Once upon a time, in a land far, far away (though not as far as Endor, to be sure) there lived a king and three knights. (There were actually more than three knights, but those knights do not concern us. We shall therefore ignore their existence.) The king was a good and happy king, save for one problem — he had no son. (Alas, in those days upon this time of which we speak, there were no enlightened womens-rights activists to whack the king over the head until he saw that his daughter, lovely and charming though she was, had also a first-class brain. Which was lucky for the princess, for she planned to be the power behind the throne; her first-class brain reasoned that if the knights ever revolted, they were likely to chop off her husband’s head and leave her pretty neck intact.)
Anyway, as the tale goes, the king declared that the three bravest, most successful, most powerful, richest — well, you get the picture; they wuz the shiznit! — knights were to battle each other for the right to wed the princess. Being brave, strong, powerful knights, they immediately informed their squires that they (the squires) would be battling on behalf of the knights. “Go forth, brave squires,” said each, “and fight for glory! Fight for honor! Fight for my right to hop into the sack with that pretty princess! And, um, I’ll give you a raise or something.”
Unfortunately for some of the squires (but fortunately for our story), the knights were not equally rich and powerful; they did not have equal amounts of squires. In fact, the numbers were rather unequal; while the first knight had something like twenty squires, the second had only ten or so, and the third lowly knight had only one single squire.
Undaunted, the knights ordered their squires to meet in the forest glen, for upon the next dawn they would battle to the death. The last squire alive would win victory on behalf of his knight (and then probably expire from wounds, but, like the extra knights, that does not concern us at this time).
Luckily for one of the squires (and this, indeed, makes the gist of our tale), he had both a strong survival instinct and the ability to think creatively. This single squire — as a matter of accuracy, I will specify that this squire was the single squire belonging to the third knight — hied himself to the glen at midnight. Then, in darkness, he twisted a strong rope into a noose, hoisted a large iron cauldron up into the treetops and crept into the vessel, concealing himself.
At daybreak, the squires of the first knight and second knight met with a great and bloody clash. They fought, and slashed, and parried. They punched and kicked and bit. They bled and twisted and died. (Which surprises no one. War ain’t pretty, you know.)
And when at last the battle dust had settled, it was seen that not a single squire on the field of battle was left alive. But high above the field of battle, the single squire stood up in his cauldron and claimed victory.
The third knight therefore won the right to marry the princess. And he did, indeed; and the old king died peacefully; and the new queen (who used to be the princess) used her first-class brain to run the kingdom without ever hurting the pride of the new king (who used to be the third knight), and they all lived happily ever after. Not that we really care about that, because there was a lesson to our story. And that lesson is . . .
. . .
. . .
that the squire of the high pot and noose was equal to the sum of the squires of the other two sides.
P.S. Got this joke from Mike, who got it from his dad, who used to tell MATH JOKES when he was a kid. I admit to embellishing it just a bit.
UPDATE: Doubletrouble linked with his own version, thanks! Also, I made Jay’s head hurt *snigger*