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Sakoontala or The Lost Ring by Kalidasa

Part 2 out of 5

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The hearts of both are ripe for his delights.

[_Smiling_.

Ah! thus does the lover delude himself; judging of the state of
his loved one's feelings by his own desires. But yet,

The stolen glance with half-averted eye,
The hesitating gait, the quick rebuke
Addressed to her companion, who would fain
Have stayed her counterfeit departure; these
Are signs not unpropitious to my suit.
So eagerly the lover feeds his hopes,
Claiming each trivial gesture for his own.

MA[T.]HAVYA.

[_Still in the same attitude_.

Ah, friends, my hands cannot move to greet you with the usual
salutation. I can only just command my lips to wish your Majesty
victory.

KING.

Why, what has paralysed your limbs?

MA[T.]HAVYA.

You might as well ask me how my eye comes to water after you have
poked your finger into it.

KING.

I don't understand you; speak more intelligibly.

MA[T.]HAVYA.

Ah, my dear friend, is yonder upright reed transformed into a
crooked plant by its own act, or by the force of the current?

KING.

The current of the river causes it, I suppose.

MA[T.]HAVYA.

Ay; just as you are the cause of my crippled limbs.

KING.

How so?

MA[T.]HAVYA.

Here are you living the life of a wild man of the woods in a
savage unfrequented region, while your State-affairs are left to
shift for themselves; and as for poor me, I am no longer master
of my own limbs, but have to follow you about day after day in
your chases after wild animals, till my bones are all crippled
and out of joint. Do, my dear friend, let me have one day's rest.

KING. [_Aside_.

This fellow little knows, while he talks in this manner, that my
mind is wholly engrossed by recollections of the hermit's
daughter, and quite as disinclined to the chase as his own.

No longer can I bend my well-braced bow
Against the timid deer; nor e'er again
With well-aimed arrows can I think to harm
These her beloved associates, who enjoy
The privilege of her companionship;
Teaching her tender glances in return.

MA[T.]HAVYA. [_Looking in the King's face_.

I may as well speak to the winds, for any attention you pay to my
requests. I suppose you have something on your mind, and are
talking it over to yourself.

KING. [_Smiling_.

I was only thinking that I ought not to disregard a friend's
request.

MA[T.]HAVYA.

Then may the King live for ever!

[_Moves off_.

KING.

Stay a moment, my dear friend. I have something else to say to
you.

MA[T.]HAVYA.

Say on, then.

KING.

When you have rested, you must assist me in another business
which will give you no fatigue.

MA[T.]HAVYA.

In eating something nice, I hope.

KING.

You shall know at some future time.

MA[T.]HAVYA.

No time better than the present.

KING.

What ho, there!

WARDER. [_Entering_.

What are your Majesty's commands?

KING.

O Raivatika, bid the General of the forces attend.

WARDER.

I will, Sire.

[_Exit and re-enters with the_ GENERAL.]

Come forward, General; his Majesty is looking towards you, and
has some order to give you.

GENERAL. [_Looking at the_ KING.

Though hunting is known to produce ill effects, my royal master
has derived only benefit from it. For

Like the majestic elephant that roams
O'er mountain wilds, so does the King display
A stalwart frame, instinct with vigorous life.
His brawny arms and manly chest are scored
By frequent passage of the sounding string;
Unharmed he bears the midday sun; no toil
His mighty spirit daunts; his sturdy limbs,
Stripped of redundant flesh, relinquish nought
Of their robust proportions, but appear
In muscle, nerve, and sinewy fibre cased.

[_Approaching the_ KING.

Victory to the King! We have tracked the wild beasts to their
lairs in the forest. Why delay, when everything is ready?

KING.

My friend Ma[T.]Havya here has been disparaging the
chase, till he has taken away all my relish for it.

GENERAL. [_Aside to_ MA[T.]HAVYA.

Persevere in your opposition, my good fellow; I will sound the
King's real feelings, and humour him accordingly.

[_Aloud_.

The blockhead talks nonsense, and your Majesty in your own person
furnishes the best proof of it. Observe, Sire, the advantage and
pleasure the hunter derives from the chase.

MA[T.]HAVYA. [_Angrily_.

Away! tempter, away! The King has recovered his senses, and is
himself again. As for you, you may, if you choose, wander about
from forest to forest, till some old bear seizes you by the nose,
and makes a mouthful of you.

KING.

My good General, as we are just now in the neighbourhood of a
consecrated grove, your panegyric upon hunting is somewhat
ill-timed, and I cannot assent to all you have said. For the
present,

All undisturbed the buffaloes shall sport
In yonder pool, and with their ponderous horns
Scatter its tranquil waters, while the deer,
Couched here and there in groups beneath the shade
Of spreading branches, ruminate in peace.
And all securely shall the herd of boars
Feed on the marshy sedge; and thou, my bow,
With slackened string, enjoy a long repose.

GENERAL.

So please your Majesty, it shall be as you desire.

KING.

Recall, then, the beaters who were sent in advance to surround
the forest. My troops must not be allowed to disturb this sacred
retreat, and irritate its pious inhabitants.

Know that within the calm and cold recluse
Lurks unperceived a germ of smothered flame,
All-potent to destroy; a latent fire
That rashly kindled bursts with fury forth;
As in the disc of crystal[35] that remains
Cool to the touch, until the solar ray
Falls on its polished surface, and excites
The burning heat that lies within concealed.

GENERAL.

Your Majesty's commands shall be obeyed.

MA[T.]HAVYA.

Off with you, you son of a slave! Your nonsense won't go down
here, my fine fellow.

[_Exit_ GENERAL.

KING. [_Looking at his attendants_.

Here, women, take my hunting-dress; and you, Raivatika, keep
guard carefully outside.

ATTENDANTS.

We will, Sire.

[_Exeunt_.

MA[T.]HAVYA.

Now that you have got rid of these plagues, who have been buzzing
about us like so many flies, sit down, do, on that stone slab,
with the shade of the tree as your canopy, and I will seat myself
by you quite comfortably.

KING.

Go you, and sit down first.

MA[T.]HAVYA.

Come along, then.

[_Both walk on a little way, and seat themselves_.

KING.

Ma[T.]Havya, it may be said of you that you have never beheld
anything worth seeing; for your eyes have not yet looked upon the
loveliest object in creation.

MA[T.]HAVYA.

How can you say so, when I see your Majesty before me at this
moment?

KING.

It is very natural that every one should consider his own friend
perfect; but I was alluding to [S']akoontala, the brightest
ornament of these hallowed groves.

MA[T.]HAVYA. [_Aside_.

I understand well enough, but I am not going to humour him.

[_Aloud_.

If, as you intimate, she is a hermit's daughter, you cannot
lawfully ask her in marriage. You may as well then dismiss her
from your mind, for any good the mere sight of her can do.

KING.

Think you that a descendant of the mighty Puru could fix his
affections on an unlawful object?

Though, as men say, the offspring of the sage,
The maiden to a nymph celestial owes
Her being, and by her mother left on earth,
Was found and nurtured by the holy man
As his own daughter, in this hermitage.
So, when dissevered from its parent stalk,
Some falling blossom of the jasmine[36], wafted
Upon the sturdy sun-flower, is preserved
By its support from premature decay.

MA[T.]HAVYA. [_Smiling_.

This passion of yours for a rustic maiden, when you have so many
gems of women at home in your palace, seems to me very like the
fancy of a man who is tired of sweet dates, and longs for sour
tamarinds as a variety.

KING.

You have not seen her, or you would not talk in this fashion.

MA[T.]HAVYA.

I can quite understand it must require something surpassingly
attractive to excite the admiration of such a great man as you.

KING.

I will describe her, my dear friend, in a few words,

Man's all-wise Maker, wishing to create
A faultless form, whose matchless symmetry
Should far transcend Creation's choicest works,
Did call together by his mighty will,
And garner up in his eternal mind,
A bright assemblage of all lovely things;
And then, as in a picture, fashion them
Into one perfect and ideal form--
Such the divine, the wondrous prototype,
Whence her fair shape was moulded into being.

MA[T.]HAVYA.

If that's the case, she must indeed throw all other beauties into
the shade.

KING.

To my mind she really does.

This peerless maid is like a fragrant flower,
Whose perfumed breath has never been diffused;
A tender bud, that no profaning hand
Has dared to sever from its parent stalk;
A gem of priceless water, just released
Pure and unblemished from its glittering bed.
Or may the maiden haply be compared
To sweetest honey, that no mortal lip
Has sipped; or, rather, to the mellowed fruit
Of virtuous actions in some former birth[37],
Now brought to full perfection? Lives the man
Whom bounteous heaven has destined to espouse her?

MA[T.]HAVYA.

Make haste, then, to her aid; you have no time to lose, if you
don't wish this fruit of all the virtues to drop into the mouth
of some greasy-headed rustic of devout habits.

KING.

The lady is not her own mistress, and her foster-father is not at
home.

MA[T.]HAVYA.

Well, but tell me, did she look at all kindly upon you?

KING.

Maidens brought up in a hermitage are naturally
shy and reserved; but for all that
She did look towards me, though she quick withdrew
Her stealthy glances when she met my gaze;
She smiled upon me sweetly, but disguised
With maiden grace the secret of her smiles.
Coy love was half unveiled; then, sudden checked
By modesty, left half to be divined.

MA[T.]HAVYA.

Why, of course, my dear friend, you never could seriously expect
that at the very first sight she would fall over head ears in
love with you, and without more ado come and sit in your lap.

KING.

When we parted from each other, she betrayed
her liking for me by clearer indications, but still with the
utmost modesty.
Scarce had the fair one from my presence passed,
When, suddenly, without apparent cause,
She stopped; and, counterfeiting pain, exclaimed,
'My foot is wounded by this prickly grass,'
Then, glancing at me tenderly, she feigned
Another charming pretext for delay,
Pretending that a bush had caught her robe
And turned as if to disentangle it.

MA[T.]HAVYA

I trust you have laid in a good stock of provisions,
for I see you intend making this consecrated grove your
game-preserve, and will be roaming here in quest of sport for
some time to come.

KING.

You must know, my good fellow, that I have been recognised by
some of the inmates of the hermitage. Now I want the assistance
of your fertile invention, in devising some excuse for going
there again.

MA[T.]HAVYA.

There is but one expedient that I can suggest. You are the King,
are you not?

KING.

What then?

MA[T.]HAVYA.

Say you have come for the sixth part of their grain [38], which
they owe you for tribute.

KING.

No, no, foolish man; those hermits pay me a very different kind
of tribute, which I value more than heaps of gold or jewels;
observe,

The tribute which my other subjects bring
Must moulder into dust, but holy men
Present me with a portion of the fruits
Of penitential services and prayers--
A precious and imperishable gift.

A VOICE BEHIND THE SCENES.

We are fortunate; here is the object of our search.

KING. [_Listening_.

Surely those must be the voices of hermits, to judge by their
deep tones.

WARDER. [_Entering_.

Victory to the King! two young hermits are in waiting outside,
and solicit an audience of your Majesty.

KING.

Introduce them Immediately.

WARDER.

I will, my liege.

[_Goes out, and re-enters with_ TWO YOUNG HERMITS.]

This way, Sirs, this way.

[_Both the_ HERMITS _look at the KING.

FIRST HERMIT.

How majestic is his mien, and yet what confidence it inspires!
But this might be expected in a king, whose character and habits
have earned for him a title only one degree removed from that of
a Sage [39].

In this secluded grove, whose sacred joys
All may participate, he deigns to dwell
Like one of us; and daily treasures up
A store of purest merit for himself,
By the protection of our holy rites.
In his own person wondrously are joined
Both majesty and saintlike holiness;
And often chanted by inspired bards [40],
His hallowed title of 'Imperial Sage'
Ascends in joyous accents to the skies.

SECOND HERMIT.

Bear in mind, Gautama, that this is the great Dushyanta, the
friend of Indra.

FIRST HERMIT.

What of that?

SECOND HERMIT.

Where is the wonder if his nervous arm,
Puissant and massive as the iron bar
That binds a castle-gateway, singly sways
The sceptre of the universal earth,
E'en to its dark-green boundary of waters?
Or if the gods, beholden to his aid
In their fierce warfare with the powers of hell [41],
Should blend his name with Indra's in their songs
Of victory, and gratefully accord
No lower meed of praise to his braced bow,
Than to the thunders of the god of heaven?

BOTH THE HERMITS. [_Approaching_.

Victory to the King!

KING. [_Rising from his seat_.

Hail to you both!

BOTH THE HERMITS.

Heaven bless your Majesty!

[_They offer fruits_.

KING. [_Respectfully receiving the offering_.

Tell me, I pray you, the object of your visit.

BOTH THE HERMITS.

The inhabitants of the hermitage, having heard of your Majesty's
sojourn in our neighbourhood, make this humble petition:--

KING.

What are their commands?

BOTH THE HERMITS.

In the absence of our Superior, the great sage Kanwa, evil demons
are disturbing our sacrificial rites [42]. Deign, therefore,
accompanied by your charioteer, to take up your abode in our
hermitage for a few days.

KING.

I am honoured by your invitation.

MA[T.]HAVYA. [_Aside_.

Most opportune and convenient, certainly!

KING. [_Smiling_.

Ho, there, Raivatika! Tell the charioteer from me to bring round
the chariot with my bow.

WARDER.

I will, Sire.

[_Exit_.

BOTH THE HERMITS. [_Joyfully_.

Well it becomes the King by acts of grace
To emulate the virtues of his race.
Such acts thy lofty destiny attest;
Thy mission is to succour the distressed.

KING. [_Bowing to the_ HERMITS.

Go first, reverend Sirs, I will follow you immediately.

BOTH THE HERMITS.

May victory attend you!

[_Exeunt_.

KING.

My dear Ma[T.]Havya, are not you full of longing to see
[S']akoontala?

MA[T.]HAVYA.

To tell you the truth, though I was just now brimful of desire to
see her, I have not a drop left since this piece of news about
the demons.

KING.

Never fear; you shall keep close to me for protection.

MA[T.]HAVYA.

Well, you must be my guardian-angel, and act the part of a very
Vishnu [43] to me.

WARDER. [_Entering_.

Sire, the chariot is ready, and only waits to conduct you to
victory. But here is a messenger named Karabhaka, just arrived
from your capital, with a message from the Queen, your mother.

KING. [_Respectfully_.

How say you? a messenger from the venerable Queen?

WARDER.

Even so.

KING.

Introduce him at once.

WARDER.

I will, Sire.

[_Goes out and re-enters with_ KARABHAKA.]

Behold the King. Approach.

KARABHAKA.

Victory to the King! The Queen-mother bids me say that in four
days from the present time she intends celebrating a solemn
ceremony for the advancement and preservation of her son. She
expects that your Majesty will honour her with your presence on
that occasion.

KING.

This places me in a dilemma. Here, on the one hand, is the
commission of these holy men to be executed; and, on the other,
the command of my revered parent to be obeyed. Both duties are
too sacred to be neglected. What is to be done?

MA[T.]HAVYA.

You will have to take up an intermediate position between the
two, like King Tri[s']anku [44], who was suspended between heaven
and earth, because the sage Vi[s']wamitra commanded him to mount up
to heaven, and the gods ordered him down again.

KING.

I am certainly very much perplexed. For here,

Two different duties are required of me
In widely distant places; how can I
In my own person satisfy them both?
Thus is my mind distracted, and impelled
In opposite directions like a stream
That, driven back by rocks, still rushes on,
Forming two currents in its eddying course.

[_Reflecting_.]

Friend Ma[T.]Havya, as you were my playfellow in childhood, the
Queen has already received you like a second son; go you, then,
back to her, and tell her of my solemn engagement to assist these
holy men. You can supply my place in the ceremony, and act the
part of a son to the Queen.

MA[T.]HAVYA.

With the greatest pleasure in the world; but don't suppose that
I am really coward enough to have the slightest fear of those
trumpery demons.

KING.

Oh! of course not; a great Brahman like you could not possibly
give way to such weakness.

MA[T.]HAVYA.

You must let me travel in a manner suitable to the King's younger
brother.

KING.

Yes, I shall send my retinue with you, that there may be no
farther disturbance in this sacred forest.

MA[T.]HAVYA, [_With a strut_.

Already I feel quite like a young prince.

KING. [_Aside_.

This is a giddy fellow, and in all probability he will let out
the truth about my present pursuit to the women of the palace.
What is to be done? I must say something to deceive him.

[_Aloud to_ MA[T.]HAVYA, _taking him by the hand_.]

Dear friend, I am going to the hermitage wholly and solely out of
respect for its pious inhabitants, and not because I have really
any liking for [S']akoontala, the hermit's daughter. Observe:--

What suitable communion could there be
Between a monarch and a rustic girl?
I did but feign an idle passion, friend,
Take not in earnest what was said in jest.

MA[T.]HAVYA.

Don't distress yourself; I quite understand.

[_Exeunt_.

* * * * *

PRELUDE TO ACT III.

SCENE.--_The Hermitage_.

_Enter a_ YOUNG BRAHMAN _carrying bundles of ku[S']a-grass for the
use of the sacrificing priest_.

YOUNG BRAHMAN.

How wonderful is the power of King Dushyanta! No sooner did he
enter our hermitage, than we were able to proceed with our
sacrificial rites, unmolested by the evil demons.

No need to fix the arrow to the bow;
The mighty monarch sounds the quivering string,
And, by the thunder of his arms dismayed,
Our demon foes are scattered to the wind.

I must now, therefore, make haste and deliver to the sacrificing
priests these bundles of Ku[s']a-grass, to be strewn round the
altar.

[_Walking and looking about; then addressing some one off the
stage_.]

Why, Priyamvada, for whose use are you carrying that ointment of
Usira-root and those lotus-leaves with fibres attached to them?

[_Listening for her answer_.]

What Say you?--that [S']akoontala is suffering from fever produced
by exposure to the sun, and that this ointment is to cool her
burning frame? Nurse her with care, then, Priyamvada, for she is
cherished by our reverend Superior as the very breath of his
nostrils[46]. I, for my part, will contrive that soothing waters,
hallowed in the sacrifice, he administered to her by the hands of
Gautami.

[_Exit_.

ACT III.

SCENE.--_The Sacred Grove_.

_Enter_ KING DUSHYANTA, _with the air of one in love_.

KING. [_Sighing thoughtfully_.

The holy sage possesses magic power
In virtue of his penance; she, his ward,
Under the shadow of his tutelage,
Rests in security, I know it well;
Yet sooner shall the rushing cataract
In foaming eddies re-ascend the steep,
Than my fond heart turn back from its pursuit.

God of love! God of the flowery shafts [47]! we lovers are cruelly
deceived by thee, and by the Moon, however deserving of confidence
you may both appear.

For not to us do these thine arrows seem
Pointed with tender flowerets; not to us
Doth the pale Moon irradiate the earth
With beams of silver fraught with cooling dews;
But on our fevered frames the moon-beams fall
Like darts of fire, and every flower-tipt shaft
Of Kama[47], as it probes our throbbing hearts,
Seems to be barbed with hardest adamant.

Adorable god of love! hast thou no pity for me?

[_In a tone of anguish_.]

How can thy arrows be so sharp when they are pointed with
flowers? Ah! I know the reason:

E'en now in thine unbodied essence lurks
The fire of [S']iva's anger[48], like the flame
That ever hidden in the secret depths
Of ocean, smoulders there unseen[49]. How else
Could'st thou, all immaterial as thou art,
Inflame our hearts thus fiercely?--thou, whose form
Was scorched to ashes by a sudden flash
From the offended god's terrific eye.

Yet, methinks,

Welcome this anguish, welcome to my heart
These rankling wounds inflicted by the god,
Who on his scutcheon bears the monster-fish[50]
Slain by his prowess; welcome death itself,
So that, commissioned by the lord of love,
This fair one be my executioner.
Adorable divinity! Can I by no reproaches excite your commiseration?
Have I not daily offered at thy shrine
Innumerable vows, the only food
Of thine ethereal essence? Are my prayers
Thus to be slighted? Is it meet that thou
Should'st aim thy shafts at thy true votary's heart,
Drawing thy bow-string even to thy ear?

[_Pacing up and down in a melancholy manner_.]

Now that the holy men have completed their rites, and have no
more need of my services, how shall I dispel my melancholy?

[_Sighing_.]

I have but one resource. Oh for another sight of the Idol of my
soul! I will seek her.

[_Glancing at the sun_.]

In all probability, as the sun's heat is now at its height,
[S']akoontala is passing her time under the shade of the bowers on
the banks of the Malini, attended by her maidens. I will go and
look for her there.

[_Walking and looking about_.]

I suspect the fair one has but just passed by this avenue of
young trees.

Here, as she tripped along, her fingers plucked
The opening buds; these lacerated plants,
Shorn of their fairest blossoms by her hand,
Seem like dismembered trunks, whose recent wounds
Are still unclosed; while from the bleeding socket
Of many a severed stalk, the milky juice
Still slowly trickles, and betrays her path.

[_Feeling a breeze_.]

What a delicious breeze meets me in this spot!

Here may the zephyr, fragrant with the scent
Of lotuses, and laden with the spray
Caught from the waters of the rippling stream,
Fold in its close embrace my fevered limbs.

[_Walking and looking about_.]

She must be somewhere in the neighbourhood of this arbour of
overhanging creepers enclosed by plantations of cane;

[_Looking down_.]

For at the entrance here I plainly see
A line of footsteps printed in the sand.
Here are the fresh impressions of her feet;
Their well-known outline faintly marked in front,
More deeply towards the heel; betokening
The graceful undulation of her gait[51].

I will peep through those branches.

[_Walking and looking. With transport_.]

Ah! now my eyes are gratified by an entrancing sight. Yonder is
the beloved of my heart reclining on a rock strewn with flowers,
and attended by her two friends. How fortunate! Concealed behind
the leaves, I will listen to their conversation, without raising
their suspicions.

[_Stands concealed, and gazes at them_.

[S']AKOONTALA _and her two attendants, holding fans in their hands,
are discovered as described_.

PRIYAMVADA AND ANASUYA.

[_Fanning her. In a tone of affection_.

Dearest [S']akoontala, is the breeze raised by these broad
lotus-leaves refreshing to you?

[S']AKOONTALA.

Dear friends, why should you trouble yourselves to fan me?

[PRIYAMVADA _and_ ANASUYA _look sorrowfully at one another_.

KING.

[S']akoontala seems indeed to be seriously ill.

[_Thoughtfully_.]

Can it be the intensity of the heat that has affected her? or
does my heart suggest the true cause of her malady?

[_Gazing at her passionately_.]

Why should I doubt it?

The maiden's spotless bosom is o'erspread
With cooling balsam; on her slender arm
Her only bracelet, twined with lotus-stalks,
Hangs loose and withered; her recumbent form
Betokens languor. Ne'er could noon-day sun
Inflict such fair disorder on a maid--
No, love, and love alone, is here to blame.

PRIYAMVADA. [_Aside to_ ANASUYA.

I have observed, Anasuya, that [S']akoontala has been indisposed
ever since her first interview with King Dushyanta. Depend upon
it, her ailment is to be traced to that source.

ANASUYA.

The same suspicion, dear, has crossed my mind. But I will at once
ask her and ascertain the truth.

[_Aloud_.]

Dear [S']akoontala, I am about to put a question to you. Your
indisposition is really very serious.

[S']AKOONTALA. [_Half rising from her couch_.

What were you going to ask?

ANASUYA.

We know very little about love-matters, dear [S']akoontala; but for
all that, I cannot help suspecting your present state to be
something similar to that of the lovers we have heard about in
romances. Tell us frankly what is the cause of your disorder. It
is useless to apply a remedy, until the disease be understood.

KING.

Anasuya bears me out in my suspicion.

[S']AKOONTALA. [_Aside_.

I am, indeed, deeply in love; but cannot rashly
disclose my passion to these young girls.

PRIYAMVADA.

What Anasuya says, dear [S']akoontala, is very just. Why give so
little heed to your ailment? Every day you are becoming thinner;
though I must confess your complexion is still as beautiful as
ever.

KING.

Priyamvada speaks most truly.

Sunk is her velvet cheek; her wasted bosom
Loses its fulness; e'en her slender waist
Grows more attenuate; her face is wan,
Her shoulders droop;--as when the vernal blasts
Sear the young blossoms of the Madhavi[52],
Blighting their bloom; so mournful is the change.
Yet in its sadness, fascinating still,
Inflicted by the mighty lord of love
On the fair figure of the hermit's daughter.

[S']AKOONTALA.

Dear friends, to no one would I rather reveal the nature of my
malady than to you; but I should only be troubling you.

PRIYAMVADA AND ANASUYA.

Nay, this is the very point about which we are so solicitous.
Sorrow shared with affectionate friends is relieved of half its
poignancy.

KING.

Pressed by the partners of her joys and griefs,
Her much beloved companions, to reveal
The cherished secret locked within her breast,
She needs must utter it; although her looks
Encourage me to hope, my bosom throbs
As anxiously I listen for her answer.

[S']AKOONTALA.

Know then, dear friends, that from the first moment the
illustrious Prince who is the guardian of our sacred grove
presented himself to my sight--

[_Stops short, and appears confused_.

PRIYAMVADA AND ANASUYA.

Say on, dear [S']akoontala, say on.

[S']AKOONTALA.

Ever since that happy moment, my heart's affections have been
fixed upon him, and my energies of mind and body have all
deserted me, as you see.

KING. [_With rapture_.

Her own lips have uttered the words I most longed to hear.

Love lit the flame, and Love himself allays
My burning fever, as when gathering clouds
Rise o'er the earth in summer's dazzling noon,
And grateful showers dispel the morning heat.

[S']AKOONTALA.

You must consent, then, dear friends, to contrive some means by
which I may find favour with the King, or you will have ere long
to assist at my funeral.

KING.

Enough! These words remove all my doubts.

PRIYAMVADA. [_Aside to_ ANASUYA.

She is far gone in love, dear Anasuya, and no time ought to be
lost. Since she has fixed her affections on a monarch who is the
ornament of Puru's line, we need not hesitate for a moment to
express our approval.

ANASUYA.

I quite agree with you.

PRIYAMVADA. [_Aloud_.

We wish you joy, dear [S']akoontala. Your affections are fixed on an
object in every respect worthy of you,. The noblest river will unite itself
to the ocean, and the lovely Madhavi-creeper clings naturally to the
Mango, the only tree capable of supporting it.

KING.

Why need we wonder if the beautiful constellation Vi[s']akha pines
to be united with the Moon[53]?

ANASUYA.

By what stratagem can we best secure to our friend the
accomplishment of her heart's desire both speedily and secretly?

PRIYAMVADA.

The latter point is all we have to think about. As to 'speedily,'
I look upon the whole affair as already settled.

ANASUYA.

How so?

PRIYAMVADA.

Did you not observe how the King betrayed his liking by the
tender manner in which he gazed upon her, and how thin he has
become the last few days, as if he had been lying awake thinking
of her?

KING. [_Looking at himself_.

Quite true! I certainly am becoming thin from want of sleep:

As night by night in anxious thought I raise
This wasted arm to rest my sleepless head,
My jewelled bracelet, sullied by the tears
That trickle from my eyes in scalding streams,
Slips towards my elbow from my shrivelled wrist.
Oft I replace the bauble, but in vain;
So easily it spans the fleshless limb
That e'en the rough and corrugated skin,
Scarred by the bow-string, will not check its fall[54].

PRIYAMVADA.

An idea strikes me, Anasuya. Let [S']akoontala write a love-letter;
I will conceal it in a flower, and contrive to drop it in the
King's path. He will surely mistake it for the remains of some
sacred offering, and will, in all probability, pick it up.

ANASUYA.

A very ingenious device! It my entire approval; but what says
[S']akoontala?

[S']AKOONTALA.

I must consider before I can consent to it.

PRIYAMVADA.

Could, you not, dear [S']akoontala, think of some pretty
composition in verse, containing a delicate declaration of your
love?

[S']AKOONTALA.

Well, I will do my best; but my heart trembles when I think of
the chances of a refusal.

KING. [_With rapture_.

Too timid maid, here stands the man from whom
Thou fearest a repulse; supremely blessed
To call thee all his own. Well might he doubt
His title to thy love; but how could'st thou
Believe thy beauty powerless to subdue him?

PRIYAMVADA AND ANASUYA.

You undervalue your own merits, dear [S']akoontala. What man in his
senses would intercept with the skirt of his robe the bright rays
of the autumnal moon, which alone can allay the fever of his
body?

[S']AKOONTALA. [_Smiling_.

Then it seems I must do as I am bid.

[_Sits down and appears to be thinking_.

KING.

How charming she looks! My very eyes forget to wink, jealous of
losing even for an instant a sight so enchanting.

How beautiful the movement of her brow,
As through her mind love's tender fancies flow!
And, as she weighs her thoughts, how sweet to trace
The ardent passion mantling in her face!

[S']AKOONTALA.

Dear girls, I have thought of a verse, but I have no
writing-materials at hand.

PRIYAMVADA.

Write the letters with your nail on this lotus-leaf, which is
smooth as a parrot's breast.

[S']AKOONTALA. [_After writing the verse_.

Listen, dear friends, and tell me whether the ideas are
appropriately expressed.

PRIYAMVADA AND ANASUYA.

We are all attention.

[S']AKOONTALA. [_Reads_.

I know not the secret thy bosom conceals,
Thy form is not near me to gladden my sight;
But sad is the tale that my fever reveals,
Of the love that consumes me by day and by night.

KING. [_Advancing hastily towards her_.

Nay, Love does but warm thee, fair maiden,--thy frame
Only droops like the bud in the glare of the noon;
But me he consumes with a pitiless flame,
As the beams of the day-star destroy the pale moon.

PRIYAMVADA AND ANASUYA.

[_Looking at him joyfully and rising to salute him_.

Welcome, the desire of our hearts, that so speedily presents
itself!

[[S']AKOONTALA _makes an effort to rise_.

KING.

Nay, trouble not thyself, dear maiden.

Move not to do me homage; let thy limbs
Still softly rest upon their flowery couch;
And gather fragrance from the lotus-stalks,
Bruised by the fevered contact of thy frame.

ANASUYA.

Deign, gentle Sir, to seat yourself on the rock on which our
friend is reposing.

[_The_ KING _sits down_. [S']AKOONTALA _is confused_.

PRIYAMVADA.

Any one may see at a glance that you are deeply attached to each
other. But the affection I have for my friend prompts me to say
something of which you hardly require to be informed.

KING.

Do not hesitate to speak out, my good girl. If you omit to say
what is in your mind, you may be sorry for it afterwards.

PRIYAMVADA.

Is it not your special office as a King to remove the suffering
of your subjects who are in trouble?

KING.

Such is my duty, most assuredly.

PRIYAMVADA.

Know, then, that our dear friend has been brought to her present
state of suffering entirely through love for you. Her life is in
your hands; take pity on her and restore her to health.

KING.

Excellent maiden, our attachment is mutual. It is I who am the
most honoured by it.

[S']AKOONTALA. [_Looking at PRIYAMVADA_.

What do you mean by detaining the King, who must be anxious to
return to his royal consorts after so long a separation?

KING.

Sweet maiden, banish from thy mind the thought
That I could love another. Thou dost reign
Supreme, without a rival, in my heart,
And I am thine alone; disown me not,
Else must I die a second deadlier death,
Killed by thy words, as erst by Kama's[47] shafts.

ANASUYA.

Kind Sir, we have heard it said that kings have many favourite
consorts. You must not, then, by your behaviour towards our dear
friend, give her relations cause to sorrow for her.

KING.

Listen, gentle maiden, while in a few words I quiet your anxiety.

Though many beauteous forms my palace grace,
Henceforth two things alone will I esteem
The glory of my royal dynasty--
My sea-girt realm, and this most lovely maid.

PRIYAMVADA AND ANASUYA.

We are satisfied by your assurances.

PRIYAMVADA. [_Glancing on one side_.

See, Anasuya, there is our favourite little fawn running about in
great distress, and turning its eyes in every direction as if
looking for its mother; come, let us help the little thing to
find her. [_Both move away_.

[S']AKOONTALA.

Dear friends, dear friends, leave me not alone and unprotected.
Why need you both go?

PRIYAMVADA AND ANASUYA.

Unprotected! when the Protector of the world is at your side.

[_Exeunt_.

[S']AKOONTALA.

What! have they both really left me?

KING.

Distress not thyself, sweet maiden. Thy adorer is at hand to wait
upon thee.

Oh let me tend thee, fair one, in the place
Of thy dear friends; and with broad lotus fans
Raise cooling breezes to refresh thy frame;
Or shall I rather, with caressing touch,
Allay the fever of thy limbs, and soothe
Thy aching feet, beauteous as blushing lilies?

[S']AKOONTALA.

Nay, touch me not. I will not incur the censure of those whom I
am bound to respect.

[_Rises and attempts to go_.

KING.

Fair one, the heat of noon has not yet subsided, and thy body is
still feeble.

How canst thou quit thy fragrant couch of flowers,
And from thy throbbing bosom cast aside
Its covering of lotus-leaves, to brave
With weak and fainting limbs the noon-day heat?

[_Forces her to turn back_.

[S']AKOONTALA.

Infringe not the rules of decorum, mighty descendant of Puru.
Remember, though I love you, I have no power to dispose of
myself.

KING.

Why this fear of offending your relations, timid maid? When your
venerable foster-father hears of it, he will not find fault with
you. He knows that the law permits us to be united without
consulting him.

In Indra's heaven, so at least 'tis said,
No nuptial rites prevail[55], nor is the bride
Led to the altar by her future lord;
But all in secret does the bridegroom plight
His troth, and each unto the other vow
Mutual allegiance. Such espousals, too,
Are authorised on earth, and many daughters
Of royal saints thus wedded to their lords
Have still received their father's benison.

[S']AKOONTALA.

Leave me, leave me; I must take counsel with my female friends.

KING.

I will leave thee when--

[S']AKOONTALA.

When?

KING.

When I have gently stolen from thy lips
Their yet untasted nectar, to allay
The raging of my thirst, e'en as the bee
Sips the fresh honey from the opening bud.

[_Attempts to raise her face_. [S']AKOONTALA tries to
prevent him_.

A VOICE BEHIND THE SCENES.

The loving birds, doomed by fate to nightly separation[56], must
bid farewell to each other, for evening is at hand.

[S']AKOONTALA. [_In confusion_.

Great Prince, I hear the voice of the matron Gautami. She is
coming this way to inquire after my health. Hasten and conceal
yourself behind the branches.

KING.

I will. [_Conceals himself_.

_Enter_ GAUTAMI _with a vase in her hand, preceded by two
attendants_.

ATTENDANTS.

This way, most venerable Gautami.

GAUTAMI. [_Approaching_ [S']AKOONTALA.

My child, is the fever of thy limbs allayed?

[S']AKOONTALA.

Venerable mother, there is certainly a change for the better.

GAUTAMI.

Let me sprinkle you with this holy water, and all
your ailments will depart.

[_Sprinkling_ [S']AKOONTALA on the head_.]

The day is closing, my child; come, let us go to the cottage.

[_They all move away_.

[S']AKOONTALA. [_Aside_.

Oh my heart! thou didst fear to taste of happiness when it was
within thy reach. Now that the object of thy desires is torn from
thee, how bitter will be thy remorse, how distracting thine
anguish!

[_Moving on a few steps and stopping. Aloud_.]

Farewell! bower of creepers, sweet soother of my sufferings,
farewell! may I soon again be happy under thy shade.

[_Exit reluctantly with the others_.

KING.

[_Returning to his former seat in the arbour. Sighing_.

Alas! how many are the obstacles to the accomplishment of our
wishes!

Albeit she did coyly turn away
Her glowing cheek, and with her fingers guard
Her pouting lips, that murmured a denial
In faltering accents, she did yield herself
A sweet reluctant captive to my will.
As eagerly I raised her lovely face;
But ere with gentle force I stole the kiss,
Too envious Fate did mar my daring purpose.

Whither now shall I betake myself? I will tarry for a brief space
in this bower of creepers, so endeared to me by the presence of
my beloved [S']akoontala.

[_Looking round_.

Here printed on the flowery couch I see
The fair impression of her slender limbs;
Here is the sweet confession of her love,
Traced with her nail upon the lotus-leaf;
And yonder are the withered lily-stalks
That graced her wrist. While all around I view
Things that recall her image, can I quit
This bower, e'en though its living be fled?

A VOICE IN THE AIR.

Great King,

Scarce is our evening sacrifice begun,
When evil demons, lurid as the clouds
That gather round the dying orb of day,
Cluster in hideous troops, obscene and dread,
About our altars, casting far and near
Terrific shadows, while the sacred fire
Sheds a pale lustre o'er their ghostly shapes.

KING.

I come to the rescue, I come.

[_Exit_.

* * * * *

PRELUDE TO ACT IV.

SCENE.--_The Garden of the Hermitage_.

_Enter_ PRIYAMVADA and ANASUYA in the act of gathering flowers_.

ANASUYA.

Although, dear Priyamvada, it rejoices my heart to think that
[S']akoontala has been happily united to a husband in every respect
worthy of her, by the form of marriage prevalent among Indra's
celestial musicians, nevertheless, I cannot help feeling somewhat
uneasy in my mind.

PRIYAMVADA.

How so?

ANASUYA.

You know that the pious King was gratefully dismissed by the
hermits on the successful termination of their sacrificial rites.
He has now returned to his capital, leaving [S']akoontala under our
care; and it may be doubted whether, in the society of his royal
consorts, he will not forget all that has taken place in this
hermitage of ours.

PRIYAMVADA.

On that score be at ease. Persons of his noble nature are not so
destitute of all honourable feeling. I confess, however, that
there is one point about which I am rather anxious. What, think
you, will Father Kanwa say when he hears what has occurred?

ANASUYA.

In my opinion, he will approve the marriage.

PRIYAMVADA.

What makes you think so?

ANASUYA.

From the first, it was always his fixed purpose to bestow the
maiden on a husband worthy of her; and since heaven has given her
such a husband, his wishes have been realized without any trouble
to himself.

PRIYAMVADA. [_Looking at the flower-basket_.

We have gathered flowers enough for the sacred offering, dear
Anasuya.

ANASUYA.

Well, then, let us now gather more, that we may have wherewith to
propitiate the guardian-deity of our dear [S']akoontala.

PRIYAMVADA.

By all means.

[_They continue gathering_.

A VOICE BEHIND THE SCENES.

Ho there! See you not that I am here!

ANASUYA.

That must be the voice of a guest announcing his arrival.

PRIYAMVADA.

Surely, [S']akoontala is not absent from the cottage.

[_Aside_.]

Her heart at least is absent, I fear.

ANASUYA.

Come along, come along; we have gathered flowers
enough.

[_They move away_.

THE SAME VOICE BEHIND THE SCENES.

Woe to thee, maiden, for daring to slight a guest like me!

Shall I stand here unwelcomed--even I,
A very mine of penitential merit,
Worthy of all respect? Shalt thou, rash maid,
Thus set at nought the ever sacred ties
Of hospitality? and fix thy thoughts
Upon the cherished object of thy love,
While I am present? Thus I curse thee, then--
He, even he of whom thou thinkest, he
Shall think no more of thee; nor in his heart
Retain thine image. Vainly shalt thou strive
To waken his remembrance of the past;
He shall disown thee, even as the sot,
Roused from his midnight drunkenness, denies
The words he uttered in his revellings.

PRIYAMVADA.

Alas! alas! I fear a terrible misfortune has occurred.
[S']akoontala, from absence of mind, must have offended some guest
whom she was bound to treat with respect.

[_Looking behind the scenes_.]

Ah! yes; I see; and no less a person than the great sage
Durvasas[57], who is known to be most irascible. He it is that
has just cursed her, and is now retiring with hasty strides,
trembling with passion, and looking as if nothing could turn him.
His wrath is like a consuming fire.

ANASUYA.

Go quickly, dear Priyamvada, throw yourself at his feet, and
persuade him to come back, while I prepare a propitiatory
offering[59] for him, with water and refreshments.

PRIYAMVADA.

I will.

[_Exit_.

ANASUYA.

[_Advancing hastily a few steps and stumbling_.

Alas! alas! this comes of being in a hurry. My foot has slipped,
and my basket of flowers has fallen from my hand.

[_Stays to gather them up_.

PRIYAMVADA. [_Re-entering_

Well, dear Anasuya, I have done my best; but what living being
could succeed in pacifying such a cross-grained, ill-tempered old
fellow? However, I managed to mollify him a little.

ANASUYA [_Smiling_.

Even a little was much for him. Say on.

PRIYAMVADA.

When he refused to turn back, I implored his forgiveness in these
words: 'Most venerable sage, pardon, I beseech you, this first
offence of a young and inexperienced girl, who was ignorant of
the respect due to your saintly character and exalted rank.'

ANASUYA

And what did he reply?

PRIYAMVADA.

'My word must not be falsified; but, at the sight of the ring of
recognition the spell shall cease.' So saying, he disappeared.

ANASUYA.

Oh! then we may breathe again; for, now I think of it, the King
himself, at his departure, fastened on [S']akoontala's finger, as a
token of remembrance, a ring on which his own name was engraved.
She has, therefore, a remedy for her misfortune at her own
command.

PRIYAMVADA.

Come, dear Anasuya, let us proceed with our religious duties.

[_They walk round_.

PRIYAMVADA. [_Looking off the stage_.

See, Anasuya, there sits our dear friend, motionless as a statue,
resting her face on her left hand, her whole mind absorbed in
thinking of her absent husband. She can pay no attention to
herself, much less to a stranger.

ANASUYA.

Priyamvada, let this affair never pass our lips. We must spare
our dear friend's feelings. Her constitution is too delicate to
bear much emotion.

PRIYAMVADA.

I agree with you. Who would think of watering a tender jasmine
with hot water?

ACT IV.

Scene.--_The Neighbourhood of the Hermitage.

Enter one of_ Kanwa's Pupils _just arisen from his couch at the
dawn of day_.

PUPIL.

My master, the venerable Kanwa, who is but lately returned from
his pilgrimage, has ordered me to ascertain how the time goes. I
have therefore come into the open air to see if it be still dark.

[_Walking and looking about_.]

Oh! the dawn has already broken.

Lo! in one quarter of the sky, the Moon,
Lord of the herbs and night-expanding flowers,
Sinks towards his bed behind the western hills;
While in the east, preceded by the Dawn,
His blushing charioteer[59], the glorious Sun
Begins his course, and far into the gloom
Casts the first radiance of his orient beams.
Hail! co-eternal orbs, that rise to set,
And set to rise again; symbols divine
Of man's reverses, life's vicissitudes.

And now,

While the round Moon withdraws his looming disc
Beneath the western sky, the full-blown flower
Of the night-loving lotus[60] sheds her leave
In sorrow for his loss, bequeathing nought
But the sweet memory of her loveliness
To my bereaved sight; e'en as the bride
Disconsolately mourns her absent lord,
And yields her heart a prey to anxious grief.

ANASUYA. [_Entering abruptly_.

Little as I know of the ways of the world, I cannot help thinking
that King Dushyanta is treating [S']akoontala very improperly.

PUPIL.

Well, I must let my revered preceptor know that it is time to
offer the burnt oblation.

[_Exit_.

ANASUYA.

I am broad awake, but what shall I do? I have no energy to go
about my usual occupations. My hands and feet seem to have lost
their power. Well, Love has gained his object; and Love only is
to blame for having induced our dear friend, in the innocence of
her heart, to confide in such a perfidious man. Possibly,
however, the imprecation of Durvasas may he already taking
effect. Indeed, I cannot otherwise account for the King's strange
conduct, in allowing so long a time to elapse without even a
letter; and that, too, after so many promises and protestations.
I cannot think what to do unless we send him the ring which was
to be the token of recognition. But which of these austere
hermits could we ask to be the bearer of it? Then, again, Father
Kanwa has just returned from his pilgrimage; and how am I to
inform him of [S']akoontala's marriage to King Dushyanta, and her
expectation of becoming soon a mother? I never could bring myself
to tell him, even if I felt that [S']akoontala had been in fault,
which she certainly has not. What is to be done?

PRIYAMVADA. [_Entering; joyfully_.

Quick! quick! Anasuya! come and assist in the joyful preparations
for [S']akoontala's departure to her husband's palace.

ANASUYA.

My dear girl, what can you mean?

PRIYAMVADA.

Listen, now, and I will tell you all about it. I went just now to
[S']akoontala, to inquire whether she had slept comfortably--

ANASUYA.

Well, well; go on.

PRIYAMVADA.

She was sitting with her face bowed down to the very ground with
shame, when Father Kanwa entered, and, embracing her, of his own
accord offered her his congratulations. 'I give thee joy, my
child,' he said, 'we have had an auspicious omen. The priest who
offered the oblation dropped it into the very centre of the
sacred fire [81], though thick smoke obstructed his vision.
Henceforth thou wilt cease to be an object of compassion. This
very day I purpose sending thee, under the charge of certain
trusty hermits, to the King's palace; and shall deliver thee into
the hands of thy husband, as I would commit knowledge to the
keeping of a wise and faithful student.'

ANASUYA.

Who, then, informed the holy father of what passed in his
absence?

PRIYAMVADA.

As he was entering the sanctuary of the consecrated fire, an
invisible being chanted a verse in celestial strains.

ANASUYA. [_With astonishment_.

Indeed! pray repeat it.

PRIYAMVADA. [_Repeating the verse_.

Glows in thy daughter King Dushyanta's glory,
As in the sacred tree the mystic fire [62];
Let worlds rejoice to hear the welcome story,
And may the son immortalize the sire.

ANASUYA. [_Embracing_ PRIYAMVADA.

Oh, my dear Priyamvada, what delightful news! I am pleased
beyond measure; yet when I think that we are to lose our dear
[S']akoontala this very day, a feeling of melancholy mingles with
my joy.

PRIYAMVADA.

We shall find means of consoling ourselves after her departure.
Let the dear creature only be made happy at any cost.

ANASUYA.

Yes, yes, Priyamvada, it shall be so; and now to prepare the
bridal array. I have always looked forward to this occasion, and
some time since, I deposited a beautiful garland of Ke[S']ara
flowers in a cocoa-nut box, and suspended it on a bough of
yonder mango-tree. Be good enough to stretch out your hand and
take it down, while I compound unguents and perfumes with this
consecrated paste and these blades of sacred grass.

PRIYAMVADA.

Very well.

[_Exit_ ANASUYA. PRIYAMVADA _takes down the flowers_.

A VOICE BEHIND THE SCENES.

Gautami, bid [S']arngarava and the others hold themselves in
readiness to escort [S']akoontala.

PRIYAMVADA. [_Listening_.

Quick, quick, Anasuya! They are calling the
hermits who are to go with [S']akoontala to Hastinapur[83].

ANASUYA. [_Re-entering with the perfumed unguents in her
hand_.

Come along then, Priyamvada; I am ready to go with you.

[_They walk away_.

PRIYAMVADA. [_Looking_.

See! there sits [S']akoontala, her locks arranged even at this
early hour of the morning. The holy women of the hermitage are
congratulating her, and invoking blessings on her head, while
they present her with wedding-gifts and offerings of consecrated
wild-rice. Let us join them.

[_They approach_.

[S']AKOONTALA _is seen seated, with women surrounding her, occupied
in the manner described_.

FIRST WOMAN. [_To_ [S']AKOONTALA.

My child, may'st thou receive the title of 'Chief-queen,' and may
thy husband delight to honour thee above all others!

SECOND WOMAN.

My child, may'st thou be the mother of a hero!

THIRD WOMAN.

My child, may'st thou be highly honoured by thy lord!

[_Exeunt all the women, excepting_ GAUTAMI, after blessing_
[S']AKOONTALA.

PRIYAMVADA AND ANASUYA. [_Approaching_.

Dear [S']akoontala, we are come to assist you at your toilet, and
may a blessing attend it!

[S']AKOONTALA.

Welcome, dear friends, welcome. Sit down here.

PRIYAMVADA AND ANASUYA.

[_Taking the baskets containing the bridal decorations, and
sitting down_.

Now, then, dearest, prepare to let us dress you. We must first
rub your limbs with these perfumed unguents.

[S']AKOONTALA.

I ought indeed to be grateful for your kind offices, now that I
am so soon to be deprived of them. Dear, dear friends, perhaps I
shall never be dressed by you again.

[_Bursts into tears_.

PRIYAMVADA AND ANASUYA.

Weep not, dearest; tears are out of season on such a happy
occasion.

[_They wipe away her tears and begin to dress her_.

PRIYAMVADA.

Alas! these simple flowers and rude ornaments, which our
hermitage offers in abundance, do not set off your beauty as it
deserves.

_Enter TWO YOUNG HERMITS, bearing costly presents_.

BOTH HERMITS.

Here are ornaments suitable for a queen.

[_The women look at them in astonishment_.

GAUTAMI

Why, Narada, my son, whence came these?

FIRST HERMIT.

You owe them to the devotion of Father Kanwa.

GAUTAMI.

Did he create them by the power of his own mind?

SECOND HERMIT.

Certainly not; but you shall hear. The venerable sage ordered us
to collect flowers for [S']akoontala from the forest-trees; and we
went to the wood for that purpose, when

Straightway depending from a neighbouring tree
Appeared a robe of linen tissue, pure
And spotless as a moonbeam--mystic pledge
Of bridal happiness; another tree
Distilled a roseate dye wherewith to stain
The lady's feet [135]; and other branches near
Glistened with rare and costly ornaments.
While, 'mid the leaves, the hands of forest-nymphs,
Vying in beauty with the opening buds,
Presented us with sylvan offerings.

PRIYAMVADA. [_Looking at_ [S']AKOONTALA.

The wood-nymphs have done you honour, indeed. This favour
doubtless signifies that you are soon to be received as a happy
wife into your husband's house, and are from this time forward to
become the partner of his royal fortunes.

[[S']AKOONTALA _appears abashed_.

FIRST HERMIT.

Come, Gautama; Father Kanwa has finished his ablutions. Let us go
and inform him of the favour we have received from the deities
who preside over our trees.

SECOND HERMIT.

By all means.

[_Exeunt_.

PRIYAMVADA AND ANASUYA

Alas! what are we to do? We are unused to such splendid
decorations, and are at a loss how to arrange them. Our
knowledge of painting must be our guide. We will dispose the
ornaments as we have seen them in pictures.

[S']AKOONTALA

Whatever pleases you, dear girls, will please me. I have perfect
confidence In your taste.

[_They commence dressing her_.

_Enter_ KANWA, _having just finished his ablutions_.

KANWA.

This day my loved one leaves me, and my heart

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