THEN he tossed all night on his bed of leaves, and in the morning rose, and went out upon the steps, just as the young sun was flooding with gold
the blue floor of the eastern sky. And as he stood watching, suddenly the chétí came again towards him with twinkling feet, holding a jasmine h blossom in her hand. And as he looked at her, the King was pleased, against his will: for she resembled in her movements an incarnation of the sap of the tree of youth. And she came up to the King, and looked at him with a smile, and said: O King, my mistress sends her lord, by these unworthy hands, a flower, and if he has slumbered well during the night, it is also well with her.
Then the King smiled himself, and was angry that he did so. And he said: Chétí, how can he enjoy repose, that is compelled, against his will, to deal with such a sex as thine? For whether they are good or bad, either way they ruffle and destroy his peace of mind.
Then the chétí laughed. And she looked at the King with the laughter hanging in her subtle eyes: and said: O King, thou art gaining wisdom, by associating with those only that can teach it: for even I am not utterly devoid of the natural cleverness of my sex, though I am only just fifteen. And now I see, that thy opinion of us all is beginning
to waver: since to-day thou art willing to allow in some of us were it only the possibility of good. And I wonder, by what cause this sudden change can have been produced. And hearing her, the King was annoyed: for he had determined, that he would not take pleasure in conversing with her: and yet he could not help it. And he said: Of that which has not happened, there is no cause: and my opinions are to-day just what they were before, and so am I. But the chétí looked at him with a smile. And she said: Nay, it is not so: the outward signs are unmistakeable. I can read them on thee as if what was written there were only my own name. Then the King fell into the trap. And he said: And what, then, is thy name? The chétí said: I am called Madhupamanjarí i. And the King said: Thou art well named. Then she said: How canst thou tell? Dost thou know what I am like? Wilt thou judge the inside by the outside? Canst thou infer its delicious content from the rough and horrid jacket of the nut? Then the King smiled. And he said: Maiden, thy simile is not appropriate. What resemblance
is there, between the exterior of an ugly nut and thine? Then the chétí clapped her hands. And she exclaimed: O King, wilt thou never learn discretion? Hast thou so soon forgotten? Dost thou not know by experience that an outside, let it be never so sweet, may contain but a bitter juice within? Little canst thou estimate from my outside, what qualities there are within. And yet know, that if my mistress loves me better than all her other maids, it is not for my husk, but for my kernel. For I learned wisdom from a cunning master, and what I could teach thee, thou wouldst give much to know. And I could tell thee stories, that would make thee laugh at all thy trouble, and take thee to a land, of which thou hast never even dreamed. Where the trees have ever blossoms, and are noisy with the humming of intoxicated bees. Where by day, the suns are never burning, and by night, the moonstones ooze with nectar in the rays of the camphor laden moon. Where the blue lakes are filled with rows of silver swans, and where, on steps of lapis-lazuli, the peacocks dance in agitation at the murmur of the thunder in the hills. Where the lightning flashes without harming, to light the way to women, stealing in the darkness to meetings with their lovers,
and the rainbow hangs for ever like an opal on the dark blue curtain of the clouds. Where, on the moonlit roofs of crystal palaces, pairs of lovers laugh at the reflection of each other's lovesick faces in goblets of red wine: breathing as they drink air heavy with the fragrance of the sandal, wafted on the breezes from the mountain of the south: where they play and pelt each other with emeralds and rubies, fetched at the churning of the ocean from the bottom of the sea: where rivers, whose sands are always golden, flow slowly past long lines of silent cranes that hunt for silver fishes in the rushes on their banks: where men are true, and maidens love for ever, and the lotus never fades.
And as he listened, tears started from the eyes of the King. And he exclaimed: Aye! maiden, take me, if thou canst, to the land where love grows never old. But the chétí looked at him with kind eyes. And she laid the jasmine blossom at his feet, and turned, and went away quickly through the trees: while the King watched her, till she vanished from his sight. And then he stooped and picked up the jasmine flower. And he said: Málatí, thy fragrance is sweet beyond comparison, and yet it is not so delicious as the music of this
little maiden's voice. And yet alas! she is a woman. Out, out upon these women! For I thought I had succeeded in uprooting the very seeds of their attraction from my heart: and now there comes this pretty chétí, and destroys all my operations with a few honied words breathed through the door of her cunning scented lips. Then he looked at the flower, and the pool. And he said: Flower, I will not throw thee away till thou art faded, for that would be a shame. And he went back to the temple, with the flower in his hand, divided in his mind between the recollection of the chétí and the recollection of his grief.
23:i i.e. 'a cluster of blossoms for the honey drinkers,' the bees. (The fourth syllable rhymes with gun.)