Kopal-Kundala/The Meeting of the Beauties

Chapter III.

The Meeting of the Beauties.

Nobokumar called the woman of the house, and told her to bring another light. Before it was brought, he heard the sound of a deep sigh. A moment after the light was brought a Mussulman, in the garb of a servant, appeared. The up-country woman seeing him, said, "What is this? why have you been so long? Where are all the others?"

The servant said, "The bearers were drunk, and in getting them together I fell behind the palki. After that, on seeing a broken palki and not seeing you, I utterly lost my senses. Some of them are there, and some have gone in different directions to look for you. I have come here in search of you."

Moti said, "Bring them here."

The servant made a salaam and went away. The foreign woman remained sitting for sometime with her face in her hands.

Nobokumar asked leave to go. Then Moti rose as one from a dream, and asked in the same tone as before, "Where are you going to stop?"

Nob. In the house next to this.

Moti. I saw a palki near the house; is anybody with you?

Nob. My wife is with me.

Moti Bibi again got an opportunity for jesting, and said, "What, is she the peerless beauty?"

Nob. If you see her, you will know.

Moti. Is she to be seen?

Nob. (thoughtfully) Why not?

Moti. Then do me a favour. I am exceedingly anxious to see an unequalled beauty. I want to go to Agra and mention her. But not now; go away now, and in a little while I will send you word.

Nobokumar went away. After a few moments, many male and female servants and bearers came up, bringing boxes and other things. A palki, too, arrived, inside which was a female servant. Then word was brought to Nobokumar that the lady had sent for him.

Nobokumar returned to Moti Bibi. He saw that this time her beauty was different. Moti Bibi had taken off the dress she had been wearing, and had decked herself out with ornaments and embroidered robes, sparkling with gold, pearls, and other precious stones. The unornamented body she had adorned with ornaments. In all that she had on, everywhere diamonds and other gems were sparkling out from the gold,—on her hair, hair-knot, on her forehead, by her eyes, in her ears, on her throat, breast, and arms. Nobokumar's eyes were dazzled. An overabundance of gold ornaments rather detracts from the beauty of most women; many look just like dressed-up dolls. But Moti Bibi had not that appearance, nor was her beauty lessened. The abundance of ornaments appeared to be in harmony with her somewhat large body, like the sky adorned with large constellations, and her beauty was thereby enhanced. Moti Bibi said to Nobokumar, "Come along, sir, let me be introduced to your wife."

Nobokumar took Moti Bibi with him. The servant, who had come in the palki, also accompanied them. Her name was Pesmon.

Kopal-Kundala was sitting alone on the damp floor of the shop. Only a small light was burning; her thick unconfined tresses darkened her back. When Moti Bibi first saw her, a slight smile could be seen on the corner of her lip and in her eyes. In order to see better, she took up the light and brought it near Kopal-Kundala's face. Then her smiles disappeared, and Moti's face became grave. She gazed on her with unflinching eyes. Neither one spoke a word; Moti was fascinated, and Kopal-Kundala somewhat astonished.

After a moment or two Moti began to take off the ornaments from her limbs. She undid them all, and one by one commenced to put them on Kopal-Kundala. Kopal-Kundala did not say a word. Nobokumar said, "What are you doing there?" but Moti gave no reply.

Having finished covering her with ornaments, Moti said to Nobokumar, "You spoke the truth. This flower does not bloom even in the gardens of kings. The pity of it is that I cannot exhibit this wealth of beauty at the capital. These ornaments suit her limbs—for this reason I have put them on her. You too must sometimes put them on her and think of the forward foreign lady."

Nobokumar was astounded, and said, "What! those priceless ornaments. I cannot take them."

Moti said, "By the grace of God I have others; I shall not be deprived of all my ornaments. If I feel a pleasure in letting her wear them, why should you thwart me?"

So saying, Moti Bibi went away with her handmaid. When they were alone, Pesmon asked Moti Bibi, "My lady, who is this man?"

The young Mussulmanee replied, "My husband!"