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King Vikramaditya And The Fake Mendicant

Long ago King Vikramaditya ruled over a prosperous kingdom. He was famous for his might, courage and virtue. He took great care of his subjects who loved him very much. Everyone lived happily in his kingdom.

One day while the king was in a meeting with his courtiers in his royal court, a mendicant walked fast into the court, placed a fruit in the king's lap and walked out silently. The king handed over the fruit to his storekeeper who shelved it in the royal store room. The next day also almost at the same time the mendicant again walked fast into the royal court, placed a fruit in the king's lap and walked out silently. The king handed over the fruit to the storekeeper who shelved it in the storeroom.

This act continued for few days. One day while the king was handing over the fruit to the storekeeper, it slipped and fell on the floor. And lo! a pink shining ruby (ruby is a precious gem stone) rolled out from the fruit as it broke. Everyone in the court was surprised on seeing this. King Vikrama immediately ordered to get all the fruits from the storeroom and break those. To everyone's surprise, as each fruit was broken, a ruby rolled out from each fruit.

King Vikrama got puzzled. Many questions cropped up in his mind. "Who could this mendicant be? Why is he giving me those fruits? What he wants from me?" King Vikrama was determined to find the truth and eagerly waited for the mendicant. The next day as the mendicant walked into the court and was about to place a fruit in the king's lap, he questioned, "O! Great one, may I know who you are? Why are you giving me a fruit every day?"

The mendicant replied, "O! courageous king, I want a help from you". When King Vikrama promised to help the mendicant, he said, "Come to the burial ground in the outskirts of the city on the coming Amavasya night (moonless night)". And then the mendicant walked away.

"What a strange request?" thought the king.

As promised, King Vikramaditya walked to the burial ground on the dark Amavasya night. The mendicant who was waiting for him welcomed the king. The mendicant said, "there is an old Peepul tree deep inside the forest. A corpse hangs upside down on one of its branches. Get the corpse for me".

As King Vikram was about to go to the forest, the mendicant told him to walk silently without uttering a word while getting the corpse. The mendicant said, "if you open you mouth and speak out, the corpse will fly back on to the tree.

King Vikram walked into the forest with a sword in his hand. After searching for a while he could spot the peepul tree and the hanging corpse. The king took out his sword, cut the rope, pulled the corpse and slung it on his shoulder. He then walked silently in the dark. Suddenly he heard a laughter.

"Hehehe! Hehehe! O brave king! where are you taking me?" the king heard a voice from behind his shoulder. The king was taken aback on hearing the voice. He then realized that the corpse was possessed by a ghost. The king was about to speak but remembered the words of the mendicant. So he walked silently without uttering a word.

To kill boredom while they walk in the dark night, the ghost tells a story to the king.  At the end of the story, the ghost asks a question to King Vikrama. The ghost says, "If you know, answer the question. Otherwise your head will break into thousand pieces.

Likewise, each time King Vikram breaks his silence by answering the question, the corpse flies back to the old peepul tree and hangs on the branch. Again the king goes back to get the corpse. In this way, the ghost narrated 25 short stories to King Vikramaditya who patiently listened the stories and answered the questions.

But the king had no answer for the 25th story on tangled relationship. He remains silent. The ghost then speaks out, "O! Brave king. I'm Betal, the king of ghosts. Do not trust / listen to the fake mendicant. He wants to make me his slave by sacrificing you. And he has ill-intentions of conquering the world".

The ghost continues saying, "You are the most virtuous king, O! Vikrama. I'll be glad to become your slave. So do as I instruct and I shall be your slave.

Read the stories told by Bhetal
Story 1, Story 2.

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