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

XIV. Love the Fisherman

Then said Indra: O lady of limbs that are shaped like serpents sweeping and winding in curving coils, thy words are prophetic, and thy own dream is likely to prove but a short one, with a bitter awakening even in this life. What if this husband of thine should have left thee already, never to return?

Then Wanawallarí said with a smile: O Brahman, hast thou never seen a man of the caste of fishermen, fishing for little fishes in the water of Ganges? Once they have swallowed the bait, they cannot escape, being held fast by the cord. And then being caught, they are roasted by their captor at the flame of a fire, and devoured. Dost thou not know that the God of love has a fish for the sign on his

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banner? And why, save that he is himself a fisherman, who fishes for the hearts of men, using women for his bait? And so only last night he fished for my husband, and caught him, using me for his lure, and now the fish can no longer escape. For he has swallowed the bait, and the cord of no fisherman was ever so strong as that by which my husband is held by that Master Fisher, Love. For such is the cunning of that god, that so far from shunning the fire at which he cooks them, his fishy victims bask and rejoice in it: and the longer my husband has been away from me, the more and more certain his return, and the more intolerable to himself his absence. For now he resembles one frozen with the ice and snow of the Himalaya mountain, and very soon he will utterly perish, unless he comes back to warm his cold heart at the flame which Love keeps ever burning in my own. For know, that the heart of a loyal wife is the altar of Love, on which the sacred household fire ever burns. And it shines out in the darkness, to guide the travelling husband home: and in his absence, its pure beam on the black night resembles the streak made by gold on the dark touchstone of fidelity. And no fire goes out while there is still fuel to feed it: and mine is not yet utterly exhausted. Nor

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was I so foolish as to let my husband leave me, without a security for his return. For know, O Brahman, that of all the Creator's creatures, there are only two that do not require to hunt for their legitimate prey, but wait quietly while it rushes to destruction in their toils of its own accord. And of these, one is a spider x, and the other is a woman.


59:x This word might also mean a fisherman, a 'netmaker.'

Next: XV. A Woman's Lord