Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics
HOW RAJA RASĀLU SWUNG THE SEVENTY FAIR MAIDENS, DAUGHTERS OF THE KING
 NOW, as Raja Rasālu, tender-hearted and strong, journeyed along to play chaupur with the King, he came
to a burning forest, and a voice rose from the fire saying, "O traveller, for God's sake save me from the
Then the Prince turned towards the burning forest, and, lo! the voice was the voice of a tiny cricket.
Nevertheless, Rasālu, tender-hearted and strong, snatched it from the fire and set it at liberty. Then the
little creature, full of gratitude, pulled out one of its feelers, and giving it to its preserver, said, "Keep
this, and should you ever be in trouble, put it into the fire, and instantly I will come to your aid."
The Prince smiled, saying, "What help could you give me?" Nevertheless, he kept the hair
and went on his way.
Now, when he reached the city of King Sarkap, seventy maidens, daughters of the King, came out to meet
him—seventy fair maidens, merry and careless, full of smiles and laughter; but one, the youngest of them
all, when she saw the gallant young Prince
 riding on Bhaunr Iraqi, going gaily to his doom, was filled with pity, and called to him, saying—
"Fair Prince, on the charger so gray,
Turn thee back! turn thee back!
Or lower thy lance for the fray;
Thy head will be forfeit to-day!
Dost love life? then, stranger, I pray,
Turn thee back! turn thee back!"
But he, smiling at the maiden, answered lightly—
"Fair maiden, I come from afar,
Sworn conqueror in love and in war!
King Sarkap my coming will rue,
His head in four pieces I'll hew;
Then forth as a bridegroom I'll ride,
With you, little maid, as my bride!"
Now when Rasālu replied so gallantly, the maiden looked in his face, and seeing how fair he was, and how brave
and strong, she straightway fell in love with him, and would gladly have followed him through the world.
But the other sixty-nine maidens, being jealous, laughed scornfully at her, saying, "Not so fast, O gallant
warrior! If you would marry our sister you must first do our bidding, for you will be our younger brother."
"Fair sisters!" quoth Rasālu gaily, "give me my task and I will perform it."
So the sixty-nine maidens mixed a hundredweight of millet seed with a hundredweight of sand, and giving it to
Rasālu, bade him separate the seed from the sand.
Then he bethought him of the cricket, and
 drawing the feeler from his pocket, thrust it into the fire. And immediately there was a whirring noise in the
air, and a great flight of crickets alighted beside him, and among them the cricket whose life he had saved.
Then Rasālu said, "Separate the millet seed from the sand."
"Is that all?" quoth the cricket; "had I known how small a job you wanted me to do, I would not have assembled
so many of my brethren."
With that the flight of crickets set to work, and in one night they separated the seed from the sand.
Now when the sixty-nine fair maidens, daughters of the King, saw that Rasālu 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 in swinging girls; yet, by the time I have given each of you a swing, the first will be
wanting another! No! if you want to swing, get in, all seventy of you, into one swing, and then I will see
what I can compass."
So the seventy maidens, merry and careless, full of smiles and laughter, climbed into the one swing, and Raja
Rasālu, 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, Rasālu, 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 Rasālu, for she fell out last, on the top
of the others, and so came to no harm.
After this, Rasālu 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
"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!"
Notwithstanding these brave and boastful words,
 he was in reality very much afraid, having heard of Rasālu's renown. And learning that he was stopping at the
house of an old woman in the city, till the hour for playing chaupur arrived, Sarkap sent slaves
to him with trays of sweetmeats and fruit, as to an honoured guest. But the food was poisoned.
Now when the slaves brought the trays to Raja Rasālu, he rose up haughtily, saying, "Go, tell your master I
have nought to do with him in friendship. I am his sworn enemy, and I eat not of his salt!"
So saying, he threw the sweetmeats to Raja Sarkap's dog, which had followed the slaves, and lo! the dog died.
Then Rasālu was very wroth, and said bitterly, "Go back to Sarkap, slaves! and tell him that Rasālu deems it
no act of bravery to kill even an enemy by treachery."