A forest-glade in the Vindhya hills.
Vicurna, a Captain.
The hunt rings distant still; but all the way
Troops and more troops besiege. Where is Gopalaca?
Our work may yet be rude before we reach
Our armies on the frontier.
That I desire.
O whistling of the arrows! I have yet
To hear that battle music.
For wild things scurry forth.
They make cover.
Whither so swiftly?
You are near the frontier for a banished man,
Why has my father sent
Thy rash hot boyhood here, imperilling
Both of his sons? I find not here his wisdom.
There will be danger? I am glad. None sent me;
I came unasked.
And also unmasking?
Trust me to have thee whipped. But since thou art here!
Where stand the chariots?
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.
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.
No, we two shall be alone.
Fie! There will be no fighting?
They take cover again. Gopalaca goes: then arrives from another side
Vuthsa with Vasuntha and Alurca.
We lose our escort!
They lose us, I think.
What fate conspires with what hid treachery?
Our chariot broken. We in woods alone
And the night close.
Roomunwath guards the paths.
The night is close.
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.
It is the best, though bad.
I leave thee with unwarlike hands to guard.
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.
Where wert thou all this time, Gopalaca?
Far wandering in the woods since a white deer
Like magic beauty drew my ardent steps
Into a green entanglement.
You found there what you sought?
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.
Greater the haste to go!
Follow Alurca and come back with him.
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.
Why ask when thou hast eyes?
Thou seest that mine are open and I walk;
For no man drives me.
Walk! But far away
From thy safe capital.
This prince Gopalaca?
Why not suspect at once it is my will
To visit Avunthie?
Not so, but if?
Oh, if! And if return were much less easy
Than the going?
Who has talked of easy things?
With difficulty then I will return.
I go, king 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.’
I will tell,
But know not if he’ll hear.
He knows who is
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?
Some day we shall.
Why some day? Why not now?
Have I escaped my guards in vain?
This sword encumbers; take it from me, friend,
And fling it there upon the bank.
It is far.
I keep my arms lest some wild thing invade
These green recesses.
Keep thy arms and me.
O, this is good to be among the trees
With thee to guard me and no soul besides.
Thyself thou hast given wholly into my hands.
Yes, take me, brother.
I shall use the trust
And yet deserve it.
I love thee well, Gopalaca.
How dost thou love me?
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.
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.
And therefore I have come to thee alone.
Thou must go farther.
Yes? Then haste. Was that
A clank of arms amid the silent trees?
He makes as if to rise, but
Gopalaca restrains him.
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.
There is a growing rumour all around.
Care not for that, but follow me and guard.
They disappear among the trees.
After a few moments Vasuntha arrives.
The forest lives with sound. It is too late.
The thing is done.
Yougundharayan, Roomunwath, Alurca
And others break in from all sides.
Where is King Vuthsa? Where?
His bow hangs there! His sword and arrows lie!
I know not.
Know not! Thou wast with him!
He sent me from him. I think he’s travelling
To Shiva in Avunthie.
And thou laugh’st
The forest ways and mountain openings flood
That flee to Avunthie. They can yet be seized.
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.’
Jestest thou yet,
Or was this madness? Or careless levity?
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.
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.
It will be vain. At least my spies shall pierce
Their inmost chambers, even in his prison
My help be near.