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Doubt from Sugríva's heart had fled,
And thus to Raghu's son he said:
'No bliss the Gods of heaven deny.
Each views me with a favouring eye.
When thou, whom all good gifts attend,
Hast sought me and become my friend.
Leagued, friend, with thee in bold emprise
My arm might win the conquered skies;
And shall our banded strength be weak
To gain the realm which now I seek?
A happy fate was mine above
My kith and kin and all I love.
When, near the witness fire, I won
Thy friendship, Raghu's glorious son.
Thou too in ripening time shall see
Thy friend not all unworthy thee.
What gifts I have shall thus be shown:
Not mine the tongue to make them known.
Strong is the changeless bond that binds
The friendly faith of noble minds.
In woe, in danger, firm and sure
Their constancy and love endure.
Gold, silver, jewels rich and rare
They count as wealth for friends to share.

p. 332

Yea, be they rich or poor and low,
Blest with all joys or sunk in woe,
Stained with each fault or pure of blame,
Their friends the nearest place may claim;
For whom they leave, at friendship's call,
Their gold, their bliss, their homes and all,
   He spoke by generous impulse moved,
And Raghu's son his speech approved
Glancing at Lakshman by his side,
Like Indra in his beauty's pride.
The Vánar monarch saw the pair
Of mighty brothers standing there,
And turned his rapid eye to view
The forest trees that near him grew.
He saw, not far from where he stood,
A Sál tree towering o'er the wood.
Amid the thick leaves many a bee
Graced the scant blossoms of the tree,
From whose dark shade a bough, that bore
A load of leafy twigs, he tore,
Which on the grassy ground he laid
And seats for him and Ráma made,
Hanúmán saw them sit, he sought
A Sál tree's leafy bough and brought
The burthen, and with meek request
Entreated Lakshman, too, to rest.
There on the noble mountain's brow,
Strewn with the young leaves of the bough,
Sat Raghu's son in placid ease
Calm as the sea when sleeps the breeze.
Sugríva's heart with rapture swelled,
And thus, by eager love impelled,
He spoke in gracious tone, that, oft
Checked by his joy, was low and soft:
'I, by my brother's might oppressed,
By ceaseless woe and fear distressed,
Mourning my consort far away,
On Rishyamúka's mountain stray.
Expelled by Báli's cruel hate
I wander here disconsolate.
Do thou to whom all sufferers flee,
From his dread hand deliver me.'
   He spoke, and Rama, just and brave,
Whose pious soul to virtue clave,
Smiled as in conscious might he eyed
The king of Vánars, and replied:
'Best fruit of friendship is the deed
That helps the friend in hour of need;
And this mine arm in death shall lay
Thy robber ere the close of day.
For see, these feathered darts of mine
Whose points so fiercely flash and shine,
And shafts with golden emblem, came
From dark woods known by Skanda's name, 1

Winged from the pinion of the hern
Like Indra's bolts they strike and burn.
With even knots and piercing head
Each like a furious snake is sped;
With these, to-day, before thine eye
Shall, like a shattered mountain, lie
Báli, thy dread and wicked foe,
O'erwhelmed in hideous overthrow.'
   He spoke: Sugríva's bosom swelled
With hope and joy unparalleled.
Then his glad voice the Vánar raised,
And thus the son of Raghu praised:
'Long have I pined in depth of grief;
Thou art the hope of all, O chief.
Now, Raghu's son, I bail thee friend,
And bid thee to my woes attend;
For, by ray truth I swear it, now
Not life itself is dear as thou,
Since by the witness fire we met
And friendly hand in hand was set.
Friend communes now with friend, and hence
I tell with surest confidence,
How woes that on my spirit weigh
Consume me through the night and day.'
   For sobs and sighs he scarce could speak,
And his sad voice came low and weak,
As, while his eyes with tears o'erflowed,
The burden of his soul he showed.
Then by strong effort, bravely made,
The torrent of his tears he stayed,
Wiped his bright eyes, his grief subdued,
And thus, more calm, his speech renewed:
'By Báli's conquering might oppressed,
Of power and kingship dispossessed,
Loaded with taunts of scorn and hate
I left my realm and royal state.
He tore away my consort: she
Was dearer than my life to me,
And many a friend to me and mine
In hopeless chains was doomed to pine.
With wicked thoughts, unsated still,
Me whom he wrongs he yearns to kill;
And spies of Vánar race, who tried
To slay me, by this hand have died.
Moved by this constant doubt and fear
I saw thee, Prince, and came not near.
When woe and peril gather rouud
A foe in every form is found.
Save Hanúmán, O Raghu's son,
And these, no friend is left me, none.
Through their kind aid, a faithful band
Who guard their lord from hostile hand,
Rest when their chieftain rests and bend
Their steps where'er he lists to wend,--
Through them alone, in toil and pain,
My wretched life I still sustain.

p. 333

Enough, for thou hast heard in brief
The story of my pain and grief.
His mighty strength all regions know,
My brother, but my deadly foe.
Ah, if the proud oppressor fell,
His death would all my woe dispel.
Yea, on my cruel conqueror's fall
My joy depends, my life, my all.
This were the end and sure relief,
O Ráma, of my tale of grief.
Fair be his lot or dark with woe.
No comfort like a friend I know.'
   Then Rama spoke: 'O friend, relate
Whence sprang fraternal strife and hate,
That duly taught by thee, I may
Each foeman's strength and weakness weigh:
And skilled in every chance restore
The blissful state thou hadst before.
For, when I think of all the scorn
And bitter woe thou long hast borne.
My soul indignant swells with pain
Like waters flushed with furious rain.
Then, ere I string this bended bow,
Tell me the tale I long to know,
Ere from the cord my arrow fly,
And low in death thy foeman lie.'
   He spoke: Sugríva joyed to hear,
Nor less his lords were glad of cheer:
And thus to Ráma mighty-souled
The cause that moved their strife he told;


332:1 The wood in which Skanda or Kártikeva was brought up:

                 'The Warrior-God
Whose infant steps amid the thickets strayed
Where the reeds wave over the holy sod.

See also Book I. Canto XXIX. Meghadúta

Next: Canto IX.: Sugríva's Story.