The king's friend becomes the prime ministerOnce a king asked a very dear friend of his to accompany him. The king said, “I want to go for a long walk. You come with me. We shall take a leisurely excursion.”
The friend gladly accepted the invitation, and the two friends set out walking together. Along the way they saw somebody walking about twenty metres ahead of them. The king said to his friend, “You know everything. I have such faith in you. Can you tell me what this man’s profession is?”
The friend answered, “Yes, I can easily tell you. He is a woodcutter.”
“How do you know he is a woodcutter?” asked the king curiously.
The friend replied, “I can see he is looking at this tree and that tree. He is examining all the trees growing along the side of the road, so he has to be a woodcutter.”
The king said, “He has to be a woodcutter? Since you know everything, can you tell me his name?”
“Easily I can tell you his name,” said his friend.
The king was astonished. He said, “What is his name then?”
The friend said, “His name is Salim.”
“How do you know?” asked the king.
“It is very simple,” the friend said. “My name is Salim. When you called my name, he immediately turned his head. He thought that you were calling him.”
The king said, “Are you sure?” He thought perhaps his friend was joking with him. Then the king asked, “Can you tell me what he ate half an hour ago?”
The friend said, “Yes, I can easily answer your question.”
The king said, “How do you know? Have you ever seen him before?”
“Never!” said the friend emphatically.
The king continued, “You have never seen him, never talked to him? Then how can you say all these things with such authority?”
The friend told the king, “It is self-evident. The last thing that he ate was honey.”
“Honey?” queried the king. “My friend, are you mocking me by any chance? Why should I believe that he ate honey? It is too far-fetched!”
“I know it is true,” said his friend, “because I saw that there were bees buzzing around his lips. Definitely he has eaten honey. That is why with his palm he was trying to brush aside the bees.”
The king said, “All right. Now I wish to find out the truth of the matter.” He asked his friend Salim to walk ahead and request the man to stop. Salim caught up to the man and said, “Please wait. The king wants to speak with you.”
When the poor man heard the very word ‘king’, he began trembling with fear. He thought perhaps he had done something wrong. But the king spoke to him very kindly and compassionately. The king said, “I have a few simple questions to ask you.”
The man only nodded. He was a very, very humble man. The king said, “First tell me, what is your name?”
The man answered, “My name is Salim.”
The king asked, “What do you do?”
The man answered, “I am just a humble and poor woodcutter.”
Then the king asked, “And what did you eat last?”
The woodcutter said, “I ate only a little honey. I like honey very much.”
Everything that the king’s friend had said was correct. Then the king gave the woodcutter a very large amount of money and told him, “Do not worry. You have done nothing wrong. On the contrary, I am very pleased with you.”
To his friend the king said, “Today you have really proved to me how intelligent a human being can be! You must work with me. I want to replace my prime minister. You are the one to be my prime minister. You have to listen to my request. From today on you shall be my prime minister.”