The Prince and His Servant

A Prince bestowed a secret task to his Servant. The Servant told the King. The King died and the Prince became King. Servant did not survive!

Tell secrets at your own peril.

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There was once a Prince, who was very powerful, rich, and just. One day as he rode hunting, he said to his Servant, “I will run my horse against yours, that we may see which is the swiftest. I have long had a great desire to make this trial.” The Servant, in obedience to his master, set spurs to his horse and rode at full speed; the Prince followed him. But when they had got a great distance from the nobles who accompanied them, the Prince, stopping his horse, said to his Servant, “I had no other design in this but to bring you to a place where we might be alone, for I have a secret that I wish to confide to you, having found you to be more faithful than any other of my servants. I have reason to suspect that my brother is forming some conspiracy against me, and for that reason I have made choice of you to prevent him; but take care to be discreet.” The Servant swore that he would be true as steel to his master, and so they stayed until they were overtaken by the nobles, who were in great trouble about the King. But the Servant, upon the first opportunity he had of speaking with the King’s brother, disclosed to him the King’s intention of taking away his life; and on this the young Prince thanked him heartily for the information, and promised some day or other to reward him handsomely. A few days after, the King died, and his brother succeeded him. The first thing he did after he came to the throne was to put the Servant to death. The poor wretch reminded him of the service he had rendered him. “Is this the reward,” said he, “that you promised me?” “Yes,” answered the new King. “Whoever reveals the secrets of his master deserves no less than death; and since you have committed so foul a crime you deserve to die. How is it possible for me to place any reliance on you who betrayed the confidence of your King?” ‘Twas in vain that the Servant attempted to say anything in his own justification, the King refused to hear his excuses; and thus he lost his head because he could not keep a secret.