Our town is a quiet little town, and lies nestling in a little
surrounded by pretty green hills. I do not think you would ever
heard our town mentioned had not the man lived there who was so
that everyone marvelled at his great knowledge.
He was not always a wise man; he was a wise boy before he grew
manhood, and even when a child he was so remarkable for his wisdom
that people shook their heads gravely and said, "when he
there will be no need of books, for he will know everything!"
His father thought he had a wond'rous wise look when he was born,
so he named him Solomon, thinking that if indeed he turned out
wise the name would fit him nicely, whereas, should he be mistaken,
and the boy grow up stupid, his name could be easily changed to
But the father was not mistaken, and the boy's name remained
When he was still a child Solomon confounded the schoolmaster
asking, one day,
"Can you tell me, sir, why a cow drinks water from a brook?"
"Well really," replied the abashed schoolmaster, "I
have never given
the subject serious thought. But I will sleep upon the question,
try to give you an answer to-morrow."
"But the schoolmaster could not sleep; he remained awake
all the night
trying to think why a cow drinks water from a brook, and in the
morning he was no nearer the answer than before. So he was obliged
appear before the wise child and acknowledge that he could not
"I have looked at the subject from every side," said
he, "and given it
careful thought, and yet I cannot tell why a cow drinks water
"Sir," replied the wise child, "it is because
the cow is thirsty."
The shock of this answer was so great that the schoolmaster fainted
away, and when they had brought him to he made a prophecy that
would grow up to be a wond'rous wise man.
It was the same way with the village doctor. Solomon came to
day and asked,
"Tell me, sir, why has a man two eyes?"
"Bless me!" exclaimed the doctor, "I must think
I a bit before I
answer, for I have never yet had my attention called to this subject."
So he thought for a long time, and then he said, "I must
it up. I cannot tell, for the life of me, why a man has two eyes.
"Yes, sir," answered the boy.
"Then," said the doctor, after taking a dose of quinine
to brace up
his nerves, for he remembered the fate of the schoolmaster, "then
please tell me why a man as two eyes.
"A man has two eyes, sir," returned Solomon, solemnly,
"because he was
born that way."
And the doctor marvelled greatly at so much wisdom in a little
and made a note of it in his note-book.
Solomon was so full of wisdom that it flowed from his mouth in
perfect stream, and every day he gave new evidence to his friends
he could scarcely hold all the wise thoughts that came to him.
instance, one day he said to his father,
"I perceive our dog has six legs."
"Oh, no!" replied his father, "our dog has only
"You are surely mistaken, sir," said Solomon, with
the gravity that
comes from great wisdom, "these are our dog's fore legs,
not?" pointing to the front legs of the dog.
"Yes," answered his father.
"Well," continued Solomon, "the dog has two other
legs, besides, and
two and four are six; therefore the dog has six legs."
"But that is very old," exclaimed his father.
"True," replied Solomon, "but this is a young
Then his father bowed his head in shame that his own child should
teach him wisdom.
Of course Solomon wore glasses upon his eyes--all wise people
them,--and his face was ever grave and solemn, while he walked
and stiffly so that people might know he was the celebrated wise
and do him reverence.
And when he had grown to manhood the fame of his wisdom spread
over the world, so that all the other wise men were jealous, and
in many ways to confound him; but Solomon always came out ahead
maintained his reputation for wisdom.
Finally a very wise man came from Cumberland, to meet Solomon
which of them was the wisest. He was a very big man, and Solomon
very little man, and so the people all shook their heads sadly
feared Solomon had met his match, for if the Cumberland man was
full of wisdom as Solomon, he had much the advantage in size.
They formed a circle around the two wise men, and then began
to see which was the wisest.
"Tell me," said Solomon, looking straight up into the
big man's face
with an air of confidence that reassured his friends, "how
sisters has a boy who has one father, one mother, and seven brothers?"
The big wise man got very red in the face, and scowled and coughed
stammered, but he could not tell.
"I do not know," he acknowledged; "nor do you
know, either, for there
is no rule to go by."
"Oh, yes, I know," replied Solomon; "he has two
sisters. I know this
is the true answer, because I know the boy and his father and
mother and his brothers and his sisters, so that I cannot be
Now all the people applauded at this, for they were sure Solomon
got the best of the man from Cumberland.
But it was now the big man's turn to try Solomon, so he said,
"Fingers five are on my hand;
All of them upright do stand.
One a dog is, chasing kittens;
One a cat is, wearing mittens;
One a rat is, eating cheese;
One a wolf is, full of fleas;
One a fly is, in a cup
How many fingers do I hold up?"
"Four," replied Solomon, promptly, "for one of
them is a thumb!"
The wise man from Cumberland was so angry at being outwitted
sprang at Solomon and would no doubt have injured him had not
man turned and run away as fast as he could go. The man from
Cumberland at once ran after him, and chased him through the streets
and down the lanes and up the side of the hill where the
Solomon ran very fast, but the man from Cumberland was bigger,
was just about to grab our wise man by his coat-tails when Solomon
gave a great jump, and jumped right into the middle of a big
The people were all coming up behind, and as the big man did
to follow Solomon into the bramble-bush, he turned away and ran
All the men and women of our town were horrified when they came
found their wise man in the middle of the bramble-bush, and held
by the brambles, which scratched and pricked him on every side.
"Solomon! are you hurt?" they cried.
"I should say I am hurt!" replied Solomon, with a groan;
"my eyes are
"How do you know they are?" asked the village doctor.
"I can see they are scratched out!" replied Solomon;
and the people
all wept with grief at this, and Solomon howled louder than any
Now the fact was that when Solomon jumped into the bramble-bush
wearing his spectacles, and the brambles pushed the glasses so
against his eyes that he could not open them; and so, as every
part of him was scratched and bleeding, and he could not open
eyes, he made sure they were scratched out.
"How am I to get out of here?" he asked at last.
"You must jump out," replied the doctor, "since
you have jumped in."
So Solomon made a great jump, and although the brambles tore
cruelly, he sprang entirely out of the bush and fell plump into
another one. This last bush, however, by good luck, was not a
bramble-bush, but one of elderberry, and when he jumped into it
spectacles fell off, and to his surprise he opened his eyes and
that he could see again.
"Where are you now?" called out the doctor.
"I 'm in the elderberry bush, and I 've scratched my eyes
When the people heard this they marvelled greatly at the wisdom
man who knew how to scratch his eyes in after they were scratched
and they lifted Solomon from the bush and carried him home, where
bound up the scratches and nursed him carefully until he was well
And after that no one ever questioned the wond'rous wisdom of
man, and when he finally died, at a good old age, they built a
monument over his grave, and on one side of it were the words,
"Solomon; the Man who was Wond'rous Wise."
and on the other side was a picture of a bramble-bush.