First Evening

"Last night" - these are the Moon's own words - "I glided through the clear sky of India and reflected myself in the Ganges. My rays struggled to force their way through the thick roof of old sycamore trees that arched beneath me like the shell of a tortoise. From the thicket, a Hindu maiden stepped out, graceful as a gazelle and beautiful as Eve. There was something truly spiritual, and yet material, about her, and I could even make out her thoughts beneath her delicate skin. The thorny liana plants tore her sandals, but she walked rapidly forward. The wild beasts that came up from the river after quenching their thirst fled away in fright, for the maiden held a lighted lamp in her hand. I could see the blood in the delicate fingers arched into a shield over the flame of the lamp. She walked down to the river, then placed the lamp on the surface, and it drifted away with the current. The flame flickered back and forth, as if it wanted to expire, but still it burned as the maiden's dark, sparkling eyes followed it, with a soulful gaze from beneath the long, silken lashes of her eyelids. She knew that if the lamp should burn as long as her eyes could follow it, her lover would still be alive; but if it went out, he would be dead. As the lamp burned and trembled, the heart of the maiden burned and trembled. She knelt and prayed. Beside her a deadly snake lurked in the grass, but she thought only of Brahma and of her bridegroom.

'He lives!' she shouted joyfully, and the echo answered from the mountains, 'He lives!' "