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|Japanese fairy tales Oni Tengu Kitsune Tanuki Kami
The Clever Officers Test
The Emperor of Korea created a police force to prevent robberies and
theft, but as is so often the case the crime did no cease, so the
Emperor grew angry. He sent for the chief of police and reproached him.
But the police chief defended his people saying that they were
proficient and skillful. Then the emperor said that a clever policeman
would know all the tricks that thieves could apply. He decided to put
the police to the test. The next morning he had the police gather at
the palace and the Emperor held a silk bag filled with gold in his
hand. The Emperor hung it so high in the center of a large room that no
one could reach it.
“Here is a bag of gold which will hang here for three days under
constant guard. Anyone who succeeds in removing this bag in the three
days without anyone noticing will henceforth remain in my service. But
should no one manage this I will have you all fired.
The police went home sad for the emperor seemed to have placed an
impossible task before them, as the guards were threatened with
execution if they were negligent in their duties.
On the third day the bag was still hanging untouched on the ceiling and
the police expected to loose their jobs when to everyone’s
surprise a young man said he would try to steal the bag but must still
have two days time. So he was taken before the emperor who laughed and
said: “Even if I give you ten weeks, you cannot succeed!”
“I agree,” the young man replied. “I believe that
only a miracle can help us, but perhaps such a miracle will occur
during the two days.”
The Emperor liked this bold answer and so he granted the young man his two days.
The young policeman then looked carefully into the hall and firmly
imprinted it into his memory. He then went home and made an exact copy
of the silk bag which he filled with stones. On the second day he took
his false bag and hid it in his sleeve and presented himself to the
emperor, and jokingly asked if the miracle had happened. The young
officer then asked the Emperor to allow him to examine the bag. The
Emperor agreed and so the young man examined the bag from all sides
before asking if he could take the bag into his hand. The Emperor
agreed once more and so the young man took the bag from the hook and
slipped it into his sleeve as he joked that he had taken it down now.
The Emperor laughed at this and replied that he had to take the bag
without anyone knowing it had been done. “Besides,” the
Emperor continued. “You must steal that bag and I don’t
suspect you could run being surrounded by my guards on all sides.”
So the young man pulled bag of rocks out of his sleeve so the Emperor
wouldn’t know he was keeping the bag of gold hidden. He hung the
rocks from the ceiling. He then assured the emperor that he would be
ready to perform his miracle that night. So the Emperor doubled his
guard and lit the hall so brightly that there was no were to hide
The next day the police all gathered in the hall by order of the Emperor, for he intended to release them from his service.
“So has your miracle happened?” The Emperor asked the young man sarcastically.
“I think so,” the young man replied.
“He’s totally insane, or an outrageous liar!” cried
the Emperor. “I can see the bag still hanging there.”
“I can see the bag too,” replied the young man. “But I doubt that it’s the real one.
“This is really too much,” cried the Emperor. “Get the bag down,” he ordered the guard.
So the bag was removed and brought to the Emperor who opened it but
looked stunned inside when he saw that it was filled with bricks. On
looking closer they realized that it was not the same bag. The Cunning
young man then told him how he’d swapped the bags.
“You are a devilishly clever fellow,” the Emperor told him.
“And since you seem to be the cleverest of them all, you shall be
made the chief of police. See to it that your people all emulate your
cleverness from here on.”
And so it happened.