Vikram And The Vampire – 9
Far and wide through the lovely land overrun by the Arya from the Western Highlands spread the fame of Unmadini, the beautiful daughter of Haridas the Brahman. In the numberless odes, sonnets, and acrostics addressed to her by a hundred Pandits and poets her charms were sung with prodigious triteness.
Her presence was compared to light shining in a dark house; her face to the full moon; her complexion to the yellow champaka flower; her curls to female snakes; her eyes to those of the deer; her eyebrows to bent bows; her teeth to strings of little opals; her feet to rubies and red gems, and her gait to that of the wild goose. And none forgot to say that her voice affected the author like the song of the kokila bird, sounding from the shadowy brake, when the breeze blows coolly, or that the fairy beings of Indra’s heaven would have shrunk away abashed at her loveliness.
But, Raja Vikram! All the poets failed to win the fair Unmadini’s love. To praise the beauty of a beauty is not to praise her. Extol her wit and talents, which has the zest of novelty, then you may succeed. For the same reason, read inversely, the plainer and cleverer is the bosom you would fire, the more personal you must be upon the subject of its grace and loveliness.
Flattery you know, is ever the match which kindles the Flame of love. True it is that some by roughness of demeanour and bluntness in speech, contrasting with those whom they call the “herd,” have the art to succeed in the service of the bodyless god. But even they must—
The young prince Dharma Dhwaj could not help laughing at the thought of how this must sound in his father’s ear. And the Raja hearing the ill-timed merriment, sternly ordered the Baital to cease his immoralities and to continue his story.
Thus the lovely Unmadini, conceiving an extreme contempt for poets and literati, one day told her father who greatly loved her, that her husband must be a fine young man who never wrote verses. Withal she insisted strongly on mental qualities and science, being a person of moderate mind and an adorer of talent— when not perverted to poetry. As you may imagine, Raja Vikram, all the beauty’s bosom friends, seeing her refuse so many good offers, confidently predicted that she would pass through the jungle and content herself with a bad stick, or that she would lead ringtailed apes in Patala.
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