Long ago in India judges traveled from village to village. One day a judge stopped at an inn to rest, but the innkeeper was very upset. Some one had just that day stolen his daughter’s golden ring. The judge told him not to worry and had all of the guests gather so that he could question them. When he could not figure out from their answers who the thief was, the judge decided to use some old magic. He told them all he was going to have to use the sticks of truth.
“These are magic sticks,” he explained,”that will catch the theif.”
He gave each guest a stick to keep under their bed during the night.
“The stick belonging to the theif will grow two inches in the night. At breakfast we will compare sticks and catch the theif.”
The next morning the judge had all the guests come to his table and hold their sticks up next to his to see if they were longer. None had grown any longer.
Then suddenly the judge called out, “This is the theif! Her stick is shorter than all the rest.”
Once caught, the woman gave the ring back and confessed. All the guests were confused. The judge had said the longest stick would be the theif’s, but instead it was the shortest stick. Why?
None of the sticks were magical. The only one worrying about being caught was the theif. She had cut off two inches of her stick during the night so she wouldn't be caught. But the sticks weren't magical, so her stick ended up being two inches shorter.