Durgesa Nandini/Book 2/Chapter 14



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Jagat Singha bent down and saw that Tilottama was quite senseless. He began to fan her with his cloth. Still not seeing any signs of sensibility, he called the guard.

Tilottama's guide came in.

"This woman has suddenly gone off in a trance," said Jagat Singha. "Who has come with her? Tell her to look to her."

"I alone have come," answered the guide.

"You!" exclaimed the Prince in surprise.

"None else," replied the guard.

"What's to be done then? Tell it to a maid-servant of the fortress."

The man was going away, when the Prince called him back and said,

"Look here! The matter shall take air, if you speak to any body about it; and who will leave the merry-making to help the woman?"

"That's too true," returned the guard. "And why will the guards allow any one to enter the prison? I don't dare bring any other into it."

"What shall I do then?" said the Prince. "There is only one means. Do you hastily convey the news to the Princess, through a maid-servant."

The guard hurried out to attend to the Prince's instructions. The Prince tended Tilottama so far as the circumstances of the case permitted. What were his thoughts then? Who can say? Did a tear stand in his eyes? Who can say?

The Prince was greatly embarrassed with Tilottama alone in the prison. If the tidings did not reach Aesha; if, again, she could not devise any means, what should it come to?

By degrees, Tilottama began to revive. Immediately the Prince saw through the open door two women (one of them veiled) approach with the guard. Seeing from a distance the stately form, the rhythmical gait and the graceful neck of the veiled beauty, the Prince perceived that Aesha herself was coming with her maid—and as if she had been bringing Hope with her. When Aesha and her maid came up to the door with the guard, the sentry asked the bearer of the ring,

"Shall I also permit these?"

"That's your option;—I can't say," said the guide.

"Well," said the man, and prohibited the women to enter. Aesha removed her veil and said,

"Sentry, allow me to enter. If you incur any censure for it, lay it all to my account."

Seeing Aesha, the guard was surprised. He bowed and said with joined hands,

"Your Highness, pardon your humble servant. To you no place is forbidden."

Aesha entered the prison. She was not smiling then, but her features having a habitual expression of smile, it seemed as if she had been smiling. What a grace then sat on the dark brow of the dungeon; it was no longer a prison.

Aesha saluted the Prince and said,

"Prince! what's the matter?"

What was the Prince to reply? He simply pointed with his finger to the prostrate Tilottama.

"Who is she?" asked Aesha, after seeing Tilottama.

"The daughter of Virendra Singha," answered the Prince, reluctantly.

Aesha took up Tilottama in her lap. Any other female in her situation would have hesitated—would have calculated, but Aesha at once took Tilottama in her lap.

Whatever Aesha did, looked beautiful; she could do every thing gracefully. When she took Tilottama in her lap, both Jagat Singha and the attendant thought, "how beautiful!"

Aesha had brought vessels of rose-water, sherbet, &c. through her maid. She now fell to reviving Tilottama with these. The attendant began to fan her. Tilottama who had been regaining her consciousness already, now completely revived by the attentions of Aesha, and sat up.

She looked round, and remembered what had occurred. She was immediately going to rush out of the room; but her frame having been exhausted through the physical as well as the mental agitation of that night, she could not go; her head became dizzy on remembering what had taken place; and down she sat.

"Sister," said Aesha, taking hold of her hand, "why are you uneasy? You are now very weak; come now to my room to rally. Afterwards I will send you wherever you should like to go."

Tilottama made no reply.

Aesha had learnt all from the guide. Suspecting apprehension in Tilottama, she said,

"Why do you mistrust me? I am indeed the daughter of your enemy; but you should not therefore think me unworthy of your confidence. You needn't fear any discovery from me. Before the night is out, I will send yon with an attendant where-ever you should like to go. No one shall know anything."

This was said so sweetly that Tilottama could not entertain any doubts as to Aesha's sincerity. Further, she was now incapable of walking; nor could she remain with Jagat Singha. Consequently she consented.

"You won't be able to walk," said Aesha; "do you go supporting yourself on the maid."

Tilottama supported herself on the shoulder of the attendant, and began to walk slowly. Aesha too was going to take leave of the Prince, when he fixed his gaze on her, as if he had had something to say. Aesha understood it and said to the attendant,

"Do you take the lady to my bed-chamber; and then come back to take me."

The woman proceeded with Tilottama.

"Farewell, for ever!" thought Jagat Singha within himself, with a profound sigh. So long as Tilottama was visible, he fixed his gaze on her.

"Farewell, for ever!" also thought Tilottama. So long as Jagat Singha could be seen, she did not turn; when she turned, the Prince was no longer visible.