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Part V

As consciousness came slowly back
  He recognised his loving wife--
"Who was it, Love, through regions black
  Where hardly seemed a sign of life
Carried me bound? Methinks I view
  The dark face yet--a noble face,
He had a robe of scarlet hue,
  And ruby crown; far, far through space
He bore me, on and on, but now,"--
  "Thou hast been sleeping, but the man
With glory on his kingly brow,
  Is gone, thou seest, Satyavan!

"O my belovèd,--thou art free!
  Sleep which had bound thee fast, hath left
Thine eyelids. Try thyself to be!
  For late of every sense bereft
Thou seemedst in a rigid trance;
  And if thou canst, my love, arise,
Regard the night, the dark expanse
  Spread out before us, and the skies."
Supported by her, looked he long
  Upon the landscape dim outspread,
And like some old remembered song
  The past came back,--a tangled thread.

"I had a pain, as if an asp
  Gnawed in my brain, and there I lay
Silent, for oh! I could but gasp,
  Till someone came that bore away
My spirit into lands unknown:
  Thou, dear, who watchedst beside me,--say
Was it a dream from elfland blown,
  Or very truth,--my doubts to stay."
"O Love, look round,--how strange and dread
  The shadows of the high trees fall,
Homeward our path now let us tread,
  To-morrow I shall tell thee all.

"Arise! Be strong! Gird up thy loins!
  Think of our parents, dearest friend!
The solemn darkness haste enjoins,
  Not likely is it soon to end.
Hark! Jackals still at distance howl,
  The day, long, long will not appear,
Lo, wild fierce eyes through bushes scowl,
  Summon thy courage, lest I fear.
Was that the tiger's sullen growl?
  What means this rush of many feet?
Can creatures wild so near us prowl?
  Rise up, and hasten homewards, sweet!"

He rose, but could not find the track,
  And then, too well, Savitri knew
His wonted force had not come back.
  She made a fire, and from the dew
Essayed to shelter him. At last
  He nearly was himself again,--
Then vividly rose all the past,
  And with the past, new fear and pain.
"What anguish must my parents feel
  Who wait for me the livelong hours!
Their sore wound let us haste to heal
  Before it festers, past our powers:

"For broken-hearted, they may die!
  Oh hasten dear,--now I am strong,
No more I suffer, let us fly,
  Ah me! each minute seems so long.
They told me once, they could not live
  Without me, in their feeble age,
Their food and water I must give
  And help them in the last sad stage
Of earthly life, and that Beyond
  In which a son can help by rites.
Oh what a love is theirs--how fond!
  Whom now Despair, perhaps, benights.

"Infirm herself, my mother dear
  Now guides, methinks, the tottering feet
Of my blind father, for they hear
  And hasten eagerly to meet
Our fancied steps. O faithful wife
  Let us on wings fly back again,
Upon their safety hangs my life!"
  He tried his feelings to restrain,
But like some river swelling high
  They swept their barriers weak and vain,
Sudden there burst a fearful cry,
  Then followed tears,--like autumn rain.

Hush! Hark, a sweet voice rises clear!
  A voice of earnestness intense,
"If I have worshipped Thee in fear
  And duly paid with reverence
The solemn sacrifices,--hear!
  Send consolation, and thy peace
Eternal, to our parents dear,
  That their anxieties may cease.
Oh, ever hath I loved Thy truth,
  Therefore on Thee I dare to call,
Help us, this night, and them, for sooth
  Without thy help, we perish all."

She took in hers Satyavan's hand,
  She gently wiped his falling tears,
"This weakness, Love, I understand!
  Courage!" She smiled away his fears.
"Now we shall go, for thou art strong."
  She helped him rise up by her side
And led him like a child along,
  He, wistfully the basket eyed
Laden with fruit and flowers. "Not now,
  To-morrow we shall fetch it hence."
And so, she hung it on a bough,
  "I'll bear thy saw for our defence."

In one fair hand the saw she took,
  The other with a charming grace
She twined around him, and her look
  She turnèd upwards to his face.
Thus aiding him she felt anew
  His bosom beat against her own--
More firm his step, more clear his view,
  More self-possessed his words and tone
Became, as swift the minutes past,
  And now the pathway he discerns,
And 'neath the trees, they hurry fast,
  For Hope's fair light before them burns.

Under the faint beams of the stars
  How beautiful appeared the flowers,
Light scarlet, flecked with golden bars
  Of the palâsas,[1] in the bowers
That Nature there herself had made
  Without the aid of man. At times
Trees on their path cast densest shade,
  And nightingales sang mystic rhymes
Their fears and sorrows to assuage.
  Where two paths met, the north they chose,
As leading to the hermitage,
  And soon before them, dim it rose.

Here let us end. For all may guess
  The blind old king received his sight,
And ruled again with gentleness
  The country that was his by right;
And that Savitri's royal sire
  Was blest with many sons,--a race
Whom poets praised for martial fire,
  And every peaceful gift and grace.
As for Savitri, to this day
  Her name is named, when couples wed,
And to the bride the parents say,
  Be thou like her, in heart and head.

[1] Butea frondosa.