Vikram Betal Stories in English - The Brave And The Coward Story


May 1, 2019
Reaction score
Dark was the night and weird the atmosphere. It rained from time to time. Cool gusts of breeze whistled past the tall trees. At intervals of thunderclaps and the moaning of jackals could be heard the eerie laughter of spirits. Flashes of lightning showed fearful faces.

But King Vikram swerved not. He climbed the ancient tree once again and brought the corpse down. However, as soon as he began crossing the desolate cremation ground with the corpse lying on his shoulder, the vampire that possessed the corpse observed, "O King, what you are doing at this unearthly hour is surely very unusual. I wonder whether you are guided by your own inspiration or you are doing this work out of fear for someone. There are people who act like that. Let me tell you a story in order to elucidate my question. Pay attention to my narration. That might bring you some relief."

The Vampire went on : In a prosperous village in the Kingdom of Joypur lived two young men, Sumant and Narendra. They were close friends since their childhood. In the classroom or in the playfield, in the fair or at study, they were seen together.

Both had grown up and were looking after their family affairs.

Sumant was very straightforward in his speech and conduct. He said and did whatever he thought to be right. Narendra spoke little. He was very polite in his conduct and sweet in his speech.

The youths of the village ran a club. They practiced wrestling, fencing and other physical discipline, there. They had employed a trainer for the purpose.

One day the guru of the trainer Vir Singh, visited the village. He was the top gymnast and fencer in the kingdom. It was a great privilege for the village youths to play with him. Vir Singh was happy with all, but he was most impressed by Narendra. "Young man, you possess rare talent in the art of fencing. I propose to teach you all that I know. I will also secure for you the king’s patronage. You will prosper and grow famous. Come with me to the capital," he told Narendra.

"Narendra, you must not let such an opportunity slip by," whispered Sumant in his ear. Those who heard of the offer, began calling Narendra as Narendra the hero. However, his father did not consent to Narendra accepting Vir Singh’s offer. As a result Narendra could not oblige Vir Singh.

One day poet laureate of the kingdom happened to pass through the village. While he relaxed in the choultry, the budding poets of the locality read out their best poems to him. The famous poet was much pleased with what Narendra had written. Said he, "My son, come with me to my house. I will help you to make a through study of literature. I hope, I can secure you a position in the royal you court."

Once again Sumant advised Narendra to grab at the offer. "My brother, the poet laureate would not have offered such a favour to anybody else!" he said.

Narendra put up the proposal before his father. "What use becoming a poet or a scholar?" was the old man’s comment. As a result Narendra declined the poet laureate’s offer.

Sumant had a younger sister named Sheela. She had taken a great liking for her brother’s friend, Narendra. Sumant understood that Sheela will be happy to marry him. He broached the proposal to Narendra.

"Sumant, I will consider myself lucky if I can marry Sheela," said Narendra.

"Excellent. I am sure, everything will go smoothly," exclaimed Sumant.

"But you must speak to my father," said Narendra.

"Of course I will I am sure Uncle will be happy about it" said Sumant.

He put forth the proposal duly before Narendra’s father. The old man nodded gravely and said. "Well, I have no objection to my son marrying Sheela provided my condition is fulfilled!"

"What is your condition, Uncle?" asked Sumant, a bit surprised.

"The orchard you own, situated near the lake, should be given to Narendra as a gift."

Sumant was stunned. He managed to say, "Uncle, I have lost my parents. You are like my father. Do you really ask me to part with that orchard? That is my biggest asset and I practically live on the earning from that. Sheela is my only sister and Narendra is my best friend. What doubt is there that I will give them presents to the best of my capacity? But how can I give away the orchard nurtured by my father with all his labour and love?"

"Did I ask you for it of my own accord? Is it not you who proposed your sister’s marriage with my son? I have only set forth my condition. That is all!" said the old man rather rudely.

Sumant thought over the situation and said, "I will meet you tomorrow."

He reported to Narendra the dialogue between him and Narendra’s father. Narendra remained silent.

"What is to be done, Narendra?" Sumant asked impatiently.

"What can I do?" said Narendra, looking pale.

"Very well," said Sumant and he proceeded to meet the old man at once. "Kindly decide the date for the wedding. I am ready to part with the orchard", he said.

The wedding took place without any further problem. Sheela went over to Narendra’s household.

Before long both the parents of Narendra fell ill. Burden of the entire household fell on Sheela’s head. Soon it was noticed that Sheela was not taking proper care of her father-in-law.

"Sheela, you are being unkind to Narendra’s parents," Sumant told her one day.

"Brother had they been kind to you?" asked Sheela in turn.

"Look here my sister, you are their daughter-in-law..."

But Sheela shouted with anguish, "I am not. They did not look forward to having a daughter-in-law. They just wanted to have your orchard. They have it. I have no reason to show any kindness towards them. But I am doing my duty. I am giving them food and medicines."

Sumant chided Sheela and she wept, but she did not promise to mend her ways.

One day Sumant told Narendra, "I don’t like Sheela’s attitude towards your parents. You should give her a bit of your mind."

"What can I do?" was all Narendra could say.

Six months passed. The king announced that he was in need of some bright young men to fill up some position in his court. By then Narendra was in need of some regular income for, as his father was ill, he was unable to manage his property. Sumant was in need of some income because his orchard was gone. So, both the friends set out for the capital.

On their way, while passing their night in an inn, they came to know that the king was camping near a forest, not far from the inn.

In the morning they went to the king’s camp and, at an opportune moment, greeted the king and told him the purpose of their travel. They also told the king all about themselves.

"I want some young men who are truly brave. Are you ready to go through a test? Once you say that you are ready, you must do whatever I command you to do. Otherwise you shall be severely punished," said the king.

"We are ready," said the two friends.

The king had captured a ferocious tiger. The beast was in a cage. The king told Sumant, "Come on let us see how brave you are; let us see you enter this cage."

"My lord, I am ready for any test in bravery, I am not ready to get killed for nothing!" said Sumant.

The king turned to Narendra and said, "Come on, enter the cage!"

"As you say, my lord!" said Narendra and he advanced towards the cage.

But Sumant jumped forward and stood between Narendra and the cage and told the king, "My Lord, you may punish me for my conduct, but pardon this coward. Surely, you won’t like my sister to become a widow!"

The king embraced Sumant and exclaimed, "You are brave, indeed! Here and now I appoint you the governor of this region."

The Vampire paused for a moment and then asked the king in a stern voice, "O King, Narendra was known as Narendra the heroic. He was ready to enter the tiger’s cage whereas Sumant backed out. How could Sumant describe him as a coward? Further more, is it not puzzling that the king should greet Sumant as brave and reward him, ignoring Narendra? Answer me if you can. Should you keep mum despite your knowledge of the answer, your head would roll off your neck."

Forthwith replied King Vikram : "Narendra had no individuality of his own, though he was talented. He conducted himself cowardly before his father so much so that he could not even tell him what his own preference or desire was. Next, he conducted himself cowardly before his wife and that is why he could not take her to task for her ill-treatment of his parents. If he was ready to enter the cage, it is not because of his bravery but because of his fear for the king. Sumant acted according to his conscience and stopped him at the right moment. Sumant had sacrificed his property for the sake of his sister’s happiness; he risked incurring the king’s wrath for the sake of Narendra’s life. These are signs of his true nobleness and courage."

No sooner had King Vikram concluded his answer than the vampire along the corpse gave him the slip.