Kanva. My daughter,
When you have shared for many years
The king’s thoughts with the earth,
When to a son who knows no fears
You shall have given birth,
When, trusted to the son you love,
Your royal labours cease,
Come with your husband to the grove
And end your days in peace.
Gautami. My child, the hour of your departure is slipping by. Bid your father turn back. No, she would never do that. Pray turn back, sir.
Kanva. Child, you interrupt my duties in the pious grove.
Shakuntala. Yes, Father. You will be busy in the grove. You will not miss me. But oh! I miss you. Kanva. How can you think me so indifferent? (He sighs.)
My lonely sorrow will not go,
For seeds you scattered here
Before the cottage door, will grow;
And I shall see them, dear.
Go. And peace go with you. (Exit SHAKUNTALA, with GAUTAMI, SHARNGARAVA, and SHARADVATA.)
The two friends (gazing long after her. Mournfully). Oh, oh! Shakuntala is lost among the trees.
Kanva. Anusuya! Priyamvada! Your companion is gone. Choke down your grief and follow me. (They start to go back.)
The two friends. Father, the grove seems empty without Shakuntala.
Kanva. So love interprets. (He walks about, sunk in thought.) Ah! I have sent Shakuntala away, and now I am myself again. For
A girl is held in trust, another’s
To arms of love my child to-day is given;
And now I feel a calm and sacred pleasure;
I have restored the pledge that came from heaven.
(Enter a chamberlain.)
Chamberlain (sighing). Alas! To what a state am I reduced!
I once assumed the staff of reed
For custom’s sake alone,
As officer to guard at need.
The ladies round the throne.
But years have passed away and made
It serve, my tottering steps to aid.
The king is within. I will tell him of the urgent business which demands his attention. (He takes a few steps.) But what is the business? (He recalls it.) Yes, I remember. Certain hermits, pupils of Kanva, desire to see his Majesty. Strange, strange!
The mind of age is like a lamp
Whose oil is running thin;
One moment it is shining bright,
Then darkness closes in.
(He walks and looks about.) Here is his Majesty.
He does not seek—until a father’s
Is shown his subjects—rest in solitude;
As a great elephant recks not of the sun
Until his herd is sheltered in the wood.