Four brothers, who were all good at tracking, came upon the footprints of a camel.
Further on, they met an Arab, who asked them if they had seen his missing camel. He was sure it had been stolen.
‘Is it blind in one eye and lame in one foot?’ asked one of the four brothers. ‘Has it lost its tail?’ asked the second. ‘Is it bearing a sack of grain on one side and a jar of honey on the other?’ the third brother wanted to know.
‘That’s the one!’ exclaimed the Arab. ‘Do you know who stole it?’
‘No,’ said the fourth brother. ‘We have never seen your camel.’
The Arab was convinced that they must be the thieves, so he brought them before a judge and said, Sir, “They have described my camel exactly so I am certain they have stolen it.’
But the explanation was simple.
The first brother said, ‘The camel had only grazed on the grass on one side of the path, so it must be blind in the other eye. One of its hoofprints was less marked than the others, and that means it must be lame in one foot.’
‘As for me,’ said the second brother, ‘I noticed that all its droppings were in one heap, instead of being spread around as usually happens. So I thought that this camel must be missing its tail.’
‘Yes, all this is possible,’ admitted the judge, with little conviction, ‘but how could you possibly have guessed what load it was bearing?’
‘On one side of the path,’ explained the third brother, ‘some wheat grains had fallen and the ants were carrying them away. On the other side of the path, the files were sucking at the drops of honey.’
Thereupon the judge freed the four brothers, and took them into his own service. And thanks to their amazing powers of observation, they helped him to catch many thieves.