sighs and lamentations. Then the king,
With eyes o'erflowing, said, "Behold thy son!
He stands beside thee! cast away thy grief!
Tell me what presses on thee." Said the queen,
"Prince, I have borne a son; and sons are born
To none but worthy women. This my son
Shall take me--he shall offer me for sale--
Then with the money gained, pay thou the priest
The promised offering." Hearing these words,
He fell down fainting. When his sense returned,
Filled with exceeding pain, the king burst forth,
Lamenting: "This, alas! most loving one!
Is hardly to be framed in words, much less
Be carried out in deed. Alas! alas!"--
His spirit fled again, and to the earth
He fell unconscious. Overcome with grief,
The queen exclaimed, filled with compassion: "King!
How art thou fallen from thy high estate!
The ground is now thy resting-place, whom once
A gorgeous couch received. Lo! this my lord,
By whom wealth, honour, power, are freely given
An offering to the Brâhman--see, he lies
Insensate on the ground. Ye gods of heaven!
Tell me, I pray you, has this noble king,
Equal to gods in rank, committed sin
Against you, that he lies thus overcome
With woe?" Then fell the queen, bereft of sense
Upon the earth, o'erwhelmed with grief and pain,
Seeing her husband's misery. When the boy
Beheld his parents lying on the ground,
He cried in terror: "Father! give me food!
Mother! my tongue is parched with thirst!" Meanwhile
Upon the scene the mighty Brâhman came;
And when he saw the king lie senseless, "King!"--
Sprinkling cold water on his face--he said,
"Rise up! rise up! Pay me the promised vow;
For this thy misery from day to day
Increases, and will yet increase, until
The debt be paid." The water's cooling touch
Refreshed the king; his consciousness returned;
But when he saw the Brâhman, faintness seized
His limbs again. Then overpowering rage
2013 SFR GALAXY AWARD WINNER
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