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Part III

"Oh why does not our child return?
  Too long he surely stays."--
Thus to the Muni, blind and stern,
  His partner gently says.

"For fruits and water when he goes
  He never stays so long,
Oh can it be, beset by foes,
  He suffers cruel wrong?

"Some distance he has gone, I fear,
  A more circuitous round,--
Yet why should he? The fruits are near,
  The river near our bound.

"I die of thirst,--it matters not
  If Sindhu be but safe,
What if he leave us, and this spot,
  Poor birds in cages chafe.

"Peevish and fretful oft we are,--
  Ah, no--that cannot be:
Of our blind eyes he is the star,
  Without him, what were we?

"Too much he loves us to forsake,
  But something ominous,
Here in my heart, a dreadful ache,
  Says, he is gone from us.

"Why do my bowels for him yearn,
  What ill has crossed his path?
Blind, helpless, whither shall we turn,
  Or how avert the wrath?

"Lord of my soul--what means my pain?
  This horrid terror,--like
Some cloud that hides a hurricane;
  Hang not, O lightning,--strike!"

Thus while she spake, the king drew near
  With haggard look and wild,
Weighed down with grief, and pale with fear,
  Bearing the lifeless child.

Rustled the dry leaves neath his foot,
  And made an eerie sound,
A neighbouring owl began to hoot,
  All else was still around.

At the first rustle of the leaves
  The Muni answered clear,
"Lo, here he is--oh wherefore grieves
  Thy soul, my partner dear?"

The words distinct, the monarch heard,
  He could no further go,
His nature to its depths was stirred,
  He stopped in speechless woe.

No steps advanced,--the sudden pause
  Attention quickly drew,
Rolled sightless orbs to learn the cause,
  But, hark!--the steps renew.

"Where art thou, darling--why so long
  Hast thou delayed to-night?
We die of thirst,--we are not strong,
  This fasting kills outright.

"Speak to us, dear one,--only speak,
  And calm our idle fears,
Where hast thou been, and what to seek?
  Have pity on these tears."

With head bent low the monarch heard,
  Then came a cruel throb
That tore his heart,--still not a word,
  Only a stifled sob!

"It is not Sindhu--who art thou?
  And where is Sindhu gone?
There's blood upon thy hands--avow!"
  "There is."--"Speak on, speak on."

The dead child in their arms he placed,
  And briefly told his tale,
The parents their dead child embraced,
  And kissed his forehead pale.

"Our hearts are broken. Come, dear wife,
  On earth no more we dwell;
Now welcome Death, and farewell Life,
  And thou, O king, farewell!

"We do not curse thee, God forbid
  But to my inner eye
The future is no longer hid,
  Thou too shalt like us die.

"Die--for a son's untimely loss!
  Die--with a broken heart!
Now help us to our bed of moss,
  And let us both depart."

Upon the moss he laid them down,
  And watched beside the bed;
Death gently came and placed a crown
  Upon each reverend head.

Where the Sarayu's waves dash free
  Against a rocky bank,
The monarch had the corpses three
  Conveyed by men of rank;

There honoured he with royal pomp
  Their funeral obsequies,--
Incense and sandal, drum and tromp,
  And solemn sacrifice.

What is the sequel of the tale?
  How died the king?--Oh man,
A prophet's words can never fail--
  Go, read the Ramayan.