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The Vampire's Eleventh Story : Which Puzzles Raja Vikram

Page: 7/8

Hindu Books > Stories > Vikram And The Vampire > The Vampire's Eleventh Story : Which Puzzles Raja Vikram

Page 7

Perchance two white outcastes, father and son, who with a party of men are scouring the forest and slaying everything, fall upon the path which the women have taken shortly before. Their attention is attracted by footprints leading towards a place full of tigers, leopards, bears, wolves, and wild dogs. And they are utterly confounded when, after inspection, they discover the sex of the wanderers.

"How is it," shall say the father, "that the footprints of mortals are seen in this part of the forest?"

The son shall reply, "Sir, these are the marks of women's feet: a man's foot would not be so small."

"It is passing strange," shall rejoin the elder white Pariah, "but thou speakest truth. Certainly such a soft and delicate foot cannot belong to anyone but a woman."

"They have only just left the track," shall continue the son, "and look! this is the step of a married woman. See how she treads on the inside of her sole, because of the bending of her ankles." And the younger white outcaste shall point to the queen's footprints.

"Come, let us search the forest for them," shall cry the father, "what an opportunity of finding wives fortune has thrown in our hands. But no! thou art in error," he shall continue, after examining the track pointed out by his son, "in supposing this to be the sign of a matron. Look at the other, it is much longer; the toes have scarcely touched the ground, whereas the marks of the heels are deep. Of a truth this must be the married woman." And the elder white outcaste shall point to the footprints of the princess.

"Then," shall reply the son, who admires the shorter foot, "let us first seek them, and when we find them, give to me her who has the short feet, and take the other to wife thyself."

Having made this agreement they shall proceed on their way, and presently they shall find the women lying on the earth, half dead with fatigue and fear. Their legs and feet are scratched and torn by brambles, their ornaments have fallen off, and their garments are in strips. The two white outcastes find little difficulty, the first surprise over, in persuading the unhappy women to follow them home, and with great delight, conformably to their arrangement, each takes up his prize on his horse and rides back to the tents. The son takes the queen, and the father the princess.

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