The minister's trick

There was once a kingdom where everybody had been living peacefully for years and years. One day a thief came into the kingdom and began creating problems for everyone. Every day reports would come in that something else had been stolen. The peace of the kingdom disappeared.

The king asked his minister to find the thief, but he could not find him. Finally, the king said to the minister, “If you can’t find him, I will have to get another minister. Previously this was such a peaceful kingdom. Now it is full of suffering. Every day more people come to me and say that their things have been stolen.”

The minister was afraid of losing his job, so he began praying to God to give him some Light from above. Then he went to the king and said, “Tomorrow I will catch the thief.”

The king said, “Tomorrow?”

“Yes,” said the minister. “I will catch him tomorrow.”

The king was so delighted. The following day the minister ordered that an announcement be made throughout the kingdom that the thief would finally be caught. Then the minister bribed someone to say that he was the thief. He told him, “I will arrest you and bring you before the king. You will confess that you are the culprit. Don’t worry, I will save you from any punishment. You take this money from me.”

Everybody in the kingdom was talking about the minister’s announcement. They were so happy and excited that the thief would finally be caught. Many people came to the palace so that they could see the bandit when the minister brought him to the king.

The next day, the minister rushed to the palace with the “thief”, acting so happy and excited that he had caught him. The king said to the man, “You have created so many problems. Such joy we once had in my kingdom. Now you deserve severe punishment.”

The man said, “Whatever you want to do with me, I am ready, O King.” Inwardly he had faith that the minister would save him.

The king said, “I am sentencing you to twenty years in jail.”

Everybody in the palace applauded the king’s decision. The minister said, “It is absolutely right that this fellow deserves a long punishment. But I have another idea.”

“I am very interested to hear of another kind of punishment,” said the king. “Please tell me your idea.”

“You always tell me,” said the minister, “that you want your kingdom to be the only peaceful kingdom. In other kingdoms you say you want unrest, unhappiness and misery. You want other subjects to suffer and your subjects alone to be happy.”

“That is absolutely correct,” said the king.

The minister continued, “Let us send this fellow into your worst enemy’s kingdom. Let him create there the same problems that he has been creating here. Your kingdom will be full of peace again, just like before, and your enemy’s kingdom will be full of suffering.”

“It is an excellent idea!” exclaimed the king. “Let me give him lots of money since he will be doing us a favour.”

The man was so excited to receive so much money from the king, and the king was so excited with the minister’s new plan. All the people watching in the palace were happy that their kingdom would be peaceful once again, while the enemy’s kingdom would be full of unrest and unhappiness.

So the minister, the thief and two guards set out to go to the other kingdom. When they reached the neutral territory between the two kingdoms, they let the thief go.

All of a sudden a very big, strong and stout bandit came out and attacked the so-called thief.

He said, “I was in the crowd at the palace observing everything that happened. How dare you get so much attention and money by saying you were the thief! It was I who used to steal and create all the problems. Now you have got so much money just to go to another kingdom. It is I who have stolen, but compared to what you have just received, I have got next to nothing. What you have got from the king you have to give me. Otherwise, I will kill you.”

Immediately the guards who had been following the fake thief arrested the real one and brought him to the king. The minister said to the king, “Now we have got the real thief. We have caught him red-handed.”

The king said, “What shall we do? Do you think we should kill him?”

The minister said, “If we send him to the enemy kingdom, it is not going to help us. God alone knows what he is going to do there. Since he is such a bad fellow, the best thing is for us to kill him.”

So this is how the minister caught the thief and saved the kingdom. The minister knew that when the real thief came to learn how much attention the false thief was getting and how much money the king had given him, at that time he would not be able to remain silent.