Scene 3

(King Shibi's palace. The King and Queen are sitting on their thrones. The Prince and Princess are also present. Suddenly a beautiful dove flies in.)

DOVE: O King Shibi, save me, save me! In you I seek my haven.

I fear to speak, I fear to speak.
My tongue is killed, my heart is weak.

I fear to be, I fear to be.
Long dead my life of faith in me.

KING (caressing the dove): Sweet bird, cast aside all your fear. My concern is for you. My protection is for you. I am all for you.

(A huge hawk flies in and starts chasing the dove. The King stops him and places the dove in his protecting lap.)

HAWK: King, this bird is my prey. This bird is mine! You are grabbing my possession. I have worked hard to get this bird. O King, I am hungry. As you have the right to deal with human beings, so have I the right to deal with birds. O King, please don't be greedy. I eat my food and you eat yours.

KING: O hawk, you are powerful, but I believe I am more powerful. You say that you are hungry. I shall feed you. Tell me what meat you would like to eat. Do you care for deer's meat? Do you care for bull's meat? Do you care for boar's meat? Just tell me what kind of meat you like best. In no time I shall feed you.

HAWK: To tell the truth, I care only for dove's meat.

KING: Unfortunately, that is impossible. The dove is under my adamantine protection. Any other meat I can give you and I shall give you, immediately and without fail.

HAWK: Are you sure? Will you not eat your words?

KING: Never. I give my word of honour.

HAWK: Then, O King, give me immediately the flesh of your own body equal in weight to the weight of this dove!

KING: That's all? Take it gladly. I give you my flesh.

(Shibi orders a pair of scales and a big, sharp knife. A servant brings them.)

HAWK: I am sick of hearing about your compassion. Here is a golden chance to prove it. One thing more: I want the piece of flesh right from your chest, and I want you to put the flesh on the scale and weigh it. Until the weight of the flesh is equal to that of the dove, I will not be satisfied!

(Shibi smiles and stabs his own chest and cuts out a piece of flesh and puts it on the scale opposite the dove. The bird weighs more.)

QUEEN (bursting into tears): No more, my Lord, no more! I can't stand it. You rascal hawk! Be satisfied with this one piece. Otherwise, I shall order my soldiers to kill you.

HAWK: O Queen, you had better speak to the King. I know it is not an easy task to keep one's promise.

KING: I shall keep my promise. I shall take more flesh out of my body.

QUEEN: Impossible! My heart shall not permit you to do so. I claim your body to be mine, absolutely mine. Therefore, I shall not allow you to cut this body of mine. (Holding firm her husband's hands.) Now, you animal! (Looking at the hawk.) Only an animal can ask for human flesh! Look, since my husband and I are one, this time I am going to offer my flesh to add to my husband's flesh. I am sure that after this it will equal the weight of the dove. You filthy creature!

HAWK: Queen, call me what you will. After all, it is your own husband's promise. If he fails, he fails. The world will laugh at him, at his so-called compassion. Anyway, I am not going to accept your flesh; I want only his flesh.

KING: You are right, hawk. My flesh, only my flesh.

(The Queen starts weeping and screaming, and cursing the hawk. The King cheerfully cuts another piece of flesh from his chest and puts it on the scale. To everyone's surprise, the dove still weighs more.)

HAWK: All right. King, you can cut flesh from any part of your body you want to. But it must all equal the weight of the dove.

KING: Thank you, my kind friend.

(This time the King cuts a very large piece of flesh from his right arm and places it on the scale. Still the dove weighs more. Everybody is surprised and horror-struck. The Prince and Princess are bitterly crying, shedding helpless tears.)

PRINCESS: It is Father's promise, therefore I am helpless.

PRINCE: Sister, I know what you mean about Father's promise. I too am helpless. Otherwise, by this time I would have kicked this ugly animal out.

KING: My daughter, my son, please, please allow me to fulfil my promise peacefully and cheerfully.

(This time the King cuts quite a few pieces from his body and puts them on the scale opposite the dove. Alas even then the dove weighs more. Disappointed, disheartened and utterly bewildered, he slowly steps onto the scale with his whole body. The scale now balances perfectly. The two birds immediately assume the forms of Brahma and Indra.)

BRAHMA: O peerless King Shibi, you deserve love, admiration and adoration from God's entire creation. I tested you. I was the hawk.

INDRA: I was the dove. Your heart is the infinite Compassion of the Supreme. Your life is the transcendental Pride of the Supreme.

(Shibi bows down to Brahma and Indra.)