A Magic Ring

One day a king decided to teach a lesson to his son, a young and arrogant prince. He said, “Son, there is a ring that I want you to bring to me. I wish to wear it for my birthday, which gives you six months to find it.”

“If it exists anywhere on Earth, sire,” replied the prince, “I will find it and bring it to you. But what makes the ring so special?”

“It has magic powers,” answered the king. “If a happy man looks at it, he becomes sad. If a sad man looks at it, he becomes happy.” The king knew no such ring existed, but he wished to give his son a taste of humility.

Spring passed, then summer, and still the prince searched for the ring. On the evening of the king’s birthday, the prince took a walk in one of the poorest quarters of the city, still searching. He passed by a merchant who had begun to set out his wares on a shabby carpet. “Have you by chance heard of a magic ring that makes the happy wearer forget his joy and the broken-hearted wearer forget his sorrows?” asked the prince.

He watched the merchant take a plain gold ring and engrave something on it. When the prince read the words, his face broke into a smile. That night the city welcomed the king’s
birthday. The king called for his son.

He said, “Have you found what I sent you for?” All the king’s ministers laughed, for they were “in” on the joke.

But to everyone’s surprise, the prince held up the ring and said, “Here it is!”

The king snatched the ring and read the inscription, which said: “This too shall pass.” Suddenly his smile vanished as he realized the prince had succeeded. The words on the ring indeed would make the happy man sad, and the sad man happy.

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