The Thanksgiving Of The Wazir

: The Olive Fairy Book

Once upon a time there lived in Hindustan two kings whose countries

bordered upon each other; but, as they were rivals in wealth and

power, and one was a Hindu rajah and the other a Mohammedan badshah,

they were not good friends at all. In order, however, to escape

continual quarrels, the rajah and the badshah had drawn up an

agreement, stamped and signed, declaring that if any of their

subjects, from the least to the
reatest, crossed the boundary between

the two kingdoms, he might be seized and punished.

One morning the badshah and his chief wazir, or prime minister, were

just about to begin their morning's work over the affairs of the

kingdom, and the badshah had taken up a pen and was cutting it to his

liking with a sharp knife, when the knife slipped and cut off the tip

of his finger.

'Oh-he, wazir!' cried the king, 'I've cut the tip of my finger off!'

'That is good hearing!' said the wazir in answer.

'Insolent one,' exclaimed the king. 'Do you take pleasure in the

misfortunes of others, and in mine also? Take him away, my guards, and

put him in the court prison until I have time to punish him as he


Instantly the officers in attendance seized upon the luckless wazir,

and dragged him out of the king's presence towards the narrow doorway,

through which unhappy criminals were wont to be led to prison or

execution. As the door opened to receive him, the wazir muttered

something into his great white beard which the soldiers could not


'What said the rascal?' shouted the angry king.

He says, 'he thanks your majesty,' replied one of the gaolers. And at

his words, the king stared at the closing door, in anger and


'He must be mad,' he cried, 'for he is grateful, not only for the

misfortunes of others, but for his own; surely something has turned

his head!'

Now the king was very fond of his old wazir, and although the court

physician came and bound up his injured finger with cool and healing

ointment, and soothed the pain, he could not soothe the soreness of

the king's heart, nor could any of all his ministers and courtiers,

who found his majesty very cross all the day long.

Early next morning the king ordered his horse and declared that he

would go hunting. Instantly all was bustle and preparation in stable

and hall, and by the time he was ready a score of ministers and

huntsmen stood ready to mount and accompany him; but to their

astonishment the king would have none of them. Indeed, he glared at

them so fiercely that they were glad to leave him. So away and away he

wandered, over field and through forest, so moody and thoughtful that

many a fat buck and gaudy pheasant escaped without notice, and so

careless was he whither he was going that he strayed without

perceiving it over into the rajah's territory, and only discovered the

fact when, suddenly, men stepped from all sides out of a thicket, and

there was nothing left but surrender. Then the poor badshah was seized

and bound and taken to the rajah's prison, thinking most of the time

of his wazir, who was suffering a similar fate, and wishing that, like

the wazir, he could feel that there was something to give thanks for.

That night the rajah held a special council to consider what should

be done to his rival who had thus given himself into his hands. All

the Brahmans were sent for--fat priests who understood all about

everything, and what days were lucky and what unlucky--and, whilst all

the rest of the rajah's councillors were offering him different advice

until he was nearly crazy with anger and indecision, the chief Brahman

was squatting in a corner figuring out sums and signs to himself with

an admiring group of lesser priests around him. At last he arose, and

advanced towards the throne.

'Well,' said the rajah anxiously, 'what have you to advise?'

'A very unlucky day!' exclaimed the chief Brahman. 'Oh, a very unlucky

day! The god Devi is full of wrath, and commands that to-morrow you

must chop off this badshah's head and offer it in to him in


'Ah, well,' said the rajah, 'let it be done. I leave it to you to

carry out the sentence.' And he bowed to the priests and left the


Before dawn great preparations were being made for a grand festival in

honour of the great idol Devi. Hundreds of banners waved, hundreds of

drummers drummed, hundreds of singers chanted chants, hundreds of

priests, well washed and anointed, performed their sacred rites,

whilst the rajah sat, nervous and ill at ease, amongst hundreds of

courtiers and servants, wishing it were all well over. At last the

time came for the sacrifice to be offered, and the poor badshah was

led out bound, to have his head chopped off.

The chief Brahman came along with a smile on his face, and a big sword

in his hand, when, suddenly, he noticed that the badshah's finger was

tied up in a bit of rag. Instantly he dropped the sword, and, with his

eyes starting out of his head with excitement, pounced upon the rag

and tore it off, and there he saw that the tip of his victim's finger

was missing. At this he got very red and angry indeed, and he led the

badshah up to where the rajah sat wondering.

'Behold! O rajah,' he said, 'this sacrifice is useless, the tip of his

finger is gone! A sacrifice is no sacrifice unless it is complete.'

And he began to weep with rage and mortification.

But of instead of wailing likewise, the rajah gave a sigh of relief,

and answered: 'Well, that settles the matter. If it had been anyone

else I should not have minded; but, somehow--a king and all--well, it

doesn't seem quite right to sacrifice a king.' And with that he jumped

up and with his jewelled dagger cut the badshah's cords, and marched

with him out of the temple back to the palace.

After having bathed and refreshed his guest, the rajah loaded him with

gifts, and himself accompanied him with a large escort as far as the

frontier between their kingdoms, where, amidst salutes and great

rejoicings, they tore up the old agreement and drew up another in

which each king promised welcome and safe conduct to any of the

other's people, from the least to the greatest, who came over the

border on any errand whatever. And so they embraced, and each went his

own way.

When the badshah got home that very evening he sent for his imprisoned


'Well, O wazir!' he said, when the old man had been brought before

him, 'what think you has been happening to me?'

'How can a man in prison know what is happening outside it?' answered

the wazir.

Then the badshah told him all his adventures. And when he had reached

the end he added:

'I have made up my mind, as a token of gratitude for my escape, to

pardon you freely, if you will tell me why you gave thanks when I cut

off the tip of my finger.'

'Sire,' replied the old wazir, 'am I not right in thinking that it

was a very lucky thing for you that you did cut off the tip of your

finger, for otherwise you would certainly have lost your head. And to

lose a scrap of one's finger is surely the least of the two evils.'

'Very true,' answered the king, touching his head as he spoke, as if

to make quite certain that it was still there, 'but yet--why did you

likewise give thanks when I put you into prison?'

'I gave thanks,' said the wazir, 'because it is good always to give

thanks. And had I known that my being in prison was to prevent the god

Devi claiming me instead of your majesty, as a perfect offering, I

should have given greater thanks still.'

(Punjabi story.)