A Tale of Justice

(I don't recall the original source, possibly one of Idries Shah's books.)

There was once a thief, who went to rob the house of a rich merchant. He climbed the wall of the house, and laid hold of the window, but the window frame broke in his hands, and he fell and broke his leg.

So he went to the judge and said, "See, I, an honest thief, went to steal from the house of a rich merchant. But the window frame in the wall of his house broke, and I fell and broke my leg, and I require justice!"

So the judge sent for the merchant, and said to him, "See, this honest thief went to rob your house, but because of your window frame, he fell and broke his leg. What have you to say?"

But the merchant replied, "What is this to me, you honour? Inquire instead of the carpenter who made that window frame."

So the carpenter was sent for. "Because of your workmanship, this thief has broken his leg," said the judge.

But the carpenter replied, "What is this to me, you honour? Inquire instead of the builder who fixed that window frame in the wall."

So the builder was sent for. "Why did you not fix that window frame aright?" asked the judge.

"God knows, your honour," said the builder, "that when I was fixing this window frame in the wall, a woman passed by in the street below wearing a dress dyed a beautiful blue colour. And so I was distracted, and did not fix the frame aright."

So the woman was sent for, and the judge asked, "Why did you wear that beautiful blue dress that day? Because of you, this builder was distracted, and this thief fell, and broke his leg."

But she replied, "Ask instead of the dyer who dyed that dress the beautiful blue colour."

So the dyer was sent for; and he had nothing to say.

So the judge commanded the soldiers of the court, saying, "Take this dyer to the door of his shop, and hang him there."

So the soldiers took him to his shop, but they found that the dyer was a tall man, and the door of his shop was low, and they could not hang him. So they brought him back to the court, and said, "See, this is a tall man, and the door of his shop is low; how then can he be hanged?"

So the judge said, "Go, and find a short man, and hang him." So they went, and found a short man, and hanged him.

Transcribed but not composed by Richard Kennaway, 2011.