KING. [Advancing hastily.
When mighty Puru’s offspring sways the earth,
And o’er the wayward holds his threatening rod,
Who dares molest the gentle maids that keep
Their holy vigils here in Kanwa’s grove?
[All look at the KING, and all are embarrassed.
Kind Sir, no outrage has been committed; only our dear friend here was teased by the attacks of a troublesome bee.
[Points to [S’]AKOONTALA.
KING. [Turning to [S’]AKOONTALA.
I trust all is well with your devotional rites?
[[S’]AKOONTALA stands confused and silent.]
All is well indeed, now that we are honoured by the reception of a distinguished guest. Dear [S’]akoontala, go, bring from the hermitage an offering of flowers, rice, and fruit. This water that we have brought with us will serve to bathe our guest’s feet.
The rites of hospitality are already performed; your truly kind words are the best offering I can receive.
At least be good enough, gentle Sir, to sit down awhile, and rest yourself on this seat shaded by the leaves of the Sapta-parna tree.
You, too, must all be fatigued by your employment.
Dear [S’]akoontala, there is no impropriety in our sitting by the side of our guest; come, let us sit down here.
[All sit down together.
How is it that the sight of this made me sensible of emotions inconsistent with religious vows?
KING. [Gazing at them all By turns.
How charmingly your friendship is in keeping with the equality of your ages and appearance!
PRIYAMVADA. [Aside to ANASUYA.
Who can this person be, whose lively yet dignified manner, and polite conversation, bespeak him a man of high rank?
I, too, my dear, am very curious to know. I will ask him myself.
Your kind words, noble Sir, fill me with confidence, and prompt me to inquire of what regal family our noble guest is the ornament? what country is now mourning his absence? and what induced a person so delicately nurtured to expose himself to the fatigue of visiting this grove of penance?
Be not troubled, O my heart, Anasuya is giving utterance to thy thoughts.
How now shall I reply? shall I make myself known, or shall I still disguise my real rank? I have it; I will answer her thus. [Aloud.] I am the person charged by his Majesty, the descendant of Puru, with the administration of justice and religion; and am come to this sacred grove to satisfy myself that the rites of the hermits are free from obstruction.