Durgesa Nandini/Book 2/Chapter 3

 

CHAPTER III.


"AR'NT YOU TILOTTAMA?"


IN the evening of the next day, Aesha, Osman and the physician were seated in silence in the room where Jagat Singha was lying. Aesha was seated on the couch, engaged in fanning the Prince and that sort of thing; the physician was momentarily feeling his pulse. The Prince was insensible. The physician had said, "Most probably he dies when the fever remits. If he escape that, he will surely be cured."

The remission was fast approaching; and it was for this reason that all were held in breathless suspense. The physician was incessantly feeling the Prince's pulse. "Low," "lower still," "a little high,"—such were his frequent exclamations in a suppressed tone.

All of a sodden his face grew pale.

"The time is come" said he. Aesha and Osman listened motionless—the leech kept holding Jagat Singha's pulse.

"The state's bad" said he after a while, "the pulse irregular." Aesha's face grew pale. Suddenly Jagat Singha's face became white and showed an unnatural expression, his fists clenched fast, his eyes manifested a preternatural twinkling. Aesha understood that the coup de grace of the Destroyer was not distant. The physician who sat ready with his medicine, seeing the symptoms opened the patient's mouth and poured in the drug. The change was electric. By and bye, his face re-assumed its natural expression and composed. The whiteness which spread over his body disappeared, the blood renewed its free circulation, his fists relaxed, and his eyes closed in composure. The physician felt his pulse, all attention.

"No fear any more" exclaimed he joyfully, after a long while, "he will recover."

"Has the fever gone off?" enquired Osman

"It has" answered the follower of Esculapius.

Both Aesha and Osman now looked cheerful. "There is no more danger" said the physician. "I needn't wait any more. Let the patient take this medicine every now and then up to twelve o'clock." He then went away. After a while, Osman too went to his house. Aesha sat as before on the couch beside the Prince, tending him.

A little before midnight, he opened his eyes. The first sight that struck him was Aesha's cheerful countenance. From his side-glance, Aesha gathered that his mind was wandering, he looked like one who tried to recall some thing, but without success.

"Where am I?" asked he, after looking long at Aesha. This was the first time that he spoke after two days.

"In the fort of Katlu Khan," replied Aesha.

The Prince again tried to recollect some thing.

"Why am I here?" said he after a long pause.

Aesha was at first silent.

"You are ill, Sir," said she.

"No, no, I am a captive," said the prince musing and shaking his head; his features now underwent a change.

Aesha made no reply; she found that the Prince's power of recollection was reviving.

"Who are you, I pray?"—again asked he after a pause.

"My name is Aesha."

"Who is Aesha, beseech you?"

"The daughter of Katlu Khan."

The Prince was again silent, lacking strength to talk for a long time together,

"For how many days am I here, pray?" asked he after a pause.

"These four days."

"Is Garmandaran still in your possession?"

"It is, Sir."

Jagat Singha again paused a little.

"What has become of Virendra Singha?" enquired he.

"He is a prisoner. To-day his trial takes place."

Paler grew the pale countenance of Jagat Singha.

"Pray, how fare the other inmates of the castle?"

"I don't know every thing," answered Aesha anxiously.

The Prince muttered something to himself. A name escaped his lips; Aesha heard it:

"Tilottama."

Aesha rose softly and went to bring the palatable medicine given by the physician.

The Prince fell to observing the matchless perfections of Aesha's person, as her pendants kept waving to and fro. She returned with the medicine. After drinking it, the Prince said,

"When lying insensible, I dreamt that a nymph of heaven sat at my head engaged in tending me. Isn't she you, Tilottama?"

"You may have dreamt of Tilottama, gentle Sir," replied Aesha.