Hira could not at first understand the cause of the joyous sounds she heard. She saw in one of the large rooms all the women of the house, the boys and the girls surrounding some one and making a great noise. Of the person surrounded, Hira could see nothing but the hair, which Kousalya and the other attendants were dressing with scented oil and arranging becomingly. Of the by-standers encircling them some were laughing, some weeping, some talking, some uttering blessings. The girls and boys were dancing, singing, and clapping their hands. Kamal Mani was going round directing that shells should be blown and other joyous demonstrations, laughing, crying, and even dancing.
Hira was astonished. Stepping into the throng, she stretched her neck and peeped about. What were her feelings on beholding Surja Mukhi seated on the floor, a loving smile upon her lips; submitting to be decked with all her ornaments, so long laid aside, speaking kindly to all, a little shamefaced.
Hira could not all at once believe that Surja Mukhi who had died was now amongst them smiling so pleasantly. Stammeringly she asked one of the throng of women, "Who is that?"
Kousalya heard the question, and answered, "Don't you know? The goddess of our house, and your executioner."
Kousalya had lived all this time in fear of Hira. Now in her day of triumph she vented her spleen.
The dressing being completed and all kindly greetings exchanged, Surja Mukhi said in a low voice to Kamal Mani, "Let us go and see Kunda. She is not guilty of any fault towards me. I am not angry with her; she is now my younger sister."
Only they two went. They were long away. At last Kamal Mani came out of Kunda's room with a countenance full of fear and distress, and in great haste sent for Nagendra.
On his arrival the ladies told him he was wanted in Kunda's room. At the door he met Surja Mukhi weeping.
"What has happened?" he asked.
"Destruction! I have long known I was destined not to have a single day of happiness, else how is it that in the first moment of joy this calamity comes upon me?"
"What has happened?"
"I brought up Kunda to womanhood, and now that I have come hither with the desire to cherish her as my little sister, my desire has turned to ashes: Kunda has taken poison!"
"What do you say?" "Do you remain with her. I will go for a doctor."
Surja Mukhi went on her errand, and Nagendra to Kunda's room alone. He found Kunda's face darkened, her eyes lustreless, her body relaxed.