[*a less beautiful but more conveniently printable version of Act Four*]
SCENE --- A LAWN before the Cottage.
The two damsels are discovered gathering flowers.
Anusúyá. O my Priyamvadá, though our sweet friend has been happily married, according to the rites of Gandharvas, to a bridegroom equal in rank and accomplishments, yet my affectionate heart is not wholly free from care; and one doubt gives me particular uneasiness.
Pri yamvadá. What doubt, my Anusúyá?
Anu. This morning the pious prince was dismissed with gratitude by our hermits, who had then completed their mystick rites: he is now gone to his capital, Hastinápura, where, surrounded by a hundred women in the recesses of his palace, it may be doubted whether he will remember his charming bride.
Pri. In that respect you may be quite easy. Men so well informed and well educated as he, can never be utterly destitute of honour. ---We have another thing to consider. When our father Canna shall return from his pilgrimage, and shall hear what has passed, I cannot tell how he may receive the intelligence.
Anu. If you ask my opinion, he will, I think, approve of the marriage.
Pri. Why do you think so?
Anu. Because he could desire nothing better, than that a husband so accomplished and so exalted should take Sacontalá by the hand. It was, you know, the declared object of his heart, that she might be suitably married; and, since heaven has done for him what he most wished to do, how can he possibly be dissatisfied?
Pri. You reason well; but ---[Looking at her basket.] ---My friend, we have plucked a sufficient store of flowers to scatter over the place of sacrifice.
Anu. Let us gather more to decorate the temples of the goddess who have procured for Sacontalá so much good fortune.
[They both gather more flowers.]
[Behind the scenes.] It is I ---Hola!
Anu. [Listening.] I hear the voice, as it seems, of a guest arrived in the hermitage.
Pri. Let us hasten thither. Sacontalá is now reposing; but though we may, when she wakes, enjoy her presence, yet her mind will all day be absent with her departed lord.
Anu. Be it so; but we have occasion, you know, for all these flowers. [They advance.]
[Again behind the scenes.] How! dost thou show no attention to a guest? Then hear my imprecations ---"He on whom thou art meditating, on whom alone thy heart is now fixed, while thou neglectest a pure gem of devotion who demands hospitality, shall forget thee, when thou seest him next, as a man restored to sobriety forgets the words which he uttered in a state of intoxication."
[Both damsels look at each other with affliction.]
Pri. Woe is me! Dreadful calamity! Our beloved friend has, through mere absence of mind, provoked by her neglect, some holy man who expected reverence.
Anu. [Looking.] It must be so; for the choleric Durvásas is going hastily back.
Pri. Who else has power to consume, like raging fire, whatever offends him? Go, my Anusúyá; fall at his feet, and persuade him, if possible, to return: in the mean time I will prepare water and refreshments for him.
Anu. I go with eagerness. [She goes out.]
Pri. [Advancing hastily, her foot slips.] Ah! through my eager haste I have let the basket fall; and my religious duties must not be postponed. [She gathers fresh flowers.]
Anu. His wrath, my beloved, passes all bounds. ---Who from amongst the living could now appease him by the humblest prostrations or entreaties? yet at last he has a little relented.
Pri. That little is a great deal for him. –But inform me how you soothed him in any degree.
Anu. When he positively refused to come back, I threw myself at his feet, and thus addressed him: "Holy sage, forgive, I entreat, the offence of an amiable girl, who has the highest veneration for you, but was ignorant, through distraction of mind, how exalted a personage was calling to her."
Pri. What then? What said he?
Anu. He answered thus: "My word cannot not be recalled; but the spell which it has raised shall be wholly removed when her lord shall see his ring." Saying this, he disappeared.
Pri. We may now have confidence for before the monarch departed, he fixed with his own hand on the finger of Sacontalá the ring, on which we saw the name Dushmanta engraved, and which he will instantly recognize. On him therefore alone will depend the remedy for our misfortune.
Anu. Come, let us now proceed to the shrines of the goddess, and implore their succour. [Both advance.]
Pri. [Looking.] See, my Anusúyá, where our beloved friend sits, motionless as a picture, supporting her languid head with her left hand. With a mind so intent on one object, she can pay no attention to herself, much less to a stranger.
Anu. Let the horrid imprecation, Priyamvadá, remain a secret between us two: we must spare the feelings of our beloved, who is naturally susceptible of quick emotions.
Pri. Who would pour boiling water on the blossom of a tender Mallicá? [Both go out.]
A Pupil of Canna enters.
Pupil. I am ordered by the venerable Canna, who is returned from the place of his pilgrimage, to observe the time of the night, and am, therefore, come forth to see how much remains of it. [Walking round, and observing the heavens.] ---On one side, the moon, who kindles the flowers of the Oshadhì, has nearly sunk in his western bed; and, on the other, the sun, seated behind his charioteer Arun, is beginning his course: the lustre of them both is conspicuous, when they rise and when they set; and by their example should men be equally firm in prosperous and in adverse fortune. ---The moon has now disappeared, and the night flower pleases no more: it leaves only a remembrance of its odour, and languishes like a tender bride whose pain is intolerable in the absence of her beloved. ---The ruddy morn impurples the dew drops on the branches of yonder Vadarí; the peacock, shaking off sleep, hastens from the cottages of hermits interwoven with holy grass; and yonder antelope, springing hastily from the place of sacrifice, which is marked with his hoofs, raises himself on high, and stretches his graceful limbs. ---How is the moon fallen from the sky with diminished beams! The moon who had let his foot on the head of Suméru, king of mountains, and had climbed, scattering the rear of darkness, even to the central palace of Vishnu! ---Thus do the great men of this world ascend with extreme labour to the summit of ambition, but easily and quickly descend from it.
Anusúyá enters meditating.
Anu. [Aside.] Such has been the affection of Sacontalá, though she was bred in austere devotion, averse from sensual enjoyments! ---How unkind was the king to leave her!
Pupil. [Aside.] The proper time is come for performing the hóma: I must apprise our preceptor of it. [He goes out.]
Anu. The shades of night are dispersed; and I am hardly awake; but were I ever so perfectly in my senses, what could I now do? My hands move not readily to the usual occupations of the morning. ---Let the blame be cast on love, on love only, by whom our friend has been reduced to her present condition, through a monarch who has broken his word. ---Or does the imprecation of Durvásas already prevail? ---How else could a virtous king, who made so solemn an engagement, have suffered so long a time to elapse without sending even a message! ---Shall we convey the fatal ring to him! ---Or what expedient can be suggested for the relief of this incomparable girl, who mourns without ceasing? ---Yet what fault has she committed? ---With all my zeal for her happiness, I cannot summon courage enough to inform our father Canna that she is pregnant. ---What then, oh! what step can I take to relieve her anxiety?
Pri. Come, Anusúyá, come quickly. They are making suitable preparations for conducting Sacontalá to her husband's palace.
Anu. [With surprise.] What say you, my friend?
Pri. Hear me. I went just now to Sacontalá, meaning only to ask if she had slept well ---
Anu. What then? oh! what then?
Pri. She was sitting with her head bent on her knee, when our father Canna, entering her apartment, embraced and congratulated her. ---"My sweet child," said he, "there has been a happy omen; the young Bráhmin who officiated in our morning sacrifice, though his sight was impeded by clouds of smoke, dropped the clarified butter into the very centre of the adorable flame. ---Now, since the pious act of my pupil has prospered, my foster child I must not be suffered any longer to languish in sorrow: and this day I am determined to send thee from the cottage of the old hermit who bred thee up, to the palace of the monarch who has taken thee by the hand."
Anu. My friend, who told Canna what passed in his absence?
Pri. When he entered the place where the holy fire was blazing, he heard a voice from heaven pronouncing divine measures.
Anu. [Amazed.] Ah! you astonish me.
Pri. Hear the celestial verse: ---"Know that thy adopted daughter, O pious Bráhmen, has received from Dushmanta a ray of glory destined to rule the world; as the wood Samì becomes pregnant with mysterious fire."
Anu. [Embracing Priyamvadá.] I am delighted, my beloved; I am transported with joy. But ---since they mean to deprive us of our friend so soon as to-day, I feel that my delight is at least equalled by my sorrow.
Pri. Oh! we must submit patiently to the anguish of parting. Our beloved friend will now be happy; and that should console us.
Anu. Let us now make haste to dress her in bridal array. I have already, for that purpose, filled the shell of a coconut, which you see fixed on an Amra tree, with the fragrant dust of Nágacésaras: take it down, and keep it in a fresh lotos leaf, whilst I collect some Góráchana from the forehead of a sacred cow, some earth from consecrated ground, and some fresh Cusa grass, of which I will make a paste to ensure good fortune.
Pri. By all means. [She takes down the perfume. ---Anusúyá goes out.]
[Behind the scenes.] O Gautamí, bid the two Misras, Sárngarava and Sáradwata, make ready to accompany my child Sacontalá.
Pri. [Listening.] Lose no time, Anusúyá, lose no time. Our father Canna is giving orders for the intended journey to Hastinápur.
Anusúyá re-enters with the ingredients of her charm.
Anu. I am here: let us go, my Priyamvadá.
Pri. [Looking.] There stands our Sacontalá, after her bath at sunrise, while many holy women, who are congratulating her, carry baskets of hallowed grain. ---Let us hasten to greet her.
Enter Sacontalá, Gautamí, and female Hermits.
Sac. I prostrate myself before the goddess.
Gaut. My child, thou canst not pronounce too often the word goddess: thus wilt thou procure great felicity for thy lord.
Herm. Mayst thou, O royal bride, be delivered of a hero! [The Hermits go out.]
Both damsels. [Approaching Sacontalá.] Beloved friend, was your bath pleasant?
Sac. O! my friends, you are welcome: let us sit a while together. [They seat themselves.]
Anu. Now you must be patient, whilst I bind on a charm to secure your happiness.
Sac. That is kind. ---Much has been decided this day: and the pleasure of being thus attended by my sweet friends will not soon return. [Wiping off her tears.]
Pri. Beloved, it is unbecoming to weep at a time when you are going to be so happy. ---[Both damsels burst into tears as they dress her.] ---Your elegant person deserves richer apparel: it is now decorated with such rude flowers as we could procure in this forest.
Canna's Pupil enters with rich clothes.
Pupil. Here is a complete dress. Let the queen wear it auspiciously; and may her life be long! [The women look with astonishment.]
Gaut. My son, Háríta, whence came this apparel?
Pupil. From the devotion of our father Canna.
Gaut. What dost thou mean?
Pupil. Be attentive. The venerable sage gave this order: "Bring fresh flowers for Sacontalá from the most beautiful trees;" and suddenly the woodnymphs appeared, raising their hands, which rivalled new leaves in beauty and softness. Some of them wove a lower mantle bright as the moon, the presage of her felicity; another pressed the juice of Lácshà to stain her feet exquisitely red; the rest were busied in forming the gayest ornaments; and they eagerly showered their gifts on us.
Pri. [Looking at Sacontalá.] Thus it is, that even the bee, whose nest is within the hollow trunk, does homage to the honey of the lotos flower.
Gaut. The nymphs must have been commissioned by the goddess of the king's fortune, to predict the accession of brighter ornaments in his palace. [Sacontalá looks modest.]
Pup. I must hasten to Canna, who is gone to bathe in the Málinì, and let him know the signal kindness of the woodnymphs. [He goes out.]
Anu. My sweet friend, I little expected so splendid a dress: ---how shall I adjust it properly? ---[Considering.] ---Oh! my skill in painting will supply me with some hints; and I will dispose the drapery according to art.
Sac. I well know your affection for him.
Canna enters meditating.
Can. [Aside.] This day must Sacontalá depart: that is resolved; yet my soul is smitten with anguish. ---My speech is interrupted by a torrent of tears, which my reason suppresses and turns inward: my very sight is dimmed. ---Strange that the affliction of a forester, retired from the haunts of men, should be so excessive! ---Oh, with what pangs must they who are fathers of families, be afflicted on the departure of a daughter! [He walks round musing.]
Pri. Now, my Sacontalá, you are becomingly decorated: put on this lower vest, the gift of sylvan goddesses.
[Sacontalá rises, and puts on the mantle.]
Gaut. My child, thy spiritual father, whose eyes overflow with tears of joy, stands desiring to embrace thee. Hasten, therefore, to do him reverence. [Sacontalá modestly bows to him.]
Can. Mayst thou be cherished by thy husband, as Sarmishthà was cherished by Yayáti! Mayst thou bring forth a sovereign of the world, as she brought forth Puru!
Gaut. This, my child is not a mere benediction; it is a boon actually conferred.
Can. My best beloved, come and walk with me round the sacrificial fire. ---[They all advance.] ---May these fires preserve thee! Fires which spring to their appointed stations on the holy hearth, and consume the consecrated wood, while the fresh blades of mysterious Cusa lie scattered around them! ---Sacramental fires, which destroy sin with the rising fumes of clarified butter! ---[Sacontalá walks with solemnity round the hearth.] ---Now set out, my darling, on thy auspicious journey. ---[Looking round.] ---Where are the attendants, the two Misras?
Enter Sárngarava and Sáradwata.
Both. Holy sage, we are here.
Can. My son, Sárngarava, show thy sister her way.
Sárn. Come, damsel. ---[They all advance.]
Can. Hear, all ye trees of this hallowed forest; ye trees, in which the sylvan goddesses have their abode; hear, and proclaim, that Sacontalá is going to the palace of her wedded lord; she who drank not, though thirsty, before you were watered; she who cropped not, through affection for you, one of your fresh leaves, though she would have been pleased with such an ornament for her locks; she whose chief delight was in the season when your branches are spangled with flowers!
CHORUS of invisible WOODNYMPHS. May her way be attended with prosperity! May propitious breezes sprinkle, for her delight, the odoriferous dust of rich blossoms! May pools of clear water, green with the leaves of the lotos, refresh her as she walks! and may shady branches be her defence from the scorching sunbeams! [All listen with admiration.]
Sárn. Was that the voice of the Cócila wishing a happy journey to Sacontalá? ---Or did the nymphs, who are allied to the pious inhabitants of these woods, repeat the warbling of the musical bird, and make its greeting their own?
Gaut. Daughter, the sylvan goddesses, who love their kindred hermits, have wished you prosperity, and are entitled to humble thanks.
[Sacontalá walks round, bowing to the nymphs.]
Sac. [Aside to Priyamvadá.] Delighted as I am, O Priyamvadá, with the thought of seeing again the son of my lord, yet, on leaving this grove, my early asylum, I am scarce able to walk.
Pri. You lament not alone. ---Mark the affliction of the forest itself when the time of your departure approaches! ---The female antelope browses no more on the collected Cusa grass; and the peahen ceases to dance on the lawn; the very plants of the grove, whose pale leaves fall on the ground, lose their strength and their beauty.
Sac. Venerable father, suffer me to address this Mádhaví creeper, whose red blossoms inflame the grove.
Can. My child, I know thy affection for it.
Sac. [Embracing the plant.] O most radiant of twining plants, receive my embraces, and return them with thy flexible arms: from this day, though removed to a fatal distance, I shall for ever be thine. ---O beloved father, consider this creeper as myself.
Can. My darling, thy amiable qualities have gained thee a husband equal to thyself: such an event has been long, for thy sake, the chief object of my heart; and now, since my solicitude for thy marriage is at an end, I will marry thy favourite plant to the bridegroom Amra, who sheds fragrance near her. ---Proceed, my child, on thy journey.
Sac. [Approaching the two damsels.] Sweet friends, let this Mádhaví creeper be a precious deposit in your hands.
Anu. and Pri. Alas! in whose care shall we be left? [They both weep.]
Can. Tears are vain, Anusúyá: our Sacontalá ought rather to be supported by your firmness, than weakened by your weeping. [All advance.]
Sac. Father! when yon female antelope, who now moves slowly from the weight of the young ones with which she is pregnant, shall be delivered of them, send me, I beg, a kind message with tidings of her safety. ---Do not forget.
Can. My beloved, I will not forget it.
Sac. [Advancing, then stopping.] Ah! what is it that clings to the skirts of my robe, and detains me? [She turns round, and looks.]
Can. It is thy adopted child, the little fawn, whose mouth, when the sharp points of Cusa grass had wounded it, has been so often smeared by thy hand with the healing oil of Ingudì; who has been so often fed by thee with a handful of Syámáka grains, and now will not leave the footsteps of his protectress.
Sac. Why dost thou weep, tender fawn, for me, who must leave our common dwelling-place? ---As thou wast reared by me when thou hadst lost thy mother, who died soon after thy birth, so will my foster-father attend thee, when we are separated, with anxious care. ---Return, poor thing, return ---we must part.
[She burst into tears.]
Can. Thy tears, my child, ill suit the occasion: we shall all meet again: be firm: see the direct road before thee, and follow it. ---When the big tear lurks beneath thy beautiful eyelashes, let thy resolution check its first efforts to disengage itself. ---In thy passage over this earth, where the paths are now high, now low, and the true path seldom distinguished, the traces of thy feet must needs be unequal; but virtue will press thee right onward.
Sárn. It is a sacred rule, holy sage, that a benevolent man should accompany a traveller till he meet with abundance of water; and that rule you have carefully observed: we are now near the brink of a large pool. Give us, therefore, your commands, and return.
Can. Let us rest a while under the shade of this Vata tree ---[They all go to the shade.] –What message can I send with propriety to the noble Dushmanta? [He meditates.]
Anu. [Aside to Sacontalá.] My beloved friend, every heart in our asylum is fixed on you alone, and all are afflicted by your departure. ---Look; the bird Chacraváca, called by his mate, who is almost hidden by water lilies, gives her no answer; but having dropped from his bill the fibres of lotos stalks which he had plucked, gazes on you with inexpressible tenderness.
Can. My son Sárngarava, remember, when thou shalt present Sacontalá to the king, to address him thus, in my name: "Considering us hermits as virtuous, indeed, but rich only in devotion, and considering also thy own exalted birth, retain thy love for this girl, which arose in thy bosom without any interference of her kindred; and look on her among thy wives with the same kindness which they experience: more than that cannot be demanded; since particular affection must depend on the will of heaven."
Sárn. Your message, venerable Sir, is deeply rooted in my remembrance.
Can. [Looking tenderly at Sacontalá.] Now my darling, thou too must be gently admonished. ---We, who are humble foresters, are yet acquainted with the world which we have forsaken.
Sárn. Nothing can be unknown to the wife.
Can. Hear, my daughter ---When thou art settled in the mansion of thy husband, show due reverence to him, and to those whom he reveres: though he have other wives, be rather an affectionate handmaid to them than a rival. ---Should he displease thee, let not thy resentment lead thee to disobedience. ---In thy conduct to thy domesticks be rigidly just and impartial; and seek not eagerly thy own gratifications. ---By such behaviour young women become respectable; but perverse wives are the bane of a family. ---What thinks Gautamí of this lesson?
Gaut. It is incomparable: ---my child, be sure to remember it.
Can. Come, my beloved girl, give a parting embrace to me and to thy tender companions.
Sac. Must Anusúyá and Priyamvadá return to the hermitage?
Can. They too, my child, must be suitably married; and it would not be proper for them yet to visit the city; but Gautamí will accompany thee.
Sac. [Embracing him.] Removed from the bosom of my father, like a young sandal tree, rent from the hills of Malaya, how shall I exist in a strange soil?
Can. Be not so anxious. When thou shalt be mistress of a family, and consort of a king, thou mayst, indeed, be occasionally perplexed by the intricate affairs which arise from exuberance of wealth, but wilt then think lightly of this transient affliction, especially when thou shalt have a son (and a son thou wilt have) bright as the rising day-star. ---Know also with certainty, that the body must necessarily, at the appointed moment, be separated from the soul: who, then, can be immoderately afflicted, when the weaker bounds of extrinsic relations are loosened, or even broken.
Sac. [Falling at his feet.] My father, I thus humbly declare my veneration for you.
Can. Excellent girl, may my effort for thy happiness prove successful.
Sac. [Approaching her two companions.] Come, then, my beloved friends, embrace me together. [They embrace her.]
Anu. My friend, if the virtuous monarch should not at once recollect you, only show him the ring on which his own name is engraved.
Sac. [Starting.] My heart flutters at the bare apprehension which you have raised.
Pri. Fear not, sweet Sacontalá: love always raises ideas of misery, which are seldom or never realised.
Sárn. Holy sage, the sun has risen to a considerable height: let the queen hasten her departure.
Sac. [Again embracing Canna.] When, my father, oh when again shall I behold this asylum of virtue?
Can. Daughter, when thou shalt long have been wedded, like this fruitful earth, to the pious monarch, and shalt have borne him a son, whose car shall be matchless in battle, thy lord shall transfer to him the burden of empire, and thou, with thy Dushmanta, shalt again seek tranquillity, before thy final departure, in this loved and consecrated grove.
Gaut. My child, the proper time for journey passes away rapidly: suffer thy father to return. ---Go, venerable man, go back to thy mansion, from which she is doomed to be so long absent.
Can. Sweet child, this delay interrupts my religious duties.
Sac. You, my father, will perform them long without sorrow; but I, alas! am destined to bear affliction.
Can. O! my daughter, compel me not to neglect my daily devotions. ---[Sighing.] ---No my sorrow will not be diminished. ---Can it cease, my beloved, when the plants which rise luxuriantly from the hallowed grains which thy hand has strewn before my cottage, are continually in my sight? Go, may thy journey prosper. [Sacontalá goes out with Gautamí and the two Misra.]
Both damsels. [Looking after Sacontalá with anguish.] Alas! alas! our beloved is hidden by the thick trees.
Can. My children, since your friend is at length departed, check your immoderate grief, and follow me. [They all turn back.]
Both. Holy father, the grove will be a perfect vacuity without Sacontalá.
Can. Your affection will certainly give it that appearance. ---[He walks round meditating.] ---Ah me! ---Yes; at last my weak mind has attained its due firmness after the departure of my Sacontalá. ---In truth a daughter must sooner or later be the property of another; and, having now sent her to her lord, I find my soul clear and undisturbed, like that of a man who has restored to its owner an inestimable deposit which he long had kept with solicitude. [They go out.]
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