The land of Durgapur was ruled by King Samudragupta. He was an able and intelligent ruler.
One day, two men who were quarrelling to his court.
King Samudragupta asked them, “What brings you here?”
The two men bowed and introduced themselves as Chandan and Shankar.
Chandan said, “Your Majesty, I am a traveller. I came to this city last night and requested shelter for a night at this man’s house, taking him to be a good man. I had a pouch of a thousand gold coins with me which I had earned recently.
While I was asleep, this man crept into my room and stole my pouch. He now claims it to be his. Please give me justice, Your Majesty.”
King Samudragupta asked Shankar, “What do you have to say to this?”
Shankar replied, “Your Majesty, Chandan is lying. This is my hard-earned money which he stole from my house when I was asleep. He is taking advantage of my hospitality. He is a liar.”
After listening to both of them, King Samudragupta sat lost deep in thought. His courtiers wondered how he was going to solve this case.
Suddenly, King Samudragupta asked them about their work. Both replied that they were traders. The king then asked, “What do you deal in?” He learnt that they both were horse traders.
The king nodded and asked them to follow him to the Royal Stables.
At the stables, the king murmured something to the horsekeeper. The keeper immediately brought a horse in front of all of them.
King Samudragupta said, “Since both of you are horse traders, I would like to have your valuable opinion regarding this horse which I have recently bought.
What do you think of this classic Arabian horse? Do you think I can use it in the army? Kindly inspect it and let me have your opinion separately in the court.”
Chandan first met the king in the court. He said, “Your Majesty, that Arabian horse is truly magnificent. It is of good breed, excellent and reliable to be used in the army. I am sure, you can win any battle with him. It won’t let you down.”
King Samudragupta smiled and said, “Thank you for your valuable opinion.
May I know from where you buy your horses? Have you bought any Arabian horses?”
Chandan smiled and replied, “Oh yes, Your Majesty. I have bought many Arabian horses. I have also spent years in Arabia. In fact, I specialise in Arabian horses mostly.”
King Samudragupta said thoughtfully, “The Sultan of Arabia, Sheik Ahmed Ali is a dear friend of mine. It has been a long time since I have met him.”
Nodding, Chandan said with a smile, “Oh yes, Sultan Sheik Ahmed Ali is indeed a very noble person like Your Majesty.”
King Samudragupta smiled and called Shankar after Chandan left.
Shankar bowed and said humbly, “Your Majesty, I regret to say that someone has tricked you. That is not an Arabian horse as Your Majesty had mentioned but is from a local breed. Secondly, it is not fit for the army as the horse is aged. One can notice the signs of aging by looking at its droopy lips, sunken eyes, drooping joints, rough coat etc.”
King Samudragupta listened attentively and put forth the same question which he had asked Chandan.
Shankar replied, “I buy Arabian horses from Arabia, Your Majesty. I go there once a year, stay for a few months and bring back the best of Arabian horses and sell them here for a profit. That is how I make my living.”
King Samudragupta mentioned his friend Sultan of Arabia, Sheik Ahmed Ali to him.
Surprised, Shankar said, “Please pardon me for correcting you. The Sultan’s name is Haider Ali Khan and not Sheik Ahmed Ali. In fact, Haider Ali Khan has been the Sultan of Arabia for years.”
The courtiers could not understand what the king was doing. They felt that their king had forgotten the case of the gold coins and gone completely off track.
King Samudragupta asked Chandan to be bought back.
In the presence of the two men and courtiers, the king said, “All of you have heard the two different versions given by Chandan and Shankar.
By asking them a few questions, I learnt a lot about them. I purposely showed them an aged horse belonging to a local breed and asked for their opinion. Only Shankar could answer correctly. My second test was when I spoke about the Sultan, purposely not giving out his real name. While Chandan went along with me, it was Shankar who corrected me because he is the real trader and has been to Arabia.
Chandan has been lying since the very beginning. His lack of knowledge about the horses gave him away, and the name test revealed that he had never been to Arabia.
I hereby order my men to arrest Chandan and order him to return the pouch of gold coins to Shankar, the rightful owner.”
Chandan was arrested, and Shankar bowed gratefully before the king. The king also offered Shankar the task of buying Arabian horses for the Royal Stables.
The courtiers sang the praises of their king who, with his intelligence had solved the case rightfully.