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which is productive of a careless hardihood. Under the influence of this feeling, the hunters rode on in a straggling manner: some enjoying, in silent anticipation, the sport of the day; others, of lighter nature, chatting to each other, or to the ladies; for this being ages before the star of Islamism had appeared, women were universally allowed to mingle in society, from the princess to the peasant. Suddenly, however, while no one was expecting it, a huge tiger sprang from a thicket, and bounded across the path of the hunters, directly in front of Ramghur. The adventurous prince immediately dashed forward to attack the beast, and launched at it his javelin, wont, in most cases, to be unerring. It now, however, missed its aim; and the hunter, who had advanced far beyond his party, stood unarmed before his enemy. The tiger, irritated and chafed by the pursuit, turned furiously round, and springing at the prince, brought both charger and rider to the ground. The ladies, who were near enough to see what was passing, almost fell from their howdahs with terror, and shrieked aloud. The old king was paralysed. The young princes dashed forward to save their brother ; but the tiger was before-hand with them, and already had his paw upon the victim's throat, when the dagger of the pilgrim entered his heart, and stretched his vast bulk lifeless upon the earth!
Ramghur, released from the grasp of the tiger, now started upon his feet, and seizing Hurchund by the hand, swore by all the gods of India ---- and they are not few
that the wealth of the Deccan was at his disposal; and Ramadeva himself coming up, added, in the joy of the moment, that let the stranger demand what he pleased it should be granted him, even unto the half of his kingdom. Hurchund took the king at his word.—“Give me your hand,” said he, “and swear to grant me one single boon.” The old king gave him his hand, and swore. “Instead of the half of your kingdom," said Hurchund, “which I pray the gods you may long live to govern! all I ask is yonder elephant, with its burthen,”—pointing to the animal upon which the younger princess was mounted. At these words the cheek of the old king turned pale, and already repenting him of his oath, he replied falteringly—“Stranger, make some other demand : ask riches, ask honours, ask power; but aspire not to the hand of my daughter.” “King,” said Hurchund, “when I saved the life of your son, it was from a mere impulse of humanity, and I neither asked nor expected any reward. You and your heir, however, ostentatiously bad me make some demand; and when I name the only thing in your dominions which possesses any value in my eyes, you meditate the breaking of your oath, and desire me to choose some other reward! I scorn riches, honours, power! Give me what I ask, or let me depart in peace, to reflect upon the brittle faith of the Rajah of the Deccan.” Ramghur stood silent with folded arms. He loved Hurchund, and would very willingly have given him his sister ; but he knew and respected his father's
prejudices. In the mean time, the ladies and the other courtiers had come up, and formed a circle round the deliberators. Every person, however, was silent; until at length the king's second son, who partook of Ramadeva's feelings, exclaimed :—"He requires the elephant, with its burthen. Let him have it! My spear shall render it possible for you to keep your promise, my father, and preserve your honour!”—and he was about to pierce the heart of his sister, when Hurchund seized him by the arm—"Wretch!” said he, “be still. The honour of the greatest sovereign upon earth would not be sullied by the union of his child with the Rajah Hurchund!” The fame of his wealth, his splendour, his power, and of his having left his dominions in disguise, had long reached the Deccan; and it was not difficult for him to establish his identity. Explanations took place. The hand of the princess was promised; but it was agreed that the solemnization of the nuptials should be deferred until the arrival of Ramayuna at the capital of Ajmere, whither Ramghur, with a vast and magnificent retinue, was to conduct her.
In a few weeks the princes and their numerous attendants set forward on their journey. Ramayuna was happy- her brother was happy - but Hurchund was haunted by I know not what demon, which day and night crept upon his thoughts, and disturbed his repose. I shall not dwell upon the scenes they traversed, or the celebrated cities in which they rested on their way to Ajmere; since my present business is not so much with mountains, valleys, or rivers, as with the destinies of one proud spirit, which kept almost instinctively aloof from the spirits by which it was surrounded, and in seeking a high fantastical bliss, beyond the reach of mortals, neglected to enjoy the pure and simple pleasures which heaven has strewed with liberal hand over the earth, for those who know how to gather them. On the road, Hurchund was as frequently as possible in the company of the princess, sometimes with her brother, at other times alone; and during these moments, might be said to be as near happiness as a man of his temper could be. The beauty of Ramayuna was of the most delicate kind, arising in a great measure from the character of her soul; which, however, like certain flowers, could not yield forth all its sweetness until pressed and bruised. There is a glory, more or less intense, which surrounds every beautiful person like an atmosphere, though it be rather felt than seen! but in the present case this phenomenop was peculiarly observable, and affected even the most vulgar persons who entered her presence. Ramayuna herself was far from being aware of the extent of her power; but contemplating the proud character of Hurchund, and contrasting it with her own gentle nature, she could not but observe with delight the empire which she possessed over so wayward and singular a person. Neither of them, however, as yet knew the other, nor could foresee that destiny which
heaven was preparing for them; but both tended forward in darkness towards that future, which the wishes of mortals in all ages are accustomed to paint in glorious and enduring colours.
Hurchund, the reader must have discovered, was far from being a vulgar personage; yet he had great failings, and among the rest, was possessed with the vain wish of inspiring all mankind with a high idea of his taste, his wealth, and his power. But if he was desirous of appearing to advantage to ordinary persons, whom it is not difficult to dazzle and deceive, he was necessarily infinitely more so with respect to the object of his love; and all the way enjoyed in secret, the surprise and delight which, he doubted not, the sight of her future residence would cause in her heart. When they had arrived within one day's journey of the capital, he feigned some motive for performing the remainder of the journey by night; and as they moved on through the darkness, and conversed, sang, or listened to the inventions of some wandering tale-teller of the desert, Hurchund's heart seemed to dilate with inexpressible pleasure, as each tramp of his trusty steed brought him nearer and nearer to the creation of his genius, his desert city. Ramayuna, seated in her little palace upon the back of an elephant, now and then inquired of him with girlish eagerness how far they had yet to travel; and Ramghur himself, who, though a prince, had an inquiring and curious spirit, sometimes joined in the question. Hurchund replied that he began,