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Title: Vikram and the Vampire: Classic Hindu Tales of Adventure, Magic, and Romance
Author: Burton, Richard Francis, Sir
Language: English
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VIKRAM AND THE VAMPIRE

By Sir Richard F. Burton

Classic Hindu Tales of Adventure, Magic, and Romance

Edited by his Wife Isabel Burton

  “Les fables, loin de grandir les hommes, la Nature et Dieu,
  rapetssent tout.”
   Lamartine (Milton)

  “One who had eyes saw it; the blind will not understand it.
  A poet, who is a boy, he has perceived it; he who understands it
                    will be
    his sire’s sire.”--Rig-Veda (I.164.16).



Preface

Preface to the First (1870) Edition

Introduction

THE VAMPIRE’S FIRST STORY. In which a Man deceives a Woman

THE VAMPIRE’S SECOND STORY. Of the Relative Villany of Men and Woman

THE VAMPIRE’S THIRD STORY. Of a High-minded Family

THE VAMPIRE’S FOURTH STORY. Of a Woman who told the Truth

THE VAMPIRE’S FIFTH STORY. Of the Thief who Laughed and Wept

THE VAMPIRE’S SIXTH STORY. In which Three Men dispute about a Woman

THE VAMPIRE’S SEVENTH STORY. Showing the exceeding Folly of many wise
Fools

THE VAMPIRE’S EIGHTH STORY. Of the Use and Misuse of Magic Pills

THE VAMPIRE’S NINTH STORY. Showing that a Man’s Wife belongs not to his
body but to his Head

THE VAMPIRE’S TENTH STORY. Of the Marvellous Delicacy of Three Queens

THE VAMPIRE’S ELEVENTH STORY. Which puzzles Raja Vikram

Conclusion



PREFACE

The Baital-Pachisi, or Twenty-five Tales of a Baital is the history of
a huge Bat, Vampire, or Evil Spirit which inhabited and animated dead
bodies. It is an old, and thoroughly Hindu, Legend composed in Sanskrit,
and is the germ which culminated in the Arabian Nights, and which
inspired the “Golden Ass” of Apuleius, Boccacio’s “Decamerone,” the
“Pentamerone,” and all that class of facetious fictitious literature.

The story turns chiefly on a great king named Vikram, the King Arthur of
the East, who in pursuance of his promise to a Jogi or Magician, brings
to him the Baital (Vampire), who is hanging on a tree. The difficulties
King Vikram and his son have in bringing the Vampire into the presence
of the Jogi are truly laughable; and on this thread is strung a series
of Hindu fairy stories, which contain much interesting information on
Indian customs and manners. It also alludes to that state, which induces
Hindu devotees to allow themselves to be buried alive, and to appear
dead for weeks or months, and then to return to life again; a curious
state of mesmeric catalepsy, into which they work themselves by
concentrating the mind and abstaining from food--a specimen of which I
have given a practical illustration in the Life of Sir Richard Burton.

The following translation is rendered peculiarly; valuable and
interesting by Sir Richard Burton’s intimate knowledge of the language.
To all who understand the ways of the East, it is as witty, and as full
of what is popularly called “chaff” as it is possible to be. There is
not a dull page in it, and it will especially please those who delight
in the weird and supernatural, the grotesque, and the wild life.

My husband only gives eleven of the best tales, as it was thought the
translation would prove more interesting in its abbreviated form.

ISABEL BURTON.

August 18th, 1893.



PREFACE TO THE FIRST (1870) EDITION.

“THE genius of Eastern nations,” says an established and respectable
authority, “was, from the earliest times, much turned towards invention
and the love of fiction. The Indians, the Persians, and the Arabians,
were all famous for their fables. Amongst the ancient Greeks we hear
of the Ionian and Milesian tales, but they have now perished, and,
from every account we hear of them, appear to have been loose and
indelicate.” Similarly, the classical dictionaries define “Milesiae
fabulae” to be “licentious themes,” “stories of an amatory or mirthful
nature,” or “ludicrous and indecent plays.” M. Deriege seems indeed
to confound them with the “Moeurs du Temps” illustrated with artistic
gouaches, when he says, “une de ces fables milesiennes, rehaussees de
peintures, que la corruption romaine recherchait alors avec une folle
ardeur.”

My friend, Mr. Richard Charnock, F.A.S.L., more correctly defines
Milesian fables to have been originally “certain tales or novels,
composed by Aristides of Miletus “; gay in matter and graceful in
manner. “They were translated into Latin by the historian Sisenna, the
friend of Atticus, and they had a great success at Rome. Plutarch, in
his life of Crassus, tells us that after the defeat of Carhes (Carrhae?)
some Milesiacs were found in the baggage of the Roman prisoners. The
Greek text; and the Latin translation have long been lost. The only
surviving fable is the tale of Cupid and Psyche,[1] which Apuleius calls
‘Milesius sermo,’ and it makes us deeply regret the disappearance of the
others.” Besides this there are the remains of Apollodorus and
Conon, and a few traces to be found in Pausanias, Athenaeus, and the
scholiasts.

I do not, therefore, agree with Blair, with the dictionaries, or with M.
Deriege. Miletus, the great maritime city of Asiatic Ionia, was of old
the meeting-place of the East and the West. Here the Phoenician trader
from the Baltic would meet the Hindu wandering to Intra, from Extra,
Gangem; and the Hyperborean would step on shore side by side with the
Nubian and the Aethiop. Here was produced and published for the use of
the then civilized world, the genuine Oriental apologue, myth and tale
combined, which, by amusing narrative and romantic adventure, insinuates
a lesson in morals or in humanity, of which we often in our days must
fail to perceive the drift. The book of Apuleius, before quoted, is
subject to as many discoveries of recondite meaning as is Rabelais.
As regards the licentiousness of the Milesian fables, this sign of
semi-civilization is still inherent in most Eastern books of the
description which we call “light literature,” and the ancestral
tale-teller never collects a larger purse of coppers than when he
relates the worst of his “aurei.” But this looseness, resulting from
the separation of the sexes, is accidental, not necessary. The following
collection will show that it can be dispensed with, and that there is
such a thing as comparative purity in Hindu literature. The author,
indeed, almost always takes the trouble to marry his hero and his
heroine, and if he cannot find a priest, he generally adopts
an exceedingly left-hand and Caledonian but legal rite called
“gandharbavivaha.[2]”

The work of Apuleius, as ample internal evidence shows, is borrowed from
the East. The groundwork of the tale is the metamorphosis of Lucius
of Corinth into an ass, and the strange accidents which precede his
recovering the human form.

Another old Hindu story-book relates, in the popular fairy-book
style, the wondrous adventures of the hero and demigod, the great
Gandharba-Sena. That son of Indra, who was also the father of
Vikramajit, the subject of this and another collection, offended the
ruler of the firmament by his fondness for a certain nymph, and was
doomed to wander over earth under the form of a donkey. Through the
interposition of the gods, however, he was permitted to become a man
during the hours of darkness, thus comparing with the English legend--

          Amundeville is lord by day,
          But the monk is lord by night.

Whilst labouring under this curse, Gandharba-Sena persuaded the King
of Dhara to give him a daughter in marriage, but it unfortunately so
happened that at the wedding hour he was unable to show himself in any
but asinine shape. After bathing, however, he proceeded to the assembly,
and, hearing songs and music, he resolved to give them a specimen of his
voice.

The guests were filled with sorrow that so beautiful a virgin should be
married to a donkey. They were afraid to express their feelings to the
king, but they could not refrain from smiling, covering their mouths
with their garments. At length some one interrupted the general silence
and said:

“O king, is this the son of Indra? You have found a fine bridegroom; you
are indeed happy; don’t delay the marriage; delay is improper in doing
good; we never saw so glorious a wedding! It is true that we once heard
of a camel being married to a jenny-ass; when the ass, looking up to the
camel, said, ‘Bless me, what a bridegroom!’ and the camel, hearing the
voice of the ass, exclaimed, ‘Bless me, what a musical voice!’ In that
wedding, however, the bride and the bridegroom were equal; but in this
marriage, that such a bride should have such a bridegroom is truly
wonderful.”

Other Brahmans then present said:

“O king, at the marriage hour, in sign of joy the sacred shell is blown,
but thou hast no need of that” (alluding to the donkey’s braying).

The women all cried out:

“O my mother![3] what is this? at the time of marriage to have an ass!
What a miserable thing! What! will he give that angelic girl in wedlock
to a donkey?”

At length Gandharba-Sena, addressing the king in Sanskrit, urged him to
perform his promise. He reminded his future father-in-law that there is
no act more meritorious than speaking truth; that the mortal frame is
a mere dress, and that wise men never estimate the value of a person by
his clothes. He added that he was in that shape from the curse of his
sire, and that during the night he had the body of a man. Of his being
the son of Indra there could be no doubt.

Hearing the donkey thus speak Sanskrit, for it was never known that an
ass could discourse in that classical tongue, the minds of the people
were changed, and they confessed that, although he had an asinine form
he was unquestionably the son of Indra. The king, therefore, gave him
his daughter in marriage.[4] The metamorphosis brings with it many
misfortunes and strange occurrences, and it lasts till Fate in the
author’s hand restores the hero to his former shape and honours.

Gandharba-Sena is a quasi-historical personage, who lived in the century
preceding the Christian era. The story had, therefore, ample time to
reach the ears of the learned African Apuleius, who was born A.D. 130.

The Baital-Pachisi, or Twenty-five (tales of a) Baital[5]--a Vampire or
evil spirit which animates dead bodies--is an old and thoroughly Hindu
repertory. It is the rude beginning of that fictitious history which
ripened to the Arabian Nights’ Entertainments, and which, fostered by
the genius of Boccaccio, produced the romance of the chivalrous days,
and its last development, the novel--that prose-epic of modern Europe.

Composed in Sanskrit, “the language of the gods,” alias the Latin of
India, it has been translated into all the Prakrit or vernacular and
modern dialects of the great peninsula. The reason why it has not found
favour with the Moslems is doubtless the highly polytheistic spirit
which pervades it; moreover, the Faithful had already a specimen of that
style of composition. This was the Hitopadesa, or Advice of a Friend,
which, as a line in its introduction informs us, was borrowed from an
older book, the Panchatantra, or Five Chapters. It is a collection of
apologues recited by a learned Brahman, Vishnu Sharma by name, for the
edification of his pupils, the sons of an Indian Raja. They have been
adapted to or translated into a number of languages, notably into Pehlvi
and Persian, Syriac and Turkish, Greek and Latin, Hebrew and Arabic. And
as the Fables of Pilpay,[6] are generally known, by name at least, to
European litterateurs.. Voltaire remarks,[7] “Quand on fait reflexion
que presque toute la terre a ete infatuee de pareils comes, et qu’ils
ont fait l’education du genre humain, on trouve les fables de Pilpay,
Lokman, d’Esope bien raisonnables.” These tales, detached, but strung
together by artificial means--pearls with a thread drawn through
them--are manifest precursors of the Decamerone, or Ten Days. A modern
Italian critic describes the now classical fiction as a collection of
one hundred of those novels which Boccaccio is believed to have read out
at the court of Queen Joanna of Naples, and which later in life were by
him assorted together by a most simple and ingenious contrivance. But
the great Florentine invented neither his stories nor his “plot,” if
we may so call it. He wrote in the middle of the fourteenth century
(1344-8) when the West had borrowed many things from the East, rhymes[8]
and romance, lutes and drums, alchemy and knight-errantry. Many of the
“Novelle” are, as Orientalists well know, to this day sung and recited
almost textually by the wandering tale-tellers, bards, and rhapsodists
of Persia and Central Asia.

The great kshatriya,(soldier) king Vikramaditya,[9] or Vikramarka,
meaning the “Sun of Heroism,” plays in India the part of King Arthur,
and of Harun al-Rashid further West. He is a semi-historical personage.
The son of Gandharba-Sena the donkey and the daughter of the King of
Dhara, he was promised by his father the strength of a thousand male
elephants. When his sire died, his grandfather, the deity Indra,
resolved that the babe should not be born, upon which his mother stabbed
herself. But the tragic event duly happening during the ninth month,
Vikram came into the world by himself, and was carried to Indra, who
pitied and adopted him, and gave him a good education.

The circumstances of his accession to the throne, as will presently
appear, are differently told. Once, however, made King of Malaya, the
modern Malwa, a province of Western Upper India, he so distinguished
himself that the Hindu fabulists, with their usual brave kind of
speaking, have made him “bring the whole earth under the shadow of one
umbrella.”

The last ruler of the race of Mayura, which reigned 318 years, was
Raja-pal. He reigned 25 years, but giving himself up to effeminacy, his
country was invaded by Shakaditya, a king from the highlands of Kumaon.
Vikramaditya, in the fourteenth year of his reign, pretended to espouse
the cause of Raja-pal, attacked and destroyed Shakaditya, and ascended
the throne of Delhi. His capital was Avanti, or Ujjayani, the modern
Ujjain. It was 13 kos (26 miles) long by 18 miles wide, an area of 468
square miles, but a trifle in Indian History. He obtained the title of
Shakari, “foe of the Shakas,” the Sacae or Scythians, by his victories
over that redoubtable race. In the Kali Yug, or Iron Age, he stands
highest amongst the Hindu kings as the patron of learning. Nine persons
under his patronage, popularly known as the “Nine Gems of Science,” hold
in India the honourable position of the Seven Wise Men of Greece.

These learned persons wrote works in the eighteen original dialects
from which, say the Hindus, all the languages of the earth have been
derived.[10] Dhanwantari enlightened the world upon the subjects of
medicine and of incantations. Kshapanaka treated the primary elements.
Amara-Singha compiled a Sanskrit dictionary and a philosophical
treatise. Shankubetalabhatta composed comments, and Ghatakarpara a
poetical work of no great merit. The books of Mihira are not mentioned.
Varaha produced two works on astrology and one on arithmetic. And
Bararuchi introduced certain improvements in grammar, commented upon the
incantations, and wrote a poem in praise of King Madhava.

But the most celebrated of all the patronized ones was Kalidasa. His two
dramas, Sakuntala,[11] and Vikram and Urvasi,[12] have descended to
our day; besides which he produced a poem on the seasons, a work on
astronomy, a poetical history of the gods, and many other books.[13]

Vikramaditya established the Sambat era, dating from A.C. 56. After
a long, happy, and glorious reign, he lost his life in a war with
Shalivahana, King of Pratisthana. That monarch also left behind him an
era called the “Shaka,” beginning with A.D. 78. It is employed, even
now, by the Hindus in recording their births, marriages, and similar
occasions.

King Vikramaditya was succeeded by his infant son Vikrama-Sena, and
father and son reigned over a period of 93 years. At last the latter was
supplanted by a devotee named Samudra-pala, who entered into his body
by miraculous means. The usurper reigned 24 years and 2 months, and the
throne of Delhi continued in the hands of his sixteen successors, who
reigned 641 years and 3 months. Vikrama-pala, the last, was slain in
battle by Tilaka-chandra, King of Vaharannah[14].

It is not pretended that the words of these Hindu tales are preserved
to the letter. The question about the metamorphosis of cats into tigers,
for instance, proceeded from a Gem of Learning in a university much
nearer home than Gaur. Similarly the learned and still living Mgr. Gaume
(Traite du Saint-Esprit, p.. 81) joins Camerarius in the belief that
serpents bite women rather than men. And he quotes (p.. 192) Cornelius a
Lapide, who informs us that the leopard is the produce of a lioness with
a hyena or a bard..

The merit of the old stories lies in their suggestiveness and in their
general applicability. I have ventured to remedy the conciseness of
their language, and to clothe the skeleton with flesh and blood.

                To My Uncle,

       ROBERT BAGSHAW, OF DOVERCOURT,

                These Tales,
    That Will Remind Him Of A Land Which
             He Knows So Well,
       Are Affectionately Inscribed.



INTRODUCTION

The sage Bhavabhuti--Eastern teller of these tales--after making his
initiatory and propitiatory conge to Ganesha, Lord of Incepts, informs
the reader that this book is a string of fine pearls to be hung round
the neck of human intelligence; a fragrant flower to be borne on the
turband of mental wisdom; a jewel of pure gold, which becomes the brow
of all supreme minds; and a handful of powdered rubies, whose tonic
effects will appear palpably upon the mental digestion of every patient.
Finally, that by aid of the lessons inculcated in the following pages,
man will pass happily through this world into the state of absorption,
where fables will be no longer required.

He then teaches us how Vikramaditya the Brave became King of Ujjayani.

Some nineteen centuries ago, the renowned city of Ujjayani witnessed the
birth of a prince to whom was given the gigantic name Vikramaditya.
Even the Sanskrit-speaking people, who are not usually pressed for time,
shortened it to “Vikram”, and a little further West it would infallibly
have been docked down to “Vik”.

Vikram was the second son of an old king Gandharba-Sena, concerning whom
little favourable has reached posterity, except that he became an ass,
married four queens, and had by them six sons, each of whom was more
learned and powerful than the other. It so happened that in course of
time the father died. Thereupon his eldest heir, who was known as Shank,
succeeded to the carpet of Rajaship, and was instantly murdered by
Vikram, his “scorpion”, the hero of the following pages.[15]

By this act of vigour and manly decision, which all younger-brother
princes should devoutly imitate, Vikram having obtained the title of
Bir, or the Brave, made himself Raja. He began to rule well, and the
gods so favoured him that day by day his dominions increased. At
length he became lord of all India, and having firmly established his
government, he instituted an era--an uncommon feat for a mere monarch,
especially when hereditary.

The steps,[16] says the historian, which he took to arrive at that
pinnacle of grandeur, were these:

The old King calling his two grandsons Bhartari-hari and Vikramaditya,
gave them good counsel respecting their future learning. They were told
to master everything, a certain way not to succeed in anything. They
were diligently to learn grammar, the Scriptures, and all the
religious sciences. They were to become familiar with military
tactics, international law, and music, the riding of horses and
elephants--especially the latter--the driving of chariots, and the use
of the broadsword, the bow, and the mogdars or Indian clubs. They were
ordered to be skilful in all kinds of games, in leaping and running, in
besieging forts, in forming and breaking bodies of troops; they were
to endeavour to excel in every princely quality, to be cunning in
ascertaining the power of an enemy, how to make war, to perform
journeys, to sit in the presence of the nobles, to separate the
different sides of a question, to form alliances, to distinguish between
the innocent and the guilty, to assign proper punishments to the wicked,
to exercise authority with perfect justice, and to be liberal. The boys
were then sent to school, and were placed under the care of excellent
teachers, where they became truly famous. Whilst under pupilage, the
eldest was allowed all the power necessary to obtain a knowledge of
royal affairs, and he was not invested with the regal office till in
these preparatory steps he had given full satisfaction to his subjects,
who expressed high approval of his conduct.

The two brothers often conversed on the duties of kings, when the
great Vikramaditya gave the great Bhartari-hari the following valuable
advice[17]:

“As Indra, during the four rainy months, fills the earth with water, so
a king should replenish his treasury with money. As Surya the sun,
in warming the earth eight months, does not scorch it, so a king, in
drawing revenues from his people, ought not to oppress them. As Vayu,
the wind, surrounds and fills everything, so the king by his officers
and spies should become acquainted with the affairs and circumstances
of his whole people. As Yama judges men without partiality or prejudice,
and punishes the guilty, so should a king chastise, without favour,
all offenders. As Varuna, the regent of water, binds with his pasha or
divine noose his enemies, so let a king bind every malefactor safely in
prison. As Chandra,[18] the moon, by his cheering light gives pleasure
to all, thus should a king, by gifts and generosity, make his people
happy. And as Prithwi, the earth, sustains all alike, so should a king
feel an equal affection and forbearance towards every one.”

Become a monarch, Vikram meditated deeply upon what is said of
monarchs:--“A king is fire and air; he is both sun and moon; he is the
god of criminal justice; he is the genius of wealth; he is the regent
of water; he is the lord of the firmament; he is a powerful divinity who
appears in human shape.” He reflected with some satisfaction that the
scriptures had made him absolute, had left the lives and properties
of all his subjects to his arbitrary will, had pronounced him to be
an incarnate deity, and had threatened to punish with death even ideas
derogatory to his honour.

He punctually observed all the ordinances laid down by the author of the
Niti, or institutes of government. His night and day were divided into
sixteen pahars or portions, each one hour and a half, and they were
disposed of as follows:--

Before dawn Vikram was awakened by a servant appointed to this
special duty. He swallowed--a thing allowed only to a khshatriya or
warrior--Mithridatic every morning on the saliva[19], and he made the
cooks taste every dish before he ate of it. As soon as he had risen,
the pages in waiting repeated his splendid qualities, and as he left his
sleeping-room in full dress, several Brahmans rehearsed the praises
of the gods. Presently he bathed, worshipped his guardian deity, again
heard hymns, drank a little water, and saw alms distributed to the poor.
He ended this watch by auditing his accounts.

Next entering his court, he placed himself amidst the assembly. He was
always armed when he received strangers, and he caused even women to be
searched for concealed weapons. He was surrounded by so many spies and
so artful, that of a thousand, no two ever told the same tale. At
the levee, on his right sat his relations, the Brahmans, and men of
distinguished birth. The other castes were on the left, and close to
him stood the ministers and those whom he delighted to consult. Afar
in front gathered the bards chanting the praises of the gods and of
the king; also the charioteers, elephanteers, horsemen, and soldiers of
valour. Amongst the learned men in those assemblies there were ever
some who were well instructed in all the scriptures, and others who had
studied in one particular school of philosophy, and were acquainted only
with the works on divine wisdom, or with those on justice, civil and
criminal, on the arts, mineralogy or the practice of physic;
also persons cunning in all kinds of customs; riding-masters,
dancing-masters, teachers of good behaviour, examiners, tasters, mimics,
mountebanks, and others, who all attended the court and awaited the
king’s commands. He here pronounced judgment in suits of appeal. His
poets wrote about him:

               The lord of lone splendour an instant suspends
               His course at mid-noon, ere he westward descends;
               And brief are the moments our young monarch knows,
               Devoted to pleasure or paid to repose!

Before the second sandhya,[20] or noon, about the beginning of the third
watch, he recited the names of the gods, bathed, and broke his fast in
his private room; then rising from food, he was amused by singers and
dancing girls. The labours of the day now became lighter. After eating
he retired, repeating the name of his guardian deity, visited the
temples, saluted the gods conversed with the priests, and proceeded
to receive and to distribute presents. Fifthly, he discussed political
questions with his ministers and councillors.

On the announcement of the herald that it was the sixth watch--about
2 or 3 P.M.--Vikram allowed himself to follow his own inclinations, to
regulate his family, and to transact business of a private and personal
nature.

After gaining strength by rest, he proceeded to review his troops,
examining the men, saluting the officers, and holding military councils.
At sunset he bathed a third time and performed the five sacraments of
listening to a prelection of the Veda; making oblations to the manes;
sacrificing to Fire in honour of the deities; giving rice to dumb
creatures; and receiving guests with due ceremonies. He spent the
evening amidst a select company of wise, learned, and pious men,
conversing on different subjects, and reviewing the business of the day.

The night was distributed with equal care. During the first portion
Vikram received the reports which his spies and envoys, dressed in every
disguise, brought to him about his enemies. Against the latter he
ceased not to use the five arts, namely--dividing the kingdom, bribes,
mischief-making, negotiations, and brute-force--especially preferring
the first two and the last. His forethought and prudence taught him
to regard all his nearest neighbours and their allies as hostile. The
powers beyond those natural enemies he considered friendly because they
were the foes of his foes. And all the remoter nations he looked upon as
neutrals, in a transitional or provisional state as it were, till they
became either his neighbours’ neighbours, or his own neighbours, that is
to say, his friends or his foes.

This important duty finished he supped, and at the end of the third
watch he retired to sleep, which was not allowed to last beyond three
hours. In the sixth watch he arose and purified himself. The seventh
was devoted to holding private consultations with his ministers, and to
furnishing the officers of government with requisite instructions. The
eighth or last watch was spent with the Purohita or priest, and with
Brahmans, hailing the dawn with its appropriate rites; he then bathed,
made the customary offerings, and prayed in some unfrequented place near
pure water.

And throughout these occupations he bore in mind the duty of kings,
namely--to pursue every object till it be accomplished; to succour all
dependents, and hospitably to receive guests, however numerous. He was
generous to his subjects respecting taxes, and kind of speech; yet he
was inexorable as death in the punishment of offenses. He rarely hunted,
and he visited his pleasure gardens only on stated days. He acted in his
own dominions with justice; he chastised foreign foes with rigour; he
behaved generously to Brahmans, and he avoided favouritism amongst his
friends. In war he never slew a suppliant, a spectator, a person asleep
or undressed, or anyone that showed fear. Whatever country he conquered,
offerings were presented to its gods, and effects and money were given
to the reverends. But what benefited him most was his attention to the
creature comforts of the nine Gems of Science: those eminent men ate
and drank themselves into fits of enthusiasm, and ended by immortalizing
their patron’s name.

Become Vikram the Great he established his court at a delightful and
beautiful location rich in the best of water. The country was difficult
of access, and artificially made incapable of supporting a host of
invaders, but four great roads met near the city. The capital was
surrounded with durable ramparts, having gates of defence, and near it
was a mountain fortress, under the especial charge of a great captain.

The metropolis was well garrisoned and provisioned, and it surrounded
the royal palace, a noble building without as well as within. Grandeur
seemed embodied there, and Prosperity had made it her own. The nearer
ground, viewed from the terraces and pleasure pavilions, was a lovely
mingling of rock and mountain, plain and valley, field and fallow,
crystal lake and glittering stream. The banks of the winding Lavana
were fringed with meads whose herbage, pearly with morning dew, afforded
choicest grazing for the sacred cow, and were dotted with perfumed
clumps of Bo-trees, tamarinds, and holy figs: in one place Vikram
planted 100,000 in a single orchard and gave them to his spiritual
advisers. The river valley separated the stream from a belt of forest
growth which extended to a hill range, dark with impervious jungle, and
cleared here and there for the cultivator’s village. Behind it, rose
another sub-range, wooded with a lower bush and already blue with air,
whilst in the background towered range upon range, here rising abruptly
into points and peaks, there ramp-shaped or wall-formed, with sheer
descents, and all of light azure hue adorned with glories of silver and
gold.

After reigning for some years, Vikram the Brave found himself at the
age of thirty, a staid and sober middle-aged man, He had several
sons--daughters are naught in India--by his several wives, and he had
some paternal affection for nearly all--except of course, for his eldest
son, a youth who seemed to conduct himself as though he had a claim to
the succession. In fact, the king seemed to have taken up his abode
for life at Ujjayani, when suddenly he bethought himself, “I must visit
those countries of whose names I am ever hearing.” The fact is, he had
determined to spy out in disguise the lands of all his foes, and to find
the best means of bringing against them his formidable army.

      *     *     *     *     *     *

We now learn how Bhartari Raja becomes Regent of Ujjayani.

Having thus resolved, Vikram the Brave gave the government into the
charge of a younger brother, Bhartari Raja, and in the garb of a
religious mendicant, accompanied by Dharma Dhwaj, his second son, a
youth bordering on the age of puberty, he began to travel from city to
city, and from forest to forest.

The Regent was of a settled melancholic turn of mind, having lost
in early youth a very peculiar wife. One day, whilst out hunting, he
happened to pass a funeral pyre, upon which a Brahman’s widow had just
become Sati (a holy woman) with the greatest fortitude. On his return
home he related the adventure to Sita Rani, his spouse, and she at once
made reply that virtuous women die with their husbands, killed by the
fire of grief, not by the flames of the pile. To prove her truth the
prince, after an affectionate farewell, rode forth to the chase, and
presently sent back the suite with his robes torn and stained, to report
his accidental death. Sita perished upon the spot, and the widower
remained inconsolable--for a time.

He led the dullest of lives, and took to himself sundry spouses, all
equally distinguished for birth, beauty, and modesty. Like his brother,
he performed all the proper devoirs of a Raja, rising before the day to
finish his ablutions, to worship the gods, and to do due obeisance to
the Brahmans. He then ascended the throne, to judge his people according
to the Shastra, carefully keeping in subjection lust, anger, avarice,
folly, drunkenness, and pride; preserving himself from being seduced by
the love of gaming and of the chase; restraining his desire for dancing,
singing, and playing on musical instruments, and refraining from sleep
during daytime, from wine, from molesting men of worth, from dice, from
putting human beings to death by artful means, from useless travelling,
and from holding any one guilty without the commission of a crime. His
levees were in a hall decently splendid, and he was distinguished only
by an umbrella of peacock’s feathers; he received all complainants,
petitioners, and presenters of offenses with kind looks and soft words.
He united to himself the seven or eight wise councillors, and the
sober and virtuous secretary that formed the high cabinet of his royal
brother, and they met in some secret lonely spot, as a mountain, a
terrace, a bower or a forest, whence women, parrots, and other talkative
birds were carefully excluded.

And at the end of this useful and somewhat laborious day, he retired to
his private apartments, and, after listening to spiritual songs and
to soft music, he fell asleep. Sometimes he would summon his brother’s
“Nine Gems of Science,” and give ear to their learned discourses. But it
was observed that the viceroy reserved this exercise for nights when
he was troubled with insomnia--the words of wisdom being to him an
infallible remedy for that disorder.

Thus passed onwards his youth, doing nothing that it could desire,
forbidden all pleasures because they were unprincely, and working in the
palace harder than in the pauper’s hut. Having, however, fortunately for
himself, few predilections and no imagination, he began to pride himself
upon being a philosopher. Much business from an early age had dulled
his wits, which were never of the most brilliant; and in the steadily
increasing torpidity of his spirit, he traced the germs of that quietude
which forms the highest happiness of man in this storm of matter called
the world. He therefore allowed himself but one friend of his soul. He
retained, I have said, his brother’s seven or eight ministers; he was
constant in attendance upon the Brahman priests who officiated at the
palace, and who kept the impious from touching sacred property; and he
was courteous to the commander-in-chief who directed his warriors, to
the officers of justice who inflicted punishment upon offenders, and
to the lords of towns, varying in number from one to a thousand. But
he placed an intimate of his own in the high position of confidential
councillor, the ambassador to regulate war and peace.

Mahi-pala was a person of noble birth, endowed with shining abilities,
popular, dexterous in business, acquainted with foreign parts, famed for
eloquence and intrepidity, and as Menu the Lawgiver advises, remarkably
handsome.

Bhartari Raja, as I have said, became a quietist and a philosopher.
But Kama,[21] the bright god who exerts his sway over the three worlds,
heaven and earth and grewsome Hades,[22] had marked out the prince once
more as the victim of his blossom-tipped shafts and his flowery bow.
How, indeed, could he hope to escape the doom which has fallen equally
upon Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and dreadful Shiva the
Three-eyed Destroyer[23]?

By reason of her exceeding beauty, her face was a full moon shining in
the clearest sky; her hair was the purple cloud of autumn when, gravid
with rain, it hangs low over earth; and her complexion mocked the pale
waxen hue of the large-flowered jasmine. Her eyes were those of the
timid antelope; her lips were as red as those of the pomegranate’s bud,
and when they opened, from them distilled a fountain of ambrosia. Her
neck was like a pigeon’s; her hand the pink lining of the conch-shell;
her waist a leopard’s; her feet the softest lotuses. In a word, a model
of grace and loveliness was Dangalah Rani, Raja Bhartari’s last and
youngest wife.

The warrior laid down his arms before her; the politician spoke
out every secret in her presence. The religious prince would have
slaughtered a cow--that sole unforgivable sin--to save one of her
eyelashes: the absolute king would not drink a cup of water without her
permission; the staid philosopher, the sober quietist, to win from her
the shadow of a smile, would have danced before her like a singing-girl.
So desperately enamoured became Bhartari Raja.

It is written, however, that love, alas! breeds not love; and so
it happened to the Regent. The warmth of his affection, instead of
animating his wife, annoyed her; his protestations wearied her; his vows
gave her the headache; and his caresses were a colic that made her blood
run cold. Of course, the prince perceived nothing, being lost in wonder
and admiration of the beauty’s coyness and coquetry. And as women must
give away their hearts, whether asked or not, so the lovely Dangalah
Rani lost no time in lavishing all the passion of her idle soul upon
Mahi-pala, the handsome ambassador of peace and war. By this means the
three were happy and were contented; their felicity, however, being
built on a rotten foundation, could not long endure. It soon ended in
the following extraordinary way.

In the city of Ujjayani,[24] within sight of the palace, dwelt a Brahman
and his wife, who, being old and poor, and having nothing else to do,
had applied themselves to the practice of austere devotion.[25] They
fasted and refrained from drink, they stood on their heads and held
their arms for weeks in the air; they prayed till their knees were like
pads; they disciplined themselves with scourges of wire; and they walked
about unclad in the cold season, and in summer they sat within a circle
of flaming wood, till they became the envy and admiration of all the
plebeian gods that inhabit the lower heavens. In fine, as a reward for
their exceeding piety, the venerable pair received at the hands of a
celestial messenger an apple of the tree Kalpavriksha--a fruit which has
the virtue of conferring eternal life upon him that tastes it.

Scarcely had the god disappeared, when the Brahman, opening his
toothless mouth, prepared to eat the fruit of immortality. Then his wife
addressed him in these words, shedding copious tears the while:

“To die, O man, is a passing pain; to be poor is an interminable
anguish. Surely our present lot is the penalty of some great crime
committed by us in a past state of being.[26] Callest thou this state
life? Better we die at once, and so escape the woes of the world!”

Hearing these words, the Brahman sat undecided, with open jaws and eyes
fixed upon the apple. Presently he found tongue: “I have accepted
the fruit, and have brought it here; but having heard thy speech, my
intellect hath wasted away; now I will do whatever thou pointest out.”

The wife resumed her discourse, which had been interrupted by a more
than usually copious flow of tears. “Moreover, O husband, we are old,
and what are the enjoyments of the stricken in years? Truly quoth the
poet--

               Die loved in youth, not hated in age.

If that fruit could have restored thy dimmed eyes, and deaf ears, and
blunted taste, and warmth of love, I had not spoken to thee thus.”

After which the Brahman threw away the apple, to the great joy of his
wife, who felt a natural indignation at the prospect of seeing her
goodman become immortal, whilst she still remained subject to the laws
of death; but she concealed this motive in the depths of her thought,
enlarging, as women are apt to do, upon everything but the truth. And
she spoke with such success, that the priest was about to toss in his
rage the heavenly fruit into the fire, reproaching the gods as if by
sending it they had done him an injury. Then the wife snatched it out
of his hand, and telling him it was too precious to be wasted, bade him
arise and gird his loins and wend him to the Regent’s palace, and
offer him the fruit--as King Vikram was absent--with a right reverend
brahmanical benediction. She concluded with impressing upon her
unworldly husband the necessity of requiring a large sum of money as a
return for his inestimable gift. “By this means,” she said, “thou mayst
promote thy present and future welfare.[27]”

Then the Brahman went forth, and standing in the presence of the Raja,
told him all things touching the fruit, concluding with “O, mighty
prince! vouchsafe to accept this tribute, and bestow wealth upon me. I
shall be happy in your living long!”

Bhartari Raja led the supplicant into an inner strongroom, where stood
heaps of the finest gold-dust, and bade him carry away all that he
could; this the priest did, not forgetting to fill even his eloquent and
toothless mouth with the precious metal. Having dismissed the devotee
groaning under the burden, the Regent entered the apartments of his
wives, and having summoned the beautiful Queen Dangalah Rani, gave her
the fruit, and said, “Eat this, light of my eyes! This fruit--joy of my
heart!--will make thee everlastingly young and beautiful.”

The pretty queen, placing both hands upon her husband’s bosom, kissed
his eyes and lips, and sweetly smiling on his face--for great is the
guile of women--whispered, “Eat it thyself, dear one, or at least share
it with me; for what is life and what is youth without the presence of
those we love?” But the Raja, whose heart was melted by these unusual
words, put her away tenderly, and, having explained that the fruit would
serve for only one person, departed.

Whereupon the pretty queen, sweetly smiling as before, slipped the
precious present into her pocket. When the Regent was transacting
business in the hall of audience she sent for the ambassador who
regulated war and peace, and presented him with the apple in a manner at
least as tender as that with which it had been offered to her.

Then the ambassador, after slipping the fruit into his pocket also,
retired from the presence of the pretty queen, and meeting Lakha, one of
the maids of honour, explained to her its wonderful power, and gave
it to her as a token of his love. But the maid of honour, being an
ambitious girl, determined that the fruit was a fit present to set
before the Regent in the absence of the King. Bhartari Raja accepted it,
bestowed on her great wealth, and dismissed her with many thanks.

He then took up the apple and looked at it with eyes brimful of tears,
for he knew the whole extent of his misfortune. His heart ached, he felt
a loathing for the world, and he said with sighs and groans[28]:

“Of what value are these delusions of wealth and affection, whose
sweetness endures for a moment and becomes eternal bitterness? Love is
like the drunkard’s cup: delicious is the first drink, palling are the
draughts that succeed it, and most distasteful are the dregs. What is
life but a restless vision of imaginary pleasures and of real pains,
from which the only waking is the terrible day of death? The affection
of this world is of no use, since, in consequence of it, we fall at last
into hell. For which reason it is best to practice the austerities of
religion, that the Deity may bestow upon us hereafter that happiness
which he refuses to us here!”

Thus did Bhartari Raja determine to abandon the world. But before
setting out for the forest, he could not refrain from seeing the queen
once more, so hot was the flame which Kama had kindled in his heart.
He therefore went to the apartments of his women, and having caused
Dangalah Rani to be summoned, he asked her what had become of the fruit
which he had given to her. She answered that, according to his command,
she had eaten it. Upon which the Regent showed her the apple, and she
beholding it stood aghast, unable to make any reply. The Raja gave
careful orders for her beheading; he then went out, and having had the
fruit washed, ate it. He quitted the throne to be a jogi, or religious
mendicant, and without communicating with any one departed into the
jungle. There he became such a devotee that death had no power over him,
and he is wandering still. But some say that he was duly absorbed into
the essence of the Deity.

      *     *     *     *     *     *

We are next told how the valiant Vikram returned to his own country.

Thus Vikram’s throne remained empty. When the news reached King Indra,
Regent of the Lower Firmament and Protector of Earthly Monarchs, he sent
Prithwi Pala, a fierce giant,[29] to defend the city of Ujjayani till
such time as its lawful master might reappear, and the guardian used to
keep watch and ward night and day over his trust.

In less than a year the valorous Raja Vikram became thoroughly tired of
wandering about the woods half dressed: now suffering from famine, then
exposed to the attacks of wild beasts, and at all times very ill at
ease. He reflected also that he was not doing his duty to his wives and
children; that the heir-apparent would probably make the worst use of
the parental absence; and finally, that his subjects, deprived of his
fatherly care, had been left in the hands of a man who, for ought he
could say, was not worthy of the high trust. He had also spied out
all the weak points of friend and foe. Whilst these and other equally
weighty considerations were hanging about the Raja’s mind, he heard a
rumour of the state of things spread abroad; that Bhartari, the regent,
having abdicated his throne, had gone away into the forest. Then quoth
Vikram to his son, “We have ended our wayfarings, now let us turn our
steps homewards!”

The gong was striking the mysterious hour of midnight as the king and
the young prince approached the principal gate. And they were pushing
through it when a monstrous figure rose up before them and called out
with a fearful voice, “Who are ye, and where are ye going? Stand and
deliver your names!”

“I am Raja Vikram,” rejoined the king, half choked with rage, “and I am
come to mine own city. Who art thou that darest to stop or stay me?”

“That question is easily answered,” cried Prithwi Pala the giant, in his
roaring voice; “the gods have sent me to protect Ujjayani. If thou be
really Raja Vikram, prove thyself a man: first fight with me, and then
return to thine own.”

The warrior king cried “Sadhu!” wanting nothing better. He girt his
girdle tight round his loins, summoned his opponent into the empty space
beyond the gate, told him to stand on guard, and presently began to
devise some means of closing with or running in upon him. The giant’s
fists were large as watermelons, and his knotted arms whistled through
the air like falling trees, threatening fatal blows. Besides which the
Raja’s head scarcely reached the giant’s stomach, and the latter, each
time he struck out, whooped so abominably loud, that no human nerves
could remain unshaken.

At last Vikram’s good luck prevailed. The giant’s left foot slipped, and
the hero, seizing his antagonist’s other leg, began to trip him up. At
the same moment the young prince, hastening to his parent’s assistance,
jumped viciously upon the enemy’s naked toes. By their united exertions
they brought him to the ground, when the son sat down upon his stomach,
making himself as weighty as he well could, whilst the father, climbing
up to the monster’s throat, placed himself astride upon it, and pressing
both thumbs upon his eyes, threatened to blind him if he would not
yield.

Then the giant, modifying the bellow of his voice, cried out--

“O Raja, thou hast overthrown me, and I grant thee thy life.”

“Surely thou art mad, monster,” replied the king, in jeering tone, half
laughing, half angry. “To whom grantest thou life? If I desire it I can
kill thee; how, then, cost thou talk about granting me my life?”

“Vikram of Ujjayani,” said the giant, “be not too proud! I will save
thee from a nearly impending death. Only hearken to the tale which I
have to tell thee, and use thy judgment, and act upon it. So shalt
thou rule the world free from care, and live without danger, and die
happily.”

“Proceed,” quoth the Raja, after a moment’s thought, dismounting from
the giant’s throat, and beginning to listen with all his ears.

The giant raised himself from the ground, and when in a sitting posture,
began in solemn tones to speak as follows:

“In short, the history of the matter is, that three men were born in
this same city of Ujjayani, in the same lunar mansion, in the same
division of the great circle described upon the ecliptic, and in the
same period of time. You, the first, were born in the house of a king.
The second was an oilman’s son, who was slain by the third, a jogi,
or anchorite, who kills all he can, wafting the sweet scent of human
sacrifice to the nostrils of Durga, goddess of destruction. Moreover,
the holy man, after compassing the death of the oilman’s son, has
suspended him head downwards from a mimosa tree in a cemetery. He is now
anxiously plotting thy destruction. He hath murdered his own child--”

“And how came an anchorite to have a child?” asked Raja Vikram,
incredulously.

“That is what I am about to tell thee,” replied the giant. “In the good
days of thy generous father, Gandharba-Sena, as the court was taking its
pleasure in the forest, they saw a devotee, or rather a devotee’s head,
protruding from a hole in the ground. The white ants had surrounded his
body with a case of earth, and had made their home upon his skin. All
kinds of insects and small animals crawled up and down the face, yet not
a muscle moved. Wasps had hung their nests to its temples, and scorpions
wandered in and out of the matted and clotted hair; yet the hermit felt
them not. He spoke to no one; he received no gifts; and had it not been
for the opening of his nostrils, as he continually inhaled the pungent
smoke of a thorn fire, man would have deemed him dead. Such were his
religious austerities.

“Thy father marvelled much at the sight, and rode home in profound
thought. That evening, as he sat in the hall of audience, he could speak
of nothing but the devotee; and his curiosity soon rose to such a pitch,
that he proclaimed about the city a reward of one hundred gold pieces to
any one that could bring to court this anchorite of his own free will.

“Shortly afterwards, Vasantasena, a singing and dancing girl more
celebrated for wit and beauty than for sagesse or discretion, appeared
before thy sire, and offered for the petty inducement of a gold bangle
to bring the anchorite into the palace, carrying a baby on his shoulder.

“The king hearing her speak was astonished, gave her a betel leaf in
token that he held her to her promise, and permitted her to depart,
which she did with a laugh of triumph.

“Vasantasena went directly to the jungle, where she found the pious man
faint with thirst, shriveled with hunger, and half dead with heat
and cold. She cautiously put out the fire. Then, having prepared a
confection, she approached from behind and rubbed upon his lips a little
of the sweetmeat, which he licked up with great relish. Thereupon she
made more and gave it to him. After two days of this generous diet he
gained some strength, and on the third, as he felt a finger upon his
mouth, he opened his eyes and said, ‘Why hast thou come here?’

“The girl, who had her story in readiness, replied: “I am the daughter
of a deity, and have practiced religious observances in the heavenly
regions. I have now come into this forest!” And the devotee, who began
to think how much more pleasant is such society than solitude, asked her
where her hut was, and requested to be led there.

“Then Vasantasena, having unearthed the holy man and compelled him to
purify himself, led him to the abode which she had caused to be built
for herself in the wood. She explained its luxuries by the nature of
her vow, which bound her to indulge in costly apparel, in food with six
flavours, and in every kind of indulgence.[30] In course of time the
hermit learned to follow her example; he gave up inhaling smoke, and he
began to eat and drink as a daily occupation.

“At length Kama began to trouble him. Briefly the saint and saintess
were made man and wife, by the simple form of matrimony called the
Gandharba-vivaha,[31] and about ten months afterwards a son was born to
them. Thus the anchorite came to have a child.

“Remained Vasantasena’s last feat. Some months passed: then she said
to the devotee her husband, ‘Oh saint! let us now, having finished our
devotions, perform a pilgrimage to some sacred place, that all the sins
of our bodies may be washed away, after which we will die and depart
into everlasting happiness.’ Cajoled by these speeches, the hermit
mounted his child upon his shoulder and followed her where she
went--directly into Raja Gandharba-Sena’s palace.

“When the king and the ministers and the officers and the courtiers saw
Vasantasena, and her spouse carrying the baby, they recognized her from
afar. The Raja exclaimed, ‘Lo! this is the very singing girl who went
forth to bring back the devotee. ‘And all replied: ‘O great monarch!
thou speakest truly; this is the very same woman. And be pleased to
observe that whatever things she, having asked leave to undertake, went
forth to do, all these she hath done!’ Then gathering around her they
asked her all manner of questions, as if the whole matter had been the
lightest and the most laughable thing in the world.

“But the anchorite, having heard the speeches of the king and his
courtiers, thought to himself, ‘They have done this for the purpose of
taking away the fruits of my penance.’ Cursing them all with terrible
curses, and taking up his child, he left the hall. Thence he went to the
forest, slaughtered the innocent, and began to practice austerities with
a view to revenge that hour, and having slain his child, he will attempt
thy life. His prayers have been heard. In the first place they deprived
thee of thy father. Secondly, they cast enmity between thee and thy
brother, thus dooming him to an untimely end. Thirdly, they are now
working thy ruin. The anchorite’s design is to offer up a king and a
king’s son to his patroness Durga, and by virtue of such devotional act
he will obtain the sovereignty of the whole world!

“But I have promised, O Vikram, to save thee, if such be the will of
Fortune, from impending destruction. Therefore hearken well unto my
words. Distrust them that dwell amongst the dead, and remember that
it is lawful and right to strike off his head that would slay thee. So
shalt thou rule the universal earth, and leave behind thee an immortal
name!”

Suddenly Prithwi Pala, the giant, ceased speaking, and disappeared.
Vikram and his son then passed through the city gates, feeling their
limbs to be certain that no bones were broken, and thinking over the
scene that had occurred.

      *     *     *     *     *     *

We now are informed how the valiant King Vikram met with the Vampire.

It was the spring season when the Raja returned, and the Holi
festival[32] caused dancing and singing in every house. Ujjayani was
extraordinarily happy and joyful at the return of her ruler, who joined
in her gladness with all his kingly heart. The faces and dresses of
the public were red and yellow with gulal and abir,--perfumed
powders,[33]--which were sprinkled upon one another in token of
merriment. Musicians deafened the citizens’ ears, dancing girls
performed till ready to faint with fatigue, the manufacturers of
comfits made their fortunes, and the Nine Gems of Science celebrated the
auspicious day with the most long-winded odes. The royal hero, decked
in regal attire, and attended by many thousands of state palanquins
glittering with their various ornaments, and escorted by a suite of a
hundred kingly personages, with their martial array of the four hosts,
of cavalry, elephants, chariots, and infantry, and accompanied by Amazon
girls, lovely as the suite of the gods, himself a personification of
majesty, bearing the white parasol of dominion, with a golden staff and
tassels, began once more to reign.

After the first pleasures of return, the king applied himself
unremittingly to good government and to eradicating the abuses which had
crept into the administration during the period of his wanderings.

Mindful of the wise saying, “if the Rajadid not punish the guilty, the
stronger would roast the weaker like a fish on the spit,” he began
the work of reform with an iron hand. He confiscated the property of
a councillor who had the reputation of taking bribes; he branded the
forehead of a sudra or servile man whose breath smelt of ardent spirits,
and a goldsmith having been detected in fraud he ordered him to be cut
in shreds with razors as the law in its mercy directs. In the case of a
notorious evil-speaker he opened the back of his head and had his tongue
drawn through the wound. A few murderers he burned alive on iron beds,
praying the while that Vishnu might have mercy upon their souls. His
spies were ordered, as the shastra called “The Prince” advises, to mix
with robbers and thieves with a view of leading them into situations
where they might most easily be entrapped, and once or twice when the
fellows were too wary, he seized them and their relations and impaled
them all, thereby conclusively proving, without any mistake, that he was
king of earth.

With the sex feminine he was equally severe. A woman convicted of having
poisoned an elderly husband in order to marry a younger man was thrown
to the dogs, which speedily devoured her. He punished simple infidelity
by cutting off the offender’s nose--an admirable practice, which is not
only a severe penalty to the culprit, but also a standing warning to
others, and an efficient preventative to any recurrence of the fault.
Faithlessness combined with bad example or brazen-facedness was further
treated by being led in solemn procession through the bazar mounted on
a diminutive and crop-eared donkey, with the face turned towards the
crupper. After a few such examples the women of Ujjayani became almost
modest; it is the fault of man when they are not tolerably well behaved
in one point at least.

Every day as Vikram sat upon the judgment-seat, trying causes and
punishing offenses, he narrowly observed the speech, the gestures,
and the countenances of the various criminals and litigants and their
witnesses. Ever suspecting women, as I have said, and holding them to
be the root of all evil, he never failed when some sin or crime more
horrible than usual came before him, to ask the accused, “Who is she?”
 and the suddenness of the question often elicited the truth by accident.
For there can be nothing thoroughly and entirely bad unless a woman is
at the bottom of it; and, knowing this, Raja Vikram made certain notable
hits under the most improbable circumstances, which had almost given him
a reputation for omniscience. But this is easily explained: a man intent
upon squaring the circle will see squares in circles wherever he looks,
and sometimes he will find them.

In disputed cases of money claims, the king adhered strictly to
established practice, and consulted persons learned in the law. He
seldom decided a cause on his own judgment, and he showed great temper
and patience in bearing with rough language from irritated plaintiffs
and defendants, from the infirm, and from old men beyond eighty.
That humble petitioners might not be baulked in having access to the
“fountain of justice,” he caused an iron box to be suspended by a chain
from the windows of his sleeping apartment. Every morning he ordered
the box to be opened before him, and listened to all the placets at full
length. Even in this simple process he displayed abundant cautiousness.
For, having forgotten what little of the humanities he had mastered in
his youth, he would hand the paper to a secretary whose business it was
to read it out before him; after which operation the man of letters was
sent into an inner room, and the petition was placed in the hands of
a second scribe. Once it so happened by the bungling of the deceitful
kayasths(clerks) that an important difference was found to occur in the
same sheet. So upon strict inquiry one secretary lost his ears and
the other his right hand. After this petitions were rarely if ever
falsified.

The Raja Vikram also lost no time in attacking the cities and towns and
villages of his enemies, but the people rose to a man against him, and
hewing his army to pieces with their weapons, vanquished him. This took
place so often that he despaired of bringing all the earth under the
shadow of his umbrella.

At length on one occasion when near a village he listened to a
conversation of the inhabitants. A woman having baked some cakes was
giving them to her child, who leaving the edges would eat only the
middle. On his asking for another cake, she cried, “This boy’s way is
like Vikram’s in his attempt to conquer the world!” On his inquiring
“Mother, why, what am I doing; and what has Vikram done?”

“Thou, my boy,” she replied, “throwing away the outside of the cake
eatest the middle only. Vikram also in his ambition, without subduing
the frontiers before attacking the towns, invades the heart of the
country and lays it waste. On that account, both the townspeople and
others rising, close upon him from the frontiers to the centre, and
destroy his army. That is his folly.”

Vikram took notice of the woman’s words. He strengthened his army and
resumed his attack on the provinces and cities, beginning with the
frontiers, reducing the outer towns and stationing troops in the
intervals. Thus he proceeded regularly with his invasions. After a
respite, adopting the same system and marshalling huge armies, he
reduced in regular course each kingdom and province till he became
monarch of the whole world.

It so happened that one day as Vikram the Brave sat upon the
judgment-seat, a young merchant, by name Mal Deo, who had lately arrived
at Ujjayani with loaded camels and elephants, and with the reputation
of immense wealth, entered the palace court. Having been received with
extreme condescension, he gave into the king’s hand a fruit which he had
brought in his own, and then spreading a prayer carpet on the floor he
sat down. Presently, after a quarter of an hour, he arose and went away.
When he had gone the king reflected in his mind: “Under this disguise,
perhaps, is the very man of whom the giant spoke.” Suspecting this, he
did not eat the fruit, but calling the master of the household he gave
the present to him, ordering him to keep it in a very careful manner.
The young merchant, however, continued every day to court the honour of
an interview, each time presenting a similar gift.

By chance one morning Raja Vikram went, attended by his ministers, to
see his stables. At this time the young merchant also arrived there, and
in the usual manner placed a fruit in the royal hand. As the king
was thoughtfully tossing it in the air, it accidentally fell from his
fingers to the ground. Then the monkey, who was tethered amongst the
horses to draw calamities from their heads,[34] snatched it up and tore
it to pieces. Whereupon a ruby of such size and water came forth that
the king and his ministers, beholding its brilliancy, gave vent to
expressions of wonder.

Quoth Vikram to the young merchant severely--for his suspicions were now
thoroughly roused--“Why hast thou given to us all this wealth?”

“O great king,” replied Mal Deo, demurely, “it is written in the
scriptures (shastra) ‘Of Ceremony’ that ‘we must not go empty-handed
into the presence of the following persons, namely, Rajas, spiritual
teachers, judges, young maidens, and old women whose daughters we would
marry.’ But why, O Vikram, cost thou speak of one ruby only, since in
each of the fruits which I have laid at thy feet there is a similar
jewel?” Having heard this speech, the king said to the master of his
household, “Bring all the fruits which I have entrusted to thee.” The
treasurer, on receiving the royal command, immediately brought them,
and having split them, there was found in each one a ruby, one and all
equally perfect in size and water. Raja Vikram beholding such treasures
was excessively pleased. Having sent for a lapidary, he ordered him to
examine the rubies, saying, “We cannot take anything with us out of this
world. Virtue is a noble quality to possess here below--so tell justly
what is the value of each of these gems.[35]”

To so moral a speech the lapidary replied, “Maha-Raja[36]! thou hast
said truly; whoever possesses virtue, possesses everything; virtue
indeed accompanies us always, and is of advantage in both worlds. Hear,
O great king! each gem is perfect in colour, quality and beauty. If I
were to say that the value of each was ten million millions of suvarnas
(gold pieces), even then thou couldst not understand its real worth. In
fact, each ruby would buy one of the seven regions into which the earth
is divided.”

The king on hearing this was delighted, although his suspicions were
not satisfied; and, having bestowed a robe of honour upon the lapidary,
dismissed him. Thereon, taking the young merchant’s hand, he led him
into the palace, seated him upon his own carpet in presence of the
court, and began to say, “My entire kingdom is not worth one of these
rubies: tell me how it is that thou who buyest and sellest hast given me
such and so many pearls?”

Mal Deo replied: “O great king, the speaking of matters like the
following in public is not right; these things--prayers, spells, drugs,
good qualities, household affairs, the eating of forbidden food, and the
evil we may have heard of our neighbour--should not be discussed in full
assembly. Privately I will disclose to thee my wishes. This is the
way of the world; when an affair comes to six ears, it does not remain
secret; if a matter is confided to four ears it may escape further
hearing; and if to two ears even Brahma the Creator does not know it;
how then can any rumour of it come to man?”

Having heard this speech, Raja Vikram took Mal Deo aside, and began to
ask him, saying, “O generous man! you have given me so many rubies, and
even for a single day you have not eaten food with me; I am exceedingly
ashamed, tell me what you desire.”

“Raja,” said the young merchant, “I am not Mal Deo, but Shanta-Shil,[37]
a devotee. I am about to perform spells, incantations and magical rites
on the banks of the river Godavari, in a large smashana, a cemetery
where bodies are burned. By this means the Eight Powers of Nature will
all become mine. This thing I ask of you as alms, that you and the young
prince Dharma Dhwaj will pass one night with me, doing my bidding. By
you remaining near me my incantations will be successful.”

The valiant Vikram nearly started from his seat at the word cemetery,
but, like a ruler of men, he restrained his face from expressing his
feelings, and he presently replied, “Good, we will come, tell us on what
day!”

“You are to come to me,” said the devotee, “armed, but without
followers, on the Monday evening the 14th of the dark half of the month
Bhadra.[38]” The Raja said: “Do you go your ways, we will certainly
come.” In this manner, having received a promise from the king, and
having taken leave, the devotee returned to his house: thence he
repaired to the temple, and having made preparations, and taken all the
necessary things, he went back into the cemetery and sat down to his
ceremonies.

The valiant Vikram, on the other hand, retired into an inner apartment,
to consult his own judgment about an adventure with which, for fear of
ridicule, he was unwilling to acquaint even the most trustworthy of his
ministers.

In due time came the evening moon’s day, the 14th of the dark half of
the month Bhadra. As the short twilight fell gloomily on earth, the
warrior king accompanied by his son, with turband-ends tied under their
chins, and with trusty blades tucked under their arms ready for foes,
human, bestial, or devilish, slipped out unseen through the palace
wicket, and took the road leading to the cemetery on the river bank.

Dark and drear was the night. Urged by the furious blast of the
lingering winter-rains, masses of bistre-coloured cloud, like the forms
of unwieldy beasts, rolled heavily over the firmament plain. Whenever
the crescent of the young moon, rising from an horizon sable as the sad
Tamala’s hue,[39] glanced upon the wayfarers, it was no brighter than
the fine tip of an elephant’s tusk protruding from the muddy wave. A
heavy storm was impending; big drops fell in showers from the forest
trees as they groaned under the blast, and beneath the gloomy avenue the
clayey ground gleamed ghastly white. As the Raja and his son advanced,
a faint ray of light, like the line of pure gold streaking the dark
surface of the touchstone, caught their eyes, and directed their
footsteps towards the cemetery.

When Vikram came upon the open space on the riverbank where corpses were
burned, he hesitated for a moment to tread its impure ground. But seeing
his son undismayed, he advanced boldly, trampling upon remnants of
bones, and only covering his mouth with his turband-end.

Presently, at the further extremity of the smashana, or burning ground,
appeared a group. By the lurid flames that flared and flickered round
the half-extinguished funeral pyres, with remnants of their dreadful
loads, Raja Vikram and Dharma Dhwaj could note the several features of
the ill-omened spot. There was an outer circle of hideous bestial forms;
tigers were roaring, and elephants were trumpeting; wolves, whose
foul hairy coats blazed with sparks of bluish phosphoric light, were
devouring the remnants of human bodies; foxes, jackals, and hyenas
were disputing over their prey; whilst bears were chewing the livers of
children. The space within was peopled by a multitude of fiends. There
were the subtle bodies of men that had escaped their grosser frames
prowling about the charnel ground, where their corpses had been reduced
to ashes, or hovering in the air, waiting till the new bodies which
they were to animate were made ready for their reception. The spirits of
those that had been foully slain wandered about with gashed limbs; and
skeletons, whose mouldy bones were held together by bits of blackened
sinew, followed them as the murderer does his victim. Malignant witches
with shriveled skins, horrid eyes and distorted forms, crawled
and crouched over the earth; whilst spectres and goblins now stood
motionless, and tall as lofty palm trees; then, as if in fits, leaped,
danced, and tumbled before their evocator. The air was filled with
shrill and strident cries, with the fitful moaning of the storm-wind,
with the hooting of the owl, with the jackal’s long wild cry, and
with the hoarse gurgling of the swollen river, from whose banks the
earth-slip thundered in its fall.

In the midst of all, close to the fire which lit up his evil
countenance, sat Shanta-Shil, the jogi, with the banner that denoted
his calling and his magic staff planted in the ground behind him. He
was clad in the ochre-coloured loin-wrap of his class; from his head
streamed long tangled locks of hair like horsehair; his black body was
striped with lines of chalk, and a girdle of thighbones encircled his
waist. His face was smeared with ashes from a funeral pyre, and his
eyes, fixed as those of a statue, gleamed from this mask with an
infernal light of hate. His cheeks were shaven, and he had not forgotten
to draw the horizontal sectarian mark. But this was of blood; and
Vikram, as he drew near saw that he was playing upon a human skull with
two shank bones, making music for the horrid revelry.

Now Raja Vikram, as has been shown by his encounter with Indra’s
watchman, was a bold prince, and he was cautious as he was brave. The
sight of a human being in the midst of these terrors raised his mettle;
he determined to prove himself a hero, and feeling that the critical
moment was now come, he hoped to rid himself and his house forever of
the family curse that hovered over them.

For a moment he thought of the giant’s words, “And remember that it is
lawful and right to strike off his head that would slay thee.” A stroke
with his good sword might at once and effectually put an end to the
danger. But then he remembered that he had passed his royal word to do
the devotee’s bidding that night. Besides, he felt assured that the hour
for action had not yet sounded.

These reflections having passed through his mind with the rapid course
of a star that has lost its honours,[40] Vikram courteously saluted
Shanta-Shil. The jogi briefly replied, “Come sit down, both of ye.” The
father and son took their places, by no means surprised or frightened
by the devil dances before and around them. Presently the valiant Raja
reminded the devotee that he was come to perform his promise, and lastly
asked, “What commands are there for us?”

The jogi replied, “O king, since you have come, just perform one piece
of business. About two kos[41] hence, in a southerly direction, there
is another place where dead bodies are burned; and in that place is a
mimosa tree, on which a body is hanging. Bring it to me immediately.”

Raja Vikram took his son’s hand, unwilling to leave him in such
company; and, catching up a fire-brand, went rapidly away in the proper
direction. He was now certain that Shanta-Shil was the anchorite who,
enraged by his father, had resolved his destruction; and his uppermost
thought was a firm resolve “to breakfast upon his enemy, ere his enemy
could dine upon him.” He muttered this old saying as he went, whilst the
tom-toming of the anchorite upon the skull resounded in his ears,
and the devil-crowd, which had held its peace during his meeting with
Shanta-Shil, broke out again in an infernal din of whoops and screams,
yells and laughter.

The darkness of the night was frightful, the gloom deepened till it was
hardly possible to walk. The clouds opened their fountains, raining so
that you would say they could never rain again. Lightning blazed forth
with more than the light of day, and the roar of the thunder caused the
earth to shake. Baleful gleams tipped the black cones of the trees and
fitfully scampered like fireflies over the waste. Unclean goblins dogged
the travellers and threw themselves upon the ground in their path and
obstructed them in a thousand different ways. Huge snakes, whose mouths
distilled blood and black venom, kept clinging around their legs in the
roughest part of the road, till they were persuaded to loose their hold
either by the sword or by reciting a spell. In fact, there were so many
horrors and such a tumult and noise that even a brave man would have
faltered, yet the king kept on his way.

At length having passed over, somehow or other, a very difficult road,
the Raja arrived at the smashana, or burning place pointed out by the
jogi. Suddenly he sighted the tree where from root to top every branch
and leaf was in a blaze of crimson flame. And when he, still dauntless,
advanced towards it, a clamour continued to be raised, and voices kept
crying, “Kill them! kill them! seize them! seize them! take care that
they do not get away! let them scorch themselves to cinders! let them
suffer the pains of Patala.[42]”

Far from being terrified by this state of things the valiant Raja
increased in boldness, seeing a prospect of an end to his adventure.
Approaching the tree he felt that the fire did not burn him, and so he
sat there for a while to observe the body, which hung, head downwards,
from a branch a little above him.

Its eyes, which were wide open, were of a greenish-brown, and never
twinkled; its hair also was brown,[43] and brown was its face--three
several shades which, notwithstanding, approached one another in an
unpleasant way, as in an over-dried cocoa-nut. Its body was thin and
ribbed like a skeleton or a bamboo framework, and as it held on to a
bough, like a flying fox,[44] by the toe-tips, its drawn muscles stood
out as if they were ropes of coin. Blood it appeared to have none, or
there would have been a decided determination of that curious juice to
the head; and as the Raja handled its skin it felt icy cold and clammy
as might a snake. The only sign of life was the whisking of a ragged
little tail much resembling a goat’s.

Judging from these signs the brave king at once determined the creature
to be a Baital--a Vampire. For a short time he was puzzled to reconcile
the appearance with the words of the giant, who informed him that the
anchorite had hung the oilman’s son to a tree. But soon he explained to
himself the difficulty, remembering the exceeding cunning of jogis
and other reverend men, and determining that his enemy, the better
to deceive him, had doubtless altered the shape and form of the young
oilman’s body.

With this idea, Vikram was pleased, saying, “My trouble has been
productive of fruit.” Remained the task of carrying the Vampire to
Shanta-Shil the devotee. Having taken his sword, the Raja fearlessly
climbed the tree, and ordering his son to stand away from below,
clutched the Vampire’s hair with one hand, and with the other struck
such a blow of the sword, that the bough was cut and the thing fell
heavily upon the ground. Immediately on falling it gnashed its teeth and
began to utter a loud wailing cry like the screams of an infant in pain.
Vikram having heard the sound of its lamentations, was pleased, and
began to say to himself, “This devil must be alive.” Then nimbly sliding
down the trunk, he made a captive of the body, and asked “Who art thou?”

Scarcely, however, had the words passed the royal lips, when the Vampire
slipped through the fingers like a worm, and uttering a loud shout
of laughter, rose in the air with its legs uppermost, and as before
suspended itself by its toes to another bough. And there it swung to and
fro, moved by the violence of its cachinnation.

“Decidedly this is the young oilman!” exclaimed the Raja, after he had
stood for a minute or two with mouth open, gazing upwards and wondering
what he should do next. Presently he directed Dharma Dhwaj not to lose
an instant in laying hands upon the thing when it next might touch the
ground, and then he again swarmed up the tree. Having reached his former
position, he once more seized the Baital’s hair, and with all the force
of his arms--for he was beginning to feel really angry--he tore it from
its hold and dashed it to the ground, saying, “O wretch, tell me who
thou art?”

Then, as before, the Raja slid deftly down the trunk, and hurried to the
aid of his son, who in obedience to orders, had fixed his grasp upon
the Vampire’s neck. Then, too, as before, the Vampire, laughing aloud,
slipped through their fingers and returned to its dangling-place.

To fail twice was too much for Raja Vikram’s temper, which was right
kingly and somewhat hot. This time he bade his son strike the Baital’s
head with his sword. Then, more like a wounded bear of Himalaya than a
prince who had established an era, he hurried up the tree, and directed
a furious blow with his sabre at the Vampire’s lean and calfless legs.
The violence of the stroke made its toes loose their hold of the bough,
and when it touched the ground, Dharma Dhwaj’s blade fell heavily
upon its matted brown hair. But the blows appeared to have lighted on
iron-wood--to judge at least from the behaviour of the Baital, who no
sooner heard the question, “O wretch, who art thou?” than it returned in
loud glee and merriment to its old position.

Five mortal times did Raja Vikram repeat this profitless labour. But
so far from losing heart, he quite entered into the spirit of the
adventure. Indeed he would have continued climbing up that tree and
taking that corpse under his arm--he found his sword useless--and
bringing it down, and asking it who it was, and seeing it slip through
his fingers, six times sixty times, or till the end of the fourth and
present age,[45] had such extreme resolution been required.

However, it was not necessary. On the seventh time of falling, the
Baital, instead of eluding its capturer’s grasp, allowed itself to be
seized, merely remarking that “even the gods cannot resist a thoroughly
obstinate man.”[46] And seeing that the stranger, for the better
protection of his prize, had stripped off his waistcloth and was making
it into a bag, the Vampire thought proper to seek the most favourable
conditions for himself, and asked his conqueror who he was, and what he
was about to do?

“Vile wretch,” replied the breathless hero, “know me to be Vikram the
Great, Raja of Ujjayani, and I bear thee to a man who is amusing himself
by drumming to devils on a skull.”

“Remember the old saying, mighty Vikram!” said the Baital, with a
sneer, “that many a tongue has cut many a throat. I have yielded to thy
resolution and I am about to accompany thee, bound to thy back like a
beggar’s wallet. But hearken to my words, ere we set out upon the way.
I am of a loquacious disposition, and it is well nigh an hour’s walk
between this tree and the place where thy friend sits, favouring his
friends with the peculiar music which they love. Therefore, I shall
try to distract my thoughts, which otherwise might not be of the most
pleasing nature, by means of sprightly tales and profitable reflections.
Sages and men of sense spend their days in the delights of light and
heavy literature, whereas dolts and fools waste time in sleep and
idleness. And I purpose to ask thee a number of questions, concerning
which we will, if it seems fit to thee, make this covenant:

“Whenever thou answerest me, either compelled by Fate or entrapped by my
cunning into so doing, or thereby gratifying thy vanity and conceit,
I leave thee and return to my favourite place and position in the
siras-tree, but when thou shalt remain silent, confused, and at a loss
to reply, either through humility or thereby confessing thine ignorance,
and impotence, and want of comprehension, then will I allow thee, of
mine own free will, to place me before thine employer. Perhaps I should
not say so; it may sound like bribing thee, but--take my counsel, and
mortify thy pride, and assumption, and arrogance, and haughtiness, as
soon as possible. So shalt thou derive from me a benefit which none but
myself can bestow.”

Raja Vikram hearing these rough words, so strange to his royal ear,
winced; then he rejoiced that his heir apparent was not near; then
he looked round at his son Dharma Dhwaj, to see if he was impertinent
enough to be amused by the Baital. But the first glance showed him the
young prince busily employed in pinching and screwing the monster’s
legs, so as to make it fit better into the cloth. Vikram then seized
the ends of the waistcloth, twisted them into a convenient form for
handling, stooped, raised the bundle with a jerk, tossed it over his
shoulder, and bidding his son not to lag behind, set off at a round pace
towards the western end of the cemetery.

The shower had ceased, and, as they gained ground, the weather greatly
improved.

The Vampire asked a few indifferent questions about the wind and
the rain and the mud. When he received no answer, he began to feel
uncomfortable, and he broke out with these words: “O King Vikram, listen
to the true story which I am about to tell thee.”



VIKRAM AND THE VAMPIRE



THE VAMPIRE’S FIRST STORY -- In which a man deceives a woman.

In Benares once reigned a mighty prince, by name Pratapamukut, to whose
eighth son Vajramukut happened the strangest adventure.

One morning, the young man, accompanied by the son of his father’s
pradhan or prime minister, rode out hunting, and went far into the
jungle. At last the twain unexpectedly came upon a beautiful “tank [47]”
 of a prodigious size. It was surrounded by short thick walls of fine
baked brick; and flights and ramps of cut-stone steps, half the length
of each face, and adorned with turrets, pendants, and finials, led down
to the water. The substantial plaster work and the masonry had fallen
into disrepair, and from the crevices sprang huge trees, under whose
thick shade the breeze blew freshly, and on whose balmy branches the
birds sang sweetly; the grey squirrels [48] chirruped joyously as they
coursed one another up the gnarled trunks, and from the pendent llianas
the longtailed monkeys were swinging sportively. The bountiful hand of
Sravana [49] had spread the earthen rampart with a carpet of the softest
grass and many-hued wild flowers, in which were buzzing swarms of bees
and myriads of bright winged insects; and flocks of water fowl, wild
geese, Brahmini ducks, bitterns, herons, and cranes, male and female,
were feeding on the narrow strip of brilliant green that belted the long
deep pool, amongst the broad-leaved lotuses with the lovely blossoms,
splashing through the pellucid waves, and basking happily in the genial
sun.

The prince and his friend wondered when they saw the beautiful tank in
the midst of a wild forest, and made many vain conjectures about it.
They dismounted, tethered their horses, and threw their weapons upon the
ground; then, having washed their hands and faces, they entered a shrine
dedicated to Mahadeva, and there began to worship the presiding deity.

Whilst they were making their offerings, a bevy of maidens, accompanied
by a crowd of female slaves, descended the opposite flight of steps.
They stood there for a time, talking and laughing and looking about them
to see if any alligators infested the waters. When convinced that the
tank was safe, they disrobed themselves in order to bathe. It was truly
a splendid spectacle.

“Concerning which the less said the better,” interrupted Raja Vikram in
an offended tone.[50]

--but did not last long. The Raja’s daughter--for the principal maiden
was a princess--soon left her companions, who were scooping up water
with their palms and dashing it over one another’s heads, and proceeded
to perform the rites of purification, meditation, and worship. Then she
began strolling with a friend under the shade of a small mango grove.

The prince also left his companion sitting in prayer, and walked forth
into the forest. Suddenly the eyes of the Raja’s son and the Raja’s
daughter met. She started back with a little scream. He was fascinated
by her beauty, and began to say to himself, “O thou vile Karma,[51] why
worriest thou me?”

Hearing this, the maiden smiled encouragement, but the poor youth,
between palpitation of the heart and hesitation about what to say, was
so confused that his tongue crave to his teeth. She raised her eyebrows
a little. There is nothing which women despise in a man more than
modesty, [52] for mo-des-ty--

A violent shaking of the bag which hung behind Vikram’s royal back broke
off the end of this offensive sentence. And the warrior king did not
cease that discipline till the Baital promised him to preserve more
decorum in his observations.

Still the prince stood before her with downcast eyes and suffused
cheeks: even the spur of contempt failed to arouse his energies. Then
the maiden called to her friend, who was picking jasmine flowers so as
not to witness the scene, and angrily asked why that strange man was
allowed to stand and stare at her? The friend, in hot wrath, threatened
to call the slave, and throw Vajramukut into the pond unless he
instantly went away with his impudence. But as the prince was rooted to
the spot, and really had not heard a word of what had been said to him,
the two women were obliged to make the first move.

As they almost reached the tank, the beautiful maiden turned her head to
see what the poor modest youth was doing.

Vajramukut was formed in every way to catch a woman’s eye. The Raja’s
daughter therefore half forgave him his offence of mod----. Again she
sweetly smiled, disclosing two rows of little opals. Then descending
to the water’s edge, she stooped down and plucked a lotus. This she
worshipped; next she placed it in her hair, then she put it in her ear,
then she bit it with her teeth, then she trod upon it with her foot,
then she raised it up again, and lastly she stuck it in her bosom. After
which she mounted her conveyance and went home to her friends; whilst
the prince, having become thoroughly desponding and drowned in grief at
separation from her, returned to the minister’s son.

“Females!” ejaculated the minister’s son, speaking to himself in a
careless tone, when, his prayer finished, he left the temple, and sat
down upon the tank steps to enjoy the breeze. He presently drew a roll
of paper from under his waist-belt, and in a short time was engrossed
with his study. The women seeing this conduct, exerted themselves in
every possible way of wile to attract his attention and to distract his
soul. They succeeded only so far as to make him roll his head with a
smile, and to remember that such is always the custom of man’s bane;
after which he turned over a fresh page of manuscript. And although he
presently began to wonder what had become of the prince his master, he
did not look up even once from his study.

He was a philosopher, that young man. But after all, Raja Vikram, what
is mortal philosophy? Nothing but another name for indifference! Who was
ever philosophical about a thing truly loved or really hated?--no one!
Philosophy, says Shankharacharya, is either a gift of nature or the
reward of study. But I, the Baital, the devil, ask you, what is a born
philosopher, save a man of cold desires? And what is a bred philosopher
but a man who has survived his desires? A young philosopher?--a
cold-blooded youth! An elderly philosopher?--a leuco-phlegmatic old
man! Much nonsense, of a verity, ye hear in praise of nothing from your
Rajaship’s Nine Gems of Science, and from sundry other such wise fools.

Then the prince began to relate the state of his case, saying, “O
friend, I have seen a damsel, but whether she be a musician from Indra’s
heaven, a maiden of the sea, a daughter of the serpent kings, or the
child of an earthly Raja, I cannot say.”

“Describe her,” said the statesman in embryo.

“Her face,” quoth the prince, “was that of the full moon, her hair like
a swarm of bees hanging from the blossoms of the acacia, the corners of
her eyes touched her ears, her lips were sweet with lunar ambrosia, her
waist was that of a lion, and her walk the walk of a king goose. [53]
As a garment, she was white; as a season, the spring; as a flower, the
jasmine; as a speaker, the kokila bird; as a perfume, musk; as a
beauty, Kamadeva; and as a being, Love. And if she does not come into my
possession I will not live; this I have certainly determined upon.”

The young minister, who had heard his prince say the same thing more
than once before, did not attach great importance to these awful words.
He merely remarked that, unless they mounted at once, night would
surprise them in the forest. Then the two young men returned to their
horses, untethered them, drew on their bridles, saddled them, and
catching up their weapons, rode slowly towards the Raja’s palace.
During the three hours of return hardly a word passed between the
pair. Vajramukut not only avoided speaking; he never once replied till
addressed thrice in the loudest voice.

The young minister put no more questions, “for,” quoth he to himself,
“when the prince wants my counsel, he will apply for it.” In this point
he had borrowed wisdom from his father, who held in peculiar horror the
giving of unasked-for advice. So, when he saw that conversation was
irksome to his master, he held his peace and meditated upon what he
called his “day-thought.” It was his practice to choose every morning
some tough food for reflection, and to chew the cud of it in his mind
at times when, without such employment, his wits would have gone
wool-gathering. You may imagine, Raja Vikram, that with a few years of
this head work, the minister’s son became a very crafty young person.

After the second day the Prince Vajramukut, being restless from grief
at separation, fretted himself into a fever. Having given up writing,
reading, drinking, sleeping, the affairs entrusted to him by his father,
and everything else, he sat down, as he said, to die. He used constantly
to paint the portrait of the beautiful lotus gatherer, and to lie gazing
upon it with tearful eyes; then he would start up and tear it to pieces
and beat his forehead, and begin another picture of a yet more beautiful
face.

At last, as the pradhan’s son had foreseen, he was summoned by the
young Raja, whom he found upon his bed, looking yellow and complaining
bitterly of headache. Frequent discussions upon the subject of the
tender passion had passed between the two youths, and one of them had
ever spoken of it so very disrespectfully that the other felt ashamed
to introduce it. But when his friend, with a view to provoke
communicativeness, advised a course of boiled and bitter herbs and
great attention to diet, quoting the hemistich attributed to the learned
physician Charndatta,

      A fever starve, but feed a cold,

the unhappy Vajramukut’s fortitude abandoned him; he burst into tears,
and exclaimed, “Whosoever enters upon the path of love cannot survive
it; and if (by chance) he should live, what is life to him but a
prolongation of his misery?”

“Yea,” replied the minister’s son, “the sage hath said--

“The road of love is that which hath no beginning nor end; Take thou heed
of thyself, man I ere thou place foot upon it.

“And the wise, knowing that there are three things whose effect upon
himself no man can foretell--namely, desire of woman, the dice-box, and
the drinking of ardent spirits--find total abstinence from them the best
of rules. Yet, after all, if there is no cow, we must milk the bull.”

The advice was, of course, excellent, but the hapless lover could not
help thinking that on this occasion it came a little too late. However,
after a pause he returned to the subject and said, “I have ventured
to tread that dangerous way, be its end pain or pleasure, happiness or
destruction.” He then hung down his head and sighed from the bottom of
his heart.

“She is the person who appeared to us at the tank?” asked the pradhan’s
son, moved to compassion by the state of his master.

The prince assented.

“O great king,” resumed the minister’s son, “at the time of going away
had she said anything to you? or had you said anything to her?”

“Nothing!” replied the other laconically, when he found his friend
beginning to take an interest in the affair.

“Then,” said the minister’s son, “it will be exceedingly difficult to
get possession of her.”

“Then,” repeated the Raja’s son, “I am doomed to death; to an early and
melancholy death!”

“Humph!” ejaculated the young statesman rather impatiently, “did she
make any sign, or give any hint? Let me know all that happened: half
confidences are worse than none.”

Upon which the prince related everything that took place by the side
of the tank, bewailing the false shame which had made him dumb, and
concluding with her pantomime.

The pradhan’s son took thought for a while. He thereupon seized the
opportunity of representing to his master all the evil effects of
bashfulness when women are concerned, and advised him, as he would be a
happy lover, to brazen his countenance for the next interview.

Which the young Raja faithfully promised to do.

“And, now,” said the other, “be comforted, O my master! I know her name
and her dwelling-place. When she suddenly plucked the lotus flower and
worshipped it, she thanked the gods for having blessed her with a sight
of your beauty.”

Vajramukut smiled, the first time for the last month.

“When she applied it to her ear, it was as if she would have explained
to thee, ‘I am a daughter of the Carnatic: [54] and when she bit it with
her teeth, she meant to say that ‘My father is Raja Dantawat, [55]’ who,
by-the-bye, has been, is, and ever will be, a mortal foe to thy father.”

Vajramukut shuddered.

“When she put it under her foot it meant, ‘My name is Padmavati. [56]’”

Vajramukut uttered a cry of joy.

“And when she placed it in her bosom, ‘You are truly dwelling in my
heart’ was meant to be understood.”

At these words the young Raja started up full of new life, and after
praising with enthusiasm the wondrous sagacity of his dear friend,
begged him by some contrivance to obtain the permission of his parents,
and to conduct him to her city. The minister’s son easily got leave for
Vajramukut to travel, under pretext that his body required change
of water, and his mind change of scene. They both dressed and armed
themselves for the journey, and having taken some jewels, mounted their
horses and followed the road in that direction in which the princess had
gone.

Arrived after some days at the capital of the Carnatic, the minister’s
son having disguised his master and himself in the garb of travelling
traders, alighted and pitched his little tent upon a clear bit of ground
in one of the suburbs. He then proceeded to inquire for a wise woman,
wanting, he said, to have his fortune told. When the prince asked
him what this meant, he replied that elderly dames who professionally
predict the future are never above ministering to the present, and
therefore that, in such circumstances, they are the properest persons to
be consulted.

“Is this a treatise upon the subject of immorality, devil?” demanded the
King Vikram ferociously. The Baital declared that it was not, but that
he must tell his story.

The person addressed pointed to an old woman who, seated before the door
of her hut, was spinning at her wheel. Then the young men went up to her
with polite salutations and said, “Mother, we are travelling traders,
and our stock is coming after us; we have come on in advance for the
purpose of finding a place to live in. If you will give us a house, we
will remain there and pay you highly.”

The old woman, who was a physiognomist as well as a fortune-teller,
looked at the faces of the young men and liked them, because their brows
were wide, and their mouths denoted generosity. Having listened to their
words, she took pity upon them and said kindly, “This hovel is yours, my
masters, remain here as long as you please.” Then she led them into an
inner room, again welcomed them, lamented the poorness of her abode, and
begged them to lie down and rest themselves.

After some interval of time the old woman came to them once more, and
sitting down began to gossip. The minister’s son upon this asked her,
“How is it with thy family, thy relatives, and connections; and what are
thy means of subsistence?” She replied, “My son is a favourite servant
in the household of our great king Dantawat, and your slave is the
wet-nurse of the Princess Padmavati, his eldest child. From the coming
on of old age,” she added, “I dwell in this house, but the king provides
for my eating and drinking. I go once a day to see the girl, who is a
miracle of beauty and goodness, wit and accomplishments, and returning
thence, I bear my own griefs at home. [57]”

In a few days the young Vajramukut had, by his liberality, soft speech,
and good looks, made such progress in nurse Lakshmi’s affections that,
by the advice of his companion, he ventured to broach the subject ever
nearest his heart. He begged his hostess, when she went on the morrow
to visit the charming Padmavati, that she would be kind enough to slip a
bit of paper into the princess’s hand.

“Son,” she replied, delighted with the proposal--and what old woman
would not be?--“there is no need for putting off so urgent an affair
till the morrow. Get your paper ready, and I will immediately give it.”

Trembling with pleasure, the prince ran to find his friend, who was
seated in the garden reading, as usual, and told him what the old nurse
had engaged to do. He then began to debate about how he should write
his letter, to cull sentences and to weigh phrases; whether “light of my
eyes” was not too trite, and “blood of my liver” rather too forcible. At
this the minister’s son smiled, and bade the prince not trouble his head
with composition. He then drew his inkstand from his waist shawl, nibbed
a reed pen, and choosing a piece of pink and flowered paper, he wrote
upon it a few lines. He then folded it, gummed it, sketched a lotus
flower upon the outside, and handing it to the young prince, told him to
give it to their hostess, and that all would be well.

The old woman took her staff in her hand and hobbled straight to the
palace. Arrived there, she found the Raja’s daughter sitting alone in
her apartment. The maiden, seeing her nurse, immediately arose,
and making a respectful bow, led her to a seat and began the most
affectionate inquiries. After giving her blessing and sitting for
some time and chatting about indifferent matters, the nurse said,
“O daughter! in infancy I reared and nourished thee, now the Bhagwan
(Deity) has rewarded me by giving thee stature, beauty, health, and
goodness. My heart only longs to see the happiness of thy womanhood,
[58] after which I shall depart in peace. I implore thee read this
paper, given to me by the handsomest and the properest young man that my
eyes have ever seen.”

The princess, glancing at the lotus on the outside of the note, slowly
unfolded it and perused its contents, which were as follows:

                     1.

                 She was to me the pearl that clings
                      To sands all hid from mortal sight
                 Yet fit for diadems of kings,
                      The pure and lovely light.

                     2.

                 She was to me the gleam of sun
                      That breaks the gloom of wintry day
                 One moment shone my soul upon,
                      Then passed--how soon!--away.

                     3.

                 She was to me the dreams of bliss
                      That float the dying eyes before,
                 For one short hour shed happiness,
                      And fly to bless no more.

                     4.

                 O light, again upon me shine;
                      O pearl, again delight my eyes;
                 O dreams of bliss, again be mine!--
                      No! earth may not be Paradise.

I must not forget to remark, parenthetically, that the minister’s son,
in order to make these lines generally useful, had provided them with a
last stanza in triplicate. “For lovers,” he said sagely, “are either in
the optative mood, the desperative, or the exultative.” This time he had
used the optative. For the desperative he would substitute:

                     4.

                 The joys of life lie dead, lie dead,
                      The light of day is quenched in gloom
                 The spark of hope my heart hath fled
                      What now witholds me from the tomb


And this was the termination exultative, as he called it:

                     4.

                 O joy I the pearl is mine again,
                      Once more the day is bright and clear
                 And now ‘tis real, then ‘twas vain,
                      My dream of bliss--O heaven is here!


The Princess Padmavati having perused this doggrel with a contemptuous
look, tore off the first word of the last line, and said to the nurse,
angrily, “Get thee gone, O mother of Yama, [59] O unfortunate creature,
and take back this answer”--giving her the scrap of paper--“to the fool
who writes such bad verses. I wonder where he studied the humanities.
Begone, and never do such an action again!”

The old nurse, distressed at being so treated, rose up and returned
home. Vajramukut was too agitated to await her arrival, so he went to
meet her on the way. Imagine his disappointment when she gave him the
fatal word and repeated to him exactly what happened, not forgetting
to describe a single look! He felt tempted to plunge his sword into his
bosom; but Fortune interfered, and sent him to consult his confidant.

“Be not so hasty and desperate, my prince,” said the pradhan’s son,
seeing his wild grief; “you have not understood her meaning. Later in
life you will be aware of the fact that, in nine cases out of ten, a
woman’s ‘no’ is a distinct ‘yes.’ This morning’s work has been good; the
maiden asked where you learnt the humanities, which being interpreted
signifies ‘Who are you?”’

On the next day the prince disclosed his rank to old Lakshmi, who
naturally declared that she had always known it. The trust they reposed
in her made her ready to address Padmavati once more on the forbidden
subject. So she again went to the palace, and having lovingly greeted
her nursling, said to her, “The Raja’s son, whose heart thou didst
fascinate on the brim of the tank, on the fifth day of the moon, in
the light half of the month Yeth, has come to my house, and sends this
message to thee: ‘Perform what you promised;’ we have now come; and
I also tell thee that this prince is worthy of thee: just as thou art
beautiful, so is he endowed with all good qualities of mind and body.”

When Padmavati heard this speech she showed great anger, and, rubbing
sandal on her beautiful hands, she slapped the old woman’s cheeks, and
cried, “Wretch, Daina (witch)! get out of my house; did I not forbid
thee to talk such folly in my presence?”

The lover and the nurse were equally distressed at having taken the
advice of the young minister, till he explained what the crafty damsel
meant. “When she smeared the sandal on her ten fingers,” he explained,
“and struck the old woman on the face, she signified that when the
remaining ten moonlight nights shall have passed away she will meet
you in the dark.” At the same time he warned his master that to all
appearances the lady Padmavati was far too clever to make a comfortable
wife. The minister’s son especially hated talented, intellectual, and
strong-minded women; he had been heard to describe the torments of
Naglok [60] as the compulsory companionship of a polemical divine and a
learned authoress, well stricken in years and of forbidding aspect, as
such persons mostly are. Amongst womankind he admired--theoretically,
as became a philosopher--the small, plump, laughing, chattering,
unintellectual, and material-minded. And therefore--excuse the
digression, Raja Vikram--he married an old maid, tall, thin, yellow,
strictly proper, cold-mannered, a conversationist, and who prided
herself upon spirituality. But more wonderful still, after he did marry
her, he actually loved her--what an incomprehensible being is man in
these matters!

To return, however. The pradhan’s son, who detected certain symptoms of
strong-mindedness in the Princess Padmavati, advised his lord to be wise
whilst wisdom availed him. This sage counsel was, as might be guessed,
most ungraciously rejected by him for whose benefit it was intended.
Then the sensible young statesman rated himself soundly for having
broken his father’s rule touching advice, and atoned for it by blindly
forwarding the views of his master.

After the ten nights of moonlight had passed, the old nurse was again
sent to the palace with the usual message. This time Padmavati put
saffron on three of her fingers, and again left their marks on the
nurse’s cheek. The minister’s son explained that this was to crave delay
for three days, and that on the fourth the lover would have access to
her.

When the time had passed the old woman again went and inquired after her
health and well-being. The princess was as usual very wroth, and having
personally taken her nurse to the western gate, she called her “Mother
of the elephant’s trunk, [61]” and drove her out with threats of
the bastinado if she ever came back. This was reported to the young
statesman, who, after a few minutes’ consideration, said, “The
explanation of this matter is, that she has invited you to-morrow, at
nighttime, to meet her at this very gate.

“When brown shadows fell upon the face of earth, and here and there a
star spangled the pale heavens, the minister’s son called Vajramukut,
who had been engaged in adorning himself at least half that day. He
had carefully shaved his cheeks and chin; his mustachio was trimmed and
curled; he had arched his eyebrows by plucking out with tweezers
the fine hairs around them; he had trained his curly musk-coloured
love-locks to hang gracefully down his face; he had drawn broad lines of
antimony along his eyelids, a most brilliant sectarian mark was affixed
to his forehead, the colour of his lips had been heightened by chewing
betel-nut--

“One would imagine that you are talking of a silly girl, not of a
prince, fiend!” interrupted Vikram, who did not wish his son to hear
what he called these fopperies and frivolities.

--and whitened his neck by having it shaved (continued the Baital,
speaking quickly, as if determined not to be interrupted), and reddened
the tips of his ears by squeezing them, and made his teeth shine by
rubbing copper powder into the roots, and set off the delicacy of his
fingers by staining the tips with henna. He had not been less careful
with his dress: he wore a well-arranged turband, which had taken him at
least two hours to bind, and a rich suit of brown stuff chosen for the
adventure he was about to attempt, and he hung about his person a number
of various weapons, so as to appear a hero--which young damsels admire.

Vajramukut asked his friend how he looked, and smiled happily when the
other replied “Admirable!” His happiness was so great that he feared
it might not last, and he asked the minister’s son how best to conduct
himself?

“As a conqueror, my prince!” answered that astute young man, “if it so
be that you would be one. When you wish to win a woman, always impose
upon her. Tell her that you are her master, and she will forthwith
believe herself to be your servant. Inform her that she loves you, and
forthwith she will adore you. Show her that you care nothing for her,
and she will think of nothing but you. Prove to her by your demeanour
that you consider her a slave, and she will become your pariah. But
above all things--excuse me if I repeat myself too often--beware of the
fatal virtue which men call modesty and women sheepishness. Recollect
the trouble it has given us, and the danger which we have incurred:
all this might have been managed at a tank within fifteen miles of your
royal father’s palace. And allow me to say that you may still thank your
stars: in love a lost opportunity is seldom if ever recovered. The time
to woo a woman is the moment you meet her, before she has had time to
think; allow her the use of reflection and she may escape the net. And
after avoiding the rock of Modesty, fall not, I conjure you, into the
gulf of Security. I fear the lady Padmavati, she is too clever and too
prudent. When damsels of her age draw the sword of Love, they throw away
the scabbard of Precaution. But you yawn--I weary you--it is time for us
to move.”

Two watches of the night had passed, and there was profound stillness on
earth. The young men then walked quietly through the shadows, till they
reached the western gate of the palace, and found the wicket ajar. The
minister’s son peeped in and saw the porter dozing, stately as a Brahman
deep in the Vedas, and behind him stood a veiled woman seemingly waiting
for somebody. He then returned on tiptoe to the place where he had left
his master, and with a parting caution against modesty and security,
bade him fearlessly glide through the wicket. Then having stayed a short
time at the gate listening with anxious ear, he went back to the old
woman’s house.

Vajramukut penetrating to the staircase, felt his hand grasped by the
veiled figure, who motioning him to tread lightly, led him quickly
forwards. They passed under several arches, through dim passages and
dark doorways, till at last running up a flight of stone steps they
reached the apartments of the princess.

Vajramukut was nearly fainting as the flood of splendour broke upon him.
Recovering himself he gazed around the rooms, and presently a tumult of
delight invaded his soul, and his body bristled with joy. [62] The scene
was that of fairyland. Golden censers exhaled the most costly perfumes,
and gemmed vases bore the most beautiful flowers; silver lamps
containing fragrant oil illuminated doors whose panels were wonderfully
decorated, and walls adorned with pictures in which such figures were
formed that on seeing them the beholder was enchanted. On one side of
the room stood a bed of flowers and a couch covered with brocade of
gold, and strewed with freshly-culled jasmine flowers. On the other
side, arranged in proper order, were attar holders, betel-boxes,
rose-water bottles, trays, and silver cases with four partitions for
essences compounded of rose leaves, sugar, and spices, prepared sandal
wood, saffron, and pods of musk. Scattered about a stuccoed floor white
as crystal, were coloured caddies of exquisite confections, and in
others sweetmeats of various kinds.[63] Female attendants clothed in
dresses of various colours were standing each according to her rank,
with hands respectfully joined. Some were reading plays and beautiful
poems, others danced and others performed with glittering fingers and
flashing arms on various instruments--the ivory lute, the ebony pipe
and the silver kettledrum. In short, all the means and appliances of
pleasure and enjoyment were there; and any description of the appearance
of the apartments, which were the wonder of the age, is impossible.

Then another veiled figure, the beautiful Princess Padmavati, came up
and disclosed herself, and dazzled the eyes of her delighted Vajramukut.
She led him into an alcove, made him sit down, rubbed sandal powder upon
his body, hung a garland of jasmine flowers round his neck, sprinkled
rose-water over his dress, and began to wave over his head a fan of
peacock feathers with a golden handle.

Said the prince, who despite all efforts could not entirely shake off
his unhappy habit of being modest, “Those very delicate hands of yours
are not fit to ply the pankha.[64] Why do you take so much trouble? I
am cool and refreshed by the sight of you. Do give the fan to me and sit
down.”

“Nay, great king!” replied Padmavati, with the most fascinating of
smiles, “you have taken so much trouble for my sake in coming here, it
is right that I perform service for you.”

Upon which her favourite slave, taking the pankha from the hand of the
princess, exclaimed, “This is my duty. I will perform the service; do
you two enjoy yourselves!”

The lovers then began to chew betel, which, by the bye, they disposed of
in little agate boxes which they drew from their pockets, and they were
soon engaged in the tenderest conversation.

Here the Baital paused for a while, probably to take breath. Then he
resumed his tale as follows:

In the meantime, it became dawn; the princess concealed him; and when
night returned they again engaged in the same innocent pleasures.
Thus day after day sped rapidly by. Imagine, if you can, the youth’s
felicity; he was of an ardent temperament, deeply enamoured, barely
a score of years old, and he had been strictly brought up by serious
parents. He therefore resigned himself entirely to the siren for whom he
willingly forgot the world, and he wondered at his good fortune, which
had thrown in his way a conquest richer than all the mines of Meru.[65]
He could not sufficiently admire his Padmavati’s grace, beauty, bright
wit, and numberless accomplishments. Every morning, for vanity’s sake,
he learned from her a little useless knowledge in verse as well as
prose, for instance, the saying of the poet--

     Enjoy the present hour, ‘tis thine; be this, O man, thy law;
     Who e’er resew the yester? Who the morrow e’er foresaw?

And this highly philosophical axiom--

     Eat, drink, and love--the rest’s not worth a fillip.

“By means of which he hoped, Raja Vikram!” said the demon, not heeding
his royal carrier’s “ughs” and “poohs,” “to become in course of time
almost as clever as his mistress.”

Padmavati, being, as you have seen, a maiden of superior mind, was
naturally more smitten by her lover’s dulness than by any other of his
qualities; she adored it, it was such a contrast to herself.[66] At
first she did what many clever women do--she invested him with the
brightness of her own imagination. Still water, she pondered, runs deep;
certainly under this disguise must lurk a brilliant fancy, a penetrating
but a mature and ready judgment--are they not written by nature’s hand
on that broad high brow? With such lovely mustachios can he be aught but
generous, noble-minded, magnanimous? Can such eyes belong to any but a
hero? And she fed the delusion. She would smile upon him with intense
fondness, when, after wasting hours over a few lines of poetry, he
would misplace all the adjectives and barbarously entreat the metre.
She laughed with gratification, when, excited by the bright sayings that
fell from her lips, the youth put forth some platitude, dim as the lamp
in the expiring fire-fly. When he slipped in grammar she saw malice
under it, when he retailed a borrowed jest she called it a good one, and
when he used--as princes sometimes will--bad language, she discovered in
it a charming simplicity.

At first she suspected that the stratagems which had won her heart were
the results of a deep-laid plot proceeding from her lover. But clever
women are apt to be rarely sharp-sighted in every matter which concerns
themselves. She frequently determined that a third was in the secret.
She therefore made no allusion to it. Before long the enamoured
Vajramukut had told her everything, beginning with the diatribe against
love pronounced by the minister’s son, and ending with the solemn
warning that she, the pretty princess, would some day or other play her
husband a foul trick.

“If I do not revenge myself upon him,” thought the beautiful Padmavati,
smiling like an angel as she listened to the youth’s confidence, “may I
become a gardener’s ass in the next birth!”

Having thus registered a vow, she broke silence, and praised to the
skies the young pradhan’s wisdom and sagacity; professed herself ready
from gratitude to become his slave, and only hoped that one day or
other she might meet that true friend by whose skill her soul had been
gratified in its dearest desire. “Only,” she concluded, “I am convinced
that now my Vajramukut knows every corner of his little Padmavati’s
heart, he will never expect her to do anything but love, admire, adore
and kiss him!” Then suiting the action to the word, she convinced him
that the young minister had for once been too crabbed and cynic in his
philosophy.

But after the lapse of a month Vajramukut, who had eaten and drunk and
slept a great deal too much, and who had not once hunted, became bilious
in body and in mind melancholic. His face turned yellow, and so did
the whites of his eyes; he yawned, as liver patients generally do,
complained occasionally of sick headaches, and lost his appetite:
he became restless and anxious, and once when alone at night he thus
thought aloud: “I have given up country, throne, home, and everything
else, but the friend by means of whom this happiness was obtained I
have not seen for the long length of thirty days. What will he say to
himself, and how can I know what has happened to him?”

In this state of things he was sitting, and in the meantime the
beautiful princess arrived. She saw through the matter, and lost not a
moment in entering upon it. She began by expressing her astonishment at
her lover’s fickleness and fondness for change, and when he was ready
to wax wroth, and quoted the words of the sage, “A barren wife may be
superseded by another in the eighth year; she whose children all die, in
the tenth; she who brings forth only daughters, in the eleventh; she
who scolds, without delay,” thinking that she alluded to his love, she
smoothed his temper by explaining that she referred to his forgetting
his friend. “How is it possible, O my soul,” she asked with the softest
of voices, that thou canst happiness here whilst thy heart is wandering
there? Why didst thou conceal this from me, O astute one? Was it for
fear of distressing me? Think better of thy wife than to suppose that
she would ever separate thee from one to whom we both owe so much!

After this Padmavati advised, nay ordered, her lover to go forth that
night, and not to return till his mind was quite at ease, and she begged
him to take a few sweetmeats and other trifles as a little token of her
admiration and regard for the clever young man of whom she had heard so
much.

Vajramukut embraced her with a transport of gratitude, which so inflamed
her anger, that fearing lest the cloak of concealment might fall from
her countenance, she went away hurriedly to find the greatest delicacies
which her comfit boxes contained. Presently she returned, carrying a bag
of sweetmeats of every kind for her lover, and as he rose up to depart,
she put into his hand a little parcel of sugar-plums especially intended
for the friend; they were made up with her own delicate fingers, and
they would please, she flattered herself, even his discriminating
palate.

The young prince, after enduring a number of farewell embraces and
hopings for a speedy return, and last words ever beginning again,
passed safely through the palace gate, and with a relieved aspect walked
briskly to the house of the old nurse. Although it was midnight his
friend was still sitting on his mat.

The two young men fell upon one another’s bosoms and embraced
affectionately. They then began to talk of matters nearest their hearts.
The Raja’s son wondered at seeing the jaded and haggard looks of his
companion, who did not disguise that they were caused by his anxiety as
to what might have happened to his friend at the hand of so talented and
so superior a princess. Upon which Vajramukut, who now thought Padmavati
an angel, and his late abode a heaven, remarked with formality--and two
blunders to one quotation--that abilities properly directed win for a
man the happiness of both worlds.

The pradhan’s son rolled his head.

“Again on your hobby-horse, nagging at talent whenever you find it in
others!” cried the young prince with a pun, which would have delighted
Padmavati. “Surely you are jealous of her!” he resumed, anything but
pleased with the dead silence that had received his joke; “jealous of
her cleverness, and of her love for me. She is the very best creature
in the world. Even you, woman-hater as you are, would own it if you only
knew all the kind messages she sent, and the little pleasant surprise
that she has prepared for you. There! take and eat; they are made by her
own dear hands!” cried the young Raja, producing the sweetmeats. “As she
herself taught me to say--

         Thank God I am a man,
     Not a philosopher!”

“The kind messages she sent me! The pleasant surprise she has prepared
for me!” repeated the minister’s son in a hard, dry tone. “My lord will
be pleased to tell me how she heard of my name?”

“I was sitting one night,” replied the prince, “in anxious thought about
you, when at that moment the princess coming in and seeing my condition,
asked, ‘Why are you thus sad? Explain the cause to me.’ I then gave
her an account of your cleverness, and when she heard it she gave me
permission to go and see you, and sent these sweetmeats for you: eat
them and I shall be pleased.”

“Great king!” rejoined the young statesman, “one thing vouchsafe to
hear from me. You have not done well in that you have told my name.
You should never let a woman think that your left hand knows the secret
which she confided to your right, much less that you have shared it to
a third person. Secondly, you did evil in allowing her to see the
affection with which you honour your unworthy servant--a woman ever
hates her lover’s or husband’s friend.”

“What could I do?” rejoined the young Raja, in a querulous tone of
voice. “When I love a woman I like to tell her everything--to have no
secrets from her--to consider her another self----”

“Which habit,” interrupted the pradhan’s son, “you will lose when you
are a little older, when you recognize the fact that love is nothing but
a bout, a game of skill between two individuals of opposite sexes: the
one seeking to gain as much, and the other striving to lose as little as
possible; and that the sharper of the twain thus met on the chessboard
must, in the long run, win. And reticence is but a habit. Practise it
for a year, and you will find it harder to betray than to conceal your
thoughts. It hath its joy also. Is there no pleasure, think you, when
suppressing an outbreak of tender but fatal confidence in saying to
yourself, ‘O, if she only knew this?’ ‘O, if she did but suspect that?’
Returning, however, to the sugar-plums, my life to a pariah’s that they
are poisoned!”

“Impossible!” exclaimed the prince, horror-struck at the thought;
“what you say, surely no one ever could do. If a mortal fears not his
fellow-mortal, at least he dreads the Deity.”

“I never yet knew,” rejoined the other, “what a woman in love does fear.
However, prince, the trial is easy. Come here, Muti!” cried he to the
old woman’s dog, “and off with thee to that three-headed kinsman of
thine, that attends upon his amiable-looking master.[67]”

Having said this, he threw one of the sweetmeats to the dog; the animal
ate it, and presently writhing and falling down, died.

“The wretch! O the wretch!” cried Vajramukut, transported with wonder
and anger. “And I loved her! But now it is all over. I dare not
associate with such a calamity!”

“What has happened, my lord, has happened!” quoth the minister’s son
calmly. “I was prepared for something of this kind from so talented a
princess. None commit such mistakes, such blunders, such follies as your
clever women; they cannot even turn out a crime decently executed. O
give me dulness with one idea, one aim, one desire. O thrice blessed
dulness that combines with happiness, power.”

This time Vajramukut did not defend talent.

“And your slave did his best to warn you against perfidy. But now my
heart is at rest. I have tried her strength. She has attempted and
failed; the defeat will prevent her attempting again--just yet. But let
me ask you to put to yourself one question. Can you be happy without
her?”

“Brother!” replied the prince, after a pause, “I cannot”; and he blushed
as he made the avowal.

“Well,” replied the other, “better confess then conceal that fact;
we must now meet her on the battle-field, and beat her at her own
weapons--cunning. I do not willingly begin treachery with women,
because, in the first place, I don’t like it; and secondly, I know that
they will certainly commence practicing it upon me, after which I hold
myself justified in deceiving them. And probably this will be a good
wife; remember that she intended to poison me, not you. During the last
month my fear has been lest my prince had run into the tiger’s brake.
Tell me, my lord, when does the princess expect you to return to her?”

“She bade me,” said the young Raja, “not to return till my mind was
quite at ease upon the subject of my talented friend.”

“This means that she expects you back to-morrow night, as you cannot
enter the palace before. And now I will retire to my cot, as it is there
that I am wont to ponder over my plans. Before dawn my thought shall
mature one which must place the beautiful Padmavati in your power.”

“A word before parting,” exclaimed the prince “you know my father has
already chosen a spouse for me; what will he say if I bring home a
second?”

“In my humble opinion,” said the minister’s son rising to retire, “woman
is a monogamous, man a polygamous, creature, a fact scarcely established
in physiological theory, but very observable in every-day practice. For
what said the poet?--

          Divorce, friend! Re-wed thee! The spring draweth near,[68]
          And a wife’s but an almanac--good for the year.

If your royal father say anything to you, refer him to what he himself
does.”

Reassured by these words, Vajramukut bade his friend a cordial
good-night and sought his cot, where he slept soundly, despite the
emotions of the last few hours. The next day passed somewhat slowly. In
the evening, when accompanying his master to the palace, the minister’s
son gave him the following directions.

“Our object, dear my lord, is how to obtain possession of the princess.
Take, then, this trident, and hide it carefully when you see her show
the greatest love and affection. Conceal what has happened, and when
she, wondering at your calmness, asks about me, tell her that last night
I was weary and out of health, that illness prevented my eating her
sweetmeats, but that I shall eat them for supper to-night. When she goes
to sleep, then, taking off her jewels and striking her left leg with the
trident, instantly come away to me. But should she lie awake, rub upon
your thumb a little of this--do not fear, it is only a powder of
grubs fed on verdigris--and apply it to her nostrils. It would make an
elephant senseless, so be careful how you approach it to your own face.”

Vajramukut embraced his friend, and passed safely through the palace
gate. He found Padmavati awaiting him; she fell upon his bosom and
looked into his eyes, and deceived herself, as clever women will do.
Overpowered by her joy and satisfaction, she now felt certain that
her lover was hers eternally, and that her treachery had not been
discovered; so the beautiful princess fell into a deep sleep.

Then Vajramukut lost no time in doing as the minister’s son had advised,
and slipped out of the room, carrying off Padmavati’s jewels and
ornaments. His counsellor having inspected them, took up a sack and made
signs to his master to follow him. Leaving the horses and baggage at
the nurse’s house, they walked to a burning-place outside the city. The
minister’s son there buried his dress, together with that of the prince,
and drew from the sack the costume of a religious ascetic: he assumed
this himself, and gave to his companion that of a disciple. Then quoth
the guru (spiritual preceptor) to his chela (pupil), “Go, youth, to the
bazar, and sell these jewels, remembering to let half the jewellers in
the place see the things, and if any one lay hold of thee, bring him to
me.”

Upon which, as day had dawned, Vajramukut carried the princess’s
ornaments to the market, and entering the nearest goldsmith’s shop,
offered to sell them, and asked what they were worth. As your majesty
well knows, gardeners, tailors, and goldsmiths are proverbially
dishonest, and this man was no exception to the rule. He looked at the
pupil’s face and wondered, because he had brought articles whose value
he did not appear to know. A thought struck him that he might make a
bargain which would fill his coffers, so he offered about a thousandth
part of the price. This the pupil rejected, because he wished the affair
to go further. Then the goldsmith, seeing him about to depart, sprang up
and stood in the door way, threatening to call the officers of justice
if the young man refused to give up the valuables which he said had
lately been stolen from his shop. As the pupil only laughed at this,
the goldsmith thought seriously of executing his threat, hesitating only
because he knew that the officers of justice would gain more than he
could by that proceeding. As he was still in doubt a shadow darkened
his shop, and in entered the chief jeweller of the city. The moment the
ornaments were shown to him he recognized them, and said, “These jewels
belong to Raja Dantawat’s daughter; I know them well, as I set them only
a few months ago!” Then he turned to the disciple, who still held the
valuables in his hand, and cried, “Tell me truly whence you received
them?”

While they were thus talking, a crowd of ten or twenty persons had
collected, and at length the report reached the superintendent of the
archers. He sent a soldier to bring before him the pupil, the goldsmith,
and the chief jeweller, together with the ornaments. And when all were
in the hall of justice, he looked at the jewels and said to the young
man, “Tell me truly, whence have you obtained these?”

“My spiritual preceptor,” said Vajramukut, pretending great fear, “who
is now worshipping in the cemetery outside the town, gave me these white
stones, with an order to sell them. How know I whence he obtained them?
Dismiss me, my lord, for I am an innocent man.”

“Let the ascetic be sent for,” commanded the kotwal.[69] Then, having
taken both of them, along with the jewels, into the presence of King
Dantawat, he related the whole circumstances.

“Master,” said the king on hearing the statement, “whence have you
obtained these jewels?”

The spiritual preceptor, before deigning an answer, pulled from under
his arm the hide of a black antelope, which he spread out and smoothed
deliberately before using it as an asan.[70] He then began to finger a
rosary of beads each as large as an egg, and after spending nearly an
hour in mutterings and in rollings of the head, he looked fixedly at the
Raja, and repined:

“By Shiva! great king, they are mine own. On the fourteenth of the dark
half of the moon at night, I had gone into a place where dead bodies are
burned, for the purpose of accomplishing a witch’s incantation. After
long and toilsome labour she appeared, but her demeanour was so unruly
that I was forced to chastise her. I struck her with this, my trident,
on the left leg, if memory serves me. As she continued to be refractory,
in order to punish her I took off all her jewels and clothes, and told
her to go where she pleased. Even this had little effect upon her--never
have I looked upon so perverse a witch. In this way the jewels came into
my possession.”

Raja Dantawat was stunned by these words. He begged the ascetic not
to leave the palace for a while, and forthwith walked into the private
apartments of the women. Happening first to meet the queen dowager,
he said to her, “Go, without losing a minute, O my mother, and look at
Padmavati’s left leg, and see if there is a mark or not, and what sort
of a mark!” Presently she returned, and coming to the king said, “Son,
I find thy daughter lying upon her bed, and complaining that she has met
with an accident; and indeed Padmavati must be in great pain. I found
that some sharp instrument with three points had wounded her. The girl
says that a nail hurt her, but I never yet heard of a nail making
three holes. However, we must all hasten, or there will be erysipelas,
tumefaction, gangrene, mortification, amputation, and perhaps death
in the house,” concluded the old queen, hurrying away in the pleasing
anticipation of these ghastly consequences.

For a moment King Dantawat’s heart was ready to break. But he was
accustomed to master his feelings; he speedily applied the reins of
reflection to the wild steed of passion. He thought to himself, “the
affairs of one’s household, the intentions of one’s heart, and whatever
one’s losses may be, should not be disclosed to any one. Since Padmavati
is a witch, she is no longer my daughter. I will verily go forth and
consult the spiritual preceptor.”

With these words the king went outside, where the guru was still sitting
upon his black hide, making marks with his trident on the floor. Having
requested that the pupil might be sent away, and having cleared the
room, he said to the jogi, “O holy man! what punishment for the heinous
crime of witchcraft is awarded to a woman in the Dharma-Shastra [71]?”

“Great king!” replied the devotee, “in the Dharma Shastra it is thus
written: ‘If a Brahman, a cow, a woman, a child, or any other person
whatsoever who may be dependent on us, should be guilty of a perfidious
act, their punishment is that they be banished the country.’ However
much they may deserve death, we must not spill their blood, as
Lakshmi[72] flies in horror from the deed.”

Hearing these words the Raja dismissed the guru with many thanks and
large presents. He waited till nightfall and then ordered a band of
trusty men to seize Padmavati without alarming the household, and to
carry her into a distant jungle full of fiends, tigers, and bears, and
there to abandon her.

In the meantime, the ascetic and his pupil hurrying to the cemetery
resumed their proper dresses; they then went to the old nurse’s house,
rewarded her hospitality till she wept bitterly, girt on their weapons,
and mounting their horses, followed the party which issued from the gate
of King Dantawat’s palace. And it may easily be believed that they found
little difficulty in persuading the poor girl to exchange her chance in
the wild jungle for the prospect of becoming Vajramukut’s wife--lawfully
wedded at Benares. She did not even ask if she was to have a rival in
the house,--a question which women, you know, never neglect to put
under usual circumstances. After some days the two pilgrims of one love
arrived at the house of their fathers, and to all, both great and small,
excess in joy came.

“Now, Raja Vikram!” said the Baital, “you have not spoken much;
doubtless you are engrossed by the interest of a story wherein a man
beats a woman at her own weapon--deceit. But I warn you that you will
assuredly fall into Narak (the infernal regions) if you do not make
up your mind upon and explain this matter. Who was the most to blame
amongst these four? the lover[73] the lover’s friend, the girl, or the
father?”

“For my part I think Padmavati was the worst, she being at the bottom of
all their troubles,” cried Dharma Dhwaj. The king said something about
young people and the two senses of seeing and hearing, but his son’s
sentiment was so sympathetic that he at once pardoned the interruption.
At length, determined to do justice despite himself, Vikram said, “Raja
Dantawat is the person most at fault.”

“In what way was he at fault?” asked the Baital curiously.

King Vikram gave him this reply: “The Prince Vajramukut being tempted of
the love-god was insane, and therefore not responsible for his actions.
The minister’s son performed his master’s business obediently, without
considering causes or asking questions--a very excellent quality in a
dependent who is merely required to do as he is bid. With respect to the
young woman, I have only to say that she was a young woman, and thereby
of necessity a possible murderess. But the Raja, a prince, a man of a
certain age and experience, a father of eight! He ought never to have
been deceived by so shallow a trick, nor should he, without reflection,
have banished his daughter from the country.”

“Gramercy to you!” cried the Vampire, bursting into a discordant shout
of laughter, “I now return to my tree. By my tail! I never yet heard a
Raja so readily condemn a Raja.” With these words he slipped out of the
cloth, leaving it to hang empty over the great king’s shoulder.

Vikram stood for a moment, fixed to the spot with blank dismay.
Presently, recovering himself, he retraced his steps, followed by his
son, ascended the sires-tree, tore down the Baital, packed him up as
before, and again set out upon his way.

Soon afterwards a voice sounded behind the warrior king’s back, and
began to tell another true story.



THE VAMPIRE’S SECOND STORY -- Of the Relative Villany of Men and Women.

In the great city of Bhogavati dwelt, once upon a time, a young prince,
concerning whom I may say that he strikingly resembled this amiable son
of your majesty.

Raja Vikram was silent, nor did he acknowledge the Baital’s indirect
compliment. He hated flattery, but he liked, when flattered, to be
flattered in his own person; a feature in their royal patron’s character
which the Nine Gems of Science had turned to their own account.

Now the young prince Raja Ram (continued the tale teller) had an old
father, concerning whom I may say that he was exceedingly unlike your
Rajaship, both as a man and as a parent. He was fond of hunting, dicing,
sleeping by day, drinking at night, and eating perpetual tonics, while
he delighted in the idleness of watching nautch girls, and the vanity of
falling in love. But he was adored by his children because he took the
trouble to win their hearts. He did not lay it down as a law of heaven
that his offspring would assuredly go to Patala if they neglected the
duty of bestowing upon him without cause all their affections, as your
moral, virtuous, and highly respectable fathers are only too apt----.
Aie! Aie!

These sounds issued from the Vampire’s lips as the warrior king,
speechless with wrath, passed his hand behind his back, and viciously
twisted up a piece of the speaker’s skin. This caused the Vampire to
cry aloud, more however, it would appear, in derision than in real
suffering, for he presently proceeded with the same subject.

Fathers, great king, may be divided into three kinds; and be it said
aside, that mothers are the same. Firstly, we have the parent of many
ideas, amusing, pleasant, of course poor, and the idol of his children.
Secondly, there is the parent with one idea and a half. This sort of man
would, in your place, say to himself, “That demon fellow speaks a manner
of truth. I am not above learning from him, despite his position in
life. I will carry out his theory, just to see how far it goes”; and so
saying, he wends his way home, and treats his young ones with prodigious
kindness for a time, but it is not lasting. Thirdly, there is the real
one-idea’d type of parent-yourself, O warrior king Vikram, an admirable
example. You learn in youth what you are taught: for instance, the
blessed precept that the green stick is of the trees of Paradise; and
in age you practice what you have learned. You cannot teach yourselves
anything before your beards sprout, and when they grow stiff you cannot
be taught by others. If any one attempt to change your opinions you cry,

          What is new is not true,
          What is true is not new.

and you rudely pull his hand from the subject. Yet have you your uses
like other things of earth. In life you are good working camels for the
mill-track, and when you die your ashes are not worse compost than those
of the wise.

Your Rajaship will observe (continued the Vampire, as Vikram began
to show symptoms of ungovernable anger) that I have been concise in
treating this digression. Had I not been so, it would have led me far
indeed from my tale. Now to return.

When the old king became air mixed with air, the young king, though he
found hardly ten pieces of silver in the paternal treasury and legacies
for thousands of golden ounces, yet mourned his loss with the deepest
grief. He easily explained to himself the reckless emptiness of the
royal coffers as a proof of his dear kind parent’s goodness, because he
loved him.

But the old man had left behind him, as he could not carry it off with
him, a treasure more valuable than gold and silver: one Churaman, a
parrot, who knew the world, and who besides discoursed in the most
correct Sanscrit. By sage counsel and wise guidance this admirable bird
soon repaired his young master’s shattered fortunes.

One day the prince said, “Parrot, thou knowest everything: tell me
where there is a mate fit for me. The shastras inform us, respecting
the choice of a wife, ‘She who is not descended from his paternal or
maternal ancestors within the sixth degree is eligible by a high
caste man for nuptials. In taking a wife let him studiously avoid the
following families, be they ever so great, or ever so rich in kine,
goats, sheep, gold, or grain: the family which has omitted prescribed
acts of devotion; that which has produced no male children; that in
which the Veda (scripture) has not been read; that which has thick hair
on the body; and that in which members have been subject to hereditary
disease. Let a person choose for his wife a girl whose person has no
defect; who has an agreeable name; who walks gracefully, like a young
elephant; whose hair and teeth are moderate in quantity and in size; and
whose body is of exquisite softness.’”

“Great king,” responded the parrot Churaman, “there is in the country
of Magadh a Raja, Magadheshwar by name, and he has a daughter called
Chandravati. You will marry her; she is very learned, and, what is
better far, very fait. She is of yellow colour, with a nose like the
flower of the sesamum; her legs are taper, like the plantain-tree; her
eyes are large, like the principal leaf of the lotus; her eye-brows
stretch towards her ears; her lips are red, like the young leaves of the
mango-tree; her face is like the full moon; her voice is like the sound
of the cuckoo; her arms reach to her knees; her throat is like the
pigeon’s; her flanks are thin, like those of the lion; her hair hangs
in curls only down to her waist; her teeth are like the seeds of the
pomegranate; and her gait is that of the drunken elephant or the goose.”

On hearing the parrot’s speech, the king sent for an astrologer, and
asked him, “Whom shall I marry?” The wise man, having consulted his art,
replied, “Chandravati is the name of the maiden, and your marriage with
her will certainly take place.” Thereupon the young Raja, though he had
never seen his future queen, became incontinently enamoured of her. He
summoned a Brahman, and sent him to King Magadheshwar, saying, “If you
arrange satisfactorily this affair of our marriage we will reward you
amply”--a promise which lent wings to the priest.

Now it so happened that this talented and beautiful princess had
a jay,[74] whose name was Madan-manjari or Love-garland. She also
possessed encyclopaedic knowledge after her degree, and, like the
parrot, she spoke excellent Sanscrit.

Be it briefly said, O warrior king-for you think that I am talking
fables--that in the days of old, men had the art of making birds
discourse in human language. The invention is attributed to a great
philosopher, who split their tongues, and after many generations
produced a selected race born with those members split. He altered the
shapes of their skulls by fixing ligatures behind the occiput, which
caused the sinciput to protrude, their eyes to become prominent, and
their brains to master the art of expressing thoughts in words.

But this wonderful discovery, like those of great philosophers
generally, had in it a terrible practical flaw The birds beginning to
speak, spoke wisely and so well, they told the truth so persistently,
they rebuked their brethren of the featherless skins so openly, they
flattered them so little and they counselled them so much, that mankind
presently grew tired of hearing them discourse. Thus the art gradually
fell into desuetude, and now it is numbered with the things that were.

One day the charming Princess Chandravati was sitting in confidential
conversation with her jay. The dialogue was not remarkable, for maidens
in all ages seldom consult their confidantes or speculate upon the
secrets of futurity, or ask to have dreams interpreted, except upon one
subject. At last the princess said, for perhaps the hundredth time that
month, “Where, O jay, is there a husband worthy of me?”

“Princess,” replied Madan-manjari, “I am happy at length to be able
as willing to satisfy your just curiosity. For just it is, though the
delicacy of our sex--”

“Now, no preaching!” said the maiden; “or thou shalt have salt instead
of sugar for supper.”

Jays, your Rajaship, are fond of sugar. So the confidante retained a
quantity of good advice which she was about to produce, and replied,

“I now see clearly the ways of Fortune. Raja Ram, king of Bhogavati, is
to be thy husband. He shall be happy in thee and thou in him, for he is
young and handsome, rich and generous, good-tempered, not too clever,
and without a chance of being an invalid.”

Thereupon the princess, although she had never seen her future husband,
at once began to love him. In fact, though neither had set eyes upon the
other, both were mutually in love.

“How can that be, sire?” asked the young Dharma Dhwaj of his father. “I
always thought that--”

The great Vikram interrupted his son, and bade him not to ask silly
questions. Thus he expected to neutralize the evil effects of the
Baital’s doctrine touching the amiability of parents unlike himself.

Now, as both these young people (resumed the Baital) were of princely
family and well to do in the world, the course of their love was
unusually smooth. When the Brahman sent by Raja Ram had reached Magadh,
and had delivered his King’s homage to the Raja Magadheshwar, the latter
received him with distinction, and agreed to his proposal. The beautiful
princess’s father sent for a Brahman of his own, and charging him with
nuptial gifts and the customary presents, sent him back to Bhogavati in
company with the other envoy, and gave him this order, “Greet Raja Ram,
on my behalf, and after placing the tilak or mark upon his forehead,
return here with all speed. When you come back I will get all things
ready for the marriage.”

Raja Ram, on receiving the deputation, was greatly pleased, and
after generously rewarding the Brahmans and making all the necessary
preparations, he set out in state for the land of Magadha, to claim his
betrothed.

In due season the ceremony took place with feasting and bands of
music, fireworks and illuminations, rehearsals of scripture, songs,
entertainments, processions, and abundant noise. And hardly had the
turmeric disappeared from the beautiful hands and feet of the bride,
when the bridegroom took an affectionate leave of his new parents--he
had not lived long in the house--and receiving the dowry and the bridal
gifts, set out for his own country.

Chandravati was dejected by leaving her mother, and therefore she
was allowed to carry with her the jay, Madanmanian. She soon told her
husband the wonderful way in which she had first heard his name, and
he related to her the advantage which he had derived from confabulation
with Churaman, his parrot.

“Then why do we not put these precious creatures into one cage,
after marrying them according to the rites of the angelic marriage
(Gandharva-lagana)?” said the charming queen. Like most brides, she was
highly pleased to find an opportunity of making a match.

“Ay! why not, love? Surely they cannot live happy in what the world
calls single blessedness,” replied the young king. As bridegrooms
sometimes are for a short time, he was very warm upon the subject of
matrimony.

Thereupon, without consulting the parties chiefly concerned in their
scheme, the master and mistress, after being comfortably settled at the
end of their journey, caused a large cage to be brought, and put into it
both their favourites.

Upon which Churaman the parrot leaned his head on one side and directed
a peculiar look at the jay. But Madan-manjari raised her beak high in
the air, puffed through it once or twice, and turned away her face in
extreme disdain.

“Perhaps,” quoth the parrot, at length breaking silence, “you will tell
me that you have no desire to be married?”

“Probably,” replied the jay.

“And why?” asked the male bird.

“Because I don’t choose,” replied the female.

“Truly a feminine form of resolution this,” ejaculated the parrot. “I
will borrow my master’s words and call it a woman’s reason, that is to
say, no reason at all. Have you any objection to be more explicit?”

“None whatever,” retorted the jay, provoked by the rude innuendo into
telling more plainly than politely exactly what she thought; “none
whatever, sir parrot. You he-things are all of you sinful, treacherous,
deceitful, selfish, devoid of conscience, and accustomed to sacrifice
us, the weaker sex, to your smallest desire or convenience.”

“Of a truth, fair lady,” quoth the young Raja Ram to his bride, “this
pet of thine is sufficiently impudent.”

“Let her words be as wind in thine ear, master,” interrupted the parrot.
“And pray, Mistress Jay, what are you she-things but treacherous, false,
ignorant, and avaricious beings, whose only wish in this world is to
prevent life being as pleasant as it might be?”

“Verily, my love,” said the beautiful Chandravati to her bridegroom,
“this thy bird has a habit of expressing his opinions in a very free and
easy way.”

“I can prove what I assert,” whispered the jay in the ear of the
princess.

“We can confound their feminine minds by an anecdote,” whispered the
parrot in the ear of the prince.

Briefly, King Vikram, it was settled between the twain that each should
establish the truth of what it had advanced by an illustration in the
form of a story.

Chandravati claimed, and soon obtained, precedence for the jay. Then the
wonderful bird, Madan-manjari, began to speak as follows:--

I have often told thee, O queen, that before coming to thy feet, my
mistress was Ratnawati, the daughter of a rich trader, the dearest, the
sweetest, the----

Here the jay burst into tears, and the mistress was sympathetically
affected. Presently the speaker resumed----

However, I anticipate. In the city of Ilapur there was a wealthy
merchant, who was without offspring; on this account he was continually
fasting and going on pilgrimage, and when at home he was ever engaged in
reading the Puranas and in giving alms to the Brahmans.

At length, by favour of the Deity, a son was born to this merchant, who
celebrated his birth with great pomp and rejoicing, and gave large gifts
to Brahmans and to bards, and distributed largely to the hungry, the
thirsty, and the poor. When the boy was five years old he had him taught
to read, and when older he was sent to a guru, who had formerly himself
been a student, and who was celebrated as teacher and lecturer.

In the course of time the merchant’s son grew up. Praise be to Brahma!
what a wonderful youth it was, with a face like a monkey’s, legs like a
stork’s, and a back like a camel’s. You know the old proverb:--

          Expect thirty-two villanies from the limping, and eighty
from the one-eyed man,
          But when the hunchback comes, say “Lord defend us!”

Instead of going to study, he went to gamble with other ne’er-do-weels,
to whom he talked loosely, and whom he taught to be bad-hearted as
himself. He made love to every woman, and despite his ugliness, he was
not unsuccessful. For they are equally fortunate who are very handsome
or very ugly, in so far as they are both remarkable and remarked. But
the latter bear away the palm. Beautiful men begin well with women, who
do all they can to attract them, love them as the apples of their eyes,
discover them to be fools, hold them to be their equals, deceive them,
and speedily despise them. It is otherwise with the ugly man, who, in
consequence of his homeliness, must work his wits and take pains with
himself, and become as pleasing as he is capable of being, till women
forget his ape’s face, bird’s legs, and bunchy back.

The hunchback, moreover, became a Tantri, so as to complete his
villanies. He was duly initiated by an apostate Brahman, made a
declaration that he renounced all the ceremonies of his old religion,
and was delivered from their yoke, and proceeded to perform in token
of joy an abominable rite. In company with eight men and eight women-a
Brahman female, a dancing girl, a weaver’s daughter, a woman of ill
fame, a washerwoman, a barber’s wife, a milkmaid, and the daughter of a
land-owner--choosing the darkest time of night and the most secret part
of the house, he drank with them, was sprinkled and anointed, and went
through many ignoble ceremonies, such as sitting nude upon a dead body.
The teacher informed him that he was not to indulge shame, or aversion
to anything, nor to prefer one thing to another, nor to regard caste,
ceremonial cleanness or uncleanness, but freely to enjoy all the
pleasures of sense-that is, of course, wine and us, since we are the
representatives of the wife of Cupid, and wine prevents the senses from
going astray. And whereas holy men, holding that the subjugation or
annihilation of the passions is essential to final beatitude, accomplish
this object by bodily austerities, and by avoiding temptation, he
proceeded to blunt the edge of the passions with excessive indulgence.
And he jeered at the pious, reminding them that their ascetics are safe
only in forests, and while keeping a perpetual fast; but that he could
subdue his passions in the very presence of what they most desired.

Presently this excellent youth’s father died, leaving him immense
wealth. He blunted his passions so piously and so vigorously, that in
very few years his fortune was dissipated. Then he turned towards
his neighbour’s goods and prospered for a time, till being discovered
robbing, he narrowly escaped the stake. At length he exclaimed, “Let the
gods perish! the rascals send me nothing but ill luck!” and so saying he
arose and fled from his own country.

Chance led that villain hunchback to the city of Chandrapur, where,
hearing the name of my master Hemgupt, he recollected that one of his
father’s wealthiest correspondents was so called. Thereupon, with
his usual audacity, he presented himself at the house, walked in,
and although he was clothed in tatters, introduced himself, told his
father’s name and circumstances, and wept bitterly.

The good man was much astonished, and not less grieved, to see the son
of his old friend in such woful plight. He rose up, however, embraced
the youth, and asked the reason of his coming.

“I freighted a vessel,” said the false hunchback, “for the purpose
of trading to a certain land. Having gone there, I disposed of my
merchandise, and, taking another cargo, I was on my voyage home.
Suddenly a great storm arose, and the vessel was wrecked, and I escaped
on a plank, and after a time arrived here. But I am ashamed, since I
have lost all my wealth, and I cannot show my face in this plight in my
own city. My excellent father would have consoled me with his pity. But
now that I have carried him and my mother to Ganges,[75] every one will
turn against me; they will rejoice in my misfortunes, they will accuse
me of folly and recklessness--alas! alas! I am truly miserable.”

My dear master was deceived by the cunning of the wretch. He offered him
hospitality, which was readily enough accepted, and he entertained him
for some time as a guest. Then, having reason to be satisfied with his
conduct, Hemgupt admitted him to his secrets, and finally made him a
partner in his business. Briefly, the villain played his cards so well,
that at last the merchant said to himself:

“I have had for years an anxiety and a calamity in my house. My
neighbours whisper things to my disadvantage, and those who are bolder
speak out with astonishment amongst themselves, saying, ‘At seven or
eight, people marry their daughters, and this indeed is the appointment
of the law: that period is long since gone; she is now thirteen or
fourteen years old, and she is very tall and lusty, resembling a married
woman of thirty. How can her father eat his rice with comfort and sleep
with satisfaction, whilst such a disreputable thing exists in his
house? At present he is exposed to shame, and his deceased friends are
suffering through his retaining a girl from marriage beyond the period
which nature has prescribed.’ And now, while I am sitting quietly at
home, the Bhagwan (Deity) removes all my uneasiness: by his favour such
an opportunity occurs. It is not right to delay. It is best that I shall
give my daughter in marriage to him. Whatever can be done to-day is
best; who knows what may happen to-morrow?”

Thus thinking, the old man went to his wife and said to her, “Birth,
marriage, and death are all under the direction of the gods; can anyone
say when they will be ours? We want for our daughter a young man who is
of good birth, rich and handsome, clever and honourable. But we do not
find him. If the bridegroom be faulty, thou sayest, all will go wrong.
I cannot put a string round the neck of our daughter and throw her into
the ditch. If, however, thou think well of the merchant’s son, now my
partner, we will celebrate Ratnawati’s marriage with him.”

The wife, who had been won over by the hunchback’s hypocrisy, was also
pleased, and replied, “My lord! when the Deity so plainly indicates his
wish, we should do it; since, though we have sat quietly at home, the
desire of our hearts is accomplished. It is best that no delay be made:
and, having quickly summoned the family priest, and having fixed upon a
propitious planetary conjunction, that the marriage be celebrated.”

Then they called their daughter--ah, me! what a beautiful being she was,
and worthy the love of a Gandharva (demigod). Her long hair, purple with
the light of youth, was glossy as the bramra’s[76] wing; her brow was
pure and clear as the agate; the ocean-coral looked pale beside her
lips, and her teeth were as two chaplets of pearls. Everything in her
was formed to be loved. Who could look into her eyes without wishing
to do it again? Who could hear her voice without hoping that such music
would sound once more? And she was good as she was fair. Her father
adored her; her mother, though a middle-aged woman, was not envious or
jealous of her; her relatives doted on her, and her friends could
find no fault with her. I should never end were I to tell her precious
qualities. Alas, alas! my poor Ratnawati!

So saying, the jay wept abundant tears; then she resumed:

When her parents informed my mistress of their resolution, she replied,
“Sadhu-it is well!” She was not like most young women, who hate nothing
so much as a man whom their seniors order them to love. She bowed
her head and promised obedience, although, as she afterwards told
her mother, she could hardly look at her intended, on account of his
prodigious ugliness. But presently the hunchback’s wit surmounted her
disgust. She was grateful to him for his attention to her father and
mother; she esteemed him for his moral and religious conduct; she pitied
him for his misfortunes, and she finished with forgetting his face,
legs, and back in her admiration of what she supposed to be his mind.

She had vowed before marriage faithfully to perform all the duties of a
wife, however distasteful to her they might be; but after the nuptials,
which were not long deferred, she was not surprised to find that she
loved her husband. Not only did she omit to think of his features
and figure; I verily believe that she loved him the more for his
repulsiveness. Ugly, very ugly men prevail over women for two reasons.
Firstly, we begin with repugnance, which in the course of nature turns
to affection; and we all like the most that which, when unaccustomed to
it, we most disliked. Hence the poet says, with as much truth as is in
the male:

          Never despair, O man! when woman’s spite
          Detests thy name and sickens at thy sight:
          Sometime her heart shall learn to love thee more
          For the wild hatred which it felt before, &c.

Secondly, the very ugly man appears, deceitfully enough, to think little
of his appearance, and he will give himself the trouble to pursue
a heart because he knows that the heart will not follow after him.
Moreover, we women (said the jay) are by nature pitiful, and this our
enemies term a “strange perversity.” A widow is generally disconsolate
if she loses a little, wizen-faced, shrunken shanked, ugly, spiteful,
distempered thing that scolded her and quarrelled with her, and beat her
and made her hours bitter; whereas she will follow her husband to Ganges
with exemplary fortitude if he was brave, handsome, generous----

“Either hold your tongue or go on with your story,” cried the warrior
king, in whose mind these remarks awakened disagreeable family
reflections.

“Hi! hi! hi!” laughed the demon; “I will obey your majesty, and make
Madan-manjari, the misanthropical jay, proceed.”

Yes, she loved the hunchback; and how wonderful is our love! quoth the
jay. A light from heaven which rains happiness on this dull, dark earth!
A spell falling upon the spirit, which reminds us of a higher existence!
A memory of bliss! A present delight! An earnest of future felicity!
It makes hideousness beautiful and stupidity clever, old age young and
wickedness good, moroseness amiable, and low-mindedness magnanimous,
perversity pretty and vulgarity piquant. Truly it is sovereign alchemy
and excellent flux for blending contradictions is our love, exclaimed
the jay.

And so saying, she cast a triumphant look at the parrot, who only
remarked that he could have desired a little more originality in her
remarks.

For some months (resumed Madan-manjari), the bride and the bridegroom
lived happily together in Hemgupt’s house. But it is said:

          Never yet did the tiger become a lamb;

and the hunchback felt that the edge of his passions again wanted
blunting. He reflected, “Wisdom is exemption from attachment, and
affection for children, wife, and home.” Then he thus addressed my poor
young mistress:

“I have been now in thy country some years, and I have heard no tidings
of my own family, hence my mind is sad, I have told thee everything
about myself; thou must now ask thy mother leave for me to go to my own
city, and, if thou wishest, thou mayest go with me.”

Ratnawati lost no time in saying to her mother, “My husband wishes to
visit his own country; will you so arrange that he may not be pained
about this matter?”

The mother went to her husband, and said, “Your son-in-law desires leave
to go to his own country.”

Hemgupt replied, “Very well; we will grant him leave. One has no power
over another man’s son. We will do what he wishes.”

The parents then called their daughter, and asked her to tell them her
real desire-whether she would go to her father-in-law’s house, or would
remain in her mother’s home. She was abashed at this question, and could
not answer; but she went back to her husband, and said, “As my father
and mother have declared that you should do as you like, do not leave me
behind.”

Presently the merchant summoned his son-in-law, and having bestowed
great wealth upon him, allowed him to depart. He also bade his daughter
farewell, after giving her a palanquin and a female slave. And the
parents took leave of them with wailing and bitter tears; their hearts
were like to break. And so was mine.

For some days the hunchback travelled quietly along with his wife, in
deep thought. He could not take her to his city, where she would find
out his evil life, and the fraud which he had passed upon her father.
Besides which, although he wanted her money, he by no means wanted her
company for life. After turning on many projects in his evil-begotten
mind, he hit upon the following:

He dismissed the palanquin-bearers when halting at a little shed in the
thick jungle through which they were travelling, and said to his wife,
“This is a place of danger; give me thy jewels, and I will hide them in
my waist-shawl. When thou reachest the city thou canst wear them again.”
 She then gave up to him all her ornaments, which were of great value.
Thereupon he inveigled the slave girl into the depths of the forest,
where he murdered her, and left her body to be devoured by wild beasts.
Lastly, returning to my poor mistress, he induced her to leave the hut
with him, and pushed her by force into a dry well, after which exploit
he set out alone with his ill-gotten wealth, walking towards his own
city.

In the meantime, a wayfaring man, who was passing through that jungle,
hearing the sound of weeping, stood still, and began to say to himself,
“How came to my ears the voice of a mortal’s grief in this wild wood?”
 then followed the direction of the noise, which led him a pit, and
peeping over the side, he saw a woman crying at the bottom. The
traveller at once loosened his gird cloth, knotted it to his turband,
and letting down the line pulled out the poor bride. He asked her who
she was and how she came to fall into that well. She replied, “I am the
daughter of Hemgupt, the wealthiest merchant in the city of Chandrapur;
and I was journeying with my husband to his own country, when robbers
set upon us and surrounded us. They slew my slave girl, the threw me
into a well, and having bound my husband they took him away, together
with my jewels. I have no tidings of him, nor he of me.” And so saying,
she burst into tears and lamentations.

The wayfaring man believed her tale, and conducted her to her home,
where she gave the same account of the accident which had befallen her,
ending with, “beyond this, I know not if they have killed my husband, or
have let him go.” The father thus soothed her grief “Daughter! have no
anxiety; thy husband is alive, and by the will of the Deity he will come
to thee in a few days. Thieves take men’s money, not their lives.” Then
the parents presented her with ornaments more precious than those which
she had lost; and summoning their relations and friends, they comforted
her to the best of their power.

And so did I. The wicked hunchback had, meanwhile, returned to his own
city, where he was excellently well received, because he brought much
wealth with him. His old associates flocked around him rejoicing; and he
fell into the same courses which had beggared him before. Gambling and
debauchery soon blunted his passions, and emptied his purse. Again his
boon companions, finding him without a broken cowrie, drove him from
their doors, he stole and was flogged for theft; and lastly, half
famished, he fled the city. Then he said to himself, “I must go to my
father-in-law, and make the excuse that a grandson has been born to him,
and that I have come to offer him congratulations on the event.”

Imagine, however, his fears and astonishment, when, as he entered the
house, his wife stood before him. At first he thought it was a ghost,
and turned to run away, but she went out to him and said, “Husband,
be not troubled! I have told my father that thieves came upon us, and
killed the slave girl and robbed me and threw me into a well, and bound
thee and carried thee off. Tell the same story, and put away all anxious
feelings. Come up and change thy tattered garments-alas! some misfortune
hath befallen thee. But console thyself; all is now well, since thou
art returned to me, and fear not, for the house is thine, and I am thy
slave.”

The wretch, with all his hardness of heart, could scarcely refrain from
tears. He followed his wife to her room, where she washed his feet,
caused him to bathe, dressed him in new clothes, and placed food before
him. When her parents returned, she presented him to their embrace,
saying in a glad way, “Rejoice with me, O my father and mother! the
robbers have at length allowed him to come back to us.” Of course the
parents were deceived, they are mostly a purblind race; and Hemgupt,
showing great favour to his worthless son-in-law, exclaimed, “Remain
with us, my son, and be happy!”

For two or three months the hunchback lived quietly with his wife,
treating her kindly and even affectionately. But this did not last long.
He made acquaintance with a band of thieves, and arranged his plans with
them.

After a time, his wife one night came to sleep by his side, having put
on all her jewels. At midnight, when he saw that she was fast asleep,
he struck her with a knife so that she died. Then he admitted his
accomplices, who savagely murdered Hemgupt and his wife; and with their
assistance he carried off any valuable article upon which he could lay
his hands. The ferocious wretch! As he passed my cage he looked at it,
and thought whether he had time to wring my neck. The barking of a dog
saved my life; but my mistress, my poor Ratnawati-ah, me! ah, me!--

“Queen,” said the jay, in deepest grief, “all this have I seen with mine
own eyes, and have heard with mine own ears. It affected me in early
life, and gave me a dislike for the society of the other sex. With due
respect to you, I have resolved to remain an old maid. Let your majesty
reflect, what crime had my poor mistress committed? A male is of the
same disposition as a highway robber; and she who forms friendship with
such an one, cradles upon her bosom a black and venomous snake.”

“Sir Parrot,” said the jay, turning to her wooer, “I have spoken. I
have nothing more to say, but that you he-things are all a treacherous,
selfish, wicked race, created for the express purpose of working our
worldly woe, and--”

“When a female, O my king, asserts that she has nothing more to say,
but,” broke in Churaman, the parrot with a loud dogmatical voice, “I
know that what she has said merely whets her tongue for what she is
about to say. This person has surely spoken long enough and drearily
enough.”

“Tell me, then, O parrot,” said the king, “what faults there may be in
the other sex.”

“I will relate,” quoth Churaman, “an occurrence which in my early youth
determined me to live and to die an old bachelor.”

When quite a young bird, and before my schooling began, I was caught
in the land of Malaya, and was sold to a very rich merchant called
Sagardati, a widower with one daughter, the lady Jayashri. As her father
spent all his days and half his nights in his counting-house, conning
his ledgers and scolding his writers, that young woman had more liberty
than is generally allowed to those of her age, and a mighty bad use she
made of it.

O king! men commit two capital mistakes in rearing the “domestic
calamity,” and these are over-vigilance and under-vigilance. Some
parents never lose sight of their daughters, suspect them of all evil
intentions, and are silly enough to show their suspicions, which is an
incentive to evil-doing. For the weak-minded things do naturally say,
“I will be wicked at once. What do I now but suffer all the pains and
penalties of badness, without enjoying its pleasures?” And so they are
guilty of many evil actions; for, however vigilant fathers and mothers
may be, the daughter can always blind their eyes.

On the other hand, many parents take no trouble whatever with their
charges: they allow them to sit in idleness, the origin of badness; they
permit them to communicate with the wicked, and they give them liberty
which breeds opportunity. Thus they also, falling into the snares of the
unrighteous, who are ever a more painstaking race than the righteous,
are guilty of many evil actions.

What, then, must wise parents do? The wise will study the characters of
their children, and modify their treatment accordingly. If a daughter be
naturally good, she will be treated with a prudent confidence. If she
be vicious, an apparent trust will be reposed in her; but her father and
mother will secretly ever be upon their guard. The one-idea’d--

“All this parrot-prate, I suppose, is only intended to vex me,” cried
the warrior king, who always considered himself, and very naturally, a
person of such consequence as ever to be uppermost in the thoughts and
minds of others. “If thou must tell a tale, then tell one, Vampire! or
else be silent, as I am sick to the death of thy psychics.”

“It is well, O warrior king,” resumed the Baital.

After that Churaman the parrot had given the young Raja Ram a golden
mine full of good advice about the management of daughters, he proceeded
to describe Jayashri.

She was tall, stout, and well made, of lymphatic temperament, and yet
strong passions. Her fine large eyes had heavy and rather full eyelids,
which are to be avoided. Her hands were symmetrical without being small,
and the palms were ever warm and damp. Though her lips were good, her
mouth was somewhat underhung; and her voice was so deep, that at times
it sounded like that of a man. Her hair was smooth as the kokila’s
plume, and her complexion was that of the young jasmine; and these were
the points at which most persons looked. Altogether, she was neither
handsome nor ugly, which is an excellent thing in woman. Sita the
goddess[77] was lovely to excess; therefore she was carried away by a
demon. Raja Bali was exceedingly generous, and he emptied his treasury.
In this way, exaggeration, even of good, is exceedingly bad.

Yet must I confess, continued the parrot, that, as a rule, the beautiful
woman is more virtuous than the ugly. The former is often tempted, but
her vanity and conceit enable her to resist, by the self-promise that
she shall be tempted again and again. On the other hand, the ugly woman
must tempt instead of being tempted, and she must yield, because her
vanity and conceit are gratified by yielding, not by resisting.

“Ho, there!” broke in the jay contemptuously. “What woman cannot win the
hearts of the silly things called men? Is it not said that a pig-faced
female who dwells in Landanpur has a lover?”

I was about to remark, my king! said the parrot, somewhat nettled, if
the aged virgin had not interrupted me, that as ugly women are more
vicious than handsome women, so they are most successful. “We love the
pretty, we adore the plain,” is a true saying amongst the worldly
wise. And why do we adore the plain? Because they seem to think less of
themselves than of us-a vital condition of adoration.

Jayashri made some conquests by the portion of good looks which she
possessed, more by her impudence, and most by her father’s reputation
for riches. She was truly shameless, and never allowed herself fewer
than half a dozen admirers at the time. Her chief amusement was to
appoint interviews with them successively, at intervals so short that
she was obliged to hurry away one in order to make room for another. And
when a lover happened to be jealous, or ventured in any way to criticize
her arrangements, she replied at once by showing him the door. Answer
unanswerable!

When Jayashri had reached the ripe age of thirteen, the son of a
merchant, who was her father’s gossip and neighbour, returned home after
a long sojourn in far lands, whither he had travelled in the search of
wealth. The poor wretch, whose name, by-the-bye, was Shridat (Gift of
Fortune), had loved her in her childhood; and he came back, as men
are apt to do after absence from familiar scenes, painfully full of
affection for house and home and all belonging to it. From his cross,
stingy old uncle to the snarling superannuated beast of a watchdog, he
viewed all with eyes of love and melting heart. He could not see that
his idol was greatly changed, and nowise for the better; that her nose
was broader and more club-like, her eyelids fatter and thicker, her
under lip more prominent, her voice harsher, and her manner coarser. He
did not notice that she was an adept in judging of men’s dress, and that
she looked with admiration upon all swordsmen, especially upon those
who fought upon horses and elephants. The charm of memory, the
curious faculty of making past time present caused all he viewed to be
enchanting to him.

Having obtained her father’s permission, Shridat applied for betrothal
to Jayashri, who with peculiar boldness, had resolved that no suitor
should come to her through her parent. And she, after leading him on by
all the coquetries of which she was a mistress, refused to marry him,
saying that she liked him as a friend, but would hate him as a husband.

You see, my king! there are three several states of feeling with which
women regard their masters, and these are love, hate, and indifference.
Of all, love is the weakest and the most transient, because the
essentially unstable creatures naturally fall out of it as readily as
they fall into it. Hate being a sister excitement will easily become,
if a man has wit enough to effect the change, love; and hate-love
may perhaps last a little longer than love-love. Also, man has the
occupation, the excitement, and the pleasure of bringing about the
change. As regards the neutral state, that poet was not happy in his
ideas who sang--

               Whene’er indifference appears, or scorn,
               Then, man, despair! then, hapless lover, mourn!

For a man versed in the Lila Shastra[78] can soon turn a woman’s
indifference into hate, which I have shown is as easily permuted to
love. In which predicament it is the old thing over again, and it ends
in the pure Asat[79] or nonentity.

“Which of these two birds, the jay or the parrot, had dipped deeper into
human nature, mighty King Vikram?” asked the demon in a wheedling tone
of voice.

The trap was this time set too openly, even for the royal personage,
to fall into it. He hurried on, calling to his son, and not answering a
word. The Vampire therefore resumed the thread of his story at the place
where he had broken it off.

Shridat was in despair when he heard the resolve of his idol. He thought
of drowning himself, of throwing himself down from the summit of Mount
Girnar,[80] of becoming a religious beggar; in short, of a multitude
of follies. But he refrained from all such heroic remedies for despair,
having rightly judged, when he became somewhat calmer, that they would
not be likely to further his suit. He discovered that patience is
a virtue, and he resolved impatiently enough to practice it. And by
perseverance he succeeded. The worse for him! How vain are men to wish!
How wise is the Deity, who is deaf to their wishes!

Jayashri, for potent reasons best known to herself, was married to
Shridat six months after his return home. He was in raptures. He called
himself the happiest man in existence. He thanked and sacrificed to the
Bhagwan for listening to his prayers. He recalled to mind with thrilling
heart the long years which he had spent in hopeless exile from all that
was dear to him, his sadness and anxiety, his hopes and joys, his toils
and troubles his loyal love and his vows to Heaven for the happiness of
his idol, and for the furtherance of his fondest desires.

For truly he loved her, continued the parrot, and there is something
holy in such love. It becomes not only a faith, but the best of
faiths-an abnegation of self which emancipates the spirit from its
straightest and earthliest bondage, the “I”; the first step in the
regions of heaven; a homage rendered through the creature to the
Creator; a devotion solid, practical, ardent, not as worship mostly is,
a cold and lifeless abstraction; a merging of human nature into one far
nobler and higher the spiritual existence of the supernal world. For
perfect love is perfect happiness, and the only perfection of man; and
what is a demon but a being without love? And what makes man’s love
truly divine, is the fact that it is bestowed upon such a thing as
woman.

“And now, Raja Vikram,” said the Vampire, speaking in his proper person,
“I have given you Madanmanjari the jay’s and Churaman the parrot’s
definitions of the tender passion, or rather their descriptions of its
effects. Kindly observe that I am far from accepting either one or the
other. Love is, according to me, somewhat akin to mania, a temporary
condition of selfishness, a transient confusion of identity. It enables
man to predicate of others who are his other selves, that which he is
ashamed to say about his real self. I will suppose the beloved object to
be ugly, stupid, vicious, perverse, selfish, low minded, or the reverse;
man finds it charming by the same rule that makes his faults and foibles
dearer to him than all the virtues and good qualities of his neighbours.
Ye call love a spell, an alchemy, a deity. Why? Because it deifies self
by gratifying all man’s pride, man’s vanity, and man’s conceit, under
the mask of complete unegotism. Who is not in heaven when he is talking
of himself? and, prithee, of what else consists all the talk of lovers?”

It is astonishing that the warrior king allowed this speech to last
as long as it did. He hated nothing so fiercely, now that he was in
middle-age, as any long mention of the “handsome god.[81]” Having vainly
endeavoured to stop by angry mutterings the course of the Baital’s
eloquence, he stepped out so vigorously and so rudely shook that
inveterate talker, that the latter once or twice nearly bit off the tip
of his tongue. Then the Vampire became silent, and Vikram relapsed into
a walk which allowed the tale to be resumed.

Jayashri immediately conceived a strong dislike for her husband, and
simultaneously a fierce affection for a reprobate who before had been
indifferent to her. The more lovingly Shridat behaved to her, the more
vexed end annoyed she was. When her friends talked to her, she turned up
her nose, raising her eyebrows (in token of displeasure), and remained
silent. When her husband spoke words of affection to her, she found them
disagreeable, and turning away her face, reclined on the bed. Then he
brought dresses and ornaments of various kinds and presented them to
her, saying, “Wear these.” Whereupon she would become more angry,
knit her brows, turn her face away, and in an audible whisper call him
“fool.” All day she stayed out of the house, saying to her companions,
“Sisters, my youth is passing away, and I have not, up to the present
time, tasted any of this world’s pleasures.” Then she would ascend to
the balcony, peep through the lattice, and seeing the reprobate going
along, she would cry to her friend, “Bring that person to me.” All night
she tossed and turned from side to side, reflecting in her heart, “I
am puzzled in my mind what I shall say, and whither I shall go. I have
forgotten sleep, hunger, and thirst; neither heat nor cold is refreshing
to me.”

At last, unable any longer to support the separation from her reprobate
paramour, whom she adored, she resolved to fly with him. On one
occasion, when she thought that her husband was fast asleep, she rose up
quietly, and leaving him, made her way fearlessly in the dark night
to her lover’s abode. A footpad, who saw her on the way, thought to
himself, “Where can this woman, clothed in jewels, be going alone at
midnight?” And thus he followed her unseen, and watched her.

When Jayashri reached the intended place, she went into the house, and
found her lover lying at the door. He was dead, having been stabbed by
the footpad; but she, thinking that he had, according to custom, drunk
intoxicating hemp, sat upon the floor, and raising his head, placed it
tenderly in her lap. Then, burning with the fire of separation from
him, she began to kiss his cheeks, and to fondle and caress him with the
utmost freedom and affection.

By chance a Pisach (evil spirit) was seated in a large fig-tree[82]
opposite the house, and it occurred to him, when beholding this scene,
that he might amuse himself in a characteristic way. He therefore hopped
down from his branch, vivified the body, and began to return the woman’s
caresses. But as Jayashri bent down to kiss his lips, he caught the end
of her nose in his teeth, and bit it clean off. He then issued from the
corpse, and returned to the branch where he had been sitting.

Jayashri was in despair. She did not, however, lose her presence of
mind, but sat down and proceeded to take thought; and when she had
matured her plan she arose, dripping with blood, and walked straight
home to her husband’s house. On entering his room she clapped her hand
to her nose, and began to gnash her teeth, and to shriek so violently,
that all the members of the family were alarmed. The neighbours also
collected in numbers at the door, and, as it was bolted inside, they
broke it open and rushed in, carrying lights. There they saw the
wife sitting upon the ground with her face mutilated, and the husband
standing over her, apparently trying to appease her.

“O ignorant, criminal, shameless, pitiless wretch!” cried the people,
especially the women; “why hast thou cut off her nose, she not having
offended in any way?”

Poor Shridat, seeing at once the trick which had been played upon him,
thought to himself: “One should put no confidence in a changeful mind, a
black serpent, or an armed enemy, and one should dread a woman’s doings.
What cannot a poet describe? What is there that a saint (jogi) does not
know? What nonsense will not a drunken man talk? What limit is there to
a woman’s guile? True it is that the gods know nothing of the defects of
a horse, of the thundering of clouds, of a woman’s deeds, or of a man’s
future fortunes. How then can we know?” He could do nothing but weep,
and swear by the herb basil, by his cattle, by his grain, by a piece of
gold, and by all that is holy, that he had not committed the crime.

In the meanwhile, the old merchant, Jayashri’s father, ran off, and laid
a complaint before the kotwal, and the footmen of the police magistrate
were immediately sent to apprehend the husband, and to carry him bound
before the judge. The latter, after due examination, laid the affair
before the king. An example happening to be necessary at the time, the
king resolved to punish the offence with severity, and he summoned the
husband and wife to the court.

When the merchant’s daughter was asked to give an account of what had
happened, she pointed out the state of her nose, and said, “Maharaj! why
inquire of me concerning what is so manifest?” The king then turned to
the husband, and bade him state his defence. He said, “I know nothing of
it,” and in the face of the strongest evidence he persisted in denying
his guilt.

Thereupon the king, who had vainly threatened to cut off Shridat’s
right hand, infuriated by his refusing to confess and to beg for
mercy, exclaimed, “How must I punish such a wretch as thou art?” The
unfortunate man answered, “Whatever your majesty may consider just, that
be pleased to do.” Thereupon the king cried, “Away with him, and impale
him”; and the people, hearing the command, prepared to obey it.

Before Shridat had left the court, the footpad, who had been looking
on, and who saw that an innocent man was about to be unjustly punished,
raised a cry for justice and, pushing through the crowd, resolved to
make himself heard. He thus addressed the throne: “Great king, the
cherishing of the good, and the punishment of the bad, is the invariable
duty of kings.” The ruler having caused him to approach, asked him who
he was, and he replied boldly, “Maharaj! I am a thief, and this man is
innocent and his blood is about to be shed unjustly. Your majesty has
not done what is right in this affair.” Thereupon the king charged
him to tell the truth according to his religion; and the thief related
explicitly the whole circumstances, omitting of course, the murder.

“Go ye,” said the king to his messengers, “and look in the mouth of the
woman’s lover who has fallen dead. If the nose be there found, then has
this thief-witness told the truth, and the husband is a guiltless man.”

The nose was presently produced in court, and Shridat escaped the stake.
The king caused the wicked Jayashri’s face to be smeared with oily soot,
and her head and eyebrows to be shaved; thus blackened and disfigured,
she was mounted upon a little ragged-limbed ass and was led around the
market and the streets, after which she was banished for ever from the
city. The husband and the thief were then dismissed with betel and other
gifts, together with much sage advice which neither of them wanted.

“My king,” resumed the misogyne parrot, “of such excellencies as these
are women composed. It is said that ‘wet cloth will extinguish fire and
bad food will destroy strength; a degenerate son ruins a family,
and when a friend is in wrath he takes away life. But a woman is an
inflicter of grief in love and in hate, whatever she does turns out to
be for our ill. Truly the Deity has created woman a strange being in
this world.’ And again, ‘The beauty of the nightingale is its song,
science is the beauty of an ugly man, forgiveness is the beauty of a
devotee, and the beauty of a woman is virtue-but where shall we find
it?’ And again, ‘Among the sages, Narudu; among the beasts, the jackal;
among the birds, the crow; among men, the barber; and in this world
woman-is the most crafty.’

“What I have told thee, my king, I have seen with mine own eyes, and I
have heard with mine own ears. At the time I was young, but the event
so affected me that I have ever since held female kind to be a walking
pest, a two-legged plague, whose mission on earth, like flies and other
vermin, is only to prevent our being too happy. O, why do not children
and young parrots sprout in crops from the ground-from budding trees or
vinestocks?”

“I was thinking, sire,” said the young Dharma Dhwaj to the warrior king
his father, “what women would say of us if they could compose Sanskrit
verses!”

“Then keep your thoughts to yourself,” replied the Raja, nettled at his
son daring to say a word in favour of the sex. “You always take the part
of wickedness and depravity---”

“Permit me, your majesty,” interrupted the Baital, “to conclude my
tale.”

When Madan-manjari, the jay, and Churaman, the parrot, had given these
illustrations of their belief, they began to wrangle, and words ran
high. The former insisted that females are the salt of the earth,
speaking, I presume, figuratively. The latter went so far as to assert
that the opposite sex have no souls, and that their brains are in a
rudimental and inchoate state of development. Thereupon he was tartly
taken to task by his master’s bride, the beautiful Chandravati, who told
him that those only have a bad opinion of women who have associated with
none but the vicious and the low, and that he should be ashamed to abuse
feminine parrots, because his mother had been one.

This was truly logical.

On the other hand, the jay was sternly reproved for her mutinous and
treasonable assertions by the husband of her mistress, Raja Ram, who,
although still a bridegroom, had not forgotten the gallant rule of his
syntax--

               The masculine is more worthy than the feminine;

till Madan-manjari burst into tears and declared that her life was not
worth having. And Raja Ram looked at her as if he could have wrung her
neck.

In short, Raja Vikram, all the four lost their tempers, and with them
what little wits they had. Two of them were but birds, and the others
seem not to have been much better, being young, ignorant, inexperienced,
and lately married. How then could they decide so difficult a question
as that of the relative wickedness and villany of men and women? Had
your majesty been there, the knot of uncertainty would soon have been
undone by the trenchant edge of your wit and wisdom, your knowledge and
experience. You have, of course, long since made up your mind upon the
subject?

Dharma Dhwaj would have prevented his father’s reply. But the youth had
been twice reprehended in the course of this tale, and he thought it
wisest to let things take their own way.

“Women,” quoth the Raja, oracularly, “are worse than we are; a man,
however depraved he may be, ever retains some notion of right and wrong,
but a woman does not. She has no such regard whatever.”

“The beautiful Bangalah Rani for instance?” said the Baital, with a
demonaic sneer.

At the mention of a word, the uttering of which was punishable by
extirpation of the tongue, Raja Vikram’s brain whirled with rage. He
staggered in the violence of his passion, and putting forth both hands
to break his fall, he dropped the bundle from his back. Then the Baital,
disentangling himself and laughing lustily, ran off towards the tree as
fast as his thin brown legs would carry him. But his activity availed
him little.

The king, puffing with fury, followed him at the top of his speed, and
caught him by his tail before he reached the siras-tree, hurled him
backwards with force, put foot upon his chest, and after shaking out the
cloth, rolled him up in it with extreme violence, bumped his back half
a dozen times against the stony ground, and finally, with a jerk, threw
him on his shoulder, as he had done before.

The young prince, afraid to accompany his father whilst he was pursuing
the fiend, followed slowly in the rear, and did not join him for some
minutes.

But when matters were in their normal state, the Vampire, who had
endured with exemplary patience the penalty of his impudence, began in
honeyed accents,

“Listen, O warrior king, whilst thy servant recounts unto thee another
true tale.”



THE VAMPIRE’S THIRD STORY -- Of a High-minded Family.

In the venerable city of Bardwan, O warrior king! (quoth the Vampire)
during the reign of the mighty Rupsen, flourished one Rajeshwar, a
Rajput warrior of distinguished fame. By his valour and conduct he had
risen from the lowest ranks of the army to command it as its captain.
And arrived at that dignity, he did not put a stop to all improvements,
like other chiefs, who rejoice to rest and return thanks. On the
contrary, he became such a reformer that, to some extent, he remodelled
the art of war.

Instead of attending to rules and regulations, drawn up in their studies
by pandits and Brahmans, he consulted chiefly his own experience and
judgment. He threw aside the systematic plans of campaigns laid down in
the Shastras or books of the ancients, and he acted upon the spur of
the moment. He displayed a skill in the choice of ground, in the use of
light troops, and in securing his own supplies whilst he cut off those
of the enemy, which Kartikaya himself, God of War, might have envied.
Finding that the bows of his troops were clumsy and slow to use, he had
them all changed before compelled so to do by defeat; he also gave his
attention to the sword handles, which cramped the men’s grasp but which
having been used for eighteen hundred years were considered perfect
weapons. And having organized a special corps of warriors using fire
arrows, he soon brought it to such perfection that, by using it against
the elephants of his enemies, he gained many a campaign.

One instance of his superior judgment I am about to quote to thee, O
Vikram, after which I return to my tale; for thou art truly a warrior
king, very likely to imitate the innovations of the great general
Rajeshwar.

(A grunt from the monarch was the result of the Vampire’s sneer.)

He found his master’s armies recruited from Northern Hindustan, and
officered by Kshatriya warriors, who grew great only because they grew
old and--fat. Thus the energy and talent of the younger men were wasted
in troubles and disorders; whilst the seniors were often so ancient
that they could not mount their chargers unaided, nor, when they were
mounted, could they see anything a dozen yards before them. But they
had served in a certain obsolete campaign, and until Rajeshwar gave them
pensions and dismissals, they claimed a right to take first part in all
campaigns present and future. The commander-in-chief refused to use any
captain who could not stand steady on his legs, or endure the sun for a
whole day. When a soldier distinguished himself in action, he raised him
to the powers and privileges of the warrior caste. And whereas it had
been the habit to lavish circles and bars of silver and other metals
upon all those who had joined in the war, whether they had sat behind
a heap of sand or had been foremost to attack the foe, he broke through
the pernicious custom, and he rendered the honour valuable by conferring
it only upon the deserving. I need hardly say that, in an inordinately
short space of time, his army beat every king and general that opposed
it.

One day the great commander-in-chief was seated in a certain room near
the threshold of his gate, when the voices of a number of people outside
were heard. Rajeshwar asked, “Who is at the door, and what is the
meaning of the noise I hear?” The porter replied, “It is a fine thing
your honour has asked. Many persons come sitting at the door of the rich
for the purpose of obtaining a livelihood and wealth. When they meet
together they talk of various things: it is these very people who are
now making this noise.”

Rajeshwar, on hearing this, remained silent.

In the meantime a traveller, a Rajput, Birbal by name, hoping to obtain
employment, came from the southern quarter to the palace of the chief.
The porter having listened to his story, made the circumstance known to
his master, saying, “O chief! an armed man has arrived here, hoping to
obtain employment, and is standing at the door. If I receive a command
he shall be brought into your honour’s presence.”

“Bring him in,” cried the commander-in-chief.

The porter brought him in, and Rajeshwar inquired, “O Rajput, who and
what art thou?”

Birbal submitted that he was a person of distinguished fame for the use
of weapons, and that his name for fidelity and valour had gone forth to
the utmost ends of Bharat-Kandha.[83]

The chief was well accustomed to this style of self introduction, and
its only effect upon his mind was a wish to shame the man by showing him
that he had not the least knowledge of weapons. He therefore bade him
bare his blade and perform some feat.

Birbal at once drew his good sword. Guessing the thoughts which were
hovering about the chief’s mind, he put forth his left hand, extending
the forefinger upwards, waved his blade like the arm of a demon round
his head, and, with a dexterous stroke, so shaved off a bit of nail
that it fell to the ground, and not a drop of blood appeared upon the
finger-tip.

“Live for ever!” exclaimed Rajeshwar in admiration. He then addressed
to the recruit a few questions concerning the art of war, or rather
concerning his peculiar views of it. To all of which Birbal answered
with a spirit and a judgment which convinced the hearer that he was no
common sworder.

Whereupon Rajeshwar bore off the new man at arms to the palace of the
king Rupsen, and recommended that he should be engaged without delay.

The king, being a man of few words and many ideas, after hearing his
commander-in-chief, asked, “O Rajput, what shall I give thee for thy
daily expenditure?”

“Give me a thousand ounces of gold daily,” said Birbal, “and then I
shall have wherewithal to live on.”

“Hast thou an army with thee?” exclaimed the king in the greatest
astonishment.

“I have not,” responded the Rajput somewhat stiffly. “I have first,
a wife; second, a son; third, a daughter; fourth, myself; there is no
fifth person with me.”

All the people of the court on hearing this turned aside their heads to
laugh, and even the women, who were peeping at the scene, covered their
mouths with their veils. The Rajput was then dismissed the presence.

It is, however, noticeable amongst you humans, that the world often
takes you at your own valuation. Set a high price upon yourselves,
and each man shall say to his neighbour, “In this man there must be
something.” Tell everyone that you are brave, clever, generous, or even
handsome, and after a time they will begin to believe you. And when thus
you have attained success, it will be harder to unconvince them than it
was to convince them. Thus---

“Listen not to him, sirrah,” cried Raja Vikram to Dharma Dhwaj, the
young prince, who had fallen a little way behind, and was giving ear
attentively to the Vampire’s ethics. “Listen to him not. And tell me,
villain, with these ignoble principles of thine, what will become of
modesty, humility, self-sacrifice, and a host of other Guna or good
qualities which--which are good qualities?”

“I know not,” rejoined the Baital, “neither do I care. But my habitually
inspiriting a succession of human bodies has taught me one fact. The
wise man knows himself, and is, therefore, neither unduly humble nor
elated, because he had no more to do with making himself than with the
cut of his cloak, or with the fitness of his loin-cloth. But the fool
either loses his head by comparing himself with still greater fools, or
is prostrated when he finds himself inferior to other and lesser fools.
This shyness he calls modesty, humility, and so forth. Now, whenever
entering a corpse, whether it be of man, woman, or child, I feel
peculiarly modest; I know that my tenement lately belonged to some
conceited ass. And--”

“Wouldst thou have me bump thy back against the ground?” asked Raja
Vikram angrily.

(The Baital muttered some reply scarcely intelligible about his having
this time stumbled upon a metaphysical thread of ideas, and then
continued his story.)

Now Rupsen, the king, began by inquiring of himself why the Rajput had
rated his services so highly. Then he reflected that if this recruit
had asked so much money, it must have been for some reason which would
afterwards become apparent. Next, he hoped that if he gave him so much,
his generosity might some day turn out to his own advantage. Finally,
with this idea in his mind, he summoned Birbal and the steward of his
household, and said to the latter, “Give this Rajput a thousand ounces
of gold daily from our treasury.”

It is related that Birbal made the best possible use of his wealth.
He used every morning to divide it into two portions, one of which was
distributed to Brahmans and Parohitas.[84] Of the remaining moiety,
having made two parts, he gave one as alms to pilgrims, to Bairagis
or Vishnu’s mendicants, and to Sanyasis or worshippers of Shiva, whose
bodies, smeared with ashes, were hardly covered with a narrow cotton
cloth and a rope about their loins, and whose heads of artificial hair,
clotted like a rope, besieged his gate. With the remaining fourth,
having caused food to be prepared, he regaled the poor, while he himself
and his family ate what was left. Every evening, arming himself with
sword and buckler, he took up his position as guard at the royal
bedside, and walked round it all night sword in hand. If the king
chanced to wake and asked who was present, Birbal immediately gave reply
that “Birbal is here; whatever command you give, that he will obey.” And
oftentimes Rupsen gave him unusual commands, for it is said, “To try thy
servant, bid him do things in season and out of season: if he obey thee
willingly, know him to be useful; if he reply, dismiss him at once. Thus
is a servant tried, even as a wife by the poverty of her husband, and
brethren and friends by asking their aid.”

In such manner, through desire of money, Birbal remained on guard
all night; and whether eating, drinking, sleeping, sitting, going or
wandering about, during the twenty-four hours, he held his master in
watchful remembrance. This, indeed, is the custom; if a man sell another
the latter is sold, but a servant by doing service sells himself, and
when a man has become dependent, how can he be happy? Certain it is that
however intelligent, clever, or learned a man may be, yet, while he is
in his master’s presence, he remains silent as a dumb man, and struck
with dread. Only while he is away from his lord can he be at ease.
Hence, learned men say that to do service aright is harder than any
religious study.

On one occasion it is related that there happened to be heard at
night-time the wailing of a woman in a neighbouring cemetery. The king
on hearing it called out, “Who is in waiting?”

“I am here,” replied Birbal; “what command is there?”

“Go,” spoke the king, “to the place whence proceeds this sound of
woman’s wail, and having inquired the cause of her grief, return
quickly.”

On receiving this order the Rajput went to obey it; and the king,
unseen by him, and attired in a black dress, followed for the purpose of
observing his courage.

Presently Birbal arrived at the cemetery. And what sees he there? A
beautiful woman of a light yellow colour, loaded with jewels from head
to foot, holding a horn in her right and a necklace in her left hand.
Sometimes she danced, sometimes she jumped, and sometimes she ran
about. There was not a tear in her eye, but beating her head and making
lamentable cries, she kept dashing herself on the ground.

Seeing her condition, and not recognizing the goddess born of sea foam,
and whom all the host of heaven loved,[85] Birbal inquired, “Why art
thou thus beating thyself and crying out? Who art thou? And what grief
is upon thee?”

“I am the Royal-Luck,” she replied.

“For what reason,” asked Birbal, “art thou weeping?”

The goddess then began to relate her position to the Rajput. She said,
with tears, “In the king’s palace Shudra (or low caste acts) are done,
and hence misfortune will certainly fall upon it, and I shall forsake
it. After a month has passed, the king, having endured excessive
affliction, will die. In grief for this, I weep. I have brought much
happiness to the king’s house, and hence I am full of regret that this
my prediction cannot in any way prove untrue.”

“Is there,” asked Birbal, “any remedy for this trouble, so that the king
may be preserved and live a hundred years?”

“Yes,” said the goddess, “there is. About eight miles to the east thou
wilt find a temple dedicated to my terrible sister Devi. Offer to her
thy son’s head, cut off with thine own hand, and the reign of thy king
shall endure for an age.” So saying Raj-Lakshmi disappeared.

Birbal answered not a word, but with hurried steps he turned towards
his home. The king, still in black so as not to be seen, followed him
closely, and observed and listened to everything he did.

The Rajput went straight to his wife, awakened her, and related to her
everything that had happened. The wise have said, “she alone deserves
the name of wife who always receives her husband with affectionate and
submissive words.” When she heard the circumstances, she at once aroused
her son, and her daughter also awoke. Then Birbal told them all that
they must follow him to the temple of Devi in the wood.

On the way the Rajput said to his wife, “If thou wilt give up thy
son willingly, I will sacrifice him for our master’s sake to Devi the
Destroyer.”

She replied, “Father and mother, son and daughter, brother and relative,
have I now none. You are everything to me. It is written in the
scripture that a wife is not made pure by gifts to priests, nor by
performing religious rites; her virtue consists in waiting upon her
husband, in obeying him and in loving him--yea! though he be lame,
maimed in the hands, dumb, deaf, blind, one eyed, leprous, or
humpbacked. It is a true saying that ‘a son under one’s authority, a
body free from sickness, a desire to acquire knowledge, an intelligent
friend, and an obedient wife; whoever holds these five will find them
bestowers of happiness and dispellers of affliction. An unwilling
servant, a parsimonious king, an insincere friend, and a wife not under
control; such things are disturbers of ease and givers of trouble.’”

Then the good wife turned to her son and said “Child by the gift of thy
head, the king’s life may be spared, and the kingdom remain unshaken.”

“Mother,” replied that excellent youth, “in my opinion we should hasten
this matter. Firstly, I must obey your command; secondly, I must promote
the interests of my master; thirdly, if this body be of any use to a
goddess, nothing better can be done with it in this world.”

(“Excuse me, Raja Vikram,” said the Baital, interrupting himself, “if I
repeat these fair discourses at full length; it is interesting to hear a
young person, whose throat is about to be cut, talk so like a doctor of
laws.”)

Then the youth thus addressed his sire: “Father, whoever can be of use
to his master, the life of that man in this world has been lived to good
purpose, and by reason of his usefulness he will be rewarded in other
worlds.”

His sister, however, exclaimed, “If a mother should give poison to
her daughter, and a father sell his son, and a king seize the entire
property of his subjects, where then could one look for protection?” But
they heeded her not, and continued talking as they journeyed towards the
temple of Devi--the king all the while secretly following them.

Presently they reached the temple, a single room, surrounded by a
spacious paved area; in front was an immense building capable of seating
hundreds of people. Before the image there were pools of blood, where
victims had lately been slaughtered. In the sanctum was Devi, a large
black figure with ten arms. With a spear in one of her right hands she
pierced the giant Mahisha; and with one of her left hands she held the
tail of a serpent, and the hair of the giant, whose breast the serpent
was biting. Her other arms were all raised above her head, and were
filled with different instruments of war; against her right leg leaned a
lion.

Then Birbal joined his hands in prayer, and with Hindu mildness thus
addressed the awful goddess: “O mother, let the king’s life be prolonged
for a thousand years by the sacrifice of my son. O Devi, mother!
destroy, destroy his enemies! Kill! kill! Reduce them to ashes! Drive
them away! Devour them! devour them! Cut them in two! Drink! drink
their blood! Destroy them root and branch! With thy thunderbolt, spear,
scymitar, discus, or rope, annihilate them! Spheng! Spheng!”

The Rajput, having caused his son to kneel before the goddess, struck
him so violent a blow that his head rolled upon the ground. He then
threw the sword down, when his daughter, frantic with grief, snatched it
up and struck her neck with such force that her head, separated from her
body, fell. In her turn the mother, unable to survive the loss of her
children, seized the weapon and succeeded in decapitating herself.
Birbal, beholding all this slaughter, thus reflected: “My children
are dead why, now, should I remain in servitude, and upon whom shall I
bestow the gold I receive from the king?” He then gave himself so deep a
wound in the neck, that his head also separated from his body.

Rupsen, the king, seeing these four heads on the ground, said in his
heart, “For my sake has the family of Birbal been destroyed. Kingly
power, for the purpose of upholding which the destruction of a whole
household is necessary, is a mere curse, and to carry on government in
this manner is not just.” He then took up the sword and was about to
slay himself, when the Destroying Goddess, probably satisfied with
bloodshed, stayed his hand, bidding him at the same time ask any boon he
pleased.

The generous monarch begged, thereupon, that his faithful servant might
be restored to life, together with all his high-minded family; and the
goddess Devi in the twinkling of an eye fetched from Patala, the regions
below the earth, a vase full of Amrita, the water of immortality,
sprinkled it upon the dead, and raised them all as before. After which
the whole party walked leisurely home, and in due time the king divided
his throne with his friend Birbal.

Having stopped for a moment, the Baital proceeded to remark, in a
sententious tone, “Happy the servant who grudges not his own life to
save that of his master! And happy, thrice happy the master who can
annihilate all greedy longing for existence and worldly prosperity.
Raja, I have to ask thee one searching question--Of these five, who was
the greatest fool?”

“Demon!” exclaimed the great Vikram, all whose cherished feelings about
fidelity and family affection, obedience, and high-mindedness, were
outraged by this Vampire view of the question; “if thou meanest by the
greatest fool the noblest mind, I reply without hesitating Rupsen, the
king.”

“Why, prithee?” asked the Baital.

“Because, dull demon,” said the king, “Birbal was bound to offer up
his life for a master who treated him so generously; the son could not
disobey his father, and the women naturally and instinctively killed
themselves, because the example was set to them. But Rupsen the king
gave up his throne for the sake of his retainer, and valued not a straw
his life and his high inducements to live. For this reason I think him
the most meritorious.”

“Surely, mighty Vikram,” laughed the Vampire, “you will be tired of
ever clambering up yon tall tree, even had you the legs and arms of
Hanuman[86] himself.”

And so saying he disappeared from the cloth, although it had been placed
upon the ground.

But the poor Baital had little reason to congratulate himself on the
success of his escape. In a short time he was again bundled into the
cloth with the usual want of ceremony, and he revenged himself by
telling another true story.



THE VAMPIRE’S FOURTH STORY -- Of A Woman Who Told The Truth.


“Listen, great king!” again began the Baital.

An unimportant Baniya[87] (trader), Hiranyadatt, had a daughter, whose
name was Madansena Sundari, the beautiful army of Cupid. Her face
was like the moon; her hair like the clouds; her eyes like those of a
muskrat; her eyebrows like a bent bow; her nose like a parrot’s bill;
her neck like that of a dove; her teeth like pomegranate grains; the
red colour of her lips like that of a gourd; her waist lithe and bending
like the pards: her hands and feet like softest blossoms; her complexion
like the jasmine-in fact, day by day the splendour of her youth
increased.

When she had arrived at maturity, her father and mother began often to
resolve in their minds the subject of her marriage. And the people of
all that country side ruled by Birbar king of Madanpur bruited it abroad
that in the house of Hiranyadatt had been born a daughter by whose
beauty gods, men, and munis (sages) were fascinated.

Thereupon many, causing their portraits to be painted, sent them
by messengers to Hiranyadatt the Baniya, who showed them all to his
daughter. But she was capricious, as beauties sometimes are, and when
her father said, “Make choice of a husband thyself,” she told him that
none pleased her, and moreover she begged of him to find her a husband
who possessed good looks, good qualities, and good sense.

At length, when some days had passed, four suitors came from four
different countries. The father told them that he must have from each
some indication that he possessed the required qualities; that he was
pleased with their looks, but that they must satisfy him about their
knowledge.

“I have,” the first said, “a perfect acquaintance with the Shastras (or
Scriptures); in science there is none to rival me. As for my handsome
mien, it may plainly be seen by you.”

The second exclaimed, “My attainments are unique in the knowledge of
archery. I am acquainted with the art of discharging arrows and killing
anything which though not seen is heard, and my fine proportions are
plainly visible to you.”

The third continued, “I understand the language of land and water
animals, of birds and of beasts, and I have no equal in strength. Of my
comeliness you yourself may judge.”

“I have the knowledge,” quoth the fourth, “how to make a certain cloth
which can be sold for five rubies: having sold it I give the proceeds
of one ruby to a Brahman, of the second I make an offering to a deity, a
third I wear on my own person, a fourth I keep for my wife; and, having
sold the fifth, I spend it in giving feasts. This is my knowledge, and
none other is acquainted with it. My good looks are apparent.”

The father hearing these speeches began to reflect, “It is said that
excess in anything is not good. Sita[88] was very lovely, but the demon
Ravana carried her away; and Bali king of Mahabahpur gave much alms,
but at length he became poor.[89] My daughter is too fair to remain a
maiden; to which of these shall I give her?”

So saying, Hiranyadatt went to his daughter, explained the qualities of
the four suitors, and asked, “To which shall I give thee?” On hearing
these words she was abashed; and, hanging down her head, knew not what
to reply.

Then the Baniya, having reflected, said to himself, “He who is
acquainted with the Shastras is a Brahman, he who could shoot an arrow
at the sound was a Kshatriya or warrior, and he who made the cloth was
a Shudra or servile. But the youth who understands the language of
birds is of our own caste. To him, therefore, will I marry her.” And
accordingly he proceeded with the betrothal of his daughter.

Meanwhile Madansena went one day, during the spring season into the
garden for a stroll. It happened, just before she came out, that
Somdatt, the son of the merchant Dharmdatt, had gone for pleasure into
the forest, and was returning through the same garden to his home.

He was fascinated at the sight of the maiden, and said to his friend,
“Brother, if I can obtain her my life will be prosperous, and if I do
not obtain her my living in the world will be in vain.”

Having thus spoken, and becoming restless from the fear of separation,
he involuntarily drew near to her, and seizing her hand, said--“If thou
wilt not form an affection for me, I will throw away my life on thy
account.”

“Be pleased not to do this,” she replied; “it will be sinful, and it
will involve me in the guilt and punishment of shedding blood; hence I
shall be miserable in this world and in that to be.”

“Thy blandishments,” he replied, “have pierced my heart, and the
consuming thought of parting from thee has burnt up my body, and memory
and understanding have been destroyed by this pain; and from excess
of love I have no sense of right or wrong. But if thou wilt make me a
promise, I will live again.”

She replied, “Truly the Kali Yug (iron age) has commenced, since which
time falsehood has increased in the world and truth has diminished;
people talk smoothly with their tongues, but nourish deceit in their
hearts; religion is destroyed, crime has increased, and the earth
has begun to give little fruit. Kings levy fines, Brahmans have waxed
covetous, the son obeys not his sire’s commands, brother distrusts
brother; friendship has departed from amongst friends; sincerity
has left masters; servants have given up service; man has abandoned
manliness; and woman has abandoned modesty. Five days hence, my marriage
is to be; but if thou slay not thyself, I will visit thee first, and
after that I will remain with my husband.”

Having given this promise, and having sworn by the Ganges, she returned
home. The merchant’s son also went his way.

Presently the marriage ceremonies came on, and Hiranyadatt the Baniya
expended a lakh of rupees in feasts and presents to the bridegroom. The
bodies of the twain were anointed with turmeric, the bride was made to
hold in her hand the iron box for eye paint, and the youth a pair of
betel scissors. During the night before the wedding there was loud and
shrill music, the heads and limbs of the young couple were rubbed with
an ointment of oil, and the bridegroom’s head was duly shaved. The
wedding procession was very grand. The streets were a blaze of flambeaux
and torches carried in the hand, fireworks by the ton were discharged
as the people passed; elephants, camels, and horses richly caparisoned,
were placed in convenient situations; and before the procession had
reached the house of the bride half a dozen wicked boys and bad young
men were killed or wounded.[90] After the marriage formulas were
repeated, the Baniya gave a feast or supper, and the food was so
excellent that all sat down quietly, no one uttered a complaint, or
brought dishonour on the bride’s family, or cut with scissors the
garments of his neighbour.

The ceremony thus happily concluded, the husband brought Madansena home
to his own house. After some days the wife of her husband’s youngest
brother, and also the wife of his eldest brother, led her at night
by force to her bridegroom, and seated her on a bed ornamented with
flowers.

As her husband proceeded to take her hand, she jerked it away, and at
once openly told him all that she had promised to Somdatt on condition
of his not killing himself.

“All things,” rejoined the bridegroom, hearing her words, “have their
sense ascertained by speech; in speech they have their basis, and
from speech they proceed; consequently a falsifier of speech falsifies
everything. If truly you are desirous of going to him, go!

“Receiving her husband’s permission, she arose and went off to the young
merchant’s house in full dress. Upon the road a thief saw her, and in
high good humour came up and asked--

“Whither goest thou at midnight in such darkness, having put on all
these fine clothes and ornaments?”

She replied that she was going to the house of her beloved.

“And who here,” said the thief, “is thy protector?”

“Kama Deva,” she replied, “the beautiful youth who by his fiery arrows
wounds with love the hearts of the inhabitants of the three worlds,
Ratipati, the husband of Rati,[91] accompanied by the kokila bird,[92]
the humming bee and gentle breezes.” She then told to the thief the
whole story, adding--

“Destroy not my jewels: I give thee a promise before I go, that on my
return thou shalt have all these ornaments.”

Hearing this the thief thought to himself that it would be useless
now to destroy her jewels, when she had promised to give them to him
presently of her own good will. He therefore let her go, and sat down
and thus soliloquized:

“To me it is astonishing that he who sustained me in my mother’s womb
should take no care of me now that I have been born and am able to enjoy
the good things of this world. I know not whether he is asleep or dead.
And I would rather swallow poison than ask man for money or favour. For
these six things tend to lower a man:--friendship with the perfidious;
causeless laughter; altercation with women; serving an unworthy master;
riding an ass, and speaking any language but Sanskrit. And these five
things the deity writes on our fate at the hour of birth:--first, age;
secondly, action; thirdly, wealth; fourthly, science; fifthly, fame.
I have now done a good deed, and as long as a man’s virtue is in the
ascendant, all people becoming his servants obey him. But when virtuous
deeds diminish, even his friends become inimical to him.”

Meanwhile Madansena had reached the place where Somdatt the young trader
had fallen asleep.

She awoke him suddenly, and he springing up in alarm quickly asked her,
“Art thou the daughter of a deity? or of a saint? or of a serpent? Tell
me truly, who art thou? And whence hast thou come?”

She replied, “I am human--Madansena, the daughter of the Baniya
Hiranyadatt. Dost thou not remember taking my hand in that grove, and
declaring that thou wouldst slay thyself if I did not swear to visit
thee first and after that remain with my husband?”

“Hast thou,” he inquired, “told all this to thy husband or not?”

She replied, “I have told him everything; and he, thoroughly
understanding the whole affair, gave me permission.”

“This matter,” exclaimed Somdatt in a melancholy voice, “is like pearls
without a suitable dress, or food without clarified butter,[93] or
singing without melody; they are all alike unnatural. In the same way,
unclean clothes will mar beauty, bad food will undermine strength, a
wicked wife will worry her husband to death, a disreputable son will
ruin his family, an enraged demon will kill, and a woman, whether she
love or hate, will be a source of pain. For there are few things which a
woman will not do. She never brings to her tongue what is in her heart,
she never speaks out what is on her tongue, and she never tells what she
is doing. Truly the Deity has created woman a strange creature in this
world.” He concluded with these words: “Return thou home with another
man’s wife I have no concern.”

Madansena rose and departed. On her way she met the thief, who, hearing
her tale, gave her great praise, and let her go unplundered.[94]

She then went to her husband, and related the whole matter to him. But
he had ceased to love her, and he said, “Neither a king nor a minister,
nor a wife, nor a person’s hair nor his nails, look well out of their
places. And the beauty of the kokila is its note, of an ugly man
knowledge, of a devotee forgiveness, and of a woman her chastity.”

The Vampire having narrated thus far, suddenly asked the king, “Of these
three, whose virtue was the greatest?”

Vikram, who had been greatly edified by the tale, forgot himself, and
ejaculated, “The Thief’s.”

“And pray why?” asked the Baital.

“Because,” the hero explained, “when her husband saw that she loved
another man, however purely, he ceased to feel affection for her.
Somdatt let her go unharmed, for fear of being punished by the king. But
there was no reason why the thief should fear the law and dismiss her;
therefore he was the best.”

“Hi! hi! hi!” laughed the demon, spitefully. “Here, then, ends my
story.”

Upon which, escaping as before from the cloth in which he was slung
behind the Raja’s back, the Baital disappeared through the darkness of
the night, leaving father and son looking at each other in dismay.

“Son Dharma Dhwaj,” quoth the great Vikram, “the next time when that
villain Vampire asks me a question, I allow thee to take the liberty of
pinching my arm even before I have had time to answer his questions. In
this way we shall never, of a truth, end our task.”

“Your words be upon my head, sire,” replied the young prince. But he
expected no good from his father’s new plan, as, arrived under the
sires-tree, he heard the Baital laughing with all his might.

“Surely he is laughing at our beards, sire,” said the beardless prince,
who hated to be laughed at like a young person.

“Let them laugh that win,” fiercely cried Raja Vikram, who hated to be
laughed at like an elderly person.

   *     *     *     *     *     *     *

The Vampire lost no time in opening a fresh story.



THE VAMPIRE’S FIFTH STORY -- Of the Thief Who Laughed and Wept.

Your majesty (quoth the demon, with unusual politeness), there is a
country called Malaya, on the western coast of the land of Bharat--you
see that I am particular in specifying the place--and in it was a city
known as Chandrodaya, whose king was named Randhir.

This Raja, like most others of his semi-deified order, had been in youth
what is called a Sarva-rasi[95]; that is, he ate and drank and listened
to music, and looked at dancers and made love much more than he studied,
reflected, prayed, or conversed with the wise. After the age of thirty
he began to reform, and he brought such zeal to the good cause, that in
an incredibly short space of time he came to be accounted and quoted
as the paragon of correct Rajas. This was very praiseworthy. Many of
Brahma’s viceregents on earth, be it observed, have loved food and
drink, and music and dancing, and the worship of Kama, to the end of
their days.

Amongst his officers was Gunshankar, a magistrate of police, who,
curious to say, was as honest as he was just. He administered equity
with as much care before as after dinner; he took no bribes even in the
matter of advancing his family; he was rather merciful than otherwise
to the poor, and he never punished the rich ostentatiously, in order to
display his and his law’s disrespect for persons. Besides which, when
sitting on the carpet of justice, he did not, as some Kotwals do, use
rough or angry language to those who cannot reply; nor did he take
offence when none was intended.

All the people of the city Chandrodaya, in the province of Malaya,
on the western coast of Bharatland, loved and esteemed this excellent
magistrate; which did not, however, prevent thefts being committed so
frequently and so regularly, that no one felt his property secure. At
last the merchants who had suffered most from these depredations went in
a body before Gunshankar, and said to him:

“O flower of the law! robbers have exercised great tyranny upon us, so
great indeed that we can no longer stay in this city.”

Then the magistrate replied, “What has happened, has happened. But in
future you shall be free from annoyance. I will make due preparation for
these thieves.”

Thus saying Gunshankar called together his various delegates, and
directed them to increase the number of their people. He pointed out to
them how they should keep watch by night; besides which he ordered them
to open registers of all arrivals and departures, to make themselves
acquainted by means of spies with the movements of every suspected
person in the city, and to raise a body of paggis (trackers), who could
follow the footprints of thieves even when they wore thieving shoes,[96]
till they came up with and arrested them. And lastly, he gave the
patrols full power, whenever they might catch a robber in the act, to
slay him without asking questions.

People in numbers began to mount guard throughout the city every night,
but, notwithstanding this, robberies continued to be committed. After
a time all the merchants having again met together went before the
magistrate, and said, “O incarnation of justice! you have changed your
officers, you have hired watchmen, and you have established patrols:
nevertheless the thieves have not diminished, and plundering is ever
taking place.”

Thereupon Gunshankar carried them to the palace, and made them lay their
petition at the feet of the king Randhir. That Raja, having consoled
them, sent them home, saying, “Be ye of good cheer. I will to-night
adopt a new plan, which, with the blessing of the Bhagwan, shall free ye
from further anxiety.”

Observe, O Vikram, that Randhir was one of those concerning whom the
poet sang--

              The unwise run from one end to the other.

Not content with becoming highly respectable, correct, and even
unimpeachable in point of character, he reformed even his reformation,
and he did much more than he was required to do.

When Canopus began to sparkle gaily in the southern skies, the king
arose and prepared for a night’s work. He disguised his face by smearing
it with a certain paint, by twirling his moustachios up to his eyes, by
parting his beard upon his chin, and conducting the two ends towards his
ears, and by tightly tying a hair from a horse’s tail over his nose, so
as quite to change its shape. He then wrapped himself in a coarse outer
garment, girt his loins, buckled on his sword, drew his shield upon his
arm, and without saying a word to those within the palace, he went out
into the streets alone, and on foot.

It was dark, and Raja Randhir walked through the silent city for nearly
an hour without meeting anyone. As, however, he passed through a back
street in the merchants’ quarter, he saw what appeared to be a homeless
dog, lying at the foot of a house-wall. He approached it, and up leaped
a human figure, whilst a loud voice cried, “Who art thou?”

Randhir replied, “I am a thief; who art thou?”

“And I also am a thief,” rejoined the other, much pleased at hearing
this; “come, then, and let us make together. But what art thou, a
high-loper or a lully-prigger[97]?”

“A little more ceremony between coves in the lorst,[98]” whispered the
king, speaking as a flash man, “were not out of place. But, look sharp,
mind old Oliver,[99] or the lamb-skin man[100] will have the pull of
us, and as sure as eggs is eggs we shall be scragged as soon as
lagged.[101]”

“Well, keep your red rag[102] quiet,” grumbled the other, “and let us be
working.”

Then the pair, king and thief, began work in right earnest. The gang
seemed to swarm in the street. They were drinking spirits, slaying
victims, rubbing their bodies with oil, daubing their eyes with
lamp-black, and repeating incantations to enable them to see in the
darkness; others were practicing the lessons of the god with the golden
spear,[103] and carrying out the four modes of breaching a house: 1.
Picking out burnt bricks. 2. Cutting through unbaked ones when old,
when softened by recent damp, by exposure to the sun, or by saline
exudations. 3. Throwing water on a mud wall; and 4. Boring through one
of wood. The sons of Skanda were making breaches in the shape of lotus
blossoms, the sun, the new moon, the lake, and the water jar, and they
seemed to be anointed with magic unguents, so that no eye could behold,
no weapon harm them.

At length having filled his bag with costly plunder, the thief said to
the king, “Now, my rummy cove, we’ll be off to the flash ken, where the
lads and the morts are waiting to wet their whistles.”

Randhir, who as a king was perfectly familiar with “thieves’ Latin,”
 took heart, and resolved to hunt out the secrets of the den. On the way,
his companion, perfectly satisfied with the importance which the new
cove had attached to a rat-hole,[104] and convinced that he was a true
robber, taught him the whistle, the word, and the sign peculiar to the
gang, and promised him that he should smack the lit[105] that night
before “turning in.”

So saying the thief rapped twice at the city gate, which was at once
opened to him, and preceding his accomplice led the way to a rock about
two kos (four miles) distant from the walls. Before entering the dark
forest at the foot of the eminence, the robber stood still for a moment
and whistled twice through his fingers with a shrill scream that rang
through the silent glades. After a few minutes the signal was answered
by the hooting of an owl, which the robber acknowledged by shrieking
like a jackal. Thereupon half a dozen armed men arose from their
crouching places in the grass, and one advanced towards the new comers
to receive the sign. It was given, and they both passed on, whilst the
guard sank, as it were, into the bowels of the earth. All these things
Randhir carefully remarked: besides which he neglected not to take note
of all the distinguishable objects that lay on the road, and, when
he entered the wood, he scratched with his dagger all the tree trunks
within reach.

After a sharp walk the pair reached a high perpendicular sheet of rock,
rising abruptly from a clear space in the jungle, and profusely printed
over with vermilion hands. The thief, having walked up to it, and made
his obeisance, stooped to the ground, and removed a bunch of grass. The
two then raised by their united efforts a heavy trap door, through which
poured a stream of light, whilst a confused hubbub of voices was heard
below.

“This is the ken,” said the robber, preparing to descend a thin ladder
of bamboo, “follow me!” And he disappeared with his bag of valuables.

The king did as he was bid, and the pair entered together a large hall,
or rather a cave, which presented a singular spectacle. It was lighted
up by links fixed to the sombre walls, which threw a smoky glare over
the place, and the contrast after the deep darkness reminded Randhir of
his mother’s descriptions of Patal-puri, the infernal city. Carpets of
every kind, from the choicest tapestry to the coarsest rug, were spread
upon the ground, and were strewed with bags, wallets, weapons, heaps of
booty, drinking cups, and all the materials of debauchery.

Passing through this cave the thief led Randhir into another, which was
full of thieves, preparing for the pleasures of the night. Some were
changing garments, ragged and dirtied by creeping through gaps in the
houses: others were washing the blood from their hands and feet; these
combed out their long dishevelled, dusty hair: those anointed their
skins with perfumed cocoa-nut oil. There were all manner of murderers
present, a villanous collection of Kartikeya’s and Bhawani’s[106] crew.
There were stabbers with their poniards hung to lanyards lashed round
their naked waists, Dhaturiya-poisoners[107] distinguished by the
little bag slung under the left arm, and Phansigars[108] wearing their
fatal kerchiefs round their necks. And Randhir had reason to thank
the good deed in the last life that had sent him there in such strict
disguise, for amongst the robbers he found, as might be expected, a
number of his own people, spies and watchmen, guards and patrols.

The thief, whose importance of manner now showed him to be the chief of
the gang, was greeted with applause as he entered the robing room,
and he bade all make salam to the new companion. A number of questions
concerning the success of the night’s work was quickly put and answered:
then the company, having got ready for the revel, flocked into the first
cave. There they sat down each in his own place, and began to eat and
drink and make merry.

After some hours the flaring torches began to burn out, and drowsiness
to overpower the strongest heads. Most of the robbers rolled themselves
up in the rugs, and covering their heads, went to sleep. A few still sat
with their backs to the wall, nodding drowsily or leaning on one side,
and too stupefied with opium and hemp to make any exertion.

At that moment a servant woman, whom the king saw for the first time,
came into the cave, and looking at him exclaimed, “O Raja! how came you
with these wicked men? Do you run away as fast as you can, or they will
surely kill you when they awake.”

“I do not know the way; in which direction am I to go?” asked Randhir.

The woman then showed him the road. He threaded the confused mass of
snorers, treading with the foot of a tiger-cat, found the ladder, raised
the trap-door by exerting all his strength, and breathed once more the
open air of heaven. And before plunging into the depths of the wood he
again marked the place where the entrance lay and carefully replaced the
bunch of grass.

Hardly had Raja Randhir returned to the palace, and removed the traces
of his night’s occupation, when he received a second deputation of the
merchants, complaining bitterly and with the longest faces about their
fresh misfortunes.

“O pearl of equity!” said the men of money, “but yesterday you consoled
us with the promise of some contrivance by the blessing of which our
houses and coffers would be safe from theft; whereas our goods have
never yet suffered so severely as during the last twelve hours.”

Again Randhir dismissed them, swearing that this time he would either
die or destroy the wretches who had been guilty of such violence.

Then having mentally prepared his measures, the Raja warned a company of
archers to hold themselves in readiness for secret service, and as each
one of his own people returned from the robbers’ cave he had him privily
arrested and put to death--because the deceased, it is said, do not,
like Baitals, tell tales. About nightfall, when he thought that the
thieves, having finished their work of plunder, would meet together as
usual for wassail and debauchery, he armed himself, marched out his men,
and led them to the rock in the jungle.

But the robbers, aroused by the disappearance of the new companion, had
made enquiries and had gained intelligence of the impending danger. They
feared to flee during the daytime, lest being tracked they should be
discovered and destroyed in detail. When night came they hesitated to
disperse, from the certainty that they would be captured in the morning.
Then their captain, who throughout had been of one opinion, proposed to
them that they should resist, and promised them success if they would
hear his words. The gang respected him, for he was known to be brave:
they all listened to his advice, and they promised to be obedient.

As young night began to cast transparent shade upon the jungle ground,
the chief of the thieves mustered his men, inspected their bows and
arrows, gave them encouraging words, and led them forth from the cave.
Having placed them in ambush he climbed the rock to espy the movements
of the enemy, whilst others applied their noses and ears to the level
ground. Presently the moon shone full upon Randhir and his band of
archers, who were advancing quickly and carelessly, for they expected
to catch the robbers in their cave. The captain allowed them to march
nearly through the line of ambush. Then he gave the signal, and at that
moment the thieves, rising suddenly from the bush fell upon the royal
troops and drove them back in confusion.

The king also fled, when the chief of the robbers shouted out, “Hola!
thou a Rajput and running away from combat?” Randhir hearing this
halted, and the two, confronting each other, bared their blades and
began to do battle with prodigious fury.

The king was cunning of fence, and so was the thief. They opened the
duel, as skilful swordsmen should, by bending almost double, skipping in
a circle, each keeping his eye well fixed upon the other, with frowning
brows and contemptuous lips; at the same time executing divers gambados
and measured leaps, springing forward like frogs and backward like
monkeys, and beating time with their sabres upon their shields, which
rattled like drums.

Then Randhir suddenly facing his antagonist, cut at his legs with a loud
cry, but the thief sprang in the air, and the blade whistled harmlessly
under him. Next moment the robber chief’s sword, thrice whirled round
his head, descended like lightning in a slanting direction towards the
king’s left shoulder: the latter, however, received it upon his target
and escaped all hurt, though he staggered with the violence of the blow.

And thus they continued attacking each other, parrying and replying,
till their breath failed them and their hands and wrists were numbed and
cramped with fatigue. They were so well matched in courage, strength,
and address, that neither obtained the least advantage, till the
robber’s right foot catching a stone slid from under him, and thus he
fell to the ground at the mercy of his enemy. The thieves fled, and the
Raja, himself on his prize, tied his hands behind him, and brought him
back to the city at the point of his good sword.

The next morning Randhir visited his prisoner, whom he caused to be
bathed, and washed, and covered with fine clothes. He then had him
mounted on a camel and sent him on a circuit of the city, accompanied
by a crier proclaiming aloud: “Who hears! who hears! who hears! the king
commands! This is the thief who has robbed and plundered the city of
Chandrodaya. Let all men therefore assemble themselves together this
evening in the open space outside the gate leading towards the sea. And
let them behold the penalty of evil deeds, and learn to be wise.”

Randhir had condemned the thief to be crucified,[109] nailed and tied
with his hands and feet stretched out at full length, in an erect
posture until death; everything he wished to eat was ordered to him
in order to prolong life and misery. And when death should draw near,
melted gold was to be poured down his throat till it should burst from
his neck and other parts of his body.

In the evening the thief was led out for execution, and by chance the
procession passed close to the house of a wealthy landowner. He had a
favourite daughter named Shobhani, who was in the flower of her youth
and very lovely; every day she improved, and every moment added to
her grace and beauty. The girl had been carefully kept out of sight
of mankind, never being allowed outside the high walls of the garden,
because her nurse, a wise woman much trusted in the neighbourhood,
had at the hour of death given a solemn warning to her parents. The
prediction was that the maiden should be the admiration of the city,
and should die a Sati-widow[110] before becoming a wife. From that hour
Shobhani was kept as a pearl in its casket by her father, who had vowed
never to survive her, and had even fixed upon the place and style of his
suicide.

But the shaft of Fate[111] strikes down the vulture sailing above the
clouds, and follows the worm into the bowels of the earth, and pierces
the fish at the bottom of the ocean--how then can mortal man expect to
escape it? As the robber chief, mounted upon the camel, was passing to
the cross under the old householder’s windows, a fire breaking out in
the women’s apartments, drove the inmates into the rooms looking upon
the street.

The hum of many voices arose from the solid pavement of heads: “This is
the thief who has been robbing the whole city; let him tremble now, for
Randhir will surely crucify him!”

In beauty and bravery of bearing, as in strength and courage, no man
in Chandrodaya surpassed the robber, who, being magnificently dressed,
looked, despite his disgraceful cavalcade, like the son of a king. He
sat with an unmoved countenance, hardly hearing in his pride the scoffs
of the mob; calm and steady when the whole city was frenzied with
anxiety because of him. But as he heard the word “tremble” his lips
quivered, his eyes flashed fire, and deep lines gathered between his
eyebrows.

Shobhani started with a scream from the casement behind which she
had hid herself, gazing with an intense womanly curiosity into the
thoroughfare. The robber’s face was upon a level with, and not half a
dozen feet from, her pale cheeks. She marked his handsome features,
and his look of wrath made her quiver as if it had been a flash of
lightning. Then she broke away from the fascination of his youth and
beauty, and ran breathless to her father, saying:

“Go this moment and get that thief released!”

The old housekeeper replied: “That thief has been pilfering and
plundering the whole city, and by his means the king’s archers were
defeated; why, then, at my request, should our most gracious Raja
Randhir release him?”

Shobhani, almost beside herself, exclaimed: “If by giving up your whole
property, you can induce the Raja to release him, then instantly so do;
if he does not come to me, I must give up my life!”

The maiden then covered her head with her veil, and sat down in the
deepest despair, whilst her father, hearing her words, burst into a cry
of grief, and hastened to present himself before the Raja. He cried out:

“O great king, be pleased to receive four lakhs of rupees, and to
release this thief.”

But the king replied: “He has been robbing the whole city, and by reason
of him my guards have been destroyed. I cannot by any means release
him.”

Then the old householder finding, as he had expected the Raja
inexorable, and not to be moved, either by tears or bribes, or by
the cruel fate of the girl, returned home with fire in his heart, and
addressed her:

 “Daughter, I have said and done all that is possible but it avails
me nought with the king. Now, then, we die.”

In the mean time, the guards having led the thief all round the city,
took him outside the gates, and made him stand near the cross. Then the
messengers of death arrived from the palace, and the executioners began
to nail his limbs. He bore the agony with the fortitude of the brave;
but when he heard what had been done by the old householder’s daughter,
he raised his voice and wept bitterly, as though his heart had been
bursting, and almost with the same breath he laughed heartily as at a
feast. All were startled by his merriment; coming as it did at a time
when the iron was piercing his flesh, no man could see any reason for
it.

When he died, Shobhani, who was married to him in the spirit, recited to
herself these sayings:

“There are thirty-five millions of hairs on the human body. The woman
who ascends the pile with her husband will remain so many years in
heaven. As the snake-catcher draws the serpent from his hole, so she,
rescuing her husband from hell, rejoices with him; aye, though he may
have sunk to a region of torment, be restrained in dreadful bonds, have
reached the place of anguish, be exhausted of strength, and afflicted
and tortured for his crimes. No other effectual duty is known for
virtuous women at any time after the death of their lords, except
casting themselves into the same fire. As long as a woman in her
successive transmigrations, shall decline burning herself, like a
faithful wife, in the same fire with her deceased lord, so long shall
she not be exempted from springing again to life in the body of some
female animal.”

Therefore the beautiful Shobhani, virgin and wife, resolved to burn
herself, and to make the next life of the thief certain. She showed
her courage by thrusting her finger into a torch flame till it became a
cinder, and she solemnly bathed in the nearest stream.

A hole was dug in the ground, and upon a bed of green tree-trunks were
heaped hemp, pitch, faggots, and clarified butter, to form the funeral
pyre. The dead body, anointed, bathed, and dressed in new clothes, was
then laid upon the heap, which was some two feet high. Shobhani prayed
that as long as fourteen Indras reign, or as many years as there are
hairs in her head, she might abide in heaven with her husband, and be
waited upon by the heavenly dancers. She then presented her ornaments
and little gifts of corn to her friends, tied some cotton round both
wrists, put two new combs in her hair, painted her forehead, and tied up
in the end of her body-cloth clean parched rice[112] and cowrie-shells.
These she gave to the bystanders, as she walked seven times round the
funeral pyre, upon which lay the body. She then ascended the heap of
wood, sat down upon it, and taking the thief’s head in her lap, without
cords or levers or upper layer or faggots, she ordered the pile to be
lighted. The crowd standing around set fire to it in several places,
drummed their drums, blew their conchs, and raised a loud cry of “Hari
bol! Hari bol! [113]” Straw was thrown on, and pitch and clarified
butter were freely poured out. But Shobhani’s was a Sahamaran, a blessed
easy death: no part of her body was seen to move after the pyre was
lighted--in fact, she seemed to die before the flame touched her.

By the blessing of his daughter’s decease, the old householder beheaded
himself.[114] He caused an instrument to be made in the shape of a
half-moon with an edge like a razor, and fitting the back of his neck.
At both ends of it, as at the beam of a balance, chains were fastened.
He sat down with eyes closed; he was rubbed with the purifying clay of
the holy river, Vaiturani[115]; and he repeated the proper incantations.
Then placing his feet upon the extremities of the chains, he suddenly
jerked up his neck, and his severed head rolled from his body upon the
ground. What a happy death was this!

The Baital was silent, as if meditating on the fortunate transmigration
which the old householder had thus secured.

“But what could the thief have been laughing at, sire?” asked the young
prince Dharma Dhwaj of his father.

“At the prodigious folly of the girl, my son,” replied the warrior king,
thoughtlessly.

“I am indebted once more to your majesty,” burst out the Baital, “for
releasing me from this unpleasant position, but the Raja’s penetration
is again at fault. Not to leave your royal son and heir labouring under
a false impression, before going I will explain why the brave thief
burst into tears, and why he laughed at such a moment.”

He wept when he reflected that he could not requite her kindness in
being willing to give up everything she had in the world to save his
life; and this thought deeply grieved him.

Then it struck him as being passing strange that she had begun to love
him when the last sand of his life was well nigh run out; that wondrous
are the ways of the revolving heavens which bestow wealth upon the
niggard that cannot use it, wisdom upon the bad man who will misuse it,
a beautiful wife upon the fool who cannot protect her, and fertilizing
showers upon the stony hills. And thinking over these things, the
gallant and beautiful thief laughed aloud.

“Before returning to my sires-tree,” continued the Vampire, “as I am
about to do in virtue of your majesty’s unintelligent reply, I
may remark that men may laugh and cry, or may cry and laugh, about
everything in this world, from their neighbours’ deaths, which, as a
general rule, in no wise concern them, to their own latter ends, which
do concern them exceedingly. For my part, I am in the habit of laughing
at everything, because it animates the brain, stimulates the lungs,
beautifies the countenance, and--for the moment, good-bye, Raja Vikram!”

The warrior king, being forewarned this time, shifted the bundle
containing the Baital from his back to under his arm, where he pressed
it with all his might.

This proceeding, however, did not prevent the Vampire from slipping back
to his tree, and leaving an empty cloth with the Raja.

Presently the demon was trussed up as usual; a voice sounded behind
Vikram, and the loquacious thing again began to talk.



THE VAMPIRE’S SIXTH STORY -- In Which Three Men Dispute about a Woman.


On the lovely banks of Jumna’s stream there was a city known as
Dharmasthal--the Place of Duty; and therein dwelt a certain Brahman
called Keshav. He was a very pious man, in the constant habit of
performing penance and worship upon the river Sidi. He modelled his own
clay images instead of buying them from others; he painted holy stones
red at the top, and made to them offerings of flowers, fruit, water,
sweetmeats, and fried peas. He had become a learned man somewhat late
in life, having, until twenty years old, neglected his reading, and
addicted himself to worshipping the beautiful youth Kama-Deva[116] and
Rati his wife, accompanied by the cuckoo, the humming-bee, and sweet
breezes.

One day his parents having rebuked him sharply for his ungovernable
conduct, Keshav wandered to a neighbouring hamlet, and hid himself in
the tall fig-tree which shadowed a celebrated image of Panchanan.[117]
Presently an evil thought arose in his head: he defiled the god, and
threw him into the nearest tank.

The next morning, when the person arrived whose livelihood depended on
the image, he discovered that his god was gone. He returned into the
village distracted, and all was soon in an uproar about the lost deity.

In the midst of this confusion the parents of Keshav arrived, seeking
for their son; and a man in the crowd declared that he had seen a young
man sitting in Panchanan’s tree, but what had become of the god he knew
not.

The runaway at length appeared, and the suspicions of the villagers fell
upon him as the stealer of Panchanan. He confessed the fact, pointed out
the place where he had thrown the stone, and added that he had polluted
the god. All hands and eyes were raised in amazement at this atrocious
crime, and every one present declared that Panchanan would certainly
punish the daring insult by immediate death. Keshav was dreadfully
frightened; he began to obey his parents from that very hour, and
applied to his studies so sedulously that he soon became the most
learned man of his country.

Now Keshav the Brahman had a daughter whose name was the Madhumalati or
Sweet Jasmine. She was very beautiful. Whence did the gods procure the
materials to form so exquisite a face? They took a portion of the most
excellent part of the moon to form that beautiful face? Does any one
seek a proof of this? Let him look at the empty places left in the moon.
Her eyes resembled the full-blown blue nymphaea; her arms the charming
stalk of the lotus; her flowing tresses the thick darkness of night.

When this lovely person arrived at a marriageable age, her mother,
father, and brother, all three became very anxious about her. For the
wise have said, “A daughter nubile but without a husband is ever a
calamity hanging over a house.” And, “Kings, women, and climbing plants
love those who are near them.” Also, “Who is there that has not suffered
from the sex? for a woman cannot be kept in due subjection, either by
gifts or kindness, or correct conduct, or the greatest services, or
the laws of morality, or by the terror of punishment, for she cannot
discriminate between good and evil.”

It so happened that one day Keshav the Brahman went to the marriage of
a certain customer of his,[118] and his son repaired to the house of a
spiritual preceptor in order to read. During their absence, a young man
came to the house, when the Sweet Jasmine’s mother, inferring his good
qualities from his good looks, said to him, “I will give to thee my
daughter in marriage.” The father also had promised his daughter to
a Brahman youth whom he had met at the house of his employer; and the
brother likewise had betrothed his sister to a fellow student at the
place where he had gone to read.

After some days father and son came home, accompanied by these two
suitors, and in the house a third was already seated. The name of the
first was Tribikram, of the second Baman, and of the third Madhusadan.
The three were equal in mind and body, in knowledge, and in age.

Then the father, looking upon them, said to himself, “Ho! there is one
bride and three bridegrooms; to whom shall I give, and to whom shall
I not give? We three have pledged our word to these three. A strange
circumstance has occurred; what must we do?”

He then proposed to them a trial of wisdom, and made them agree that he
who should quote the most excellent saying of the wise should become his
daughter’s husband.

Quoth Tribikram: “Courage is tried in war; integrity in the payment of
debt and interest; friendship in distress; and the faithfulness of a
wife in the day of poverty.”

Baman proceeded: “That woman is destitute of virtue who in her father’s
house is not in subjection, who wanders to feasts and amusements, who
throws off her veil in the presence of men, who remains as a guest
in the houses of strangers, who is much devoted to sleep, who drinks
inebriating beverages, and who delights in distance from her husband.”

“Let none,” pursued Madhusadan, “confide in the sea, nor in whatever has
claws or horns, or who carries deadly weapons; neither in a woman, nor
in a king.”

Whilst the Brahman was doubting which to prefer, and rather inclining
to the latter sentiment, a serpent bit the beautiful girl, and in a few
hours she died.

Stunned by this awful sudden death, the father and the three suitors
sat for a time motionless. They then arose, used great exertions,
and brought all kinds of sorcerers, wise men and women who charm away
poisons by incantations. These having seen the girl said, “She cannot
return to life.” The first declared, “A person always dies who has been
bitten by a snake on the fifth, sixth, eighth, ninth, and fourteenth
days of the lunar month.” The second asserted, “One who has been bitten
on a Saturday or a Tuesday does not survive.” The third opined, “Poison
infused during certain six lunar mansions cannot be got under.” Quoth
the fourth, “One who has been bitten in any organ of sense, the lower
lip, the cheek, the neck, or the stomach, cannot escape death.” The
fifth said, “In this case even Brahma, the Creator, could not restore
life--of what account, then, are we? Do you perform the funeral rites;
we will depart.”

Thus saying, the sorcerers went their way. The mourning father took up
his daughter’s corpse and caused it to be burnt, in the place where dead
bodies are usually burnt, and returned to his house.

After that the three young men said to one another, “We must now seek
happiness elsewhere. And what better can we do than obey the words of
Indra, the God of Air, who spake thus?--

“‘For a man who does not travel about there is no felicity, and a good
man who stays at home is a bad man. Indra is the friend of him who
travels. Travel!

“‘A traveller’s legs are like blossoming branches, and he himself grows
and gathers the fruit. All his wrongs vanish, destroyed by his exertion
on the roadside. Travel!

“‘The fortune of a man who sits, sits also; it rises when he rises; it
sleeps when he sleeps; it moves well when he moves. Travel!

“‘A man who sleeps is like the Iron Age. A man who awakes is like the
Bronze Age. A man who rises up is like the Silver Age. A man who travels
is like the Golden Age. Travel!

“‘A traveller finds honey; a traveller finds sweet figs. Look at the
happiness of the sun, who travailing never tires. Travel!”’

Before parting they divided the relics of the beloved one, and then they
went their way.

Tribikram, having separated and tied up the burnt bones, became one of
the Vaisheshikas, in those days a powerful sect. He solemnly forswore
the eight great crimes, namely: feeding at night; slaying any animal;
eating the fruit of trees that give milk, or pumpkins or young bamboos:
tasting honey or flesh; plundering the wealth of others; taking by force
a married woman; eating flowers, butter, or cheese; and worshipping the
gods of other religions. He learned that the highest act of virtue is
to abstain from doing injury to sentient creatures; that crime does not
justify the destruction of life; and that kings, as the administrators
of criminal justice, are the greatest of sinners. He professed the five
vows of total abstinence from falsehood, eating flesh or fish, theft,
drinking spirits, and marriage. He bound himself to possess nothing
beyond a white loin-cloth, a towel to wipe the mouth, a beggar’s dish,
and a brush of woollen threads to sweep the ground for fear of treading
on insects. And he was ordered to fear secular affairs; the miseries of
a future state; the receiving from others more than the food of a day
at once; all accidents; provisions, if connected with the destruction
of animal life; death and disgrace; also to please all, and to obtain
compassion from all.

He attempted to banish his love. He said to himself, “Surely it was
owing only to my pride and selfishness that I ever looked upon a woman
as capable of affording happiness; and I thought, ‘Ah! ah! thine eyes
roll about like the tail of the water-wagtail, thy lips resemble the
ripe fruit, thy bosom is like the lotus bud, thy form is resplendent as
gold melted in a crucible, the moon wanes through desire to imitate the
shadow of thy face, thou resemblest the pleasure-house of Cupid; the
happiness of all time is concentrated in thee; a touch from thee would
surely give life to a dead image; at thy approach a living admirer would
be changed by joy into a lifeless stone; obtaining thee I can face all
the horrors of war; and were I pierced by showers of arrows, one glance
of thee would heal all my wounds.’

“My mind is now averted from the world. Seeing her I say, ‘Is this the
form by which men are bewitched? This is a basket covered with skin; it
contains bones, flesh, blood, and impurities. The stupid creature who
is captivated by this--is there a cannibal feeding in Currim a greater
cannibal than he? These persons call a thing made up of impure matter a
face, and drink its charms as a drunkard swallows the inebriating liquor
from his cup. The blind, infatuated beings! Why should I be pleased or
displeased with this body, composed of flesh and blood? It is my duty to
seek Him who is the Lord of this body, and to disregard everything which
gives rise either to pleasure or to pain.’”

Baman, the second suitor, tied up a bundle of his beloved one’s ashes,
and followed--somewhat prematurely--the precepts of the great lawgiver
Manu. “When the father of a family perceives his muscles becoming
flaccid, and his hair grey, and sees the child of his child, let him
then take refuge in a forest. Let him take up his consecrated fire and
all his domestic implements for making oblations to it, and, departing
from the town to the lonely wood, let him dwell in it with complete
power over his organs of sense and of action. With many sorts of pure
food, such as holy sages used to eat, with green herbs, roots, and
fruit, let him perform the five great sacraments, introducing them with
due ceremonies. Let him wear a black antelope-hide, or a vesture of
bark; let him bathe evening and morning; let him suffer the hair of
his head, his beard and his nails to grow continually. Let him slide
backwards and forwards on the ground; or let him stand a whole day on
tiptoe; or let him continue in motion, rising and sitting alternately;
but at sunrise, at noon, and at sunset, let him go to the waters and
bathe. In the hot season let him sit exposed to five fires, four blazing
around him, with the sun above; in the rains let him stand uncovered,
without even a mantle, where the clouds pour the heaviest showers;
in the cold season let him wear damp clothes, and let him increase by
degrees the austerity of his devotions. Then, having reposited his holy
fires, as the law directs, in his mind, let him live without external
fire, without a mansion, wholly silent, feeding on roots and fruit.”

Meanwhile Madhusadan the third, having taken a wallet and neckband,
became a Jogi, and began to wander far and wide, living on nothing but
chaff, and practicing his devotions. In order to see Brahma he attended
to the following duties; 1. Hearing; 2. Meditation; 3. Fixing the
Mind; 4. Absorbing the Mind. He combated the three evils, restlessness,
injuriousness, voluptuousness by settling the Deity in his spirit, by
subjecting his senses, and by destroying desire. Thus he would do away
with the illusion (Maya) which conceals all true knowledge. He repeated
the name of the Deity till it appeared to him in the form of a Dry
Light or glory. Though connected with the affairs of life, that is, with
affairs belonging to a body containing blood, bones, and impurities; to
organs which are blind, palsied, and full of weakness and error; to
a mind filled with thirst, hunger, sorrow, infatuation; to confirmed
habits, and to the fruits of former births: still he strove not to view
these things as realities. He made a companion of a dog, honouring it
with his own food, so as the better to think on spirit. He practiced all
the five operations connected with the vital air, or air collected in
the body. He attended much to Pranayama, or the gradual suppression of
breathing, and he secured fixedness of mind as follows. By placing his
sight and thoughts on the tip of his nose he perceived smell; on the
tip of his tongue he realized taste, on the root of his tongue he knew
sound, and so forth. He practiced the eighty-four Asana or postures,
raising his hand to the wonders of the heavens, till he felt no longer
the inconveniences of heat or cold, hunger or thirst. He particularly
preferred the Padma or lotus-posture, which consists of bringing the
feet to the sides, holding the right in the left hand and the left
in the right. In the work of suppressing his breath he permitted its
respiration to reach at furthest twelve fingers’ breadth, and gradually
diminished the distance from his nostrils till he could confine it to
the length of twelve fingers from his nose, and even after restraining
it for some time he would draw it from no greater distance than from
his heart. As respects time, he began by retaining inspiration for
twenty-six seconds, and he enlarged this period gradually till he became
perfect. He sat cross-legged, closing with his fingers all the avenues
of inspiration, and he practiced Prityahara, or the power of restraining
the members of the body and mind, with meditation and concentration, to
which there are four enemies, viz., a sleepy heart, human passions, a
confused mind, and attachment to anything but the one Brahma. He also
cultivated Yama, that is, inoffensiveness, truth, honesty, the forsaking
of all evil in the world, and the refusal of gifts except for sacrifice,
and Nihama, i.e., purity relative to the use of water after defilement,
pleasure in everything whether in prosperity or adversity, renouncing
food when hungry, and keeping down the body. Thus delivered from these
four enemies of the flesh, he resembled the unruffled flame of the lamp,
and by Brahmagnana, or meditating on the Deity, placing his mind on the
sun, moon, fire, or any other luminous body, or within his heart, or at
the bottom of his throat, or in the centre of his skull, he was enabled
to ascend from gross images of omnipotence to the works and the divine
wisdom of the glorious original.

One day Madhusadan, the Jogi, went to a certain house for food, and the
householder having seen him began to say, “Be so good as to take your
food here this day!” The visitor sat down, and when the victuals were
ready, the host caused his feet and hands to be washed, and leading him
to the Chauka, or square place upon which meals are served, seated him
and sat by him. And he quoted the scripture: “No guest must be dismissed
in the evening by a housekeeper: he is sent by the returning sun, and
whether he come in fit season or unseasonably, he must not sojourn
in the house without entertainment: let me not eat any delicate food,
without asking my guest to partake of it: the satisfaction of a guest
will assuredly bring the housekeeper wealth, reputation, long life, and
a place in heaven.”

The householder’s wife then came to serve up the food, rice and split
peas, oil, and spices, all cooked in a new earthen pot with pure
firewood. Part of the meal was served and the rest remained to be
served, when the woman’s little child began to cry aloud and to catch
hold of its mother’s dress. She endeavoured to release herself, but the
boy would not let go, and the more she coaxed the more he cried, and was
obstinate. On this the mother became angry, took up the boy and threw
him upon the fire, which instantly burnt him to ashes.

Madhusadan, the Jogi, seeing this, rose up without eating. The master
of the house said to him, “Why eatest thou not?” He replied, “I am
‘Atithi,’ that is to say, to be entertained at your house, but how
can one eat under the roof of a person who has committed such a
Rakshasa-like (devilish) deed? Is it not said, ‘He who does not govern
his passions, lives in vain’? ‘A foolish king, a person puffed up with
riches, and a weak child, desire that which cannot be procured’? Also,
‘A king destroys his enemies, even when flying; and the touch of an
elephant, as well as the breath of a serpent, are fatal; but the wicked
destroy even while laughing’?”

Hearing this, the householder smiled; presently he arose and went to
another part of the tenement, and brought back with him a book, treating
on Sanjivnividya, or the science of restoring the dead to life. This he
had taken from its hidden place, two beams almost touching one another
with the ends in the opposite wall. The precious volume was in single
leaves, some six inches broad by treble that length, and the paper was
stained with yellow orpiment and the juice of tamarind seeds to keep
away insects.

The householder opened the cloth containing the book, untied the flat
boards at the top and bottom, and took out from it a charm. Having
repeated this Mantra, with many ceremonies, he at once restored the
child to life, saying, “Of all precious things, knowledge is the most
valuable; other riches may be stolen, or diminished by expenditure, but
knowledge is immortal, and the greater the expenditure the greater the
increase; it can be shared with none, and it defies the power of the
thief.”

The Jogi, seeing this marvel, took thought in his heart, “If I could
obtain that book, I would restore my beloved to life, and give up this
course of uncomfortable postures and difficulty of breathing.” With this
resolution he sat down to his food, and remained in the house.

At length night came, and after a time, all, having eaten supper, and
gone to their sleeping-places, lay down. The Jogi also went to rest in
one part of the house, but did not allow sleep to close his eyes. When
he thought that a fourth part of the hours of darkness had sped, and
that all were deep in slumber, then he got up very quietly, and going
into the room of the master of the house, he took down the book from the
beam-ends and went his ways.

Madhusadan, the Jogi, went straight to the place where the beautiful
Sweet Jasmine had been burned. There he found his two rivals sitting
talking together and comparing experiences. They recognized him at once,
and cried aloud to him, “Brother! thou also hast been wandering over the
world; tell us this--hast thou learned anything which can profit us?”
 He replied, “I have learned the science of restoring the dead to life”;
upon which they both exclaimed, “If thou hast really learned such
knowledge, restore our beloved to life.”

Madhusadan proceeded to make his incantations, despite terrible sights
in the air, the cries of jackals, owls, crows, cats, asses, vultures,
dogs, and lizards, and the wrath of innumerable invisible beings, such
as messengers of Yama (Pluto), ghosts, devils, demons, imps, fiends,
devas, succubi, and others. All the three lovers drawing blood from
their own bodies, offered it to the goddess Chandi, repeating the
following incantation, “Hail! supreme delusion! Hail! goddess of the
universe! Hail! thou who fulfillest the desires of all. May I presume to
offer thee the blood of my body; and wilt thou deign to accept it, and
be propitious towards me!”

They then made a burnt-offering of their flesh, and each one prayed,
“Grant me, O goddess! to see the maiden alive again, in proportion to
the fervency with which I present thee with mine own flesh, invoking
thee to be propitious to me. Salutation to thee again and again, under
the mysterious syllables any! any!”

Then they made a heap of the bones and the ashes, which had been
carefully kept by Tribikram and Baman. As the Jogi Madhusadan proceeded
with his incantation, a white vapour arose from the ground, and,
gradually condensing, assumed a perispiritual form--the fluid envelope
of the soul. The three spectators felt their blood freeze as the bones
and the ashes were gradually absorbed into the before shadowy shape, and
they were restored to themselves only when the maiden Madhuvati begged
to be taken home to her mother.

Then Kama, God of Love, blinded them, and they began fiercely to quarrel
about who should have the beautiful maid. Each wanted to be her sole
master. Tribikram declared the bones to be the great fact of the
incantation; Baman swore by the ashes; and Madhusadan laughed them both
to scorn. No one could decide the dispute; the wisest doctors were all
nonplussed; and as for the Raja--well! we do not go for wit or wisdom to
kings. I wonder if the great Raja Vikram could decide which person the
woman belonged to?

“To Baman, the man who kept her ashes, fellow!” exclaimed the hero, not
a little offended by the free remarks of the fiend.

“Yet,” rejoined the Baital impudently, “if Tribikram had not preserved
her bones how could she have been restored to life? And if Madhusadan
had not learned the science of restoring the dead to life how could
she have been revivified? At least, so it seems to me. But perhaps your
royal wisdom may explain.”

“Devil!” said the king angrily, “Tribikram, who preserved her bones, by
that act placed himself in the position of her son; therefore he could
not marry her. Madhusadan, who, restoring her to life, gave her life,
was evidently a father to her; he could not, then, become her husband.
Therefore she was the wife of Baman, who had collected her ashes.”

“I am happy to see, O king,” exclaimed the Vampire, “that in spite of my
presentiments, we are not to part company just yet. These little trips
I hold to be, like lovers’ quarrels, the prelude to closer union. With
your leave we will still practice a little suspension.”

And so saying, the Baital again ascended the tree, and was suspended
there.

“Would it not be better,” thought the monarch, after recapturing and
shouldering the fugitive, “for me to sit down this time and listen to
the fellow’s story? Perhaps the double exercise of walking and thinking
confuses me.”

With this idea Vikram placed his bundle upon the ground, well tied up
with turband and waistband; then he seated himself cross-legged before
it, and bade his son do the same.

The Vampire strongly objected to this measure, as it was contrary, he
asserted, to the covenant between him and the Raja. Vikram replied
by citing the very words of the agreement, proving that there was no
allusion to walking or sitting.

Then the Baital became sulky, and swore that he would not utter another
word. But he, too, was bound by the chain of destiny. Presently he
opened his lips, with the normal prelude that he was about to tell a
true tale.



THE VAMPIRE’S SEVENTH STORY -- Showing the Exceeding Folly of Many Wise Fools.


The Baital resumed.

Of all the learned Brahmans in the learnedest university of Gaur
(Bengal) none was so celebrated as Vishnu Swami. He could write verse as
well as prose in dead languages, not very correctly, but still, better
than all his fellows--which constituted him a distinguished writer. He
had history, theosophy, and the four Vedas of Scriptures at his fingers’
ends, he was skilled in the argute science of Nyasa or Disputation, his
mind was a mine of Pauranic or cosmogonico-traditional lore, handed down
from the ancient fathers to the modern fathers: and he had written bulky
commentaries, exhausting all that tongue of man has to say, upon the
obscure text of some old philosopher whose works upon ethics, poetry,
and rhetoric were supposed by the sages of Gaur to contain the germs
of everything knowable. His fame went over all the country; yea, from
country to country. He was a sea of excellent qualities, the father and
mother of Brahmans, cows, and women, and the horror of loose persons,
cut-throats, courtiers, and courtesans. As a benefactor he was equal to
Karna, most liberal of heroes. In regard to truth he was equal to the
veracious king Yudhishtira.

True, he was sometimes at a loss to spell a common word in his mother
tongue, and whilst he knew to a fingerbreadth how many palms and paces
the sun, the moon, and all the stars are distant from the earth, he
would have been puzzled to tell you where the region called Yavana[119]
lies. Whilst he could enumerate, in strict chronological succession,
every important event that happened five or six million years before he
was born, he was profoundly ignorant of those that occurred in his own
day. And once he asked a friend seriously, if a cat let loose in the
jungle would not in time become a tiger.

Yet did all the members of alma mater Kasi, Pandits[120] as well
as students, look with awe upon Vishnu Swami’s livid cheeks, and
lack-lustre eyes, grimed hands and soiled cottons.

Now it so happened that this wise and pious Brahmanic peer had four
sons, whom he brought up in the strictest and most serious way. They
were taught to repeat their prayers long before they understood a word
of them, and when they reached the age of four[121] they had read a
variety of hymns and spiritual songs. Then they were set to learn by
heart precepts that inculcate sacred duties, and arguments relating to
theology, abstract and concrete.

Their father, who was also their tutor, sedulously cultivated, as all
the best works upon education advise, their implicit obedience, humble
respect, warm attachment, and the virtues and sentiments generally. He
praised them secretly and reprehended them openly, to exercise their
humility. He derided their looks, and dressed them coarsely, to preserve
them from vanity and conceit. Whenever they anticipated a “treat,” he
punctually disappointed them, to teach them self-denial. Often when he
had promised them a present, he would revoke, not break his word, in
order that discipline might have a name and habitat in his household.
And knowing by experience how much stronger than love is fear, he
frequently threatened, browbeat, and overawed them with the rod and
the tongue, with the terrors of this world, and with the horrors of the
next, that they might be kept in the right way by dread of falling into
the bottomless pits that bound it on both sides.

At the age of six they were transferred to the Chatushpati[122] or
school. Every morning the teacher and his pupils assembled in the hut
where the different classes were called up by turns. They laboured till
noon, and were allowed only two hours, a moiety of the usual time, for
bathing, eating, sleep, and worship, which took up half the period. At
3 P.M. they resumed their labours, repeating to the tutor what they had
learned by heart, and listening to the meaning of it: this lasted till
twilight. They then worshipped, ate and drank for an hour: after which
came a return of study, repeating the day’s lessons, till 10 P.M.

In their rare days of ease--for the learned priest, mindful of the words
of the wise, did not wish to dull them by everlasting work--they were
enjoined to disport themselves with the gravity and the decorum that
befit young Samditats, not to engage in night frolics, not to use free
jests or light expressions, not to draw pictures on the walls, not
to eat honey, flesh, and sweet substances turned acid, not to talk to
little girls at the well-side, on no account to wear sandals, carry an
umbrella, or handle a die even for love, and by no means to steal their
neighbours’ mangoes.

As they advanced in years their attention during work time was
unremittingly directed to the Vedas. Wordly studies were almost
excluded, or to speak more correctly, whenever wordly studies were
brought upon the carpet, they were so evil entreated, that they well
nigh lost all form and feature. History became “The Annals of India on
Brahminical Principles,” opposed to the Buddhistical; geography “The
Lands of the Vedas,” none other being deemed worthy of notice; and law,
“The Institutes of Manu,” then almost obsolete, despite their exceeding
sanctity.

But Jatu-harini[123] had evidently changed these children before they
were born; and Shani[124] must have been in the ninth mansion when they
came to light.

Each youth as he attained the mature age of twelve was formally entered
at the University of Kasi, where, without loss of time, the first became
a gambler, the second a confirmed libertine, the third a thief, and the
fourth a high Buddhist, or in other words an utter atheist.

Here King Vikram frowned at his son, a hint that he had better not
behave himself as the children of highly moral and religious parents
usually do. The young prince understood him, and briefly remarking that
such things were common in distinguished Brahman families, asked the
Baital what he meant by the word “Atheist.”

Of a truth (answered the Vampire) it is most difficult to explain. The
sages assign to it three or four several meanings: first, one who denies
that the gods exist secondly, one who owns that the gods exist but
denies that they busy themselves with human affairs; and thirdly, one
who believes in the gods and in their providence, but also believes
that they are easily to be set aside. Similarly some atheists derive all
things from dead and unintelligent matter; others from matter living and
energetic but without sense or will: others from matter with forms
and qualities generable and conceptible; and others from a plastic and
methodical nature. Thus the Vishnu Swamis of the world have invested
the subject with some confusion. The simple, that is to say, the mass of
mortality, have confounded that confusion by reproachfully applying the
word atheist to those whose opinions differ materially from their own.

But I being at present, perhaps happily for myself, a Vampire, and
having, just now, none of these human or inhuman ideas, meant simply to
say that the pious priest’s fourth son being great at second and small
in the matter of first causes, adopted to their fullest extent the
doctrines of the philosophical Buddhas.[125] Nothing according to him
exists but the five elements, earth, water, fire, air (or wind), and
vacuum, and from the last proceeded the penultimate, and so forth. With
the sage Patanjali, he held the universe to have the power of perpetual
progression.[126] He called that Matra (matter), which is an eternal
and infinite principle, beginningless and endless. Organization,
intelligence, and design, he opined, are inherent in matter as growth is
in a tree. He did not believe in soul or spirit, because it could not be
detected in the body, and because it was a departure from physiological
analogy. The idea “I am,” according to him, was not the identification
of spirit with matter, but a product of the mutation of matter in this
cloud-like, error-formed world. He believed in Substance (Sat) and
scoffed at Unsubstance (Asat). He asserted the subtlety and globularity
of atoms which are uncreate. He made mind and intellect a mere secretion
of the brain, or rather words expressing not a thing, but a state of
things. Reason was to him developed instinct, and life an element of
the atmosphere affecting certain organisms. He held good and evil to be
merely geographical and chronological expressions, and he opined that
what is called Evil is mostly an active and transitive form of Good. Law
was his great Creator of all things, but he refused a creator of law,
because such a creator would require another creator, and so on in a
quasi-interminable series up to absurdity. This reduced his law to a
manner of haphazard. To those who, arguing against it, asked him their
favourite question, How often might a man after he had jumbled a set of
letters in a bag fling them out upon the ground before they would fall
into an exact poem? he replied that the calculation was beyond his
arithmetic, but that the man had only to jumble and fling long enough
inevitably to arrive at that end. He rejected the necessity as well
as the existence of revelation, and he did not credit the miracles of
Krishna, because, according to him, nature never suspends her laws, and,
moreover, he had never seen aught supernatural. He ridiculed the idea
of Mahapralaya, or the great destruction, for as the world had
no beginning, so it will have no end. He objected to absorption,
facetiously observing with the sage Jamadagni, that it was pleasant
to eat sweetmeats, but that for his part he did not wish to become
the sweetmeat itself. He would not believe that Vishnu had formed the
universe out of the wax in his ears. He positively asserted that trees
are not bodies in which the consequences of merit and demerit are
received. Nor would he conclude that to men were attached rewards
and punishments from all eternity. He made light of the Sanskara,
or sacrament. He admitted Satwa, Raja, and Tama,[127] but only as
properties of matter. He acknowledged gross matter (Sthulasharir), and
atomic matter (Shukshma-sharir), but not Linga-sharir, or the archetype
of bodies. To doubt all things was the foundation of his theory, and to
scoff at all who would not doubt was the corner-stone of his practice.
In debate he preferred logical and mathematical grounds, requiring a
categorical “because” in answer to his “why?” He was full of morality
and natural religion, which some say is no religion at all. He gained
the name of atheist by declaring with Gotama that there are innumerable
worlds, that the earth has nothing beneath it but the circumambient
air, and that the core of the globe is incandescent. And he was called a
practical atheist--a worse form apparently--for supporting the following
dogma: “that though creation may attest that a creator has been, it
supplies no evidence to prove that a creator still exists.” On which
occasion, Shiromani, a nonplussed theologian, asked him, “By whom and
for what purpose werst thou sent on earth?” The youth scoffed at the
word “sent,” and replied, “Not being thy Supreme Intelligence, or
Infinite Nihility, I am unable to explain the phenomenon.” Upon which he
quoted--

               How sunk in darkness Gaur must be
               Whose guide is blind Shiromani!

At length it so happened that the four young men, having frequently been
surprised in flagrant delict, were summoned to the dread presence of the
university Gurus,[128] who addressed them as follows:--

“There are four different characters in the world: he who perfectly
obeys the commands; he who practices the commands, but follows evil; he
who does neither good nor evil; and he who does nothing but evil. The
third character, it is observed, is also an offender, for he neglects
that which he ought to observe. But ye all belong to the fourth
category.”

Then turning to the elder they said:

“In works written upon the subject of government it is advised, ‘Cut off
the gambler’s nose and ears, hold up his name to public contempt, and
drive him out of the country, that he may thus become an example to
others. For they who play must more often lose than win; and losing,
they must either pay or not pay. In the latter case they forfeit caste,
in the former they utterly reduce themselves. And though a gambler’s
wife and children are in the house, do not consider them to be so, since
it is not known when they will be lost.[129] Thus he is left in a state
of perfect not-twoness (solitude), and he will be reborn in hell.’ O
young man! thou hast set a bad example to others, therefore shalt thou
immediately exchange this university for a country life.”

Then they spoke to the second offender thus:----

“The wise shun woman, who can fascinate a man in the twinkling of an
eye; but the foolish, conceiving an affection for her, forfeit in
the pursuit of pleasure their truthfulness, reputation, and good
disposition, their way of life and mode of thought, their vows and
their religion. And to such the advice of their spiritual teachers comes
amiss, whilst they make others as bad as themselves. For it is said,
‘He who has lost all sense of shame, fears not to disgrace another;
‘and there is the proverb, ‘A wild cat that devours its own young is not
likely to let a rat escape;’ therefore must thou too, O young man! quit
this seat of learning with all possible expedition.”

The young man proceeded to justify himself by quotations from the
Lila-shastra, his text-book, by citing such lines as--

               Fortune favours folly and force,

and by advising the elderly professors to improve their skill in the
peace and war of love. But they drove him out with execrations.

As sagely and as solemnly did the Pandits and the Gurus reprove the
thief and the atheist, but they did not dispense the words of wisdom
in equal proportions. They warned the former that petty larceny is
punishable with fine, theft on a larger scale with mutilation of the
hand, and robbery, when detected in the act, with loss of life[130];
that for cutting purses, or for snatching them out of a man’s
waistcloth,[131] ‘the first penalty is chopping off the fingers, the
second is the loss of the hand, and the third is death. Then they call
him a dishonour to the college, and they said, “Thou art as a woman,
the greatest of plunderers; other robbers purloin property which is
worthless, thou stealest the best; they plunder in the night, thou in
the day,” and so forth. They told him that he was a fellow who had read
his Chauriya Vidya to more purpose then his ritual.[132] And they drove
him from the door as he in his shamelessness began to quote texts about
the four approved ways of housebreaking, namely, picking out burnt
bricks, cutting through unbaked bricks, throwing water on a mud wall,
and boring one of wood with a centre-bit.

But they spent six mortal hours in convicting the atheist, whose
abominations they refuted by every possible argumentation: by inference,
by comparison, and by sounds, by Sruti and Smriti, i.e., revelational
and traditional, rational and evidential, physical and metaphysical,
analytical and synthetical, philosophical and philological, historical,
and so forth. But they found all their endeavours vain. “For,” it is
said, “a man who has lost all shame, who can talk without sense, and who
tries to cheat his opponent, will never get tired, and will never be put
down.” He declared that a non-ad was far more probable than a monad (the
active principle), or the duad (the passive principle or matter.) He
compared their faith with a bubble in the water, of which we can never
predicate that it does exist or it does not. It is, he said, unreal, as
when the thirsty mistakes the meadow mist for a pool of water. He proved
the eternity of sound.[133] He impudently recounted and justified all
the villanies of the Vamachari or left-handed sects. He told them that
they had taken up an ass’s load of religion, and had better apply to
honest industry. He fell foul of the gods; accused Yama of kicking his
own mother, Indra of tempting the wife of his spiritual guide, and Shiva
of associating with low women. Thus, he said, no one can respect them.
Do not we say when it thunders awfully, “the rascally gods are dying!”
 And when it is too wet, “these villain gods are sending too much
rain”? Briefly, the young Brahman replied to and harangued them all so
impertinently, if not pertinently, that they, waxing angry, fell upon
him with their staves, and drove him out of assembly.

Then the four thriftless youths returned home to their father, who
in his just indignation had urged their disgrace upon the Pandits and
Gurus, otherwise these dignitaries would never have resorted to such
extreme measures with so distinguished a house. He took the opportunity
of turning them out upon the world, until such time as they might be
able to show substantial signs of reform. “For,” he said, “those who
have read science in their boyhood, and who in youth, agitated by evil
passions, have remained in the insolence of ignorance, feel regret in
their old age, and are consumed by the fire of avarice.” In order
to supply them with a motive for the task proposed, he stopped their
monthly allowance But he added, if they would repair to the neighbouring
university of Jayasthal, and there show themselves something better
than a disgrace to their family, he would direct their maternal uncle to
supply them with all the necessaries of food and raiment.

In vain the youths attempted, with sighs and tears and threats of
suicide, to soften the paternal heart. He was inexorable, for two
reasons. In the first place, after wondering away the wonder with which
he regarded his own failure, he felt that a stigma now attached to
the name of the pious and learned Vishnu Swami, whose lectures upon
“Management during Teens,” and whose “Brahman Young Man’s Own Book,”
 had become standard works. Secondly, from a sense of duty, he determined
to omit nothing that might tend to reclaim the reprobates. As regards
the monthly allowance being stopped, the reverend man had become every
year a little fonder of his purse; he had hoped that his sons would have
qualified themselves to take pupils, and thus achieve for themselves, as
he phrased it, “A genteel independence”; whilst they openly derided the
career, calling it “an admirable provision for the more indigent members
of the middle classes.” For which reason he referred them to their
maternal uncle, a man of known and remarkable penuriousness.

The four ne’er-do-weals, foreseeing what awaited them at Jayasthal,
deferred it as a last resource; determining first to see a little life,
and to push their way in the world, before condemning themselves to the
tribulations of reform.

They tried to live without a monthly allowance, and notably they failed;
it was squeezing, as men say, oil from sand. The gambler, having no
capital, and, worse still, no credit, lost two or three suvernas[134]
at play, and could not pay them; in consequence of which he was soundly
beaten with iron-shod staves, and was nearly compelled by the keeper
of the hell to sell himself into slavery. Thus he became disgusted; and
telling his brethren that they would find him at Jayasthal, he departed,
with the intention of studying wisdom.

A month afterwards came the libertine’s turn to be disappointed. He
could no longer afford fine new clothes; even a well-washed coat was
beyond his means. He had reckoned upon his handsome face, and he had
matured a plan for laying various elderly conquests under contribution.
Judge, therefore, his disgust when all the women--high and low, rich
and poor, old and young, ugly and beautiful--seeing the end of his
waistcloth thrown empty over his shoulder, passed him in the streets
without even deigning a look. The very shopkeepers’ wives, who once had
adored his mustachio and had never ceased talking of his “elegant” gait,
despised him; and the wealthy old person who formerly supplied his small
feet with the choicest slippers, left him to starve. Upon which he also
in a state of repentance, followed his brother to acquire knowledge.

“Am I not,” quoth the thief to himself, “a cat in climbing, a deer
in running, a snake in twisting, a hawk in pouncing, a dog in
scenting?--keen as a hare, tenacious as a wolf, strong as a lion?--a
lamp in the night, a horse on a plain, a mule on a stony path, a boat in
the water, a rock on land[135]?” The reply to his own questions was
of course affirmative. But despite all these fine qualities,
and notwithstanding his scrupulous strictness in invocating the
house-breaking tool and in devoting a due portion of his gains to the
gods of plunder,[136] he was caught in a store-room by the proprietor,
who inexorably handed him over to justice. As he belonged to the
priestly caste,[137] the fine imposed upon him was heavy. He could not
pay it, and therefore he was thrown into a dungeon, where he remained
for some time. But at last he escaped from jail, when he made his
parting bow to Kartikeya,[138] stole a blanket from one of the guards,
and set out for Jayasthal, cursing his old profession.

The atheist also found himself in a position that deprived him of
all his pleasures. He delighted in afterdinner controversies, and in
bringing the light troops of his wit to bear upon the unwieldy masses of
lore and logic opposed to him by polemical Brahmans who, out of respect
for his father, did not lay an action against him for overpowering them
in theological disputation.[139] In the strange city to which he had
removed no one knew the son of Vishnu Swami, and no one cared to invite
him to the house. Once he attempted his usual trick upon a knot of
sages who, sitting round a tank, were recreating themselves with quoting
mystical Sanskrit shlokas[140] of abominable long-windedness. The result
was his being obliged to ply his heels vigorously in flight from the
justly incensed literati, to whom he had said “tush” and “pish,” at
least a dozen times in as many minutes. He therefore also followed the
example of his brethren, and started for Jayasthal with all possible
expedition.

Arrived at the house of their maternal uncle, the young men, as by one
assent, began to attempt the unloosening of his purse-strings. Signally
failing in this and in other notable schemes, they determined to lay in
that stock of facts and useful knowledge which might reconcile them with
their father, and restore them to that happy life at Gaur which they
then despised, and which now brought tears into their eyes.

Then they debated with one another what they should study

   *     *     *     *     *     *     *

That branch of the preternatural, popularly called “white magic,” found
with them favour.

   *     *     *     *     *     *     *

They chose a Guru or teacher strictly according to the orders of their
faith, a wise man of honourable family and affable demeanour, who was
not a glutton nor leprous, nor blind of one eye, nor blind of both
eyes, nor very short, nor suffering from whitlows,[141] asthma, or other
disease, nor noisy and talkative, nor with any defect about the fingers
and toes, nor subject to his wife.

   *     *     *     *     *     *     *

A grand discovery had been lately made by a certain
physiologico-philosophico-psychologico-materialist, a Jayasthalian. In
investigating the vestiges of creation, the cause of causes, the effect
of effects, and the original origin of that Matra (matter) which some
regard as an entity, others as a non-entity, others self-existent,
others merely specious and therefore unexistent, he became convinced
that the fundamental form of organic being is a globule having another
globule within itself After inhabiting a garret and diving into the
depths of his self-consciousness for a few score years, he was able to
produce such complex globule in triturated and roasted flint by means
of--I will not say what. Happily for creation in general, the discovery
died a natural death some centuries ago. An edifying spectacle, indeed,
for the world to see; a cross old man sitting amongst his gallipots and
crucibles, creating animalculae, providing the corpses of birds,
beasts, and fishes with what is vulgarly called life, and supplying to
epigenesis all the latest improvements!

In those days the invention, being a novelty, engrossed the thoughts of
the universal learned, who were in a fever of excitement about it. Some
believed in it so implicity that they saw in every experiment a
hundred things which they did not see. Others were so sceptical and
contradictory that they would not preceive what they did see. Those
blended with each fact their own deductions, whilst these span round
every reality the web of their own prejudices. Curious to say, the
Jayasthalians, amongst whom the luminous science arose, hailed it with
delight, whilst the Gaurians derided its claim to be considered an
important addition to human knowledge.

Let me try to remember a few of their words.

“Unfortunate human nature,” wrote the wise of Gaur against the wise
of Jayasthal, “wanted no crowning indignity but this! You had already
proved that the body is made of the basest element--earth. You had
argued away the immovability, the ubiquity, the permanency, the
eternity, and the divinity of the soul, for is not your favourite axiom,
‘It is the nature of limbs which thinketh in man’? The immortal mind is,
according to you, an ignoble viscus; the god-like gift of reason is the
instinct of a dog somewhat highly developed. Still you left us something
to hope. Still you allowed us one boast. Still life was a thread
connecting us with the Giver of Life. But now, with an impious hand,
in blasphemous rage ye have rent asunder that last frail tie.” And so
forth.

“Welcome! thrice welcome! this latest and most admirable development of
human wisdom,” wrote the sage Jayasthalians against the sage Gaurians,
“which has assigned to man his proper state and status and station in
the magnificent scale of being. We have not created the facts which
we have investigated, and which we now proudly publish. We have proved
materialism to be nature’s own system. But our philosophy of matter
cannot overturn any truth, because, if erroneous, it will necessarily
sink into oblivion; if real, it will tend only to instruct and to
enlighten the world. Wise are ye in your generation, O ye sages of Gaur,
yet withal wondrous illogical.” And much of this kind.

Concerning all which, mighty king! I, as a Vampire, have only to
remark that those two learned bodies, like your Rajaship’s Nine Gems
of Science, were in the habit of talking most about what they least
understood.

The four young men applied the whole force of their talents to mastering
the difficulties of the life-giving process; and in due time, their
industry obtained its reward.

Then they determined to return home. As with beating hearts they
approached the old city, their birthplace, and gazed with moistened eyes
upon its tall spires and grim pagodas, its verdant meads and venerable
groves, they saw a Kanjar,[142] who, having tied up in a bundle the skin
and bones of a tiger which he had found dead, was about to go on his
way. Then said the thief to the gambler, “Take we these remains with us,
and by means of them prove the truth of our science before the people
of Gaur, to the offence of their noses.[143]” Being now possessed of
knowledge, they resolved to apply it to its proper purpose, namely,
power over the property of others. Accordingly, the wencher, the
gambler, and the atheist kept the Kanjar in conversation whilst the
thief vivified a shank bone; and the bone thereupon stood upright, and
hopped about in so grotesque and wonderful a way that the man, being
frightened, fled as if I had been close behind him.

Vishnu Swami had lately written a very learned commentary on the
mystical words of Lokakshi:

“The Scriptures are at variance--the tradition is at variance. He who
gives a meaning of his own, quoting the Vedas, is no philosopher.

“True philosophy, through ignorance, is concealed as in the fissures of
a rock.

“But the way of the Great One--that is to be followed.”

And the success of his book had quite effaced from the Brahman mind the
holy man’s failure in bringing up his children. He followed up this by
adding to his essay on education a twentieth tome, containing recipes
for the “Reformation of Prodigals.”

The learned and reverend father received his sons with open arms. He had
heard from his brother-in-law that the youths were qualified to
support themselves, and when informed that they wished to make a public
experiment of their science, he exerted himself, despite his disbelief
in it, to forward their views.

The Pandits and Gurus were long before they would consent to attend what
they considered dealings with Yama (the Devil). In consequence, however,
of Vishnu Swami’s name and importunity, at length, on a certain day,
all the pious, learned, and reverend tutors, teachers, professors,
prolocutors, pastors, spiritual fathers, poets, philosophers,
mathematicians, schoolmasters, pedagogues, bear-leaders, institutors,
gerund-grinders, preceptors, dominies, brushers, coryphaei, dry-nurses,
coaches, mentors, monitors, lecturers, prelectors, fellows, and heads of
houses at the university at Gaur, met together in a large garden,
where they usually diverted themselves out of hours with ball-tossing,
pigeon-tumbling, and kite-flying.

Presently the four young men, carrying their bundle of bones and the
other requisites, stepped forward, walking slowly with eyes downcast,
like shrinking cattle: for it is said, the Brahman must not run, even
when it rains.

After pronouncing an impromptu speech, composed for them by their
father, and so stuffed with erudition that even the writer hardly
understood it, they announced their wish to prove, by ocular
demonstration, the truth of a science upon which their short-sighted
rivals of Jayasthal had cast cold water, but which, they remarked in the
eloquent peroration of their discourse, the sages of Gaur had
welcomed with that wise and catholic spirit of inquiry which had ever
characterized their distinguished body.

Huge words, involved sentences, and the high-flown compliment,
exceedingly undeserved, obscured, I suppose, the bright wits of the
intellectual convocation, which really began to think that their
liberality of opinion deserved all praise.

None objected to what was being prepared, except one of the heads of
houses; his appeal was generally scouted, because his Sanskrit style was
vulgarly intelligible, and he had the bad name of being a practical man.
The metaphysician Rashik Lall sneered to Vaiswata the poet, who passed
on the look to the theo-philosopher Vardhaman. Haridatt the antiquarian
whispered the metaphysician Vasudeva, who burst into a loud laugh;
whilst Narayan, Jagasharma, and Devaswami, all very learned in
the Vedas, opened their eyes and stared at him with well-simulated
astonishment. So he, being offended, said nothing more, but arose and
walked home.

A great crowd gathered round the four young men and their father, as
opening the bundle that contained the tiger’s remains, they prepared for
their task.

One of the operators spread the bones upon the ground and fixed each one
into its proper socket, not forgetting even the teeth and tusks.

The second connected, by means of a marvellous unguent, the skeleton
with the muscles and heart of an elephant, which he had procured for the
purpose.

The third drew from his pouch the brain and eyes of a large tom-cat,
which he carefully fitted into the animal’s skull, and then covered the
body with the hide of a young rhinoceros.

Then the fourth--the atheist--who had been directing the operation,
produced a globule having another globule within itself. And as the
crowd pressed on them, craning their necks, breathless with anxiety,
he placed the Principle of Organic Life in the tiger’s body with such
effect that the monster immediately heaved its chest, breathed, agitated
its limbs, opened its eyes, jumped to its feet, shook itself, glared
around, and began to gnash its teeth and lick its chops, lashing the
while its ribs with its tail.

The sages sprang back, and the beast sprang forward. With a roar like
thunder during Elephanta-time,[144] it flew at the nearest of the
spectators, flung Vishnu Swami to the ground and clawed his four sons.
Then, not even stopping to drink their blood, it hurried after the
flying herd of wise men. Jostling and tumbling, stumbling and catching
at one another’s long robes, they rushed in hottest haste towards the
garden gate. But the beast, having the muscles of an elephant as well as
the bones of a tiger, made a few bounds of eighty or ninety feet each,
easily distanced them, and took away all chance of escape. To be brief:
as the monster was frightfully hungry after its long fast, and as
the imprudent young men had furnished it with admirable implements of
destruction, it did not cease its work till one hundred and twenty-one
learned and highly distinguished Pandits and Gurus lay upon the ground
chawed, clawed, sucked dry, and in most cases stone-dead. Amongst them,
I need hardly say, were the sage Vishnu Swami and his four sons.

Having told this story the Vampire hung silent for a time. Presently he
resumed--

“Now, heed my words, Raja Vikram! I am about to ask thee, Which of
all those learned men was the most finished fool? The answer is easily
found, yet it must be distasteful to thee. Therefore mortify thy vanity,
as soon as possible, or I shall be talking, and thou wilt be walking
through this livelong night, to scanty purpose. Remember! science
without understanding is of little use; indeed, understanding is
superior to science, and those devoid of understanding perish as did the
persons who revivified the tiger. Before this, I warned thee to beware
of thyself, and of thine own conceit. Here, then, is an opportunity for
self-discipline--which of all those learned men was the greatest fool?”

The warrior king mistook the kind of mortification imposed upon him, and
pondered over the uncomfortable nature of the reply--in the presence of
his son.

Again the Baital taunted him.

“The greatest fool of all,” at last said Vikram, in slow and by no means
willing accents, “was the father. Is it not said, ‘There is no fool like
an old fool’?”

“Gramercy!” cried the Vampire, bursting out into a discordant laugh, “I
now return to my tree. By this head! I never before heard a father so
readily condemn a father.” With these words he disappeared, slipping out
of the bundle.

The Raja scolded his son a little for want of obedience, and said that
he had always thought more highly of his acuteness--never could have
believed that he would have been taken in by so shallow a trick. Dharma
Dhwaj answered not a word to this, but promised to be wiser another
time.

Then they returned to the tree, and did what they had so often done
before.

And, as before, the Baital held his tongue for a time. Presently he
began as follows.



THE VAMPIRE’S EIGHTH STORY -- Of the Use and Misuse of Magic Pills.


The lady Chandraprabha, daughter of the Raja Subichar, was a
particularly beautiful girl, and marriage-able withal. One day as
Vasanta, the Spring, began to assert its reign over the world, animate
and inanimate, she went accompanied by her young friends and companions
to stroll about her father’s pleasure-garden.

The fair troop wandered through sombre groves, where the dark
tamale-tree entwined its branches with the pale green foliage of the
nim, and the pippal’s domes of quivering leaves contrasted with the
columnar aisles of the banyan fig. They admired the old monarchs of the
forest, bearded to the waist with hangings of moss, the flowing creepers
delicately climbing from the lower branches to the topmost shoots, and
the cordage of llianas stretching from trunk to trunk like bridges for
the monkeys to pass over. Then they issued into a clear space dotted
with asokas bearing rich crimson flowers, cliterias of azure blue,
madhavis exhibiting petals virgin white as the snows on Himalaya, and
jasmines raining showers of perfumed blossoms upon the grateful earth.
They could not sufficiently praise the tall and graceful stem of the
arrowy areca, contrasting with the solid pyramid of the cypress, and the
more masculine stature of the palm. Now they lingered in the trellised
walks closely covered over with vines and creepers; then they stopped to
gather the golden bloom weighing down the mango boughs, and to smell
the highly-scented flowers that hung from the green fretwork of the
chambela.

It was spring, I have said. The air was still except when broken by the
hum of the large black bramra bee, as he plied his task amidst the red
and orange flowers of the dak, and by the gushings of many waters that
made music as they coursed down their stuccoed channels between borders
of many coloured poppies and beds of various flowers. From time to
time the dulcet note of the kokila bird, and the hoarse plaint of
the turtle-dove deep hid in her leafy bower, attracted every ear and
thrilled every heart. The south wind--“breeze of the south,[145] the
friend of love and spring” blew with a voluptuous warmth, for rain
clouds canopied the earth, and the breath of the narcissus, the rose,
and the citron, teemed with a languid fragrance.

The charms of the season affected all the damsels. They amused
themselves in their privacy with pelting blossoms at one another,
running races down the smooth broad alleys, mounting the silken swings
that hung between the orange trees, embracing one another, and at times
trying to push the butt of the party into the fishpond. Perhaps the
liveliest of all was the lady Chandraprabha, who on account of her rank
could pelt and push all the others, without fear of being pelted and
pushed in return.

It so happened, before the attendants had had time to secure privacy
for the princess and her women, that Manaswi, a very handsome youth, a
Brahman’s son, had wandered without malicious intention into the garden.
Fatigued with walking, and finding a cool shady place beneath a tree, he
had lain down there, and had gone to sleep, and had not been observed
by any of the king’s people. He was still sleeping when the princess and
her companions were playing together.

Presently Chandraprabha, weary of sport, left her friends, and singing
a lively air, tripped up the stairs leading to the summer-house.
Aroused by the sound of her advancing footsteps, Manaswi sat up; and
the princess, seeing a strange man, started. But their eyes had met, and
both were subdued by love--love vulgarly called “love at first sight.”

“Nonsense!” exclaimed the warrior king, testily, “I can never believe in
that freak of Kama Deva.” He spoke feelingly, for the thing had happened
to himself more than once, and on no occasion had it turned out well.

“But there is such a thing, O Raja, as love at first sight,” objected
the Baital, speaking dogmatically.

“Then perhaps thou canst account for it, dead one,” growled the monarch
surlily.

“I have no reason to do so, O Vikram,” retorted the Vampire, “when you
men have already done it. Listen, then, to the words of the wise. In the
olden time, one of your great philosophers invented a fluid pervading
all matter, strongly self-repulsive like the steam of a brass pot, and
widely spreading like the breath of scandal. The repulsiveness, however,
according to that wise man, is greatly modified by its second property,
namely, an energetic attraction or adhesion to all material bodies. Thus
every substance contains a part, more or less, of this fluid, pervading
it throughout, and strongly bound to each component atom. He called
it ‘Ambericity,’ for the best of reasons, as it has no connection with
amber, and he described it as an imponderable, which, meaning that it
could not be weighed, gives a very accurate and satisfactory idea of its
nature.

“Now, said that philosopher, whenever two bodies containing that
unweighable substance in unequal proportions happen to meet, a current
of imponderable passes from one to the other, producing a kind
of attraction, and tending to adhere. The operation takes place
instantaneously when the force is strong and much condensed. Thus the
vulgar who call things after their effects and not from their causes,
term the action of this imponderable love at first sight; the wise
define it to be a phenomenon of ambericity. As regards my own opinion
about the matter, I have long ago told it to you, O Vikram! Silliness--”

“Either hold your tongue, fellow, or go on with your story,” cried the
Raja, wearied out by so many words that had no manner of sense.

Well! the effect of the first glance was that Manaswi, the Brahman’s
son, fell back in a swoon and remained senseless upon the ground where
he had been sitting; and the Raja’s daughter began to tremble upon
her feet, and presently dropped unconscious upon the floor of the
summer-house. Shortly after this she was found by her companions and
attendants, who, quickly taking her up in their arms and supporting her
into a litter, conveyed her home.

Manaswi, the Brahman’s son, was so completely overcome, that he lay
there dead to everything. Just then the learned, deeply read, and
purblind Pandits Muldev and Shashi by name, strayed into the garden, and
stumbled upon the body.

“Friend,” said Muldev, “how came this youth thus to fall senseless on
the ground?”

“Man,” replied Shashi, “doubtless some damsel has shot forth the arrows
of her glances from the bow of her eyebrows, and thence he has become
insensible!”

“We must lift him up then,” said Muldev the benevolent.

“What need is there to raise him?” asked Shashi the misanthrope by way
of reply.

Muldev, however, would not listen to these words. He ran to the pond
hard by, soaked the end of his waistcloth in water, sprinkled it over
the young Brahman, raised him from the ground, and placed him sitting
against the wall. And perceiving, when he came to himself, that his
sickness was rather of the soul than of the body, the old men asked him
how he came to be in that plight.

“We should tell our griefs,” answered Manaswi, “only to those who will
relieve us! What is the use of communicating them to those who, when
they have heard, cannot help us? What is to be gained by the empty pity
or by the useless condolence of men in general?”

The Pandits, however, by friendly looks and words, presently persuaded
him to break silence, when he said, “A certain princess entered this
summer-house, and from the sight of her I have fallen into this state.
If I can obtain her, I shall live; if not, I must die.”

“Come with me, young man!” said Muldev the benevolent: “I will use
every endeavour to obtain her, and if I do not succeed I will make thee
wealthy and independent of the world.”

Manaswi rejoined: “The Deity in his beneficence has created many jewels
in this world, but the pearl, woman, is chiefest of all; and for
her sake only does man desire wealth. What are riches to one who has
abandoned his wife? What are they who do not possess beautiful wives?
they are but beings inferior to the beasts! wealth is the fruit of
virtue; ease, of wealth; a wife, of ease. And where no wife is, how can
there be happiness?” And the enamoured youth rambled on in this way,
curious to us, Raja Vikram, but perhaps natural enough in a Brahman’s
son suffering under that endemic malady--determination to marry.

“Whatever thou mayest desire,” said Muldev, “shall by the blessing of
heaven be given to thee.”

Manaswi implored him, saying most pathetically, “O Pandit, bestow then
that damsel upon me!”

Muldev promised to do so, and having comforted the youth, led him to his
own house. Then he welcomed him politely, seated him upon the carpet,
and left him for a few minutes, promising him to return. When he
reappeared, he held in his hand two little balls or pills, and showing
them to Manaswi, he explained their virtues as follows:

“There is in our house an hereditary secret, by means of which I try to
promote the weal of humanity. But in all cases my success depends mainly
upon the purity and the heartwholeness of those that seek my aid. If
thou place this in thy mouth, thou shalt be changed into a damsel twelve
years old, and when thou withdrawest it again, thou shalt again recover
thine original form. Beware, however, that thou use the power for none
but a good purpose; otherwise some great calamity will befall thee.
Therefore, take counsel of thyself before undertaking this trial!”

What lover, O warrior king Vikram, would have hesitated, under such
circumstances, to assure the Pandit that he was the most innocent,
earnest, and well-intentioned being in the Three Worlds?

The Brahman’s son, at least, lost no time in so doing. Hence the
simple-minded philosopher put one of the pills into the young man’s
mouth, warning him on no account to swallow it, and took the other into
his own mouth. Upon which Manaswi became a sprightly young maid, and
Muldev was changed to a reverend and decrepid senior, not fewer than
eighty years old.

Thus transformed, the twain walked up to the palace of the Raja
Subichar, and stood for a while to admire the gate. Then passing
through seven courts, beautiful as the Paradise of Indra, they entered,
unannounced, as became the priestly dignity, a hall where, surrounded by
his courtiers, sat the ruler. The latter, seeing the Holy Brahman under
his roof, rose up, made the customary humble salutation, and taking
their right hands, led what appeared to be the father and daughter to
appropriate seats. Upon which Muldev, having recited a verse, bestowed
upon the Raja a blessing whose beauty has been diffused over all
creation.

“May that Deity[146] who as a mannikin deceived the great king Bali; who
as a hero, with a monkey-host, bridged the Salt Sea; who as a shepherd
lifted up the mountain Gobarddhan in the palm of his hand, and by it
saved the cowherds and cowherdesses from the thunders of heaven--may
that Deity be thy protector!”

Having heard and marvelled at this display of eloquence, the Raja
inquired, “Whence hath your holiness come?”

“My country,” replied Muldev, “is on the northern side of the great
mother Ganges, and there too my dwelling is. I travelled to a distant
land, and having found in this maiden a worthy wife for my son, I
straightway returned homewards. Meanwhile a famine had laid waste our
village, and my wife and my son have fled I know not where. Encumbered
with this damsel, how can I wander about seeking them? Hearing the name
of a pious and generous ruler, I said to myself, ‘I will leave her under
his charge until my return.’ Be pleased to take great care of her.”

For a minute the Raja sat thoughtful and silent. He was highly pleased
with the Brahman’s perfect compliment. But he could not hide from
himself that he was placed between two difficulties: one, the charge
of a beautiful young girl, with pouting lips, soft speech, and roguish
eyes; the other, a priestly curse upon himself and his kingdom. He
thought, however, refusal the more dangerous; so he raised his face
and exclaimed, “O produce of Brahma’s head,[147] I will do what your
highness has desired of me.”

Upon which the Brahman, after delivering a benediction of adieu almost
as beautiful and spirit-stirring as that with which he had presented
himself, took the betel[148] and went his ways.

Then the Raja sent for his daughter Chandraprabha and said to her, “This
is the affianced bride of a young Brahman, and she has been trusted to
my protection for a time by her father-in-law. Take her therefore into
the inner rooms, treat her with the utmost regard, and never allow her
to be separated from thee, day or night, asleep or awake, eating or
drinking, at home or abroad.”

Chandraprabha took the hand of Sita--as Manaswi had pleased to call
himself--and led the way to her own apartment. Once the seat of joy and
pleasure, the rooms now wore a desolate and melancholy look. The windows
were darkened, the attendants moved noiselessly over the carpets, as
if their footsteps would cause headache, and there was a faint scent of
some drug much used in cases of deliquium. The apartments were handsome,
but the only ornament in the room where they sat was a large bunch
of withered flowers in an arched recess, and these, though possibly
interesting to some one, were not likely to find favour as a decoration
in the eyes of everybody.

The Raja’s daughter paid the greatest attention and talked with unusual
vivacity to the Brahman’s daughter-in-law, either because she had
roguish eyes, or from some presentiment of what was to occur, whichever
you please, Raja Vikram, and it is no matter which. Still Sita could not
help perceiving that there was a shade of sorrow upon the forehead of
her fair new friend, and so when they retired to rest she asked the
cause of it.

Then Chandraprabha related to her the sad tale: “One day in the spring
season, as I was strolling in the garden along with my companions,
I beheld a very handsome Brahman, and our eyes having met, he became
unconscious, and I also was insensible. My companions seeing my
condition, brought me home, and therefore I know neither his name nor
his abode. His beautiful form is impressed upon my memory. I have now no
desire to eat or to drink, and from this distress my colour has become
pale and my body is thus emaciated.” And the beautiful princess sighed
a sigh that was musical and melancholy, and concluded by predicting for
herself--as persons similarly placed often do--a sudden and untimely end
about the beginning of the next month.

“What wilt thou give me,” asked the Brahman’s daughter-in-law demurely,
“if I show thee thy beloved at this very moment?”

The Raja’s daughter answered, “I will ever be the lowest of thy slaves,
standing before thee with joined hands.”

Upon which Sita removed the pill from her mouth, and instantly having
become Manaswi, put it carefully away in a little bag hung round his
neck. At this sight Chandraprabha felt abashed, and hung down her head
in beautiful confusion. To describe--

“I will have no descriptions, Vampire!” cried the great Vikram, jerking
the bag up and down as if he were sweating gold in it. “The fewer of thy
descriptions the better for us all.”

Briefly (resumed the demon), Manaswi reflected upon the eight forms of
marriage--viz., Bramhalagan, when a girl is given to a Brahman, or man
of superior caste, without reward; Daiva, when she is presented as
a gift or fee to the officiating priest at the close of a sacrifice;
Arsha, when two cows are received by the girl’s father in exchange for
the bride[149]; Prajapatya, when the girl is given at the request of a
Brahman, and the father says to his daughter and her to betrothed, “Go,
fulfil the duties of religion”; Asura, when money is received by the
father in exchange for the bride; Rakshasha, when she is captured in
war, or when her bridegroom overcomes his rival; Paisacha, when the
girl is taken away from her father’s house by craft; and eighthly,
Gandharva-lagan, or the marriage that takes place by mutual
consent.[150]

Manaswi preferred the latter, especially as by her rank and age the
princess was entitled to call upon her father for the Lakshmi Swayambara
wedding, in which she would have chosen her own husband. And thus it is
that Rama, Arjuna, Krishna, Nala, and others, were proposed to by the
princesses whom they married.

For five months after these nuptials, Manaswi never stirred out of
the palace, but remained there by day a woman, and a man by night. The
consequence was that he--I call him “he,” for whether Manaswi or Sita,
his mind ever remained masculine--presently found himself in a fair way
to become a father.

Now, one would imagine that a change of sex every twenty-four hours
would be variety enough to satisfy even a man. Manaswi, however, was not
contented. He began to pine for more liberty, and to find fault with his
wife for not taking him out into the world. And you might have supposed
that a young person who, from love at first sight, had fallen senseless
upon the steps of a summer-house, and who had devoted herself to a
sudden and untimely end because she was separated from her lover, would
have repressed her yawns and little irritable words even for a year
after having converted him into a husband. But no! Chandraprabha soon
felt as tired of seeing Manaswi and nothing but Manaswi, as Manaswi was
weary of seeing Chandraprabha and nothing but Chandraprabha. Often she
had been on the point of proposing visits and out-of-door excursions.
But when at last the idea was first suggested by her husband, she at
once became an injured woman. She hinted how foolish it was for married
people to imprison themselves and to quarrel all day. When Manaswi
remonstrated, saying that he wanted nothing better than to appear before
the world with her as his wife, but that he really did not know what
her father might do to him, she threw out a cutting sarcasm upon his
effeminate appearance during the hours of light. She then told him of
an unfortunate young woman in an old nursery tale who had unconsciously
married a fiend that became a fine handsome man at night when no
eye could see him, and utter ugliness by day when good looks show to
advantage. And lastly, when inveighing against the changeableness,
fickleness, and infidelity of mankind, she quoted the words of the
poet--

               Out upon change! it tires the heart
                      And weighs the noble spirit down;
               A vain, vain world indeed thou art
                      That can such vile condition own
               The veil hath fallen from my eyes,
                      I cannot love where I despise....

You can easily, O King Vikram, continue for yourself and conclude this
lecture, which I leave unfinished on account of its length.

Chandraprabha and Sita, who called each other the Zodiacal Twins and
Laughter Light,[151] and All-consenters, easily persuaded the old
Raja that their health would be further improved by air, exercise, and
distractions. Subichar, being delighted with the change that had taken
place in a daughter whom he loved, and whom he had feared to lose, told
them to do as they pleased. They began a new life, in which short trips
and visits, baths and dances, music parties, drives in bullock chariots,
and water excursions succeeded one another.

It so happened that one day the Raja went with his whole family to a
wedding feast in the house of his grand treasurer, where the latter’s
son saw Manaswi in the beautiful shape of Sita. This was a third case of
love at first sight, for the young man immediately said to a particular
friend, “If I obtain that girl, I shall live; if not, I shall abandon
life.”

In the meantime the king, having enjoyed the feast, came back to his
palace with his whole family. The condition of the treasurer’s son,
however, became very distressing; and through separation from his
beloved, he gave up eating and drinking. The particular friend had kept
the secret for some days, though burning to tell it. At length he found
an excuse for himself in the sad state of his friend, and he immediately
went and divulged all that he knew to the treasurer. After this he felt
relieved.

The minister repaired to the court, and laid his case before the king,
saying, “Great Raja! through the love of that Brahman’s daughter-in-law,
my son’s state is very bad; he has given up eating and drinking; in fact
he is consumed by the fire of separation. If now your majesty could show
compassion, and bestow the girl upon him, his life would be saved. If
not----”

“Fool!” cried the Raja, who, hearing these words, had waxed very wroth;
“it is not right for kings to do injustice. Listen! when a person puts
any one in charge of a protector, how can the latter give away his trust
without consulting the person that trusted him? And yet this is what you
wish me to do.”

The treasurer knew that the Raja could not govern his realm without
him, and he was well acquainted with his master’s character. He said
to himself, “This will not last long;” but he remained dumb, simulating
hopelessness, and hanging down his head, whilst Subichar alternately
scolded and coaxed, abused and flattered him, in order to open his lips.
Then, with tears in his eyes, he muttered a request to take leave; and
as he passed through the palace gates, he said aloud, with a resolute
air, “It will cost me but ten days of fasting!”

The treasurer, having returned home, collected all his attendants, and
went straightway to his son’s room. Seeing the youth still stretched
upon his sleeping-mat, and very yellow for the want of food, he took his
hand, and said in a whisper, meant to be audible, “Alas! poor son, I can
do nothing but perish with thee.”

The servants, hearing this threat, slipped one by one out of the room,
and each went to tell his friend that the grand treasurer had resolved
to live no longer. After which, they went back to the house to see if
their master intended to keep his word, and curious to know, if he did
intend to die, how, where, and when it was to be. And they were not
disappointed: I do not mean that the wished their lord to die, as he was
a good master to them but still there was an excitement in the thing----

(Raja Vikram could not refrain from showing his anger at the insult thus
cast by the Baital upon human nature; the wretch, however, pretending
not to notice it, went on without interrupting himself)

----which somehow or other pleased them.

When the treasurer had spent three days without touching bread or water,
all the cabinet council met and determined to retire from business
unless the Raja yielded to their solicitations. The treasurer was their
working man. “Besides which,” said the cabinet council, “if a certain
person gets into the habit of refusing us, what is to be the end of it,
and what is the use of being cabinet councillors any longer?”

Early on the next morning, the ministers went in a body before the Raja,
and humbly represented that “the treasurer’s son is at the point of
death, the effect of a full heart and an empty stomach. Should he die,
the father, who has not eaten or drunk during the last three days” (the
Raja trembled to hear the intelligence, though he knew it), “his father,
we say, cannot be saved. If the father dies the affairs of the kingdom
come to ruin,--is he not the grand treasurer? It is already said
that half the accounts have been gnawed by white ants, and that some
pernicious substance in the ink has eaten jagged holes through the
paper, so that the other half of the accounts is illegible. It were
best, sire, that you agree to what we represent.”

The white ants and corrosive ink were too strong for the Raja’s
determination. Still, wishing to save appearances, he replied, with much
firmness, that he knew the value of the treasurer and his son, that he
would do much to save them, but that he had passed his royal word, and
had undertaken a trust. That he would rather die a dozen deaths than
break his promise, or not discharge his duty faithfully. That man’s
condition in this world is to depart from it, none remaining in it;
that one comes and that one goes, none knowing when or where; but that
eternity is eternity for happiness or misery. And much of the same
nature, not very novel, and not perhaps quite to the purpose, but
edifying to those who knew what lay behind the speaker’s words.

The ministers did not know their lord’s character so well as the grand
treasurer, and they were more impressed by his firm demeanour and the
number of his words than he wished them to be. After allowing his speech
to settle in their minds, he did away with a great part of its effect by
declaring that such were the sentiments and the principles--when a man
talks of his principles, O Vikram! ask thyself the reason why--instilled
into his youthful mind by the most honourable of fathers and the most
virtuous of mothers. At the same time that he was by no means obstinate
or proof against conviction. In token whereof he graciously permitted
the councillors to convince him that it was his royal duty to break his
word and betray his trust, and to give away another man’s wife.

Pray do not lose your temper, O warrior king! Subichar, although a Raja,
was a weak man; and you know, or you ought to know, that the wicked may
be wise in their generation, but the weak never can.

Well, the ministers hearing their lord’s last words, took courage, and
proceeded to work upon his mind by the figure of speech popularly called
“rigmarole.” They said: “Great king! that old Brahman has been gone
many days, and has not returned; he is probably dead and burnt. It
is therefore right that by giving to the grand treasurer’s son his
daughter-in-law, who is only affianced, not fairly married, you should
establish your government firmly. And even if he should return, bestow
villages and wealth upon him; and if he be not then content, provide
another and a more beautiful wife for his son, and dismiss him. A person
should be sacrificed for the sake of a family, a family for a city, a
city for a country, and a country for a king!”

Subichar having heard them, dismissed them with the remark that as so
much was to be said on both sides, he must employ the night in thinking
over the matter, and that he would on the next day favour them with his
decision. The cabinet councillors knew by this that he meant that he
would go and consult his wives. They retired contented, convinced that
every voice would be in favour of a wedding, and that the young girl,
with so good an offer, would not sacrifice the present to the future.

That evening the treasurer and his son supped together.

The first words uttered by Raja Subichar, when he entered his daughter’s
apartment, were an order addressed to Sita: “Go thou at once to the
house of my treasurer’s son.”

Now, as Chandraprabha and Manaswi were generally scolding each other,
Chandraprabha and Sita were hardly on speaking terms. When they heard
the Raja’s order for their separation they were--

--“Delighted?” cried Dharma Dhwaj, who for some reason took the greatest
interest in the narrative.

“Overwhelmed with grief, thou most guileless Yuva Raja (young prince)!”
 ejaculated the Vampire.

Raja Vikram reproved his son for talking about thing of which he knew
nothing, and the Baital resumed.

They turned pale and wept, and they wrung their hands, and they begged
and argued and refused obedience. In fact they did everything to make
the king revoke his order.

“The virtue of a woman,” quoth Sita, “is destroyed through too much
beauty; the religion of a Brahman is impaired by serving kings; a cow
is spoiled by distant pasturage, wealth is lost by committing injustice,
and prosperity departs from the house where promises are not kept.”

The Raja highly applauded the sentiment, but was firm as a rock upon the
subject of Sita marrying the treasurer’s son.

Chandraprabha observed that her royal father, usually so conscientious,
must now be acting from interested motives, and that when selfishness
sways a man, right becomes left and left becomes right, as in the
reflection of a mirror.

Subichar approved of the comparison; he was not quite so resolved, but
he showed no symptoms of changing his mind.

Then the Brahman’s daughter-in-law, with the view of gaining time--a
famous stratagem amongst feminines--said to the Raja: “Great king, if
you are determined upon giving me to the grand treasurer’s son, exact
from him the promise that he will do what I bid him. Only on this
condition will I ever enter his house!”

“Speak, then,” asked the king; “what will he have to do?”

She replied, “I am of the Brahman or priestly caste, he is the son of a
Kshatriya or warrior: the law directs that before we twain can wed, he
should perform Yatra (pilgrimage) to all the holy places.”

“Thou hast spoken Veda-truth, girl,” answered the Raja, not sorry to
have found so good a pretext for temporizing, and at the same time to
preserve his character for firmness, resolution, determination.

That night Manaswi and Chandraprabha, instead of scolding each other,
congratulated themselves upon having escaped an imminent danger--which
they did not escape.

In the morning Subichar sent for his ministers, including his grand
treasurer and his love-sick son, and told them how well and wisely the
Brahman’s daughter-in-law had spoken upon the subject of the marriage.
All of them approved of the condition; but the young man ventured to
suggest, that while he was a-pilgrimaging the maiden should reside under
his father’s roof. As he and his father showed a disposition to continue
their fasts in case of the small favour not being granted, the Raja,
though very loath to separate his beloved daughter and her dear friend,
was driven to do it. And Sita was carried off, weeping bitterly, to the
treasurer’s palace. That dignitary solemnly committed her to the charge
of his third and youngest wife, the lady Subhagya-Sundari, who was about
her own age, and said, “You must both live together, without any kind of
wrangling or contention, and do not go into other people’s houses.” And
the grand treasurer’s son went off to perform his pilgrimages.

It is no less sad than true, Raja Vikram, that in less than six days the
disconsolate Sita waxed weary of being Sita, took the ball out of her
mouth, and became Manaswi. Alas for the infidelity of mankind! But it
is gratifying to reflect that he met with the punishment with which the
Pandit Muldev had threatened him. One night the magic pill slipped down
his throat. When morning dawned, being unable to change himself into
Sita, Manaswi was obliged to escape through a window from the lady
Subhagya-Sundari’s room. He sprained his ankle with the leap, and he lay
for a time upon the ground--where I leave him whilst convenient to me.

When Muldev quitted the presence of Subichar, he resumed his old shape,
and returning to his brother Pandit Shashi, told him what he had done.
Whereupon Shashi, the misanthrope, looked black, and used hard words and
told his friend that good nature and soft-heartedness had caused him to
commit a very bad action--a grievous sin. Incensed at this charge, the
philanthropic Muldev became angry, and said, “I have warned the youth
about his purity; what harm can come of it?”

“Thou hast,” retorted Shashi, with irritating coolness, “placed a sharp
weapon in a fool’s hand.”

“I have not,” cried Muldev, indignantly.

“Therefore,” drawled the malevolent, “you are answerable for all the
mischief he does with it, and mischief assuredly he will do.”

“He will not, by Brahma!” exclaimed Muldev.

“He will, by Vishnu!” said Shashi, with an amiability produced by having
completely upset his friend’s temper; “and if within the coming six
months he does not disgrace himself, thou shalt have the whole of my
book-case; but if he does, the philanthropic Muldev will use all his
skill and ingenuity in procuring the daughter of Raja Subichar as a wife
for his faithful friend Shashi.”

Having made this covenant, they both agreed not to speak of the matter
till the autumn.

The appointed time drawing near, the Pandits began to make inquiries
about the effect of the magic pills. Presently they found out that Sita,
alias Manaswi, had one night mysteriously disappeared from the grand
treasurer’s house, and had not been heard of since that time. This,
together with certain other things that transpired presently, convinced
Muldev, who had cooled down in six months, that his friend had won the
wager. He prepared to make honourable payment by handing a pill to old
Shashi, who at once became a stout, handsome young Brahman, some twenty
years old. Next putting a pill into his own mouth, he resumed the shape
and form under which he had first appeared before Raja Subichar; and,
leaning upon his staff, he led the way to the palace.

The king, in great confusion, at once recognized the old priest, and
guessed the errand upon which he and the youth were come. However, he
saluted them, and offered them seats, and receiving their blessings,
he began to make inquiries about their health and welfare. At last he
mustered courage to ask the old Brahman where he had been living for so
long a time.

“Great king,” replied the priest, “I went to seek after my son, and
having found him, I bring him to your majesty. Give him his wife, and I
will take them both home with me.”

Raja Subichar prevaricated not a little; but presently, being hard
pushed, he related everything that had happened.

“What is this that you have done?” cried Muldev, simulating excessive
anger and astonishment. “Why have you given my son’s wife in marriage to
another man? You have done what you wished, and now, therefore, receive
my Shrap (curse)!”

The poor Raja, in great trepidation, said, “O Vivinity! be not thus
angry! I will do whatever you bid me.”

Said Muldev, “If through dread of my excommunication you will freely
give whatever I demand of you, then marry your daughter, Chandraprabha,
to this my son. On this condition I forgive you. To me, now a necklace
of pearls and a venomous krishna (cobra capella); the most powerful
enemy and the kindest friend, the most precious gem and a clod of
earth; the softest bed and the hardest stone; a blade of grass and the
loveliest woman--are precisely the same. All I desire is that in some
holy place, repeating the name of God, I may soon end my days.”

Subichar, terrified by this additional show of sanctity, at once
summoned an astrologer, and fixed upon the auspicious moment and lunar
influence. He did not consult the princess, and had he done so she would
not have resisted his wishes. Chandraprabha had heard of Sita’s
escape from the treasurer’s house, and she had on the subject her own
suspicions. Besides which she looked forward to a certain event, and
she was by no means sure that her royal father approved of the Gandharba
form of marriage--at least for his daughter. Thus the Brahman’s son
receiving in due time the princess and her dowry, took leave of the king
and returned to his own village.

Hardly, however, had Chandraprabha been married to Shashi the Pandit,
when Manaswi went to him, and began to wrangle, and said, “Give me my
wife!” He had recovered from the effects of his fall, and having lost
her he therefore loved her--very dearly.

But Shashi proved by reference to the astrologers, priests, and ten
persons as witnesses, that he had duly wedded her, and brought her to
his home; “therefore,” said he, “she is my spouse.”

Manaswi swore by all holy things that he had been legally married to
her, and that he was the father of her child that was about to be. “How
then,” continued he, “can she be thy spouse?” He would have summoned
Muldev as a witness, but that worthy, after remonstrating with him,
disappeared. He called upon Chandraprabha to confirm his statement, but
she put on an innocent face, and indignantly denied ever having seen the
man.

Still, continued the Baital, many people believed Manaswi’s story, as it
was marvellous and incredible. Even to the present day, there are
many who decidedly think him legally married to the daughter of Raja
Subichar.

“Then they are pestilent fellows!” cried the warrior king Vikram, who
hated nothing more than clandestine and runaway matches. “No one knew
that the villain, Manaswi, was the father of her child; whereas, the
Pandit Shashi married her lawfully, before witnesses, and with all the
ceremonies.[152] She therefore remains his wife, and the child will
perform the funeral obsequies for him, and offer water to the manes of
his pitris (ancestors). At least, so say law and justice.”

“Which justice is often unjust enough!” cried the Vampire; “and ply thy
legs, mighty Raja; let me see if thou canst reach the sires-tree before
I do.”

      *     *     *     *     *

“The next story, O Raja Vikram, is remarkably interesting.”



THE VAMPIRE’S NINTH STORY -- Showing That a Man’s Wife Belongs Not to His Body but to His Head.


Far and wide through the lovely land overrun by the Arya from the
Western Highlands spread the fame of Unmadini, the beautiful daughter
of Haridas the Brahman. In the numberless odes, sonnets, and acrostics
addressed to her by a hundred Pandits and poets her charms were sung
with prodigious triteness. Her presence was compared to light shining
in a dark house; her face to the full moon; her complexion to the yellow
champaka flower; her curls to female snakes; her eyes to those of the
deer; her eyebrows to bent bows; her teeth to strings of little opals;
her feet to rubies and red gems,[153] and her gait to that of the wild
goose. And none forgot to say that her voice affected the author like
the song of the kokila bird, sounding from the shadowy brake, when the
breeze blows coolly, or that the fairy beings of Indra’s heaven would
have shrunk away abashed at her loveliness.

But, Raja Vikram! all the poets failed to win the fair Unmadini’s love.
To praise the beauty of a beauty is not to praise her. Extol her wit and
talents, which has the zest of novelty, then you may succeed. For the
same reason, read inversely, the plainer and cleverer is the bosom you
would fire, the more personal you must be upon the subject of its grace
and loveliness. Flattery you know, is ever the match which kindles
the Flame of love. True it is that some by roughness of demeanour and
bluntness in speech, contrasting with those whom they call the “herd,”
 have the art to succeed in the service of the bodyless god.[154] But
even they must--

The young prince Dharma Dhwaj could not help laughing at the thought
of how this must sound in his father’s ear. And the Raja hearing
the ill-timed merriment, sternly ordered the Baital to cease his
immoralities and to continue his story.

Thus the lovely Unmadini, conceiving an extreme contempt for poets
and literati, one day told her father who greatly loved her, that her
husband must be a fine young man who never wrote verses. Withal she
insisted strongly on mental qualities and science, being a person of
moderate mind and an adorer of talent--when not perverted to poetry.

As you may imagine, Raja Vikram, all the beauty’s bosom friends, seeing
her refuse so many good offers, confidently predicted that she would
pass through the jungle and content herself with a bad stick, or that
she would lead ring-tailed apes in Patala.

At length when some time had elapsed, four suitors appeared from four
different countries, all of them claiming equal excellence in youth and
beauty, strength and understanding. And after paying their respects to
Haridas, and telling him their wishes, they were directed to come early
on the next morning and to enter upon the first ordeal--an intellectual
conversation.

This they did.

“Foolish the man,” quoth the young Mahasani, “that seeks permanence in
this world--frail as the stem of the plantain-tree, transient as the
ocean foam.

“All that is high shall presently fall; all that is low must finally
perish.

“Unwillingly do the manes of the dead taste the tears shed by their
kinsmen: then wail not, but perform the funeral obsequies with
diligence.”

“What ill-omened fellow is this?” quoth the fair Unmadini, who was
sitting behind her curtain; “besides, he has dared to quote poetry!”
 There was little chance of success for that suitor.

“She is called a good woman, and a woman of pure descent,” quoth the
second suitor, “who serves him to whom her father and mother have
given her; and it is written in the scriptures that a woman who in the
lifetime of her husband, becoming a devotee, engages in fasting, and in
austere devotion, shortens his days, and hereafter falls into the fire.
For it is said--

               “A woman’s bliss is found not in the smile
                Of father, mother, friend, nor in herself;
                Her husband is her only portion here,
                Her heaven hereafter.”

The word “serve,” which might mean “obey,” was peculiarly disagreeable
to the fair one’s ears, and she did not admire the check so soon placed
upon her devotion, or the decided language and manner of the youth. She
therefore mentally resolved never again to see that person, whom she
determined to be stupid as an elephant.

“A mother,” said Gunakar, the third candidate, “protects her son in
babyhood, and a father when his offspring is growing up. But the man of
warrior descent defends his brethren at all times. Such is the custom of
the world, and such is my state. I dwell on the heads of the strong!”

Therefore those assembled together looked with great respect upon the
man of valour.

Devasharma, the fourth suitor, contented himself with listening to the
others, who fancied that he was overawed by their cleverness. And when
it came to his turn he simply remarked, “Silence is better than speech.”
 Being further pressed, he said, “A wise man will not proclaim his age,
nor a deception practiced upon himself, nor his riches, nor the loss
of riches, nor family faults, nor incantations, nor conjugal love, nor
medicinal prescriptions, nor religious duties, nor gifts, nor reproach,
nor the infidelity of his wife.”

Thus ended the first trial. The master of the house dismissed the
two former speakers, with many polite expressions and some trifling
presents. Then having given betel to them, scented their garments with
attar, and sprinkled rose-water over their heads, he accompanied them to
the door, showing much regret. The two latter speakers he begged to come
on the next day.

Gunakar and Devasharma did not fail. When they entered the assembly-room
and took the seats pointed out to them, the father said, “Be ye pleased
to explain and make manifest the effects of your mental qualities. So
shall I judge of them.”

“I have made,” said Gunakar, “a four-wheeled carriage, in which the
power resides to carry you in a moment wherever you may purpose to go.”

“I have such power over the angel of death,” said Devasharma, “that I
can at all times raise a corpse, and enable my friends to do the same.”

Now tell me by thy brains, O warrior King Vikram, which of these two
youths was the fitter husband for the maid?

Either the Raja could not answer the question, or perhaps he would not,
being determined to break the spell which had already kept him walking
to and fro for so many hours. Then the Baital, who had paused to let
his royal carrier commit himself, seeing that the attempt had failed,
proceeded without making any further comment.

The beautiful Unmadini was brought out, but she hung down her head and
made no reply. Yet she took care to move both her eyes in the direction
of Devasharma. Whereupon Haridas, quoting the proverb that “pearls
string with pearls,” formally betrothed to him his daughter. The soldier
suitor twisted the ends of his mustachios into his eyes, which were red
with wrath, and fumbled with his fingers about the hilt of his sword.
But he was a man of noble birth, and presently his anger passed away.

Mahasani the poet, however, being a shameless person--and when can we be
safe from such?--forced himself into the assembly and began to rage and
to storm, and to quote proverbs in a loud tone of voice. He remarked
that in this world women are a mine of grief, a poisonous root, the
abode of solicitude, the destroyers of resolution, the occasioners of
fascination, and the plunderers of all virtuous qualities. From the
daughter he passed to the father, and after saying hard things of him as
a “Maha-Brahman,”[155] who took cows and gold and worshipped a monkey,
he fell with a sweeping censure upon all priests and sons of priests,
more especially Devasharma. As the bystanders remonstrated with him,
he became more violent, and when Haridas, who was a weak man, appeared
terrified by his voice, look, and gesture, he swore a solemn oath that
despite all the betrothals in the world, unless Unmadini became his wife
he would commit suicide, and as a demon haunt the house and injure the
inmates.

Gunakar the soldier exhorted this shameless poet to slay himself at
once, and to go where he pleased. But as Haridas reproved the warrior
for inhumanity, Mahasani nerved by spite, love, rage, and perversity to
an heroic death, drew a noose from his bosom, rushed out of the house,
and suspended himself to the nearest tree.

And, true enough, as the midnight gong struck, he appeared in the form
of a gigantic and malignant Rakshasa (fiend), dreadfully frightened the
household of Haridas, and carried off the lovely Unmadini, leaving word
that she was to be found on the topmost peak of Himalaya.

The unhappy father hastened to the house where Devasharma lived. There,
weeping bitterly and wringing his hands in despair, he told the terrible
tale, and besought his intended son-in-law to be up and doing.

The young Brahman at once sought his late rival, and asked his aid.
This the soldier granted at once, although he had been nettled at being
conquered in love by a priestling.

The carriage was at once made ready, and the suitors set out, bidding
the father be of good cheer, and that before sunset he should embrace
his daughter. They then entered the vehicle; Gunakar with cabalistic
words caused it to rise high in the air, and Devasharma put to flight
the demon by reciting the sacred verse,[156] “Let us meditate on the
supreme splendour (or adorable light) of that Divine Ruler (the sun)
who may illuminate our understandings. Venerable men, guided by the
intelligence, salute the divine sun (Sarvitri) with oblations and
praise. Om!”

Then they returned with the girl to the house, and Haridas blessed them,
praising the sun aloud in the joy of his heart. Lest other accidents
might happen, he chose an auspicious planetary conjunction, and at a
fortunate moment rubbed turmeric upon his daughter’s hands.

The wedding was splendid, and broke the hearts of twenty-four rivals.
In due time Devasharma asked leave from his father-in-law to revisit his
home, and to carry with him his bride. This request being granted, he
set out accompanied by Gunakar the soldier, who swore not to leave the
couple before seeing them safe under their own roof-tree.

It so happened that their road lay over the summits of the wild Vindhya
hills, where dangers of all kinds are as thick as shells upon the
shore of the deep. Here were rocks and jagged precipices making the
traveller’s brain whirl when he looked into them. There impetuous
torrents roared and flashed down their beds of black stone, threatening
destruction to those who would cross them. Now the path was lost in the
matted thorny underwood and the pitchy shades of the jungle, deep and
dark as the valley of death. Then the thunder-cloud licked the earth
with its fiery tongue, and its voice shook the crags and filled their
hollow caves. At times, the sun was so hot, that wild birds fell dead
from the air. And at every moment the wayfarers heard the trumpeting of
giant elephants, the fierce howling of the tiger, the grisly laugh of
the foul hyaena, and the whimpering of the wild dogs as they coursed by
on the tracks of their prey.

Yet, sustained by the five-armed god[157] the little party passed safely
through all these dangers. They had almost emerged from the damp glooms
of the forest into the open plains which skirt the southern base of the
hills, when one night the fair Unmadini saw a terrible vision.

She beheld herself wading through a sluggish pool of muddy water, which
rippled, curdling as she stepped into it, and which, as she advanced,
darkened with the slime raised by her feet. She was bearing in her arms
the semblance of a sick child, which struggled convulsively and filled
the air with dismal wails. These cries seemed to be answered by a
multitude of other children, some bloated like toads, others mere
skeletons lying upon the bank, or floating upon the thick brown waters
of the pond. And all seemed to address their cries to her, as if she
were the cause of their weeping; nor could all her efforts quiet or
console them for a moment.

When the bride awoke, she related all the particulars of her ill-omened
vision to her husband; and the latter, after a short pause, informed
her and his friend that a terrible calamity was about to befall them. He
then drew from his travelling wallet a skein of thread. This he divided
into three parts, one for each, and told his companions that in case of
grievous bodily injury, the bit of thread wound round the wounded
part would instantly make it whole. After which he taught them the
Mantra,[158] or mystical word by which the lives of men are restored to
their bodies, even when they have taken their allotted places amongst
the stars, and which for evident reasons I do not want to repeat. It
concluded, however, with the three Vyahritis, or sacred syllables--Bhuh,
Bhuvah, Svar!

Raja Vikram was perhaps a little disappointed by this declaration. He
made no remark, however, and the Baital thus pursued:

As Devasharma foretold, an accident of a terrible nature did occur.
On the evening of that day, as they emerged upon the plain, they were
attacked by the Kiratas, or savage tribes of the mountain.[159] A small,
black, wiry figure, armed with a bow and little cane arrows, stood in
their way, signifying by gestures that they must halt and lay down their
arms. As they continued to advance, he began to speak with a shrill
chattering, like the note of an affrighted bird, his restless red eyes
glared with rage, and he waved his weapon furiously round his head. Then
from the rocks and thickets on both sides of the path poured a shower of
shafts upon the three strangers.

The unequal combat did not last long. Gunakar, the soldier, wielded his
strong right arm with fatal effect and struck down some threescore of
the foes. But new swarms came on like angry hornets buzzing round the
destroyer of their nests. And when he fell, Devasharma, who had left
him for a moment to hide his beautiful wife in the hollow of a tree,
returned, and stood fighting over the body of his friend till he also,
overpowered by numbers, was thrown to the ground. Then the wild men,
drawing their knives, cut off the heads of their helpless enemies,
stripped their bodies of all their ornaments, and departed, leaving the
woman unharmed for good luck.

When Unmadini, who had been more dead than alive during the affray,
found silence succeed to the horrid din of shrieks and shouts, she
ventured to creep out of her refuge in the hollow tree. And what does
she behold? her husband and his friend are lying upon the ground, with
their heads at a short distance from their bodies. She sat down and wept
bitterly.

Presently, remembering the lesson which she had learned that very
morning, she drew forth from her bosom the bit of thread and proceeded
to use it. She approached the heads to the bodies, and tied some of
the magic string round each neck. But the shades of evening were fast
deepening, and in her agitation, confusion and terror, she made a
curious mistake by applying the heads to the wrong trunks. After which,
she again sat down, and having recited her prayers, she pronounced, as
her husband had taught her, the life-giving incantation.

In a moment the dead men were made alive. They opened their eyes, shook
themselves, sat up and handled their limbs as if to feel that all was
right. But something or other appeared to them all wrong. They placed
their palms upon their foreheads, and looked downwards, and started to
their feet and began to stare at their hands and legs. Upon which they
scrutinized the very scanty articles of dress which the wild men had
left upon them, and lastly one began to eye the other with curious
puzzled looks.

The wife, attributing their gestures to the confusion which one might
expect to find in the brains of men who have just undergone so great a
trial as amputation of the head must be, stood before them for a
moment or two. She then with a cry of gladness flew to the bosom of
the individual who was, as she supposed, her husband. He repulsed her,
telling her that she was mistaken. Then, blushing deeply in spite of her
other emotions, she threw both her beautiful arms round the neck of the
person who must be, she naturally concluded, the right man. To her utter
confusion, he also shrank back from her embrace.

Then a horrid thought flashed across her mind: she perceived her fatal
mistake, and her heart almost ceased to beat.

“This is thy wife!” cried the Brahman’s head that had been fastened to
the soldier’s body.

“No; she is thy wife!” replied the soldier’s head which had been placed
upon the Brahman’s body.

“Then she is my wife!” rejoined the first compound creature.

“By no means! she is my wife,” cried the second.

“What then am I?” asked Devasharma-Gunakar.

“What do you think I am?” answered Gunakar-Devasharma, with another
question.

“Unmadini shall be mine,” quoth the head.

“You lie, she shall be mine,” shouted the body.

“Holy Yama,[160] hear the villain,” exclaimed both of them at the same
moment.

         *     *     *     *     *

In short, having thus begun, they continued to quarrel violently, each
one declaring that the beautiful Unmadini belonged to him, and to him
only. How to settle their dispute Brahma the Lord of creatures only
knows. I do not, except by cutting off their heads once more, and by
putting them in their proper places. And I am quite sure, O Raja Vikram!
that thy wits are quite unfit to answer the question, To which of
these two is the beautiful Unmadini wife? It is even said--amongst us
Baitals--that when this pair of half-husbands appeared in the presence
of the Just King, a terrible confusion arose, each head declaiming all
the sins and peccadilloes which its body had committed, and that Yama
the holy ruler himself hit his forefinger with vexation.[161]

Here the young prince Dharma Dhwaj burst out laughing at the ridiculous
idea of the wrong heads. And the warrior king, who, like single-minded
fathers in general, was ever in the idea that his son had a velleity for
deriding and otherwise vexing him, began a severe course of reproof. He
reminded the prince of the common saying that merriment without cause
degrades a man in the opinion of his fellows, and indulged him with a
quotation extensively used by grave fathers, namely, that the loud laugh
bespeaks a vacant mind. After which he proceeded with much pompousness
to pronounce the following opinion:

“It is said in the Shastras----”

“Your majesty need hardly display so much erudition! Doubtless it
comes from the lips of Jayudeva or some other one of your Nine Gems of
Science, who know much more about their songs and their stanzas than
they do about their scriptures,” insolently interrupted the Baital, who
never lost an opportunity of carping at those reverend men.

“It is said in the Shastras,” continued Raja Vikram sternly, after
hesitating whether he should or should not administer a corporeal
correction to the Vampire, “that Mother Ganga[162] is the queen amongst
rivers, and the mountain Sumeru[163] is the monarch among mountains, and
the tree Kalpavriksha[164] is the king of all trees, and the head of
man is the best and most excellent of limbs. And thus, according to this
reason, the wife belonged to him whose noblest position claimed her.”

“The next thing your majesty will do, I suppose,” continued the
Baital, with a sneer, “is to support the opinions of the Digambara, who
maintains that the soul is exceedingly rarefied, confined to one place,
and of equal dimensions with the body, or the fancies of that worthy
philosopher Jaimani, who, conceiving soul and mind and matter to be
things purely synonymous, asserts outwardly and writes in his books that
the brain is the organ of the mind which is acted upon by the immortal
soul, but who inwardly and verily believes that the brain is the mind,
and consequently that the brain is the soul or spirit or whatever you
please to call it; in fact, that soul is a natural faculty of the body.
A pretty doctrine, indeed, for a Brahman to hold. You might as well
agree with me at once that the soul of man resides, when at home, either
in a vein in the breast, or in the pit of his stomach, or that half of
it is in a man’s brain and the other or reasoning half is in his heart,
an organ of his body.”

“What has all this string of words to do with the matter, Vampire?”
 asked Raja Vikram angrily.

“Only,” said the demon laughing, “that in my opinion, as opposed to the
Shastras and to Raja Vikram, that the beautiful Unmadini belonged,
not to the head part but to the body part. Because the latter has an
immortal soul in the pit of its stomach, whereas the former is a box of
bone, more or less thick, and contains brains which are of much the same
consistence as those of a calf.”

“Villain!” exclaimed the Raja, “does not the soul or conscious life
enter the body through the sagittal suture and lodge in the
brain, thence to contemplate, through the same opening, the divine
perfections?”

“I must, however, bid you farewell for the moment, O warrior king,
Sakadhipati-Vikramadityal[165]! I feel a sudden and ardent desire to
change this cramped position for one more natural to me.”

The warrior monarch had so far committed himself that he could not
prevent the Vampire from flitting. But he lost no more time in following
him than a grain of mustard, in its fall, stays on a cow’s horn. And
when he had thrown him over his shoulder, the king desired him of his
own accord to begin a new tale.

“O my left eyelid flutters,” exclaimed the Baital in despair, “my heart
throbs, my sight is dim: surely now beginneth the end. It is as Vidhata
hath written on my forehead--how can it be otherwise[166]? Still listen,
O mighty Raja, whilst I recount to you a true story, and Saraswati[167]
sit on my tongue.”



THE VAMPIRE’S TENTH STORY [168] -- Of the Marvellous Delicacy of Three Queens.


The Baital said, O king, in the Gaur country, Vardhman by name, there
is a city, and one called Gunshekhar was the Raja of that land. His
minister was one Abhaichand, a Jain, by whose teachings the king also
came into the Jain faith.

The worship of Shiva and of Vishnu, gifts of cows, gifts of lands, gifts
of rice balls, gaming and spirit-drinking, all these he prohibited. In
the city no man could get leave to do them, and as for bones, into
the Ganges no man was allowed to throw them, and in these matters the
minister, having taken orders from the king, caused a proclamation to
be made about the city, saying, “Whoever these acts shall do, the Raja
having confiscated, will punish him and banish him from the city.”

Now one day the Diwan[169] began to say to the Raja, “O great king, to
the decisions of the Faith be pleased to give ear. Whosoever takes the
life of another, his life also in the future birth is taken: this very
sin causes him to be born again and again upon earth and to die And thus
he ever continues to be born again and to die. Hence for one who has
found entrance into this world to cultivate religion is right and
proper. Be pleased to behold! By love, by wrath, by pain, by desire,
and by fascination overpowered, the gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahadeva
(Shiva) in various ways upon the earth are ever becoming incarnate.
Far better than they is the Cow, who is free from passion, enmity,
drunkenness, anger, covetousness, and inordinate affection, who supports
mankind, and whose progeny in many ways give ease and solace to the
creatures of the world These deities and sages (munis) believe in the
Cow.[170]

“For such reason to believe in the gods is not good. Upon this earth
be pleased to believe in the Cow. It is our duty to protect the life of
everyone, beginning from the elephant, through ants, beasts, and birds,
up to man. In the world righteousness equal to that there is none. Those
who, eating the flesh of other creatures, increase their own flesh,
shall in the fulness of time assuredly obtain the fruition of Narak
[17l]; hence for a man it is proper to attend to the conversation of
life. They who understand not the pain of other creatures, and who
continue to slay and to devour them, last but few days in the land, and
return to mundane existence, maimed, limping, one-eyed, blind, dwarfed,
hunchbacked, and imperfect in such wise. Just as they consume the bodies
of beasts and of birds, even so they end by spoiling their own bodies.
From drinking spirits also the great sin arises, hence the consuming of
spirits and flesh is not advisable.”

The minister having in this manner explained to the king the sentiments
of his own mind, so brought him over to the Jain faith, that whatever
he said, so the king did. Thus in Brahmans, in Jogis, in Janganis, in
Sevras, in Sannyasis,[172] and in religious mendicants, no man believed,
and according to this creed the rule was carried on.

Now one day, being in the power of Death, Raja Gunshekhar died. Then
his son Dharmadhwaj sat upon the carpet (throne), and began to rule.
Presently he caused the minister Abhaichand to be seized, had his head
shaved all but seven locks of hair, ordered his face to be blackened,
and mounting him on an ass, with drums beaten, had him led all about the
city, and drove him from the kingdom. From that time he carried on his
rule free from all anxiety.

It so happened that in the season of spring, the king Dharmadhwaj,
taking his queens with him, went for a stroll in the garden, where there
was a large tank with lotuses blooming within it. The Raja admiring its
beauty, took off his clothes and went down to bathe.

After plucking a flower and coming to the bank, he was going to give it
into the hands of one of his queens, when it slipped from his fingers,
fell upon her foot, and broke it with the blow. Then the Raja being
alarmed, at once came out of the tank, and began to apply remedies to
her.

Hereupon night came on, and the moon shone brightly: the falling of its
rays on the body of the second queen formed blisters And suddenly from
a distance the sound of a wooden pestle came out of a householder’s
dwelling, when the third queen fainted away with a severe pain in the
head.

Having spoken thus much the Baital said “O my king! of these three
which is the most delicate?” The Raja answered, “She indeed is the most
delicate who fainted in consequence of the headache.” The Baital hearing
this speech, went and hung himself from the very same tree, and the
Raja, having gone there and taken him down and fastened him in the
bundle and placed him on his shoulder, carried him away.



THE VAMPIRE’S ELEVENTH STORY -- Which Puzzles Raja Vikram.


There is a queer time coming, O Raja Vikram!--a queer time coming
(said the Vampire), a queer time coming. Elderly people like you talk
abundantly about the good old days that were, and about the degeneracy
of the days that are. I wonder what you would say if you could but look
forward a few hundred years.

Brahmans shall disgrace themselves by becoming soldiers and being
killed, and Serviles (Shudras) shall dishonour themselves by wearing the
thread of the twice-born, and by refusing to be slaves; in fact, society
shall be all “mouth” and mixed castes.[173] The courts of justice shall
be disused; the great works of peace shall no longer be undertaken; wars
shall last six weeks, and their causes shall be clean forgotten; the
useful arts and great sciences shall die starved; there shall be no Gems
of Science; there shall be a hospital for destitute kings, those, at
least, who do not lose their heads, and no Vikrama----

A severe shaking stayed for a moment the Vampire’s tongue.

He presently resumed. Briefly, building tanks feeding Brahmans; lying
when one ought to lie; suicide, the burning of widows, and the burying
of live children, shall become utterly unfashionable.

The consequence of this singular degeneracy, O mighty Vikram, will
be that strangers shall dwell beneath the roof tree in Bharat Khanda
(India), and impure barbarians shall call the land their own. They come
from a wonderful country, and I am most surprised that they bear it. The
sky which ought to be gold and blue is there grey, a kind of dark white;
the sun looks deadly pale, and the moon as if he were dead.[174] The
sea, when not dirty green, glistens with yellowish foam, and as you
approach the shore, tall ghastly cliffs, like the skeletons of giants,
stand up to receive or ready to repel. During the greater part of the
sun’s Dakhshanayan (southern declination) the country is covered with a
sort of cold white stuff which dazzles the eyes; and at such times the
air is obscured with what appears to be a shower of white feathers or
flocks of cotton. At other seasons there is a pale glare produced by the
mist clouds which spread themselves over the lower firmament. Even the
faces of the people are white; the men are white when not painted blue;
the women are whiter, and the children are whitest: these indeed often
have white hair.

“Truly,” exclaimed Dharma Dhwaj, “says the proverb, ‘Whoso seeth the
world telleth many a lie.’”

At present (resumed the Vampire, not heeding the interruption), they run
about naked in the woods, being merely Hindu outcastes. Presently
they will change--the wonderful white Pariahs! They will eat all food
indifferently, domestic fowls, onions, hogs fed in the street, donkeys,
horses, hares, and (most horrible!) the flesh of the sacred cow.
They will imbibe what resembles meat of colocynth, mixed with water,
producing a curious frothy liquid, and a fiery stuff which burns the
mouth, for their milk will be mostly chalk and pulp of brains; they will
ignore the sweet juices of fruits and sugar-cane, and as for the pure
element they will drink it, but only as medicine, They will shave their
beards instead of their heads, and stand upright when they should sit
down, and squat upon a wooden frame instead of a carpet, and appear
in red and black like the children of Yama.[175] They will never offer
sacrifices to the manes of ancestors, leaving them after their death
to fry in the hottest of places. Yet will they perpetually quarrel and
fight about their faith; for their tempers are fierce, and they would
burst if they could not harm one another. Even now the children, who
amuse themselves with making puddings on the shore, that is to say,
heaping up the sand, always end their little games with “punching,”
 which means shutting the hand and striking one another’s heads, and it
is soon found that the children are the fathers of the men.

These wonderful white outcastes will often be ruled by female chiefs,
and it is likely that the habit of prostrating themselves before a woman
who has not the power of cutting off a single head, may account
for their unusual degeneracy and uncleanness. They will consider no
occupation so noble as running after a jackal; they will dance for
themselves, holding on to strange women, and they will take a pride in
playing upon instruments, like young music girls.

The women, of course, relying upon the aid of the female chieftains,
will soon emancipate themselves from the rules of modesty. They will
eat with their husbands and with other men, and yawn and sit carelessly
before them showing the backs of their heads. They will impudently
quote the words, “By confinement at home, even under affectionate and
observant guardians, women are not secure, but those are really safe who
are guarded by their own inclinations “; as the poet sang--

               Woman obeys one only word, her heart.

They will not allow their husbands to have more than one wife, and
even the single wife will not be his slave when he needs her services,
busying herself in the collection of wealth, in ceremonial purification,
and feminine duty; in the preparation of daily food and in the
superintendence of household utensils. What said Rama of Sita his wife?
“If I chanced to be angry, she bore my impatience like the patient earth
without a murmur; in the hour of necessity she cherished me as a mother
does her child; in the moments of repose she was a lover to me; in times
of gladness she was to me as a friend.” And it is said, “a religious
wife assists her husband in his worship with a spirit as devout as his
own. She gives her whole mind to make him happy; she is as faithful to
him as a shadow to the body, and she esteems him, whether poor or rich,
good or bad, handsome or deformed. In his absence or his sickness she
renounces every gratification; at his death she dies with him, and he
enjoys heaven as the fruit of her virtuous deeds. Whereas if she be
guilty of many wicked actions and he should die first, he must suffer
much for the demerits of his wife.”

But these women will talk aloud, and scold as the braying ass, and make
the house a scene of variance, like the snake with the ichneumon,
the owl with the crow, for they have no fear of losing their noses or
parting with their ears. They will (O my mother!) converse with strange
men and take their hands; they will receive presents from them, and,
worst of all, they will show their white faces openly without the least
sense of shame; they will ride publicly in chariots and mount horses,
whose points they pride themselves upon knowing, and eat and drink in
crowded places--their husbands looking on the while, and perhaps even
leading them through the streets. And she will be deemed the pinnacle of
the pagoda of perfection, that most excels in wit and shamelessness, and
who can turn to water the livers of most men. They will dance and sing
instead of minding their children, and when these grow up they will send
them out of the house to shift for themselves, and care little if they
never see them again.[176] But the greatest sin of all will be this:
when widowed they will ever be on the look-out for a second husband, and
instances will be known of women fearlessly marrying three, four, and
five times.[177] You would think that all this licence satisfies them.
But no! The more they have the more their weak minds covet. The men have
admitted them to an equality, they will aim at an absolute superiority,
and claim respect and homage; they will eternally raise tempests about
their rights, and if anyone should venture to chastise them as they
deserve, they would call him a coward and run off to the judge.

The men will, I say, be as wonderful about their women as about all
other matters. The sage of Bharat Khanda guards the frail sex strictly,
knowing its frailty, and avoids teaching it to read and write, which it
will assuredly use for a bad purpose. For women are ever subject to the
god[178] with the sugar-cane bow and string of bees, and arrows tipped
with heating blossoms, and to him they will ever surrender man, dhan,
tan--mind, wealth, and body. When, by exceeding cunning, all human
precautions have been made vain, the wise man bows to Fate, and he
forgets, or he tries to forget, the past. Whereas this race of white
Pariahs will purposely lead their women into every kind of temptation,
and, when an accident occurs, they will rage at and accuse them, killing
ten thousand with a word, and cause an uproar, and talk scandal and
be scandalized, and go before the magistrate, and make all the evil as
public as possible. One would think they had in every way done their
duty to their women!

And when all this change shall have come over them, they will feel
restless and take flight, and fall like locusts upon the Aryavartta
(land of India). Starving in their own country, they will find enough
to eat here, and to carry away also. They will be mischievous as the saw
with which ornament-makers trim their shells, and cut ascending as well
as descending. To cultivate their friendship will be like making a gap
in the water, and their partisans will ever fare worse than their foes.
They will be selfish as crows, which, though they eat every kind of
flesh, will not permit other birds to devour that of the crow.

In the beginning they will hire a shop near the mouth of mother Ganges,
and they will sell lead and bullion, fine and coarse woollen cloths,
and all the materials for intoxication. Then they will begin to send for
soldiers beyond the sea, and to enlist warriors in Zambudwipa (India).
They will from shopkeepers become soldiers: they will beat and be
beaten; they will win and lose; but the power of their star and the
enchantments of their Queen Kompani, a daina or witch who can draw the
blood out of a man and slay him with a look, will turn everything to
their good. Presently the noise of their armies shall be as the roaring
of the sea; the dazzling of their arms shall blind the eyes like
lightning; their battle-fields shall be as the dissolution of the world;
and the slaughter-ground shall resemble a garden of plantain trees after
a storm. At length they shall spread like the march of a host of ants
over the land They will swear, “Dehar Ganga[179]!” and they hate nothing
so much as being compelled to destroy an army, to take and loot a city,
or to add a rich slip of territory to their rule. And yet they will go
on killing and capturing and adding region to region, till the Abode of
Snow (Himalaya) confines them to the north, the Sindhu-naddi (Incus)
to the west, and elsewhere the sea. Even in this, too, they will
demean themselves as lords and masters, scarcely allowing poor
Samudradevta[180] to rule his own waves.

Raja Vikram was in a silent mood, otherwise he would not have allowed
such ill-omened discourse to pass uninterrupted. Then the Baital, who in
vain had often paused to give the royal carrier a chance of asking him a
curious question, continued his recital in a dissonant and dissatisfied
tone of voice.

By my feet and your head,[181] O warrior king! it will fare badly
in those days for the Rajas of Hindustan, when the red-coated men of
Shaka[182] shall come amongst them. Listen to my words.

In the Vindhya Mountain there will be a city named Dharmapur, whose king
will be called Mahabul. He will be a mighty warrior, well-skilled in the
dhanur-veda (art of war)[183], and will always lead his own armies to
the field. He will duly regard all the omens, such as a storm at the
beginning of the march, an earthquake, the implements of war dropping
from the hands of the soldiery, screaming vultures passing over or
walking near the army, the clouds and the sun’s rays waxing red, thunder
in a clear sky, the moon appearing small as a star, the dropping of
blood from the clouds, the falling of lightning bolts, darkness filling
the four quarters of the heavens, a corpse or a pan of water being
carried to the right of the army, the sight of a female beggar with
dishevelled hair, dressed in red, and preceding the vanguard, the
starting of the flesh over the left ribs of the commander-in-chief, and
the weeping or turning back of the horses when urged forward.

He will encourage his men to single combats, and will carefully train
them to gymnastics. Many of the wrestlers and boxers will be so strong
that they will often beat all the extremities of the antagonist into his
body, or break his back, or rend him into two pieces. He will promise
heaven to those who shall die in the front of battle and he will have
them taught certain dreadful expressions of abuse to be interchanged
with the enemy when commencing the contest. Honours will be conferred
on those who never turn their backs in an engagement, who manifest a
contempt of death, who despise fatigue, as well as the most formidable
enemies, who shall be found invincible in every combat, and who display
a courage which increases before danger, like the glory of the sun
advancing to his meridian splendour.

But King Mahabul will be attacked by the white Pariahs, who, as usual,
will employ against him gold, fire, and steel. With gold they will win
over his best men, and persuade them openly to desert when the army is
drawn out for battle. They will use the terrible “fire weapon,[184]”
 large and small tubes, which discharge flame and smoke, and bullets as
big as those hurled by the bow of Bharata.[185] And instead of using
swords and shields, they will fix daggers to the end of their tubes, and
thrust with them like lances.

Mahabul, distinguished by valour and military skill, will march out of
his city to meet the white foe. In front will be the ensigns, bells,
cows’-tails, and flags, the latter painted with the bird Garura,[186]
the bull of Shiva, the Bauhinia tree, the monkey-god Hanuman, the lion
and the tiger, the fish, an alms-dish, and seven palm-trees. Then will
come the footmen armed with fire-tubes, swords and shields, spears and
daggers, clubs, and bludgeons. They will be followed by fighting men
on horses and oxen, on camels and elephants. The musicians, the
water-carriers, and lastly the stores on carriages, will bring up the
rear.

The white outcastes will come forward in a long thin red thread, and
vomiting fire like the Jwalamukhi.[187] King Mahabul will receive them
with his troops formed in a circle; another division will be in the
shape of a halfmoon; a third like a cloud, whilst others shall represent
a lion, a tiger, a carriage, a lily, a giant, and a bull. But as the
elephants will all turn round when they feel the fire, and trample upon
their own men, and as the cavalry defiling in front of the host will
openly gallop away; Mahabul, being thus without resource, will enter his
palanquin, and accompanied by his queen and their only daughter, will
escape at night-time into the forest.

The unfortunate three will be deserted by their small party, and live
for a time on jungle food, fruits and roots; they will even be compelled
to eat game. After some days they will come in sight of a village, which
Mahabul will enter to obtain victuals. There the wild Bhils, famous for
long years, will come up, and surrounding the party, will bid the Raja
throw down his arms. Thereupon Mahabul, skilful in aiming, twanging and
wielding the bow on all sides, so as to keep off the bolts of the
enemy, will discharge his bolts so rapidly, that one will drive forward
another, and none of the barbarians will be able to approach. But he
will have failed to bring his quiver containing an inexhaustible store
of arms, some of which, pointed with diamonds, shall have the faculty
of returning again to their case after they have done their duty. The
conflict will continue three hours, and many of the Bhils will be slain:
at length a shaft will cleave the king’s skull, he will fall dead, and
one of the wild men will come up and cut off his head.

When the queen and the princess shall have seen that Mahabul fell dead,
they will return to the forest weeping and beating their bosoms. They
will thus escape the Bhils, and after journeying on for four miles, at
length they will sit down wearied, and revolve many thoughts in their
minds.

They are very lovely (continued the Vampire), as I see them with the eye
of clear-seeing. What beautiful hair! it hangs down like the tail of
the cow of Tartary, or like the thatch of a house; it is shining as
oil, dark as the clouds, black as blackness itself. What charming faces!
likest to water-lilies, with eyes as the stones in unripe mangos, noses
resembling the beaks of parrots, teeth like pearls set in corals, ears
like those of the redthroated vulture, and mouths like the water of
life. What excellent forms! breasts like boxes containing essences, the
unopened fruit of plantains or a couple of crabs; loins the width of a
span, like the middle of the viol; legs like the trunk of an elephant,
and feet like the yellow lotus.

And a fearful place is that jungle, a dense dark mass of thorny shrubs,
and ropy creepers, and tall canes, and tangled brake, and gigantic
gnarled trees, which groan wildly in the night wind’s embrace. But a
wilder horror urges the unhappy women on; they fear the polluting touch
of the Bhils; once more they rise and plunge deeper into its gloomy
depths.

The day dawns. The white Pariahs have done their usual work, They have
cut off the hands of some, the feet and heads of others, whilst many
they have crushed into shapeless masses, or scattered in pieces upon the
ground. The field is strewed with corpses, the river runs red, so that
the dogs and jackals swim in blood; the birds of prey sitting on the
branches, drink man’s life from the stream, and enjoy the sickening
smell of burnt flesh.

Such will be the scenes acted in the fair land of Bharat.

Perchance two white outcastes, father and son, who with a party of men
are scouring the forest and slaying everything, fall upon the path which
the women have taken shortly before. Their attention is attracted by
footprints leading towards a place full of tigers, leopards, bears,
wolves, and wild dogs. And they are utterly confounded when, after
inspection, they discover the sex of the wanderers.

“How is it,” shall say the father, “that the footprints of mortals are
seen in this part of the forest?”

The son shall reply, “Sir, these are the marks of women’s feet: a man’s
foot would not be so small.”

“It is passing strange,” shall rejoin the elder white Pariah, “but thou
speakest truth. Certainly such a soft and delicate foot cannot belong to
anyone but a woman.”

“They have only just left the track,” shall continue the son, “and look!
this is the step of a married woman. See how she treads on the inside of
her sole, because of the bending of her ankles.” And the younger white
outcaste shall point to the queen’s footprints.

“Come, let us search the forest for them,” shall cry the father, “what
an opportunity of finding wives fortune has thrown in our hands. But no!
thou art in error,” he shall continue, after examining the track pointed
out by his son, “in supposing this to be the sign of a matron. Look at
the other, it is much longer; the toes have scarcely touched the ground,
whereas the marks of the heels are deep. Of a truth this must be
the married woman.” And the elder white outcaste shall point to the
footprints of the princess.

“Then,” shall reply the son, who admires the shorter foot, “let us first
seek them, and when we find them, give to me her who has the short feet,
and take the other to wife thyself.”

Having made this agreement they shall proceed on their way, and
presently they shall find the women lying on the earth, half dead
with fatigue and fear. Their legs and feet are scratched and torn by
brambles, their ornaments have fallen off, and their garments are
in strips. The two white outcastes find little difficulty, the first
surprise over, in persuading the unhappy women to follow them home, and
with great delight, conformably to their arrangement, each takes up his
prize on his horse and rides back to the tents. The son takes the queen,
and the father the princess.

In due time two marriages come to pass; the father, according to
agreement, espouses the long foot, and the son takes to wife the short
foot. And after the usual interval, the elder white outcaste, who had
married the daughter, rejoices at the birth of a boy, and the younger
white outcaste, who had married the mother, is gladdened by the sight of
a girl.

Now then, by my feet and your head, O warrior king Vikram, answer me one
question. What relationship will there be between the children of the
two white Pariahs?

Vikram’s brow waxed black as a charcoal-burner’s, when he again heard
the most irreverent oath ever proposed to mortal king. The question
presently attracted his attention, and he turned over the Baital’s
words in his head, confusing the ties of filiality, brotherhood, and
relationship, and connection in general.

“Hem!” said the warrior king, at last perplexed, and remembering, in his
perplexity, that he had better hold his tongue--“ahem!”

“I think your majesty spoke?” asked the Vampire, in an inquisitive and
insinuating tone of voice.

“Hem!” ejaculated the monarch.

The Baital held his peace for a few minutes, coughing once or twice
impatiently. He suspected that the extraordinary nature of this last
tale, combined with the use of the future tense, had given rise to a
taciturnity so unexpected in the warrior king. He therefore asked if
Vikram the Brave would not like to hear another little anecdote.

This time the king did not even say “hem!” Having walked at an
unusually rapid pace, he distinguished at a distance the fire kindled by
the devotee, and he hurried towards it with an effort which left him no
breath wherewith to speak, even had he been so inclined.

“Since your majesty is so completely dumbfoundered by it, perhaps this
acute young prince may be able to answer my question?” insinuated the
Baital, after a few minutes of anxious suspense.

But Dharma Dhwaj answered not a syllable.


                CONCLUSION.

At Raja Vikram’s silence the Baital was greatly surprised, and he
praised the royal courage and resolution to the skies. Still he did not
give up the contest at once.

“Allow me, great king,” pursued the Demon, in a dry tone of voice, “to
wish you joy. After so many failures you have at length succeeded in
repressing your loquacity. I will not stop to enquire whether it was
humility and self-restraint which prevented your answering my last
question, or whether Rajait was mere ignorance and inability. Of course
I suspect the latter, but to say the truth your condescension in at last
taking a Vampire’s advice, flatters me so much, that I will not look too
narrowly into cause or motive.”

Raja Vikram winced, but maintained a stubborn silence, squeezing his
lips lest they should open involuntarily.

“Now, however, your majesty has mortified, we will suppose, a somewhat
exacting vanity, I also will in my turn forego the pleasure which I had
anticipated in seeing you a corpse and in entering your royal body for
a short time, just to know how queer it must feel to be a king. And what
is more, I will now perform my original promise, and you shall derive
from me a benefit which none but myself can bestow. First, however,
allow me to ask you, will you let me have a little more air?”

Dharma Dhwaj pulled his father’s sleeve, but this time Raja Vikram
required no reminder: wild horses or the executioner’s saw, beginning
at the shoulder, would not have drawn a word from him. Observing his
obstinate silence, the Baital, with an ominous smile, continued:

“Now give ear, O warrior king, to what I am about to tell thee, and bear
in mind the giant’s saying, ‘A man is justified in killing one who has
a design to kill him.’ The young merchant Mal Deo, who placed such
magnificent presents at your royal feet, and Shanta-Shil the devotee
saint, who works his spells, incantations, and magical rites in a
cemetery on the banks of the Godaveri river, are, as thou knowest, one
person--the terrible Jogi, whose wrath your father aroused in his folly,
and whose revenge your blood alone can satisfy. With regard to myself,
the oilman’s son, the same Jogi, fearing lest I might interfere with his
projects of universal dominion, slew me by the power of his penance,
and has kept me suspended, a trap for you, head downwards from the
sires-tree.

“That Jogi it was, you now know, who sent you to fetch me back to him on
your back. And when you cast me at his feet he will return thanks to you
and praise your valour, perseverance and resolution to the skies. I warn
you to beware. He will lead you to the shrine of Durga, and when he
has finished his adoration he will say to you, ‘O great king, salute my
deity with the eight-limbed reverence.’”

Here the Vampire whispered for a time and in a low tone, lest some
listening goblin might carry his words if spoken out loud to the ears of
the devotee Shanta-Shil.

At the end of the monologue a rustling sound was heard. It proceeded
from the Baital, who was disengaging himself from the dead body in the
bundle, and the burden became sensibly lighter upon the monarch’s back.

The departing Baital, however, did not forget to bid farewell to the
warrior king and to his son. He complimented the former for the last
time, in his own way, upon the royal humility and the prodigious
self-mortification which he had displayed--qualities, he remarked, which
never failed to ensure the proprietor’s success in all the worlds.

Raja Vikram stepped out joyfully, and soon reached the burning ground.
There he found the Jogi, dressed in his usual habit, a deerskin thrown
over his back, and twisted reeds instead of a garment hanging round
his loins. The hair had fallen from his limbs and his skin was bleached
ghastly white by exposure to the elements. A fire seemed to proceed from
his mouth, and the matted locks dropping from his head to the ground
were changed by the rays of the sun to the colour of gold or saffron. He
had the beard of a goat and the ornaments of a king; his shoulders were
high and his arms long, reaching to his knees: his nails grew to such a
length as to curl round the ends of his fingers, and his feet resembled
those of a tiger. He was drumming upon a skull, and incessantly
exclaiming, “Ho, Kali! ho, Durga! ho, Devi!”

As before, strange beings were holding their carnival in the Jogi’s
presence. Monstrous Asuras, giant goblins, stood grimly gazing upon the
scene with fixed eyes and motionless features. Rakshasas and messengers
of Yama, fierce and hideous, assumed at pleasure the shapes of foul and
ferocious beasts. Nagas and Bhutas, partly human and partly bestial,
disported themselves in throngs about the upper air, and were dimly
seen in the faint light of the dawn. Mighty Daityas, Bramba-daityas, and
Pretas, the size of a man’s thumb, or dried up like leaves, and Pisachas
of terrible power guarded the place. There were enormous goats, vivified
by the spirits of those who had slain Brahmans; things with the bodies
of men and the faces of horses, camels and monkeys; hideous worms
containing the souls of those priests who had drunk spirituous liquors;
men with one leg and one ear, and mischievous blood-sucking demons, who
in life had stolen church property. There were vultures, wretches that
had violated the beds of their spiritual fathers, restless ghosts that
had loved low-caste women, shades for whom funeral rites had not been
performed, and who could not cross the dread Vaitarani stream,[188] and
vital souls fresh from the horrors of Tamisra, or utter darkness, and
the Usipatra Vana, or the sword-leaved forest. Pale spirits, Alayas,
Gumas, Baitals, and Yakshas,[189] beings of a base and vulgar order,
glided over the ground, amongst corpses and skeletons animated by female
fiends, Dakinis, Yoginis, Hakinis, and Shankinis, which were dancing
in frightful revelry. The air was filled with supernatural sights and
sounds, cries of owls and jackals, cats and crows, dogs, asses, and
vultures, high above which rose the clashing of the bones with which the
Jogi sat drumming upon the skull before him, and tending a huge cauldron
of oil whose smoke was of blue fire. But as he raised his long lank
arm, silver-white with ashes, the demons fled, and a momentary silence
succeeded to their uproar. The tigers ceased to roar and the elephants
to scream; the bears raised their snouts from their foul banquets, and
the wolves dropped from their jaws the remnants of human flesh. And when
they disappeared, the hooting of the owl, and ghastly “ha! ha!” of the
curlew, and the howling of the jackal died away in the far distance,
leaving a silence still more oppressive.

As Raja Vikram entered the burning-ground, the hollow sound of solitude
alone met his ear. Sadly wailed the wet autumnal blast. The tall gaunt
trees groaned aloud, and bowed and trembled like slaves bending before
their masters. Huge purple clouds and patches and lines of glaring
white mist coursed furiously across the black expanse of firmament,
discharging threads and chains and lozenges and balls of white and blue,
purple and pink lightning, followed by the deafening crash and roll of
thunder, the dreadful roaring of the mighty wind, and the torrents of
plashing rain. At times was heard in the distance the dull gurgling of
the swollen river, interrupted by explosions, as slips of earth-bank
fell headlong into the stream. But once more the Jogi raised his arm and
all was still: nature lay breathless, as if awaiting the effect of his
tremendous spells.

The warrior king drew near the terrible man, unstrung his bundle from
his back, untwisted the portion which he held, threw open the cloth,
and exposed to Shanta-Shil’s glittering eyes the corpse, which had now
recovered its proper form--that of a young child. Seeing it, the devotee
was highly pleased, and thanked Vikram the Brave, extolling his courage
and daring above any monarch that had yet lived. After which he repeated
certain charms facing towards the south, awakened the dead body, and
placed it in a sitting position. He then in its presence sacrificed
to his goddess, the White One,[190] all that he had ready by his
side--betel leaf and flowers, sandal wood and unbroken rice, fruits,
perfumes, and the flesh of man untouched by steel. Lastly, he half
filled his skull with burning embers, blew upon them till they shot
forth tongues of crimson light, serving as a lamp, and motioning the
Raja and his son to follow him, led the way to a little fane of the
Destroying Deity erected in a dark clump of wood, outside and close to
the burning ground.

They passed through the quadrangular outer court of the temple whose
piazza was hung with deep shade.[191] In silence they circumambulated
the small central shrine, and whenever Shanta-Shil directed, Raja Vikram
entered the Sabha, or vestibule, and struck three times upon the gong,
which gave forth a loud and warning sound.

They then passed over the threshold, and looked into the gloomy inner
depths. There stood Smashana-Kali,[192] the goddess, in her most horrid
form. She was a naked and very black woman, with half-severed head,
partly cut and partly painted, resting on her shoulder; and her tongue
lolled out from her wide yawning mouth[193]; her eyes were red like
those of a drunkard; and her eyebrows were of the same colour: her
thick coarse hair hung like a mantle to her heels. She was robed in an
elephant’s hide, dried and withered, confined at the waist with a belt
composed of the hands of the giants whom she had slain in war: two dead
bodies formed her earrings, and her necklace was of bleached skulls.
Her four arms supported a scimitar, a noose, a trident, and a ponderous
mace. She stood with one leg on the breast of her husband, Shiva, and
she rested the other on his thigh. Before the idol lay the utensils of
worship, namely, dishes for the offerings, lamps, jugs, incense, copper
cups, conches and gongs; and all of them smelt of blood.

As Raja Vikram and his son stood gazing upon the hideous spectacle, the
devotee stooped down to place his skull-lamp upon the ground, and drew
from out his ochre-coloured cloth a sharp sword which he hid behind his
back.

“Prosperity to thine and thy son’s for ever and ever, O mighty Vikram!”
 exclaimed Shanta-Shil, after he had muttered a prayer before the image.
“Verily thou hast right royally redeemed thy pledge, and by the virtue
of thy presence all my wishes shall presently be accomplished. Behold!
the Sun is about to drive his car over the eastern hills, and our task
now ends. Do thou reverence before this my deity, worshipping the earth
through thy nose, and so prostrating thyself that thy eight limbs may
touch the ground.[194] Thus shall thy glory and splendour be great; the
Eight Powers[195] and the Nine Treasures shall be thine, and prosperity
shall ever remain under thy roof-tree.”

Raja Vikram, hearing these words, recalled suddenly to mind all that the
Vampire had whispered to him. He brought his joined hands open up to
his forehead, caused his two thumbs to touch his brow several times, and
replied with the greatest humility,

“O pious person! I am a king ignorant of the way to do such obeisance.
Thou art a spiritual preceptor: be pleased to teach me and I will do
even as thou desirest.”

Then the Jogi, being a cunning man, fell into his own net. As he bent
him down to salute the goddess, Vikram, drawing his sword, struck him
upon the neck so violent a blow, that his head rolled from his body upon
the ground. At the same moment Dharma Dhwaj, seizing his father’s arm,
pulled him out of the way in time to escape being crushed by the image,
which fell with the sound of thunder upon the floor of the temple.

A small thin voice in the upper air was heard to cry, “A man is
justified in killing one who has the desire to kill him.” Then glad
shouts of triumph and victory were heard in all directions. They
proceeded from the celestial choristers, the heavenly dancers, the
mistresses of the gods, and the nymphs of Indra’s Paradise, who left
their beds of gold and precious stones, their seats glorious as the
meridian sun, their canals of crystal water, their perfumed groves, and
their gardens where the wind ever blows in softest breezes, to applaud
the valour and good fortune of the warrior king.

At last the brilliant god, Indra himself, with the thousand eyes, rising
from the shade of the Parigat tree, the fragrance of whose flowers fills
the heavens, appeared in his car drawn by yellow steeds and cleaving the
thick vapours which surround the earth--whilst his attendants sounded
the heavenly drums and rained a shower of blossoms and perfumes--bade
the Vikramajit the Brave ask a boon.

The Raja joined his hands and respectfully replied,

“O mighty ruler of the lower firmament, let this my history become
famous throughout the world!”

“It is well,” rejoined the god. “As long as the sun and moon endure, and
the sky looks down upon the ground, so long shall this thy adventure be
remembered over all the earth. Meanwhile rule thou mankind.”

Thus saying, Indra retired to the delicious Amrawati[196] Vikram took up
the corpses and threw them into the cauldron which Shanta-Shil had been
tending. At once two heroes started into life, and Vikram said to them,
“When I call you, come!”

With these mysterious words the king, followed by his son, returned
to the palace unmolested. As the Vampire had predicted, everything was
prosperous to him, and he presently obtained the remarkable titles,
Sakaro, or foe of the Sakas, and Sakadhipati-Vikramaditya.

And when, after a long and happy life spent in bringing the world under
the shadow of one umbrella, and in ruling it free from care, the warrior
king Vikram entered the gloomy realms of Yama, from whom for mortals
there is no escape, he left behind him a name that endured amongst men
like the odour of the flower whose memory remains long after its form
has mingled with the dust.[197]



FOOTNOTES


[Footnote 1: Metamorphoseon, seu de Asino Aureo, libri Xl. The well known and
beautiful episode is in the fourth, the fifth, and the sixth books.]

[Footnote 2: This ceremony will be explained in a future page.]

[Footnote 3: A common exclamation of sorrow, surprise, fear, and other emotions.
It is especially used by women.]

[Footnote 4: Quoted from view of the Hindoos, by William Ward, of Serampore (vol.
i. p. 25).]

[Footnote 5: In Sanskrit, Vetala-pancha-Vinshati. “Baital” is the modern form of
“Vetala”.]

[Footnote 6: In Arabic, Badpai el Hakim.]

[Footnote 7: Dictionnaire philosophique sub v. “Apocryphes.”]

[Footnote 8: I do not mean that rhymes were not known before the days of
Al-Islam, but that the Arabs popularized assonance and consonance in
Southern Europe.]

[Footnote 9: “Vikrama” means “valour” or “prowess.”]

[Footnote 10: Mr. Ward of Serampore is unable to quote the names of more than
nine out of the eighteen, namely: Sanskrit, Prakrit, Naga, Paisacha,
Gandharba, Rakshasa, Ardhamagadi, Apa, and Guhyaka--most of them being
the languages of different orders of fabulous beings. He tells us,
however, that an account of these dialects may be found in the work
called Pingala.]

[Footnote 11: Translated by Sir Wm. Jones, 1789; and by Professor Williams, 1856.]

[Footnote 12: Translated by Professor H. H. Wilson.]

[Footnote 13: The time was propitious to savans. Whilst Vikramaditya lived,
Magha, another king, caused to be written a poem called after his name
For each verse he is said to have paid to learned men a gold piece,
which amounted to a total of 5,280l.--a large sum in those days, which
preceded those of Paradise Lost. About the same period Karnata, a third
king, was famed for patronizing the learned men who rose to honour at
Vikram’s court. Dhavaka, a poet of nearly the same period, received from
King Shriharsha the magnificent present of 10,000l. for a poem called
the Ratna-Mala.]

[Footnote 14: Lieut. Wilford supports the theory that there were eight
Vikramadityas, the last of whom established the era. For further
particulars, the curious reader will consult Lassen’s Anthologia, and
Professor H. H. Wilson’s Essay on Vikram (New), As. Red.. ix. 117.]

[Footnote 15: History tells us another tale. The god Indra and the King of Dhara
gave the kingdom to Bhartari-hari, another son of Gandhar-ba-Sena, by
a handmaiden. For some time, the brothers lived together; but presently
they quarrelled. Vikram being dismissed from court, wandered from place
to place in abject poverty, and at one time hired himself as a servant
to a merchant living in Guzerat. At length, Bhartari-hari, disgusted
with the world on account of the infidelity of his wife, to whom he was
ardently attached, became a religious devotee, and left the kingdom to
its fate. In the course of his travels, Vikram came to Ujjayani, and
finding it without a head, assumed the sovereignty. He reigned with
great splendour, conquering by his arms Utkala, Vanga, Kuch-bahar,
Guzerat, Somnat, Delhi, and other places; until, in his turn, he was
conquered, and slain by Shalivahan.]

[Footnote 16: The words are found, says Mr. Ward, in the Hindu History compiled
by Mrityungaya.]

[Footnote 17: These duties of kings are thus laid down in the Rajtarangini. It is
evident, as Professor H. H. Wilson says, that the royal status was by
no means a sinecure. But the rules are evidently the closet work of some
pedantic, dogmatic Brahman, teaching kingcraft to kings. He directs his
instructions, not to subordinate judges, but to the Raja as the chief
magistrate, and through him to all appointed for the administration of
his justice.]

[Footnote 18: Lunus, not Luna.]

[Footnote 19: That is to say, “upon an empty stomach.”]

[Footnote 20: There are three sandhyas amongst the Hindus--morning, mid-day, and
sunset; and all three are times for prayer.]

[Footnote 21: The Hindu Cupid.]

[Footnote 22: Patali, the regions beneath the earth.]

[Footnote 23: The Hindu Triad.]

[Footnote 24: Or Avanti, also called Padmavati. It is the first meridian of the
Hindus, who found their longitude by observation of lunar eclipses,
calculated for it and Lanka, or Ceylon. The clepsydra was used for
taking time.]

[Footnote 25: In the original only the husband “practiced austere devotion.” For
the benefit of those amongst whom the “pious wife” is an institution, I
have extended the privilege.]

[Footnote 26: A Moslem would say, “This is our fate.” A Hindu refers at once to
metempsychosis, as naturally as a modern Swedenborgian to spiritism.]

[Footnote 27: In Europe, money buys this world, and delivers you from the pains
of purgatory; amongst the Hindus, it furthermore opens the gate of
heaven.]

[Footnote 28: This part of the introduction will remind the reader of the two
royal brothers and their false wives in the introduction to the Arabian
Nights. The fate of Bhartari Raja, however, is historical.]

[Footnote 29: In the original, “Div”--a supernatural being god, or demon. This
part of the plot is variously told. According to some, Raja Vikram was
surprised, when entering the city to see a grand procession at the house
of a potter and a boy being carried off on an elephant to the violent
grief of his parents The King inquired the reason of their sorrow, and
was told that the wicked Div that guarded the city was in the habit of
eating a citizen per diem. Whereupon the valorous Raja caused the boy
to dismount; took his place; entered the palace; and, when presented as
food for the demon, displayed his pugilistic powers in a way to excite
the monsters admiration.]

[Footnote 30: In India, there is still a monastic order the pleasant duty of
whose members is to enjoy themselves as much as possible. It has been
much the same in Europe. “Representez-vous le convent de l’Escurial
ou du Mont Cassin, ou les cenobites ont toutes sortes de commodities,
necessaires, utiles, delectables, superflues, surabondantes, puisqu’ils
ont les cent cinquante mille, les quatre cent mille, les cinq cent mille
ecus de rente; et jugez si monsieur l’abbe a de quoi laisser dormir
la meridienne a ceux qui voudront.”--Saint Augustin, de l’Ouvrage des
Moines, by Le Camus, Bishop of Belley, quoted by Voltaire, Dict. Phil.,
sub v. “Apocalypse.”]

[Footnote 31: This form of matrimony was recognized by the ancient Hindus, and
is frequent in books. It is a kind of Scotch
wedding--ultra-Caledonian--taking place by mutual consent, without
any form or ceremony. The Gandharbas are heavenly minstrels of Indra’s
court, who are supposed to be witnesses.]

[Footnote 32: The Hindu Saturnalia.]

[Footnote 33: The powders are of wheaten flour, mixed with wild ginger-root,
sappan-wood, and other ingredients. Sometimes the stuff is thrown in
syringes.]

[Footnote 34: The Persian proverb is--“Bala e tavilah bar sat i maimun”: “The
woes of the stable be on the monkey’s head!” In some Moslem countries
a hog acts prophylactic. Hence probably Mungo Park’s troublesome pig at
Ludamar.]

[Footnote 35: So the moribund father of the “babes in the wood” lectures his
wicked brother, their guardian:               “To God and you I recommend
                    My children deare this day:
               But little while, be sure, we have
                    Within this world to stay.”
  But, to appeal to the moral sense of a goldsmith!]

[Footnote 36: Maha (great) raja (king): common address even to those who are not
royal.]

[Footnote 37: The name means. “Quietistic Disposition.”]

[Footnote 38: August. In the solar-lunar year of the Hindu the months are divided
into fortnights--light and dark.]

[Footnote 39: A flower, whose name frequently occurs in Sanskrit poetry.]

[Footnote 40: The stars being men’s souls raised to the sky for a time pro
portioned to their virtuous deeds on earth.]

[Footnote 41: A measure of length, each two miles.]

[Footnote 42: The warm region below.]

[Footnote 43: Hindus admire only glossy black hair; the “bonny brown hair”
 loved by our ballads is assigned by them to low-caste men, witches, and
fiends.]

[Footnote 44: A large kind of bat; a popular and silly Anglo-Indian name. It
almost justified the irate Scotchman in calling “prodigious leears”
 those who told him in India that foxes flew and tress were tapped for
toddy.]

[Footnote 45: The Hindus, like the European classics and other ancient peoples,
reckon four ages:--The Satya Yug, or Golden Age, numbered 1,728,000
years: the second, or Treta Yug, comprised 1,296,000; the Dwapar Yug had
864,000 and the present, the Kali Yug, has shrunk to 832,000 years.]

[Footnote 46: Especially alluding to prayer. On this point, Southey justly
remarks (Preface to Curse of Kehama): “In the religion of the Hindoos
there is one remarkable peculiarity. Prayers, penances, and sacrifices
are supposed to possess an inherent and actual value, in one degree
depending upon the disposition or motive of the person who performs
them. They are drafts upon heaven for which the gods cannot refuse
payment. The worst men, bent upon the worst designs, have in this manner
obtained power which has made them formidable to the supreme deities
themselves.” Moreover, the Hindu gods hear the prayers of those who
desire the evil of others. Hence when a rich man becomes poor, his
friends say, “See how sharp are men’s teeth!” and, “He is ruined because
others could not bear to see his happiness!”]

[Footnote 47: A pond, natural or artificial; in the latter case often covering an
extent of ten to twelve acres.]

[Footnote 48: The Hindustani “gilahri,” or little grey squirrel, whose twittering
cry is often mistaken for a bird’s.]

[Footnote 49: The autumn or rather the rainy season personified--a hackneyed
Hindu prosopopoeia.]

[Footnote 50: Light conversation upon the subject of women is a persona offence
to serious-minded Hindus.]

[Footnote 51: Cupid in his two forms, Eros and Anteros.]

[Footnote 52: This is true to life in the East, women make the first advances,
and men do the begueules.]

[Footnote 53: Raja-hans, a large grey goose, the Hindu equivalent for our swan.]

[Footnote 54: Properly Karnatak; karna in Sanskrit means an ear.]

[Footnote 55: Danta in Sanskrit is a tooth.]

[Footnote 56: Padma means a foot.]

[Footnote 57: A common Hindu phrase equivalent to our “I manage to get on.”]

[Footnote 58: Meaning marriage maternity, and so forth.]

[Footnote 59: Yama is Pluto; ‘mother of Yama’ is generally applied to an old
scold.]

[Footnote 60: Snake-land: the infernal region.]

[Footnote 61: A form of abuse given to Durga, who was the mother of Ganesha
(Janus); the latter had an elephant’s head.]

[Footnote 62: Unexpected pleasure, according to the Hindus, gives a bristly
elevation to the down of the body.]

[Footnote 63: The Hindus banish “flasks,” et hoc genus omne, from these scenes,
and perhaps they are right.]

[Footnote 64: The Pankha, or large common fan, is a leaf of the Corypha
umbraculifera, with the petiole cut to the length of about five feet,
pared round the edges and painted to look pretty. It is waved by the
servant standing behind a chair.]

[Footnote 65: The fabulous mass of precious stones forming the sacred mountain of
Hindu mythology.]

[Footnote 66: “I love my love with an ‘S,’ because he is stupid and not
pyschological.”]

[Footnote 67: Hindu mythology has also its Cerberus, Trisisa, the “three headed”
 hound that attends dreadful Yama (Pluto)]

[Footnote 68: Parceque c’est la saison des amours.]

[Footnote 69: The police magistrate, the Catual of Camoens.]

[Footnote 70: The seat of a Hindu ascetic.]

[Footnote 71: The Hindu scriptures.]

[Footnote 72: The Goddess of Prosperity.]

[Footnote 73: In the original the lover is not blamed; this would be the Hindu
view of the matter; we might be tempted to think of the old injunction
not to seethe a kid in the mother’s milk.]

[Footnote 74: In the original a “maina “-the Gracula religiosa.]

[Footnote 75: As we should say, buried them.]

[Footnote 76: A large kind of black bee, common in India.]

[Footnote 77: The beautiful wife of the demigod Rama Chandra.]

[Footnote 78: The Hindu Ars Amoris.]

[Footnote 79: The old philosophers, believing in a “Sat” (xx xx), postulated an
Asat (xx xx xx) and made the latter the root of the former.]

[Footnote 80: In Western India, a place celebrated for suicides.]

[Footnote 81: Kama Deva. “Out on thee, foul fiend, talk’st thou of nothing but
ladies?”]

[Footnote 82: The pipal or Ficus religiosa, a favourite roosting-place for
fiends.]

[Footnote 83: India.]

[Footnote 84: The ancient name of a priest by profession, meaning “praepositus”
 or praeses. He was the friend and counsellor of a chief, the minister
of a king, and his companion in peace and war. (M. Muller’s Ancient
Sanskrit Literature, p. 485).]

[Footnote 85: Lakshmi, the Goddess of Prosperity. Raj-Lakshmi would mean the
King’s Fortune, which we should call tutelary genius. Lakshichara is our
“luckless,” forming, as Mr. Ward says, an extraordinary coincidence of
sound and meaning in languages so different. But the derivations are
very distinct.]

[Footnote 86: The Monkey God.]

[Footnote 87: Generally written “Banyan.”]

[Footnote 88: The daughter of Raja Janaka, married to Ramachandra. The latter
placed his wife under the charge of his brother Lakshmana, and went
into the forest to worship, when the demon Ravana disguised himself as a
beggar, and carried off the prize.]

[Footnote 89: This great king was tricked by the god Vishnu out of the sway of
heaven and earth, but from his exceeding piety he was appointed to reign
in Patala, or Hades.]

[Footnote 90: The procession is fair game, and is often attacked in the dark with
sticks and stones, causing serious disputes. At the supper the guests
confer the obligation by their presence, and are exceedingly exacting.]

[Footnote 91: Rati is the wife of Kama, the God of Desire; and we explain the
word by “Spring personified.”]

[Footnote 92: The Indian Cuckoo (Cucuius Indicus). It is supposed to lay its eggs
in the nest of the crow.]

[Footnote 93: This is the well-known Ghi or Ghee, the one sauce of India which is
as badly off in that matter as England.]

[Footnote 94: The European reader will observe that it is her purity which
carries the heroine through all these perils. Moreover, that her virtue
is its own reward, as it loses to her the world.]

[Footnote 95: Literally, “one of all tastes”--a wild or gay man, we should say.]

[Footnote 96: These shoes are generally made of rags and bits of leather; they
have often toes behind the foot, with other similar contrivances, yet
they scarcely ever deceive an experienced man.]

[Footnote 97: The high-toper is a swell-thief, the other is a low dog.]

[Footnote 98: Engaged in shoplifting.]

[Footnote 99: The moon.]

[Footnote 100: The judge.]

[Footnote 101: To be lagged is to be taken; scragging is hanging.]

[Footnote 102: The tongue.]

[Footnote 103: This is the god Kartikeya, a mixture of Mars and Mercury,
who revealed to a certain Yugacharya the scriptures known as
“Chauriya-Vidya”--Anglice, “Thieves’ Manual.” The classical robbers
of the Hindu drama always perform according to its precepts. There is
another work respected by thieves and called the “Chora-Panchashila,”
 because consisting of fifty lines.]

[Footnote 104: Supposed to be a good omen.]

[Footnote 105: Share the booty.]

[Footnote 106: Bhawani is one of the many forms of the destroying goddess, the
wife of Shiva.]

[Footnote 107: Wretches who kill with the narcotic seed of the stramonium.]

[Footnote 108: Better know as “Thugs,” which in India means simply “rascals.”]

[Footnote 109: Crucifixion, until late years, was common amongst the Buddhists
of the Burmese empire. According to an eye-witness, Mr. F. Carey, the
punishment was inflicted in two ways. Sometimes criminals were crucified
by their hands and feet being nailed to a scaffold; others were merely
tied up, and fed. In these cases the legs and feet of the patient began
to swell and mortify at the expiration of three or four days; men are
said to have lived in this state for a fortnight, and at last they
expired from fatigue and mortification. The sufferings from cramp also
must be very severe. In India generally impalement was more common than
crucifixion.]

[Footnote 110: Our Suttee. There is an admirable Hindu proverb, which says, “No
one knows the ways of woman; she kill her husband and becomes a Sati.”]

[Footnote 111: Fate and Destiny are rather Moslem than Hindu fancies.]

[Footnote 112: Properly speaking, the husbandman should plough with not fewer
than four bullocks; but few can afford this. If he plough with a cow
or a bullock, and not with a bull, the rice produced by his ground is
unclean, and may not be used in any religious ceremony.]

[Footnote 113: A shout of triumph, like our “Huzza” or “Hurrah!” of late degraded
into “Hooray.” “Hari bol” is of course religious, meaning “Call upon
Hari!” i.e. Krishna, i.e. Vishnu.]

[Footnote 114: This form of suicide is one of those recognized in India. So
in Europe we read of fanatics who, with a suicidal ingenuity, have
succeeded in crucifying themselves.]

[Footnote 115: The river of Jaganath in Orissa; it shares the honours of sanctity
with some twenty-nine others, and in the lower regions it represents the
classical Styx.]

[Footnote 116: Cupid. His wife Rati is the spring personified. The Hindu poets
always unite love and spring, and perhaps physiologically they are
correct.]

[Footnote 117: An incarnation of the third person of the Hindu Triad, or
Triumvirate, Shiva the God of Destruction, the Indian Bacchus. The image
has five faces, and each face has three eyes. In Bengal it is found in
many villages, and the women warn their children not to touch it on pain
of being killed.]

[Footnote 118: A village Brahman on stated occasions receives fees from all the
villagers.]

[Footnote 119: The land of Greece.]

[Footnote 120: Savans, professors. So in the old saying, “Hanta, Pandit Sansara
“--Alas! the world is learned! This a little antedates the well-known
schoolmaster.]

[Footnote 121: Children are commonly sent to school at the age of five. Girls are
not taught to read, under the common idea that they will become widows
if they do.]

[Footnote 122: Meaning the place of reading the four Shastras.]

[Footnote 123: A certain goddess who plays tricks with mankind. If a son when
grown up act differently from what his parents did, people say that he
has been changed in the womb.]

[Footnote 124: Shani is the planet Saturn, which has an exceedingly baleful
influence in India as elsewhere.]

[Footnote 125: The Eleatic or Materialistic school of Hindu philosophy, which
agrees to explode an intelligent separate First Cause.]

[Footnote 126: The writings of this school give an excellent view of the
“progressive system,” which has popularly been asserted to be a modern
idea. But Hindu philosophy seems to have exhausted every fancy that can
spring from the brain of man.]

[Footnote 127: Tama is the natural state of matter, Raja is passion acting upon
nature, and Satwa is excellence These are the three gunas or qualities
of matter.]

[Footnote 128: Spiritual preceptors and learned men.]

[Footnote 129: Under certain limitations, gambling is allowed by Hindu law and
the winner has power over the person and property of the loser. No
“debts of honour” in Hindustan!]

[Footnote 130: Quotations from standard works on Hindu criminal law, which in
some points at least is almost as absurd as our civilized codes.]

[Footnote 131: Hindus carry their money tied up in a kind of sheet which is wound
round the waist and thrown over the shoulder.]

[Footnote 132: A thieves’ manual in the Sanskrit tongue; it aspires to the
dignity of a “Scripture.”]

[Footnote 133: All sounds, say the Hindus, are of similar origin, and they do not
die; if they did, they could not be remembered.]

[Footnote 134: Gold pieces.]

[Footnote 135: These are the qualifications specified by Hindu classical
authorities as necessary to make a distinguished thief.]

[Footnote 136: Every Hindu is in a manner born to a certain line of life,
virtuous or vicious, honest or dishonest and his Dharma, or religious
duty, consists in conforming to the practice and the worship of his
profession. The “Thug,” for instance, worships Bhawani, who enables him
to murder successfully; and his remorse would arise from neglecting to
murder.]

[Footnote 137: Hindu law sensibly punishes, in theory at least, for the same
offence the priest more severely than the layman--a hint for him to
practice what he preaches.]

[Footnote 138: The Hindu Mercury, god of rascals.]

[Footnote 139: A penal offence in India. How is it that we English have omitted
to codify it? The laws of Manu also punish severely all disdainful
expressions, such as “tush” or “pish,” addressed during argument to a
priest.]

[Footnote 140: Stanzas, generally speaking, on serious subjects.]

[Footnote 141: Whitlows on the nails show that the sufferer, in the last life,
stole gold from a Brahman.]

[Footnote 142: A low caste Hindu, who catches and exhibits snakes and performs
other such mean offices.]

[Footnote 143: Meaning, in spite of themselves.]

[Footnote 144: When the moon is in a certain lunar mansion, at the conclusion of
the wet season.]

[Footnote 145: In Hindustan, it is the prevailing wind of the hot weather.]

[Footnote 146: Vishnu, as a dwarf, sank down into and secured in the lower
regions the Raja Bali, who by his piety and prayerfulness was subverting
the reign of the lesser gods; as Ramachandra he built a bridge between
Lanka (Ceylon) and the main land; and as Krishna he defended, by
holding up a hill as an umbrella for them, his friends the shepherds
and shepherdesses from the thunders of Indra, whose worship they had
neglected.]

[Footnote 147: The priestly caste sprang, as has been said, from the noblest part
of the Demiurgus; the three others from lower members.]

[Footnote 148: A chew of betel leaf and spices is offered by the master of the
house when dismissing a visitor.]

[Footnote 149: Respectable Hindus say that receiving a fee for a daughter is like
selling flesh.]

[Footnote 150: A modern custom amongst the low caste is for the bride and
bridegroom, in the presence of friends, to place a flower garland on
each other’s necks, and thus declare themselves man and wife. The old
classical Gandharva-lagan has been before explained.]

[Footnote 151: Meaning that the sight of each other will cause a smile, and that
what one purposes the other will consent to.]

[Footnote 152: This would be the verdict of a Hindu jury.]

[Footnote 153: Because stained with the powder of Mhendi, or the Lawsonia inermis
shrub.]

[Footnote 154: Kansa’s son: so called because the god Shiva, when struck by his
shafts, destroyed him with a fiery glance.]

[Footnote 155: “Great Brahman”; used contemptuously to priests who officiate
for servile men. Brahmans lose their honour by the following things:
By becoming servants to the king; by pursuing any secular business; by
acting priests to Shudras (serviles); by officiating as priests for a
whole village; and by neglecting any part of the three daily services.
Many violate these rules; yet to kill a Brahman is still one of the five
great Hindu sins. In the present age of the world, the Brahman may not
accept a gift of cows or of gold; of course he despises the law. As
regards monkey worship, a certain Rajah of Nadiya is said to have
expended 10,000L in marrying two monkeys with all the parade and
splendour of the Hindu rite.]

[Footnote 156: The celebrated Gayatri, the Moslem Kalmah.]

[Footnote 157: Kama again.]

[Footnote 158: From “Man,” to think; primarily meaning, what makes man think.]

[Footnote 159: The Cirrhadae of classical writers.]

[Footnote 160: The Hindu Pluto; also called the Just King.]

[Footnote 161: Yama judges the dead, whose souls go to him in four hours and
forty minutes; therefore a corpse cannot be burned till after that time.
His residence is Yamalaya, and it is on the south side of the earth;
down South, as we say. (I, Sam. xxv. 1, and xxx. 15). The Hebrews, like
the Hindus, held the northern parts of the world to be higher than the
southern. Hindus often joke a man who is seen walking in that direction,
and ask him where he is going.]

[Footnote 162: The “Ganges,” in heaven called Mandakini. I have no idea why we
still adhere to our venerable corruption of the word.]

[Footnote 163: The fabulous mountain supposed by Hindu geographers to occupy the
centre of the universe.]

[Footnote 164: The all-bestowing tree in Indra’s Paradise which grants everything
asked of it. It is the Tuba of Al-Islam and is not unknown to the
Apocryphal New Testament.]

[Footnote 165: “Vikramaditya, Lord of the Saka.” This is prevoyance on the part
of the Vampire; the king had not acquired the title.]

[Footnote 166: On the sixth day after the child’s birth, the god Vidhata writes
all its fate upon its forehead. The Moslems have a similar idea, and
probably it passed to the Hindus.]

[Footnote 167: Goddess of eloquence. “The waters of the Saraswati” is the
classical Hindu phrase for the mirage.]

[Footnote 168: This story is perhaps the least interesting in the collection. I
have translated it literally, in order to give an idea of the original.
The reader will remark in it the source of our own nursery tale about
the princess who was so high born and delicately bred, that she could
discover the three peas laid beneath a straw mattress and four feather
beds. The Hindus, however, believe that Sybaritism can be carried so
far; I remember my Pandit asserting the truth of the story.]

[Footnote 169: A minister. The word, as is the case with many in this collection,
is quite modern Moslem, and anachronistic.]

[Footnote 170: The cow is called the mother of the gods, and is declared by
Brahma, the first person of the triad, Vishnu and Shiva being the second
and the third, to be a proper object of worship. “If a European speak to
the Hindu about eating the flesh of cows,” says an old missionary, “they
immediately raise their hands to their ears; yet milkmen, carmen, and
farmers beat the cow as unmercifully as a carrier of coals beats his ass
in England.” The Jains or Jainas (from ji, to conquer; as subduing the
passions) are one of the atheistical sects with whom the Brahmans have
of old carried on the fiercest religious controversies, ending in many
a sanguinary fight. Their tenets are consequently exaggerated and
ridiculed, as in the text. They believe that there is no such God as the
common notions on the subject point out, and they hold that the highest
act of virtue is to abstain from injuring sentient creatures. Man does
not possess an immortal spirit: death is the same to Brahma and to a
fly. Therefore there is no heaven or hell separate from present pleasure
or pain. Hindu Epicureans!--“Epicuri de grege porci.”]

[Footnote 171: Narak is one of the multitudinous places of Hindu punishment, said
to adjoin the residence of Ajarna. The less cultivated Jains believe in
a region of torment. The illuminati, however, have a sovereign contempt
for the Creator, for a future state, and for all religious ceremonies.
As Hindus, however, they believe in future births of mankind, somewhat
influenced by present actions. The “next birth” in the mouth of a Hindu,
we are told, is the same as “to-morrow” in the mouth of a Christian. The
metempsychosis is on an extensive scale: according to some, a person
who loses human birth must pass through eight millions of successive
incarnations--fish, insects, worms, birds, and beasts--before he can
reappear as a man.]

[Footnote 172: Jogi, or Yogi, properly applies to followers of the Yoga or
Patanjala school, who by ascetic practices acquire power over the
elements. Vulgarly, it is a general term for mountebank vagrants,
worshippers of Shiva. The Janganis adore the same deity, and carry
about a Linga. The Sevras are Jain beggars, who regard their chiefs
as superior to the gods of other sects. The Sannyasis are mendicant
followers of Shiva; they never touch metals or fire, and, in religious
parlance, they take up the staff They are opposed to the Viragis,
worshippers of Vishnu, who contend as strongly against the worshippers
of gods who receive bloody offerings, as a Christian could do against
idolatry.]

[Footnote 173: The Brahman, or priest, is supposed to proceed from the mouth of
Brahma, the creating person of the Triad; the Khshatriyas (soldiers)
from his arms; the Vaishyas (enterers into business) from his thighs;
and the Shudras, “who take refuge in the Brahmans,” from his feet. Only
high caste men should assume the thread at the age of puberty.]

[Footnote 174: Soma, the moon, I have said, is masculine in India.]

[Footnote 175: Pluto.]

[Footnote 176: Nothing astonishes Hindus so much as the apparent want of
affection between the European parent and child.]

[Footnote 177: A third marriage is held improper and baneful to a Hindu woman.
Hence, before the nuptials they betroth the man to a tree, upon which
the evil expends itself, and the tree dies.]

[Footnote 178: Kama]

[Footnote 179: An oath, meaning, “From such a falsehood preserve me, Ganges!”]

[Footnote 180: The Indian Neptune.]

[Footnote 181: A highly insulting form of adjuration.]

[Footnote 182: The British Islands--according to Wilford.]

[Footnote 183: Literally the science (veda) of the bow (dhanush). This weapon,
as everything amongst the Hindus, had a divine origin: it was of three
kinds--the common bow, the pellet or stone bow, and the crossbow or
catapult.]

[Footnote 184: It is a disputed point whether the ancient Hindus did or did not
know the use of gunpowder.]

[Footnote 185: It is said to have discharged balls, each 6,400 pounds in weight.]

[Footnote 186: A kind of Mercury, a god with the head and wings of a bird, who is
the Vahan or vehicle of the second person of the Triad, Vishnu.]

[Footnote 187: The celebrated burning springs of Baku, near the Caspian, are so
called. There are many other “fire mouths.”]

[Footnote 188: The Hindu Styx.]

[Footnote 189: From Yaksha, to eat; as Rakshasas are from Raksha, to
preserve.--See Hardy’s Manual of Buddhism, p. 57.]

[Footnote 190: Shiva is always painted white, no one knows why. His wife Gauri
has also a European complexion. Hence it is generally said that the sect
popularly called “Thugs,” who were worshippers of these murderous gods,
spared Englishmen, the latter being supposed to have some rapport with
their deities.]

[Footnote 191: The Hindu shrine is mostly a small building, with two inner
compartments, the vestibule and the Garbagriha, or adytum, in which
stands the image.]

[Footnote 192: Meaning Kali of the cemetery (Smashana); another form of Durga.]

[Footnote 193: Not being able to find victims, this pleasant deity, to satisfy
her thirst for the curious juice, cut her own throat that the blood
might spout up into her mouth. She once found herself dancing on her
husband, and was so shocked that in surprise she put out her tongue to a
great length, and remained motionless. She is often represented in this
form.]

[Footnote 194: This ashtanga, the most ceremonious of the five forms of Hindu
salutation, consists of prostrating and of making the eight parts of
the body--namely, the temples, nose and chin, knees and hands--touch the
ground.]

[Footnote 195: “Sidhis,” the personified Powers of Nature. At least, so we
explain them: but people do not worship abstract powers.]

[Footnote 196: The residence of Indra, king of heaven, built by Wishwa-Karma, the
architect of the gods.]

[Footnote 197: In other words, to the present day, whenever a Hindu novelist,
romancer, or tale writer seeks a peg upon which to suspend the texture
of his story, he invariably pitches upon the glorious, pious, and
immortal memory of that Eastern King Arthur, Vikramaditya, shortly
called Vikram.]





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