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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 41

The King and the Prisoners

The King and the Prisoners.

There was once a Prince who now and then paid a visit to the chief prison in the land over which he ruled.

page 38

One day he saw in the prison-yard five prisoners, with chains on their wrists, going to their work.

He made them halt before him, and then asked them, one by one, how they came to be in prison.

The first man said that he had done no wrong, but that the chief witness against him had told a lie.

The second said that the Judge who had put him in prison had a spite against him.

The third said that he had been found guilty through a mistake.

The fourth said that he had been taken for another man.

For these reasons they all begged the prince to pardon them.

But he turned to the fifth man, and said, "And why are you here

"Alas!" he replied, "I stole a purse and dare not ask your pardon."

"Then," said the prince, "you are not fit to to live with such honest men as these, who say that they have done no wrong!"

Turning to the jailer, he said, "Take off this man's chains and send him away. He has not added to his crime the sin of telling a lie."