Select the desired text size

Wonderous wise.

Start of Story

And when he had grown to manhood the fame of his wisdom spread all over the world, so that all the other wise men were jealous, and tried in many ways to confound him; but Solomon always came out ahead and maintained his reputation for wisdom. Finally a very wise man came from Cumberland, to meet Solomon and see which of them was the wisest. He was a very big man, and Solomon was a very little man, and so the people all shook their heads sadly and feared Solomon had met his match, for if the Cumberland man was as full of wisdom as Solomon, he had much the advantage in size. They formed a circle around the two wise men, and then began the trial to see which was the wisest. "Tell me," said Solomon, looking straight up into the big man's face with an air of confidence that reassured his friends, "how many sisters has a boy who has one father, one mother, and seven brothers?" The big wise man got very red in the face, and scowled and coughed and stammered, but he could not tell. "I do not know," he acknowledged; "nor do you know, either, for there is no rule to go by."



"Oh, yes, I know," replied Solomon; "he has two sisters. I know this is the true answer, because I know the boy and his father and his mother and his brothers and his sisters, so that I cannot be mistaken." Now all the people applauded at this, for they were sure Solomon had got the best of the man from Cumberland. But it was now the big man's turn to try Solomon, so he said, "Fingers five are on my hand;
All of them upright do stand.
One a dog is, chasing kittens;
One a cat is, wearing mittens;
One a rat is, eating cheese;
One a wolf is, full of fleas;
One a fly is, in a cup
How many fingers do I hold up?"

"Four," replied Solomon, promptly, "for one of them is a thumb!" The wise man from Cumberland was so angry at being outwitted that he sprang at Solomon and would no doubt have injured him had not our wise man turned and run away as fast as he could go. The man from Cumberland at once ran after him, and chased him through the streets and down the lanes and up the side of the hill where the bramble-bushes grow.



Solomon ran very fast, but the man from Cumberland was bigger, and he was just about to grab our wise man by his coat-tails when Solomon gave a great jump, and jumped right into the middle of a big bramble-bush! The people were all coming up behind, and as the big man did not dare to follow Solomon into the bramble-bush, he turned away and ran home to Cumberland. All the men and women of our town were horrified when they came up and found their wise man in the middle of the bramble-bush, and held fast by the brambles, which scratched and pricked him on every side. "Solomon! are you hurt?" they cried. "I should say I am hurt!" replied Solomon, with a groan; "my eyes are scratched out!" "How do you know they are?" asked the village doctor. "I can see they are scratched out!" replied Solomon; and the people all wept with grief at this, and Solomon howled louder than any of them. Now the fact was that when Solomon jumped into the bramble-bush he was wearing his spectacles, and the brambles pushed the glasses so close against his eyes that he could not open them; and so, as every other part of him was scratched and bleeding, and he could not open his eyes, he made sure they were scratched out.



"How am I to get out of here?" he asked at last. "You must jump out," replied the doctor, "since you have jumped in." So Solomon made a great jump, and although the brambles tore him cruelly, he sprang entirely out of the bush and fell plump into another one. This last bush, however, by good luck, was not a bramble-bush, but one of elderberry, and when he jumped into it his spectacles fell off, and to his surprise he opened his eyes and found that he could see again. "Where are you now?" called out the doctor. "I 'm in the elderberry bush, and I 've scratched my eyes in again!" answered Solomon. When the people heard this they marvelled greatly at the wisdom of a man who knew how to scratch his eyes in after they were scratched out; and they lifted Solomon from the bush and carried him home, where they bound up the scratches and nursed him carefully until he was well again. And after that no one ever questioned the wond'rous wisdom of our wise man, and when he finally died, at a good old age, they built a great monument over his grave, and on one side of it were the words, "Solomon; the Man who was Wond'rous Wise." and on the other side was a picture of a bramble-bush.

       


Back To Top Previous Page Audio version of this story