Vikram and the Vampire by Sir Richard F. Burton Preface
THE VAMPIRE'S EIGHTH STORY.
Use and Misuse of Magic Pills.
The lady Chandraprabha, daughter of the Raja Subichar, was a
particularly beautiful girl, and marriage-able withal. One day as
Vasanta, the Spring, began to assert its reign over the world,
animate and inanimate, she went accompanied by her young friends and
companions to stroll about her father's pleasure-garden.
The fair troop wandered through sombre groves, where the dark
tamale-tree entwined its branches with the pale green foliage of the
nim, and the pippal's domes of quivering leaves contrasted with the
columnar aisles of the banyan fig. They admired the old monarchs of
the forest, bearded to the waist with hangings of moss, the flowing
creepers delicately climbing from the lower branches to the topmost
shoots, and the cordage of llianas stretching from trunk to trunk like
bridges for the monkeys to pass over. Then they issued into a clear
space dotted with asokas bearing rich crimson fiowers, cliterias of
azure blue, madhavis exhibiting petals virgin white as the snows on
Himalaya, and jasmines raining showers of perfumed blossoms upon the
grateful earth. They could not sufficiently praise the tall and
graceful stem of the arrowy areca, contrasting with the solid pyramid
of the cypress, and the more masculine stature of the palm. Now they
lingered in the trellised walks closely covered over with vines and
creepers; then they stopped to gather the golden bloom weighing down
the mango boughs, and to smell the highly-scented flowers that hung
from the green fretwork of the chambela.
It was spring, I have said. The air was still except when broken by
the hum of the large black bramra bee, as he plied his task amidst
the red and orange flowers of the dak, and by the gushings of many
waters that made music as they coursed down their stuccoed channels
between borders of many coloured poppies and beds of various flowers.
From time to time the dulcet note of the kokila bird, and the hoarse
plaint of the turtle-dove deep hid in her leafy bower, attracted every
ear and thrilled every heart. The south wind—"breeze of the
south,[FN#145] the friend of love and spring" blew with a voluptuous
warmth, for rain clouds canopied the earth, and the breath of the
narcissus, the rose, and the citron, teemed with a languid fragrance.
The charms of the season affected all the damsels. They amused
themselves in their privacy with pelting blossoms at one another,
running races down the smooth broad alleys, mounting the silken
swings that hung between the orange trees, embracing one another, and
at times trying to push the butt of the party into the fishpond.
Perhaps the liveliest of all was the lady Chandraprabha, who on
account of her rank could pelt and push all the others, without fear
of being pelted and pushed in return.
It so happened, before the attendants had had time to secure
privacy for the princess and her women, that Manaswi, a very handsome
youth, a Brahman's son, had wandered without malicious intention into
the garden. Fatigued with walking, and finding a cool shady place
beneath a tree, he had lain down there, and had gone to sleep, and had
not been observed by any of the king's people. He was still sleeping
when the princess and her companions were playing together.
Presently Chandraprabha, weary of sport, left her friends, and
singing a lively air, tripped up the stairs leading to the
summer-house. Aroused by the sound of her advancing footsteps,
Manaswi sat up; and the princess, seeing a strange man, started. But
their eyes had met, and both were subdued by love—love vulgarly
called "love at first sight."
"Nonsense!" exclaimed the warrior king, testily, "I can never
believe in that freak of Kama Deva." He spoke feelingly, for the
thing had happened to himself more than once, and on no occasion had
it turned out well.
"But there is such a thing, O Raja, as love at first sight,"
objected the Baital, speaking dogmatically.
"Then perhaps thou canst account for it, dead one," growled the
"I have no reason to do so, O Vikram," retorted the Vampire, "when
you men have already done it. Listen, then, to the words of the wise.
In the olden time, one of your great philosophers invented a fluid
pervading all matter, strongly self-repulsive like the steam of a
brass pot, and widely spreading like the breath of scandal. The
repulsiveness, however, according to that wise man, is greatly
modified by its second property, namely, an energetic attraction or
adhesion to all material bodies. Thus every substance contains a part,
more or less, of this fluid, pervading it throughout, and strongly
bound to each component atom. He called it 'Ambericity,' for the best
of reasons, as it has no connection with amber, and he described it as
an imponderable, which, meaning that it could not be weighed, gives a
very accurate and satisfactory idea of its nature.
"Now, said that philosopher, whenever two bodies containing that
unweighable substance in unequal proportions happen to meet, a
current of imponderable passes from one to the other, producing a
kind of attraction, and tending to adhere. The operation takes place
instantaneously when the force is strong and much condensed. Thus the
vulgar who call things after their effects and not from their causes,
term the action of this imponderable love at first sight; the wise
define it to be a phenomenon of ambericity. As regards my own opinion
about the matter, I have long ago told it to you, O Vikram!
"Either hold your tongue, fellow, or go on with your story," cried
the Raja, wearied out by so many words that had no manner of sense.
Well! the effect of the first glance was that Manaswi, the
Brahman's son, fell back in a swoon and remained senseless upon the
ground where he had been sitting; and the Raja's daughter began to
tremble upon her feet, and presently dropped unconscious upon the
floor of the summer-house. Shortly after this she was found by her
companions and attendants, who, quickly taking her up in their arms
and supporting her into a litter, conveyed her home.
Manaswi, the Brahman's son, was so completely overcome, that he
lay there dead to everything. Just then the learned, deeply read, and
purblind Pandits Muldev and Shashi by name, strayed into the garden,
and stumbled upon the body.
"Friend," said Muldev, "how came this youth thus to fall senseless
on the ground?"
"Man," replied Shashi, "doubtless some damsel has shot forth the
arrows of her glances from the bow of her eyebrows, and thence he has
"We must lift him up then," said Muldev the benevolent.
"What need is there to raise him?" asked Shashi the misanthrope by
way of reply.
Muldev, however, would not listen to these words. He ran to the
pond hard by, soaked the end of his waistcloth in water, sprinkled it
over the young Brahman, raised him from the ground, and placed him
sitting against the wall. And perceiving, when he came to himself,
that his sickness was rather of the soul than of the body, the old men
asked him how he came to be in that plight.
"We should tell our griefs," answered Manaswi, "only to those who
will relieve us! What is the use of communicating them to those who,
when they have heard, cannot help us? What is to be gained by the
empty pity or by the useless condolence of men in general?"
The Pandits, however, by friendly looks and words, presently
persuaded him to break silence, when he said, "A certain princess
entered this summer-house, and from the sight of her I have fallen
into this state. If I can obtain her, I shall live; if not, I must
"Come with me, young man!" said Muldev the benevolent: "I will use
every endeavour to obtain her, and if I do not succeed I will make
thee wealthy and independent of the world."
Manaswi rejoined: "The Deity in his beneficence has created many
jewels in this world, but the pearl, woman, is chiefest of all; and
for her sake only does man desire wealth. What are riches to one who
has abandoned his wife? What are they who do not possess beautiful
wives? they are but beings inferior to the beasts! wealth is the fruit
of virtue; ease, of wealth; a wife, of ease. And where no wife is, how
can there be happiness?" And the enamoured youth rambled on in this
way, curious to us, Raja Vikram, but perhaps natural enough in a
Brahman's son suffering under that endemic malady—determination to
"Whatever thou mayest desire," said Muldev, "shall by the blessing
of heaven be given to thee."
Manaswi implored him, saying most pathetically, ''O Pandit, bestow
then that damsel upon me!"
Muldev promised to do so, and having comforted the youth, led him
to his own house. Then he welcomed him politely, seated him upon the
carpet, and left him for a few minutes, promising him to return. When
he reappeared, he held in his hand two little balls or pills, and
showing them to Manaswi, he explained their virtues as follows:
"There is in our house an hereditary secret, by means of which I
try to promote the weal of humanity. But in all cases my success
depends mainly upon the purity and the hear/wholeness of those that
seek my aid. If thou place this in thy mouth, thou shalt be changed
into a damsel twelve years old, and when thou withdrawest it again,
thou shalt again recover shine original form. Beware, however, that
thou use the power for none but a good purpose; otherwise some great
calamity will befall thee. Therefore, take counsel of thyself before
undertaking this trial!"
What lover, O warrior king Vikram, would have hesitated, under
such circumstances, to assure the Pandit that he was the most
innocent, earnest, and well-intentioned being in the Three Worlds?
The Brahman's son, at least, lost no time in so doing. Hence the
simple-minded philosopher put one of the pills into the young man's
mouth, warning him on no account to swallow it, and took the other
into his own mouth. Upon which Manaswi became a sprightly young maid,
and Muldev was changed to a reverend and decrepid senior, not fewer
than eighty years old.
Thus transformed, the twain walked up to the palace of the Raja
Subichar, and stood for a while to admire the gate. Then passing
through seven courts, beautiful as the Paradise of Indra, they
entered, unannounced, as became the priestly dignity, a hall where,
surrounded by his courtiers, sat the ruler. The latter, seeing the
Holy Brahman under his roof, rose up, made the customary humble
salutation, and taking their right hands, led what appeared to be the
father and daughter to appropriate seats. Upon which Muldev, having
recited a verse, bestowed upon the Raja a blessing whose beauty has
been diffused over all creation.
"May that Deity[FN#146] who as a mannikin deceived the great king
Bali; who as a hero, with a monkey-host, bridged the Salt Sea; who as
a shepherd lifted up the mountain Gobarddhan in the palm of his hand,
and by it saved the cowherds and cowherdesses from the thunders of
heaven—may that Deity be thy protector!"
Having heard and marvelled at this display of eloquence, the Raja
inquired, "Whence hath your holiness come?"
"My country," replied Muldev, "is on the northern side of the great
mother Ganges, and there too my dwelling is. I travelled to a distant
land, and having found in this maiden a worthy wife for my son, I
straightway returned homewards. Meanwhile a famine had laid waste our
village, and my wife and my son have fled I know not where. Encumbered
with this damsel, how can I wander about seeking them? Hearing the
name of a pious and generous ruler, I said to myself, ' I will leave
her under his charge until my return.' Be pleased to take great care
For a minute the Raja sat thoughtful and silent. He was highly
pleased with the Brahman's perfect compliment. But he could not hide
from himself that he was placed between two difficulties: one, the
charge of a beautiful young girl, with pouting lips, soft speech, and
roguish eyes; the other, a priestly curse upon himself and his
kingdom. He thought, however, refusal the more dangerous; so he
raised his face and exclaimed, "O produce of Brahma's head,[FN#147] I
will do what your highness has desired of me."
Upon which the Brahman, after delivering a benediction of adieu
almost as beautiful and spirit-stirring as that with which he had
presented himself, took the betel[FN#148] and went his ways.
Then the Raja sent for his daughter Chandraprabha and said to her,
"This is the affianced bride of a young Brahman, and she has been
trusted to my protection for a time by her father-in-law. Take her
therefore into the inner rooms, treat her with the utmost regard, and
never allow her to be separated from thee, day or night, asleep or
awake, eating or drinking, at home or abroad."
Chandraprabha took the hand of Sita—as Manaswi had pleased to
call himself—and led the way to her own apartment. Once the seat of
joy and pleasure, the rooms now wore a desolate and melancholy look.
The windows were darkened, the attendants moved noiselessly over the
carpets, as if their footsteps would cause headache, and there was a
faint scent of some drug much used in cases of deliquium. The
apartments were handsome, but the only ornament in the room where they
sat was a large bunch of withered flowers in an arched recess, and
these, though possibly interesting to some one, were not likely to
find favour as a decoration in the eyes of everybody.
The Raja's daughter paid the greatest attention and talked with
unusual vivacity to the Brahman's daughter-in-law, either because she
had roguish eyes, or from some presentiment of what was to occur,
whichever you please, Raja Vikram, and it is no matter which. Still
Sita could not help perceiving that there was a shade of sorrow upon
the forehead of her fair new friend, and so when they retired to rest
she asked the cause of it.
Then Chandraprabha related to her the sad tale: "One day in the
spring season, as I was strolling in the garden along with my
companions, I beheld a very handsome Brahman, and our eyes having
met, he became unconscious, and I also was insensible. My companions
seeing my condition, brought me home, and therefore I know neither his
name nor his abode. His beautiful form is impressed upon my memory. I
have now no desire to eat or to drink, and from this distress my
colour has become pale and my body is thus emaciated." And the
beautiful princess sighed a sigh that was musical and melancholy, and
concluded by predicting for herself—as persons similarly placed often
do—a sudden and untimely end about the beginning of the next month.
"What wilt thou give me," asked the Brahman's daughter-in-law
demurely, "if I show thee thy beloved at this very moment?"
The Raja's daughter answered, "I will ever be the lowest of thy
slaves, standing before thee with joined hands."
Upon which Sita removed the pill from her mouth, and instantly
having become Manaswi, put it carefully away in a little bag hung
round his neck. At this sight Chandraprabha felt abashed, and hung
down her head in beautiful confusion. To describe—
"I will have no descriptions, Vampire!" cried the great Vikram,
jerking the bag up and down as if he were sweating gold in it. "The
fewer of thy descriptions the better for us all."
Briefly (resumed the demon), Manaswi reflected upon the eight
forms of marriage—viz., Bramhalagan, when a girl is given to a
Brahman, or man of superior caste, without reward; Daiva, when she is
presented as a gift or fee to the officiating priest at the close of a
sacrifice; Arsha, when two cows are received by the girl's father in
exchange for the bride[FN#149]; Prajapatya, when the girl is given at
the request of a Brahman, and the father says to his daughter and her
to betrothed, "Go, fulfil the duties of religion"; Asura, when money
is received by the father in exchange for the bride; Rakshasha, when
she is captured in war, or when her bridegroom overcomes his rival;
Paisacha, when the girl is taken away from her father's house by
craft; and eighthly, Gandharva-lagan, or the marriage that takes place
by mutual consent.[FN#150]
Manaswi preferred the latter, especially as by her rank and age the
princess was entitled to call upon her father for the Lakshmi
Swayambara wedding, in which she would have chosen her own husband.
And thus it is that Rama, Arjuna, Krishna, Nala, and others, were
proposed to by the princesses whom they married.
For five months after these nuptials, Manaswi never stirred out of
the palace, but remained there by day a woman, and a man by night.
The consequence was that he—I call him "he," for whether Manaswi or
Sita, his mind ever remained masculine—presently found himself in a
fair way to become a father.
Now, one would imagine that a change of sex every twenty-four
hours would be variety enough to satisfy even a man. Manaswi,
however, was not contented. He began to pine for more liberty, and to
find fault with his wife for not taking him out into the world. And
you might have supposed that a young person who, from love at first
sight, had fallen senseless upon the steps of a summer-house, and who
had devoted herself to a sudden and untimely end because she was
separated from her lover, would have repressed her yawns and little
irritable words even for a year after having converted him into a
husband. But no! Chandraprabha soon felt as tired of seeing Manaswi
and nothing but Manaswi, as Manaswi was weary of seeing Chandraprabha
and nothing but Chandraprabha. Often she had been on the point of
proposing visits and out-of-door excursions. But when at last the idea
was first suggested by her husband, she at once became an injured
woman. She hinted how foolish it was for married people to imprison
themselves and to quarrel all day. When Manaswi remonstrated, saying
that he wanted nothing better than to appear before the world with her
as his wife, but that he really did not know what her father might do
to him, she threw out a cutting sarcasm upon his effeminate appearance
during the hours of light. She then told him of an unfortunate young
woman in an old nursery tale who had unconsciously married a fiend
that became a fine handsome man at night when no eye could see him,
and utter ugliness by day when good looks show to advantage. And
lastly, when inveighing against the changeableness, fickleness, and
infidelity of mankind, she quoted the words of the poet—
Out upon change! it tires the heart
And weighs the noble spirit down;
A vain, vain world indeed thou art
That can such vile condition own
The veil hath fallen from my eyes,
I cannot love where I despise....
You can easily, O King Vikram, continue for yourself and conclude
this lecture, which I leave unfinished on account of its length.
Chandraprabha and Sita, who called each other the Zodiacal Twins
and Laughter Light,[FN#151] and All-consenters, easily persuaded the
old Raja that their health would be further improved by air, exercise,
and distractions. Subichar, being delighted with the change that had
taken place in a daughter whom he loved, and whom he had feared to
lose, told them to do as they pleased. They began a new life, in which
short trips and visits, baths and dances, music parties, drives in
bullock chariots, and water excursions succeeded one another.
It so happened that one day the Raja went with his whole family to
a wedding feast in the house of his grand treasurer, where the
latter's son saw Manaswi in the beautiful shape of Sita. This was a
third case of love at first sight, for the young man immediately said
to a particular friend, "If I obtain that girl, I shall live; if not,
I shall abandon life."
In the meantime the king. having enjoyed the feast, came back to
his palace with his whole family. The condition of the treasurer's
son, however, became very distressing; and through separation from
his beloved, he gave up eating and drinking. The particular friend had
kept the secret for some days, though burning to tell it. At length he
found an excuse for himself in the sad state of his friend, and he
immediately went and divulged all that he knew to the treasurer. After
this he felt relieved.
The minister repaired to the court, and laid his case before the
king, saying, "Great Raja! through the love of that Brahman's
daughter-in-law, my son's state is very bad; he has given up eating
and drinking; in fact he is consumed by the fire of separation. If
now your majesty could show compassion, and bestow the girl upon him,
his life would be saved. If not——"
"Fool!" cried the Raja, who, hearing these words, had waxed very
wroth; "it is not right for kings to do injustice. Listen! when a
person puts any one in charge of a protector, how can the latter give
away his trust without consulting the person that trusted him? And yet
this is what you wish me to do."
The treasurer knew that the Raja could not govern his realm
without him, and he was well acquainted with his master's character.
He said to himself, "This will not last long;" but he remained dumb,
simulating hopelessness, and hanging down his head, whilst Subichar
alternately scolded and coaxed, abused and flattered him, in order to
open his lips. Then, with tears in his eyes, he muttered a request to
take leave; and as he passed through the palace gates, he said aloud,
with a resolute air, "It will cost me but ten days of fasting!"
The treasurer, having returned home, collected all his attendants,
and went straightway to his son's room. Seeing the youth still
stretched upon his sleeping-mat, and very yellow for the want of
food. he took his hand, and said in a whisper, meant to be audible,
"Alas! poor son, I can do nothing but perish with thee."
The servants, hearing this threat, slipped one by one out of the
room, and each went to tell his friend that the grand treasurer had
resolved to live no longer. After which, they went back to the house
to see if their master intended to keep his word, and curious to know,
if he did intend to die, how, where, and when it was to be. And they
were not disappointed: I do not mean that the wished their lord to
die, as he was a good master to them but still there was an excitement
in the thing——
(Raja Vikram could not refrain from showing his anger at the
insult thus cast by the Baital upon human nature; the wretch,
however, pretending not to notice it, went on without interrupting
——which somehow or other pleased them.
When the treasurer had spent three days without touching bread or
water, all the cabinet council met and determined to retire from
business unless the Raja yielded to their solicitations. The treasurer
was their working man. "Besides which," said the cabinet council, "if
a certain person gets into the habit of refusing us, what is to be the
end of it, and what is the use of being cabinet councillors any
Early on the next morning, the ministers went in a body before the
Raja, and humbly represented that "the treasurer's son is at the
point of death, the effect of a full heart and an empty stomach.
Should he die, the father, who has not eaten or drunk during the last
three days" (the Raja trembled to hear the intelligence, though he
knew it), "his father, we say, cannot be saved. If the father dies the
affairs of the kingdom come to ruin,—is he not the grand treasurer?
It is already said that half the accounts have been gnawed by white
ants, and that some pernicious substance in the ink has eaten jagged
holes through the paper, so that the other half of the accounts is
illegible. It were best, sire, that you agree to what we represent."
The white ants and corrosive ink were too strong for the Raja's
determination. Still, wishing to save appearances, he replied, with
much firmness, that he knew the value of the treasurer and his son,
that he would do much to save them, but that he had passed his royal
word, and had undertaken a trust. That he would rather die a dozen
deaths than break his promise, or not discharge his duty faithfully.
That man's condition in this world is to depart from it, none
remaining in it; that one comes and that one goes, none knowing when
or where; but that eternity is eternity for happiness or misery. And
much of the same nature, not very novel, and not perhaps quite to the
purpose, but edifying to those who knew what lay behind the speaker's
The ministers did not know their lord's character so well as the
grand treasurer, and they were more impressed by his firm demeanour
and the number of his words than he wished them to be. After allowing
his speech to settle in their minds, he did away with a great part of
its effect by declaring that such were the sentiments and the
principles—when a man talks of his principles, O Vikram! ask thyself
the reason why—instilled into his youthful mind by the most
honourable of fathers and the most virtuous of mothers. At the same
time that he was by no means obstinate or proof against conviction. In
token whereof he graciously permitted the councillors to convince him
that it was his royal duty to break his word and betray his trust, and
to give away another man's wife.
Pray do not lose your temper, O warrior king! Subichar, although a
Raja, was a weak man; and you know, or you ought to know, that the
wicked may be wise in their generation, but the weak never can.
Well, the ministers hearing their lord's last words, took courage,
and proceeded to work upon his mind by the figure of speech popularly
called "rigmarole." They said: "Great king! that old Brahman has been
gone many days, and has not returned; he is probably dead and burnt.
It is therefore right that by giving to the grand treasurer's son his
daughter-in-law, who is only affianced, not fairly married, you should
establish your government firmly. And even if he should return, bestow
villages and wealth upon him; and if he be not then content, provide
another and a more beautiful wife for his son, and dismiss him. A
person should be sacrificed for the sake of a family, a family for a
city, a city for a country, and a country for a king!"
Subichar having heard them, dismissed them with the remark that as
so much was to be said on both sides, he must employ the night in
thinking over the matter, and that he would on the next day favour
them with his decision. The cabinet councillors knew by this that he
meant that he would go and consult his wives. They retired contented,
convinced that every voice would be in favour of a wedding, and that
the young girl, with so good an offer, would not sacrifice the present
to the future.
That evening the treasurer and his son supped together.
The first words uttered by Raja Subichar, when he entered his
daughter's apartment, were an order addressed to Sita: "Go thou at
once to the house of my treasurer's son."
Now, as Chandraprabha and Manaswi were generally scolding each
other, Chandraprabha and Sita were hardly on speaking terms. When they
heard the Raja's order for their separation they were—
—"Delighted?" cried Dharma Dhwaj, who for some reason took the
greatest interest in the narrative.
"Overwhelmed with grief, thou most guileless Yuva Raja (young
prince)!" ejaculated the Vampire.
Raja Vikram reproved his son for talking about thing of which he
knew nothing, and the Baital resumed.
They turned pale and wept, and they wrung their hands, and they
begged and argued and refused obedience. In fact they did everything
to make the king revoke his order.
"The virtue of a woman," quoth Sita, "is destroyed through too
much beauty; the religion of a Brahman is impaired by serving kings;
a cow is spoiled by distant pasturage, wealth is lost by committing
injustice, and prosperity departs from the house where promises are
The Raja highly applauded the sentiment, but was firm as a rock
upon the subject of Sita marrying the treasurer's son.
Chandraprabha observed that her royal father, usually so
conscientious, must now be acting from interested motives, and that
when selfishness sways a man, right becomes left and left becomes
right, as in the reflection of a mirror.
Subichar approved of the comparison; he was not quite so resolved,
but he showed no symptoms of changing his mind.
Then the Brahman's daughter-in-law, with the view of gaining
time—a famous stratagem amongst feminines—said to the Raja: "Great
king, if you are determined upon giving me to the grand treasurer's
son, exact from him the promise that he will do what I bid him. Only
on this condition will I ever enter his house!"
"Speak, then," asked the king; "what will he have to do?"
She replied, "I am of the Brahman or priestly caste, he is the son
of a Kshatriya or warrior: the law directs that before we twain can
wed, he should perform Yatra (pilgrimage) to all the holy places."
"Thou hast spoken Veda-truth, girl," answered the Raja, not sorry
to have found so good a pretext for temporizing, and at the same time
to preserve his character for firmness, resolution, determination.
That night Manaswi and Chandraprabha, instead of scolding each
other, congratulated themselves upon having escaped an imminent
danger—which they did not escape.
In the morning Subichar sent for his ministers, including his grand
treasurer and his love-sick son, and told them how well and wisely
the Brahman's daughter-in-law had spoken upon the subject of the
marriage. All of them approved of the condition; but the young man
ventured to suggest, that while he was a-pilgrimaging the maiden
should reside under his father's roof. As he and his father showed a
disposition to continue their fasts in case of the small favour not
being granted, the Raja, though very loath to separate his beloved
daughter and her dear friend, was driven to do it. And Sita was
carried off, weeping bitterly, to the treasurer's palace. That
dignitary solemnly committed her to the charge of his third and
youngest wife, the lady Subhagya-Sundari, who was about her own age,
and said, "You must both live together, without any kind of wrangling
or contention, and do not go into other people's houses." And the
grand treasurer's son went off to perform his pilgrimages.
It is no less sad than true, Raja Vikram, that in less than six
days the disconsolate Sita waxed weary of being Sita, took the ball
out of her mouth, and became Manaswi. Alas for the infidelity of
mankind! But it is gratifying to reflect that he met with the
punishment with which the Pandit Muldev had threatened him. One night
the magic pill slipped down his throat. When morning dawned, being
unable to change himself into Sita, Manaswi was obliged to escape
through a window from the lady Subhagya-Sundari's room. He sprained
his ankle with the leap, and he lay for a time upon the ground—where
I leave him whilst convenient to me.
When Muldev quitted the presence of Subichar, he resumed his old
shape, and returning to his brother Pandit Shashi, told him what he
had done. Whereupon Shashi, the misanthrope, looked black, and used
hard words and told his friend that good nature and soft-heartedness
had caused him to commit a very bad action—a grievous sin. Incensed
at this charge, the philanthropic Muldev became angry, and said, "I
have warned the youth about his purity; what harm can come of it?"
"Thou hast," retorted Shashi, with irritating coolness, "placed a
sharp weapon in a fool's hand."
"I have not," cried Muldev, indignantly.
"Therefore," drawled the malevolent, "you are answerable for all
the mischief he does with it, and mischief assuredly he will do."
"He will not, by Brahma!" exclaimed Muldev.
"He will, by Vishnu!" said Shashi, with an amiability produced by
having completely upset his friend's temper; "and if within the
coming six months he does not disgrace himself, thou shalt have the
whole of my book-case; but if he does, the philanthropic Muldev will
use all his skill and ingenuity in procuring the daughter of Raja
Subichar as a wife for his faithful friend Shashi."
Having made this covenant, they both agreed not to speak of the
matter till the autumn.
The appointed time drawing near, the Pandits began to make
inquiries about the effect of the magic pills. Presently they found
out that Sita, alias Manaswi, had one night mysteriously disappeared
from the grand treasurer's house, and had not been heard of since that
time. This, together with certain other things that transpired
presently, convinced Muldev, who had cooled down in six months, that
his friend had won the wager. He prepared to make honourable payment
by handing a pill to old Shashi, who at once became a stout, handsome
young Brahman, some twenty years old. Next putting a pill into his own
mouth, he resumed the shape and form under which he had first appeared
before Raja Subichar; and, leaning upon his staff, he led the way to
The king, in great confusion, at once recognized the old priest,
and guessed the errand upon which he and the youth were come.
However, he saluted them, and offered them seats, and receiving their
blessings, he began to make inquiries about their health and welfare.
At last he mustered courage to ask the old Brahman where he had been
living for so long a time.
"Great king," replied the priest, "I went to seek after my son, and
having found him, I bring him to your majesty. Give him his wife, and
I will take them both home with me.''
Raja Subichar prevaricated not a little; but presently, being hard
pushed, he related everything that had happened.
"What is this that you have done?" cried Muldev, simulating
excessive anger and astonishment. "Why have you given my son's wife
in marriage to another man? You have done what you wished, and now,
therefore, receive my Shrap (curse)!"
The poor Raja, in great trepidation, said, "O Vivinity! be not thus
angry! I will do whatever you bid me."
Said Muldev, "If through dread of my excommunication you will
freely give whatever I demand of you, then marry your daughter,
Chandraprabha, to this my son. On this condition I forgive you. To
me, now a necklace of pearls and a venomous krishna (cobra capella);
the most powerful enemy and the kindest friend, the most precious gem
and a clod of earth; the softest bed and the hardest stone; a blade of
grass and the loveliest woman—are precisely the same. All I desire is
that in some holy place, repeating the name of God, I may soon end my
Subichar, terrified by this additional show of sanctity, at once
summoned an astrologer, and fixed upon the auspicious moment and
lunar influence. He did not consult the princess, and had he done so
she would not have resisted his wishes. Chandraprabha had heard of
Sita's escape from the treasurer's house, and she had on the subject
her own suspicions. Besides which she looked forward to a certain
event, and she was by no means sure that her royal father approved of
the Gandharba form of marriage—at least for his daughter. Thus the
Brahman's son receiving in due time the princess and her dowry, took
leave of the king and returned to his own village.
Hardly, however, had Chandraprabha been married to Shashi the
Pandit, when Manaswi went to him, and began to wrangle, and said,
"Give me my wife!" He had recovered from the effects of his fall, and
having lost her he therefore loved her—very dearly.
But Shashi proved by reference to the astrologers, priests, and ten
persons as witnesses, that he had duly wedded her, and brought her to
his home; "therefore," said he, "she is my spouse."
Manaswi swore by all holy things that he had been legally married
to her, and that he was the father of her child that was about to be.
"How then," continued he, "can she be thy spouse?" He would have
summoned Muldev as a witness, but that worthy, after remonstrating
with him, disappeared. He called upon Chandraprabha to confirm his
statement, but she put on an innocent face, and indignantly denied
ever having seen the man.
Still, continued the Baital, many people believed Manaswi's story,
as it was marvellous and incredible. Even to the present day, there
are many who decidedly think him legally married to the daughter of
"Then they are pestilent fellows!" cried the warrior king Vikram,
who hated nothing more than clandestine and runaway matches. "No one
knew that the villain, Manaswi, was the father of her child; whereas,
the Pandit Shashi married her lawfully, before witnesses, and with all
the ceremonies.[FN#152] She therefore remains his wife, and the child
will perform the funeral obsequies for him, and offer water to the
manes of his pitris (ancestors). At least, so say law and justice."
"Which justice is often unjust enough!" cried the Vampire; "and
ply thy legs, mighty Raja; let me see if thou canst reach the
sires-tree before I do."
* * * * * *
"The next story, O Raja Vikram, is remarkably interesting."
[FN#145] In Hindustan, it is the prevailing wind of the hot
[FN#146] Vishnu, as a dwarf, sank down into and secured in the
lower regions the Raja Bali, who by his piety and prayerfulness was
subverting the reign of the lesser gods; as Ramachandra he built a
bridge between Lanka (Ceylon) and the main land; and as Krishna he
defended, by holding up a hill as an umbrella for them, his friends
the shepherds and shepherdesses from the thunders of Indra, whose
worship they had neglected.
[FN#147] The priestly caste sprang, as has been said, from the
noblest part of the Demiurgus; the three others from lower members.
[FN#148] A chew of betel leaf and spices is offered by the master
of the house when dismissing a visitor.
[FN#149] Respectable Hindus say that receiving a fee for a
daughter is like selling flesh.
[FN#150] A modern custom amongst the low caste is for the bride
and bridegroom, in the presence of friends, to place a flower garland
on each other's necks, and thus declare themselves man and wife. The
old classical Gandharva-lagan has been before explained.
[FN#151] Meaning that the sight of each other will cause a smile,
and that what one purposes the other will consent to.
[FN#152] This would be the verdict of a Hindu jury.
THE VAMPIRE'S NINTH STORY.
That a Man's Wife Belongs Not to His Body but to His Head.