Chapter 24 : Vis Avara and Bellat Abi
The morning market in Ma’uw was as crowded as the night, it seemed no end to the people in this city where nobody must sleep! The fourth princess of Bengal thought never to see so many sights again as long as she lived. “I could watch this, all day,” she said to the cat, and the cat did not respond from where it was draped around her shoulders.
Navigating out of this torrent spent so much of her energy that Saeng stopped outside the city walls to rest — before she had gone anywhere! “I shan’t make it farther east than this!” she exclaimed.
“Heading east, are you?” asked the guard who had been watching her.
“East I will go if even possibly I can stand up. I fear I may be rooted here.”
“The old merchant is going east. Seek a ride from him.” The guard pointed to a richly-dressed man checking the axles on his wagon stopped by the side of the road. This sounded like another adventure calling, so Saeng sprang to her feet and said to the guard, “Thank you for a welcome direction,” as she smiled in her normal charming way.
“Sir, we are both stopped here, shall we start on together?” Saeng asked the merchant.
“A young lady asks a seat in my wagon,” the merchant said to the horse, “it is no trouble to me and less trouble for she.”
Saeng tugged the tail of the cat. “I have also this cat who must ride with me as I ride the wagon.”
“The cat who must ride with you as you ride, is welcome as you are to ride by my side.”
“Thank you! People are so kind.”
“Kindness is got as kindness is given the same. Does your sleepy cat have a name?”
The princess laughed and began to help a boy load the last few parcels into the back of the wagon, where also two servants would ride, for she was placed at the front with the merchant. She said to him once they were away, “My cat will have a name, good sir, once you have told me your own.”
“I am Vis Avara to you and your cat, though I am called Papa more often than that.”
The princess clapped her hands. “Vis Avara! I’ll not forget. Now, please name my cat?” She laughed and covered her mouth with her scarf. “I should not speak so much, I think.”
“Your voice is music to me; as for the cat, his name is Bellat Abi.”
“Bellat Abi? What does that mean?”
And to pass the time, the playful merchant wove her a great story of adventure and woe, that had little to do with Bellat Abi and much more to do with an elephant name Po.