedroom at Bexhill,
and looking at this one day my husband said: “I am a real follower of
his.” Just a few days before he passed away he said to me: “Sunity, what
are your plans?” I said: “My plans are your plans. When you are better
we shall return home.” Gently he answered: “I know my plans and I would
like you to make your plans.” At this answer my heart sank. Once he
sent for the boys and spoke to them, saying his journey was finished,
and told them what he wished them to do. He looked round with such
loving eyes just before he breathed his last at all his children, his
brother-in-law, and staff; held my hands, calling me “poor girl”; and
after saying a prayer, with a smile he quietly passed away. There was no
mark of suffering on his face. Suddenly the notes of “The Dead March” of
the Rifle Brigade sounded close by. It was in the evening of the 18th
September, 1911, at seven, and the band had been playing, but when the
news reached them they ended with that sad tune.

I cannot remember much except the agony through which I passed. I heard
as one in a dream that messages of condolence had been received from
Queen Alexandra, King George and Queen Mary, and hosts of our friends
in England and India. But I was overwhelmed with grief. In spirit I
was trying to overtake my beloved upon his lonely journey. Naught else
troubled me.

I saw my husband lying in his coffin, and I bade him my last farewell
alone, before he was taken to London.

Profulla said the Maharajah’s funeral ought to be military, as he was a
Colonel, and not that of a Maharajah. He sent a message to the Government
and His Majesty ordered a grand military funeral. The Coldstream Guards
played the “Dead March” and the “Last Post,” and both at Bexhill and in
London, from Victoria Station to Golders’ Green Crematorium, people came
in throngs. Even the relations in India said H.H. could not have had a
grander or more impressive funeral. His Majesty was most gracious, and
for this kind act of his, one and all in Cooch Behar, family, friends,
and subjects, will be for ever grateful. The many flowers received with
the sympathy of friends, for which I regret to say it was impossible to
thank every one individually, were greatly appreciated by me in my hour
of darkness.

I remained with my grief at Bexhill, and the duty of committing his
father’s body to the flames fell upon Rajey. He walked to the head of the
coffin as it rested in the Crematorium and mastering his emotion with a
great effort, raised his hand: “In the name of God, Almighty Father, I
commit these last remains of my beloved father to Your keeping. That in
him which is immortal will always live, the mortal dies and perishes in
the flames. God, keep and bless him in Your holy care.”

The Rev. P. Sen conducted the last service, which I heard was most
impressive; and some of my English friends told me afterwards they had
never witnessed such a solemn and touching ceremony.

When the sad news of our great loss reached Cooch Behar a procession was
ordered in which officials and relatives walked barefooted to honour
the memory of the ruler. The State elephant, of which he had been so
fond, accompanied the mourners, and all the while tears rolled down the
animal’s cheeks, just as if he knew the beloved voice was hushed for
ever. The dumb beast’s sorrow touched all those who witnessed it, and I
always like to think that elephant by some wonderful instinct shared our
grief.

We left for India after a fortnight had elapsed, and what can I write
about the saddest of all our home-comings? There is nothing more
melancholy than the places which our loved ones have deserted and which
cry aloud in their desolation.

We had been so happy, I felt that even in Paradise no one could be
happier, and I had dreaded the thought of death. But timely or untimely
Death had come, and he did not heed the anguish of my heart, he did not
hear my cry, nor see my tears; he carried away my dear one and left me
behind; my happy days were gone, the future was dark and gloomy, the path
of life’s journey was thorny and hard. My children were still young, not
one of my sons was married, and they clung to me, afraid now that they
had lost their father they might lose their mother too. Almost every
minute they came into my room to see if I were alive. On my birthday they
gave me beautiful flowers, and I sat alone with them, perhaps longer
than the children liked, for suddenly Rajey came and called me: “Mother,
mother, are you there?”

Life was a blank, the world seemed empty, I felt as if I had no right to
be here, as if there was nothing left for me to do. My life, my light,
my strength, everything was gone. How could I live without him? Hand in
hand we had worked, we had travelled, and now I was left alone with my
children. They were loving and dutiful indeed. When I took off my bangles
and they saw me in widow’s dress they cried: “Mother, will you never wear
bracelets again; will you never wear these beautiful ear-rings?” “Yes,” I
said, “I will when I meet your father in the next world.” The boys missed
their father more than I can say; he had been more like a brother than a
father to them. He had played with them, sung with them, helped them as a
friend, and been devoted to them.

Widowhood in India is different from what it is in the West; it is a
far harder life. Caste, religion, and custom make it very hard and sad
for the widow, whether she be old or young. If a widow laughs loudly
or dresses in a way that could possibly be called gay, cruel remarks
are made on all sides, and if a Hindu widow gets at all a bad name
she suffers greatly at the hands of both her own people and her late
husband’s. But in spite of all this her undying love for her dead husband
brings her closer to the unknown world every hour and every day; through
suffering and darkness she knows she is drawing closer to her beloved.
My husband made my life like bright sunshine; there were no clouds, no
storms, and for the many dear friends I made in the West I shall ever
be grateful to him. His trust, his love, his admiration for me were
without compare. When I lost him I felt that I had lost all. Women of
all nations and all countries envied me once, but now I feel that I shall
have to travel alone for the last part of my journey. Once so high I held
my head, but now the blow of widowhood has bent it low.

For a few years I felt I ought not to appear before any one or do
anything, but my darling children would not have it so.

[Illustration: _Photo Th. Paar._

“RAJEY.”

Raj Rajendra, Narayan Bhup Bahadur, Maharajah of Cooch Behar, 1912.]



CHAPTER XIII

ANOTHER BLOW


A few days after my husband had passed away news of Rajey’s succession
to the Gadi of Cooch Behar arrived from the Government of India. I was
seated on the landing at the Porchester Gate house when my boy came
downstairs, knelt by me, clasped his hands on my knee and sobbed. Perhaps
he felt his father’s loss most at that moment. We had a service in the
evening, conducted by my cousin, the Rev. P. L. Sen, at which Rajey’s
short prayer was most impressive.

He had all his father’s effects sealed and brought over to Cooch Behar,
and he carried out his father’s “will” to the letter.

When Rajey came out to India one of his younger aunts said to him: “You
have succeeded your father and you will be like him.”

“Like him,” was the quick reply, “that is impossible, I can never dare
hope to be like my father.”

Rajey’s attitude towards me in my widowhood was one of absolute devotion.
He referred to me in everything, although he treated me like a child
and took great care of me. He would not allow any alterations to be made
in his father’s household, and he always answered when he was taxed with
keeping too large a staff, “I cannot dismiss any of them, they were with
my father.”

His budget was kept unchanged, as he often said he would not live to be
thirty-two years of age. I tried all I could to laugh him out of this
strange idea, but it was to no purpose. Rajey’s belief was founded on
his horoscope, which ceased to say anything after thirty-two years.
Several fortune-tellers told him the same thing, that he had not a long
life written on his hand. I asked a woman palmist to read Rajey’s hand
and tell me when he would get married. She said: “He has no marriage
line on his hand.” At Dehra Dun a fortune-teller said the same thing,
and an English clairvoyant also foretold his fate at a garden party at
Calcutta. I do not think my son allowed his mind to be influenced by
these predictions. His melancholy presentiment was due to his ill-health,
for I know that he suffered more than he allowed any one to guess.

From the moment of his accession Rajey tried to do his best for Cooch
Behar. One of his first acts was to intimate that the Dewan’s services
were no longer required. “He was never a true friend to my father,” was
his only comment when the overjoyed natives of Cooch Behar called down
blessings on his head for this display of authority.

Rajey also showed the priests that he possessed decided opinions and
meant to retain these opinions even in the face of custom and tradition.
Before the installation of a Maharajah, it was usual for the priests to
perform a Hindu ceremony known as the _Abhishek_. Rajey declared the
_Abhishek_ should not take place. “I do not recognise caste,” he said.
“But it must be done,” declared the State officials. “Who comes next to
the priest in my household?” he asked. “Your mother,” was the reply.
“Then my mother shall act as my priest,” he answered. I did the priest’s
work, for my son would not hear of any one else assisting him.

There was a complete religious ceremony according to the tenets of the
New Dispensation at the Installation, and I shall never forget how
splendidly Rajey behaved at his Durbar when the Revenue was brought in,
and he was acclaimed Maharajah by his subjects. As he sat on his throne,
he received symbolic offerings of betel leaf, attar, and flowers. “Take
them to my mother,” he commanded, and two A.D.C.s brought to me my son’s
tribute.

At the auspicious hour I was waiting on the balcony with other zenana
ladies to see the State procession pass. The elephants were in their
gala trappings. The strains of our National Anthem fell on my ears. The
troops were in brave array. Suddenly a tall young figure, gorgeous in
Raj costume, fell at my feet and paid me homage. It was Rajey! He had
actually thought of me in the supreme moment of his life. The grandeur
and pageantry were all forgotten. I was the mother whom he delighted to
honour, that was the one idea in his mind.

At his second Durbar, while he was dressing, he suddenly looked very
grave and said: “This is my last Durbar,” and so it proved to be.

I like to recall how my son respected my prejudices. Once, when my
husband ruled, I heard that there was a vulgar show at one of the Hindu
festivals. I spoke to the Maharajah about it, and he gave orders it
should be stopped. Years after Rajey found that the show was again going
on, and he was very indignant. I heard that he expressed a wish that “Her
Highness’s orders should be carried out.”

Rajey had no favourites and always sought to do justice. Quiet and
dignified, he spoke little and gave few commands, yet all his subjects
had the deepest respect for him and tried to avoid his displeasure.
Though he was particular about Court pageantry and dress yet his tastes
were simple. How thoughtful he was, how loving, how devoted, and yet
there was always something sad about him. He seemed more like a prince
out of some old legend than a modern young ruler.

Once I was rather annoyed with an Englishman, and remarked to Rajey: “I
don’t think I can ever forgive him; he is really unpardonable.” Rajey
looked quite sad, and said: “Oh, mother, I am sure you don’t mean it,
you don’t think it impossible to forgive any one.”

I was never relegated to the position of Dowager, but kept up the same
state as I had done during his father’s lifetime. Rajey was influenced
by the advice of Lord Carmichael, who had always been our best friend.
“He is a godsend,” declared Rajey, and I certainly can never be grateful
enough for the help and sympathy which Lord Carmichael always gave to me
and mine.

I felt disappointed that Rajey was not given a decoration at the Durbar.
Both he and my brother-in-law, the late Maharajah of Mourbhanj, were
omitted, which I think was surprising as Rajey was the first ruler in
Bengal, and my brother-in-law was the first territorial ruler in Orissa.
If it had not been for the latter there would have been no pageant at
the show in Calcutta, and it was the pageant which made the show such a
success. Their Majesties said it was the best show in Bengal. And Rajey
deserved recognition if ever any young ruler did; if the Government had
troubled to look into the management of our State they would have found
no flaw in its administration. How can young rulers be expected to have
any heart to work if their efforts do not meet with encouragement?

Pretty’s wedding lightened a little of our sadness at this time. My
second girl was engaged to Lionel Mander, a young Englishman who appeared
devoted to her. She was just like an English girl, although at home she
lived as an Indian Princess. I gave my consent to the marriage, as I had
long ago determined to let each of my girls marry the man she loved, and
I quite realised that, owing to caste and creed, there would be many
difficulties in the way of marriage with any of our princes.

Rajey still seemed very ill and I felt very anxious about him. He seldom
complained, but the change in him was painfully apparent. I sometimes
begged him to marry, but his answer was always: “No,” and once he added:
“I have no marriage line on my hand.” “What nonsense, darling!” I said.
He smiled: “Where shall I put my wife?” “My rooms are quite wasted,
Rajey,” I answered. He replied: “Mother, your rooms will never be given
to another woman while I live. They are always yours, and if ever I
marry, I’ll build a new palace. Your rooms shall never be taken away.”

Rajey went down to Calcutta for a Masonic meeting, but developed ptomaine
poisoning and became dreadfully ill. I begged the doctor in attendance to
have a consultation, but was told: “Oh, he’ll be all right.”

I sent for Colonel Browne, but as Rajey had his family doctor (an
Englishman) with him, Colonel Browne could say little except that Rajey
had better stay in Calcutta as he was too weak to travel. The family
doctor, however, insisted on Rajey going to Cooch Behar. Though ill and
weak, he started on the trying journey. I was very worried about him,
and following him after a couple of days was told that my darling Rajey
was anxiously waiting to hear of my arrival. The poor A.D.C. did not know
for certain if I had left Calcutta and kept on sending messages to the
stations asking if I were coming.

The lives of rulers are in the hands of the doctors appointed by the
State. As Rajey was getting more and more ill every day, Jit and Victor
in despair besought Colonel Browne to see into things, as they declared
their brother’s life was in danger. It is strange that the doctors did
not think it necessary to have a consultation, but Jit insisted on it,
saying: “He is my brother and I shall have doctors from Calcutta.” Rajey
rallied and was able to entertain Lord and Lady Carmichael at our shoot
in April. They thought Rajey seemed in better health and spirits. After
our friends had left, Rajey asked what were my plans for the summer. “You
are going to England,” I said, “let me come with you.” That pleased him.
I went down to Calcutta a few days before he did. His officers told me
that the day he left Cooch Behar the expression on his face was solemn,
yet not sad, and that when the National Anthem was played at the station,
he stood with clasped hands and eyes bent down. Perhaps he heard the call
from above in the music.

Rajey and I, accompanied by his personal staff, arrived in England on the
1st June, 1913. It was a cold morning, and Rajey looked very pale as he
entered the special train at Dover, where we were met by my son-in-law,
Mr. Ghosal. At the station we found my three girls and a few friends. All
thought that Rajey was looking very ill, although they did not say so at
the time.

Rajey went to the Curzon Hotel with his staff and I to the Cadogan Hotel,
where I stayed with Girlie and Baby for a few weeks. I went to see Rajey
almost every day. I was much distressed to find him on the ground floor,
and near the telephone, which rang from morning to night. I seldom
got news of him. I do not know whom to blame for this, but it made me
miserable at the time.

I suppose Rajey was taken to the Derby to brighten him up. It was a cold
day and raining. The servants were so careless as to forget to take a
great-coat or any wraps, and there he caught a chill and high fever set
in. My third brother, who was Rajey’s secretary, was anxious to take him
away to 3, Palace Court. He was removed there, and the change made him a
little better. It was a nice house and Rajey was very pleased with his
rooms; but the noise was too trying, as the traffic was constant. To the
disappointment of all, Rajey’s health did not improve.

Dr. Risien-Russell, who had been called in, begged Rajey to go to a
nursing home; he was wonderfully kind to my boy, and Rajey went to a
nursing home, where he stayed for a fortnight.

I spoke to him about taking a country house. “My days are numbered,” he
answered. “I know my time has come. Do you remember, mother dear, how all
the fortune-tellers have said I shall not live to be thirty-two?”

Rajey returned to 3, Palace Court from Ascot. This was the beginning of
the end. Something in his face forbade me to hope, but I tried to be
brave and not let him know how much I suffered. He often had pain which
the worn-out frame could hardly endure, and the noise of the traffic
prevented much rest when the paroxysms had passed.

He was getting thinner and thinner, and I felt that the case was getting
more serious. Still I could not give up hope. One day when he was very
ill and could hardly walk, my younger brother helped him to sit down;
Rajey put his hand on his head and said: “God bless you, you are a good
boy.” Another evening when he was very weak, and they feared that he was
sinking, he called this brother of mine. “Bodey, sit down by me; I shall
soon be starting on the last long journey.”

He sometimes said: “Why does any one fear to die? I am not a bit afraid
to go.” My Rajey was quite ready for the long journey to the unknown
country, where he was going to meet the father he loved so dearly. Once I
asked him: “Rajey, don’t you wish to live?” He answered: “Mother, I don’t
wish to die, but if my call has come, if God has sent for me, I shall go,
and if I am to go, don’t say it is an untimely death. I may be young,
but if God sends for me you must believe, mother, that it is a timely
death.” Another day he said: “I have only one wish, but I don’t know
whether it will be fulfilled; if only I could die in Cooch Behar.”

All sorts of kind messages were sent by our many friends. “Rajey is to
live and take care of you,” Lady Minto told me.

On the 14th August Rajey was removed to Cromer. It was the end of his
sad pilgrimage. As he was lifted out of bed he remarked to his head
chauffeur: “Davison, you’re taking me away to die.” I hid myself in my
misery, and as I looked from an upper window I saw Rajey put into the
ambulance. I had been asked to go, but I could not as my eyes were too
red and I could not hide my feelings. I followed him to Cromer and stayed
at the hotel. I used to go to Rajey’s house, which was nice and clean and
had a pretty little garden. To my eyes Rajey did not look any better, but
the doctors thought he was getting on nicely. He had nurses who were good
to him, and I shall always be grateful to them.

Just before this Jit had come over from India, as he was going to marry
the daughter of the first Hindu Maharajah, the Gaikwar of Baroda. They
had been fond of each other for some years, but the Princess’s parents
were against the marriage because we were Brahmos and they were Hindus.
The Princess came with her parents over to Europe, and Jit followed. It
was a most romantic story, as the young couple had seen very little of
each other. Yet their love was so strong and true that they promised each
other they would marry no one else.

On the 26th August Jit and Indira were married. The ceremonies, civil and
religious, took place at the Buckingham Palace Hotel and the Registrar’s
office. I could not help acknowledging the truth of my father’s words
that the hand of God is always manifest. In this seemingly impossible
union, beset throughout with opposition, I again saw the triumph of
the New Dispensation, for my daughter-in-law gave up riches and caste
to follow her husband, for love of him. Indira is very clever and very
pretty. She knows several languages and has travelled a great deal; for
years I had been wanting her to be my daughter-in-law, and I was as fond
of her as of my own daughters.

I motored down to Cromer with a friend of mine, Miss Scott, and on our
return, the doctor who was attending Rajey gave me hopeful news. He said
Rajey was enjoying his food, and in three weeks’ time would be out and
about. He assured me that we could return to India at the end of October.
He even added: “I don’t see why His Highness should not play polo again.”

On Friday I went to tea with Lady Carmichael’s brother, and after dinner
I went back again to ask how Rajey was. The doctor said he had a little
pain but not much, and he hoped he would be better the next morning.
Unfortunately Dr. Russell had to go to London for a few days. Rajey loved
him as a friend and had great faith in him.

Very early on Saturday morning a note came from the doctor asking me to
go over at once. Over my nightgown I tied on a sari and put over all a
thick coat, and in my slippers walked from the hotel to the house with
Miss Scott, who was an angel to me that day, and stayed with me in those
hours of anguish. I don’t remember how, but I managed to get to the door
of the house. In the hall, where I met the doctor, I fell. They helped me
into the drawing-room and gave me some tea which I could not drink. The
doctor asked me if I could be brave and quiet as my son wanted to see me.
When Rajey felt the pain, the only thing he had said was: “Nurse, I am
in great pain, I want my mother.” I kept back my tears and followed the
doctor upstairs to the room where Rajey was lying. Never shall I forget
my anguish when I looked at him. His lovely eyes were unchanged, but his
voice was very faint. “Mother,” he whispered, as I bent over him, “I am
sinking … I know it.”

I too knew it, and oh! how bitter was the knowledge! “Darling, darling,”
I said, hardly able to speak. He clasped me in his arms, and his face was
close to mine. “Raj Rajendra … you know, mother … even the King of kings
must die.” The long morning passed. I was with him the whole time. Once
he said: “I’m leaving you behind, mother.” He asked me about Jit and his
wife, and also if his youngest uncle were there.

Dr. Risien Russell and my daughter arrived late in the morning. Rajey was
pleased to see the doctor, and when he saw my youngest brother he caught
hold of his hand tight as if it were the last grip of his friendship. I
felt that if Dr. Russell had not been there, I should have had no friend
in my great trouble. He was a godsend to me.

On Sunday, at midnight, surrounded by those who were near and dear to
him, Rajey breathed his last. Thirty-one years ago this boy had brought
me every possible happiness. Now the world is dark and gloomy, and I do
not know how I shall travel the last part of my journey, so heavy-laden
am I with my grief. Rajey was not an ordinary son to me. His birth had
made every difference in my life. The Cooch Beharis would never have been
so friendly towards me had it not been for my Rajey’s coming; neither
could I have had so happy a home had Rajey not arrived. God gave him to
me and God has taken him away. He was the most precious gift I had; but
I know, I believe that I shall meet him again in the Land of Everlasting
Happiness. These pangs of my heart will cease when I am called to be with
my two precious ones.

Rajey was dressed in his chupkan and a sacred coloured shawl was thrown
over him. Wreaths of flowers were sent by kind friends, and his room
looked no longer like a mourning room but like a paradise.

My Rajey had put on the garment of immortality. His painful journey was
ended, and in the heaven whither his spirit had flown, he had already
been welcomed by his father, and together they await me there.

But what remained for me? I had to suffer the long days and the misery
of the hours when sleep forsook me and grief kept a watch by my pillow.
I had to live and think that to live is sometimes the worst torture that
can be inflicted on mankind. How often have I proved to myself the truth
of those lines:

    “’Tis hard to smile when one would weep,
      To speak when one would silent be:
    To wake when one would wish to sleep,
      And wake in agony.”

Now was repeated the sad ceremonial of two years ago, when my husband’s
body was committed to the flames. Only two years and the Ideal Ruler and
the Child of Promise had both vanished from our eyes. Surely we shall
never understand the workings of Divine Providence. All that our sad
souls can do is to trust in the infinite wisdom of God.

The blank his loss has left in my life will always be there, but he must
have gone to do a greater work, and the thought of this is the only thing
that gives me comfort.

Countless were the telegrams and letters of sympathy I received, and the
kindness of all my friends touched me very much. The late Duchess of
Connaught sent word from Bagshot: “We all deeply sympathise with you in
your great loss. We look back with pleasure to the time when Rajey used
to stay with us.”

We sent the ashes of our beloved back to Cooch Behar, and they rest
beside those of his father in the marble mausoleum which has been built
in the rose garden. This old garden is a peaceful spot. Long ago the
Maharajah learned his lessons in the ruined summer-house which still
stands on the borders of the lake, where in bygone times the Maharanis
used to bathe, and many legends are connected with the place. The scented
stillness is now unbroken save for the music of the birds, and the
mournful whisperings of the trees when the wind speaks to them of the
sleepers.

This rose garden is walled in on three sides, and from it can be seen
the snow hills far away. There are masses of roses and lilies, and it is
impossible to describe the fragrance of the flowers. Rajey and his father
are surrounded by Peace. Prayers are offered there every evening, and
sometimes the boys go there alone in the moonlight.

My love is so strong that I think Death has opened the door of Eternity
a little way for me, and my dear ones are nearer to me than ever. Long
ago I saw the roses of youth blooming at Belghuria. Later, the crimson
flowers of love were mine, but the sweetest of all flowers to me are
those of remembrance, which shed their petals year after year over the
ashes of my dear ones who wait for me on the radiant shore.

    “Take them, O Grave! and let them be
      Folded upon thy narrow shelves,
    As garments of the soul laid by,
      And precious only to ourselves.

    “Take them, O great Eternity!
      Our little life is but a gust
    That bends the branches of thy tree
      And trails its blossoms in the dust.”

[Illustration: _Photo: Lafayette._

MAHARANI SUNITY DEVEE.]



CHAPTER XIV

VICEROYS I HAVE KNOWN


Lord Lytton knew me as a little girl in India, but we did not meet again
until 1887 when I was visiting England. I went with my husband to the
Foreign Office party one evening. It was a grand affair and I had a
very nice dress. We were all standing in a line waiting for the Royal
procession to pass when Lord Lytton saw me. He came and stood by me and
putting his arm round my waist said: “You _have_ grown, and look so
pretty, but so grown-up.” I felt very uncomfortable and kept on saying:
“Oh, Lord Lytton, but I am so old. Do you know I am the mother of three
children? Do please remember that I am an old woman, over twenty.” In his
kind voice he said: “It was only the other day I saw you at your father’s
school, a little, little girl.”

Lord and Lady Ripon were very kind to us. In his time the Ilbert Bill
was passed, which made a great sensation in India and the English spoke
against the Indians and Lord Ripon. One English lady said to me: “Why was
such a man as Lord Ripon sent out to India? he goes against his Queen.”
I am sure the lady did not know what she was saying, as Lord Ripon was
a friend to India and thus served Her Majesty the late Queen well. When
my darling little Rajey had typhoid fever in Simla in 1882 both Lord
and Lady Ripon constantly made kind inquiries and offered their doctor
Anderson, a clever and charming man.

Lord Dufferin is supposed to have been the cleverest Viceroy in India; I
was so ignorant about politics I cannot say much about his administrative
work, but I do know that he was a very kind personal friend of mine. Lady
Dufferin was the most clever and capable Vicereine that has ever been out
in India. She once came to one of my “sari” dinners, when we all wore
saris, sat on the floor, and ate with our fingers. One of the A.D.C.s
remarked that Her Excellency looked like a goddess.

Lady Dufferin wrote a book on India in which she said a great deal about
my dear mother, whom she greatly admired. I think she was amazed to see
how cheerfully mother gave up all the comforts of life after she lost my
father. Lady Dufferin showed the greatest interest in all my father’s
institutions, and we were very proud when Lord Dufferin presented a
medal to the Victoria College. Lady Dufferin founded the Delhi Hospital,
where Indian women are trained to be doctors and midwives. When Lady
Dufferin asked me about it and if it would be a success, I said, “Yes,”
but did not quite understand about it or realise the difficulties. It is
difficult to make my Western sisters understand about caste prejudice in
my country. When Lady Dufferin first began this training much discussion
went on all over India. To begin with, women of high caste could not do
work of the kind as they thought it lowered their position; secondly,
zenana ladies, however poor, did not wish to be trained or study with
men, therefore in the beginning only very common women took up the
medical profession, but now many advanced women have taken it up and have
studied hard and taken degrees, thus serving their country, for which we
owe much gratitude to Lady Dufferin. Lady Wenlock told me not long ago
that the idea was originally Lady Ripon’s, but she was unable to carry it
out before she left India.

Lord and Lady Lansdowne were the greatest Viceroy friends we ever had.
We all, the whole family, loved and admired them and their children. The
Maharajah was treated as a personal friend of theirs, which made the
other Maharajahs very jealous. When I was very ill once, Lady Lansdowne
used to come and see me, and they were most kind to Rajey. Once H.H. the
Begum of Bhopal gave a strict purdah party and I was invited to meet
Lady Lansdowne. I do not quite remember, but I think the Resident wanted
to know who should sit in the next highest seat to Lady Lansdowne, and
he was informed that I was to sit next to the Viceroy’s wife, which the
Resident did not like at all. When I heard of this I thought I would
not go, but kind Lady Lansdowne on being informed of it sent I do not
know what message to the Begum’s official. Anyway the whole tone of the
letters changed, I was begged to go, and on my arrival at the party I
found that H.H. the Begum had placed Lady Lansdowne in a chair on her
right hand and I was to sit in a chair on her left hand; these were the
only seats, all the other guests came and shook hands with the Begum
while we were seated.

Lady Lansdowne was kindness itself to my children. She never made any
distinction between English and Indians at her parties, and her tactful
consideration made her very popular. I think her charming mind was
reflected in her beautiful face.

I was at my happiest in Lord Lansdowne’s reign; everything seemed to be
so bright in my life at that time, and I often think now of that happy
past. Lord Lansdowne once said: “My house is not half large enough to
hold all the people you and the Maharajah entertain in camp.” I did
appreciate those kind words.

Lord Elgin was a kind Viceroy; I don’t know whether he did much as a
statesman, but he was a very kind easy-going man. Lady Elgin gave some
very cheery children’s parties. At one of these my Jit kept on having
so much ice cream that I am sure all the A.D.C.s and servants must have
longed for us to leave the table. I went to Calcutta once for a few
hours, the Viceroy heard of it and asked me if I would dine with them
quietly; it was no party, only a family gathering. This was a great
honour. I did not think I could have a maid with me, so I sent for a
hair-dresser. He was told not to be long, but perhaps he felt artistic
that evening, for he went on making curls and waves and using hundreds of
hairpins. I was most impatient and kept reminding him of the time, but it
had no effect. The consequence was that I was about half an hour late, a
thing I shall never forget. When I arrived, I found the two A.D.C.s in
despair, sitting on the steps watching the gate. One of them was the late
Captain Adams. I did not know how to make my excuses and had to tell the
unpleasant truth, that it was the fault of the hair-dresser, but all they
did was to pay nice compliments. I was so nervous when I went up into
the drawing-room that I felt like running away, but when Lord and Lady
Elgin came in and I made my apologies, Lord Elgin said: “Please don’t
be sorry; I am grateful to you for being a little late. You know it is
the English mail day, and you gave me a little extra time to write a few
more letters, for which I have to thank you.” This made me forget all my
troubles and only remember what a proud and happy woman I was.

There was much splendour in the time of the Curzons, but I don’t believe
that Lord Curzon was ever really in sympathy with us. He is a very clever
man; but, may I be forgiven for my frankness, I found him slightly
interfering in private matters. He was too unapproachable, which was
most regrettable. I consider that he missed many golden opportunities.
Lady Curzon was handsome and charming, but to my great disappointment I
had neither the pleasure nor the honour of knowing her well.

Lord Curzon did a lot of good to the country; and tried to revive the
old industries, the saris, cashmeres, etc. Also he put up tablets on
great men’s birth places and homes, which was much appreciated; but he
interfered with the future of the Indian Princes’ young sons. Whether the
fathers were willing or not he did not wait to find out, but forced them
to send their boys into the Cadet Corps, and by so doing many boys lost
their opportunities of learning administrative work. Of course, we had to
submit because no one wishes to be in the Viceroy’s bad books.

[Illustration: _Photo: Johnston & Hoffmann._

WOODLANDS.]

Lord and Lady Minto we admired and liked very much. Lord Minto was
so kind a friend that although he was Viceroy he helped a zemindar
at the cost of much trouble to himself. Lady Minto was the first to
ask the purdah ladies to Government House. She gave parties for them
regularly every year while she was in Calcutta and the ladies enjoyed
them enormously. I remember a Hindu lady remarking of Lady Minto: “I do
like her smile so.” My sister and the Maharani of Burdwan and I joined
together and gave three parties to Lady Minto at Woodlands, and I got
up some tableaux which both the English and Indian ladies enjoyed. On
one occasion I dressed Lady Minto in a Bengali bridal dress, scarlet and
gold, and she looked lovely. Lady Minto told me afterwards that when she
returned to Government House she sent a message to the military secretary
that a Maharani was waiting in the hall, and when he came and found
Lady Minto in the bridal dress for a moment he thought it really was a
Maharani.

I remember a Bengali gentleman of high position telling us once: “Lord
Minto is a thorough gentleman; when I and my friend went to call on him
he was so nice and made us feel quite at home. What struck us most was
that at the close of the visit, when we were going away, Lord Minto,
instead of calling an orderly or an A.D.C., walked up to the door and
opened it himself. We felt uncomfortable, but it was a gentlemanly
action; by opening the door he lost nothing, and we gained so much.”

I feel it my duty to allude to something that happened in Lord
Minto’s reign. A rumour was circulated that a most loyal British
subject was disloyal to the Government. I was horrified when I heard
the lie; it reached the highest circles. Even Sir O’Moore Creagh,
then Commander-in-Chief, may have credited it. Perhaps it was some
fellow-countryman who started this unpardonable lie; but how could the
Government believe such an impossible thing? I only hope that whoever did
this great wrong will confess his wickedness before he leaves this world.

Lord Hardinge did a lot of good to many people, but he was never very
kindly disposed to the Cooch Behar Raj family. Soon after I lost my
husband we came back to India, and as I had received nothing but kindness
from the Royal Family and from so many Viceroys, I expected that Lord
Hardinge as Viceroy would be kind to me. But on the contrary he did not
seem to take any trouble to be kind to my son. When our present King
was at the Delhi Durbar Lord Hardinge paid many visits to the other
Maharajahs, but never thought of leaving his card on the Maharajah of
Cooch Behar, which was not only an insult to the Maharajah but to the
whole of Bengal. Lord Hardinge also interfered with our private affairs,
at which I was surprised because we liked him and thought him clever and
never opposed him.

Here I might mention that at this Delhi Durbar a certain Political
Officer visited the Maharajah’s camp in ordinary lounge clothes, a thing
which even H.M. the King would not think of doing. Such Englishmen should
have attention drawn to them and their manners corrected.

Lord Carmichael, when Governor of Bengal, was a most kind friend to my
Rajey and to me. Words are too poor to express my gratitude to him.

Some years ago a branch of the London National Indian Association was
opened in Calcutta, where Western and Eastern ladies met. For a few years
the Association did wonderful work. Many strict purdah ladies came to
it, and many of us gave parties. Lady Jenkins gave a fancy-dress ball
and all the purdah ladies were in fancy costume; it was a brilliant
sight. Lady Holmwood took great trouble for the Association, and we all
hoped soon to have a permanent building for it. Then one of the members
spoke against others and the whole thing nearly fell through. But Lady
Carmichael with her kind heart and tact managed to gather the ladies
together again and make them work hand in hand for our soldiers during
the war. Very few, I fear, take interest in the Association now.

Lord Ronaldshay, the present Governor, we like very much; he is very
popular in Bengal and a brilliant speaker. He is clever, and has studied
India well, and I do not think there are many subjects on which he
cannot talk; it is a treat to get a chance of speaking to him on serious
subjects. I did not know Lady Ronaldshay until she came out to Jit’s
shooting camp in Cooch Behar. She is a sweet and good mother and just
like an ordinary lady when surrounded by her children.

Of all the wives of the Lieutenant-Governors in Bengal Lady (Charles)
Elliott was the cleverest. Sir William Duke was a kind personal friend to
us all.

I have not known many Americans, but among the few I have met some
were very nice; a Mrs. Perrier was charming. I know one American lady,
when she was out in India, spoke very angrily to an Englishman whom
she found treating an Indian gentleman as if he were a porter or a
servant. Yet another American woman once refused to sit in the stalls of
a London theatre because an Indian lady was seated close to her. Some
Canadians are like the latter, and I hope they will never come to India,
to disgrace their country and sex. Such women could never belong to or
understand universal sisterhood.

I never had the pleasure of knowing any Australians until a few months
ago when I returned from England by P. and O. _Mantua_. There were some
charming Australians on board. The ladies were smart and clever, with
delightful manners. It really was a great pleasure to me to meet them.
One lady in particular I found most pleasant.

I had the pleasure of knowing Lord Kitchener well. One could hardly
believe that such a fine big soldier could be such a charming host; his
parties were always successful. When the Prince of Wales (now our King)
was out in Calcutta we were talking about Lord Kitchener, and H.R.H. said
to me that he had given a perfect dinner-party. I answered that perhaps
it would have been more perfect if he had had a Lady Kitchener there.
But the Prince said: “There I do not agree with you. Lord Kitchener is a
perfect host even without a Lady Kitchener.”

I hope I shall be forgiven if my readers do not find much about politics
in this book, but I have never been interested in politics, and I think
it is better for women not to take part in political work. It is another
thing though for the mothers and wives of rulers in India to complain of
the Government if they find it interfering with them. There are mothers
and wives of rulers in Bengal and the Punjab who know very little or
no English and cannot approach the Government direct but have to be
represented by the Anglo-Indian Commissioners or Political Agents. And I
regret to say that the Government officials now are often of a different
type from those in olden days, and this causes trouble in the country.
Some of these Englishmen do not know how to talk or to write to Indian
ladies, neither do they know how to address gentlemen. Most of these
civilians are sent out simply because they have passed the Civil Service
Examination; how can any polite manners be expected of them? Yet whoever
visits England once wishes to go there again, and the chief reason of
this is, that the English are much nicer to Indians in England than they
are in India. I always say that as long as the Government respect and
consider Indian women the throne is safe; history itself shows that when
women are ill-treated no rule is secure.

Once I wished to see Lord Curzon, and had he seen me some very great
unpleasantness might have been avoided. I fully expected to get a letter
written by his own hand, instead of that Mr. ⸺, the secretary, replied
to this effect: “H.E. wishes the Maharajah to write him if there is
anything wanted.” If Lord Curzon only heard and knew how Mr. H⸺, our
Superintendent, treated matters in connection with my private life and
things I hold sacred I am sure he would not have hesitated to see me.
Some of these officials seem to enjoy calling us untruthful. Well, Mr.
H⸺ should feel happy to know that his official “confidential box,” which
he left in the care of the late Calica Das, containing papers against
the Maharajah’s family, has been found and is now public property. Mr.
L. was once our Superintendent; he gave the idea to Government that
the Cooch Behar Raj family was most extravagant, and unfortunately the
members of the family never had the chance to inform the Government what
the Superintendents themselves spent. I asked Mr. L. to have a little
bamboo shed built at Woodlands, which would have cost perhaps about £2;
the Maharajah was away in England at the time. Mr. L. said he must get
the sanction of His Highness; the cablegram would probably have cost him
£2; and if I remember rightly in the same year Mr. L. expended £8000 on a
house in Darjeeling which, though not sanctioned, H.H. had to pay; such
can be the power and folly of a Superintendent.

When Victor was doing well at Eton and becoming quite a grand cricketer
to the great satisfaction of the Maharajah, Lord Curzon was appointed
Viceroy, and we were all anxious to know what to do and how to please
him. It was known he did not like Indian boys being educated in England,
and as a Maharajah himself cannot always approach a Viceroy about family
affairs, and I happened to know one of the high officials well, I asked
him for advice. By his advice I had dear Victor brought back to India
and thus all his future career was spoilt as he was sent to the Cadet
Corps. This Corps ruined the future of many young lives; it was a waste
of money and time. After it had failed the Maharajah sent Vic to Cuba for
agricultural training, to learn something about tobacco, which grows all
over Cooch Behar. When Vic returned home after a few years the Maharajah
had machines brought out from America and a nice piece of land prepared
for the tobacco, but because of Mr. H⸺, who was then Superintendent, the
whole thing fell through.

Our religion of the New Dispensation teaches loyalty to the Throne. This
loyal feeling is a sacred duty to me, and in the whole of India no family
is more loyal to His Gracious Majesty than the Cooch Behar Raj family.



CHAPTER XV

LATER YEARS


My dear Jit has begun his work well and is doing his best to make the
State prosperous. His love for his people is deep and he takes great
interest in administration. He works hard and sometimes sits at his table
and writes till midnight. He looks into every detail himself, and I often
wonder how he can do so much: a boy who was never brought up as the heir.
How I long for my dear husband to come and see his Jit working for the
good of the State. He built a hospital in Lord Carmichael’s name, and has
done many things to improve the health of the people, but unfortunately
during his reign we have had the dreadful Western War from which the
country has suffered much. Such things as rice and potatoes have been
sent out of the State, and jute could not be exported. Everything has
been very high in price, more than double. Jit has increased the salaries
of the officers, and the pay of the servants, besides giving numberless
subscriptions and donations, and helping in the War Loan; but he does
things quietly and no one knows of them. He has five children, three
girls and two boys; they are all lovely, especially the eldest girl. Jit
is a clever man and has written some charming poems and books. It is hard
for him that all the old officers now are either dead or retired and he
has to work with new and untried men, but he takes it quite coolly.

One day he said to me: “Mother, if we believe that God is all-merciful,
we shall never ask Him ‘Why?’ We may think father has gone too soon. He
was young and strong and many lives depended on him, but God is merciful
and God knows best. If God loves us he would not do anything that would
hurt us. It is all for the best, and we must believe it.” Jit has been
one of the best of sons to me, so loving, so kind and thoughtful, and he
often treats me as if I were the same age as his little daughter.

Victor is a wonderful brother. I do not think in the wide world any one
could find a more unselfish and affectionate brother than he is to Jit.
Anything that Jit says is law to him. He would give his life for his
brother; he would go to the ends of the earth to get anything that would
make his brother happy. In his life Jit comes first. Victor has married
the daughter of a distant cousin of mine, a pretty girl. They have two
children, both boys. Victor’s wife is called Nirupoma; she is of the same
faith as we are, a Brahmo. She is well educated and edits a magazine in
Bengali. She is devoted to her husband and children.

Baby has married Alan Mander, the younger brother of Lionel. I did not
wish her to marry so young nor to part with her so soon, especially as it
was only six months after I had lost my Rajey, but now my life has come
to that stage that I must not be heard, my love must pray silently for
the happiness of my children. They are very precious and their happiness
is my happiness. Baby wished to marry this boy; he is fine-looking, and
has travelled a good deal, and as he was anxious to have the wedding soon
I did not stand in the way, and they were married at Woodlands on the
25th February, 1914. During the War he was in the Army and now they are
in England. Alan has been a very good son-in-law; I don’t think I could
have had a better, even in fancy.

Among the Maharajahs of India I know but few. The Maharajahs of Bikanir
and Gwalior call me “Mother;” the former was at school at Mayo College
with Rajey. The Maharajah of Kapurthala was like a brother to my husband;
the Maharajah of Idar I know very well. In India there are very few
Maharanis, perhaps none except myself, who come out, so it is difficult
to get to know them, and without a special invitation one cannot visit
their States. Some of the Maharajahs could do much for their country.
Surely there is enough money in India to revive its ancient history and
search out its ruined palaces and temples; but the Maharajahs seldom meet
together to discuss these things, and that is perhaps why our Western
visitors do not know much of our ancient India.

During the last few years I have travelled a little, and would like
to tell my readers something about my country. Once I went on a Hindu
pilgrimage to a place called Hardwar. In my book “Nine Ideal Indian
Women,” there is a story about Sati; near Hardwar is Sati’s birthplace,
an old palace now in ruins, and this I and my third sister went to see.
Among the ruins are said to be dozens of cobras, but they do not hurt
any one. We sat on the steps that led down to the river and had a little
service. There was a feeling about the whole place, even after these
thousands of years, as if it had been the home of a beautiful soul and
was near the spiritual world. We gazed upon the beautiful scene: the
wonderful old ruined palace with its flights of steps leading down to
the deep blue river, and in the distance the pure white snows of the
Himalayas. We noticed a strange thing as we sat there; in the middle of
the river was a tiny island, and on this a tortoise was playing with a
snake; one would never have thought that a snake and a tortoise could be
together, yet here they were like two friends.

In that same book of mine is the story of Harischandra and the burning
ghat; that ghat still remains in Benares. We sisters went there to see
it one day after sunset in a boat kindly lent to us by the Maharajah of
Benares. Down the stream floated hundreds of little lights; it looked
as if the Ganges had rows of necklaces round her throat. It was an
impressive sight; on the banks and down in the water were thousands
of men and women with clasped hands and down-bent heads, saying their
evening prayers near the ghat where the Maharajah Harischandra worked
disguised as a chandal.

Nearly two years ago I came from Simla to meet my sister, who was waiting
for me to go with her on a pilgrimage to Sarag-duar (the Door of Heaven).
We planned to go by train to a station near the place, and as there was
no passenger train about that time a railway carriage had to be attached
to a goods train. When we arrived at the station some of our party
went in tongas and for my sister and me a friend sent a carriage, the
best that could be had, but very ordinary in our eyes. We started off
happily. It was a very rough rocky road, but our hearts were full of the
Sarag-duar and we were longing for the end of the journey. My sister’s
two little children who were with us behaved wonderfully, and did not
complain of either hunger or fatigue. After several hours we arrived at
the river-side. It was early in the morning, the sky was bright blue, at
our feet the Ganges flowed between high banks, and tall trees guarded
the Door of Heaven. Two boats were waiting and we crossed the river. As
we went over I felt as if I must say to the river: “May you take me on
my last crossing even as you take me to the Door of Heaven to-day.” We
arrived at the Sarag-duar; it was still beautifully cool and fresh, and
as my sister had brought fruit and sweets we sat there and refreshed
ourselves. While we were eating, a message arrived from one of the holy
men that he would like to see us, and after a few minutes he came. What
a good and handsome face he had! He was dressed in an almond-coloured
(sacred) robe and brought fruit and flowers for us. His good words
dropped on our hearts like cool water on an aching brow. When he saw
my sister’s children he said he must send some milk for them, and soon
after he had left us warm milk came. In this little land of peace there
is one house in which food is cooked once a day for the hermits and the
pilgrims, of whom there are thousands in the summer months and hundreds
in the cold weather. In the fields are splendid cows. Gifts of money
are made by some generous friends and this pays for the food. It is a
wonderful place, so peaceful, so beautiful; whoever visits it, whatever
his religion, must feel that it is indeed near heaven. Far away are blue
hills, and nearer great plains over which herds of wild elephant, tigers,
and leopards roam, but do no harm. Some of the hermits live among the
roots of the big trees, and even in the winter months when the cold is
very severe they bathe daily in the river. No women are allowed in that
holy place, nor any families; we were allowed to halt there a few hours
as a special favour because we were my father’s daughters. There is no
smoke of cooking, no shouting, no cry of children; all is peace; even the
river is calm and quiet.

From there we went to the place where Harischandra’s brother Lachman
spent his last days, and had to cross the river by a bridge of planks
which shakes all the time one walks. As we went we saw jutting out into
the stream the piece of rock on which Dhruba, when a little boy, knelt
one day to pray to his God and was much disturbed by the loud noise of
the waters. So Dhruba addressed the river and said: “Mother Ganges, how
can my prayers reach the feet of God if you disturb me so; how can my
mind be quiet while such loud sounds go on?” And it is a curious thing
that just where Dhruba sat the river is perfectly calm, while a few yards
off on the other side of the rock the water boils and rushes. We bathed
in the river; it was icy cold but it gave us new strength and new hope.

I should so much like my Western sisters to see some of these peaceful
holy spots. Unfortunately there is no history of India in which all
the old stories are told; they would make the country so much more
interesting to the traveller. India is not the country some Western
writers make it out to be. It is an ancient land and a spiritual.
Modern ideas, to my thinking, often make young people hard and perhaps
selfish. If we do not love each other can we do good to any one? In the
old history of India unselfish love was given to one and all, and the
crown of India was love. We are lucky indeed to be the children of such
a country, but are we worthy of that love, have we forgotten what our
ancestors did? Learn all the good you can from other countries, but
remain an Indian still is my poor advice. Hurting others cannot make us
Indians happy. I am so proud of being an Indian. Let the world know how
beautiful and good India’s daughters were, and let us try and follow in
their footsteps; in their time Love and Peace reigned. Love will bring us
all together and make India once more happy and rich. A number of Western
authors make great mischief by writing things that are not true. One
lady, Maud Diver, I know has written many untrue things about us, and I
am afraid people who do not know us will believe the worst. It is a great
mistake to write such things; one by one we shall all go, but our letters
and books will remain for the next generation to read.

I often feel that if Her Majesty would include a Maharani among her
ladies, she would get to know the Indians much better; she is so fond of
anything Indian and takes so much interest in India that it would help
her, especially at such a time as this. Her Majesty might take a lady
from each Presidency in turn, changing her every four months; and if His
Majesty also would choose an Indian of noble birth from each Presidency,
changing him in the same way every four months, I am sure it would
keep Their Majesties informed of the state of feeling throughout the
whole of India, and they would gain first-hand and correct information.
Much mischief is often done because things have to go through so many
channels. I might mention here that sometimes the representatives of His
Majesty are not very sympathetic nor tactful with the Indians. Indians do
not get asked to parties as they used to be, and it is only natural they
should expect to be invited by the high officials in India who represent
their Emperor.

The last time I visited England was in order to be with Baby for the
first arrival in her family. I got there on the 13th June, 1920, and went
to Baby’s house, where I was very comfortable. Her little girl was born
on the 8th July at 7, Lyall Street, a house which Baby had rented. The
dear newborn delighted our hearts. We thanked God for her safe arrival.
It is our custom to have a children’s feast on the eighth day after the
birth. On the following week we had all the children from the garage
next door and some others to tea. Each of them and every member of the
household staff received a little souvenir of our happiness.

When Baby was strong enough to be moved she returned to her house at
Kingston and I visited her there. Suddhira and Alan gave up their room to
me and occupied the drawing-room, which was not at all comfortable for
them, still we were all very happy at being together.

In September I moved up to town to Grosvenor Street, where I had rented
a house from a rich lady. Our stay there would have been a happier one
had it not been for the continual annoyance of receiving unpleasant
messages from the owner. Oh, what a worry the house problem in England
is nowadays!

Since I lost my dear husband I had lived in a very retired way. Now
in Grosvenor Street I began to see a few old friends, and this happy
intercourse recalled to me the golden days of my life. I had the great
pleasure of meeting Lord and Lady Lansdowne, General Birdwood, Colonel
and Mrs. Burn, Lord and Lady Suffield, General and Lady Blood, the latter
as cheery as ever. Lady Hewitt, Mrs. Roberts, Mrs. Beverley and others.
Lady Headfort was as kind as ever. I had the great honour of going to see
Their Majesties and stayed to tea with them. I went to see Her Majesty
Queen Alexandra. How sad it made me to see her so changed! This was the
first time Her Majesty spoke sadly. H.R.H. Princess Beatrice was the same
gracious and kind Princess. I had the honour of having tea with her. Miss
Minnie Cochrane, a lady-in-waiting to the Princess, is a very dear friend
of mine and it made me so happy to meet her again. I also went to see
H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught. How it saddened me when I met him all alone
in his drawing-room! In the days of the past, H.R.H. the Duchess and her
children filled the house with their merriment. My heart went out to the
Duke in his loneliness. I compared myself with this Royal Prince. He had
lost his life’s companion and his first-born, and my husband and eldest
son are both gone. H.R.H. was most kind and sympathetic.

Just as I was beginning to revive old friendships and go about a little
there came the crushing sad news of my poor darling Hitty’s last illness.
How shall I bear his loss! I am no longer young and sorrows have worn
away my strength. I am nearing the end of life’s journey, oh, why have
I suffered this terrible blow? Why was my Hitty called away so early?
His life was hardly begun and it is ended! The half-opened flower of his
manhood is for ever closed. Before I left for England I had put aside
jewels and household silver-ware for him, hoping he would marry soon. I
was prepared to go, I thought that perhaps my ashes would be brought back
from England, but he is gone and I still linger here. How cruel it seemed
to me; what great sorrow I suffered! Only a mother who has lost her boy
can realise the anguish. If we could but have a glimpse of our happy
departed dear ones in the realms of bliss what consolation it would be to
our bereaved aching hearts!

Jit was sweet in those dark days. How he tried to comfort me. He said:
“Mother, be brave, be brave. Trust in God, mother—God does everything
for the best. Hitty is happier there than he was here. He is with father
and Dada.” Jit said many kind and comforting words; how I love him for
his gentleness! Indira, too, was very kind and often came and spoke
consolingly. Suddhira and Alan were a help and comfort to me. I do not
know what I should have done at that time had they not come and stayed
with me. Suddhira often cooked for me, and she looked after and nursed me
as if she were the mother and I her child. Her loving devotion touched me
deeply. What a sweet true daughter she proved herself in those days of
bitter bereavement! Her little baby girl was a real blessing, and seemed
a bright messenger from above bringing hope from our heavenly home.

[Illustration: _Lafayette._

THE MAHARANI AND HER GRANDDAUGHTER, PAMELA GHITA, 1921.]

In February I left England and arrived in Bombay on the 26th of the same
month. Jit and Indira were there on their way to Calcutta. I arrived at
Howrah on the 1st March, the anniversary of the day when our mother was
taken from us. Victor met me, and with him were my brother and other
relations. How I missed my Hitty. I went straight to Lily Cottage,
where we had a short “In memoriam” service. Monica was there, and after
the service I went to my sister Sucharu’s, where Bino and others were
waiting. One and all wept over my sad loss. They were all devoted to dear
Hitty, and Victor in particular feels the parting.

Dear Hitty is resting now near his father and brother in the palace
garden, where all is quiet and still, and the scent of the flowers seems
to speak of the sweetness of heaven. His voice is hushed and no one will
ever again look upon his dear face, but his soul lives on in the Land
Immortal where he has been called to greater work. I am longing to be
with my loved ones who have gone before, to be where we shall never part
again.

This sad loss has brought a great change into my life. I feel the unknown
world is very near to me and I must try and finish what I think I have
to do quickly. God gifted me with everything that was precious, and one
thing I wish to leave behind me and that is Love. I feel my strength has
gone and often wonder why I am left. I had a house with four walls like
rock and a strong roof that sheltered me, and now the roof is gone and
two of the walls are down. The happy past is very far away, and I seem to
be living in a different world. Life goes on, days and months have passed
laden with sorrow and grief, but I am still walking on the edge of this
life. My only wish now is to serve my family and my people and my Church,
the Church of the New Dispensation.

It is my happiness to know that Jit and Victor are working hand in hand
for the welfare of Cooch Behar. Jit’s great ambition is to make his State
a model one, and he is always eager to help forward its progress.

Some of the Governors of Bengal have been most kind to my school at
Darjeeling, where sixty or seventy children of all castes are taught
kindergarten, and I am glad to say it does very well indeed. My technical
school for poor Hindu ladies in Calcutta too is a success. The Victoria
College was established by my dear father for the better education of
women.

We often used to speak of a terrible tragedy which happened in our own
family through a relation not knowing how to read.

This lady’s son was ill with typhoid, but he got better rapidly and one
day the doctor told the mother the patient might eat a little solid food.
After the doctor had left, two bottles of medicine arrived. The happy
mother at once insisted that the boy should take a dose to hasten his
recovery. But, alas! one of the bottles contained liniment for external
use only, and this happened to be the bottle picked up by her. The boy
died in great agony. The poor mother became almost insane with grief
when she found out that she was the unwitting cause of her son’s end.
This is one of the many stories of what has happened in Hindu homes
where the ladies are kept from the knowledge of reading and writing. It
is no wonder therefore that we have tried hard for education for our
country-women. But we found it uphill work for many years.

My father founded other institutions, but they do not all exist now
because of lack of finances, but we do not despair, where there is a will
there is a way and Indian women are not so ignorant as Western people
think. In the zenanas you will find fine characters, educated up-to-date
women, good nurses, clever accountants, sweet singers, most loving
mothers, and devoted wives, and as far as looks go, it is hard to beat a
real Indian beauty. I have an ambition, if I live, to have an Asram for
gentlefolk where they can live in peace and receive instruction, and it
is my great hope that before many years have passed Indian women will
stand in their right place and once again India will cry aloud: “I am
proud of my daughters.”



INDEX


  Abergavenny, Lady, twin daughters, 127;
    dance, 127

  _Abhishek_ ceremony, 201

  Adams, Captain, 219

  Adamson, Dr., 191

  Albani, Mdme., 123

  Alexandra, Empress of Russia, at Windsor Castle, 117

  Alexandra, Queen, kindness to the Maharani of Cooch Behar, 106, 115, 121;
    portrait, 120;
    at Hatfield House, 128;
    the Buckingham Palace review, 172;
    death of her husband, 188, 237;
    receives the Maharani of Cooch Behar, 188;
    message of condolence on the death of the Maharajah of Cooch Behar, 194

  Amir Ali, Lady, 167

  Anderson, Dr., 216

  Anderson, Mary, 123

  Ascot, 207

  Asram establishment, 7, 20


  Bagpipes, the, 131

  Bagshot, 162

  Baird, Colonel and Mrs., 150

  Banerjee, Dr., attends the Maharajah of Cooch Behar, 192

  Barnes, Sir H., 177

  Baroda, Gaikwar of, 208

  Baroda, Maharani of, 103

  Baroda, Princess Indira of, 208;
    marriage, 209.
    _See_ Cooch Behar

  “Bart-Auta,” meaning of, 25

  Battenberg, Prince Henry of, 120

  Battle, 169

  Bayley, Lady, 150

  Beatrice, H.R.H. Princess, 118, 120, 237

  Belghuria garden-house, 7, 29

  Benares, Ward’s institution at, 42

  Bengal, marriage customs, 34-37

  Betel leaves, use of, 75, 94

  Bethune College, 15

  Beverley, Mrs., 237

  Bexhill, 169, 190

  “Bhaikota,” festival, 38

  Bhopal, H.H. the Begum of, 217

  Bignell, Mr., 105

  Bignell, Mrs., 118

  Bikanir, Maharajah of, 230

  Birdwood, General, 237

  Blair Atholl, 130;
    bagpipes, 131

  Blood, General and Lady, 237

  Bombay, 136, 185, 239

  Brahmins, 2

  Brahmo or Religion of the New Dispensation, 2, 8

  Brahmo Act, 70

  “Brahmo-Somaj, The History of the,” 68

  Brahmuna, the god, 2

  Brighton, 125

  British Museum, 123

  Browne, Lord Ulick, 74

  Browne, Colonel, 204

  Buckingham Palace, garden-party, 118;
    review at, 172

  Burdwan, 78-80;
    palace at, 79;
    zoological garden, 80

  Burn, Colonel and the Hon. Mrs., 150, 237

  Bury, Lord, 183


  Cadet Corps, 167, 179, 185, 220, 227

  Calcutta, 67, 136, 144;
    London National Indian Association, branch at, 222;
    Masonic meeting, 204;
    Presidency College, 77;
    technical school, 240;
    Victoria College, 21, 240

  Cambridge, Jesus College, 131

  Carmichael, Lady, 205, 223

  Carmichael, Lord, Governor of Bengal, 203, 205, 222

  Carnduff, Sir Henry, 136

  Carter, Mr., school at Farnborough, 162

  Caste, meaning of, 2, 8

  Chatterjee, Hari Mohum, 151

  Chaurakaran ceremony, 44

  Chowdhuri, Sir A. A., 8

  Chuckerbutty, Jadab Chandra, Magistrate of Cooch Behar, 45, 50;
    letter to Prosonna Babu, 52;
    letter from Mr. Dalton, 57-60

  Churchill, Lady Randolph, 126

  Civil Marriage Act, 42

  Cobb, Miss, letter from K. C. Sen, 71-75

  Cochrane, Miss Minnie, 169, 237

  Colombo, 147

  Connaught, H.R.H. Duchess of, 112, 118, 174;
    at the Delhi Durbar, 178;
    visits the Maharani of Cooch Behar, 182;
    on the death of Rajey, 213

  Connaught, H.R.H. Duke of, 174;
    at the Delhi Durbar, 178;
    death of his wife, 237

  Connaught, Prince Arthur of, 162

  Cooch Behar, Church of the New Dispensation, 90;
    legends, 90;
    the old palace, 92;
    the new, 92;
    Masonic Lodge, 96;
    climate, 98;
    number of flying insects, 144;
    the Pilkhana, 146;
    administration, 203, 228, 240;
    mausoleum, 213

  Cooch Behar, Dowager Maharani, 80

  Cooch Behar, Prince Hitty of, birth, 143;
    attack of pneumonia, 144;
    school at Farnborough, 170;
    death, 238

  Cooch Behar, Princess Indira of, 209, 238;
    at Bombay, 239

  Cooch Behar, Prince Jitendra of, birth, 90;
    attack of bronchitis, 106;
    at Windsor Castle, 117;
    loyalty, 139;
    conjuring tricks, 142;
    at Eton, 166, 170;
    joins the Cadet Corps, 166, 168, 170;
    in England, 182;
    at Bexhill, 192;
    marriage, 209;
    administration of Cooch Behar, 228, 240;
    children, 229;
    on the death of his father and brother, 229, 238;
    at Bombay, 239

  Cooch Behar, Princess Nirupoma of, 229

  Cooch Behar, Nripendra Narayan Bhup Bahadur, Maharajah of, 42;
    the “Poonyah” festival, 40;
    education, 42;
    at Benares, 43;
    Patna, 43;
    tutor, 43;
    at the Delhi Durbar, 44;
    presented with the Kaisar-i-Hind medal, 44;
    negotiations for his marriage, 44-53, 55-60;
    in England, 45, 50, 67, 103;
    views on polygamy, 53;
    meeting with his future wife, 54;
    betrothal, 54-56;
    marriage ceremonies, 61-67, 78;
    at Darjeeling, 67;
    return to India, 77;
    joins the Presidency College, 77;
    reception at Burdwan, 79;
    at Calcutta, 80, 137;
    strict views, 81;
    installed ruler, 86;
    development of the State, 95;
    founds a college, 96;
    received by Queen Victoria, 108;
    dress at the Guildhall, 114;
    characteristics, 116;
    at Windsor Castle, 119-121;
    G.C.I.E. conferred, 125;
    at Blair Atholl, 130;
    death of his step-sister, 139;
    love of animals, 146;
    elephant, 146, 195;
    shooting parties, 152-156;
    sports, 156;
    simple life, 157;
    A.D.C. to King Edward VII., 172;
    accident at polo, 184;
    illness, 185, 188-194;
    grief at the King’s death, 186;
    at St. George’s Chapel, 187;
    at Bexhill, 190;
    death, 194;
    funeral, 194

  Cooch Behar, Princess Prativa (or Pretty) of, birth, 147;
    in England, 182;
    appearance, 182;
    character, 183;
    illness, 189;
    marriage, 203.
    _See_ Mander

  Cooch Behar, Prince Raj Rajendra of, birth, 83;
    nickname, 85;
    appearance, 98;
    attack of typhoid fever, 98, 216;
    characteristics, 99-101, 141, 202;
    in London, 106;
    at Windsor Castle, 117;
    education, 158-160;
    at Mayo College, 159;
    school at Farnborough, 162;
    at Eton, 162;
    Oxford, 166;
    joins the Cadet Corps, 167;
    at Ditton Park, 170;
    attends the Coronation of King Edward VII., 172;
    appointed to a commission in the Westminster Dragoons, 172;
    plays in a polo match at Trouville, 174;
    accident, 175;
    at the Delhi Durbar, 177;
    illness 178, 189, 206-211;
    ordered to England, 179;
    in England, 182, 189, 205;
    attends the funeral of his father, 195;
    succeeds to the Gadi, 199;
    devotion to his mother, 199;
    predictions of his death, 200;
    dismisses the Dewan, 200;
    pays homage to his mother, 201;
    attack of ptomaine poisoning, 204;
    at a nursing home, 206;
    at Cromer, 208;
    death, 211;
    funeral, 212

  Cooch Behar, Princess Sudhira of, birth, 147;
    in England, 182;
    appearance, 185;
    operation, 189;
    marriage, 230.
    _See_ Mander

  Cooch Behar, Princess Sukriti of, birth, 89;
    simple life, 141;
    acts charades, 145;
    marriage, 165;
    birth of a child, 176;
    attack of fever, 176

  Cooch Behar, Sunity, Maharani of, 66, 69;
    marriage ceremonies, 61-67, 78;
    return to Calcutta, 67, 80, 136, 144, 176;
    life at Lily Cottage, 75;
    governess, 76;
    joined by her husband, 77;
    reception at Burdwan, 79;
    strict ideas of her husband, 81;
    birth of her sons, 83, 90, 137, 143;
    death of her father, 87;
    birth of her daughters, 89, 147;
    life at Cooch Behar, 93-95;
    death of her mother-in-law, 97;
    food, 97;
    voyage to England, 103-105, 169, 182, 186, 205, 236;
    at the Grosvenor Hotel, 105;
    received by Queen Victoria, 107-109;
    attends the Drawing Room, 108;
    at the State ball, 110;
    the Jubilee, 111-113;
    Windsor Castle, 113, 117, 119-121, 187;
    gift to Queen Victoria, 114, 117;
    at Buckingham Palace garden party, 118;
    gift from Queen Victoria, 120;
    at the theatre, 123;
    the Naval Review, 123;
    at Edinburgh, 124;
    Brighton, 125;
    social functions, 126-130;
    at Hatfield House, 128, 129;
    lost in the maze, 128;
    at Blair Atholl, 130;
    Cambridge, 131;
    Studley Royal, 132;
    voyage to India, 135, 196;
    at Malta, 135;
    Bombay, 136, 185, 239;
    tennis parties, 139;
    sons, 141-143;
    at Darjeeling, 144;
    Colombo, 147;
    entertainments, 148;
    visit to a Maharani, 149;
    shooting parties, 150-156;
    simple life, 157;
    parting with her son Rajey, 158;
    on the education of her sons, 160-164;
    death of her mother, 164;
    marriage of her daughters, 165, 203, 230;
    in Switzerland, 170;
    at Ditton Park, 170;
    the Coronation ceremonies, 172-174, 190;
    presented with a medal, 173;
    dress at the Court, 173;
    grandchildren, 176, 236;
    at the Delhi Durbar, 177;
    Marlborough House, 183;
    interview with Queen Alexandra, 188;
    illness, 189;
    at Bexhill, 190;
    illness of her husband, 190-194;
    grief at his death, 194-198;
    marriage of her sons, 209, 229;
    death of her sons, 211, 238;
    acquaintance with Viceroys, 215-222;
    dines with Lord Elgin, 219;
    “Nine Ideal Indian Women,” 231;
    pilgrimage to Sarag-duar, 232;
    old friends, 237

  Cooch Behar, Prince Victor of, birth, 137;
    godmother, 137;
    characteristics, 137, 143;
    devotion to his brother Jit, 137, 229;
    at Eton, 166, 170;
    joins the Cadet Corps, 168, 227;
    at Cuba, 227;
    marriage, 229

  Coolootola, 1, 12, 16, 26

  Creagh, Sir O’Moore, Commander-in-Chief in India, 221

  Crewe, Lord and Lady, 106

  Cromer, 208

  Cross, Lady, 109

  Cross, Lord, Secretary of State for India, 107

  Cuba, 227

  Curzon, Lady, 220;
    at the Delhi Durbar, 178

  Curzon, Lord, Viceroy of India, 145, 160, 219, 226;
    Cadet Corps, 167, 220;
    speech at the Delhi Durbar, 178;
    treatment of the Maharani of Cooch Behar, 225;
    policy, 220, 226

  Cutch, Maharajah of, 128


  Dalmeny, Lord, 106

  Dalton, Godfrey T., 44, 49, 65, 74;
    letter to the Maharajah Sen, 50-52;
    to Chuckerbutty, 57-60

  Dane, Sir Louis, 185

  Darjeeling, 144, 176;
    school at, 240

  Datchet, 170

  Delhi, Durbar at, 44, 176;
    elephant procession, 177;
    Hospital, 216

  Denmark, King of, at the Buckingham Palace State ball, 110

  Derby, the, 206

  Dhruba, story of, 234

  Ditton Park, 170;
    toy railway, 170

  Diver, Maud, 235

  Dover, 206

  Dufferin, Lady, book on India, 87, 216;
    starts the Delhi Hospital, 216

  Dufferin, Lord, Viceroy of India, 8, 136, 156, 216

  Dugdale, Col. Frank and Lady Eva, 150

  Duke, Sir William, 223

  Durham, Earl of, twin brother, 127

  Durnford, Sir Walter, Provost of King’s College, Cambridge, 162

  Duth, Calica Das, the Dewan, 57, 89, 137


  Eden, Sir Ashley, 105

  Edinburgh, 124

  Edinburgh, H.R.H. the Duke of, at Malta, 135

  Edward VII., King, kindly tact, 114;
    liking for the Maharajah of Cooch Behar, 116;
    at Goodwood races, 125;
    personality, 126;
    Coronation, 129, 171-174;
    illness, 171;
    presents medals, 173;
    holds a Court, 173;
    State Ball, 173;
    death, 185

  Eldridge, Mrs., 93, 143, 151;
    marriage, 135

  Elephants at Cooch Behar, 146;
    procession at Delhi, 177

  Elgin, Lady, 218

  Elgin, Lord, Viceroy of India, 218

  Elliott, Lady, 139, 223

  Elliott, Sir Charles, Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, 160

  Elphinstone, Lord, 124

  Elphinstone, Mr., 150

  Englefield Green, 182

  Etawah, 12;
    massacre at, 13

  Eton, 162


  Farnborough, 162

  Francis, 193

  Franz Ferdinand, Archduke, 139

  Frederick, Emperor of Germany, at the Jubilee, 112, 117

  Frederick, Empress, of Germany, at the Guildhall, 115

  “Fullsaya,” or flower ceremony, 37


  Galloway, Lord and Lady, 150

  Ganesh, the god, 33

  Ganges, 180, 234

  _Ganges_, the, 103

  Garth, Sir R., 151

  George V., King, 126;
    visit to India, 184;
    Coronation, 190;
    message of condolence on the death of the Maharajah of Cooch Behar, 194

  George, King of Greece, at the Buckingham Palace State ball, 110

  Ghosal, Jyotsna, 164;
    marriage, 165;
    at Dover, 206

  Ghose, B., private tutor to Rajey, 158

  Ghose, Dewan P., at Bexhill, 193

  Girlie, Princess, 89.
    _See_ Cooch Behar, Sukriti

  Glamis Castle, 131

  Goodwood races, 125

  Gordon, Colonel and Mrs. Evans, 151

  Government officials in India character of, 225, 236

  Grosvenor Hotel, 105

  Guildhall, party at the, 114

  Gwalior, Maharajah of, 230


  H⸺, Mr., 226

  Hamilton, Lord Frederick, 150

  Hanover, Princess Frederica of, 172

  Harbord, Capt. Charles, 148.
    _See_ Suffield

  Hardinge, Lord, Viceroy of India, 222

  Hardwar, 231

  Harischandra, story of, 231

  Hatfield House, 128;
    maze, 128

  Haughton, Colonel, Commissioner for Cooch Behar, 42

  Headfort, Lady, 127, 237

  Headfort, Lord, 127

  Hemming, Miss, 16

  Hermitage, the, 144

  Hesse, Grand Duke of, 112, 173

  Hewitt, Lady, 150, 237

  Himalayas, the, 93, 231

  Hindu women, ignorance, 241

  Hitty, Prince, 143.
    _See_ Cooch Behar

  Holmes, Mdme. Oliver, 123

  Holmwood, Lady, 223

  Holyrood Palace, 124

  “Hooly,” festival, 37

  Howrah, 239

  Hyde, Lord, 150

  Hyde Park, 106


  Idar, Maharajah of, 230

  Ilbert Bill, 215

  Ilchester, Lord, 150

  Imperial, Prince, picture of, 124

  India, festivals, 38-41;
    Civil Marriage Act, 42;
    ancient and spiritual land, 234

  India Office, party at, 129

  Indian women, 241;
    devotion to their husbands, 13-15, 33

  Indira, Princess, 208.
    _See_ Baroda

  Insects, flying, number of, 144


  Jadab Babu, 46, 57

  “Jamai Tashti,” festival, 39

  Jatras, or open-air operas, 18, 40, 183

  Jenkins, Lady, 223

  Jersey, Lord, 150

  Jitendra, Prince, 90.
    _See_ Cooch Behar

  Jubbalpore, 13

  “Jurini” ceremony, 56


  Kaka Babu, 12

  Kaisar-i-Hind medal, 44

  Kali, the god, 33

  Kamari, 32

  Kandy, temple at, 147

  Kapurthala, Maharajah of, 230

  Kastogir, Miss, 7

  Katnyas, the, 3

  Kennedy House, 145

  Kinnaird, Mr. and Miss, 114

  Kinsky, Prince Charles, 140

  Kitchener, Lord, 224

  Kneller, St. John, tutor to Maharajah of Cooch Behar, 43, 54

  Krishna, the Hindu god, 37

  Kurseong, 176


  L., Mr., 226

  Lachman, 234

  Lafont, Father, 85

  Lansdowne, Lady, 148, 150, 237;
    kindness to the Maharani of Cooch Behar, 217

  Lansdowne, Lord, Viceroy of India, 150, 158, 217, 237

  Lakshmi, goddess of luck, 33, 36

  Leeds, Duchess of, ball, 127

  Lily Cottage, 75, 136, 164, 239;
    sanctuary at, 37, 76

  Lind, Letty, 116

  Lock, Colonel William, principal of Mayo College, 158

  London National Indian Association, branch at Calcutta, 222

  Lonsdale, Lord and Lady, 150, 175

  Loretto Convent, 32

  Lotus, blue, 175

  Lowther Castle, 175

  Luddhi, Miss, 28

  Lumsden, Colonel, 150

  Lytton, Lord, Viceroy of India, 44, 215


  M⸺, Mrs. H., at the Delhi Durbar, 177

  Mahalanobis, Sadhu, 31

  Maharajahs, stories of, 10-12, 23, 90, 180;
    education of their sons, 163

  Maharani, visit to a, 148-150

  Maharanis, position, 96

  Malta, 135

  Manchester, Duke of, 124

  Mander, Alan, 236;
    marriage, 230

  Mander, Lionel, marriage, 203

  Mander, Princess Prativa, 203

  Mander, Princess Sudhira, birth of a daughter, 236;
    devotion to her mother, 239

  _Mantua_, the, 224

  Marlborough House, 121, 183

  Marriage customs in Bengal, 34-37

  Mary, Queen, 106;
    appearance, 107;
    children, 184;
    visit to India, 184;
    message of condolence on the death of the Maharajah of Cooch
      Behar, 194;
    interest in India, 235

  Mayo Collage, 158, 230

  Mazdidi, 84

  McConnell, Dr., 143

  Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Duke of, 130

  Minto, Lady, 150, 183, 208, 220;
    fancy dress, 221

  Minto, Lord, Viceroy of India, 150, 220

  Moghulhat, 91

  Monghyr, 9

  Moor Hall, 169

  Morgan, Rev. Henry A., Master of Jesus College, 131

  Morgan, Mrs., 132

  Mourbhanj, Maharajah of, 30, 203

  Muir, Captain, 114

  Mukerji, Babu Kasi Kanto, 43


  Naval Review, 123

  Neville, Lady Rose and Lady Violet, 127

  Newcastle, incident at, 133

  “Nine Ideal Indian Women,” 231

  Normal School, Native Ladies, 20


  Oakley, 141

  Orleans, Princess Hélène of, 128


  Panga, 139

  Park Close, 182

  Patna, Government College, 43

  Pemberton, Mrs., 151

  Pembroke, Lord, 150

  Perrier, Mrs., 223

  Pigot, Miss, 21, 49, 57

  Playfair, Sir Patrick, 184

  Pless, Prince Henry of, 151

  Pless, Princess Henry of, 151, 172

  Polo team, at Trouville, 174

  “Poonyah,” or “the Day of Good Luck,” festival, 39-41

  Port Said, 104

  Prativa, Princess, 147.
    _See_ Cooch Behar

  Prinsep, Lady, 150

  Prosonna Babu, 46, 48;
    letter from Babu Chuckerbutty, 52


  Raikut, J., 104

  Raj-Kumari, 80

  Rajputana, 158

  Raj Rajendra, Prince, 83.
    _See_ Cooch Behar

  Ram Chandra, 175

  Reilly, Kate, 148

  Revelstoke, Lady, ball, 127

  Ripon, Lady, 127, 215;
    at Studley Royal, 132

  Ripon, Lord, Viceroy of India, 132, 215

  Risien-Russell, Dr., 206, 211

  Roberts, Mrs., 237

  Ronaldshay, Lady, 223

  Ronaldshay, Lord, Governor of Bengal, 223

  Rose-bank, 145

  Rosebery, Lady, 106

  Roy, Rev. Gour Govind, 67


  S⸺, Miss, 76

  Sadhankanan, 21

  Sadharan-Somaj, Church, 68

  Salisbury, Lady, 109, 129

  Salisbury, Lord, 129

  Salterne, Lady, 131

  Sandringham, 134

  Sarag-duar (the Door of Heaven), 232

  Sassoon, Mrs. Arthur, 126

  Sassoon, Sir Edward and Lady, 150

  Sati, story of, 231

  Scott, Miss, 209, 210

  Sen, Bino, 27, 30.
    _See_ Sen, Savitri

  Sen, Karuna, birth, 6;
    education, 15;
    nickname, 25;
    religious views, 28

  Sen, Keshub Chunder, 1;
    religious views, 2-4, 20, 24;
    marriage, 3;
    conversion, 6;
    illness, 6, 86;
    personality, 7;
    appearance, 8;
    gifted with extraordinary powers, 8;
    stories, 9-12;
    motto, 20;
    Native Ladies’ Normal School, 20;
    Victoria College, 21;
    negotiations on his daughter’s marriage, 46-57;
    letter from Mr. Dalton, 50-52;
    letter to Miss Cobb, 71-75;
    death, 87;
    mausoleum, 87

  Sen, Mrs. (mother of the Maharani), character, 1;
    marriage, 3;
    accompanies her husband, 4;
    visions, 4, 12;
    birth of a son, 6;
    appearance, 22;
    relates stories, 23;
    children, 28-31;
    on the marriage of her daughter, 64;
    keys, 77;
    death of her husband, 87;
    death, 164

  Sen, Miss, 164

  Sen, Monica, disposition, 31;
    marriage, 31

  Sen, Nirmal, 28;
    marriage, 28;
    visit to England, 104;
    at Bexhill, 191

  Sen, Rev. P. L., 195, 199

  Sen, Profullo, 28;
    illness, 29;
    pet names, 29;
    marriage, 29;
    visit to England, 104;
    return to India, 134

  Sen, Saral, 29;
    characteristics, 29;
    pet name, 29;
    care of his sisters, 164;
    marriage, 164;
    nurses the Maharajah of Cooch Behar, 192

  Sen, Savitri, story of, 27;
    pet name, 27, 30;
    marriage, 30;
    twins, 138

  Sen, Subrata, 29;
    pet name, 29;
    marriage, 29

  Sen, Sucharu, sad history, 30;
    marriage, 30;
    death of her husband, 31

  Sen, Sujata, character, 31;
    marriage, 31

  Sen, Sunity, birth, 1;
    parents, 1-3;
    childhood, 15-19;
    education, 15;
    attack of fever, 16, 48;
    grandmother, 17;
    vows, 19;
    religious views, 24;
    haunted by cats, 27;
    brothers and sisters, 28-31;
    ambition, 32;
    negotiations for her marriage, 46-53, 55-60;
    meeting with her future husband, 54;
    betrothal, 54-56;
    journey to Cooch Behar, 60;
    marriage ceremonies, 61-67.
    _See_ Cooch Behar

  Sen’s House, 1, 26;
    haunted, 26

  Sergius, Grand Duchess, 111

  Serpentine, the, 106

  Shakespeare, W., “Winter’s Tale,” 123

  Simla, 85, 144

  Simpson, Sir Benjamin, photographs, 155

  Sing, S., 104

  Siva, the god, 90

  Slough, 170

  Soap, attempt to make, 26

  Souls of the poor, legend, 101

  Strathmore, Lady, 130

  Streatfeild, Colonel and Lady Florence, 150

  Studley Royal, 132, 133

  Sudan, legend, 180

  Sudhira, Princess, 147.
    _See_ Cooch Behar

  Sudhras, the, 3

  Suffield, Lady, 127, 187, 237

  Suffield, Charles, Lord, 148, 150, 237

  Sukriti, Princess, 89.
    _See_ Cooch Behar

  Sutherland, Duke of, 150

  Switzerland, 170


  Tagore, Maharshi Debendra Nath, 3, 5, 70, 166

  Tagore, Sir Rabindra Nath, 166

  Teck, Duchess of, 106;
    personality, 106

  Temple, Sir Richard, Lieut.-Governor of Bengal, 45

  Territet, 170

  Thakoorma, 17

  Thomson, Sir Rivers, Lieut.-Governor of Bengal, 86

  Thorne, Dr. Beasley, 188, 192

  Tichborne, Sir Henry, 151

  Tigers, 152

  Tilbury Docks, 105

  Tower of London, 124

  Trouville, polo team at, 174

  Turin, Count of, 150

  Tussaud, Madame, 124

  Typhoid fever, case of, 241


  Varan ceremony, 63, 136

  Victor, Prince, 137.
    _See_ Cooch Behar

  Victoria College, Calcutta, 21, 28, 240

  Victoria Institute, foundation, stone laid, 185

  Victoria, Princess, 128

  Victoria, Queen, proclaimed Empress of India, 44;
    Jubilee, 103, 111-113;
    receives the Maharani of Cooch Behar, 107-109;
    holds a Drawing Room, 108-110;
    State ball, 110;
    gift from the Maharani, 114, 117;
    garden-party, 118;
    godmother to Prince Victor, 137;
    the “Good Queen,” 169;
    death, 169;
    mausoleum, 169

  Villeneuve, 170

  Violin concert, 127

  Vyner, Mrs., 132


  Waldstein, Count, 154;
    attack of fever, 155;
    death, 155

  Warwick, Lady, 174

  Wenlock, Lady, 217

  White, Mrs., 77

  William II., Emperor of Germany, at Buckingham Palace, 113

  Windsor Castle, 113, 117, 119, 187

  Wood, Mrs. Nicholas, 167

  Woodlands, 82, 136, 165, 176

THE END

PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED, LONDON AND BECCLES, ENGLAND.





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