41.THE ENCHANTED POOL
THE stipulated period of twelve years was drawing to a close. One day, a deer was rubbing itself against a poor brahmana's fire-kindling mortar and as it turned to go, the mortar got entangled in its horns and the affrighted animal fled wildly with it into the forest. In those days matches were unknown and fire was kindled with pieces of wood by mechanical friction. "Alas! The deer is running away with my fire-kindler. How can I perform the fire sacrifice?" shouted the brahmana and rushed towards the Pandavas for help in his extremity. The Pandavas pursued the animal but it was a magic deer, which sped in great leaps and bounds, decoying the Pandavas far into the forest and then disappeared. Worn out by the futile chase, the Pandavas sat in great dejection under a banyan tree. Nakula sighed: "We cannot render even this trifling service to the brahmana. How we have degenerated!" said he sadly. Bhima said: "Quite so. When Draupadi was dragged into the assembly, we should have killed those wretches. Is it not because we did not do so that we have had to suffer all these sorrows?" and he looked at Arjuna sadly. Arjuna agreed. "I bore in silence the vulgar and insulting brag of that son of the charioteer, doing nothing. So we have deservedly fallen into this pitiable state." Yudhishthira noticed with sorrow that all of them had lost their cheerfulness and courage. He thought they would be more cheerful with something to do. He was tormented with thirst and so he said to Nakula: "Brother, climb that tree and see whether there is any pool or river nearby." Nakula climbed the tree, looked around and said: "At a little distance I see water plants and cranes. There must certainly be water there." Yudhishthira sent him to fetch some to drink. Nakula was glad when he got to the place and saw there was a pool.