'King,I must admit, your determination is admirable!' The Vetal said as King Vikramaditya again climbed up the Neem tree and draped the corpse haunted by the Vetal around his shoulders and carried the body down again. King Vikram grunted and was careful not to say anything.
'As you are not willing to give up, neither am I!' Vetal continued with grudging respect. 'I am about to tell you a very interesting story which involves a very rich girl marrying a thief!' King Vikramaditya looked surprised but he did not say anything.
The Vetal looked slyly because he realized that he had the undivided attention of the king. The Vetal continued.
'I have seen this incident with my own eyes. And I still don't understand it....' The corpse shrugged as it continued. 'King! There was a kingdom of Chaurasya where there was a king by name Veerendra. Though his kingdom was very prosperous, unfortunately there were many daring thefts all over the kingdom. The thefts were so bad that the merchants themselves went and represented to the king that if something was not done about the thefts, they would be forced to leave the kingdom.'
The Vetal sighed continuing the story. 'The King was worried and asked his guards to redouble their efforts. He himself led his men and after a lot of attacks, finally they caught the thief. The thief was a very handsome looking man with a devil may care attitude. As he was captured, the king looked at him angrily. 'You are an able-bodied and intelligent man. Why on earth did you waste your time stealing the hard earned money of the people?'
The thief looked at the king with a strange glint in his eyes. 'I wanted to be a soldier, king!' The king looked stunned as the thief continued. 'I wanted to join your army and protect the people!'
'What happened?' The king asked faintly almost afraid to know the answer.
'Corruption!' The thief yelled. 'Your ministers! They would not let me anywhere near you! All they did was make more and more rules and made sure you never met me!' The king looked at the thief as he continued. 'That is the reason I am thief, king! I am thief because you are a bad ruler!'
The king was shaken by the reply of the thief. Stunned, he ordered his men to take away the thief to the dungeons. The thief was to be taken around the kingdom the next day, for all the people to see that the king had caught the thief and the thief was to be hanged in the evening.
The king remained brooding the next day and half heartedly ordered for the thief to be taken around the kingdom.
In the same kingdom there was a very rich merchant who had a beautiful daughter Shobha. Because she was an only child, she was brought up with a lot of love and care. Though the merchant had brought forward a lot of suitors for his daughter, she had refused all of them under one pretext or the other.
When the thief was taken around the kingdom, Shobha saw the thief. While the others saw the end of their thieving problems, Shobha saw a handsome, dashing and resourceful man. She fell in love with him immediately, right then and there. As she saw the entire scene, she realized that the thief was going to be hanged that evening. Unable to bear it, Shobha went to her father and begged him to ask the king to spare his life.
The merchant was unable to refuse his daughter and went to the king requesting him to spare the thief. Looking at the reactions of the people in the kingdom, the king realized that hanging the thief was the only option available to him.
The merchant told his daughter of the king's decision. Shobha then visited the king herself. By this time the thief was also brought back to the court and was about to be executed.
'King! I know that you will not spare the life of the man! Then please give me the permission to die beside my beloved. I consider him to be my husband!' Shobha said looking at the thief.
The thief when he heard this he wept uncontrollably and then burst out laughing. The king was however now thoroughly disgruntled. He felt that it was wrong for the thief to die. So he granted mercy to the thief. The thief was pardoned of his crimes and he married Shobha and started living as a soldier in the king's army. The thief was brave and valourous and rose rapidly in the ranks of the king's army...' The Vetal however shook his head. 'But I am not here to talk about the good fortune of the thief, my king! I just do not understand the reactions of the thief! Why on earth would be laugh and cry? I was there....' The Vetal said, stressing it, 'and I still don't understand it....'
'The thief's reactions are perfectly normal! He was filled with utter regret that a girl like Shobha had not loved him before he had entered into his dark life as a thief..If she had loved him before, then he probably never would have become a thief....And then he laughed at his destiny, because Shobha had chosen a perfectly wrong time to fall in love with him....a few minutes before his death....' King Vikramaditya said unable to stop himself.
'Right as always, wise king!'
King Vikram sighed as he felt the corpse fly away from his shoulders.....