Friend Ma[T.]Havya, as you were my playfellow in childhood, the Queen has already received you like a second son; go you, then, back to her, and tell her of my solemn engagement to assist these holy men. You can supply my place in the ceremony, and act the part of a son to the Queen.
With the greatest pleasure in the world; but don’t suppose that I am really coward enough to have the slightest fear of those trumpery demons.
Oh! of course not; a great Brahman like you could not possibly give way to such weakness.
You must let me travel in a manner suitable to the King’s younger brother.
Yes, I shall send my retinue with you, that there may be no farther disturbance in this sacred forest.
MA[T.]HAVYA, [With a strut.
Already I feel quite like a young prince.
This is a giddy fellow, and in all probability he will let out the truth about my present pursuit to the women of the palace. What is to be done? I must say something to deceive him.
[Aloud to MA[T.]HAVYA, taking him by the hand.]
Dear friend, I am going to the hermitage wholly and solely out of respect for its pious inhabitants, and not because I have really any liking for [S’]akoontala, the hermit’s daughter. Observe:—
What suitable communion could there be
Between a monarch and a rustic girl?
I did but feign an idle passion, friend,
Take not in earnest what was said in jest.
Don’t distress yourself; I quite understand.
* * * * *
PRELUDE TO ACT III.
Enter a YOUNG BRAHMAN carrying bundles of ku[S’]a-grass for the use of the sacrificing priest.
How wonderful is the power of King Dushyanta! No sooner did he enter our hermitage, than we were able to proceed with our sacrificial rites, unmolested by the evil demons.
No need to fix the arrow to the bow;
The mighty monarch sounds the quivering string,
And, by the thunder of his arms dismayed,
Our demon foes are scattered to the wind.
I must now, therefore, make haste and deliver to the sacrificing priests these bundles of Ku[s’]a-grass, to be strewn round the altar.
[Walking and looking about; then addressing some one off the stage.]
Why, Priyamvada, for whose use are you carrying that ointment of Usira-root and those lotus-leaves with fibres attached to them?
[Listening for her answer.]