Arts & Culture

Ancient Tales of Wisdom: A Dumb Witness

TIMENovember 26, 2021

Ancient tales of wisdom remind us of the traditions and moral values that have been treasured all over the world. We hope the stories and messages in our Tales of Wisdom series help uplift the hearts and minds of our readers.

This retold tale, “A Dumb Witness,” is one of many audio stories from the discontinued “Ancient Tales of Wisdom” program by the Sound of Hope Radio Network, now transcribed and printed here for the enjoyment of our readers.

Listen to the audio story, or read it below, and be transported into another world!

Listen to Audio Story:

One day, a poor man tied his horse at noon hour to a tree, and he sat down to eat his meal. A rich man came along and started to tie his horse to the same tree.

“Do not fasten your horse to that tree,” cried the poor man. “My horse is very savage. He will kill your horse. Fasten your horse to another tree.”

“The rich man answered proudly, “I shall tie my horse where I wish.”

So he fastened his horse to the same tree to which the poor man’s horse was tied, and sat down to eat his dinner.

Suddenly, the men heard a great noise and looked up. The horses were fighting. The two men rushed up to stop them, but it was too late. The rich man’s horse was dead.

“See what your horse has done!” cried the rich man in anger. “But you shall pay for it! You shall pay for it!”

So saying, he dragged the poor man before the judge.

“O wise judge!” he cried. “This man’s savage horse has killed my horse—my beautiful, kind, gentle horse. Make him pay for it or send him to jail, I beg of you.”

The judge turned to the poor man, “Did your horse kill this man’s horse?” he asked.

But the poor man said not a word.

“Can’t you talk?” asked the judge.

The poor man answered never a word.

The judge asked the poor man many questions, but he still kept his lips closed and answered nothing.

At last, the judge said to the rich man: “What can I do? This man is dumb. He cannot speak a word.”

“Oh, sir,” cried the rich man, “he can talk as well as you or I. He spoke to me on the road.”

“Are you sure?” asked the judge. “Well, what did he say?”

“Indeed, I am sure,” replied the rich man. “He said quite plainly: ‘Do not fasten your horse to that tree. My horse is very savage, and he will kill yours. Fasten him to another tree.'”

“Ah,” said the judge, “now I see. If he warned you, he need not pay for your horse. You only are to blame. You should have heeded his warning.”

Then the judge turned to the poor man. “Why did you not answer my questions?” he asked.

“Can you not see, O wise judge?” answered the poor man. “If I had told you that I warned him not to tie his horse near mine, he would have denied it. Then you would not know which one of us was telling the truth. I knew, O wise one, that if I let him tell the story alone, you would soon learn the truth.”

The poor man’s words pleased the judge, and he sent the rich man away without a penny. But he praised the poor man for his wisdom.

This retold tale is transcribed and printed with permission from the Sound of Hope Radio Network, who reproduced it from “Fables from Afar” by Catherine T. Bryce. Audio by Sound of Hope Radio Network. Copyright © 2012. All rights reserved.

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