Wednesday, June 27, 2007


The king sat regally on his throne and glowered at his jester, who he had condemned to death for having committed a crime.

“Well,” asked the king, “do you have any last wish to make?”

The prisoner, who had been staring glumly at his feet, raised his eyes. “Your Majesty!” he pleaded. “Please spare my life!”

“Impossible!” roared the king. “You have committed a crime and must be punished for it! But,” he added, softening a little, “since you have been my friend, you may choose whether you want to be hanged or beheaded.”

A faint gleam of hope appeared in the jester’s eyes. “Then let us make a game of it, Your Majesty, as we have enjoyed so many games together in the past,” he said quickly. “I will make a statement, Your Majesty, and you will say whether it is true or false. If you say it is true, then hang me, and if it is false, then behead me.”

The king looked amused. “Certainly, my friend,” he said generously. “If you wish to die by a game, you shall have your wish.”

“That is your Royal Promise?” the jester asked hopefully.

The king smiled and replied: “Yes.”

The jester drew a deep breath. “Then here is my statement, Your Majesty: ‘I shall be beheaded.’

The king went into a deep thought. Then he frowned. “If I say it is true, I will have to hang you,” the king said at last. “But if I do hang you, the statement will turn out to be false, and I should have beheaded you!”

“And in either case, you would have broken your Royal Promise!” said the jester softly.

For a moment, everybody thought that the king would have an apoplectic fit. Then, all of a sudden, he smiled. “You are right, my clever friend,” said the king ruefully. “I will have to spare your life, after all! I cannot break my Royal Promise, can I?”

And so the jester’s life was spared – thanks to a clever little game!