There once lived an emperor who knew his time was coming to an end. He had no heirs and decided that he would break tradition and try something new.
He called all the children in his kingdom to his palace. He told the children, “I am going to give each and every one of you a pot with a seed and dirt in it. I will give you one year to grow the plant that is in that pot. After that year, you will come back here and I will choose the best plant of the group and the owner shall become emperor!”
All the children were elated. A chance to become emperor! Every child returned home with their pot, dirt and seed to grow their plants. One boy, Ling, was particularly excited and immediately told his parents and family all about it.
For the first couple days he watered the pot and gave it his unending attention. Nothing came up. After a week he started hearing the other kids brag about how their plants had come up. He was discouraged, but he kept watering it and giving it all the right time, sunlight, and attention. After a month nothing had sprouted and all the other kids were speaking of their thriving plants.
Still Ling took care of the pot. Every day he checked it and made sure he wasn’t making any mistakes. He never told any of the other kids.
Finally, the year had come to an end. All the kids grabbed their pots and marched to the palace. Glorious, green bushes, trees, flowers and every kind of plant was sported by the children of the kingdom. When the children saw Ling’s, some laughed and others said, “sorry, but good try.” Ling felt terrible and hid at the back of the crowd.
The emperor came into the room and gasped in delight at all the beautiful plants. He looked at them as he walked by, making comments on how beautiful, or healthy they looked. Finally, he came to Ling. Ling looked down at his shoes and shrunk as the emperor looked at his pot. He motioned for Ling to follow him to the front of the room. Ling followed, with his pot in his hand.
The emperor turned to the children and announced, “children, I present to you your new emperor!” Ling was flabbergasted! The emperor smiled, “one year ago I gave you all a pot full of dirt and a boiled seed. The seed couldn’t grow, but all of you,” he gestured to all the children, “replaced the seed with your own so you could impress me.”
The emperor looked at Ling, “but this boy had the integrity, honor and courage to present the truth! What’s your name?”
The emperor turned back, “your new Emperor Ling!”