Monday, April 11, 2005

Two Horses: a riddle tale

The next time some smarty-pants job-interviewer asks you to give an example of a time when you dealt with a seemingly impossible situation, you can remember this riddle-tale adapted from David Shannon's Still More Stories to Solve.

There was once a queen who had two sons. When she grew old and close to death she sent for her sons. “I want you to ride your horses to Jerusalem. The one whose horse arrives last will inherit everything I own.”

The two princes mounted their horses. But, since each knew his horse had to arrive last if he was to win, both sons rode as slowly as they possibly could. One was forever trying to lag behind the other. When they finally reached the outskirts of Jerusalem, both sons stopped. Neither dared go a step closer for fear of getting there first and thus letting the other arrive last and inherit the kingdom.

They sat for a day. Then two. They sat for a week and began to feel as if they’d spent the rest of their lives sitting at the edge of Jeruselem with nothing to their names. Then, suddenly, both sons had the same idea. They each jumped on a horse and rode to Jeruselem as fast as they could go. What made them change their minds and find a way to end the competition?

Answer: Each jumped on his brother’s horse to finish the race. If one could ride the other’s horse to the city first, it would mean that his own horse would arrive last and he would inherit the kingdom.

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