Alfred John Church.

Stories of the magicians; Thalaba and the magicians of the Domdaniel, Rustem and the genii, Kehama and his sorceries online

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" My son, it cannot be. I have piety and
wisdom and peace ; but I have not the strength
to resist this almighty Kehama, no, nor even
the spirit of the dead Arvalan."

" Arvalan ! "

" Kehama has given his dead son all the
faculties of which the dead are capable, until
his hour of judgment comes."

" See ! she lives ! And lo ! her hand touches
the Holy River at its sources. Were there


anything impure in that hand, the waters
would shrink from it. But see, they play-
about it, and leap, and sparkle, as if to wel-
come her."

" Of a truth she is pure from sin," cried
Casyapa. " But, my son, what will you do with
the maid ? " for now, at the bidding of the Glen-
doveer, a ship of heaven came sailing down the

" My father," answered Ereenia, " I will
carry her straight to the Swerga, to Indra's
own dwelling. Indra is the foe of her foe, and
he should protect her. But if the god shrinks
from the Rajah's might, and is unwilling to try
the perilous ship, then, small as I am, I will
stand forth and plead the maiden's cause in the
presence of Seeva himself."

" It is well," said the Father of the gods ;
"it is well. Stand forth without fear ; and
whatever may befall, still trust in Him. He
will do and cause to be done that which is

The ship of heaven went on its way and
carried the Glendoveer and the maiden on their
way to the Paradise of Swerga, the dwelling of


Indra. When they had reached it, he said to
her : " Rest in peace, maiden. Feeble as I
am, I will guard you. The Almighty Rajah
shall not harm you, so long as Indra keeps
his throne."

" Ah," cried Kailyal, " and you too fear
him ! "

" So long as the Swerga is safe, you are
safe also."

" But save not me only. I have a most
unhappy father ; Kehama's curse is on him.
Can you not save him also ? "

" Come, plead your cause to Indra himself."

So saying, he lifted Kailyal on his wings,
and carried her to where Indra sat upon his

There was trouble on the face of the god,
and it grew darker and deeper when he saw
Ereenia and the mortal maid.

Ereenia said : " Hear me, Indra, I found
this child of man brought near to death, I
know not by what mishap. I carried her to
the dwelling of the Father of the gods, in-

o O '

tending, when she should have been he&led,
to restore her to earth. But when I heard,


her fate, I had other thoughts. She is one
of those who groan beneath the power of the
Almighty Rajah, and she is persecuted by the
spectre of his dead son Arvalan. What choice
had I but to bring her hither ? Here she is
safe, for here thou art yet supreme."

" Ereenia," answered the god, " no child
of man may dwell in these bowers of bliss.
With man must come Time and Wrath and
Change ; and these once come, our happiness
would pass. A stronger hand than mine may
wrest this Paradise from me ; but I will do
nothing to provoke the fate."

" Fear," said Ereenia, " courts the blow.
Fear will lay us prostrate under the wheels
of destiny."

4< It may be," answered Indra, "that Veshnoo
will again descend and serve the gods. Did
he not save them before from another such
Almighty Man, from Ravanen, killing him with
the arrows that never fail ? "

" It is an idle hope," said the Glendoveer.
" Put forth thy own strength for thine own
salvation. Would that the lightnings which
play harmlessly about thy head were mine.

The overthrow of Ravancn.


The Swerga would not want a champion nor
Earth a deliverer."

"Think you," cried Indra in wrath, ''that
I want the will to strike my enemy ? But of
a truth I can no more cast down this Kehama
than can you. He went on from conquest to
conquest till a'l the kings of the earth had
received his yoke. When the steam of the
sacrifice went up which was to proclaim him
Omnipotent below, then was the time to strike
him with the thunderbolt. That time went
by ; and now by prayers and penances he has
wrested such power from Fate, that if Seeva
turn not his eyes on earth and Veshnoo de-
scend not to save, he will seize the Swerga
for his own, and roll his chariot-wheels through
Padalon, the dwelling of the dead, and force
from Yamen's charge the cup of Immortality.
My thunders cannot pierce the sphere of
power which encompasses him."

" Take me to earth, blessed Spirit," cried
Kailyal, when she heard the word of fate from
Indra's mouth. "If my father must still bear
the curse, he shall not bear it alone."

"Child of earth," said Indra, " thou hast


already the divine spirit, for duty is thy
guide." Then he turned to Ereenia and said :
" Take her to where the Ganges has his second
birth. There may she and her father rest
secure till the hour of doom shall come."



FOR ninety- and -nine days, day after day,
Kehama had led the victim, a horse which
no man had bestridden, to Seeva's shrine.
One more day, one more victim, and the rite
will be complete ; Kehama will then have
accomplished his desire ; the power of Heaven
as of Earth wijl be his, and he will seize the
throne and wield the thunderbolts of Indra.
Is Seeva the Destroyer blind ? Why does
not Veshnoo descend to save mankind and
the gods ?

For a year and a day the steed destined
for the sacrifice has wandered where he would.
No man's hand has combed his mane ; his
mouth has never felt bit or bridle ; to-day at
noon he must bleed ; and then Kehama grasps


against the very will of Fate, the power which
he desires.

It is high noon, and the many guards which,
lest anything by chance should mar the sacri-
fice, have kept the victim in sight, contracts
its circle, and drives him in towards the
shrine. In long files before the temple court
stand the Rajah's archers ; between them,
starting and flinging up his head, moves on
the untamed steed, and the multitude closes
up the rear ; while in front the white-robed
Brahmins stand with the axe prepared with
which Kehama is to complete the sacrifice.

Within the temple, on his golden couch,,
with the attendants fanning him with peacock
plumes, lies the great Rajah, watching the
perfumed light that measures out the hours
as they pass. And now the time is come ;
the sun is at its height in the heavens ; he
rises from his couch and takes the axe in his
hand, ready to strike the victim.

That instant with a loud cry sprang a man
from out the crowd. A thousand archers
loosed their bows, as they stood with their
arrows at rest ; not a shaft missed its aim.


But it was in vain that they fell upon him,
thick as a storm of hail. Kehama clasped his
hands in agony as he saw the daring wretch
grasp the horse's mane, spring with a sudden
bound upon its back, and gallop furiously
round and round.

They seized him ; they dragged him to the
Rajah's feet. What tortures are in store for
him ? What new punishment will the baffled
tyrant invent ? The multitude, standing silent,
but with hatred and curses in their hearts,
tremble to think. But the man himself is
calm as death. There was even a ghastly
smile upon his lips, and a dreadful hope in
his eye. " Yes, Rajah," he cried, " it is I !
Wilt thou kill me now ? "

Kehama's face fell when he saw Ladurlad.
" That wretch again ! " he cried ; and he struck
his forehead, and stood awhile in silent rage.
Then with a bitter smile he said : " Let him
go ; he has the curse ; he can suffer nothing
more. But ye," and he turned in fury to the
archers, " ye who did not stop him, tremble ye."

Then he commanded the archers to pile
their arms, and calling his horsemen, bade


them hem in the offenders, and slay till not
a man was left alive.

; Once more 'Ladurlad, left to go whither he
would, wandered away ; and this time his "feet
carried him unwittingly to his own home. He
found it deserted and desolate. As he sat
and thought of his unhappy lot, and the child
whom he had left and lost, he heard a sound
of mocking laughter that seemed to come from
the air, and looking up he saw the face of the
dead Arvalan. Only the face it was, without
a body, and the eyes shone with a lurid light
as of sulphur. Well Ladurlad knew that
hateful countenance, and seizing from the
ground a blackened stake it was the very
stake with which he had slain him, and the
dead man's blood was still upon it he tried
once and again to strike the spectre. Again
the face laughed in scorn ; then there seemed
to come forth a hand, which caught the sun-
beams, and turned its heat and light condensed
upon Ladurlad. It was a useless cruelty !
The stake fell from his hand, burned to white
ashes, but the man felt no new pain. Kehama's
curse had charmed 'him from such suffering,






so fierce was the fire already in his heart and

Then the spectre put out another hand, and
a whirlwind came down from the sky, and
scooping up the sand like smoke, sent down
the burning shower upon Ladurlad's head.
Whichever way he turned, the accursed hand
waved to guide the burning storm.

But help was at hand. Ereenia, his heavenly
sword in hand/hastened down from the height.
Thrice he drove it through the spectre, till the
foul creature fled, howling with pain. Then
he called the ship of heaven. Obedient to his
word it came, and Kailyal in it ; and there by
the daughter's side he laid the father, still dizzy
with the storm of burning sand.

Swift through the air the ship bore that
happy company, Ladurlad, and Kailyal, and
the Glendoveer, and carried them to the place
where the persecuted father and child were to
rest till the struggle between Kehama and the
gods should be finished. There was some time
of respite, for the final sacrifice had to be begun
again from the beginning ; and till this should
be done, earth and heaven alike had peace.


One evening during this happy period the
Glendoveer was displaying to Kailyal, as she
sat by the spring of the holy river, his power
of flight, spreading his dark-blue wings, and
now gliding over the surface of the lake, now
rising into the air, now diving into the depths
of the water. Camdeo, the boy-god of Love,
came by, riding on his parrot, having in his
hand the bow of sugar-cane, the string of which
is made of flowers, and the arrows are tipped
with poison. He aimed a shaft at the Glen-
doveer, and struck him full on the breast, but
the arrow dropped without harming him.

" Go! "cried the Glendoveer, "aim at idler
hearts. My love for the maid is deeper than
comes from thy arrows."

Meanwhile the god had aimed a second arrow
at Kailyal ; but before he could let it fly, the
string broke in his hand.

" See ! " cried the Glendoveer, again, " thou
hast no power for mischief here."

So the days of rest passed by.



THE time came all too soon when Kehama's
sacrifice was duly completed, and the Almighty
Rajah became Lord of the Paradise of Swerga.
Casyapa and the other gods retreated to the
second sphere, and Ladurlad and his daughter
were compelled to return to the earth. For
some time they lived unmolested, choosing for
their home an ancient banyan-tree, whose fifty
trunks, self-planted in the ground, made a wel-
come shade both from sun and storm. At last
some ill-chance brought to the place a band
of the devotees of Juggernaut, who, seeing the
wonderful beauty of Kailyal, seized her, and
carried her off to be the bride of their god.

There, in the temple, on the feast day when
the great car is dragged by the frantic crowds,


Arvalan, who had summoned to his aid a power-
ful sorceress named Lorrinite, would have seized
her. The Glendoveer, indeed, hearing her cry
for help, appeared on the instant, and catching
the foul creature raised him to the temple, and
dashed him howling to the floor. But when
the earth was in Kehama's power, it was not
the time for good spirits to prevail, and Lorri-
nite summoned a host of demons to her help,
and commanded them to seize and bind him.
In vain did he ply his sword of heavenly
temper ; their numbers overpowered him, and
now there were no gods to help.

"Carry him," cried Lorrinite the sorceress,
4 'to the ancient tombs beneath the sea. The
gods cannot help him now, and for man there
is no way thither."

So the demons carried the Glendoveer away
to the tombs.

Meanwhile the sorceress restored the shat-
tered form of Arvalan. But when he turned
again to seize the maiden Kailyal, she in her
despair caught up a torch, and set fire to the
hangings of the temple. In a moment the
whole shrine was wrapped in flames. Con-


founded with the blaze, Lorrinite and Arvalan
fled from the place ; but, when Kailyal was
about to throw herself into the fire, Ladurlad r
plunging unharmed through the flames, caught
her in his arms, and carried her safely away.
And so again the power of the curse preserved
the innocent, whom it had been intended to

" Ereenia ! " cried Kailyal, when she began
to breathe again.

" My child," said Ladurlad, " do not reproach
him. Evil now rules the world, and no good
spirit can venture here."

" Nay," answered Kailyal, " but he did ven-
ture, and the demons beat him down, and carried
him off to the tombs beneath the sea. So said
their hideous mistress, and she boasted that
there are now no gods to help, and that there
is no way for man to that place."

" See again," said Ladurlad, " how short-
sighted is wickedness ! Truly there is no way
for man to the tombs beneath the sea, for the
waves surround and cover them ; but I am not
as other men."

" Let us go," cried Kailyal, " to set him free."


For many days they journeyed, and as they
went Ladurlad told his daughter the story of
Baly, the great Rajah how he had conquered
the earth and seized the heavens ; and how
he fell. The story was this :

When the conqueror had seated himself on
the throne of the Svverga, Veshnoo came and
stood before him in the shape of a dwarfish
Brahmin. " Give me, great Rajah," said the
god, " three steps, and no more, of thy great
kingdom ; " and Baly, who never refused a
suppliant's prayer, answered : " Take thy boon,
and measure it where thou wilt." Then Vesh-
noo with one step measured the earth, and with
a second measured the heavens. " Where shall
I take the third ?" said the god; and the Rajah
knew him, and prostrating himself before him,
begged for pardon. And pardon was granted
him. He was cast down indeed to Padalon,
the abode of the dead ; but, because he had
always loved the right, and done justice, he was
permitted to sit at the steps of the throne of
Yamen Yamen who is the Lord of Padalon
and there to judge the dead ; and it was also
granted him that once in the year he should


ascend to the upper air, and hear his name still
honoured by mankind, and rejoice in the fame
of his good deeds.

At last they came in their journey to where
the towers of Daly's city rose up in the sea.
Still splendid with gold, they shone out of the
dark-blue waves; but the city itself was covered
with the waters.

" Wait here for me," said Ladurlad ; " this is,
a vast region which I must explore, and my
search cannot be finished in one or two days.
These caverns in the rock will shelter you, and

the sea will cast up day by day food for you to


The sea closed above Ladurlad's head and
arched him over, as he walked with steady step
down the sloping shore, till he came to the
gates of the ancient city. Wide open they
stood, as they had been left on the day when
the people had fled from the rising sea. Through
solitary streets and squares he made his way,
till he came to the palace itself, in which the
great Rajah had held his court. Before the
palace door stood a great image, with crown
and sceptre laid at its feet, and in one hand


* = .

a scroll, to which the other hand pointed. On
this scroll were written these words : My name
is Death; in mercy the Gods appointed me.
Beneath the image were two brazen gates wide
open, and between the gates a staircase hewn
in the living stone, which led to the ancient
tombs. This hall of death was a low-roofed
chamber, wide and long ; and on either side,
each in his own alcove, each on his own throne,
each holding his sceptre, sat the kings of old.
So well had the embalmers done their work,
that every corpse had still the look of life ; but
the royal robes with which they had been once
arrayed had mouldered into nothingness, and
they sat naked upon their thrones, statues of
actual flesh, staring before them with fixed and
meaningless eyes.

At the further end of the chamber, in the
place where the great Rajah himself would
have sat, had he not been exempted from the
common lot of men, Ereenia lay, bound with
strong fetters to the rock. Before him lay
crouched a monster of the deep which the
sorcerers had set there to keep guard over
him; a hideous shape, of which the upper


part was human, only that the skin was com-
pact with scale on scale, and that the mouth,
reaching from ear to ear, showed a triple row
of teeth, with tusks on either side. The lower
part was a double snake, winding in heavy coils.

With red and kindling eye the monster saw
a living man approach, and rose in fury with
half-open mouth to seize its prey. Then
springing forward, flung its scaly arms about
Ladurlad's heels, and sought to suck the life-
blood from his veins. And, indeed, but for the
curse the creature would have rent him to
pieces as easily as a child crops a flower in
the meadows ; but again the evil was turned
to good, and the man stood fearless and

Then Ladurlad addressed himself to the con-
flict, and seized with bo'th hands the monster's
throat. In vain he pressed with a throttling
grasp those impenetrable scales ; and in vain;
on the other hand, the beast wreathed round
his adversary his snaky , folds. The tiger's
strength, the mail of the rhinoceros, had availed
nothing against that strength,: but the- man-,
protected by the curse, felt nothing.


Meanwhile the Glendoveer, raising himself
from his bed of stone, strove again with
desperate effort to pluck away his fetters. It
was in vain even his heavenly sinews failed
in the effort, so mightily had the chain been
strengthened by Lorrinite's deadly arts.

For six days and six nights the monster
and the man struggled together ; but on the
seventh, worn out by this strange struggle
with a strength that had been charmed against
all weariness, the Guardian of the Tombs
began to give way. Sleep and fatigue over-
powered him ; at last he sought to fly, but
Ladurlad followed him with unceasing hos-
tility till he lay at last lifeless underneath his

" The work is done ! " he cried, " but another
labour yet remains." And he eyed the fetters
that bound the Glendoveer. Then, looking
round, he spied in a seat above, the scymitar
wieldec} of old by the King whose lifeless
form there sat enthroned. The brightness of
its blade was dim with time ; but the spells
with which it had been welded had not lost
their power, and its temper was as keen as


ever. Once again he struck, but to little
purpose, for the water deadened the descend-
ing blow. Then Ladurlad dealt a further
stroke the baser metal yielded to the blow,
and the Glendoveer stood again free.

In the meanwhile Kailyal had waited for
her father ; six days and nights she waited,
and her hopes grew fainter and fainter as he
delayed his return. The night of the seventh
day chanced to be that on which, year by year,
Baly, the judge of the dead, walks forth on
earth to hear his praises from the lips of men.
And as he wandered on his way, he saw the
maiden stand weeping by the shore and look-
ing anxiously over the sea. He was about to
issue forth from his invisibility to find out the
cause of her trouble, when he espied in the air
beside her the two evil powers that were in
alliance to harm her, the witch Lorrinite and
Arvalan. He spied them, but him they could
not see, as they watched their prey.

And now she saw floating towards the shore
the lifeless form of the monster which Ladurlad
had destroyed. The waves left their hideous
burden at her feet, and when she saw that it



was indeed dead, she was assured that her
father was indeed victorious.

"Come, my father; come, Ereenia," she cried,
and stretched out her hands to the sea ; and as
she spoke the two rose from the deep, and the
daughter threw herself into her father's arms.
But as she turned from him to greet the Glen-
doveer, the hideous form of Arvalan burst upon
her sight, and with Arvalan was Lorrinite and
a host of the demons which attended her. Vain
was all resistance ; they seized Ladurlad and
Ereenia and the maiden, when the voice which
all the guilty dread was heard through the air :
" Hold your accursed hands," it cried ; and the
same instant Baly was seen putting forth on
every side his hundred arms. The sorceress
and her ministers and the dead Arvalan he
seized. He did not tarry for an instant ,to
meet the Almighty Rajah, but stamped his
feet upon the earth, which opened wide and
gave him way to his own judgment-seat.

Kehama saw it from the height of the
Swerga, and came flying down swift as a
thunderbolt. Fiercely he smote the ground,
and cleft it asunder, and hurled his fiery spear


into the abyss. He hurled it, but it came back
to him, driven with equal force ; and with it
came a voice : " Not yet, O Rajah, hast thou
won the realm of death. The earth and the
heaven are thine ; but so long as Yamen holds
the throne of hell, thy son shall lie in torments

" Let him lie," cried the Rajah, " but,
Yamen, hear me ; prepare the cup of im-
mortality against the day when I shall put
my feet upon thy neck."

Then he turned to Ladurlad.

"Ladurlad," he said, " you and I have done
alike the work of fate, not knowing what we
did. But now that my power over heaven
and earth is established, our enmity is ended.
I take away the curse."

And at the instant the fire departed from
Ladurlad's heart and brain.

" Maiden," cried the Rajah, turning to
Kailyal, "fairer and better and destined to
higher things than all the daughters of earth,
listen to me. Fate has chosen thee to be
Kehama's bride. I see that decree written
on your forehead. You and I, alone of all


human kind, are destined to drink the Amreeta
cup of immortality. Come, then, ascend my
throne, and share my kingdom with me."

"It cannot be," cried Kailyal ; " my heart
and conscience rebel against such a lot, whether
fate will it or no."

Kehama's brow grew dark with anger.
Still, suppressing his wrath, he said to Ladur-
lad : " Counsel your daughter ; bid her bow
to the kindly decrees of fate ; and tell her
that the curse must burn till she obeys."

" Rajah," said the dauntless man, "she needs
no counsel of mine. And now listen to me.
Though all else in heaven and earth bow to
thee, yet man's will is free. So the gods
ordered it for man, and so it is. Do your
worst ! "

" Obstinate fools ! " cried Kehama, in his
rage ; " in vain do you resist my will and the
will of fate. But till we meet again, suffer
your deserts."

And he cursed them, and vanished through
the sky.



EVEN as the Rajah departed, Ladurlad felt the
curse return with double force. This he
could have borne in silence, but he groaned
with pain when, looking at his child, he saw
her beauty all disfigured and marred with lep-
rosy. But Kailyal's heart never failed her for
a moment.

" Ha, Rajah ! " she cried, with a disdainful
smile, " wise and wicked as thou art, thy ven-
geance is blind, and acts a friendly part. This
deformity is better than thy suit ; nay, safe
in this, I can walk fearless through the world."

And as she spoke she lifted her face proudly
to the heavens. But then she turned it again
to the earth, and there was a tear in her eye
the tears of a woman's regret for her lost


beauty ; and for a moment, it may be, she
thought in her heart, ''This is a loathsome
sight to man; will it be so also to him, to
Ereenia, the immortal?" "Not so," she said
to herself again; "the powers above behold

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Online LibraryAlfred John ChurchStories of the magicians; Thalaba and the magicians of the Domdaniel, Rustem and the genii, Kehama and his sorceries → online text (page 12 of 13)