Moocha Raja, as was his practice, looked out of the window. To his surprise it was quite dark! He immediately sent for the minister.

Moocha Raja ruled over a small kingdom on the bank of a river. One day, he took a walk on the river’s bank. Having nothing else to do, he stood watching the river flow quietly. Like the river’s waters, his thoughts too flowed eastward.

Further down the river, was the neigbouring kingdom of Chota Raja, his cousin and rival. The flow of the river into the neighbouring kingdom made Moocha Raja very angry. He turned to his minster and shot a question.

“Is this river flowing down to Chota Raja’s kingdom?”

The minister, used to strange questions from the King, said “Yes.”

“Stop this river from flowing down,” Moocha Raja shouted. “I do not want my arch-enemy to reap the benefits of the river.”

The King was known for his temper, and the minister was scared to argue with him.

“I’ll give you 24 hours to stop the river,” said Moocha Raja as he walked away.

The minister was wary. If the river was stopped, Chota Raja would strike back. He had a bigger army. The minister made up his mind to prevent war between the two neighbours.

That evening, he sent for the Time Keeper of the palace. It was his job to strike a gong every hour. The minster instructed the Time Keeper to strike the gong every half an hour instead.

“Do it yourself. And don’t speak about it to anyone,” he instructed.

That night, at the stroke of nine, the king retired to bed. He fell asleep soon. He had a dream in which his cousin, Chota Raja was hopping mad and pulling his hair because the river had not entered his kingdom.

Soon after, Moocha Raja heard the sounds of the gong — one, two, three, four, five, six. He jumped out of bed. It was 6 o’clock, time to get up.

Moocha Raja, as was his practice, looked out of the window. To his surprise it was quite dark! He immediately sent for the minister. “Why is it still dark at this hour?” barked Moocha Raja.

“It’s because, the sun has not entered our kingdom, Maharaj,” said the minister.

“But why? Every day when it’s six, the sun is up in the sky,” said Moocha Raja.

“Maharaj, the sun travels from east to west. Chota Raja’s kingdom is to the east of our kingdom. The sun comes to his kingdom first and then travels down to our kingdom,” the minister explained patiently.

“Why hasn’t the sun done so today?” asked Chota Raja without much patience.

“Maharaj, Chota Raja must have stopped the sun from entering our kingdom,” said the minister.

“Impossible!” shouted Moocha Raja.

“Maharaj, if we can stop the river from flowing to his kingdom,” said the minister, “surely, Chota Raja can stop the sun from entering our kingdom.”

“Release the river,” shouted Moocha Raja. “Immediately!”

“Your wish is my command, Maharaj,” the minister said bowing to Moocha Raja.

Moocha Raja was relieved when the sun appeared within a couple of hours.

Naturally, the sun had appeared at the usual time. But Moocha Raja never came to know of the trick played by the minister with the help of the Time Keeper.

The minister was happy that he had averted a war between the two kingdoms. And the river continued flowing east.

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