The Perfect Host

Rasmal Rana of Marwar had three sons—Sanga, Prithi Raj, and Jismal. And Prithi Raj was ambitious, and would boast that Fate meant him to lead the sons of Marwar.

One day when he was boasting on this wise his eldest brother Sanga said:

“Let the gods decide between us, brother. Although I am the eldest, you are welcome to my birthright, if so it is written. At the Tiger’s Mount lives the priestess who sees the future. Let us ask her who is to lead the ten thousand towns of Marwar when our father is dead.”

So they rode on together to the Tiger’s Mount. The cave was empty, and they sat down to await the priestess.

The cave was simply furnished—a bed, a panther’s skin, a beggar’s bowl of water. Prithi Raj made for the bed, but Sanga sought the hearth-rug.

And the priestess entered and looked at Sanga.

“In olden times,” she said, “the panther’s skin was the seat of princes. As now you sit on this skin, so one day shall you sit on the throne of Marwar.”

At this Prithi Raj drew his sword and would have slain his brother, but their uncle stepped between, and Sanga escaped.

He rode hard, his horse bleeding from sword-thrusts, for Jismal, his younger brother, was after him, while the uncle engaged Prithi Raj.

A long way from the mount he came upon a very holy sanctuary. At its gates stood Rahtore Beeda, the perfect host: his horse stood beside him ready for a journey.

Nay—not while he is my guest

“Nay—not while he is my guest”

“I am Sanga, son of Rasmal Rana: my brothers seek to kill me,” said Sanga.

“Have no fear,” said Rahtore Beeda. “I will defend the sanctuary while you get away. See, there is my horse.”

And even as he spoke his eyes travelled to the speck of dust on the horizon.

And now Jismal and his men had come up. But Rahtore Beeda stood alone at the door of the sanctuary.

“We want Sanga.”

“He is my guest.”

“Then let us seek for him.”

“Nay—not while he is my guest,” said Rahtore Beeda, the perfect host, drawing his sword.

Alone he stood against them. And when at last they forced their way into the sanctuary over his dead body, Sanga was far away in safety.

And the perfect host had kept his tradition of hospitality.

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