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AND he lay all night, tossing on his bed of leaves . and in the morning, he arose before the sun, and stood sadly, plunged in meditation, like a crane, on the edge of the pool. And he never noticed how the chétí came towards him, till he looked up, and saw her standing beside him, with a red Palásha flower in her hand. Then she said: O King, my mistress sends her lord, by these unworthy hands, a flower, and if his sleep has been sound, it is well with her.

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Then the King said: Dear chétí, sleep, like a jealous rival, has taken offence at thy frequent visits to me, and will not come near me. And she said, with a smile: O King, let her not be angry, for soon will my visits cease. Then the King cried out: Ah! say not so: thou hast uttered the very secret of my heart. For I must ere long celebrate this hateful marriage with thy mistress, for to keep her waiting any longer would not be polite. And then, alas! what will become of me and thee? Thy visits will cease, and if thy mistress should suspect me, she might put thee to death. Then the chétí said: Nay, not so: for my mistress wishes well, both to thee and to me. And I fear, lest when thou knowest her, it may turn out wholly otherwise; and thou wilt rather forget the chétí for the mistress. Then the King exclaimed: Be the sun my witness, that I will not. Rather will I send her back to her father. Let him do what he will: let him take my kingdom, and add it to his own: I care not, so that he only leave me this wood and its pool, and thee for its visitor in the morning. And she looked at him with a smile: and said: O King, these are but idle words. And well do I know, that thou wilt never send her back. Then the King said: Chétí, I will.

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[paragraph continues] Then she said: Nay, that were to deceive her, and break thy own word. And deception is base, but fidelity is good. Moreover, she is a deposit y in thy hands. And know, that once there was a merchant, who possessed a great pearl, such that the hand could hardly grasp it: and it resembled a mass of sea-foam, collected into a ball in the light of the moon on an ocean shell, under the constellation Swáti. And it was famous throughout the kingdom. Then having to go on a journey, he went to a brother merchant, and gave it to him, saying: This is a deposit with thee, till I return. So he said: Very well: go without fear. And the merchant departed. But the other buried the pearl in the ground. Then the King came to him and said: Give me the pearl which was deposited with thee, and I will enrich thee: if not, I will take it by force. Then the merchant said: What wilt thou take, to wait for a week: for I love to look at it? The King said: For one crore z, I will wait for one week. So the merchant gave him a crore. Then after a week, the King came

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again, and said: Give me now the pearl. And the merchant bought from him the delay of another week for another crore. And so he did, till after a while his wealth was exhausted, and he was a beggar. Then the King said: Give me now the pearl. Then the merchant said: King, I have a daughter, fairer by far than all thy queens. Take her, and sell me, for her, another week. So the King did. And then he came again: and said: Give me now the pearl. Then the merchant said: Take my life, and sell me for it yet another week; and when that is ended, take the pearl, and promise to put me to death. So the King said: Very well. Then after three days, the owner of the pearl returned. And he came and asked for his pearl: and the other gave it to him, and said: Thou art returned in good time: here is thy deposit; and all is well. And then he went to the King, and said: O King, the owner of the pearl has returned: and I have restored to him his own: and here I am. Then said the King: Thou art the pearl for whom I have been waiting. And now thou shalt marry my daughter, and recover thy own, as pure as when I took her; for she was thy deposit in my hands: and my kingdom and all my affairs shall be in thine.

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Then she laid the flower at the King's feet, and went away. But the King stood and watched her as she went, till she passed out of his sight. And then he stooped and took up the flower. And he said: O flower of the Dhák, thou art a deposit in my hands. How shall I do without her? or how retain her and my honour, for they are incompatible? And he went back to the temple with the flower in his hand, striving to discover some way of escape from the dilemma, but in vain.


58:y This idea of a 'deposit' constantly recurs in Hindoo poetry.

58:z About a million sterling, when the rupee was equal to a florin.

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