Sacred Texts  Hinduism  F.W. Bain  Index  Previous  Next 

XV. The Dead of Night

So she lay, all night long: and when at length the day dawned, she came, though with difficulty, back to herself. And she tried to rise, but could not, for her limbs refused to do their duty. So she lay there, cold as snow, and shivering like the surface of a lake ruffled by the wind.

Then gradually the sun left his home in the eastern mountain, and ascended the sky. And warmed by his beams, a little of her strength

p. 102

returned: and after a while, she rose to her feet, which wandered away, and carried her where they would, until they brought her to another forest pool. And there she lay down, and leaned and drank of its water. And she looked into its mirror, and saw herself, slender and emaciated as the old moon, but pale and colourless as that moon at mid-day e And her long hair fell down over her shoulder into the water. Then she bound up that wet hair into a knot, and remained all day by the pool, not endeavouring to go further: for she said to herself: Rather let me stay here to perish of hunger, or furnish myself food to some wild beast, than continue my journey through a wood filled with illusions worse than a hundred deaths. For they wear the guise of a friend, and so finding entrance into my heart sting it like serpents, turning into poison the nectar of him whom most of all I long to see. Surely my sins in a former birth were terrible in their enormity: for I have suffered in this existence pain sufficient for many lives. And now I feel that I cannot long endure, for my strength is

p. 103

becoming exhausted. O that I could indeed find my husband, were it only to die in his arms!

So she sat by the pool, grieving like a female chakrawáka for her mate, while the sun made, like the enemy of Bali, but three steps over the sky. And when at last he sank, she also grew weary, and fell asleep on the edge of the pool. And in her dreams she saw her husband, and drank her fill of the nectar of his embraces. And then, in the dead of night, she awoke, and sat up, and looked, and to! there in the moonlight she saw him again, silently sitting beside her. And she leaped to her feet in agony, and turned to fly, and screamed aloud. For there stood before her another husband on the other side. Then suddenly the whole wood was full of laughter. And her reason fled, and she became mad. And she exclaimed: Out on this wood, for it is full of husbands! And she began to run through the wood, shutting her eyes, and stopping her ears,


102:e The same idea is beautifully put by Butler in Hudibras, where he calls the sun's light on the moon a

Mysterious veil, of brightness made,
That's both her lustre and her shade.

Next: XVI. Before Dawn