Do not despair in this manner. Is not this very ring a proof that what has been lost may be unexpectedly found?
KING. [Gazing at the ring.
Ah! this ring, too, has fallen from a station not easily regained, and I offer it my sympathy. O gem,
The punishment we suffer is deserved,
And equal is the merit of our works,
When such our common doom. Thou didst enjoy
The thrilling contact of those slender fingers,
Bright as the dawn; and now how changed thy lot!
Had it found its way to the hand of any other person, then indeed its fate would have been deplorable.
Pray, how did the ring ever come upon her hand at all?
I myself am curious to know.
You shall hear. When I was leaving my beloved [S’]akoontala that I might return to my own capital, she said to me, with tears in her eyes: ’How long will it be ere my lord send for me to his palace and make me his queen?’
Well, what was your reply?
Then I placed the ring on her finger, and thus addressed her:—
Repeat each day one letter of the name Engraven on this gem; ere thou hast reckoned The tale of syllables, my minister Shall come to lead thee to thy husband’s palace.
But, hard-hearted man that I was, I forgot to fulfil my promise, owing to the infatuation that took possession of me.
A pleasant arrangement! Fate, however, ordained that the appointment should not be kept.
But how did the ring contrive to pass into the stomach of that carp which the fisherman caught and was cutting up?
It must have slipped from my [S’]akoontala’s hand, and fallen into the stream of the Ganges, while she was offering homage to the water of [S’]achi’s holy pool.
Hence it happened, I suppose, that the King, always fearful of committing the least injustice, came to doubt his marriage with my poor [S’]akoontala. But why should affection so strong as his stand in need of any token of recognition?
Let me now address a few words of reproof to this ring.
He is going stark mad, I verily believe.
Hear me, then dull and undiscerning bauble!
For so it argues thee, that thou could’st leave
The slender fingers of her hand, to sink
Beneath the waters. Yet what marvel is it
That thou should’st lack discernment? let me rather
Heap curses on myself, who, though endowed
With reason, yet rejected her I loved.