The 100 Keys of the Kingdom
A riddle of how the king used an evil for good.
A riddle of how the king used an evil for good.
The ailing health of the kingdom was obscured by the grandeur of the coronation. The coronation proved more majestic than even the new king imagined it would be, but he had no intention of wasting time on vain thoughts of self-importance. In the last years of his father's reign, corruption had taken root and was now beginning to bud its evil fruits. As a result, the young king's heart was burdened heavily, for it now fell upon him to establish justice in the land. To place the kingdom on paths of righteousness, he searched among his most wise advisors and summoned his most trusted.
"Step forward and speak with boldness, my advisors. See now, the king's heart before thee is heavy, for the fatherless and widows are even now oppressed among us in the kingdom. Speak boldly and hold back no good advice from the king. Speak plainly, and do so now."
One, in modest apparel, stepped forward and entreated the king's ear. "Oh king, live for ever. If the king would desire his kingdom to flourish, and to endure from generation to generation, he must set justice for the cornerstone and raise mercy for the banner." The Kings shoulders squared and his eyes brightened.
"The King is pleased to hear thee further. Say on."
"If it should please the king, cast now thine eye upon the key of the kingdom, inherited from thy father, at thine own coronation. Though the golden key of the kingdom is but only ten ounces, none within its sight would dare to speak against its power when grasped within your hand, for by it you meet out justice or mercy, according to truth. But, oh King, the land is vast and the key is but one. Who among the kingdom have seen the key? Because of absence, or by great distance, many subjects now think the key is but a doubtful legend. Many grown bold. They boast among themselves, 'Is there really a key? What key is there that we should fear? Or who shall grasp it to prevent us from our desires?'
"Say on." said the king.
"Oh your majesty the king, doubt and ignorance of the key must be rid from the kingdom. Lest the kingdom perish, multiply a likeness of the key, one hundred fold, and send them forth, even to the farthest reaches of the land. It is needful that all the king's subjects see a likeness of the key grasped within the hand of a worthy man. Select one hundred loyal men of good report, even ones to swear an oath to their own hurt--wise men, trustworthy, and zealous of good. One hundred regents at your command, each with a key, in the likeness of the kings key. Thus righteousness shall go forth as a flood and the wicked will be carried away, but the just shall be lifted high."
The king raised his key and declared, "My favor is to thee. Even as thou hast spoken, it shall be. One hundred keys. One hundred loyal men shall go forth, each with a likeness of the king's key fashioned from 10 oz. of gold. They shall go forth as a flood to visit justice upon the wicked and to shower blessings upon the humble. Go now with haste and fetch 1,000 oz. of gold from the kings storehouse. Divide it into ten blocks of 100 oz. each and deliver one block to each of the king's ten trusted goldsmiths. Command them each without delay to fashion ten equal keys, in the likeness of the king's key."
The ten goldsmiths each received a 100 oz. block of gold and began to fashion ten equal keys to deliver to the king. However, one goldsmith was unjust and coveted the power of a key. He reasoned within himself that he too should have a key, and he figured out how to do it with subtlety. He fashioned a key for himself that weighed 10 oz. and hid it, in what he thought was a safe place. He then took the 90 oz. of gold left over and fashioned ten equal keys to be delivered to the king, but each one weighing only 9 oz. Thus, to ensure the false keys had the same apparent volume as the approved keys, he made a slight hollow inside, but his intention to trick the king was discovered. The wise advisor who had won the favor of the king discovered the deceit of the goldsmith but he remained silent and went quietly to alert the king.
The king answered, "You have done well. Name the thief to me but tell no one else of the matter. Keep your silence for I shall use this evil for good."
The appointed day of commissioning arrived. The 100 loyal men, together with the ten goldsmiths, presented themselves before the king in his royal court for the ceremony of regents. After the 100 men swore their oaths before the king, the king recounted to them the sober powers of the key they were about to receive. He further explained it was necessary that the most wise and discerning of them would be assigned as the captain, to order the other 99 at the king's behest. But who would it be? He would now test them to know which among them was the most discerning and thus worthy to be the captain of them all.
"Hear now this, the king's test. One of the ten goldsmiths before you is a thief. Each of them was given 100 oz. of gold to make ten equal keys. See now, they each have the ten keys they made setting before them. Each set of ten keys appear in the same likeness as the king's key, and every key appears to have equal volume. But one goldsmith has made 9 oz. keys and the other nine have made 10 oz. keys. Who among you can step forward to declare the thief? You may use the king's royal scale just once, and only once, and yet you must discern which of the ten is the thief of the king's gold."
The most discerning of the regents stepped forward, used the kings scale just once, then confidently returned to the goldsmiths, and pointed to the thief among them. The king raised his key and declared, "It is so. He has stolen the king's gold." With haste the kings guards seized the man and carried him away to swift justice. Thus on that day the wisdom of the king was witnessed before the 100 regents. By this they understood how to turn an evil for good and went forth throughout the land doing likewise.
How did the most discerning regent step forward and identify the thief even though he only used the royal scale just once?
Hint: (triple click on the word "Hint")To discern which witness is true and which is false, one must ensure they are put at variance to each other and weighed in a balance together.
.Answer: (triple click on the word "Answer") The most discerning regent stepped forward and collected one key from the first goldsmith, two from the second, three from the third, etc until he took ten from the tenth. He then had a total of 55 keys that should have each weighed 10 oz. each for a total weight of 550 ounces. He took them and weighed them all together, at once. If the total was 549 oz. then it was short 1 oz. so it was the first goldsmith who was guilty. If the total was 548 oz. then it was 2 oz. short so the second goldsmith was guilty. If 547 oz. then 3 oz. short and the third guilty, and so on.