The Fourth Princess of Bengal: Chapter 3

Chapter 3 : The Gift of Jarma

“The king of Jarma has sent you a gift,” said the king’s First Minister.
“What manner of gift does he send?” asked the king, amusement in his eyes.
“One hoping to elicit a peace treaty,” said the First Minister.
The king laughed, and it was not cruel, nor unkind, only confident of his power. “It must be a great gift indeed, if he hopes to save his yellow flag.”
“He would not send a gift. He would send a trap, a poison, a trick,” said the king’s Second Minister.
“You would be suspicious of the sun, as would the king if he listened to you,” said the king’s Third Minister. The king looked between the quarrelsome duo and they made not another quarrel.

“What manner of gift?” the king asked again, speaking to the First Minister, the last of his father’s advisors.
“The king might like to see for himself and himself determine the manner,” replied the First Minister, and the king agreed over protests of the Second Minister ringing on the walls. The double doors of the entry hall were opened, and into the Throne Room was wheeled a large canvas-covered box.

“It is a trick,” murmured the Second Minister.
“A magic trick,” the king replied, looking only a little bit interested. The slaves deposited the tall box with some effort before the throne, then sank to their knees in abjection for daring to stand before the ruthless king. The king wondered how they were to show him what was inside the mystery container, and before he could demand them to show him, some metal creaked, the canvas fluttered, the Second Minister and the guards put their hands to their swords, and from behind the curtain stepped a beautiful young maiden in royal attire. She tiptoed but twice to the side, then sank into a delicate curtsy.
“A gift I bring Your Royal Majesty,” she said, and her voice was clear and lovely, though she did not raise her head and after a few minutes her knees began to shake.

At last the king spoke and released her from her curtsy. “I accept only that gift which is clear to me. Explain yourself.” He had managed to fluster the maiden but a little, for she was a royal princess and able to conduct herself so.
“The question is a question of peace,” she admitted. “My father, king of Jarma, wishes us to wed and our kingdoms to be great allies in the shining future of our generous world. But the gift is a gift, Sire, and it would gladden me to see you accept this gift and to see this gift where he is want to be placed.”

The king looked with more interest at the cage than he had at the maiden (though he had looked at her those several minutes, a tribute to her beauty). “Present you then your gift.”
Blushing a little at his rude manner, the princess but nodded her head then took hold of the canvas covering. With a graceful wave she shooed the canvas as the wind shooes a scarf from its place on your palm, and the Throne Room inhabitants gasped. None gasped so loud or with so much joy as the king, for the box was a cage, and the cage held a tiger.

“It is he? How old is he? How was he captured?” the king asked, jumping down from his throne in his excitement, eager to see the feline from all angles.
“I would be pleased to relate these stories to Your Royal Majesty,” the princess replied, though she was distracted. It was disarming, seeing this fearsome, warrior king, who had destroyed so many countries, led so many battles, and whom she had heard of in scary stories, for him to be as excited as a young boy receiving his first sword, a young girl her first shoes, or any other sort of treat they had longed for. It made Satti less a demon, and more a man, and as others before her had fallen, so did the Jarma princess crumble to the charisma of Buthraman Satti.

They were married, the Jarma princess becoming the first of his queens, and peace was made with Jarma.

Spurred by this success, the other two kingdoms expedited their own gifts to the Beast King.


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