The happiness for which Kunda Nandini had never ventured to hope was now hers; she had become the wife of Nagendra. On the marriage day she thought, "This joy is boundless; it can never end!"
But after the flight of Surja Mukhi, repentance came to Kunda Nandini. She thought: "Surja Mukhi rescued me in my time of distress, when but for her I should have been lost; now on my account she is an outcast. If I am not to be happy, it were better I had died." She perceived that happiness has limits.
It is evening. Nagendra is lying on the couch; Kunda Nandini sits at his head fanning him. Both are silent. This is not a good sign. No one else is present, yet they do not speak. This was not like perfect happiness; but since the flight of Surja Mukhi, where had there been perfect happiness? Kunda's thoughts were constantly seeking some means by which things could be restored to their former state, and she now ventured to ask Nagendra what could be done.
Nagendra, somewhat disturbed, replied: "Do you wish things to be as they were before? do you repent having married me?"
Kunda Nandini felt hurt. She said: "I never hoped that you would make me happy by marrying me. I am not saying I repent it. I am asking what can be done to induce Surja Mukhi to return."
"Never speak of that. To hear the name of Surja Mukhi from your lips gives me pain; on your account Surja Mukhi has abandoned me."
This was known to Kunda, yet to hear Nagendra say it hurt her. She asked herself: "Is this censure? How evil is my fate, yet I have committed no fault; Surja Mukhi brought about the marriage." She did not utter these thoughts aloud, but continued fanning.
Noticing her silence, Nagendra said: "Why do you not talk? Are you angry?"
"No," she replied.
"Is a bare 'no' all you can say? Do you not longer love me?"
"Do I not love you!"
"'Do I not love you!' Words to soothe a boy. Kunda, I believe you never loved me."
"I have always loved you," said Kunda, earnestly.
Wise as Nagendra was, he did not comprehend the difference between Surja Mukhi and Kunda Nandini. It was not that Kunda did not feel the love for him that Surja Mukhi felt, but that she knew not how to express it. She was a girl of a timid nature; she had not the gift of words. What more could she say? But Nagendra, not understanding this, said: "Surja Mukhi always loved me. Why hang pearls on a monkey's neck? an iron chain were better."
At this Kunda Nandini could not restrain her tears. Slowly rising, she went out of the room. There was no one now to whom she could look for sympathy. Kunda had not sought Kamal Mani since her arrival. Imagining herself the one chiefly to blame in the marriage, Kunda had not dared to show herself to Kamal Mani; but now, wounded to the quick, she longed to go to her compassionate, loving friend, who on a former occasion had soothed and shared her grief and wiped away her tears. But now things were altered. When Kamal saw Kunda Nandini approaching she was displeased, but she made no remark. Kunda, sitting down, began to weep; but Kamal did not inquire into the cause of her grief, so Kunda remained silent. Presently, Kamal Mani, saying "I am busy," went away. Kunda Nandini perceived that all joy is fleeting.