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67. Ram Sham and Mango tree

Ram and Sham both claimed ownership of the same mango tree. One day they approached Birbal and asked him to settle the dispute. Birbal said to them: “There is only one way to settle the matter. Pluck all the fruits on the tree and divide them equally between the two of you. Then cut down the tree and divide the wood”. Ram thought it was a fair judgment and said so. But Sham was horrified. “Your Honor” he said to Birbal “I’ve tended that tree for seven years. I’d rather let Ram have it than see it cut down.” “Your concern for the tree has told me all I wanted to know” said Birbal, and declared Sham the true owner of the tree.

66. Sun and shadow

Birbal was missing. He and the emperor had a quarrel and Birbal had stormed out of the palace vowing never to return. Now Akbar missed him and wanted him back but no one knew where he was. Then the emperor had a brainwave. He offered a reward of 1000 gold coins to any man who could come to the palace observing the following condition. The man had to walk in the sun without an umbrella but he had to be in the shade at the same time. “Impossible,” said the people. Then a villager came carrying a string cot over his head and claimed the prize. “I’ve walked in the sun but at the same time I was in the shade of the strings of the cot,” he said. It was a brilliant solution. On interrogation the villager confessed that the idea had been suggested to him by a man living with him. “It could only be Birbal!” said the emperor, delighted. Sure enough it was Birbal and he and the emperor had a joyous reunion.

65. Deny rumours

One day a man stopped Birbal in the street and began narrating his woes to him. “I’ve walked twenty miles to see you,” he told Birbal finally, “and all along the way people kept saying you were the most generous man in the country.” Birbal knew the man was going to ask him for money. “Are you going back the same way?” he asked. “Yes,” said the man. “Will you do me a favor?” “Certainly,” said the man. “What do you want me to do?” “Please deny the rumor of my generosity,” said Birbal, walking away.