the asylums of the ascetics, furnished with various
fruit and roots. This road leadeth to the country
of the Vidarbhas—and that, to the country
of the Kosalas. Beyond these roads to the south
is the southern country.” Addressing Bhima’s
daughter, O Bharata, the distressed king Nala spake
those words unto Damayanti over and over again.
Thereupon afflicted with grief, in a voice choked with
tears, Damayanti spake unto Naishadha these piteous
words, “O king, thinking of thy purpose, my
heart trembleth, and all my limbs become faint.
How can I go, leaving thee in the lone woods despoiled
of thy kingdom and deprived of thy wealth, thyself
without a garment on, and worn with hunger and toil?
When in the deep woods, fatigued and afflicted with
hunger, thou thinkest of thy former bliss, I will,
O great monarch, soothe thy weariness. In every
sorrow there is no physic equal unto the wife, say
the physicians. It is the truth, O Nala, that
I speak unto thee.” Hearing those words
of his queen, Nala replied, “O slender-waisted
Damayanti, it is even as thou hast said. To a
man in distress, there is no friend or medicine that
is equal unto a wife. But I do not seek to renounce
thee, wherefore, O timid one, dost thou dread this?
O faultless one, I can forsake myself but thee I cannot
forsake.” Damayanti then said, “If
thou dost not, O mighty king, intend to forsake me,
why then dost thou point out to me the way to the country
of the Vidarbhas? I know, O king, that thou wouldst
not desert me. But, O lord of the earth, considering
that thy mind is distracted, thou mayst desert me.
O best of men, thou repeatedly pointest out to me the
way and it is by this, O god-like one, that thou enhancest
my grief. If it is thy intention that I should
go to my relatives, then if it pleaseth thee, both
of us will wend to the country of the Vidarbhas.
O giver of honours, there the king of the Vidarbhas
will receive thee with respect. And honoured
by him, O king, thou shall live happily in our home."’”
“’Nala said, “Surely, thy father’s
kingdom is as my own. But thither I will not,
by any means, repair in this extremity. Once I
appeared there in glory, increasing thy joy.
How can I go there now in misery, augmenting thy grief?"’
“Vrihadaswa continued, ’Saying this again
and again unto Damayanti, king Nala, wrapped in half
a garment, comforted his blessed wife. And both
attired in one cloth and wearied with hunger and thirst,
in course of their wanderings, at last they came to
a sheltered shed for travellers. And arrived
at this place, the king of the Nishadhas sat down on
the bare earth with the princes of Vidarbha.
And wearing the same piece of cloth (with Damayanti),
and dirty, and haggard, and stained with dust, he
fell asleep with Damayanti on the ground in weariness.
And suddenly plunged in distress, the innocent and
delicate Damayanti with every mark of good fortune,