Hindoo Tales Or, the Adventures of Ten Princes online

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tie his hands behind him that he may not get away again?"

As she said this, I called out: "O old woman, who ever bound a god or
the wind, Shall these crows catch an eagle?" and started off at full
speed. She, renewing her entreaties, begged them to pursue me; but
they only laughed at her, and said: "Do you think we have nothing to
do but to run after madmen? You must be as mad as he is to have taken
him out;" and so they went on their way.

I stopped when I found I was not pursued. She soon overtook me, and
we went to my house, to the great joy of my wife, who had scarcely
hoped for my deliverance.

In the morning I saw Dhanamittra, told him all that had happened, and
thanked him for following my directions so punctually.

After this I went to the forest, to see Mâríchi. I found him restored
to his former condition, and able to give me the desired information.
From him I learnt that you would be here about this time.

In the morning after my escape, Sinhaghosha informed the king of what
had happened, and how Kantaka had been killed when about to enter the
princess's apartments. Being found to be innocent of the crime of
which he was accused, he was appointed governor of the prison in
Kantaka's place.

Before the underground passage was filled up, he permitted me to pass
through it more than once to the princess, who was favourably disposed
towards me through the picture and verse, and still more by all that
Sringâlika had said in my favour.

No great search was made after me, and by keeping quiet and going out
only at night I escaped further arrest.

You know how Chandavarma besieged Champa, and how Sinhavarma was
defeated and taken prisoner. When I heard this, and how the conqueror
intended to force the princess to marry him, I went to Dhanamittra and
said: "Do you go about among the ministers and officers of the
imprisoned king and the principal citizens, and tell them to be ready
to attack the enemy as soon as they hear of the death of Chandavarma.
I will engage to kill him to-morrow."

How Dhanamittra has performed his part you have just seen. As to
myself, I put on a dress suitable for the occasion, and, as many
persons were going in and out of the palace, managed to slip in
unobserved and get very near the intending bridegroom. Suddenly
stretching out my arm as he was about to take the hand of the
princess, I gave him a mortal wound with a sword; then saying a few
hasty words of encouragement to her, I defended myself against those
who endeavoured to seize me, till I heard your welcome voice, deep as
the sound of thunder, and had the happiness of embracing you.

Râjavâhana, having heard this story, said "You have indeed shown
wonderful ingenuity and courage;" then he turned to Upahâravarma, and
said: "It is now your turn;" and he, having made due salutation, thus
began: -

* * * * *


While wandering about like the others, I cams one day into the country
of Videha. Before entering into Mithila, the capital, I stopped to
rest at a small temple, and found there an old woman, who gave me
water for my feet.

Observing that she looked at me very hard, and that tears came into
her eyes, I asked her: "O, mother, what is the cause of your grief?"

"You bring to my mind," she answered, the remembrance of my lost
foster-child, who, if he lives, is just about your age. But I will
tell you how he was lost.

"Prahâravarma was formerly king of this country. His queen was a very
dear friend of Vasumati; wife of Râjahansa, King of Magadha, and he
went with her and his twin sons to visit that king. How he was
conquered and driven from his dominions by the King of Mâlwa you have
doubtless heard. It was shortly before that invasion that the visit
was made. In the battle which was fought, Prahâravarma assisted his
friend, and was taken prisoner, but was subsequently liberated.

"When returning to his own kingdom, he heard that a rebellion had
broken out, headed by his brother's son, Vikatavarma. He therefore
turned aside through a forest road, in the direction of Suhma, hoping
to obtain assistance from his sister's son, the king of that country.
On the march, he was attacked and plundered by Bheels; and I, having
charge of one of his children, was separated from the party, and left
behind in the forest.

"There I was attacked, by a tiger, and dropped the child. The tiger
was killed by an arrow; but I fainted away, and when I recovered, the
child was gone, taken away, I suppose, by the Bheels. Having been
found and taken care of by a compassionate cowherd, I stayed at his
cottage till my wounds were healed.

"Longing to get back to my friends, and to hear some tidings of my
mistress, I was surprised one day by the appearance of my daughter,
who had been, with me, in charge of the other child.

"After mutual congratulations and embraces, she told me her story as
follows: 'After we were parted, I was wounded by the robbers, lost
the child, and was found wandering about by one of the foresters, who
took care of me, and afterwards wished to make me his wife. I was too
much disgusted with him and his way of life to consent; and, after
many threats, he would at last have killed me, but for the opportune
arrival of a young man who happened to be passing, and rescued me from
his hands. That young man has since become my husband. We have been
searching for you, and have now happily found you.'

"I asked who the man was. He answered: 'I am a servant of the King of
Mithila, to whom I am now going.' Then we all three went to Mithila,
and told the king and queen the sad news of the loss of their

"The war was still going on, and at last the king was overcome and
imprisoned, together with his queen, by his wicked nephew.

"Since then I have been living as a mendicant. My daughter, whose
husband was killed in the war, being destitute like myself, has
entered the service of Kalpasundari, queen of the usurper. Ah! if
those princes had lived, they would have rescued their father from
such degradation."

She began then to weep and lament; but I comforted her, and said: "Do
you not remember speaking to a certain muni, and telling him of the
loss of the child? That boy was found by him. I am he, and I will
contrive some means for killing that wicked usurper, and setting my
parents free. No one can recognise me here, not even my own mother,
were she to see me; therefore I shall be able at my leisure to
consider what is best to be done."

Exceedingly delighted at hearing this, she kissed me again and again,
and said, with tears of joy: "O, darling! a glorious fortune is before
you. Now you are here, all will be well; you will soon lift up your
parents from the sea of sorrow which has engulfed them. Happy is Queen
Priyamvada in having such a son!"

Then she gave me such food as she had, and I stayed with her, and
passed the night in that temple.

As I lay awake, I turned over in my mind every plan that suggested
itself to me for the accomplishment of my purpose. Knowing how
ready-witted women are in general, and their fondness for tricks and
intrigues, it occurred to me that my foster-sister, from her position
near the queen, might be able to give me material assistance.

In the morning, after worshipping the gods, I began to question the
old woman as to her knowledge of the interior of the palace, and asked
whether she had frequent opportunities of seeing her daughter.
Scarcely had she begun to answer my questions when I saw some one
coming towards us, and she exclaimed: "O, Pushkarika, behold our
master's son; that dear child whom I so carelessly lost in the forest
was found and preserved, and is now restored to us."

Great was the daughter's delight at seeing me; and, when her agitation
had subsided, her mother said to her: "I was just beginning to tell my
dear son something of the arrangement of the palace, and the habits of
the inmates; but you can give him the required information much better
than I can."

In answer to this she told me all the arrangements of the palace, and
added: "The Queen Kalpasundari, the daughter of the sovereign of
Kumâra, is exceedingly beautiful and accomplished. She despises her
husband, who is exceedingly ugly; but though unkindly treated, and
neglected, she has hitherto been faithful to him."

Hearing this, I said to her: "Whenever you have an opportunity, dwell
on the king's licentiousness; find out, if possible, his scandalous
amours; make much of them; tell her how other women have behaved in
similar circumstances; in short, do everything to stir up her
indignation and jealousy against him; and, as soon as possible, let me
know what she says. You may help me greatly in this affair; therefore
be diligent and observant, and be as much as possible with your

Then I said to the old woman: "You must also play your part. You can
be introduced to the queen as a woman skilled in charms and
fortune-telling. When you get her to listen to you, make the most of
the opportunity, and second your daughter's endeavours."

They both promised to do their utmost. After they were gone I took a
small house, close to the wall of the royal gardens, and waited
patiently for the result.

After some days the old woman came to me, and said: "Darling, we have
done exactly as you wished. The queen has taken a great fancy to me,
is very indignant with her husband, and thinks herself greatly to be
pitied. What is now to be done?"

I then painted a portrait of myself, and said: "Show this to the
queen; she will no doubt admire it, and say: 'Is this a portrait or a
fancy picture?' Then do you answer: 'Suppose it should be a portrait
of some living person; what then?' And whatever she says in reply let
me know as soon as possible."

The next day she came to me again, and said: "When I showed your
portrait to the queen, she gazed at it a long time, and seemed lost in
admiration; then she exclaimed, 'Who can have painted this? Is it
possible that such a handsome man can exist in the world? Surely there
is no one here like this!' I answered, 'O lady, your admiration is
quite natural, such a handsome man is very rarely to be found, but
still there might be such a one; and if this should be really the
portrait of a young man, longing to see you - not only thus handsome,
but of good birth, very learned, accomplished, and good-tempered
- what would you say then?' 'What would I say? I say, that if he will
be mine, all that I can give him in return, myself, my heart, my body,
my life, will be all too little. But surely you are only deceiving me;
there never can be such a charming person as this picture represents.'

"In answer to this, I said: 'I am not deceiving you. There is really
such a person, a young prince, who is staying here in disguise; he saw
you when you were walking in the public park, at the feast of Spring,
and immediately became a mark for the arrows of Kâma. Moved by his
entreaties, and seeing how suited you are to each other, I have
ventured to take this means of making his passion known to you. If you
will but consent to see him, however difficult access to you may be,
his courage, prudence, and ingenuity are so great, that he will
certainly effect it; only say what your pleasure is.' Then, finding
her quite disposed to see you, I told her your real name and birth.
After reflecting some time, she said, 'Mother, I will not conceal from
you a circumstance which his name brings to my memory. My father was a
great friend of the deposed king, and their queens were very much
attached to each other. It was settled between them, that if the one
had a son, and the other a daughter, the two children should be
engaged for marriage; but when the Queen Priyamvada had lost her sons,
my father gave me in marriage to Vikatavarma. This young prince was
really destined to be my husband, and I ought to have had him, instead
of that ugly wretch, who is stupid, ignorant of all the arts of
pleasing, brutal, rebellious, cruel, boastful, false, and, above all,
most insulting in his behaviour to me; only yesterday he ill-treated
my favourite attendant, Pushkarika, and gathered flowers from a plant
which I had especially cherished, to give to one of his paramours, a
low vulgar woman, who is trying to put herself on an equality with me.
He is in every way unsuited to me, and my misery is so great, that I
am ready to catch at any means of escape from it. It was wretched
enough while I thought on no one else, but now that I have heard of
this charming young man, and seen his portrait, I will endure it no
longer, whatever the consequences may be. Therefore, let him come
to-morrow evening to the Madhavi bower in the garden. I am impatient
to see him; even the hearing of him has filled my heart with love.'"

When the old nurse had given me this account, I determined to risk the
adventure, and obtained from her a minute description of the garden,
the direction of the road and paths, the exact situation of the
summerhouse where I was to meet the queen, and where the guards were

Having carefully impressed all these details on my memory, I waited
impatiently for the following night, and lay down to rest. As I lay I
thought on the difficulty of the enterprise, of the sin of seducing
the wife of another, and of what Râjavâhana and my other friends would
say to such conduct. On the other hand, I seemed to be justified by
the object I had in view; the liberation of my parents.

Perplexed with these conflicting thoughts I fell asleep, and dreamed
that Vishnu appeared to me, and said: "Go on boldly, without
hesitation; what you are about to do, though it may seem sinful, is
approved of by me." Encouraged by this vision, I rose in the morning,
fully confirmed in my purpose. The tedious day came at last to an end,
and darkness set in.

When the proper time arrived, I put on a close-fitting dark dress,
girded on my sword, and set out on the dangerous enterprise.

Concealed at the edge of the ditch, I found a long bamboo, which the
old woman had procured for me. This I laid across, and so got to the
bottom of the wall. Then, cautiously raising it, I climbed to the top,
just where a large heap of bricks had been piled up inside. Using
these as steps, I got safely to the ground, and walked northward,
through an avenue of champaka trees, where, as a favourable omen, I
heard the low murmuring cry of a pair of chakravâkas. Taking an
almost opposite direction, I saw before me what appeared to be a great
building, and it was only by touching it that I found it to be a clump
of trees. Going eastward, and turning once more to the south, I passed
through some mango trees, and saw the light of a lantern shining among
the leaves. I then knew that I was right, and went straight up to the
bower, inside of which was a summer-house, with steps leading up to
it, and spread with soft twigs and flowers for a carpet. The room was
furnished with a handsome couch, a golden water-jar, trays of flowers,
fans, &c. After I had been seated a short time, I heard the tinkling
of ornaments and smelt a powerful perfume. Rising up hastily, I
slipped out, and stood concealed by the shrubs outside. Presently I
saw the lady enter; she looked about her, and not seeing me, was
evidently disappointed and distressed. I heard her say, with a sad low
voice, "Alas! I am deceived, he is not coming; O my heart, how can
this be borne? O adorable Kâma, what have I done to offend thee, that
thou thus burnest me and dost not reduce me to ashes?"

Having heard this, I made my appearance, and said: "O lovely lady, do
you ask how you have offended Kâma? You have given him great offence,
since you disparage his beloved Rati by your form, his bow by your
arched eyebrows, his arrows by your glances, his great friend, the
perfumed wind of Malaya, by your sweet breath, the notes of his
favourite bird by your voice. For all this Kâma justly torments you.
But I have done nothing to offend him; why should he so distress me?
Have pity on me, and cure the wound inflicted by the serpent of love,
with the life-giving antidote of an affectionate look."

Delighted at seeing me, she required no entreaty on my part, and
readily yielded to my embrace; and, sitting down on the couch, we
conversed as though we had been long acquainted.

At last the time for separation arrived, and I rose up to go; but she
with tears detained me, saying: "When you depart, my life seems to
follow. If you go, let me go with you."

I answered: "O my beloved, that is impossible. If you love me, be
guided by me, and we shall soon meet again, not to be parted."

This she readily promised, and I told her exactly what was to be done.
Then quitting her with reluctance, I returned safely by the way I had
come, and she went back to the palace.

The next day she showed the picture to the king, who greatly admired
it, and asked her where she had got it. She told him: "I have lately
made acquaintance with a very wonderful old woman, who has travelled
over many countries and seen many strange things; she is very skilful
in charms, and has brought me this picture, saying: 'It has very great
magical powers, and so confident am I in their efficacy that I ask for
no payment or reward until you have fully proved them.' She tells me
that if certain ceremonies are performed, and mantras which she has
taught me, are recited in a retired spot at midnight, I shall be
changed to a person exactly resembling the portrait, and shall have
the power of transferring that form to you while I regain my own
shape. I have thought it right to tell you this; but do not act
hastily: show the picture to your ministers and consult them."

The king, greatly astonished, but very desirous of obtaining such a
handsome body, asked the opinion of his counsellors and younger
brothers, and they saw no reason why the experiment should not be

The hour of midnight on the day of full moon was therefore appointed
for the ceremony, and there was much talk in the city about it.

"O the wonderful power of magic! Through the skill of the queen, the
king will obtain a new body fit for a god."

"But is there no danger?"

"How can there be danger when the ceremony is to be performed by his
own queen, in his own private gardens, where no stranger can enter?
Besides, have not the learned and clever ministers and counsellors
approved of it, and is it likely that they would be deceived?"

The city was full of such talk as this, and the people awaited with
impatience the night appointed for the working of the miracle.

When the time arrived a great heap was made in a part of the garden
where four roads met, not far from the summer-house, with large
quantities of sandal-wood, lignaloes, and other sweet-smelling woods,
camphor, silk dresses, sesamum, saffron, and various spices; and
several animals, duly slaughtered by the priests, were laid upon it;
and the fire having been lighted, every one withdrew except the king
and queen. She then said to him: "You know how faithless you have been
to me, and with this handsome body you will be a much greater
attraction to other women. I know the fickleness of your disposition.
Can you expect that I will confer on you this beauty for the sake of
my rivals?"

Then he threw himself at her feet, and said "O my darling, forgive my
transgressions. I swear by everything solemn that in future I will
keep to you only, and not even think of any other woman."

After these and many other protestations, she appeared to be
satisfied, and said: "Now withdraw to that clump of trees, and stay
there till I ring the bell; then you may come again to the fire and
see the wonderful change in me."

Meanwhile, under cover of the thick smoke arising from the burning of
all those substances, I had climbed the wall as before, and was
standing in the summer-house when the queen came in. She said:
"Everything is ready. I regard myself now as entirely yours; nothing
shall part us any more;" and, throwing her arms round my neck, she
kissed me again and again.

Saying to her, "Stay here concealed while I finish the work," I
quitted her, went to the place of sacrifice, and rang a bell hanging
on a neighbouring tree; and the sound summoned the king, like a
messenger of death.

He found me standing by the fire, throwing on it more sandal-wood,
lignaloes, and other precious things; and as he stood gazing in fear
and astonishment, and hardly believing his eyes, I said to him:
"Remember what you have promised, and now swear to me again, taking
this sacred fire as a witness, that you will renounce all other women,
and keep to me only."

He answered: "O queen, there is no deceit in me. I will do all that I
have promised," and he repeated his former oaths.

But as if not satisfied with this, I said: "I must have some other
proof of your sincerity. Tell me some of your state secrets."

Then he told me: "My father's brother, Prahâravarma, has been for a
long time in prison; with the consent of my ministers, I intend to
poison him, and give out that he has died of old age and infirmities.

"I am preparing an army, to be commanded by my brother, for the
invasion of Pundra without any declaration of war.

"There is a merchant here possessed of a diamond of immense value. I
'am contriving a plan by which I shall get it from him at a tenth of
its worth.

"There is a man of wealth and influence very displeasing to me. I have
engaged a certain person, named Satahali, the governor of the
district, to bring a false accusation against him, and by that means
to stir up the people, and so cause his death in a popular tumult,
which will take away all blame or suspicion from me."

When I had heard all these things, saying, "Die the death which your
wicked deeds deserve," I suddenly seized him by the throat, stabbed
him in a moment to the heart, and threw the body into the great fire,
where it was quickly consumed; after which I went back to the queen,
who was anxiously awaiting me. Though much agitated, she was more
relieved at having got rid of that wretch than shocked at the manner
of his death; and having quieted and consoled her without much
difficulty, I went at once with her to her apartments.

On seeing him, whom they believed to be the king, so changed, the
women and attendants who met us were evidently much astonished, but so
much had been said beforehand about the wonderful transformation to be
expected, that no one seemed to doubt that I was really the king with
a new body; and having said a few words of encouragement to them, I
was received with great respect.

The rest of the night was passed in hearing from the queen as much as
possible about the court, the ministers, &c., so that I might not
appear to be ignorant of what the king must have known, when I should
meet them on the morrow.

In the morning, after the performance of due worship of the gods, I
met the ministers in council, and they also were so convinced of the
power of magic that they did not hesitate to acknowledge me as their
master, expressing their delight at the happy change.

Then I said to them: "With this new body I have new feelings and
purposes. I repent of my cruelty to my uncle, and instead of getting
rid of him as I had intended, it is my pleasure that he shall be taken
from prison and treated with all proper respect.

"That diamond, of which I had intended to get possession, must not be
obtained by fraudulent means. If I should decide on having it, I will
pay the full price."

To the brother who had been appointed to command the army, I said:
"Dear brother, our purpose is changed with regard to that invasion.
You will only watch the frontier; and if there is any beginning of war
on the part of the Pundras, attack them vigorously; but not

I sent also for Satahali, and said: "You know that I wished to get
rid of Anantasíra, because he was suspected of being a partisan of the
deposed king. Now that I am reconciled to my uncle, there is no
occasion for anything to be done to him; you will therefore take no
further steps in that affair."

When the ministers heard all this, and perceived me to be acquainted
with secrets known only to the king and themselves, they were quite
confirmed in their first impression; and while congratulating me and
the queen, were loud in their praise of the power of magic.

My parents were immediately liberated from prison; and having been
informed by the old nurse of what had been done by me, were quite
prepared when I went to them in public; and afterwards, when we met

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