Vikram Betal Stories - The Simpleton And The Demon

 The Simpleton And The Demon

The vampire went on: In days gone by there lived a famous merchant in the city of Pratisthan, named Varun Varma. His only child was a girl, Sumitra. In the same city lived a young man named Devdas. Among his friends, he was known to be a simpleton. They teased him for his naivety and credulousness and laughed at him. It so happened that one day Devdas's eyes fell on Sumitra. He was charmed by her. He had already heard that Sumitra was a very good-natured girl. He had also heard that her father was looking for a suitable young man to marry her. At once he met a friend of his named Kumar whom he knew to be very clever. "My dear friend, I'll very much like to marry Sumitra, Varun Varma's daughter. Won't you help me in the matter?" Kumar was amused. One to marry Sumitra was to inherit the property of Varun Varma who was the richest man in the city. How can a simpleton like Devdas aspire to that fortune? Kumar, as ever, planned to have a laugh at his friend's cost. "Why don't you meet Varun Varma and put the proposal straight to him? I've no doubt in my mind that he'd be only too pleased to have you as his son-in-law!" he said. Devdas wasted no time. He met the merchant that very evening and said that he'd like to marry his daughter. The merchant too was amused. He understood that Devdas was a very simple-hearted boy. But he did not like to offend him. He wished to turn him out in a diplomatic way. "My boy," he said, "You seem to be a bright young man. Why should I object to your marrying my daughter? But I have decided upon a condition. You have to fulfill that condition if I am to accept your proposal."

"What's the condition, sir?" "Well, you must bring me gold equal to your weight within a week from today. I don't mind if it is a pound less or more!" "I see." Devdas stood thoughtful for a moment. Then he left, saying that he'd try his best to fulfill the condition. Varun Varma was sure that he had seen the last of the audacious young man. Devdas was back to Kumar and said, "Now, it all depends on my getting gold equal to my weight!" "Is that all?" Kumar asked, laughing in his sleeves. "It is not a high price when compared to your marrying Sumitra and owning her father's wealth. The question is, where to get so much gold." "Right. That is the question," agreed Devdas. Kumar's face brightened up. "Only one man can help you. He is the yogi who is camping in the temple courtyard. I know that he has changed metal scraps into gold for some people," he said. Kumar knew very well that the so-called Yogi was a fraud. He had swindled several people through his tall promises. Kumar was sure that Devdas would make himself a laughing stock once again. Devdas proceeded to the temple and told the false yogi what he needed. During the previous night, the false yogi's camp had been looted by a notorious bandit named Bhaloo. The false yogi was anxious to get hold of the bandit somehow or the other. "I'll give you the gold you need if you can bring Bhaloo the bandit to me," he said. Everybody in the locality knew that Bhaloo lived in the hills in the nearby forest. Nobody ever dared to enter that part of the forest. 

But Devdas had no fear. Soon he was in the forest looking for Bhaloo. A member of Bhaloo's gang saw the unarmed Devdas and was surprised. He led the young man to the bandit chief's presence. Devdas put his problem frankly before Bhaloo. The bandit chief did not feel like killing him. At the same time, he did not wish him to go back alive, because he had found out their hideout. He asked Devdas, "Have you heard about the demon who lives in that eastern hill?" "Yes." "He possesses a lot of wealth. Why don't you meet him and request him to help you?" The demon was the terror of that forest. All were afraid of him and there was no question of any human being ever going to meet him. Bhaloo was sure that the young man shall never return from the demon's den. Devdas walked for a whole day and reached the demon's den. He could see the demon, seated on a rock, looking at him with great surprise. On sighting the demon Devdas smiled and greeted him. The demon looked even more surprised. Devdas told him what he wanted. The demon was a kind-hearted creature, though his appearance scared everybody. He showed Devdas a few pieces of diamond and said, "Tell Varun Varma that I can give diamonds worth ten times the amount of gold that he requires. It would be easy for you to carry diamonds. If he insists on having gold, then we have to think of some way to despatch the stuff to his house." Devdas returned to Varun Varma and narrated his adventures to him in detail.

Then he asked, "Sir, will it do if I bring those diamonds?" Varun Varma, who listened to him with bated breath, said with a smile, "My boy, I have got something more valuable than the diamonds. You shall marry Sumitra." The vampire paused and then asked the King Vikram in a challenging tone, "O King, was it not foolish of Varun Varma to agree to give his daughter in marriage to a simpleton like Devdas? Secondly, why did he give up the chance of getting those diamonds offered by the demon? Answer me, O King, if you can. Should you keep mum despite your knowledge of the answer, your head would roll off your neck." Forthwith answered King Vikram, "Far from being foolish, Varun Varma was a truly wise man. Devdas appeared a simpleton to ordinary people. But Varun Varma recognized in him true courage. If Devdas braved into the presence of the bandit and the demon, it was because he had a childlike faith in the goodness of all creatures. Ultimately his faith produced the result. 

He was successful in his mission. "Varun Varma saw that Devdas was so good that even a demon was kind to him. Being a human being, should he fail to recognize the young man's quality? "It is easy to be clever and crafty. It is not easy to be simple and brave. Varun Varma knew that Devdas had these rare qualities in his character and they were more valuable than the diamonds. Varun Varma was not greedy. He had no reason to send Devdas to fetch the diamonds promised by the demon." No sooner had the king concluded his answer than the vampire, along with the corpse, gave him the slip.