Raja Rasalu: Raja Bhoj (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 Raja Bhoj (cont.)

Then said one of the maidens:

"Wayfarers number three, they say —
The brook, the moon, the shining day;
Of all these three,
Pray tell to me,
Who is your father, and who is your mother?"

"It is true we are wayfarers," replied Rasalu, "but we are not so much wayfarers as world-travellers."

"Indeed," said the same lady, "but —

"Travellers o' the world are also three:
A sheep, a woman, a bullock they be;
With quibbling words no longer play,
But tell me your name without delay."

"It is evident," said Rasalu, "that we poor fellows, whether wayfarers or world-travellers, shall have fain to implore your clemency."

"We have power, of course," observed the ladies, relenting, "to let you off. But what answer shall we make to our mistress?"

"Go to your hard-hearted mistress," answered Rasalu, "and tell her this:

"Beside your spring three men reclined;
Your father's family priests were they.
They saw our swords, and, vexed in mind,
They rose at once and walked away;
God knows their route—we greatly fear
They've gone to Kabul or Kashmir."

Accordingly, these simple damsels left Rasalu and his friends, and going to the palace, they reported to the Rani Sobhan all that had been told them.

"Alas," said the queen beginning to grieve, "it is twelve long years since our family priests were here before! And now, when they had journeyed so great a distance to visit me, my foolishness has driven them away. Who knows whether they will ever return again to me or not?"

So speaking, the queen began to sob, and rising from her seat, she prepared to descend into the garden with her train of belted maidens.

Meanwhile, however, Rasalu and his companions, having rested sufficiently, had really left the fountain and gone on their way. Towards evening they halted at a pleasant spot in the open wilderness, where there were some beautiful well-laden mango-trees and a fair babbling brook. Here they determined to tarry for the night, and having dismounted, they sat down under the cool shady boughs.

Just then a deer appeared in the distance, and Rasalu, drawing his bow, brought it down, after which, a fire having been kindled, the game was dressed and served, and every one with glad contented mind partook of the feast.

Now it happened that about the same time Raja Hom of Delhi had been routed in a great battle by another Raja and that, abandoning his capital, he had fled away with only a few of his attendants. Coming to the mango-trees under which Rasalu and his friends were sleeping, the fugitives there pitched their tents, and, having eaten a frugal supper, they all retired to rest.

The night was very lovely, and Raja Hom's queen was lying asleep in her litter next to her husband's tent, while the Raja sat by her side. As he was unwilling or unable to sleep himself, he began to gaze with a certain tender melancholy, now at the slumbering lady, and now at the shining moon.

When some time had thus elapsed, he called up his wazir and said to him, "I have just made some verses."

"Pray, Sir, tell them to me," said the wazi'r.

Then Raja Hom repeated the following lines:

"No water's like the Ganges, river dear;
No light is like the moon, serenely clear;
No sleep is like the sleep that fondly lies,
So calm and still, upon a woman's eyes;
Of every fruit that hangs upon the tree,
The luscious mango is the fruit for me."

(600 words)

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