Study Guide

Beneath a Marble Sky Chapter 5

By John Shors

Chapter 5

A Promise to Keep

  • The uprising by the Deccans has been successfully quelled, so the Hindustani forces return to Agra amidst great triumphant fanfare.
  • Jahanara and Khondamir watch the returning parade. Khondamir just enjoys scoffing at the prisoners of war, people he's excited to buy as slaves for his mine. Jahanara, on the other hand, anxiously waits to see her family and eventually meets with Dara. He tells her that she will be able see them all tomorrow at the qamargah, which is a ceremonial hunt.
  • The next day, the family is reunited under a tent at the qamargah, and Jahanara confesses to her hugely pregnant mother that marriage has been less than pleasant.
  • Dara, bless him, is upset because he killed a man during battle.
  • Dara's also pretty disturbed about his brother's behavior during the same battle. Aurangzeb was a psychopathic killing machine, and afterwards he created a pyramid from the heads of those he had slain. Uhhh…whoa.
  • Aurangzeb's not just a skilled warrior, he's a pretty accomplished racist, too. He'll only fight with Muslims. All the Hindus are forced to fight with Dara—not that they're too upset about that. Who'd want to hang out with Aurangzeb?
  • Jahanara is understandably upset about these revelations.
  • Mother asks Jahanara to be present during the birth of her latest child.
  • As it happens, Mom goes into labor in Burhanpur, a town somewhere to the south. She had accompanied Jahanara's father there despite everyone's protestations.
  • Jahanara is with her mom, and despite the wartime atmosphere, she's just loving being away from her nasty husband.
  • Unfortunately, when the time comes, the new baby is presenting breech. That means it's trying to come out legs first, which is, umm, no bueno.
  • The baby is stillborn, and there was so much damage done that Mother is dying from the blood loss.
  • Mother makes Jahanara promise to take care of her father, and she makes the Emperor promise to care of their children—and to build her something beautiful. And then she's gone.
  • Jahanara and the Emperor are devastated, to say the least.