Unprotected! when the Protector of the world is at your side.
What! have they both really left me?
Distress not thyself, sweet maiden. Thy adorer is at hand to wait upon thee.
Oh let me tend thee, fair one, in the
Of thy dear friends; and with broad lotus fans
Raise cooling breezes to refresh thy frame;
Or shall I rather, with caressing touch,
Allay the fever of thy limbs, and soothe
Thy aching feet, beauteous as blushing lilies?
Nay, touch me not. I will not incur the censure of those whom I am bound to respect.
[Rises and attempts to go.
Fair one, the heat of noon has not yet subsided, and thy body is still feeble.
How canst thou quit thy fragrant couch of flowers,
And from thy throbbing bosom cast aside
Its covering of lotus-leaves, to brave
With weak and fainting limbs the noon-day heat?
[Forces her to turn back.
Infringe not the rules of decorum, mighty descendant of Puru. Remember, though I love you, I have no power to dispose of myself.
Why this fear of offending your relations, timid maid? When your venerable foster-father hears of it, he will not find fault with you. He knows that the law permits us to be united without consulting him.
In Indra’s heaven, so at least ’tis
No nuptial rites prevail, nor is the bride
Led to the altar by her future lord;
But all in secret does the bridegroom plight
His troth, and each unto the other vow
Mutual allegiance. Such espousals, too,
Are authorised on earth, and many daughters
Of royal saints thus wedded to their lords
Have still received their father’s benison.
Leave me, leave me; I must take counsel with my female friends.
I will leave thee when—
When I have gently stolen from thy lips
Their yet untasted nectar, to allay
The raging of my thirst, e’en as the bee
Sips the fresh honey from the opening bud.
[Attempts to raise
her face. [S’]AKOONTALA tries to
A VOICE BEHIND THE SCENES.
The loving birds, doomed by fate to nightly separation, must bid farewell to each other, for evening is at hand.
[S’]AKOONTALA. [In confusion.
Great Prince, I hear the voice of the matron Gautami. She is coming this way to inquire after my health. Hasten and conceal yourself behind the branches.
I will. [Conceals himself.