Raja Rasalu: The Hunter (cont. again)

This story is part of the Raja Rasalu unit. Story source: The Adventures of the Punjab Hero Raja Rasalu by Charles Swynnerton (1884).

Raja Rasalu and the Hunter (cont. again)

"Oh, my husband," continued she, "you should not go nearer." Saying this, she stopped, but the wilful buck went nearer and nearer, listening to the dulcet music, and when Mirshikari saw him well within flight of his arrow, he took his lute between his teeth and, drawing his bow, he shot at him, and the foolish deer, being pierced by the sharp weapon in the shoulder, fell to the ground. Then ran Mirshikari swiftly forward, and drawing his knife, he prepared to cut the throat of his quarry according to custom.

But all the time Raja Rasalu was watching his proceedings, saying to his horse: "He has disregarded my counsel; look and you will see the trouble which shall shortly fall upon him."

Mirshikari now lifted his knife to despatch his victim, when the deer addressed him in reproachful words, and said:

"Thou tyrant-thrower of the pointed dart,
Thine edgeless knife, O lay it by,
But take the lute, the lute that pierced my heart,
And strike some chords before I die;
tyrant, sweep the trembling strings again,
1 fain would hear one fleeting dying strain!"

Then said Mirshikari: "His death has been caused by my lute, and I must therefore play for him something more. Yet I am in fear lest, as I play, he may suddenly turn his head and gore me with his horns."

So he sat upon him astride, pressing him down with the weight of his body, and thus seated, he began to play upon his lute once more while the dying buck, as his life ebbed away, listened to the ravishing sounds.

When he had finished playing, Mirshikari laid aside his lute again, and lifting his knife, he passed it over the throat of the buck and let out his life-blood. After this he looked about him for some water, "for," said he, " if the knife be not washed, my game will not be fit for eating."

But no water was to be seen, excepting the heavy dew which lay ail round about upon the earth. So he wiped his bloodstained knife in the grass, and when it was cleansed, he held it between his teeth in order that he might also wipe the blood from his hands in the same manner. But it so happened that no sooner had he put his hands into the wet grass than he was stung by a viper. Uttering a loud cry, he dropped the knife from his mouth, which, falling upon the serpent, cut it into two pieces so that it died, and presently Mirshikari himself, as the poison pervaded his system, gave up the ghost and expired as well.

Seeing this, Raja Rasalu, who was watching all these fatal consequences, said to his mare: "Now see what will come to pass next."

After a little while, the doe stole out from the jungle to look for her husband, and she found him dead. She also saw Mirshikari lying still upon the ground. Then thought she to herself: "The hunter-king has been shooting for a long time, and now, being tired, he is taking his rest."

But, venturing nearer, she espied the dead snake cut into two pieces, and the knife resting close by. Then understood she that her husband had been killed by Mirshikari, that Mirshikari had been killed by the snake, and that the snake had been killed by the knife. Having looked upon this dismal spectacle, she said to herself: "Now for me to live longer in the world is useless, for God knows who may not kill me, or what suffering it may not be my lot to endure." And she began to wonder how she should destroy herself.

After thinking and considering, she said: "O my husband's horns, they are sharp as spears! I shall put straight his head and jump upon them, and their points will pierce through my body and kill me." So saying, she set the buck's head upright, and going to a little distance she leaped upon his sharp, tapering horns which, penetrating her body, ripped her open and killed her. In her dying struggles she gave birth to two little kids, a male and a female, but they, after breathing the air for a few short moments, expired likewise by the side of their dam.

And all the time Raja Rasalu was gazing at the scene, watching every hapless circumstance, and he now said to his mare: "Let us see what will come to pass next."

In a few minutes, a jackal came out of the forest, and finding so many dead bodies lying prone upon the ground, he began to trim his moustachios and to leap and frisk for joy, saying to himself: "God has given me lots of good things to-day! I shall eat my fill, and sleep, and eat again. But Mirshikari is a strong man and a famous hunter, and if he wakes up he will certainly kill me. So my best plan will be to steal his bowstring and throw it away, because then, if he awake, he will never without it be able to harm me, and meanwhile I shall have time to escape."

Saying this, the jackal came silently towards Mirshikari, and, taking away his bow and skipping into the jungle, he endeavoured to break it. But the string was made of twisted wire which proved too tough for his teeth. At last, putting the side of the bow on his hind legs and one end of it under his chin, he succeeded in slipping the wire, but the rebound of the weapon was so sharp and so sudden that it tore him in two, and the upper part of his body went flying towards the sky.

When Raja Rasalu saw the jackal's fate he laughed and said: "Let us go and look at them now."

(1000 words)

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