45. MATSYA DEFENDED
THE fate of Kichaka made Draupadi an object of fear to the people of Virata. "This woman, so beautiful that she captures all hearts, is as dangerous as she is lovely, for the Gandharvas guard her. She is a great danger to the people of the city and the members of the royal household, for the Gandharvas may stop at nothing in their jealous anger. It would be best to send her out of the city." Reflecting thus, the citizens went to Sudeshna and prayed to her to expel Draupadi. Sudeshna told Draupadi: "You are, no doubt, a very virtuous lady, but kindly leave our city. I have had enough of you." There was only one month more to complete the stipulated period of living incognito and Draupadi begged earnestly to be permitted to stay just another month by when, she said, her Gandharva husbands would have realised their objects and would be ready to take her away with them. The Gandharvas would be very grateful to King Virata and his kingdom. Whether grateful or not, the Gandharvas could be deadly if irritated and Sudeshna was too afraid of Draupadi to refuse her request. From the beginning of the thirteenth year, the spies of Duryodhana, under his express orders, had searched for the Pandavas in all possible places of hiding. After several months of futile search, they reported their failure to Duryodhana and added that probably the Pandavas had perished of privations. Then came the news that the powerful Kichaka had been killed in single combat by some Gandharva on account of a woman.