Page:Hindu Tales from the Sanskrit.djvu/101

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Before the dawn broke on the next day, the two set forth unattended, Marut seeming to take pride in his double burden and bearing them along so swiftly that they had all but reached the bounds of the country under the dominion of Agni-Sikha as the sun rose. Just as they thought they were safe from pursuit, they heard a loud rushing noise behind; and looking round, they saw the father of the bride close upon them on his Arab steed, with sword uplifted in his hand to strike. " Fear not," whispered Rupa-Sikha to her husband. "I will show you now what I can do." And waving her arms to and fro, as she muttered some strange words, she changed herself into an old woman and Sringa-Bhuja into an old man, whilst Marut became a great pile of wood by the road-side.

When the angry father reached the spot, the bride and bridegroom were busily gathering sticks to add to the pile, seemingly too absorbed in their work to take any notice of the angry magician, who shouted out to them:

"Have you seen a man and a woman pass along this way?"

The old woman straightened herself, and peering up into his face, said:

"No; we are too busy over our work to notice anything else."

"And what, pray, are you doing in my wood?" asked Agni-Sikha.

"We are helping to collect the fuel for the pyre of the great magician Agni-Sikha," answered Rupa-Sikha. "Do you not know that he died yesterday? "