Act, the Eighth
THE STRANGLING OF VASANTASENA
[Enter a monk, with a wet garment in his hand.]
Restrain the belly; watch eternally,
Heeding the beat of contemplation’s drum,
For else the senses—fearful thieves they be—
Will steal away all virtue’s hoarded sum.1
And further: I have seen that all things are transitory, so that now I am become the abode of virtues alone.
By whom protection to the Town is given,
By whom the Outcaste impotent is slain,
He cannot fail to enter into heaven.2
The heart unshorn, why should man shave him?
But he whose inmost heart is shorn
Needs not the shaven head to save him.3
I have dyed this robe of mine yellow. And now I will go into the garden of the king’s brother-in-law, wash it in the pond, and go away as soon as I can. [He walks about and washes the robe.]
A voice behind the scenes. Shtop, you confounded monk, shtop!
Monk. [Discovers the speaker. Fearfully. ] Heaven help me! Here is the king’s brother-in-law, Sansthānaka. Just because one monk committed an offense, now, wherever he sees a monk, whether it is the same one or not, he bores a hole in his nose and drives him around like a bullock. Where shall a defenseless man find a defender? But after all, the blessèd Lord Buddha is my defender.
[Enter the courtier, carrying a sword, and Sansthānaka.]
Sansthānaka. Shtop, you confounded monk, shtop! I’ll pound your head like a red radish at a drinking party. [He strikes him.]
Courtier. You jackass, you should not strike a monk who wears the yellow robes of renunciation. Why heed him? Look rather upon this garden, which offers itself to pleasure.
Do works of mercy, granting joy and ease;
Like a sinner’s heart, the park unguarded lies,
Like some new-founded realm, an easy prize.4
Monk. Heaven bless you! Be merciful, servant of the Blessèd One!
Sansthānaka. Did you hear that, shir? He’s inshulting me.
Courtier. What does he say?
Sansthānaka. Shays I’m a shervant. What do you take me for? a barber?
Courtier. A servant of the Blessèd One he calls you, and this is praise.
Sansthānaka. Praise me shome more, monk!
Monk. You are virtuous! You are a brick!
Sansthānaka. Shee? He shays I’m virtuous. He shays I’m a brick. What do you think I am? a materialistic philosopher? or a watering-trough? or a pot-maker?
Courtier. You jackass, he praises you when he says that you are virtuous, that you are a brick.
Sansthānaka. Well, shir, what did he come here for?
Monk. To wash this robe.
Sansthānaka. Confound the monk! My shishter’s husband gave me the finesht garden there is, the garden Pushpakaranda. Dogs and jackals drink the water in thish pond. Now I’m an arishtocrat. I’m a man, and I don’t even take a bath. And here you bring your shtinking clothes, all shtained with shtale bean-porridge, and wash ’em! I think one good shtroke will finish you.
Courtier. You jackass, I am sure he has not long been a monk.
Sansthānaka. How can you tell, shir?
Courtier. It doesn’t take much to tell that, See!
The rough cloak has not yet the shoulder scarred;
He wears it awkwardly; it clings not tight;
And here above, the fit is sadly marred.5
Monk. True, servant of the Blessèd One. I have been a monk but a short time.
Sansthānaka. Then why haven’t you been one all your life? [He beats him.]
Monk. Buddha be praised!
Courtier. Stop beating the poor fellow. Leave him alone. Let him go.
Sansthānaka. Jusht wait a minute, while I take counshel.
Courtier. With whom?
Sansthānaka. With my own heart.
Courtier. Poor fellow! Why didn’t he escape?
Sansthānaka. Blesshèd little heart, my little shon and mashter, shall the monk go, or shall the monk shtay? [To himself.] Neither go, nor shtay. [Aloud.] Well, shir, I took counshel with my heart, and my heart shays—
Courtier. Says what?
Sansthānaka. He shall neither go, nor shtay. He shall neither breathe up, nor breathe down. He shall fall down right here and die, before you can shay “boo.”
Monk. Buddha be praised! I throw myself upon your protection.
Sansthānaka. Well, on one condition.
Courtier. And what is that?
Sansthānaka. He musht shling mud in, without making the water dirty. Or better yet, he musht make the water into a ball, and shling it into the mud.
Courtier. What incredible folly!
So many a fool, so many a drone,
Whose thoughts and deeds are all awry—
These trees of flesh, these forms of stone.6
[The monk makes faces at Sansthānaka.]
Sansthānaka. What does he mean?
Courtier. He praises you.
Sansthānaka. Praise me shome more! Praise me again! [The monk does so, then exit.]
Courtier. See how beautiful the garden is, you jackass.
O’er which the clinging creepers interlace;
The watchmen guard them with the royal powers;
They seem like men whom loving wives embrace.7
Sansthānaka. A good deshcription, shir.
The blosshom freight bends down the lofty trees;
And, hanging from the leafy tree-top bowers,
The monkeys bob, like breadfruit in the breeze.8
Courtier. Will you be seated on this stone bench, you jackass?
Sansthānaka. I am sheated. [They seat themselves.] Do you know, shir, I remember that Vasantasenā even yet. She is like an inshult. I can’t get her out of my mind.
But loves the more;
The wise man’s passion gentler burns,
Or passes o’er.9
Sansthānaka. Shome time has passhed, shir, shince I told my shervant Sthāvaraka to take the bullock-cart and come as quick as he could. And even yet he is not here. I ‘ve been hungry a long time, and at noon a man can’t go a-foot. For shee!
And hard to look at as an angry ape;
Like Gāndhārī, whose hundred shons did die,
The earth is hard dishtresshed and can’t eshcape.10
Lie drowsing in the shade;
In heated pool their lips to cool,
Deer throng the woodland glade;
A prey to heat, the city street
Makes wanderers afraid;
The cart must shun the midday sun,
And thus has been delayed.11
Birds, flying creatures, alsho wingèd things
Resht in the branches of the trees, while men,
People, and pershons shigh and shigh again;
At home they tarry, in their houses shtay,
To bear the heat and burden of the day.12
Well, shir, that shervant is n’t here yet. I ‘m going to shing shomething to passh the time. [He sings.] There, shir, did you hear what I shang?
Sansthānaka. Why should n’t it be malodorous?
Of devil’s-dung, ginger, and orris, and treacle;
That’s the mixture of perfumes I eagerly eat;
Why should n’t my voice be remarkably shweet?13
Well, shir, I ‘m jusht going to shing again, [He does so.] There, shir, did you hear what I shang?
Courtier. What shall I say? Ah, how melodious!
Sansthānaka. Why should n’t it be malodorous?
With devil’s-dung added, and black pepper powder;
With oil and with butter I shprinkle the meat:
Why should n’t my voice be remarkably shweet?14
But shir, the shervant is n’t here yet.
Courtier. Be easy in your mind. He will be here presently.
[Enter Vasantasenā in the bullock-cart, and Sthāvaraka.]
Sthāvaraka. I ‘m frightened. It is already noon. I hope Sansthānaka, the king’s brother-in-law, will not be angry. I must drive faster. Get up, bullocks, get up!
Vasantasenā. Alas! That is not Vardhamānaka’s voice. What does it mean? I wonder if Chārudatta was afraid that the bullocks might become weary, and so sent another man with another cart. My right eye twitches. My heart is all a-tremble. There is no one in sight. Everything seems to dance before my eyes.
Sansthānaka. [Hearing the sound of wheels.] The cart is here, shir.
Courtier. How do you know?
Sansthānaka. Can’t you shee? It shqueaks like an old hog.
Courtier. [Perceives the cart.] Quite true. It is here.
Sansthānaka. Sthāvaraka, my little shon, my shlave, are you here?
Sthāvaraka. Yes, sir.
Sthāvaraka. Yes, sir.
Sansthānaka. Are the bullocks here?
Sthāvaraka. Yes, sir.
Sansthānaka. And are you here?
Sthāvaraka. [Laughing.] Yes, master, I am here too.
Sansthānaka. Then drive the cart in.
Sthāvaraka. By which road?
Sansthānaka. Right here, where the wall is tumbling down.
Sthāvaraka. Oh, master, the bullocks will be killed. The cart will go to pieces. And I, your servant, shall be killed.
Sansthānaka. I’m the king’s brother-in-law, man. If the bullocks are killed, I ‘ll buy shome more. If the cart goes to pieces, I ‘ll have another one made. If you are killed, there will be another driver.
Sthāvaraka. Everything will be replaced—except me.
Sansthānaka. Let the whole thing go to pieces. Drive in over the wall.
Sthāvaraka. Then break, cart, break with your driver. There will be another cart. I must go and present myself to my master. [He drives in.] What! not broken? Master, here is your cart.
Sansthānaka. The bullocks not shplit in two? and the ropes not killed? and you too not killed?
Sthāvaraka. No, sir.
Sansthānaka. Come, shir. Let’s look at the cart. You are my teacher, shir, my very besht teacher. You are a man I reshpect, my intimate friend, a man I delight to honor. Do you enter the cart firsht.
Courtier. Very well. [He starts to do so.]
Sansthānaka. Not much! Shtop! Is thish your father’s cart, that you should enter it firsht? I own thish cart. I ‘ll enter it firsht.
Sansthānaka. Even if I do shay sho, you ought to be polite enough to shay “After you, mashter.”
Courtier. After you, then.
Sansthānaka. Now I ‘ll enter. Sthāvaraka, my little shon, my shlave, turn the cart around.
Sthāvaraka. [Does so.] Enter, master.
Sansthānaka. [Enters and looks about, then hastily gets out in terror, and falls on the courtier’s neck.] Oh, oh, oh! You’re a dead man! There’s a witch, or a thief, that’s sitting and living in my bullock-cart. If it’s a witch, we ‘ll both be robbed. If it’s a thief, we ‘ll both be eaten alive.
Courtier. Don’t be frightened. How could a witch travel in a bullock-cart? I hope that the heat of the midday sun has not blinded you, so that you became the victim of an hallucination when you saw the shadow of Sthāvaraka with the smock on it.
Sansthānaka. Sthāvaraka, my little shon, my shlave, are you alive?
Sthāvaraka. Yes, sir.
Sansthānaka. But shir, there’s a woman sitting and living in the bullock-cart. Look and shee!
Courtier. A woman?
Like steers whose eyes the falling raindrops daze;
In public spots my dignity I show;
On high-born dames I hesitate to gaze.15
Vasantasenā. [In amazement. Aside.] Oh, oh! It is that thorn in my eye, the king’s brother-in-law. Alas! the danger is great. Poor woman! My coming hither proves as fruitless as the sowing of a handful of seeds on salty soil. What shall I do now?
Sansthānaka. Thish old shervant is afraid and he won’t look into the cart. Will you look into the cart, shir?
Sansthānaka. Are those things jackals that I shee flying into the air, and are those things crows that walk on all fours? While the witch is chewing him with her eyes, and looking at him with her teeth, I ‘ll make my eshcape.
Courtier. [Perceives Vasantasenā. Sadly to himself.] Is it possible? The gazelle follows the tiger. Alas!
Who waits for her upon the sandy dune;
And yet the swan will leave him? and will go
To dance attendance on a common crow?16
[Aside to Vasantasenā.] Ah, Vasantasenā! This is neither right, nor worthy of you.
Yet now for gold, and for your mother’s will
Vasantasenā. No! [She shakes her head.]
You honor him, a common woman still.17
Did I not tell you to “serve the man you love, and him you hate”?
Vasantasenā. I made a mistake in the cart, and thus I came hither. I throw myself upon your protection.
Courtier. Do not fear. Come, I must deceive him. [He returns to Sansthānaka.] Jackass, there is indeed a witch who makes her home in the cart.
Sansthānaka. But shir, if a witch is living there, why are n’t you robbed? And if it ‘s a thief, why are n’t you eaten alive?
Courtier. Why try to determine that? But if we should go back on foot through the gardens until we came to the city, to Ujjayinī, what harm would that do?
Sansthānaka. And if we did, what then?
Courtier. Then we should have some exercise, and should avoid tiring the bullocks.
Sansthānaka. All right. Sthāvaraka, my shlave, drive on. But no! Shtop, shtop! I go on foot before gods and Brahmans? Not much! I ‘ll go in my cart, sho that people shall shee me a long way off, and shay “There he goes, our mashter, the king’s brother-in-law.”
Courtier. [Aside.] It is hard to convert poison into medicine. So be it, then. [Aloud.] Jackass, this is Vasantasenā, come to visit you.
Vasantasenā. Heaven forbid!
Sansthānaka. [Gleefully.] Oh, oh! To visit me, an arishtocrat, a man, a regular Vāsudeva?
Sansthānaka. This is an unheard-of piece of luck. That other time I made her angry, sho now I ‘ll fall at her feet and beg her pardon.
Sansthānaka. I ‘ll fall at her feet myshelf. [He approaches Vasantasenā.] Little mother, mamma dear, lishten to my prayer.
Thine eyes are large, thy teeth are clean and neat,
Thy finger-nails are ten—forgive thy shlave
What, love-tormented, he offended, shweet.18
Vasantasenā. [Angrily.] Leave me! Your words are an insult! [She spurns him with her foot.]
That never bent to worship god, I wist,
Upon thish head she dared to plant her feet,
Like jackals on the carrion they meet.19
Sthāvaraka, you shlave, where did you pick her up?
Sthāvaraka. Master, the highway was blocked by villagers’ wagons. So I stopped my cart near Chārudatta’s orchard, and got out. And while I was helping a villager with his wagon, I suppose she mistook this cart for another, and climbed in.
Sansthānaka. Oho! she mishtook my cart for another? and did n’t come to shee me? Get out of my cart, get out! You ‘re going to visit your poor merchant’s shon, are you? Those are my bullocks you ‘re driving. Get out, get out, you shlave! Get out, get out!
Vasantasenā. Truly, you honor me when you say that I came to see Chārudatta. Now what must be, must be.
These hands sho lotush-leafy,
Are itching-anxious, girl, to dally
With you; and in a jiffy
I ‘ll drag Your Shweetness by the hair
From the cart wherein you ride,
As did Jatāyu Bāli’s fair,
The monkey Bāli’s bride.20
Insulted thus despitefully;
Nor garden creepers may not be
Robbed of their leaves so cruelly.21
Stand up, man. I will help her to alight. Come, Vasantasenā! [Vasantasenā alights and stands apart.]
Sansthānaka. [Aside.] The flame of wrath was kindled when she despised my proposition, and now it blazes up because she kicked me. Sho now I ‘ll murder her. Good! Thish way. [Aloud.] Well, shir, what do you want?
Tied with a hundred shtrings? or good ragout,
To make you shmack your greedy lips and call
“Chuhoo, chuhoo, chukku, chuhoo, chuhooo”?22
Courtier. Certainly. Anything, unless it be a sin.
Sansthānaka. There’s not a shmell of a shin in it, shir. Not a perfume!
Courtier. Speak, then.
Sansthānaka. Murder Vasantasenā.
Courtier. [Stopping his ears.]
A courtezan whose love was stainless ever—
If I should kill her, sinless, without pity.
What boat would bear me on the gloomy river?23
Sansthānaka. I’ll give you a boat. And beshides, in thish deserted garden, who’ll shee you murdering her?
The wind, the moon, the sun whose rays are light,
Virtue, my conscience—these I cannot fly,
Nor earth, that witnesses to wrong and right.24
Sansthānaka. Well then, put your cloak over her and murder her.
Courtier. You fool! You scoundrel!
Sansthānaka. The old hog is afraid of a shin. Never mind. I’ll pershuade Sthāvaraka, my shlave. Sthāvaraka, my little shon, my shlave, I’ll give you golden bracelets.
Sthāvaraka. And I’ll wear them.
Sansthānaka. I’ll have a golden sheat made for you.
Sthāvaraka. And I’ll sit on it.
Sansthānaka. I’ll give you all my leavings.
Sthāvaraka. And I’ll eat them.
Sansthānaka. I’ll make you the chief of all my shervants.
Sthāvaraka. Master, I’ll be the chief.
Sansthānaka. You only have to attend to what I shay.
Sthāvaraka. Master, I will do anything, unless it be a sin.
Sansthānaka. There’s not a shmell of a shin in it.
Sthāvaraka. Then speak, master.
Sansthānaka. Murder Vasantasenā.
Sthāvaraka. Oh, master, be merciful! Unworthy as I am, I brought this worthy lady hither, because she mistook this bullock-cart for another.
Sansthānaka. You shlave, ain’t I your mashter?
Sthāvaraka. Master of my body, not of my character. Be merciful, master, be merciful! I am afraid.
Sansthānaka. You’re my shlave. Who are you afraid of?
Sthāvaraka. Of the other world, master.
Sansthānaka. Who is thish “other world”?
Sthāvaraka. Master, it is a rewarder of righteousness and sin.
Sansthānaka. What is the reward of righteoushness?
Sthāvaraka. To be like my master, with plenty of golden ornaments.
Sansthānaka. What is the reward of shin?
Sthāvaraka. To be like me, eating another man’s bread. That is why I will do no sin.
Sansthānaka. Sho you won’t murder her? [He beats him with all his might.]
Sthāvaraka. You may beat me, master. You may kill me, master. I will do no sin.
A slave I live, a slave I die;
But further woe I will not buy,
I will not, will not sin.25
Vasantasenā. Sir, I throw myself upon your protection.
Courtier. Pardon him, jackass! Well done, Sthāvaraka!
And enters through the straitest gate;
Since he is slave, and you are lord,
Since he does not enjoy your hoard,
Since you do not obey his word.27
Sansthānaka. [Aside.] The old jackal is afraid of a shin, and the “lifelong shlave” is afraid of the other world. Who am I afraid of, I, the king’s brother-in-law, an arishtocrat, a man? [Aloud.] Well, shervant, you “lifelong shlave,” you can go. Go to your room and resht and keep out of my way.
Sthāvaraka. Yes, master. [To Vasantasenā.] Madam, I have no further power.[Exit.
Sansthānaka. [Girds up his loins.] Wait a minute, Vasantasenā, wait a minute. I want to murder you.
Courtier. You will kill her before my eyes? [He seizes him by the throat.]
Sansthānaka. [Falls to the ground.] Shir, you ‘re murdering your mashter. [He loses consciousness, but recovers.]
And gave him butter too, to eat;
Now for the friend in need I search;
Why does he leave me in the lurch?28
[After reflection.] Good! I have an idea. The old jackal gave her a hint by shaking his head at her. Sho I ‘ll shend him away, and then I ‘ll murder Vasantasenā. That’s the idea. [Aloud.] Shir, I was born in a noble family as great as a wine-glass. How could I do that shin I shpoke about? I jusht shaid it to make her love me.
Courtier. Why should you boast of this your noble birth?
But thorns and weeds grow rank in fertile earth.29
Sansthānaka. She ‘s ashamed to confessh her love when you ‘re here. Please go. My shervant Sthāvaraka has gone too after getting a beating. He may be running away. Catch him, shir, and come back with him.
While I am near, her love for one so crude;
So now I leave her here with him alone;
Love’s confidences long for solitude.30
[Aloud.] Very well. I go.
Vasantasenā. [Seizing the hem of his garment.] Did I not throw myself upon your protection?
Courtier. Do not fear, Vasantasenā. Jackass, Vasantasenā is a pledge, committed to your hand.
Sansthānaka. All right. Jusht let her be committed to my hand. It ‘s a pledge that I ‘ll execute.
Courtier. Are you honest?
Courtier. [Takes a few steps.] No! If I go, the wretch might kill her. I will conceal myself for a moment, and see what he intends to do. [He stands apart.]
Sansthānaka. Good! I ‘ll murder her. But no! Perhaps thish tricky trickshter, thish Brahman, thish old jackal, has gone and hidden himshelf; he might raise a howl like the jackal he is. I ‘ll jusht do thish to deceive him. [He gathers flowers and adorns himself.] Vasantasenā, my love, my love! Come!
Courtier. Yes, he has turned lover. Good! I am content. I will go.[Exit.
My turbaned head adores your feet.
Why not love me, my clean-toothed girl?
Why worship such a pauper churl?31
Vasantasenā. How can you ask? [She bows her head and recites the following verses.]
Why tempt me now with gold and power?
The honey-loving bees adore
The pure and stainless lotus flower.32
Peculiar honor waits upon his woe;
And ‘t is the glory of a courtezan
To set her love upon an honest man.33
And I, who have loved the mango-tree, I cannot cling to the locust-tree.
Sansthānaka. Wench, you make that poor little Chārudatta into a mango-tree, and me you call a locusht-tree, not even an acacia! That ‘s the way you abuse me, and even yet you remember Chārudatta.
Vasantasenā. Why should I not remember him who dwells in my heart?
Sansthānaka. Thish very minute I ‘m going to shtrangle “him who dwells in your heart,” and you too. Shtand shtill, you poor-merchant-man’s lover!
Vasantasenā. Oh speak, oh speak again these words that do me honor!
Sansthānaka. Jusht let poor Chārudatta—the shon of a shlave—reshcue you now!
Vasantasenā. He would rescue me, if he saw me.
But even if he was, he could n’t reshcue you.
Was killed by good old Chānakya,
Sho I intend to throttle thee,
As did Jatāyu Draupadī.35
[He raises his arm to strike her.]
Vasantasenā. Mother! where are you? Oh, Chārudatta! my heart’s longing is unfulfilled, and now I die! I will scream for help. No! It would bring shame on Vasantasenā, should she scream for help. Heaven bless Chārudatta!
Sansthānaka. Does the wench shpeak that rashcal’s name even yet? [He seizes her by the throat.] Remember him, wench, remember him!
Vasantasenā. Heaven bless Chārudatta!
Sansthānaka. Die, wench! [He strangles her. Vasantasenā loses consciousness, and falls motionless.]
Thish foul abode of impudence—
She came to love, she shtayed to blench,
For Death’s embrace took every sense.
But why boasht I of valorous arms and shtout?
She shimply died because her breath gave out.
Like Sītā in the Bhārata, she lies.
Ah, mother mine! how prettily she dies.36
I shaw the empty garden, set the shnare,
And frightened her, and made the poor girl blench.
My brother! Oh, my father! Thish is where
You misshed the shight of heroism shtout;
Your brother and your shon here blosshomed out
Into a man; like Mother Draupadī,
You were not there, my bravery to shee.37
Good! The old jackal will be here in a minute. I ‘ll shtep ashide and wait. [He does so.]
[Enter the courtier, with Sthāvaraka.]
Courtier. I have persuaded the servant Sthāvaraka to come back, and now I will look for the jackass. [He walks about and looks around him.] But see! A tree has fallen by the roadside, and killed a woman in its fall. O cruel! How couldst thou do this deed of shame? And when I see that a woman was slain by thy fatal fall, I too am felled to the earth. Truly, my heart’s fear for Vasantasenā was an evil omen. Oh, heaven grant that all may yet be well! [He approaches Sansthānaka.] Jackass, I have persuaded your servant Sthāvaraka to return.
Sansthānaka. How do you do, shir? Sthāvaraka, my little shon, my shlave, how do you do?
Sthāvaraka. Well, thank you.
Courtier. Give me my pledge.
Sansthānaka. What pledge?
Sansthānaka. She’s gone.
Sansthānaka. Right after you.
Courtier. [Doubtfully.] No, she did not go in that direction.
Sansthānaka. In what direction did you go?
Courtier. Toward the east.
Sansthānaka. Well, she went shouth.
Courtier. So did I.
Sansthānaka. She went north.
Courtier. This is nonsense. My heart is not satisfied. Speak the truth.
Sansthānaka. I shwear by your head, shir, and my own feet. You may be easy in your heart. I murdered her.
Courtier. [Despairingly.] You really killed her?
Sansthānaka. If you don’t believe my words, then shee the firsht heroic deed of Sansthānaka, the king’s brother-in-law. [He points out the body.]
Courtier. Alas! Ah, woe is me! [He falls in a swoon.]
Sansthānaka. Hee, hee! The gentleman is calm enough now!
Sthāvaraka. Oh, sir! Come to yourself! I am the first murderer, for I brought the bullock-cart hither without looking into it.
Courtier. [Comes to himself. Mournfully.] Alas, Vasantasenā!
And happiness to her own land doth flee,
Sweet gem of gems, that knew love’s gentle play,
Love’s mart and beauty’s! Joy of men like me!
Thy mirth-shored stream, that kind and healing river—
Alas! is perished, lost, and gone forever!38
[Tearfully.] Ah, woe is me!
Now thou hast done this deed of hate?
Like sin’s foul self, hast thou laid low
The sinless goddess of our state.39
[Aside.] Ah! Perhaps the wretch means to lay this sin to my charge. I must go hence. [He walks about. Sansthānaka approaches and holds him back.] Scoundrel! Touch me not. I have done with you. I go.
Courtier. You are an accursèd scoundrel!
A copper, and a cap, to have and hold.
And sho the fame of thish great deed shall be
A common property, and shan’t touch me.40
Courtier. A curse upon you! Yours, and yours only, be the deed.
Sthāvaraka. Heaven avert the omen! [Sansthānaka bursts out laughing.]
Damned be a friendship that so shames my worth!
Never may I set eyes on one so low!
I fling you off, an unstrung, broken bow.41
Sansthānaka. Don’t be angry. Come, let’s go and play in the pond.
Your friendship stains, and mocks my sinlessness,
You woman-murderer! How could I be
A friend to one whom women ever see
With eyes half-closed in apprehension’s stress?42
Be not a courtezan reborn,
But in a house which sinless men,
And virtuous, and good, adorn.43
Sansthānaka. Firsht you murder Vasantasenā in my old garden Pushpakaranda, and now where will you run to? Come, defend yourshelf in court before my shishter’s husband! [He holds him back.]
Courtier. Enough, you accursèd scoundrel! [He draws his sword.]
Sansthānaka. [Recoiling in terror.] Shcared, are you? Go along, then.
Courtier. [Aside.] It would be folly to remain here. Well, I will go and join myself to Sharvilaka, Chandanaka, and the rest.[Exit.
Sansthānaka. Go to hell. Well, my little shon Sthāvaraka, what kind of a thing is thish that I ‘ve done?
Sthāvaraka. Master, you have committed a terrible crime.
Sansthānaka. Shlave! What do you mean by talking about a crime? Well, I ‘ll do it thish way. [He takes various ornaments from his person.] Take these gems. I give ’em to you. Whenever I want to wear them, I ‘ll take them back again, but the resht of the time they are yours.
Sthāvaraka. They should be worn only by my master. What have I to do with such things?
Sansthānaka. Go along! Take these bullocks, and wait in the tower of my palace until I come.
Sthāvaraka. Yes, master.[Exit.
Sansthānaka. The gentleman has made himshelf invisible. He wanted to save himshelf. And the shlave I ‘ll put in irons in the palace tower, and keep him there. And sho the shecret will be shafe. I ‘ll go along, but firsht I ‘ll take a look at her. Is she dead, or shall I murder her again? [He looks at Vasantasenā.] Dead as a doornail! Good! I ‘ll cover her with thish cloak. No, it has my name on it. Shome honesht man might recognize it. Well, here are shome dry leaves that the wind has blown into a heap. I ‘ll cover her with them. [He does so, then pauses to reflect.] Good! I ‘ll do it thish way. I ‘ll go to court at once, and there I ‘ll lodge a complaint. I ‘ll shay that the merchant Chārudatta enticed Vasantasenā into my old garden Pushpakaranda, and killed her for her money.
And I ‘ll invent the plan, forgetting pity;
The shacrificing of a sinless cow
Is cruel in the kindesht-hearted city.44
Now I ‘m ready to go. [He starts to go away, but perceives something that frightens him.] Goodnessh gracioush me! Wherever I go, thish damned monk comes with his yellow robes. I bored a hole in his nose once and drove him around, and he hates me. Perhaps he’ll shee me, and will tell people that I murdered her. How shall I eshcape? [He looks about.] Aha! I ‘ll jump over the wall where it is half fallen down, and eshcape that way.
In heaven, on earth below,
In hell, and in Ceylon,
Hanūmat’s peaks upon—
Like Indra’s self, I go.[Exit.] 45
[Enter hurriedly the Buddhist monk, ex-shampooer.]
Monk. I ‘ve washed these rags of mine. Shall I let them dry on a branch? no, the monkeys would steal them. On the ground? the dust would make them dirty again. Well then, where shall I spread them out to dry? [He looks about.] Ah, here is a pile of dry leaves which the wind has blown into a heap. I ‘ll spread them out on that. [He does so.] Buddha be praised! [He sits down.] Now I will repeat a hymn of the faith.
By whom protection to the Town is given,
By whom the Outcaste impotent is slain,
He cannot fail to enter into heaven.(2)
After all, what have I to do with heaven, before I have paid my debt to Vasantasenā, my sister in Buddha? She bought my freedom for ten gold-pieces from the gamblers, and since that day I regard myself as her property. [He looks about.] What was that? a sigh that arose from the leaves? It cannot be.
The wetted garment wets the leaves,
And so, I guess, the scattered leaves
Curl up like any other leaves.46
Monk. Ah, there appears a woman’s hand, adorned with beautiful gems. What! a second hand? [He examines it with the greatest care.] It seems to me, I recognize this hand. Yes, there is no doubt about it. Surely, this is the hand that saved me. But I must see for myself. [He uncovers the body, looks at it, and recognizes it.] It is my sister in Buddha. [Vasantasenā pants for water.] Ah, she seeks water, and the pond is far away. What shall I do? An idea! I will hold this robe over her and let it drip upon her. [He does so. Vasantasenā recovers consciousness, and raises herself. The monk fans her with his garment.]
Vasantasenā. Who are you, sir?
Monk. Has my sister in Buddha forgotten him whose freedom she bought for ten gold-pieces?
Vasantasenā. I seem to remember, but not just as you say. It were better that I had slept never to waken.
Monk. What happened here, sister in Buddha?
Vasantasenā. [Despairingly.] Nothing but what is fitting—for a courtezan.
Monk. Sister in Buddha, support yourself by this creeper that clings to the tree, and rise to your feet [He bends down the creeper. Vasantasenā takes it in her hand, and rises.]
Monk. In yonder monastery dwells one who is my sister in the faith. There shall my sister in Buddha be restored before she returns home. You must walk very slowly, sister. [He walks about and looks around him.] Make way, good people, make way! This is a young lady, and I am a monk, yet my conduct is above reproach.
Who curbs his senses, he is man indeed.
He little recks, if kingdoms fall or stand;
For heaven is in the hollow of his hand.47