A PICTURE-BOOK WITHOUT PICTURES 1107
beams strove to pierce through the thick intertwining boughs of the plane trees, arching beneath me like the tortoise's shell. Forth from the thicket tripped a Hindoo maid, light as a gazelle, beautiful as Eve. There was something so airy and ethereal, and yet so full and firm in this daughter of Hindostan : I could read her thoughts through her delicate skin. The thorny creeping plants tore her sandals, but for all that she came rapidly forward. The deer which came from the river where it had quenched its thirst, sprang by with a startled bound, for in her hand the maiden bore a lighted lamp. I could see the blood in her delicate finger-tips, as she spread them for a screen before the flame. She came down to the stream, and set the lamp upon the water, and let it float away. The flame flickered to and fro, and seemed ready to expire ; but still the lamp burned on, and the girl's black sparkling eyes, half-veiled behind their long silken lashes, followed it with a gaze of earnest intensity. She well knew that if the lamp continued to burn so long as she could keep it in sight, her betrothed was still alive ; but if the lamp was suddenly extinguished, he was dead. And the lamp burned and quivered, and her heart burned and trembled ; she fell on her knees, and prayed. Near her in the grass lay a speckled snake, but she heeded it not—she thought only of Brahma and of her betrothed. " He lives! " she shouted joyfully, " he lives ! " And from the mountains the echo came back upon her, " He lives ! " '
' Yesterday,' said the Moon to me, ' I looked down upon a small courtyard surrounded on all sides by houses. In the courtyard sat a hen with eleven chickens; and a pretty little girl was running and jumping around them. The hen was frightened, and screamed, and spread out her wings over the little brood. Then the girl's father came out and scolded her ; and I glided away and thought no more of the matter.
1 But this evening, only a few minutes ago, I looked down into the same courtyard. Everything was quiet. But presently the little girl came forth again, crept quietly to