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

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XVIII. The Favour of Fortune

So Wanawallarí and her lover were carried quickly back to the palace, and brought in by the guards before the King. And when the King saw them, he clapped his hands: and he said: Ha! so the flown bird and her decoy are caged. And now, what shall be done to the daughter who brings disgrace upon her family by running away with strolling Rajpoots? Or what does the thief deserve who breaks into the palaces of kings by night and carries off their daughters and their choicest gems?

Then said Wanawallarí: O father, let not anger blind thee to justice. For though I have acted independently, I have done nothing, as thou shalt find, to disgrace either myself or thee. For know, that this husband of mine is, like myself, the child of a king, and even himself a king. And as for me, did not Draupadí and Damayantí choose their own husbands? And was not Shakuntalá wedded to Dushyanta by the Gándharwa ceremony, and Bharata was their son? But the King said: Enough! O daughter! Thy husband shall die with the rising of the sun, however it may be with thee. Then said Wanawallarí: Then wilt thou be the murderer of thy own flesh and blood: for he is

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my husband, and I will die with him. And the King laughed. And he said: O my daughter, that art no longer my daughter, dost thou really think to persuade me that I am obliged to this Rajpoot for carrying thee away; or to thee, for causing scandal by running away with him, like an independent woman of no family, of thy own accord?

Then said Wanawallarí: O father, listen for a moment: and afterwards put us both, if thou wilt, to death, and not him alone. This is no common matter, and sure I am, that the deity has a hand in it. Tell me only this, for thou knowest me well: was I one to act lightly? And the King said with bitterness: It is that very thing which makes thy behaviour incomprehensible. For I thought thee another Sitá: and lo! thou hast leaped from thy window into the arms of a wandering Rajpoot! Who can fathom the nature of women or the bottomless abyss of their frivolity? They talk to one man, and look at another, and think of a third e. They are but deceit incarnate in a form of illusion. For four things are insatiable

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of four: ocean, of rivers, and death, of mortals, and fire, of fuel, and woman, of man.

Then said Wanawallarí: But one question I have to ask thee, and it is the last: Of whom didst thou destine me to be the bride: Was it not the King of Awantí? And the King said: Yes. Then Wanawallarí took her husband by the hand. And she said: Here he is. And now I am his wife: and be sure, that the deity himself has brought this about. For know, that last night, this man climbed into my room. And I paused for a moment ere I gave him to the guards, for I pitied him for his beauty and his youth. And I said to him: Who art thou? And he said: I am the King of Awantí. And I started, and I listened to his story; and as I listened, he stole away my heart through my eyes and my ears. And I saw before me, not that hideous Rákshasa for whom I was destined as a victim of thy political necessity, but the God of Love in human form. And know, that rather than become the bride of that other, who has driven away my husband, and keeps by force a kingdom not his own, I would have thrown myself down from my window, and I looked upon myself as already dead. For I knew, that policy was thy first consideration, and that I must be

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a sacrifice. And I looked upon him who is my husband, as I listened to his tale, as one sent by the deity himself, and as new life in the form of a man. For how could chance have brought into my window the very king to whom I was betrothed, if not by the express agency of the deity himself? Moreover, thy own interest was concerned: and if thou wilt let thy reason speak, I have done thee no injury, but a service. For why wouldst thou have had me the bride of that usurper, but to ally to thee the kingdom which he holds? And how art thou injured, if thou hast gained for the husband of thy daughter not the false king but the true? Do my husband right, and instead of putting him to death, help him to regain his throne: and thou shalt gain for a bad ally a good one: as I have gained for myself a good husband for a bad one: and a kingdom for all three of us.

Then the King exclaimed in amazement: This is but an idle tale, concocted between thy lover and thyself to deceive me. And then Ranga spoke. And he said: O King, till now I have not spoken, for I would not beg my life, and I considered it as a thing gone past recall. But know, that as to what concerns myself, thy daughter has told thee nothing but the truth: and so far from arranging

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it together, she never told me anything about it, and all that concerns my uncle, and thyself, and her, is news to me, and I hear it for the first time. So now put me, if thou wilt, to death, or if thou wilt, keep me under guard, and make enquiry. And if it is not true, put me to a hundred deaths instead of one. Or lend me, if thou wilt, but a little force, and I will put myself upon my throne. For my subjects love me, and submit to my uncle only from necessity; and be sure, that he covets thy alliance only because he knows that he is weak, and cannot stand without support. So do according to thy will. Only visit not thy anger on thy daughter, for I only am to blame. And yet, I think that even I am not without excuse. Look at her as she stands, and blame me if thou canst; for even a god would fall if tempted by a beauty such as hers. Yet know, that it was accident and not intention that brought about our union. For I climbed up into thy tower, not knowing what was there. And now, I am in thy hands.

And as he spoke, Water-lily put beauty in his limbs and courage in his voice. And the King watched him, against his will, with admiration. And he said to himself: He says well, for my

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daughter might turn a sage from his devotion. And he himself is one, whom a maiden might be forgiven for admiring, for I have never seen a finer man. Certainly, if only the tale were true, he would make a son-in-law well fitted to my daughter. So when Ranga had made an end, the King stood looking at him under his brows, balanced in the swing of irresolution, between his anger, and his affection for his daughter, and the influence of the tale. And as he stood in silence, Wanawallarí came and knelt at his feet. And she said: O father, do not kill him, but protect him, and it will be thy gain. But as for me, deal with me as thou wilt. For I have acted rashly, and I deserve only punishment and disgrace. I am only a weak woman, and his beauty carried me away. Yet know, that thy posterity is within me, and there stands the father of thy grandson. And dost thou think that such a man as that would beget a son to bring disgrace on thee and me? And she looked at her father, with tears falling from her eyes like rain. And they tell upon his anger, and melted it, and overcame him. And he took her in his arms, and kissed her, stroking her hair with his hand. And he said: Dear daughter, I cannot be thy enemy, even if I would, and the

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tears in thy eyes have brought tears into my own. And if thou hast acted very rashly, I will not follow thy example. Let thy husband stay with me, and I will investigate the truth: and if it be as thou sayest, we will see what can be done for him.

Then Wanawallarí caught him round the neck with a cry, and wept upon his breast. And by the help of that King, Ranga regained his throne, and got Wanawallarí for his queen. For a husband's fortune is the virtue of his wife.


70:e This is the ungallant opinion of Bhartrihari, based it may be on some fierce fiery pang of a jealous heart, long since gone to dust and ashes.

Next: XIX. The Triumph of Beauty