The old lady who acted in self-defence

In their march across Asia, Alexander the Great and his soldiers invaded a new country. There they found everything to be lush and prosperous. One village lay right across their path. Alexander’s soldiers entered the village and immediately started pillaging everything in sight.

One soldier entered into the cottage of an old lady and began threatening her with his weapons. He said, “Give me all your coins and jewels!” While he was brandishing his weapons and frightening her, a large gold coin fell out of his tunic. He did not notice that it had dropped to the ground, but the old lady immediately pointed to it and said, “Look, look! That is your own money that you have dropped!”

The soldier snatched up the coin and said to her, “Now give me all your money!”

The old lady responded, “I showed you the coin that you dropped. I do not have that kind of money. What little money I have, I keep in that corner over there.” She showed the soldier where to look for her money and he grabbed it. Then he said, “You are a crafty old lady. I am sure you must have some more money hidden somewhere.”

She said, “All right. I can see it is no use lying to you. I do have a secret hiding place. Come with me and I will show you where I have kept all my savings.”

The old lady led the soldier outside. In the garden was a deep, empty well. She said to him, “I have kept my savings under a rock at the bottom of the well. If you go down, you will easily find the bag of coins.”

The soldier came near the well and bent over to see how deep it was. As he did so, the old lady gave him a mighty push. The soldier was caught off guard and he tumbled down into the well. There he met his death.

The soldier’s comrades had seen him go inside the cottage and they were wondering why he did not appear again. They confronted the old lady and she told them, “I threw him down the well and he died. He was such a bad fellow! I am not ashamed of what I have done.”

The soldiers were furious. They seized the old lady and brought her before the Emperor. The Emperor asked the old lady, “Why did you take my soldier to the well? Did you really have money hidden there?”

“No, I did not have any money there,” she said truthfully.

“Then why did you tell a lie?” asked the Emperor.

She said, “He was such a bad fellow that I was afraid for my life. He was threatening me with his weapons and forcing me to give him the little money that I had. His own gold coin he dropped. I could have kept quiet, but I showed him where the coin had rolled. Still he was suspecting me of having more money, so I fooled him. I told him that the money was at the bottom of the well. When he took a close look inside the well, I pushed him and he fell to his death.”

“Are you not repentant now that this man is dead?” asked the Emperor.

“Yes,” replied the old lady, “but I feel that bad people should pay their karma. I did not want him to die, but I thought he should be punished. If he had lived, he would have gone on torturing helpless people like me.”

Alexander the Great said, “You are right. Now let me give you back all the money that he stole from you.”

The old lady gratefully accepted some money from the Emperor.

“Now take more money,” the Emperor said.

“More money?” she asked.

“Yes,” said the Emperor. “I want to reward you because you informed him that he had dropped his own coin. You could easily have kept it for yourself. He did not even notice that it was missing. So you deserve more.”

Alexander gave her a second purse of coins and said, “I assure you that my soldiers will not harass you anymore.”