Reading Guide. As Lanka burns, Hanuman is afraid that Sita might also be in trouble. Finding her safe, he can then return to the monkey army and make his report.
Image: The image below shows Lanka on fire as Hanuman makes his escape.
Source. Myths of the Hindus and Buddhists by Sister Nivedita (1914). [400 words]
Then the rakshasas bound the monkey's tail with cotton soaked in oil and set it all ablaze. But the heroic monkey cherished a secret plan; he suffered the rakshasas to lead him about Lanka that he might the better learn its ways and strength.
Then word was taken to Sita that that monkey with whom she had conversed was led about the streets of Lanka and proclaimed a spy, and that his tail was burning. Thereat she grieved and, praying to the Fire, she said, "As I have been faithful to my lord, do thou be cool to Hanuman." The Fire flamed up in answer to her prayer, and at that very moment Hanuman's sire blew cool between the flame and Hanuman.
Perceiving that the fire still burnt, but that his tail was icy-cold, Hanuman thought that it was for Rama's sake and Sita's and his sire's that the heat was chilled, and he snapped his bonds and sprang into the sky, huge as a mountain, and rushed to and fro in Lanka, burning the palaces and all their treasures. And when he had burnt half Lanka to the ground and slaughtered many a rakshasa, Hanuman quenched his tail in the sea.
Then all at once he repented of his rash deed, for he thought that Sita must have died in the fire. "It is a small matter to have burnt Lanka," he reflected, "but if Sita has lost her life I have failed altogether in my work, and will rather die than return in vain to Rama." But again he thought, "It may be that that fair one has been saved by her own virtue; the fire that scorched me not has surely never hurt that noble lady."
Therewith he hastened back to the Ashoka tree and found her seated there, and he greeted her, and she him, and once more they spoke of Rama, and Hanuman foretold that he would speedily rescue Sita and slay the rakshasas.
Then Hanuman sprang up like a winged mountain and fared across the sea, now clearly seen, now hidden by the clouds, till he came to Mahendra, flourishing his tail and roaring like the wind in a mighty cavern. And all the monkey host rejoiced exceedingly to see and hear him, knowing that he must have found Sita; they danced, and ran from peak to peak, and waved the branches of trees and their clean white cloths, and brought fruits and roots for Hanuman to eat.