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“They then roasted these delicacies, and invited Azru to partake of them first. He respectfully declined, on the ground of his youth, but they urged him to do so, “in order, they said, “to reward you for such an excellent shot.’ Scarcely had the meat touched the lips of Azru than the brothers got up, and, vanishing into the air, called out, ‘Brother you have touched impure food, which Peris never should eat, and we have made use of your ignorance of this law, because we want to make you a human being" who shall rule over Ghilghit; remain, therefore, at Doyur.’ Azru, in deep grief at the separation, cried, “Why remain at Doyur, unless it be to grind corn ?’ ‘Then,' said the brothers, “go to Ghilghit.” “Why," was the reply, “go to Ghilghit, unless it be to work in the gardens 2' ‘No, no,' was the last and consoling rejoinder; “you will assuredly become the king of this country, and deliver it from its merciless oppressor!” No more was heard of the departing fairies, and Azru remained by himself, endeavouring to gather consolation from the great mission which had been bestowed on him. A villager met him, and, struck by his appearance, offered him shelter in his house. Next morning he went on the roof of his host's house, and calling out to him to come up, pointed to the Ko mountain, on which, he said, he plainly discerned a wild goat. The incredulous villager began to fear he had harboured a maniac, if no worse character; but Azru shot off his arrow, and, accompanied by the villager (who had assembled some friends for protection, as he was afraid his young guest might be an associate of robbers, and lead him into a trap), went in the direction of the mountain. There, to be sure, at the very spot that was pointed out, though many miles distant, was lying the wild goat, with Azru's arrow transfixing its body. The astonished peasants at once hailed

* Eating meat was the process of incarnation.

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him as their leader, but he exacted an oath of secrecy from them, for he had come to deliver them from their tyrant, and would keep his incognito till such time as his plans for the destruction of the monster would be matured. “He then took leave of the hospitable people of Doyur, and went to Ghilghit. On reaching this place, which is scarcely four miles distant from Doyur, he amused himself by prowling about in the gardens adjoining the royal residence. There he met one of the female companions of Shiribadatt's daughter fetching water for the princess. This lady was remarkably handsome, and of a sweet disposition. The companion rushed back, and told the young lady to look from over the ramparts of the castle at a wonderfully handsome young man whom she had just met. The princess placed herself in a place from which she could observe any one approaching the fort. Her maid then returned, and induced Azru to come with her in the Polo ground, in front of the castle; the princess was smitten with his beauty, and at once fell in love with him. She then sent word to the young prince to come and see her. When he was admitted into her presence he for a long time denied being anything more than a common labourer. At last he confessed to being a fairy's child, and the overjoyed princess offered him her heart and hand. It may be mentioned here that the tyrant Shiribadatt had a wonderful horse, which could cross a mile at every jump, and which its rider had accustomed to jump both into and out of the fort, over its walls. So regular were the leaps which this famous animal could take that he invariably alighted at the distance of a mile from the fort, and at the same place. On that very day on which the princess had admitted young Azru into the fort King Shiribadatt was out hunting, of which he was

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desperately fond, and to which he used sometimes to devote a week or two at a time. ‘We must now return to Azru, whom we left conversing with the princess. Azru remained silent when the lady confessed her love. Urged to declare his sentiments, he said that he would not marry her unless she bound herself to him by the most stringent oath; this she did, and they became in the sight of God as if they were wedded man and wife. He then announced that he had come to destroy her father, and asked her to kill him herself. This she refused ; but as she had sworn to aid him in every way she could, he finally induced her to promise that she would ask her father where his soul was. ‘Refuse food,' said Azru, “for three or four days, and your father, who is devotedly fond of you, will ask for the reason of your strange conduct ; then say, ‘Father, you are often staying away from me for several days at a time, and I am getting distressed lest something should happen to you; do reassure me by letting me know where your soul is, and let me feel certain that your life is safe.’ This the princess promised to do, and when her father returned refused food for several days. The anxious Shiribadatt made inquiries, to which she replied by making the already named request. The tyrant was for a few moments thrown into mute astonishment, and finally refused compliance with her preposterous demand. The love-smitten lady went on starving herself, till at last her father, fearful for his daughter's life, told her not to fret herself about him as his soul was of snow, in the snows, and that he could only perish by fire. The princess communicated this insormation to her lover. Azru went back to Doyur and the villages around, and assembled his faithful peasants. Them he asked to take twigs of the fir-tree, bind them together, and light them; then to proceed in a body with torches

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to the castle in a circle, keep close together, and surround it on every side. He then went and dug out a very deep hole, as deep as a well, in the place where Shiribadatt's horse used to alight, and covered it with green boughs. The next day he received information that the torches were ready. He at once ordered the villagers gradually to draw near the fort in the manner which he had already indicated. King Shiribadatt was then sitting in his castle; near him his treacherous daughter, who was so soon to lose her parent. All at once he exclaimed, ‘I feel very close; go out, dearest, and see what has happened.' The girl went out, and saw torches approaching from a distance; but fancying it to be something connected with the plans of her husband, she went back and said it was nothing. The torches came nearer and nearer, and the tyrant became exceedingly restless. “Air, air,’ he cried, ‘I feel very ill; do see, daughter, what is the matter.' The dutiful lady went, and returned with the same answer as before. At last the torch-bearers had fairly surrounded the fort, and Shiribadatt, with a presentiment of impending danger, rushed out of the room, saying, ‘that he felt he was dying.” He then ran to the stables and mounted his favourite charger, and with one blow of the whip made him jump over the wall of the castle. Faithful to its habit the noble animal alighted at the same place, but, alas! only to find itself engulfed in a treacherous pit. I3efore the king had time to extricate himself the villagers had run up with their torches. ‘Throw them upon him,' cried Azru. With one accord all the blazing wood was thrown upon Shiribadatt, who miserably perished.” Azru was then most enthusiastically proclaimed king, celebrated his nuptials with the fair traitor, and, as sole tribute, exacted the offering of one sheep annually, instead

of the human child, from every one of the natives. VOL. I. 2 C


When Azru had safely ascended the throne he ordered the tyrant's place to be levelled to the ground, The willing peasants, manufacturing spades of iron, flocked to accomplish a grateful task, and sang whilst demolishing his castle :“My nature is of a hard metal,” said Shiri and Badatt. ‘Why hard 2 I, Koto, the son of the peasant Dem Singh, am alone hardy; with this iron spade I raze to the ground thy kingly house. Behold now, although thou art of race accursed, of Shatsho Malika, I, Dem Singh's son, am of a hard metal; for with this iron spade I level thy very palace; look out ! look out !” An account of the Feast of Torches, instituted as a memorial of this tradition, has already been given in another connection.” The legend, the festival, and the song just quoted constitute a noble human epic. That startling defiance of the icy-hearted god by the humanhearted peasant, that brave cry of the long cowering wretch who at last holds in his spade an iron weapon to wield against the hardness of nature, are the sublime paean of the Dragon-slayer. Look out, ye snow-gods ! Man's heart is there, and woman's heart; their courage, plus the spade, can level your palaces; their love will melt you, their arts and sciences kill you : so fatal may be torches | All great religions were born in this grand atheism. As the worship of Herakles meant the downfall of Zeus, the worship of Christ meant the overthrow of both Jove and Jehovah. Every race adores the epoch when their fathers grew ashamed of their gods and identified them as dragons —the supreme cruelties of nature—welcoming the man

* “Results of a Tour in Dardistan, Kashmir,’ &c., by Chevalier Dr. G. W. Leitner, Lahore, vol. i. part iii. Trübner & Co. * Page 91.

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