44. VIRTUE VINDICATED
Did any one there come forward to help you? Virata is only king in name of this Matsya country. But I, the commander-in-chief, am the real sovereign. Now, do not be a fool, but come and enjoy life with me, with all royal honors. I shall be your devoted servant." And he begged and bullied and cringed, devouring her the while with lustreddened eyes. Draupadi pretended to yield and said: "Kichaka, believe me, I can no longer resist your solicitations. But none of your companions or brothers should know of our relations. If you swear that you will faithfully keep the secret from others, I shall yield to your wish." Kichaka delightedly agreed to the condition and he promised to go alone to a place of assignation that very night. She said: "The women have their dancing lessons during daytime in the dancing hall and return to their own quarters at nightfall. None will be in the dancing hall at night. Come there tonight. I shall be waiting for you there. You can have your will of me." Kichaka reveled in happiness. That night, Kichaka took his bath, perfumed and decked himself, went to the dancing hall and finding with joy that the doors were open, gently entered the place. In the very dim light, he saw someone lying there on a couch, no doubt Sairandhri. He groped his way in the dark, and gently laid his hands on the person of the sleeper. Alas! It was not the soft form of Sairandhri that he touched but the iron frame of Bhima who lept forth on him like a lion on its prey and hurled him to the ground. But surprised as he was, Kichaka was no coward, and he was now fighting for dear life. Grimly they wrestled, Kichaka no doubt thinking he had to do with one of the Gandharva husbands. They were not ill matched, for at that time Bhima, Balarama and Kichaka were reputed to be in the same class in strength and wrestling skill. The struggle between Bhima and Kichaka was like that between Vali and Sugriva. In the end Bhima killed Kichaka, pounding and kneading his body into a shapeless lump of flesh. Then he gave the glad news of Kichaka's punishment to Draupadi and went in haste to his kitchen, bathed, rubbed sandal paste over his body and slept with satisfaction. Draupadi awoke the guards of the court and said to them: "Kichaka came to molest me, but as I had warned him, the Gandharvas, my husbands, made short work of him. Your commander-in-chief, who fell a prey to lust, has been killed. Look at him." And she showed them the corpse of Kichaka, which had been reduced to such a shapeless mass that it had no human semblance.