King. You are too modest. I feel honoured by the mere sight of you.
Shakuntala. Anusuya, my foot is cut on a sharp blade of grass, and my dress is caught on an amaranth twig. Wait for me while I loosen it.
(She casts a lingering glance at the king, and goes out with her two friends.)
King (sighing). They are gone. And I must go. The sight of Shakuntala has made me dread the return to the city. I will make my men camp at a distance from the pious grove. But I cannot turn my own thoughts from Shakuntala.
It is my body leaves my love, not I;
My body moves away, but not my mind;
For back to her my struggling fancies fly
Like silken banners borne against the wind. (Exit.)
(Enter the clown.)
Clown (sighing). Damn! Damn! Damn! I’m tired of being friends with this sporting king. “There’s a deer!” he shouts, “There’s a boar!” And off he chases on a summer noon through woods where shade is few and far between. We drink hot, stinking water from the mountain streams, flavoured with leaves—nasty! At odd times we get a little tepid meat to eat. And the horses and the elephants make such a noise that I can’t even be comfortable at night. Then the hunters and the bird-chasers—damn ’em—wake me up bright and early. They do make an ear-splitting rumpus when they start for the woods. But even that isn’t the whole misery. There’s a new pimple growing on the old boil. He left us behind and went hunting a deer. And there in a hermitage they say he found—oh, dear! oh, dear! he found a hermit-girl named Shakuntala. Since then he hasn’t a thought of going back to town. I lay awake all night, thinking about it. What can I do? Well, I’ll see my friend when he is dressed and beautified. (He walks and looks about.) Hello! Here he comes, with his bow in his hand, and his girl in his heart. He is wearing a wreath of wild flowers! I’ll pretend to be all knocked up. Perhaps I can get a rest that way. (He stands, leaning on his staff. Enter the king, as described.)
King (to himself).
Although my darling is not lightly won,
She seemed to love me, and my hopes are bright;
Though love be balked ere joy be well begun,
A common longing is itself delight.
(Smiling.) Thus does a lover deceive himself. He judges his love’s feelings by his own desires.
Her glance was loving—but ’twas
not for me;
Her step was slow—’twas grace, not coquetry;
Her speech was short—to her detaining friend.
In things like these love reads a selfish end!
Clown (standing as before). Well, king, I can’t move my hand. I can only greet you with my voice.
King (looking and smiling). What makes you lame?