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Page:Mahabharata - the epic of ancient India.djvu/23

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The Rival Warriors

Joyful was the proud Duryodhan, gladness gleamed upon his face,
And he spake to gallant Karna with a dear and fond embrace:

"Welcome, mighty arméd chieftain! thou hast victor's honours won!
Thine is all my wealth and kingdom, name thy wish and it is done!"

Answered Karna to Duryodhan, "Prince! thy word is good as deed,
But I seek to combat Arjun and to win the victor's meed!"

"Noble is the boon thou seekest," answered Kuru's prince of fame,
"Be a joy unto your comrades, let the foeman dread thy name!"

Anger flamed in Arjun's bosom, and he spake in accents rude
Unto Karna who in triumph calm and proud and fearless stood:

"Chief! who comest uninvited, pratest in thy lying boast,
Thou shalt die the death of braggarts—witness be this mighty host!"

Karna answered calm and proudly, "Free this listed field to all,
Warriors enter by their prowess, wait not, Arjun, for thy call!

Warlike chieftains take their places by their strength of arm and might,
And their warrant is their falchion, valour sanctifies their right!

Angry word is coward's weapon, Arjun, speak with arrows keen,
Till I lay thee, witness Drona, low upon the listed green!"

Drona gave the word impartial, wrathful Arjun, dread of foes,
Parted from his loving brothers, with his glist'ning arms arose,

Karna clasped the Kuru's princes, parted from them one and all,
With his bow and ample quiver proudly stepped the warrior tall.