[Throws down a mango-blossom.
[Entering in a hurried manner, angrily.
Hold there, thoughtless woman. What are you about, breaking off those mango-blossoms, when the King has forbidden the celebration of the spring festival?
BOTH MAIDENS. [Alarmed.
Pardon us, kind Sir, we have heard nothing of it.
You have heard nothing of it? Why, all the vernal plants and shrubs, and the very birds that lodge in their branches, show more respect to the King’s order than you do.
Yon mango-blossoms, though long since
Gather no down upon their tender crests;
The flower still lingers in the amaranth,
Imprisoned in its bud; the tuneful Koil,
Though winter’s chilly dews be overpast,
Suspends the liquid volume of his song
Scarce uttered in his throat; e’en Love, dismayed,
Restores the half-drawn arrow to his quiver.
The mighty power of King Dushyanta is not to be disputed.
It is but a few days since Mitravasu, the King’s brother-in-law, sent us to wait upon his Majesty; and, during the whole of our sojourn here, we have been entrusted with the charge of the royal pleasure-grounds. We are therefore strangers in this place, and heard nothing of the order till you informed us of it.
Well then, now you know it, take care you don’t continue your preparations.
But tell us, kind Sir, why has the King prohibited the usual festivities? We are curious to hear, if we may.
Men are naturally fond of festive entertainments. There must be some good reason for the prohibition.
The whole affair is now public; why should I not speak of it? Has not the gossip about the King’s rejection of [S’]akoontala reached your ears yet?
Oh yes, we heard the story from the King’s brother-in-law, as far, at least, as the discovery of the ring.
Then there is little more to tell you. As soon as the King’s memory was restored by the sight of his own ring, he exclaimed: ’Yes, it is all true. I remember now my secret marriage with [S’]akoontala. When I repudiated her, I had lost my recollection!’ Ever since that moment, he has yielded himself a prey to the bitterest remorse.
He loathes his former pleasures; he rejects
The daily homage of his ministers;
On his lone couch he tosses to and fro,
Courting repose in vain. Whene’er he meets
The ladies of his palace, and would fain
Address them with politeness, he confounds
Their names; or, calling them ‘[S’]akoontala,’
Is straightway silent and abashed with shame.