The Circle of 99

Posted by in Stories on Dec 2, 2011


Once upon a time there was an unhappy king who had a cheerful and helpful servant. The king wished to know why the servant was always so merry and blithe, and so he summoned his counsellor. The counsellor told the king that it was because the servant was outside the Circle of Ninety Nine. He offered to show the king how the circle worked, but it would come at a cost: the king would have to be willing to lose his peerless servant. The king consented to this, and agreed to send for a leather purse containing ninety-nine gold coins. They conspired to meet outside the servant’s house that evening.

When they met that night outside the servant’s house, the counsellor tied a message to the leather purse with these words on it: This treasure is thine. It is payment for being a good man. Take it, but tell nobody how thou hast come upon it.

They tied the purse to the door, knocked, and hid themselves.

When the servant found the purse, he emptied it out on the table and began to count the coins. He had never had a gold coin in his hand before, and he played with them and caressed them, and finally began to count them and stack them up in piles of ten. One pile of ten, two piles, three piles, four, five, six…until he had made the last pile – but there were only nine coins! That can’t be right, he thought. He pushed the last pile up beside the others, and made sure that, yes, it was indeed smaller. “I’ve been robbed!” he cried; “Ninety-nine isn’t a full count. A hundred is a full count.”

Then he began to worry about how he could make savings to the value of a gold coin to make up the count. In the end, he reckoned that it would take him and his wife seven years, if they worked extra.

The servant had been lured into the Circle of Ninety-Nine.

It was not long before the servant was dismissed. It is not at all pleasant to have a servant about the place who is always in a bad mood.

(Freely retold from Bucay.)


Taken from Mindfulness i paedagogikken by Nikolaj & Didde Flor Rotne