“In that case, I won’t waste valuable verbal ammunition on you! Come along in—We’re going to have music.”
But as Roy moved forward, Aruna drew back. “Please—I would rather go to bed now. And—please, forgive, little Mother,” she murmured caressingly. For this great-hearted English woman seemed mother indeed to her now.
For answer, Thea took her by the shoulders and kissed her on both cheeks. “Not guilty this time, piari. But don’t do it again!”
Roy’s hand closed hard on hers, but he said not a word. And she was glad.
Alone again on her balcony, gladness rioted through all her being. Yet—nothing had really happened. Nothing had been said. Only—everything felt different inside. Of such are life’s supreme moments. They come without flourish of trumpets; touch the heart or the lips with fire, and pass on....
While undressing, an impulse seized her to break her chiragh and treasure the pieces—in memory of to-night. Why trouble Mai Lakshmi with a question already half answered? But, lost in happy thoughts—inwoven with delicate threads of sound from Thea’s violin—she forgot all about it, till the warmth of her cheek nestled against the cool pillow. Too lazy and comfortable to stir, she told her foolish heart that to-morrow morning would do quite as well.
But the light of morning dimmed, a little, her mood of exalted assurance. Habit and superstition prevailed over that so arrogant impulse, and the mystic chiragh of destiny was saved—for another fate.
[Footnote 11: Hail, Mother.]
[Footnote 12: Darling.]
“The forces that fashion,
the hands that mould,
Are the winds fire-laden, the sky, the rain;—
* * * * *
They are gods no more, but their
—SIR ALFRED LYALL.
Dewali night at last; and all Jaipur astir in the streets at sundown awaiting the given moment that never quite loses its quality of miracle....
For weeks every potter’s wheel had been whirling, double tides, turning out clay chiraghs by the thousand, that none might fail of honouring Mai Lakshmi—a compound of Minerva and Ceres,—worshipped in the living gold of fire and the dead gold of minted coin.
And all day long there ebbed and flowed through the temple doors a rainbow-coloured stream of worshippers; while the dust-laden air vibrated with jangle of metal bells, wail of conches and raucous clamour of crows. Within doors, the rattle of dice rivalled the jangle of bells. Young or old, none failed to consult those mysterious arbiters on this auspicious day. Houses, shops, and balconies had been swept and plastered with fresh cow dung, in honour of Vishnu’s bride; and gayest among festal shop-fronts was the dazzling array of toys. For the Feast of Lights is also a feast of toys in bewildering variety; in sugar, in paper, in burnt clay; tinselled, or gorgeously painted with colours such as never were on ox or elephant, fish or bird.