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Brave Hiralalbasa
by [?]

Brave Hírálálbásá

Once there was a Rájá called Mánikbásá Rájá, or the Ruby King, who had seven wives and seven children. One day he told his wives he would go out hunting, and he rode on and on, a long, long way from his palace. A Rakshas was sitting by the wayside, who, seeing the Rájá coming, quickly turned herself into a beautiful Rání, and sat there crying. The Rájá asked her, “Why do you cry?” And the Rakshas answered, “My husband has gone away. He has been away many days, and I think he will never come back again. If some Rájá will take me to his house and marry me, I shall be very glad.” So the Rájá said, “Will you come with me?” And the Rakshas answered, “Very well, I will come.” And then the Rájá took the pretended Rání home with him and married her. He gave her a room to live in. Every night at twelve o’clock the Rakshas got up and devoured an elephant, or a horse, or some other animal. The Rájá said, “What can become of my elephants and horses? Every day either an elephant or a horse disappears. Who can take them away?” The Rakshas-Rání said to him, “Your seven Ránís are Rakshases, and every night at twelve o’clock they devour a horse, or an elephant, or some other creature.”

So the Rájá believed her, and had a great hole dug just outside his kingdom, into which he put the seven Ránís with their children, and then he sent a sepoy to them and bade him take out all the Ránís’ eyes, and bring them to him. This the sepoy did. After a time the poor Ránís grew so hungry that six of them ate their children, but the seventh Rání, who was the youngest of them all, declared she would never eat her child though she might die of hunger, “for,” she said, “I love him a great deal too much.” God was very pleased with the seventh Rání for this, and so every day he sent her a little food, which she divided with the other Ránís. And every day her little boy grew bigger, and bigger, and bigger, until he had become a strong lad, when, as he thought it was very dark in the hole, he climbed out of it and looked all about. Then he came back to his mothers (for he called all the seven Ránís “Mother” now), who told him he was not to clamber up out of the hole any more, for if he did, some one might kill him. “Still, if you will go,” they added, “do not go to your father’s kingdom, but stay near this place.” The boy said, “Very well,” and every day he climbed out of the hole and only went where his seven mothers told him he might go, and he used to beg the people about to give him a little rice, and flour and bread, which they did.

One day he said to his mothers, “If you let me go now to my father’s kingdom, I will go.” “Well, you may go,” they said; “but come back again soon.” This he promised to do, and he went to his father’s kingdom. For some time he stood daily at the door of his father’s palace and then returned to the hole. One day the Rakshas-Rání was standing in the verandah, and she thought, “I am sure that is the Rájá’s son.” The servants every day asked the boy, “Why do you always stand at the door of the palace?” “I want service with the Rájá,” he would reply. “If the Rájá has any place he can give me, I will take it.”

The Rakshas-Rání said to the Rájá, “The boy standing out there wants service. May I take him into mine?” The Rájá answered, “Very well, send for him.” So all the servants ran and fetched the boy. The Rakshas-Rání asked him, “Are you willing to do anything I tell you?” The boy said, “Yes.” “Then you shall be my servant,” she said, and first she told him he must go to the Rakshas country to fetch some rose-water for her. “I will give you a letter,” she said, “so that no harm may happen to you.” The lad answered, “Very well, only you must give me three shields full of money.” She gave him the three shields full of money, and he took them and went home to his mothers. Then he got two servants for them, one to take care of them, and one to go to the bazar. His mothers gave him food for the journey, and he left them the remainder of his money, telling them to take great care of it. He then returned to the Rakshas-Rání for his letter. She told the Rájá she was feeling ill, and would not be quite well until she got some rose-water from the Rakshas country. The Rájá said, “Then you had better send this boy for it.” So she gave him a letter, in which she had written, “When this boy arrives among you, kill him and eat him instantly,” and he set out at once.