We find in many places in the world that people entertain themselves
with tales of riddles. ‘I narrate a tale and you give the solution if
you can,’ seems the point in reference in these tales.
Today I wish to present two such tales for you to test if you could
read the tale in the first instance and then solve it without anyone's
help. This is the first tale.
A man, his wife and their two sons came to a river. They had to
cross. On the river bank they found a boat that they could use. But the
notice inside the boat read that it could carry only things weighing 100
pounds at a time. The man weighed 100 pounds and so did his wife. The
boys each weighed about fifty pounds. Now this was a problem to cross
the river. How did they cross the river without overloading the boat?
If you can solve by yourself, don't read the solution given below.
But if you have still not found the solution read the following.
1. The two boys got into the boat first and rowed across. One of the
boys went ashore and the other rowed back by himself.
2. Their mother then rowed across by herself. The boy who already was
there rowed back alone
3. The two boys again crossed the river. One stayed with the mother
and the other rowed back by himself.
4. Their father rowed across by himself. Then the boy who was there
with his mother rowed back alone.
5. The two boys rowed across once again. But this time they pulled
the boat out of the water and the family continued on its way back.
Here is the second tale
A farmer went to the market and bought a fox, a goose and a sack of
seed corn. On his way home he had to cross a river. But the boat was too
small, he could take only one of his new possessions across at a time.
This created a problem.
If he took the sack of corn across, he would be leaving the fox, and
the goose together and the fox would eat the goose. If he took the sack
of corn across, he would be leaving the fox and the goose together, and
the fox would eat the goose.
If he took the fox across he would be leaving the goose and the corn
alone, and the goose would eat the corn.
The only things that he could leave together safely were the fox and
corn, as they don't eat corn. How did he manage to move all three safely
to the other side of the river?
Now it is your chance to solve the problem of the farmer. If you
fail, read the following
1. The farmer rowed the goose across and returned by himself.
2. He then moved the corn across. He rowed back with the goose so
that it could not eat the corn.
3. He rowed the fox across, leaving with the corn. He then returned
4. He took the goose across for the last time and headed home.
In addition to these two tales and the riddle behind them there is a
short tale written in the form of a verse taught to me by one English
teacher. Here it is.
'In the garden was a river,
In the river, on a hot summer's eve was a boat,
In the boat was a lady with a bright red petticoat.
If you don’t know her name
You only have yourself to blame.’
Don't blame yourself. Her name is in the second line of the verse.
She is Eve.
Riddle in prose as well as in verse have been around the world for
thousands of years. Sometimes they were used to make decisions that
affected the people's lives. It is also noted that riddles had become
part of the traditions and many ceremonies in many religions. Riddles
also have entered narrative patterns in the form of dialogues and
monologues. One finds riddles in the Old Testament, Koran, and Rigveda.