Part 4 out of 5
each one into its proper socket, not forgetting even the teeth and
The second connected, by means of a marvellous unguent, the
skeleton with the muscles and heart of an elephant, which he had
procured for the purpose.
The third drew from his pouch the brain and eyes of a large
tom-cat, which he carefully fitted into the animal's skull, and then
covered the body with the hide of a young rhinoceros.
Then the fourth--the atheist--who had been directing the operation,
produced a globule having another globule within itself. And as
the crowd pressed on them, craning their necks, breathless with
anxiety, he placed the Principle of Organic Life in the tiger's body
with such effect that the monster immediately heaved its chest,
breathed, agitated its limbs, opened its eyes, jumped to its feet,
shook itself, glared around, and began to gnash its teeth and lick its
chops, lashing the while its ribs with its tail.
The sages sprang back, and the beast sprang forward. With a roar
like thunder during Elephanta-time,[FN#144] it flew at the nearest
of the spectators, flung Vishnu Swami to the ground and clawed
his four sons. Then, not even stopping to drink their blood, it
hurried after the flying herd of wise men. Jostling and tumbling,
stumbling and catching at one another's long robes, they rushed in
hottest haste towards the garden gate. But the beast, having the
muscles of an elephant as well as the bones of a tiger, made a few
bounds of eighty or ninety feet each, easily distanced them, and
took away all chance of escape. To be brief: as the monster was
frightfully hungry after its long fast, and as the imprudent young
men had furnished it with admirable implements of destruction, it
did not cease its work till one hundred and twenty-one learned and
highly distinguished Pandits and Gurus lay upon the ground
chawed, clawed, sucked dry, and in most cases stone-dead.
Amongst them, I need hardly say, were the sage Vishnu Swami
and his four sons.
Having told this story the Vampire hung silent for a time. Presently
"Now, heed my words, Raja Vikram! I am about to ask thee,
Which of all those learned men was the most finished fool? The
answer is easily found, yet it must be distasteful to thee. Therefore
mortify thy vanity, as soon as possible, or I shall be talking, and
thou wilt be walking through this livelong night, to scanty purpose.
Remember! science without understanding is of little use; indeed,
understanding is superior to science, and those devoid of
understanding perish as did the persons who revivified the tiger.
Before this, I warned thee to beware of thyself, and of shine own
conceit. Here, then, is an opportunity for self-discipline--which of
all those learned men was the greatest fool?"
The warrior king mistook the kind of mortification imposed upon
him, and pondered over the uncomfortable nature of the reply--in
the presence of his son.
Again the Baital taunted him.
"The greatest fool of all," at last said Vikram, in slow and by no
means willing accents, "was the father. Is it not said, 'There is no
fool like an old fool'?"
"Gramercy!" cried the Vampire, bursting out into a discordant
laugh, "I now return to my tree. By this head! I never before heard
a father so readily condemn a father." With these words he
disappeared, slipping out of the bundle.
The Raja scolded his son a little for want of obedience, and said
that he had always thought more highly of his acuteness--never
could have believed that he would have been taken in by so
shallow a trick. Dharma Dhwaj answered not a word to this, but
promised to be wiser another time.
Then they returned to the tree, and did what they had so often done
And, as before, the Baital held his tongue for a time. Presently he
began as follows.
THE VAMPIRE'S EIGHTH STORY.
Of the Use and Misuse of Magic Pills.
The lady Chandraprabha, daughter of the Raja Subichar, was a
particularly beautiful girl, and marriage-able withal. One day as
Vasanta, the Spring, began to assert its reign over the world,
animate and inanimate, she went accompanied by her young
friends and companions to stroll about her father's pleasure-garden.
The fair troop wandered through sombre groves, where the dark
tamale-tree entwined its branches with the pale green foliage of the
nim, and the pippal's domes of quivering leaves contrasted with the
columnar aisles of the banyan fig. They admired the old monarchs
of the forest, bearded to the waist with hangings of moss, the
flowing creepers delicately climbing from the lower branches to
the topmost shoots, and the cordage of llianas stretching from
trunk to trunk like bridges for the monkeys to pass over. Then they
issued into a clear space dotted with asokas bearing rich crimson
fiowers, cliterias of azure blue, madhavis exhibiting petals virgin
white as the snows on Himalaya, and jasmines raining showers of
perfumed blossoms upon the grateful earth. They could not
sufficiently praise the tall and graceful stem of the arrowy areca,
contrasting with the solid pyramid of the cypress, and the more
masculine stature of the palm. Now they lingered in the trellised
walks closely covered over with vines and creepers; then they
stopped to gather the golden bloom weighing down the mango
boughs, and to smell the highly-scented flowers that hung from the
green fretwork of the chambela.
It was spring, I have said. The air was still except when broken by
the hum of the large black bramra bee, as he plied his task amidst
the red and orange flowers of the dak, and by the gushings of many
waters that made music as they coursed down their stuccoed
channels between borders of many coloured poppies and beds of
various flowers. From time to time the dulcet note of the kokila
bird, and the hoarse plaint of the turtle-dove deep hid in her leafy
bower, attracted every ear and thrilled every heart. The south
wind--"breeze of the south,[FN#145] the friend of love and spring"
blew with a voluptuous warmth, for rain clouds canopied the earth,
and the breath of the narcissus, the rose, and the citron, teemed
with a languid fragrance.
The charms of the season affected all the damsels. They amused
themselves in their privacy with pelting blossoms at one another,
running races down the smooth broad alleys, mounting the silken
swings that hung between the orange trees, embracing one another,
and at times trying to push the butt of the party into the fishpond.
Perhaps the liveliest of all was the lady Chandraprabha, who on
account of her rank could pelt and push all the others, without fear
of being pelted and pushed in return.
It so happened, before the attendants had had time to secure
privacy for the princess and her women, that Manaswi, a very
handsome youth, a Brahman's son, had wandered without
malicious intention into the garden. Fatigued with walking, and
finding a cool shady place beneath a tree, he had lain down there,
and had gone to sleep, and had not been observed by any of the
king's people. He was still sleeping when the princess and her
companions were playing together.
Presently Chandraprabha, weary of sport, left her friends, and
singing a lively air, tripped up the stairs leading to the
summer-house. Aroused by the sound of her advancing footsteps,
Manaswi sat up; and the princess, seeing a strange man, started.
But their eyes had met, and both were subdued by love--love
vulgarly called "love at first sight."
"Nonsense!" exclaimed the warrior king, testily, "I can never
believe in that freak of Kama Deva." He spoke feelingly, for the
thing had happened to himself more than once, and on no occasion
had it turned out well.
"But there is such a thing, O Raja, as love at first sight," objected
the Baital, speaking dogmatically.
"Then perhaps thou canst account for it, dead one," growled the
"I have no reason to do so, O Vikram," retorted the Vampire,
"when you men have already done it. Listen, then, to the words of
the wise. In the olden time, one of your great philosophers
invented a fluid pervading all matter, strongly self-repulsive like
the steam of a brass pot, and widely spreading like the breath of
scandal. The repulsiveness, however, according to that wise man,
is greatly modified by its second property, namely, an energetic
attraction or adhesion to all material bodies. Thus every substance
contains a part, more or less, of this fluid, pervading it throughout,
and strongly bound to each component atom. He called it
'Ambericity,' for the best of reasons, as it has no connection with
amber, and he described it as an imponderable, which, meaning
that it could not be weighed, gives a very accurate and satisfactory
idea of its nature.
"Now, said that philosopher, whenever two bodies containing that
unweighable substance in unequal proportions happen to meet, a
current of imponderable passes from one to the other, producing a
kind of attraction, and tending to adhere. The operation takes place
instantaneously when the force is strong and much condensed.
Thus the vulgar who call things after their effects and not from
their causes, term the action of this imponderable love at first
sight; the wise define it to be a phenomenon of ambericity. As
regards my own opinion about the matter, I have long ago told it to
you, O Vikram! Silliness--"
"Either hold your tongue, fellow, or go on with your story," cried
the Raja, wearied out by so many words that had no manner of
Well! the effect of the first glance was that Manaswi, the
Brahman's son, fell back in a swoon and remained senseless upon
the ground where he had been sitting; and the Raja's daughter
began to tremble upon her feet, and presently dropped unconscious
upon the floor of the summer-house. Shortly after this she was
found by her companions and attendants, who, quickly taking her
up in their arms and supporting her into a litter, conveyed her
Manaswi, the Brahman's son, was so completely overcome, that he
lay there dead to everything. Just then the learned, deeply read, and
purblind Pandits Muldev and Shashi by name, strayed into the
garden, and stumbled upon the body.
"Friend," said Muldev, "how came this youth thus to fall senseless
on the ground?"
"Man," replied Shashi, "doubtless some damsel has shot forth the
arrows of her glances from the bow of her eyebrows, and thence he
has become insensible!"
"We must lift him up then," said Muldev the benevolent.
"What need is there to raise him?" asked Shashi the misanthrope
by way of reply.
Muldev, however, would not listen to these words. He ran to the
pond hard by, soaked the end of his waistcloth in water, sprinkled
it over the young Brahman, raised him from the ground, and
placed him sitting against the wall. And perceiving, when he came
to himself, that his sickness was rather of the soul than of the body,
the old men asked him how he came to be in that plight.
"We should tell our griefs," answered Manaswi, "only to those
who will relieve us! What is the use of communicating them to
those who, when they have heard, cannot help us? What is to be
gained by the empty pity or by the useless condolence of men in
The Pandits, however, by friendly looks and words, presently
persuaded him to break silence, when he said, "A certain princess
entered this summer-house, and from the sight of her I have fallen
into this state. If I can obtain her, I shall live; if not, I must die."
"Come with me, young man!" said Muldev the benevolent: "I will
use every endeavour to obtain her, and if I do not succeed I will
make thee wealthy and independent of the world."
Manaswi rejoined: "The Deity in his beneficence has created many
jewels in this world, but the pearl, woman, is chiefest of all; and
for her sake only does man desire wealth. What are riches to one
who has abandoned his wife? What are they who do not possess
beautiful wives? they are but beings inferior to the beasts! wealth
is the fruit of virtue; ease, of wealth; a wife, of ease. And where no
wife is, how can there be happiness?" And the enamoured youth
rambled on in this way, curious to us, Raja Vikram, but perhaps
natural enough in a Brahman's son suffering under that endemic
malady--determination to marry.
"Whatever thou mayest desire," said Muldev, "shall by the
blessing of heaven be given to thee."
Manaswi implored him, saying most pathetically, ''O Pandit,
bestow then that damsel upon me!"
Muldev promised to do so, and having comforted the youth, led
him to his own house. Then he welcomed him politely, seated him
upon the carpet, and left him for a few minutes, promising him to
return. When he reappeared, he held in his hand two little balls or
pills, and showing them to Manaswi, he explained their virtues as
"There is in our house an hereditary secret, by means of which I
try to promote the weal of humanity. But in all cases my success
depends mainly upon the purity and the hear/wholeness of those
that seek my aid. If thou place this in thy mouth, thou shalt be
changed into a damsel twelve years old, and when thou
withdrawest it again, thou shalt again recover shine original form.
Beware, however, that thou use the power for none but a good
purpose; otherwise some great calamity will befall thee. Therefore,
take counsel of thyself before undertaking this trial!"
What lover, O warrior king Vikram, would have hesitated, under
such circumstances, to assure the Pandit that he was the most
innocent, earnest, and well-intentioned being in the Three Worlds?
The Brahman's son, at least, lost no time in so doing. Hence the
simple-minded philosopher put one of the pills into the young
man's mouth, warning him on no account to swallow it, and took
the other into his own mouth. Upon which Manaswi became a
sprightly young maid, and Muldev was changed to a reverend and
decrepid senior, not fewer than eighty years old.
Thus transformed, the twain walked up to the palace of the Raja
Subichar, and stood for a while to admire the gate. Then passing
through seven courts, beautiful as the Paradise of Indra, they
entered, unannounced, as became the priestly dignity, a hall where,
surrounded by his courtiers, sat the ruler. The latter, seeing the
Holy Brahman under his roof, rose up, made the customary
humble salutation, and taking their right hands, led what appeared
to be the father and daughter to appropriate seats. Upon which
Muldev, having recited a verse, bestowed upon the Raja a blessing
whose beauty has been diffused over all creation.
"May that Deity[FN#146] who as a mannikin deceived the great
king Bali; who as a hero, with a monkey-host, bridged the Salt
Sea; who as a shepherd lifted up the mountain Gobarddhan in the
palm of his hand, and by it saved the cowherds and cowherdesses
from the thunders of heaven--may that Deity be thy protector!"
Having heard and marvelled at this display of eloquence, the Raja
inquired, "Whence hath your holiness come?"
"My country," replied Muldev, "is on the northern side of the great
mother Ganges, and there too my dwelling is. I travelled to a
distant land, and having found in this maiden a worthy wife for my
son, I straightway returned homewards. Meanwhile a famine had
laid waste our village, and my wife and my son have fled I know
not where. Encumbered with this damsel, how can I wander about
seeking them? Hearing the name of a pious and generous ruler, I
said to myself, ' I will leave her under his charge until my return.'
Be pleased to take great care of her."
For a minute the Raja sat thoughtful and silent. He was highly
pleased with the Brahman's perfect compliment. But he could not
hide from himself that he was placed between two difficulties: one,
the charge of a beautiful young girl, with pouting lips, soft speech,
and roguish eyes; the other, a priestly curse upon himself and his
kingdom. He thought, however, refusal the more dangerous; so he
raised his face and exclaimed, "O produce of Brahma's
head,[FN#147] I will do what your highness has desired of me."
Upon which the Brahman, after delivering a benediction of adieu
almost as beautiful and spirit-stirring as that with which he had
presented himself, took the betel[FN#148] and went his ways.
Then the Raja sent for his daughter Chandraprabha and said to her,
"This is the affianced bride of a young Brahman, and she has been
trusted to my protection for a time by her father-in-law. Take her
therefore into the inner rooms, treat her with the utmost regard,
and never allow her to be separated from thee, day or night, asleep
or awake, eating or drinking, at home or abroad."
Chandraprabha took the hand of Sita--as Manaswi had pleased to
call himself--and led the way to her own apartment. Once the seat
of joy and pleasure, the rooms now wore a desolate and
melancholy look. The windows were darkened, the attendants
moved noiselessly over the carpets, as if their footsteps would
cause headache, and there was a faint scent of some drug much
used in cases of deliquium. The apartments were handsome, but
the only ornament in the room where they sat was a large bunch of
withered flowers in an arched recess, and these, though possibly
interesting to some one, were not likely to find favour as a
decoration in the eyes of everybody.
The Raja's daughter paid the greatest attention and talked with
unusual vivacity to the Brahman's daughter-in-law, either because
she had roguish eyes, or from some presentiment of what was to
occur, whichever you please, Raja Vikram, and it is no matter
which. Still Sita could not help perceiving that there was a shade
of sorrow upon the forehead of her fair new friend, and so when
they retired to rest she asked the cause of it.
Then Chandraprabha related to her the sad tale: "One day in the
spring season, as I was strolling in the garden along with my
companions, I beheld a very handsome Brahman, and our eyes
having met, he became unconscious, and I also was insensible. My
companions seeing my condition, brought me home, and therefore
I know neither his name nor his abode. His beautiful form is
impressed upon my memory. I have now no desire to eat or to
drink, and from this distress my colour has become pale and my
body is thus emaciated." And the beautiful princess sighed a sigh
that was musical and melancholy, and concluded by predicting for
herself--as persons similarly placed often do--a sudden and
untimely end about the beginning of the next month.
"What wilt thou give me," asked the Brahman's daughter-in-law
demurely, "if I show thee thy beloved at this very moment?"
The Raja's daughter answered, "I will ever be the lowest of thy
slaves, standing before thee with joined hands."
Upon which Sita removed the pill from her mouth, and instantly
having become Manaswi, put it carefully away in a little bag hung
round his neck. At this sight Chandraprabha felt abashed, and hung
down her head in beautiful confusion. To describe--
"I will have no descriptions, Vampire!" cried the great Vikram,
jerking the bag up and down as if he were sweating gold in it. "The
fewer of thy descriptions the better for us all."
Briefly (resumed the demon), Manaswi reflected upon the eight
forms of marriage--viz., Bramhalagan, when a girl is given to a
Brahman, or man of superior caste, without reward; Daiva, when
she is presented as a gift or fee to the officiating priest at the close
of a sacrifice; Arsha, when two cows are received by the girl's
father in exchange for the bride[FN#149]; Prajapatya, when the
girl is given at the request of a Brahman, and the father says to his
daughter and her to betrothed, "Go, fulfil the duties of religion";
Asura, when money is received by the father in exchange for the
bride; Rakshasha, when she is captured in war, or when her
bridegroom overcomes his rival; Paisacha, when the girl is taken
away from her father's house by craft; and eighthly,
Gandharva-lagan, or the marriage that takes place by mutual
Manaswi preferred the latter, especially as by her rank and age the
princess was entitled to call upon her father for the Lakshmi
Swayambara wedding, in which she would have chosen her own
husband. And thus it is that Rama, Arjuna, Krishna, Nala, and
others, were proposed to by the princesses whom they married.
For five months after these nuptials, Manaswi never stirred out of
the palace, but remained there by day a woman, and a man by
night. The consequence was that he--I call him "he," for whether
Manaswi or Sita, his mind ever remained masculine--presently
found himself in a fair way to become a father.
Now, one would imagine that a change of sex every twenty-four
hours would be variety enough to satisfy even a man. Manaswi,
however, was not contented. He began to pine for more liberty,
and to find fault with his wife for not taking him out into the
world. And you might have supposed that a young person who,
from love at first sight, had fallen senseless upon the steps of a
summer-house, and who had devoted herself to a sudden and
untimely end because she was separated from her lover, would
have repressed her yawns and little irritable words even for a year
after having converted him into a husband. But no! Chandraprabha
soon felt as tired of seeing Manaswi and nothing but Manaswi, as
Manaswi was weary of seeing Chandraprabha and nothing but
Chandraprabha. Often she had been on the point of proposing
visits and out-of-door excursions. But when at last the idea was
first suggested by her husband, she at once became an injured
woman. She hinted how foolish it was for married people to
imprison themselves and to quarrel all day. When Manaswi
remonstrated, saying that he wanted nothing better than to appear
before the world with her as his wife, but that he really did not
know what her father might do to him, she threw out a cutting
sarcasm upon his effeminate appearance during the hours of light.
She then told him of an unfortunate young woman in an old
nursery tale who had unconsciously married a fiend that became a
fine handsome man at night when no eye could see him, and utter
ugliness by day when good looks show to advantage. And lastly,
when inveighing against the changeableness, fickleness, and
infidelity of mankind, she quoted the words of the poet--
Out upon change! it tires the heart
And weighs the noble spirit down;
A vain, vain world indeed thou art
That can such vile condition own
The veil hath fallen from my eyes,
I cannot love where I despise....
You can easily, O King Vikram, continue for yourself and
conclude this lecture, which I leave unfinished on account of its
Chandraprabha and Sita, who called each other the Zodiacal Twins
and Laughter Light,[FN#151] and All-consenters, easily persuaded
the old Raja that their health would be further improved by air,
exercise, and distractions. Subichar, being delighted with the
change that had taken place in a daughter whom he loved, and
whom he had feared to lose, told them to do as they pleased. They
began a new life, in which short trips and visits, baths and dances,
music parties, drives in bullock chariots, and water excursions
succeeded one another.
It so happened that one day the Raja went with his whole family to
a wedding feast in the house of his grand treasurer, where the
latter's son saw Manaswi in the beautiful shape of Sita. This was a
third case of love at first sight, for the young man immediately said
to a particular friend, "If I obtain that girl, I shall live; if not, I shall
In the meantime the king. having enjoyed the feast, came back to
his palace with his whole family. The condition of the treasurer's
son, however, became very distressing; and through separation
from his beloved, he gave up eating and drinking. The particular
friend had kept the secret for some days, though burning to tell it.
At length he found an excuse for himself in the sad state of his
friend, and he immediately went and divulged all that he knew to
the treasurer. After this he felt relieved.
The minister repaired to the court, and laid his case before the
king, saying, "Great Raja! through the love of that Brahman's
daughter-in-law, my son's state is very bad; he has given up eating
and drinking; in fact he is consumed by the fire of separation. If
now your majesty could show compassion, and bestow the girl
upon him, his life would be saved. If not----"
"Fool!" cried the Raja, who, hearing these words, had waxed very
wroth; "it is not right for kings to do injustice. Listen! when a
person puts any one in charge of a protector, how can the latter
give away his trust without consulting the person that trusted him?
And yet this is what you wish me to do."
The treasurer knew that the Raja could not govern his realm
without him, and he was well acquainted with his master's
character. He said to himself, "This will not last long;" but he
remained dumb, simulating hopelessness, and hanging down his
head, whilst Subichar alternately scolded and coaxed, abused and
flattered him, in order to open his lips. Then, with tears in his eyes,
he muttered a request to take leave; and as he passed through the
palace gates, he said aloud, with a resolute air, "It will cost me but
ten days of fasting!"
The treasurer, having returned home, collected all his attendants,
and went straightway to his son's room. Seeing the youth still
stretched upon his sleeping-mat, and very yellow for the want of
food. he took his hand, and said in a whisper, meant to be audible,
"Alas! poor son, I can do nothing but perish with thee."
The servants, hearing this threat, slipped one by one out of the
room, and each went to tell his friend that the grand treasurer had
resolved to live no longer. After which, they went back to the
house to see if their master intended to keep his word, and curious
to know, if he did intend to die, how, where, and when it was to be.
And they were not disappointed: I do not mean that the wished
their lord to die, as he was a good master to them but still there
was an excitement in the thing----
(Raja Vikram could not refrain from showing his anger at the
insult thus cast by the Baital upon human nature; the wretch,
however, pretending not to notice it, went on without interrupting
----which somehow or other pleased them.
When the treasurer had spent three days without touching bread or
water, all the cabinet council met and determined to retire from
business unless the Raja yielded to their solicitations. The treasurer
was their working man. "Besides which," said the cabinet council,
"if a certain person gets into the habit of refusing us, what is to be
the end of it, and what is the use of being cabinet councillors any
Early on the next morning, the ministers went in a body before the
Raja, and humbly represented that "the treasurer's son is at the
point of death, the effect of a full heart and an empty stomach.
Should he die, the father, who has not eaten or drunk during the
last three days" (the Raja trembled to hear the intelligence, though
he knew it), "his father, we say, cannot be saved. If the father dies
the affairs of the kingdom come to ruin,--is he not the grand
treasurer? It is already said that half the accounts have been
gnawed by white ants, and that some pernicious substance in the
ink has eaten jagged holes through the paper, so that the other half
of the accounts is illegible. It were best, sire, that you agree to
what we represent."
The white ants and corrosive ink were too strong for the Raja's
determination. Still, wishing to save appearances, he replied, with
much firmness, that he knew the value of the treasurer and his son,
that he would do much to save them, but that he had passed his
royal word, and had undertaken a trust. That he would rather die a
dozen deaths than break his promise, or not discharge his duty
faithfully. That man's condition in this world is to depart from it,
none remaining in it; that one comes and that one goes, none
knowing when or where; but that eternity is eternity for happiness
or misery. And much of the same nature, not very novel, and not
perhaps quite to the purpose, but edifying to those who knew what
lay behind the speaker's words.
The ministers did not know their lord's character so well as the
grand treasurer, and they were more impressed by his firm
demeanour and the number of his words than he wished them to
be. After allowing his speech to settle in their minds, he did away
with a great part of its effect by declaring that such were the
sentiments and the principles--when a man talks of his principles,
O Vikram! ask thyself the reason why--instilled into his youthful
mind by the most honourable of fathers and the most virtuous of
mothers. At the same time that he was by no means obstinate or
proof against conviction. In token whereof he graciously permitted
the councillors to convince him that it was his royal duty to break
his word and betray his trust, and to give away another man's wife.
Pray do not lose your temper, O warrior king! Subichar, although a
Raja, was a weak man; and you know, or you ought to know, that
the wicked may be wise in their generation, but the weak never
Well, the ministers hearing their lord's last words, took courage,
and proceeded to work upon his mind by the figure of speech
popularly called "rigmarole." They said: "Great king! that old
Brahman has been gone many days, and has not returned; he is
probably dead and burnt. It is therefore right that by giving to the
grand treasurer's son his daughter-in-law, who is only affianced,
not fairly married, you should establish your government firmly.
And even if he should return, bestow villages and wealth upon
him; and if he be not then content, provide another and a more
beautiful wife for his son, and dismiss him. A person should be
sacrificed for the sake of a family, a family for a city, a city for a
country, and a country for a king!"
Subichar having heard them, dismissed them with the remark that
as so much was to be said on both sides, he must employ the night
in thinking over the matter, and that he would on the next day
favour them with his decision. The cabinet councillors knew by
this that he meant that he would go and consult his wives. They
retired contented, convinced that every voice would be in favour of
a wedding, and that the young girl, with so good an offer, would
not sacrifice the present to the future.
That evening the treasurer and his son supped together.
The first words uttered by Raja Subichar, when he entered his
daughter's apartment, were an order addressed to Sita: "Go thou at
once to the house of my treasurer's son."
Now, as Chandraprabha and Manaswi were generally scolding
each other, Chandraprabha and Sita were hardly on speaking
terms. When they heard the Raja's order for their separation they
--"Delighted?" cried Dharma Dhwaj, who for some reason took the
greatest interest in the narrative.
"Overwhelmed with grief, thou most guileless Yuva Raja (young
prince)!" ejaculated the Vampire.
Raja Vikram reproved his son for talking about thing of which he
knew nothing, and the Baital resumed.
They turned pale and wept, and they wrung their hands, and they
begged and argued and refused obedience. In fact they did
everything to make the king revoke his order.
"The virtue of a woman," quoth Sita, "is destroyed through too
much beauty; the religion of a Brahman is impaired by serving
kings; a cow is spoiled by distant pasturage, wealth is lost by
committing injustice, and prosperity departs from the house where
promises are not kept."
The Raja highly applauded the sentiment, but was firm as a rock
upon the subject of Sita marrying the treasurer's son.
Chandraprabha observed that her royal father, usually so
conscientious, must now be acting from interested motives, and
that when selfishness sways a man, right becomes left and left
becomes right, as in the reflection of a mirror.
Subichar approved of the comparison; he was not quite so
resolved, but he showed no symptoms of changing his mind.
Then the Brahman's daughter-in-law, with the view of gaining
time--a famous stratagem amongst feminines--said to the Raja:
"Great king, if you are determined upon giving me to the grand
treasurer's son, exact from him the promise that he will do what I
bid him. Only on this condition will I ever enter his house!"
"Speak, then," asked the king; "what will he have to do?"
She replied, "I am of the Brahman or priestly caste, he is the son of
a Kshatriya or warrior: the law directs that before we twain can
wed, he should perform Yatra (pilgrimage) to all the holy places."
"Thou hast spoken Veda-truth, girl," answered the Raja, not sorry
to have found so good a pretext for temporizing, and at the same
time to preserve his character for firmness, resolution,
That night Manaswi and Chandraprabha, instead of scolding each
other, congratulated themselves upon having escaped an imminent
danger--which they did not escape.
In the morning Subichar sent for his ministers, including his grand
treasurer and his love-sick son, and told them how well and wisely
the Brahman's daughter-in-law had spoken upon the subject of the
marriage. All of them approved of the condition; but the young
man ventured to suggest, that while he was a-pilgrimaging the
maiden should reside under his father's roof. As he and his father
showed a disposition to continue their fasts in case of the small
favour not being granted, the Raja, though very loath to separate
his beloved daughter and her dear friend, was driven to do it. And
Sita was carried off, weeping bitterly, to the treasurer's palace.
That dignitary solemnly committed her to the charge of his third
and youngest wife, the lady Subhagya-Sundari, who was about her
own age, and said, "You must both live together, without any kind
of wrangling or contention, and do not go into other people's
houses." And the grand treasurer's son went off to perform his
It is no less sad than true, Raja Vikram, that in less than six days
the disconsolate Sita waxed weary of being Sita, took the ball out
of her mouth, and became Manaswi. Alas for the infidelity of
mankind! But it is gratifying to reflect that he met with the
punishment with which the Pandit Muldev had threatened him.
One night the magic pill slipped down his throat. When morning
dawned, being unable to change himself into Sita, Manaswi was
obliged to escape through a window from the lady
Subhagya-Sundari's room. He sprained his ankle with the leap, and
he lay for a time upon the ground--where I leave him whilst
convenient to me.
When Muldev quitted the presence of Subichar, he resumed his old
shape, and returning to his brother Pandit Shashi, told him what he
had done. Whereupon Shashi, the misanthrope, looked black, and
used hard words and told his friend that good nature and
soft-heartedness had caused him to commit a very bad action--a
grievous sin. Incensed at this charge, the philanthropic Muldev
became angry, and said, "I have warned the youth about his purity;
what harm can come of it?"
"Thou hast," retorted Shashi, with irritating coolness, "placed a
sharp weapon in a fool's hand."
"I have not," cried Muldev, indignantly.
"Therefore," drawled the malevolent, "you are answerable for all
the mischief he does with it, and mischief assuredly he will do."
"He will not, by Brahma!" exclaimed Muldev.
"He will, by Vishnu!" said Shashi, with an amiability produced by
having completely upset his friend's temper; "and if within the
coming six months he does not disgrace himself, thou shalt have
the whole of my book-case; but if he does, the philanthropic
Muldev will use all his skill and ingenuity in procuring the
daughter of Raja Subichar as a wife for his faithful friend Shashi."
Having made this covenant, they both agreed not to speak of the
matter till the autumn.
The appointed time drawing near, the Pandits began to make
inquiries about the effect of the magic pills. Presently they found
out that Sita, alias Manaswi, had one night mysteriously
disappeared from the grand treasurer's house, and had not been
heard of since that time. This, together with certain other things
that transpired presently, convinced Muldev, who had cooled down
in six months, that his friend had won the wager. He prepared to
make honourable payment by handing a pill to old Shashi, who at
once became a stout, handsome young Brahman, some twenty
years old. Next putting a pill into his own mouth, he resumed the
shape and form under which he had first appeared before Raja
Subichar; and, leaning upon his staff, he led the way to the palace.
The king, in great confusion, at once recognized the old priest, and
guessed the errand upon which he and the youth were come.
However, he saluted them, and offered them seats, and receiving
their blessings, he began to make inquiries about their health and
welfare. At last he mustered courage to ask the old Brahman where
he had been living for so long a time.
"Great king," replied the priest, "I went to seek after my son, and
having found him, I bring him to your majesty. Give him his wife,
and I will take them both home with me.''
Raja Subichar prevaricated not a little; but presently, being hard
pushed, he related everything that had happened.
"What is this that you have done?" cried Muldev, simulating
excessive anger and astonishment. "Why have you given my son's
wife in marriage to another man? You have done what you wished,
and now, therefore, receive my Shrap (curse)!"
The poor Raja, in great trepidation, said, "O Vivinity! be not thus
angry! I will do whatever you bid me."
Said Muldev, "If through dread of my excommunication you will
freely give whatever I demand of you, then marry your daughter,
Chandraprabha, to this my son. On this condition I forgive you. To
me, now a necklace of pearls and a venomous krishna (cobra
capella); the most powerful enemy and the kindest friend, the most
precious gem and a clod of earth; the softest bed and the hardest
stone; a blade of grass and the loveliest woman--are precisely the
same. All I desire is that in some holy place, repeating the name of
God, I may soon end my days."
Subichar, terrified by this additional show of sanctity, at once
summoned an astrologer, and fixed upon the auspicious moment
and lunar influence. He did not consult the princess, and had he
done so she would not have resisted his wishes. Chandraprabha
had heard of Sita's escape from the treasurer's house, and she had
on the subject her own suspicions. Besides which she looked
forward to a certain event, and she was by no means sure that her
royal father approved of the Gandharba form of marriage--at least
for his daughter. Thus the Brahman's son receiving in due time the
princess and her dowry, took leave of the king and returned to his
Hardly, however, had Chandraprabha been married to Shashi the
Pandit, when Manaswi went to him, and began to wrangle, and
said, "Give me my wife!" He had recovered from the effects of his
fall, and having lost her he therefore loved her--very dearly.
But Shashi proved by reference to the astrologers, priests, and ten
persons as witnesses, that he had duly wedded her, and brought her
to his home; "therefore," said he, "she is my spouse."
Manaswi swore by all holy things that he had been legally married
to her, and that he was the father of her child that was about to be.
"How then," continued he, "can she be thy spouse?" He would
have summoned Muldev as a witness, but that worthy, after
remonstrating with him, disappeared. He called upon
Chandraprabha to confirm his statement, but she put on an
innocent face, and indignantly denied ever having seen the man.
Still, continued the Baital, many people believed Manaswi's story,
as it was marvellous and incredible. Even to the present day, there
are many who decidedly think him legally married to the daughter
of Raja Subichar.
"Then they are pestilent fellows!" cried the warrior king Vikram,
who hated nothing more than clandestine and runaway matches.
"No one knew that the villain, Manaswi, was the father of her
child; whereas, the Pandit Shashi married her lawfully, before
witnesses, and with all the ceremonies.[FN#152] She therefore
remains his wife, and the child will perform the funeral obsequies
for him, and offer water to the manes of his pitris (ancestors). At
least, so say law and justice."
"Which justice is often unjust enough!" cried the Vampire; "and
ply thy legs, mighty Raja; let me see if thou canst reach the
sires-tree before I do."
* * * * * *
"The next story, O Raja Vikram, is remarkably interesting."
THE VAMPIRE'S NINTH STORY.
Showing That a Man's Wife Belongs Not to His Body but to His
Far and wide through the lovely land overrun by the Arya from the
Western Highlands spread the fame of Unmadini, the beautiful
daughter of Haridas the Brahman. In the numberless odes, sonnets,
and acrostics addressed to her by a hundred Pandits and poets her
charms were sung with prodigious triteness. Her presence was
compared to light shining in a dark house; her face to the full
moon; her complexion to the yellow champaka flower; her curls to
female snakes; her eyes to those of the deer; her eyebrows to bent
bows; her teeth to strings of little opals; her feet to rubies and red
gems,[FN#153] and her gait to that of the wild goose. And none
forgot to say that her voice affected the author like the song of the
kokila bird, sounding from the shadowy brake, when the breeze
blows coolly, or that the fairy beings of Indra's heaven would have
shrunk away abashed at her loveliness.
But, Raja Vikram! all the poets failed to win the fair Unmadini's
love. To praise the beauty of a beauty is not to praise her. Extol her
wit and talents, which has the zest of novelty, then you may
succeed. For the same reason, read inversely, the plainer and
cleverer is the bosom you would fire, the more personal you must
be upon the subject of its grace and loveliness. Flattery you know,
is ever the match which kindles the Flame of love. True it is that
some by roughness of demeanour and bluntness in speech,
contrasting with those whom they call the "herd," have the art to
succeed in the service of the bodyless god.[FN#154] But even they
The young prince Dharma Dhwaj could not help laughing at the
thought of how this must sound in his father's ear. And the Raja
hearing the ill-timed merriment, sternly ordered the Baital to cease
his immoralities and to continue his story.
Thus the lovely Unmadini, conceiving an extreme contempt for
poets and literati, one day told her father who greatly loved her,
that her husband must be a fine young man who never wrote
verses. Withal she insisted strongly on mental qualities and
science, being a person of moderate mind and an adorer of talent--
when not perverted to poetry.
As you may imagine, Raja Vikram, all the beauty's bosom friends,
seeing her refuse so many good offers, confidently predicted that
she would pass through the jungle and content herself with a bad
stick, or that she would lead ring-tailed apes in Patala.
At length when some time had elapsed, four suitors appeared from
four different countries, all of them claiming equal excellence in
youth and beauty, strength and understanding. And after paying
their respects to Haridas, and telling him their wishes, they were
directed to come early on the next morning and to enter upon the
first ordeal--an intellectual conversation.
This they did.
"Foolish the man," quoth the young Mahasani, "that seeks
permanence in this world--frail as the stem of the plantain-tree,
transient as the ocean foam.
"All that is high shall presently fall; all that is low must finally
"Unwillingly do the manes of the dead taste the tears shed by their
kinsmen: then wail not, but perform the funeral obsequies with
"What ill-omened fellow is this?" quoth the fair Unmadini, who
was sitting behind her curtain;" besides, he has dared to quote
poetry! "There was little chance of success for that suitor.
"She is called a good woman, and a woman of pure descent,"
quoth the second suitor, "who serves him to whom her father and
mother have given her; and it is written in the scriptures that a
woman who in the lifetime of her husband, becoming a devotee,
engages in fasting, and in austere devotion, shortens his days, and
hereafter falls into the fire. For it is said--
"A woman's bliss is found not in the smile
Of father, mother, friend, nor in herself;
Her husband is her only portion here,
Her heaven hereafter."
The word "serve," which might mean "obey," was peculiarly
disagreeable to the fair one's ears, and she did not admire the check
so soon placed upon her devotion, or the decided language and
manner of the youth. She therefore mentally resolved never again
to see that person, whom she determined to be stupid as an
"A mother," said Gunakar, the third candidate, "protects her son in
babyhood, and a father when his offspring is growing up. But the
man of warrior descent defends his brethren at all times. Such is
the custom of the world, and such is my state. I dwell on the heads
of the strong!"
Therefore those assembled together looked with great respect upon
the man of velour.
Devasharma, the fourth suitor, contented himself with listening to
the others, who fancied that he was overawed by their cleverness.
And when it came to his turn he simply remarked, "Silence is
better than speech." Being further pressed, he said, "A wise man
will not proclaim his age, nor a deception practiced upon himself,
nor his riches, nor the loss of riches, nor family faults, nor
incantations, nor conjugal love, nor medicinal prescriptions, nor
religious duties, nor gifts, nor reproach, nor the infidelity of his
Thus ended the first trial. The master of the house dismissed the
two former speakers, with many polite expressions and some
trifling presents. Then having given betel to them, scented their
garments with attar, and sprinkled rose-water over their heads, he
accompanied them to the door, showing much regret. The two
latter speakers he begged to come on the next day.
Gunakar and Devasharma did not fail. When they entered the
assembly-room and took the seats pointed out to them, the father
said, "Be ye pleased to explain and make manifest the effects of
your mental qualities. So shall I judge of them."
"I have made," said Gunakar, "a four-wheeled carriage, in which
the power resides to carry you in a moment wherever you may
purpose to go."
"I have such power over the angel of death," said Devasharma,
"that I can at all times raise a corpse, and enable my friends to do
Now tell me by thy brains, O warrior King Vikram, which of these
two youths was the fitter husband for the maid?
Either the Raja could not answer the question, or perhaps he would
not, being determined to break the spell which had already kept
him walking to and fro for so many hours. Then the Baital, who
had paused to let his royal carrier commit himself, seeing that the
attempt had failed, proceeded without making any further
The beautiful Unmadini was brought out, but she hung down her
head and made no reply. Yet she took care to move both her eyes
in the direction of Devasharma. Whereupon Haridas, quoting the
proverb that "pearls string with pearls," formally betrothed to him
The soldier suitor twisted the ends of his mustachios into his eyes,
which were red with wrath, and fumbled with his fingers about the
hilt of his sword. But he was a man of noble birth, and presently
his anger passed away.
Mahasani the poet, however, being a shameless person--and when
can we be safe from such?--forced himself into the assembly and
began to rage and to storm, and to quote proverbs in a loud tone of
voice. He remarked that in this world women are a mine of grief, a
poisonous root, the abode of solicitude, the destroyers of
resolution, the occasioners of fascination, and the plunderers of all
virtuous qualities. From the daughter he passed to the father, and
after saying hard things of him as a "Maha-Brahman,"[FN#155]
who took cows and gold and worshipped a monkey, he fell with a
sweeping censure upon all priests and sons of priests, more
especially Devasharma. As the bystanders remonstrated with him,
he became more violent, and when Haridas, who was a weak man,
appeared terrified by his voice, look, and gesture, he swore a
solemn oath that despite all the betrothals in the world, unless
Unmadini became his wife he would commit suicide, and as a
demon haunt the house and injure the inmates.
Gunakar the soldier exhorted this shameless poet to slay himself at
once, and to go where he pleased. But as Haridas reproved the
warrior for inhumanity, Mahasani nerved by spite, love, rage, and
perversity to an heroic death, drew a noose from his bosom, rushed
out of the house, and suspended himself to the nearest tree.
And, true enough, as the midnight gong struck, he appeared in the
form of a gigantic and malignant Rakshasa (fiend), dreadfully
frightened the household of Haridas, and carried off the lovely
Unmadini, leaving word that she was to he found on the topmost
peak of Himalaya.
The unhappy father hastened to the house where Devasharma
lived. There, weeping bitterly and wringing his hands in despair,
he told the terrible tale, and besought his intended son-in-law to be
up and doing.
The young Brahman at once sought his late rival, and asked his
aid. This the soldier granted at once, although he had been nettled
at being conquered in love by a priestling.
The carriage was at once made ready, and the suitors set out,
bidding the father be of good cheer, and that before sunset he
should embrace his daughter. They then entered the vehicle;
Gunakar with cabalistic words caused it to rise high in the air, and
Devasharma put to flight the demon by reciting the sacred
verse,[FN#156] "Let us meditate on the supreme splendour (or
adorable light) of that Divine Ruler (the sun) who may illuminate
our understandings. Venerable men, guided by the intelligence,
salute the divine sun (Sarvitri) with oblations and praise. Om!"
Then they returned with the girl to the house, and Haridas blessed
them, praising the sun aloud in the joy of his heart. Lest other
accidents might happen, he chose an auspicious planetary
conjunction, and at a fortunate moment rubbed turmeric upon his
The wedding was splendid, and broke the hearts of twenty-four
rivals. In due time Devasharma asked leave from his father-in-law
to revisit his home, and to carry with him his bride. This request
being granted, he set out accompanied by Gunakar the soldier, who
swore not to leave the couple before seeing them safe under their
It so happened that their road lay over the summits of the wild
Vindhya hills, where dangers of all kinds are as thick as shells
upon the shore of the deep. Here were rocks and jagged precipices
making the traveller's brain whirl when he looked into them. There
impetuous torrents roared and flashed down their beds of black
stone, threatening destruction to those who would cross them. Now
the path was lost in the matted thorny underwood and the pitchy
shades of the jungle, deep and dark as the valley of death. Then the
thunder-cloud licked the earth with its fiery tongue, and its voice
shook the crags and filled their hollow caves. At times, the sun was
so hot, that wild birds fell dead from the air. And at every moment
the wayfarers heard the trumpeting of giant elephants, the fierce
howling of the tiger, the grisly laugh of the foul hyaena, and the
whimpering of the wild dogs as they coursed by on the tracks of
Yet, sustained by the five-armed god[FN#157] the little party
passed safely through all these dangers. They had almost emerged
from the damp glooms of the forest into the open plains which
skirt the southern base of the hills, when one night the fair
Unmadini saw a terrible vision.
She beheld herself wading through a sluggish pool of muddy
water, which rippled, curdling as she stepped into it, and which, as
she advanced, darkened with the slime raised by her feet. She was
bearing in her arms the semblance of a sick child, which struggled
convulsively and filled the air with dismal wails. These cries
seemed to be answered by a multitude of other children, some
bloated like toads, others mere skeletons lying upon the bank, or
floating upon the thick brown waters of the pond. And all seemed
to address their cries to her, as if she were the cause of their
weeping; nor could all her efforts quiet or console them for a
When the bride awoke, she related all the particulars of her
ill-omened vision to her husband; and the latter, after a short
pause, informed her and his friend that a terrible calamity was
about to befall them. He then drew from his travelling wallet a
skein of thread. This he divided into three parts, one for each, and
told his companions that in case of grievous bodily injury, the bit
of thread wound round the wounded part would instantly make it
whole. After which he taught them the Mantra,[FN#158] or
mystical word by which the lives of men are restored to their
bodies, even when they have taken their allotted places amongst
the stars, and which for evident reasons I do not want to repeat. It
concluded, however, with the three Vyahritis, or sacred syllables--
Bhuh, Bhuvah, Svar!
Raja Vikram was perhaps a little disappointed by this declaration.
He made no remark, however, and the Baital thus pursued:
As Devasharma foretold, an accident of a terrible nature did occur.
On the evening of that day, as they emerged upon the plain, they
were attacked by the Kiratas, or savage tribes of the
mountain.[FN#159] A small, black, wiry figure, armed with a bow
and little cane arrows, stood in their way, signifying by gestures
that they must halt and lay down their arms. As they continued to
advance, he began to speak with a shrill chattering, like the note of
an affrighted bird, his restless red eyes glared with rage, and he
waved his weapon furiously round his head. Then from the rocks
and thickets on both sides of the path poured a shower of shafts
upon the three strangers.
The unequal combat did not last long. Gunakar, the soldier,
wielded his strong right arm with fatal effect and struck down
some threescore of the foes. But new swarms came on like angry
hornets buzzing round the destroyer of their nests. And when he
fell, Devasharma, who had left him for a moment to hide his
beautiful wife in the hollow of a tree, returned, and stood fighting
over the body of his friend till he also, overpowered by numbers,
was thrown to the ground. Then the wild men, drawing their
knives, cut off the heads of their helpless enemies, stripped their
bodies of all their ornaments, and departed, leaving the woman
unharmed for good luck.
When Unmadini, who had been more dead than alive during the
affray, found silence succeed to the horrid din of shrieks and
shouts, she ventured to creep out of her refuge in the hollow tree.
And what does she behold? her husband and his friend are lying
upon the ground, with their heads at a short distance from their
bodies. She sat down and wept bitterly.
Presently, remembering the lesson which she had learned that very
morning, she drew forth from her bosom the bit of thread and
proceeded to use it. She approached the heads to the bodies, and
tied some of the magic string round each neck. But the shades of
evening were fast deepening, and in her agitation, confusion and
terror, she made a curious mistake by applying the heads to the
wrong trunks. After which, she again sat down, and having recited
her prayers, she pronounced, as her husband had taught her, the
In a moment the dead men were made alive. They opened their
eyes, shook themselves, sat up and handled their limbs as if to feel
that all was right. But something or other appeared to them all
wrong. They placed their palms upon their foreheads, and looked
downwards, and started to their feet and began to stare at their
hands and legs. Upon which they scrutinized the very scanty
articles of dress which the wild men had left upon them, and lastly
one began to eye the other with curious puzzled looks.
The wife, attributing their gestures to the confusion which one
might expect to find in the brains of men who have just undergone
so great a trial as amputation of the head must be, stood before
them for a moment or two. She then with a cry of gladness flew to
the bosom of the individual who was, as she supposed, her
husband. He repulsed her, telling her that she was mistaken. Then,
blushing deeply in spite of her other emotions, she threw both her
beautiful arms round the neck of the person who must be, she
naturally concluded, the right man. To her utter confusion, he also
shrank back from her embrace.
Then a horrid thought flashed across her mind: she perceived her
fatal mistake, and her heart almost ceased to beat.
"This is thy wife!" cried the Brahman's head that had been fastened
to the soldier's body.
"No; she is thy wife!" replied the soldier's head which had been
placed upon the Brahman's body.
"Then she is my wife!" rejoined the first compound creature.
"By no means! she is my wife," cried the second.
"What then am I?" asked Devasharma-Gunakar.
"What do you think I am?" answered GunakarDevasharma, with
"Unmadini shall be mine," quoth the head.
"You lie, she shall be mine," shouted the body.
"Holy Yama,[FN#160] hear the villain," exclaimed both of them at
the same moment.
* * * * *
In short, having thus begun, they continued to quarrel violently,
each one declaring that the beautiful Unmadini belonged to him,
and to him only. How to settle their dispute Brahma the Lord of
creatures only knows. I do not, except by cutting off their heads
once more, and by putting them in their proper places. And I am
quite sure, O Raja Vikram! that thy wits are quite unfit to answer
the question, To which of these two is the beautiful Unmadini
wife? It is even said--amongst us Baitals --that when this pair of
half-husbands appeared in the presence of the Just King, a terrible
confusion arose, each head declaiming all the sins and peccadilloes
which its body had committed, and that Yama the holy ruler
himself hit his forefinger with vexation.[FN#161]
Here the young prince Dharma Dhwaj burst out laughing at the
ridiculous idea of the wrong heads. And the warrior king, who, like
single-minded fathers in general, was ever in the idea that his son
had a velleity for deriding and otherwise vexing him, began a
severe course of reproof. He reminded the prince of the common
saying that merriment without cause degrades a man in the opinion
of his fellows, and indulged him with a quotation extensively used
by grave fathers, namely, that the loud laugh bespeaks a vacant
mind. After which he proceeded with much pompousness to
pronounce the following opinion:
"It is said .n the Shastras----"
"Your majesty need hardly display so much erudition! Doubtless it
comes from the lips of Jayudeva or some other one of your Nine
Gems of Science, who know much more about their songs and
their stanzas than they do about their scriptures," insolently
interrupted the Baital, who never lost an opportunity of carping at
those reverend men.
"It is said in the Shastras," continued Raja Vikram sternly, after
hesitating whether he should or should not administer a corporeal
correction to the Vampire, "that Mother Ganga[FN#162] is the
queen amongst rivers, and the mountain Sumeru[FN#163] is the
monarch among mountains, and the tree Kalpavriksha[FN#164] is
the king of all trees, and the head of man is the best and most
excellent of limbs. And thus, according to this reason, the wife
belonged to him whose noblest position claimed her."
"The next thing your majesty will do, I suppose," continued the
Baital, with a sneer, "is to support the opinions of the Digambara,
who maintains that the soul is exceedingly rarefied, confined to
one place, and of equal dimensions with the body, or the fancies of
that worthy philosopher Jaimani, who, conceiving soul and mind
and matter to be things purely synonymous, asserts outwardly and
writes in his books that the brain is the organ of the mind which is
acted upon by the immortal soul, but who inwardly and verily
believes that the brain is the mind, and consequently that the brain
is the soul or spirit or whatever you please to call it; in fact, that
soul is a natural faculty of the body. A pretty doctrine, indeed, for
a Brahman to hold. You might as well agree with me at once that
the soul of man resides, when at home, either in a vein in the
breast, or in the pit of his stomach, or that half of it is in a man's
brain and the other or reasoning half is in his heart, an organ of his
"What has all this string of words to do with the matter, Vampire?"
asked Raja Vikram angrily.
"Only," said the demon laughing, "that in my opinion, as opposed
to the Shastras and to Raja Vikram, that the beautiful Unmadini
belonged, not to the head part but to the body part. Because the
latter has an immortal soul in the pit of its stomach, whereas the
former is a box of bone, more or less thick, and contains brains
which are of much the same consistence as those of a calf."
"Villain!" exclaimed the Raja, "does not the soul or conscious life
enter the body through the sagittal suture and lodge in the brain,
thence to contemplate, through the same opening, the divine
"I must, however, bid you farewell for the moment, O warrior
king, Sakadhipati-Vikramadityal[FN#165]! I feel a sudden and
ardent desire to change this cramped position for one more natural
The warrior monarch had so far committed himself that he could
not prevent the Vampire from flitting. But he lost no more time in
following him than a grain of mustard, in its fall, stays on a cow's
horn. And when he had thrown him over his shoulder, the king
desired him of his own accord to begin a new tale.
"O my left eyelid flutters," exclaimed the Baital in despair, "my
heart throbs, my sight is dim: surely now beginneth the end. It is as
Vidhata hath written on my forehead--how can it be
otherwise[FN#166]? Still listen, O mighty Raja, whilst I recount to
you a true story, and Saraswati[FN#167] sit on my tongue."
THE VAMPIRE'S TENTH STORY.[FN#168]
Of the Marvellous Delicacy of Three Queens.
The Baital said, O king, in the Gaur country, Vardhman by name,
there is a city, and one called Gunshekhar was the Raja of that
land. His minister was one Abhaichand, a Jain, by whose teachings
the king also came into the Jain faith.
The worship of Shiva and of Vishnu, gifts of cows, gifts of lands,
gifts of rice balls, gaming and spirit-drinking, all these he
prohibited. In the city no man could get leave to do them, and as
for bones, into the Ganges no man was allowed to throw them, and
in these matters the minister, having taken orders from the king,
caused a proclamation to be made about the city, saying,
"Whoever these acts shall do, the Raja having confiscated, will
punish him and banish him from the city."
Now one day the Diwan[FN#169] began to say to the Raja, "O
great king, to the decisions of the Faith be pleased to give ear.
Whosoever takes the life of another, his life also in the future birth
is taken: this very sin causes him to be born again and again upon
earth and to die And thus he ever continues to be born again and to
die. Hence for one who has found entrance into this world to
cultivate religion is right and proper. Be pleased to behold! By
love, by wrath, by pain, by desire, and by fascination overpowered,
the gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahadeva (Shiva) in various ways
upon the earth are ever becoming incarnate. Far better than they is
the Cow, who is free from passion, enmity, drunkenness, anger,
covetousness, and inordinate affection, who supports mankind, and
whose progeny in many ways give ease and solace to the creatures
of the world These deities and sages (munis) believe in the
"For such reason to believe in the gods is not good. Upon this earth
be pleased to believe in the Cow. It is our duty to protect the life of
everyone, beginning from the elephant, through ants, beasts, and
birds, up to man. In the world righteousness equal to that there is
none. Those who, eating the flesh of other creatures, increase their
own flesh, shall in the fulness of time assuredly obtain the fruition
of Narak [FN#17l]; hence for a man it is proper to attend to the
conversation of life. They who understand not the pain of other
creatures, and who continue to slay and to devour them, last but
few days in the land, and return to mundane existence, maimed,
limping, one-eyed, blind, dwarfed, hunchbacked, and imperfect in
such wise. Just as they consume the bodies of beasts and of birds,
even so they end by spoiling their own bodies. From drinking
spirits also the great sin arises, hence the consuming of spirits and
flesh is not advisable."
The minister having in this manner explained to the king the
sentiments of his own mind, so brought him over to the Jain faith,
that whatever he said, so the king did. Thus in Brahmans, in Jogis,
in Janganis, in Sevras, in Sannyasis,[FN#172] and in religious
mendicants, no man believed, and according to this creed the rule
was carried on.
Now one day, being in the power of Death, Raja Gunshekhar died.
Then his son Dharmadhwaj sat upon the carpet (throne), and began
to rule. Presently he caused the minister Abhaichand to be seized,
had his head shaved all but seven locks of hair, ordered his face to
be blackened, and mounting him on an ass, with drums beaten, had
him led all about the city, and drove him from the kingdom. From
that time he carried on his rule free from all anxiety.
It so happened that in the season of spring, the king Dharmadhwaj,
taking his queens with him, went for a stroll in the garden, where
there was a large tank with lotuses blooming within it. The Raja
admiring its beauty, took off his clothes and went down to bathe.
After plucking a flower and coming to the bank, he was going to
give it into the hands of one of his queens, when it slipped from his
fingers, fell upon her foot, and broke it with the blow. Then the
Raja being alarmed, at once came out of the tank, and began to
apply remedies to her.
Hereupon night came on, and the moon shone brightly: the falling
of its rays on the body of the second queen formed blisters And
suddenly from a distance the sound of a wooden pestle came out of
a householder's dwelling, when the third queen fainted away with a
severe pain in the head
Having spoken thus much the Baital said "O my king! of these
three which is the most delicate?" The Raja answered, "She indeed
is the most delicate who fainted in consequence of the headache."
The Baital hearing this speech, went and hung himself from the
very same tree, and the Raja, having gone there and taken him
down and fastened him in the bundle and placed him on his
shoulder, carried him away.
THE VAMPIRE'S ELEVENTH STORY.
Which Puzzles Raja Vikram.
There is a queer time coming, O Raja Vikram!--a queer time
coming (said the Vampire), a queer time coming. Elderly people
like you talk abundantly about the good old days that were, and
about the degeneracy of the days that are. I wonder what you
would say if you could but look forward a few hundred years.
Brahmans shall disgrace themselves by becoming soldiers and
being killed, and Serviles (Shudras) shall dishonour themselves by
wearing the thread of the twiceborn, and by refusing to be slaves;
in fact, society shall be all "mouth" and mixed castes.[FN#173]
The courts of justice shall be disused; the great works of peace
shall no longer be undertaken; wars shall last six weeks, and their
causes shall be clean forgotten; the useful arts and great sciences
shall die starved; there shall be no Gems of Science; there shall be
a hospital for destitute kings, those, at least, who do not lose their
heads, and no Vikrama----
A severe shaking stayed for a moment the Vampire's tongue.
He presently resumed. Briefly, building tanks feeding Brahmans;
lying when one ought to lie; suicide, the burning of widows, and
the burying of live children, shall become utterly unfashionable.
The consequence of this singular degeneracy, O mighty Vikram,
will be that strangers shall dwell beneath the roof tree in Bharat
Khanda (India), and impure barbarians shall call the land their
own. They come from a wonderful country, and I am most
surprised that they bear it. The sky which ought to be gold and
blue is there grey, a kind of dark white; the sun looks deadly pale,
and the moon as if he were dead.[FN#174] The sea, when not dirty
green, glistens with yellowish foam, and as you approach the
shore, tall ghastly cliffs, like the skeletons of giants, stand up to
receive or ready to repel. During the greater pert of the sun's
Dakhshanayan (southern declination) the country is covered with a
sort of cold white stuff which dazzles the eyes; and at such times
the air is obscured with what appears to be a shower of white
feathers or flocks of cotton. At other seasons there is a pale glare
produced by the mist clouds which spread themselves over the
lower firmament. Even the faces of the people are white; the men
are white when not painted blue; the women are whiter, and the
children are whitest: these indeed often have white hair.
"Truly," exclaimed Dharma Dhwaj, "says the proverb, 'Whoso
seeth the world telleth many a lie.'"
At present (resumed the Vampire, not heeding the interruption),
they run about naked in the woods, being merely Hindu outcastes.
Presently they will change-- the wonderful white Pariahs! They
will eat all food indifferently, domestic fowls, onions, hogs fed in
the street, donkeys, horses, hares, and (most horrible!) the flesh of
the sacred cow. They will imbibe what resembles meat of
colocynth, mixed with water, producing a curious frothy liquid,
and a fiery stuff which burns the mouth, for their milk will be
mostly chalk and pulp of brains; they will ignore the sweet juices
of fruits and sugar-cane, and as for the pure element they will
drink it, but only as medicine, They will shave their beards instead
of their heads, and stand upright when they should sit down, and
squat upon a wooden frame instead of a carpet, and appear in red
and black like the children of Yama.[FN#175] They will never
offer sacrifices to the manes of ancestors, leaving them after their
death to fry in the hottest of places. Yet will they perpetually
quarrel and fight about their faith; for their tempers are fierce, and
they would burst if they could not harm one another. Even now the
children, who amuse themselves with making puddings on the
shore, that is to say, heaping up the sand, always end their little
games with "punching," which means shutting the hand and
striking one another's heads, and it is soon found that the children
are the fathers of the men.
These wonderful white outcastes will often be ruled by female
chiefs, and it is likely that the habit of prostrating themselves
before a woman who has not the power of cutting off a single
head, may account for their unusual degeneracy and uncleanness.
They will consider no occupation so noble as running after a
jackal; they will dance for themselves, holding on to strange
women, and they will take a pride in playing upon instruments,
like young music girls.
The women, of course, relying upon the aid of the female
chieftains, will soon emancipate themselves from the rules of
modesty. They will eat with their husbands and with other men,
and yawn and sit carelessly before them showing the backs of their
heads. They will impudently quote the words, "By confinement at
home, even under affectionate and observant guardians, women
are not secure, but those are really safe who are guarded by their
own inclinations "; as the poet sang--
Woman obeys one only word, her heart.
They will not allow their husbands to have more than one wife,
and even the single wife will not be his slave when he needs her
services, busying herself in the collection of wealth, in ceremonial
purification, and feminine duty; in the preparation of daily food
and in the superintendence of household utensils. What said Rama
of Sita his wife?" If I chanced to be angry, she bore my impatience
like the patient earth without a murmur; in the hour of necessity
she cherished me as a mother does her child; in the moments of
repose she was a lover to me; in times of gladness she was to me
as a friend." And it is said, "a religious wife assists her husband in
his worship with a spirit as devout as his own. She gives her whole
mind to make him happy; she is as faithful to him as a shadow to
the body, and she esteems him, whether poor or rich, good or bad,
handsome or deformed. In his absence or his sickness she
renounces every gratification; at his death she dies with him, and
he enjoys heaven as the fruit of her virtuous deeds. Whereas if she
be guilty of many wicked actions and he should die first, he must
suffer much for the demerits of his wife."
But these women will talk aloud, and scold as the braying ass, and
make the house a scene of variance, like the snake with the
ichneumon, the owl with the crow, for they have no fear of losing
their noses or parting with their ears. They will (O my mother!)
converse with strange men and take their hands; they will receive
presents from them, and, worst of all, they will show their white
faces openly without the least sense of shame; they will ride
publicly in chariots and mount horses, whose points they pride
themselves upon knowing, and eat and drink in crowded places--
their husbands looking on the while, and perhaps even leading
them through the streets. And she will be deemed the pinnacle of
the pagoda of perfection, that most excels in wit and
shamelessness, and who can turn to water the livers of most men.
They will dance and sing instead of minding their children, and
when these grow up they will send them out of the house to shift
for themselves, and care little if they never see them
again.[FN#176] But the greatest sin of all will be this: when
widowed they will ever be on the look-out for a second husband,
and instances will be known of women fearlessly marrying three,
four, and five times.[FN#177] You would think that all this licence
satisfies them. But no! The more they have the more their weak
minds covet. The men have admitted them to an equality, they will
aim at an absolute superiority, and claim respect and homage; they
will eternally raise tempests about their rights, and if anyone
should venture to chastise them as they deserve, they would call
him a coward and run off to the judge.
The men will, I say, be as wonderful about their women as about
all other matters. The sage of Bharat Khanda guards the frail sex
strictly, knowing its frailty, and avoids teaching it to read and
write, which it will assuredly use for a bad purpose. For women
are ever subject to the god[FN#178] with the sugar-cane bow and
string of bees, and arrows tipped with heating blossoms, and to
him they will ever surrender man, dhan, tan--mind, wealth, and
body. When, by exceeding cunning, all human precautions have
been made vain, the wise man bows to Fate, and he forgets, or he
tries to forget, the past. Whereas this race of white Pariahs will
purposely lead their women into every kind of temptation, and,
when an accident occurs, they will rage at and accuse them, killing
ten thousand with a word, and cause an uproar, and talk scandal
and be scandalized, and go before the magistrate, and make all the
evil as public as possible. One would think they had in every way
done their duty to their women!
And when all this change shall have come over them, they will feel
restless and take flight, and fall like locusts upon the Aryavartta
(land of India). Starving in their own country, they will find
enough to eat here, and to carry away also. They will be
mischievous as the saw with which ornament-makers trim their
shells, and cut ascending as well as descending. To cultivate their
friendship will be like making a gap in the water, and their
partisans will ever fare worse than their foes. They will be selfish
as crows, which, though they eat every kind of flesh, will not
permit other birds to devour that of the crow.
In the beginning they will hire a shop near the mouth of mother
Ganges, and they will sell lead and bullion, fine and coarse
woollen cloths, and all the materials for intoxication. Then they
will begin to send for soldiers beyond the sea, and to enlist
warriors in Zambudwipa (India). They will from shopkeepers
become soldiers: they will beat and be beaten; they will win and
lose; but the power of their star and the enchantments of their
Queen Kompani, a daina or witch who can draw the blood out of a
man and slay him with a look, will turn everything to their good.
Presently the noise of their armies shall be as the roaring of the
sea; the dazzling of their arms shall blind the eyes like lightning;
their battle-fields shall be as the dissolution of the world; and the
slaughter-ground shall resemble a garden of plantain trees after a
storm. At length they shall spread like the march of a host of ants
over the land They will swear, "Dehar Ganga[FN#179]!" and they
hate nothing so much as being compelled to destroy an army, to
take and loot a city, or to add a rich slip of territory to their rule.
And yet they will go on killing and capturing and adding region to
region, till the Abode of Snow (Himalaya) confines them to the
north, the Sindhu-naddi (Incus) to the west, and elsewhere the sea.
Even in this, too, they will demean themselves as lords and
masters, scarcely allowing poor Samudradevta[FN#180] to rule his
Raja Vikram was in a silent mood, otherwise he would not have
allowed such ill-omened discourse to pass uninterrupted. Then the
Baital, who in vain had often paused to give the royal carrier a
chance of asking him a curious question, continued his recital in a
dissonant and dissatisfied tone of voice.
By my feet and your head,[FN#181] O warrior king! it will fare
badly in those days for the Rajas of Hindustan, when the
red-coated men of Shaka[FN#182] shall come amongst them.
Listen to my words.
In the Vindhya Mountain there will be a city named Dharmapur,
whose king will be called Mahabul. He will be a mighty warrior,
well-skilled in the dhanur-veda (art of war)[FN#183], and will
always lead his own armies to the field. He will duly regard all the
omens, such as a storm at the beginning of the march, an
earthquake, the implements of war dropping from the hands of the
soldiery, screaming vultures passing over or walking near the
army, the clouds and the sun's rays waxing red, thunder in a clear
sky, the moon appearing small as a star, the dropping of blood
from the clouds, the falling of lightning bolts, darkness filling the
four quarters of the heavens, a corpse or a pan of water being
carried to the right of the army, the sight of a female beggar with
dishevelled hair, dressed in red, and preceding the vanguard, the
starting of the flesh over the left ribs of the commander-in-chief,
and the weeping or turning back of the horses when urged forward.
He will encourage his men to single combats, and will carefully
train them to gymnastics. Many of the wrestlers and boxers will be
so strong that they will often beat all the extremities of the
antagonist into his body, or break his back, or rend him into two
pieces. He will promise heaven to those who shall die in the front
of battle and he will have them taught certain dreadful expressions
of abuse to be interchanged with the enemy when commencing the
contest. Honours will be conferred on those who never turn their
backs in an engagement, who manifest a contempt of death, who
despise fatigue, as well as the most formidable enemies, who shall
be found invincible in every combat, and who display a courage
which increases before danger, like the glory of the sun advancing
to his meridian splendour.
But King Mahabul will be attacked by the white Pariahs, who, as
usual, will employ against him gold, fire, and steel. With gold they
will win over his best men, and persuade them openly to desert
when the army is drawn out for battle. They will use the terrible
"fire weapon,[FN#184]'' large and small tubes, which discharge
flame and smoke, and bullets as big as those hurled by the bow of
Bharata.[FN#185] And instead of using swords and shields, they
will fix daggers to the end of their tubes, and thrust with them like
Mahabul, distinguished by valour and military skill, will march out
of his city to meet the white foe. In front will be the ensigns, bells,
cows'-tails, and flags, the latter painted with the bird
Garura,[FN#186] the bull of Shiva, the Bauhinia tree, the
monkey-god Hanuman, the lion and the tiger, the fish, an
alms-dish, and seven palm-trees. Then will come the footmen
armed with fire-tubes, swords and shields, spears and daggers,
clubs, and bludgeons. They will be followed by fighting men on
horses and oxen, on camels and elephants. The musicians, the
water-carriers, and lastly the stores on carriages, will bring up the
The white outcastes will come forward in a long thin red thread,
and vomiting fire like the Jwalamukhi.[FN#187] King Mahabul
will receive them with his troops formed in a circle; another
division will be in the shape of a halfmoon; a third like a cloud,
whilst others shall represent a lion, a tiger, a carriage, a lily, a
giant, and a bull. But as the elephants will all turn round when they
feel the fire, and trample upon their own men, and as the cavalry
defiling in front of the host will openly gallop away; Mahabul,
being thus without resource, will enter his palanquin, and
accompanied by his queen and their only daughter, will escape at
night-time into the forest.
The unfortunate three will be deserted by their small party, and
live for a time on jungle food, fruits and roots; they will even be
compelled to eat game. After some days they will come in sight of
a village, which Mahabul will enter to obtain victuals. There the
wild Bhils, famous for long years, will come up, and surrounding
the party, will bid the Raja throw down his arms. Thereupon
Mahabul, skilful in aiming, twanging and wielding the bow on all
sides, so as to keep off the bolts of the enemy, will discharge his
bolts so rapidly, that one will drive forward another, and none of
the barbarians will be able to approach. But he will have failed to
bring his quiver containing an inexhaustible store of arms, some of
which, pointed with diamonds, shall have the faculty of returning
again to their case after they have done their duty. The conflict will
continue three hours, and many of the Bhils will be slain: at length
a shaft will cleave the king's skull, he will fall dead, and one of the
wild men will come up and cut off his head.
When the queen and the princess shall have seen that Mahabul fell
dead, they will return to the forest weeping and beating their
bosoms. They will thus escape the Bhils, and after journeying on
for four miles, at length they will sit down wearied, and revolve
many thoughts ir; their minds.
They are very lovely (continued the Vampire), as I see them with
the eye of clear-seeing. What beautiful hair! it hangs down like the
tail of the cow of Tartary, or like the thatch of a house; it is shining
as oil, dark as the clouds, black as blackness itself. What charming
faces! likest to water-lilies, with eyes as the stones in unripe
mangos, noses resembling the beaks of parrots, teeth like pearls set
in corals, ears like those of the redthroated vulture, and mouths
like the water of life. What excellent forms! breasts like boxes
containing essences, the unopened fruit of plantains or a couple of
crabs; loins the width of a span, like the middle of the viol; legs
like the trunk of an elephant, and feet like the yellow lotus.
And a fearful place is that jungle, a dense dark mass of thorny
shrubs, and ropy creepers, and tall canes, and tangled brake, and
gigantic gnarled trees, which groan wildly in the night wind's
embrace. But a wilder horror urges the unhappy women on; they
fear the polluting touch of the Bhils; once more they rise and
plunge deeper into its gloomy depths.
The day dawns. The white Pariahs have done their usual work,
They have cut off the hands of some, the feet and heads of others,
whilst many they have crushed into shapeless masses, or scattered
in pieces upon the ground. The field is strewed with corpses, the
river runs red, so that the dogs and jackals swim in blood; the birds
of prey sitting on the branches, drink man's life from the stream,
and enjoy the sickening smell of burnt flesh.
Such will be the scenes acted in the fair land of Bharat.
Perchance two white outcastes, father and son, who with a party of
men are scouring the forest and slaying everything, fall upon the
path which the women have taken shortly before. Their attention is
attracted by footprints leading towards a place full of tigers,
leopards, bears, wolves, and wild dogs. And they are utterly
confounded when, after inspection, they discover the sex of the
"How is it," shall say the father, "that the footprints of mortals are
seen in this part of the forest?"
The son shall reply, "Sir, these are the marks of women's feet: a
man's foot would not be so small."
"It is passing strange," shall rejoin the elder white Pariah, "but thou
speakest truth. Certainly such a soft and delicate foot cannot
belong to anyone but a woman."
"They have only just left the track," shall continue the son, "and
look! this is the step of a married woman. See how she treads on
the inside of her sole, because of the bending of her ankles." And
the younger white outcaste shall point to the queen's footprints.
"Come, let us search the forest for them," shall cry the father,
"what an opportunity of finding wives fortune has thrown in our
hands. But no! thou art in error," he shall continue, after examining
the track pointed out by his son, "in supposing this to be the sign
of a matron. Look at the other, it is much longer; the toes have
scarcely touched the ground, whereas the marks of the heels are
deep. Of a truth this must be the married woman." And the elder
white outcaste shall point to the footprints of the princess.
"Then," shall reply the son, who admires the shorter foot, "let us
first seek them, and when we find them, give to me her who has
the short feet, and take the other to wife thyself."
Having made this agreement they shall proceed on their way, and
presently they shall find the women lying on the earth, half dead
with fatigue and fear. Their legs and feet are scratched and torn by
brambles, their ornaments have fallen off, and their garments are in
strips. The two white outcastes find little difficulty, the first
surprise over, in persuading the unhappy women to follow them
home, and with great delight, conformably to their arrangement,
each takes up his prize on his horse and rides back to the tents. The
son takes the queen, and the father the princess.
In due time two marriages come to pass; the father, according to
agreement, espouses the long foot, and the son takes to wife the
short foot. And after the usual interval, the elder white outcaste,
who had married the daughter, rejoices at the birth of a boy, and
the younger white outcaste, who had married the mother, is
gladdened by the sight of a girl.
Now then, by my feet and your head, O warrior king Vikram,
answer me one question. What relationship will there be between
the children of the two white Pariahs?
Vikram's brow waxed black as a charcoal-burner's, when he again
heard the most irreverent oath ever proposed to mortal king. The
question presently attracted his attention, and he turned over the
Baital's words in his head, confusing the ties of filiality,
brotherhood, and relationship, and connection in general.
"Hem!" said the warrior king, at last perplexed, and remembering,
in his perplexity, that he had better hold his tongue--"ahem!"
"I think your majesty spoke? " asked the Vampire, in an inquisitive
and insinuating tone of voice.
"Hem!" ejaculated the monarch.
The Baital held his peace for a few minutes, coughing once or
twice impatiently. He suspected that the extraordinary nature of
this last tale, combined with the use of the future tense, had given
rise to a taciturnity so unexpected in the warrior king. He therefore
asked if Vikram the Brave would not like to hear another little
"This time the king did not even say "hem!" Having walked at an
unusually rapid pace, he distinguished at a distance the fire kindled
by the devotee, and he hurried towards it with an effort which left
him no breath wherewith to speak, even had he been so inclined.
"Since your majesty is so completely dumbfoundered by it,
perhaps this acute young prince may be able to answer my
question?" insinuated the Baital, after a few minutes of anxious
But Dharma Dhwaj answered not a syllable.
At Raja Vikram's silence the Baital was greatly surprised, and he
praised the royal courage and resolution to the skies. Still he did
not give up the contest at once.
"Allow me, great king," pursued the Demon, in a dry tone of voice,
"to wish you joy. After so many failures you have at length
succeeded in repressing your loquacity. I will not stop to enquire
whether it was humility and self-restraint which prevented your
answering my last question, or whether Rajait was mere ignorance
and inability. Of course I suspect the latter, but to say the truth
your condescension in at last taking a Vampire's advice, flatters me
so much, that I will not look too narrowly into cause or motive."
Raja Vikram winced, but maintained a stubborn silence, squeezing
his lips lest they should open involuntarily.
"Now, however, your majesty has mortified, we will suppose, a
somewhat exacting vanity, I also will in my turn forego the
pleasure which I had anticipated in seeing you a corpse and in
entering your royal body for a short time, just to know how queer
it must feel to be a king. And what is more, I will now perform my
original promise, and you shall derive from me a benefit which
none but myself can bestow. First, however, allow me to ask you,
will you let me have a little more air?"
Dharma Dhwaj pulled his father's sleeve, but this time Raja
Vikram required no reminder: wild horses or the executioner's saw,
beginning at the shoulder, would not have drawn a word from him.
Observing his obstinate silence, the Baital, with an ominous smile,
"Now give ear, O warrior king, to what I am about to tell thee, and
bear in mind the giant's saying, 'A man is justified in killing one
who has a design to kill him.' The young merchant Mal Deo, who
placed such magnificent presents at your royal feet, and
Shanta-Shil the devotee saint, who works his spells, incantations,
and magical rites in a cemetery on the banks of the Godaveri river,
are, as thou knowest, one person--the terrible Jogi, whose wrath
your father aroused in his folly, and whose revenge your blood
alone can satisfy. With regard to myself, the oilman's son, the
same Jogi, fearing lest I might interfere with his projects of
universal dominion, slew me by the power of his penance, and has
kept me suspended, a trap for you, head downwards from the
"That Jogi it was, you now know, who sent you to fetch me back to
him on your back. And when you cast me at his feet he will return
thanks to you and praise your velour, perseverance and resolution
to the skies. I warn you to beware. He will lead you to the shrine of
Durga, and when he has finished his adoration he will say to you,
'O great king, salute my deity with the eightlimbed reverence.' "
Here the Vampire whispered for a time and in a low tone, lest
some listening goblin might carry his words if spoken out loud to
the ears of the devotee Shanta-Shil.
At the end of the monologue a rustling sound was heard. It
proceeded from the Baital, who was disengaging himself from the
dead body in the bundle, and the burden became sensibly lighter
upon the monarch's back.
The departing Baital, however, did not forget to bid farewell to the
warrior king and to his son. He complimented the former for the
last time, in his own way, upon the royal humility and the
prodigious self-mortification which he had displayed--qualities, he
remarked, which never failed to ensure the proprietor's success in
all the worlds.
Raja Vikram stepped out joyfully, and soon reached the burning
ground. There he found the Jogi, dressed in his usual habit, a
deerskin thrown over his back, and twisted reeds instead of a
garment hanging round his loins. The hair had fallen from his
limbs and his skin was bleached ghastly white by exposure to the
elements. A fire seemed to proceed from his mouth, and the matted
locks dropping from his head to the ground were changed by the
rays of the sun to the colour of gold or saffron. He had the beard of
a goat and the ornaments of a king; his shoulders were high and his
arms long, reaching to his knees: his nails grew to such a length as
to curl round the ends of his fingers, and his feet resembled those
of a tiger. He was drumming upon a skull, and incessantly
exclaiming, "Ho, Kali! ho, Durga! ho, Devi!"
As before, strange beings were holding their carnival in the Jogi's
presence. Monstrous Asuras, giant goblins, stood grimly gazing
upon the scene with fixed eyes and motionless features. Rakshasas
and messengers of Yama, fierce and hideous, assumed at pleasure
the shapes of foul and ferocious beasts. Nagas and Bhutas, partly
human and partly bestial, disported themselves in throngs about
the upper air, and were dimly seen in the faint light of the dawn.
Mighty Daityas, Bramba-daityas, and Pretas, the size of a man's
thumb, or dried up like leaves, and Pisachas of terrible power
guarded the place. There were enormous goats, vivified by the
spirits of those who had slain Brahmans; things with the bodies of
men and the faces of horses, camels and monkeys; hideous worms
containing the souls of those priests who had drunk spirituous
liquors; men with one leg and one ear, and mischievous
blood-sucking demons, who in life had stolen church property.
There were vultures, wretches that had violated the beds of their
spiritual fathers, restless ghosts that had loved low-caste women,
shades for whom funeral rites had not been performed, and who
could not cross the dread Vaitarani stream,[FN#188] and vital
souls fresh from the horrors of Tamisra, or utter darkness, and the
Usipatra Vana, or the sword-leaved forest. Pale spirits, Alayas,
Gumas, Baitals, and Yakshas,[FN#189] beings of a base and
vulgar order, glided over the ground, amongst corpses and
skeletons animated by female fiends, Dakinis, Yoginis, Hakinis,
and Shankinis, which were dancing in frightful revelry. The air
was filled with supernatural sights and sounds, cries of owls and
jackals, cats and crows, dogs, asses, and vultures, high above
which rose the clashing of the bones with which the Jogi sat
drumming upon the skull before him, and tending a huge cauldron
of oil whose smoke was of blue fire. But as he raised his long lank
arm, silver-white with ashes, the demons fled, and a momentary
silence succeeded to their uproar. The tigers ceased to roar and the
elephants to scream; the bears raised their snouts from their foul
banquets, and the wolves dropped from their jaws the remnants of
human flesh. And when they disappeared, the hooting of the owl,
and ghastly "ha! ha!" of the curlew, and the howling of the jackal
died away in the far distance, leaving a silence still more
As Raja Vikram entered the burning-ground, the hollow sound of
solitude alone met his ear. Sadly wailed the wet autumnal blast.
The tall gaunt trees groaned aloud, and bowed and trembled like
slaves bending before their masters. Huge purple clouds and
patches and lines of glaring white mist coursed furiously across the
black expanse of firmament, discharging threads and chains and
lozenges and balls of white and blue, purple and pink lightning,
followed by the deafening crash and roll of thunder, the dreadful
roaring of the mighty wind, and the torrents of plashing rain. At
times was heard in the distance the dull gurgling of the swollen
river, interrupted by explosions, as slips of earth-bank fell
headlong into the stream. But once more the Jogi raised his arm
and all was still: nature lay breathless, as if awaiting the effect of
his tremendous spells.
The warrior king drew near the terrible man, unstrung his bundle
from his back, untwisted the portion which he held, threw open the
cloth, and exposed to Shanta-Shil's glittering eyes the corpse,
which had now recovered its proper form--that of a young child.
Seeing it, the devotee was highly pleased, and thanked Vikram the
Brave, extolling his courage and daring above any monarch that
had yet lived. After which he repeated certain charms facing
towards the south, awakened the dead body, and placed it in a
sitting position. He then in its presence sacrificed to his goddess,
the White One,[FN#190] all that he had ready by his side--betel
leaf and flowers, sandal wood and unbroken rice, fruits, perfumes,
and the flesh of man untouched by steel. Lastly, he half filled his
skull with burning embers, blew upon them till they shot forth
tongues of crimson light, serving as a lamp, and motioning the
Raja and his son to follow him, led the way to a little fane of the
Destroying Deity erected in a dark clump of wood, outside and
close to the burning ground.
They passed through the quadrangular outer court of the temple
whose piazza was hung with deep shade.[FN#191] In silence they
circumambulated the small central shrine, and whenever
Shanta-Shil directed, Raja Vikram entered the Sabha, or vestibule,
and struck three times upon the gong, which gave forth a loud and
They then passed over the threshold, and looked into the gloomy
inner depths. There stood Smashana-Kali,[FN#192] the goddess, in
her most horrid form. She was a naked and very black woman,
with half-severed head, partly cut and partly painted, resting on her
shoulder; and her tongue lolled out from her wide yawning
mouth[FN#193]; her eyes were red like those of a drunkard; and
her eyebrows were of the same colour: her thick coarse hair hung
like a mantle to her heels. She was robed in an elephant's hide,
dried and withered, confined at the waist with a belt composed of
the hands of the giants whom she had slain in war: two dead
bodies formed her earrings, and her necklace was of bleached
skulls. Her four arms supported a scimitar, a noose, a trident, and a
ponderous mace. She stood with one leg on the breast of her
husband, Shiva, and she rested the other on his thigh. Before the
idol lay the utensils of worship, namely, dishes for the offerings,
lamps, jugs, incense, copper cups, conches and gongs; and all of
them smelt of blood.
As Raja Vikram and his son stood gazing upon the hideous
spectacle, the devotee stooped down to place his skull-lamp upon
the ground, and drew from out his ochre-coloured cloth a sharp
sword which he hid behind his back.
"Prosperity to shine and thy son's for ever and ever, O mighty
Vikram!" exclaimed Shanta-Shil, after he had muttered a prayer
before the image. "Verily thou hast right royally redeemed thy
pledge, and by the virtue of thy presence all my wishes shall
presently be accomplished. Behold! the Sun is about to drive his
car over the eastern hills, and our task now ends. Do thou
reverence before this my deity, worshipping the earth through thy
nose, and so prostrating thyself that thy eight limbs may touch the
ground.[FN#194] Thus shall thy glory and splendour be great; the
Eight Powers[FN#195] and the Nine Treasures shall be thine, and
prosperity shall ever remain under thy roof-tree."
Raja Vikram, hearing these words, recalled suddenly to mind all
that the Vampire had whispered to him. He brought his joined
hands open up to his forehead, caused his two thumbs to touch his
brow several times, and replied with the greatest humility,
"O pious person! I am a king ignorant of the way to do such
obeisance. Thou art a spiritual preceptor: be pleased to teach me
and I will do even as thou desirest."
Then the Jogi, being a cunning man, fell into his own net. As he
bent him down to salute the goddess, Vikram, drawing his sword,
struck him upon the neck so violent a blow, that his head rolled
from his body upon the ground. At the same moment Dharma
Dhwaj, seizing his father's arm, pulled him out of the way in time
to escape being crushed by the image, which fell with the sound of
thunder upon the floor of the temple.
A small thin voice in the upper air was heard to cry, "A man is
justified in killing one who has the desire to kill him." Then glad
shouts of triumph and victory were heard in all directions. They
proceeded from the celestial choristers, the heavenly dancers, the
mistresses of the gods, and the nymphs of Indra's Paradise, who
left their beds of gold and precious stones, their seats glorious as
the meridian sun, their canals of crystal water, their perfumed
groves, and their gardens where the wind ever blows in softest
breezes, to applaud the velour and good fortune of the warrior
At last the brilliant god, Indra himself, with the thousand eyes,
rising from the shade of the Parigat tree, the fragrance of whose
flowers fills the heavens, appeared in his car drawn by yellow
steeds and cleaving the thick vapours which surround the earth--
whilst his attendants sounded the heavenly drums and rained a
shower of blossoms and perfumes--bade the Vikramajit the Brave
ask a boon.
The Raja joined his hands and respectfully replied,
"O mighty ruler of the lower firmament, let this my history
become famous throughout the world!"
"It is well," rejoined the god. "As long as the sun and moon
endure, and the sky looks down upon the ground, so long shall this
thy adventure be remembered over all the earth. Meanwhile rule
Thus saying, Indra retired to the delicious Amrawati[FN#196]
Vikram took up the corpses and threw them into the cauldron
which Shanta-Shil had been tending. At once two heroes started
into life, and Vikram said to them, "When I call you, come!"