The shepherd boy



There was once on a time a shepherd boy whose fame spread far and wide because of the wise answers which he gave to every question. The King of the country heard of it likewise, but did not believe it, and sent for the boy. Then he said to him: "If thou canst give me an answer to three questions which I will ask thee, I will look on thee as my own child, and thou shall dwell with me in my royal palace." The boy said: "What are the three questions?" The King said: "The first is, how many drops of water are there in the ocean?" The shepherd boy answered: "Lord King, if you will have all the rivers on earth dammed up so that not a single drop runs from them into the sea until I have counted it, I will tell you how many drops there are in the sea." The King said: "The next question is, how many stars are there in the sky?" The shepherd boy said: "Give me a great sheet of white paper," and then he made so many fine points on it with a pen that they could scarcely be seen, and it was all but impossible to count them; any one who looked at them would have lost his sight. Then he said: "There are as many stars in the sky as there are points on the paper; just count them." But no one was able to do it. The King said: "The third question is, how many seconds of time are there in eternity." Then said the shepherd boy: "In Lower Pomerania is the Diamond Mountain, which is two miles and a half high, two miles and a half wide, and two miles and a half in depth; every hundred years a little bird comes and sharpens its beak on it, and when the whole mountain is worn away by this, then the first second of eternity will be over."

The King said: "Thou hast answered the three questions like a wise man, and shalt henceforth dwell with me in my royal palace, and I will regard thee as my own child."
从前有个小牧童,由于别人无论问什么,他都能给出个聪明的回答,因而名声远扬。 那国的国王听说了,不相信他有这么厉害,便把牧童招进了宫。 国王对他说:"如果你能回答我所提出的三个问题,我就认你做我的儿子,让你和我一起住在宫里。"牧童问:"是什么问题呢?"国王说:"第一个是:大海里有多少滴水?"小牧童回答:"我尊敬的陛下,请你下令把世界上所有的河流都堵起来,不让一滴水流进大海,一直等我数完他才放水,我将告诉你大海里有多少滴水珠。"国王又说:"第二个问题是:天上有多少星星?"牧童回答:"给我一张大白纸。"于是他用笔在上面戳了许多细点,细得几乎看不出来,更无法数清。 任何人要盯着看,准会眼花缭乱。 随后牧童说:"天上的星星跟我这纸上的点儿一样多,请数数吧。"但无人能数得清。 国王只好又问:"第三个问题是:永恒有多少秒钟?"牧童回答:"在后波美拉尼亚有座钻石山,这座山有两英里高,两英里宽,两英里深;每隔一百年有一只鸟飞来,用它的嘴来啄山,等整个山都被啄掉时,永恒的第一秒就结束了。"

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