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The princess smiled on her husband, and, wrapping a portion of her own garment around him, they wandered hand in hand, searching for water and food. They found neither, although the country by degrees grew richer. At dusk they reached a hut of reeds. Its owners had deserted it, leaving nothing behind them-not even a mat for weary travelers to lie on. The royal beggars sat on the bare ground, and were soon fast asleep. But there was no rest for the haunted king, for Kali created a troop of dreams to trouble him. He dreamed of his lost kingdom, the desertion of his friends, his weary, hopeless wanderings, till, even in sleep, he could bear no more. He woke with an evil thought.

"Is it better for me to die, or to abandon the queen? If I remain with her, she will suffer shame and want; but if I leave her, she may reach her father's kingdom!"

He tried to forget the thought, but it returned again and again, until it persuaded him to desert his wife!


"It is for the best," whispered Kali. He crept from beneath the garment of Damayanti, and rose softly. You are naked, king," whispered the demon. "Damayanti must divide her garment with me," thought Nala; “but how shall I take it, and not wake her?" He groped around on the floor of the hut, and at last found a sword. It was hacked, and crusted with blood! Kali nerved his hand, and helped him to rob his sleeping wife. He divided the garment, and fled from the hut; but his heart relented, and he came back.

"Once nor sun nor wind visited thee roughly; but now thou sleepest on the bare ground! How will it fare with

thee when thou shalt awake and find thyself forsaken by thy lord? May the sun and wind bless thee! May the gods protect thee!"

So prayed the Rajah above his sleeping wife, and again fled from the hut. A few steps, and his heart relented; he came back again. Good and evil divided his mind, as the sword had divided the garment. He went backwards and forwards like a swing. But evil finally prevailed-the wretched king fled, and left his poor wife moaning in her dreams.

Hardly had he gone before she awoke. Not seeing him beside her, she shrieked aloud: "Where art thou, Nala? Speak! Hast thou, indeed, deserted me, or do I dream? Never before hast thou broken thy promises-wilt thou leave me, and break them now? No! I wrong thee by the thought. Thou art only hiding to tease me. It was wrong of thee to startle me so; but thou hast had thy sport, so desist-mock me no more, but return. I tremble with fear. Thou thinkest that I cannot find thee! Thou art behind the rushes on the edge of the jungle. I see thee-away! he is not there. Unhappy that I am! he has forsaken me! Rajah, Nala, come back! I will be no trouble to thee. Nothing shall make me mourn, save thy sufferings. Return, Nala, return!"

So mourned the deserted queen by the hut of reeds. And morning beginning to break, dawning whitely in the east, she commenced her search for Nala. Through the rank jungle, where the grass was as stiff as a spear; through the haunted forest, where the undergrowth was dense and black; past the holes of poisonous serpents, the dens of savage beasts. The dead leaves under her feet, the moss and vines in the jungle swarmed with crickets, whose low chirp made itself heard above the chatter of the birds. Birds flitted in the air, or darted from bough to bough, or stood on the banks of the lucid pools, wondering at their images in the water. Now and then a stag came to the pools to drink, or a hump-backed buffalo crushed the undergrowth, in search of the grass he loved. She saw the tawny lion and the spotted leopard slink to their dens, and the wild boar rooting among the leaves. Through arbors draped with vines, and through glens washed with dew; past pools, and rivers, and torrents, and over the shaggy hills. But no sign of Nala!

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Why hast thou fled, O Nala? Remember thy vow, call to mind thy plighted faith, and return. Am not I thy beloved, thy wedded wife? Is it well for me to be alone in this awful forest, where bears and tigers prowl -alone with but half a garment? I wander like a sick deer whom the herd have left behind!"

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"From whom shall I obtain tidings of my lord? Who will say-Lo! he is here!' The tiger approaches me with open jaws-the tiger, the lapper of blood. Hast thou met my lord,' I ask him, ‘Nala, the king of men? If thou hast seen him console me, and show me his hiding-place. But if thou hast seen him not, devour me; I have no further need of life!' The tiger glares at me a moment strangely, and then disappears in the jungle."


I wander and wander until my feet bear me to the holy mountain, Vindhya. It rises over the forest like a lofty banner, a banner of many colors. Its hundred peaks are clothed with flowering trees; the teak, the sal, the sisu, cocoa nuts, arecas, and all manner of palms: they grow to the very summit. Gigantic creepers festoon their trunks, fruit ripens in the shade of their limbs, and at their feet blossoms a wilderness of flowers. Birds call to and answer each other on the stately cliffs, and water birds dip their wings in the spray of falling streams! The springs from thy peaks, O mountain, wash this forest, the birds fly in its bowers. Have they not seen the Rajah? But thou, thyself, seated upon thy cloudy throne, looking over land and sea, hast thou not beheld the kingly fugitive? Answer me, stately Vindhya, monarch of mountains; speak, console an afflicted woman!"

The spray fell with the streams, the birds twittered on the cliffs, but the mountain was silent. A light wind ran from summit to base, and bowed the heads of the trees, but voice there was none !

"I know not where to find my love," moaned the miserable queen, "I am like a bird that hath lost its mate, a leaf that is parted from the tree: the wind blows, the sun shines, but the dead leaf lives no more. Neither does the poor bird sing, but fly, fly, fly, till she drops down dead in the dust."

mits. It was a grim and solemn wood, with grassy spaces in its depths. In one of these spaces the holy fathers had built a circle of huts, and there they dwelt, each in the solitude of his own thoughts. They mortified their bodies by wearing the bark of trees for raiment, and by feeding on roots and leaves; their drink was thrice-strained water lifeless and pure. The cattle of Brahma grazed in their pastures, and tribes of monkeys gamboled in their trees. The Pearl of Women entered the circle of their dwellings, and saluted these sacred


The unhappy queen wandered three days and nights. The fourth morning found her in sight of the forest of her

"Hail! and welcome!" they exclaimed with one voice. "Be seated, lady, and command us."

"Blessed are you, ye holy men, for sorrow troubles you no more. Ye live blamelessly, with your beasts and birds. The grace of Heaven waits on your thoughts and deeds."

"Heaven, indeed, blesses us-since we have seen thee. But who art thou, thou radiant one-the goddess of the wood, or mountain, or the clear soul of the river? Blessed spirit speak!"

"No goddess am I, but a woman-a suffering woman." Here Damayanti opened her heart, and related the history of her life, from the day when she first heard the song of the swans down to the moment in which she spake. "And now tell me," she said, "ye truthful Brahmans, tell me if ye have seen my husband, the royal Nala. If I see him not, I shall die ere many days, for I cannot live without him."

"There will be a time hereafter," said the eldest of the Brahmans, a white-haired man of four-score. "Beautiful! the hour will come. We see it now, through our devotions; but thou must watch and wait. Assuredly thou shalt find thy husband again, and he shall regain his kingdom. We see him seated upon his throne, glittering with priceless gems. Be patient, lady. The gods are in the sky, the sky is over all!"

"I will try to be patient,' " said Damayanti, and she bowed her head and prayed. When the prayer was finished she turned to thank the Brahmans, and lo! they had vanished. Nor only they, but their huts, and the cattle that had grazed around; only the monkeys remained, and the trees with their beards of moss! Then Damayanti knew that the gods had sent her a vision to teach her patience.

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From forest to forest, from plain to plain; past many a river, and many a pleasant mountain. Wild deer in the woods, butterflies in the plains, and strange bright birds overhead!

At last she came in sight of a caravan on the banks of a river. The river was cool and clear, bordered with golden canes, and set with emerald islands. Red geese clamored on its banks, cuckoos sang in its reeds, and ospreys dropped in its waves like falling arrows. The merchants of the caravan were watering their horses and elephants, when Damayanti approached. Seeing her wild eyes, her pallid face, and her matted hair, they started back in terror, thinking her a demon of the desert. Some jeered at her, while others pitied. These last inquired the cause of her sorrows. She related her history again, and ended by asking if they had met the Rajah in the course of their wanderings.

The captain of the caravan answered her.

"Illustrious lady! I have seen leopards, tigers, and elephants, lynxes, buffaloes and bears in the uninhabited desert, but no sign of the Rajah Nala. Save thyself, I have met no human being. I swear it by Manibhadra, the god of travelers."

To what realm and city is your caravan bound?"

"To the city of Subahu, the sovereign of Chedi."

"I will go with you, for it may be that I shall find my lord there.”

Late in the afternoon the caravan reached a lake, wide and pleasant, fragrant with lotus blooms, and bordered with grass and flowers and shady trees. The merchants halted under the trees and camped for the night. At midnight, when they were all asleep dreaming of their gains, a herd of wild elephants came down to the lake to drink. They scented the tame elephants and rushed upon them, rolling over each other in their fury like a slide of rocks loosened from the brow of a mountain. Their path was strewn with the trunks of trees. The instincts of the tame elephants revived, and they returned the charge of their foes. Then began a terrific battle from which few escaped with life. For elephants not only fought with elephants, but they trampled the dreaming merchants by the lotus lake. They beat them down with their trunks, gored

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"Let us search for the witch," said others; and, lighting their torches, they dispersed in various directions. But Damayanti had heard them, and fled in time. She fled all night, not knowing whither; through forests, over plains, and past lakes and rivers. In the morning she saw a city in the distance, a mighty city. It was the capital of Subahu, the king of Chedi. She wandered up and down its streets, followed by a crowd of boys. As she drew near the royal palace she was seen by the queen-mother, who was walking on a lofty terrace.

"Go," said the queen-mother to her nurse: "go, and lead in that wanderer. She is a stranger in the city, and the crowd troubles her. Despite her pallid face and matted hair she looks a queen. Clouded as she seems with grief, half clothed and wet with night-dews, she makes our palace radiant.”

The nurse dispersed the crowd, and brought Damayanti to the queen-mother.

"The greatness of thy birth, lady, strikes through thy present sorrow like the wing of the lightning through

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clouds. Tell me who and whence thou art."


THE SONG OF DAMAYANTI. "I am the handmaid of an illustrious My palace was as proud as this; but now I have no home. I wander in woods and caves, feeding on berries and fruit, and drinking water. I follow my

lord like his shadow."


My lord was tempted by fate to stake his kingdom on the dice. He lost, and we fled together. He had one garment left, but that was stolen from him by the birds. We wandered together many days and nights. At length I slept; and, while I dreamed of my children, he severed half my garment and fled. I follow my lord like his shadow."

"You shall have a home with me, lady, while the servants of my household seek your husband. He may come hither in his wanderings; remain and be my friend till he comes."

"Great Queen! I will remain on one condition-that I may live secluded from men. If any man demand me in marriage, let him be punished. If he demand me the second time, let him be put to death. Shall I go or stay?" Stay, Damayanti; all shall be as thou wilt."


So saying the queen-mother called her daughter Sunanda.

"Sunanda, this lady is your handmaid. She is noble, and of your own age. Make her friend." your "I am your friend," said the artless Sunanda, and kissed the hand of the fallen Queen.

So ended the wanderings of Damayanti.

ceived the famous hermit Narada he smote me, and cursed me. Live in the palace of fire,' he cried, 'till Nala shall lead thee thence. No one but Nala can save thee.' Save me! O Nala, and I will show you the road to happiness. Think not I am too heavy to be lifted. Take me in your hand, and see how light I can grow."

THE BOOK OF THE CHARIOTEER. In the meantime Nala had entered into the service of Rituparna, the King of Ayodhya. And thus it happened.

He had not fled far from the hut of reeds and his moaning wife before he saw a fire blazing in the jungles. A voice like that of a man called to him from the flames. "Haste, Nala, haste!" "I come!" said Nala, and he plunged into the flame. It parted before him like a curtain, and he stood in a hollow, enclosed with a wall of fire. Looking around to see who it was that called him, he saw an enormous snake coiled in a ring at his feet.

"I am Karkotaka, the serpent," said the trembling snake. "Because I de

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"Fear not, I have but changed you lest you should be known. I have not poisoned you, but the demon who dwells in you. Steeped in my venom he shall suffer the deadliest pains, until he releases you from torment. To you my poison is harmless. But now depart, and call yourself Vahuca, the Charioteer. Go to the city of Ayodhya, the palace of Rituparna, and become his charioteer. In exchange for your skill in taming steeds, he will give you his wonderful skill in dice. Possessed of that you shall win back your kingdom and be restored to your wife and children. These garments," here the serpent drew from under his scales a pair of celestial vests, "will restore you to your proper form."

Nala took the vests and wrapped them in the garment which he had stolen from Damayanti. The King of Serpents returned to Patala, his kingdom, and Nala started for Ayodhya.

On the tenth day he entered the city, and sought the royal presence.

"I am Vahuca, the Charioteer. There is not my equal on earth in the art of taming and driving horses."

"Vahuca, I bid thee welcome. Be thine the office to make my horses fleet of foot. Thy pay is ten thousand suvarnas. Varshneya and Jivala are

thy companions. Be happy with them. Vahuca, abide with me."

So spake Rituparna the king, and Nala abode with him and became his charioteer. He secreted the vests of Karkotaka and the severed garment of Damayanti, and tried to forget the loss of his kingdom. By day he cheated himself with a show of happiness, so many and swift were the steeds, but when evening began, his grief and loss revived. Every night he sat in the king's garden and moaned-"Where wanders she to-night?"

He was overheard by Jivala. "Vahuca, for whom dost thou grieve?":


""Tis an old story.

"A perfect lady was wedded to a man bereft of sense. He parted from her, (why, the song saith not,) and went on his way alone. Nightly he broods over his sorrows and sings this verse'Where wanders my love to-night?'

"Tis the old story!

"The perfect wife follows her husband in the dreary forest. She knows not whither she flies. She hungers and is athirst. The forest is full of savage beasts. She walks amongst them and sings- Where wanders my life tonight?""

So sang Vahuca the Charioteer in the garden of the king.

But now the Rajah Bhima, the father of Damayanti, collected a band of Brahmans and sent them to seek his son and daughter.

"Go, and find my children, and make me happy. Whoever brings them to me shall receive a thousand head of cattle and the grant of a town. Nay, let him but show me where my children are, and the cattle are his."

changed she is! Once she was like the full moon, the desire of the world; now she is like the waning moon when it sets in a cloud. She is an uprooted flower, a tree where no bird sings."

He pored over her pallid face and addressed her in the language of Vidarbha.

The Brahmans traversed the world, through kingdoms, cities and towns, but found no tidings of Nala and Damayanti. Among their number was the Brahman Sudeva, whom a vision led to the city of Chedi. He wandered up and down its streets, reading the faces of all who passed, until he drew near the palace of the king. It was a fortunate day in the kingdom, and a fortunate day to Sudeva, for he saw the queen-mother and the princess Sunanda standing on the palace terrace, and beside them a stately lady in mean attire. It was Damayanti!

"It is she," said Sudeva; "but how

"I am the Brahman Sudeva, and I have come hither in search of thee, by the command of thy illustrious father. The king thy father and the queen thy mother are well; thy brethren, too: also those babes of thine, the girl and boy. But they ask for thee continually'Where is our mother that she comes not?'"

"See how fast our handmaid weeps," said the princess to the queen-mother. Without doubt the Brahman is the bearer of ill news."


The queen-mother left the terrace, and beckoning the Brahman to a inner chamber questioned him concerning Damayanti. He told the queen-mother the whole sad story. How that her handmaid was the daughter of a king. How she had a king for her husband. And how her husband had lost his kingdom at play. "Furthermore,” said he; "she has a birth-mark between her eyebrows, a mole in the shape of a lotus."

The queen-mother listened with astonishment, and when the Brahman had called Damayanti, she threw herself on her neck and embraced her.

"Thou art mine own sister's daughter," she said joyfully, "my dear, dear sister's child. We are the daughters of king Sudaman, he who reigns in Dasarna. Thy mother was wedded to the mighty Bhima, I to Viravahu. I saw thee once in my father's palace, a babe in thy mother's arms. I remember the lotus-mole. Thou must return to thy father, Damayanti, to thy father and children."

"I have been happy with thee, mother, thou hast been so kind to me. This thy palace is pleasant, but there is one in Vidarbha more pleasant, because it contains my children. Give me leave to depart at once."

"Be it so," said the queen mother, and she ordered a palanquin for Damayanti, who departed for Vidarbha, guarded by the Brahman Sudeva and a valiant army.

Bhima received his daughter with great joy, and the whole city welcomed

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