U Pon Nya’s (1807–1866) play deals with the recurrent theme in the author’s Jataka-derived plays, the conflict between good and evil. In this play, the king is warned by his ministers that his seven sons are planning a coup, and driven by suspicion, he exiles his sons and their wives to the jungle. The journey is a hard one, and the refugees are soon plagued by hunger.
The younger princes suggest to their eldest brother, Paduma, that they eat their spouses. Paduma realises that hunger has driven his brothers out of their minds and when the night falls, he flees with his wife. They run through the jungle, finally arriving at a river. There, Paduma’s princess-spouse complains of her delicate feet; she is not used to walking like this. Suddenly, they see a legless and armless man tied to a trunk floating in the river. Pitying the man, Paduma rushes into water and pulls him onto dry land.
The man tells Paduma that he is a criminal, who was punished by having his body mutilated and left to the crocodiles. Paduma sets off to find food for them all. The princess is greatly interested in the cripple, and immediately makes love to him. She then plans how to get rid of the prince and decides to throw Paduma off a mountain edge.
When Paduma returns, his wife carries out her cruel plan, but Paduma manages to hold of the bough of a fig tree growing over the river. A friendly crocodile looking for figs takes Paduma on his back and carries him back to his old kingdom. The people receive Paduma with great rejoicing, for the old king is now dead, and they want a new ruler.
Believing that her husband has died, the princess, in the guise of a peasant, wanders back home, carrying her crippled lover in a basket on her back. The people stare in amazement at this beautiful peasant woman, who is brought before the king. The princess does not immediately recognise her husband, but Paduma recognises her.
In a rage, Paduma orders the princess and the cripple to be executed immediately. But as it happens to be a feast day, no executions can be carried out, and Paduma, lost in thought, suddenly realises that it is wrong to kill. He asks in desperation if the execution has been carried out, but, to his joy, he learns that it will happen the following day. He cancels the execution, and banishes the couple forever from his kingdom.