AND he lay all night on his bed of leaves, repenting of his doubts: and in the morning he arose before the sun, and went out, and watched the eastern sky changing colour like an opal as the night drove away before the dawn: but the chétí never came. And as the day grew older, the King grew paler, for he said: Can it be that she means to leave me another day alone? And then at last, when the sun was already high in the heaven, he looked, and saw her coming slowly towards him, with a purple flower of the Kadamba in her hand. And she seemed in his eyes like the nectar of reconciliation in feminine form. And she came up to him and said: My mistress sends her lord, by these unworthy hands, a flower, and if his slumbers have been light, it is well with her.
Then the King said: Dear chétí, how can he sleep who waits to be forgiven for a sin committed? And she said: What is that? The King said: My bark is launched, and long ago floating on the very middle of the sea. Nothing now is wanting, save the lady of the coral tree, to bid me to jump into the water. Then she looked at him with joy dancing in her eyes: but she said: O King, such maidens are very rare, rarer even than the trees on which they grow. And much I fear, that thou hast launched thy little boat in vain, and will have to content thee with a more earthly mistress, such as mine. Then the King said: Tell me not of thy mistress, for I will not listen. Then she said: Nay, but surely thou art curious to learn at least what she is like. She is far more beautiful than I, and she is tall. Then the King said: If she is taller than thou art, she is too tall. Then she said: Moreover, she is skilled in poetry. And the King said: I love not ladies that are pundits. Then she said: She dances and sings like an Apsaras in Indra's hall. And the King said: I care for the dancing of no feet, save that of thine as they come towards me; and for no music, save that of thy voice, which is more delightful in my ear than the murmur of the bees. And as he spoke,
a bee, attracted by the flower in her hand, flew to it, and entered it. Then she closed the petals quickly with her hand, and said: O King, I have him here a prisoner, to convict thee of thy madness. Listen, and tell me if thou canst, without deceiving, which is the sweeter, the real bee, or that voice of mine which thou dost liken to its humming? And the King put his ear close to the flower, and heard the bee inside: and he said: I cannot tell. And he fixed his eyes upon her face, and said: Now speak, that I may judge between him and thee. Then she laughed, and let go the flower, and the bee flew away. And the King exclaimed: Alas! the bee is mad, not I. For who would willingly quit a prison compounded of a flower and thy hand, which is itself a flower? Give it me that I may compare them. But she said: Nay; the flower is thine own, for it was a present from my mistress: but my hand is mine, and now I must return to her. And as she spoke, the bee came again, and buzzed about her head. And she ex-claimed in terror: O King, this villain of a bee will sting me. And the King said: Doubtless: he has come to avenge himself for his imprisonment. Then she ran in agitation almost into the King's arms, exclaiming: O King, protect her who comes
to thee for refuge q. And in his delight, the King exclaimed: O King of bees, come thou to me, and in return for the favour thou hast done me, I will serve thee with honey in lotus cups all day. But in the meanwhile the bee flew away. And Madhupamanjarí started back in confusion, and said: O King, my mistress is brave, and not afraid of bees. Then the King said, with emphasis: Out upon all women, that do not fear bees! But, O Bee Blossom r, surely this bee is to be excused, if he mistook thy lips for a flower.
Then she said: O King, this unmannerly bee has disgraced me in thine eyes, and caused me to forget the reserve of a maiden: and now it is time that I were gone. And she laid the flower at the King's feet, and ran away without looking behind her, and vanished in the trees. But the King stooped and picked up the flower. And he said: O glorious flower, I will preserve thee for ever, even after thou art faded: for thou vast the occasion of the onslaught of this incomparable bee, which led my dear chétí to forget her caution and
take refuge in my arms. O beauty, thou art irresistible above all, because thou art weak! Out, out upon all kings' daughters that are not afraid of bees! And he went back to the temple, kissing the Kadamba flower, and intoxicated with delight.
48:q This is a formula. The special business of kings was like that of the knight in the Middle Ages, to protect the distressed (sharanágata).
48:r He plays upon her name: see n. p. 23.