The Cloudsqueezer

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Humility and willingness to learn

Main Lesson

We should never give up learning. Nor should we ever think we know everything


An ancient kingdom


Wincey Wise, the King, the King’s advisers

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The Cloudsqueezer

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A short story about not pretending we know everything

Wincey Wise was a young lady who worked cleaning the King's advisers’ building. She was a very intelligent and studious girl, and wasn't going to waste the opportunity of being around these wise men. Even so, after a year there, listening to their meetings through the keyhole, she was worried. The wise men never talked about anything new. They just went on about old matters: when he did this and he learned that.

Wincey had been reading all the books the men mentioned, and about all the subjects they discussed. But there came a time when she didn't know what to learn next. She had read everything on what the advisers talked about. So Wincey started reading about all kinds of other things.

Meanwhile, a very long drought had begun - something which had never happened in that land. The wise men proposed solutions, but as it was something that had never happened before, none of their ideas worked. Wincey, who had read all about climate, and seeing that she knew a great deal more than them, dared to interrupt their deliberations to suggest some solutions. The advisers ignored her; they said she was just a girl, that they were the experts, and not to bother them again.

Wincey felt so saddened and offended that she gave up her job there, went home, and spent several days holed up in her attic. When she left she was pushing a trolley, and she pushed it straight to the palace. She showed the King her invention: a strange contraption with lots of buttons and a huge tuba sticking out the top.

"This is the Cloudsqueezer," said Wincey, "it will put an end to the drought."

"Hmm," said the King, looking doubtful, "does it really work?"

Wincey bent over the machine, whispered a few words into it, and the words were transformed into strange deep noises, which came out of the tuba, like a speaker. Soon, a light shower began falling outside. It stopped as suddenly as it had started.

"Did you cast a spell?" said the King, "Are you some kind of witch?"

"You what?" answered Wincey, "it's just a bit of science."

The King seemed to approve, and he called for his advisers to come and see the new invention. Wincey gave another demonstration. On seeing the rain fall, the advisers launched into a great scholarly debate. Was the effect based on atmospheric turbulence? Was it a product of lunar reflectivity? And so many other equally ignorant theories that Wincey couldn't help but chuckle to herself.

While they had been theorising, the rain outside just got harder and harder. It ended up raining heavier than anyone had ever seen. The advisers kept talking, and it rained all the harder. So much so, that the King had to tell Wincey to disconnect the machine. She turned off the Cloudsqueezer, and the rain stopped. In front of astonished faces, she explained.

"The Cloudsqueezer is just a translator. It translates and amplifies words so that the clouds can understand them."
"So, how come it starts to rain?" asked the King.
"Ahh, that's because the clouds have a good sense of humour. Every time they hear a bit of foolishness they cry with laughter!"

Everyone looked accusingly at the King's advisers, and the wise men could do nothing but blush like tomatoes, in shame. That experience turned out of great use to the King. Not only did the drought come to an end, but, from that day on, they always kept the Cloudsqueezer switched on. To avoid being shamed by the clouds tears of laughter, the people of that land soon learned to study what they could, and to keep quiet on themes about which they were ignorant.

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