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The Riddle Of The Sack Wine


One evening, when seated at table, Brother Benjamin was called upon by the Abbot to give the riddle that was that day demanded of him.

"Forsooth," said he, "I am no good at the making of riddles, as thou knowest full well; but I have been teasing my poor brain over a matter that I trust some among you will expound to me, for I cannot rede it myself. It is this. Mark me take a glass of sack from this bottle that contains a pint of wine and pour it into that jug which contains a pint of water. Now, I fill the glass with the mixture from the jug and pour it back into the bottle holding the sack. Pray tell me, have I taken more wine from the bottle than water from the jug? Or have I taken more water from the jug than wine from the bottle?"

I gather that the monks got nearer to a great quarrel over this little poser than had ever happened before. One brother so far forgot himself as to tell his neighbour that "more wine had got into his pate than wit came out of it," while another noisily insisted that it all depended on the shape of the glass and the age of the wine. But the Lord Abbot intervened, showed them what a simple question it really was, and restored good feeling all round.

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