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Tuesday, 21 February 2012






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Riddling tales

We find in many places in the world that people entertain themselves with tales of riddles. I narrate a tale and you give the solution if you can, seems the point in reference in these tales.

Today I wish to present two such tales for you to test if you could read the tale in the first instance and then solve it without anyone's help. This is the first tale.

A man, his wife and their two sons came to a river. They had to cross. On the river bank they found a boat that they could use. But the notice inside the boat read that it could carry only things weighing 100 pounds at a time. The man weighed 100 pounds and so did his wife. The boys each weighed about fifty pounds. Now this was a problem to cross the river. How did they cross the river without overloading the boat?

If you can solve by yourself, don't read the solution given below. But if you have still not found the solution read the following.

1. The two boys got into the boat first and rowed across. One of the boys went ashore and the other rowed back by himself.

2. Their mother then rowed across by herself. The boy who already was there rowed back alone

3. The two boys again crossed the river. One stayed with the mother and the other rowed back by himself.

4. Their father rowed across by himself. Then the boy who was there with his mother rowed back alone.

5. The two boys rowed across once again. But this time they pulled the boat out of the water and the family continued on its way back.

Here is the second tale

A farmer went to the market and bought a fox, a goose and a sack of seed corn. On his way home he had to cross a river. But the boat was too small, he could take only one of his new possessions across at a time. This created a problem.

If he took the sack of corn across, he would be leaving the fox, and the goose together and the fox would eat the goose. If he took the sack of corn across, he would be leaving the fox and the goose together, and the fox would eat the goose.

If he took the fox across he would be leaving the goose and the corn alone, and the goose would eat the corn.

The only things that he could leave together safely were the fox and corn, as they don't eat corn. How did he manage to move all three safely to the other side of the river?

Now it is your chance to solve the problem of the farmer. If you fail, read the following

1. The farmer rowed the goose across and returned by himself.

2. He then moved the corn across. He rowed back with the goose so that it could not eat the corn.

3. He rowed the fox across, leaving with the corn. He then returned by himself.

4. He took the goose across for the last time and headed home.

In addition to these two tales and the riddle behind them there is a short tale written in the form of a verse taught to me by one English teacher. Here it is.

'In the garden was a river,
In the river, on a hot summer's eve was a boat,
In the boat was a lady with a bright red petticoat.
If you dont know her name
You only have yourself to blame.

Don't blame yourself. Her name is in the second line of the verse. She is Eve.

Riddle in prose as well as in verse have been around the world for thousands of years. Sometimes they were used to make decisions that affected the people's lives. It is also noted that riddles had become part of the traditions and many ceremonies in many religions. Riddles also have entered narrative patterns in the form of dialogues and monologues. One finds riddles in the Old Testament, Koran, and Rigveda.


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