92. The Mystery of the Missing Necklace

The Mystery of the Missing Necklace

[Chap 1. One Crime Leads to Another]

Once upon a time, King Brahmadatta was ruling in Benares in northern India. After completing his education, the Enlightenment Being became one of his ministers.

One day the king went on an outing to his pleasure garden. A big crowd from the court went with him. They visited many parts of the lovely park. Near a cool forest they came upon a beautiful clear pond. The king decided to go for a swim. So he dove into the water. Then he invited all the ladies of his harem to join him in the refreshing pond.

Laughing together, the harem women took off all their ornaments and jewelry – from their heads, necks, ears. wrists, fingers, waists, ankles and toes. Along with their outer clothing, they handed all these over to their servant girls for safekeeping. Then they jumped into the pond with King Brahmadatta.

The king had given one of his favorite queens a very valuable pearl necklace. She was so fond of it that she called it by a pet name, ‘Most Precious’.

It just so happened that a curious she-monkey had been watching all this from a branch of a nearby tree. Peering between the green leaves, she had paid very close attention. When she had caught sight of the Most Precious pearl necklace, her eyes had nearly popped out of her head!

Imagining how grand she would look wearing the queen’s beautiful necklace, she patiently watched the servant girl who was guarding it. In the beginning the girl watched very carefully. But the heat of the day soon made her drowsy. When the she-monkey saw her start to snooze. she swung down from the tree as fast as the wind. In a flash she grabbed the necklace called Most Precious, put it around her neck, and ran back up the tree.

Afraid that the other monkeys would see it, the little thief hid the gleaming pearl necklace in a hollow of the tree. Then she sat guarding her loot, remaining silent and pretending to be as innocent as a nun!

In a minute or two the servant girl awoke from her accidental nap. Frightened, she immediately looked over the queen’s possessions. When she saw the necklace was missing she yelled out in terror, “Help! Help! Some man has taken the queen’s pearl necklace, the one called Most Precious!”

After running to her side, security guards went and reported the theft to the king. He ordered them to stop at nothing, and to catch the thief immediately. Frightened of the king’s wrath, the guards began dashing madly around the pleasure garden searching for the thief.

At that very moment there happened to be a poor man walking just outside the garden. He was on his way back to his far-off home village after paying his meager taxes to the royal treasury. The commotion from inside the park scared him and he started running away.

Unfortunately, the security guards saw him running and said to each other, “That must be the thief!” They rushed through the garden gate and after a short chase easily captured the innocent man. They began beating him as they shouted, “You no good thief! Confess that you robbed the queen’s pearl necklace, the one she calls Most Precious.”

The poor man thought, “If I say I didn’t take it, these men will beat me to death for sure. But if I confess, they will have to take me to the king.” So he said, “Yes, I admit it, I took the necklace.” Hearing this the security guards handcuffed him and hauled him off to the king.

After being told of the man’s confession, the king asked him, “Where is the Most Precious necklace now? What have you done with it?”

Being a somewhat clever fellow, the prisoner replied, “My lord king, I am a very poor man indeed. I have never in my life owned anything at all valuable, not a Most Precious bed or a Most Precious chair – and certainly not a Most Precious pearl necklace. It was your majesty’s own Chief Financial Adviser who made me steal this Most Precious. I gave it to him. He alone knows where it is now.”

King Brahmadatta summoned his Chief Financial Adviser and asked, “Did you take Most Precious from this man’s hands?” “Yes my lord,” said he. “Where is it now?” asked the king. “I gave it to the Royal Teacher Priest.”

The Royal Teacher Priest was called for and asked about the stolen necklace. He claimed, “I gave it to the Official Court Musician.”

He in turn was summoned and questioned. He answered, “I gave Most Precious to a high class prostitute.”

When she was identified and brought to the king, he demanded to know what she had done with the queen’s pearl necklace. But she alone replied, “Your majesty, I don’t know anything about a pearl necklace!”

As the sun began to set, the king said, “Let us continue this investigation tomorrow.” He handed the five suspects over to his ministers and returned to his palace for the night.

[Chap 2. The Mystery is Solved]

Meanwhile, the royal minister who happened to be the Enlightenment Being had seen and heard all that had taken place in the pleasure garden. He realized that the mystery could be solved only by careful examination. Jumping to conclusions could lead to the wrong answers. So he started examining and analyzing the situation in his mind.

He thought, “The necklace was lost inside the pleasure garden. But the poor villager was captured outside the pleasure garden. The gates had strong guards standing watch. Therefore, the villager could not have come in to steal the necklace. Likewise, no one from inside the garden could have gotten out through the guarded gates with the stolen necklace. So it can be seen that none of these people could have gotten away with Most Precious, either from inside or outside!

“What a mystery! The poor man who was first accused must have said he gave it to the Chief Financial Adviser just to save himself. The Chief Financial Adviser must have thought it would go easier for him if the Royal Teacher Priest were involved. The priest must have blamed the Official Court Musician so that music would make their time in the palace dungeon pass more pleasantly. And the Official Court Musician probably thought that being with the high class prostitute would take away the misery of prison life. So he said he gave the necklace to her.

“After examining carefully, it is easy to see that all five suspects must be innocent. But the garden is full of monkeys who are known to cause mischief. No doubt some she-monkey thought Most Precious would set her above the rest, and the necklace is still in her hands.”

So he went to the king and said, “Your excellency, if you hand over the suspects to me, I will do the investigation for you.” “By all means, my wise minister,” said the king, “examine into it yourself.”

The minister called for his servant boys. He told them to keep the five suspects together in one place. They were to hide nearby, listen to all that was said, and then report back to him.

When the five prisoners thought they were alone they began talking freely to each other. First the Chief Financial Adviser said to the poor villager, “You little crook! We never saw each other before. So when did you give the stolen Most Precious to me?”

He replied, “My lord sir, most exalted adviser to the great king, I have never had anything of any value whatsoever, not even a broken down bed or chair. I certainly have not seen any such Most Precious necklace! I don’t know what you people are talking about. Being scared to death by the king’s guards, I only mentioned you in the hope that one as important as you could free us both. Please, my lord, don’t be angry at me.”

The Royal Teacher Priest said to the Chief Financial Adviser. “You see, this man admits he has not given it to you, so how could you have given it to me?” He replied, “We are both in high positions. I thought that if we got together and backed each other up, we could settle this matter.”

The Official Court Musician asked, “Oh Royal Teacher Priest, when did you give the queen’s pearl necklace to me?” “I thought that if you were imprisoned with me,” said the priest, “your music would make it much more pleasant. That’s why I lied.”

Then the woman said to the Official Court Musician, “You miserable crook! When did I come to you? When did you come to me? We have never met each other before. So when could you possibly have given me the stolen Most Precious?” He said to her, “Oh dear young lady, please don’t be angry with me. I only accused you so that when we five are imprisoned together, your being with us will make us all happy.”

Not being either a poor frightened stranger or a slippery government official, the high class prostitute was the only one who had told the truth. So there was no one to accuse her of shifting the blame.

Of course the wise minister’s servants had been eavesdropping on the entire conversation. When they reported it all back to him, he realized his suspicion was confirmed – some she-monkey must have taken the necklace. So he thought, “I must come up with a plan to get it back.”

First he had a bunch of cheap imitation jewel ornaments made. Then he had several she-monkeys captured in the royal pleasure garden. He had them decorated with the imitation ornaments – necklaces on their necks. and bracelets on their wrists and ankles. Then they were released in the garden. The minister ordered his servants to watch all the she-monkeys carefully. When they saw anyone with the missing pearl necklace, they were to scare her into dropping it.

The she-monkey who had taken Most Precious was still guarding it in the hollow of the tree. The other she-monkeys strutted back and forth saying, “See how fine we look. We have these beautiful necklaces and bracelets.” She couldn’t stand seeing and hearing this. She thought, “Those are nothing but worthless imitations.” To show them all up, she put on her own neck the Most Precious necklace of real pearls.

Immediately the servants frightened her into dropping it. They took it to their master, the wise minister. He took it to the king and said, “Your majesty, here is the pearl necklace, the one called Most Precious. None of the five who admitted to the crime was really a thief. It was taken instead by a greedy little she-monkey living in your pleasure garden.”

The amazed king asked, “How did you find out it was taken by a she-monkey? And how did you get it back?” The minister told the whole story.

The king said, “You were certainly the right one for the job. In times of need, it is the wise who are appreciated most.” Then he rewarded him by showering him with wealth, like a heavy rain of the seven valuables – gold, silver, pearls, jewels, lapis lazuli, diamonds and coral.

The moral is: Theft from greed, lies from fear, truth from examining.

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