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A Forgotten Tale

Many years ago, there was a small kingdom in the hills. It was like any other kingdom, but for one difference – the drinking water for all the people was taken from a single reservoir.

One fine day, the king had an argument with the resident magician, and ended up insulting him in public. In his fit of anger, the magician swore revenge. That very night, he went to the water reservoir, and emptied a vial of magic potion in it. The next day, when the people drank water from the reservoir, they all became slightly crazy. As the days passed by, their craziness increased gradually, until it reached a point when no one remained sane – not even the king.

However, three businessmen in this kingdom had their own wells in their backyards. As they had not drunk the reservoir’s water, they remained in control of their senses. But this posed a new problem, for the common people now considered these poor fellows as insane. After all, they were starkly in contrast with the rest of the population, weren’t they?

Soon, these three found it increasingly difficult to fit in. Suffocated, they realized that they had do something about the situation, and that too, very fast. They searched high and low for the magician, planning to beg of him to restore the kingdom to sanity. But the magician was long gone. Defeated, they sat down outside his deserted cave. In the distance, they could make out the approaching mob. Time was running out.

Finally, one businessmen announced “I can’t stand it any further. Let’s go and drink from the reservoir. Come with me.”

But the second businessman was unmoved. “Do you mean that you will compromise your integrity, your values just so that you can blend in with a bunch of fools? I am sorry, but I cannot make myself do that. Here, take the deeds to my estate, and give me the jewels in your pocket in return. I will go elsewhere.”

The bargain concluded, the second businessman stood up and gave a long look at what had been his home for so many years. Then, he turned around and started to walk towards the neighboring kingdom. Separation was painful, but he had already gained all that he could here. It was time to move on.

After he could no longer be seen, the first businessman spoke to the third. “Come, let’s go drink from the reservoir. Or are you planning to leave the kingdom too?”

The third businessman was silent. After a length of time, he spoke. “Like the second fellow, even I am not willing to compromise my integrity, my values. But my deals here are not concluded yet. So I will stay. You go ahead and drink from the reservoir, I will only pretend that I have done so. Once my deals are through, I will leave the city too.”

Saying this, he stood up, and started walking back towards the city.

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