A fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm
There was once upon a time a shepherd boy whose fame spread
far and wide because of the wise answers which he gave to every
question. The king of the country heard of it likewise, but
did not believe it, and sent for the boy. Then he said to
him, "If you can give me an answer to three questions which I
shall ask you, I shall look on you as my own child, and you shall
dwell with me in my royal palace."
The boy said, "What are the
The king said, "The first is, how many drops
of water are there in the ocean?"
The shepherd boy answered, "Lord
king, if you will have all the rivers on earth dammed up so that
not a single drop runs from them into the sea until I have
counted it, I shall tell you how many drops there are in the sea."
The king said, "The next question is, how many stars are there
in the sky?"
The shepherd boy said, "Give me a great sheet of
white paper," and then he made so many fine points on it with a
pen that they could
scarcely be seen, and it was all but impossible to count them,
any one who looked at them would have lost his sight. Then he
said, "There are as many stars in the sky as there are points
on the paper. Just count them." But no one was able to do it.
The king said, "The third question is, how many seconds of time
are there in eternity?"
Then said the shepherd boy, "In
lower Pomerania is the diamond mountain, which is two miles
high, two miles wide, and two miles deep. Every hundred
years a little bird comes and sharpens its beak on it, and
when the whole mountain is worn away by this, then the first
second of eternity will be over."
The king said, "You have answered the three questions like a
wise man, and shall henceforth dwell with me in my royal
palace, and I shall regard you as my own child."