Scene II

 
 
SCENE II

A forest-glade in the Vindhya hills.
Vicurna, a Captain.

VICURNA
The hunt rings distant still; but all the way
Troops and more troops besiege. Where is Gopalaca?

CAPTAIN
Our work may yet be rude before we reach
Our armies on the frontier.

VICURNA
That I desire.
O whistling of the arrows! I have yet
To hear that battle music.

CAPTAIN
Someone comes,
For wild things scurry forth.
They make cover.

Gopalaca enters.

VICURNA
Whither so swiftly?
You are near the frontier for a banished man,
Gopalaca.

GOPALACA
Why has my father sent
Thy rash hot boyhood here, imperilling
Both of his sons? I find not here his wisdom.

VICURNA
There will be danger? I am glad. None sent me;
I came unasked.

GOPALACA
And also unmasking?

VICURNA
Right.

GOPALACA
Trust me to have thee whipped. But since thou art here!
Where stand the chariots?

CAPTAIN
On our left they wait
Screened by the secret tunnel which the Boar
Tusked through the hill to Avunthie. Torches ready
And men in arms stand in the cavern ranked
They call the carved. But all the forest passages
The enemy guards.

GOPALACA
There are some he cannot guard.
I know the forest better than their scouts.
When I shall speak of you end clap my hands,
Surround us in a silence armed.

CAPTAIN
His men
Resisting?

GOPALACA
No, we two shall be alone.

VICURNA
Fie! There will be no fighting?

GOPALACA
Goblin, off!

They take cover again. Gopalaca goes: then arrives from another side
Vuthsa with Vasuntha and Alurca.

ALURCA
We lose our escort!

VASUNTHA
They lose us, I think.

ALURCA
What fate conspires with what hid treachery?
Our chariot broken. We in woods alone
And the night close.

VASUNTHA
Roomunwath guards the paths.

ALURCA
The night is close.

VUTHSA
Here I will rest, my friends,
Where all is green and silent: only the birds
And the wind’s whisperings! Go, Alurca, meet
Our comrades of the hunt; guide their vague steps
To this green-roofed refuge.

ALURCA
It is the best, though bad.
I leave thee with unwarlike hands to guard.

VASUNTHA
I am no fighter; it is known. Run, haste.

Alurca hastens out.

And yet for all your speed, someone will worship
Great Shiva in Avunthie. I hear a tread.

Gopalaca returns.

VUTHSA
Where wert thou all this time, Gopalaca?

GOPALACA
Far wandering in the woods since a white deer
Like magic beauty drew my ardent steps
Into a green entanglement.

VASUNTHA
Simple!
You found there what you sought?

GOPALACA
No deer, but hunters,
Not of our troop. We spoke of this green glade
Where many wandering paths might lead the king.
In haste I came.

VASUNTHA
Greater the haste to go!

VUTHSA
Follow Alurca and come back with him.

VASUNTHA
What, cast myself into forest’s hands
To wander and be eaten by the night?
Come here and bid me then a long farewell,
Are thy eyes upon at least? Is it thou in this
Who movest? Come, I should know that from thee,
If nothing more.

VUTHSA
Why ask when thou hast eyes?
Thou seest that mine are open and I walk;
For no man drives me.

VASUNTHA
Walk! But far away
From thy safe capital.

VUTHSA
What harm?

VASUNTHA
And with
This prince Gopalaca?

VUTHSA
Suspicions then?
Why not suspect at once it is my will
To visit Avunthie?

VASUNTHA
So?

VUTHSA
Not so, but if?

VASUNTHA
Oh, if! And if return were much less easy
Than the going?

VUTHSA
Who has talked of easy things?
With difficulty then I will return.

VASUNTHA
I go, king Vuthsa.

VUTHSA
But tell Yougundharayan
And all who harbour blind uneasy thoughts,
‘Whatever seeks me from Fate, man or god,
Leave all between me and the strength that seeks.
War shall not sound without thy prince’s leave.
Vuthsa will rescue Vuthsa.’

VASUNTHA
I will tell,
But know not if he’ll hear.

VUTHSA
He knows who is
His sovereign.

VASUNTHA
King, farewell.

VUTHSA
I shall, Farewell.

Vasuntha disappears in the forest.

We two have kept our tryst, Gopalaca.
Hang there, my bow; lie down, my arrows. Now
Of you I have no need. O this, O this
Is what I often dreamed, to be alone
With one I love far from the pomp of courts,
Not ringed with guards and anxious friendships round,
Free like a common man to walk alone
Among the endless forest silences,
By gliding rivers and over deciduous hills,
In every haunt where earth, our mother, smiles
Whispering to her children. Let me rest awhile
My head upon thy lap, Gopalaca,
Before we plunge into this emerald world.
Shall we not wander in her green-roofed house
Where mighty Nature hides herself from men,
And be the friends of the great skyward peaks
That call us by their silence, bathe in tarns,
Dream where the cascades leap, and often spend
Slow moonless nights inarmed in leafy huts
Happier than palaces, or in our mood
Wrestle with the fierce tiger in his den
Or chase the deer with wind-swift feet, and share
With the rough forest-dwellers natural food
Plucked from the laden bounty of the trees,
Before we seek the citied haunts of men?
Shall we not do these things, Gopalaca?

GOPALACA
Some day we shall.

VUTHSA
Why some day? Why not now?
Have I escaped my guards in vain?

GOPALACA
Not vainly.

VUTHSA
This sword encumbers; take it from me, friend,
And fling it there upon the bank.

GOPALACA
It is far.
I keep my arms lest some wild thing invade
These green recesses.

VUTHSA
Keep thy arms and me.
O, this is good to be among the trees
With thee to guard me and no soul besides.

GOPALACA
Thyself thou hast given wholly into my hands.

VUTHSA
Yes, take me, brother.

GOPALACA
I shall use the trust
And yet deserve it.

VUTHSA
I love thee well, Gopalaca.
How dost thou love me?

GOPALACA
It was hard to speak,
Now I can tell it. As a brother might
Elder and jealous, as a mother loves
Her beautiful flower-limbed boy or grown man yearn
Over some tender girl, his sister, comrade, child,
In all these ways, but many more besides,
But always jealously.

VUTHSA
Why?

GOPALACA
Because, Vuthsa,
I’ld have thee for my own and not as in
Thy city where a thousand shared thy rays
Who were strangers to me. in my own domain,
Part of world that’s old and dear to me,
Where thou shalt be no king, but Vuthsa only
And I can bind with many dearest ties
Heaped on thee at my will. This, Vuthsa, I desired
And therefore I have brought thee to this glade.

VUTHSA
And therefore I have come to thee alone.

GOPALACA
Thou must go farther.

VUTHSA
Yes? Then haste. Was that
A clank of arms amid the silent trees?
He makes as if to rise, but
Gopalaca restrains him.

GOPALACA
Thy escort.

VUTHSA
Mine?

GOPALACA
My father sends for thee.
I seize upon thee, Vuthsa, thou art mine,
My captive and my prize. I’ll bear thee far
As Heaven’s great eagle bore thy mother once
Rapt to his unattainable high hills.
As he speaks the armed men appear.
Swift, captain, swift! I hold the royal boy.
On to the tunnel of the Boar.

CAPTAIN
Haste, haste!
There is a growing rumour all around.

GOPALACA
Care not for that, but follow me and guard.

They disappear among the trees.
After a few moments Vasuntha arrives.

VASUNTHA
The forest lives with sound. It is too late.
The thing is done.

Yougundharayan, Roomunwath, Alurca
And others break in from all sides.

YOUGUNDHARAYAN
Where is King Vuthsa? Where?
His bow hangs there! His sword and arrows lie!

VASUNTHA indifferently
I know not.

ALURCA
Know not! Thou wast with him!

VASUNTHA
No.
He sent me from him. I think he’s travelling
To Shiva in Avunthie.

ALURCA
And thou laugh’st
Untimely jester!

YOUGUNDHARAYAN
Impetuously pursue!
The forest ways and mountain openings flood
That flee to Avunthie. They can yet be seized.

VASUNTHA
Hear first king Vuthsa’s message and command:
‘Whatever seeks me from Fate, man or beast,
Let not war sound without thy prince’s leave.
Vuthsa will rescue Vuthsa.’

ROOMUNWATH
Jestest thou yet,
Or was this madness? Or careless levity?

YOUGUNDHARAYAN
See how the lion’s cub breaks out, Roomunwath,
Whom we so guarded in our close control,
To measure with the large and dangerous world
The bounding rapture of his youth and force.
He throws himself into his foeman’s fair
Alone and scorning every aid. I guess
His purpose, but it’s rash, it’s rash. What if
He failed? This boy and iron Mahasegn!
And yet we must obey.

ROOMUNWATH
He is not yet
Beyond the borders. But we’ll seek him out
Armed in Avunthie. To the border speed!
They may be seized before they cross it still.
All depart in a tumult of haste except
Yougundharayan and Alurca.

YOUGUNDHARAYAN
It will be vain. At least my spies shall pierce
Their inmost chambers, even in his prison
My help be near.