Table of Contents
The Five Tall Sons of Pandu
Nala the Gamester
The Pool of Enchantment
The Prince Wonderful
Sabala, the Sacred Cow
Sakuntala and Dushyanta
The Great Drought
 LIFE was indeed fair and beautiful in the city of
Ayodhya, which was of matchless situation and shone
resplendent with burnished gold; and all its people
were good and beautiful, rich and happy. The
streets of the city were broad and open, lined with
elegant shops and lordly houses flashing in the sunlight
with gems of unknown value. Food and water
were plentiful, the sweetest music resounded on all
sides, and the city was famous throughout the land
for its holy men. The workmen rejoiced in the skill
of their hands, the soldiers held the honour of
Ayodhya dearer than life itself, while over all ruled
King Dasaratha, full of virtue, wisdom, and valour.
But there was one deep shadow in this city of
sunshine. The king had no son to succeed him.
One day he consulted the priests, who told him
that the sacrifice of a horse would win for him the
favour of the gods; and without delay preparations
were made for the ceremony, which was conducted
with the greatest care, with the result that the noble
 king, to his unbounded joy, was promised the reward,
not of one son, but four!
In due time four sons were born to King Dasaratha,
and the name given to the first was Rama, who
grew up to become a youth of more than ordinary
strength, skill, bravery, and beauty. One day he
met a holy man who told him that at the time of his
birth the gods had created a very large number of
Bears and Monkeys who would one day be useful to
him in the work which he was destined to do.
On another day a priest came to him and told
him that his friends, who formed a community of
hermits, were greatly troubled by a band of demons,
and that they would be glad of his help against their
dreadful foes. At first the king was unwilling to let
the boy go on such a dangerous expedition, but after
a while he was persuaded to give his consent, and
Rama set out at once in the company of his brother
Lakshmana and a friend who had magic powers.
The land through which the travellers journeyed
was thinly peopled and for the most part covered with
forests in which there were many hermitages; and
before they had covered much ground Rama was
asked to challenge a dreadful ogress named Tarika
who lived in the dark recesses of a wood.
Rama twanged his huge bow in the hearing of
the monster, who was greatly enraged at the sound
and at once showed fight. Her method of attack
was to raise a blinding, choking dust round about
her opponent and under cover of this to shower
down heavy stones upon him. The brothers were.
 however, so skilful with their bows that they
intercepted these stones in mid-air with their arrows
while at the same time they shot away the hands,
nose, and ears of the ogress. Then she changed her
shape again and again, baffling the efforts of the
brothers for a time, but at last they found her in the
shape of a serpent and laid her dead at their feet.
Then they went on their way again rejoicing, with the
praises of the hermits singing in their ears.
This was not the only combat in which the
brothers and the magician engaged during their
journey through the forest-lands; but in each fight
they were successful chiefly because they lived
sparingly, exercised constantly, took great interest in
the history of the places which they passed, and
performed their religious duties with great care and
unfailing regularity. Thus, living a healthy life in
the open air, they were able to meet with confidence
of victory any danger which arose.
At last the wanderers came to the kingdom of
King Mithila, who had a lovely daughter named
Sita, of whom many wonderful tales were told, none
more strange than that of the manner of her birth.
For it was told, when the king was ploughing the
ground at a festival the beautiful princess had sprung,
full grown, radiant and smiling, from a furrow which
the monarch had turned. Further, it was said that
Sita would become the bride of any warrior who could
bend the huge and ponderous bow which the king
kept in his armoury and which had belonged to no
less a personage than the great god Siva. Rama and
 his companions soon heard these stories and naturally
were very curious to see both the princess and the
bow; and as soon as the introduction to the king
had been effected by the magician, Rama asked for
the privilege of trying his strength on the wonderful
So it was brought from the armoury on a cart
with eight wheels drawn along by a great company
of stalwart men. Rama raised it in his hands, bent
it and broke it, to the accompaniment of such a
deafening sound that the whole company rolled
head over heels in consternation and astonishment,
all of course except the magician and the royal company,
who were much too dignified for such an
expression of wonder.
The king could not deny his beautiful daughter
to such a hero, if indeed he had wished to do so,
which he did not. Arrangements were therefore
made for the wedding festival, and brides were also
found for the three brothers of Rama, who had been
sent for post-haste as soon as the prince had proved
his strength with the bow. After the marriage,
which was conducted with equal solemnity and
rejoicing, the brothers returned to Ayodhya and the
magician took his way alone to the mountains to
spend his time in prayer, fasting, and contemplation.
The years went by swiftly enough, for Rama was
happy in his wife and his friends. Then came a
 time of woe and trouble due to the jealousy of an
angry woman. The king was growing old and
wished to hand over the cares of government to
Rama. Indeed he began to make preparations for
doing so when he was arrested by the anger of one
of his wives, the mother of Prince Bharata, who himself
had no desire to live in enmity with his beloved
brother Rama, the idol of the city.
The king endeavoured to appease the jealousy of
the offended queen, but she demanded that Rama
should be banished to the forests for a period of
fourteen years while her own son Bharata should be
made ruler in place of his father. The old king was
so much under her influence that he was forced to
consent, and then to his further grief he was told that
Rama, with true greatness of soul, had undertaken to
go into voluntary exile in order that the peace of
the happy city might be preserved.
The people of Ayodhya were filled with grief
when they heard the news, but they were powerless
in the matter, and Rama made his preparations
without further delay. He tried to persuade his
wife to remain behind, but with a gentle smile she
"What are the terrors of the forest to me, what
are the privations of exile, so long as we are together?"
And when she saw that Rama was unwilling to
place such a burden upon her, she burst into tears,
threw herself into his arms, and finally persuaded her
husband to let her share his exile. Then the laughing
Lakshmana too came forward and offered to go
 with them. His offer was accepted, and the three
made ready to leave the city in which they had
enjoyed such happiness.
Their dignity and devotion did not make the
slightest appeal to the heart of the jealous queen, who
herself brought to them the suits of bark which they
were to wear in the forest. The two princes put on
their new dress without remark, but Sita was unwilling
to exchange her bright silks for such a rough
and uncomfortable costume; and after a time it
was arranged that she should wear the coat of bark
over her silken raiment. Then the three exiles took
tender leave of the broken-hearted king, and made
respectful obeisance to the jealous queen, while
Rama told her that not she but the will of the gods
sent them forth as exiles from his father's house,
and that in due time the wise purpose of heaven
would be clear to the eyes of all.
The king, as a final favour, ordered that the
exiles should be conveyed from the city in a royal
chariot, and before long they were on their way,
taking with them only their arms and armour, a
husbandman's hoe, and a basket bound in hide.
Such was the grief of the people at their departure
that the dust raised by the wheels of the chariot was
laid by their copious tears.
After a long journey they came to the borders of
the great forest through which the sacred Ganges
 flows, where they dismissed the charioteer, giving
him many tender messages to their friends in the
They now began the life of the forest hermit
and did not seek to relieve themselves of any of its
hardships. Dressed in their coats of bark, they made
their way to the bank of the river, where they happened
to find a boat, which they entered. They crossed
the broad stream and plunged into the depths of
the dark forest, walking always in single file with
Sita in the middle.
A little later they came to another stream, which
they crossed on a raft made by themselves of the
trunks of saplings, and, choosing a pleasant spot on
the side of a wooded hill, they built a humble cottage
of wood and thatched it with leaves. Here they
settled down to the hermit's life, living on the game
in which the forest abounded and the fruits which
grew in great profusion near their dwelling.
Meanwhile in far-away Ayodhya events of great
importance were taking place. The exile of Rama
preyed so much upon the mind of the old king that
he died and his son Bharata was called to the throne.
Now this great-hearted prince had been absent from
home for a long time, and when he returned he
was filled with grief and wrath at the banishment of
Rama, and he bitterly reproached his mother for her
cruel jealousy. He refused to become king, and,
after burying his father with careful attention to all
the necessary rites and due observance of historic
customs, he made preparations for a journey to the
 forest, where he hoped to find his brother and bring
him back in triumph to rule in his father's place.
A great company of princes, courtiers, nobles, and
people of the city prepared to set out with him,
and before long they were on their way through the
forest, and, directed by a hermit whom they met, they
crossed the two broad rivers and passed on to the
wooded hill on the side of which the royal exile had
made his humble home.
After a long journey they found the prince
sitting in his cottage, his hair long and matted like
a hermit's, dressed in the black skin of the deer and a
well-worn garment of bark. Bharata greeted him
with lowly reverence and told him of the death of
his father, which so affected the prince that he fell
down in a swoon and was with difficulty revived by
Sita and his brothers.
Then Bharata seated himself before Rama and
begged him with tears in his eyes to come back to
Ayodhya and take his rightful place as king of the
city. Rama refused to do this, preferring to spend in
exile the full term of years appointed by his father.
"Give me, then," said Bharata, "the gold-worked
sandals from your feet. I will carry them
back to Ayodhya as a token that I am your viceroy,
and I will rule in your name until the years of exile
are ended." So the prince returned with his friends
to the city and undertook the work of government in
the name and under the authority of Rama.
The years passed on, but the exiles did not remain
in the same pleasant spot; they left their cottage
 after a while and wandered onward from hermitage
to hermitage. In one of these retreats they found
an old man and his wife who had won great magic
powers by their severity of life, and the old woman
welcomed the beautiful Sita with open arms. The
two women spent several days in quiet conversation,
and when the travellers were preparing to go on their
way the elder said to the younger, "See, little one,
I have a present for you. Let me dress you and
adorn you in a manner suitable to your rank."
Then she brought out a beautiful dress of silk with
costly ornaments and a garland of lovely flowers;
and she took great delight in dressing and adorning
the beautiful young princess, standing away from
her to admire the effect of her loving handiwork.
On went the travellers, greatly comforted and
refreshed. Now as they passed from place to place
Rama heard many stories of the evil deeds of the
monsters known as the Rakshasas, who were the
inveterate foes of gods and men and especially of
holy hermits; and many were the appeals to Rama
to free the forest from these dreadful beings.
One day the exiles came upon one of these
monsters, whose terrible ugliness defies description,
and who was holding spellbound with a single spear
a great crowd of wild animals of the forest. When
he saw the beautiful princess he at once snatched her
up in his arms and turned to carry her off. But in
a moment Rama's bow was busy though his task
was rendered difficult owing to the necessity for
avoiding those parts of the monster's body which
 were protected by the form of his beloved wife.
So well, however, did he and his brother ply their
bows, that the Rakshasa dropped the princess,
seized both his foes, placed them across his broad
shoulders, and turned towards a forest path which
led into a gloomy recess. Then the air was rent
with the piercing cries of Sita, which had such a
stirring effect upon the brothers that with a mighty
effort they broke from the monster's grasp and
attacked him with their fists. There was a fierce
encounter which ended in the death of the grisly
foe, and the heroes having rested for a while went
on their way rejoicing.
At the next hermitage on their way the exiles
were granted a vision which filled them with strength
and contentment; for they saw the chief of the gods
seated in a shining chariot drawn by green horses
and protected from the rays of the sun by a broad
canopy supported by maidens of surpassing beauty.
As soon as the three travellers appeared the splendid
vision vanished, and the hermit who had been so
favoured came from his cell. He was a very old
man, and his eyes seemed to be looking far away
into space. Rama spoke to him, but without a word
in reply he sprang into a fire which had been kindled
before his hut. In a few moments the hermit's worn
and wasted body disappeared, and he stood up in
the form of a young man of glorious beauty and
 godlike strength. Then, mounting upwards as if
borne by unseen hands, he disappeared in the clouds
and left the exiles wondering.
Now the encounter with the Rakshasa had filled
the heart of Sita with tender fears for her husband's
safety, and she lovingly tried to persuade him to
avoid any further contests with these fierce and
relentless foes. "It is your fearless bearing and the
fearful appearance of your mighty bow," she said,
"which provokes these dreadful creatures. Let me
tell you a tale which proves the truth of my words.
"Many years ago there lived in the woods a
hermit who was so severe upon himself that even the
chief of the gods schemed to frustrate him. So he
took the form of a warrior and visited the saint in
his cell, leaving with him, on his departure, his sword
in sacred trust. The hermit was so careful to guard
the treasure that he carried it with him wherever
he went, and its possession made him so warlike and
quarrelsome that he forsook the saintly life and fell
a victim to his foes."
Rama smiled as he listened to the artless story,
md gently told the princess that it was his bounden
duty to act as guardian to the peaceful hermits of
the forest, and that he meant to use his warlike
weapon until the place was entirely freed from the
So the years went by in combat and rest, effort
md refreshment, facing of danger and winning of
victory. At one time Lakshmana built a large clay
mt propped on pillars and provided with a real floor
 of wood, in which they lived happily for some time,
until a certain giantess, enraged at the beauty of Sita,
plotted against their peace and made an attempt to
kill the princess. She was, however, prevented by
Lakshmana, who cut off her nose, whereupon she went
away in a great rage to prevail upon her brothers to
avenge her loss upon the princely wanderers.
Then Rama went out alone with his bow in his
hand and was met by a great shower of arrows,
rocks, and trees, clubs, darts, and loops of rope which
threatened to catch him by the neck and make him
captive like a slave. With wonderful speed, strength,
and skill he plied his bow, and the air grew dark
with the shade cast by his arrows until at last the
giants yielded, but their leader continued the fight
unaided. He hurled his ponderous mace at Rama,
who cut it in two with his arrows as it sped through
the air. The giant uprooted a tall tree, but as it came
rushing through the air it was cut in pieces by the
arrows from that wonderful bow. Then an arrow
like a flash of lightning sped through the air and the
giant leader fell dead upon the earth; and as he fell
Rama heard above him a peal of drums which spoke
of victory, and saw descending through the air a
shower of roses, lilies, arid lotus flowers which fell
gently upon his head and shoulders.
Now one of the giants had left the field of battle
and made his way to the court of Ravana, the king of
 the giants, where he told of the fate which had
befallen that monarch's army at the hands of the
mighty Rama. As he spoke the giantess also came
to tell of the wrong she had suffered at the hands of
Lakshmana, and the terrible Ravana swore to take
the most dire vengeance upon the three wanderers,
and that without loss of time.
Now when Ravana had come to this decision,
he rested upon it for a while and did not appear to
be exceedingly eager to place himself in the way of
the two brave brothers; but his sister, who had
lost her nose, told him that the best possible way of
revenging himself upon Rama was to carry off his
beautiful and devoted wife. The king of the giants
thereupon roused himself and began to think the
matter out; and when he did begin with a plot he
was an adept at making it successful.
He called to him a Rakshasa named Maricha,
and by his magic power transformed him into a
beautiful golden deer which had its sides spotted
with silver and horns set with jewels. He then told
the animal to present itself before Sita, who, when
she saw it, was filled with wondering admiration and
begged Rama to go after it and capture it.
Rama consented to do so, but stipulated that his
brother was to remain in charge of Sita and on no
account to allow her to go out of his sight. After a
short chase he shot the deer in the breast and with
its last breath it called out in a plaintive voice, "Ah,
Sita! Ah, Lakshmana!" cleverly reproducing the
tones of Rama himself. The words reached the ears
 of Sita, as they were intended to do, and she implored
Lakshmana to go at once to the help of her lord.
At first he refused, but when the princess began to
reproach him with cowardice he had no choice but
to set out on the errand.
Sita placed herself at the door of her cottage to
await the return of the brothers, and as she sat there
a poor priest approached her begging for hospitality.
She rose and gave him water to wash his feet as well
as food of the best the cottage contained, but while
she did so her eyes were fixed upon the forest, looking
eagerly for her absent lord. She seemed, indeed,
to be lost in anxious contemplation, but was suddenly
aroused from her reverie in a terrifying manner,
for her guest assumed the form of the monster
Ravana with his ten heads and twenty arms, and in a
moment Sita was being carried rapidly through the
air in the golden car of the king of the giants. As
the chariot sped onward the poor princess raised loud
cries of distress which were heard only by the vulture-king,
who came at once to the rescue. There was
a fierce fight, ending in the infliction of a mortal
wound upon the noble bird, which fell to the ground,
and Ravana went on his way over mountains, rivers,
lakes, and seas until he came at last to Lanka, his
royal city, where Sita was safely housed.
Meanwhile Rama had returned to his cottage
with Lakshmana, and so great was his grief at the loss
of his wife that his brother found it necessary to
remind him of the necessity for preserving his dignity.
This reminder had the effect of calming Rama, who
 now began to think out a plan for the recovery of
Sita. At first he roamed aimlessly about in the
neighbourhood of his cottage hoping to find the lost
one quite near to his home, and trying to persuade
himself that she had only wandered away for a short
distance on her own accord. But he came upon the
dying vulture and learnt the truth from him; and
now he knew that he had before him a task which
would test all his powers to the uttermost. The loss
of his wife, however, had only served to rouse him
to superhuman efforts, and after the first spasms
of bitter grief had spent themselves he felt able to
cope with the strongest powers of evil in order to
win his loved one back again; and he found, in time,
a strange ally in working out his task.
As he was making his way through the woods
he came upon the Monkey King, whose name was
Sugriva and who had a very melancholy disposition
indeed. He took no pleasure in the blossoming trees
or the song of birds; flowers to him were mere
frivolity; and he only loved the streams because
they seemed to him to sing a song which never
varied in its mournfulness, and because they were
convenient receptacles for the floods of tears which he
shed day after day. His immediate attendants were
Nala, Nila, Tara, and Hanuman, Son of the Wind.
When these intelligent animals saw Rama and
his brother and noted the bows in their hands, they
took to flight, hid themselves in a dark grove, and
seated themselves in a circle with their chins upon
their knees to consider what was next to be done.
"We have made a mistake to run away," said
the Son of the Wind, "for these mortals may be of
use to us."
"Men are treacherous and malicious," said
Sugriva, dropping a few tears, "and we cannot be
sure that these two warriors have not been sent here
by Bali, the usurping King of the Monkeys, to whom
all my woes are due."
Then the Son of the Wind begged for permission
to approach the strangers, and, having obtained it,
donned a hermit's cloak and went to meet the
"Who are you, heroes, whose limbs are like
young fir trees?" he asked courteously. "If your
errand be as worthy as your bearing is gallant, let me
be your guide through this wood."
Lakshmana smiled to see a monkey in the dress
of a hermit, and made himself and his brother
known to the Son of the Wind, telling him that
a hermit had recommended them to seek the help
of Sugriva, the King of the Monkeys, in the search
Hanuman cast aside his cloak. "Sugriva is my
sovereign," he said. "Mount upon my back and I
will bring you to him with the speed of the Wind
whose son am I." The heroes at once took advantage
of this intelligence, and in a few moments were
shading hands with Sugriva, who was greatly pleased
with the sad countenance of Rama, and shed streams
ol sympathetic tears when he heard of his woes "I
saw your beloved carried off," he said, "clasped
 closely in the arms of Ravana"—here he shed more
tears as if he revelled in the anguish which such a
remembrance would bring to the heart of Rama,
then he went on?" She screamed to me but was too
far off to be heard; but as she was borne still higher
into the air a tiny golden circlet dropped from her
ankle and fell at my feet, followed by a scarf of pale
soft azure. Then I wept so sorely that the river
overflowed its banks. I have this scarf and anklet
of gold in my cavern and I will fetch them to you."
He did so, and Rama found it difficult to preserve
his dignity at the sight of them; and while he was
looking steadfastly at them Sugriva said, "I too am
in misfortune similar to your own. Let us help
The hero smiled at the words, but was too
courteous to wound the feelings of the intelligent
creature and begged him to explain himself. So the
King of the Monkeys sat down with his chin on his
knees and told the listening brothers how he was
the victim of the cruel plots of the usurper Bali,
who had driven him from his monkey throne.
"And there is none on earth," he concluded, "who
is able to subdue the usurper."
Lakshmana laughed loudly. "Why," he said,
"Rama, King of Men, could hold his own in any
circumstances and conquer anything!"
"I doubt," said the melancholy Sugriva, "whether
 he could cope with Bali. Why, one day he clove
with one single arrow the hearts of three palm
"That is child's play," said Rama, and at once
sent an arrow from his bow which clove seven trees
and then stuck into a hard rock in the side of a
"O Elephant among Men?" cried Sugriva,
surprised out of his melancholy into admiration,
"come with me and in the strength of your presence
I will defy Bali and all his monkeys." So the two
set out, Sugriva defied Bali, fought with him, was
beaten once, but fought again, and, finally, with the
help of his new friend, brought the usurper to his
death. So was Sugriva restored to his kingdom
and was now ready to place his army of Monkeys
and Bears at the disposal of Rama in order that
they might begin in the forest the search for Sita,
which they were better able to undertake than the
cleverest mortals, to whom forest-craft is an
accomplishment only acquired after much practice.
You may remember how the gods had created this
great army of Monkeys and Bears at the birth of
Rama, and their purpose was now to be made clear;
for the intelligent animals were marshalled under
Hanuman and told that they were to search in all
possible places for the lovely Sita and to return in a
month to make their report.
Now their vigorous search was of no avail; and
as they were under penalty of death at the hands of
Sugriva if they were not successful, the leaders
 agreed to put an end to their own lives, for their
intelligence was only equalled by their melancholy
outlook. The ancient vulture whose name was
Sampati overheard them express their determination,
and his fiery eyes gleamed with fierce pleasure at
the thought of the feast before him. "Beyond a
doubt," he said in a tone which the Monkey leaders
clearly overheard, "it is truly pious to put an end
to one's life when the purpose of existence has
This pious speech did not greatly please the
monkey generals, for it is one thing to express a
determination to die, and quite another matter to
find that some one will be greatly pleased at one's
death. So the leaders paused for a while to engage
in conversation with the hungry vulture and learnt
from him that not long before Ravana had passed
that way bearing the lovely Sita in his arms.
"Which direction did the monster take?" inquired
the generals with great eagerness.
"A hundred miles from here," said the ancient
vulture, "is the sea that washes. all the southern
coast, and a hundred miles from the shore is the
Isle of Lanka, where Ravana dwells; thither,
beyond a doubt, he has carried the beautiful Sita."
When he had given these directions the ancient
vulture seemed to be renewed in strength, and
without waiting for the suicide of the Monkey
generals spread his wings and flew away. Then the
leaders rose up refreshed and vigorous and put
their army in motion towards the sea. After a long
 and somewhat painful march they came to the shore
and found the moaning of the breakers quite in
keeping with the melancholy of their hearts.
They rested for the night, and next day considered
the problem of transport across the moaning waters—a
matter of sufficient difficulty to test all the
intelligence they possessed. The generals ranged
themselves in a line along the shore, leant their
heads to the right and looked at the sea, and then
leant their heads to the left and looked at it again;
afterwards they all looked at each other and none
spoke a word for a long time.
Then Hanuman, the Son of the Wind, rose to
the occasion like a true leader. "Will you trust
this matter to me?" he cried. "We will!" cried
the leaders in reply. "We will!" echoed the whole
army till the earth shook and the mountains shouted
back. Then they wound a garland of scarlet flowers
round the neck of their leader and led him to the top
of a high mountain that he might leap from thence
right across the water to the Isle of Lanka, for this
was his daring plan.
In a moment his mighty bulk was rushing through
the air at tremendous speed, while his shadow
darkened the kingdom of the fishes, who were very
angry and sent a sea monster with a mouth like a
cavern to swallow him up. But he darted into the
gaping jaws and making himself smaller forced
his way through the monster's back in such a hurry
that it died. In due time the Son of the Wind
swooped down upon the coast of Lanka, rested a
 while to take breath, and then felt so pleased with
himself that he actually laughed.
"Here am I in the Isle of the Rakshasas," he
said to himself. "My sea passage has been a mere
pleasure excursion to me. Now, how am I to discover
the retreat of Sita, I wonder?" Then he
took his chin in his hand to think over the matter.
"I am very big," he said to himself, "and
before I can hope to win success I must be of such
proportions as will not excite attention." Thereupon
he reduced himself to the size of a cat, and when
night had fallen he crawled upon the wall and
looked down upon Ravana's royal city. The streets
were silent, but from the gorgeous palaces came the
sound of sweetest music, while the smell of delicious
foods assailed his nostrils. He crept silently through
the streets until he came to a palace more magnificent
than the others and guarded by a number of
savage Rakshasas dressed in sombre garments and
armed with weapons of every description. They
were too large and dignified to pay any attention to
the insignificant Monkey, and Hanuman was therefore
able to slip by them unseen.
He found himself in a vast and lofty corridor,
and, creeping along by the wall, he reached a distant
apartment from whence came music such as sea-fairies
make when whispering to their pink conch-shells.
He put back the heavy curtains, and, looking
 in, saw a number of beautiful maidens wrapped in
deepest slumber, but Sita was not among them.
He felt sure of this. Somehow he knew that if
she had been present he would have been conscious
of the fact. So he passed on to the door of another
apartment whence came a sound like thunder.
It was the snoring of Ravana!
The Son of the Wind peeped in and saw the
ten -headed Rakshasa sunk in heavy sleep. All
his mouths were open and all his noses were snoring
at the same time. Hanuman looked at him for a
few moments and then swiftly made his way from
the palace and into the street, where he began to
reflect that after all he had failed to discover anything
with regard to Sita. "She may have perished
miserably," he said, "and if Rama learns this heavy
news he will surely die of grief, and Lakshmana too
and all the others. Sugriva, I am sure, will weep
himself to death. The joys of life are over for me,
and nothing remains but to become a hermit."
At that moment the morning suddenly dawned,
and, thinking it wise to hide himself from too observant
eyes, he fled for shelter to a lovely grove of blossoming
trees. The sight of such beauty cheered his
heart a little, and climbing to the top of one of the
trees he scanned the pathways of the wood. Then
he saw at a little distance a group of female Rakshasas
whose ugliness is beyond description, and, wonder
of wonders, in the centre of the ring which they
formed sat Sita herself! Her long black hair
streamed down to the ground, her eyes were
down-  cast, her lips moved tremulously, her arms were
stretched out, and her little hands, clenched in
despair, rested upon the ground at her sides. She
wore a simple tunic of a soft, bright amber colour,
and in spite of her grief and dejection she was more
beautiful than ever.
Presently the sound of music and merry voices
came through the wood, and a band of dancing girls
appeared who preceded Ravana himself. Sita sprang
to her feet and gave him such a look of hatred and
disgust that in spite of all his power he trembled
with fear, for he was learning that love can conquer
all things. Then, holding out both her arms as
though she saw Rama before her, she cried in piteous
"My lord and my life! To thee I belong as
radiance to the sun."
"Thou shalt never see him more," said Ravana.
"He will come to me," she said. "He will be
here and that soon, the Avenger of my wrongs—a
Lion among the sons of men! For this world
belongs to Heaven, and Justice is its Law. Tremble,
Ravana, for Rama is in pursuit of thee. Thou art a
Serpent, but he is the Kingly Eagle who rids the
earth of vermin."
"I give thee one month to forget him," muttered
Ravana, "and if you do not, then you shall die!"
Thereupon he turned and left the wood as he had
 Sita sank fainting upon the grass, and the Rakshasas
closed around her trying to persuade her
that Rama was not worthy of her, seeing that he
made no efforts to find her out, and threatening
her with untold torture if she did not try to forget
"Do what you will with me," cried the unhappy
princess, casting herself prone upon the ground in
her grief. "Why should I care for death when
Rama is no longer with me?"
Then a strange thing happened. Sita suddenly
raised herself to a sitting posture and, looking into
the trees, began to listen earnestly. The Rakshasas
hushed their cries and listened also, when they
heard a voice which said, "Alas, alas, for Rama!
An evil demon hath stolen the treasure of his heart,
and always he longs for some messenger who will
bid her, wherever she is, wait and trust and hope for
the gladness of reunion."
Sita looked earnestly into the trees and saw—a
little monkey. Her face fell "It was a dream,"
she cried, in a fresh burst of bitter grief. "My
senses fail me! But perhaps that is well, for if
madness seizes me I shall forget my sorrow."
Then she looked up at Hanuman. "Who art
thou, little Creature?" she said.
"I am Hanuman, the friend of Rama," was the
reply. "If you be Sita, take comfort, for Rama will
soon snatch you from the power of Ravana."
 "Tell me of my lord," she said eagerly, "and of
Lakshmana, the warrior with the laughing eyes."
Then Hanuman told her the whole of the story and
cheered her heart with a full account of Rama's
grief and constancy. "Return to them to Rama
and Lakshmana," she cried, "tell them where I
am, and that if they do not come within a month
I shall surely die."
"Nay, lady," said the little Creature, leaping
lightly upon the ground, "mount upon my back and
I will take thee to Rama." Then by his magic power
he assumed once more his own size and towered
above the slender queen.
"Prince of Monkeys," said Sita with the deepest
possible respect, "I salute thee. But I prefer that
Rama himself should rescue his own bride."
"Be it as you will," said Hanuman a little sadly.
Then he took a respectful farewell and prepared to
depart. But his heart was so full of rage against
Ravana that he destroyed the trees of the beautiful
grove, all except the ring of flowering saplings which
surrounded Sita and her guardians. This behaviour
was not calculated to advance the cause of Sita, for
Ravana at once sent out his warriors, who, after a
desperate fight, made Hanuman captive and dragged
him before their master.
He was asked who he was and what his errand
might be, and said boldly that he was the envoy of
Rama, who, with the help of Sugriva's army, meant
to destroy Lanka if Sita were not at once restored
to him* Then Ravana was very angry and gave
 orders that Hanuman's tail should be set on fire.
But Sita, hearing of the decision, prayed to the Fire,
which forthwith played round Hanuman's tail with-
out burning it; and the Son of the Wind at once
reduced his size to that of a grasshopper, leapt upon
a palace roof and set the building on fire with the
flame, which was still playing round his tail. Then
he climbed to the top of a high mountain and stretched
out his arms towards the opposite shore, and as he
sped through the air to the coast he heard the
welcoming cries of the Monkey army.
As soon as he had stepped down to earth he
found Rama in the leader's camp along with Sugriva
and Lakshmana, and when they heard that the time
for action had come they laughed aloud in glee, so
eager were they to plunge into the fray. And while
they consulted as to the best means of crossing the
sea, they saw sailing towards them overhead a monstrous
cloud that took shape as it drew nearer and
was seen to be a colossal Rakshasa, the brother of
Ravana, who quickly alighted and informed Rama
that he had come to be his ally and guide. Sugriva
suspected treachery, but the high-souled Rama
accepted the new-comer as a friend and the consultation
went forward, but no course of action could be
decided upon, possibly because the counsellors were
Then Rama took his bow and went down to the
edge of the water, and there he shot an arrow into
the deep heart of the ocean; and there was such a
commotion and consternation among the sharks, and
 whales, and crocodiles, and all the little fishes that
they begged the Queen of the Sea to rise to the
surface and find out whom she had offended. So
the beautiful Spirit of the Sea arose and rebuked
Rama for his anger and impatience. The warrior
then questioned her as to the possibility of building
a bridge to Lanka, but she said that this would not
be permitted. "But build a mole across the water,"
she said, "and I will give your army safe passage to
Then a hundred thousand Monkeys leapt into the
water laden with shrubs and stones, and they made a
solid path to Lanka, while the Queen of the Sea
prevented the sharks and crocodiles and other
monsters from interfering with the work.
It was night, and Ravana stood alone upon the
ramparts of the pleasant town of Lanka. They had
told him that his foes would make a pathway through
the trackless sea and he had laughed, but now that he
was alone with Night he knew that his hour had
come, and looking out across the dark waters he saw
the creeping army approaching nearer and nearer to
his shores. No sound was heard while the strange
warriors arranged themselves in troops and squadrons
by the margin of the silent sea.
Then Ravana left the ramparts.
As soon as morning dawned he went to the grove
where Sita was kept a prisoner by her guard of
 monsters. He entered her cave and knelt before
the princess. "Rama is dead," he cried. "He came
in the night; my young warriors surrounded him and
slew him. Ho, there!" he cried, turning towards
the entrance to the cave, "bring me the head of
It was easy enough for a magician to produce a
head and even to ensure its resemblance to that of
the hero Rama, easy enough to fill the soul of the
tortured princess with terror and to plunge her
heart into the lowest depths of grief, but it showed
a complete lapse of intelligence on the part of Ravana
to expect that the death of Rama would be followed
by the winning of Sita for himself. For a time, at
least, the poor princess passed beyond all knowledge
of her loss and of the torture to which she
was subjected, for, with a piercing cry of "Dead!
My lord!" she sank to the ground in an overmastering swoon.
Ravana took his departure, and the kindly gods
who had sent unconsciousness to Sita now sowed
compassion in the heart of one of her guardians,
who raised the princess in her arms and whispered
words of comfort in her ear. "It is merely a trick,"
she said in a soothing tone. "Look up, my little
Singing Bird. Open thine eyes. Thy hero is not
dead. A vast army has landed on our shore, and
among them moves one whose sad and noble
countenance proclaims him to be Rama, your godlike
The fainting heart of the princess revived upon
 hearing these words, and she graciously thanked the
indly monster for her tenderness and courtesy.
Meanwhile the Monkey army had met and utterly
outed the forces of Ravana, and the leaders were
ven now at the gates of Lanka. Then Sugriva
tood forth and warned the people of the place that
he hour of judgment had come for Ravana, whose
:areer of injustice, oppression, and cruelty was now
sided. But he offered mercy to the inhabitants if
he princess were at once sent out to Rama with all
lue courtesy and respect.
The courtiers of Ravana laughed scornfully.
"We shall see if blows be as easy as words to Rama,"
said the Rakshasa, "this precious prince whose
friends are Monkeys."
Then the fighting began again. Armed with
trees which they had torn up by the roots, the
followers of Sugriva advanced upon the four walls
of the city, Rama, Lakshmana, and Sugriva choosing
to attack the northern gate unaided. The battle
continued throughout the day. Night fell, but the
stars refused to shine upon a scene so terrible and
so strange. The sounds of drums and trumpets
blended with the fierce growlings of the fighters, and
the two princes moved among them in a godlike
radiance which surrounded their forms and served
to act as a kind of strange armour, protecting them
from the arrows of their foes while it singled them
out in the darkness and offered what appeared to be
an easy mark for the archers. This supernatural
protection roused the anger of their foes, and one of
 the Rakshasas called magic to his aid, mounted into
the air in a chariot all unseen by the enemy, and
harassed the attacking forces with enchanted arrows.
So effective was this ruse that Rama and Lakshmana
were both severely wounded and fell to the ground.
Then the fighting was stayed and the Rakshasa in his
airy chariot flashed into sight. "Behold," he cried,
' your leaders fall Pick up your dead, ye poor
deluded Monkeys; go back from whence ye came,
and hide your wounds and shame in the deepest,
darkest recesses of the forests to which you belong."
Sugriva ran to the side of the prostrate Rama and
dropped many bitter tears upon him. But at that
moment Rama opened his eyes, and seeing his brother
stretched at his side, apparently dead, closed them
again in despair. This had a bracing effect upon
Sugriva, who flung his arms about his head and
declared his intention of rescuing Sita by himself
and then setting fire to the town. Then the Wind,
the kindly god which cheers the heart in drought
and foretells the coming of cool, refreshing showers,
whispered in the ear of the half-unconscious Rama:
"Rama of the brawny arms, remember the
greatness of thy heart. Be true to thyself. Thy
mission is to cleanse the world of evil, which is
embodied in hideous form in the persons of Ravana
and his crew." At these words the heart of the hero
revived, and he leapt to his feet, while Lakshmana
also arose with the laughter which goes before
conquest in his eyes. Then the desperate fight
Now Ravana had a younger brother named
Kumbhakarna, who was a very ugly Giant, requiring
such a great deal of food that nothing was
safe within his reach. He devoured everything that
came in his way, everything indeed which his huge,
fat, ugly, spreading feet did not crush as flat as a
cake of flour. He had a simple mind and harboured
no malice in his heart, but, like many other well-meaning,
clumsy creatures, he did a great deal of
mischief; so much indeed that most people wished
that the gods would conduct him in a kindly way to
some place of retreat where there was plenty of food
and where he would be under no necessity of moving
about to satisfy his hunger. This was the only
thing which impelled him to move about, and every
one felt that if he could only be fed by some one
else all would be well. No one wished for his death,
for he was, as we have hinted, a very jolly Giant.
One day the chief of the gods had summoned
him to his presence and told him how every one was
complaining of his tremendous appetite and the
clumsiness of his ways. The huge Giant looked
very sheepish but had not a word to say, for the
weight of his body was only equalled by the apparent
lightness of his mind. "I cannot judge thee
harshly," said the chief of the gods, "and all that
I can do is to put you to sleep."
At these words Kumbhakarna sank down with an
easy smile and went to sleep.
 "For one day in six months you shall be free to
roam at will and to eat whatever you do not crush,"
said the chief of the gods. So the good-natured
Giant slept for a long time and woke for a short
time, to the great comfort of all who lived in Lanka
and the rest of the world.
But when Ravana found himself in great straits
during the desperate war with Rama, the Rakshasa
began to think that his heavy brother ought to
rouse himself and help in the family necessity.
"Of what use to the realm is this Giant's enormous
strength and appetite if he cannot get up, crush,
kill, and eat as many as possible of these pestilent
Monkeys?" This was, of course, a very natural
complaint, and a company of Rakshasas at once set
out for the palace of the Slumberous Giant.
As soon as they came near the gate they were
blown backwards for several yards by the heavy
breathing of the sleeper, but, holding each other
firmly, they managed to keep their feet and to advance
with lowered heads against the breeze. After an
invigorating struggle they arrived at last in the
chamber of the jolly Giant, whom they found prone
upon his back snoring in such a manner that the
huge building trembled to its very foundations.
Then the messengers of Ravana, holding fast to
the wall and to one another, piled up around the
couch of the sleeper mountains of buffalo flesh,
whole gazelles, boars, and all manner of meats very
tasty to an eater who found no delight in nuts and
vegetables. They filled golden vases with fiery
 drinks and placed them close to the sleeper's nostrils.
Then they retired to a place which was out of the
draught and awaited results.
But this plan had little effect. Kumbhakarna
stirred slightly as if the pleasant odours had reached
him in his dream, but the depth of his slumber was
in no way disturbed. Then the messengers anointed
his huge limbs with oil of sandal-wood. They
sounded brazen trumpets in his cavernous ears. They
shouted, clapped their hands, and leapt heavily upon
But Kumbhakarna slept and snored.
Next they brought camels and asses and elephants,
and lashed them till they ran round the room grunting
and hee-hawing and trumpeting with a tumult that
was heard all over the town of Lanka.
But Kumbhakarna slept and snored.
So some of the messengers pulled his hair;
others pinched or pummelled him; one bit his
thumb; others hammered him with heavy mallets
and clubs; a few leapt upon his body and ran
races over him from head to heel and back again.
But Kumbhakarna slept and snored.
Then they tried a new plan. They brought to
the palace a crowd of the most beautiful singing
girls in Lanka, and these maidens, clasping hands,
danced round the prostrate form of the slumberer,
singing softly all the while, bending now and again
to whisper in the sleeper's ear, and occasionally
breaking into the gentlest of laughter, which sounded
like the tinkling of silver bells. Of course in their
 circular dance each light-footed maiden passed into
the direct draught caused by the Giant's heavy
breathing and the air lifted her from her feet. But
the gentle ring was unbroken, and this variation
only increased the beauty and gracefulness of the
Suddenly the Giant flung up his arms; he
yawned, and it seemed as if the roof would be rent
with the sound. Then to the accompaniment of a
mighty sigh he opened his eyes and lay staring in
stupid amazement, while the singing maidens vanished
like a dream.
Kumbhakarna sat upright. "Why have you disturbed me?"
he asked, and the shrinking courtiers,
bowing to the earth, answered reverently, "Thy
brother Ravana, whose servant we are, has need of
your matchless valour, glorious and resplendent
The Giant sprang to his feet and commenced to
eat and drink, while the courtiers turned their faces
to the wall. When he was quite satisfied he stood
up and bellowed boldly:
"Who is my brother's enemy?"
"An army of Monkeys led by Prince Rama has
already defeated him more than once. Follow us,
O Prince, and put fresh hope and courage into his
Kumbhakarna at once set out and was received
with great joy by Ravana. "Who is this Rama?"
 inquired the Giant, and Ravana turned to slander
and defame his enemy, but, in spite of himself, these
were the strange words he spoke?" He is of noble
mind and the Friend of all Living Creatures, so
that he does not disdain the help of the lowliest. I
hold his wife, the peerless Sita, as my prisoner, and
he has come in search of her at the head of an army
of Monkeys and Bears."
"Send back Sita to her lord," said the good-natured
Giant. "A bad deed weakens the arms
and spoils one for honest warfare. Then, if you
will, challenge Prince Rama to single combat, and
let the better man win."
Ravana grew angry. "I do not need your advice,
brother," he said, "but your help against my foes."
The Giant looked at him, not lazily and sleepily
as he usually regarded everything, but with a strange
fire of insight and intelligence in his eyes. Then he
spoke slowly and clearly:
"One day I leapt from slumber and went abroad
to appease my hunger. When I had done so, I sat
down to rest, and Narada, the Messenger of the Gods,
came and sat beside me.
" 'Whence come you, Narada?' I asked.
" 'From a council of the gods,' he said.
" 'And what was the purpose of that august
meeting?' I inquired.
" 'To consider how the world could be freed from
the curse of Ravana's presence,' was the reply.
" 'And what was the upshot?' was my next
 " 'It was decided/ said Narada, c that Vishnu, the
ruler of gods and men, should take human form and
cleanse the world of Demons such as Ravana.'
Then the Messenger of the Gods disappeared," the
Giant went on. "And if this Rama is king of gods
and men in human shape, it will be well for us to
yield to him without further delay."
Ravana laughed with tenfold scorn. "Would
Vishnu choose Monkeys as his allies?" he asked.
"Thy wit is as small as thy bulk is large. Get thee
back to thy slumbers and I will face these foes
"Nay," said the Giant. "He who must fight
will fight. Show me the foe."
Then Ravana gave his brother his pike of gleaming
silver and his own cuirass of gold; and the Giant
mounted a chariot drawn by a hundred asses and
drew near to the enemy. A mighty rock was hurled
at him, the asses were overturned, and the charioteer
fell dead. But Kumbhakarna stepped to the ground
and began mowing down his enemies like a lusty
harvester. In due time he came upon Sugriva, who
was armed with a mighty tree. "Hold, Monster,"
cried the King of the Monkeys, "and try thy strength
Kumbhakarna held his sides for laughter, snatched
up a rock and laid the monarch low. Then he picked
him up between his finger and thumb and cried,
"Ho, you Monkeys, here is your king. It is time
you went home."
But Sugriva was not dead. With a great effort
 he sprang at the Giant's face and tore his cheeks
with his nails. Kumbhakarna flung him down, and
Sugriva was soon among his friends once more,
while the angry Giant, blinded with rage and roaring
with pain, began to move aimlessly about trampling
down his foes by dozens.
Before long he came face to face with Rama and
Lakshmana. An arrow from the bow of the peerless
prince pierced the Giant's mighty arm. He rushed
blindly at Rama, but another arrow struck him in the
side. With a crash like a mountain hurled down
from its height the Giant fell to the earth; as his
head smote the ground his great heart broke, and
Still the fierce war went on, with varying fortune,
until the day came when Ravana swore a dreadful
oath that before sunset either he or Rama should bite
the dust. So he leapt into his chariot, sought out
the peerless prince, and challenged him to a final
wrestling bout. Rama's answer was a stream of
arrows from his mighty bow, but his enemy put
them aside as though they had been drops of rain,
and hurling his spear at Lakshmana brought him
senseless to the earth. This roused Rama to fury
and he attacked Ravana at close quarters, until the
the terrified Demon took fright, turned, and fled
back to Lanka.
Then Rama sought out his beloved brother and
found him lying, to all appearance, dead. At that
 moment Hanuman came up to him, and, pitying his
grief, offered to fetch from the woods which clothed
the sides of a far-off mountain a plant of sufficient
healing-power to restore the warrior forthwith.
"Away?" cried Rama, and without delay the mighty
form of the Son of the Wind cleft the air. Ravana
saw him go, and, guessing his errand, sent a messenger
quicker ev^n than Hanuman to await his arrival on
the mountain-side in the disguise of a hermit there
to wreck his plans for the restoration of Lakshmana.
As Hanuman alighted in the wood he was met
by this hermit, who invited him to refresh himself
at the stream which flowed by the place of his
retreat. As he stooped to drink a crocodile clutched
him by the throat, but he tore the creature in two,
when, to his surprise, a beautiful maiden rose from
the slaughtered reptile, and, having thanked the Son
of the Wind for releasing her from a vile enchantment,
vanished into the air. Hanuman went back
to the hermit, who was so much surprised to see
him that he threw off his disguise and the two closed
in a combat which ended with the death of Ravana's
Now these disturbing occurrences made Hanuman
forget the description of the plant that he had come
to seek—which is not surprising. But he was not to
be daunted. He broke off a projecting crag from
the side of the mountain, trees and undergrowth
with it, leapt into the air, carried it to his friends
and bade them find the healing plant among the
rest. This was soon done, the leaves were laid upon
 Lakshmana's wound, and in a moment he sat up,
looked round upon his friends, and laughed pleasantly.
"Brother," he said to Rama, "did I dream, or
did you swear to kill this monster before nightfall?"
"I swear it now," said Rama, making the promise
which no man dares to break.
Meanwhile Ravana had prepared a chariot of
ebony drawn by two coal-black horses. When this
was told to the gods who befriended Rama they
sent to the hero the chariot of the king of the gods.
It was made from a shell of the softest, palest blue,
surmounted by a rich purple banner, and drawn by
four horses in colour and radiance like the sun in
his strength, round whose necks hung golden bells
which sent forth heavenly music as they moved.
Rama leapt gladly into this resplendent car, and
the battle began between Light and Darkness.
Before long the flight of Rama's arrows mingled
with the darts of the Demon hid the two combatants
from the eyes of the onlookers. But from the shade
cast by the flying shafts they heard the majestic
voice of Rama, stern with virtue yet tender with
compassion. "Thou poor deluded monster," it
said, "tossed to and fro by all the blasts of evil, Death
is near to thee, and its deepest horror is to see thyself
as thou art in the eyes of the loftiest virtue." As
the voice rose through the conflict it weakened the
arm of Ravana in a manner which could not be
accomplished even by the arrows of Rama.
"Thine hour has come," cried his calm and
 terrible foe, sending a shaft which tore off one of
the Demon's heads.
But the head quickly grew again and Ravana
appeared to be uninjured.
"Aim at his heart," cried the charioteer of the
celestial car. "The heart, not the head, is the seat of
Then Rama adjusted the fatal shaft, drew the
string and let it go. The hissing arrow struck the
heart of Ravana, who raised his clenched fist to
Heaven as if in final defiance, staggered to the edge
of his ebony chariot, and, like a mountain overwhelmed
by earthquake, crashed to the earth—dead.
For a moment all was still—a deep sigh ran
through the watching host like the whisper of a
breeze through a field of corn which is white to
harvest. Then from afar was heard the throbbing
of the Drums of Victory sounded by the armies of
the gods. From the sky fluttered a gentle rain of
flowers, a soft breeze wafted down to earth bearing
the sound of celestial melodies, and round about the
car of Rama danced a troop of maidens more lovely
than the dawn of early summer.
"All hail to Rama!" cried the watching army.
"The power of Evil is conquered by the Friend of
Living Creatures, and the reign of Justice has
In a low-roofed cave, the entrance to which was
almost hidden by flowering creepers, lay Sita fast
asleep with her head upon her arm. She had
heard from afar the distant sounds of the contending
forces, but there was none to tell her of the result of
the fight, for the guardians of her captivity had
left her. At last, wearied but not altogether unhappy,
she had sunk into a restful slumber.
She was roused from pleasant dreaming by a
feeling that she was not alone, and, opening her
eyes, saw the Son of the Wind standing near her
"Pearl of Living Creatures," she cried, "thou
hast news of Rama my lord?" Then, overwrought
with fear and watching, she burst into tears.
"Weep not, my Princess," said the kindly
creature. "Rama is victorious. Ravana is dead."
"And my lord is here?" she cried, clasping her
hands to her breast, "and I shall see my lord?"
"He will send at sunrise," said Hanuman, "for
the battlefield is dark with blood and no fit spectacle
for the eyes of a tender princess."
"At sunrise he will send," she said half to herself,
again and again looking at the kindly Monkey
before her whose ugliness seemed transformed by
the unselfish service he had rendered to the cause
of Right and Virtue. But his nature was unchanged
and he begged permission from the princess to enter
Lanka and avenge her still further upon its inhabitants.
Sita clapped her hands and broke into merry
laughter. "Trouble them not, poor things," she
said gently. "I have no desire that any creature,
 great or small, should be in trouble and grief any
It seemed a long time waiting for the dawn;
but Sita's love for Rama was so steadfast that she
did not pause to wonder why her lord had not
hastened at once to meet her.
When morning dawned a messenger came to
the cave bringing rich clothing, jewels, and perfumes.
"Array yourself," he said, "in a manner fitting to
your rank and destiny." With fingers trembling with
happy eagerness the princess dressed and adorned
herself and stepped into a gorgeous palanquin. In a
few moments she was brought into the centre of the
waiting army, and, hidden behind the rich curtains
of her litter, heard at last the voice of Rama giving
directions to his attendants.
But it sounded cold, distant, and strange to her.
And when she stepped from her palanquin, radiant
in youthful beauty, and ran with faltering feet to
meet her lord and master, she was dismayed to find
his face full of offended dignity and his eyes averted
"Am I not worn and weary with search and
combat ? And she comes to me radiant with the
freshness of untired youth. Not one line of care
shows upon her brow, no sign of having missed my
Then the laughing Lakshmana was very angry.
"See, brother," he said, "there stands your bride
with lustrous eyes imploring you. Have you no
greeting for the gentle Sita?"
 But the Demon of Jealousy had taken possession
of Rama's heart, and for a time at least his nobility
of soul was clouded by the evil influence. If Sita's
sorrow had left so few traces upon her beauty, he
argued, torturing his own soul without reason, then
at heart she must have been willing enough to be
parted from him?"
"Alas!" she cried at last, turning in despair to
Lakshmana, "build for me a funeral pyre, for it is
time that I should die."
The heavy-hearted Lakshmana prepared to obey
her, and in a silence which could be felt a great heap
of boughs was raised. Then Sita ascended the pyre,
while the flames were applied and licked the base of
the structure with angry tongues. But Rama was
still unmoved, in spite of the anger and grief of his
Then the gods, in pity for his human weakness,
sent to these true lovers deliverance from the last
anguish which was to trouble their hearts. From
the unclouded heaven descended the god of Purity
and Light in a blaze of splendour, and snatching
Sita from the pyre placed her in the arms of
"Thou didst doubt me, my lord!" she said with
"Forgive me, my Queen," he said, as he folded
her in his arms. "The God of Fire has saved me
from the Demon of Jealousy, and now I know thee
as my Own my tender Love."
There is no need to tell of the joyous journey to
 Ayodhya for the fourteen years of exile were
accomplished, of the welcome accorded to Rama and
his bride, or of the golden years which followed in
that happy city, freed for ever from the shadow of
Evil by the sufferings of the conquering Rama.