Study Guide

Beneath a Marble Sky Chapter 15

By John Shors

Chapter 15

The Hands of Isa

  • Less than a year later, Father falls ill.
  • Jahanara's two lesser-known brothers, Shah and Murad, have joined forces with Aurangzeb to fight the Persians, but upon hearing the news of the father's illness, Aurangzeb's forces betray the others' forces. They kill ten thousand of Hindustan's own men. Ugh.
  • Murad is executed. Shah supposedly escapes.
  • Aurangzeb is on his way south to take the throne.
  • Dara, Nizam (who returned upon learning about Aurangzeb's plans), and Jahanara are all at Father's bedside, trying to gain his advice.
  • They are vastly outnumbered in the Red Fort. This is not looking good.
  • They come up with a devious plan to lure Aurangzeb and his forces to their place of choice for an ambush. It's risky. Very, very risky.
  • Jahanara conducts a secret meeting with Ladli at her friend's behest.
  • Ladli brings news of Aurangzeb's plans to send Balkhi to rape and murder Jahanara. Most likely that night.
  • Uhhhh, this is not good.
  • Jahanara's first thoughts are of protecting Arjumand, so she dashes to the Red Fort to retrieve her daughter.
  • Jahanara finds Arjumand in her own room—playing dress-up—and when she tries to flee, Balkhi is already there. Yikes.
  • Jahanara slashes Balkhi across the face with a dagger, and she and Arjumand try to flee via the secret passageway in the closet, screaming for Isa.
  • Balkhi is close behind them and hurls nasty threats that echo down the hall.
  • Jahanara rams her knees into the stone-block booby trap and thinks quickly. She hurls her daughter and then herself over the stone.
  • Balkhi steps right on the booby trap. Sweet. He falls to his death and gets crushed under tons of rocks.
  • Isa retrieves his family from the rubble.
  • Jahanara and Isa tearfully treat their wounds and try to gather themselves as they calm Arjumand. Isa and Jahanara decide to tell her the truth about who her father is.
  • Arjumand takes the news pretty darn well, actually. Now they all can be a family, at least in secret.
  • Isa wants to flee to his cousin's place in Allahabad, but Jahanara insists that she can't leave: she has to stay to help her father.
  • Jahanara's torn, but she thinks she owes her father due to her mother's dying wishes to protect him. Ugh. Isa's mad (can you blame him?), but he finally relents to flee the next morning with their daughter.
  • Jahanara promises to find Isa and Arjumand after they win the battle against Aurangzeb.