me," the old man begged. "My
neighbor has stolen from me."
paramount chief gladly listened. It pleased him that others recognized
his wisdom. "What exactly is the problem?" questioned the
neighbor stole my goats. I'm a poor man, too poor to replace
what do you have to say?" the chief asked the man's neighbor.
don't know what he is talking about," answered the neighbor.
"I have many goats but none of them belong to this man."
would not be an easy problem to settle. The paramount chief would
have to rely on his wisdom. It was the kind of problem he enjoyed
have a test for you," announced the chief. "Whoever passes
the test will own the goats. Go home until you can answer this for
me. I want to know what is the fastest thing in the world. Do not
return until you have my answer."
two men left shaking their heads. Who could answer that question?
old man repeated the question to his daughter, Ziah.
She was as beautiful as she was wise. Right away, she whispered the
answer that would please the chief. The old man returned to the chief
the following morning.
chief was surprised. "You already have an answer for my question?"
replied the old man, "it was not difficult."
what is the fastest thing in the world?"
answered the old man. "We never have enough of it. It always
goes too fast. There is never enough time to do all that we want to
answer amazed the paramount chief. He wasn't sure if he himself could
have answered the question as well. "Who helped you? Who gave
you these words?" demanded the chief.
are my own words, my own thoughts," lied the old man. "There
is no one else who helped me."
you are not telling the truth, I will punish you," warned the
old man was too afraid to continue the lie. "It was my daughter,
Ziah, who gave me the words," he confessed. "She is a very
must be!" thought the chief. "I would like to meet this
long after that the old man presented his daughter
Ziah to the paramount chief. If the chief was amazed with her wisdom,
he was captivated by her beauty. "You are indeed a wise and lovely
woman. I would be honored to have you as my wife. Will you marry me?"
honor is mine," smiled Ziah.
the chief was pleased, he was also concerned about having such a wise
wife. He did not want her to interfere with the problems brought before
him. He didn't want to share this honor with anyone, not even his
in my house is yours," declared the chief. "I only have
one rule for you. You must never involve yourself with the problems
brought before me. This is your only warning. If you break this rule,
I will send you from my house."
chief's new wife only smiled at his command.
went well for quite some time. The paramount chief
continued to hear people's problems while Ziah kept herself busy without
becoming involved. Usually she agreed with his decisions.
day, however, the chief gave one of his puzzles to two boys who argued
over a sheep. Ziah knew she shouldn't help the boy who really owned
the sheep, but he was so upset. She finally asked him to explain his
chief asked for the impossible," he sighed. "He gave us
an egg and said that whoever could hatch the egg by tomorrow would
own the sheep."
knew she shouldn't help but the solution was so obvious. "Take
some rice to the chief," she instructed. "Tell him to plant
it today so that in the morning you will have rice to feed your chicken.
He will know that it is just as impossible to grow rice in one day
as it is to hatch an egg that quickly."
boy ran to the chief with the rice. He said exactly the words he was
told. The chief was not impressed; he was angry! "Who told you
this? Who gave you the rice?" he ordered. "These words are
too wise for one so young."
are my own words, my own thoughts," said the boy too afraid to
speak the truth. "There is no one else who helped me."
you are not speaking the truth, I will punish you," warned the
was Ziah!" cried the boy. "She knew you'd understand the
chief, furious his wife had broken his only rule for her,
called her before him and scolded, "Didn't you know all that
I have is yours? You have broken the only rule I had for you. Now,
go back to your father's home."
I go, may I fix you one final meal?" asked the woman. "Then,
I will take what is mine and go."
answered the chief. "Make whatever you want. Take whatever you
want. Just be sure that you do not remain here tonight!"
prepared the chief's favorite meal. She served it with a generous
amount of palm wine. Before the meal was finished, the chief became
very drunk and quietly fell asleep. Ziah's plans worked exactly as
she had hoped.
her family's help, she carried the paramount chief to her father's
home. They placed him on a bed and he slept soundly through the night.
In the morning the chief's voice boomed throughout the house. "Where
am I? What am I doing here?" he demanded.
entered the room and grinned. "You said I could
take whatever I wanted from your house. I wanted you and so I took
are certainly a wise woman," smiled the chief. "Come return
with me to our home. Only a fool would send away such a woman."
you, my chief, are no fool," whispered the clever wife.