The Throne of Justice

Long before time as we count it, there lived in India a great and just King whose name was Vikramaditya. When he died, his beautiful palace and city of marble fell into ruins: and people remembered nothing but his name, and that he was great and good, and wise and gentle.

One day, some boys who were minding cows led them near a green mound among the ruins: and while the cows cropped the grass, the boys played.

And one of them invented this game.

“I shall be the Judge,” he said, “and you shall bring your quarrels to me. I will do justice.”

So he sat on the mound; and the boys ran away and whispered, and made a tale of wrong, and brought it to the boy on the mound, who did justice.

But the odd thing was, that the “justice” was such wisdom, that even through their play, the boys felt that something wonderful had happened to their playfellow.

“He is a real Judge, not a play Judge,” was what they said.

And they told their parents; and soon all the village got into the habit of coming to the boy on the mound to settle disputes. And everyone was always sure that his judgment was right.

Now there lived close to the ruined city, a King great and powerful: and to his ears also came the story of the boy doing justice on the green mound. And the King laughed and said, “Why, he is sitting on the seat of Vikramaditya; that is why he is wise.”

Then the King began to wish the throne for himself. And he sent men with pickaxes and shovels, who dug away the boy’s green mound. Deeper and deeper they went, till they came to a throne of black marble, resting on the backs of twenty-four beautiful carved eagles of marble. And the throne was taken to the palace of the King, and a great day of rejoicing was proclaimed, when the King would mount the throne.

On the great day the King came in state, with his mace bearers, and the men who called his titles, and the men who carried the State jewels, and the men who fanned him with great fans made of the green-blue eyes of a peacock’s tail.

But when the King would have mounted the throne, one of the carven eagles which bore the throne on its back, came alive and spoke to the King.

One of the carven eagles came alive

One of the carven eagles came alive

“Stop!” he said. “Have you never wanted for yourself the kingdom of another?”

And the King had to own that he had.

“Then fast and pray for three days,” said the eagle, “and come back again.”

And the eagle flew away.

And after three days the King returned; but the second eagle stopped him.

“Have you never”, he said, “done harm to another, to rob him of his riches?”

And the King said, “Yes—often.”

“Then fast and pray for three days,” said the eagle, “and come again.”

And so each time that the King returned to mount the throne, an eagle spoke and showed some evil of his life, and the King went away sorrowful to his three days’ fasting.

And last of all there was only one eagle left; and the King came walking slowly: “This time I must sit on the throne,” was his thought.

But “Stop!” said likewise this eagle also, “unless you can tell me that your heart is as pure as the heart of a child.”

And the King looked within, and found his heart not as the heart of a child.

“I am not worthy,” said the King.

But he knew that the last eagle had solved the mystery of the green mound of grass. The throne of Vikramaditya, where the shepherd boy did justice, was denied to him, the great and mighty King.

For he who would be perfectly just, must have the heart of a little child.

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