21.HOW RAJA RASALU’S FRIENDS ABANDONDED HIM

Now, on the first day, Raja Rasalu traveled far, until he came to a lonely forest, where he stopped for the night. Seeing it was a lonely place, and the night dark, he decided to set a watch. So he divided the time into three watches, and the carpenter took the first, the goldsmith the second, and Raja Rasalu the third.

Now, when Raja Rasalu and the goldsmith’s son slept, a snake came out of a bush nearby, and crept towards the sleeping men.

‘Who are you?’ asked the carpenter, ‘and why do you come here?’

‘I have killed everyone within twelve miles!’ replied the snake. ‘Who are you that have dared to come here?

Then the snake attacked the carpenter, and they fought until the snake was killed. Then the carpenter hid the dead body under his shield, and said nothing of the adventure to his friends, in case he would frighten them, for, like the goldsmith, he thought the Prince might be discouraged.

Now, when it came to Raja Rasalu’s turn to keep watch, a dreadful hideous monster came out of the bushes. Nevertheless, Rasalu went up to it boldly, and cried aloud, ‘Who are you? And what brings you here?’

Then the dreadful hideous monster replied, ‘I have killed everything for thirty six miles around! Who are you that dare come here?’

Rasalu drew his mighty bow, and pierced the monster with an
arrow, so that it fled into a cave, where the Prince followed it.
They fought long and fiercely, till at last the monster died, and
Rasalu returned to watch in peace.

Now, when morning broke, Raja Rasalu called his sleeping servants, and the carpenter showed with pride the body of the snake he had killed.

‘It’s just a small snake!’ said the Raja. ‘Come and see what I killed in the cave!’

When the goldsmith and the carpenter saw the dreadful hideous monster Raja Rasalu had killed, they were terrified, and falling on their knees, begged to be allowed to return to the city, saying, ‘Oh mighty Rasalu, you are a King and a hero! You can fight such monsters. We are just ordinary folk, and if we follow you we shall surely be killed. Such things are nothing to you, but they are death to us. Let us go!’

Then Rasalu looked at them sadly, and told them to do as they wished.­

So his friends abandoned him, and Rasalu journeyed on alone.