The king's treasurer

There was a bandit who used to steal things from here, there and everywhere. His wife was miserable that he was doing this kind of thing. One day the bandit told his wife, “I will give up this profession. The time is fast approaching when I will give up this kind of thing.”

His wife begged him, “No, no, please give it up at this very moment. We do not need more money. Enough, enough! Please, please do not rob people any more.”

The bandit decided that the following day would be the last day he would steal in his life. On that day he would steal something very expensive and then he would stop stealing forever. So he went to rob the house of the king’s treasurer. At night he secretly hid in one room. The treasurer came home late in the evening, bringing lots of gold coins.

The treasurer said to his wife, “Today I have completed my task. I am so happy. I wanted to have ten thousand gold coins. I was stealing them little by little from the treasury and now I have the full amount. The king has such faith in me that he will never imagine that I am the one who has stolen this large sum. Still there is so much wealth in the treasury. There are literally millions and billions of gold coins remaining, so the king will never discover what I have done. He is very pleased with me, so I do not have to worry.”

The treasurer was so excited that now he had ten thousand gold coins. At that point, the bandit, who was hiding in an adjacent room, burst into the room and said, “Do not attack me!”

The treasurer asked, “What are you doing here?” He was furious with the intruder.

The bandit said, “I have come here to change my life.”

The treasurer said, “What are you talking about?”

The bandit explained, “I have been stealing all my life. I thought that today I would become the richest person. Since you are the treasurer, I thought I would be able to steal a large quantity of money from you. I told my wife that this would be the last time I would steal. So I wanted to do something spectacular. Now I am seeing that you are just another thief, like me. We have the same profession. A beggar does not go to another beggar to get money. It is absurdity on the face of it. He goes to somebody who has money. In your case, I am seeing that I am a mere thief, but you are also nothing but a thief. So it is beneath my dignity to steal anything from you. In which way are you better than I am?”

The treasurer was very nervous. He said, “Will you report this matter to the king?”

The bandit replied, “No, I do not feel inclined to tell the king that you have been stealing from him.”

The treasurer wanted to guarantee that the bandit would remain silent, so he added, “Can you not take some money for yourself from here? I have got so many gold coins. There is more than enough for both of us.”

The bandit said, “If you tempt me, then I shall go to the king immediately! I want to give up stealing. My wife has been begging me and begging me to give up this way of life. Today I am going to tell my wife what happened — that I was going to steal from someone who himself was stealing. I am now listening to her. From this moment on, I am giving up stealing.”

In spite of the bandit’s sincere vow, the treasurer did not believe him. He was afraid that one day the bandit would change his mind and inform the king. So the treasurer gathered together all the ten thousand gold coins and secretly put them back in the treasury. If the bandit told the king that the treasurer had stolen the coins, then he would be able to say, “There is no proof.” The treasurer would be able to show the king that the full amount was there.

The bandit had promised his wife that this would be the last day he stole anything and on that same day he had this unique experience. Needless to say, he never stole anything again.