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Phra Abhai Mani

Part Four : Sin Samudr and the Pirate


SIN Samudr to whom the sea was a natural element, by reason of his birth, was a strong swimmer and could easily support the weight of Suvarnamali. He bore her well above the crest of the waves, and although they were surrounded by sharks, these did not come near them. Nevertheless, Suvarnamali was mortally afraid, all the more so when she saw that Sin Samudr was becoming tired. Tearfully she said to the boy:

"My dearest Sin Samudr, you are exhausted. Please leave me to my fate in the sea, and go back to join your father."

Sin Samudr, exhausted as he was, paid no heed to her and went on swimming. He told her

"If you die, then I will die with you. I look upon you as my mother, and I cannot leave my mother to die in the sea. I have some strength left, so do not cry or despair but have courage."

By dint of great exertions, Sin Samudr swam bravely on and finally came within sight of an island. Delighted and heartened, he made a special effort and reached the shore just as the sun was setting. Then, having deposited Suvarnamali safely on the beach, he collapsed and fainted from sheer exhaustion.

Suvarnamali at once t90k him into her arms. Tears fell from her eyes as she held him close to her breast. And thus they remained until night fell.

"0 my dearest Sin Samudr," she cried, "why do you not wake up? I have tried to awaken you without success. You saved me from the perils of the sea and brought me here in safety. Now that we have reached dry land, you leave me. Is it meet, my darling boy, that you should die and leave me all alone? Have pity on your mother, who knows not what to do." And in this fashion, Suvarnamali long continued to lament and bewail the fate of Sin Samudr and of herself.

The moon rose, and the solitude of night was broken by the hum of insects. Dew began to fall from the clear sky.

Sin Samudr's body was still warm. This raised hopes in Suvarnamali. She prayed the gods that if Sin Samudr was destined to die, she might die with him there and then; but that if he was destined to live, he might recover immediately.

She had hardly uttered the last word of her prayer when Sin Samudr opened his eyes and sat up. The dew had refreshed him and woken him up from his deep slumber. Suvarnamali was overjoyed. She embraced him, and told him that she owed her life to him and would have died had he not recovered. This made him love Suvarnamali all the more.

Sin Samudr took her to the shelter of a cliff and made her as comfortable as he could. Then he explored that part of the island and brought back some fruit for her. They both sat down and ate avidly, for they were hungry after their strenuous adventure.

Now it happened that, the following morning, a big ship sailed into the bay of the island and dropped anchor. From it came small boats full of Dutch sailors who, as soon as they landed, proceeded to fetch water from a stream. Nothing could have surprised them more than to find an attractive young lady and a boy on the island. They immediately began to ask questions. Sin Samudr conversed with them, and learned that their ship belonged to the notorious English pirate, Surang. He, in his turn, told them how he and Suvarnamali came to be on the island, and asked to be given a passage to the mainland. When he saw that the sailors were taking undue interest in Suvarnamali, however, he upbraided them. But the sailors had made up their minds; they would capture the lady and the boy and offer them to Surang their master. So they quickly seized the unfortunate couple and took them to the ship.

Surang the pirate was delighted with the prize his men had brought him. He had neither wife nor child, and rather fancied the idea of having this comely wench and the handsome young lad on board. But in order not to betray his intentions too soon, he received them with civility and offered them one of the best cabins in the ship. Having seen them safely installed, he gave orders to set sail with all speed.

Not long afterwards, Surang was sitting in his big chair talking to some of the men. He was highly pleased with himself and relished the prospect of having a woman as his very own. He told them that she was doubtless a young widow with a son on her hand. He would get better acquainted with her; in any case, she could not escape her fate. But the boy was in the way. He would have to be removed, at least temporarily. Surang's plan was to make the boy drunk so that he would be out of the way for some time. Therefore he ordered his men to prepare a feast and also a jug of liquor.

When all was ready, Surang invited Sin Samudr to come out and join him. The two of them, pirate and boy, sat at the table laden with rich food. Surang poured out the liquor from the jug. Sin Samudr, in his innocence, thought it was water and drank it all up. His face turned red. Becoming giddy, he seized pieces of chicken and duck piled in front of him. Meanwhile, the pirate plied him with liquor. Soon enough, Sin Samudr was completely drunk. He tried to rise from his seat but instead fell down on the deck. Surang then ordered his men to carry the boy away to his own bunk to sleep off the effects of the liquor.

Surang saw that the favourable opportunity for which he planned had come. So he prepared to take possession of the lady. He put on his best clothes and then slipped quietly into Suvarnamali's cabin. The latter was lying on her bed. The pirate went straight to the bed and sat down beside her. Suvarnamali leapt from the bed and put as much distance between herself and the pirate as she was able. At the same time, she called for Sin Samudr at the top of her voice. Hearing no reply, she began to tremble with fear. All this time, Surang was smiling quietly to himself. Now he spoke in the arrogant way of a pirate.

"There is no need to run away when I come in. Or is it because you are reminded of your late husband who is no longer with you? It is too bad that you used to be together once and now you are left a defenseless widow. Do not worry. Be mine, and I will look after you. Be reasonable, and I will take care of you and your son. I know that I am not to be compared to your late husband, but I can protect you."

Seeing that his overtures were not well received, he said to her sternly

"Now, you must not adopt that attitude. Even if you make a fuss, you will not escape me. It is better to accept my proposal. If you do so quietly and without trouble, it will be all the better for you. Come, woman!"

So saying, he tapped the side of the bed with his knuckles.

Suvarnamali knew that she was in a desperate situation. She could only rely on her own wits to save herself now. She decided to try to appease the pirate.

"You are very kind to offer me your protection," she told him as boldly as she could, "and I am deeply grateful for the offer you have made me. But can you let me have time to think it over? There is no need to hurry. We are still at sea. Please wait until we reach the next port, and I will do as you wish."

This proposal did not satisfy Surang in the least.

"You are trying to put me off with your talk," he shouted. "I cannot wait until we reach the next port. I have been waiting long enough for a woman like you. You cannot deceive me. Once you get ashore you will escape. Now, will you be reasonable or do you need further persuasion?"

Suvarnamali was seized with terror. But she controlled herself and answered the pirate with great presence of mind and courage.

"If you show no pity for me now. I shall not wish to live to show my shame. Give me a little more time. I would like to consult my son. Please send my son to me. I will explain everything to him so that he will understand and raise no objection. Please, please wait until this evening. I cannot run away from you. Go now, and return this evening."

Surang, in spite of his adventurous career, had little experience with women. He was so infatuated with Suvarnamali that he believed all that she had said, and yielded to her plea. He did not wish to force her to the extent that she might do some injury to herself.

"Well," he said, "if that is the case, I will wait until this evening. But first let me have some proof that you are not deceiving me. Let me cool my passion by kissing your beautiful cheeks."

Suvarnamali knew that she had discovered the pirate's weakness and made full use of it.

"Hateful man!" she cried. "The more gently I bear myself towards you, the more gross and excessive your demands. If you really love me and desire me, you will do as I ask. Tonight I shall be yours. In the meantime, please leave me. Why do you sit here and annoy me?"

Surang saw that she was angry. Smiling a wry smile, he told her

"Do not make a fuss. I will be patient until tonight. As soon as it is dark, I shall come to you."

So saying, he strutted noisily out of Suvarnamali's cabin. He went straight to his quarters and found Sin Samudr fast asleep in his bunk. He woke the boy up. Sin Samudr, who had shaken off the effects of the liquor, said to him

"I do not like getting drunk. From now on, I will not touch a drop of your fiery water."

Sin Samudr left the pirate and made his way to Suvarnamali's cabin. There he found her sobbing and weeping on the bed.

Suvarnamali was delighted to see him. Through her tears, she told him what had happened.

"Alas, it is my fate that I must die. I can escape him in no other way, so I will kill myself. You must try to get back to your father and tell him that although I have not been able to serve him in this life, I hope that we shall meet again in our next existence."

Sin Samudr was angered beyond words. "Ambitious villain!" he cried out in a loud voice. "A crow that wants to mate with a golden swan! I arn going to smash his bones."

"Stop!" said Suvarnamali, holding him back. "You do not know what you are saying. You cannot fight a full-grown man. Besides, all his men are out there. You cannot fight them all. Wait and consider..."

But Sin Samudr would not listen to her. He was not afraid of anybody on board the ship. He knew that he had the strength of a man, and his mother and the hermit on the island had endowed him with supernatural power. So he went straight up to Surang the pirate and challenged him.

"You dog!" he shouted. "You have insulted my mother. Do you think I am afraid of you? Come and fight. I shall kill you as I would a mosquito."

So saying, he stepped forward and delivered a blow so heavy that Surang fell prostrate on the deck. The pirate immediately called his men, who came running with sticks and clubs in their hands. Sin Samudr seized an axe, swung it round and scattered them. Then he closed with Surang and, flooring him again, stepped on his chest and with a swift stroke of the axe cut off his head. That done, he lifted the pirate's corpse and used it as a weapon to flay those of his men who still wanted to fight. But the pirates had had enough, and there was no fight left in any of them. They all begged mercy from the boy who had slain their late master. Sin Samudr stopped and stood proudly surveying the scene. He then addressed the pirates. "Men! If you do not want to fight me, I will not kill you. I only slew Surang because he thought I was a child and could not protect my mother."

Surang's boatswain, whose name was Angura, came forward and offered his allegiance and that of the rest of the crew.

"Sir, spare our lives, and we will obey your commands and follow you anywhere."

Thus Sin Samudr found himself master of a pirate ship and its entire crew. He gave orders for the ship to keep its even course towards the nearest mainland. He then light-heartedly repaired to Suvarnamali's cabin to tell her of his victory.


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