Birbal and the Detecting Sticks

Someone was robbing the imperial kitchen, but the steward didn't know who. "Help me, Birbal!" he pleaded.
Birbal assembled the kitchen staff. "These are my magical detecting sticks. They're all the same length as you can see," he explained, giving each person a stick. "Put the stick under your pillow tonight. The thief's thoughts will make the stick grow exactly one palm's width in length."
The next morning, the staff presented their sticks. One stick was not longer but shorter than the other sticks.
"Behold the thief!" proclaimed Birbal. "He has revealed his guilt while trying to demonstrate his innocence."


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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