The water-jar has overtasked the strength
Of her slim arms; her shoulders droop, her hands
Are ruddy with the glow of quickened pulses;
E’en now her agitated breath imparts
Unwonted tremor to her heaving breast;
The pearly drops that mar the recent bloom
Of the [S’]irisha pendent in her ear,
Gather in clustering circles on her cheek;
Loosed is the fillet of her hair; her hand
Restrains the locks that struggle to be free.
Suffer me, then, thus to discharge the debt for you.
[Offers a ring to PRIYAMVADA.
Both the maidens, reading the
name DUSHYANTA on the seal, look at each other with
Nay, think not that I am King Dushyanta. I am only the King’s officer, and this is the ring which I have received from him as my credentials.
The greater the reason you ought not to part with the ring from your finger. I am content to release her from her obligation at your simple request.
[With a smile.]
Now, [S’]akoontala, my love, you are at liberty to retire, thanks to the intercession of this noble stranger, or rather of this mighty prince.
My movements are no longer under my own control.
Pray, what authority have you over me, either to send me away or keep me back?
KING. [Gazing at [S’]AKOONTALA. Aside.
Would I could ascertain whether she is affected towards me as I am towards her! At any rate, my hopes are free to indulge themselves. Because,
Although she mingles not her words with
Yet doth her listening ear drink in my speech;
Although her eye shrinks from my ardent gaze,
No form but mine attracts its timid glances.
A VOICE BEHIND THE SCENES.
O hermits, be ready to protect the animals belonging to our hermitage. King Dushyanta, amusing himself with hunting, is near at hand.
Lo! by the feet of prancing horses raised,
Thick clouds of moving dust, like glittering swarms
Of locusts, in the glow of eventide,
Fall on the branches of our sacred trees
Where hang the dripping vests of woven bark,
Bleached by the waters of the cleansing fountain.
Scared by the royal chariot in its course,
With headlong haste an elephant invades
The hallowed precincts of our sacred grove;
Himself the terror of the startled deer,
And an embodied hindrance to our rites.
The hedge of creepers clinging to his feet,
Feeble obstruction to his mad career,
Is dragged behind him in a tangled chain;
And with terrific shock one tusk he drives
Into the riven body of a tree,
Sweeping before him all impediments.