THE SÛTA TELLS ARDSCHI-BORDSCHI CONCERNING VIKRAMÂDITJA'S DEEDS.
VIKRAMÂDITJA ACQUIRES ANOTHER KINGDOM.
WHILE Vikramâditja continued to rule over his subjects in justice, and to make them prosperous and happy, another mighty king entered Nirvâna. As he left no son, and as there was no one of his family left, nor any one with any title to be his heir, a youth of the people was elected to fill the throne. The same night that he had been installed on the throne, however, he came to die. The next day another youth was elected, and he also died the same night. And so it was the next night, and the next, and yet no one could divine of what malady all these kings died.
At last the thing reached the ears of Vikramâditja.
Then Vikramâditja arose, and Schalû with him, and disguising themselves as two beggars, they took the way to the capital of this sorely-tried kingdom, to bring it deliverance.
When they came near the entrance of the city, they turned in to rest at a small house by the wayside. Within they found an aged couple, who were preparing splendid raiment for a handsome youth, who was their son; but they cried the while with bitter tears. Then said Vikramâditja,--
"Why do you mourn so bitterly, good people?"
"Our King is dead," replied they, "and as he has left no succession, one of the people was chosen by lot to fill the office of King, but he died the same night; and when another was similarly chosen, he likewise died. Thus it happens every night. Now, to-day the lot has fallen on our son; he will therefore of a certainty die to-night: therefore do we mourn."
Then answered Vikramâditja, "To me and my companion, who are but two miserable beggars, it matters little whether we live or die. Keep your son with you, therefore, and we two will ascend the throne this morning in his place and die to-night in his stead."
But the parents replied, "It is not for us to decide the thing. Behold, the matter stands in the hands of three prudent and experienced ministers, but we will go and bring the proposal before them."
The parents went, therefore, and laid the proposal of the beggars before the three prudent and experienced ministers, who answered them, saying, "If these men are willing to die after reigning but twenty-four hours why should we say them nay? Let them be brought hither to us."
Then the beggars were brought in, and the ministers installed them on the throne, saying to the people, "Hitherto we have been accustomed to meet together early in the morning to bury our King. But this time, as we shall have two kings to bury instead of one, see that you come together right early."
Vikramâditja meantime set himself to examine all the affairs of the kingdom, that he might discover to what was to be ascribed the death of the King every night. And when he had well inquired into every matter, he found that it had formerly been the custom of the King to make every night a secret offering (1) to the devas, and to the genii of earth and water, and to the eight kinds of spirits, but that the succeeding kings had neglected the sacrifice, and therefore the spirits had slain them. Then the most high and magnanimous king Vikramâditja appointed out of the royal treasury what was necessary to pay for the accustomed offering; then he called upon the spirits and offered the sacrifice. The spirits, delighted to see their honour return, made the king a present of a handsome Mongolian tent and went up again.
The people, too, who had come together early in the morning, with much wood to make the funeral obsequies of the Kings, were filled with delight to find the spell broken, and in return they gave him the jewel Dsching, filling the air with their cries of gladness and gratitude, calling him the King decreed by fate to rule over them. Thus Vikramâditja became their King.