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

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XIII. A King and Queen

Then said Indra: O lady, whose body diffuses all around it the camphor perfume of high caste, thy pleading for thy culprit husband and thyself resembles the reflection of a peacock's tail in silent water: for it is various and beautiful, and yet it is nothing but illusion; for thou art bewildered and intoxicated with the glamour of first love, which lends eloquence to thy tongue and makes thee take a wandering Rajpoot for a god.

Then said Wanawallarí: O Brahman, all is illusion in this world, and yet some illusions last longer than others: there is no other distinction or difference between them. And what does it matter even if, as thou sayest, my faith in my husband were illusion, provided only that it lasts, at least as long as life? What can be more illusive than a dream, yet who can discern the illusion of a dream, till by its coming to an end he wakes? Is not illusion as good as reality, until it is discovered to be illusion? Thy words are therefore naught, until my illusion is destroyed. Yet this may never be, for time may be wanting to detect it. It is a gain, even if it endure only for to-day, for who knows for certain that he will see the rising of another sun? As once

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there was a king, who was playing at midday in the season of hot weather in the water with his queen. And standing in that cool and crystal water, first he made her into statues, while he watched the pictures of her attitudes reflected in its mirror: and afterwards he splashed her with the water, till the queen began to look like a young moon peeping through the clouds: for her wet clothes clung to her body, showing the outline of her limbs, and her dark blue hair was loosened from its braid and fell round her in a mass, and rained into the water. And when they were tired, they rested together in the shade of the ruin of an arbour that stood by the pool; and the king fell suddenly asleep with his head on her lap. And he dreamed that he went hunting in the morning, and as he went, he saw a Brahman lying asleep under a tree. And when at evening he came back, there was the Brahman still asleep. So he sent his attendants to awake him. Then after a while they returned, and said: Mahárájá, this Brahman will not wake, do what we may: and yet he is not dead, for he is warm, and breathes. Then the king had him brought into the palace, and laid upon a bed. And there that sleeper lay for seven years, while the king lived his life. And at last, one day, that Brahman

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suddenly awoke. And he looked round in amazement, and exclaimed: What is this? for only just now I lay down to sleep beneath a tree. And the king said: Brahman, thou hast lain there asleep for seven years, and all the while I have done my daily duties, and made wars and peaces, and begotten sons and daughters, who have grown whilst thou didst sleep upon the bed. And just as the Brahman was about to answer, the king suddenly awoke himself. And he heard the voice of his queen, saying: Aryaputra, art thou asleep? Then the king said: How long have I slept? And she said: Thou hast only just laid thy head upon my lap. Then the king looked at her with astonishment. And suddenly he exclaimed: Ha! all is illusion, and all is momentary: what is time and what is a dream? I have slept for seven years: and there are thy wet clothes still clinging to the twins, that, like arrogant rebels, stand out from thy breast. And beyond a doubt, thou and I are but dreaming, and presently we shall awake. Kiss me quickly, without losing a moment, while yet there is time. And she thought he was mad. But she bent obediently towards him, with the bimbá u of her lower

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lip pursed for a kiss. And at that very moment, the roof of that ruined arbour fell in and crushed them, and they died on the spot: awaking from their dream before they had time to kiss each other, as the king had feared. And who can tell, O Brahman, whether it may not be our lot also, to wake from the dream of our life, before there is time to wake from the illusion of our love?


56:u A fruit employed by Hindoo poets as we speak of 'cherry' lips.

Next: XIV. Love the Fisherman