104 THE STORY OF BENSURDATU
was time to go home. So they called to their daughters and called again, but no one answered them.
Frightened at the silence, they searched every corner of the garden, the house, and the neighbouring wood, but no trace of the girls was to be found anywhere. The earth seemed to have swallowed them up. The poor parents were in despair. The queen wept all the way home, and for many days after, and the king issued a proclamation that whoever should bring back his lost daughters should have one of them to wife, and should, after his death, reign in his stead.
Now two young generals were at that time living at the court, and when they heard the king's declaration, they said one to the other: ' Let us go in search of them; perhaps we shall be the lucky persons.'
And they set out, each mounted on a strong horse, taking with them a change of raiment and some money.
But though they inquired at every village they rode through, they could hear nothing of the princesses, and by-and-by their money was all spent, and they were forced to sell their horses, or give up the search. Even this money only lasted a little while longer, and nothing but their clothes lay between them and starvation. They sold the spare garments that were bound on their saddles, and went in the coats they stood up in to the inn, to beg for some food, as they were really starving. When, however, they had to pay for wrhat they had eaten and drank, they said to the host: ' We have no moneys and naught but the clothes we stand up in. Take these, and give us instead some old rags, and let us stay here and serve you.' And the innkeeper wras content with the bargain, and the generals remained, and wrere his servants.
All this time the king and queen remained in their palace hungering for their children, but not a word was heard of either of them or of the generals wrho had gone to seek for them.
Now there was living in the palace a faithful servant