In the Great God's Hair, by F. W. Bain, , at sacred-texts.com
And then he stepped into the room, and started, and stood amazed. For just before him there lay sleeping on a jewelled couch a young woman, looking like a jasmine flower on a bed of its own leaves. For the moon bathed her in his light, which clung to her limbs as if it were in love with them: and
she resembled a feminine incarnation of the passion of love fallen into a swoon of fatigue and pallor after having conquered the world. And the long lashes of her shut eyes lay on her cheek like shadows as far as her mouth, which smiled as she slept: while the breeze lifted the fringe of the silk robe that covered her neck, and laid bare the beauty of her throat, just where it met with the curve of her bosom, that rose and fell gently as she breathed. And one hand was under her head, and the other lay, like an open flower, hanging over the edge of the bed, from a wrist like a young reed's stalk.
And as he stood motionless, like a target with the arrow of Love in his heart, she woke up. For Water-lily entered her dream and showed her a picture, and said to her: Wake, for I have brought thee a husband more beautiful than Kama himself. And when she opened her eyes and looked: to! there he was standing before her. And instantly she started up, and stood gazing at him in astonishment. For he answered so exactly to her dream that she could not believe her eyes, and doubted whether she had not only dreamed that she woke, and was still really asleep. And then after a while, she said: Art thou a reality, or only
a thing in my dream? And he said: O sleeping beauty, I am a reality: but I wish it were not so: for I would gladly forfeit my life to be only a thing in thy dreams. Then she said: Who in the world art thou, and how in the world hast thou climbed into my room, into which none ever come but my female attendants and the birds of the air? And he said: O waking beauty, I am Ranga, the King of Awanti, whom his relations have driven from his kingdom. But what do I care: for had it been otherwise, I should never have set eyes upon thee.
But when she heard his name, she started, and could not believe her own ears. And she said: Tell me thy name over again. Then he did so. And she said: Surely I must still be dreaming. Or art thou really sent by the deity? Tell me thy story from the beginning. And so he did. And she watched him as he spoke, with eyes that she could not take off him. For Water-lily bewildered her with his beauty, and poured infatuation into his voice.
And when he had finished, she said to him: O thou son of a King, beyond a doubt the deity must have brought thee, for there is in this matter a thing wholly unknown to thee, so strange, that it
cannot have come about of itself. But now, listen, for I have a proposal to make to thee. Know, that the King my father wishes to give me as a bride to a neighbouring King for the sake of a political alliance. And rather than be a bride of that King, I had intended to cast myself down from this window into the street, for I cannot endure the sight of him even in a picture. And now thou hast appeared, as if on purpose, to provide me with a means of escape. Thou art poor and without a kingdom, which it may be thou wilt never regain. But thou art my equal in caste, and unless the Creator has made thy exterior a lie, my equal also in spirit and soul. Wilt thou have me for a wife, as I am willing to choose thee for a husband, and carry me down by the rope by which thou didst bring thyself up? For I will choose thee for my husband, of my own free will e, and share all thy poverty and evil fortune, and make it a blessing to thee. Swear to me only that thou wilt deal with me loyally and share with me, as with thy other self, all thy troubles and all thy
joys, in this world and the next, and I will place myself as a deposit in thy hands. And it may be that I will change all thy evil fortune to good: and if not, I will help thee to endure it with patience. And now, say: is the bargain to thy mind? And think ere thou givest an answer: for I will not be bought by thee with anything less than thy soul.
And when she had spoken, she looked straight at him, with beautiful eyes, in which there was neither frivolity nor fear. And Ranga looked back at her, and his heart swelled in his breast: for she touched it not only by her beauty but by the strength of her soul. And he laughed for joy, and said: Hear me, ye guardians of the quarters of heaven! O thou fair woman, thy loveliness is wonderful, and yet it is the least part of thy excellence. Now thou art worthy of one better than I am. And yet, if thou wilt give thyself to me for a wife, I will be thy lord and thy protector in this life and the next, and thou shalt be my divinity in human form. And I will want food and clothing, before thou shalt want sweetmeats and jewels. And he stooped down and touched her feet, and put his hand on his head: and then stood and looked at her with a smile. And she looked at him with
affection, and said: Thou art the man whom I have desired to have for a husband, and now I see that my dream was a true one. And now I am thy wife, and thy servant.
Then he said: Dear wife, now we must go down, and that quickly, before we are discovered. And yet, though thou art light as a bamboo leaf, this is a dangerous thing. Hast thou the courage to make the attempt? Then she said: What is there to fear? For if we fall, we fall together, and meet death at the same instant. But have no fear: for I will cling to thy neck with my arms. Then Ranga laughed. And he said: Nay, I will not risk my pearl on the strength of thy soft and slender arms. Then he took from the bed a silk cover, and twisted it into a rope. And he bound it tightly round her waist, and then tied it firmly to his own. And then he drew her to the window, and looked down. And at that moment he saw the watch, going its round a second time. So when it had passed, he said: Now is our opportunity. But she said: Wait: let me bring with me all the wealth that I have, for at present thou art poor. And she made a bundle of clothes, and put into it all her jewels: and flung it down into the street. And then he said: Art thou afraid?
[paragraph continues] And she said: I am afraid, but only for thee. Then he said: Shut thy eyes, and clasp me round the neck, and hold. So she did. And then Ranga wove the rope round his legs, and grasped it in his hands with a grip like that of death, and let himself slowly down into the street. So he carried her down to the ground, while the sweat stood in great drops upon his brow.
And when they touched the earth, she said: Thou art as strong as thou art brave, and the deity has sent me a man. But Ranga clasped her in his arms, and kissed her. And he said: Now I may kiss thee, for we have faced death together, and I have made thee my own. But here we must not stay even for a moment. And he picked up the bundle, and went away quickly, carrying her in his arms, and counting the whole world as a straw. And he said to her: Where shall we go, for in the city they would discover thee? Then she said: Close to this city there is another, which is empty and deserted, and inhabited only by parrots and monkeys. Let us go there, and afterwards consider what is to be done. And I will show thee the way.
So he carried her away to that empty city, never once setting her down, for the joy he had in holding
her in his arms. And when at last they reached it, he stopped before a courtyard, and went in, and saw in it a deserted cow-house, full of hay and straw, And he put her down, and untied the knots, and set her free. And then he said: Alas! that I should take thee from a palace, to bring thee to such a ruined shed as this. And she said: Where the husband is, there is the heaven of the wife. And he said again: Alas! I am an exile and a wanderer, and I have taken thee from thy relations and thy home. And she said: Is not the wife the child of her husband, and the husband the father and mother of his wife? And what home does she need who has taken refuge in the heart of her lord f? Then he put his left arm round her, and took her left hand in his right, and kissed it. And he said: What is thy name? And she said: I am called Wanawallarí g. Then he said: Thou art well named, and now I will be the tree of thy life. Come, and I will find thee a room in this abandoned palace, that shall serve thee for a bridal chamber, and I will make thee a nuptial
couch, of hay and straw. For this is our wedding night, and see, yonder is the polar star h.
19:e This is the old swayamwara, a recognised privilege of kings daughters. The reader must not look at it with English eyes. An unceremonious marriage is a constant feature in old Hindoo tales: and it is none the less a marriage.
23:f So, in the Katha Sarit Ságara, speaks Rupashikhá.
23:g 'Wood-creeper:' 'forest-flower.' (Pronounce wan- as nun, and -wall- as dull.)
24:h The Pole Star is the symbol of marriage, and the emblem of a bride.