One day the Hodja, in the presence of the great Tamerlane, inadvertently boasted that in his youth he had been a good archer, in fact the champion sharpshooter of his day.

"Well, well," said the Emperor. "That's very interesting! Come, we were going to the field anyway. Maybe you can show us something useful."

This was an order. No amount of pleading would change Tamerlane's mind. Nor would the Hodja's old age prevent him from becoming eventually the laughingstock of the Emperor and his whole army.

In the field he was given a bow and three arrows to demonstrate his skill. The target, as he looked at it, seemed to be miles away! He would be lucky if he could even throw the arrows that far.

He aimed carefully and let go the first arrow. It fell a few paces from his feet. The Hodja gave a quick grin and said:

"This is to show your Majesty how your captains shoot."

He took more time in aiming his second arrow. When he let it go, it traveled just a few yards further than the first one. This time he said:

"And that is to show your Majesty how your generals shoot."

Better make a joke out of the whole thing, he thought to himself. Then you may possibly escape being ridiculed. He took the third arrow and was trying to take aim when the bow slipped out of his sweaty hand and, to his astonishment, the arrow went and lodged itself neatly in the exact center of the bull's-eye!

The lucky Hodja immediately collected his wits and said:

"And this is to show your Majesty how Nasreddin Hodja, your humble servant, used to shoot in his younger days!"

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