THEN all night long, he tossed on his bed of leaves, and in the morning he arose very early, long before the sun, and went out upon the steps, and stood waiting. And he looked up, and saw in the air high above him a row of swans, flying swiftly to the north, with bodies that gleamed ruddy in the beams of the day-star still hidden behind the eastern mountain. And then at last the sun rose, and at that moment he looked, and
saw the chétí once more coming rapidly towards him. And she seemed in his eyes like an incarnation of the dew of the morning, and like an emblem of the love that was rising from its ashes in his own heart, embodied in a feminine form. And she carried in her hand a champak flower; and she came up to the King, perfuming the air, and said: O King, my mistress sends her lord, by these unworthy hands, a flower, and if he has enjoyed good repose, it is well with her.
Then the King said: Dear chétí, how can he enjoy repose, whose friends desert him? And she said: O King, if his friends abandon him, the fault is his own, who had not discrimination sufficient to discern the false from the true. And the King sighed. And he said: Alas! it is hard to tell. And they are few who in this world of illusion can detect and distinguish between the good and the bad. For baseness assumes innumerable disguises, and can present itself even under a form like thine. Then she said with a smile: O King, be not too sure in my case. And the King said: I am sure of nothing, but this: that life is worthless when love is gone. And she said: That cannot go, which was never present, and love cannot have left thee, which thou hast never known. And the King said
in astonishment: And dost thou know anything of love, that art but a child? Then she looked at him awhile in silence. And then she said: O King, this is a matter neither of youth nor age, but of inheritance and recollection. For as a rule, men learn only by experience, and get it only when their hair is grey. But there are some, whose memories are very strong, and they carry with them knowledge that never leaves them, from one birth to the next; and are wise, by reason of the influences l that come down to them out of the oblivion of the past. And of these, know that I am one. And what though I am, as thou sayest, but a child: yet in such a case as this, a child may be wiser than a king: and it may be, that I am wiser even than thou art. For I worshipped in a former birth the God of the flowery-bow, and learned from his favour secrets, which have bequeathed to me impressions even in this birth. And now I will tell thee a little of what thou dost not know. Love is a triple cord m. And when all
three strands are firmly bound together, then nothing can break or end it, not even death. But if either of the three be taken by itself, then it snaps under the pressure of the circumstances and trials of life. And thus it was with thee. In thy case, the three were not combined: and thy love was a unison and not a harmony. And the King said: And what, then, are the three? Then she said: Three kinds of love must meet together, to make up that which is perfect and complete: that of the body, and that of the intellect, and that of the soul. And thus it can exist, only between a woman and a man. For each sex cares only for the beauty of the other, and is unconscious of its own: and unless there is a difference of sex, there is no bodily attraction, and thus one element is wanting. And she, that is to retain her lover's love for ever, must possess, first, a body without a flaw, or his senses will stray from her to other bodies; for it is their nature to seek their proper object: and secondly, intelligence, or his esteem will depart elsewhere: and thirdly, goodness, or his soul will abandon her, in the search for that without which
it cannot do, and without which, the other two component parts are worthless, except for a time. And as it is with the woman, so is it for the man, with this difference, that their bodies and their intelligences and their souls are totally unlike. For that which is virtue in a woman, may be its opposite in a man, and his weakness may be her strength, and even her ornament. But thou wert foolish, in not wisely choosing the proper object of thy love. For doubtless she was beautiful, but that was all: and now it was surely a good for thee, and no harm, that she betrayed thee when she did. For though thou didst receive at the moment a wound sharper than a sword; yet time, and it may be, circumstance, will heal it: and certainly time would have shown thee in her case, that elements were wanting to the perfection of thy love, and it would not have endured. And now thou art free, and punished for thy error, and wiser: and it befits thee rather to rejoice than mourn. For who knows what awaits him in the future? and who can expect to achieve the highest good n who does not know what it is like? And thou wilt find, no doubt, the perfect trinity of love with my mistress, for I would hope that she is worthy of thee.
And as she spoke, the King stood spell-bound. But as she ended, he started and exclaimed: Away! speak not of thy mistress, for she is a matter of policy and statecraft: tell me only of thyself: for surely thou art furnished with cords o strong enough to make the love of thee immortal, and bind thy lover to thee with a knot that will never break. But the chétí put her finger on her lip. And she shook her pretty head at the King, and said: Hush! speak not thus to me, or I shall not come again. And she looked at him with a smile, and laid the flower at his feet, and turned and went away. But just before she disappeared, she turned round, and looked at the King, and then she entered the trees and vanished from his eyes.
And the King stooped and picked up the flower, and put it to his lips. And he sighed, and said: Champak, thy odour is like the very essence of the fragrance of love, and well is it suited to the words of this irresistible maiden, who resembles that self-same essence incarnated by the will of the Creator, in a wholly different, yet equally delicious form. And he went back to the temple with the flower in his hand, buried in meditation on the words of
[paragraph continues] Madhupamanjarí and utterly oblivious of all else. For her beauty, like a cunning painter effacing one picture to make room for another, had obliterated every stain left by gloomy recollections on the surface of his soul.
31:l Nothing is more universally distributed throughout Hindoo literature than this idea of the overpowering influences of transmitted reminiscences and consequences from previous births. It is only a profound truth in a mythological form.
31:m There is a play on words here which cannot be translated, p. 32 for guna means not only a cord or string, but also a moral quality or virtue: and yet again, a power or multiple.
33:n purushárta--' the goal of man.'
34:o Here again cords = virtues.