In one of India’s little kingdoms of long ago there lived a King who (like most of them) was fond of hunting in wild places. His Chief Advisor was a very intelligent man, and also a very optimistic one. He was famous for seeing the rosy side of things. In fact, so strong was his habit of finding good in everything that at times this annoyed his ruler.
One day when the King and his Advisor were on a hunting trip through a dense jungle which went on for miles, the King decided to have a fresh coconut for his breakfast, and, finding a coconut tree near at hand, with his sword cut down a coconut. But as luck would have it, his sword slipped in his hand and came crashing down on one of his toes, cutting it off! Limping over to his Advisor with loud shouts of pain, he was terribly shocked to hear the latter say, “Ah, that’s wonderful!”
“What?!” yelled the King; “I cut off my toe and you say it is wonderful?”
“This is a real blessing,” replied the Advisor. By now the King was furious, thinking the man was making fun of him.
“Take it from me,” said his Advisor, “behind this apparent bad accident there is some good which we cannot now see.” That was it! The King had noticed a dry well nearby, and being a strong man, he picked up his companion and just threw him into that well. Then he set out to limp back to his fortified town and castle.
This meant, however, walking through dense jungle, frequented by the wild tribes of those days, some of whom were headhunters. On his way the King met a band of those headhunters, who decided that, being royalty, he would make an excellent sacrifice for this month’s festival. As you may imagine, the King did not feel at all honored by this decision. The warriors carried him to the tribal priest. It was the duty of this priest to approve all of the offerings that were to be presented. The priest was most particular to see that the item to be offered to the gods was perfect in all respects. While anointing the King’s body the priest noticed that he was lacking one toe.
“I am sorry,” he told the King, “but we cannot use you after all for this holy sacrifice. The gods will not accept anyone who is not whole-bodied. You will have to go.” Naturally the King was delighted and began hobbling away toward his palace. Aha! he thought, so his Advisor had been right — there was indeed a hidden blessing behind that accident. As fast as his wounded leg would allow, he turned around and went back to the well where he had left his counselor. There he was, standing down in the well and whistling happily to himself.
Now the king managed to reach down far enough to grasp the hand of the Advisor and with great effort to pull him up. Then he apologized for having doubted him and having thought him a fool.
“Oh how sorry I am that I threw you in there,” said the King as he dusted off his courtier. “I was taken prisoner by some wild native headhunters who were about to make me a sacrifice victim. Then they saw that my toe was missing, and let me go. And you foretold all this, in a way. Can you ever forgive me?”
“You need not apologize at all; it was a blessing that you threw me down the well and left me there.”
“Now, how are you going to make something positive out of that?” queried the King. “Well,” said the other, “if I had been with you they would surely have taken me for their sacrifice.”