The Prince and the Fool (A Fable)
Once there was a young prince who was jealous of his older brother because he was first in line to become king. So the young prince began to spread lies and gossip about his brother so that he would be disgraced and have to forfeit his right to the throne. But what the young prince hadn’t counted on was the effect his slanders would have on his kingdom for the people loved his older brother very much, and his father, who was deeply hurt and distraught by what he heard even though it wasn’t true. His father became very ill and was close to death as a result of the young prince’s jealous ambitions.
The young prince became afraid and went to his father and brother to confess his sin and beg for mercy. When he told them they were sorely disappointed but nevertheless forgave him anyway. But, try as he might to correct his folly, the rumors and lies concerning his brother just grew and grew.
Frustrated and sad he went to the court jester, the wisest man in the kingdom, for his guidance and help. Upon listening to his tale the jester told him to gather up the down pillows from the seat of his father’s throne and to follow him. He did as he was instructed and followed the fool through the castle and to its tallest tower. Once they climbed the steps and looked out over the length and breadth of the kingdom, the jester took the pillows, ripped them open and scattered the feathery contents upon the wind. They both watched as the down floated and drifted out over the planes like snow and eventually vanished from site.
“Now”, said the jester to the prince, “go gather it up and re-stuff these pillows.”
“What you ask is impossible,” said the prince. “I could work for months and years and still not gather back every one.”
“Such is the nature of gossip and lies,” said the fool. “Once uttered, they are impossible to take back.”