Lion was not very happy with his ministers. So he decided to test them. Would they pass the test?

A large, green forest, was ruled over by Lion — the undisputed king of the jungle. He wanted to give the impression that he was kind and benevolent. To win the trust of his subjects, he thought it would be a good idea if he selected his ministers from amongst them. After mulling over the idea for a long time, he chose Bear, Monkey and Rabbit to assist him. Bear represented the big animals, Monkey the medium-sized ones and Rabbit the small ones. This way, Lion hoped to achieve the right balance.

Honesty

Everything went well for some time. Then Lion realised that he could not kill any animals when Bear, Monkey and Rabbit were his ministers, because they would want to protect their own. So, once again he put on his thinking cap and pondered over the problem.

“If I get rid of these three ministers, I can do what I please without being answerable to anyone,” he thought. Very soon, he came up with an idea. He smiled broadly and his whiskers twitched excitedly. The plan was extremely simple.

Lion called his ministers for a high level meeting. Greetings were exchanged and he requested them to be seated. Lion said, “You have been with me for a while now. I want to make sure that the high position you hold has not spoiled you. So I am going to test you.”

“What is the test?” asked the bewildered ministers.

“I am going to ask each of you a question. I want an honest answer. Will you promise to be absolutely honest?”

“We will, we will,” the three ministers chorused.

“What is the question, Your Majesty?”

Deciding to go in order of size, Lion turned to Bear. “Tell me, how does my mouth smell?” Honest Bear told lion the truth as promised. “It smells foul, Your Majesty.”

Lion gave a royal roar. “How dare you! This amounts to treason. Your position has gone to your head.” The next instant lion jumped on Bear and killed him.

Next he looked at Monkey and posed the same question. Monkey decided to be crafty, having witnessed the fate of the bear. “It smells as fresh as a rose,” he lied.

“You liar! Do you think I am a fool to be taken in by your flattery?” He grabbed Monkey by the neck and shook him till his teeth rattled. Then he killed him.

Only Rabbit remained. Lion faced him and repeated the question. Rabbit sniffed and cleared his throat. “I am sorry, Your Majesty. I am unable to answer your question. I have a bad cold and am unable to smell anything. If you grant me a couple of days to recover, I can answer your question,” he bluffed. “Honestly!” he added for good measure.

Lion nodded his regal head and dismissed Rabbit. Delighted that his ruse had worked, Rabbit sped away. Needless to say that he never returned.