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THE EPIC OF ANCIENT INDIA


With his scanty cloth the driver sought his dusty feet to hide,
And he hailed the gallant Karna as his son and as his pride,

And he clasped unto his bosom crownéd Karna's noble head,
And on Karna's dripping forehead, fresh and loving tear-drops shed!

Is he son of chariot-driver? Doubts arose in Bhima's mind,
And he sought to humble Karna with reproachful words unkind:

"Wilt thou, high-descended hero, with a Kuru cross thy brand?
But the goad of cattle-drivers better suits, my friend, thy hand!

Wilt thou as a crownéd monarch rule a mighty nation's weal?
As the jackals of the jungle sacrificial offerings steal!"

Quivered Karna's lips in anger, word of answer spake he none,
But a deep sigh shook his bosom, and he gazed upon the sun!

IX

Close of the Day

Like a lordly tusker rising from a beauteous lotus lake,
Rose Duryodhan from his brothers, proudly thus to Bhima spake:

"With such insults seek not, Bhima, thus to cause a warrior grief,
Bitter taunts but ill befit thee, warlike tiger-waisted chief!

Proudest chiefs may fight the humblest, for like river's noble course,
Noble deeds proclaim the warrior, and we question not their source!

Teacher Drona, priest and warrior, owns a poor and humble birth,
Kripa, noblest of Gautamas, springeth from the lowly earth!

Known to me thy lineage Bhima, thine and of thy brothers four,
Amorous gods your birth inspiréd, so they say, in days of yore!