Birbal was one of the nine gems in the court of emperor Akbar. He was respected by everyone for his intelligence and wit. Whenever Akbar was in difficulty, he called Birbal for help.
Akbar was very fond of jewellery. He had many rings of gold, pearls and diamonds. His favourite ring was the one with a large diamond at the centre and pearls around.
At the emperorís palace, there were eight servants who looked after his clothes and jewellery. They also helped him get ready to go to the court. No one else was allowed to enter his room.
One day, the Emperor wanted to wear his favourite ring. But it was missing. Akbar ordered a search for the ring. But no one could find it.
Akbar then asked his men to call Birbal. When Birbal came, he told him about the robbery and asked for help. Birbal called all the eight servants who were in charge of the Emperorís room.
He gave each of them a stick of the same size and asked them to come back with it the next day. He told them that the stick of the person who had stolen the ring would become longer by one inch that night.
The next morning, the eight servants stood in a line with their sticks. Birbal caught hold of one of them and took him to Akbar.
The man fell at Akbarís feet and admitted that he had stolen the ring.
The king was surprised. He asked Birbal how he found out the culprit. Birbal said the thief had cut his stick by an inch fearing that it would grow.