The door to the palace was opened by an old man. Before asking if he could stay for the night the merchant noticed that the old man only had one hand. Thinking no more about it, and after being invited in, the merchant followed the old man through the palace to his room.
On the way he noticed other people, all of whom had only one hand. The merchant was puzzled but, since it was late, he decided not to ask any questions.
The following morning before being allowed to travel on his way, the merchant was invited to an audience with the Sultan. After exchanging pleasantries he asked said to the Sultan “I don’t wish to be impolite but I have been wondering why there are so many people here with only one hand.
“Ah” said the Sultan “they are my consultants.”
“But why have they only got one hand?” enquired the merchant.
“Well” said the Sultan “every time I ask them a question they respond by telling me that, on the one hand I could do this, and, on the other hand I could do that. So if I cut one hand off I always get a straight answer”!