Bedtime Stories in English - Ten Clever Viziers

 Ten Clever Viziers

The Sultan had ten clever Viziers. No wonder that the Sultan should think himself and his Sultanate quite safe. The Viziers, no doubt, were clever, but they were far from being good. Their only interest lay in stealing money from the Sultan's treasury and in exploiting his subjects. The administration became weak. A king was waiting for an opportunity to conquer the Sultanate. At last, he struck. We should not be surprised even if some of the corrupt Viziers had conspired with the invader. The Sultan was notified of the attack when it was too late. He had just enough time to escape with his queen and his infant son. The royal couple rode on for a full night and a day. They were tired. They had come to a hilly oasis on the brink of the desert. They relaxed there for a while. Suddenly they heard the sound of a gallop. "We have no time to lose. At such moments decisions have to be quick. I am sure, bandits or soldiers, nobody will harm this innocent child," said the Sultan.

He dragged the queen into hiding. He feared that if they take the child with them, it might cry. That would surely attract the attention of those who were coming. Soon a gang of bandits descended from the hills. They were surprised to see a solitary child crawling in the valley. The bandit chief took fancy for the boy. He picked him up and the gang galloped away. The couple came out after the gang went away. The child was missing. The Sultan had no way of knowing who were the people who took the child away. The Sultan's wife broke down. But the Sultan consoled her, saying, "It is not certain how long we would live and in what condition. Someone has taken up our child. Let us pray that he will look after the child properly." The Sultan and his wife managed to reach the house of a relative who too was a Sultan. Years passed. The Sultan was keeping a careful eye on his Sultanate. When he understood that the conqueror was not very careful, in guarding it, he marched upon his town with the help of his relative's army. He took his castle by surprise. The king who had unjustly occupied it was slain. The Sultan got back his throne. He did all that was possible to trace his lost son but in vain. One day a party of merchants was attacked by a bandit gang. The merchants were prepared to meet any such danger. They not only defended themselves successfully but also killed a number of bandits and captured even a greater number of them. Only a few could flee. The Sultan rewarded the merchants and ordered for the captured bandits to be killed.

As the bandits were being led away, the Sultan's attention went to a young man among them. The young man was of noble bearing and very handsome. The Sultan spared his life even after he had learned that he was the son of the bandit chief. The young man was employed in his court. As days passed, the Sultan's fondness for the young man went on increasing. He handed over to him the keys of his treasury and ordered that nobody can withdraw even a coin without his approval. In a short while, the young man made his department the most ideal of all the departments. Nobody was deprived of his due, nobody could take any money without proper justification. This made the Sultan and most of the people happy. But the ten old Viziers were very upset. They had got accustomed to looking upon the Sultan's treasury as their private treasure trove. Now they were not allowed to go anywhere near it. One day the ten Viziers entertained the young man to a sumptuous dinner and made him drunk. They carried him into the palace and, knowing fully well that the Sultan was elsewhere, laid him in the royal bed. They had heavily bribed a few palace servants to make this possible. The Sultan was back at midnight. Great was his anger at finding someone lying in his bed. He shouted for the chambermaids, not knowing who it was that lay in his bed. "He seems to be drunk, my lord," said a maid. The Viziers were waiting nearby under some pretext. They came running and all of them said in unison that to sleep in the Sultan's bed was the greatest insult to the Sultan, unheard of in history. "Let the fellow die!" shouted the Sultan.

"That is the right thing to be done, my lord," said the Chief Vizier, and all the rest agreed with him. The young man was dragged out of the bed. He was still in a daze. The Viziers told the Sultan, "This young man has been claiming for some time past that he was greater than the Sultan!" The Sultan, on seeing the young man, felt extremely sorry. Surely, he could not be happy to see him die. But it would be very embarrassing for him to withdraw his order at that stage. The next morning a crowd gathered on the execution ground, for the news of the young man's fate had spread like a wildfire. People sighed, as they loved him much. A man broke out of the crowd and fell on the young man saying, "My son! I was under the impression that you were dead, killed either by the merchants or by the Sultan's soldiers after your capture. But I am more unfortunate than I thought myself to be, now that I must see you alive only on the eve of your death." The Viziers were present there in their full force. They understood that the weeping man was none other than the bandit chief. They got him arrested and ran to the Sultan to give him the glad tiding. "Let me have a look at the fellow," said the Sultan and he went out to the execution ground. "My lord," said the bandit chief, "Kill me by all means. But spare my son who is an angel from above." "Every father thinks his son to be an angel from above!" the Chief Vizier commented with scorn.

"Sir," said the bandit chief, "how could this boy appear on a desolate valley, without a single soul to attend upon him, if he were not an angel from above? All know him to be my son. He is not. I insist, he is an angel!." "What did you say? Did you find him in the valley? Which valley? When?" asked the impatient Sultan. The bandit chief narrated in detail the account of his finding the child. There was no doubt about the fact that the young man was none other than the lost prince. The Sultan embraced the young man, tears rolling down his cheeks. An investigation showed that he had been laid on the royal bed by the clever Viziers, who wished to be too clever. "Throw all of them to their death from the highest peak in my Sultanate," ordered the Sultan. "Father, you would not know me had they not put me in your bed. That way they have done us a service, haven't they?" asked the prince. So the Sultan amended his order. "Throw them in a gaol!" he said. As far as the bandit chief was concerned, he was made the sole Vizier!.

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