Tales : The Value of the Sword

It happened once upon a time that Birbal, the chief minister of the Emperor Akbar, came to know of a woman who was in great financial difficulty. She was the widow of a soldier who had lost his life in battle, and now she had nothing left but her husband’s sword. When Birbal heard of her situation, he said, “Bring your husband’s sword to the palace and present it to the Emperor.”

The next day the woman came to the palace, as directed, greeted the Emperor with great respect, and humbly offered him her husband’s sword.

Puzzled, Akbar glanced at Birbal, who was standing in attendance, and then examined the sword. It was an ordinary sword, old, worn and rusty, and with a shrug the Emperor handed it back to the woman, saying, “I see no value in this.”

“Majesty, say not so,” said Birbal. “This venerable sword is worth its weight in gold.”

“In gold?” said Akbar incredulously. “Why?”

“A sword that has been handled by the great Emperor himself,” Birbal said, “must have a special value.”

And thanks to the wisdom of Birbal, the woman went home with the weight of the sword in coins of gold.

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