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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Kalidasa (fl. 5th Century)

Hunting with a King

From “Sakuntala”

MATHAVYA, a Jester.
Math.Heigh-ho, what an unfortunate fellow I am, worn to a shadow by my royal friend’s sporting propensities! “Here’s a deer!” “There goes a boar!” “Yonder’s a tiger!” This is the constant subject of his remarks, while we tramp about in the heat of the day from jungle to jungle on paths where the trees give us no shade. If we are thirsty, we can get nothing to drink but some dirty water from a mountain stream full of dry leaves, tasting vilely bitter. If we are hungry, we are obliged to eat tough, flavorless game, and have to gulp it down at odd times, as best we can. Even at night I have no peace. Sleeping is out of the question, with my bones all aching from trotting after my sporting friend; or, if I do contrive to doze, I am awakened at early dawn by the horrible din of a lot of rascally beaters and huntsmen, who must needs begin their deafening operations before sunrise. But these are not my only troubles; for here’s a fresh grievance, like a new boil rising upon an old one: Yesterday, while some of us were lagging behind, my royal friend went into a hermit’s enclosure after a deer, and there—worse luck—he caught sight of a beautiful girl called Sakuntala, the hermit’s daughter. From that moment not a single thought did he have of returning to town; and all night long not a wink of sleep did he get for his thoughts of the girl. But see—here he comes! I will pretend to stand in the easiest attitude for resting my bruised and crippled limbs.

Math.Ah, my friend, my hands cannot move to greet you with the accustomed salutation! I can do no more than command my lips to wish your Majesty success.

King.Why, what has paralyzed your limbs?

Math.You might as well ask me how it is my eye waters after you have poked your finger into it!

King.I don’t understand what you mean. Explain yourself.

Math.My dear friend, is that straight reed you see yonder bent crooked by its own act, or by the force of the current?

King.The current of the river is the cause, I suppose.

Math.Yes, just as you are the cause of my crippled limbs.

King.How so?

Math.Here you are, living the life of a savage in a desolate, forlorn region, while the government of the country is taking care of itself. And poor I am no longer master of my own legs, but have to follow you about day after day in your hunting for wild beasts, till all my bones ache and get out of joint. Please, my dear friend, do let us have one day’s rest!