A hawker of hand-fans was passing by the palace of the king, shouting out, “I have created unique and wonderful fans. Such fans have never been seen before.”
The king had a collection of all sorts of fans from every corner of the world and so he was curious. He leaned over his balcony to have a look at this seller of unique and wonderful fans. To him the fans looked ordinary, hardly worth a penny, but he called the man upstairs anyway. The king asked, “What is unique about those fans? And what is their price?”
The hawker replied, “Your Majesty, they don’t cost much. Considering the quality of these fans, the price is very low: one hundred rupees a fan.”
The king was amazed. “One hundred rupees! This fan worth a paisa is available anywhere in the market. And you ask a hundred rupees! What is so special about these fans?”
The hawker said, “What is so special? Each fan is guaranteed to last one hundred years. For one hundred years it won’t spoil.”
“From the look of it, it seems impossible it can even last a week,” the king said, “Are you trying to cheat me? Is this outright fraud, and with the king himself?”
The vendor replied, “My lord, would I dare? You know very well, sir, that I pass under your balcony daily, selling my fans. The price is one hundred rupees a fan, and I am responsible if it doesn’t last one hundred years. Every day I am available in the street. And, above all, you are the ruler of this land. How could I dare to cheat you?”
The fan was purchased at the asking price. Although the king did not trust the hawker, he was dying of curiosity to know what grounds the man had for making such a false claim. The vendor was ordered to present himself again on the seventh day.
The central stick of the fan came out in three days, and the whole fan disintegrated before the week was out.
The king was sure the fan-seller would never turn up again, but to his complete surprise the man presented himself as he had been asked to, on time, on the seventh day.
“At your service, Your Majesty.”
The king was furious. “You rascal! You fool! Look. There lies your fan, all broken in pieces. This is its condition in a week, and you guaranteed it would last a hundred years! Are you mad, or just a supercheat?”
The man replied humbly, “With due respect, it seems my lord does not know how to use fans. The fan must last for one hundred years; it is guaranteed. How did you fan?”
The king said, “Good heavens! Now I will have to learn how to fan too!”