The Little Clay Cart, by Shudraka, tr. Arthur William Ryder, , at sacred-texts.com
[Enter a beadle.]
THE magistrates said to me "Come, beadle, go to the courtroom, and make ready the seats." So now I am on my way to set the court-room in order. [He walks about and looks around him.] Here is the court-room. I will enter. [He enters, sweeps, and puts a seat in its place.] There! I have tidied up the court-room and put the seats in readiness, and now I will go and tell the magistrates. [He walks about and looks around him.] But see! Here comes that arrant knave, the king's brother-in-law. I will go away without attracting his attention. [He stands apart. Enter Sansthānaka, in gorgeous raiment.]
Sansth. I bathed where water runs and flows and purls;
My hair is shometimes done up tight, you shee;
In locks, or curls, it hangs my forehead oer;
Shometimes tis matted, shometimes hanging free;
And then again, I wear a pompadour.
I am a wonder, I'm a wondrous thing,
And the husband of my shishter is the king.2
And beshides, I've found a big hole, like a worm that has crawled into the knot of a lotush-root, and is looking for a hole to creep out at. Now who was I going to accuse of thish wicked deed? [He recalls something.] Oh, yesh! I remember. I was going to accuse poor Chārudatta of thish wicked deed. Beshides, he's poor. They'll believe anything about him. Good! I'll go to the court-room and lodge a public complaint against Chārudatta, how he shtrangled
Vasantasenā and murdered her. Sho now I'm on my way to the court-room. [He walks about and looks around him.] Here is the court-room. I'll go in. [He enters and looks about.] Well, here are the sheats, all arranged. While I'm waiting for the magishtrates, I'll jusht sit down a minute on the grass. [He does so.]
Beadle. [Walks about in another direction, and looks before him.] Here come the magistrates. I will go to them. [He does so.]
[Enter the judge, accompanied by a gild-warden, a clerk, and others.]
Judge. Gild-warden and clerk!
Gild-warden and Clerk. We await your bidding.
Judge. A trial depends to such an extent upon others that the task of the magistratesthe reading of another's thoughtsis most difficult.
For the judge must be
Gild-warden and Clerk. And do men speak of defects in your virtue? If so, then they speak of darkness in the moonlight.
Judge. My good beadle, conduct me to the court-room.
Beadle. Follow me, Your Honor. [They walk about.] Here is the court-room. May the magistrates be pleased to enter. [All enter.] Judge. My good beadle, do you go outside and learn who desires to present a case.
Beadle. Yes, sir. [He goes out.] Gentlemen, the magistrates ask if there is any here who desires to present a case.
Sansthānaka. [Gleefully.] The magishtrates are here. [He struts about.] I desire to present a cashe, I, an arishtocrat, a man, a Vāsudeva, the royal brother-in-law, the brother-in-law of the king.
Beadle. [In alarm.] Goodness! The king's brother-in-law is the first who desires to present a case. Well! Wait a moment, sir. I will inform the magistrates at once. [He approaches the magistrates.] Gentlemen, here is the king's brother-in-law who has come to court, desiring to present a case.
Judge. What! the king's brother-in-law is the first who desires to present a case? Like an eclipse at sunrise, this betokens the ruin of some great man. Beadle, the court will doubtless be very busy to-day. Go forth, my good man, and say "Leave us for to-day. Your suit cannot be considered."
Beadle. Yes, Your Honor. [He goes out, and approaches Sansthānaka.] Sir, the magistrates send word that you are to leave them for to-day; that your suit cannot be considered.
Sansthānaka. [Wrathfully.] Confound it! Why can't my shuit be conshidered? If it isn't conshidered, then I'll tell my brother-in-law, King Pālaka, my shishter's husband, and I'll tell my shishter and my mother too, and I'll have thish judge removed, and another judge appointed. [He starts to go away.]
Beadle. Oh, sir! Brother-in-law of the king! Wait a moment. I will inform the magistrates at once. [He returns to the judge.] The brother-in-law of the king is angry, and says[He repeats Sansthānaka's words.]
Judge. This fool might do anything. My good man, tell him to come hither, that his suit will be considered.
Beadle. [Approaching Sansthānaka.] Sir, the magistrates send word that you are to come in, that your suit will be considered. Pray enter, sir.
Sansthānaka. Firsht they shay it won't be conshidered, then they shay it will be conshidered. The magishtrates are sheared. Whatever I shay, I'll make em believe it. Good! I'll enter. [He enters and approaches the magistrates.] I am feeling very well, thank you. Whether you feel well or notthat depends on me.
Judge. [Aside.] Well, well! We seem to have a highly cultivated plaintiff. [Aloud.] Pray be seated.
Sansthānaka. Well! Thish floor belongs to me. I'll sit down wherever I like. [To the gild-warden.] I'll sit here. [To the beadle.] Why shouldn't I sit here? [He lays his hand on the judge's head.] I'll sit here. [He sits down on the floor.]
Judge. You desire to present a case?
Sansthānaka. Of courshe.
Judge. Then state the case.
Sansthānaka. I'll whishper it. I was born in the great family of a man as glorioush as a wine-glass.
Judge. All this we know.
State your case.
Sansthānaka. I will, but even if I was guilty, he wouldn't do anything to me. Well, my shishter's husband liked me, and gave me the besht garden there is, the old garden Pushpakaranda, to play in and look after. And there I go every day to look at it, to keep it dry, to keep it clean, to keep it blosshoming, to keep it trimmed. But fate decreed that I shawor rather, I didn't shee the proshtrate body of a woman.
Judge. Do you know who the unfortunate woman was?
Sansthānaka. Hello, magishtrates! Why shouldn't I know? A woman like that! the pearl of the city! adorned with a hundred golden ornaments! Shombody's unworthy shon enticed her into the old garden Pushpakaranda when it was empty, and for a mere triflefor her money!shtrangled Vasantasenā and killed her. But I didn't[He breaks off, and puts his hand over his mouth.]
Judge. What carelessness on the part of the city police! Gild-warden and clerk, write down the words "I didn't," as the first article in the case.
Clerk. Yes, sir. [He does so.] Sir, it is written.
Sansthānaka. [Aside.] Goodnessh! Now I've ruined myshelf, like a man that shwallows a cake of rice and milk in a hurry. Well, I'll get out of it thish way. [Aloud.] Well, well, magishtrates! I was jusht remarking that I didn't shee it happen. What are you making thish hullabaloo about? [He wipes out the written words with his foot.]
Judge. How do you know that she was strangledand for her money?
Sansthānaka. Hello! Why shouldn't I think sho, when her neck was shwollen and bare, and the places where you wear jewels didn't have any gold on them?
Gild-warden and Clerk. That seems plausible.
Sansthānaka. [Aside.] Thank heaven! I breathe again. Hooray!
Gild-warden and Clerk. Upon whom does the conduct of this case depend?
Judge. The case has a twofold aspect.
Gild-warden and Clerk. How so?
Judge. We have to consider the allegations, then the facts. Now the investigation of the allegations depends upon plaintiff and defendant. But the investigation of the facts must be carried out by the wisdom of the judge.
Gild-warden and Clerk. Then the conduct of the case depends upon the presence of Vasantasenā's mother?
Judge. Precisely. My good beadle, summon Vasantasenā's mother, without, however, giving her cause for anxiety.
Beadle. Yes, Your Honor. [He goes out, and returns with the mother of the courtezan.] Follow me, madam.
Mother. My daughter went to the house of a friend to enjoy her youth. But now comes this gentlemanlong life to him!and says "Come! The judge summons you." I find myself quite bewildered. My heart is palpitating. Sir, will you conduct me to the court-room?
Beadle. Follow me, madam. [They walk about.] Here is the courtroom. Pray enter, madam. [They enter.]
Mother. [Approaching.] Happiness be yours, most worthy gentlemen.
Judge. My good woman, you are very welcome. Pray be seated.
Mother. Thank you. [She seats herself.]
Sansthānaka. [Abusively.] You're here, are you, you old bawd?
Judge. Tell me. Are you Vasantasenā's mother?
Mother. I am.
Judge. Whither has Vasantasenā gone at this moment?
Mother. To the house of a friend.
Judge. What is the name of her friend?
Mother. [Aside.] Dear me! Really, this is very embarrassing. [Aloud.] Any one else might ask me this, but not a judge.
Judge. Pray do not be embarrassed. The conduct of the case puts the question.
Gild-warden and Clerk. The conduct of the case puts the question. You incur no fault. Speak.
Mother. What! the conduct of the case? If that is so, then listen, worthy gentlemen. There lives in the merchants quarter the grandson of the merchant Vinayadatta, the son of Sāgaradatta, a man whose name is a good omen in itselfthat name is Chārudatta. In his house my daughter enjoys her youth.
Sansthānaka. Did you hear that? Write those words down. My contention is with Chārudatta.
Gild-warden and Clerk. It is no sin for Chārudatta to be her friend.
Judge. The conduct of this case demands the presence of Chārudatta.
Gild-warden and Clerk. Exactly.
Judge. Dhanadatta, write as the first article in the case "Vasantasenā went to the house of Chārudatta." But must we summon the worthy Chārudatta also? No, the conduct of the case summons him. Go, my good beadle, summon Chārudatta,but gently, without haste, without giving him cause for anxiety, respectfully, as it were incidentally,with the words "The judge wishes to see you."
Beadle. Yes, Your Honor. [He goes out, then returns with Chārudatta.] Follow me, sir.
But why consider thus? I must go to the court-room. My good beadle, conduct me to the court.
Beadle. Follow me, sir. [They walk about.]
Chārudatta. [Apprehensively.] And what means this?
Beadle. Follow me, sir, gently and without haste.
Chārudatta. [Walks about and looks before him.]
[He looks in another direction.] But see! a snake!
And more than this:
Surely, the gods will grant that all may yet be well.
Beadle. Follow me, sir. Here is the court-room. Pray enter.
Chārudatta. [Enters and looks about.] How wonderfully splendid is the court-room. For it seems an ocean,
Come! [As he enters, he strikes his head against the door. Reflectively.] Alas! This also?
But I must enter. [He does so.]
Judge. This is Chārudatta.
Chārudatta. My greetings to the officers of justice. Officials, I salute you.
Judge. [Betraying his agitation.] You are very welcome, sir. My good beadle, give the gentleman a seat.
Beadle. [Brings a seat.] Here is a seat. Pray be seated, sir. [Chārudatta seats himself.]
Sansthānaka. [Angrily.] You're here, are you, you woman-murderer? Well! Thish is a fine trial, thish is a jusht trial, where they give a sheat to thish woman-murderer. [Haughtily.] But it's all right. They can give it to him.
Judge. Chārudatta, have you any attachment, or affection, or friendship, with this lady's daughter?
Chārudatta. What lady?
Judge. This lady. [He indicates Vasantasenā's mother.]
Chārudatta. [Rising.] Madam, I salute you.
Mother. Long life to you, my son! [Aside.] So this is Chārudatta. My daughter's youth is in good hands.
Judge. Sir, is the courtezan your friend? [Chārudatta betrays his embarrassment.]
Sansthānaka. He tries to hide the deed he did;
Gild-warden and Clerk. Speak, Chārudatta. Do not be ashamed. This is a lawsuit.
Chārudatta. [In embarrassment.] Officials, how can I testify that a courtezan is my friend? But at worst, it is youth that bears the blame, not character.
Judge. The case is hard; then banish shame,
Do not be embarrassed. The conduct of the case puts the question.
Chārudatta. Officer, with whom have I a lawsuit?
Sansthānaka. [Arrogantly.] With me!
Chārudatta. A lawsuit with you is unendurable!
Sansthānaka. Well, well, woman-murderer! You murder a woman like Vasantasenā who used to wear a hundred gems, and now you try deceitful deceivings to hide it!
Chārudatta. You are a fool.
Judge. Enough of him, good Chārudatta. Speak the truth. Is the courtezan your friend?
Chārudatta. She is.
Judge. Sir, where is Vasantasenā?
Chārudatta. She has gone home.
Gild-warden and Clerk. How did she go? When did she go? Who accompanied her?
Chārudatta. [Aside.] Shall I say that she went unobserved?
Gild-warden and Clerk. Speak, sir.
Chārudatta. She went home. What more shall I say?
Sansthānaka. She was enticed into my old garden Pushpakaranda, and was shtrangled for her money. Now will you shay that she went home?
Chārudatta. Man, you are crazy.
[Aloud.] This is the noble Chārudatta. How could he commit this crime? [He repeats the verse "A countenance like his:" page 141.]
Sansthānaka. Why thish partiality in a lawshuit?
Judge. Away, you fool!
How could the noble Chārudatta commit a crime?
Mother. You scoundrel! When the golden casket that was left
with him as a pledge was stolen by thieves at night, he gave in place of it a pearl necklace that was the pride of the four seas. And he should now, for a mere triflefor her money!do this sin? Oh, my child, come back to me, my daughter! [She weeps.]
Judge. Noble Chārudatta, did she go on foot, or in a bullock-cart?
Chārudatta. I did not see her when she went. Therefore I do not know whether she went on foot, or in a bullock-cart.
[Enter Vīraka, in anger.]
Vīraka. My anger was so prodded to the quick
So now I will go to the court-room. [He enters.] May happiness be the lot of these honorable gentlemen.
Judge. Ah, it is Vīraka, the captain of the guard. Vīraka, what is the purpose of your coming?
Vīraka. Well! I was looking for Aryaka, in all the excitement about his escape from prison. I had my suspicions about a covered bullock-cart that was coming, and wanted to look in. "You've made one inspection, man, I must make another," said I, and then I was kicked by the highly respectable Chandanaka. You have heard the matter, gentlemen. The rest is your affair.
Judge. My good man, do you know to whom the bullock-cart belonged?
Vīraka. To this gentleman here, Chārudatta. And the driver said that Vasantasenā was in it, and was on her way to have a good time in the old garden Pushpakaranda.
Sansthānaka. Lishten to that, too!
Judge. This moon, alas, though spotless-bright,
Vīraka, we will investigate your case here later. Mount the horse that stands before the court-room door, go to the garden Pushpakaranda, and see whether a woman has perished there or not.
Vīraka. Yes, sir. [He goes out, then returns.] I have been there. And I saw the body of a woman, torn by wild beasts.
Gild-warden and Clerk. How do you know that it was the body of a woman?
Vīraka. That I perceived from the traces of hair and arms and hands and feet.
Judge. Alas for the difficulties which are caused by the actions of men!
Judge. Noble Chārudatta, speak truth!
Chārudatta. A mean and jealous creature, passion-blind,
And more than this:
Sansthānaka. Hello, magishtrates! How can you inveshtigate the cashe with such partiality? Why, even now you let thish shcoundrel Chārudatta shtay on his sheat.
Judge. My good beadle, so be it. [The beadle follows Sansthānaka's suggestion.]
Chārudatta. Consider, magistrates, consider what you are doing! [He leaves his seat, and sits on the floor.]
Sansthānaka. [Dancing about gleefully. Aside.] Fine! The shin that I did falls on another man's head. Sho I'll sit where Chārudatta was. [He does so.] Look at me, Chārudatta, and confessh that you murdered her.
But Maitreya I sent to Vasantasenā, that he might bring me tidings of her, and might restore the jewels which she gave my child, to buy him a toy cart. Why then does he linger?
[Enter Maitreya with the gems.]
Maitreya. Chārudatta bade me go to Vasantasenā, to return her
jewels, and he said to me: "Maitreya, Vasantasenā adorned my dear Rohasena with her own jewels, and sent him thus to his mother. It was fitting that she should give him the jewels, but not that we should receive them. Therefore restore them to her." So now I will go to Vasantasenā's house. [He walks about and looks around, then speaks to a person behind the scenes.] Ah, it is Master Rebhila. Oh, Master Rebhila, why do you seem so exceedingly troubled? [He listens.] What! do you mean to say that my dear friend Chārudatta has been summoned to court? That can hardly be an insignificant matter. [He reflects.] I will go to Vasantasenā's house later, but now I will go to the court-room. [He walks about and looks around.] Here is the court-room. I will go in at once. [He enters.] May happiness be the lot of the magistrates. Where is my friend?
Maitreya. My friend, I wish you happiness.
Chārudatta. It will be mine.
Maitreya. And peace.
Chārudatta. That too will be mine.
Maitreya. My friend, why do you seem so exceedingly troubled? And why were you summoned?
Chārudatta. My friend,
Maitreya. What? what?
Chārudatta. [Whispers.] That is it.
Maitreya. Who says that?
Chārudatta. [Indicating Sansthānaka.] This poor fellow is the instrument that fate uses to accuse me.
Maitreya. [Aside to Chārudatta.] Why don't you simply say that she went home?
Chārudatta. Though I say it, it is not believed, so unfortunate is my condition.
Maitreya. But gentlemen! He adorned the city of Ujjayinī with mansions, cloisters, parks, temples, pools, and fountains, and he should be mad enough to commit such a crimeand for a mere trifle? [Wrathfully.] You offspring of a loose wench, you brother-in-law of the king, Sansthānaka, you libertine, you slanderer, you buffoon, you gilded monkey, say it before me! This friend of mine doesn't even draw a flowering jasmine creeper to himself, to gather the blossoms, for fear that a twig might perhaps be injured. How should he commit a crime like this, which heaven and earth call accursèd? Just wait, you son of a bawd! Wait till I split your head into a hundred pieces with this staff of mine, as crooked as your heart.
Sansthānaka. [Angrily.] Lishten to that, gentlemen! I have a quarrel, or a lawshuit, with Chārudatta. What right has a man with a pate that looks like a caret, to shplit my head into a hundred pieces? Not much! You confounded rashcal! [Maitreya raises his staff repeats his words. Sansthānaka rises angrily and strikes him. Maitreya strikes back. During the scuffle the jewels fall from Maitreya's girdle.]
Sansthānaka. [Picks up the jewels and examines them. Excitedly.] Look, gentlemen, look! These are the poor girl's jewels! [Pointing to Chārudatta.] For a trifle like thish he murdered her, and killed her too. [The magistrates all bow their heads.]
Chārudatta. [Aside to Maitreya.]
Maitreya. But why don't you simply tell the truth?
Chārudatta. My friend,
Judge. Alas! Alas!
Gild-warden and Clerk. [Looking at the casket. To Vasantasenā's mother.] Madam, pray examine this golden casket attentively, to see whether it be the same or not.
Mother. [Examining the casket.] It is similar, but not the same.
Sansthānaka. Oh, you old bawd! You confessh it with your eyes, and deny it with your lips.
Mother. Away, you scoundrel!
Gild-warden and Clerk. Speak carefully. Is it the same or not?
Mother. Sir, the craftsman's skill captivates the eye. But it is not the same.
Judge. My good woman, do you know these jewels?
Mother. No, I said. No! I don't recognize them; but perhaps they were made by the same craftsman.
Judge. Gild-warden, see!
Gild-warden and Clerk. Do these jewels belong to Chārudatta?
Gild-warden and Clerk. To whom then?
Chārudatta. To this lady's daughter.
Gild-warden and Clerk. How did she lose them?
Chārudatta. She lost them. Yes, so much is true.
Gild-warden and Clerk. Chārudatta, speak the truth in this matter. For you must remember,
Chārudatta. The jewels, the jewels! I do not know. But I do know that they were taken from my house.
Sansthānaka. Firsht you take her into the garden and murder her. And now you hide it by tricky trickinessh.
Judge. Noble Chārudatta, speak the truth!
Chārudatta. Of sinless sires I boast my birth,
[Aside.] And yet I know not what to do with life, so I be robbed of Vasantasenā. [Aloud.] Ah, why waste words?
Sansthānaka. Killed her! Come, you shay it too. "I killed her."
Chārudatta. You have said it.
Sansthānaka. Lishten, my mashters, lishten! He murdered her! No one but him! Doubt is over. Let punishment be inflicted on the body of thish poor Chārudatta.
Judge. Beadle, we must do as the king's brother-in-law says.
Guardsmen, lay hold on this Chārudatta. [The guardsmen do so.]
Mother. Be merciful, good gentlemen, be merciful! [She repeats what she had said before, beginning "When the golden casket:" page 143.] If my daughter is killed, she is killed. Let him live for mebless him! And besides, a lawsuit is a matter between plaintiff and defendant. I am the real plaintiff. So let him go free!
Sansthānaka. You shlave, get out of the way! What have you got to shay about him?
Judge. Go, madam. Guardsmen, conduct her forth.
Mother. Oh, my child, my son!
Sansthānaka. [Aside.] I've done shomething worthy of myshelf. Now I'll go.
Judge. Noble Chārudatta, the decision lies with us, but the rest depends on the king. And yet, beadle, let King Pālaka be reminded of this:
Beadle. Yes, Your Honor. [He goes out, then reenters in tears.] Oh, sirs, I was with the king. And King Pālaka says: "Inasmuch as he killed Vasantasenā for such a trifle, these same jewels shall be hung about his neck, the drum shall be beaten, he shall be conducted to the southern burying-ground, and there impaled." And whoever else shall commit such a crime, shall be punished with the like dreadful doom.
Chārudatta. Oh, how wanton is this act of King Pālaka! Nevertheless,
And more than this:
My friend Maitreya, go, greet the mother of my son in my name for the last time. And keep my son Rohasena free from harm.
Maitreya. When the root is cut away, how can the tree be saved?
Chārudatta. No, not so.
Maitreya. Oh, my friend! I will prove myself your friend by continuing the life that you leave unfinished.
Chārudatta. And let me see Rohasena for a single moment.
Maitreya. I will. It is but fitting.
Judge. My good beadle, remove this man. [The beadle does so.] Who is there? Let the headsmen receive their orders. [The guardsmen loose their hold on Chārudatta, and all of them go out.]
Beadle. Come with me, sir.
Chārudatta. [Mournfully repeats the verse, page 146, beginning "My friend Maitreya!" Then, as if speaking to one not present.]
I come! I come!
140:1 Elephants were employed as executioners; and, according to Lallādīkshita, the horses served the same purpose.
149:1 This refers to the fallen jewels.