Vikram Betal Stories In English - The Kings's Choice Story


May 1, 2019
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Dark was the night and weird the atmosphere. It rained from time to time. Gusts of wind shook the trees. At the intervals of thunderclaps and the moaning of jackal 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 spoke, "O King, I do not know what goal you wish to achieve through such labours. Surely, you have some goal in your mind. But the kings as a class are whimsical people. I wonder if you will care for your own goal once you have achieved it. Let me make my point clear pay attention to my narration. It might bring you some relief."

The vampire went on: "In days gone by King Chandradev ruled over the kingdom of Dakshinpuri. He had no son, but had a daughter, Lakshmi. However, two young sons of two different distant cousins of the king lived in his palace. One of them was Subroto, the other was Virbahu. Both were handsome and smart. They were also obedient to the king."

"One of them should marry our daughter. It is already time for us to make our choice," one day the queen told the king.

"Who is your choice?" asked the king.

"Both are good. But I like Virbahu more. He is more handsome than Subroto," said the queen.

"But I Like Subroto. In any case the scale of our judgement should not tilt in someone’s favour merely because he is more handsome. Physical charm is a dubious quality. If a man is ugly in mind, that ugliness will show and no degree of physical charm can, hide it. On the other hand, if a person has a noble mind will never care for his physical appearance," said the king .

"I believe Virbahu has a noble mind along with a handsome figure," said the queen.

"I think Subroto is more intelligent," said the king. "Anyway, we must try both of them," he said in confidence.

Next day, the king instructed both the young men to proceed to a frontier district of his kingdom named Dhangram. "You see, the village officials of Dhangram have failed to submit the taxes they must have realised from the people. Go and realise the dues from them. Virbahu can take charge of northern Dhangram and Subroto of southern Dhangram, But you should camp at our mansion at Dhangram and come back together. I am not sending any bodyguard with you. Do you know why? It is because I want to see whether you are capable of guarding yourself and your wealth or not. In future I may like one of you as the general of our army!".

The two young man were happy with the responsibility given to them. They set out for Dhangram. The king called the son of his minister, Krishnakumar, and asked him to follow the two young men and to keep an eye on them in disguise.

The village officials began to submit their dues to Virbahu and Subroto. The young man were not required to move from village to village. Most of the officials met them at the royal mansion and submitted their dues and took receipts. The work was over in a fortnight.

In the morning the two friends were to leave for the capital. At midnight someone knocked on Virbahu’s door. As soon as Virbahu opened it, a masked man confronted him with a dagger and pushed him into a corner of room and the lifted the bag containing the gold mohurs and swiftly came out and chained the room from outside.

Then he ran into the darkness.

After a while Virbahu called for help. Guards of the mansion came and opened the door. Soon Subroto also arrived on the spot. Virbahu was too depressed to speak. However, after he came out of his state of should he narrated to them what had happened. All were surprised. "We never knew that there was any bandit in this area!" said the guards of the mansion. "And to rob the king’s viceroy could not have been the job of an ordinary bandit. We may have to face the new menace again in the days to come," said their chief.

The two young men returned to the capital. While Subroto submitted the part of the revenue he had realised, Virbahu had nothing to offer but a few drops of tears.

"Never mind, young man, even I could not have better in your position. Who would have expected a bandit in the royal mansion itself?" said the king consoling Virbahu.

Subroto moved about very proudly, sure that he alone was left in the race for the king’s higher favours.

In the evening Krishnakumar met the king privately. Quietly he placed a money-bag before him. "This is the bag Virbahu lost, my lord," he said.

"Is it you who snatched it from him?" asked the king quite curious.

"No, my lord you had not instructed me to do such a thing!" said Krishnakumar. "I confronted the bandit as soon as he was in the street and snatched it from him."

"Did you try to catch him?" asked the king.

"I did not. I could have caught him or wounded him or killed him. But I did not do any such thing because I knew who he was although he had put on a mask, Anyway, I snatched his mask too. At once he turned back and ran into the mansion," said Krishnakumar.

"Into the mansion?"

"Yes, my lord, for he occupied the room next to that of Virbahu."

"I understand. But even the you could have caught him, because what he had done was a crime!" observed the king .

"My lord, I know that he. Would be back here and you can punish him if you so please. He does not know that someone has recognised him. I was in disguise. He must have taken me to be a bandit," said Krishnakumar.

At night the king told the queen, "I have my plan for the choice of my heir, subject to your approval."

"Virbahu cut a sorry figure I am sure Subroto is your choice," said the queen.

"No. My choice is Krishnakumar. He is most dutiful, brave and conscientious. He knows how much to do and where to stop. He is free from greed. These qualities makes him the best candidate for the position of the crown-prince," said the king .

The queen kept quiet for a moment and then smiled and said, "It is surprising that I had never thought of that possibility. I agree with you. The princess, I know likes him," said the queen.

The princess was duly married to Krishnakumar.

The vampire paused for a moment and then asked king Vikram in a challenging tone, "Krishnakumar did what any official would have done. What was so special in his conduct? He was no doubt dutiful and brave, but how was it proved that he was conscientious and from greed? Why was the king so deeply impressed by him ? Answer my questions if you can. Should you keep mum despite your knowledge of the answer, your head would roll off your neck."

Forthwith replied king Vikram, "Needless to say, the bandit who took away Virbahu’s money is none than Subroto. He wanted to prove that he was efficient and Virbahu was not. Both Virbahu and Subroto disqualified htemselves, Virbahu because of his inefficiency and Subroto because of his crime. On the other hand, Krishnakumar proved himself not only dutiful and brave, but also conscientious and free from greed. He proved himself conscientious by not exposing Subroto at Dhangram.

To expose a nephew of the king who also the king’s viceroy as a criminal would have been very embarrassing. It would have created a bad impression among the people about the king’s relative. So, he brought Subroto’s crime to the king’s notice so that the king can punish him if he so wishes. Not to overdo anything is a great quality. Krishnakumar had that quality. When he snatched the money from Subroto he was in disguise. Nobody would know who he was. So, he could have kept that money for himself. But he proved that he had no greed. Hence the king was entirely justified in his estimate of Krishnakumar."

No sooner had king Vikram finished giving the answers than the vampire, along with the corpse, gave him the slip.