A wizard left each of his three sons a gift before he died. The oldest received a mirror, through which he could see anyone in the world. The second, a horse which could ride to any place in the world in one day. The third, a magic apple which would never rot, and when eaten would cure any disease.
One day the brothers heard about a princess in a faraway land who was dying of an unknown disease. Rumour had it the king would let the man who saved his daughter marry her. The brothers sprung into action. The first looked in his mirror and saw the ill princess and the land she lived in. All three jumped on the second brother's horse, and they rode so fast they got to the princess' land the next morning. Then the third son took his apple to the princess, who ate it and recovered full health instantly.
The king was grateful, and indeed intended to let one of them marry the princess. But it had taken the cooperation of all three brothers to save her. Which one did the king decide should marry his daughter?
Remember the old St. Ives riddle that goes "While walking to St. Ives, I met a man with seven sons with seven wives etc etc... how many were going to St. Ives?" And the answer is just 1, because all the other people were going away from St. Ives. I think the point is that we start making assumptions as we begin to read the riddle, then as we read the rest of the story we get so bogged down in logic that we never challenge our earlier assumption (ie that the wizard is dead).
I think the key is in the first sentence:
"A wizard left each of his three sons a gift before he died." The wizard could most certainly still be alive. Yes, the word "left" implies the last will and testament, but it could also mean he left them a gift outside their front door. So I'm saying:
Posted by Larry
on 2004-02-21 11:09:21