The Measure of Rice
Once upon a time a dishonest king had a man
called the Valuer in his court. The Valuer set
the price which ought to be paid for horses and
elephants and the other animals. He also set the
price on jewelry and gold, and things of that
This man was honest and just, and set the proper
price to be paid to the owners of the goods. The
king was not pleased with this Valuer, because
he was honest. "If I had another sort of a man
as Valuer, I might gain more riches," he
One day the king saw a stupid, miserly peasant
come into the palace yard. The king sent for the
fellow and asked him if he would like to be the
Valuer. The peasant said he would like the
position. So the king had him made Valuer. He
sent the honest Valuer away from the palace.
Then the peasant began to set the prices on
horses and elephants, upon gold and jewels. He
did not know their value, so he would say
anything he chose. As the king had made him
Valuer, the people had to sell their goods for
the price he set.
By and by a horse-dealer brought five hundred
horses to the court of this king. The Valuer
came and said they were worth a mere measure of
rice. So the king ordered the horse-dealer to be
given the measure of rice, and the horses to be
put in the palace stables. The horse-dealer went
then to see the honest man who had been the
Valuer, and told him what had happened.
"What shall I do?" asked the horse-dealer.
"I think you can give a present to the Valuer
which will make him do and say what you want him
to do and say," said the man. "Go to him and
give him a fine present, then say to him: 'You
said the horses are worth a measure of rice, but
now tell what a measure of rice is worth! Can
you value that standing in your place by the
king?' If he says he can, go with him to the
king, and I will be there, too."
The horse-dealer thought this was a good idea.
So he took a fine present to the Valuer, and
said what the other man had told him to say. The
Valuer took the present, and said: "Yes, I can
go before the king with you and tell what a
measure of rice is worth. I can value that now."
"Well, let us go at once," said the
horse-dealer. So they went before the king and
his ministers in the palace. The horse-dealer
bowed down before the king, and said: "O King, I
have learned that a measure of rice is the value
of my five hundred horses. But will the king be
pleased to ask the Valuer what is the value of
the measure of rice?"
The king, not knowing what had happened, asked:
"How now, Valuer, what are five hundred horses
"A measure of rice, O King!" said he. "Very
good, then! If five hundred horses are worth a
measure of rice, what is the measure of rice
"The measure of rice is worth your whole city,"
replied the foolish fellow.
The ministers clapped their hands, laughing, and
saying, "What a foolish Valuer! How can such a
man hold that office? We used to think this
great city was beyond price, but this man says
it is worth only a measure of rice."
Then the king was ashamed, and drove out the
"I tried to please the king by setting a low
price on the horses, and now see what has
happened to me!" said the Valuer, as he ran away
from the laughing crowd.
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