“Once upon a time, there was a prince. He was handsome and kind and everybody loved him. He was the only prince of the kindgom.
This may not have been a bad thing. For many people it is a very good thing and many a great career has started off this way, but unfortunately for our prince, there was one major problem.
The prince was very, very stupid. He never understood when people said complex things to him and he struggled with his tutors at his studies, which he found difficult and extremely taxing.
The people whispered behind his back.
This prince is too stupid! How is he going to rule us if he can not even understand the complicated matters of state? Our kingdom will fall!It was not the prince's fault. He was extremely good looking and people generally loved him every where he went – every where he went, that is, until he opened his mouth and tried to have a conversation with them. Then they discovered how stupid he was.
I want to be loved for my brain and not just my looks, he thought sadly to himself.
No one will take me seriously or listen to anything that I have to say if they just all think that I am stupid. I need to do something about this.The prince went to his father, the king. The king felt pity for his son and hired some of the best brains in the country. They tutored him in the languages, logic, mathematics, history, the geography of his realm and astronomy. They taught him everything they themselves knew, until there was not a tutor or teacher around who had not taught him something about something.
Six years later, the prince went to his father and said, “Father, I have learned everything about everything. I know all there is that these tutors of mine know themselves. Test me on anything you wish.”
The king was pleased with his son. He held up his hand, in which he had hidden a gold and diamond ring.
“Tell me, oh my most educated offspring, what do I hold in my hand?”
The prince set to work. He used all the teachings he had been taught to try and find out what could be in the hand. He used his learning in astronomy and in mathematics. He used his knowledge of local geography and of the history of the realm and deduced that the king was holding up something that contained a stone.
He used herbal medicine and sports science and real science and astrology and he discovered that the thing in the king's hand also contained some metal and had a hole through the middle.
“Now, my special child, tell me what it is that I hold?” asked the king eagerly.
The prince stood up from the desk where his papers lay scattered; where his workings had taken him the best part of a week. The tutors gathered round eagerly, some of them rubbing their hands, keen to show off their handiwork in producing such an amazing miracle and ready to receive the bounteous bounty that the king would undoubtedly bestow.
The prince looked at them all with gratitude and humility.
"From this day forwards, I will not be known as the stupid prince, I shall be known as the Prince of Knowledge, or skill and eloquence. My kingdom will be one of teaching, where many learned men come to establish their schools and universities. For your majesty! Father! What you hold in your hand is...”
(everyone held their breath)
A grinding wheel!
Everyone looked at each other? “What did he say?” whispered the Grand Vizier to the mathematician.
“He said a grinding wheel,” said the mathematician in an annoyed tone. “A wheel for grinding flour. Our learned prince thinks that the mighty sultan has hands so large that he can hide a grinding wheel in them.”
“Oh well,” said the Grand Vizier. “We tried. But you can't polish a turd.”