The Fool and The King

If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you. ~ Oscar Wilde Click To Tweet

There once was a fool who set off for the palace of the King. It was a path normally reserved for people of great rapport, so it brought him much attention. Many people gathered, kicking up dust, pointing and whispering as he went. Finally one called out: “What business do you have at the king’s palace?

“I am to be the king’s teacher,” the fool replied, never once breaking stride.

The crowd erupted in laughter. This ignorant sap was sure to be beheaded!

The fool was unperturbed, however, continuing on his way, a particular lightness to his step. When he arrived at the palace, the King was alerted to his presence, his guards informing him of this audacious visitor’s intentions. The King, a great lover of games and jest, thought ‘what better fun than to fool with this poor fool? It will be a good laugh,’ and instructed that the man be brought before him.

When the fool entered the chamber, the King raised his voice to its most intimidating battle tone and cried: “What stupendous ignorance brings you, little man, to think he has the right bother me, the very father of this land!?”

The fool showed no sign of fear. He smiled slightly. “I am here to become your teacher.”

“And what would a fool like you possibly be able to teach me?”

“You see?” said the fool, “Already you begin your questioning of me.”

This both surprised and amused the king, though he didn’t show it. “Very clever,” he replied, “but you still haven’t answered my question.”

“Only a fool has an answer to everything, King.”

“Hmm…” the King mused aloud, wondering if there might be something more to this man than mere riddles and jest. There was something about his presence – not only was he unusually calm, his demeanour and line of questioning was eerily reminiscent of his old, best advisor, only so recently deceased. Was this fool somehow in the know? Regardless, he decided to play, continuing on: “And what would my subjects think if their King, dear enquirer, was to take a fool as his teacher?”

“Better a fool as teacher than a fool as King,” came back the answer.

“Ha!” the King cried out, “but if I take a fool as teacher, would that not then make me the fool?”

The fool was unmoved. “Only a fool will always say of himself that he is not a fool, King.”

To this the King burst out in a fit of laughter, holding his sides with the joy of this banter. It was madness, surely, but he was unable to resist the spirit of this strange visitor. If this brazen man — who had marched undaunted into the kings chamber, and into this exchange, without faltering — proved to be as clever and funny over time as he was now, and if there was indeed the depth to match it, he was well worth entertaining.

And that is how the fool became the King’s teacher.