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The Third Banquet: The Prince's Boots

On a certain day, my friend Tekka approached me as I was preparing my supper of lentil stew (anyone who has heard of me knows lentils are my favorite food).

"O Mullah, my friend," cried Tekka, "a most wonderful opportunity has arisen!"

"Calm yourself, my friend," I replied, "and give me all the details."

"I have been invited to the palace of the Prince for one of his famous banquets!"

Inwardly, I groaned. Outwardly I grinned. "Do you knot know that banquets and I do not get along?"

"You will love this one," said he. "He has a banquest once a month, and his next one is tomorrow evening. I received an invitation because I praised him, and bowed to him as he walked by, and just did what they call a little boot-licking. Lo, I received an invitation on fine soft papyrus, with the Prince's seal!"

"I congratulate you, my friend, on your good fortune."

"But you could get an invitation too, Nasruddin!"

"How could I?" I asked. "I do not know the Prince, nor does he know me."

"No, this is true," said Tekka, scratching his head. "But your reputation for unusual wisdom has spread far – perhaps he has heard of you that way."

"Most people who are on the receiving end of what you call my unusual wisdom do not care to receive any more of it ever," I replied. "They are just as happy never to see me again."

"Oh, Mullah, my friend, this cannot be true," said Tekka loyally. "But you can get an invitation the way I did."

"You mean by the bowing and scraping, and by...what did you call it, boot-licking?" I inquired.

"Indeed! It is easy, and the rewards are great! The desserts alone will make you swoon!" and Tekka clapped his hands in anticipation.

"Hmm," I pretended to ponder this weighty issue, O flowers of my heart. But the answer was already clear.

"I fear, my dear friend," I said putting as much regret into my voice as I could, "that the flavor of the desserts would be damaged by the flavor of the prince's boots. I will stick to my lentils, thank you."

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