Once there lived a great Raja, whose name was Salabhan, and he had a Queen, by name Lona, who, though she wept and prayed at many a shrine, had never a child to gladden her eyes. After a long time, however, a son was promised to her.
Queen Lona returned to the palace, and when the time for the birth of the promised son drew nigh, she inquired of three Jogis who came begging to her gate, what the child’s fate would be, and the youngest of them answered and said, “Oh, Queen! the child will be a boy, and he will live to be a great man. But for twelve years you must not look upon his face, for if either you or his father see it before the twelve years are past, you will surely die! This is what you must do; as soon as the child is born you must send him away to a cellar underneath the ground, and never let him see the light of day for twelve years. After they are over, he may come forth, bathe in the river, put on new clothes, and visit you. His name shall be Raja Rasalu, and he shall be known far and wide.”
So, when a fair young Prince was in due time born into the world, his parents hid him away in an underground palace, with nurses, and servants, and everything else a King’s son might desire. And with him they sent a young colt, born the same day, and sword, spear, and shield, against the day when Raja Rasalu should go forth into the world. So there the child lived, playing with his colt, and talking to his parrot, while the nurses taught him all things needful for a King’s son to know.
Young Rasalu lived on, far from the light of day, for eleven long years, growing tall and strong, yet contented to remain playing with his colt, and talking to his parrot; but when the twelfth year began, the lad’s heart leapt up with desire for change, and he loved to listen to the sounds of life which came to him in his palace-prison from the outside world.
“I must go and see where the voices come from!” he said; and when his nurses told him he must not go for one year more, he only laughed aloud, saying, “Nay! I stay no longer here for any man!”
Then he saddled his Arab horse Bhaunr, put on his shining armour, and rode forth into the world; but mindful of what his nurses had oft told him, when he came to the river, he dismounted, and, going into the water, washed himself and his clothes.
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