Krishnadeva Raya reached court and looked around. He found that all his courtiers had turned up but Tenali Raman was missing. Seeing it a good opportunity to attack him, the courtiers piped in, ?Your Majesty, look at Tenali Raman, he has not come as yet. He has become very careless.?
Before the king could offer a reply an incense-seller came to court and said to the king, ?Your Majesty, I have brought some fragrant sandalwood incense-sticks from Malaysia. The fragrance is very enticing and Your Majesty shall simply love it.?
The incense-seller lit some of the sticks and such a fragrance spread around the king'scourt that the king said, ?I would like to purchase some of these sticks. How much do they cost??
The incense-seller replied, ?I do not want any payment in cash. I have heard that Your Majesty'scourt abounds in learned men. In exchange of these incense-sticks I want two handfuls of smoke.?
On hearing this strange request, the courtiers began to jump around here and there to capture the smoke emitting from the burning incense-sticks but could not hold the smoke in their hands. The incense-seller was disappointed to see the courtiers looking like fools and trying to capture the smoke in their hands and said to the king, ?I was mistaken. I think Your Majesty'scourt does not have any learned men and I am leaving now with my sticks.?
Just then Tenali Raman entered and King Krishnadeva Raya briefed him on all that had transpired. Tenali said to the incense-seller, ?I am going out for a minute and I shall come just know.? So saying he left the court and soon returned with a bag in his hand. He opened his bag and took out a long pipe, which was as long as two hands. Tenali Raman kept one open end of the pipe over the smoke emitting from the incense-sticks and tied the other end of the pipe with the bag around it.
Handing over the pipe to the incense-seller, Tenali Raman said, ?Now give the incense-sticks and take away this pipe which contains the handfuls of smoke as you wanted in exchange.?
The incense-seller was pleased at the wit displayed by Tenali Raman and told the king, ?Your Majesty I am impressed with your courtier'sintelligence. Here are the incense-sticks for Your Majesty'suse.?
After the incense-seller'sdeparture, the king turned to his courtiers, ?I hope now you can realise why I do not say anything to him. He is simply priceless for me.?
The courtiers looked down with shame and sorrow written on their faces.