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Main > Indian folktales > Fairy tale "Raja Rasalu"

Raja Rasalu

Now, before they sat down to play, Raja Sarkap fixed his stakes,—on the first game, his kingdom; on the second, the wealth of the whole world; and, on the third, his own head. So, likewise, Raja Rasalu fixed his stakes,—on the first game, his arms; on the second, his horse; and, on the third, his own head.

Then they began to play, and it fell to Rasalu's lot to make the first move. Now he, forgetful of the dead man's warning, played with the dice given him by Raja Sarkap, besides which, Sarkap let loose his famous rat, Dhol Raja, and it ran about the board, upsetting the chaupur pieces on the sly, so that Rasalu lost the first game, and gave up his shining armour.

Then the second game began, and once more Dhol Raja, the rat, upset the pieces; and Rasalu, losing the game, gave up his faithful steed. Then Bhaunr, the Arab steed, who stood by, found voice, and cried to his master,

"Sea-born am I, bought with much gold;

Dear Prince! trust me now as of old.

I'll carry you far from these wiles—

My flight, all unspurr'd, will be swift as a bird,

For thousands and thousands of miles!

Or if needs you must stay; ere the next game you play,

Place hand in your pocket, I pray!"

Hearing this, Raja Sarkap frowned, and bade his slaves remove Bhaunr, the Arab steed, since he gave his master advice in the game. Now, when the slaves came to lead the faithful steed away, Rasalu could not refrain from tears, thinking over the long years during which Bhaunr, the Arab steed, had been his companion. But the horse cried out again,

"Weep not, dear Prince! I shall not eat my bread

Of stranger hands, nor to strange stall be led.

Take thy right hand, and place it as I said."

These words roused some recollection in Rasalu's mind, and when, just at this moment, the kitten in his pocket began to struggle, he remembered all about the warning, and the dice made from dead men's bones. Then his heart rose up once more, and he called boldly to Raja Sarkap, "Leave my horse and arms here for the present.

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