A man once stole a piece of food and was ordered by the king to be hanged. When asked if he had any last words, the thief replied, “Know, O King that I can plant an apple seed in the ground and it will grow and bear fruit overnight. It is a secret that my father taught me and I thought it would be a pity if it died with me.”
A time was appointed the following day for planting the seed. The thief dug a hole and said, “This seed can only be planted by someone who has never stolen or taken anything which did not belong to him. Being a thief, I cannot, of course, do it.”
The king asked his prime minister to plant the seed, but he hesitated and said, “Your majesty, when I was young, I recall keeping an article that did not belong to me. I cannot plant the seed.”
The treasurer, when told to plant the seed, begged the king’s pardon, saying that he may have cheated someone out of some money. The king, in his turn, recalled that once he took and kept a precious object belonging to his father.
The thief turned to them and said, “You are almighty and powerful persons. You are not in want of anything, yet you cannot plant the seed. Yet I, who stole a little food to stay alive, am to be hanged.”
The king, pleased with the man’s wisdom, pardoned him.