Puslapio vaizdai


wearing flowers in their ears. Children play silently with colored balls. In the corners, under canopies, are seated fortune-tellers, busy casting horoscopes. It is a veritable riot of color, with never a discordant note.

Through the crowd The King passes alone and unrecognized, and disappears through double doors of heavily carved teak-wood. He has hardly passed, when a very lovely girl enters in apparent distress. She whispers that she desires an audience of the king who has come among them. The few who hear her shrug their shoulders, smile, and pass on. They are incredulous. She goes from group to group, but the people turn from her with disdain. Then the great doors open, and The King is seen. The girl throws herself, Oriental fashion in his path. Her beauty and her pathos arrest his attention, and he waves aside those who would interfere. She explains that since her father's death she has been continuously persecuted by the village people on the double count of her Italian blood and her poverty.

She implores The King's protection. She is willing to be his slave. He listens with deep attention. The girl invites him to come to her hut in the forest and verify what she says. With a gesture he signifies that he will follow where she leads. She rises. The crowd gathers round; all are hushed to silence. The King, as one entranced, waves aside all who would in any way interfere. The girl precedes him, going from the pagoda toward the night. When she reaches the great staircase, she beckons Oriental fashion, with downward hand. The scene should, in grouping and color, make for rare beauty.

SCENE 111.

HUMBLE dhunni-thatched hut, set amidst the whispering grandeur of the jungle, with its weighty trees, its trackless paths, its indescribable silence. The curtain discovers Mah Phru and The King, who expresses his amazement at the loneliness and poverty of her lot. She explains that poverty is not what frightens her, but the enmity of those who live yonder, and who make it almost impossible for her to sell her cucumbers or her pineapples. The King's gaze never leaves the face or figure of the girl. He declares that he will protect her,


that he will build her a home here in the shadow of the loneliness around them. He has two years of unfettered freedom; for those years he can command his life. He loves her, he desires her, they will find a paradise together. The girl trembles with joy, with fear, with surprise. "And after two years?" she asks. "Death, if necessary," he answers.



HE jungle once more. Time: noonday. In place of the hut is a building, half Burmese, half Italian villa, of white, thick wood, with curled roofs rising on roofs gilded and adorned with spiral carvings and a myriad golden and jewel-incrusted bells. On the broad verandas are thrown Eastern carpets, rugs, embroideries.

The world is sun-soaked. The surrounding trees stand sentinel-like in the burning light. Burmese servants squat motionless, smoking on the broad white steps that lead from the house to the garden. The crows croak drowsily at intervals. Parrots scream intermittently. The sound of a guitar playing a Venetian love-song can be heard coming from the interior. Otherwise life apparently sleeps. Two elderly retainers break the silence.

"When will the Thakin tire of this?" asks the other in kindly contempt.

"To-day the break is written. I read it at dawn." "Whence will it come?"

"I know not, but when it comes, one heart will break."

"He will leave her?"

"He will leave her. He will have no choice. Who can war with Fate?"

The sun shifts a little; a light breeze kisses the motionless palm-leaves; they quiver gracefully. Attendants appear R and L, bearing a great shamiana (tent), silver poles, carved chairs, foot-supports, fruit, flowers, embroidered fans. Three musicians in semi-VenitianBurmese costumes follow with their instruments. Enter C Meng Beng and Mah Phru, followed by two Bur

mese women carrying two tiny children in Burmese fashion on their hips.

The servants retire to a distance. Meng Beng and Mah Phru seat themselves on carven chairs in the tent; the children are placed at their feet, and given colored glass balls to play with. Meng Beng and Mah Phru gaze at them with deep affection and then at each other.

The musicians play light zephyr-like airs. Meng Beng and Mah Phru talk together. Meng Beng smokes a cigar, Mah Phru has one of the big yellow cheroots affected by Burmese women to-day. "It wants but a few hours to the two years," he tells her sadly. "And you are happy?"

"As a god."

She smiles radiantly. She suspects nothing. She is more beautiful than before. Her dress is of the richest Mandalay silks. She wears big rubies in her ears.

Presently Meng Beng arranges a set of ivory chessmen on a low table between them. The sun sinks slowly. The sound of approaching wheels is heard.

Enter C U. Rai Gyan Thoo preceded by two servants. Meng Beng looks up in surprise, in alarm. He goes forward. U. Rai Gyan Thoo presents a letter written on palm-leaves. Meng Beng does not open it.

The curtains of the opening of the tent are, Oriental fashion, immediately dropped.

Meng Beng and the Grand Vizir converse alone. The minister explains that the Princess of Ceylon's ship, with its great convoy, has already been sighted. The court and city wait in eager expectancy. The King has worshiped long enough at the Pagoda of Golden Flowers; his subjects and his bride call to him.

Meng Beng is terribly distressed.


"You can return one day," the Vizir tells him. pagoda will remain. I also, once, in years long dead, Lord of the Sea and Moon, worshiped at a pagoda.'

Meng Beng seeks Mah Phru to explain that he goes on urgent affairs, that he will come back to her and his sons, perhaps before the waning of the new moon. Their parting is sad with the pensive sadness of look and gesture peculiar to Eastern peoples.

Meng Beng goes C with U. Rai Gyan Thoo. Mah Phru mounts to the veranda to watch them go from

[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed]


The curtain descends


behind the curtains. Then, slowly sinking across the heaped-up cushions, she faints.

The sun has set. The music ceases. The melancholy cry of the peacocks fills the silence.



EVEN years have elapsed. The same scene. Curtain discovers Mah Phru seated on a high veranda. A clearance has been made in the surrounding trees to give a full view of the road beyond. She is watching, always watching. With her are her two beautiful little boys.

"To-day, perhaps," she murmurs. "Perhaps tomorrow, but without fail one day."

"Look!" she cries. "At last my lord returns!"

Coming up the jungle road in view of the audience are a bevy of horsemen.

Mah Phru, wondering, descends to greet them. Enter U. Rai Gyan Thoo. He is dressed all in white, which is Burmese mourning. Mah Phru sinks back; she fears the worst. The old man reassures her. He tells her that Meng Beng has sent for his sons, that the Queen is dead, and there is no heir.

"Queen? What queen?" demands Mah Phru.
"The Queen of Burmah."

Weeping, but not daring to disobey, Mah Phru summons the children to her; then sinking to her knees, entreats them in moving and pathetic words to be permitted to go with them in the lowest, most menial capacity. U. Rai Gyan Thoo refuses. There is no place for her in the greatness of the world yonder. "Even kings forget," he says. It is the command of the supreme Lord of the Earth and of the Sky that she remain where she is.

Then he orders his followers to make the necessary arrangements for the safe journey of their future king and his brother.

The children stand passive in their gay dress, but are bewildered and afraid.

Mah Phru has risen to her feet. She appears as if turned to bronze, a model of restraint and dignity, blent with color and beauty and grace.

« AnkstesnisTęsti »