STRONGER THAN FATE 313
where the young officer still lay asleep, thrust the letter into the folds of his turban, and hurried back to her room. It was done !
Late in the afternoon Nur Mahomed woke, and, making sure that the precious despatch was still safe, went off to get ready for his audience with the governor. As soon as he was ushered into his presence he took the letter from his turban and placed it in the governor's hands according to orders. When he had read it the governor was certainly a little astonished; but he was told in the letter to ' ask no questions,' and he knew how to obey orders. He sent for his wife and told her to get the princess ready to be married at once.
' Nonsense ! ' said his wife, ' what in the world do you mean ?'
' These are the king's commands,' he answered; ' go and do as I bid you. The letter says " at once," and "ask no questions." The marriage, therefore, must take place this evening.'
In vain did his wife urge every objection ; the more she argued, the more determined was her husband. ' I know how to obey orders,' he said, ' and these are as plain as the nose on my face! ' So the princess was summoned, and, somewhat to their surprise, she seemed to take the news very calmly ; next Nur Mahomed was informed, and he was greatly startled, but of course he could but be delighted at the great and unexpected honour which he thought the king had done him. Then all the castle was turned upside down; and when the news spread in the town, that was turned upside down too. Everybody ran everywhere, and tried to do everything at once; and, in the middle of it all, the old governor went about with his hair standing on end, muttering something about ' obeying orders.'
And so the marriage was celebrated, and there was a great feast in the castle, and another in the soldiers' barracks, and illuminations all over the town and in the beautiful gardens. And all the people declared that such