The Hypocrite

Years ago, the capital of Northern India was a city called Kosambi. During that period, the ruler of that capital was Naravahana Dutt. In that same city, a poor man named Vasudhar earned his living by carrying loads.”

One day this ill-fated man found a diamond bangle outside the palace gates. He took the bangle home, removed the diamonds from it and took them to a diamond merchant named Hiranyadutt.

Hiranyadutt examined the diamonds and told him they were precious ones worth quite a few lakhs. He asked him if he wished to sell them.

Vasundhara said he wanted to sell the diamonds, but, as he could not keep so much money with him, he requested the diamond merchant to save the money, saying he would draw whenever he required it.

Vasundhara drew only 5000 dinars. With this, he could enjoy kingly comforts like eating good food, dressing well and leading a happy and easy life.

In the same city, there lived a trader called Ratnadutt. This trader used to give Vasudhar some loads to carry to his shop. The trader noticed that Vasudhar had been missing for some time. The other load carriers told him that Vasudhar had become a wealthy man. Ratnadutt wanted to know how Vasudhar could have made such a considerable fortune in so short a time.

Ratnadutt sent word to Vasu-dhar inviting him for dinner one night, saying they were old friends. Vasundhara agreed to come. Ratnadutt made Vasudhar fully drunk and, with sweet words, found out his secret.

He told the king the whole story, saying that such costly diamonds could belong to none other than the king and asked him to investigate the matter.

On hearing this, the king remembered that he had lost a diamond bangle long ago when he was going on one of his processions. At that time, he had ordered a search for it, but afterwards, he had forgotten all about it.

Then the king ordered Vasudhar to present himself before him in court with the diamond bangle. The bangle was embossed with the king’s emblem. On seeing his emblem on the bangle, the king became angry and asked Vasudhar how he could have made it his own, seeing that it belonged to the king.

Vasundhara said, “I am only a poor, illiterate load-carrying man, so how could I know that it belonged to you?”

The king said, “Why didn’t you find out who it belonged to ?”

Vasundhara replied, “I am a poor man; if I had shown this costly ornament to anyone, they would have concluded I was a thief.”

The king’s minister said, “This man is innocent.”

The king immediately ordered Hiranyadutt to present himself before him. Within a short time, Hiranyadutt appeared in court. The king questioned him as to how he could have accepted diamonds that he knew belonged to the king.

Hiranyadutt said, “O Mighty King, it is true that I have purchased the diamonds, but I saw them only and not the bangle in which they were set. Even though he was poor and illiterate, I didn’t deceive him. I told him their correct value and purchased them from him. He has taken only 5000 dinars, and the remaining money is with me.”

Then the king asked, “When such a poor man brought such costly diamonds to you, did you not doubt whether he had stolen them?”

“O Mighty King!” said the merchant” my trade is to purchase or sell diamonds and not to question where they came from. You can punish me if I have cheated in my dealings.”

The king realised he was in the right and ordered him to be paid the 5000 dinars he had given to Vasudhar and to hand over the diamonds.

The king then ordered Ratnadutt to come to the court. Ratnadutt was full of joy and expected a big reward. When he went to court, the king told him that he had been an unfaithful friend in deceiving Vasudhar but pardoned him since this was his first sin.

Ratnadutt then bent his head in shame and went away.

Chandamama October 1955 | Dolly

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