Schulers Books Online
books - games - software - wallpaper - everything
- Guns of the Gods - 1/53 -
Guns of the Gods A Story of Yasmini's Youth By Talbot Mundy
Yasmini: "Set down my thoughts not yours if the tale is to be worth the pesa."
I. "Gold is where you find it." II. "Friendship's friendship and respect's respect, but duty's what I'm paid to do!" III. "Give a woman the last word always; but be sure it is a question, which you leave unanswered." IV. "The law .... is like a python after monkeys in the tree-tops." V. "Most precious friend, please visit me!" VI. "Peace, Maharajah sahib! Out of anger came no wise counsel yet!" VII. "That will be the end of Gungadhura!" VIII. "They're elephants and I'm a soldier. The trouble with you is nerves, my boy!" IX. "It means, the toils are closing in on Gungadhura!" X. "Discretion is better part of secrecy!" XI. "Say: that little girl you're wanting to run off with is my wife!" XII. "Ready for anything! If I weaken, tie me on the camel! XIII. "I am a king's daughter! XIV. "Acting on instructions from Your Highness!" XV. "Me for the princess!" XVI. "And since, my Lords, in olden days--" XVII. "Suppose I lock the door?" XVIII. "Be discreet, Blaine .... please be discreet!" XIX. "I am as simple as the sunlight!" XX. "Millions! Think of it! Lakhs and crores!" XXI. "The guns of the gods!" XXII. "Making one hundred exactly!" XXIII. Three amber moons in a purple sky. XXIV. A hundred guarded it. XXV. And that is the whole story.
Guns of the Gods
Out of the Ashes
Old Troy reaped rue in the womb of years For stolen Helen's sake; Till tenfold retribution rears Its wreck on embers slaked with tears That mended no heart-ache. The wail of the women sold as slaves Lest Troy breed sons again Dreed o'er a desert of nameless graves, The heaps and the hills that are Trojan graves Deep-runneled by the rain.
But Troy lives on. Though Helen's rape And ten-year hold were vain; Though jealous gods with men conspire And Furies blast the Grecian fire; Yet Troy must rise again. Troy's daughters were a spoil and sport, Were limbs for a labor gang, Who crooned by foreign loom and mill Of Trojan loves they cherished still, Till Homer heard, and sang,
They told, by the fire when feasters roared And minstrels waited turns, Of the might of the men that Troy adored, Of the valor in vain of the Trojan sword, With the love that slakeless burns, That caught and blazed in the minstrel mind Or ever the age of pen. So maids and a minstrel rebuilt Troy, Out of the ashes they rebuilt Troy To live in the hearts of men.
"Set down my thoughts not yours if the tale is to be worth the pesa."
The why and wherefore of my privilege to write a true account of the Princess Yasmini's early youth is a story in itself too long to tell here; but it came about through no peculiar wisdom. I fell in a sort of way in love with her, and that led to opportunity.
She never made any secret of the scorn with which she regards those who singe wings at her flame. Rather she boasts of it with limit-overreaching epithets. Her respect is reserved for those rare men and women who can meet her in unfair fight and, if not defeat her, then come close to it. She asks no concessions on account of sex. Men's passions are but weapons forged for her necessity; and as for genuine love-affairs, like Cleopatra, she had but two, and the second ended in disaster to herself. This tale is of the first one that succeeded, although fraught with discontent for certain others.
The second affair came close to whelming thrones, and I wrote of that in another book with an understanding due, as I have said, to opportunity, and with a measure of respect that pleased her.
She is habitually prompt and generous with her rewards, if far-seeing in bestowal of them. So, during the days of her short political eclipse that followed in a palace that had housed a hundred kings, I saw her almost daily in a room--her holy of holies--where the gods of ancient India were depicted in three primal colors working miracles all over the walls and where, if governments had only known it, she was already again devising plans to set the world on fire.
There, amid an atmosphere of Indian scents and cigarette smoke, she talked and I made endless notes, while now and then, when she was meditative, her maids sang to an accompaniment of rather melancholy wooden flutes. But whenever I showed a tendency to muse she grew indignant.
"Of what mud are you building castles now? Set down my thoughts not yours," she insisted, "if your tale is to be worth the pesa."
By that she referred to the custom of all Eastern story-tellers to stop at the exciting moment and take up a collection of the country's smallest copper coins before finishing the tale. But the reference was double-edged. A penny for my thoughts, a penny for the West's interpretation of the East was what she had in mind.
Nevertheless, as it is to the West that the story must appeal it has seemed wiser to remove it from her lips and so transpose that, though it loses in lore unfortunately, it does gain something of directness and simplicity. Her satire, and most of her metaphor if always set down as she phrased it, would scandalize as well as puzzle Western ears.
This tale is of her youth, but Yasmini's years have not yet done more than ripen her. In a land where most women shrivel into early age she continues, somewhere perhaps a little after thirty, in the bloom of health and loveliness, younger in looks and energy than many a Western girl of twenty-five. For she is of the East and West, very terribly endowed with all the charms of either and the brains of both.
Her quick wit can detect or invent mercurial Asian subterfuge as swiftly as appraise the rather glacial drift of Western thought; and the wisdom of both East and West combines in her to teach a very nearly total incredulity in human virtue. Western morals she regards as humbug, neither more nor less.
In virtue itself she believes, as astronomers for example believe in the precession of the equinox; but that the rank and file of human beings, and especially learned human beings, have attained to the very vaguest understanding of it she scornfully disbelieves. And with a frankness simply Gallic in its freedom from those thought-conventions with which so many people like to deceive themselves she deals with human nature on what she considers are its merits. The result is sometimes very disconcerting to the pompous and all the rest of the host of self-deceived, but usually amusing to herself and often profitable to her friends.
Her ancestry is worth considering, since to that she doubtless owes a good proportion of her beauty and ability. On her father's side she is Rajput, tracing her lineage so far back that it becomes lost at last in fabulous legends of the Moon (who is masculine, by the way, in Indian mythology). All of the great families of Rajputana are her kin, and all the chivalry and derring-do of that royal land of heroines and heroes is part of her conscious heritage.
Her mother was Russian. On that side, too, she can claim blood royal, not devoid of at least a trace of Scandinavian, betrayed by glittering golden hair and eyes that are sometimes the color of sky seen over Himalayan peaks, sometimes of the deep lake water in the valleys. But very often her eyes seem so full of fire and their color is so baffling that a legend has gained currency to the effect that she can change their hue at will.
How a Russian princess came to marry a Rajput king is easier to understand if one recalls the sinister designs of Russian statecraft in the days when India and "warm sea-water" was the great objective. The oldest, and surely the easiest, means of a perplexed diplomacy has been to send a woman to undermine the policy of courts or steal the very consciences of kings. Delilah is a case in point. And in India, where the veil and the rustling curtain and religion hide woman's hand without in the least suppressing her, that was a plan too easy of contrivance to be overlooked.
In those days there was a prince in Moscow whose public conduct so embittered his young wife, and so notoriously, that when he was found one morning murdered in his bed suspicion rested upon her. She was tried in secret, as the custom was, found guilty and condemned to death. Then, on the strength of influence too strong for the czar, the sentence was commuted to the far more cruel one of life imprisonment in the Siberian mines. While she awaited the dreaded march across Asia in chains a certain proposal was made to the Princess Sonia Omanoff, and no one who knew anything about it wondered that she accepted without much hesitation.
Less than a month after her arrest she was already in Paris, squandering paper rubles in the fashionable shops. And at the Russian Embassy
1 2 3 4 5 6 10 20 30 40 50 53
Schulers Books Online
books - games - software - wallpaper - everything