The Jewelled Arrow
"No, indeed," she said: "I have a very important letter to deliver, and could think of nothing but making all the haste possible."
"And what is this important letter about?" asked Agni-Sikha. "Can you tell me that?"
"Oh, yes, I can tell you that," she said. "But where can you have been, not to have heard the terrible news about the ruler of this land?"
"You can't tell me anything I don't know about him," answered the magician, "for he is my greatest friend."
"Then you know that he is dying from a wound he got in a battle with his enemies only yesterday. I am to take this letter to his brother Dhuma-Sikha, bidding him come to see him before the end."
Again Agni-Sikha wondered if he were dreaming, or if he were under some strange spell and did not really know who he was? Being able, as he was, to cast spells on other people, he was ready to fancy the same thing had befallen him. He said nothing when he heard that he was wounded, and was about to turn back again when Rupa-Sikha said to him:
"As you are on horseback and can get to Dhuma-Sikha's temple quicker than I can, will you carry the message of his brother's approaching death to him for me, and bid him make all possible haste if he would see him alive?"
This was altogether too much for the magician, who became sure that there was something very wrong about him. He knew he was not wounded or dying, but he thought he must be ill of fever, fancying he heard what he did not. He stared fixedly at his daughter, and she stared up at him, half-afraid he might find out who she was, but he never guessed.
"Do your own errands," he said at last; and slashing his poor innocent horse with his whip, he wheeled round and dashed home again as fast as he could. Again his servants ran out to receive him, and he gloomily dismounted, telling them to send his chief councillor to him in his private apartments. Shut up with him, he poured out all his troubles, and the councillor advised him to see his physician without any delay, for he felt sure that these strange fancies were caused by illness.