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Phra Abhai Mani

Part Five : The Amazing Adventure Of Sri Suvarna


Up to this point in the story, we have been following adventures of Phra Abhai Mani and his son Sin Samudr. We have not told what happened to Phra Abhai Mani's brother, Sri Suvarna, after the Sea Giantess had abducted our hero. Sri Suvarna, who was left with his brahmin friends on the beach, all fast asleep under the spell of the magic flute, woke up to find his brother gone.

THE sun set in a blaze of colour, and dew began to fall gently on the earth. This, together with the sound of the waves breaking on the shore and the shrill cries of the birds in the forest, awakened Sri Suvarna from his deep slumber. At once, he missed his brother, who was nowhere to be seen. He quickly woke up his three Brahmin friends and asked them, "Where has my brother gone? Just now, he was playing his flute here. The beach is flat; surely he cannot be hiding anywhere."

The three Brahmins thought it strange that Phra Abhai Mani should have run away and left his brother behind. They suspected that something out of the ordinary must have happened. So they carried out a search. It was not long before they found footprints of superhuman size leading from the sea to within a short distance of where Phra Abhai Mani had been sitting, and back again to the sea. "These are not the footprints of any human being," cried one of them, and immediately a feeling of horror and despair came over them all. "Some horrible creature from the sea has taken Phra Abhai Mani away from us," observed the second Brahmin. Sri Suvarna saw that this was indeed the case. He threw himself down on the sand and wept until he fainted.

The three Brahmins were full of sorrow for the brother who had gone and for the one who lay there unconscious. They administered aid to Sri Suvarna until he recovered. He sat up and began to bewail his fate. "0 my brother," he said, "you have left me and I shall see you no more. We have hitherto shared all joys and sorrows, even from the time when we left our prosperous city to endure the hardships and privations of a journey through the forest. We have always been together and now we are suddenly parted." He shed tears in great measure and refused to be comforted.

The three Brahmins were likewise unable to restrain their tears. They sought in every way to bring cheer to Sri Suvarna. One of them addressed him thus : "Do not let yourself be overwhelmed with grief, but take courage. Those who are born in this world must experience both joy and sorrow. As for the disappearance of your brother, we do not yet know for certain whet her he is dead or alive. Let us therefore set out to find him. We can sail upon the sea, and if your brother is not dead we shall perhaps meet him again. All three of us will go with you and help you to the end. So do not cry any more. It will only waste valuable time."

Sri Suvarna listened to them and believed. His courage and strength were restored. He told them, "In saying that you will go with me, your kindness is beyond all measure. But in which direction shall we go, for the sea is so wide and deep?"

The Brahmin whose name was Sanon spoke up. "I have learned a little of the occult art. I will see if I can provide you with an answer." So saying, he lifted his fingers and began counting. He then lapsed into a trance. When he came out of the trance, he was able to tell Sri Suvarna, "You need not worry about your brother. A woman has taken him away, but he is quite safe and happy. At some later time you may meet him again. You need not fear that he will die, even though he is living at the bottom of the ocean in the south-east. Let us hasten to find him."

The second Brahmin, Mora, at once set about applying his skill, and within a short time he had constructed a seaworthy boat ready to sail. The four friends embarked, and Mora took the helm. The boat moved smoothly out to sea. There was bright moonlight and a steady breeze caught the sails. So Sri Suvarna and his three friends discovered and enjoyed the thrill of a new adventure, even though they did not know where it would lead them. Ti~us they sailed for many days and nights. It was Fate that brought them to the shores of Romachakra. The four adventurers looked out one morning and saw land. As they approached, they noticed a tall watch-tower on the cliff, and so they knew that it must be some important place. They were right, for soon enough a big city came into sight. They consulted each other and decided to pay it a visit.

The coast guards saw the boat coming into the harbour and beat their drums as a signal. The Brahmins lowered the sails, and the boat drifted to rest at a quay and was duly tied up. Meanwhile, Sri Suvaina dressed himself up as a Brahmin like the others.

The four friends then conferred and decided to burn their boat, so that the nature of its construction should not be discovered. They set fire to it accordingly, and in the subsequent confusion caused by the flames and smoke, and the attempts of the coast guards to put the fire out, they made their way ashore. The burning boat sank into the depths of the harbour.

The captain of the guards saw the Brahmins and took pity on them. Calling them to his office, he asked question as to their identity and whence they came. Sanon acted as their spokesman. "We are all brothers and come from Kamvasi," he told the captain. "I am the eldest and I am called Sanon. Next to me is Vichien, and then Mora. The name of the youngest is Sri Suvarna. We are practitioners of the art of healing, and we set out on a journey to find medical herbs among the islands. We were blown off our course by contrary winds, which blew the crew overboard and all but wrecked our ship, and so we drifted to this place. What is the name of your city?"

"This city," replied the captain, obviously delighted with the Brahmins, "is called Romachakra. It is ruled by Tao Tosavongsa." Then he became more confidential. "He has a beautiful daughter called Kaew Kesra, who is desired by many neighbouring kings. In particular, the powerful Tao Uthen has sent ambassadors to ask for her hand in marriage. This being refused, he now threatens to invade our country. That is why we soldiers are stationed here in force. We expect trouble, we can tell you."

The Brahmins were not in the least disturbed by this news. They merely asked for shelter and permission to see the sights of the city. The captain laughed at their simplicity and undertook to show them the sights himself. He led them through the streets and they finally arrived at the palace.

Outside the palace, there was a row of houses and shops. The street was full of people going marketing. The four Brahmins attracted a good deal of attention, especially from the market women, who called out to them to pay a visit to their shops and stalls. The women were full of admiration for them, particularly for the youngest. The captain was not averse to these proceedings, for it afforded him an opportunity to take advantage of the market women's momentarily generous impulses in replenishing himself freely with betel and tobacco. But the four Brahmins walked on and took little notice of the market women.

Now, there was a servant girl of the palace who had been sent out to do some shopping. Being of a lightheaded and amorous disposition, on seeing the little Brahmin, she immediately became infatuated and, leaving her baskets scattered about the street, rushed forward to offer him flowers. But Sri Suvarna took no notice of her, and passers-by laughed and mocked. This made her angry, but she continued to press her favours on her hero and followed him wherever he went.

The girl was absent from her duties for such a long time that another servant was sent from the palace to find out what had happened to her. Seeing the baskets scattered about the street, the latter feared the worse. Soon enough, she came upon the girl, who was still making sheep's eyes at the young Brahmin. The servant women pinched her, seized her by the hair and led her back to the palace.

The girl was brought trembling before her superior, who at once questioned her regarding her conduct in the public street. Terrified, the girl told a deliberate lie. She claimed the handsome young Brahmin as her lover, and went on to describe his particular qualities and supposed intentions. Her superior cursed her and reported the matter to the four nurses of the king's daughter.

The nurses merely laughed and treated the whole thing as a joke. "We shall see how handsome he really is," they said. Then, summoning the men servants, they ordered "Go, some of you; take this girl with you, and bring her lover into the palace." The men obeyed their instructions, went out into the street with the girl, who soon found her Brahmin and pointed him out. The men immediately surrounded him, saying, "So this is your lover! Good for nothing but flirting with women of the palace! You will be fortunate if you escape a whipping. We have orders to take you to the palace. Come, do not waste our time!"

The captain heard this and flew into a rage. "These friends of mine have come out for a walk with me. When did they ever flirt with palace women? It is this blabbing girl who has been trying to flirt with them."

The men from the palace would not listen. They merely remarked: "Here's an ill-tempered man for you! Perhaps he would like to be whipped too!" They then took hold of Sri Suvarna and escorted him to the palace.' The three Brahmins and the captain could do nothing but follow them.

When the four nurses saw Sri Suvarna, they knew at once that the servant girl's story had been false. This young Brahmin, they thought, could be no base lover but surely the son of a monarch of some distant kingdom. They wondered how he came to be in Romachakra and for what purpose. They even went so far as to consider him a suitable match for the Princess herself. So in order to detain him longer and find out more about him, the nurses gave orders that the young Brahmins be lodged with the old gardener in the palace garden until they received further instructions.

The Brahmins were not unwilling to comply with the nurses' wishes. So they said to the captain, "It is better for you to go back home now. When we are free, we shall visit you again." The captain was not at all satisfied but he accepted their advice. "Do not worry," he told them, "I will not give you up. As soon as I reach home, I shall have food sent to you here." So saying, he walked away grumbling, "Shameless, that's what it is! Getting innocent people into trouble! If they lay hands on my young friends, I will bring an action against them, I will appeal to the King!"

The men took the four Brahmins to the gardener's hut, explained the orders which had been given by the nurses and left them there. The old gardener and his wife began to worry. "What are we going to do?" they wailed. "These are young men. We are old. lf they try to escape, how can we prevent them?" But the Brahmins assured them. "We shall not try to escape, grandfather and grandmother, so you need not worry. We have been unjustly accused of a wrong we did not commit, so we shall stay to defend our case." The old couple were still doubtful. "How can we believe you?" they answered. "Who would admit that he is going to escape? You must all go into the hut and stay there." The Brahmins obeyed, while the gardener and his wife stationed themselves on the verandah to see that they made no attempt to escape.

Sri Suvarna reflected on what had come to pass and felt sorry. He told his friends, "I am ashamed that they said those things of me. Why did you remain silent and not help to deny their accusations?"

The three Brahmins merely laughed. "Have you forgotten," they asked, "what that captain said about the King's beautiful daughter? Perhaps it is the hand of Fate that brings you here. We noticed the nurses looking at you very intently. It may be that this is a trick to enable you to meet the Princess. In any case, we shall know by tomorrow. Meanwhile, calm your anger, or else the Princess will be offended if she gets to hear of it." Sri Suvarna, who was shyly innocent of love, warmly repudiated the suggestion. "Even if a goddess came down to earth, I would not want to meet her. What I wish is to find my brother, not to meet women. If you like these palace ladies, you are welcome to them; but they are not for me!"

His friends smiled and nudged one another. "Do not be too sure of yourself," they told him. "Once you see, hear and touch a really beautiful girl, you may think yourself in heaven!" Again they laughed at Sri Suvarna's expense to his great discomfort. The latter was quite relieved when the old couple shouted out to them to keep quiet and go to sleep.

The same evening, the four nurses went to attend the Princess as usual, and could not help whispering among themselves about the Brahmins. Kaew Kesra heard them and, her curiosity aroused, asked about whom they were talking. The nurse whose name was Prabhavadi quickly told her that she had dreamed of a handsome young Brahmin who came to the palace. The Princess was not deceived and understood their insinuations. She told them severely : "Do not think that you can interest me by talking about men. All my life I shall never allow any man to love me. Even if he were gold all over, I would not want him."

That night, Kaew Kesra really did have a dream, and it upset her so much that she called her nurses. She told them that in her dream a big snake came up to her bed and coiled itself round her breast. She asked them what the dream meant. The nurses smiled and said that they were afraid to tell her because she might be angry, but added that she could consult the book of dreams by her bedside. This the Princess immediately did, and discovered to her dismay that the dream signified a love-match. She flung the book down to the floor in anger.

Sri Suvarna was sitting under a tree when he heard women's voices. He looked up and saw Kaew Kesra. All at once his heart stood still and his limbs contracted. He could only stare in amazement as if a goddess had indeed come down to earth. Perhaps they had belonged to each other in a previous existence. Whether this was so or not, he fell deeply and hopelessly in love at first sight. Spellbound by her dazzling beauty, he perceived that each and every part of her was perfect, and he lost himself in contemplation of the rare vision.

The Princess, on her part, was similarly moved by the unexpected and pleasing appearance of the young Brahmin. When her eyes met his, a wave of emotion swept through her entire frame. She too had fallen passionately in love at first sight. But recollecting her maidenly modesty, she blushed and moved away.

When Kaew Kesra walked away, Sri Suvarna felt as if a fire were burning inside him. His eyes followed her until she ascended the royal pavilion in the garden and was lost to view. His heart quivered, and he regretted that this chance meeting did not permit him to approach. All he could do was to stare at the royal pavilion, lost in the depths of reverie.

The Princess, on her part, was no less sorry at having lost sight of the handsome young Brahmin. She turned pale like the moon when it is suddenly veiled by a passing cloud. Forgetting her attendants and her flowers, she gave herself up to thoughts of him.

Neither of them slept that night.

The following day, the four nurses again came to the garden. They knew well by now what feelings Kaew Kesra entertained for the young Brahmin, and were determined to find out more about him. The only information they obtained was that the young man had vowed to serve the Princess to the end of his days. As an earnest of this pledge, he wrote a poem in praise of her and begged the nurses to convey it to their mistress. At the same time, he took the richly-bejewelled ring from his finger and placed it with the poem.

The nurses returned to the palace with the message and the ring, but did not give them to the Princess at first. Kaew Kesra, whose patience was strained by her suddenly-awakened passion, gave vent to her feelings by flying into a temper and upbraiding her nurses for not having secured more precise information regarding the ill-concealed object of her affection. Finally, in order to calm her, the nurses handed over the poem and the ring, remarking that the young Brahmin must indeed be a prince in disguise to be able to present such rich gifts.

Kaew Kesra read the poem, which, as might have been expected, was written in terms of abject love, concluding with a threat that should the writer fail to achieve his high ambition, his present abode would be his grave.

The Princess feigned a disinterestedness that was not in the least convincing. She took the ring and put it on her finger. "This ring," said she, examining it carefully, "is of excellent design and workmanship. I will buy it from him and he may name his price. But as for his absurd poem, I will show what I think of his presumption by writing him a rude reply."

The nurses raised no objection as to the latter suggestion. As for the ring, the Princess might consider it as a gift from them. If she would deign to accept, they told her, she might signify her approval by giving them in return the shawl with which she had covered her head on the previous day's visit to the garden.

Kaew Kesra could not restrain herself from blushing as she handed the shawl to the eldest of her nurses. She made the latter promise, however, that she would never give the shawl to anybody else.

That evening, the Princess wrote her poem, which was duly enveloped and sealed. This and the shawl were taken to the garden by the four nurses the following morning. Sri Suvarna was overjoyed to receive such favours from his goddess. He put the shawl on his shoulders with a contented smile. Then he took the poem and read it to his three friends.

In her poem, Kaew Kesra thanked him for his friendship and good intentions, but expressed surprise that he should have left his father's kingdom, where luxury, wealth and women awaited his pleasure, to endure the hardships of a long journey in order to find a consort. She deprecated the praises he lavished upon her, saying that even though he might love her now it would not be for life, for as the old proverb said, "Too much sweetness palls." Finally, she told him plainly that his amorous advances were in vain; but that if he really and truly loved her in his heart, he should return to his own kingdom and, according to ancient custom, send ambassadors to her father the King to ask for her hand in marriage.

Sri Suvarna was serenely happy to receive this not unhopeful message from Kaew Kesra. While he savoured the joy of it to the full, making plans for a rosy future, the nurses took their leave and retired to a quiet corner of the garden accompanied by the Brahmins. There they paired off Prabha and Mora, Ubol and Sanon, Chongkol and Vichien. Only poor Sri Suda, who had taken such pains over her toilet and dress, was left without a partner, and so she returned at once to the palace with deep resentment in her heart against the callous levity of men and the wanton wiles of some women she could (and did) name.

Not long afterwards, the expected invasion of Romachakra by the forces of the redoubtable Tao Uthen began. Suddenly one morning, some five thousand ships, big and small, appeared off the coast and put ashore a mighty army. The defenders were outmanoeuvred and outfought. Within a short time, the invaders laid siege to the city.

The King of Romachakra was greatly disturbed. Many thousands of his people had crowded into the city for protection, and supplies were running short, causing much distress to all. He knew that the city could not withstand a long siege even though troops and cannons were concentrated within its walls. More than once he was tempted to call a truce and surrender his daughter Kaew Kesra according to the wishes of Tao Uthen. But he thought of the honour and reputation of his country, and could not bring himself to yield.

The commander of Tao Uthen's forces, seizing his advantage, delivered an ultimatum. He demanded immediate surrender and acceptance of Tao Uthen's terms. In the event of failure to comply, he would give no quarter and would reduce the city to rubble. On receipt of the ultimatum, the King called together his counsellors and ministers. They all expressed the opinion that, in order to spare the people, it would be best to accede to the demands of Tao Uthen. The King, unwilling to act at once on this advice, asked for three days in which to think it over. This request was grudgingly granted by the besiegers.

Meanwhile, Sri Suvarna and his three Brahmin friends living in the garden which lay outside the city walls were cut off from the city. They feared for the safety of Kaew Kesra and her nurses. One and all made up their minds to place their services at the disposal of the King. The question was how they were to enter the besieged city. They decided to adopt the bold course of walking straight up to the gate and eliminating any who obstructed their passage. Arming themselves with swords and clubs, they made their way to the city wall. The besiegers were so astonished at this bold move that they did not think of challenging them until they neared the city walls. Then they surrounded the four intrepid strangers. But Sri Suvarna and his friends set upon them with a will and scattered them in all directions. Each killed his man and took a severed head to show any new assailants what they might expect. But the four friends met with no further attack, and the guards at the city gate quickly opened it to admit the warriors who could slay the enemy with such ease.

News of the prowess of Sri Suvarna and his three Brahmin friends soon reached the ear of the King, who lost no time in sending for them. They were ushered into his presence. Surprised at their slender and frail appearance, but reassured by the air of self-confidence and eagerness borne by them, he asked whether they would undertake to defend the city and drive the foe out of the Kingdom. When Sri Suvarna replied in the affirmative, the King delightedly promised that if Sri Suvarna succeeded, he would make him his son and heir. Sri Suvarna told the King what he planned to do. First of all, he asked for four horses, all of different colours and well-trained in battle, each properly harnessed and equipped. Then a message was to be sent to the commander of Tao Uthen's forces challenging him to engage in single combat with Romachakra's champion. If the former prevailed, the King of Romachakra would without further delay deliver his daughter Kaew Kesra into the hands of Tao Uthen. If, however, Romachakra's champion prevailed, Tao Uthen's forces must immediately withdraw to whence it came. The challenge was accordingly issued and duly accepted, and the fight was arranged for the following day.

Sri Suvarna told the King that Kaew Kesra had entered a dangerous phase of her life, and that a ceremony must be held to ward off the evil misfortune that would surely befall her otherwise. Me himself offered to make all the necessary preparations for the ceremony.

The King believed what the young stranger said and granted him permission to make whatever preparations he wished. He commanded a special pavilion to be built within the palace grounds to house the four friends, and detailed a detachment of soldiers to serve under them. At the same time, he gave orders to the palace officials to make ready for the ceremony.

When the time came for the ceremony, Sri Suvarna and his three companions were ushered into the inner palace. Sri Suvarna had the place of honour in the hall, and there he impatiently awaited the arrival of the Princess.

Kaew Kesra knew that it was a ruse on the part of Sri Suvarna to make possible another meeting between them. At first she hesitated, but fear of her father's wrath and perhaps a desire to warn Sri Suvarna not to risk his life on the field of battle overcame her maidenly modesty, and finally she came accompanied by her nurses and took her seat next to her young admirer as arranged. The latter was so overjoyed to see her at such close quarters that he almost forgot his role in the ceremony, and made as if to touch her, when he recollected himself and proceeded with the customary rites. Nevertheless, he found an opportunity to whisper to her in an undertone, which others present in the hall took to be some mysterious incantation.

"Adored one," he said to her, "turn your face towards me and do not look so crestfallen. I came here to tell you that I have offered my services to the King your father for love of you. I have been longing to see you again and have therefore arranged this meeting. Please speak to me."

Kaew Kesra, her heart beating faster than it had ever done before, summoned up all her courage and whispered her reply. "In saying that you will fight the enemy because of your love for me, your kindness is greater than the earth. If victory is yours, I shall never cease to rejoice either by day or by night. But if defeat and death be your lot, I will not live to see another day."

Sri Suvarna tasted the joys of heaven on hearing this. "You are a woman beyond all comparison," he whispered. "It is because I love you more than life itself that I shall take the field tomorrow. I shall wipe my adversary off the face of the earth, and when I have done so, I will come to claim you as my own."

Kaew Kesra, however, was not quite so confident of his victory. He looked so small and slender and hardly suited for mortal combat. But he reassured her with a smile and begged her to be present on the morrow with the King her father at the city wall to see him triumph over the enemy.

The following morning, Sri Suvarna and his friends were ready for the fray. They took leave of the King and passed through the city gate to the accompaniment of drums, gongs and shouts of the soldiers. The yo~ng champion looked up along the city wall and saw Kaew Kesra. Their eyes met and exchanged loving glances. The three Brahmins also observed the nurses and their eyes likewise spoke love.

When the forces of Tao Uthen heard the noise and saw Romachakra's champions advancing towards them, they also sent up cries that echoed far and wide. Immediately, four of their bravest and most skilful commanders rode out to offer battle. Sri Suvarna, undaunted by their approach, spurred his horse and engaged the foremost of them.His opponent dealt him a blow with his sword, but the young prince skilfully evaded it and, wielding his club, brought it down with a resounding blow on the commander's head. The commander crumpled and fell from his horse. The three Brahmins, emulating the example of their young leader, went into the attack and each engaged one of the remaining commanders. Mora with a swift stroke severed his opponent's head. Vichien buried inches of steel into his opponent's body. Sanon with equally unerring aim pierced his opponent's breast. When they saw all their commanders fall, the forces of Tao Uthen broke their ranks and fled.

The King of Romachakra saw that the enemy was utterly defeated and laughed loud for sheer joy. Kaew Kesra felt immeasurably relieved and her face was radiant with happiness. All the soldiers and people of Romachakra shouted and cheered delightedly.

When Sri Suvarna and his three companions returned from the field of battle, the King was there to receive them at the gate. They were then escorted in triumph into the city which they had saved from the hands of the enemy.

The King ordered that the four young heroes were to be given the best of everything. Accordingly, when they reached the pavilion which had been hastily erected for them, they found gentlemen of the royal household waiting, ready to attend to their every need. They bathed, had a massage and put on the richest costumes and fineries from the palace wardrobe. The most sumptuous foods and drinks were set before them. The only thing Sri Suvarna and his three friends lacked, and what they longed for most, was the presence of the adorable Kaew Kesra and her charming nurses. They had accompanied the King back to the inner palace.

'I, Sri Suvarna would have given much for another meeting with Kaew Kesra. As evening fell, he looked out and saw the moon and stars in the sky. "It is as soft and sweet as her lovely face," he murmured. "How I wish she were here with me, so that I can make love to her. Love makes a man sad and drives him almost to desperation. How can I reach her? There is a high wall between us, and I cannot go to her side..." He consulted his friends.

The Brahmins told him that there was nothing to worry about, since the Princess obviously returned his affection and it would be only a matter of time before his desire was attained. "You have fought and freed the city. The King is bound to reward you. You must refuse whatever else he offers you and state what you really desire. The King should be willing to comply with your request."

Meanwhile, Kaew Kesra was also thinking of her handsome hero and wishing to have him by her side. She fell asleep with his name on her lips and tears of longing in her eyes. The following morning, she asked her nurses to pick jasmine flowers from the pots in which they were grown near the palace. These were put in a golden bowl and placed in front of her. Kaew Kesra proceeded to string them together into a garland. The garland which she had made with her own hands was placed on a golden platter to be sent to Sri Suvarna. The nurses also threaded their garlands of variegated flowers for the Brahmins. As Sri Suda had nobody to thread a garland for, she was entrusted with the mission of taking the garlands to the four heroes, who received them with great joy. Thereafter, garlands went forth daily from the inner palace to the special pavilion.

The day came when the King was to reward the officers and men of his army who had served faithfully in defence of the city. He took his seat on the throne in the royal audience chamber, in the presence of his ministers and all the great men of the realm. Sri Suvarna and the three Brahmins were also commanded to be present.

The King bestowed munificent gifts of silver and cloth to all the warriors, from those of the highest rank to those of the lowest. Then came the turn of the four heroes who had indeed snatched victory from the enemy's grasp. The King asked his councillors. "What reward shall we give to the Brahmins, that is worthy of their meritorious services?" The chief minister respectfully replied, "According to ancient custom and usage, a monarch rewards his victorious generals by bestowing gold decorations and insignia of high rank, and by sending them to rule distant cities of the kingdom. Since the four Brahmins have shown themselves to be great generals and have decisively defeated the enemy, it is meet that your celestial highness should honour them by allowing them to rule some outpost of the realm." The King accepted the advice of the minister. "Let it be so," he said, "and let the responsible officials look to the matter without delay."

Sri Suvarna, however, came forward and bowed low before the throne. In quiet and respectful tones, he addressed the King thus : "I am deeply conscious of the honour that your celestial highness has seen fit to bestow upon me and my friends in decreeing that we become rulers of cities. But I humbly beg your celestial highness' leave not to accept such an exalted position. The reason why 1 sought to enlist in your celestial highness' service was because I craved protection. I looked upon your celestial highness as a father, I would therefore consider myself bounteously rewarded if I could remain at your celestial highness' feet."

The King knew from the young man's cunning reply that he had fallen in love with his daughter. He did not reply at once but weighed the matter in his mind. If he gave his daughter's hand in marriage to this stranger of unknown parentage, he would lose prestige; on the other hand, if he did not, he would lose a brave warrior. So he decided to adopt delaying tactics. He turned to Sri Suvarna and said : "Do not fear, I will adopt all four of you as my sons, and you shall stay with me. Nothing you desire shall be denied you, except the sun and the stars."

One month went by, and Sri Suvarna was no nearer to attaining his heart's desire. He therefore wrote a letter to Kaew Kesra, expressing in doleful terms, since his suit appeared to be a hopeless one, his intention of committing suicide. The Princess, who had also grown desperate with longing, read the letter and believed that Sri Suvarna would really kill himself. The shock was too much for her, and she collapsed in a dead faint.

On hearing the news, her parents rushed to her side. The court doctors were sent for, but they could do nothing to revive the shock stricken Princess. When all were beginning to despair of her recovery, somebody thought of the young Brahmin warrior who had once before saved her from evil misfortune. Accordingly, he was bidden to come into the inner palace, and it must be confessed that he wasted no time in so doing.

Arriving at the bedside of Kaew Kesra, he called for perfumed water, and this was brought to him in a golden bowl. After invoking all the sacred things in the universe to come to his aid he sprayed the water on the prostrate form of the Princess. Miraculously, or so it seemed to all the onlookers, Kaew Kesra stirred and opened her eyes. On seeing Sri Suvarna there beside her, colour returned to her cheeks, and her condition improved almost immediately. The King, the Queen and the whole court were beside themselves with joy, and praised Sri Suvarna for his healing powers.

After that, Sri Suvarna was given permission to remain inside the inner palace until such time as the Princess should be fully restored to health. He had access to her at all times, and on certain occasions he found it necessary to remain with her up to a late hour. It was a long while before Kaew Kesra regained the normal state of health, and by then the young couple were firmly knit in love.

Realising the circumstances, there was nothing the King could do but yield with good grace. He announced the betrothal of his daughter Kaew Kesra to Sri Suvarna. The day of marriage was fixed and, having arrived, was duly celebrated with all pomp and ceremony. The people of Romachakra rejoiced to have a brave and handsome youth like Sri Suvarna as heir to the throne, and in course of time the old King came to share their admiration for his son-in-law. So following the example of his ancestors, he retired into private life and left Sri Suvarna to rule the kingdom with Kaew Kesra by his side.


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