Who doesn’t love picking up a slug out of the garden and letting it crawl all over your hands leaving slimy trails? I’m going to go ahead and admit that I have not picked up a slug in years. This story isn’t about slugs though, it’s about lazy people, or at least people who lie about how lazy they are. It’s short, so I’ll type it.
A certain king had three sons who were all equally dear to him, and he did not know which of them to appoint as his successor after his own death. When the time came when he was about to die, he summoned them to his bedside and said: “Dear children, I have been thinking of something which I will declare unto you; whichsoever of you is the laziest shall have the kingdom.” The eldest said: “Then, father, the kingdom is mine, for I am so idle that if I lie down to rest, and a drop falls in my eye, I will not open it that I may sleep.” The second said: “Father, the kingdom belongs to me, for I am so idle that when I am sitting by the fire warming myself, I would rather let my heel be burnt off than draw back my leg.” The third said: “Father, the kingdom is mine, for I am so idle that if I were going to be hanged, and had the rope already round my neck, and any one put a sharp knife into my hand with which I may cut the rope, I would rather let myself be hanged than raise my hand to the rope.” When the father heard that, he said: “You have carried it farthest, and shall be king.”
As long as I have known anything about history, I have always heard that the eldest son gets the kingdom providing he’s not dead. Then the kingdom would pass onto the next oldest son, and so on, if they happened to all be murdering each other or were just extremely unlucky in health. Why is this king choosing between his three son of different ages? If they were triplets, I would understand the confusion, but they’re not. Is there a tradition in certain parts of Europe, or did there used to be a tradition in certain parts of Europe, where the king chose who he liked best rather than letting the throne go to the oldest son? Not to my knowledge, but I am not an authority on European history. So this story is just a little historically inaccurate on that count.
Look, the king is not rewarding his sons’ laziness; he’s rewarding their creativity and their ability to lie. If these sons were truly lazy they wouldn’t have taken the brain power to think up how lazy each of them were. Actually, if they were truly lazy, they would display their laziness by lying on the floor and if they couldn’t roll over, they would just give up and stay on their backs until someone bodily moved them. I would also suggest that a truly lazy person is going to say “lazy” and not “idle” when speaking of being lazy. The princes have already proved that they are not lazy simply by the language they use. It’s a contest of wits, not laziness.
The youngest son has proved not only that he’s creative, quick-thinking, and competitive, but he’s also proven that he’s ready to please his father. His father sees him as the best fit. The youngest son is ready to swear to his death, without actually ending up dead. That could be a very good trait for a king to have. We all want a king who would be willing to ride along side of us in battle and swear that they would shed his blood in defense of us and his country, but we still kind of need a king.
In essence, a king is a politician. What do politicians needs to be able to do? They need to be able to talk smoothly, swear allegiance, and be crafty with their wording. The youngest son pretty much has all of that covered. He gets the job.
Well, I hope he didn’t lazily rule the kingdom.