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On her ensnared in Ráma's net
His eyes the royal Rama set,

p. 251

And thus, her passion to beguile,
Addressed her with a gentle smile:
   'I have a wife: behold her here,
My Sítá ever true and dear:
And one like thee will never brook
Upon a rival spouse to look.
But there my brother Lakshman stands:
Unchained is he by nuptial bands:
A youth heroic, loved of all,
Gracious and gallant, fair and tall.
With winning looks, most nobly bred,
Unmatched till now, he longs to wed.
Meet to enjoy thy youthful charms,
O take him to thy loving arms.
Enamoured on his bosom lie,
Fair damsel of the radiant eye,
As the warm sunlight loves to rest
Upon her darling Meru's breast.'
   The hero spoke, the monster heard,
While passion still her bosom stirred.
Away from Ráma's side she broke,
And thus in turn to Lakshman spoke:
'Come, for thy bride take me who shine
In fairest grace that suits with thine.
Thou by my side from grove to grove
Of Dandak's wild in bliss shalt rove.'
   Then Lakshman, skilled in soft address,
Wooed by the amorous giantess,
With art to turn her love aside,
To Súrpanakhí thus replied:
   'And can so high a dame agree
The slave-wife of a slave to be?
I, lotus-hued! in good and ill
Am bondsman to my brother's will.
Be thou, fair creature radiant-eyed,
My honoured brother's younger bride:
With faultless tint and dainty limb,
A happy wife, bring joy to him.
He from his spouse grown old and grey,
Deformed, untrue, will turn away,
Her withered charms will gladly leave,
And to his fair young darling cleave.
For who could be so fond and blind,
O loveliest of all female kind,
To love another dame and slight
Thy beauties rich in all delight?'
   Thus Lakshman praised in scornful jest
The long-toothed fiend with loathly breast,
Who fondly heard his speech, nor knew
His mocking words were aught but true.
Again inflamed with love she fled
To Ráma, in his leafy shed
Where Sítá rested by his side,
And to the mighty victor cried:
   'What, Ráma, canst thou blindly cling
To this old false misshapen thing?
Wilt thou refuse the charms of youth
For withered breast and grinning tooth!
Canst thou this wretched creature prize
And look on me with scornful eyes?
This aged crone this very hour
Before thy face will I devour:
Then joyous, from all rivals free.
Through Dandak will I stray with thee.'
   She spoke, and with a glance of flame
Rushed on the fawn-eyed Maithil dame:
So would a horrid meteor mar
Fair Rohiní's soft beaming star.
But as the furious fiend drew near,
Like Death's dire noose which chills with fear,
The mighty chief her purpose stayed,
And spoke, his brother to upbraid:
'Ne'er should we jest with creatures rude.
Of savage race and wrathful mood.
Think, Lakshman, think how nearly slain
My dear Videhan breathes again.
Let not the hideous wretch escape
Without a mark to mar her shape.
Strike, lord of men, the monstrous fiend,
Deformed, and foul, and evil-miened.'
   He spoke: then Lakshman's wrath rose high,
And there before his brother's eye,
He drew that sword which none could stay,
And cleft her nose and ears away.
Noseless and earless, torn and maimed,
With fearful shrieks the fiend exclaimed,
And frantic in her wild distress
Resought the distant wilderness.
Deformed, terrific, huge, and dread.
As on she moved, her gashes bled,
And groan succeeded groan as loud
As roars, ere rain, the thunder cloud.
Still on the fearful monster passed,
While streams of blood kept falling fast,
And with a roar, and arms outspread
Within the boundless wood she fled.
To Janasthán the monster flew;
   Fierce Khara there she found,
With chieftains of the giant crew
   In thousands ranged around.
Before his awful feet she bent
   And fell with piercing cries,
As when a bolt in swift descent
   Comes flashing from the skies.
There for a while with senses dazed
   Silent she lay and scared:
At length her drooping head she raised,
   And all the tale declared,
How Ráma, Lakshman, and the dame
   Had reached that lonely place:
Then told her injuries and shame,
   And showed her bleeding face.

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Next: Canto XIX.: The Rousing of Khara.