Time Will Always Tell

While I’ve heard variations on this parable before, recently I heard what I thought was the best version I had ever encountered, but after a while I realized it was still lacking something for my tastes.  Once I had that thought though, I knew what I thought it needed, so what follows is my personal version:

A king and his doctor were once fond of hunting together in the woods.  One day, however, the king accidently cut his finger very deeply while they were out.

“This is bad,” the king said.

“Good . . . bad . . . time will tell,” the doctor said as he bandaged the wound.

Over time the cut became infected, and the king began to fret.  “Is it bad?” he asked the doctor as the doctor was again tending to the cut.

“Time will tell,” the doctor replied.

Eventually the infection became severe, and the king’s finger had to be amputated to save his life.  The king was furious!

“You are a terrible doctor!” he shouted at his one time friend.  “Not only could you not save my finger, you couldn’t even give me a straight answer when I asked you!  Maybe a little time in a prison cell will teach you the difference between good and bad!”

“Time will tell,” was the doctor’s only reply as he was being lead away to his cell.

So the next time the king went hunting, he went hunting alone.  As these were his “personal” woods, he assumed he would be safe, but unbeknownst to him, the woods also contained several varieties of malicious fairies who had different ideas.  Normally they avoided humans, but this particular day they were looking for sacrifices for reasons known only to them, so the captured the king, trussed him up, and began the ritual that would culminate with the ending of his life.

“This is bad,” the king thought, but then the fairies noticed the king’s missing finger.

“This sacrifice is flawed!” they cried, so left the king where he was as they went off in search of more suitable sacrifices.  Eventually the king freed himself from his bonds and made his way back to his castle.

Upon arriving home, the king summoned the doctor before him.  “My apologies, my friend,” the king said.  “I thought it was bad when I lost my finger, but if I had not lost my finger, the fairies would have sacrificed me.  Furthermore, I thought it was bad when the fairies captured me in the first place, but had they not, I would not have realized the wisdom of your words.  Good . . . bad . . . time does indeed tell.  The only bad thing here was me having you thrown into a cell.  Can you forgive me?”

“There’s nothing to forgive, my friend,” the doctor answered with a smile.  “Had you not acted as you had, I would have been with you in the woods that day when the fairies captured you, and *I* have ten fingers.”

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