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Prince Amritsena Saves the Day!: ‘The Bird With Golden Wings’ — An Excerpt

Master storyteller, Sudha Murty, weaves magical tales of princesses and little girls, talking animals and an enchanting world of the good and the evil for children in her book, ‘The Bird With Golden Wings: Stories of Wit and Magic’.
In the short story, ‘Skills for a Prince’, Amritsena, a young and intelligent prince finds a unique way to test the honesty and integrity of a few of his subjects. How? Let’s find out!
Skills for a Prince
Amritsena, a young prince, was very popular with his subjects. Everyone praised his sense of fairness. He also loved to play pranks and made the courtiers laugh. He often disguised himself and roamed the streets of the capital city, listening to what the people were saying and learnt about the problems of the common man in this way.
During one such tour, he came across three young men in the outskirts of the city. From their attire they appeared to be strangers. They were huddled together, talking to each other.
Amritsena walked up to them and said, ‘You look new to this city. Can I help you?’
One of the men replied, ‘We are students of the sage Kashyapa and have recently finished our studies. We are looking for work, where we can put our special skills to use.’
At once, Amritsena’s ears pricked up. ‘And what are these special skills? I work in the king’s court and I may be able to help you find a job there.’
One young man said, ‘Just by tapping my feet, I can make out what is below the ground.’
The second one said, ‘I can always tell in which direction one may find hidden treasure.’
The third said, ‘Once I have seen a person, I can recognize him anywhere, even if he is in disguise.’
Amritsena heard them out, thought for a minute and said, ‘I am also a man with a special quality.’
‘What is that?’ they asked.
‘If anyone is in difficulty, I can always find a solution and rescue the person.’
‘From where did you get this gift? Who taught you?’
‘I have always had this gift, since I was a child,’ replied Amritsena with a smile. Then he said, ‘Why don’t you show me a sample of your special skills as we walk to the city? I can then tell the king about you.’
The four men began walking. After some time, one stopped and said, ‘Below us lies a tunnel.’
They started digging and, sure enough, they found a tunnel. They began to walk through the tunnel, which led them into the palace.
Now the second man stopped suddenly and said, ‘Just around the corner there is a secret treasury.’
Amritsena, who knew this to be true, was amazed. He smiled secretly to himself and said,
‘You three wait here. If the guards see you they will mistake you for thieves. Let me go and check.’ Then he walked quickly ahead, turned a corner where he stripped off his disguise, and presented himself before the guards.
‘There are three men in the tunnel plotting to loot the treasury,’ he told them. ‘Go and arrest them immediately. They should be produced in court first thing tomorrow morning.’ Saying this he walked away to his room and went to bed.
‘There are three men in the tunnel plotting to loot the treasury,’ he told them. ‘Go and arrest them immediately. They should be produced in court first thing tomorrow morning.’ Saying this he walked away to his room and went to bed.
The next morning, the three men were presented in the king’s court. Seeing Amritsena on the throne, the third man realized he was the same man who had got them arrested. He whispered this to his friends. Now they were scared that the prince would punish them for having entered the royal treasury just to show off.
‘How did you find the way into the secret tunnel?’ thundered the king, Amritsena’s father.
‘We…we j-just…’ stammered the men, shaking in fear.
Amritsena watched them, trying not to laugh. Then he stepped in and whispered in his father’s ear, ‘They are not thieves. I met them last night just outside the city. They are learned men with wonderful gifts. I only wanted to test them to see if they were telling the truth or not. We should keep them in our kingdom as their talents will help us in many ways.’
The king nodded, and said, ‘On the request of the prince I release you. You will work for me from now on, and use your gifts for the betterment of this kingdom.’
The three men sighed in relief. Amritsena had rescued them—just as he had said he could!
Dive into the world of fascinating tales in Sudha Murty’s ‘The Bird With Golden Wings: Stories of Wit and Magic’ and get to know some amazing stories of wit, humour and love!

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