Reference > Fiction > Nonfiction > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
From ‘Çakuntalā; or the Lost Ring’
By Kālidāsa (c. 4th Century)
Translation of Sir Monier Monier-Williams
  Scene: A Forest.  Enter King Dushyanta, armed with a bow and arrow, in a chariot, chasing an antelope, attended by his Charioteer.

CHARIOTEER  [looking at the deer and then at the King]—Great Prince,
  When on the antelope I bend my gaze,
And on your Majesty, whose mighty bow
Has its string firmly braced,—before my eyes
The god that wields the trident seems revealed,
Chasing the deer that flies from him in vain.
  King—Charioteer, this fleet antelope has drawn us far from my attendants. See! there he runs:
  Aye and anon his graceful neck he bends
To cast a glance at the pursuing car;
And dreading now the swift-descending shaft,
Contracts into itself his slender frame:
About his path, in scattered fragments strewn,
The half-chewed grass falls from his panting mouth;
See! in his airy bounds he seems to fly,
And leaves no trace upon th’ elastic turf.
[With astonishment]—How now! swift as is our pursuit, I scarce can see him.
  Charioteer—Sire, the ground here is full of hollows; I have therefore drawn in the reins and checked the speed of the chariot. Hence the deer has somewhat gained upon us. Now that we are passing over level ground, we shall have no difficulty in overtaking him.  3
  King—Loosen the reins, then.  4
  Charioteer—The King is obeyed.  [Drives the chariot at full speed.]  Great Prince, see! see!
  Responsive to the slackened rein, the steeds,
Chafing with eager rivalry, career
With emulative fleetness o’er the plain;
Their necks outstretched, their waving plumes that late
Fluttered above their brows, are motionless!
Their sprightly ears, but now erect, bent low;
Themselves unsullied by the circling dust
That vainly follows on their rapid course.
  King  [joyously]—In good sooth, the horses seem as if they would outstrip the steeds of Indra and the Sun.
  That which but now showed to my view minute
Quickly assumes dimension; that which seemed
A moment since disjoined in diverse parts
Looks suddenly like one compacted whole;
That which is really crooked in its shape,
In the far distance left, grows regular;
Wondrous the chariot’s speed, that in a breath
Makes the near distant and the distant near.
Now, Charioteer, see me kill the deer.  [Takes aim.]
  A voice behind the scenes—Hold, O King! this deer belongs to our hermitage. Kill it not! kill it not!  7
  Charioteer  [listening and looking]—Great King, some hermits have stationed themselves so as to screen the antelope at the very moment of its coming within range of your arrow.  8
  King  [hastily]—Then stop the horses.  9
  Charioteer  [stops the chariot]—I obey.  10
Enter a Hermit, and two others with him
  Hermit  [raising his hand]—This deer, O King, belongs to our hermitage. Kill it not! kill it not!
  Now heaven forbid this barbèd shaft descend
Upon the fragile body of a fawn,
Like fire upon a heap of tender flowers!
Can thy steel bolts no meeter quarry find
Than the warm life-blood of a harmless deer?
Restore, great Prince, thy weapon to its quiver.
More it becomes thy arms to shield the weak,
Than to bring anguish on the innocent.
  King  [replaces the arrow in its quiver]—’Tis done.  12
  Worthy is this action of a Prince, the light of Puru’s race.
Well does this act befit a Prince like thee,
Right worthy is it of thine ancestry.
Thy guerdon be a son of peerless worth,
Whose wide dominion shall embrace the earth.
  Both the other Hermits  [raising their hands]—May Heaven indeed grant thee a son, a sovereign of the earth from sea to sea!  14
  King  [bowing]—I accept with gratitude a Brahman’s benediction.  15
Here enter Çakuntalā, with her two female companions, and carrying a watering-pot for sprinkling the flowers
  Çakuntalā—This way, my dear companions, this way.
  Anasūyā—Dear Çakuntalā, one would think that father Kanwa had more affection for the shrubs of the hermitage even than for you, seeing he assigns to you, who are yourself as delicate as the fresh-blown jasmine, the task of filling with water the trenches which encircle their roots.  17
  Çakuntalā—Dear Anasūyā, although I am charged by my good father with this duty, yet I cannot regard it as a task. I really feel a sisterly love for these plants.  [Continues watering the shrubs.]  18
  King—Can this be the daughter of Kanwa? The saintly man, though descended from the great Kāçyapa, must be very deficient in judgment to habituate such a maiden to the life of a recluse.
  The sage who would this form of artless grace
Inure to penance, thoughtlessly attempts
To cleave in twain the hard acacia’s stem
With the soft edge of a blue lotos leaf.
Well! concealed behind this tree, I will watch her without raising her suspicions.  [Conceals himself.]
  Çakuntalā—Good Anasūyā, Priyamvadā has drawn this bark dress too tightly about my chest. I pray thee, loosen it a little.  20
  Anasūyā—I will.  [Loosens it.]  21
  Priyamvadā  [smiling]—Why do you lay the blame on me? Blame rather your own blooming youthfulness, which imparts fullness to your bosom.  22
  King—A most just observation!
  This youthful form, whose bosom’s swelling charms
By the bark’s knotted tissue are concealed,
Like some fair bud close folded in its sheath,
Gives not to view the blooming of its beauty.
But what am I saying? In real truth, this bark dress, though ill suited to her figure, sets it off like an ornament.
  The lotos with the Saivala entwined
Is not a whit less brilliant; dusky spots
Heighten the lustre of the cold-rayed moon:
This lovely maiden in her dress of bark
Seems all the lovelier. E’en the meanest garb
Gives to true beauty fresh attractiveness.
  Çakuntalā  [looking before her]—Yon Kēsara-tree beckons to me with its young shoots, which, as the breeze waves them to and fro, appear like slender fingers. I will go and attend to it.  [Walks towards it.]  24
  Priyamvadā—Dear Çakuntalā, prithee, rest in that attitude one moment.  25
  Çakuntalā—Why so?  26
  Priyamvadā—The Kēsara-tree, whilst your graceful form bends about its stem, appears as if it were wedded to some lovely twining creeper.  27
  Çakuntalā—Ah! saucy girl, you are most appropriately named Priyamvadā [speaker of flattering things].  28
  King—What Priyamvadā says, though complimentary, is nevertheless true. Verily,—
  Her ruddy lip vies with the opening bud;
Her graceful arms are as the twining stalks;
And her whole form is radiant with the glow
Of youthful beauty, as the tree with bloom.
  Anasūyā—See, dear Çakuntalā, here is the young jasmine, which you named “the Moonlight of the Grove,” the self-elected wife of the mango-tree. Have you forgotten it?  30
  Çakuntalā—Rather will I forget myself.  [Approaching the plant and looking at it.]  How delightful is the season when the jasmine-creeper and the mango-tree seem thus to unite in mutual embraces! The fresh blossoms of the jasmine resemble the bloom of a young bride, and the newly formed shoots of the mango appear to make it her natural protector.  [Continues gazing at it.]  31
  Priyamvadā  [smiling]—Do you know, my Anasūyā, why Çakuntalā gazes so intently at the jasmine?  32
  Anasūyā—No, indeed; I cannot imagine. I pray thee tell me.  33
  Priyamvadā—She is wishing that as the jasmine is united to a suitable tree, so in like manner she may obtain a husband worthy of her.  34
  Çakuntalā—Speak for yourself, girl; this is the thought in your own mind.  [Continues watering the flowers.]  35
  King—Would that my union with her were permissible! and yet I hardly dare hope that the maiden is sprung from a caste different from that of the head of the hermitage. But away with doubt:
  That she is free to wed a warrior-king
My heart attests. For, in conflicting doubts,
The secret promptings of the good man’s soul
Are an unerring index of the truth.
However, come what may, I will ascertain the fact.
  Çakuntalā  [in a flurry]—Ah! a bee, disturbed by the sprinkling of the water, has left the young jasmine, and is trying to settle on my face.  [Attempts to drive it away.]  37
  King  [gazing at her ardently]—Beautiful! there is something charming even in her repulse.
  Where’er the bee his eager onset plies,
Now here, now there, she darts her kindling eyes:
What love hath yet to teach, fear teaches now,
The furtive glances and the frowning brow.
[In a tone of envy]
Ah, happy bee! how boldly dost thou try
To steal the lustre from her sparkling eye;
And in thy circling movements hover near,
To murmur tender secrets in her ear,
Or, as she coyly waves her hand, to sip
Voluptuous nectar from her lower lip!
While rising doubts my heart’s fond hopes destroy,
Thou dost the fullness of her charms enjoy.
  Çakuntalā—This impertinent bee will not rest quiet. I must move elsewhere.  [Moving a few steps off, and casting a glance around.]  How now! he is following me here. Help! my dear friends, help! deliver me from the attacks of this troublesome insect.  39
  Priyamvadā and Anasūyā—How can we deliver you? Call Dushyanta to your aid. The sacred groves are under the King’s special protection.  40
  King—An excellent opportunity for me to show myself. Fear not—  [Checks himself when the words are half uttered.  Aside.]  But stay, if I introduce myself in this manner, they will know me to be the King. Be it so: I will accost them, nevertheless.  41
[The King, filled with admiration, declares his love for Çakuntalā, and in the next act he is espoused to her according to the Gandharva ceremonial. He then departs from the hermitage and returns to the royal city; but leaves with Çakuntalā a precious ring, which she is to present when she claims him as her lawful husband. The play continues, and shows how the fair Çakuntalā, so deeply enamored, becomes absent-minded and neglects to do some act of homage to an aged hermit; who consequently pronounces a curse upon her that her beloved shall absolutely forget her until he sees the magic ring, which alone has power to remove the curse. King Dushyanta accordingly loses all recollection of Çakuntalā; and Çakuntalā’s foster-father, the saintly Kanwa, determines to send his daughter to the King, that her child may be born under the royal roof. The Fourth Act opens with the day of Çakuntalā’s departure from the hermitage.]

Scene: The neighborhood of the hermitage.  Enter one of Kanwa’s Pupils, just arisen from his couch at the dawn of day.

  Pupil—My master, the venerable Kanwa, who is but lately returned from his pilgrimage, has ordered me to ascertain how the time goes. I have therefore come into the open air to see if it be still dark.  [Walking and looking about.]  Oh! the dawn has already broken.
  Lo! in one quarter of the sky, the Moon,
Lord of the herbs and night-expanding flowers,
Sinks towards his bed behind the western hills;
While in the east, preceded by the Dawn,
His blushing charioteer, the glorious Sun,
Begins his course, and far into the gloom
Casts the first radiance of his Orient beams.
Hail! co-eternal orbs, that rise to set,
And set to rise again; symbols divine
Of man’s reverses, life’s vicissitudes.
And now—
  While the round Moon withdraws his looming disk
Beneath the western sky, the full-blown flower
Of the night-loving lotos sheds her leaves
In sorrow for his loss, bequeathing naught
But the sweet memory of her loveliness
To my bereavèd sight: e’en as the bride
Disconsolately mourns her absent lord,
And yields her heart a prey to anxious grief.
  Anasūyā  [entering abruptly]—Little as I know of the ways of the world, I cannot help thinking that King Dushyanta is treating Çakuntalā very improperly.  43
  Pupil—Well, I must let my reverend preceptor know that it is time to offer the burnt oblation.  [Exit.]  44
  Anasūyā—I am broad awake, but what shall I do? I have no energy to go about my usual occupations. My hands and feet seem to have lost their power. Well, Love has gained his object; and Love only is to blame for having induced our dear friend, in the innocence of her heart, to confide in such a perfidious man. Possibly however the imprecation of Durvāsas may be already taking effect. Indeed, I cannot otherwise account for the King’s strange conduct, in allowing so long a time to elapse without even a letter; and that too after so many promises and protestations. I cannot think what to do, unless we send him the ring which was to be the token of recognition. But which of these austere hermits could we ask to be the bearer of it? Then again, Father Kanwa has just returned from his pilgrimage; and how am I to inform him of Çakuntalā’s marriage to King Dushyanta, and her expectation of being soon a mother? I never could bring myself to tell him, even if I felt that Çakuntalā had been in fault, which she certainly has not. What is to be done?  45
  Priyamvadā  [entering joyfully]—Quick, quick! Anasūyā! come and assist in the joyful preparations for Çakuntalā’s departure to her husband’s palace.  46
  Anasūyā—My dear girl, what can you mean?  47
  Priyamvadā—Listen, now, and I will tell you all about it. I went just now to Çakuntalā, to inquire whether she had slept comfortably.  48
  Anasūyā—Well, well; go on.  49
  Priyamvadā—She was sitting with her face bowed down to the very ground with shame when Father Kanwa entered, and embracing her, of his own accord offered her his congratulations. “I give thee joy, my child,” he said: “we have had an auspicious omen. The priest who offered the oblation dropped it into the very centre of the sacred fire, though thick smoke obstructed his vision. Henceforth thou wilt cease to be an object of compassion. This very day I purpose sending thee, under the charge of certain trusty hermits, to the King’s palace; and shall deliver thee into the hands of thy husband, as I would commit knowledge to the keeping of a wise and faithful student.”…  50
  [Çakuntalā’s touching farewell to the hermitage, and her tender leave-taking of her young friends, are dramatically presented with much delicacy of feeling. Two hermits, and an aged matron, Gautamī, accompany her on the journey. Her arrival at the palace, in the Fifth Act, is announced to the King by the Chamberlain of State.]

  Chamberlain—Well, well: a monarch’s business is to sustain the world, and he must not expect much repose; because—
  Onward, forever onward, in his car
The unwearied Sun pursues his daily course,
Nor tarries to unyoke his glittering steeds;
And ever moving, speeds the rushing Wind
Through boundless space, filling the universe
With his life-giving breezes; day and night
The King of Serpents on his thousand heads
Upholds the incumbent earth: and even so,
Unceasing toil is aye the lot of kings,
Who, in return, draw nurture from their subjects.
I will therefore deliver my message.  [Walking on and looking about.]  Ah! here comes the King:
  His subjects are his children; through the day,
Like a fond father, to supply their wants
Incessantly he labors: wearied now,
The monarch seeks seclusion and repose;
E’en as the prince of elephants defies
The sun’s fierce heat, and leads the fainting herd
To verdant pastures, ere his way-worn limbs
He yields to rest beneath the cooling shade.
[Approaching]—Victory to the King! So please your Majesty, some hermits who live in a forest near the Snowy Mountains have arrived here, bringing certain women with them. They have a message to deliver from the sage Kanwa, and desire an audience. I await your Majesty’s commands.
  King  [respectfully]—A message from the sage Kanwa, did you say?  52
  Chamberlain—Even so, my liege.  53
  King—Tell my domestic priest Somarāta to receive the hermits with due honor, according to the prescribed form.

  [The hermits introduce Çakuntalā, accompanied by Gautamī; and deliver the message from her father sanctioning her marriage with the King, and requesting her honorable reception into the palace.]
  King—Holy men, I have revolved the matter in my mind; but the more I think of it, the less able am I to recollect that I ever contracted an alliance with this lady. What answer, then, can I possibly give you when I do not believe myself to be her husband, and I plainly see that she is soon to become a mother?  55
  Çakuntalā  [aside]—Woe! woe! Is our very marriage to be called in question by my own husband? Ah me! is this to be the end of all my bright visions of wedded happiness?  56
  Beware how thou insult the holy Sage!
Remember how he generously allowed
Thy secret union with his foster-child;
And how, when thou didst rob him of his treasure,
He sought to furnish thee excuse, when rather
He should have cursed thee for a ravisher.
  Çāradwata—Çārngarava, speak to him no more. Çakuntalā, our part is performed; we have said all we had to say, and the King has replied in the manner thou hast heard. It is now thy turn to give him convincing evidence of thy marriage.  58
  Çakuntalā—Since his feeling towards me has undergone a complete revolution, what will it avail to revive old recollections? One thing is clear,—I shall soon have to mourn my own widowhood.  [Aloud.]  My revered husband—  [Stops short.]  But no—I dare not address thee by this title, since thou hast refused to acknowledge our union. Noble descendant of Puru! It is not worthy of thee to betray an innocent-minded girl, and disown her in such terms, after having so lately and so solemnly plighted thy vows to her in the hermitage.  59
  King  [stopping his ears]—I will hear no more. Be such a crime far from my thoughts!
  What evil spirit can possess thee, lady,
That thou dost seek to sully my good name
By base aspersions? like a swollen torrent,
That, leaping from its narrow bed, o’erthrows
The tree upon its bank, and strives to blend
Its turbid waters with the crystal stream?
  Çakuntalā—If then thou really believest me to be the wife of another, and thy present conduct proceeds from some cloud that obscures thy recollection, I will easily convince thee by this token.  61
  King—An excellent idea!  62
  Çakuntalā  [feeling for the ring]—Alas! alas! woe is me! There is no ring on my finger!  [Looks with anguish at Gautamī.]  63
  Gautamī—The ring must have slipped off when thou wast in the act of offering homage to the holy water of Çachī’s sacred pool, near Çakrāvatāra.  64
  King  [smiling]—People may well talk of the readiness of woman’s invention! Here is an instance of it.  65
  Çakuntalā—Say rather, of the omnipotence of fate. I will mention another circumstance, which may yet convince thee.  66
  King—By all means let me hear it at once.  67
  Çakuntalā—One day, while we were seated in a jasmine bower, thou didst pour into the hollow of thine hand some water, sprinkled by a recent shower in the cup of a lotos blossom—  68
  King—I am listening; proceed.  69
  Çakuntalā—At that instant, my adopted child, the little fawn, with soft long eyes, came running towards us. Upon which, before tasting the water thyself, thou didst kindly offer some to the little creature, saying fondly, “Drink first, gentle fawn.” But she could not be induced to drink from the hand of a stranger; though immediately afterwards, when I took the water in my own hand, she drank with perfect confidence. Then, with a smile, thou didst say, “Every creature confides naturally in its own kind. You are both inhabitants of the same forest, and have learnt to trust each other.”  70
  [King Dushyanta vainly tries to recall Çakuntalā to mind, but the fatal power of the old sage’s curse still clouds his memory. All efforts failing, Çakuntalā is suddenly swept from sight by a whirlwind and carried to a remote mountain; where in a hallowed spot, she gives birth to a son, the ancestor of future kings. At this moment the enchanted ring, which had been swallowed by a fish, is unexpectedly brought to light, and Dushyanta’s mental vision is at once restored. He deeply mourns the loss of his beloved Çakuntalā, and finds distraction from his grief only in aiding the gods in a holy war against the demons. Some years elapse, and the god Indra, to reward Dushyanta’s heroic service, transports him through the sky to the far-off mountain retreat of Çakuntalā and their little son. The reunion of the King with his wife and child is touchingly presented in the last act of the drama.]

Enter a Child, attended by two Women of the hermitage, and dragging a lion’s cub by the ears.

  Child—Open your mouth, my young lion; I want to count your teeth.
  First Attendant—You naughty child, why do you tease the animals? Know you not that we cherish them in this hermitage as if they were our own children? In good sooth, you have a high spirit of your own, and are beginning already to do justice to the name Sarva-damana [All-taming], given you by the hermits.  72
  King—Strange! my heart inclines towards the boy with almost as much affection as if he were my own child. What can be the reason? I suppose my own childlessness makes me yearn towards the sons of others.  73
  Second Attendant—This lioness will certainly attack you if you do not release her whelp.  74
  Child  [laughing]—Oh! indeed! let her come. Much I fear her, to be sure!  [Pouts his under lip in defiance.]  75
  The germ of mighty courage lies concealed
Within this noble infant, like a spark
Beneath the fuel, waiting but a breath
To fan the flame and raise a conflagration.
  First Attendant—Let the young lion go, like a dear child, and I will give you something else to play with.  77
  Child—Where is it? Give it me first.  [Stretches out his hand.]  78
  King  [looking at his hand]—How’s this? His hand exhibits one of those mystic marks which are the sure prognostic of universal empire. See!
  His fingers stretched in eager expectation
To grasp the wished-for toy, and knit together
By a close-woven web, in shape resemble
A lotos blossom, whose expanding petals
The early dawn has only half unfolded.
  Second Attendant—We shall never pacify him by mere words, dear Suvratā. Be kind enough to go to my cottage, and you will find there a plaything belonging to Mārkāndeya, one of the hermit’s children. It is a peacock made of china-ware, painted in many colors. Bring it here for the child.  80
  First Attendant—Very well.  [Exit.]  81
  Child—No, no: I shall go on playing with the young lion.  [Looks at the female attendant and laughs.]  82
  King—I feel an unaccountable affection for this wayward child.
  How blest the virtuous parents whose attire
Is soiled with dust, by raising from the ground
The child that asks a refuge in their arms!
And happy are they while with lisping prattle,
In accents sweetly inarticulate,
He charms their ears; and with his artless smiles
Gladdens their hearts, revealing to their gaze
His tiny teeth just budding into view.
  Attendant—I see how it is. He pays me no manner of attention.  [Looking off the stage.]  I wonder whether any of the hermits are about here.  [Seeing the King.]  Kind sir, could you come hither a moment and help me to release the young lion from the clutch of this child, who is teasing him in boyish play?  84
  King  [approaching and smiling]—Listen to me, thou child of a mighty saint:
  Dost thou dare show a wayward spirit here?
Here, in this hallowed region? Take thou heed
Lest, as the serpent’s young defiles the sandal,
Thou bring dishonor on the holy sage,
Thy tender-hearted parent, who delights
To shield from harm the tenants of the wood.
  Attendant—Gentle sir, I thank you; but he is not the saint’s son.  86
  King—His behavior and whole bearing would have led me to doubt it, had not the place of his abode encouraged the idea.
[Follows the child, and takes him by the hand, according to the request of the attendant.]
  I marvel that the touch of this strange child
Should thrill me with delight; if so it be,
How must the fond caresses of a son
Transport the father’s soul who gave him being!
  Attendant  [looking at them both]—Wonderful! Prodigious!  88
  King—What excites your surprise, my good woman?  89
  Attendant—I am astonished at the striking resemblance between the child and yourself; and what is still more extraordinary, he seems to have taken to you kindly and submissively, though you are a stranger to him.  90
  King  [fondling the child]—If he be not the son of the great sage, of what family does he come, may I ask?  91
  Attendant—Of the race of Puru.  92
  King  [aside]—What! are we then descended from the same ancestry? This no doubt accounts for the resemblance she traces between the child and me. Certainly it has always been an established usage among the princes of Puru’s race—
  To dedicate the morning of their days
To the world’s weal, in palaces and halls,
’Mid luxury and regal pomp abiding;
Then, in the wane of life, to seek release
From kingly cares, and make the hallowed shade
Of sacred trees their last asylum, where
As hermits they may practice self-abasement,
And bind themselves by rigid vows of penance.
[Aloud.]  But how could mortals by their own power gain admission to this sacred region?
  Attendant—Your remark is just; but your wonder will cease when I tell you that his mother is the offspring of a celestial nymph, and gave him birth in the hallowed grove of Kāçyapa.  94
  King  [aside]—Strange that my hopes should be again excited!  [Aloud.]  But what, let me ask, was the name of the prince whom she deigned to honor with her hand?  95
  Attendant—How could I think of polluting my lips by the mention of a wretch who had the cruelty to desert his lawful wife?  96
  King  [aside]—Ha! the description suits me exactly. Would I could bring myself to inquire the name of the child’s mother!  [Reflecting.]  But it is against propriety to make too minute inquiries about the wife of another man.  97
  First Attendant  [entering with the china peacock in her hand]—Sarva-damana, Sarva-damana, see, see, what a beautiful çakunta [bird].  98
  Child  [looking round]—My mother! Where? Let me go to her.  99
  Both Attendants—He mistook the word “çakunta” for “Çakuntalā.” The boy dotes upon his mother, and she is ever uppermost in his thoughts.  100
  Second Attendant—Nay, my dear child: I said, look at the beauty of this çakunta.  101
  King  [aside]—What! is his mother’s name Çakuntalā? But the name is not uncommon among women. Alas! I fear that the mere similarity of a name, like the deceitful vapor of the desert, has once more raised my hopes only to dash them to the ground.  102
  Child—Dear nurse, what a beautiful peacock!  [Takes the toy.]  103
  First Attendant  [looking at the child in great distress]—Alas! alas! I do not see the amulet on his wrist.  104
  King—Don’t distress yourself. Here it is. It fell off while he was struggling with the young lion.  [Stoops to pick it up.]  105
  Both Attendants—Hold! hold! Touch it not, for your life. How marvelous! He has actually taken it up without the slightest hesitation.  [Both raise their hands to their breasts and look at each other in astonishment.]  106
  King—Why did you try to prevent my touching it?  107
  First Attendant—Listen, great monarch. This amulet, known as “The Invincible,” was given to the boy by the divine son of Marīchi soon after his birth, when the natal ceremony was performed. Its peculiar virtue is, that when it falls on the ground, no one excepting the father or mother of the child can touch it unhurt.  108
  King—And suppose another person touches it?  109
  First Attendant—Then it instantly becomes a serpent, and bites him.  110
  King—Have you ever witnessed the transformation with your own eyes?  111
  Both Attendants—Over and over again.  112
  King  [with rapture, aside]—Joy! joy! Are then my dearest hopes to be fulfilled?  [Embraces the child.]  113
  Second Attendant—Come, my dear Suvratā, we must inform Çakuntalā immediately of this wonderful event, though we have to interrupt her in the performance of her religious vows.  [Exeunt.]  114
  Child  [to the King]—Do not hold me. I want to go to my mother.  115
  King—We will go to her together, and give her joy, my son.  116
  Child—Dushyanta is my father, not you.  117
  King  [smiling]—His contradiction convinces me only the more.  118
Enter Çakuntalā, in widow’s apparel, with her long hair twisted into a single braid.
  Çakuntalā  [aside]—I have just heard that Sarva-damana’s amulet has retained its form, though a stranger raised it from the ground. I can hardly believe in my good fortune. Yet why should not Sānumati’s prediction be verified?
  King  [gazing at Çakuntalā]—Alas! can this indeed be my Çakuntalā?
  Clad in the weeds of widowhood, her face
Emaciate with fasting, her long hair
Twined in a single braid, her whole demeanor
Expressive of her purity of soul:
With patient constancy she thus prolongs
The vow to which my cruelty condemned her.
  Çakuntalā  [gazing at the King, who is pale with remorse]—Surely this is not like my husband; yet who can it be that dares pollute by the pressure of his hand my child, whose amulet should protect him from a stranger’s touch?  121
  Child  [going to his mother]—Mother, who is this man that has been kissing me and calling me his son?  122
  King—My best beloved, I have indeed treated thee most cruelly, but am now once more thy fond and affectionate lover. Refuse not to acknowledge me as thy husband.  123
  Çakuntalā  [aside]—Be of good cheer, my heart. The anger of Destiny is at last appeased. Heaven regards thee with compassion. But is he in very truth my husband?  124
  Behold me, best and loveliest of women,
Delivered from the cloud of fatal darkness
That erst oppressed my memory. Again
Behold us brought together by the grace
Of the great lord of Heaven. So the moon
Shines forth from dim eclipse, to blend his rays
With the soft lustre of his Rohinī.
  Çakuntalā—May my husband be victorious—  126
[She stops short, her voice choked with tears.]
  O fair one, though the utterance of thy prayer
Be lost amid the torrent of thy tears,
Yet does the sight of thy fair countenance
And of thy pallid lips, all unadorned
And colorless in sorrow for my absence,
Make me already more than conqueror.
  Child—Mother, who is this man?  128
  Çakuntalā—My child, ask the deity that presides over thy destiny.  129
  King  [falling at Çakuntalā’s feet]—
  Fairest of women, banish from thy mind
The memory of my cruelty; reproach
The fell delusion that o’erpowered my soul,
And blame not me, thy husband,—’tis the curse
Of him in whom the power of darkness reigns,
That he mistakes the gifts of those he loves
For deadly evils. Even though a friend
Should wreathe a garland on a blind man’s brow,
Will he not cast it from him as a serpent?
  Çakuntalā—Rise, my own husband, rise. Thou wast not to blame. My own evil deeds, committed in a former state of being, brought down this judgment upon me. How else could my husband, who was ever of a compassionate disposition, have acted so unfeelingly?  [The King rises.]  But tell me, my husband, how did the remembrance of thine unfortunate wife return to thy mind?  131
  King—As soon as my heart’s anguish is removed, and its wounds are healed, I will tell thee all.
  Oh! let me, fair one, chase away the drop
That still bedews the fringes of thine eye;
And let me thus efface the memory
Of every tear that stained thy velvet cheek,
Unnoticed and unheeded by thy lord,
When in his madness he rejected thee.
[Wipes away the tear.]
  Çakuntalā  [seeing the signet-ring on his finger]—Ah! my dear husband, is that the Lost Ring?
  King—Yes; the moment I recovered it, my memory was restored.  134
  Çakuntalā—The ring was to blame in allowing itself to be lost at the very time when I was anxious to convince my noble husband of the reality of my marriage.  135
  King—Receive it back, as the beautiful twining plant receives again its blossom in token of its reunion with the spring.  136
  Çakuntalā—Nay; I can never more place confidence in it. Let my husband retain it.  137
Enter Mātali
  Mātali—I congratulate your Majesty. Happy are you in your reunion with your wife; happy are you in beholding the face of your own son.

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