It is the little fawn, thy foster-child,
Poor helpless orphan! it remembers well
How with a mother’s tenderness and love
Thou didst protect it, and with grains of rice
From thine own hand didst daily nourish it;
And, ever and anon, when some sharp thorn
Had pierced its mouth, how gently thou didst tend
The bleeding wound, and pour in healing balm.
The grateful nursling clings to its protectress,
Mutely imploring leave to follow her.
My poor little fawn! dost thou ask to follow an ungrateful wretch who hesitates not to desert her companions! When thy mother died, soon after thy birth, I supplied her place, and reared thee with my own hand; and now that thy second mother is about to leave thee, who will care for thee? My father, be thou a mother to her. My child, go back, and be a daughter to my father.
[Moves on, weeping.
Weep not, my daughter, check the gathering tear
That lurks beneath thine eyelid, ere it flow
And weaken thy resolve; be firm and true—
True to thyself and me; the path of life
Will lead o’er hill and plain, o’er rough and smooth,
And all must feel the steepness of the way;
Though rugged be thy course, press boldly on.
Venerable Sire! the sacred precept is:—’Accompany thy friend as far as the margin of the first stream.’ Here, then, we are arrived at the border of a lake. It is time for you to give us your final instructions and return.
Be it so; let us tarry for a moment under the shade of this fig-tree.
[They do so.
I must think of some appropriate message to send to
[S’]AKOONTALA. [Aside to ANASUYA.
See, see, dear Anasuya, the poor female Chakravaka-bird, whom cruel fate dooms to nightly separation from her mate, calls to him in mournful notes from the other side of the stream, though he is only hidden from her view by the spreading leaves of the water-lily. Her cry is so piteous that I could almost fancy she was lamenting her hard lot in intelligible words.
Say not so, dearest:
Fond bird! though sorrow lengthen out
Of widowhood, yet with a cry of joy
She hails the morning light that brings her mate
Back to her side. The agony of parting
Would wound us like a sword, but that its edge
Is blunted by the hope of future meeting.
[S’]arngarava! when you have introduced [S’]akoontala into the presence of the King, you must give him this message from me:—