One day the Hodja was up a tree cutting firewood. Somebody passing by noticed he was busily hacking at the very branch he was riding on.

"Be careful, Hodja Effendi!" he warned. "It's the branch you are riding on that you are trying to cut off. Unless you stop at once, you will certainly come a cropper."

The Hodja didn't bother to answer the man. Busybodies were everywhere. Never doing anything useful themselves, they kept telling you what to do or not to do. While his mind was on this train of thought, down came the Hodja, together with the branch he had just managed to sever.

His opinion of the man was immediately reversed. Surely this was not a man to be trifled with. In fact, he might be the wisest man he would ever meet in his life. As soon as he got himself disentangled, he ran after the man, but he was too late for the man had disappeared.

Probably that was just as well. Because what he had in mind was to ask the sage to tell him exactly when he was due to die.

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