Kamanita And Vasitthi
[By KARL GJELLERUP]
THE APPARITION ON THE TERRACE
WHEN SĀTĀGIRA HAD REACHED the goal he had
set himself — that is, possessing me as his wife — the
ardour of his love rapidly cooled; and all the more
quickly since it met with no response on my side. I had
promised to be a true wife to him, and he knew well that
I would keep my word, but more than that did not lie
within my power, even if I had wished it.
As I bore him only a daughter who died in her
second year, no‐one wondered — and I least of all — that
he took a second wife. She bore him the wished‐for son.
As a consequence she received the first place in the house
and was able, in clever fashion, to attach to herself the
love that I had so willingly resigned.
In this way, several years slipped quietly by and I
was left, for the most part, to myself, which was just what I
desired. I gave myself up to my griefs, both for the loss of
you and for my little girl; I almost felt that she, finding
herself in a loveless family and with a mother given to
such melancholy, had simply made up her infant mind to
depart. So I communed only with memories and lived in
the hope of a happy meeting here above — a hope in
which I have not been disappointed.
Once, on a mild and glorious moonlit night, I lay
on my bed unable to sleep. I was thinking of you, and
particularly of that first evening together.
Lost in these sweet dreams, I had unconsciously let
my gaze rest upon the parapet, when suddenly a figure
rose up above it.
When, however, he stood on the Terrace and
approached me with rapid steps, and I
perceived that I had the spirit of Angulimāla before me.
But at that I became so greatly terrified that I was obliged
to cling to the head of my couch in order not to fall down.
I am not the spirit of Angulimāla," he said, guessing
my thoughts, "I am Angulimāla himself, a living human
being as you are."
I began to tremble violently, not from fear but
because I was standing face to face with the man who had
cruelly murdered my belovèd.
"Do not be afraid, gracious lady," he went on,
"you have nothing to fear from me; on the contrary, you
are the only person I myself have ever been afraid of, and
whom I dared not look in the eye, because, as you so truly
said, I was deceiving you."
"You deceived me!?" I exclaimed, and I scarcely
know even now whether joy rose up in my heart, awakened
by the hope that my loved one was still alive, or
whether yet greater despair seized me as I thought that I
had allowed myself to be deluded into separating myself
from my belovèd.
I had been holding myself erect
with difficulty and now sank down upon the bench with‐
out power of volition. I gazed at him, breathlessly eager to
hear his next words which should enlighten me as to the
fate of my belovèd.
"Kāmanīta with his caravan," he went on, "fell into
my hands in the wooded region of the Vedisas. He de‐
fended himself bravely but was captured unwounded and,
as the ransom arrived in good time, he was sent home
without molestation. He arrived safely in Ujjenī."
At this news a deep sigh escaped my breast. For
the moment I felt only joy in the knowledge that my
belovèd was yet amongst the living; foolish as the feeling
was, for living he was even further removed from me than
he would have been by death.
"When I fell into Sātāgira's power," Angulimāla
continued, "he at once recognised the crystal chain with
the tiger‐eye amulet on my neck as the same one that had
belonged to Kāmanīta. On the following evening he came
to my prison alone and promised, to my unbounded
astonishment, to give me my freedom if I would swear in
the presence of a maiden that I had killed Kāmanīta.
"'Your oath alone would not convince her, to be
sure,' Sātāgira had said, 'but she must believe in a Rite of
"He explained to me that I was, at the first hour of
the night, to be conducted to a terrace where the maiden
would be found. He would see that the fetters were filed
through so that I could without difficulty burst them, after
which it would be an easy matter for me to swing myself
over the breast‐work of the parapet, climb down into the
ravine and escape.
In my heart there raged a storm of indignation at
the shameful deception which had been practised upon
me. I couldn't blame the robber for saving his life as he
did and, as he hadn't soiled his hands with the blood of
my belovèd, I forgot for the moment how much other
innocent blood adhered to them, and I felt neither fear nor
disgust in the presence of this man who, whatever else he
might have done, had brought me the message that my
Kāmanīta yet dwelt in this world,
"Be that as it may, however — whether there are
hell‐punishments or not — this much is certain, that of all
my deeds only one lies heavily upon my conscience, and
that is that with my deceitful Rite of Truth I cheated you.
Even then I did not dare to look you in the face — as you
rightly discerned — and the memory of that hour sits ever
like a thorn in my flesh. Well, the wrong I did you then I
would now like to make good, so far as that is still pos‐
sible, and so do away with the hurtful consequences of
my act. By my sly dealing you were separated from
Kāmanīta, whom you believed to be dead, and were
chained instead to this false Sātāgira. These fetters I now
wish to take from you so that you may be free to unite
yourself with your belovèd, and I will go to Ujjenī myself
and bring him to you safe and sound.
He bowed deeply and, in my bewilderment and
dismay, before it was possible for me to utter a single
word, he vanished from the Terrace as suddenly as he had
************to be continued*******
Edited by yawares
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