Once in a town, there was a rich man who hired a servant from another town. The servant, both guileless and honest, worked diligently. Yet, the rich man, did not compensate him.
After three years, the servant approached Selvan and said, “Ayyā, I wish to return to my hometown. Please give me my wages.”
Wanting to deceive the servant, the rich man took three copper coins from his pocket and handed them over, saying, “One penny for each year you've worked.”
Unfamiliar with the value of money, the servant gratefully responded, “Thank you, Ayyā!” and left in high spirits.
While journeying through the forest, he encountered a dwarf, who was only two feet tall. With a long white beard trailing the ground and a multicolored cap on his head, the dwarf looked peculiar.
Upon seeing the servant, the dwarf lamented, “No one employs me because of my height and poverty. I'm starving. Please, can you spare something?”
Moved by the dwarf's plight, the servant handed him the three copper coins, saying, “These coins are my wages from three years of labor. Take them and find happiness. I can always work again and earn more.”
Touched by this act of kindness, the dwarf replied, “You have a compassionate heart. In return for your three coins, tell me your three wishes, and I will grant them immediately.”
After pondering for a moment, the servant wished, “I desire a bow and arrows that never miss their mark. If I play the flute, anyone listening should be compelled to dance. And lastly, whatever I ask, no one should refuse.”
In an instant, the dwarf presented him with a bow, arrows, and a flute, assuring him, “Your wishes shall come true. Farewell!”
Gratefully, the servant continued his journey. Not far ahead, he spotted a thief holding a bag of gold and eyeing a bird in a tree. The thief murmured, “If only I could catch that bird for a meal, but I lack the means to bring it down.”
Overhearing this, the servant used his new bow to shoot the bird. As promised, his aim was true, and the bird fell.
He then called out, “Thief! Retrieve your bird.”
As the thief approached the fallen bird, the servant began to play his flute. Enchanted by the melody, the thief began to dance uncontrollably. The faster the tune, the more frantic the thief's movements became, causing him to get ensnared and injured by surrounding thorns.
In agony, the thief pleaded, “Ayyā! Please, stop the music. I'll give you this stolen gold in exchange for mercy.”
The servant obliged, stopping his tune. The thief, bleeding, handed over the gold bag. After their exchange, the servant continued on his way.
However, in the city, the vengeful thief falsely reported to the judge that the servant had stolen his hard-earned gold. Upon the thief's description, the city soldiers arrested the servant and presented him, and the gold, to the judge.
Proclaiming his innocence, the servant said, “Ayyā! I'm not the thief. He gave me this gold willingly.”
Skeptical, the judge retorted, “Why would anyone gift such a large sum to a stranger? You're lying. Prepare him for execution.”
Facing his end, the servant pleaded for one final request: to play his flute. Though the thief protested, the judge granted the wish.
The servant played, and everyone danced involuntarily. Witnessing the magic, the judge, amidst his own dance, begged the servant to stop. The servant agreed but demanded the truth from the thief.
Tied and out of breath, the thief confessed, “He didn't steal from me. I lied.”
Having unveiled the truth, the judge sentenced the thief to hang. The servant, having proved his innocence, departed for his hometown with the gratitude and admiration of all.