Long, long ago there lived a king in India. One day a messenger came from another king. He arrived at the palace, entered the king's court and bowed low to the king. He said, "My king sends his regards and would like you to have this gift."
The king took the box and opened it. Inside he saw three beautiful statues that all looked the same. The messenger said, "Your majesty, my king has instructed me to tell you that even though the statues look alike, they are different. My king wishes you to choose one of the three and return the others."
Everyone around the king became curious. The Prime Minister looked at the statues and scratched his head in wonder. The king studied them all again but was unable to decide how the statues were different. "There must be some hidden meaning that I'm not able to see right away. I need some more time. Please leave the statues here and come back tomorrow."
The king had a young son who was very clever. The king went to find the prince in the garden. "There are three lovely statues in this box, my son. My friend sent them to me as a gift. I have to choose one and send the others back. See if you can find any difference between them."
All night long the prince did many tests comparing the statues. Finally as dawn was approaching, an idea came to him. He put each of the three statues in a bowl of water. His face lit up as he watched small bubbles rise in the water. He got dressed and ran to his father's court.
Everyone was eagerly watching him as he entered the room. He began to speak, "Some people listen to a thing with one ear and let it go straight out the other. That kind of friend doesn't really listen to another friend's problems." The prince picked up one of the statues and passed a long slender needle through one ear and it came through the other side. The prince explained, "My lord, your friend wishes to tell you that you should not keep company with such people."
Now the prince picked up the second statue and passed a needle through its ear. This time the needle came out of the mouth. He said, "My lord, this statue is like people who listen to a thing and soon tell it to others. Such people are very hard to trust, they don't make good friends."
Everyone looked closely as the prince picked up the third statue. He passed a needle through the ear but its end didn't come out at all. "My lord, this statue is like those people who listen to a thing and keep it to themselves. The message is that this kind of person is the best friend."
The king picked up the statue and gave it to his son saying, "My son, you solved this puzzle because of your hard work. Please accept it as a gift from me and keep it as a reminder to always be a good friend."