THE stipulated period of twelve years was drawing to a close.
One day, a deer was rubbing itself against a poor brahmana's
fire-kindling mortar and as it turned to go, the mortar got entangled in its horns and the
affrighted animal fled wildly with it into the forest.
In those days matches were unknown and fire was kindled with pieces of
wood by mechanical friction.
"Alas! The deer is running away with my fire-kindlier. How can I
perform the fire sacrifice?" shouted the brahmana and rushed towards the Pandavas for
help in his extremity.
The Pandavas pursued the animal but it was a magic deer, which sped in
great leaps and bounds, decoying the Pandavas far into the forest and then disappeared.
Worn out by the futile chase, the Pandavas sat in great dejection under a banyan tree.
Nakula sighed: "We cannot render even this trifling service to the
brahmana. How we have degenerated!" said he sadly.
Bhima said: "Quite so. When Draupadi was dragged into the
assembly, we should have killed those wretches. Is it not because we did not do so that we
have had to suffer all these sorrows?" and he looked at Arjuna sadly.