Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Arabian Nights Introduction

The stories in the Fairy Books have generally been such as old women in country places tell to their grandchildren. Nobody knows how old they are, or who told them first. The children of Ham, Shem and Japhet may have listened to them in the Ark, on wet days. Hector's little boy may have heard them in Troy Town, for it is certain that Homer knew them, and that some of them were written down in Egypt about the time of Moses.

People in different countries tell them differently, but they are always the same stories, really, whether among little Zulus, at the Cape, or little Eskimo, near the North Pole. The changes are only in matters of manners and customs; such as wearing clothes or not, meeting lions who talk in the warm countries, or talking bears in the cold countries. There are plenty of kings and queens in the fairy tales, just because long ago there were plenty of kings in the country. A gentleman who would be a squire now was a kind of king in Scotland in very old times, and the same in other places. These old stories, never forgotten, were taken down in writing in different ages, but mostly in this century, in all sorts of languages. These ancient stories are the contents of the Fairy books.

Now "The Arabian Nights," some of which are given here, are only fairy tales of the East. The people of Asia, Arabia, and Persia told them in their own way, not for children, but for grown-up people. There were no novels then, nor any printed books, of course; but there were people whose profession it was to amuse men and women by telling tales. They dressed the fairy stories up, and made the characters good Mahommedans, living in Bagdad or India. The events were often supposed to happen in the reign of the great Caliph, or ruler of the Faithful, Haroun al Raschid, who lived in Bagdad in 786-808 A.D. The vizir who accompanies the Caliph was also a real person of the great family of the Barmecides. He was put to death by the Caliph in a very cruel way, nobody ever knew why. The stories must have been told in their present shape a good long while after the Caliph died, when nobody knew very exactly what had really happened. At last some storyteller thought of writing down the tales, and fixing them into a kind of framework, as if they had all been narrated to a cruel Sultan by his wife. Probably the tales were written down about the time when Edward I. was fighting Robert Bruce. But changes were made in them at different times, and a great deal that is very dull and stupid was put in, and plenty of verses. Neither the verses nor the dull pieces are given in this book.

People in France and England knew almost nothing about "The Arabian Nights" till the reigns of Queen Anne and George I., when they were translated into French by Monsieur Galland. Grown-up people were then very fond of fairy tales, and they thought these Arab stories the best that they had ever read. They were delighted with Ghouls (who lived among the tombs) and Geni, who seemed to be a kind of ogres, and with Princesses who work magic spells, and with Peris, who are Arab fairies. Sindbad had adventures which perhaps came out of the Odyssey of Homer; in fact, all the East had contributed its wonders, and sent them to Europe in one parcel. Young men once made a noise at Monsieur Galland's windows in the dead of night, and asked him to tell them one of his marvellous tales. Nobody talked of anything but dervishes and vizirs, rocs and peris. The stories were translated from French into all languages, and only Bishop Atterbury complained that the tales were not likely to be true, and had no moral. The bishops was presently banished for being on the side of Prince Charlie's father, and had leisure to repent of being so solemn.

These stories from "The Arabian Nights" are translated from the French version of Monsieur Galland, who dropped out the poetry and a great deal of what the Arabian authors thought funny, though it seems wearisome to us. They have been shortened here and there, and omissions are made of pieces only suitable for Arabs and old gentlemen.

In the chronicles of the ancient dynasty of the Sassanidae, who reigned for about four hundred years, from Persia to the borders of China, beyond the great river Ganges itself, we read the praises of one of the kings of this race, who was said to be the best monarch of his time. His subjects loved him, and his neighbors feared him, and when he died he left his kingdom in a more prosperous and powerful condition than any king had done before him.

The two sons who survived him loved each other tenderly, and it was a real grief to the elder, Schahriar, that the laws of the empire forbade him to share his dominions with his brother Schahzeman. Indeed, after ten years, during which this state of things had not ceased to trouble him, Schahriar cut off the country of Great Tartary from the Persian Empire and made his brother king.

Now the Sultan Schahriar had a wife whom he loved more than all the world, and his greatest happiness was to surround her with splendour, and to give her the finest dresses and the most beautiful jewels. It was therefore with the deepest shame and sorrow that he accidentally discovered, after several years, that she had deceived him completely, and her whole conduct turned out to have been so bad, that he felt himself obliged to carry out the law of the land, and order the grand-vizir to put her to death. The blow was so heavy that his mind almost gave way, and he declared that he was quite sure that at bottom all women were as wicked as the sultana, if you could only find them out, and that the fewer the world contained the better. So every evening he married a fresh wife and had her strangled the following morning before the grand-vizir, whose duty it was to provide these unhappy brides for the Sultan. The poor man fulfilled his task with reluctance, but there was no escape, and every day saw a girl married and a wife dead.

This behaviour caused the greatest horror in the town, where nothing was heard but cries and lamentations. In one house was a father weeping for the loss of his daughter, in another perhaps a mother trembling for the fate of her child; and instead of the blessings that had formerly been heaped on the Sultan's head, the air was now full of curses.

The grand-vizir himself was the father of two daughters, of whom the elder was called Scheherazade, and the younger Dinarzade. Dinarzade had no particular gifts to distinguish her from other girls, but her sister was clever and courageous in the highest degree. Her father had given her the best masters in philosophy, medicine, history and the fine arts, and besides all this, her beauty excelled that of any girl in the kingdom of Persia.

One day, when the grand-vizir was talking to his eldest daughter, who was his delight and pride, Scheherazade said to him, "Father, I have a favour to ask of you. Will you grant it to me?"

"I can refuse you nothing," replied he, "that is just and reasonable."

"Then listen," said Scheherazade. "I am determined to stop this barbarous practice of the Sultan's, and to deliver the girls and mothers from the awful fate that hangs over them."

"It would be an excellent thing to do," returned the grand-vizir, "but how do you propose to accomplish it?"

"My father," answered Scheherazade, "it is you who have to provide the Sultan daily with a fresh wife, and I implore you, by all the affection you bear me, to allow the honour to fall upon me."

"Have you lost your senses?" cried the grand-vizir, starting back in horror. "What has put such a thing into your head? You ought to know by this time what it means to be the sultan's bride!"

"Yes, my father, I know it well," replied she, "and I am not afraid to think of it. If I fail, my death will be a glorious one, and if I succeed I shall have done a great service to my country."

"It is of no use," said the grand-vizir, "I shall never consent. If the Sultan was to order me to plunge a dagger in your heart, I should have to obey. What a task for a father! Ah, if you do not fear death, fear at any rate the anguish you would cause me."

"Once again, my father," said Scheherazade, "will you grant me what I ask?"

"What, are you still so obstinate?" exclaimed the grand-vizir. "Why are you so resolved upon your own ruin?"

But the maiden absolutely refused to attend to her father's words, and at length, in despair, the grand-vizir was obliged to give way, and went sadly to the palace to tell the Sultan that the following evening he would bring him Scheherazade.

The Sultan received this news with the greatest astonishment.

"How have you made up your mind," he asked, "to sacrifice your own daughter to me?"

"Sire," answered the grand-vizir, "it is her own wish. Even the sad fate that awaits her could not hold her back."

"Let there be no mistake, vizir," said the Sultan. "Remember you will have to take her life yourself. If you refuse, I swear that your head shall pay forfeit."

"Sire," returned the vizir. "Whatever the cost, I will obey you. Though a father, I am also your subject." So the Sultan told the grand-vizir he might bring his daughter as soon as he liked.

The vizir took back this news to Scheherazade, who received it as if it had been the most pleasant thing in the world. She thanked her father warmly for yielding to her wishes, and, seeing him still bowed down with grief, told him that she hoped he would never repent having allowed her to marry the Sultan. Then she went to prepare herself for the marriage, and begged
that her sister Dinarzade should be sent for to speak to her.

When they were alone, Scheherazade addressed her thus:

"My dear sister; I want your help in a very important affair. My father is going to take me to the palace to celebrate my marriage with the Sultan. When his Highness receives me, I shall beg him, as a last favour, to let you sleep in our chamber, so that I may have your company during the last night I am alive. If, as I hope, he grants me my wish, be sure that you wake me an hour before the dawn, and speak to me in these words: "My sister, if you are not asleep, I beg you, before the sun rises, to tell me one of your charming stories." Then I shall begin, and I hope by this means to deliver the people from the terror that reigns over them." Dinarzade replied that she would do with pleasure what her sister wished.

When the usual hour arrived the grand-vizir conducted Scheherazade to the palace, and left her alone with the Sultan, who bade her raise her veil and was amazed at her beauty. But seeing her eyes full of tears, he asked what was the matter. "Sire," replied Scheherazade, "I have a sister who loves me as tenderly as I love her. Grant me the favour of allowing her to sleep this night in the same room, as it is the last we shall be together." Schahriar consented to Scheherazade's petition and Dinarzade was sent for.

An hour before daybreak Dinarzade awoke, and exclaimed, as she had promised, "My dear sister, if you are not asleep, tell me I pray you, before the sun rises, one of your charming stories. It is the last time that I shall have the pleasure of hearing you."

Scheherazade did not answer her sister, but turned to the Sultan. "Will your highness permit me to do as my sister asks?" said she.

"Willingly," he answered. So Scheherazade began.

The Story of the Second Old Man, and of the Two Black Dogs(Arabian Nights Story)

Great prince of the genii, you must know that we are three brothers-- these two black dogs and myself. Our father died, leaving us each a thousand sequins. With this sum we all three took up the same profession, and became merchants. A short time after we had opened our shops, my eldest brother, one of these two dogs, resolved to travel in foreign countries for the sake of merchandise. With this intention he sold all he had and bought merchandise suitable to the voyages he was about to make. He set out, and was away a whole year. At the end of this time a beggar came to my shop. "Good-day," I said. "Good-day," he answered; "is it possible that you do not recognise me?" Then I looked at him closely and saw he was my brother. I made him come into my house, and asked him how he had fared in his enterprise.

"Do not question me," he replied, "see me, you see all I have. It would but renew my trouble to tell of all the misfortunes that have befallen me in a year, and have brought me to this state."

I shut up my shop, paid him every attention, taking him to the bath, giving him my most beautiful robes. I examined my accounts, and found that I had doubled my capital--that is, that I now possessed two thousand sequins. I gave my brother half, saying: "Now, brother, you can forget your losses." He accepted them with joy, and we lived together as we had before.

Some time afterwards my second brother wished also to sell his business and travel. My eldest brother and I did all we could to dissuade him, but it was of no use. He joined a caravan and set out. He came back at the end of a year in the same state as his elder brother. I took care of him, and as I had a thousand sequins to spare I gave them to him, and he re-opened his shop.

One day, my two brothers came to me to propose that we should make a journey and trade. At first I refused to go. "You travelled," I said, "and what did you gain?" But they came to me repeatedly, and after having held out for five years I at last gave way. But when they had made their preparation, and they began to buy the merchandise we needed, they found they had spent every piece of the thousand sequins I had given them. I did not reproach them. I divided my six thousand sequins with them, giving a thousand to each and keeping one for myself, and the other three I buried in a corner of my house. We bought merchandise, loaded a vessel with it, and set forth with a favorable wind.

After two months' sailing we arrived at a seaport, where we disembarked and did a great trade. Then we bought the merchandise of the country, and were just going to sail once more, when I was stopped on the shore by a beautiful though poorly dressed woman. She came up to me, kissed my hand, and implored me to marry her, and take her on board. At first I refused, but she begged so hard and promised to be such a good wife to me, that at last I consented. I got her some beautiful dresses, and after having married her, we embarked and set sail. During the voyage, I discovered so many good qualities in my wife that I began to lover her more and more. But my brothers began to be jealous of my prosperity, and set to work to plot against my life. One night when we were sleeping they threw my wife and myself into the sea. My wife, however, was a fairy, and so she did not let me drown, but transported me to an island. When the day dawned, she said to me,

"When I saw you on the sea-shore I took a great fancy to you, and wished to try your good nature, so I presented myself in the disguise you saw. Now I have rewarded you by saving your life. But I am very angry with your brothers, and I shall not rest till have taken their lives."

I thanked the fairy for all that she had done for me, but I begged her not to kill my brothers.

I appeased her wrath, and in a moment she transported me from the island where we were to the roof of my house, and she disappeared a moment afterwards. I went down, and opened the doors, and dug up the three thousand sequins which I had buried. I went to the place where my shop was, opened it, and received from my fellow-merchants congratulations on my return. When I went home, I saw two black dogs who came to meet me with sorrowful faces. I was much astonished, but the fairy who reappeared said to me,

"Do not be surprised to see these dogs; they are your two brothers. I have condemned them to remain for ten years in these shapes." Then having told me where I could hear news of her, she vanished.

The ten years are nearly passed, and I am on the road to find her. As in passing I met this merchant and the old man with the hind, I stayed with them.

This is my history, O prince of genii! Do you not think it is a most marvellous one?

"Yes, indeed," replied the genius, "and I will give up to you the third of the merchant's punishment."

Then the third old man made the genius the same request as the other two had done, and the genius promised him the last third of the merchant's punishment if his story surpassed both the others.

So he told his story to the genius, but I cannot tell you what it was, as I do not know.

But I do know that it was even more marvellous than either of the others, so that the genius was astonished, and said to the third old man, "I will give up to you the third part of the merchant's punishment. He ought to thank all three of you for having interested yourselves in his favour. But for you, he would be here no longer."

So saying, he disappeared, to the great joy of the company. The merchant did not fail to thank his friends, and then each went on his way. The merchant returned to his wife and children, and passed the rest of his days happily with them.

"But, sire," added Scheherazade, "however beautiful are the stories I have just told you, they cannot compare with the story of the Fisherman."

The Story of the First Old Man and of the Hind(Arabian Nights Story)

I am now going to begin my story (said the old man), so please attend.

This hind that you see with me is my wife. We have no children of our own, therefore I adopted the son of a favorite slave, and determined to make him my heir.

My wife, however, took a great dislike to both mother and child, which she concealed from me till too late. When my adopted son was about ten years old I was obliged to go on a journey. Before I went I entrusted to my wife's keeping both the mother and child, and begged her to take care of them during my absence, which lasted a whole year. During this time she studied magic in order to carry out her wicked scheme. When she had learnt enough she took my son into a distant place and changed him into a calf. Then she gave him to my steward, and told him to look after a calf she had bought. She also changed the slave into a cow, which she sent to my steward.

When I returned I inquired after my slave and the child. "Your slave is dead," she said, "and as for your son, I have not seen him for two months, and I do not know where he is."

I was grieved to hear of my slave's death, but as my son had only disappeared, I thought I should soon find him. Eight months, however, passed, and still no tidings of him; then the feast of Bairam came.

To celebrate it I ordered my steward to bring me a very fat cow to sacrifice. He did so. The cow that he brought was my unfortunate slave. I bound her, but just as I was about to kill her she began to low most piteously, and I saw that her eyes were streaming with tears. It seemed to me most extraordinary, and, feeling a movement of pity, I ordered the steward to lead her away and bring another. My wife, who was present, scoffed at my compassion, which made her malice of no avail. "What are you doing?" she cried. "Kill this cow. It is the best we have to sacrifice."

To please her, I tried again, but again the animal's lows and tears disarmed me.

"Take her away," I said to the steward, "and kill her; I cannot."

The steward killed her, but on skinning her found that she was nothing but bones, although she appeared so fat. I was vexed.

"Keep her for yourself," I said to the steward, "and if you have a fat calf, bring that in her stead."

In a short time he brought a very fat calf, which, although I did not know it, was my son. It tried hard to break its cord and come to me. It threw itself at my feet, with its head on the ground, as if it wished to excite my pity, and to beg me not to take away its life.

I was even more surprised and touched at this action than I had been at the tears of the cow.

"Go," I said to the steward, "take back this calf, take great care of it, and bring me another in its place instantly."

As soon as my wife heard me speak this she at once cried out, "What are you doing, husband? Do not sacrifice any calf but this."

"Wife," I answered, "I will not sacrifice this calf," and in spite of all her remonstrances, I remained firm.

I had another calf killed; this one was led away. The next day the steward asked to speak to me in private.

"I have come," he said, "to tell you some news which I think you will like to hear. I have a daughter who knows magic. Yesterday, when I was leading back the calf which you refused to sacrifice, I noticed that she smiled, and then directly afterwards began to cry. I asked her why she did so."

"Father," she answered, "this calf is the son of our master. I smile with joy at seeing him still alive, and I weep to think of his mother, who was sacrificed yesterday as a cow. These changes have been wrought by our master's wife, who hated the mother and son."

"At these words, of Genius," continued the old man, "I leave you to imagine my astonishment. I went immediately with the steward to speak with his daughter myself. First of all I went to the stable to see my son, and he replied in his dumb way to all my caresses. When the steward's daughter came I asked her if she could change my son back to his proper shape."

"Yes, I can," she replied, "on two conditions. One is that you will give him to me for a husband, and the other is that you will let me punish the woman who changed him into a calf."

"To the first condition," I answered, "I agree with all my heart, and I will give you an ample dowry. To the second I also agree, I only beg you to spare her life."

"That I will do," she replied; "I will treat her as she treated your son."

Then she took a vessel of water and pronounced over it some words I did not understand; then, on throwing the water over him, he became immediately a young man once more.

"My son, my dear son," I exclaimed, kissing him in a transport of joy. "This kind maiden has rescued you from a terrible enchantment, and I am sure that out of gratitude you will marry her."

He consented joyfully, but before they were married, the young girl changed my wife into a hind, and it is she whom you see before you. I wished her to have this form rather than a stranger one, so that we could see her in the family without repugnance.

Since then my son has become a widower and has gone travelling. I am now going in search of him, and not wishing to confide my wife to the care of other people, I am taking her with me. Is this not a most marvellous tale?

"It is indeed," said the genius, "and because of it I grant to you the third part of the punishment of this merchant."

When the first old man had finished his story, the second, who was leading the two black dogs, said to the genius, "I am going to tell you what happened to me, and I am sure that you will find my story even more astonishing than the one to which you have just been listening. But when I have related it, will you grant me also the third part of the merchant's punishment?"

"Yes," replied the genius, "provided that your story surpasses that of the hind."

With this agreement the second old man began in this way.

The Story of the Merchant and the Genius(Arabian Nights Story)

Sire, there was once upon a time a merchant who possessed great wealth, in land and merchandise, as well as in ready money. He was obliged from time to time to take journeys to arrange his affairs. One day, having to go a long way from home, he mounted his horse, taking with him a small wallet in which he had put a few biscuits and dates, because he had to pass through the desert where no food was to be got. He arrived without any mishap, and, having finished his business, set out on his return. On the fourth day of his journey, the heat of the sun being very great, he turned out of his road to rest under some trees. He found at the foot of a large walnut-tree a fountain of clear and running water. He dismounted, fastened his horse to a branch of the tree, and sat by the fountain, after having taken from his wallet some of his dates and biscuits. When he had finished this frugal meal he washed his face and hands in the fountain.

When he was thus employed he saw an enormous genius, white with rage, coming towards him, with a scimitar in his hand.

"Arise," he cried in a terrible voice, "and let me kill you as you have killed my son!"

As he uttered these words he gave a frightful yell. The merchant, quite as much terrified at the hideous face of the monster as at his words, answered him tremblingly, "Alas, good sir, what can I have done to you to deserve death?"

"I shall kill you," repeated the genius, "as you have killed my son."

"But," said the merchant, "How can I have killed your son? I do not know him, and I have never even seen him."

"When you arrived here did you not sit down on the ground?" asked the genius, "and did you not take some dates from your wallet, and whilst eating them did not you throw the stones about?"

"Yes," said the merchant, "I certainly did so."

"Then," said the genius, "I tell you you have killed my son, for whilst you were throwing about the stones, my son passed by, and one of them struck him in the eye and killed him. So I shall kill you."

"Ah, sir, forgive me!" cried the merchant.

"I will have no mercy on you," answered the genius.

"But I killed your son quite unintentionally, so I implore you to spare my life."

"No," said the genius, "I shall kill you as you killed my son," and so saying, he seized the merchant by the arm, threw him on the ground, and lifted his sabre to cut off his head.

The merchant, protesting his innocence, bewailed his wife and children, and tried pitifully to avert his fate. The genius, with his raised scimitar, waited till he had finished, but was not in the least touched.

Scheherazade, at this point, seeing that it was day, and knowing that the Sultan always rose very early to attend the council, stopped speaking.

"Indeed, sister," said Dinarzade, "this is a wonderful story."

"The rest is still more wonderful," replied Scheherazade, "and you would say so, if the sultan would allow me to live another day, and would give me leave to tell it to you the next night."

Schahriar, who had been listening to Scheherazade with pleasure, said to himself, "I will wait till to-morrow; I can always have her killed when I have heard the end of her story."

All this time the grand-vizir was in a terrible state of anxiety. But he was much delighted when he saw the Sultan enter the council-chamber without giving the terrible command that he was expecting.

The next morning, before the day broke, Dinarzade said to her sister, "Dear sister, if you are awake I pray you to go on with your story."

The Sultan did not wait for Scheherazade to ask his leave. "Finish," said he, "the story of the genius and the merchant. I am curious to hear the end."

So Scheherazade went on with the story. This happened every morning. The Sultana told a story, and the Sultan let her live to finish it.

When the merchant saw that the genius was determined to cut off his head, he said: "One word more, I entreat you. Grant me a little delay; just a short time to go home and bid my wife and children farewell, and to make my will. When I have done this I will come back here, and you shall kill me."

"But," said the genius, "if I grant you the delay you ask, I am afraid that you will not come back."

"I give you my word of honour," answered the merchant, "that I will come back without fail."

"How long do you require?" asked the genius.

"I ask you for a year's grace," replied the merchant. "I promise you that to-morrow twelvemonth, I shall be waiting under these trees to give myself up to you."

On this the genius left him near the fountain and disappeared.

The merchant, having recovered from his fright, mounted his horse and went on his road.

When he arrived home his wife and children received him with the greatest joy. But instead of embracing them he began to weep so bitterly that they soon guessed that something terrible was the matter.

"Tell us, I pray you," said his wife, "what has happened."

"Alas!" answered her husband, "I have only a year to live."

Then he told them what had passed between him and the genius, and how he had given his word to return at the end of a year to be killed. When they heard this sad news they were in despair, and wept much.

The next day the merchant began to settle his affairs, and first of all to pay his debts. He gave presents to his friends, and large alms to the poor. He set his slaves at liberty, and provided for his wife and children. The year soon passed away, and he was obliged to depart. When he tried to say good-bye he was quite overcome with grief, and with difficulty tore himself away. At length he reached the place where he had first seen the genius, on the very day that he had appointed. He dismounted, and sat down at the edge of the fountain, where he awaited the genius in terrible suspense.

Whilst he was thus waiting an old man leading a hind came towards him. They greeted one another, and then the old man said to him, "May I ask, brother, what brought you to this desert place, where there are so many evil genii about? To see these beautiful trees one would imagine it was inhabited, but it is a dangerous place to stop long in."

The merchant told the old man why he was obliged to come there. He listened in astonishment.

"This is a most marvellous affair. I should like to be a witness of your interview with the genius." So saying he sat down by the merchant.

While they were talking another old man came up, followed by two black dogs. He greeted them, and asked what they were doing in this place. The old man who was leading the hind told him the adventure of the merchant and the genius. The second old man had not sooner heard the story than he, too, decided to stay there to see what would happen. He sat down by the others, and was talking, when a third old man arrived. He asked why the merchant who was with them looked so sad. They told him the story, and he also resolved to see what would pass between the genius and the merchant, so waited with the rest.

They soon saw in the distance a thick smoke, like a cloud of dust. This smoke came nearer and nearer, and then, all at once, it vanished, and they saw the genius, who, without speaking to them, approached the merchant, sword in hand, and, taking him by the arm, said, "Get up and let me kill you as you killed my son."

The merchant and the three old men began to weep and groan.

Then the old man leading the hind threw himself at the monster's feet and said, "O Prince of the Genii, I beg of you to stay your fury and to listen to me. I am going to tell you my story and that of the hind I have with me, and if you find it more marvellous than that of the merchant whom you are about to kill, I hope that you will do away with a third part of his punishment?"

The genius considered some time, and then he said, "Very well, I agree to this."

The Great - Hearted Monkey(Jataka tales)

In a forest glade, by the side of River Ganges, high on the mountains there lived about eighty thousand monkeys along with their giant monkey king. And by the side of the clear gushing water stood a tall shady tree bearing big beautiful juicy golden fruits commonly called mangoes.

All the monkeys just loved these mangoes and ate them off almost as soon as they had ripened. Which was a very good thing as their wise giant king had warned them not to let a single juicy fruit fall into the river. Because if the current carried even one of these fruits down the river to the land where the men lived, they would surely come in search of this delicious fruit and destroy the peace in the land of the monkeys.

It so happened that a branch of this tree hung low over the river and a mango that was hidden behind an ant's nest ripened and fell off without anyone's knowledge. It was taken down south by the rapid flow of the river and reached the city of Benaras.

One fine morning when King Brahmadutta of Benaras was bathing in the river between two nets, a couple of fishermen found a bright golden fruit caught in the mesh of the net. Very excited they took it to show the King. The King examined the fruit carefully and asked where it had come from and what it was called. The fishermen did not know much about it but guessed that it must have flowed down the river from the valleys of the far-flung Himalayas.

He then asked them to cut the mango and tasted a slice. It was simply delicious. He shared the rest of it with his ministers and Queen who loved its divine flavour.

A few days passed, but the King could not get this exotic fruit out of his mind. He could not work; rest or sleep for want of some more. Finally he could bear it no longer and set sail in search of it. He organised a fleet of rafts and sailed up the river accompanied by his men and a few fishermen.

Many days and many nights went by and they passed many valleys until they finally came to the one where the mango tree stood. Mission accomplished, the King was delighted and began enjoying the mangoes to his heart's content. Finally, that night, the King lay down to sleep under the mango tree while his faithful soldiers stood guard. Fires were lit on either side for protection against wild animals.

In the middle of the night when the guards had dozed off to sleep, the monkeys came and finished off all the mangoes that were left on the tree. The King awoke with all the noise and ordered his guards to shoot at the monkeys so that they could feast on monkey flesh along with the mangoes.

On hearing this, the monkeys trembled with fear and escaped to inform their King. They told him what had happened and he promised to save them. But for that he had to come up with a plan.

So he climbed up the tree and swung across the river with the help of a branch. He found a bamboo shoot which he measured and cut carefully, and then tied one end of it around his waist. The other end he tied around a tree trunk. He had decided to leap back to the mango tree and help the rest of the monkeys across over the bridge that he had made with the help of the bamboo shoot.

But alas... he had not taken into account the portion that he had tied around his waist. So when the monkey king sprang back into the mango grove he was just able to cling to a branch of the mango tree. He quickly summoned his monkeys to climb over his back and onto the reed in order to escape to the other side. In this way, eighty thousand monkeys climbed over his back one by one and made it to safety.

But unfortunately there was one evil monkey who hated his leader and wanted to destroy him. His name was Devadutta. This mean monkey purposely jumped hard over his poor king's back and broke it, while he himself escaped to the other bank.

King Brahmadutta, who had been awake for awhile, had observed this whole episode. He felt extremely sorry for the monkey king and asked his men to help lower him to the ground. He then had him gently bathed and wrapped in a soft yellow cloth and asked him why he had sacrificed himself for his tribe. The great monkey answered that as he was their guide and chief, they were his children and it was his sacred duty to protect them. He had absolutely no regrets as he had ensured their safety. He also went on to say that the King should always be mindful of his subjects' welfare even at the cost of his own. Saying this the monkey king died at peace with himself.

King Brahmadutta had learnt a great deal that day. He ordered his men to organise a funeral fit for a King. He then built a shrine in the monkey king's memory where he offered flowers and lit candles and incense.

On returning to Benaras, he built another shrine there and asked his people to pay homage to this great soul. He always remembered the last words of the monkey king and ruled his subjects with wisdom and compassion. The people in his kingdom were eternally grateful to the great-hearted monkey.

The Golden Goose(Jataka Tales)

Once upon a time there lived a queen in the city of Benaras. Her name was Khema and she was the wife of King Bahuputtaka, which means 'father of many sons'. One night, the Queen had a dream of a beautiful golden goose that spoke with great wisdom, almost as if he was a sage. She told her husband that she desperately wanted to see a bird just like the one that she had seen in her dream.

So the King asked his ministers to find out all that they could about a bird such as this. He was told that such a bird did exist but was extremely rare and difficult to find. They advised him to build a beautiful lake on the outskirts of Benaras so that he may attract such rare and lovely creatures to reside there. In this way the queen might have her wish.

Towards the north, on Mount Cittakuta, there lived about ninety thousand wild geese headed by a beautiful golden goose called King Dhatarattha. He got to hear of this exquisite lake that was surrounded by flowers and trees and had lovely water lilies and lotuses floating on the surface. The king had named this lake after his wife Khema and had invited all the birds to come and live on it, promising that none of them would ever be harmed. Corn was scattered on a daily basis in order to attract the birds.

So a couple of geese went up to their King and told him that they were quite tired of living up on the mountains and would like to see this wonderful lake where they had been promised food and protection.
The king agreed to their request and took the whole flock down south towards Benaras.

Meanwhile, at the lake the King had placed hunters all around in order to capture any golden goose that happened to pass by. So the next morning when the headhunter saw this flock of geese approaching he was very excited to see their golden leader. He immediately went about setting up a snare amongst the water lilies and lotuses, as he knew that the leader would definitely be the first to alight.

The whole flock came flying down in one mighty swoop and as expected it was the King's foot that touched the water first. He was ensnared and could not escape. Seeing this the other geese flew into a panic and honked in distress. But none had the courage to try to free their king and so flew back to Mount Cittacuta for safety. All except one. He was the chief captain, Sumukha.

His King entreated him to fly to safety too, as he would surely be captured if he stayed by his side. But Sumukha replied that he would never desert his master in the face of danger and would either try to save him or die by his side.

At this point the head huntsman approached and as Sumukha saw him he decided to appeal to his compassion. The hunter asked the King how come he had not noticed the trap that was set. The golden goose replied that when one's time was up it was no use to struggle against what was fated and one must just accept it. The huntsman was very impressed with his grace and wisdom. He then turned to Sumukha and asked why he had not fled with the other birds even though he was free to do so. Sumukha answered that this was his King, best friend and master and that he could never desert him even at the cost of his own life.

Hearing this the hunter realised that these were a couple of rare birds of great nobility. And were he to harm them, the gods would certainly punish him. Besides, he did not much care for his own King's reward and decided to do the right thing and set them free. He told Sumukha that as he was ready to die for his King he would set them both free to fly wherever they may.

He then set loose the foot of the golden goose and washed the wound clean. And when he made an attempt to fix the dislocated muscle "lo behold".. the foot was miraculously whole again as if it had never been hurt. Sumukha greatly blessed the hunter for his act of compassion and his King asked whether he had set the trap for himself or at someone else's command. The hunter answered that he had done it on the orders of his own King. He then went on to narrate to them the whole story about the queen's dream and her wish to see this rare golden goose.

On hearing this, the golden goose decided to go and meet the monarch, as he knew that the hunter would receive his reward. He had also heard about the wisdom and goodness of King Bahuputakka and thought that if he appeared out of his own free will, the monarch might allow him and his flock to come visit the lake. He therefore asked the hunter to take him to his King. The hunter advised him against it because he was worried that his monarch might imprison these two lovely creatures.

But the golden goose explained that just as they had been able to soften a hunter's heart it should not be too difficult to do the same to a great and noble King. He asked him to do his duty and leave the rest to him.

So the hunter set out to go to the palace accompanied by these two noble, gorgeous creatures. Needless to say that the King and Queen were absolutely delighted to see these two beautiful birds. The King set them on a golden perch and fed them himself, with honey, grain and sweetened milk. Then he spent the whole night discussing kingship and all its duties with this King of Geese. The golden goose did his best to offer good advice and encouragement in accordance with his wisdom.

In the morning he thanked the King and Queen for their hospitality and friendship and flew back to his flock accompanied by his faithful friend and chief captain Sumukha.

The Banyan Deer(Jataka Tales)

In a forest, on the outskirts of Benaras, there lived a beautiful golden deer. He was called King Banyan Deer and was the leader of a herd of five hundred deer. Not very far off, in the same forest was King Branch Deer who was also the leader amongst another five hundred deer. He was also extremely beautiful with a coat of a shiny golden hue and sparkling eyes.

Outside this beautiful forest, in the real world, there reigned a King who loved to eat meat at every single meal. He was King Brahmadatta of Benaras. Not only was he fond of hunting, but he also enforced the same on his subjects. He forced them to leave their own businesses and join him regularly on his hunting spree each and every morning.

After awhile the villagers got sick of this regular routine as they had much better things to do with their lives. Besides, their work and means of livelihood had also begun to suffer. They realised that they must find a solution. Together they came up with a plan.

They decided to grow plants, sow crops and dig water holes in the royal park itself. Then they would drive a number of deer into the confines of the park and shut the gates. In this way the King could hunt at leisure and would not require any further help from his obedient subjects.

So at first they went about preparing the royal park for the deer. Then they went into the forest armed with weapons and sticks in order to drive the deer into the royal park. They surrounded the territories of both the herds, those of King Banyan Deer as well as King Branch Deer, and drove them into the royal park, with shouts of glee as they beat their sticks on the ground and waved them in the air. As soon as both the herds were in, the gates were shut and the deer entrapped.

They then went to their King and told him that as they could not accompany him any more on his hunts they had successfully managed to entrap a number of deer in the royal park for his royal pleasure. The King was absolutely thrilled when he set eyes on the great number of deer in the royal park.

While gazing at them his eyes fell on the two beautiful golden deer and he at once decided to spare their lives. He issued an order that they were not to be shot at any cost. Each day after that, either the King or one of his hunters would shoot arrows at the deer. The deer would scatter wildly in every direction and get hurt in the ensuing stampede. So one day King Banyan Deer and King Branch Deer put their heads together and came up with a plan. They realised that each day their herds were getting wounded in great numbers and some were getting killed. Even though death was inevitable they could at least try to save the living ones from unnecessary pain and torture.

So they decided to send a deer to the royal palace to be slaughtered and served to the king each and every day. The pact was to alternate between the two herds. In this way at least the rest of the deer would be spared unnecessary torture. This system continued for some time. Each day a deer was sent to the royal palace to be slaughtered by the royal cook. And the rest of the deer were allowed to live in peace until it was their turn.

One day it was the turn of a young female deer with a newborn baby. She belonged to the herd of King Branch Deer. She was worried that after she was killed there would be no one to take care of her child who was still too young to look after itself. So she approached her king with the plea that he send another deer instead of her that day and she would willingly go to the slaughter after her fawn was old enough to look after himself.

But King Branch Deer would not listen to her plea and told her to accept this as her fate as he could not ask another deer to replace her on the execution block. The mother doe looked at her baby and just could not take a step towards the palace. So she approached King Banyan Deer with her plea. King Banyan Deer looked at her with great compassion and told her to go look after her baby, as he would send another in her place.

Then King Banyan Deer himself walked to the palace and placed his head on the execution block. The royal cook was shocked to see him and remembering the King's orders, went running to the King to ask him what was to be done. The King came down to see what was happening. On seeing King Banyan Deer he went up to him and gently asked why he was here. King Banyan Deer related the story of the fawn and the mother doe and told him that as he could not order another to take her place, he had decided to do it himself. The King was highly impressed with this supreme sacrifice and the great love and compassion that this King of deer possessed. So he decided to not only spare his life but that of the mother doe as well.

But King Banyan Deer was not satisfied. He asked that the lives of the other deer be spared as well. So the king granted him his wish. Then he asked about all the other four-footed animals in the forest and then about the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea. And King Brahmadutta agreed to spare the lives of all.

King Banyan Deer thanked him from the bottom of his heart and returned joyfully to the park. The gates were opened wide and both the herds were set free. Needless to say they lived peacefully and happily ever after.

The Three Questions(akbar and birbal story)

King Akbar was very fond of Birbal. This made a certain courtier very jealous. Now this courtier always wanted to be chief minister, but this was not possible as Birbal filled that position.

One day Akbar praised Birbal in front of the courtier. This made the courtier very angry and he said that the king praised Birbal unjustly and if Birbal could answer three of his questions, he would accept the fact that Birbal was intelligent. Akbar always wanting to test Birbals wit readily agreed.

The three questions were
1. How many stars are there in the sky
2. Where is the centre of the Earth and
3. How many men and how many women are there in the world.

Immediately Akbar asked Birbal the three questions and informed him that if he could not answer them, he would have to resign as chief minister.

To answer the first question, Birbal brought a hairy sheep and said There are as many stars in the sky as there is hair on the sheeps body. My friend the courtier is welcome to count them if he likes.

To answer the second question, Birbal drew a couple of lines on the floor and bore an iron rod in it and said this is the centre of the Earth, the courtier may measure it himself if he has any doubts.

In answer to the third question, Birbal said Counting the exact number of men and women in the world would be a problem as there are some specimens like our courtier friend here who cannot easily be classified as either. Therefore if all people like him are killed, then and only then can one count the exact number.

Pandit Sevaram(akbar and birbal story)

One day a Brahmin by the name of Sevaram asked Birbal for help. He said that his forefathers were great Sanskrit scholars and that people used to respectfully refer to them as Panditji. He said that he had no money nor need for wealth, he was content living a simple life. But he had just one wish. He wished people would refer to him as Panditji too. He asked Birbal how he could achieve this.

Birbal said that the task was fairly simple. If the Brahmin followed his advice word for word, this task could be achieved. Birbal advised the Brahmin to shout at anyone who would call him Panditji from now on.

Now the children who lived on the same street as the Brahmin did not like him since he scolded them often. They were just waiting for an opportunity to get back at him. Birbal told the children that the Brahmin would get really irritated if they would start calling him Panditji. The children started calling him Panditji and the Brahmin as advised by Birbal started shouting at them. The children spread the word to all the other children in the neighborhood that Sevaram hated being called Panditji, so they in turn all started calling him Panditji. After a while, Sevaram got tired of scolding them but everyone already was used to calling him Panditji. Hence the game was over but the name stuck.

How many Crows in the Kingdom(akbar and birbal story)

One day Emperor Akbar and Birbal were taking a walk in the palace gardens. It was a nice summer morning and there were plenty of crows happily playing around the pond. While watching the crows, a question came into Akbar's head. He wondered how many crows were there in his kingdom.

Since Birbal was accompanying him, he asked Birbal this question. After a moment's thought, Birbal replied, "There are ninety-five thousand four hundred and sixty-three crows in the Kingdom".

Amazed by his quick response, Akbar tried to test him again, "What if there are more crows than you answered?" Without hesitating Birbal replied, "If there are more crows than my answer, then some crows are visiting from other neighboring kingdoms". "And what if there are less crows", Akbar asked. "Then some crows from our kingdom have gone on holidays to other places".

The Crows and the Black Snake(panchatantra story)

Once upon a time a family of crows lived in a huge banyan tree. There was a Father Crow, a Mother Crow, and many baby crows.

One day a huge snake came to live in the hole at the bottom of the tree. The crows were unhappy about this, but could do nothing.

Soon Mother Crow hatched a few more eggs and some more baby crows were born. When the crows flew out in search of food, the snake ate up the babies. When the crows returned, they could not find their babies. They hunted high and low, but to no avail.

After a few months, Mother Crow gave birth to some more baby crows. This time Mother Crow stayed home when Father Crow went out in search of food. Ignoring the fact that Mother Crow was keeping a watchful eye on her babies, the snake still slithered up the tree and attacked the babies. Mother Crow tried to fight the snake off, but she was not strong enough. Other crows came to her aid, but the snake had already eaten the little ones and crawled back into its hole.

When Father Crow returned, he found all the crows weeping. He consoled his wife who wanted to leave the tree house immediately. Father Crow said that this tree had been their home for many years and they must live here. He thought of asking a wise old fox for help in order to get rid of the snake.

The old fox came up with a brilliant plan. He told them to go to the river bank the next morning where the ladies of the royal family would be bathing. Their clothes and valuables would be kept on the river bank while the servants would be watching over them from a distance.

The fox asked the crows to pick up a necklace and while away making a raucous noise. This would make the servants chase them to the tree where the crows would drop the necklace into the snake's hole.

So the next morning when the crows flew to the river bank, Mother Crow picked up a pearl necklace and flew off as Father Crow cawed loudly to attract the servants' attention. The servants ran after Mother Crow and reached the banyan tree where they saw her drop the necklace into the snake hole. As the servants were trying to take the necklace out with the help of a long stick, the snake came out of the hole and hissed at them menacingly. The servants beat the snake to death. And so Mother and Father Crow lived happily ever after in the banyan tree.

The Stork and the Crab(panchatantra story)

Once upon a time, there was a stork who caught the fish in a particular tank. The stork always had a full meal. As the years went by, the stork grew older and weaker. His ability to catch fish diminished. At times he would even starve. He knew he had to do something to survive.

One day he stood by the side of the tank with a very forlorn look on his face. The frogs, fish and crabs wondered why he was not trying to catch any food. A big crab asked him what the matter was. The stork answered that he was sad because all the fish in the tank were going to die and he would have to starve. He said that he had heard that people were going to fill the tank with mud and grow crops over it. The fish were very worried and asked the stork to help them.

The stork offered to take all of them to a bigger tank some distance away. But he said that he needed to rest between trips because of his age. He would only be able to carry a few fish at a time.

The stork took a beakful of fish on his first trip. He flew to a big rock and had a good meal. He rested awhile, and when he was hungry again, he took a second trip. In this manner, he took a trip each time that he was hungry.

The big crab in the tank also wanted to save himself and he requested the stork to take him too. The stork thought it was a good idea to try a new dish. He agreed to take the crab on his next trip.

After the stork flew up with him, the crab looked down to see what his new surrounding would be like. All he could see was dry land. He questioned the stork about this. The stork laughed wickedly and pointed to the rock below where the crab saw a heap of fish bones. The crab realized that he was to be the stork's next meal. So the crab dug his claws into the stork's neck and would not let go till the stork fell to the ground. The crab then cut off the stork's head and returned home to show it to all the other fish and share the story of his adventure.

The Big Lion and the Little Rabbit(panchatantra story)

Once upon a time, there lived a big lion in a jungle. Every day he hunted and killed many animals to satisfy his hunger. The animals were worried that one day none of them would be left alive. They all decided to go to the lion and find a solution to this problem.

When the lion saw all the animals approaching, he was very happy as he thought that he would not have to take the trouble to hunt. He could just kill all the animals together once and for all.

One of the animals stopped him and pleaded that he listen to what they had to say first. He went on to explain that as the lion was king of the jungle, and all the other animals were his subjects, the lion would not be a king at all if he killed all his subjects. He would have no one left to rule over. He suggested that if the lion stayed home, one animal would surrender itself each day as food for the lion. The lion agreed to this offer on the condition that if they ever failed to send him an animal, he would go on a killing spree and finish all of them off.

From then on, each day an animal was sent to the lion and the lion was pleased.

One day it was the turn of a little rabbit to sacrifice his life to provide food for the lion. This little one did not want to be the lion's meal. He thought of a plan that would save his life as well as the lives of all the other animals in the jungle.

The rabbit slowly made his way to the lion's den. The lion was pacing up and down, extremely hungry. He was furious when all he saw was a little rabbit. He wanted to kill all the animals in a rage. The rabbit timidly explained that the animals had actually sent him six rabbits, but five of them were killed and devoured by another lion.

The lion roared in anger. He wanted to know who this other lion was who dared to steal his food. The rabbit stuttered that it was a very big lion. He had warned the other lion not to eat him as his king would be very angry and definitely come to fight him. The rabbit went on to say that that the other lion had called His Majesty an impostor and had challenged him to prove who was actually the king of the jungle. The lion was furious. He asked the rabbit to take him to the other lion as he wanted to kill him.

The little rabbit led the lion to a well and told him that the other lion was in there. The lion peered into the well and saw his own reflection. He thought it was the other lion. He let out a huge roar which echoed back at him. He immediately jumped into the well to attack what he thought was the other lion. The lion dashed his head against the rocks and drowned.

The jubilant little rabbit returned to other animals to spread the good news.

The Monkey and the Crocodile(panchatantra story)

Once upon a time, a clever monkey lived in a tree that bore juicy, red rose apples. He was very happy.

One fine day, a crocodile swam up to that tree and told the monkey that he had travelled a long distance and was in search of food as he was very hungry. The kind monkey offered him a few rose apples. The crocodile enjoyed them very much and asked the monkey whether he could come again for some more fruit. The generous monkey happily agreed.

The crocodile returned the next day. And the next. And the next one after that. Soon the two became very good friends. They discussed their lives, their friends and family, like all friends do. The crocodile told the monkey that he had a wife and that they lived on the other side of the river. So the kind monkey offered him some extra rose apples to take home to his wife. The crocodile's wife loved the rose apples and made her husband promise to get her some every day.

Meanwhile, the friendship between the monkey and the crocodile deepened as they spent more and more time together. The crocodile's wife started getting jealous. She wanted to put an end to this friendship. So she pretended that she could not believe that her husband could be friends with a monkey. Her husband tried to convince her that he and the monkey shared a true friendship. The crocodile's wife thought to herself that if the monkey lived on a diet of rose monkeys, his flesh would be very sweet. So she asked the crocodile to invite the monkey to their house.

The crocodile was not happy about this. He tried to make the excuse that it would be difficult to get the monkey across the river. But his wife was determined to eat the monkey's flesh. So she thought of a plan.

One day, she pretended to be very ill and told the crocodile that the doctor said that she would only recover if she ate a monkey's heart. If her husband wanted to save her life, he must bring her his friend's heart.

The crocodile was aghast. He was in a dilemma. On the one hand, he loved his friend. On the other, he could not possibly let his wife die. The crocodile's wife threatened him saying that if he did not get her the monkey's heart, she would surely die.

So the crocodile went to the rose apple tree and invited the monkey to come home to meet his wife. He told the monkey that he could ride across the river on the crocodile's back. The monkey happily agreed. As they reached the middle of the river, the crocodile began to sink. The frightened monkey asked him why he was doing that. The crocodile explained that he would have to kill the monkey to save his wife's life. The clever monkey told him that he would gladly give up his heart to save the life of the crocodile's wife, but he had left his heart behind in the rose apple tree. He asked the crocodile to make haste and turn back so that the monkey could go get his heart from the apple tree.

The silly crocodile quickly swam back to the rose apple tree. The monkey scampered up the tree to safety. He told the crocodile to tell his wicked wife that she had married the biggest fool in the world.

Prithvi Raj: Last of the Hindu Knights

Now in the days of the old Hindu knighthood of India, there were four great cities where strong kings lived, who claimed that between them they ruled the whole of the country. And some of these cities you can find on the map quite easily, for three of them at least are there to this day. They were Delhi, Ajmere, Gujarat, and Kanauj, and one of them, Gujarat, is now known as Ahmedabad.

The King who sat on the throne of Delhi was the very flower of Hindu knights. Young, handsome, and courageous, a fearless horseman and a brave fighter, all the painters in India painted the portrait, and all the minstrels sang the praises, of Prithvi Rai; but loudest of all sang his own dear friend, Chand, the court-bard of Delhi.

Prithvi Rai's life had not been all play by any means. His duty, as a king, was greater than that of other knights, since he had of course to defend his people. And already he had had to fight great battles. For across the border lived a Saracen people under a chief called Mahmud of Ghazni, and six times this chieftain had invaded India, and six times Prithvi Rai had met and overcome him. Only, fighting as good knight should, for glory and not for greed, each time he had conquered him he had also set him free, and Mahmud had gone home again. And the last of these battles had been fought at Thaneswar, where the Afghan was badly wounded.

Just at this time, it very unfortunately happened that the King of Ajmere died, and left no son or grandson to succeed him. But he had had a daughter who had married the King of Delhi, and Prithvi Rai was her son. So, as the old man had no son's son to leave his throne to, it seemed natural enough to leave it to his daughter's son, Prithvi Rai, who thus became King of Delhi and Ajmere, and in this way the most powerful monarch in India. But this made one man very angy. The King of Kanauj claimed that he ought to have had Ajmere, for he had been married to a sister of the old King. Probably he had always been jealous of Prithvi Rai, but now he began to hate him with his whole heart.

In all countries always it has been believed that the bravest knight should wed the fairest lady. Now in the India of that day it was accepted on all hands that Prithvi Rai was the bravest knight, but, alas, every one also knew that the most beautiful princess in the world was the daughter of Kanauj! She was tall graceful and lovely. Her long, thick hair was black, with a blue light on it, and her large eyes were like the black bee moving in the petals of the white lotus. Moreover, it was said that the maiden was as high-souled and heroic as she was beautiful. So Pithvi Rai, King of Delhi, determined to win Samyukta, Princess of Kanauj and daughter of his mortal foe for his own. How was it to be done?

First he went to his old nurse who had brought him up. He prostrated himself before her and touched her feet, calling her "Mother," and she, with a smile, first put her fingers under his chin, and then kissed her own hand. For so mothers and children salute each other in India. Then the King sat down on the floor before her, and told her all that was in his heart.

She listened, and sat without speaking for a few minutes when he had finished. "Well" she said, after a while "give me only your portrait. I shall send you hers. And I can promise you, that when you win your way to the girl's side, you will find her just as determined as yourself, to marry no one but you."

That evening the old nurse left Delhi with a party of merchants bound for another of the royal cities. And in her baggage, unknown to her humble fellow-travellers, was a tiny portrait on ivory of the King. It was a week or two afterwards, that the ladies of the King's household, at Kanauj, took an old woman into their service who claimed that she had been born at the court of Ajmere, and had waited, in her childhood, on the late Queen of Kanauj. This old lady soon grew specially fond of the Princess, and was gradually allowed to devote herself to her. In the long, hot hours she would sit fanning and chatting with her, or she would prepare the bath, with its scents and unguents, and herself brush the soles of Samyukta's feet with vermilion paint Or at night, when the heat made it difficult to sleep, she would steal into some marblc pavilion on the roof, and coax the Princess to come out there into the starlight, while she would crouch by her side, with the peacock' fan, and tell her tales of Delhi, and of Prithvi Rai, and his love for her. And often they gazed together at a miniature, which had been sent, said the old woman, by her hand, to ask if the Princess would deign to accept it. For as we all have guessed, of course, it was the old nurse of Prithvi Rai's mother, and of Prithvi Rai himself, who was here, serving the maiden whom he hoped to make his bride.

In a few months, came the time when the King of Kanauj must announce his daughter's marriage. And he determined to call a Swayamvara, that is, a gathering of princes and nobles, amongst whom the princess might come and choose her husband. She would carry a necklace of flowers in her hand, and heralds would go before. At each candidate's throne as they came to it, the praises of that prince, and all his great deeds in battle and tournament, would be declared by the heralds. Then the Princess would pause a moment, and if she decided that this was the knight whom she desired to choose for her husband, she would signify the fact by throwing her garland round his neck. And then the Swayamvara would turn into a wedding, and all the rival princes would take their places as guests. This was a ceremony only used for a royal maiden, and naturally no one was ever asked whom it would not be desirable for her to choose.

In this case, invitations were sent to the kin and princes of all the kingdoms, save only of Delhi, and all India knew that the most beautiful princess in the world was about to hold her Swayannara.

This was the time for Prithvi Rai to act. So he and his friend Chand, the court-bard, disguised themselves as minstrels, and rode all the way to Kanauj, determined to be present at the Swayamvara, whatever it might cost.

At last the great day dawned, and Samyukta made ready for the bridal choice. Very sad at heart was she, for she knew not what the day might bring forth, only she was sure that of her own free will she would marry none but Prithvi Rai, and he had not even been asked to the ceremony.

The insult thus done to the knight of whom she dreamed, burned like fire in the heart of the Princess, and she wondered contemptuously which of the princes whom she would meet in the hall of choice, could dare to stand before the absent King of Delhi on the feild of battle. And something of her father's own pride and courage rose in her against her father himself, as the hour drew near for the Swayarnvara to open. Yet behind all this lay the dull misery of the question: What could she possibly do to announce her silent choice in the absence of the hero? A princess might choose amongst those present, but to speak the name of one who was absent would be a fall unheard of from the royal dignity! How the brow of the Rajput maiden throbbed as they bound on it the gold fillets of her marriage-day! How the wrists burned, on which they fastened the bridal ornaments! And the feet and ankles, loaded with their tiny golden bells, which would tinkle as their owner walked, like "running water" in the bed of the streamlet, how glad they would have been to carry Samyukta away into seclusion, where she might do anything rather than face the ordeal before her!

At last, however, the dreaded hour had come. Seated on thrones in the hall of choice, the long array of knights and princes held their breath as they caught the first distant sounds of the blare of trumpets preceding the princess. Nearer and nearer came the heralds, and so silent was the company that presently, underneath all the noise and clang of the procession without, could be heard distinctly, through- out the great hall, the tinkle of anklets, and they knew that the queen of that bridal day was approaching.

As for Samyukta herself, as with slow footsteps and bent head she paced along the pathway from the castle to the door-way of the hall, she saw no one amongst the many thousands, on foot and on horseback, beside the path. Had she but once looked up, the whole scene would have been changed for her, and in a moment she might have made her choice. But this was not to be. Lower and lower bent the head of the royal maiden beneath her long rich veil. Tighter and tighter were clasped the hands that with their firm hold on the marriage-garland, hung down before her. And slower and slower were the footsteps with which she drew near to the hall of choice, till she had reached the door itself. But there the proud daughter of king raised her head high, to lower it never again. For one moment she paused, startled, dimayed, incredulous, and then, with flushed cheeks and haughty air, drawing herself up to her full height, she entered the hall of choice with perfect calm. For here at the entrance to the pavilion stood a grotesque wooden figure of the King of Delhi, made to stand like a door-keeper to wait at the marriage of the chosen knight. At first Samyukta could not believe her own eyes. The image was hideous, mean, and dwarfish, but it was unmistskably intended for Prithvi Rai. Had it not been insult enough to the gallant knight that his name had been omitted from the list of guests, that Kanauj should add to this the madness of mockery? Yet so it was. And as soon as she had realised it, the daughter of the King knew also her own part in the day's great ceremonies, and whatever might be the outcome for herself, she would play it to the end. The princes rose to their feet as the veiled maiden. entered, and then sat down once more on their various thrones. The heralds fell back at the entrance, making room now for the Princess to precede them. And then, wth slow firm steps, she, whose each footfall was music, passed on from throne to throne, waiting quietly for the questioning cry of her own heralds, and the answering salutation of those about the enthroned prince, before she could listen to the tale of brave deeds by which each bard sought to glorify his own master in the eyes of the fair lady; But at each throne, after patiently listening, after giving every opportunity to its adherents to urge their utmost, the veiled Princess paused a moment and passed on. And something in her bearing or quiet disdain told each whom she left behind her, that she required more of the knight she would choose than he had yet attained. But the sadness of disappointment gave place to astonishment, as Samyukta drew near to the last throne, and stood listening as patiendy and as haughtily as ever. This prince, as all thought, she must perforce accept. Round his neck she must throw the marriage-garland. With veil knotted to his cloak, she must at his side step forward to the sacred fire. These things she must do, for now there was no alternative. Yet none of these things did the daughter of the King attempt. Her slender form looked right queenly, and even beneath her veil her courage and triumph were plain to be seen as she turned her back on the whole assembly, as if to pass out of the lull of choice, and then stood a moment in the open door way, and threw the garland round the neck of the caricature of Pritvi Rai!

Her father, seated at the end of the hall high above the guests, sprang to his feet with a muttered oath! From the marriage-bower to the darkness of the dungeon, was this the choice that his daughter would make? What else could she mean by such a defiance? But scarcely had he strode a foot's length from his place when a tall horseman from amongst the crowd was seen to stoop down over the form of the Princess, and, lifting her to his saddle, gallop off out of sight, followed by another. For Prithvi Rai and his friend Chand had not failed to be present at Samyukta's Swamvara, knowing well that though the King of Delhi was not amongst the guests, yet no other than he to whom her heart was given would be chosen by the peerless daughter of Kanauj.

And then the festive hall became the scene of a council of war. The King of Kanauj swore a mighty oath that to the enemies of Delhi he would henceforth prove a friend. The outraged princes added their promises to his, and runners were sent across the border with letters to Mahmud of Ghazni, offering him the alliance of Kanauj in his warfare against Prithvi Rai. The day that had dawned so brightly went down in darkness amidst mutterings of the coming storm. For the wedding day of Samyukta was to prove the end of all the ages of the Hindu knighthood.

A year had passed. To Prithvi Rai and his bride it had passed like a dream. Amongst the gardens and pavilions of the palace they had wandered hand in hand. And Prithvi Rai, lost in his happiness, had forgotten, as it seemed, the habits of the soldier. Nor did Samyukta remember the wariness and alertness that are proper to great kings. It was like a cup of rich wine drunk before death. Yet were these two right royal souls, and knew well how to meet the end. Suddenly broke the storm of war. Suddenly came the call to meet Mahmud of Ghazni on the field of action. And then, without a tear, did Samyukta fasten her husband's armour, and buckle on his sword, and kiss the royal jewel that she was to place in the front of his helmet. And while the battle raged around the standard of Delhi, she waited, cold and collected in the palace. What had she to fear? The funeral fire stood ready, if the worst news should come. Not for her to see the downfall of her country. Was she not the daughter and the wife of kings?

Hours passed away, and ever on and farther onwards rolled the tide of battle -- on one side the infuriated Kanauj, fighting by the side of the alien in faith and race, and on the other Prithvi Rai with his faithful troops. Splendidly fought the adherents of the King of Delhi. But in the end the advantage of numbers prevailed, and Prithvi Rai fell, pierced to the heart, at the foot of his own banner.

It was dark when they brought the news to Samyukta, waiting in the shadows of the palace. But red grew the night with the funeral fire, when she had heard. For her eye brightened when they told her, and her lips smiled. "Then must I haste to my lord" where he awaits me," said this Rajput queen gaily, and with the words she sprang into the flames.

So passed away the old Hindu kings and queens of Delhi, and all things were changed in India, and Mohammedan sovereigns reigned in their stead.

The Judgement-Seat of Vikramaditya

FOR many countries in Indian history there was no city so famous as the city of Ujjain. It was always renowned as the seat of learning. Here lived at one time the poet Kalidasa, one of the supreme poets of the world, fit to be named with Homer and Dante and Shakespeare. And here worked and visited, only a hundred and fifty years ago, an Indian king, who was also a great and learned astronomer, the greatest of his day, Rajah Jay Singh of Jaipur. So one can see what a great love all who care for India must feel for the ancient city of Ujjain.
But deep in the hearts of the Indian people, one name is held even dearer than those I have mendoned -- the name of Vikramaditya, who became King of Malwa, it is said, in the year 57 before Christ. How many, many years ago must that be! But so dearly is he remembered, that to this day when a Hindu wants to write a letter, after putting something religious at the top -- "The Name of the Lord," or "Call on the Lord," or something of the sort -- and after writing his address, as we all do in beginning a letter, when he states the date, he would not say, "of the year of the Lord 1900," for instance, meaning 1900 years after Christ, as we might, but he would say of the year 1957 of The Era of Vikramaditya." [The name of this era is Samvat] So we can judge for ourselves whether that whether that name is ever likely to be forgotten in India. Now who was this Vikramaditya, and why was he so loved? The whole of that secret, after so long a time, we can scarcely hope to recover. He was like our King Arthur, or like Alfred the Great -- so strong and true and gentle that the men of his own day almost worshipped him, and those of all after times were obliged to give him the first pace, though they had never looked in his face, nor appealed to his great and tender heart -- simply because they could see that never king had been loved like this king. But one thing we do know about Vikramaditya. It is told of him that he was the greatest judge in history.

Never was he deceived. Never did he punish the wrong man. The guilty trembled when they came before him, for they knew that his eyes would look straight into their guilt. And those who had difficult questions to ask, and wanted to know the truth, were thankful to be allowed to come, for they knew that their King would never rest till he understood the matter, and that then he would give an answer that would convince all.

And so, in after time in India, when any judge pronounced sentence with great skill, it would be said of him, "Ah, he must have sat in the Judgment-Seat of Vikramaditya!" And this was the habit of speech of the whole country. Yet in Ujjain itself the poor people forgot that the heaped-up ruins a few miles away had been his palace, and only the rich and learned, and the wise men who lived in kings' courts, remembered. The story I am about to tell you happened long, long ago; but yet there had been time for the old palace and fortress of Ujjain to fall into ruins, and for the sand to be heaped up over them, covering the blocks of stone, and bits of old wall, often with grass and dust, and even trees. There had been time, too, for the people to forget.

In those days, the people of the villages, as they do still, used to send their cows out to the wild land to graze.

Early in the morning they would go, in the care of the shepherds, and not return till evening, close on dusk. How I wish I could show you that coming and going of the Indian cows!

Such gentle little creatures they are, with such large wise eyes, and a great hump between rheir shoulders! And they are not timid or wild, like our cattle. For in India, amongst the Hindus, every one loves them. They are very useful and precious in that hot, dry country, and no one is allowed to tease or frighten them. Instead of that, the little girls come at daybreak and pet them, giving them food and hanging necklaces of flowers about their necks, saying poetry to them, and even strewing flowers before their feet! And the cows, for their part seem to feel as if they belonged to the family, just as our cats and dogs do.

If they live in the country, they delight in being taken out to feed on the grass in the day-time; but of course some one must go with them, to frighten off wild beasts, and to see that they do not stray too far. They wear little tinkling bells, that ring as they move their heads, saying, "Here! here!" And when it is time to go home to the village for the night, what a pretty sight they make!

One cowherd stands and calls at the edge of the pasture and another goes around behind the cattle, to drive them towards him, and so they come quietly forward from here and there, sometimes breaking down the brushwood in their path. And when the herdsmen are sure that all are safe, they turn home-wards -- one leading in front, one bringing up the rear, and the cows making a long procession between them. As they go they kick up the dust along the sun-baked pah, till at last they seem to be moving through a cloud, with the last rays of the sunset touching it. And so the Indian people call twilight, cowdust, "the hour of cowdust". It is a very peaceful, a very lovely moment. All about the village can be heard the sound of the children playing. The men are seated, talking, round the foot of some old tree, and the women are gossiping or praying in their houses. Tomorrow, before dawn, all will be up and hard at work again, but this is the time of rest and joy. Such was the life of the shepherd boys in the villages about Ujjain. There were many of them, and in the long days on the pastures they had plenty of time for fun. One day they found a playground. Oh, how delightful it was! The ground under the trees was rough and uneven. Here and there the end of a great stone peeped out, and many of those stones were beautifully carven. In the middle was a green mound, looking just like a judge's seat.

One of the boys thought so at least, and he ran forward with a whoop and seated himself on it. "I say, boys," he cried, "I'll be judge and you can all bring cases before me, and we'll have trials!" Then he straightened his face, and became very grave, to act the part of judge.

The others saw the fun at once, and, whispering amongst themselves, quickly made up some quarrel, and appeared before him, saying very humbly, "May your Worship be pleased to settle between my neighbour and me which is in the right?" Then they stated the case, one saying that a certain field was his, another that it was not, and so on. But now a strange thing made itself felt. When the judge had sat down on the mound, he was just a common boy. But when he had heard the ques- tion, even to the eyes of the frolicsome lads, he seemed quite different. He was now full of gravity, and, instead of answering in fun, he took the case seriously, and gave an answer which in that particular case was perhaps the wisest that man had ever heard. The boys were a little frightened. For though they could not appreciate the judgment, yet his tone and manner were strange and impressive. Still they thought it was fun, and went away again, and, with good deal more whispering, concocted another case. Once more they put it to their judge, and once more he gave a reply, as it were out of the depth of a long experience, with incontrovertible wisdom. And this went on for hours and hours, he sitting on the judge's set, listening to the questions propounded by the others, and always pronouncing sentence with the same wonderful gravity and power. Till it was time to take the cows home, and till he jumped down from his place, and was just like any other cowherd.

The boys could never forget that day, and ever they heard of any perplexing dispute they would et this boy on the mound, and put it to him. And always the same thing happened. The spirit of knowledge and justice would come to him, and he would show them the truth. But when he came down from his seat, he would be no different from other boys. Gradually the news of this spread through the country-side, and grown-up men and women from all the villages about that part would bring their lawsuits to be decided in the court of the herd-boys on the grass under the green trees. And always they received a judgment that both sides understood, and went away sadsfied. So all the disputes in that neighbourhood were settled.

Now Ujjain had long ceased to be a capital and the King now lived very far away, hence it was some time before he heard the story. At last, however, it came to his ears. "Why," he said, "that boy must have sat on the Judgment-Seat of Vikramaditya!" He spoke without thinking, but all around him were learned men, who knew the chronicles. They looked at one another. "The King speaks truth," they said; "the ruins in yonder meadows were once Vikramaditya's palace!"

Now this sovereign had long desired to be possessed with the spirit of law and justice. Every day brought its problems and diffculties to him, and he often felt weak and ignorant in deciding matters that needed wisdom and strength. "If sitting on the mound brings it to the shepherd boy," he thought, "let us dig deep and find the Judgment-Seat. I shall put it in the chief place in my hall of audience, and on it I shall sit to hear all cases.Then the spirit of Vikramaditya will descend on me also, and I shall always be a just judge!"

So men with spades and tools came to disturb the ancient peace of the pastures, and the grassy knoll where the boys had played was overturned. All about the spot were now heaps of earth and broken wood and upturned sod. And the cows had to be driven further afield. But the heart of the boy who had been judge was sorrowful, as if the very home of his soul were being taken away from him.

At last the labourers came on something. They uncovered it -- a slab of black marble, supported on the hands and outspread wings of twenty-five stone angels, with their faces turned outwards as if for flight -- surely the Judgment-Seat of Vikramaditya. With great rejoicing it was brought to the city, and the King himself stood by while it was put in the chief place in the hall of justice. Then the nation was ordered to observe three days of prayer and fasting, for on the fourth day the King would ascend the new throne publicly, and judge justly amongst the people.

At last the great morning arrived, and crowds assembled to see the Taking of the Seat. Pacing through the long hall came the judges and priests of the kingdom, followed by the sovereign. Then, as they reached the Throne of Judgment, they parted into two lines, and he walked up the middle, prostrated himself before it, and went dose up to the marble slab.

When he had done this, however, and was just about to sit down, one of the twentyive stone angels began to speak "Stop!" it said: "Thinkest thou that" thou art worthy to sit on the Judgment-Seat of Vikramaditya? Hast thou never desired to bear rule over kingdoms that were not thine own?" And the countenance of the stone angel was full of sorrow. At these words the King felt as if a light had blazed up within him, and shown him a long array of tyrannical wishes. He knew that his own life was unjust. After a long pause he spoke. "No," he said, "I am not worthy."

"Fast and pray yet three days," said the angel "that thou mayest purify thy will, and make good thy right to seat thyself thereon." And with these words it spread its wings and flew away. And when the King lifted up his face, the place of the speaker was empty, and only twenty-four figures supported the marble slab.

And so there was another three days of royal retreat, and he prepared himself with prayer and with fasting to come again and essay to sit on the Judgment-Seat of Vikramaditya

But this time it was even as before. Another stone angel addressed him, and asked him a question which was yet more searching. "Hast thou never," it said, "coveted the riches of another?" And when at last he spoke and said, "Yea, I have" done this thing; I am not worthy to sit on the Judgment-Seat of Vikramaditya!" the angel commanded" him to fast and pray yet another three days, and spread its wings and flew away into the blue. At last four times twenty-four days had gone, and still three more days of fasting, and it was now the hundredth day. Only one angel was left supporting the marble slab and the King drew near with great confidence for today he felt sure of being allowed to take his place.

But as he drew near and prostrated, the last angel spoke: "Art thou, then, perfectly pure in heart, O King?" it said. "Is thy will like unto that of a little child? If so, thou art indeed worthy to sit on this seat!"

"No," said the King, speaking very slowly, and once more searching his own conscience, as the judge examines the prisoner at the bar, but with great sadness; "no, I am not worthy."

And at these words the angel flew up into the air, bearing the slab upon his head, so that never since that day has it been seen upon the earth

But when the King came to himself and was alone, pondering over the matter, he saw that the last angel had explained the mystery. Only he who was pure in heart, like a little child, could be perfectly just. That was why the shepherd boy in the forest could sit where no king in the world might come, on the Judgmenteat of Vikramaditya.

The Story of Dhruva, A myth of the Pole star

The poetry of the world is full of the similes devised by poets to suggest the midnight sky. The great multitude of the stars shining and quivering, as it were, against the darkness, have been likened to many things -- to a swarm of golden bees, to golden apples on a tree, to a golden snow-storm in the sky, to fire- flies at evening, holes in a tent-roof, distant lamps moving in the darkness, jewels on a blue banner, and so on, and so forth. But only in India, so far as I know, have they ever been compared to white ants, building up a vast blue ant-hill!
For the fact that seems most deeply to have impressed the Hindu mind, was not the appearance of the starry dome, so much as the perfect steadiness in it, of the Polar Star. Wonderful star! the only point in all the heavens that stayed unmoved, while round it came and went the busy worlds. And this stillness moreover must have characterized it from the very beginning of things. It was never for the Pole Star to learn its quietude. It came by no degrees to it proper place. Rather has it been faithful and at rest since the very birth of time. Surely in all the world of men there could be nothing like this, unswerving, unerring from beginning to end, the witness of movement, itself immutable. Unless indeed we might imagine that some child in his heart had found the Goal, and remained thenceforth, silent, absorbed and stir less, from eternity to eternity, through all the ages of man.

In India, the mystic land of the lotus, was born the child Dhruva. His father was a king, and his mother, Suniti, the chief of all the queens. Yet even on a lot so fortunate as this, may fall the dark shadow of disaster. For long before the birth of Dhruva, the son of one of the younger queens had been promised the throne, and the coming of the new child would undo this claim, since the son of the principal queen was undoubtedly the King's true heir. It is easy, therefore, to understand the anger and fear of the lesser wife at the child's birth. She was jealous of the new baby, on behalf of her own son, and did not fail to show her feeling in many ways; till at last the King, in very anxiety for their safety, ordered his wife and little one to be exiled from the court, and sent them to live in a simple cottage, on the distant edge of a great forest.

It was a humble cottage enough, yet charming in its own way. It was built of grey mud, and thatched with brown palm-leaves. In front, there was a deep verandah covered by the wide leaves; and here even a queen could rest, and receive her village-friends, without a screen, for facing it, instead of the city, was the impenetrable forest, whence at nightfall could be heard the roaring of wild beasts. More and more, as time went on, did thc occasional visits of holy men, on their way through the forest to distant shrines, become the great events of their wood side life. For the hush of the green woods brought with it healing, and the thought of God. And a great peace entered gradually into the heart of Suniti, the Queen. Thus, under her calm influence, the child Dhruva would linger, towards sunset, near the lotus-ponds, dreaming of the beauty of the great flowers that rocked to and fro with every movement of the waters, yielding but untouched. They came by degrees to mean for him all holiness, all tenderness, all purity, these large pink and white lotuses, lying against their wide green leaves, as if the gods had passed that way across the waters, and left them blossoming in their footsteps. Or he would lie awake at night, and listen to the sobbing of the palm-leaves, rustling and swaying in the darkness, far above him, wondering, wondering, what was the story they were telling. Or he would stand quietly, watching the peasants in the rice-fields that stretched to the horizon behind them, sowing the seed, and, when the rains lay deep on the earth, transplanting the crops.

So the years passed, and the brooding silence of nature was all about them. Only in the sad heart of Suniti, all the joy of life was centred in her son. At last, when Dhruva was seven years old, he began to ask about his father. "Could I not go to see him," Mataji, honoured mother?" he said one day.

"Why, yes, my child!" said the poor Queen, full of startled pleasure at the thought, yet so accustomed to sorrow, that she trembled at any change in the even tenor of their life, lest it should end by robbing her of the one thing that was still hers "Oh yes, thou shalt go, little one, tomorrow!"

And so, the next day, Dhruva set out, in the care of a guard, to seek his father, and tell him that he was his son. Beautiful was the road by which they went. High over their heads spread the boughs of the shady trees, and on each side lay the wide fields. Every now and then they would pass a great pond, with its handsome bathing-steps on one side, crowned by an arch, and near by would see the children of the village playing. For each village had its own bathing-pond and its own temple. And in the streets, as they passed through them, it being still early in the morning they would see the jeweler working over his little stove, the potter turning his wheel, and the cowherds taking the cows to pasture in the distant meadows. Sometimes the child walked, and sometimes he was carried. At last they arrived at the royal gates, and Dhruva went in, past the sentinels, and entered the palace itself. On and on he went, till he reached the hall of audience, then he came to the steps of the throne, and there, at last, he saw the King himself. At this point, he ran to his father's arms.

The King was overcome with joy. Not one day had gone by, of all those seven years, without his longing for his wife and son, and here was suddenly the little one himself, come of his own accord, full of love and trust. He felt as if he could never caress him enough, or distinguish him enough, to make up for those long years of neglect.

At this very moment, however, Dhruva's step-mother entered the hall. If only this lady had been the Queen, her son would have had the right to be King some day, and she would not have needed to claim the succession for him. But as it was, she could never forget that her rival Suniti was the real Queen and that Dhruva, therefore, was the rightful heir. And her whole heart was full of jealousy. Now, therefore, her anger knew no bounds. She taunted her husband with the memory of his early promise, and spoke words so wicked about the child on his knee, that in haste he put him down, and turned to plead with her, as if afraid that her evil prayers might come to pass.

Bt even a child knows that a strong man or woman is the greatest thing in the whole world, and when his father put him away, Dhruva felt as if his heart had broken within him, at finding him weak Silently, all unnoticed, he touched his feet, and kissed the steps of the throne before him. Then he turned, beckoned to his guard, and went.

It seemed a long way home. But at last they reached the door-way, where the Queen had watched hour after hour, not able to rest, in her terrible fear that something might have happened to her boy. The servant disappeared, and the child lifted the long lath-curtain, and bounded into her presence. Ah, how glad she was to see him! Here, at least, he was at home.

Then they went out into the verandah together, and Dhruva began to eat the fruits and cakes that were laid in readiness. While he ate, his graceful young mother watched him anxiously. Yes, it was as she had feared it might be. There was a difference. Something sad had come into the little face, as if in that one short day it had grown much older. And Suniti sighed, for she knew that all the happy years of his childhood were behind them. He would never be her baby any more.

But when he had finished his meal -- for to speak while eating would have been grave disrespect! -- Dhruva told her exactly what had happened, and the two sat sad and silent for a while. Then he asked a strange question: "Mother! is there any one in the world who is stronger than my father?"

"Oh yes, my child!" she answered, thinking of the Lord Vishnu, and half shocked at Dhruva's ignorance, "Oh yes, my child, the Lotus-Eyed!" The solemn little face grew all eagerness. "And mother, where dwells He?" he asked. "Oh, far far away!" she answered vaguely, and then, seeing that she must give a reply, "Deep in the heart of the forest, where the tiger lives, and the bear, there dwells the Lotus-Eyed, my son!"

Dhruva said little more. A voice seemed to be sounding in his heart. It was so loud that sometimes he wondered if his mother did not hear it. From far far away in the depths of the forest it called, "Come to me! Come to me!" and he knew that it was the voice of the Lotus-Eyed, in whom was all strength. About midnight, he could bear it no longer. He rose up from his little bed, and stood over his sleeping mother for a moment. She did not wake. "O Lotus-Eyed, I leave my mother to Thee!" he said in his heart. Then he stole quietly out, and stood on the verandah, looking at thc forest. It was bright moonlight, and the trees cast long black shadows. He had never been allowed to go even a little way into the forest alone, and now he was going down to its very heart. But it must be right, for he could hear the voice calling, "Come to me!" louder than ever. "O Lotus-Eyed, I give myself to Thee!" he said, and stepped off the verandah, and over the grass into the forest.

He was barefooted, but the thorns were nothing. He had been weary, but that was all forgotten. On and on without resting, he went, seeking the Lotus-Eyed.

at last he reached the heart of the forest. Then came one with great fiery eyes, and hot breath and swinging tail. Dhruva did not know who it was. He went up to him eagerly. "Are you the Lotus-Eyed?" he asked. And the tiger slunk away ashamed. Next came something with heavy footsteps and deep dark fur. "Are you the Lotus-Eyed?" asked Dhruva. And the bear, too, slunk away ashamed. Still the child heard the voice of the Lotus-Eyed in his heart, saying, "Come! Come!" And he waited. All at once, out of the darkness of the forest there appeared before him a holy man, whose name was Narada, and he laid his hands on his head, saying "Little one, you seek the Lotus-Eyed! Let me teach you the way by which you shall find Him, and where!"

And then he showed him how to sit down on the earth, without moving, and to say over and over again, "Hail, Blessed One, Lord of the Worlds! Hail! And he said that if his whole thought could fasten without wavering, in perfect steadiness, on the words he spoke, he would find the Lotus-Eyed, without a doubt.

The boy sank down on the ground, as he was told, and began to repeat the sacred text. Like a rock he sat there, moving not a muscle. Even when the white ants came to build their ant-hill, and raised it up around him, he never stirred. For deep in his own heart Dhruva had found the Lotus-Eyed, and he had come to rest for ever.

So the Pole Star was given him for his home, and is called to this day Dhruva-Loka.

But some say that away beyond it is another, larger and just as true, and that there Dhruva's mother, Suniti, was placed, that her child might be always at her feet, and joy be hers, throughout the countess ages of those stars.