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KANCHI. [To KANYA KUBJA'S MESSENGER.] Tell your King that he
need not receive us exactly as his guests. We are on our way
back to our kingdoms, but we are waiting to rescue Queen
Sudarshana from the servitude and degradation to which she is
MESSENGER. Your Highness, you will remember that the princess is
in her father's house.
KANCHI. A daughter may stay in her father's home only so long as
she remains unmarried.
MESSENGER. But her connections with her father's family remain
KANCHI. She has abjured all such relations now.
MESSENGER. Such relationship can never be abjured, Your
Highness, on this side of death: it may remain in abeyance at
times, but can never be wholly broken up.
KANCHI. If the King chooses not to give up his daughter to me on
peaceful terms, our Kshatriya code of righteousness will
oblige me to employ force. You may take this as my last word.
MESSENGER. Your Highness, do not forget that our King too is
bound by the same code. It is idle to expect that he will
deliver up his daughter by merely hearing your threats.
KANCHI. Tell your King that I have come prepared for such an
answer. [MESSENGER goes out.]
SUVARNA. King of Kanchi, it seems to me that we are daring too
KANCHI. What pleasure would there be in this adventure if it
SUVARNA. It does not cost much courage to challenge Kanya
KANCHI. If you once begin to be afraid of "but," you will hardly
find a place in this world safe enough for you.
[Enter a SOLDIER]
SOLDIER. Your Highness! I have just received the news that the
Kings of Koshala, Avanti, and Kalinga are coming this way with
their armies. [Exit.]
KANCHI. Just what I was afraid of! The report of Sudarshana's
flight has spread abroad--now we are going to be in for a general
scramble which is sure to end in smoke.
SUVARNA. It is useless now, Your Highness. These are not good
tidings. I am perfectly certain that it is our Emperor himself
who has secretly spread the report everywhere.
KANCHI. Why, what good will it bring him?
SUVARNA. The greedy ones will tear one another to pieces in the
general rivalry and scramble--and he will take advantage of the
situation to go back with the booty.
KANCHI. Now it becomes clear why your King never shows himself.
His trick is to multiply himself on every side--fear makes him
visible everywhere. But I will still maintain that your King is
but an empty fraud from top to bottom.
SUVARNA. But, please Your Highness, will you have the kindness
to let me off?
KANCHI. I cannot let you go--I have some use for you in this
[Enter a SOLDIER]
SOLDIER. Your Highness, Virat, Panchal, and Vidarbha too have
come. They have encamped on the other side of the river.[Exit.]
KANCHI. In the beginning we must all fight together. Let the
battle with Kanya Kubja first be over, then we shall find some
way out of the difficulty.
SUVARNA. Please do not drag me into your plans--I shall be happy
if you leave me alone--I am a poor, mean creature--nothing can--
KANCHI. Look here, king of hypocrites, ways and means are never
of a very exalted order--roads and stairs and so forth are always
to be trodden under our feet. The advantage of utilising men
like you in our plans is that we have to make use of no mask or
illusion. But if I were to consult my prime minister, it would
be absurd for me to call theft by any name less dignified than
public benefit. I will go now, and move the princes about like
pawns on the chessboard; the game cannot evidently go on if all
the chessmen propose moving like kings!
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