Once upon a time, a merchant came into the royal court of king Akbar. He complained to the king that the money which he had tied and kept in a leather bag in his cupboard was missing. He also said to the king that there were 4 servants in the house when the money was taken. As he did not want any of the servants to leave, he could not punish anyone without proper evidence. The king promised to get him justice and asked him to bring the 4 servants to the court the next day.
The next day, the merchant came to the court along with his 4 servants. Akbar immediately handed over the case to Birbal. He readily accepted it. Birbal went to each of them and gave them a wooden stick. He said to them that the sticks were of a magical nature and the thief’s stick would grow by 4 inches. Birbal told all 4 of them to keep the sticks with them as they sleep and to bring it along with them the next day when they come to court. After this, the 4 servants left the court.
The next day, the 4 of them came to the royal court with their sticks. Birbal collected all their sticks and analysed them one by one. One of the sticks was shorter by 4 inches. This stick belonged to Barkat, who was one of the servants. Birbal then told the other 3 servants to leave. He then turned to the king and said that the sticks were not magical in nature and in fact, they were only ordinary sticks. He also said that at night, thinking that his stick would grow, Barkat cut the stick by exactly 4 inches and hence he was the culprit.
Birbal then made Barkat confess to his crime and return the stolen money to the merchant. Akbar and the other ministers sang praises for the wit of Birbal.
Moral – One must learn to act rationally in tough situations, otherwise they are bound to suffer.