(Astika Parva continued)
“Sauti said, ’Then Vasuki spake unto the Rishi Jaratkaru these words, ’O best of Brahmanas, this maiden is of the same name with thee. She is my sister and hath ascetic merit. I will maintain thy wife; accept her. O thou of ascetic wealth, I shall protect her with all my ability. And, O foremost of the great Munis, she hath been reared by me for thee.’ And the Rishi replied, ’This is agreed between us that I shall not maintain her; and she shall not do aught that I do not like. If she do, I leave her!’
“Sauti continued, ’When the snake had promised, saying, ’I shall maintain my sister,’ Jaratkaru then went to the snake’s house. Then that first of mantra-knowing Brahmanas, observing rigid vows, that virtuous and veteran ascetic, took her hand presented to him according to shastric rites. And taking his bride with him, adored by the great Rishi, he entered the delightful chamber set apart for him by the king of the snakes. And in that chamber was a bed-stead covered with very valuable coverlets. And Jaratkaru lived there with his wife. And the excellent Rishi made an agreement with his wife, saying, ’Nothing must ever be done or said by thee that is against my liking. And in case of thy doing any such thing, I will leave thee and no longer continue to stay in thy house. Bear in mind these words that have been spoken by me.’
“And then the sister of the king of the snakes in great anxiety and grieving exceedingly, spoke unto him, saying, ‘Be it so.’ And moved by the desire of doing good to her relatives, that damsel, of unsullied reputation, began to attend upon her lord with the wakefulness of a dog, the timidity of a deer, and knowledge of signs possessed by the crow. And one day, after the menstrual period, the sister of Vasuki, having purified herself by a bath according to custom, approached her lord the great Muni; And thereupon she conceived. And the embryo was like unto a flame of fire, possessed of great energy, and resplendent as fire itself. And it grew like the moon in the bright fortnight.
“And one day, within a short time, Jaratkaru of great fame, placing his head on the lap of his wife, slept, looking like one fatigued. And as he was sleeping, the sun entered his chambers in the Western mountain and was about to set. And, O Brahmana, as the day was fading, she, the excellent sister of Vasuki, became thoughtful, fearing the loss of her husband’s virtue. And she thought, ’What should I now do? Shall I wake my husband or not? He is exacting and punctilious in his religious duties. How can I act as not to offend him? The alternatives are his anger and the loss of virtue of a virtuous man. The loss of virtue, I ween, is the greater of the two evils. Again, if I wake him, he will be angry. But if twilight passeth away without his prayers being said, he shall certainly sustain loss of virtue.’