The con artist, the proud king, and his observant counselor
Once upon a time, the king’s counselor informed him that there was a con artist who was cheating people by fast talking them to give him money.
“How does he do that?” the king asked.
“Oh, he is so tricky,” the counselor said. “He seems so sincere and humble. He is able to say things quickly that get you involved with his lies. Then, before you realize it, you give him money and he goes away on a pretext. You expect him to come back, but he never does. He has tricked even experienced and wise men.”
“It is hard to believe that people are so foolish as to be duped by such a knave,” said the king.
“Believe me sire, he has cheated our best people.” said the counselor.
“Bring him here,” said the king. He can’t fool me. Your head will roll if he doesn’t.”
The next day, the counselor fetched the con artist to meet the king with the following words.
“The king challenges you to con him.”
“What,” said the tricky man. “How can I mislead the king? It is not possible!”
“If you fail,” the counselor said, your head will roll and so will mine.”
‘May God help us,” said the slick talker.
The counselor introduced the con artist to the king who said,
“I have been advised that you befuddle honest men and take their money. I have seen every trick in the book. Fool me if you dare.”
“Oh noble King, may your days be long and prosperous. I must admit that it is impossible. I have left all my tools in the hock shop. You see I am not what everyone trumps me up to be. I needed money so desperately that I put my working tools for deception in the pawn shop. Without them I cannot fool anyone, not even the most gullible villager. If I can get my tools out of hock, I can come back and try. Your mercy, my sire.”
“I order you to fetch your tools,” the king said.
“But I don’t have a penny,” the fast talker said.
“How much did you put the tools in hock for?” said the king.
“Two hundred gold coins,” said the con artist.
“Give him two hundred gold coins,” said the king. “Get your tools and come back. I doubt you can fool me.”
The counselor gave the con artist the gold coins. The fast talker bowed humbly before the king and promised to come back quickly. After the man left, the counselor looked at the king and smiled.
“Why do have the stupid smile on your face?” said the king.
“Dear king, his tools are his tongue. You will never see him again.”