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He looked upon that archer chief
Whose full eye mocked the lotus leaf,
Arid thus the noble Vánar spake:
'Now meet the queen for whose dear sake
Thy mighty task was first begun,
And now the glorious fruit is won.
Overwhelmed with woe thy lady lies,
The hot tears streaming from her eyes.
And still the queen must long and pine
Until those eyes be turned to thine.'

But Ráma stood in pensive mood,
And gathering tears his eyes bedewed.
His sad looks sought the ground: he sighed
And thus to King Vibhíshan cried:
'Let Sítá bathe and tire her head
And hither to my sight be led
In raiment sweet with precious scent,
And gay with golden ornament.'

The Rákshas king his palace sought,
And Sítá from her bower was brought.
Then Rákshas bearers tall and strong,
Selected from the menial throng,
Through Lanká's gate the queen, arrayed
In glorious robes and gems, conveyed.
Concealed behind the silken screen,
Swift to the plain they bore the queen,
While Vánars, close on every side,
With eager looks the litter eyed.
The warders at Vibhíshan's hest
The onward rushing throng repressed,
While like the roar of ocean loud
Rose the wild murmur of the crowd.
The son of Raghu saw and moved
With anger thus the king reproved:
'Why vex with hasty blow and threat
The Vánars, and my rights forget?
Repress this zeal, untimely shown:
I count this people as mine own.
A woman's guard is not her bower,
The lofty wall, the fenced tower:
Her conduct is her best defence,
And not a king's magnificence.
At holy rites, in war and woe,
Her face unveiled a dame may show;
When at the Maiden's Choice  1 they meet,
When marriage troops parade the street.
And she, my queen, who long has lain

In prison racked with care and pain,
May cease a while her face to hide,
For is not Ráma by her side?
Lay down the litter: on her feet
Let Sítá come her lord to meet.
And let the hosts, of woodland race
Look near upon the lady's face.'

Then Lakshman and each Vánar chief
Who heard his words were filled with grief.
The lady's gentle spirit sank,
And from each eye in fear she shrank,
As, her sweet eyelids veiled for shame.
Slowly before her lord she came.
While rapture battled with surprise
She raised to his her wistful eyes.
Then with her doubt and fear she strove,
And from her breast all sorrow drove.
Regardless of the gathering crowd,
Bright as the moon without a cloud,
She bent her eyes, no longer dim,
In joy and trusting love on him.


497:1 The Swayamvara, Self-choice or election of a husband by a princess or daughter of a Kshatriya at a public assembly of suitors held for the purpose. For a description of the ceremony see Nala and Damayantí an episode of the Mahábhárat translated by the late Dean Milman, and Idylls from the Sanskrit.

Next: Canto CXVII.: Sítá's Disgrace.