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Vikram and the Vampire by Sir Richard F. Burton

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

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

"Go," spoke the king, "to the place whence proceeds this sound of
woman's wail, and having inquired the cause of her grief, return

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

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

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

"I am the Royal-Luck," she replied.

"For what reason," asked Birbal, "art thou weeping?"

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

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

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

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

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

On the way the Rajput said to his wife, "If thou wilt give up thy
son willingly, I will sacrifice him for our master's sake to Devi the

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

Then the good wife turned to her son and said "Child by the gift of
thy head, the king's life may be spared, and the kingdom remain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Why, prithee?" asked the Baital.

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

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

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

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


Of A Woman Who Told The Truth.

"Listen, great king!" again began the Baital.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"And who here," said the thief, "is thy protector?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vikram, who had been greatly edified by the tale, forgot himself,
and ejaculated, "The Thief's."

"And pray why?" asked the Baital.

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

"Hi! hi! hi!" laughed the demon, spitefully. "Here, then, ends my

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * * * *

The Vampire lost no time in opening a fresh story.


Of the Thief Who Laughed and Wept.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The unwise run from one end to the other.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Well, keep your red rag[FN#102] quiet," grumbled the other, "and
let us be working."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I do not know the way; in which direction am I to go?" asked

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Go this moment and get that thief released!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


In Which Three Men Dispute about a Woman.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"'A traveller finds honey; a traveller finds sweet figs. Look at the
happiness of the sun, who travailing never tires. Travel!"'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Showing the Exceeding Folly of Many Wise Fools.

The Baital resumed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then turning to the elder they said:

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

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

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

The young man proceeded to justify himself by quotations from
the Lila-shastra, his text-book, by citing such 1ines as--

Fortune favours folly and force,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then they debated with one another what they should study

* * * * * * *

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

* * * * * * *

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

* * * * * * *

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

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

Let me try to remember a few of their words.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One of the operators spread the bones upon the ground and fixed

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