47. PROMISE FULFILLED
THE chariot of Arjuna thundered on its way, seeming to shake the earth. The hearts of the Kauravas quaked when they heard the twang of the Gandiva bow. "Our army must be arrayed well and with care. Arjuna, has come," said Drona anxiously. Duryodhana did not at all like the honor Drona did Arjuna by this anxiety. He said to Karna: "The Pandavas' pledge was that they would spend twelve years in the forest and the following year undiscovered. The thirteenth year has not ended yet. Arjuna has revealed himself before the time. Why then should we give way to fear? The Pandavas will have to go again to the forest for another twelve years. Drona is suffering from the cold feet of the too learned. Let us leave him in the rear and advance to the battle." Karna assented and said: "Our soldiers' heart is not in the fight and they are trembling with fear. They say that the man, who stands so proudly, bow in hand, on the chariot, speeding towards us, is Arjuna. But why need we fear even if it were Parasurama? I will myself stop the advancing warrior and redeem my word to you, and fight him, aye, even if all the others stand back. They may drive away the cows of the Matsya king while, single handed, I shall give them cover, engaging Arjuna in battle," and Karna, as usual, began to blow his own trumpet. When Kripa heard these words of Karna, he said: "This is pure tomfoolery. We must all make a combined attack on Arjuna. That would be our one chance of success. Do not therefore, brag about your opposing him alone and unaided." Karna grew angry. He said: "The acharya ever delights in singing Arjuna's praises and in magnifying his prowess. Whether he does so from fear or excessive fondness for the Pandavas, I do not know. Those, who are afraid, need not fight, but may simply look on, while others, who are true to the salt they have eaten, engage in battle. I, for one, a mere soldier who loves my friends and hates my enemies, will stand here and fight.