196. Birbal's Magical Sticks



Someone was robbing the imperial kitchen, but the steward didn't know who. "Help me, Birbal!" he pleaded.
Birbal gathered some sticks and then addressed the kitchen staff. "These are my magical detecting sticks; each is the same length." He gave each person a stick. "Put this under your pillow tonight. The thief's greedy thoughts will make his stick grow longer."
The next morning, the staff presented their sticks.
One stick was much shorter than the rest!
"Behold the thief, who cut his stick to make it shorter," proclaimed Birbal. "By trying to prove his innocence, he has revealed his guilt."

Inspired byA Caravan from Hindustan: The Complete Birbal Tales by James Moseley
Notes: This story is titled "The Thief's Stick" in the book. In that version, Birbal is helping a local merchant, but I relocated the story to the imperial kitchens.


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