Scene I


Avunthie; in the palace.

A room in the royal apartments.
Mahasegn, Ungarica.

I conquer still though not with glorious arms.
He’s seized! The young victorious Vuthsa’s mine,
A prisoner in my hands.

UNGARICA laughing
Thou holdst the sun
Under thy armpit as the tailed god did.
What wilt thou do with it?

Make it my moon
And shine by him upon the eastern night.

Thou canst?

Loved sceptic of my house, I can.
Have I not done all things I longed for yet
Since out of thy dim world I dragged thee alarmed
By force, my fortune?

Yes, by force; but here
By force it was not done. Wilt thou depart
Form they own nature, Chunda Mahasegn,
And hop’st for victory?

Thou art my strength, my fortune,
But not counsellor.

No, I obey and watch.
It is enough for me in your strange world.
For by your light I cannot guide myself.
Man is creature, blinded by the sun,
Who errs by vision; but the world to you
That’s darkness, they who walk there, they have sight.
Such am I; for the shades have reared my soul.

What dost thou see?

Thou Vuthsa is too great
For thy greatness, too cunning for thy cunning; he
Will bend not to thy pressure.

Thou hast bent,
The Titaness! This is a tender boy
As soft as summer dews or as the lily
That yields to every gentle pushing wave.
A hero? Yes; all Aryan boys are that.

Thy daughter, Vasavadutta, is the wave
That shall o’erflow this lily!

Thou hast seen?

‘Tis good; it is the thing my heart desires.
My daughter shall have empire.

No, thy son.

No matter which. The first man of the age
Will occupy her heart; the pride and love
That are her faults will both be satisfied.
She will be happy.

Call her here, my queen.
She shall be taught the thing she has to do.

Her heart will teach her. Veena, call to me
The princess.

Oh, the heart, it is a danger,
A madness. Let the thinking mind prevail.

We’re women, king.

No, princesses. My daughter
Has dignity, pride, wisdom, noble hopes.
She will not act as common natures do.

Love will unseat them all and put them down
Under his flower-soft feet.

Thou hast chosen ever
To oppose my thoughts.

It is their poor revenge
Who in their acts must needs obey. Thy lesson, King!
Vasavadutta enters and bows down to her parents.
Let royal wisdom teach a woman’s brain
To use for statecraft’s ends her dearest thoughts.

My daughter, Vasavadutta, my delight,
Now is thy hour to pay the long dear debt
Thou ow’st thy parents from whom thou wast made.
Hear me; thy brain is quick, will understand.
Vuthsa, Cowsambie’s king, my rival foe,
My fate’s high stumbling-block, captive today
Comes to Avunthie. I mean that he shall be
Thy husband, vasavadutta, and thy slave.
But thee he must become, who now resists,
My vassal even as other monarchs are.
Then shall thy father’s fates o’erleap their bounds.
Then rule thy house, thy nation all this earth!
This is my will; my daughter, is it thine?

Father, thy will is mine, even as ’tis fate’s
Thou givest me to whom thou wilt; what share
In this have I but only to obey?

A greater part that makes thee my ally
And golden instrument; for without thee
I have no hold on Vuthsa. Thou, my child,
Must be the chain to bind him to my throne,
Thou my ambassador to win his mind
And thou my viceroy over his subject will.

Will he submit to this?

Yes, if thou choose.

I choose, my father, since it is thy will.
That thou shouldst rule the world is all my wish,
My nation’s greatness is my dearest good.

Thou kept my dearest lessons; lose them not.
O thou art not as common natures are;
Thou wilt not put they own ambitions first,
Nor justify a blind and clamorous heart.

My duty to my country and my sire
Shall rule me.

I’ll not teach thy woman’s tact
How it should mould this youth nor warn thy will
Against the passions of the blood. The heart
And senses over common women rule;
Thou hast a mind.

Father, this is my pride,
That thou ennoblest me to be an engine
Of thy great fortunes; that alone I am

Thou wilt not yield then to the heart’s desire?

Let him desire, but I will nothing yield.
I am thy daughter; greatest kings should sue
And take my grace as an unhoped-for joy.

Thou art my pupil; statecraft was not wasted
Upon thy listening brain. Thou seest, my queen?

Thou hast made thy treaty with thy daughter, King?
As if this babe could understand! Go, go
And leave me with my child. For I will speak to her
Another language.

But no breath against
My purpose.

Fearest thou that?

No; speak to her.
He goes out from the chamber.

UNGARICA drawing Vasavadutta into her arms
Rest here, my child, to whom another bosom
Will soon be refuge. Thou hast heard the King,
Hear now thy mother. Thou wilt know, my bliss,
The fiercest sweet ordeal that can seize
A woman’s heart and body. O my child,
Thou wilt house fire, thou wilt see living gods;
And all thou hast thought and known will melt away
Into a flame and be reborn. What now
I speak, thou dost nor understand, but wilt
Before many nights have kept thy sleepless eyes.
My child, the flower blooms for its flowerhood only
And not to make its parent bed more high.
Not for thy sire thy mother brought thee forth,
But thy dear nature’s growth and heart’s delight
And for a husband and for children born,
My child, let him who clasps thee be thy god
That thou mayst be his goddess; let your wedded arms
Be heaven; let his will be thine and thine
Be his, his happiness thy regal pomp.
O Vasavadutta, when thy heart awakes
Thou shalt obey thy sovereign heart, nor yield
Allegiance to the clear-eyed selfish gods.
Do now thy father’s will; the god awake
Shall do his own. Yes, tremble and yet fear
Nothing. Thy mother watches over thee, child.

She puts Vasavadutta from her and goes out.

I lover her best, but do not understand:
My mind can always grasp my father’s thoughts.
If I must wed, it shall be one I rule.
Vuthsa! Vuthsa Udayan! I have heard
Only a far-flung name. What is the man?
A flame? A flower? High like Gopalaca
Or else some golden fair and soft-eyed youth?
I have a fluttering in my heart to know.