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The Theif

Then King Vikram returned to the  tree and again put Betaal on his shoulder, and set out with him.

The Betaal again said to him from his shoulder: “King, listen to this story”

There was a city of Ayodhya, There lived a king, of the name of Viraketu, who defended this earth.

During the reign of that king there lived in that city a great merchant, named Ratnadatta, who was the head of the mercantile community. He had a daughter named Nandayanti, who was obtained by propitiating the deities. That intelligent girl grew up in her father’s house, and as her body grew, her innate qualities of beauty, gracefulness and modesty, developed also. When she attained womanhood not only great merchants, but even kings, asked her in marriage from her father. But she disliked the male so much that she did not desire even  for a husband and would not even hear of marriage, being determined to die sooner than consent to it.

At that time all the citizens were continually being plundered by thieves, so they assembled together, and made this complaint to King Viraketu They said  “Sir, we are Continually being robbed by thieves every night, and we Cannot detect them, so let your Highness take the necessary Steps.”

When the king had received complain from his subjects, he placed a guard all round the city, in order to try to discover the thieves.

But they could not find them out, so one night the king himself went out to watch, and as he was roaming about, armed, he saw in a certain part of the town a single individual going.

He showed all his movements, as he made his steps noiseless, and he often looked behind him.

The king thought “This is the thief, who plunders my city.” So he went up to him.

Then the thief, seeing the king, said to him: “Who are you?”

The king said him: “I am a thief.”

Then the thief said: “You are my friend, as you belong to the same profession as myself, so come with me.” When the king heard that, he consented, and went with him to his dwelling, which was in an underground cavern in a forest.

When the king had entered, and had taken a seat, the robber went into the room. At that time a female slave came and said to the king,  sir, how came you to enter this cave? This man is a thief, when he comes out of this room, he will do you some injury, so leave this place”

When the king heard this, he left the place at once, and went to his own palace and got ready his forces that very night.

And when his army was ready, he came and blocked the entrance of that robber’s cave with his troops who sounded all their instruments. Then the brave robber, as his hold was blocked, knew that his secret had been discovered, and he rushed out to fight, determined to die. And when he came out he displayed bravery in battle alone. Then the king himself attacked him.

The king, who was a skilful swordsman defeat the thief, and captured him alive. And he brought him back as a prisoner to his own capital. And he gave orders that he should be put to death by impalement next morning.

Now, when that robber was being conducted with beat of drum to the place of execution, that merchant’s daughter, Ratnavati saw him from her palace.

Though his body was begrimed with dust, she was distracted with love as soon as she saw him. So she went and said to her father, and said : “I select as my husband this man here, who is being led off to execution, so ransom him from the king, my father. If you will not, I shall follow him to the other world.”

When her father heard this he said : “How comes it that you are in love with a thief?“

But she remained fixed in her decision.

Then the merchant went quickly to the king, and offered him all his wealth, if he would grant the robber his life. But the king would not make over to him. Then the father returned disappointed, and his daughter made up her mind to follow the thief to the other world, though her relations tried to dissuade her , so she bathed and got into a palanquin, and went to the spot where his execution was taking place.

When theif heard the whole story , he wept for a moment, and then he laughed a little, and then died on the stake. Then the merchant’s virtuous daughter had the thief’s body taken down from the stake.

At that very moment the holy Siva, spake from the air. “Faithful wife, I am pleased with thy devotedness to thy self-chosen husband, so crave a boon of me.”When she heard that, she worshipped, and prayed the god of gods to grant her the following boon:“Lord, may my father, who has now no sons, have a hundred, for otherwise, as he has no children but me, he would abandon his life."

When the good woman had said this, the god once more spake to her, saying : “Let thy father have a hundred sons Choose another boon ; for such a steadfastly good woman as thou art deserves something more than this.”

When she heard this, she said : “If you are pleased with me, then let my husband of mine rise up alive"

Thereupon Siva, invisible in the air, uttered these words, “Be it so"

Immediately the robber rose up alive with unwounded limbs.

The merchant Ratnadatta was delighted, and astonished at the same time , and with his daughter, Ratnavati, he entered his own palace.

And when King Viraketu heard what had taken place he was pleased, and he immediately summoned the heroic thief, and made him commander of his army.

The thief gave up his dishonest life, and married the merchant’s daughter, and led a respectable life, honoured by the king.

When the Betaal, had told him this tale, he asked the king. “Tell me, why that thief, when impaled, first wept and then laughed?

The king replied. “He wept for sorrow that he had not been able to repay the merchant for his gratuitous kindness to him , and he laughed because merchant’s daughter, after rejecting kings who asked for her hand, fallen in love with him.

When the king had said this, Betaal, flied and returned to his place on the tree.

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