FOOLISH JIM AND CLEVER JAMES
HERE was once a fellow who was so simple that people
called him Foolish Jim. Every one made fun of him, for
he would keep a candle burning all through the day, and
when it began to be dark he would blow the light out.
He would carry an umbrella spread over his head to
protect himself from the rain when there was not a
cloud in the sky. He would wear an overcoat on the
hottest day of summer and walk about outdoors in his
shirt sleeves in midwinter. Indeed, he did everything
contrary to common sense. By and by the king heard of
him, and, thinking Foolish Jim would afford some
amusement, he sent for him. When Jim came he looked so
awkward that the king and all his courtiers began to
"Do you know how to count?" asked the king.
"I know how to count eggs," Foolish Jim replied, "for
yesterday I found four and two."
"How many does that make?" said the king.
 "I can't say," Jim answered, "but I will go and
count the eggs and find out."
"Very well," said the king.
So Foolish Jim went and counted the eggs, and when he
returned he told the king there were four and two.
The king and his friends made merry over this response
for some time, but at last the king said, "How would
you like to marry my daughter, Foolish Jim?"
"That would just suit me," Jim replied.
"All right," said the king; "then I must explain to you
that about a month ago I agreed my daughter should
marry the first man who guessed a riddle that I have
made. I allow three guesses, and whoever tries the
three times and fails is put to death. Fifty men have
lost their lives already. So take warning and remember
that you need not try unless you choose."
"Oh, yes! I will try," said Jim."Let me hear the
"The riddle is this," responded the king."What is it
that early in the morning walks on four legs, at noon
on two, and in the evening on three legs? You may come
again on the first day of April and answer me."
 So Jim went away, and he did nothing but think
until the first of April came. Every one knew that he
was going to try to guess the king's riddle, and they
all thought he would surely fail. Most of them were
sorry for him, and the only person who was glad was a
bad man who was one of Jim's neighbors. This man wanted
to have Jim's horse, and he said to himself, "Jim is so
foolish there is no chance whatever of his guessing
that riddle. I may as well save him the trouble of
going to the king, and at the same time get his horse
for my own."
The first day of April came, and the bad man put a
basket of poisoned cakes on a bridge over which Foolish
Jim was to pass."He will eat those cakes," said the
man, "and then he will die and I will take the horse."
Pretty soon Foolish Jim came riding along, and when he
saw the basket of cakes on the bridge he got off his
horse and picked them up."This is very queer," said he;
"a basket of cakes and no one in sight to whom they
They smelled good and were very tempting, but he was a
little suspicious."I will give a few of them to my
horse before I eat any," said he.
So he took up several of the cakes and fed them to the
horse, and almost immediately the poor
 beast fell
dead on the bridge."See," said Foolish Jim, "if I had
not been prudent, it is I who would be dead instead of
my horse. Well, well, and now I shall have to go the
rest of the way on foot."
Before he started he threw his horse into the river,
and as the body was being carried away by the current
three buzzards alighted on it and began to eat. Foolish
Jim watched his horse until it
 floated around a
turn in the river and disappeared.
"Now," said he, wagging his head, "I shall have
something to ask the king to guess."
When Foolish Jim arrived at the king's palace he found
no rivals, for so many had failed and been beheaded
that others who were inclined to have a try at the
riddle were a good deal discouraged. But Jim went
directly to the king and said, "If I guess your riddle,
will you give me your daughter?"
"Yes," the king replied.
"Well, the riddle is easily answered," said Foolish
"Say no more," commanded the king, "but let us have the
answer at once."
"Hearken, then," said Foolish Jim."A little child
before he is able to stand walks on four legs; when he
grows stronger he walks on two, and when he is old he
has to carry a cane and that makes three legs."
All persons present had been listening with their
mouths wide open, they were so astonished.
"You have guessed right," said the king, "and I see you
are not so foolish as you would have people believe. My
daughter will be your wife."
"I beg you will allow me to ask you a riddle now," said
 The king thought he was so keen at guessing
riddles that it would be impossible to ask one he could
not correctly answer."Certainly," he replied, "and if I
do not guess it I will forfeit my kingdom to you."
Then Foolish Jim said, "I saw a dead being that was
carrying three living beings and was nourishing them.
The dead did not touch the land and was not in the sky.
Tell me what it was, or I shall take your kingdom."
The king tried to guess. He said this, that, and a
thousand things; but in the end he had to give up, and
Foolish Jim said, "The dead being was my horse. He died
on a bridge. I threw him into the river, and as he
floated away three buzzards alighted on him and were
eating him, and he did not touch the land and was not
in the sky."
Everybody now saw that Foolish Jim was smarter than all
of them together. He married the king's daughter and
took the monarch's place and governed the kingdom, and
instead of being called Foolish Jim he was known as