One day, a horse trader named Ahmad Khan, came to Akbar’s court.
“Emperor,” he bowed addressing Akbar, “I have come from Mangolia with the best horses in the world. The horses I have with me can trace their lineage to the incredible cavalry of the Great Chenghiz Khan. I think it is appropriate that these horses be part of your stable, the greatest stable of our times.” Akbar was very pleased to hear this. Immediately he adjourned the court and proceeded to inspect Ahmad Khan’s horses. Birbal accompanied him.
In the courtyard, there were six robust Mongolian horses. Akbar was deeply impressed by their long manes and tails.
“These horses will definitely be the pride of my stable. How much do you want for them, Ahmad Khan?”, asked Akbar.
“Dear Emperor, I only aim to please your Majesty. I am happy that you liked my horses. I own a ranch back in Mongolia. These horses are just samples. I want to offer them to you as gift. But since you like them, I would like to deliver two dozen of the best horses from the ranch to you. Towards that I would like to be paid fifty gold coins per horse.”
“Birbal, make arrangements for the payment right away!,” ordered Akbar
Birbal was disappointed that the Emperor was giving away 1200 gold coins to the merchant without any knowledge of his past or any contract. But such was Akbar’s love for horses and Birbal did not want to offend him by suggesting anything then. 1200 gold coins was not much considering the enormous wealth of the Mughal empire. “Thank you, Emperor,” said Ahmad Khan, “I will leave tonight back to Mongolia to get the horses ready for delivery.”
After a few days, Akbar had completely forgotten about Ahmad Khan. He became busy with other matters of the state. Then one evening, while relaxing in the garden, he said to Birbal, “Birbal, you are famous as the smartest man in the empire. So I am sure it will be easy for you to identify people who are not smart at all. Compile for me a list of the foolish people in my court. I think such a list will be very useful.”
“You shall have the list tomorrow, Your Highness”, said Birbal with a smile.
“This will be interesting, “ chuckled Akbar as he unrolled the list. But the smile vanished from his face when he saw that right at the top of the list was the name: