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The Wooden House 木房子-3

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One of his courtiers made a suggestion, "We have four mighty warriors in our kingdom. Your Majesty can send them up to stand at the foot of the four walls of the palace. When the man turns up, they wil1 he sure to catch him." The king thought this an excellent idea. That evening he personally took the warriors up and showed them where to hide and keep watch. When everything was set, the king went down to his palace. But, unfortunately for his plans, the warriors were inveterate sleepy heads and soon fell asleep at their posts. The little prince came again and stayed with impunity until dawn.

When the king arrived and weighed the princess, he discovered that she had put on weight again. He was speechless with rage.

He called in another courtier for consultation. The courtier said, "Why not apply a coat of paint to the bed and chairs of the princess? Then tomorrow we can search the city and whoever has paint on his clothes is our man." The king followed his advice and had the princess' bed, chairs and all her other furniture painted. In the evening the little prince came again. On his way back, he noticed that his clothes were badly stained with paint, so he took them off and threw them away.

It so happened that in the town there lived a poor old man who got up before dawn every day and went from door to door waking people to go to mosque. While he was on his rounds that day, something dropped from the sky. He picked it up and found it to be a set of very fine clothes. "I have been serving Allah all my life and this must be my reward!" the old man thought to himself and took the clothes home.

That evening, when the whole town came to the mosque to pray, the king secretly sent his men to search for the suspect. The old man who was happily wearing his "reward from Allah" soon got into trouble. In the middle of the service, he was arrested and brought to the king. "Why are your clothes stained with paint?" the king questioned him. The old man answered, "I picked these clothes up off the ground and they were like this when I found them." The king didn't believe his story and sent him to prison to be interrogated under torture. Without much trouble, they managed to extract some sort of confession from him, and he was sentenced to death by hanging.

The whole town was abuzz with this affair, and everyone was curious to know what this man was like who had succeeded in getting into the palace in the sky. When they saw this old man being led to the scaffold, no one thought he could possibly have done it. They began to talk about the case, and all felt that he must have been falsely accused. When the news reached the ears of the little prince, his conscience drove him to intervene. Carrying the wooden horse under his arm, he dashed to the execution ground where the noose had already been tied around the man's neck.

"Don't hang him! He is innocent!" shouted the prince. "It is I who went to the palace in the sky. The paint-stained clothes are mine. If you want to hang someone, hang me and let him go!"

The king, who was watching from a distance, saw the execution come to a halt and sent someone to ask what had happened. The hangman told him, "A young man has just come forward and confessed the crime. Which of them should be hanged?"

"Hang the one who has pleaded guilty," ordered the king. So the old man was released and went home, thanking his lucky stars for this narrow escape. The little prince, meanwhile, just as the hangman came over to bind him for the hanging, mounted his wooden horse, loosened the screws and rose into the air before everyone's eyes. Seeing that all his men could not even deal with this one youth, the king fainted with rage.
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