There was once a King who for a long time had no children. At last he obtained a son, and he instructed the Astrologers to look and see whether the Prince had an appointed destiny or not.

When they had made their observations, one of them said:

"When he is fourteen years old a snake will bite him"; another said:

"When he is fourteen years old he will fall down from a height "; and yet another said:

"When he is fourteen years old he will be drowned in the water." "He's only one child after all," said the King, "so how can he be fated to meet with these three different disasters? The predictions of two of these fellows must be false."

Then the King took a written agreement from the Astrologers giving him the right to cut off the head of any of them who might prove to have prophesied falsely. All three of them gave him written undertakings to this effect and went their way.

Then the King committed his son to the care of a guardian, to whom he said: "Don't let him go outside the garden in the courtyard." Now it chanced that there was a tree in the garden, and a sparrow built her nest at the top of it, and at the foot of the tree there was a large tank of water.

In due course the fourteenth year came round, and the boy climbed up into the tree to bring down the sparrow's nest. Now there was a snake in the nest, and as soon as the boy put out his hand to the nest the snake bit it, and he tumbled down from the tree and fell into the water and was drowned.

Then they took the news to the King, and they raised wailing and lamentation, and carried away the body and buried it.

Verily, whatsoever is written on the forehead cannot prove false.

LVI The Story Of The Fate Of The King s Only Son 59