45. MATSYA DEFENDED
You are the king's son and we look to you for protection. Pray, come and recover the cows for the honor of your family." When the leader of the cowherds made this complaint to Uttara in the presence of the people and especially of the women of the palace, the prince felt flushed with valor and proudly said: "If only I can get someone to be my charioteer I will recover the cows single- handed. Well, my feats of arms will be worth seeing and people will know there is little to choose between Arjuna and myself." When Uttara said these words Draupadi was in the inner apartments and must have laughed within herself. She ran to princess Uttara and said: "O princess, great danger has be fallen the country. The cowherds have complained to the young that the Kaurava army is advancing on our city from the north and has captured cattle ranches and cows on the outskirts. The prince is eager to fight them and is in need of a charioteer. Should such a small thing as that stand in the way of victory and glory? I tell you that Brihannala has been Arjuna's charioteer. When I was in the service of the queen of the Pandavas, I heard of this fact and I also know that Brihannala learnt archery from Arjuna. Order Brihannala immediately to go and drive the prince's chariot." Arjuna as Brihannala pretended to be unfamiliar with armor and raised a laugh at his awkwardness in wearing it. The women of the palace laughed at his fears and told him again not to be afraid for Uttara would look after him. Arjuna spent some time in such fun but, when he harnessed the horses, it could be seen that, at least, he was an expert charioteer. And when he held the reins, the horses seemed to love and obey him. "The prince will be victorious. We shall despoil the enemy of their embroidered robes and distribute them to you as the prize of victory" were the last words of Brihannala to the women of the palace, as the chariot rapidly bore the prince outwards to battle.