73. THE PASSING OF BHISHMA
IT was the tenth day of the battle. Keeping Sikhandin in front of him, Arjuna attacked Bhishma. When Sikhandin's darts pierced his breast, sparks flew from the grandsire's eyes. For a moment the old warrior's anger rose like flaming fire and his eyes glared as if to consume Sikhandin. But, at once, the grandsire restrained himself. He decided not to be provoked into fighting Sikhandin, who was born a woman and to strike whom it seemed unworthy of a warrior. He knew, however, his end was near and calmed himself. Sikhandin went on discharging his arrows, not minding the battle of emotions in his opponent's mind. Arjuna also steeled his heart, and from behind Sikhandin aimed arrows at the weak points in Bhishma's armor, even while the grandsire stood still. Bhishma smiled as the arrows continued to come down thick on him, and turning to Duhsasana, said: "Ah, these are Arjuna's arrows! These cannot be Sikhandin's, for they burn my flesh as the crab's young ones tear their mother's body." Thus did the grandsire look upon his dear pupil's arrows and, while saying this to Duhsasana, he took up a javelin and hurled it at Arjuna. Arjuna met it with three arrows which cut it to pieces even as it was speeding through the air. Bhishma then decided to end the combat and made as if to dismount from his chariot, sword and shield in hand. But before he could do so, his shield was cut to pieces by Arjuna's arrows. With arrows sticking all over his body so thickly that there was not even an inch of intervening space, Bhishma fell headlong to the ground from his chariot.