now on softest down,
Leaves are thy bed to-night;
Yet grieve not thou at fortune’s frown,
Brave men heed not her slight.’
“And while they slept and the goldsmith watched, a snake slid out from the trees. ‘Now, who are you?’ quoth the Goldsmith-lad, ’who come to disturb his rest?’ ’Lo! I have killed all living things that have ventured within ten miles of this my place of rest,’ it hissed, ’and now I will slay you, too!’ So they fought and fought, but the Goldsmith-lad he killed the snake in the end. Then he hid the body under his shield, lest the others might be afraid, and he roused from his rest the Carpenter-lad, to take his share of the watch, while he, in his turn, on the clean, sweet leaves lay down beside the prince. And while they slept, and the Carpenter watched, a dragon slid from the trees. ’Now, who are you?’ quoth the Carpenter-lad, ‘who come to disturb his rest?’ ’Lo! I have killed all living things for twenty miles round this place; and I’ll kill you, too,’ it roared, ‘and crack your bones to eat.’ So they fought and fought and fought till he killed the dragon at last. Then he hid the body behind a bush lest the others should be afraid, and roused Rasalu from out his sleep to take his share of the watch; while he in turn by the Goldsmith-lad lay down to take his rest.
“And while they slept and Rasalu waked a THING slid out from the trees; an awful THING! No man could tell th’ unspeakable horror of it. But Rasalu smiled in its face of dread, and laughed in, its horrible eyes. ‘Pray, who are you to disturb our rest, and why do you dare to come?’ ’Lo! I have killed all living things for twenty times twenty miles, and I will kill you, upstart boy, and crack your bones to dust.’
“So they fought and fought and fought, and Rasalu drew his bow, and the arrow fled like the wind and pierced the Awful Horror through. Then it fled to a cave close by, with Rasalu at its heels. So they fought and fought and fought till the dawn showed clear in the sky, and the Awful Horror gave up with a groan and rolled on its side and died. Now, just as Rasalu wiped his sword the sleepers awoke from their sleep. ’See here!’ said the Goldsmith-lad with pride, ’what I killed in my lonely watch.’ ‘Pooh! only a snake!’ said the Carpenter-lad; ’see the dragon I have killed.’ But Rasalu took them both by the hand and led them into the cave; but dead as it was, they shrieked with fear at the Awful Horror they saw. And they fell at Rasalu’s feet and groaned and moaned and prayed and wept. ’Let us go! Oh, hero, we are but men. We dare not follow you now. It is nothing to you; it is death to us to follow and be your friends.’
“Then tears came into Rasalu’s eyes, but he said no word of nay. ’Do as you will,’ he said to them. ’I will not bid you stay.