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In the Great God's Hair, by F. W. Bain, [1905], at

IV. A God and a Mortal

And in the morning, those two lovers rose from their bed of hay and straw, which had been to them by the favour of the goddess a nuptial couch sweeter than amrita and softer than the down of royal swans. And then, by the instigation of the goddess, Wanawallarí said to her husband: Dear husband, though we can sleep, we cannot live upon hay and straw, and now thou wilt have to leave me for a little. And she gave him a bracelet, made of rubies as large as pigeons’ eggs, and said: Take this, and sell it in the city, and with the money buy provisions for us: and bring back with thee a winá m,

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and above all, come back as quickly as possible, for I cannot bear thee to be out of my sight. But there will be no danger, for no one saw thee carry me off. And meanwhile I will wait for thee in this empty palace, with my eyes fixed on the road by which thou art to return.

Then Ranga said: I am adverse to leaving thee, even for an instant. And yet, unless we could become cows and eat hay, I must find food for thee, and I cannot take thee with me: so there is no help for it. And he took the bracelet and went away quickly, saying to her: I will be with thee almost before I have gone away.

And as soon as he was gone, Wanawallarí said to herself: Now will I adorn myself like a city to welcome the return of its sovran lord after a long absence. And she chose from her bundle the best of all that it contained, and braided her hair very carefully, bathing in a pool in the court, and using its water for a mirror. And when she had finished, she was pleased with her own appearance; and she said to herself: He shall rejoice when he sees me again, and I will watch the pleasure on his face. And yet she did not know, that Water-lily was prompting her to adorn herself, to fascinate not her husband, but somebody else. So when she was

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dressed, she went out and sat in the shade of a great banyan tree that grew over a well near the pool, and fixed her eyes on the path by which Ranga was to appear.

And at that moment, just when, by the contrivance of the crafty Water-lily, Ranga was away, and Wanawallarí was sitting under the tree, alone and adorned, Indra descended to the earth, and came along the road, in the disguise of an old Brahman, towards the empty palace, in which he knew that those lovers had passed the night. And Wanawallarí looked and saw him. And saying to herself: This is only an old Brahman, and I have nothing to fear: she sat still by the well, watching him approach. So the disguised Indra drew near her. And when he came up, he looked at her, as she sat still under the tree. And he was thunderstruck, as if by one of his own bolts, by her beauty, not knowing that Water-lily was pouring into it her own fascination to bewilder him, and employing as an instrument the charms of Wanawallarí. For her lovely limbs were half revealed and half concealed by the folds of her robe of silver muslin, as the moonlit mist that rises from the spray at Gangotri both hides and shows the rocks over which the water flows: and she had bare feet and heavy golden anklets, and great gold

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bangles that made her little hands look smaller, and jewelled armlets that encircled her arms just above the elbow, making those round arms seem even rounder than before: and a string of great pearls round her neck, and one great grass-green n emerald in her jet-black hair. And as he looked at her, the clearness of his mind was disturbed and agitated by emotion; for she struck him hard, as she looked at him with calm eyes. And he said to himself: Why, this mortal woman would laugh at every Apsaras in my court: and if Water-lily has seen her, I cannot understand how she has not died of envy. And he said to Wanawallarí: O lady of the lovely eyes, thou art surely the wife of Ranga, whom I have come to see?

Then Wanawallarí said: Sir, it is true that I am his wife, though I cannot tell how it could be known to thee so soon. For yesterday I was no wife, but an unhappy maiden, and last night was my wedding night. Then said Indra: O fragile one, all things can be known, by the power of asceticism and years. And it is not hard to see that thou art the bride

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of a day. For thy lotus eyes are full of new happiness, and peaceful, and not, like those of an unmarried maiden, agitated and alarmed.

Then said Wanawallarí: Brahman, if thou art come to see my husband, know, that he is away: and I am awaiting his return. And it does not become a woman of good family to talk to strange men. I pray thee, therefore, to leave me and come back again another time. Then said Indra: Moon-faced lady, old age is a condition hard to bear, and full of evils, and it would be altogether unendurable, but for its privileges: of which one is, that an old man may converse without scandal even with the young wife of another man. For when the fire is extinct, what has the fuel to fear? And to judge by thy appearance, I am old enough to be thy father, were thy years even double what they are. Since, therefore, I have been so highly favoured by fortune o as to find thee instead of thy husband, let me seize my opportunity, and ask thee in his absence, what evil spirit prompted thee to choose for thy husband one known to be a scorner of the gods, and therefore likely to feel their vengeance, and come to a sudden and disgraceful end.

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[paragraph continues] For they rarely prosper, whom the gods have determined to punish. Therefore, would it not be thy better course to repent while there is time, and this opportunity is afforded thee by his absence, and leave him to his fate, and save thyself, and sever thy connection with a man doomed and in danger alike from the gods above, and the father from whom he has stolen thee below?


27:m A species of lute.

30:n This epithet (shashpashyáma) would appear to mean that shadowy hue which is seen in the hollows of grass when lit by the sun.

31:o As in fact, he had been, but otherwise than as he thought.

Next: V. Man's Other Half