And at that very moment, he heard behind him a deep sigh. And as he turned, wood, poppies, and all vanished from before his eyes. Once more he stood on the city wall; and there before him was the King’s daughter. And she was standing in the doorway, through which he had come upon the wall, leaning against the open door, and paler than Love’s own ashes, while her great dark eyes were frozen as it were to ice, and yet lit up by the triple fire of sorrow and reproach and fierce disdain. And she looked like the daughter of Janaka, when forsaken by the lord of the race of Raghu, and like the heavenly Urwashi, when abandoned by Pururawas, a very spirit of despair carved by the Creator into a stony female form, to break the heart of the three worlds. And as if the very sight of her had broken the spell that held him, reason and recollection suddenly returned to Aja, as it were at a single bound. And he woke, as if from a magic sleep, and on the instant, a sword ran as it were straight into his heart. And with a cry, he flung away his sobbing burden like a blade of grass, not caring where it fell: and ran towards the King’s daughter. But she, when she saw him coming, shrieked, and started, and exclaimed: Away! Touch me not, save with the point of thy sharp true sword, to pierce me through the body as thy perfidy has my soul.
Then Aja tossed away his sword, with a shudder, over the edge of the wall. And he seized himself by the head with both hands, with a groan like the roar of a wounded lion. And he exclaimed: Ha! Better now it had been indeed, had I never emerged from the waste of sand. And he turned fiercely upon Natabhrukuti, saying: This is thy doing, thou vile enchantress: and now I am indeed awake.
But even as he spoke, the words died away upon his lips; and he stood still, like a picture on a wall, for wonder at what he saw before him. For Natabhrukuti was standing still, exactly where he left her, bolt upright, like a spear fixed in the earth. And her beauty was greater than ever, and yet such, that as he saw it, his heart stopped in his breast. For every vestige of the nectar of her love-emotion had left her, and in its place, the poison of immortal hate shone in her cold and evil eyes, which were fastened, as if with a mixture of pain and pleasure, with a glittering and fiendish stare, upon the King’s daughter. And as he watched them, cold ran in Aja’s veins. For her eyes shook, and changed colour, and a horrible smile played on her blue and twitching lips. And she looked thin, for her two arms hung down tight against her sides, and her fingers opened and shut, slowly, as if of their own accord.
And after a while, she spoke. And she turned to Aja, and said, in a voice that resembled a hiss: Fool! thou wouldst not take the blue flower I offered thee, though its fragrance could not have been matched by anything in the three worlds. Now, then, I will take another way. So as he watched her, she was gone: and he saw before him nothing but the empty city wall.