13. Can you guess why the king sent for the doctors?
14. Do you think Matri-Datta had anything to do with stealing the Brahman’s treasure?
Ill and suffering though he was, Matri-Datta did not dare disobey the king: so he came at once. As soon as he appeared, Prasnajit asked him how he was, and said he was sorry to have to make him leave his home when he was ill, but the matter on which he wished to see him was of very great importance. Then he suddenly added: “When your doctor ordered you to take the juice of the nagaballa plant whom did you send to find it?”
To this Matri-Datta replied trembling with fear: “My servant, O king, sought it in the forest; and having found it, brought it to me.”
“Go back and send that servant to me immediately,” was the reply; and the merchant hurried away, wondering very much why the king wanted to see the man, and hoping that he himself would not get into disgrace on account of anything he had done to make Prasnajit angry.
15. Have you any idea why the king wanted the servant sent to him?
16. From what the story tells you so far, do you think Prasnajit was a good ruler of his kingdom?
When Matri-Datta told his servant that he was to go to the palace to see the king, the man was dreadfully frightened, and begged his master not to make him go. This made Matri-Datta pretty sure that he had done something wrong and was afraid of being found out. “Go at once,” he said, “and whatever you do, speak the truth to the king. That will be your only chance if you have offended him.” Again and again the servant entreated Matri-Datta not to insist, and when he found it was no good, he asked him at least to come with him to the palace and plead for him with Prasnajit. The merchant knew then for certain that something was seriously wrong, and he consented to go to the palace with his servant, partly out of curiosity and partly out of fear for himself. When the two got to the palace, the attendants at once led the servant to the presence of the king, but they would not let the master go with him.
Directly the servant entered the room and saw the king sitting on his throne, he fell upon his face at the foot of the steps, crying, “Mercy! mercy!” He was right to be afraid, for Prasnajit said to him in a loud voice: “Where are the gold and the jewels you took from the hole in the roots of a tree when you went to find the nagaballa plant for your master?” The servant, who really had taken the money and jewels, was so terrified when he found that the king knew the truth, that he had not a word to say at first, but just remained lying on the ground, trembling all over. Prasnajit too was silent, and the attendants waiting for orders behind the throne looked on, wondering what would happen now.