I heard this story sometime back, its one of those classics, which has quite a few modifications and adaptations to it. Here’s my version of it.
There was this old Ninja Master who ran a ninja school. when it was about the time for him to choose a successor. he gathered all his top disciples and issued a challenge. He said,’ I have taught all of you the skills of a ninja, stealth, illusion and invisibility. Now it is my time to look for a successor and the best person to come of this challenge will be the successor.’
‘I want all of you to head to the nearby village and steal me the most valuable item you can find from the villagers. However, this must be done without being seen, or heard. The villagers must not know about your deeds and you must bring me your loot undetected.’
With these words, the ninja apprentices headed to the village to execute their mission. Being highly trained in stealth and invisibility, there was no difficulty for them to sneak into the villagers’ house and leave without being detected. Probably the more difficult task was to choose the most valuable items!
So the ninjas, headed back to their school, one by one, assembled before their master, chiding each other with the loot and their tales of adventure. there was one, however, came back empty.
the master burrowed his eyebrow and bellowed, ‘ why have you returned empty? isn’t the rule made it clear to you?’ Why are you back empty? had the villagers seen you?’
‘No, master.’ The young Ninja replied. ‘I was unseen, but i cannot take anything because there is always this one person watching over me. I was never alone.’
‘Who, this person shall be?’ The ninja master asked wryly.
The young ninja said: ‘that person is me.’