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[Inner Apartments of the Palace. SUDARSHANA and SURANGAMA]
SUDARSHANA. Go away from me, Surangama! A deadly anger rages
within me--I cannot bear anybody--it makes me wild to see you so
patient and submissive.
SURANGAMA. Whom are you angry with?
SUDARSHANA. I do not know; but I wish to see everything
destroyed and convulsed in ruin and disaster! I left my place on
the throne as the Empress in a moment's time. Did I lose my all
to sweep the dust, to sweat and slave in this dismal hole? Why
do the torches of mourning not flare up for me all over the
world? Why does not the earth quake and tremble? Is my fall but
the unobserved dropping of the puny bean-flower? Is it not more
like the fall of a glowing star, whose fiery blazon bursts the
SURANGAMA. A mighty forest only smokes and smoulders before it
bursts into a conflagration: the time has not come yet.
SUDARSHANA. I have thrown my queen's honour and glory to the
dust and winds--but is there no human being who will come out to
meet my desolate soul here? Alone--oh, I am fearfully, terribly
SURANGAMA. You are not alone.
SUDARSHANA. Surangama, I shall not keep anything from you. When
he set the palace on fire, I could not be angry with him. A
great inward joy set my heart a-flutter all the while. What a
stupendous crime! What glorious prowess! It was this courage
that made me strong and fired my own spirits. It was this
terrible joy that enabled me to leave everything behind me in a
moment's time. But is it all my imagination only? Why is there
no sign of his coming anywhere?
SURANGAMA. He of whom you are thinking did not set fire to the
palace--it is the King of Kanchi who did it.
SUDARSHANA. Coward! But is it possible? So handsome, so
bewitching, and yet no manhood in him! Have I deceived myself
for the sake of such a worthless creature? O shame! Fie on me!
... But, Surangama, don't you think that your King should yet
have come to take me back? [SURANGAMA remains silent.] You think
I am anxious to go back? Never! Even if the King really came I
should not have returned. Not even once did he forbid me to come
away, and I found all the doors wide open to let me out! And the
stony and dusty road over which I walked--it was nothing to it
that a queen was treading on it. It is hard and has no feelings,
like your King; the meanest beggar is the same to it as the
highest Empress. You are silent! Well, I tell you, your King's
behaviour is--mean, brutal, shameful!
SURANGAMA. Every one knows that my King is hard and pitiless--no
one has ever been able to move him.
SUDARSHANA. Why do you, then, call him day and night?
SURANGAMA. May he ever remain hard and relentless like rock--may
my tears and prayers never move him! Let my sorrows be ever mine
only--and may his glory and victory be for ever!
SUDARSHANA. Surangama, look! A cloud of dust seems to rise over
the eastern horizon across the fields.
SURANGAMA. Yes, I see it.
SUDARSHANA. Is that not like the banner of a chariot?
SURANGAMA. Indeed, a banner it is.
SUDARSHANA. Then he is coming. He has come at last!
SURANGAMA. Who is coming?
SUDARSHANA. Our King--who else? How could he live without me?
It is a wonder how he could hold out even for these days.
SURANGAMA. No, no, this cannot be the King.
SUDARSHANA. "No," indeed! As if you know everything! Your King
is hard, stony, pitiless, isn't he? Let us see how hard he can
be. I knew from the beginning that he would come--that he would
have to rush after me. But remember, Surangama, I never for a
single moment asked him to come. You will see how I make your
King confess his defeat to me! Just go out, Surangama, and let
me know everything. [SURANGAMA goes out.] But shall I go if he
comes and asks me to return with him? Certainly not! I will not
SURANGAMA. It is not the King, my Queen.
SUDARSHANA. Not the King? Are you quite sure? What! he has
not come yet?
SURANGAMA. No, my King never raises so much dust when he comes.
Nobody can know when he comes at all.
SUDARSHANA. Then this is--
SURANGAMA. The same: he is coming with the King of Kanchi.
SUDARSHANA. Do you know his name?
SURANGAMA. His name is Suvarna.
SUDARSHANA. It is he, then. I thought, "I am lying here like
waste refuse and offal, which no one cares even to touch." But
my hero is coming now to release me. Did you know Suvarna?
SURANGAMA. When I was at my father's home, in the gambling den
SUDARSHANA. No, no, I won't hear anything of him from you. He
is my own hero, my only salvation. I shall know him without your
telling stories about him. But just see, a nice man your King
is! He did not care to come to rescue me from even this
degradation. You cannot blame me after this. I could not have
waited for him all my life here, toiling ignominiously like a
bondslave. I shall never have your meekness and
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