The shrewdness of the charcoal maker

`¤*«مُحمدْ البادِيْ»*-¤

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22 أكتوبر 2011
إنْ وابلاً، فَطَلْ
I stumbled over this fascinating story. I am sure you'll find it amusing

A king once lost his way, and came to the house of a poor charcoal maker. The man, though poor, welcomed the king and offered him what little food there was in the house

The king was filled with curiosity and asked him, "How much money do you get from selling charcoal?"

"Ten cents a day, Your Majesty."

"Ten cents a day! And you manage to survive?" asked the king amazed.

"Oh yes," said the man cheerfully. "It is enough to live on. And with ten cents a day, I also manage to pay a debt, save for my old age, and have something left to throw out the window."

"This I cannot believe," said the king. "How is it possible?"

"Well," said the man, "my aging mother lives with us, and caring for her pays the debt that I owe to my parents. And I care for my son whom I hope will care for me in my old age; thus, I save for the future. And every so often i set aside another penny for my daughter's dowry, which is certainly like throwing money out the window."

The king chuckled. "That is good. Now, you must promise not to tell that riddle again until you have seen my face 100 times." The poor charcoal maker agreed. The king reminded the man of his promise, and left.

Soon after, the king asked his court this riddle. "How can a man who makes only ten cents a day have enough to live, to pay a debt, to save for the future, and to throw some out the window? The first who can answer this will be freed from paying taxes for the rest of his life."

Everyone was baffled. However, one of the courtiers realized that the king had asked this riddle right after he got lost at the poor man's hut. So he jumped on his horse and rode back to where the charcoal maker lived."You know," said the man, "how a man who makes only ten cents a day can have enough to live, to pay a debt, to save for the future, and to throw some out the window?”

Yes, I know but I cannot tell you.”

I will pay you ten silver pieces.”

'No, I cannot tell you.”

I will give you 50 silver pieces.”

'No, I cannot tell you.”

"What if I give you one hundred silver pieces?" said the man.

"Let me see the coins," said the charcoal maker. After examining and counting them carefully, he said, "Very well, I will tell you the answer." And he told the man the answer to the riddle.

The man thanked him and rode back to the court and solved the riddle.

The King was furious. "Fetch the charcoal maker - at once!" he roared. When the charcoal maker was brought before him, he demanded, "Did you tell this man the answer to the riddle?"

"Yes, Your Majesty."

"Why? You broke your word to me! "Beat him and throw him in prison for a year."

"I did not break my word to you, Your Majesty," answered the man humbly. "You said that I could reveal the answer after I had seen your face one hundred times."

"But you have not seen my face since the day I left your house."

"Oh, but Your Majesty," replied the charcoal maker, "I have. Your face is stamped on each of the silver coins I was given, and since there are one hundred of them, I have seen your face one hundred times."

The king was impressed. He set the charcoal maker free, and gave him three bags of gold