Bernier, François, Travels in the Mogul Empire A.D. 1656-1668

(Westminster, Eng. :  Constable,  1891.)



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308                           THE GENTILES

but her eyes were tearless and sparkling with animation
while she cried and screamed aloud like the rest of the
company, and beat time with her hands to this horrible
concert. The hurly-burly having subsided, I approached
the hellish group, and addressed the woman in a gentle
tone. 'I am come hither,' said I, 'by desire of Danech¬
mend-kan, to inform you that he will settle a pension of
two crowns per month on each of your two sons, provided
you do not destroy your life, a life so necessary for their
care and education. We have ways and means indeed to
prevent your ascending the pile, and to punish those who
encourage you in so unreasonable a resolution. All your
relations wish you to live for the sake of your offspring, and
you will not be reputed infamous as are the childless
widows who possess not courage to burn themselves
with their dead husbands.' I repeated these arguments
several times without receiving any answer; but, at last,
fixing a determined look on me, she said, ' Well, if I am
prevented from burning myself, I will dash out my brains
against a wall.' What a diabolical spirit has taken
possession of you, thought I. 'Let it be so then,' I
rejoined, with undissembled anger, ' but first take your
children, wretched and unnatural mother ! cut their throats,
and consume them on the same pile; otherwise you will
leave them to die of famine, for I shall return immediately
to Danechmend-kan and annul their pensions.' These
words, spoken with a loud and resolute voice, made the
desired impression : without uttering a syllable, her head
fell suddenly on her knees, and the greater part of the old
women and Brahmens sneaked toward the door and left
the room. I thought I might now safely leave the widow
in the hands of her friends, who had accompanied me, and
mounting my horse returned home. In the evening, when
on my way to Danechmend-kan to inform him of what I
had done, I met one of the relations who thanked me, and
said that the body had been burnt without the widow, who
had promised not to die by her own hands.
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