A long time ago, a kind king ruled a kingdom. The king and his little daughter lived in a beautiful palace.
The king loved the princess more than anyone else in the world. The princess had a toy horse which she was very fond of it. Not for a moment would she part with it.
One day, the king as usual put the princess to sleep.
Even in her sleep, the princess kept the toy near her, hugging it tightly. But when she woke up in the morning, the toy was missing.
She searched around, but the toy was nowhere to be found. The princess started crying. On hearing her cry, her helpers came running to see what was wrong with her. But they could not calm her down.
As the helpers could not find the toy, the princess rushed to see her father. She kept sobbing, asking for her toy horse.
The king at once ordered a search of the palace. Even after several hours of search, the toy could not be found.
The king, who could not see his little daughter in a miserable state, then called a meeting of his ministers.
“I will build a mansion of gold for the one who finds the toy,” he announced in the meeting.
After the king’s announcement, the oldest among the ministers got up to speak.
“The toy has clearly been stolen by someone in the palace,” he said. “Finding the thief shall not be difficult.”
He then called the king’s guards and asked them to round up all the workers in the palace.
“Whoever has stolen the toy must come forward and admit to having stolen it or we will put all of you in prison,” he said.
Even after the warning, none of the workers admitted to having stolen the toy.
As a punishment, all the workers were put in prison and given nothing to eat.
The princess kept crying. She wanted her toy. She even stopped eating.
Seeing his efforts fail, the king was feeling frustrated.
The next day, a young man came to see the king.
“I can find the toy,” he said.
“You neither work in the palace nor are you among my ministers. How can you find the toy when no one else could?” the king asked.
The young man said: “I rely on love and wisdom. These always work for me. But my condition is you will neither ask the details of the thief nor shall you punish him or her.”
The king readily agreed.
The young man took out his bag. Inside were pouches carrying vegetables and a small pouch carrying sweets. He called for all the workers.
“I have got you gifts. You can choose anything you need,” he told them.
The workers jumped to grab their share. All of them preferred vegetable pouches, except for one woman, who quietly picked up the only pouch of sweets.
“You have the princess’ toy. Bring it back and you shall be forgiven,” the man told her.
The woman fell on her knees as she knew she had been caught.
“How did you find out?” she asked.
“You picked the pouch of sweets, which means you have little children. You must have stolen the toy for them,” he said to her.
The woman went home and got the stolen toy back.
The young man returned the toy to the princess. Her happiness knew no bounds on getting back the toy.
As promised, the king did not ask about the thief.
The man was rewarded with a gold mansion and made a minister in the king’s council.