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The Quest of Cleverness

Once long ago there lived a king who had a stupid son. His father sent him to school for many years hoping that he might learn something there. His teachers all gave him up as hopelessly stupid, and with one accord they said, “It is no use trying to teach this lad out of books. It is just a waste of our valuable time.”

At length the king called together all the wisest men of his kingdom to consult with them as to the best way to make the prince wise and clever. They talked the matter over for a year and a day. It was the unanimous opinion of the wise men of the kingdom that the lad should be sent on a journey through many lands. In this way he might learn many of the things which his teachers had not been able to teach him out of books.

Accordingly the prince was equipped for his journey. He was given fine raiment, a splendid black horse upon which to ride, and a great bag full of money. Thus prepared, he started forth from the palace one bright morning with the blessing of the king, his father, and of all the wise men of the kingdom.

The prince journeyed through many lands. In one country he learned one thing, and in another country he learned another thing. There was no country or kingdom so small or poor that it did not have something to teach the prince. And the prince, though he had been so insufferably stupid at his books, learned the lessons of his journey with an open mind.

After long wanderings the prince arrived at a city where there was an auction going on. A singing bird was being offered for sale. “What is the special advantage of this singing bird?” asked the prince.

“This bird, at the command of its owner, will sing a song which will put to sleep any one who listens to it,” was the reply.

The prince decided that the bird was worth purchasing.

The next thing which was offered for sale was a beetle. “What is the special advantage of this beetle?” asked the prince.

“This beetle will gnaw its way through any wall in the world,” was the reply.

The prince purchased the beetle.

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