Imatges de pàgina
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surd. Yet the very next day came a

III wonderful happening.

The sun was just setting and, as it A few days later we started on what were, suddenly the purple glooms bank- was to be the most exquisite memory ed up heavy with thunder. The sky of my life. In the cool gray of a divine Was black with fury, the earth passive morning, with little rosy clouds fleckwith dread. I never saw such lightning ing the eastern sky, we set out from

it was continuous and tore in zigzag Islamabad for Vernag. And this was flashes down the mountains, literally the order of our going. She and I led the like rents in the substance of the world's way, attended by a sais (groom), and a fabric. And the thunder roared up in coolie carrying the luncheon basket. the mountain gorges with shattering Half-way we would stop in some green echoes. Then fell the rain, and the dell, or by some rushing stream, and whole lake seemed to rise to meet it. there rest and eat our little meal, while

We were standing by the cabin win- the rest of the cavalcade passed on to dow, and she suddenly caught my the appointed camping-place;and in the hand, and I saw in a light of their own late afternoon we would follow, riding two dancing figures on the tormented slowly, and find the tents pitched. water before us. Wild in the tumult, It was strange that, later, much of embodied delight, with arms tossed vio- what she said escaped me. Some I noted lently above their heads, and feet flung down at the time, but there were hints, up behind them, skimming the waves shadows of lovelier things beyond, that like sea-gulls, they passed. I saw the eluded all but the fringes of memory fierce aerial faces and their unhuman when I tried to piece them together and glee as they fled by; and she dropped make a coherence of a living wonder. my hand and they were gone.

For that reason, the best things cannot Slowly the storm lessened, and in the be told in this history. It is only the west the clouds tore raggedly asunder cruder, grosser matters that words will and a flood of livid yellow light poured hold. The half-touchings — vanishing down upon the lake — an awful light looks, breaths - O God, I know them, that struck it into an abyss of fire. but cannot tell! Then, as if at a word of command, two In the smaller villages, the headman glorious rainbows sprang across the came often to greet us and make us welwater with the mountains for their come, bearing on a flat dish a little ofpiers, each with its proper colors chord- fering of cakes and fruit, the produce of ed. They made a Bridge of Dread that the place. One evening a headman so stood out radiant against the back- approached, stately in white robes and ground of storm – the Twilight of the turban, attended by a little lad who Gods, and the doomed Gods marching carried the patriarchal gift beside him. forth to the last fight. And the thunder Our tents were pitched under a glorious growled sullenly away into the recesses walnut tree, with a running stream at of the hill, and the terrible rainbows

our feet. faded until the stars came quietly out, Vanna, of course, was the interpreter, and it was a still night. But I had seen and I called her from her tent as the that what is our dread is the joy of the man stood salaaming before me. It was spirits of the Mighty Mother; and strange that, when she came, dressed in though the vision faded, and I doubted white, he stopped in his salutation, and what I had seen, it prepared the way gazed at her in what, I thought, was for what I was yet to see.

silent wonder. She spoke earnestly to

him, standing before him with clasped We struck camp next day and trekked hands - almost, I could think, in the on toward Vernag - a rough march, attitude of a suppliant.

but one of great beauty, beneath the The man listened gravely, with only shade of forest trees, garlanded with an interjection now and again; and pale roses that climbed' from bough to once he turned and looked curiously at bough and tossed triumphant wreaths me. Then, in his turn, he spoke, evi- into the uppermost blue. In the afterdently making some announcement, noon thunder was flapping its wings far which she received with bowed head; off in the mountains, and a little rain and when he turned to go with a grave fell while we were lunching under a big salute, she performed a very singular tree. I was considering anxiously how ceremony, walking slowly round him to shelter Vanna, when a farmer invited three times, keeping him always on the us to his house a scene of Biblical right. He repaid it with the usual sa- hospitality that delighted us both. He laam and greeting of peace, which he be led us up some breakneck little stairs stowed also on me, and then departed to a large bare room, open to the clean in deep meditation, his eyes fixed on air all around the roof, and with a kind the ground.

of rough enclosure on the wooden floor, I ventured to ask what it all meant, where the family slept at night. There and she looked thoughtfully at me be- he opened our basket, and then, with fore replying.

anxious care, hung clothes and rough 'It was a strange thing. I fear you draperies about us, that our meal might will not altogether understand, but I be unwatched by one or two friends will tell you what I can. That man,

who had followed us in with breathless though living here among Mohamme- interest. dans, is a Brahmin from Benares, and, Still further to entertain us, a great what is very rare in India, a Buddhist. rarity was brought out and laid at VanAnd when he saw me, he believed he na's feet, as something we might like to remembered me in a former birth. The watch a curious bird in a cage, with ceremony you saw me perform is one brightly barred wings and a singular of honor in India. It was his due.' cry. She fed it with a fruit, and it flut

‘Did you remember him?’I knew my tered to her hand. Just so Abraham voice was incredulous.

might have welcomed his guests; and Very well. He has changed little, when we left, with words of deepest but is further on the upward path. I gratitude, our host made the beautiful saw him with dread, for he holds the obeisance of touching his forehead memory of a great wrong I did. Yet he with joined hands as he bowed. told me a thing that has filled my heart To me the whole incident had an exwith joy.'

traordinary beauty, and ennobled both ‘Vanna what is it?'

host and guest. But we met an ascendShe had a clear, uplifted look which ing scale of beauty, so varied in its asstartled me. There was suddenly a chill pects that I passed from one emotion air blowing between us.

to another, and knew no sameness. 'I must not tell you yet, but you

will That afternoon the camp was pitched know soon. He was a good man. I am at the foot of a mighty hill, under the glad we have met.'

waving pyramids of the chenars, sweepShe buried herself in writing in a ing their green like the robes of a godsmall book that I had noticed and long- dess. Near by was a half-circle of low ed to look into, and no more was said. arches falling into ruin, and as we went

in among them, I beheld a wondrous ‘I wish you would try to write a sight — the huge octagonal tank made story of him one on more human by the Mogul Emperor Jehangir to re- lines than has been done yet. No one ceive the waters of a mighty spring has accounted for the passionate quest which wells from the hill and has been of truth that was the real secret of his held sacred by Hindu and Moslem. And life. Strange in an Oriental despot if you if loveliness can sanctify, surely it is think of it! It really can be understood sacred, indeed.

only from the Buddhist belief (which, 'How all the Mogul Emperors loved curiously, seems to have been the running water!' said Vanna. 'I can see only one he neglected) that a mysterithem leaning over it in these carved ous Karma influenced all his thoughts. pavilions, with delicate dark faces and If I tell you, as a key-note for your pensive eyes beneath their turbans, lost story, that in a past life he had been a in the endless reverie of the East, while Buddhist priest,

Buddhist priest, - one who had fallen liquid melody passes into their dream.

away,

would that at all account to It was the music they best loved.' you for attempts to recover the lost

She was leading me into the royal Way? Try to think that out, and to garden below, where the young river write the story, not as a Western mind flows beneath the pavilion set above

sees it, but

pure

East.' and across the rush of the water.

“That would be a great book to write 'I remember before I came to India,' if one could catch the voices of the past. she went on, 'there were certain words But how to do that?' and phrases that meant the whole East 'I will give you one day a little book to me. It was an enchantment. The that may help you. The other story I first flash picture I had was Milton's wish you would write is the story of a

dancer of Peshawar. There is a conDark faces with white silken turbans wreathed,

nection between the two

a story of and it still is. I have thought ever since ruin and repentance.' that every man should wear a turban. "Will you tell it to me?' It dignifies the uncomeliest, and it is ‘A part. In this same book you will quite curious to see how many inches a find much more, but not all. All canman descends in the scale of beauty the not be told. You must imagine much; moment he takes it off and you see only but I think your imagination will be the skull-cup about which they wind it. true.' They wind it with wonderful skill, too. ‘Why do you think so?' I have seen a man take eighteen yards 'Because in these few days you have of muslin and throw it round his head learned so much. You have seen the with a few turns; and in five or six min- Ninefold flower, and the rain-spirits. utes the beautiful folds were all in order You will soon hear the Flute of Krishand he looked like a king. Some of the na, which none can hear who cannot Gujars here wear black ones, and they dream true.' are very effective and worth painting That night I heard it. I waked, sud

the black folds and the sullen tem- denly, to music, and standing in the pestuous black brows underneath.' door of my tent, in the dead silence of

We sat in the pavilion for a while, the night, lit only by a few low stars, I looking down on the rushing water, and heard the poignant notes of a flute. If she spoke of Akbar, the greatest of the it had called my name, it could not Moguls, and spoke with a curious per- have summoned me more clearly, and sonal touch, as I thought.

I followed without a thought of delay, forgetting even Vanna in the strange commanded, to follow fearlessly and urgency that filled me.

win. But these are words, and words The music was elusive, seeming to shaped in the rough mould of thought come first from one side, then from the

cannot convey the deep desire that other; but finally I tracked it as a bee would have hurled me to his feet if does a flower, by the scent, to the gate Vanna had not held me with a firm of the royal garden — the pleasure restraining hand. place of the dead Emperors. The gate Looking up in adoring love to the stood ajar — strange! for I had seen the dark face was a ring of woodland creacustodian close it that evening. Now tures. I thought I could distinguish the it stood wide, and I went in, walking white clouded robe of a snow leopard, noiselessly over the dewy grass. I knew, the soft clumsiness of a young bear, and could not tell how, that I must be and many more; but these shifted and noiseless. Passing as if I were guided blurred like dream creatures -- I could down the course of the strong young not be sure of them or define their numriver, I came to the pavilion that span- bers. The eyes of the Player looked ned it, - the place where we had stood down upon their passionate delight that afternoon, — and there, to my with careless kindness. profound amazement, I saw Vanna, Dim images passed through my mind. leaning against a slight wooden pillar. Orpheus - no, this was no Greek. As if she had expected me, she laid one Pan yet again, no. Where were the finger on her lip, and stretching out her pipes, the goat-hoofs? The young Diohand, took mine and drew me beside nysos no; there were strange jewels her as a mother might a child. And instead of his vines. And then Vanna's instantly I saw!

voice said as if from a great distance, On the farther bank a young man in Krishna — the Beloved'; and I said a strange diadem or mitre of jewels, aloud, 'I see!' And, even as I said it, bare-breasted and beautiful, stood the whole picture blurred together like among the flowering oleanders, one a dream, and I was alone in the pavilion foot lightly crossed over the other as he and the water was foaming past me. stood. He was like an image of pale

Had I walked in my sleep? I wonradiant gold, and I could have sworn dered, as I made my way back. As I that the light came from within rather gained the garden gate, before me, like a than fell upon him, for the night was snowflake, I saw the Ninefold flower. very dark. He held the Flute to his lips, When I told her next day, speaking of and as I looked, I became aware that it as a dream, she said simply, "They the noise of the rushing water tapered have opened the door to you. You will off into a murmur scarcely louder than not need me soon.' that of a summer bee in the heart of 'I shall always need you. You have a rose. Therefore, the music rose like taught me everything. I could see notha fountain of crystal drops, cold, clear, ing last night until you took my hand.' and of an entrancing sweetness, and 'I was not there,' she said smiling. the face above it was such that I had no 'It was only the thought of me, and power to turn my eyes away. How shall you can have that when I am very far I say

what it was? All that I had ever away. I was sleeping in my tent. What desired, dreamed, hoped, prayed, look- you called in me then you can always ed at me from the remote beauty of the call, even if I am dead.' eyes, and with the most persuasive “That is a word which is beginning gentleness entreated me, rather than to have no meaning for me. You have

said things to me

no, thought them figure, the clear olive skin, the dark that have made me doubt if there is level brows, the long lashes that make a room in the universe for the thing we soft gloom about the eyes, - eyes that have called death.'

have the fathomless depth of a deer's, She smiled her sweet wise smile. - the proud arch of the lip. I think

"Where we are, death is not. Where there is no country where aristocracy death is, we are not. But you will un- is more clearly marked than in India. derstand better soon.'

The Brahmins are the aristocrats of the

world. You see, it is a religious aristocIV

racy as well. It has everything that can

foster pride and exclusiveness. They Our march, curving, took us by the spring from the Mouth of Deity. They Mogul gardens of Achibal, and the are his word incarnate. Not many kings glorious ruins of the great Temple at are of the Brahmin caste, and the BrahMartund, and so down to Bawan, with mins look down upon those who are not, its crystal waters and that loveliest from sovereign heights.' camping-ground beside them. A mighty And so, in marches of about ten miles grove of chenar trees, so huge that I felt a day, we came to Pahlgam on the banks as if we were in a great sea-cave where of the dancing Lidar. There were now the air is dyed with the deep shadowy only three weeks left of the time she had green of the inmost ocean, and the mur- promised. After a few days at Pahlgam muring of the myriad leaves was like a the march would turn and bend its way sea at rest. The water ran with a great back to Srinagar, and to what? I joyous rush of release from the moun- could not believe it was to separation: tain behind, but was first received in a in her lovely kindness she had grown basin full of sacred fish and reflecting a so close to me that, even for the sake little temple of Maheshwara and one of of friendship, I believed our paths must Surya the Sun. Here, in this basin, the run together to the end; and there were water lay pure and still as an ecstasy, moments when I could still half conand beside it was musing the young vince myself that I had grown as necesBrahmin priest who served the temple. sary to her as she was to me. No — not

Since I had joined Vanna I had be- as necessary, for she was life and soul to gun, with her help, to study a little me; but perhaps a part of her daily exHindostani, and, with an aptitude for perience that she valued and would not language, could understand here and easily part with. there. I caught a word or two, as she That evening we were sitting outside spoke with him, that startled me, when the tents, near the camp-fire of pine the high-bred ascetic face turned serene- logs and cones. The men, in various ly upon her, and he addressed her as attitudes of rest, were lying about, and ‘My sister,' adding a sentence beyond one had been telling a story, which had my learning, but which she willingly just ended in excitement and loud translated later: "May He who sits applause. above the Mysteries, have mercy upon

*These are Mohammedans,' said thy rebirth.'

Vanna, ‘and it is only a story of love She said afterward,

and fighting, like the Arabian Nights. 'How beautiful some of these men If they had been Hindus, it might well are. It seems a different type of beauty have been of Krishna or of Rama and from ours

nearer to nature and the Sita. Their faith comes from an earlier old gods. Look at that priest: the tall, time, and they still see visions. The VOL. 128-NO. %

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