A Noble Sacrifice

Our story takes us back many years to a small kingdom near the mighty Himalayas. The ruler of this kingdom had one son, on whom he lavished every luxury. Unfortunately, the prince became rather irresponsible, and with his two bosom friends, one the son of a wealthy merchant, and the other, the son of a priest, the three youths spent much of their time getting into mischief.

Then one day, they over-stepped the mark, and as a result of one of their pranks, the house of an important official was burnt to the ground. When the king came to hear of this escapade, he was furious. The three youths received a severe reprimand from the king and were banned from seeing each other again.

The youths considered they had been harshly treated and decided to run away.

The prince thought this would be a great adventure, and late one night, the three youths sneaked out of their homes and met in the bazaar to plan their escape from their parents’ wrath.

After many talks, they agreed to journey through the great forest to the Kingdom of Mewar and become soldiers of fortune. “If we take a lot of money with us,” said the prince, “it will be heavy to carry. So I propose we each take one large pearl to sell whenever we need money.”

The others agreed to this, but all this conspiracy was overheard by a thief, who decided that somehow he would join the three youths and, when the opportunity occurred, would quietly divest them of their precious pearls.

The following night, the three youths slipped out of the city, but they had not gone far when our friend, the thief, waylaid them.

“Kind sirs,” he said meekly. “I am a poor man. I will be your servant and guide for a small pittance, as I know every path in the country.”

The three youths thought this a good idea, so they let the thief join them in their glorious adventure. Several days later, they blundered onto a tribal village, and the sight of the fearsome tribe members made the four adventurers hurry up their steps.

The headman of the tribe, sensing money and valuables, shouted to them to halt. Without a backward glance, the four took to their heels and soon ran for dear life, with a horde of armed tribe members after them.

They soon realised they were no match for the fleet-footed tribe members and would quickly be overtaken. The prince, gasping for breath, called to his companions to stop. “The pearls,” he cried. “If they discover them, they will surely murder us. Let’s swallow the pearls and pretend to be poor travellers.”

No sooner had they swallowed their pearls than they were pounced upon by the tribe members, who dragged them back to the village. The headman had them searched, but nothing could be found.

“That’s very strange,” muttered the headman, eyeing the youths. “Well-dressed travellers without even a single coin. Bah! Tie them up, and perhaps their tongues will wag more freely in the morning.”

Tied hand and foot, the four spent a sleepless night, and when the priest’s son begged for a drink of water, the sentry, with a mirthless chuckle, belaboured him with the haft of his spear.

Early morning, the headman entered the hut where they were imprisoned. Glaring at his prisoners, he shouted, “You cannot fool me. I think you must have swallowed your valuables. I will give you five minutes. Otherwise, we will split you open like pigs.”

The thief thought that if this brigand cut open one of the others, he would find one of the pearls. Then he will surely do the same to the rest of us. But if he starts on me, he will find nothing. Then perhaps he will set the others free.

Somehow the thief managed to get to his feet and, with a look of defiance, spat in the headman’s face. “You filthy cannibal,” he shouted. “Open me up, and you’ll find nothing disgust, the headman growled, for your trouble.”

The headman, maddened at this outburst, drew his dagger and ripped open the thief’s stomach with one savage slash. Before the thief’s body hit the ground, the tribe members leapt on it, but their search was fruitless.

Throwing his dagger down in disgust, the headman growled

“Let these others go. They have nothing worth stealing.”

Returning home, the three youths silently pondered on the noble action of the thief who had saved their lives.

Never again did the youths waste their hours on idle escapades and, in time, became worthy men of the kingdom.

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