Alas! alas! I fear a terrible misfortune has occurred. [S’]akoontala, from absence of mind, must have offended some guest whom she was bound to treat with respect.
[Looking behind the scenes.]
Ah! yes; I see; and no less a person than the great sage Durvasas, who is known to be most irascible. He it is that has just cursed her, and is now retiring with hasty strides, trembling with passion, and looking as if nothing could turn him. His wrath is like a consuming fire.
Go quickly, dear Priyamvada, throw yourself at his feet, and persuade him to come back, while I prepare a propitiatory offering for him, with water and refreshments.
[Advancing hastily a few steps and stumbling.
Alas! alas! this comes of being in a hurry. My foot has slipped, and my basket of flowers has fallen from my hand.
[Stays to gather them up.
Well, dear Anasuya, I have done my best; but what living being could succeed in pacifying such a cross-grained, ill-tempered old fellow? However, I managed to mollify him a little.
Even a little was much for him. Say on.
When he refused to turn back, I implored his forgiveness in these words: ’Most venerable sage, pardon, I beseech you, this first offence of a young and inexperienced girl, who was ignorant of the respect due to your saintly character and exalted rank.’
And what did he reply?
’My word must not be falsified; but, at the sight of the ring of recognition the spell shall cease.’ So saying, he disappeared.
Oh! then we may breathe again; for, now I think of it, the King himself, at his departure, fastened on [S’]akoontala’s finger, as a token of remembrance, a ring on which his own name was engraved. She has, therefore, a remedy for her misfortune at her own command.
Come, dear Anasuya, let us proceed with our religious duties.
[They walk round.
PRIYAMVADA. [Looking off the stage.
See, Anasuya, there sits our dear friend, motionless as a statue, resting her face on her left hand, her whole mind absorbed in thinking of her absent husband. She can pay no attention to herself, much less to a stranger.
Priyamvada, let this affair never pass our lips. We must spare our dear friend’s feelings. Her constitution is too delicate to bear much emotion.
I agree with you. Who would think of watering a tender jasmine with hot water?