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How can I pull out My Well?

There once lived in a small country, a clever but poor young man. A weaver by trade, he not only did a good job of weaving but his intelligent mind solved problems for many.

By and by the king heard of him. He employed the young man. Within a short time the king was pleased by his intelligence and raised him to the post of Diwan or chief of his ministers. With great care, the young man did his job and the kingdom prospered.

The king was extremely pleased with the Diwan. But others were restless. They did not like to see a poor weaver as a Diwan. Amongst them was a chieftain of a neighbouring district of the kingdom. He was rich and hoped to get the job of a Diwan. When news reached him that the post had been filled by a poor weaver, he wasted no time. He picked up his precious gems and rode off to the king's palace.

The king was happy indeed to receive the beautiful jewels which the chieftain presented to him.

The chieftain said, "Sire, yours is a rich kingdom and your fame has spread far and wide. What will people say when they hear that you have chosen a poor weaver as your Diwan? They will laugh at you and that is a thing we will not allow. The wisest thing for you to do will be to remove this man from the post."

"But how can I do that?" asked the king. "My Diwan is an intelligent man and does his work to my satisfaction. How can I send him away?"

The chieftain thought. There was complete silence in the big room. Then a smile spread on the man's face.

He said, "Sire, you say that he is intelligent. Then test his intelligence and see whether he is really fit for the high post. Call for him and say, 'Get me a glass of bullock's milk by evening or you will lose your job.'"

The king was surprised by the strange request. Bullock's milk! He'd never heard of such a thing before!

He immediately called for the Diwan and gave the orders. Of course, he secretly hoped that the young man would succeed, for he liked him and did not want to lose him.

As for the Diwan, he felt as though he had already lost the job. Though he was rather proud of his intelligence and could solve the most difficult problem, he was unable to see how he could bring something which did not exist. He returned home and spent the whole day in deep thought.

In the evening, he called his sister, and giving her a silver glass and plate, he said, "Cover the glass with the plate and go to the king's court. There is a message you are to deliver to him."

The girl set off for the palace. When she was brought before the king, he asked, "Why are you here? Why hasn't your brother come as I had commanded him?"

"Sire, please excuse him. He gave birth to a son this afternoon and hence he couldn't come," said the girl with head bowed.

"Silly girl," shouted the king, "whoever heard of a man giving birth to a child?"

Without raising her head, pat came the reply, "Whoever heard of a bullock giving milk?"

The question put the king to shame and he said, "Go home, girl, go home. Send the Diwan to work tomorrow."

The chieftain came the next day, sure that the weaver had lost his job, for how could he have got bullock's milk? When the king told him what had happened, the chieftain said, "The weaver has passed the first test. Here is another. Tell him that since he is a weaver by trade, he should weave for you a kurta or a long coat of spider's web within a fortnight. If he is unable to deliver it by that time, he will lose his job."

The king once again did as he was told. The idea of wearing a kurta of spider's web was indeed a new one. He called the Diwan and gave the orders. The Diwan smiled.

For a few days he did not appear at the palace. There was no sign of him anywhere. The king was sure that he was busy weaving the kurta and felt very pleased. He thanked the chieftain for his grand idea and even rewarded him well.

On the sixth day, the Diwan arrived with a small glass in his hand.

He said, "Sire, will you please ask your men to set fire to the lake in your garden! I wish to collect some of the water's ash as only with the help of this can I weave a kurta of spider's web."

"B-u-t...," stammered the king at the strange request, "whoever heard of water catching fire and of water's ash?"

The weaver bowed low and asked, "Whoever heard of a kurta made of spider's web?"

"What you say is true," said the king. "I have never myself heard of such a kurta though I would have loved to wear one. There is no need to carry out this order. Go and do your work."

Once again the chieftain returned to find that the Diwan was still there. He said to the king, "Sire, the weaver is fit for the job if he passes this last and most difficult test. Tell him that he must uproot the well that is in his courtyard and put it in the market-place next to the old banyan tree. This he must do in a day's time or give up his job."

"Now, that is a good piece of advice. There isn't any well in the market-place."

The Diwan was called. The strange order didn't seem to bother him at all. He went home and soon returned with a big fat rope.

"Why have you come to court with that fat rope?" asked the king.

"Sire, I have tied one end of the rope to my well. Let me tie the other end to your well. I would further request you to command your well to lift my well from my courtyard and put it in the market-place. I tried to lift it but it is too heavy for me."

"But what a silly request!" exclaimed the king. "How can I command my well to pull out your well?"

"Then how can I pull out my well?"

The king did not know what to say. After a moment's silence, he said, "You have won. Thrice I tested your intelligence and thrice you won. You shall remain my Diwan, no matter what people say."

He then called the chieftain and said, "You are no longer in my employ. Leave my kingdom and try your fortune elsewhere."

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