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Exactly as you say; and wonder at
The promptness of your skill; fain would I learn
The art by which such things as these are known.'
And as they hastened on the King replied,
'I have the secret of the dice, and know
The rules of calculation.' Nala said,
'Communicate to me this lore of yours,
And you shall learn the secrets that I know
In horsemanship:' whereon the King returned,
'I give you all my secrets of the dice;
It stands with you to make me fair requital,
By teaching me the secret you employ.'
So Nala knew the secret of the dice;
And Cali, vomiting the serpent's poison,
Came out of him; and Nala, King of men,
Had cursed him, but he made away in fear,
Entering a tree; and ever from that time
Men give the tree an evil name. Then, after,
The King went on his way, and set his face
Towards the country of the Fearful King.
That evening it was told the Fearful King
That Rituparna, puissant Prince, was come;
Who, upon invitation of the King,
Entered the city; and his chariot wheels
Shook the whole region to its utmost corners.
And Nala's horses that were in the stall
Heard the wild noise and rattle of the chariot,
And knew that it was Nala, and were glad.
And Damayanti heard the chariot rattle,
As it had groaned when drawn by Nala's horses,
That her heart beat to hear the noisy wheels,
And she went up into a tower, in hopes
Of seeing Nala, and beheld the chariot
In the palace-court, and in it Rituparna,
Puissant Prince, Varshneya, and Vahuca;
Then these two first dismounted and took off
The horses; then dismounted Rituparna,
And greeted Bhima, called the Fearful King,
Who welcomed him with all due courtesy,
Not knowing of the hastily-devised
Intrigue of Damayanti and the Queen.
And Rituparna, true, puissant King,
Saw neither king nor prince around, so said,
'I come to pay my homage to my lord.' And Bhima smiled, but thought in his own mind, 'It is not this that brings him;' then commanded To bring refreshment; after, said to him, 'You must be weary-you have need of rest.' Pleased at the friendly welcome, Rituparna Was then conducted to his own apartments. VOL. LXIX. NO. CCCCIX.
But Nala took the chariot to the stall,
And after tending well his horses, mounted
Into the chariot and sat there alone.
And Damayanti, marking what took place,
Said, 'Surely 'twas the noise of Nala's chariot,
And yet I see not Nala; it must be
Varshneya learnt to drive so furiously
From Nala; so that I deceived myself
In thinking it the noise of Nala's chariot;
Or Rituparna is a man like Nala,
So that his chariot makes so huge a noise.'
Thus did fair Damayanti make conjecture,
And bade her waiting-maiden make inquiry.
She chose the fair-haired Kecini, and said,
Inquire now who that chariot-driver is-
Dwarf-armed, deformed in stature—in the chariot,
And greet him, and accost him courteously,
And find out all the truth, my blameless maid:
Then introduce the message you remember
Was brought me lately by the holy man,
And tell me what he says, my fair-haired maid.
The blameless little maiden went, and said—
While Damayanti watched from her high tower--
'I bring you greeting, sir, and kindly welcome.
My Princess Damayanti bids me ask,
When you set out-what motive brought you here?
Speak, pray you; Damayanti waits to hear.'
Then Vahuca made answer-'
-'When my lord
Heard Damayanti thought to wed again,
And that to-morrow she should make her choice,
He bid me harness horses like the wind,
And drive him: full a hundred miles we come.'
Then Kecini asked further, And that other—
Who is he? and, I pray you, tell me, how
Came you to drive the chariot of the King?
And Nala said, 'Sweet maid, that other was
The charioteer of Nala; when the prince
Had disappeared, he entered into service.
With Rituparna, whom I also serve
As charioteer, being likewise his chief cook:'
Then Kecini asked further, 'Does Varshneya Know ought of Nala? and yourself-how came you To hear the story of the prince?'
"Varshneya brought the prince's children hither, And went his way, and heard no more of Nala.' The blameless little maiden spoke, and said,
'The holy man that lately went to Oude
Received commandment from the Queen, my mistress,
In every place he came to, to repeat,
“Where art thou, gamester, that with half my garment
Didst leave me sleeping in the lonely wood?
Didst leave, sweet lover, thy beloved there?
She sits-as duty bids her sits and waits,
In that rent garment, longing after thee.
Be therefore merciful, and answer her,
Compassionate her sorrow and her tears!"
If it was you that gave an answer back,
Pray you repeat to me the words again-
The daughter of the Fearful King desires it.'
Then a huge sorrow smote the heart of Nala
At hearing that, and filled his eyes with tears,
Checking the sorrow that burned inwardly,
His voice half choked with tears, he said again,
'Left by her lord a virtuous wife frets not-
Safe under shield and shelter of her virtue.
Forsaken by some poor, misfated fool
Of broken fortunes, shall she therefore fret?
Nay, were it well or were it ill with her,
She should not darkly brood, that when misfortune
So wholly overtook her lord, he left her.'
And Nala, for the sorrow that lay on him,
No longer could contain himself, but wept.
And back to Damayanti went the maid,
And told her all, and how the man had wept.
And Damayanti, heavy at her heart
For doubt if it were Nala, said again,
'Go, blameless little maid, and watch the man,
Holding your peace, and spy out what he does.
But show him no prevenience, nor give
Him fire nor water, though he ask for it;
But prove yourself discreet, and any token,
Godlike or human, that you mark in him,
Be it what it may be, report to me.'
The blameless little maid went off and watched
The man, and thus reported what she saw :—
'A man so wholly godlike in his ways
I never saw nor heard of, Damayanti.
And when he comes to portal or to entrance
Too low for him, he never bows his head;
But, lo! the entrance largens to his will.
My lord the King had sent to Rituparna,
Had wrought, had confidence it must be he,
And deemed her hoping realized; whereon
She said, in winning way, 'Sweet Kecini,
Go back, and steal the food that is prepared,
Out of the kitchen, and then come to me.',
The blameless little maiden went and did
As Damayanti bade her, and returned ;
And Damayanti tasted it, and knew
That Nala had prepared it, and she wept ;
Then, after eating, washed her mouth, and bade
The maiden take her children to the man :
And Nala knew his children, and embraced
And held them to his heart, and wept for joy;
Then gave the children back to Kecini,
And said, 'Because the children are so like
My own two children, therefore have I wept.
But we are strangers in the land, and guests;
Go therefore, blameless little maid, lest haply
The people, seeing you so much with me,
Should entertain suspicion of
And Kecini brought word to Damayanti
Of the emotion of the pious man ;
And Damayanti, sorrow sick, and longing
To see her Nala, sent the maid again
With message to her mother, thus:-
Good reason-having marked the man-to think
This charioteer none other than my Nala:
Only his stature makes me doubt; and now,
I I pray you, let the man be brought to you,
Or give me leave to have him brought to me,
With or without the knowledge of my father.'
Consenting to her daughter's prayer, the Queen
Craved from the King permission—which he gave :
So Damayanti, having got consent,
Received him in her chambers, having on
A garb of mourning, with her hair disordered
About her shoulders, and her face not washen ;
And thus she spoke to Vahuca, and said,
'Who, that knew right from wrong, ere left a woman
Asleep, alone, forsaken in a wood?
Sure, none but Nala ever yet forsook
The true wife that he loved asleep for sorrow.
Where is the promise that you made me, when
You held my hand above the sacred fire,
In presence of the gods, and vowed to love
Lo! as she spoke her eyes Were filled with tears; and Nala answering, said, 'It is not meet to blame me that I lost
My kingdom-Cali was the cause of that—
As also that I left you in the wood.
But when did woman leave the man that loved"
And wholly worshipped her, and choose another
To wed-as you have done? In all the land
Is heralded, "The daughter of King Bhima
Will choose a man to wed!""
With meekly-folded hands stood trembling there,
And said to Nala, 'How can you suspect
My virtue-who preferred you to the gods?
In quest of you have holy men been sent
To the ten corners of the earth; and one
Found you in Rituparna's palace; he
Brought me the answer that you gave my message,
And I conceived this plan to bring you here-
Knowing that no one in the world but you
Could drive this distance in a single day.
In token that I never thought to act
Untruly to my lord, I touch your feet.'
And Nala after that put on the robe
The serpent gave him, that no dust could stain,
And took again his body as before.
And Damayanti gave a shout of joy,
To see her husband in his proper shape,
And long embraced him; and he kissed his true
Wife, and his children, and caressed them fondly.
And lovely Damayanti pressed his face
Against her bosom, sighing for sweet sorrow.
So they two spent a happy night together,
Relating their adventures in the wood ;
And in the palace of the Fearful King
They bode, each wholly joying in the other.
Nala and the daughter of the Fearful King
Slept that night side by side; and with the morn
He paid his duty to the Fearful King,
Who welcomed and received him as his son,
And gladly did him honour; and that day
Were heard in all the city sounds of joy
And gladness, that King Nala had returned.
Then Rituparna heard how Vahuca
Had been none other than King Nala, and how
He was again restored to Damayanti,
And wished him joy that he had found his wife,
And said, 'If, wittingly or unwittingly,
I wronged you or offended you in ought,
During the time you lived disguised with me,
I pray you to forgive me in that thing.'
And Nala said, 'I never have received
Cause of offence from you; and if I had