Karsan and the Missing Spice

In a small village in India, a man named Karsan owned a spice shop.

Each morning, Karsan carefully put his bags of spices into a row of rainbow colors.


On this morning, Karsan was excited to include a bag of green cardamom. It smelled like the breeze from the faraway southern hills.


Many villagers came to the shop that day. Five of them bought spices.

But no one bought a single pod of the green cardamom.


At the end of the day, the shop closed. Karsan began to clean up the bits of spice that had fallen on the floor.

As he moved down the row, he noticed that the entire bag of cardamom was missing! He was very upset.


Karsan went to King Akbar and told him what happened.

The king asked the villagers who had been at the shop to come to his palace.


The king asked each of them in his booming voice: “Did you steal Karsan’s cardamom?”

Trembling with fear, each of them answered: “No, Great King, I did not.”

The king did not know which of the villagers was the thief.


Finally, a man named Birbal spoke up. He was King Akbar’s top advisor and closest friend.

“We must ask the magic Banyan tree to help us find the thief,” Birbal said.


Everyone followed Birbal outside to the Banyan tree. It stood, noble and grand, in the center of the king’s garden.

Birbal cut ten branches of equal length from the tree. He gave one branch to each of the villagers.


“You will take these branches home with you,” Birbal said. “The branch held by the thief will magically grow by two inches overnight.”


The villagers were brought back to court the next day. They were told to hold up their branches.

Birbal looked at the branches. He pointed at one of the villagers.

“This man is the thief,” Birbal said.


“Explain how you know this,” the king said to Birbal.

“You see, this man’s branch is shorter than the others,” Birbal said. “He thought his branch would magically grow two inches overnight. So, he went home and cut his branch by two inches.”


King Akbar was amazed.

“Well done, Birbal,” said the king. “That was a clever trick.”

The thief was arrested and forced to return the stolen spice.


Karsan went back to his shop.

He gently placed the cardamom back into his rainbow row of spices.


FAZ Reading Level Detail

Lexile Score 580
Word Count 403

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