SCENE – A PLAIN, with royal pavilions on the skirt of the forest.
Madhavya. (Emperor’s court jester)[Sighing and lamenting.]
STRANGE recreation this! -Ah me! I am wearied to death. -My royal friend has an unaccountable taste. -What can I think of a king so passionately fond of chasing unprofitable quadrupeds? -“Here runs an antelope! There goes a boar!” Such is our only conversation. -Even at noon, in excessive heat, when not a tree in the forest has a shadow under it, we must be skipping and prancing about, like the beasts whom we follow. -Are we thirsty? We have nothing to drink but the waters of mountain torrents, which taste of burned stones and mawkish leaves. -Are we hungry? We must greedily devour lean venison, and that commonly roasted to a stick.
Have I a moment’s repose at night? -My slumber is disturbed by the din of horses and elephants, or by the sons of slave-girls hollooing out, “More venison, more venison!” -Then comes a cry that pierces my ear, “Away to the forest, away!” -Nor are these my only grievances: fresh pain is now added to the smart of my first wounds; for, while we were separated from our king, who was chasing a foolish deer, he entered, I find, yon lonely place, and there, to my infinite grief, saw a certain girl, called Shakuntala, the daughter of a hermit: from that moment not a word of returning to the city! -These distressing thoughts have kept my eyes open the whole night. -Alas! when shall we return ? -I cannot set eyes on my beloved friend Dushayant since he set his heart on taking another wife. -[Stepping aside and looking] – Oh! there he is. -How changed! -He carries a bow, indeed, but wears for his diadem a garland of wood-flowers. He is advancing: I must begin my operations. -[He stands leaning on a staff.] -Let me thus take a moment’s rest. -[Aloud.]
King Dushyant enters, as described.
King Dushyant: [Aside, sighing.] My darling is not so easily attainable; yet my heart assumes confidence from the manner in which she seemed affected: surely, though our love has not hitherto prospered, yet the inclinations of us both are fixed on our union. -[Smiling.] -Thus do lovers agreeably beguile themselves, when all the powers of their souls are intent on the objects of their desire! -But am I beguiled? No; when she cast her eyes even on her companions, they sparkled with tenderness; when she moved her graceful arms, they dropped, as if languid with love; when her friend remonstrated against her departure, she spoke angrily – All this was, no doubt, on my account. -Oh! how quick-sighted is love in discerning his own advantages!
Madhavya. [Bending downward, as before.] Great prince! my hands are unable to move; and it is with only that I can mutter a blessing on you. May the king be victorious!
King Dushyant: [Looking at him and smiling.] Ah! what has crippled thee, friend Madhavya?
Madhavya: You strike my eye with your own hand, and then ask what makes it weep.
King Dushyant: Speak intelligibly. I know not what you mean.
Madhavya: Look at yon V
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Based on Keywords: inclinations, agreeably, unaccountable, mawkish, attainable, quadrupeds, dushyant, wood-flowers, slave-girls, quick-sighted, shakuntala