Whether his enemy ever got back to his temple, Sringa-Bhuja never knew. Exhausted with all he had been through, the young prince was taken back to the palace by the faithful Marut, and there he found his dear Rupa-Sikha awaiting him. She told him that her father had promised her that, if the prince came back, he would oppose her marriage no longer. “For,” he said, “if he can escape your uncle, he must be more than mortal, and worthy even of my daughter.” “He does not in the least expect to see you again,” added Rupa-Sikha; “and even if he allows us to marry, he will never cease to hate you; for I am quite sure he knows that you shot the jewelled arrow at him when he was in the form of a crane. If I ever am your wife, he will try to punish you through me. But have no fear: I shall know how to manage him. Fresh powers have been lately given to me by another uncle whose magic is stronger than that of any of my other relations.”
When Sringa-Bhuja had bathed and rested, he robed himself once more in the garments he had worn the day he first saw Rupa-Sikha; and together the lovers went to the great hall to seek an interview with Agni-Sikha. The magician, who had made quite sure that he had now got rid of the unwelcome suitor for his daughter’s hand, could not contain his rage, at seeing him walk in with her as if the two were already wedded.
He stamped about, pouring out abuse, until he had quite exhausted himself, the lovers looking on quietly without speaking. At last, coming close to them, Agni-Sikha shouted, in a loud harsh voice: “So you have not obeyed my orders. You have not bid my brother to the wedding. Your life is forfeit, and you will die to-morrow instead of marrying Rupa-Sikha. Describe the temple in which Dhuma Sikha lives and the appearance of its owner.”
Then Sringa-Bhuja gave such an exact account of the temple, naming the gods whose images still adorned it, and of the terrible man riding the noble steed who had pursued him, that the magician was convinced against his will; and knowing that he must keep his word to Rupa-Sikha, he gave his consent for the preparations for the marriage on the morrow to begin.
19. What is your opinion of the character of Agni-Sikha?
20. Do you think he was at all justified in the way in which he treated his daughter and Sringa-Bhuja?
The marriage was celebrated the next day with very great pomp; and a beautiful suite of rooms was given to the bride and bridegroom, who could not in spite of this feel safe or happy, because they knew full well that Agni-Sikha hated them. The prince soon began to feel home-sick and anxious to introduce his beautiful wife to his own people. He remembered that he had left his dear mother in prison, and reproached himself for having forgotten her for so long. So he said to Rupa-Sikha:
“Let us go, beloved, to my native city, Vardhamana. My heart yearns after my dear ones there, and I would fain introduce you to them.”