The Maidens Test Rasalu
"Fair Prince, on the charger so gray,
Turn thee back! turn thee back!
Or lower thy lance for the fray;
Thy head will be forfeit to-day!
Dost love life? Then, stranger, I pray,
Turn thee back! Turn thee back!"
But he, smiling at the maiden, answered lightly:
"Fair maiden, I come from afar,
Sworn conqueror in love and in war!
King Sarkap my coming will rue,
His head in four pieces I'll hew;
Then forth as a bridegroom I'll ride,
With you, little maid, as my bride!"
Now when Rasalu replied so gallantly, the maiden looked in his face and, seeing how fair he was, and how brave and strong, she straightway fell in love with him, and would gladly have followed him through the world.
But the other sixty-nine maidens, being jealous, laughed scornfully at her, saying, "Not so fast, oh gallant warrior! If you would marry our sister you must first do our bidding, for you will be our younger brother."
"Fair sisters!" quoth Rasalu gaily; "give me my task and I will perform it."
So the sixty-nine maidens mixed a hundred-weight of millet seed with a hundred-weight of sand and, giving it to Rasalu, bade him separate the seed from the sand.
Then he bethought him of the cricket and, drawing the feeler from his pocket, thrust it into the fire. And immediately there was a whirring noise in the air, and a great flight of crickets alighted beside him, and amongst them the cricket whose life he had saved.
Then Rasalu said, "Separate the millet seed from the sand."
"Is that all?" quoth the cricket; "had I known how small a job you wanted me to do, I would not have assembled so many of my brethren."
With that the flight of crickets set to work, and in one night they separated the seed from the sand.