« السابقةمتابعة »
Then Nala, when the serpent vanished, journeyed
Towards Oude, and on the tenth day reached the city;
And going to the King, he said to him,
'My name is Vahuca, and I am skilled
In horsemanship above all men on earth,
And very cunning are my hands to work;
So, please you to accept my service, I
Will strive in everything to do my best.'
And Rituparna answered, ‘You shall stay
And do all this you promise; for I love
My horses should go fleetly; you shall train
Them, therefore, to be very swift, and meet
For one who loves his horses should go fleetly.
So I appoint you my chief equerry,
With due emolument, and Jivala
And Varshneya shall be your adjutants;
So do you stay and make your home with me.'
Then Nala stayed in Oude-the pleasant city-
Holding an honourable post, and ever
Thought of the daughter of the Fearful King;
For every evening, when the sun was set,
He sang this little song-ever the same-
'Where is my true love, whom I left to suffer
From thirst and hunger, weariness and want?
Perhaps she thinks no more of me, poor fool,
But compasses another with her love.'
And Jivala, aware of what he sang,
Inquired, 'Who is the lady that you mourn?
I long to hear her story.'
'A man whose mind was stricken with mere madness
Had once an admirable, faithful wife,
And for some cause was separated from her;
But ever from that time he roams about
In utter foolishness, filled with despair;
For, in a dreadful need that came, she followed
Her husband through the forest, till the miscreant
Forsook her in the weary wilderness.'
So Nala, ever musing in this strain
Of Damayanti, dwelt unknown in Oude.
Meanwhile the Fearful King sent holy men,
In hopes of finding Nala; and to them
gave good gifts, bidding them journey forth
In quest of Nala and of Damayanti.
They, journeying, made quest in utmost parts
Through cities and through realms; but found no trace
Of Nala or his Queen, till one, Sudeva,
Coming to Chedypoor-the pleasant city
Saw there the daughter of the Fearful King
In the King's palace, and accosted her~-
‘Daughter of Bhima, called the Fearful King,
By whose command I come in quest of you,
I am Sudeva-am your brother's friend.
Your father, lady, and your mother, and
Your brothers are all well; and your little ones
Are in full health, and living there with them.'
Then Damayanti recognized the man,
And made inquiry about all her friends.
But the Queen-mother looked from her apartments
And saw her talking with the holy man,
Who, after, took the man aside, and said,
'Whose daughter is the lady, and whose wife?'
And he, consenting gladly, told her all.
'Know, Damayanti is the lady's name,
Daughter of Bhima, called the Fearful King-
True to his duty, glorious in his might—
And wife of Nala, King in Nishada-
A wise and valiant prince; who lost in play
His kingdom to his brother, and afterward
Escaped with Damayanti, none knew whither.
In quest of her we visited this land,
And in this palace of your son I found her:
For well I knew her stature-without peer-
And knew the beauty-mark between her brows:
Aye, her fair stature and that beauty-mark
Revealed her, as the heat the hidden fire.'
But when Sunanda heard what he had told,
She washed from Damayanti's brow the stains,
Which, for the heavy sorrow that lay on her,
Had marred and half effaced her loveliness,
Hiding the beauty-mark, which when they saw,
They compassed her with many a close embrace,
Silent for sweet astonishment, until,
Drying her tears, the Queen addressed her thus,
'You are my sister's daughter-by that mark
I recognize you. The most puissant King
Sudâman, called the Fair, he was our father,
And she was given to the Fearful King—
I to Virabâhu, called the Manly-armed:
And I myself was present at your birth,
I well remember, in my father's house.
Your father's house, being his, he counted mine;
you count all of mine, being mine, as yours.'
Then Damayanti, filled with glad surprise,
Bowed her before the sister of her mother,
And said, 'Full pleasant have you made my stay,
Comforting me with kind preveniences,
As yet not knowing who or whence I was.
Now, doubtless, still more pleasant were my stay;
Yet rather send the long-lost daughter home:
Yea, if you love me, pray you, let me have
An equipage to take me home at once.
Reft of their father, surely my sweet children
Are sick for love and longing after me.'
Full gladly gave consent the Queen, and ordered
A palanquin and bearers for her niece.
So Damayanti reached her home again,
Welcomed with joy by all her father's house.
And, having passed the night in sweet repose,
Came to her mother, and addressed her thus,-
'Sweet mother, if my life is dear to you,
Do what you may to bring my Nala home.'
And speaking thus she grieved her mother's heart,
Who could not answer for the rising tears,
But went to Bhima, to the Fearful King,
And said, 'Your daughter mourneth for her husband.'
He, by her counsel, sent out holy men,
That gladly did his will, through every land,
In quest of Nala; and Damayanti said,
" In every land you come to, cry aloud,
In all the public places everywhere—
"Where art thou, gamester, that with half my garment Didst leave me sleeping in the lonely wood?
Didst leave, sweet lover, thy beloved there?
She sits, as duty bids her, sits and waits,
In that rent garment, longing after thee.
Be therefore merciful, and answer her,
Compassionate her sorrows and her tears!"
Then mark if any one shall make response;
And bring his answer with what speed ye may.'
So then the holy men set out in quest
Of Nala, who was cause of so much grief,
And went through cities and through realms, and searched
Among the herdsmen and among the saints
That dwelt in lonely places, ever seeking,
Yet never finding any trace of Nala.
Met me alone, and spoke to me as follows:-
"Left by her lord, a virtuous wife frets not—
Safe under shield and shelter of her virtue.
Forsaken by some poor, misfated fool
Of broken fortunes, shall she therefore fret?
Nay, were it well or were it ill with her,
She should not darkly brood, that when misfortune
So wholly overtook her lord, he left her."
Then Damayanti's eyes were filled with tears
On hearing that, and in all secrecy
She found her mother; and she spoke, and said,
'Sweet mother, Bhima must not hear of this;
But I will give Sudeva, in your presence,
Instruction what to do; and do you see
That Bhima hear not of this scheme of mine;
Aye, if you love me, see he hear not of it.'
Then summoning the holy man, she said,
In presence of her mother, heavy for sorrow,
'Go now to Oude, and seek to see the King,
And say—as one who, going on his way,
Says to the stranger whom he meets by chance-
"The daughter of the Fearful King will choose
Another husband; and from every land
Princes and kings are coming as her suitors;
And, as to-morrow is the appointed day,
If you would be there you must make good speed.
Aye, at the rising of to-morrow's sun,
She shall make choice among her suitors, since
None knows if Nala be alive or dead.""
With such instructions came the holy man
To Rituparna―to the King of Oude.
And when the monarch Rituparna heard
Sudeva's tidings, with the voice of one
Who seeks a favour, winningly, he said,
To Vahuca, I, too, would be among
The suitors of this Damayanti, if
You think it possible-for you can judge-
To reach Vidarbha in a single day.'
But when he heard the purpose of the King,
Then a sharp sorrow smote him; but he thought
In his great heart, 'Be it so, or be it not,
I shall at least have certainty, and, too,
I shall be doing my lord the King a favour;'
So stood with folded hands before the King,
And said, 'I promise in a single day
To reach the city of the Fearful King;'
Then went and made inspection of the horses,
Obeying the behest of Rituparna,
And chose conditioned horses, slight of form,
But strong to stay, of fire and power and race.
But Rituparna, seeing they were slight,
Exclaimed, impatiently, 'What means this, now
Think not to trifle with me! have these horses
Sufficient strength and wind for such a journey?'
And Vahuca replied, 'These horses, sire,
Will take you, without doubt; but, if you will
Have others, name, and I will harness them.'
And Rituparna said, 'You can best judge;
If, therefore, these will take us, harness these.'
Then Nala harnessed to the chariot four
Horses of blood and temper, swift of limb;
And as Rituparna mounted eagerly
The fiery horses pranced and pawed the ground.
But Nala checked them with the reins, and bade
Varshneya mount-then urged them to their speed;
And feeling Nala's skill, they flew until
The riders were nigh blind for giddiness:
And well the King was gladdened, as he saw
Their strength and stay, and fleetness like the wind.
Through flood and stream, through forests, over hills,
Flew, like a bird in air, the eager King,
Who dropped by chance his mantle, and exclaimed
'Hold your swift horses, I will pick it up;'
But Nala said, 'Your mantle is already
A mile behind; we cannot stop to get it.'
Then, after, coming to a wood, the King
Observed a certain tree with fruit and leaves,
And said to Nala, 'Mark you now my skill!
On these two boughs are fifty million leaves;
And fruit, two thousand five and ninety berries.'
Then Nala stopped the chariot, and exclaimed,
'My lord the King shows off a skill he thinks
I cannot prove; if this is so or not
I know not, but will count the fruit before you;
Varshneya can a moment hold the horses.'
Replied the King, 'We have not time to wait.'
But Vahuca persisted, and replied,
'Wait but a moment, else go on without me,
And let Varshneya drive-the road is plain.'
But Rituparna answered-flattering him—
" No one in all the world can drive like you;
And I will grant you anything you wish,
So we but reach our goal ere set of sun.'
But Nala answered, 'Pray you, let me count
The fruit upon the tree, and then drive on.
Unwillingly the King consented; so,
Dismounting from the chariot, Nala counted,
And wondered, saying, 'Sire, I count the fruit