[Footnote 1: Ranipett.]
THE STORY OF RUDRA.
A deep calm sea; on the blue waters toiled,
From morn till eve, the simple fishermen;
And, on the beach, there stood a group of huts
Before whose gates old men sat mending nets
And eyed with secret joy the little boys
That gaily gambolled on the sandy beach
Regardless of their parents’ daily toils.
And all the busy women left their homes
And their young ones with baskets on their heads
Filled with the finny treasures of the deep.
A thousand yards to landward rose a town
With its broad streets, high roofs, and busy marts.
An ancient temple in the centre stood,
Where to his servant Nandi once appeared
Great Siva, it is said, in human frame.
E’en learned saints sang of the holy shrine;
And to this sacred spot from far-off lands
For adoration countless pilgrims came
And men to buy all rarest things that poured
Into her busy marts from foreign parts.
Here in this ancient port of Nundipore
In royal splendour lived a merchant youth,
Who scarce had reached his one-and-twentieth year.
His aged father had but lately died
And left him the sole heir of all his wealth.
And Rudra—for that was the brave youth’s name—
Had heard from infant days full many tales
Of how his grandsire and his sire had braved
The perils of the deep in search of gold,
And in his bosom fondly nurtured hopes
To travel likewise on the dang’rous sea.
And oft would he to Rati, his fair wife,
Exulting tell how wisely he would trade
In foreign shores and with rare gems return;
How even princes, by those gems allured,
To court his friendship come from distant lands,
And he dictate his own high terms to them,
And thus add glory to his glorious house.
And often would she vainly plead in turn
Her desolate position and her youth.
And her dear lord implore upon her knees
For ever to dismiss his cherished thoughts
And turn to her and to their lordly wealth
Which God had given them, to live in peace.
Thus wrangled for some months the timid wife
And he whom woman’s charms could not subdue
Until at last arrived th’ appointed day.
The little ship was waiting in the port,
And Rudra to his youthful wife repaired
His purpose to disclose; and as at times
Clouds hover over us and darken all
The sky for days, and still no rain descends—
But suddenly when least expected comes—
So she to whom her husband’s parting lay
In words saw it burst in reality.