The Triumph Of Truth

A wealthy merchant who lived in the old town of Saketpur had a son named Sumat and a daughter named Suniti.

The merchant had been both a mother and a father to his two children for many years because their mother had died when they were both very young.

The merchant became seriously ill and was dying, so he sent for his children and said sadly, “My beloved child- ren, I hate to have to leave you before you are settled in life, but I have no choice. Fortunately, my childhood friend Lakshmigupt, who lives in Sripur, has promised to take you under his wing, Sumat. He is a prosperous merchant and will teach you all that a successful and intelligent trader should know. As for you, Suniti, I have no other alternative but to leave you in the care of your most trusted and faithful maidservant. Your brother will visit you as often as he can, and I hope that he will be able to find you a suitable husband in the not-too-distant future.”

After the merchant died, the family lawyer settled all his affairs. The remaining capital was wisely invested in properties, which would in- crease in value as time went by.

Sumat, satisfied that his sister was well taken care of and comfortable, left Saketpur for Sripur, carrying a portrait of his dear sister along with him.

Lakshmigupt and his wife were happy to have Sumat live with them, as they had no children.

The King of Sripur was very friendly with Lakshmigupt, who, on one of his visits to the palace, took Sumat with him. There Sumat met the Crown Prince, who was the same age as himself.

The two youths took an immediate liking to one another and soon became good friends. Sumat used to go to the palace as often as he could during his free time.

One day Sumat asked Lak- shmigupt if he could invite the Crown Prince to their house for dinner.

“By all means, son,” replied Lakshmigupt.

So a few days later, after having taken permission from his parents-the, King and Queen, the Crown Prince went to Lakshmigupt’s house for dinner.

After dinner, Sumat took the Crown Prince to his room to show him some of his treasured books. The Crown Prince seeing the portrait of Sumat’s sister hanging on the wall, said, “Friend, what a beautiful girl. Is she your sweetheart?”

“Your Highness,” replied Sumat,” she is my sister.”

The Crown Prince was very relieved when he heard Sumat’s reply because he had fallen in love with the portrait of the lovely girl.

Even after he returned to the palace, he could not forget the vision he had seen in the portrait. He was determined to meet Sumat’s sister and ask for her hand in marriage. But first of all, he had to get the consent of his father, the King and his mother, the Queen.

The King and Queen refused to consent to this marriage between their son and a commoner. Many of the rulers of the neighbouring states had daughters of marriageable age. And we’re very keen on allying with the Kingdom of Sripur. This made the Crown Prince very unhappy. He lost his appetite, and nothing interested him any more.”

The King and Queen were very worried about their son, and finally, they sent for Lakshmigupt and Sumat.

“Prince Pratap wishes to marry Sumat’s sister,” said the King, “have you any objection Lakshmigupt?”

“Your Majesty,” answered Lakshmigupt, “on the contrary, both Sumat and I are overwhelmed with the Prince’s desire. Suniti is a fortunate girl to be sought in marriage by your son, the Crown. Prince.”

The King next sent for Naag, his minister and told him to make all the necessary preparations for his son’s forthcoming marriage.

When Naag discovered that the bride-to-be was Sumat’s sister, he was distraught. Naag already knew that Sumat had a sister who was wealthy and beautiful. And he had decided to marry her to his only brother, who was a ne’er-do-well. Now he planned to do everything he could to try and prevent this marriage.

Naag went to the King and told him that Sumat’s sister was in love with him and had promised to marry him.

The King immediately summoned Lakshmigupt and Sumat and growled, “Why did you not tell me that Suniti has already given her love to another man?”

“She has done nothing of the sort, your Majesty,” replied Sumat.

“Yes, she has fallen in love with me,” declared Naag.

‘No, your Majesty, she has most assuredly done no such thing. I am so confident that what I say is true that I am willing to forfeit my life if I prove to be wrong,” challenged Sumat.

“Very well, Naag,” granted the King, “If you can prove that what you say is true, then Sumat shall be condemned to the gallows.”

Naag set out for the town of Saketpur at once and arrived there the same evening. He soon found Suniti’s house and knocked loudly on the door until the watchman came and opened it. “I have come to see the mistress of the house,” said Naag, “Her brother has sent her a letter through me.”

The watchman gave Naag’s message to Suniti, who replied, “let me see the letter first, and then I will decide whether I will see the messenger.”

So Naag handed over the forged letter to the watchman. Suniti looked at the letter and declared, “this is not my brother Sum├ít’s handwriting. Shut the front door at once, watchman!”

Naag had not expected to find that Suniti was such an intelligent girl. Now that his plan was foiled, his only other alternative was to resort to more desperate means. He managed to contact Suniti’s maidservant and gave her a handful of gold coins, promising her another handful if she brought him a treasured possession belonging to Suniti. The maidservant had never seen so much money in all her life, so Naag soon possessed a delicate ruby ring that Suniti wore almost constantly.

Triumphantly Naag returned to the King, holding up the ring for everyone to see, and declared, “Here is Sunita’s love- token to me.”

The King sent for his friends Lakshmigupt and Sumat, and showing them the ring, he asked, “Do you recognize this ring?”

“Yes, your Majesty,” replied Sumat, this ring belongs to my sister, Suniti.”

“Ah!” shouted the King, this is the ring that your sister presented to my minister, Naag, as a token of her love for him!”

“Take my life, your Majesty! It is no longer worth living now that the honour of my family has been tarnished!” cried Sumat.

Sumat was placed in solitary confinement in a gloomy dungeon and condemned to be hanged a fortnight hence.

In the meantime, Lakshmigupt went to Saketpur to see Suniti. He told her that Sumat would be hanged in a few days and the reason.

Suniti could not believe her ears when she heard of Naag’s deceit. She put two and two together and realized that the visit of the stranger from Sripur and the loss of her treasured ruby ring were part of the conspiracy.

Suniti went to Sripur with Lakshmigupt to see the King, disclose to him the deceit of his most trusted minister, and free her brother, Sumat.

“Who are you, maiden?” asked the King, “and what brings you to my court?”

“Your Majesty,” replied Suniti, “your trusted minister is a liar and a cheat! Because of him, an innocent man has been condemned to death.”

“This bold hussy is lying, your Majesty!” protested Naag, the minister, “I’ve never set eyes on her before!”

“Villain!” screamed Suniti, ‘did you not tell the King that I am in love with you and that I gave you my ruby ring to prove it?”

“Young woman,” demanded the King, “who are you?” “I am Sumat’s sister, Suniti,” answered Suniti.

Naag realized that the game was up and tried to escape from the court through a secret door he sometimes used. But the King foiled him in his escape by ordering his Royal guards to seize his minister. Next, the King had Sumat set free, and then he banished Naag from his kingdom, for after what he had done, he could never trust the man again.

The Crown Prince and Suniti were married, amidst great rejoicing, several months later.

As time went by, the King and Queen grew to love Suniti very much because she made an excellent wife and Princess.

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