The diamond ring

Once a princess, her maids and a few guards were by the side of a river. The princess entered into the river to swim and left her diamond ring on the bank. She didn’t give the ring to any particular person; she just left it inside a jewellery box on the shore. Some of the maids were watching her swim, while others were just enjoying the day. The guards were not standing near the princess and her maids, because they knew that the princess was quite safe.

When the princess came out of the river, she saw that the diamond ring was missing from the box. She looked around and asked, “Who has taken my ring?”

Nobody wanted to confess. The princess said, “The two or three guards were quite far from the box. I know that they didn’t do it. My maids have all been with me for years. But one of them must have taken it. This is such an embarrassing situation. How am I going to catch the thief?

“My father has such faith in astrologers. Some astrologer will be able to tell us secretly which maid has taken the ring. Then that person will have to give it back. But I don’t want to embarrass that maid. Once I get it back, I won’t blame the thief. I will be happy just to have my diamond ring back.”

Then the princess said to the maids, “I am giving you one last chance. Tonight whoever has stolen the ring can put it in my room. Otherwise, tomorrow I will ask an astrologer who the culprit is.”

The princess thought that since the maids had such faith in astrologers, the culprit would return the ring. But the following day the ring was still nowhere to be found. So the princess called in an astrologer and said, “Yesterday I was swimming, and when I came out of the river I discovered that my diamond necklace was missing. But nobody wants to confess that they have taken it. This is a very embarrassing situation. Can you tell me who has taken my necklace?”

The astrologer looked around and said, “Your maids are all nice people. They are very faithful and devoted. The thief was somebody else who was walking by. I can see him. He is now in another village. If you want, I will be able to concentrate on this person and catch him.”

The princess got mad at the astrologer. She said, “I didn’t lose a necklace. It was a diamond ring! What kind of astrologer are you?”

The princess told her father what had happened and the king told his guards to thrash this useless astrologer. The astrologer cried out, “Please don’t thrash me. I will be very sincere. The maids bribed me. That is why I said that somebody else was the thief. Since I could not save them, the best thing is for me to give them their money back.”

The king immediately fired all the maids and ordered the astrologer to leave the palace. Then the king sent for a different astrologer.

This time the princess said to the astrologer, “I had a necklace and also a diamond ring in a box near the river where I was swimming. There were a few more items in the box, but these two things were missing when I came out of the river. Please tell me if one of my maids was the thief or if the thief was somebody else. Although father has fired the maids, they have not yet left the palace. We want to know who the culprit is.”

The astrologer went deep within and said, “Princess, you are wrong. You didn’t lose a necklace. Your necklace is still inside the box. But your diamond ring is missing. Please look inside the jewellery box. I am sure your necklace is there.”

The princess knew that the necklace was there, but she pretended to go to her room and look in the box. She returned to the astrologer, pretending to be quite happy that she had found her necklace. Now she had all faith that this astrologer would be able to tell her who the actual culprit was.

The astrologer said, “The culprit is in the palace. But before I embarrass that person, will it not be advisable for us to leave the room so that whoever has stolen the ring can secretly put it here? Then the princess will get her ring back.”

The king got furious. “The maids are such bad people. They bribed the first astrologer because they thought that I would be angry at their negligence. If any one of them saw the culprit stealing, why is she not telling us?”

At that time the real culprit came and fell at the feet of the king and placed the diamond ring before him. She said, “O King, forgive me, forgive me.”

The king said, “Now I have got my daughter’s ring back. Either I can continue my anger or I can forgive you. Now that I am happy and the princess is happy, I will forgive all of you. You can again work at the palace. But never steal again!”

So the king forgave the maids and allowed them to work at the palace once again.