Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

Paying 3 times for the same thing

Author: Paulo Coelho

Illustration by Ken Crane

There is a legend in the region of Punjab, about a thief who broke into a farm and stole two hundred onions. But before he could make his escape, he was caught by the farmer and led before the judge.

The magistrate past sentence: the payment of ten gold pieces.
But the man alleged that the fine was too high, so the judge offered him two alternatives: to be whipped twenty times, or eat the two hundred onions.

The thief chose to eat the two hundred onions.
When he had eaten twenty-five, his eyes were already filled with tears, and his stomach was burning up like the fires of hell.
Since there were still 175 to go, and he knew he would never bear this punishment, he begged to be thrashed twenty times.

The judge agreed. But when the whip tore into his back for the tenth time, he implored for the punishment to be stopped, for he could not stand the pain.
His wish was granted, but the thief still had to pay the ten pieces of gold.

– If you had accepted the fine, you would have avoided eating the onions and wouldn’t have suffered with whip – said the judge.

– But you preferred the more difficult path, not understanding that, when you have done wrong, it is better to pay up quickly and forget the matter.

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