The Maharaja Loves the Sergeants Daughter
Maharajah Devender Singh was the ruler of the state of Nabha. He had reached the age of 30 and was still looking around for a bride. The year was 1890 and everything was quiet and tranquil. He had received a message from the Governor-general at Calcutta to come and meet him and discuss some important matters of state. He decided to go to Calcutta but before that, he thought to go for a ride in the hills.
He went over to the stables and was met by Sergeant Jones who was the man in charge of the horses. He walked up to Jones and said," hello my man how are you?"
"Very well your highness I am grateful to you"
"Yes I had requested the Viceroy and the C-in-C that I needed a professional from the army for the horses and you have been loaned by them."
Sergeant Jones accompanied by his wife had joined the Maharajah about a year back. The Sergeant nodded his head and said," Your highness, my daughter is coming from England and she will be spending a couple of months before she goes back."
"That's fine and I hope you look after her and if there is anything I can do please don't hesitate to tell me."
"Thank you, your highness"
Maharaja Devinder Singh mounted the horse with alacrity and pressed the spurs and the horse moved forward.
The Maharajah had a rigorous ride and returned and handed the reins to Sergeant Jones. He walked to his carriage and went away. He caught the Calcutta mail and relaxed in the luxurious Maharajah's suit on the train. He reached Calcutta after two days and immediately had a meeting with Governor-general. Before that, he checked into the Great Eastern Hotel and occupied the Viceroy's suite.
After the meeting, the Maharajah went into the suite and dressed up and changed his clothes to a European dress and came down into the lounge. At the counter, he saw a young girl talking animatedly to the booking clerk.
She was saying," please give me a room for just one-night as tomorrow the train will be leaving and I will be able to go."
The clerk said," my lady there is no room available, and whatever extra rooms are there have been occupied by the Maharajah and his party.
Maharajah Davinder Singh walked up to the desk and asked what is the problem.
He looked at the girl and liked her very much. She was absolutely fair with blue eyes. Devinder Singh was taken in by her beauty. She was slim with a small bust and the Maharajah could make out that she must be very young, maybe just about 20.
On hearing the problem, the Maharajah looked at the girl and said," would you mind spending a night in my suit I have a spare room there."
Before the girl could reply, the clerk said, "yes, yes your highness, this is the best solution. I will make arrangements to get the bed ready in the ancillary room to your suit."
The girl asked," who are you? you are a maharaja isn't it?"
"Yes I am a Maharajah but I do not belong to Punjab but to the state of Rajasthan. What is your name?"
"My name is Sally Jones. will you be going there?"
"Yes, but where are you going?"
"I am going to Nabha where my father who is a sergeant is looking after the stables of the Maharajah of Nabha."
Devender Singh was delighted at this bit of news. So this was the daughter of Sergeant Jones. He could never have thought that she would be so beautiful. At the same time, he didn't want to tell her that he was the Maharajah of Nabha.
The clerk arranged the bed of the girl and escorted her to the apartment. She had a wonderful sleep at night and the next morning she got up and dressed. She came out of her room and saw the Maharajah sitting at the small dining table in his exclusive suite. He looked at the girl and said, " Sally I'm going to have breakfast would you like to join me.?"
Sally had half a mind to say no but then she said yes and she enjoyed the breakfast with Davinder.
The Maharajah left after breakfast. But there was no doubt he had been smitten by Sally. Cupid had shot his arrow.
When Sally reached the railway station she saw at the end of the train the special bogie attached. She asked, " is there a Maharajah traveling on the train?"
"Yes," one of the passengers replied," I think one of them is traveling but I do not know who it is."
The train journey was uneventful and soon the train pulled in at Patiala. Sally got down from the train and was wondering how she was going to go from there to Nabha. She thought it would be a good idea to hire a horse carriage.
She was in for a shock when she saw the man who had given her a room in his suit walking towards her. She was wondering who he was and what he was doing here as he was supposed to be going to Rajasthan.
She asked, "your highness I am surprised to see you here"
"I am also surprised," the Maharaja replied, " because I made a change of plan at the last moment and I thought I should go and meet my friend the Maharajah of Nabha."
"Are you going to go there?" Sally asked.
"Yes, Are you also going to Nabha?"
Sally Nodded head. "Okay," the maharaja replied, " since I am also going there you can take a ride in my carriage."
"You have already been so kind to me, I don't know whether I should accept your offer."
"Nothing to worry, come my girl, and let's get into my carriage."
Sally and the maharaja climbed into the carriage and she looked at the Maharajah and decided that he was handsome and she liked him. The ruler also was smitten by Sally, her simplicity, her beauty, flawless complexion, and large blue eyes.
Within half an hour they had reached Nabha and the carriage pulled up outside the palace. Devendra Singh got down and held out his hand and Sally climbed down from the carriage. After getting down he told the driver, "take this young lady to the residence of Sergeant Jones."He walked away with short firm steps.
Sally saw his receding figure and was wondering why she was having a crush on the man.
She reached home and was welcomed by the Sergeant and his wife. She chose not to tell the story of our encounter with the Maharajah and spending the night in his suite because her parents may have other ideas. She just said that she had started a month back from England and was now happy to spend time with them.
Just then a message came to Sergeant Jones. It was from the Maharajah. He was advised to get his horse ready as the Maharajah would be coming very soon to the stables. Jones was excited and told his daughter, " the maharaja is coming to the stables and would like to introduce you to him. Please be deferential to him."
After some time the Maharajah came to the stables and Jones was surprised to see that he had covered his face with the flap of his turban
"Your highness, I hope you're okay because that you have covered your face with the flap of your turban."
"My dear Jones I am okay but I have been advised not to inhale any dust and hence I have just covered my face with this flap. By the way, is my horse ready.?"
"Yes, sir! I would also like to introduce you to my daughter Sally. She has just come from England."
Sally looked at the maharaja and give a small courtesy," your highness I'm delighted to meet you."
"So am I, would you like to come for a ride."
Sergeant Jones butted in," your highness she's an adept rider and if you agree, I can arrange a horse for her."
"Yes please do".
Both Sally and the Maharajah rode out into the countryside.
Sally observed that the maharaja was a wonderful rider while she was a novice compared to him. The Maharajah liked Sally immensely and he was making a plan.
He said," let us dismount here"
They had stopped close to a small waterfall.
Sally and the Maharajah dismounted from the horses. The Maharajah was a man who had lived with horses all his life and he knew what to do. Without Sally knowing he gave a small nudge to the horse and it galloped away, Sally looked with some trepidation at the bolting horse and said, " oh how will I go back."
The Maharajah said, "nothing to worry I will take you on my horse."
"Your highness why are you covering your face with the flap of your turban."
"You want to see me?"
"You know why I keep my face covered?"
"Because my face is marked by the pox, would you still like to see me?"
"Yes your highness"
Devender Singh put the flap away and Sally give a gasp when she realized that he was the same man who had given her refuge at Calcutta in his suit.
"My God sir, you are the same Maharajah who was to go to Rajasthan but what are you doing here?"
Devender Singh smiled," I am the maharaja of Nabha; my lady excuses me for playing a prank on you but let me tell you I am captivated by your beauty."
Sally was flustered and wondered what was coming next.
She realized that she liked the Maharajah a lot but then she thought that she should know that she was only a Sergeant's daughter.
The Maharajah climbed on his horse and effortlessly picked up Sally and placed her in the saddle in front of him. He rode slowly back with his arms encircled around Sally. She liked it very much but all the time she was thinking she should be sensible as he is a Maharajah and she only a Sergeant's daughter.
Unknown to her she was smitten by the Maharaja. As for the Davinder, he was captivated by her. They rode back to the stables.
Now both of them began to ride out every day and the bond between the two grew till one day Davinder just lifted her from the horse and cradled her in his arms. As if on cue the heavens opened up and a thunderstorm commenced. The Maharajah cradled her and for the first time kissed her. Passion overtook both as he laid her on the soft grass under a tree and with the rain beating down made `Sally his own. He covered her completely as a short and sharp gasp announced her change from a virgin to a woman. He followed up with momentous words, "Sally will you be the Queen of Nabha?".
Sally went home. She told her mother everything and she was delighted. The Maharajah went to the Queen-mother and told her, " mother you were asking me to get married, well I have decided to get married."
"Who is the girl?"
"She is the daughter of Sergeant Jones who looks after our stables."
The words hit the lady, like an avalanche of bricks and she shouted, "Are you crazy I'm not going to allow it and neither will the Prime Minister allow it."
Devinder Singh was firm, "I am determined to make Sally the Queen of Nabha"
The Prime Minister Surjeet Singh who had been overhearing the conversation now came forward, "look your highness we will not allow this marriage to take place."
"In that case, I will have to marry by force."
"Just hold on, the Head Granthi is coming, speak to him."
The Prime Minister had sent a message to the local head priest of the Gurdwara and after about 15 minutes the head priest also came.
"What is the matter, your highness," he asked
"My son wants to marry a heathen, a Christian, and make her the Queen of Nabha, worse she is the daughter of a Sargeant."
The head priest was alarmed. He turned to the maharaja and said," the guru will never allow it and you will be doing a great sin by marrying a non-Sikh."
Devinder Singh did not reply but angrily walked away. In the meantime, the Prime Minister had hatched a plan and he knew speed was of the essence.
He along with the head priest went to the residence of Sergeant Jones. He was surprised to see them and asked what was the matter.
The head priest spoke, " Sergeant Jones we respect you very much but it appears the Maharajah had decided to marry your daughter and this cannot be accepted. I suggest you send your daughter away right now."
Sergeant Jones was bewildered. He was silent for a moment and then said, " in that case, I will also go away."
"That will be fine," the Prime Minister said," we shall adequately recompense you with lots of money."
Jones was a man of principle and he went to his daughter and told her the tale in entirety. Sally was not ready to go but within two hours they packed their luggage and left for the railway station at Patiala.
From there they moved to Bombay and got the ship and went back to England.
Devinder Singh was surprised when he was told that Jones has left with his daughter.
He asked," how is it possible?"
The Prime Minister said, "Your highness, you are not aware that the girl herself wanted to go back to England and she has gone back."
The Maharajah looked surprised and said, "looks so unlikely."
"Your highness what looks likely is sometimes unlikely," said the Prime Minister.
After a few days, the Maharaja went to the stables. He was missing Sergeant Jones and wondering what to do when he saw the stable boy come forward. He looked at the boy and smiled, " what have you to tell me, my son?"
The boy looked fearful and said, " I wanted to tell your highness that the Prime Minister and the head granthi came here to the residence of Jones sahib and forcefully asked them to go away."
The words hit the Maharajah like a sledgehammer. He told the boy," you have done a good thing my son, now leave everything to me."
Angrily he went back to the palace, first to his mother who he gave a piece of his mind and then went searching for the Prime Minister.
"You have betrayed me," he said.
"No I have not, what I did was good for the state "
"I will go to England and bring her back."
"You will do no such thing because I will stop you."
"Will you stop me?"
"My swordsman Barka Khan will stop you. We cannot allow you to leave the palace."
Devinder Singh took a sword from the wall and said," I am leaving."
The Prime Minister shouted, " Barka Khan, stop the Maharajah"
Barka Khan came with a sword and swished it in the air, "Your highness! please do not force my hand. I will stop you."
Maharajah Devinder Singh was a master swordsmen apart from his outstanding activity in the saddle. He swished his sword in the air. Both Barkat Ali and Devinder Singh crossed swords. The match did not last even 30 seconds, as a mighty blow and the sword of Barkat Ali flew from his hands and fell on the ground.
"Spare me, your highness," he said," it is the prime minister who has told me to do this"
Devinder did not stop for a moment but quickly went out got into the carriage and headed towards Patiala. From there he caught the train to Bombay and set sail for England.
Queen of Naba
Two months had elapsed and the family of Jones was gathered in the sitting room of their small cottage in the village. Jones was looking worried because he had just learnt that his daughter was in the family way. Sally had made it clear that she would not get an abortion done and that had worried him. His wife spent time praying in the Church.
It was evening and heavy rain had commenced when there was the sound of horses outside and a carriage pulled up. Jones wondered who it could be coming in this rain. A man knocked on the door and Jones opened it. It was a friend of Jones.
"John," the man said," it appears that a maharaja has come in a carriage."
When Sally heard these words her heartbeats quickened. She fell delirious and in her heart, she knew that the man who had come was none other than maharaja Devender Singh. There was the neigh of the horses and then she heard the sure step of a man coming. He pushed open the door and entered and low and behold it was Maharaja Devinder Singh.
He saw Sally and held out his arms, "My love," he said," I have come to take you back to Nabha and make you my queen."
Sally rushed into his arms even as John and his wife wiped the tears. The maharajah kissed Sally repeatedly and without another word cradled her in his arms and walked towards the carriage.
Readers that is the end of the story. What happened at Nabha? did the Prime Minister, the Queen-mother, and the Head Granthi( priest) agree or they had some other plot; that is another story.