The Woodman’s riddle

One day the king was out riding his horse when he met a woodman.
"How are things going?" asked the king. "Do you enjoy your work? Do you earn enough money?"
'I am doing very well, thank you," answered the woodman. "In fact, I even have some money left over at the end of each month."
"I'm very glad to hear that. What do you do with your money?"
"I pay for our food, our clothing and our rent. Then I divide the extra money into four parts. The first part goes to pay my debts. The second part I throw into the river. I bury the third part in the ground, and I give the fourth part to my enemy."
The king was amazed!. "What can this mean?" he asked. "You are talking in riddles."'
"I owe my life to my parents. This is my debt. The money I spend on drinking and gambling is the money that I throw into the river. The money I give to the temple is the money that I bury in the ground. My wife is my enemy."
"That's an excellent riddle," said the king. "But I think you should treat your wife as your friend, not as an enemy. After all, where would we be without women? They are our mothers, our sisters and our wives. We should trust them."
"Perhaps you are right, sire," said the woodman.
"Someday you'll see how right I am. Now, about your riddle. I think it's a very good riddle indeed. Can I have it?"
The woodman gave the king his riddle. After the king had written down every word, he called the woodman's wife. She heard her husband promise never to tell anyone the answer to the riddle.
Several weeks later the king announced a contest. He said he would give a bag of gold to anyone who could find the an­swer to this riddle. The woodman's wife remembered that her husband had given it to the king. She begged him to tell her the answer. When at last he told her, she went to see the king. The king listened as she gave the correct answer to the riddle.
"You are a very clever woman," he said as he gave her the bag of gold. "But haven't I seen you somewhere before?"
The woodman's wife replied that she had never seen the king before that day. But the king wasn't fooled. He sent for the woodman.
"You have broken your promise. You told your wife the an­swer to the riddle. Any man who breaks a promise to the king must die." The king called his guards to take the poor woodman away.
"Excuse me, Your Majesty," said the woodman, "But you told me I should trust my wife. Now you can see that I was right. She is my enemy after all."
The king began to smile. Then he began to laugh. He sent the guards away and said, "Woodman, you have taught me a useful lesson. As you see even a king can make mistakes. Go home now. I hope your wife will share her gold with you."
The woodman went home, but he never asked his wife about the gold.

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