[*a less beautiful but more conveniently printable version of Act Six*]
SCENE --- A STREET.
Enter a Superintendent of Police with two Officers, leading a man with his hands bound.
First Officer. [Striking the prisoner.] Take that, Cumbhílaca, if Cumbhílaca be thy name; and tell us now where thou gottest this ring, bright with a large gem, on which the king's name is engraved.
Cumbh. [Trembling.] Spare me, I entreat your honours to spare me: I am not guilty of so great a crime as you suspect.
First Off. O distinguished Bráhmen, didst thou then receive it from the king as a reward of some important service?
Cumbh. Only hear me: I am a poor fisherman dwelling at Sacrávatára ---
Second Off. Did we ask, thou thief, about thy tribe or thy dwelling-place?
Sup. O Súchaca, let the fellow tell his own story. ---Now conceal nothing, sirrah.
First Off. Dost thou hear? Do as our master commands.
Cumbh. I am a man who support my family by catching fish in nets, or with hooks, and by various other contrivances.
Sup. [Laughing.] A virtuous way of gaining a livelihood!
Cumbh. Blame me not, master. The occupation of our forefathers, how low soever, must not be forsaken; and a man who kills animals for sale may have a tender heart though his act be cruel.
Sup. Go on, go on.
Cumbh. One day having caught a large Róhita fish, I cut it open, and saw this bright ring in its stomach; but when I offered to sell it, I was apprehended by your honours. So far only am I guilty of taking the ring. Will you now continue beating and bruising me to death?
Sup. [Smelling the ring.] It is certain, Jáluca, that this gem has been in the body of a fish. The case requires consideration; and I will mention it to some of the king's household.
Both Off. Come on, cutpurse. [They advance.]
Sup. Stand here, Súchaca, at the great gate of the city, and wait for me, while I speak to some of the officers in the palace.
Both Off. Go, Rájayucta. May the king favour thee. [The Superintendent goes out.]
Second Off. Our master will stay, I fear, a long while.
First Off. Yes; access to kings can only be had at their leisure.
Second Off. The tips of my fingers itch, my friend Jáluca, to kill this cutpurse.
Cumbh. You would put to death an innocent man.
First Off. [Looking.] Here comes our master. ---The king has decided quickly. Now, Cumbhílaca, you will either see your companions again, or be the food of shakàls and vultures.
The Superintendent re-enters.
Sup. Let the fisherman immediately ---
Cumbh. [In an agony.] Oh! I am a dead man.
Sup. ---be discharged. ---Hola! set him at liberty. The king says he knows his innocence; and his story is true.
Second Off. As our master commands. –The fellow is brought back from the mansion of Yama, to which he was hastening. [Unbinding the fisherman.]
Cumbh. [Bowing.] My lord, I owe my life to your kindness.
Sup. Rise, friend; and hear with delight that the king gives thee a sum of money equal to the full value of the ring: it is a fortune to a man in thy station. [Giving him the money.]
Cumbh. [With rapture.] I am transported with joy.
First Off. This vagabond seems to be taken down from the stake, and set on the back of a state elephant.
Second Off. The king, I suppose, has a great affection for his gem.
Sup. Not for its intrinsick value; but I guessed the cause of his ecstasy when he saw it.
Both Off. What could occasion it?
Sup. I suspect that it called to his memory some person who has a place in his heart; for though his mind be naturally firm, yet, from the moment when he beheld the ring, he was for some minutes excessively agitated.
Second Off. Our master has given the king extreme pleasure.
First Off. Yes; and by the means of this fishcatcher. [Looking fiercely at him.]
Cumbh. Be not angry ---Half the money shall be divided between you to purchase wine.
First Off. Oh! now thou art our beloved friend. ---Good wine is the first object of our affection. ---Let us go together to the vintners. [They all go out.]
SCENE --- The GARDENof the PALACE.
The Nymph Misracésí appears in the air.
Misr. My first task was duly performed when I went to bathe in the Nymphs' pool; and I now must see with my own eyes how the virtuous king is afflicted. ---Sacontalá is dear to this heart, because she is the daughter of my beloved Ménacà, from whom I received both commissions. ---[She looks round.] ---Ah! on a day full of delights the monarch's family seem oppressed with some new sorrow. ---By exerting my supernatural power I could know what has transpired; but respect must be shown to the desire of Ménacà. I will retire, therefore, among those plants, and observe what is done without being visible. [She descends, and takes her station.]
Enter two Damsels, attendants on the God of Love.
First Dams. [Looking at an Amra flower.] The blossoms of yon Amra, waving on the green stalk, are fresh and light as the breath of this vernal month. I must present the goddess Retí with a basket of them.
Second Dams. Why, my Parabhriticá, dost thou mean to present it alone?
First Dams. O my friend Madhucaricá, where a female Cócilà, which my name implies, sees a blooming Amra, she becomes entranced, and loses her recollection.
Second Dams. [With transport.] What! is the season of sweets actually returned?
First Dams. Yes; the season in which we must sing of nothing but wine and love.
Second Dams. Support me, then, while I climb up this tree, and strip it of its fragrant gems, which we will carry as an offering to Cáma.
First Dams. If I assist, I must have a moiety of the reward which the god will bestow.
Second Dams. To be sure, and without any previous bargain. We are only one soul, you know, though Brahmá has given it two bodies. ---[She climbs up, and gathers the flowers.] ---Ah! the buds are hardly opened. ---Here is one a little expanded, which diffuses a charming odour. ---[Taking a handful of buds.] ---This flower is sacred to the god who bears a fish on his banner. ---O sweet blossom, which I now consecrate, thou well deservest to point the sixth arrow of Kámadéva, who now takes his bow to pierce myriads of youthful hearts. [She throws down a blossom.]
The old Chamberlain enters.
Cham. [Angrily.] Desist from breaking off those half-opened buds: there will be no jubilee this year; our king has forbidden it.
Both Dams. Oh! pardon us. We really knew not the prohibition.
Cham. You knew it not! ---Even the trees which the spring was decking, and the birds who perch on them, sympathize with our monarch. Thence it is, that yon buds, which have long appeared, shed not yet their prolifick dust; and the flower of the Curuvaca, though perfectly formed, remains veiled in a closed chalice; while the voice of the Cócilà, though the cold dews fall no more, is fixed within his throat; and even Smara, the god of desire, replaces the shaft half-drawn from his quiver.
Misr. [Aside.] The king, no doubt, is constant and tender-hearted.
First Dams. A few days ago, Mitravasu, the governor of our province, dispatched us to kiss the feet of the king, and we come to decorate his groves and gardens with various emblems: thence it is, that we heard nothing of his interdict.
Cham. Beware then of reiterating your offence.
Second Dams. To obey our lord will certainly be our delight; but if we are permitted to hear the story, tell us, we pray, what has induced our sovereign to forbid the usual festivity.
Misr. [Aside.] Kings are generally fond of gay entertainments; and there must be some, weighty reason for the prohibition.
Cham. [Aside.] The affair is public: why should I not satisfy them! ---[Aloud.] ---Has not the calamitous desertion of Sacontalá reached your ears?
First Dams. We heard her tale from the governor, as far as the sight of the fatal ring.
Cham. Then I have little to add. ---When the king's memory was restored, by the sight of his gem, he instantly exclaimed: "Yes, the incomparable Sacontalá is my lawful wife; and when I rejected her, I had lost my reason." He showed strong marks of extreme affliction and penitence; and from that moment he has abhorred the pleasures of life. No longer does he exert his respectable talents from day to day for the good of his people: he prolongs his nights without closing his eyes, perpetually rolling on the edge of his couch; and when he rises, he pronounces not one sentence aptly; mistaking the names of the women in his apartments, and through distraction, calling each of them Sacontalá: then he sits abashed, with his head longs bent on his knees.
Misr. [Aside.] This is pleasing to me, very pleasing.
Cham. By reason of the deep sorrow which now prevails in his heart, the vernal jubilee has been interdicted.
Both Dams. The prohibition is highly proper.
[Behind the Scenes.] Make way! The king is passing.
Cham. [Listening.] Here comes the monarch: depart therefore, damsels, to your own province. [The two Damsels go out.]
Dushmanta enters in penitential weeds, preceded by a Warder, and attended by Mádhavya.
Cham. [Looking at the king.] Ah! how majestic are noble forms in every habiliment! ---Our prince, even in the garb of affliction, is a venerable object. ---Though he has abandoned pleasure, ornaments, and business; though he is become so thin, that his golden bracelet falls loosened even down to his wrist; though his lips are parched with the heat of his sighs, and his eyes are fixed open by long sorrow and want of sleep, yet am I dazzled by the blaze of virtue which beams in his countenance like a diamond exquisitely polished.
Misr. [Aside, gazing on Dushmanta.] With good reason is my beloved Sacontalá, though disgraced and rejected, heavily oppressed with grief through the absence of this youth.
Dushm. [Advancing slowly in deep meditation.] When my darling with an antelope's eyes would have reminded me of our love, I was assuredly slumbering; but excess of misery has awakened me.
Misr. [Aside.] The charming girl will at last be happy.
Mádh. [Aside.] This monarch of ours is caught again in the gale of affection; and I hardly know a remedy for his illness.
Cham. [Approaching Dushmanta.] May the king be victorious! ---Let him survey yon fine woodland, these cool walks, and this blooming garden; where he may repose with pleasure on banks of delight.
Dushm. [Not attending to him.] Warder, inform the chief minister in my name, that having resolved on a long absence from the city, I do not mean to sit for some time in the tribunal; but let him write and dispatch to me all the cases that may arise among my subjects.
Ward. As the king commands. [He goes out.]
Dushm. [To the Chamberlain.] And thou, Párvatáyana, neglect not thy stated business.
Cham. By no means. [He goes out.]
Mádh. You have not left a fly in the garden. ---Amuse yourself now in this retreat, which seems pleased with the departure of the rainy season.
Dushm. O Mádhavya, when persons accused of great offences prove wholly innocent, see how their accusers are punished! ---A phrensy obstructed my remembrance of any former love for the daughter of the sage; and now the heart-born god, who delights in giving pain, has fixed in his bowstring a new shaft pointed with the blossom of an Amra. ---The fatal ring having restored my memory, see me deplore with tears of repentance the loss of my best beloved, whom I rejected without cause; see me overwhelmed with sorrow, even while the return of spring fills the hearts of all others with pleasure.
Mádh. Be still, my friend, whilst I break Love's arrows with my staff. [He strikes off some flowers from an Amra tree.]
Dushm. [Meditating.] Yes, I acknowledge the supreme power of Brahmá --[To Mádhavya.] Where now, my friend, shall I sit and recreate my sight with the slender shrubs which bear a faint resemblance to the shape of Sacontalá?
Mádh. You will soon see the damsel skilled in painting, whom you informed that you would spend the forenoon in yon bower of Mádhaví creepers; and she will bring the queen's picture which you commanded her to draw.
Dushm. My soul will be delighted even by her picture. ---Show the way to the bower.
Mádh. This way, my friend. ---[They both advance, Misracésì following them.] The arbour of twining Mádhavìs, embellished with fragments of stone like bright gems, appears by its pleasantness, though without a voice, to bid thee welcome. ---Let us enter it, and be seated. [They both sit down in the bower.]
Misr. [Aside.] From behind these branchy shrubs I shall behold the picture of my Sacontalá. ---I will afterwards hasten to report the sincere affection of her husband. [She conceals herself.]
Dushm. [Sighing.] O my approved friend, the whole adventure of the hermitage is now fresh in my memory. ---I informed you how deeply I was affected by the first sight of the damsel; but when she was rejected by me you were not present. ---Her name was often repeated by me (how, indeed, should it not?) in our conversation. ---What! hast thou forgotten, as I had, the whole story?
Misr. [Aside.] The sovereigns of the world must not, I find, be left an instant without the objects of their love.
Mádh. Oh, no: I have not forgotten it; but at the end of our discourse you assured me that your love tale was invented solely for your diversion; and this, in the simplicity of my heart, I believed. ---Some great event seems in all this affair to be predestined in heaven.
Misr. [Aside.] Nothing is more true.
Dushm. [Having meditated.] O! my friend, suggest some relief for my torment.
Mádh. What new pain torments you? Virtuous men should never be thus afflicted: the most violent wind shakes not mountains.
Dushm. When I reflect on the situation of your friend Sacontalá, who must now be greatly affected by my desertion of her, I am without comfort. ---She made an attempt to follow the Bráhmens and the matron: Stay, said the sage's pupil, who was revered as the sage himself: Stay, said he, with a loud voice. Then once more she fixed on me, who had betrayed her, that celestial face, then bedewed with gushing tears; and the bare idea of her pain burns me like an envenomed javelin.
Misr. [Aside.] How he afflicts himself! I really sympathize with him.
Mádh. Surely some inhabitant of the heavens must have wafted her to his mansion.
Dushm. No; what male divinity would have taken the pains to carry off a wife so firmly attached to her lord? Ménacà, the nymph of Swerga, gave her birth; and some of her attendant nymphs have, I imagine, concealed her at the desire of her mother.
Misr. [Aside.] To reject Sacontalá was, no doubt, the effect of a delirium, not the act of a waking man.
Mádh. If it be thus, you will soon meet her again.
Dushm. Alas! why do you think so?
Mádh. Because no father and mother can long endure to see their daughter deprived of her husband.
Dushm. Was it sleep that impaired my memory? Was it delusion? Was it an error of my judgement? Or was it the destined reward of my bad actions? Whatever it was, I am sensible that, until Sacontalá return to these arms, I shall be plunged in the abyss of affliction.
Mádh. Do not despair: the fatal ring is itself an example that the lost may be found. ---Events which were foredoomed by Heaven must not be lamented,
Dushm. [Looking at his ring.] The fate of this ring, now fallen from a station which it will not easily regain, I may at least deplore. ---O gem, thou art removed from the soft finger, beautiful with ruddy tips, on which a place had been assigned thee; and, minute as thou art, thy bad qualities appear from the similarity of thy punishment to mine.
Misr. [Aside.] Had it found a way to any other hand its lot would have been truly deplorable. ---O Ménacà, how wouldst thou be delighted with the conversation which gratifies my ears!
Mádh. Let me know, I pray, by what means the ring obtained a place on the finger of Sacontalá.
Dushm. You shall know, my friend. ---When I was coming from the holy forest to my capital, my beloved, with tears in her eyes, thus addressed me: "How long will the son of my lord keep me in his remembrance?"
Mádh. Well; what then?
Dushm. Then, fixing this ring on her lovely finger, I thus answered: "Repeat each day one of the three syllables engraved on this gem; and before thou hath spelled the word Dushmanta, one of my noblest officers shall attend to thee, to her palace." ---Yet I forgot, I deserted her in my phrensy.
Misr. [Aside.] A charming interval of three days was fixed between their separation and their meeting, which the will of Brahmá rendered unhappy.
Mádh. But how came the ring to enter, like a hook, into the mouth of a carp?
Dushm. When my beloved was lifting water to her head in the pool of Sachitírt'ha, the ring must have dropped unseen.
Mádh. It is very probable.
Misr. [Aside.] Oh! it was thence that the king, who fears nothing but injustice, doubted the reality of his marriage; but how, I wonder, could his memory be connected with a ring?
Dushm. I am really angry with this gem.
Mádh. [Laughing.] So am I with this staff.
Dushm. Why so, Mádhavya?
Mádh. Because it presumes to be so straight when I am so crooked. ---Impertinent stick!
Dushm. [Not attending to him.] How, O ring, couldst thou leave that hand adorned with soft long fingers, and fall into a pool decked only with water lilies! ---The answer is obvious: thou art irrational. But how could I, who was born with a reasonable soul, desert my only beloved?
Misr. [Aside.] He anticipates my remark.
Mádh. [Aside.] So; I must wait here during his meditations, and perish with hunger.
Dushm. O my darling, whom I treated with disrespect, and forsook without reason, when will this traitor, whose heart is deeply stung with repentant sorrow, be once more blessed with a sight of thee?
A Damsel enters with a picture.
Dams. Great king, the picture is finished. [Holding it before him.]
Dushm. [Gazing on it.] Yes; that is her face; those are her beautiful eyes; those her lips embellished with smiles, and surpassing the red lustre of the Carcandhu fruit: her mouth seems, though painted, to speak, and her countenance darts beams of affection blended with a variety of melting tints.
Mádh. Truly, my friend, it is a picture sweet as love itself: my eye glides up and down to feast on every particle of it; and it gives me as much delight as if I were actually conversing with the living Sacontalá.
Misr. [Aside.] An exquisite piece of painting! ---My beloved friend seems to stand before my eyes.
Dushm. Yet the picture is infinitely below the original; and my warm fancy, by supplying its imperfections, represents, in some degree, the loveliness of my darling.
Misr. [Aside.] His ideas are suitable to his excessive love and severe penitence.
Dushm. [Sighing.] Alas! I rejected her when she lately approached me, and now I do homage to her picture; like a traveller who negligently passes by a clear and full rivulet, and soon ardently thirsts for a false appearance of water on the sandy desert.
Mádh. There are so many female figures on this canvas, that I cannot well distinguish the lady Sacontalá.
Misr. [Aside.] The old man is ignorant of her transcendent beauty; her eyes, which fascinated the soul of his prince, never sparkled, I suppose, on Mádhavya.
Dushm. Which of the figures do you conceive intended for the queen?
Mádh. [Examining the picture.] It is she, I imagine, who looks a little fatigued; with the string of her vest rather loose; the slender stalks of her arms falling languidly; a few bright drops on her face, and some flowers dropping from her untied locks. That must be the queen; and the rest, I suppose, are her damsels.
Dushm. You judge well; but my affection requires something more in the piece. Besides, through some defect the colouring, a tear seems trickling down her cheek, which ill suits the state in which I desired to see her painted. ---[To the Damsel.] ---The picture, O Chaturicá, is unfinished. ---Go back to the painting room and bring the implements of thy art.
Dams. Kind Mádhavya, hold the picture while I obey the king
Dushm. No; I will hold it.
[He takes the picture; and the Damsel goes out.]
Mádh. What else is to be painted?
Misr. [Aside.] He desires, I presume, to add all those circumstances which became the situation of his beloved in the hermitage.
Dushm. In this landscape, my friend, I wish to see represented the river Málinì, with some amorous Flamingos on its green margin; farther back must appear some hills near the mountain Himálaya, surrounded with herds of Chamaras; and in the foreground, a dark spreading tree, with some mantles of woven bark suspended on its branches to be dried by the sunbeams; while a pair of black antelopes couch in its shade, and the female gently rubs her beautiful forehead on the horn of the male.
Mádh. Add what you please; but, in my judgement, the vacant places should be filled with old hermits, bent, like me, towards the ground.
Dushm. [Not attending to him.] Oh! I had forgotten that my beloved herself must have some new ornaments.
Mádh. What, I pray?
Misr. [Aside.] Such, no doubt, as become a damsel bred in a forest.
Dushm. The artist had omitted a Sirísha flower with its peduncle fixed behind her soft ear, and its filaments waving over part of her cheek; and between her breasts must be placed a knot of delicate fibres, from the stalks of water lilies, like the rays of an autumnal moon.
Mádh. Why does the queen cover part of her face, as if she was afraid of something, with the tips of her fingers, that glow like the flowers of the Cuvalaya? ---Oh! I now perceive an impudent bee, that thief of odours, who seems eager to sip honey from the lotos of her mouth.
Dushm. A bee! drive off the importunate insect.
Mádh. The king has supreme power over all offenders.
Dushm. O male bee, who approachest the lovely inhabitants of a flowery grove, why dost thou expose thyself to the pain of being rejected! ---See where thy female sits on a blossom, and, though thirsty, waits for thy return: without thee she will not taste its nectar.
Misr. [Aside.] A wild, but apt, address!
Mádh. The perfidy of male bees is proverbial.
Dushm. [Angrily.] Shouldst thou touch, O bee, the lip of my darling, ruddy as a fresh leaf on which no wind has yet breathed, a lip from which I drank sweetness in the banquet of love, thou shalt, by my order, be imprisoned in the center of a lotos. ---Dost thou still disobey me?
Mádh. How can he fail to obey, since you denounce so severe a punishment? [Aside, laughing.] ---He is stark mad with love and affliction; whilst I, by keeping him company, shall be as mad as he without either.
Dushm. After my positive injunction, art thou still unmoved?
Misr. [Aside.] How does excess of passion alter even the wise!
Mádh. Why, my friend, it is only a painted bee.
Misr. [Aside.] Oh! I perceive his mistake: it shows the perfection of the art. But why does he continue musing?
Dushm. What ill-natured remark was that? ---Whilst I am enjoying the rapture of beholding her to whom my soul is attached, thou, cruel remembrancer, tellest me that it is only a picture. ---[Weeping.]
Misr. [Aside.] Such are the woes of a separated lover! He is on all sides entangled in sorrow.
Dushm. Why do I thus indulge unremitted grief? That intercourse with my darling which dreams would give, is prevented by my continued inability to repose; and my tears will not suffer me to view her distinctly even in this picture.
Misr. [Aside.] His misery acquits him entirely of having deserted her in his perfect senses.
The Damsel re-enters.
Dams. As I was advancing, O king, with my box of pencils and colours ---
Dushm. [Hastily.] What happened?
Dams. It was forcibly seized by the queen Vasumatì, whom her maid Pingalicà had apprised of my errand; and she said: "I will myself deliver the casket to the son of my lord."
Mádh. How came you to be released?
Dams. While the queen's maid was disengaging the skirt of her mantle, which had been caught by the branch of a thorny shrub, I stole away.
Dushm. Friend Mádhavya, my great attention to Vasumatì has made her arrogant; and she will soon be here: be it our care to conceal the picture.
Mádh. [Aside.] I wish you would conceal it yourself. ---[He takes the picture, and rises.] ---[Aloud.] ---If, indeed, you will disentangle me from the net of your secret apartments, to which I am confined, and suffer me to dwell on the wall Méghach'handa which encircles them, I will hide the picture in a place where none shall see it but pigeons. [He goes out.]
Misr. [Aside.] How honourably he keeps his former engagements, though his heart be now fixed on another object!
A Warder enters with a leaf.
Ward. May the king prosper!
Dushm. Warder, hast thou lately seen the queen Vasumatì?
Ward. I met her, O king; but when she perceived the leaf in my hand, she retired.
Dushm. The queen distinguishes time: she would not impede my public business.
Ward. The chief minister sends this message: "I have carefully stated a case which has arisen in the city, and accurately committed it to writing: let the king deign to consider it."
Dushm. Give me the leaf. ---[Receiving it, and reading.] ---"Be it presented at the foot of the king, that a merchant named Dhanan-vriddhi, who had extensive commerce at sea, was lost in a late shipwreck: he had no child born; and has left a fortune of many millions, which belongs, if the king; commands, to the royal treasury ---[With sorrow.] ---Oh! how great a misfortune it is to die childless! Yet with his affluence he must have had many wives: ---let an inquiry be made whether any one of them is pregnant.
Ward. I have heard that his wife, the daughter of an excellent man, named Sácétaca, has already performed the ceremonies usual on pregnancy.
Dushm. The child, though unborn, has a title to his father's property. ---Go: bid the minister make my judgement public.
Ward. I obey. [Going.]
Dushm. Stay awhile. –
Ward. [Returning.] I am here.
Dushm. Whether he had or had not left offspring, the estate should not have been forfeited. ---Let it be proclaimed, that whatever kinsman any one of my subjects may lose, Dushmanta (excepting always the case of forfeiture for crimes) will supply, in tender affection, the place of that kinsman.
Ward. The proclamation shall be made. ---[He goes out.]
[Dushmanta continues meditating.]
Ward. O king! the royal decree, which proves that your virtues are awake after a long slumber, was heard with bursts of applause.
Dushm. [Sighing deeply.] When an illustrious man dies, alas, without an heir, his estate goes to a stranger; and such will be the fate of all the wealth accumulated by the sons of Puru.
Ward. Heaven avert the calamity! [Goes out.]
Dushm. Woe is me! I am stripped of all the felicity which I once enjoyed.
Misr. [Aside.] How his heart dwells on the idea of his beloved!
Dushm. My lawful wife, whom I basely deserted, remains fixed in my soul: she would have been the glory of my family, and might have produced a son brilliant as the richest fruit of the teeming earth.
Misr. [Aside.] She is not forsaken by all; and soon, I trust, will be thine.
Dams. [Aside.] What a change has the minister made in the king by lending him that mischievous leaf! Behold, he is deluged with tears.
Dushm. Ah me! the departed souls of my ancestors, who claim a share in the funeral cake, which I have no son to offer, are apprehensive of losing their due honour, when Dushmanta shall be no more on earth: ---who then, alas, will perform in our family those obsequies which the Véda prescribes? ---My forefathers must drink, instead of a pure libation, this flood of tears, the only offering which a man who dies childless can make them. [Weeping.]
Misr. [Aside.] Such a veil obscures the king's eyes, that he thinks it total darkness, though a lamp be now shining brightly.
Dams. Afflict not yourself immoderately: our lord is young; and when sons illustrious as himself shall be born of other queens, his ancestors will be redeemed from their offences committed here below.
Dushm. [With agony.] The race of Puru, which has hitherto been fruitful and unblemished, ends in me; as the river Saraswatì disappears in a region unworthy of her divine stream. [He faints.]
Dams. Let the king resume confidence. ---[She supports him.]
Misr. [Aside.] Shall I restore him? No; he will speedily be roused ---I heard the nymph Dévajanani consoling Sacontalá in these words: "As the gods delight in their portion of sacrifices, thus wilt thou soon be delighted by the love of thy husband. I go therefore, to raise her spirits, and please my friend Ménacà with an account of his virtues and his affection. [She rises aloft and disappears.]
[Behind the scenes.] A Bráhmen must not be slain: save the life of a Bráhmen.
Dushm. [Reviving and listening.] Hah! was not that the plaintive voice of Mádhavya?
Dams. He has probably been caught with the picture in his hand by Pingalicà and the other maids.
Dushm. Go, Chaturicá, and reprove the queen in my name for not restraining her servants.
Dams. As the king commands. [She goes out.]
[Again behind the scenes.] I am a Bráhmen, and must not be put to death.
Dushm. It is manifestly some Bráhmen in great danger. ---Hola! Who is there?
The old Chamberlain enters.
Cham. What is the king's pleasure?
Dushm. Inquire why the faint-hearted Mádhavya cries out so piteously.
Cham. I will know in an instant. [He goes out, and returns trembling.]
Dushm. Is there any alarm, Párvatáyana?
Cham. Alarm enough!
Dushm. What causes thy tremour? ---Thus do men tremble through age: fear shakes the old man's body, as the breeze agitates the leaves of the Pippala.
Cham. Oh! deliver thy friend.
Dushm. Deliver him! from what?
Cham. From distress and danger.
Dushm. Speak more plainly.
Cham. The wall which looks to all quarters of the heavens, and is named, from the clouds which cover it, Méghch'handa ---
Dushm. What of that?
Cham. From the summit of that wall, the pinnacle of which is hardly attainable even by the blue-necked pigeons, an evil being, invisible to human eyes, has violently carried away the friend of your childhood.
Dushm. [Starting up hastily.] What! Are even my secret apartments infested by supernatural agents? ---Royalty is ever subjected to molestation. ---A king knows not even the mischiefs which his own negligence daily and hourly occasions: ---how then should he know what path his people are treading; and how should he correct their manners when his own are uncorrected?
[Behind the scenes.] Oh, help! Oh! release me.
Dushm. [Listening and advancing.] Fear not, my friend, fear nothing ---
[Behind the scenes.] Not fear, when a monster has caught me by the nape of my neck, and means to snap my backbone as he could snap a sugar-cane!
Dushm. [Darting his eyes round.] Hola! my bow ---
A Warder enters with the king's bow and quiver.
Ward. Here are our great hero's arms.
[Dushmanta takes his bow and arrows.]
[Behind the scenes.] Here I stand; and, thirsting for thy fresh blood, will slay thee struggling as a tiger slays a calf. ---Where now is thy protector, Dushmanta, who grasps his bow to defend the oppressed?
Dushm. [Wrathfully.] The demon names me with defiance. ---Stay, thou basest of monsters. ---Here am I, and thou shalt not long exist. ---[Raising his bow.] ---Show the way, Párvatáyana, to the stairs of the terrace.
Cham. This way, great king! –[All go out hastily.]
The SCENE changes to a broad TERRACE.
Dushm. [Looking round.] Ah! the place is deserted.
[Behind the scenes.] Save me, oh! save me. ---I see thee, my friend, but thou canst not discern me, who, like a mouse in the claws of a cat, have no hope of life.
Dushm. But this arrow shall distinguish thee from thy foe, in spite of the magic which renders thee invisible. ---Mádhavya, stand firm; and thou, blood-thirsty fiend, think not of destroying him whom I love and will protect. ---See, I thus fix a shaft which shall pierce thee, who deservest death, and shall save a Bráhmen who deserves long life; as the celestial bird sips the milk, and leaves the water which has been mingled with it. [He draws the bowstring.]
Enter Mátali and Mádhavya.
Mát. The god Indra has destined evil demons to fall by thy shafts: against them let the bow be drawn, and cast on thy friends eyes with affection.
Dushm. [Astonished, giving back his arms.] Oh! Mátali, welcome; I greet the driver of Indra's car.
Mádh. What! this cutthroat was putting me to death, and thou greetest him with a kind welcome!
Mát. [Smiling.] O king, live long and conquer! Hear on what errand I am dispatched by the ruler of the firmament.
Dushm. I am humbly attentive.
Mát. There is a race of Dánavas, the children of Cálanémi, whom it is found hard to subdue ---
Dushm. This I have heard already from Nárad.
Mát. The god with an hundred sacrifices, unable to quell that gigantic race, commissions thee, his approved friend, to assail them in the front of battle; as the sun with seven steeds despairs of overcoming the dark legions of night, and gives way to the moon, who easily scatters them. Mount, therefore, with me, the car of Indra, and, grasping thy bow, advance to assured victory.
Dushm. Such a mark of distinction from the prince of good genii honours me highly; but say why you treated so roughly my poor friend Mádhavya.
Mát. Perceiving that, for some reason or another, you were grievously afflicted, I was desirous to rouse your spirits by provoking you to wrath. The fire blazes when wood is thrown on it; the serpent, when provoked, darts his head against the assailant; and a man capable of acquiring glory, exerts himself when his courage is excited.
Dushm. [To Mádhavya.] ---My friend, the command of Divespetir must instantly he obeyed: go, therefore, and carry the intelligence to the chief minister; saying to him in my name: "Let thy wisdom secure my people from danger while this braced bow has a different employment."
Mádh. I obey; but would that it could have been employed without assistance from my terror. [He goes out.]
Mát. Ascend, great king. [Dushmanta ascends, and Mátali drives off the car.]
|-- SACONTALA index page -- fwp's main page --|