The King who had Five Children and One of Them was a Thief

Here is a story:

There once was a king who had five sons. All of them went to school, and thus the whole house was studying. The father told them: My children, if any one of you learns thievery, I will kill him. Nobody should talk about it. One who becomes a doctor, a teacher, or a farmer will do something good.

The sons said: Thank you, father, for what you have said, we won’t try it. Thievery is a very bad thing. The oldest son learned to be a teacher, but he did not care about his father and never sent him any nice clothing. The second son failed to pass his exams, and had to leave school. He lived with his father. The third was a mechanic, but he hated his father and didn’t even want to see him. The fourth son died while studying, and the fifth one failed to pass his exams and had to leave school. Then his father told him: Go and find yourself a job! He found himself work as a thief; he chose thievery which his father did not want. He said: I will take good care of you, father, if I become a thief. His father wanted to kill him when he said that but his son ran away. He asked his mother to give him some flour and relish. He was going off to the mines in search of work as a thief. So he went and arrived at the mines.

In the morning, he went to the white people’s courtyards. At the first courtyard of a white man he asked: I am looking for work. The white man replied: What kind of work do you know? He replied: I know how to be a thief. The white man said:Get out of here and go far away or I will shoot you with my rifle! He left this place and went to the man who lived next door. He also chased him out of his house, saying: We don’t want any thieves here!

When he left this place he went to another. There, the white man asked him: What kind of work do you know? He replied: I know how to be a thief. The white man said: Do you really know how to be a thief? He replied: Yes. In the morning, the white man said to him: I want you to steal two cows from the herdsman. If you fail, I will chase you away because you don’t know your job. The young man went to the meadows where the herdsmen grazed their cows. When he arrived there, they greeted him warmly. He said to them: My friends, I will show you a trick: I will make two cows go into my leg. The herdsmen said: It’s a lie, but go ahead and try. He hit his leg and two cows went into his leg. The herdsmen were very surprised and said: Let us see it again. The young man hit his leg and two more cows went into his leg. He then began to run and they chased him, but they could not catch him. He arrived at the white man’s house and pulled out the two cows. The white man was very happy and said: So you know how to be a thief.

The next week he told him: This time I want you to steal the goat in the meadow, but you must be clever because there is only one goat. So he went. The shepherd there was very clever and would tie the goat’s leg when it was grazing. The thief took a new suit with him and some shoes. He took one of the shoes and put it in the middle of the road. When the shepherd arrived at the spot, he said: How nice, what a beautiful shoe, if there were two I would have taken them. So he left it there. Farther on, the thief dropped the other shoe in the road and then he hid himself. When the shepherd came there he was very happy and said to himself: Let me go and get the first one. He tied the goat to the tree and went back. When he left, the thief untied the goat and brought it to the white man. The white man was very happy and said: My friend, this is what I like. Then he paid him some money.

The white man had a friend with whom he spent a lot of time. This friend had ten stores and he came and challenged the thief, saying: You won’t be able to steal from me, but if you could, I would give you five of my stores and keep five for myself. He continued: I challenge you to come to the place where I am sleeping and steal my ring off my finger. Whatever happens, as I am the clever one, I will shoot you. The thief said: I will come to your house at ten in the evening. The man went home and explained to his wife what was going to happen. He gave her the ring, got his gun and filled it with cartridges. Afterwards, he went to bed. The thief arrived at the door and knocked. The man woke his wife up and said: That must be the thief who was knocking. Let me go and shoot him. The man got up and opened the door of his house only to find that the thief was not there. So he sat at the door.

In the meantime, the thief got into the house from the back and went to the bedroom. He looked around and found the man’s wife sleeping. The thief whispered to her: My wife, give me the ring, the thief has come. Since the woman was very sleepy, she stretched her hand out to the thief and said: Oh, my husband, but it was the thief. The thief took the ring and left the house with it. The white man waited for a while and then said to himself: The thief is not coming so I will go to bed.

In the morning the man left the house with his wife still sleeping. However, the ring had been stolen, but the man knew nothing about it. When the man met with the thief he said: You failed. The thief responded: I didn’t fail, here is the ring! The man was amazed and he went to see his wife and said: My wife, let me see my ring? He realised she didn’t have the ring and was astonished. He was forced to give five of his stores to the thief. The thief then went and brought his parents from the village so they could live together.

And that is the end of our story.

The moral of the story: we should not despise anybody as God Himself will judge every man according to his deeds. A person should not be judged by what he said but by what he did.

The Mambwe proverbs say: A cunning dog is recognised by the way it barks (Simbwa mucenjele, yakamulolelu ku kuwata); ‘Kill him! kill him!’ To do it one must have a small axe (Mukome! mukome! uku kapasa). English equivalent: “Actions speak louder than words”; “Deeds not words”; “Easier said than done”; “Fine words butter no parsnips”; “From word to deed is a great space”; “It is more easily said than done”; “A man of words and not of deeds is like a garden full of weeds”; “A promise costs nothing”; “A promise is a debt”; “Talk is cheap”.

Subjects: despise – behaviour – God – judging words – deeds


Written by an unknown author.