網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

the continuance of fortune's breeze till to-morrow. It will be well, therefore, if you make up your minds to meet every thing that can happen, as an event that may happen; and this, believe me, is very needful in a state, where we have reason not only to fear the loss of somewhat every moment, but of our own life, the instant Providence may deem it good to stop our breath. It pleased that bountiful source of all we enjoy to shut up the flood-gates of heaven in most parts of India for two years in succession. You may easily conceive what misery this produced in a country where scarcely any kind of grain will grow without frequent and careful irrigation. Severe scarcity soon made its appearance, and all the horrors of want assailed the poor. The fine river on which the house of Chunda Gopal stood became quite dry; his pepper vines drooped and withered under the sun ; all his cocoa-nut trees pined with thirst, and yielded not a single fruit ; nor would his plantains produce a banana. His rice-fields were equally barren. Indeed he had soon to send out for every thing his large family required ; and, long before the famine ceased, he saw himself and those he loved reduced to the sore necessity of selling their

furniture, their gold ornaments, and every moveable they had, to purchase bread. As all the necessaries of life were brought from Bengal, and some other provinces which had not been deprived of the usual monsoon, the price charged for rice was so enormous that it required vast funds to support a family. The roads were strewed with dead bodies, and wretches sinking from starvation; and Chunda Gopal had the melancholy prospect of seeing himself, as he advanced in life, not only deprived of every moveable, but forced to put up one part of his estate after another to auction, till he began to fear that the whole would not outlast the famine; for, at such a melancholy time, of course very little would be given for land.

During this mournful period, the good and kind-hearted Luxana felt all the emotions of sorrow that can possess the breast of a fond wife and a happy mother. She prayed to all the gods-she shed floods of tears—she made vows of pilgrimages, and offerings—and most earnestly implored favour from Brahma. When in deep distress, to whom can we fly for succour with hope, but to God? Even if we receive no direct assistance, the act of

[ocr errors]

66

entreating it is salutary, because we should not ask a power to help us without believing he had the ability to do so; and, therefore, hope being necessarily generated by prayer, something is always gained by it.

“ It happened that Luxana retired late to rest one night, after fervent devotion, and a pouring out of her grief in secret, for fear of increasing the sorrow of her husband. She had implored Indra to instruct her in a dream how she should act to relieve the dear objects of her solicitude. “Great power,' said she, if thou wilt accept the sacrifice of myself to secure the safety of those I love, make but a sign to thy servant, and I shall instantly become ashes. With this heroic resolution she laid herself down, kissed her sleeping husband, and sank into the embraces of sleep.

“ But her soul, that astonishing never-dying lamp, never-slumbering somewhat, continued to pour its light on her internal orbs of sight. She seemed all faculty ; ear, eye, smell, taste, feeling, were as busy as they had been during the day. “I am wide awake,” thought she. “Yes, I am in the temple of Indra. I see his benign aspect beaming. He is all

fire.'--Seated on his huge recumbent elephant, with two attendants fanning him, and numerous peacocks sporting in the fruit-tree which grew out of his head, the god appeared to Luxana. His wife, Indranee, on a huge tiger, fanned by four choury, or yak* tail bearers, with her child on her knee, sat near him. They were resplendent as the rainbow. She saw through them as though she had been looking at sunbeams. Indranee waved her hand. Luxana prostrated herself. The gods shook their heads; and golden mangoes fell from the trees. The peacocks in their branches screamed, and spread their celestial plumage in all the gorgeous pageantry of pride. Luxana gathered up the mangoes; and Indra and Indranee smiled and nodded their assent. Soon after, a large ape came forward, from among

the branches over Indra's head. It was Hunnymaun. Luxana was not sure, it might be the monkey son of the God; for he has one, who is a kind good-natured creature. But she saw him twist his long tail round a branch, and let himself down on Indra’st mighty shoulders, where he perched

* The huge-tailed cow of Thibet.

+ See a representation of this wonderful Hindoo idol, in Capt. Seely's Elora, page 241.

most respectfully; and applying his mouth to the idol's ear, he asked: “Shall I answer Luxana, O mighty father ?' She felt no fear; for when we are ready to die, what can have terror? But a thrill passed through her frame, when she heard these words in a deep sullen tone, like the voice of St. Paul's-- It is my will.'

“ Look at this oyster,' said Hunnymaun; holding one up in his great paw, which appeared all light, except a black spot in the centre of the shell, surrounded by an orange riin; 'Go to the next auction, and buy the heap in which you shall see this.'

“ The whole vanished into darkness, the deep black hue of which startled Luxana to consciousness that what she had seen was a dream ; but her astonishment next morning was inexpressible, when she discovered her sauri * full of fine ripe mangoes. She of course imparted her dream to her husband, and showed him the beautiful golden fruit, of which they had not eaten for many a day.

66 You must know that there is, between the Island of Ceylon and the Peninsula of Hindostan, a

* The piece of cloth which forms the general female dresz.

« 上一頁繼續 »