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The Three Princes

"We'll get there in a flash!"

Indeed, moments later the three princes were standing in the very room they had viewed through the crystal ball only minutes before. Everyone was so distraught they didn't notice the three princes had suddenly appeared in the room. Without a word, the third prince stepped up to the princess' bed and with his finger touched a dab of ointment on her forehead and set the ointment by her bedstand. She blinked and seconds later opened her eyes. Then she moved her head, and sat up. "I feel better," she said.

"It's a miracle!" cried the father, and he embraced his daughter.

Later that night, the three princes appeared before the king. "Your majesty," said the first prince, "each of us may have located a magical item. But there is no doubt that my crystal ball is the most wondrous item of all. Without it, none of us would have known the princess was sick in the first place. I submit that mine is the most wondrous item and therefore I deserve the hand of the princess."

"With all due respect," said the second prince, stepping forward, "While it was informative to learn that the princess was sick, had we had not been able to travel a week's journey in a blink of an eye on my flying carpet, that knowledge would have done us no good. I submit that mine is the most wondrous item and therefore I deserve the hand of the princess."

"Good sire," said the third prince. "While it may have been useful to learn the princess was sick and was helpful to arrive here as quickly as we did, had we not had my magical ointment, all that knowledge and all that quickness would have been in vain. I submit that mine is the most wondrous item and therefore I deserve the hand of the princess."

The king was perplexed. Each of the princes made a good argument. And since the question was so close, no matter which prince he selected, he was sure to raise the ire of the other two and their neighboring city-states.

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