Raja Rasalu: Rasalu Swings the Maidens

This story is part of the Raja Rasalu unit. Story source: Tales of the Punjab by Flora Annie Steel, with illustrations by J. Lockwood Kipling (1894).

Rasalu Swings the Maidens

Now when the sixty-nine fair maidens, daughters of the king saw that Rasalu had performed his task, they set him another, bidding him swing them all, one by one, in their swings, until they were tired.

Whereupon he laughed, saying, "There are seventy of you, counting my little bride yonder, and I am not going to spend my life swinging girls! Why, by the time I have given each of you a swing, the first will be wanting another! No! if you want a swing, get in, all seventy of you, into one swing, and then I'll see what can be done."

So the seventy maidens climbed into one swing, and Raja Rasalu, standing in his shining armour, fastened the ropes to his mighty bow, and drew it up to its fullest bent. Then he let go and, like an arrow, the swing shot into the air, with its burden of seventy fair maidens, merry and careless, full of smiles and laughter.

But as it swung back again, Rasalu, standing there in his shining armour, drew his sharp sword and severed the ropes. Then the seventy fair maidens fell to the ground headlong, and some were bruised and some broken, but the only one who escaped unhurt was the maiden who loved Rasalu, for she fell out last, on the top of the others, and so came to no harm.

After this, Rasalu strode on fifteen paces, till he came to the seventy drums that every one who came to play chaupur with the King had to beat in turn, and he beat them so loudly that he broke them all.

Then he came to the seventy gongs, all in a row, and he hammered them so hard that they cracked to pieces.

Seeing this, the youngest Princess, who was the only one who could run, fled to her father the King in a great fright, saying:

"A mighty Prince — Sarkap! — making havoc, rides along;
He swung us, seventy maidens fair, and threw us out headlong;
He broke the drums you placed there and the gongs too in his pride;
Sure, he will kill thee, father mine, and take me for his bride!"

But King Sarkap replied scornfully:

"Silly maiden, thy words make a lot
Of a very small matter;
For fear of my valour, I wot,
His armour will clatter.
As soon as I've eaten my bread
I'll go forth and cut off his head!"

(400 words)

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