And Aja bounded, as if bitten by a snake. And he exclaimed: Thy husband! What! Am I then thy husband also? Does thy whole sex want to get me for a husband? But O thou beauty of bending brows, how can he be thy husband, that never saw thee in his life before? And only this morning, I was still wifeless, and a day has not elapsed, since I became another’s husband. And he stopped short, again confounded at the effect of his own words. For hardly had they passed his lips, when Natabhrukuti started up, swelling with rage and convulsed with fury, with eyes that blazed like fiery stars. And she exclaimed: Never! never! Never shall she possess thee, nor any other than I myself. And then, like a flash of lightning, her rage vanished as quickly as it came. And she looked at him with imploring eyes, and said: Slay me now, with thy long bright sword, and send me back to that nonentity out of which thou hast just recalled me: but speak not of another woman in front of me. Alas! and am I all forgotten? And tears rolled from her great blue eyes, and fell like suppliants at her feet.
And Aja put up his left hand, and tugged at his hair in the extremity of his amazement. And he said: O thou strange offended lady, I am utterly bewildered, and resemble one that has lost his way at midnight in a wood. And thy anger and thy grief are alike altogether incomprehensible. How can I possibly have forgotten one, whom as I just now told thee, I never saw in my life before? Then she said: Nay, not in this life, but the last. For I was the wife of thy former birth.
Then Aja laughed, and he said: O beauty, who remembers his former birth? For like every other man, and like my ancestor the sun, I have risen up into light out of the sea of dark oblivion, into which I must sink again at last. And then she looked at him with a deep sigh. And she said: Alas! This is a punishment indeed, and worse by far than all the rest, if after having endured so long the state of a stone upon a wall, I am again become a woman, only to find myself repudiated and all forgotten, by him, on whose account I suffered all. Listen, then, and I will tell thee the story of thy former birth. It may be, that, in the hearing, some scattered reminiscences will be as it were awakened, to stir again in the dark lethargy of thy sleeping soul.
And then she began to speak. And as she spoke, she leaned forward, as she sat upon the fallen pillar, and fastened her great eager eyes like magnets on his own. And as Aja watched them, they played as it were upon his heart. For their colour wavered and changed and faltered, shifting ever from hue to hue, turning golden and ruddy amber, and emerald-green and lotus-blue; and over her eyes her arching brows lifted and fell and played and flickered, fixing his troubled soul like nails, and rivetting his attention, till her singing voice sounded in his head like a