Raja Rasalu: The Hunter (cont.)

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.)

But his wife believed not his words, and she said to him, "Hold your tongue and do not vex me so, seeing you cannot beguile me."

After a short time Mirshikari ordered his wife to prepare his breakfast overnight, "because," said he, "tomorrow I must be in the forest long before dawn."

Hearing this speech, his wife thought to herself: "It is useless to take so much trouble at so late an hour of the night. Everything can be got ready for him before he starts in the morning."

At the fixed time on the morrow, while it was yet dusk, she awoke, and having bathed, she went to the cook-room to prepare some food for Mirshikari, but she was astonished at finding that there was no meat of any description in the house.

Then said she: " Mirshikari will not eat anything but meat. I must go into the street, to the stalls of the butchers, and bring home two pounds of goat's flesh."

So she went to a butcher and said to him: "Give me two pounds of goat's flesh, and tomorrow I will give you four pounds of venison instead of it."

"At this time of night," answered the butcher, "I cannot possibly open my door. I hear your voice, but what you are God knows; some witch perhaps, or a giantess, or it may be an evil spirit."

"I am the wife of Raja Mirshikari," replied the woman.

Then said the butcher: " If you are the wife of Mirshikari, bring me the money, and I will give you the two pounds of meat."

In the meantime, while his wife was arguing with the butcher, Mirshikari woke up, and he called and looked, but in the palace his wife was nowhere to be found. For some time he waited, but he waited in vain, for she did not return.

Then, as it was growing late and as he was tired of waiting, he took up his lute, his quiver, and his bow, and, without any breakfast, he went out to his shooting.

When he arrived at the ground, he broke the second condition, for he chose for his sport the side of the forest which had been forbidden to him by his master Rasalu. Having fixed on a place, he sat himself down, tuned the strings of his lute, and began to play.

The beautiful strains floated on the morning air and penetrated into the depths of the forest, so that, as Raja Rasalu was wandering about, his mare again heard the sweet woodland notes, and said to the King: " Sir, it is the sound of the lute we heard in the woods yesterday."

"You are right," answered Rasalu, "but my man has not fulfilled my behest, nor has he regarded my word, and now we shall witness the turning of his fate."

Meanwhile, as Mirshikari was playing his lute, the two deer, a buck and a doe, came out of the forest into the open glade, and there stood still to listen. As they felt themselves drawn towards the spot where the lute was playing, the doe said to the buck: "Let us wait here and see. Perhaps it is Raja Mirshikari playing on his lute. I am afraid lest, seeing us, he will kill us dead, because by means of his treacherous lute he has already done much to empty the woods."

On hearing these unexpected words, Mirshikari stopped his music, and glancing all round him, he saw a chachra tree covered with large green leaves. Then moving softly to it, he plucked some of the foliage, and having fastened it all over his body, he made himself leafy and green like the tree, and taking up his lute, he began to play on it once more, and as he played, he slowly advanced towards the buck and the doe.

When the two deer saw him approaching, the buck said to the doe, "See, he is coming towards us for something, let us go and meet him."

But the doe said: "Do not move a step further," to which the buck made answer:

"In the forest I was bred,
In the forest I was fed,
And the forest is my home;
Some little leafy tree,
To discover you and me,
In perplexity doth roam."

Then said the doe to her simple husband:

"In the forest I was bred,
In the forest I was fed,
And the forest is my home;
Such a thing could never be
For a little leafy tree
On two little feet to roam."

But the buck, being resolved to go forward, said:

"In the forest I was bred,
In the forest I was fed,
In the forest I abide;
And if hunger be his plea,
Or if forced by fate he be,
We may venture to his side."

"No, no," cried the doe; "be well advised:
"In the forest I was bred,
In the forest I was fed,
In the forest I abide;
By his acting I can see
He would capture you and me,
And our flesh he would divide."

(800 words)

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