One day an Arab merchant arrived at the Court of Akbar with a large consignment of horses of all ages and breeds and offered them for sale.

Akbar was very impressed with the quality of the horses, paid up the prices demanded for the ones he selected and ordered the merchant to send him some more of the best that he could find in Arabia. The merchant agreed and demanded an advance sum of Its two lakhs for them. Akbar immediately ordered the Court treasurer to pay the amount and the merchant left promising to return as soon as he had acquired the horses, which had been ordered.

Some time later, Akbar asked Birbal to prepare a list of fools in his kingdom.

Birbal replied, “Your Majesty, I have already made one,” and handed him a long list. Akbar was astonished to find that his OWN name headed the list.

Outraged, he shouted at Birbal, “How dare you put your Emperor’s name in the list of fools!”

Birbal replied evenly, “Last week Your Majesty gave Rs 2 lakhs to the Arab merchant without any guarantee that he would bring you the horses that you ordered and paid fund. That justifies my putting your name at the top of the list of fools.”

Akbar asked him, -What if the merchant brings me the horses which I have ordered?”

“Then, Your Majesty, I will replace your name with his.”

Akbar realized he had made a mistake in advancing the money and remained silent.

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