VIKRAM again went back to the tree, took down the corpse, threw it across his shoulder, and began walking towards the burial ground. “O King,” said the Bethal of the corpse, “You remind me of Dhananjaya. He, too, kept his word at any cost. Let me tell you his story.” Then he began the following tale:

Dhananjaya was a wealthy man who belonged to the city of Bhadra-vati. Most people make a name by amassing wealth, but Dhananjaya gained fame by never refusing anyone who sought his help. His entire life was spent doing charity. He attained the ripe old age of eighty without refusing alms even to an insignificant beggar.

Some miles away from Bhadra- vati, there was another city. There, there lived a young man named Dheera-Varma. He too was a wealthy man. He heard of the great name which Dhanan-Jaya had earned and felt envious. “I am as rich as Dhanan-Jaya,” he said to himself. “What can prevent me from acquiring as much fame for charity as he has done?” He, too, began to spend his money on charities.

One day, Dheera-Varma was sitting in the courtyard of his house when an older woman approached him and asked for alms. He put some money in her hands. She went out but returned again by another gate and asked him for donations. Dheera-Varma observed this, but all the same, he gave her money for a second time.

But the older woman came a third time, and Dheera-Varma gave her alms. But, when she reached the thirteenth time, he got angry with her and said, “Woman, I have already given you alms twelve times, and still you keep coming for more!”

Instead of feeling guilty, the old woman flared up and said, “You think you are magnanimous! But let me tell you, Dhananjaya’s house has thirty-two gates. I went by all the gates and took alms from him. He did not recognise me even once, whereas you recognised me even the second time. Oh, how can you be compared with Dhananjaya !”

Then the older woman went away in disgust. Dheera-varma’s pride was severely hurt by what the older woman had said. “I spend all my time and money doing charity,” he thought. “Yet I find that I cannot equal this Dhananjaya. As long as he is alive, his shadow will be covering me. Death does not appear to be eager to take him away. I shall kill him myself and remove the one obstacle that stands in the way of my earning fame!” Accordingly, Dheera-Varma mounted his horse and started without telling anyone where and what it was for he was going. After travelling for a few days, he emerged from the forest on the outskirts of Bhadra-vati.

Here Dheera-Varma met an older man who walked alone, dressed in effortless clothes. This older man was none other than Dhana-Jaya, but Dheera-Varma never suspected it since he was alone and in ordinary clothes. It was Dhanan-jaya’s habit to walk up to the forest and back daily.

“Sir,” Dheera-Varma asked the old man, “can you kindly direct me to Dhanan-jaya’s house?”

“Do you know him?” the old man asked in return. “Do you want anything of him?”

“I do not want to meet him,” Dheera-Varma replied. “It is enough if I can see him but once.”

Dhana-Jaya thought that there was something suspicious about this young man. “At the moment, Dhana-Jaya is not in town,” he said to Dheera-Varma. “But I can lodge you in his mansion. I can even manage that Dhanan-Jaya will not know who you are and where you come from.”

“I shall be very much obliged if you can do so,” Dheera-Varma said. “Where is your residence?”

“I live in the same mansion as Dhanan-Jaya. At one time, both of us were inseparable. Now I am one of his servants. He has grown big while I remain what I am,” the old man said.

“What a shame!” Dheera-Varma said. Then they went to Dhanan-jaya’s mansion. The older man showed Dheera-Varma his rooms and warned the servants not to reveal to the guest who he was and to tell him that Dhanan-Jaya was not in town.

Two days went by. Both morning and evening, Dhanan-Jaya came to see Dheera-Varma and conversed with him, but the latter did not reveal what brought him. Dhana-Jaya was sure about one thing: Dheera-Varma had an evil motive behind his desire to see him. To confirm this, Dhanan-Jaya talked ill of himself and found Dheera-Varma listening to him anxiously.

On the morning of the third day, Dhanan-Jaya went to Dheera-Varma and said, “My son, Dhanan-Jaya, has returned. Would you like to go and meet him?”

“No, no!” Dheera-Varma replied. “Let me see him once, from a distance. That will do.”

“You may as well tell me of your purpose in coming here,” Dhanan-Jaya said. “I promise to fulfil it, however difficult it may be. I can give you the right advice. You need not hesitate.” After some hesitation, Dheera-Varma made Dhanan-Jaya swear secrecy and told him about his evil intention. Dhana-Jaya was astounded when he learned that Dheera-Varma had come to kill him; then, he said, “This is not very difficult to manage. Go to the forest outside the city at sunset, and you can get Dhanan-Jaya alone.”

That very evening, Dheera-Varma mounted his horse and left the city. Soon he entered the forest. He did not go far when he saw an older man walking before him. He drew his sword as he came up with the old man and shouted, “At last, death comes to you, old man!”

At that moment, the older man looked back. Daheera-varma’s hand did not descend. “You!” he shouted in surprise.

“Yes, my son! It is I! Many people asked me many things, and I never refused anyone. You alone asked for my life. Should I deny you? Take what you have come for. There is none to hinder you!” Dhana-Jaya said. Dheera-Varma shed tears. “Please forgive me!” he said pitifully.

“My son,” the old man replied, “there is nothing to forgive. Love of fame is not bad in itself. Some make wars and slay thousands to achieve fame. Your desire for fame is not a selfish one. You want to be famous by giving away what you have. You are a nice person. I am very near my end. Since I am standing in the way of your fame, kill me without hesitation.”

Dheera-Varma fell at the feet of the old man and said, “Sir, I insist upon being punished for my evil intentions. I beg you to punish me. You should not refuse me what I ask for.”

“Well,” said the old man thoughtfully, “let me devise a punishment for you. Assume my name, go to my house and live there for the rest of your life, while I assume your name, go to your place and spend the rest of my life there.”

Dheera-Varma agreed to this. Having narrated this tale, Bet- hal said, “O King, what was the real reason for which Dheera-Varma did not kill Dhanan-Jaya? Why did Dhana-Jaya make a gift of his great name to Dheera-Varma? Your head shall split if you know the answer and still do not speak!”

“There is only one good reason why Dheera-Varma did not kill Dhanan-Jaya,” Vikram replied. “That was because if he let Dhanan-Jaya make a gift of life, Dheera-Varma would never equal him. The older man made it plain that he was making a gift of his own life. So Dheera-Varma changed his mind about killing Dhanan-Jaya and insisted upon punishment. As for Dhanan-Jaya, he made a gift of his name to Dheera-Varma for an excellent reason. He had very little life left, whereas Dheera-Varma was a youth with all his life ahead of him. Dhanan-Jaya wished that his name should not die with him but live as long as Dheera-Verma lived.”

The King’s silence was thus broken, and Bethal disappeared with the corpse and returned to the tree.

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