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Wonderous wise.

From Mother Goose in Prose by Frank Baum.
Age Rating 6 to 8.

Start of Story

There was a man in our town
And he was wond'rous wise;
He jumped into a bramble bush
And scratched out both his eyes.
And when he saw his eyes were out,
With all his might and main
He jumped into another bush
And scratched them in again!

Our town is a quiet little town, and lies nestling in a little valley surrounded by pretty green hills. I do not think you would ever have heard our town mentioned had not the man lived there who was so wise that everyone marvelled at his great knowledge. He was not always a wise man; he was a wise boy before he grew to manhood, and even when a child he was so remarkable for his wisdom that people shook their heads gravely and said, "when he grows up there will be no need of books, for he will know everything!" His father thought he had a wond'rous wise look when he was born, and so he named him Solomon, thinking that if indeed he turned out to be wise the name would fit him nicely, whereas, should he be mistaken, and the boy grow up stupid, his name could be easily changed to Simon.

But the father was not mistaken, and the boy's name remained Solomon. When he was still a child Solomon confounded the schoolmaster by asking, one day, "Can you tell me, sir, why a cow drinks water from a brook?" "Well really," replied the abashed schoolmaster, "I have never given the subject serious thought. But I will sleep upon the question, and try to give you an answer to-morrow." "But the schoolmaster could not sleep; he remained awake all the night trying to think why a cow drinks water from a brook, and in the morning he was no nearer the answer than before. So he was obliged to appear before the wise child and acknowledge that he could not solve the problem. "I have looked at the subject from every side," said he, "and given it careful thought, and yet I cannot tell why a cow drinks water from a brook." "Sir," replied the wise child, "it is because the cow is thirsty." The shock of this answer was so great that the schoolmaster fainted away, and when they had brought him to he made a prophecy that Solomon would grow up to be a wond'rous wise man.

It was the same way with the village doctor. Solomon came to him one day and asked, "Tell me, sir, why has a man two eyes?" "Bless me!" exclaimed the doctor, "I must think I a bit before I answer, for I have never yet had my attention called to this subject." So he thought for a long time, and then he said, "I must really give it up. I cannot tell, for the life of me, why a man has two eyes. Do you know?" "Yes, sir," answered the boy. "Then," said the doctor, after taking a dose of quinine to brace up his nerves, for he remembered the fate of the schoolmaster, "then please tell me why a man as two eyes. "A man has two eyes, sir," returned Solomon, solemnly, "because he was born that way." And the doctor marvelled greatly at so much wisdom in a little child, and made a note of it in his note-book.

Solomon was so full of wisdom that it flowed from his mouth in a perfect stream, and every day he gave new evidence to his friends that he could scarcely hold all the wise thoughts that came to him. For instance, one day he said to his father, "I perceive our dog has six legs." "Oh, no!" replied his father, "our dog has only four legs." "You are surely mistaken, sir," said Solomon, with the gravity that comes from great wisdom, "these are our dog's fore legs, are they not?" pointing to the front legs of the dog. "Yes," answered his father. "Well," continued Solomon, "the dog has two other legs, besides, and two and four are six; therefore the dog has six legs." "But that is very old," exclaimed his father. "True," replied Solomon, "but this is a young dog." Then his father bowed his head in shame that his own child should teach him wisdom. Of course Solomon wore glasses upon his eyes--all wise people wear them,--and his face was ever grave and solemn, while he walked slowly and stiffly so that people might know he was the celebrated wise man, and do him reverence.


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