How Long Eternity?
How Long Eternity?

(a.k.a. The Shepherd Boy)
Once upon a time, there was a little shepherd boy who had the reputation of being incredibly smart, folks said that he had an answer for just about everything.  One day, the king heard about this and called for the boy.  He wanted to find out for himself because he could scarcely believe that a mere shepherd boy could be as smart as all that.

When the boy appeared before him, he told him that if he could answer three questions, he should henceforth live in comfort in the palace and be as his own son.

"What are your questions, Sire?" the boy asked.

The king replied:  "First, tell me how many drops of water there are in the ocean."

The boy thought for a moment and said:  "Sire, have every river in the world dammed so that no drop can run off into the ocean before I have counted it, then I will tell you how many drops of water there are in the ocean."

Said the King "The second question is, how many stars are there in the heavens?"

The boy asked for a huge sheet of white paper, a quill pen and a pot of ink.  He then proceeded to dot the paper, one fine dot almost on top of the other, until the whole sheet of paper was covered.  This he took to the king and told him that after he had the dots counted, he would know how many stars there were in the heavens.

But that was a feat no-one was able to accomplish, just looking at the paper made everyone quite dizzy. 

Then the king had one more questions of the child:  "How many seconds are there in eternity?"

And the boy replied:  "In the hinterlands of Pommerania, there is a mountain made of the hardest diamond.  It's one hour deep into the earth, one hour up toward the sky, one hour long and one hour wide.  To this mountain comes a little bird, once every hundred years, to sharpen its beak.  And when this bird has worn away the whole mountain, the first second of eternity has passed."

The king realised that he had indeed found a person of great wisdom, and from that day on, the little shepherd boy lived in the palace in great honour, becoming a trusted friend and advisor to the king.
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