Bedtime Audio Stories in English - The Foolish Judge

 The Foolish Judge

In the olden days, the landlords in China could do anything they liked. One could become the commander of his own small army, his own minister and, as if that was not enough, could take the role of a public teacher and philosopher too. Zhang was such a landlord. When the old judge of the area died, he decided to keep that position for himself. In those days the kings just approved of the decisions taken by the landlords. However, the king happened to pass by Zhang's territory. He decided to witness a trial conducted by the landlord before giving him the permission to become a judge. The case that came before Zhang was that of two villagers. The first villager had lost a chunk of his nose for no other reason than the second villager having bitten it off. While the king looked on, the nervous Zhang asked the agreed villager, "How did you lose your nose?" "Sir, this fellow bit it off!" answered the man.

"How could you do it?" the new judge asked the second villager. "I did not do it, sir. He bit his nose off himself." "Is that possible?" demanded the judge. "How can one's mouth reach one's nose?" "Sir, it is true that ordinarily, one's mouth cannot reach one's nose, but this fellow stood on a stool and did that trick!" explained the second villager. The landlord turned judge looked at the king who was listening to the proceedings attentively. Afraid of keeping the king waiting long, the landlord was in a hurry to pass his judgment. "Right, right. That is what the fellow must have done. Award him forty strokes for telling lies before us. Now the court rises for lunch," said the landlord. Then he led the king into his dining hall and fed him sumptuously. But the king looked very grave. "Was there anything wrong with my judgment?" Zhang asked his wife after the king had retired for an afternoon siesta. "Of course, you acted like a fool. Here is a stool. Stand on it and try to bite your own nose. See if you succeed," said his wife. Zhang jumped onto the stool and tried his best to achieve the feat, but failed. He looked very gloomy. "What should I do now? What will the king think of me?" he asked his wife. Accordingly, with the permission of the king, Zhang reopened the trial in the afternoon. No doubt, by that time the first villager had already received the punishment, but that did not matter. Now Zhang ordered the second villager to be equally punished.

His wife stood on the balcony, hiding herself from the king, but facing him. She wanted to be sure that everything went all right at least this time. Lest her husband should make any mistake regarding the number of strokes to be given to the guilty man, she showed four fingers indicating that he should receive forty strokes. The landlord who stole glances at her, said, "Four strokes!" His wife clenched her teeth in disgust, Zhang who saw it shouted, "No, no. Not strokes. Bite off his nose!" He was sure that is what his wife meant to be done. While saying this Zhang was looking at the king. Zhang's wife desperately tried to attract his attention towards herself. So, she pointed her hands at herself. Zhang took note of it and shouted with authority. "Wait, wait, my wife will bite off his nose!" This was enough. The king could not check his amusement from bursting into a loud laugh. He stood up, ready to leave. Needless to say, Zhang's ambition to become a judge remained unfulfilled.

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