48. VIRATA'S DELUSION
He did this to prevent a catastrophe, for he knew Arjuna would be unable to control his anger when he saw the injury on his brother's face. He could not bear to see Dharmaputra hurt by anyone except in fair battle. Uttara entered and paid due homage to his royal father. When he turned to do obeisance to Kanka be was horrified to see his bleeding face, for now he knew that Kanka was the great Yudhishthira. "O king," he cried, "who was it that caused hurt to this great one?" Virata looked at his son and said: "Why all this fuss about it? I struck him for untimely and envious belittling of you when I was in an ocean of delight at the news of your glorious victory. Each time I mentioned you, this unlucky brahmana extolled your charioteer, the eunuch, and gave the victory to him. It was too silly really, and I am sorry I struck him, but it is not worth talking about." Uttara was overwhelmed with fear. "Alas! You have done great wrong. Fall at his feet right now, father, and pray forforgiveness or we will be destroyed, root and branch." Virata, to whom all this was inexplicable, stood with a puzzled frown not knowing what to do. But Uttara was so anxious and importunate that he yielded and bowed to Yudhishthira asking for pardon. Thereafter, embracing his son and making him sit, Virata said: "My boy, you are truly a hero. I am in a fever of impatience to hear all about it. How did you defeat the Kaurava army? How did you recover the kine?" Uttara hung his head down. "I conquered no army," he said, "and rescued no cows. All that was the work of a god prince. He took up our cause, rescued me from destruction, put the Kaurava soldiers to flight and brought the herd back. I did nothing." The king could hardly believe his ears. "Where is that god prince?" he asked. "I must see and thank the hero who rescued my son and beat back my foes. I will give my daughter, Uttara, in marriage to him. Go and fetch him in." "He has disappeared for the time being," replied the prince, "but I think he will come again either today or tomorrow." Uttara spoke thus because Arjuna was indeed a prince of the gods and had also for the time being disappeared in Brihannala. In Virata's hall of assembly, all the leading citizens had gathered to celebrate the king's victory and the prince's. Kanka, Valala the cook, Brihannala, Tantripala and Dharmagranthi, who were responsible for the victories, arrived also and entering the hall, to the surprise of everyone, sat among the princes unbid. Some explained the conduct by saying that, after all, these humbler folk had rendered invaluable service at a critical time and really deserved recognition.