194. Birbal and the Two Mothers
Two women brought a dispute to Akbar's court, and Akbar told Birbal to decide the case.
"This baby's mine!" shouted one woman.
"No, he's mine!" shouted the other.
"Bring a glass of poisoned milk," commanded Birbal.
He then gave the milk to the woman holding the baby. "Have the baby drink this, or drink it yourself."
She hesitated, but then tilted the milk into the baby's mouth.
The other woman screamed, grabbed the glass of milk, and drank the poison herself.
Birbal smiled. "The milk is not poisoned," he said gently. "And now I know the baby is indeed yours."
Inspired by: A Caravan from Hindustan: The Complete Birbal Tales by James Moseley
Notes: This story is titled "The False Mother" in the book. Compare the famous Biblical story of King Solomon: Judgment of Solomon. In that story, Solomon threatens to cut the baby in two.