A Wise Ruler

Raschid the Great, Sultan of the Turkish Empire, was a wise and benevolent ruler. For many decades war had not disturbed the peace of the land, and his subjects were contented and happy.

Whenever he could cast the cares of the state aside, the Sultan loved to spend his time in the palace gardens and orchards. His special pride was his mango orchard, where he had over one hundred species of this delicious fruit, and he took great pains to see that his gardeners tended to the trees.

Now it so happened that a wandering beggar passed that way on one scorching summer day. He was pretty old, and it had been a trying day, with no one willing to give him even the smallest coin to appease his hunger.

His faltering footsteps took him along the road bordering the palace orchards, and when he saw the heavily laden mango trees, his thirst and hunger became unbearable. At several spots, branches with their luscious fruit hung over the wall and looked inviting.

The beggar found a good size stone and threw it well into the branches. Several fruits came tumbling down, and the beggar pounced on them joyfully. But, unluckily for him, the stone he threw struck the Sultan well and truly on his bald pate.

By Allah, someone is trying to assassinate me, thought the Sultan as he rubbed the tender swelling. Shouting to his guards, the Sultan ordered them to catch the miscreant trying to murder him.

In no time, all Sultan’s bodyguards poured out of the palace gates to hunt down the would-be assassin. Sitting against the garden wall, they found the old beggar busily eating the mangoes that had come his way there.

Hoisting him to his feet, two burly guardsmen pinioned the old beggar and hurried him to the palace orchard with the sharp end of their spears, where a very aggrieved Sultan confronted him.

“Did you throw this stone?” demanded the Sultan, pointing to the stone at his feet.

Fearing that his life would soon end, the beggar threw himself down on his knees. “I am guilty,” he sobbed. “I was so hungry, I threw the stone into the mango tree and ate the two fallen fruits. But believe me. I had no intention of harming anyone.”

The Sultan looked searchingly at the beggar. Then the anger turned to a smile. Beckoning to one of his ministers, the Sultan said. “As long as this man lives, he will receive one piece of gold each month from my treasury.”

Everyone was astonished at Sultan’s action, and when the grateful beggar had departed, they asked the Sultan why he did not punish the beggar.

“Let me ask you a question,” said the Sultan. “Who is the greatest, a mango tree or myself?”

“You are the greatest in the world,” was the quick retort.

“Then,” said the Sultan. “If a mango tree gives a hungry beggar two fruits, I, who was hit with the same stone, should also give the beggar something to relieve his distress.”

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