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The ships were gone and the days languished a little at Pagan. They missed the laughter and royalty of the King, and few men, and those old and weak, were left in the city. The pulse of life beat slower.
And Dwaymenau took rule in the Golden Palace. Queen Maya sat like one in a dream and questioned nothing, and Dwaymenau ruled with wisdom but none loved her. To all she was the interloper, the witch-woman, the out-land upstart. Only the fear of the King guarded her and her boy, but that was strong. The boys played together sometimes, Mindon tyrannizing and cruel, Ananda fearing and complying, broken in spirit.
Maya the Queen walked daily in the long and empty Golden Hall of Audience, where none came now that the King was gone, pacing up and down, gazing wearily at the carved screens and all their woodland beauty of gods that did not hear, of happy spirits that had no pity. Like a spirit herself she passed between the red pillars, appearing and reappearing with steps that made no sound, consumed with hate of the evil woman that had stolen her joy. Like a slow fire it burned in her soul, and the face of the Blessed One was hidden from her, and she had forgotten His peace. In that atmosphere of hate her life dwindled. Her son's dwindled also, and there was talk among the women of some potion that Dwaymenau had been seen to drop into his noontide drink as she went swiftly by. That might he the gossip of malice, but he pined. His eyes were large like a young bird's; his hands like little claws. They thought the departing year would take him with it. What harm? Very certainly the King would shed no tear.
It was a sweet and silent afternoon and she wandered in the great and lonely hall, sickened with the hate in her soul and her fear for her boy. Suddenly she heard flying footsteps - a boy's, running in mad haste in the outer hall, and, following them, bare feet, soft, thudding.
She stopped dead and every pulse cried - Danger! No time to think or breathe when Mindon burst into sight, wild with terror and following close beside him a man - a madman, a short bright dah in his grasp, his jaws grinding foam, his wild eyes starting - one passion to murder. So sometimes from the Nats comes pitiless fury, and men run mad and kill and none knows why.
Maya the Queen stiffened to meet the danger. Joy swept through her soul; her weariness was gone. A fierce smile showed her teeth - a smile of hate, as she stood there and drew her dagger for defense. For defense - the man would rend the boy and turn on her and she would not die. She would live to triumph that the mongrel was dead, and her son, the Prince again and his father's joy - for his heart would turn to the child most surely. Justice was rushing on its victim. She would see it and live content, the long years of agony wiped out in blood, as was fitting. She would not flee; she would see it and rejoice. And as she stood in gladness - these broken thoughts rushing through her like flashes of lightning - Mindon saw her by the pillar and, screaming in anguish for the first time, fled to her for refuge.
She raised her knife to meet the staring eyes, the chalk white face, and drive him back on the murderer. If the man failed, she would not! And even as she did this a strange thing befell. Something stronger than hate swept her away like a leaf on the river; something primeval that lives in the lonely pangs of childbirth, that hides in the womb and breasts of the mother. It was stronger than she. It was not the hated Mindoin - she saw him no more. Suddenly it was the eternal Child, lifting dying, appealing eyes to the Woman, as he clung to her knees. She did not think this - she felt it, and it dominated her utterly. The Woman answered. As if it had been her own flesh and blood, she swept the panting body behind her and faced the man with uplifted dagger and knew her victory assured, whether in life or death. On came the horrible rush, the flaming eyes, and, if it was chance that set the dagger against his throat, it was cool strength that drove it home and never wavered until the blood welling from the throat quenched the flame in the wild eyes, and she stood triumphing like a war-goddess, with the man at her feet. Then, strong and flushed, Maya the Queen gathered the half-dead boy in her arms, and, both drenched with blood, they moved slowly down the hall and outside met the hurrying crowd, with Dwaymenau, whom the scream had brought to find her son.
"You have killed him! She has killed him!" Scarcely could the Rajput woman speak. She was kneeling beside him - he hideous with blood. "She hated him always. She has murdered him. Seize her!"
"Woman, what matter your hates and mine?" the Queen said slowly. "The boy is stark with fear. Carry him in and send for old Meh Shway Gon. Woman, be silent!"
When a Queen commands, men and women obey, and a Queen commanded then. A huddled group lifted the child and carried him away, Dwaymenau with them, still uttering wild threats, and the Queen was left alone.
She could not realize what she had done and left undone. She could not understand it. She had hated, sickened with loathing, as it seemed for ages, and now, in a moment it had blown away like a whirlwind that is gone. Hate was washed out of her soul and had left it cool and white as the Lotus of the Blessed One. What power had Dwaymenau to hurt her when that other Power walked beside her? She seemed to float above her in high air and look down upon her with compassion. Strength, virtue flowed in her veins; weakness, fear were fantasies. She could not understand, but knew that here was perfect enlightenment. About her echoed the words of the Blessed One: "Never in this world doth hatred cease by hatred, but only by love. This is an old rule."
"Whereas I was blind, now I see," said Maya the Queen slowly to her own heart. She had grasped the hems of the Mighty.
Words cannot speak the still passion of strength and joy that possessed her. Her step was light. As she walked, her soul sang within her, for thus it is with those that have received the Law. About them is the Peace.
In the dawn she was told that the Queen, Dwaymenau, would speak with her, and without a tremor she who had shaken like a leaf at that name commanded that she should enter. It was Dwaymenau that trembled as she came into that unknown place.
With cloudy brows and eyes that would reveal no secret, she stood before the high seat where the Queen sat pale and majestic.
"Is it well with the boy?" the Queen asked earnestly.
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The Ninth Vibration and Other Stories -by- L. Adams Beck