Part 2 out of 5
The spark of hope my heart hath fled
What now witholds me from the
And this was the termination exultative, as he called it:
O joy I the pearl is mine again,
Once more the day is bright and
And now 'tis real, then 'twas vain,
My dream of bliss - O heaven is
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, [FN#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
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 [FN#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, [FN#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
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. [FN#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.[FN#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
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.[FN#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.[FN#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 shine; 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.[FN#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
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
"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 shine, that attends upon his amiable-looking
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
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
"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 m 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 physio- logical theory, but very observable
in every-day practice For what said the poet? --
Divorce, friend! Re-wed thee! The spring draweth
And a wife's but an almanac --good for the year.
If your royal father say anything to you, refer him to what he
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
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
"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
"Let the ascetic be sent for," commanded the kotwal.[FN#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.[FN#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 [FN#71]?"
"Greet 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[FN#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[FN#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
"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
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
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
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
"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,[FN#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
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
"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
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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
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
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
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,[FN#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
"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[FN#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
"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
For some months (resumed Madan-manjari), the bride and the
bridegroom lived happily together in Hemgupt's house. But it is
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
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 wit 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
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 shine, 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
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
"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[FN#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
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
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[FN#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[FN#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,[FN#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.[FN#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
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[FN#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
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
"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
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
"The beautiful Bangalah Rani for instance?" said the Baital, with a
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
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
(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
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
"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 velour had gone
forth to the utmost ends of Bharat-Kandha.[FN#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
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
"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 shine, 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.
"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
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.[FN#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.