The Three Suitors

Raja Vikram walked back to the tree, took down the corpse and placed him on his shoulders. Betal started to tell a new story.

Raja Subichar had a beautiful daughter, Chandraprabha. One day, the princess went for a walk in the forest nearby. It so happened that just then Manaswi, a handsome brahmin youth came there. He sat down to rest under a tree. The princess too came there to rest. On seeing Manaswi, she was startled.

Both the Raja’s daughter and Manaswi fainted. The princess’ attendants carried her home. Two brahmins, Maldev and Shashi then saw Manaswi.

When Manaswi auoke, he told them his story. Muldev took him to his house. “I have a seret wapon to hep you realise your dream of meeting the princess. Place this magic pill in your mouth and you will become a girl. Then, do as I say. But bewere, do not misuse it,” he said.

Manaswi agreed to this. Then, they went to the Raja’s palace. “Oh king,” Muldev said “my village was struck by famine while I was away. I found a bride for my son but my family has gone. Look after her till I find them.”

Meanwhile, Shashi made Muldev promise him that if in case Manaswi disgrace himself, of which he was quite sure, shashi would be entitled to win Chandraprabha’s hand.

So Manaswi, as Sita, came to stay with Chandraprabha. That evening, Sita removed the pill from her mouth and changed into Manaswi. Chandraprabha, confused, blushed furiously.

Manaswi and the princess were happy but they dared not reveal the truth to the Raja.

One day, they went to a feast. There, the treasurer’s son fell in love with Sita. The minister then brought his son’s marriage proposal which the king refused angrily, fearing that the brahmin might curse him. He returned empty-handed to his son. But the crafty minister knew that the king would have to relent as he could not run the kingdom without his help. But the king too would rather die than break a promise.

Finally, the king was forced to submit to his treasurer’s request. Both Chandraprabha and Sita got scared when they heard the news. “Great king! said Sita, “I request that the treasurer’s son perform a yatra to all the holy places before I accept the marriage proposal.” The king agreed and the treasurer’s son was sent on a pilgrimage.

One night, the magic pill accidentally went down Manaswi’s throat before he could change back into Sita. So, he had to escape from the palace. The news reached Shashi and Muldev.

“I told you that he was a fool. Now remember, you promised the princess’ hand in marriage to me if I was right about him,” said Shashi.

So, Muldev gave the magic pill to old Shashi, who changed into a young brahmin. The two went to the Raja, who recognised Muldev at once.

The Raja told him all that had happened. Muldev asked, “Raja, what have you done? Now, I ask that you give your daughter to my son here or else suffer my curse.”

The Raja agreed and the two were married. When Manaswi heard this, he went to Shashi, saying that he had married Chandraprabha. But, she denied it outright. Many believed Manaswi’s story as it was so incredible.

“Foolish people!” cried Vikram, who hated elopements. Shashi married her lawfully and she is therefore his wife.’

Then, Betal flew away. Vikram went back to the tree and pulled down Betal again.