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Dark as a cloud of autumn, dread
Prahasta joined his palms and said:

'Gandharvas, Gods, the hosts who dwell
In heaven, in air, in earth, in hell,
Have yielded to thy might, and how
Shall two weak men oppose thee now?
Hanúmán came, a foe disguised,
And mocked us heedless and surprised,
Or never had he lived to flee
And boast that he has fought with me.
Command, O King, and this right hand
Shall sweep the Vánars from the land,
And hill and dale, to Ocean's shore,
Shall know the death-doomed race no more.
But let my care the means devise
To guard thy city from surprise.'

Then Durmukh cried, of Rákshas race:
'Too long we brook the dire disgrace.
He gave our city to the flames,
He trod the chambers of thy dames.
Ne'er shall so weak and vile a thing
Unpunished brave the giants' king.
Now shall this single arm attack
And drive the daring Vánars back,
Till to the winds of heaven they flee,
Or seek the depths of earth and sea.'

Then, brandishing the mace he bore,
Whose horrid spikes were stained with gore,
While fury made his eyeballs red,
Impetuous Vajradanshtra said:

'Why waste a thought on one so vile
As Hanúmán the Vánar, while
Sugriva, Lakshman, yet remain,
And Ráma mightier still, unslain?
This mace to-day shall crush the three,
And all the host will turn and flee.
Listen, and I will speak: incline,
O King, to hear these words of mine,
For the deep plan that I propose
Will swiftly rid thee of thy foes.
Let thousands of thy host assume
The forms of men in youthful bloom,
In war's magnificent array
Draw near to Raghu's son, and say:
'Thy younger brother Bharat sends
This army, and thy cause befriends.'
Then let our legions hasten near
With bow and mace and sword and spear,
And on the Vánar army rain
Our steel and stone till all be slain.
If Raghu's sons will fain believe,
Entangled in the net we weave,
The penalty they both must pay,
And lose their forfeit lives to-day.'

p. 433

Then with his warrior soul on fire,
Nikumbha spoke in burning ire:
   'I, only I, will take the field,
And Ragha's son his life shall yield.
Within these walls, O Chiefs, abide,
Nor part ye from our monarch's side.'

Next: Canto IX.: Vibhíshan's Counsel.