The King Who Loved Stories
There was a certain king of Persia, who was unlike other kings before him and he was always in search of pleasure, fun, and various amusements. It happened one day that a courtier who wished to please his master and get into his good books read him a story from the Arabian Nights. The king was glad to hear the story, he wanted the courtier to read out more stories for him. Soon, the time came when the courtier ran out of all his stories and had no more to tell.
Now, the king had it announced in his kingdom that whoever told him a story, which he had never heard before will be rewarded richly from his treasury. His subjects on hearing his decree travelled from all over his kingdom to narrate him the stories they knew and went home rewarded on the merits of their stories. The king was by this time had developed a fondness for hearing stories. He had it announced in his kingdom that if any man could tell him a story that lasted forever, he would make him his heir and give his daughter’s hand in marriage to him, but if anybody would pretend that he could tell such a story and failed – i.e. if his story came to an end – he was going to get his head chopped off, and he passed a decree to this effect.
For such a grand prize as a beautiful princess and a kingdom, people came to him from different parts of the world and told him extremely long stories. Some of them lasted a week, others a month, one went as far as six months, but ultimately their stories came to an end, and along with them their lives.
In the kingdom, there lived an extremely intelligent man who knew the kingdom would never prosper under a king who was fond of hearing stories. He decided the time had come to replace the foolish king with a better person who could manage the affairs of the kingdom without wasting his precious time listening to stories! Finally, he decided to take the matters into his own hands, and appeared before the king as a candidate for the task of telling him a story without an end.
“O’ king, there was once a ruler who was a great tyrant; and desiring to increase his riches, he seized all the corn and grain in his kingdom and stored it into an immense granary, as high as a mountain, which he had built for this purpose.
This he did for several years until the granary was completely filled. He then had all the openings to the granary closed from all sides. However, the bricklayers to the granary had a hole by accident near the top of the granary. Since his kingdom was without any corn, his subjects slowly started leaving the kingdom to other places in search of food. Likewise the birds of the land searched far and wide for grain and not finding any, decided that it was time to migrate to distant lands.
Soon, a small bird discovered the hole in the granary by accident. But the hole was so small that only one bird could pass through the hole at a time. Excitedly, the small bird carried the good news to other birds of the land.
They all gathered near the hole, and looked in it and true to their amazement found out that all the things, which had been told to them by the bird were true. So, one bird entered the hole and carried of one grain of corn; then another bird went in and carried off another grain of corn; and then another bird went in and carried another grain of corn; and then another bird went in...”
The storyteller had gone ahead with his story from morning until night, Then, the king who had been very patient with him began to grow tired of hearing the birds carrying the corns of grain one at a time, and one day after a month interrupted the story with:
“Well, well, we had enough of the birds carrying the grains of corn; we will suppose that they had all the corn they wanted; tell us what happened next.”
The storyteller was not the type of person who was going to be hurried at his task. He answered, “ Your Majesty! It is impossible to tell you what happened afterwards before I have told you what happened first.”
The king listened to the man with admirable patience for another six months, when he again interrupted him; “My friend, I am weary of hearing your birds carrying corns in their beaks! How soon do you think they will finish?”
The storyteller replied with an amazing presence of mind: “O’ king who can tell? At the time, which my story has come all the birds in the kingdom of the tyrant had only managed to eat a small portion of the grain, but let your Majesty have patience, and no doubt we shall come to the end of the story in good time.”
Thus encouraged, the king listened to the same thing being repeated again and again for one complete year and the storyteller going strong on his story like never before as if it had no end. At last, the poor king could bear it no longer, and cried out:
“O’ man! That is enough! Take my daughter, take my kingdom, take anything and everything, only let me not hear anymore about the birds carrying the corn in their beaks flying in and out of the granary.”
And so the storyteller was married to the beautiful daughter of the king and was declared king. And, the first task, after becoming the king of the land was that he ordered his soldiers to put his father-in-law under house arrest in a palace, and provide him with whatever that was needed by him, until the end of his life. The soldiers gladly carried out his orders, for the foolish king had brought his kingdom on the verge of utter ruin with his fascination for hearing stories. In this way, the foolishness of a king for hearing stories and other amusing things came to an end and the affairs of the kingdom were restored to order by the new king.