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The Vampire's Third Story : Of a High-minded Family

Page: 8/8

Hindu Books > Stories > Vikram And The Vampire > The Vampire's Third Story : Of a High-minded Family

Page 8

Rupsen, the king, seeing these four heads on the ground, said in his heart, "For my sake has the family of Birbal been destroyed. Kingly power, for the purpose of upholding which the destruction of a whole household is necessary, is a mere curse, and to carry on government in this manner is not just." He then took up the sword and was about to slay himself, when the Destroying Goddess, probably satisfied with bloodshed, stayed his hand, bidding him at the same time ask any boon he pleased.

The generous monarch begged, thereupon, that his faithful servant might be restored to life, together with all his high-minded family; and the goddess Devi in the twinkling of an eye fetched from Patala, the regions below the earth, a vase full of Amrita, the water of immortality, sprinkled it upon the dead, and raised them all as before. After which the whole party walked leisurely home, and in due time the king divided his throne with his friend Birbal.

Having stopped for a moment, the Baital proceeded to remark, in a sententious tone, "Happy the servant who grudges not his own life to save that of his master! And happy, thrice happy the master who can annihilate all greedy longing for existence and worldly prosperity. Raja, I have to ask thee one searching question--Of these five, who was the greatest fool?"

"Demon!" exclaimed the great Vikram, all whose cherished feelings about fidelity and family affection, obedience, and high-mindedness, were outraged by this Vampire view of the question; "if thou meanest by the greatest fool the noblest mind, I reply without hesitating Rupsen, the king."

"Why, prithee?" asked the Baital.

"Because, dull demon," said the king, "Birbal was bound to offer up his life for a master who treated him so generously; the son could not disobey his father, and the women naturally and instinctively killed themselves, because the example was set to them. But Rupsen the king gave up his throne for the sake of his retainer, and valued not a straw his life and his high inducements to live. For this reason I think him the most meritorious."

"Surely, mighty Vikram," laughed the Vampire, "you will be tired of ever clambering up yon tall tree, even had you the legs and arms of Hanuman[86] himself."

And so saying he disappeared from the cloth, although it had been placed upon the ground.

But the poor Baital had little reason to congratulate himself on the success of his escape. In a short time he was again bundled into the cloth with the usual want of ceremony, and he revenged himself by telling another true story.

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Published on: 2003-07-24 (8924 reads)

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