Buddhist Tales for Young and Old

The Mystery of the Missing Necklace (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.

The Mystery of the Missing Necklace (Chap 2. The Mystery is Solved)

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.