THE CLEVER WEAVER 277
The king was, as the ministers knew, a man of his word ; and they quickly mapped out the city into districts, so that they might visit house by house, and question the occupants as to whether they could fathom the action of the ambassador. Most of them received no reply except a puzzled stare; but, luckily, one of them was more observant than the rest, and on entering an empty cottage where a swing was swinging of itself, he began to think it might be worth while for him to see the owner. Opening a door leading into another room, he found a second swing, swinging gently like the first, and from the window he beheld a patch of corn, and a willow which moved perpetually without any wind, in order to frighten away the sparrows. Feeling more and more curious, he descended the stairs and found himself in a large light workshop in which was seated a weaver at his loom. But all the weaver did was to guide his threads, for the machine that he had invented to set in motion the swings and the willow pole, made the loom work.
When he saw the great wheel standing in the corner, and had guessed the use of it, the merchant heaved a sigh of relief. At any rate, if the weaver could not guess the riddle, he at least might put the minister on the right track. So without more ado he told the story of the circle, and ended by declaring that the person who could explain its meaning should be handsomely rewarded.
' Come with me at once,' he said. ' The sun is low in the heavens, and there is no time to lose.'
The weaver stood thinking for a moment and then walked across to a window, outside of which was a hencoop with two knuckle-bones lying beside it. These he picked up, and taking the hen from the coop, he tucked it under his arm.
' I am ready,' he answered, turning to the minister.
In the hall the king still sat on his throne, and the envoy on his seat. Signing to the minister to remain