Jul. 22nd, 2011

Once upon a time there were two savants and a simpleton. They all lived together in a tiny garret in Paris.

Henri was a technical genius. He could build any sort of machine, diagnose any disorder and solve all sorts of problems. He was a recognized expert in all of the sciences, and he was frequently asked to lecture at the best universities. Small wonder it was that Henri considered himself to be the smartest man alive. Yet, for all his gifts, Henri was poor and was forced to live in the crowded flat with the other two.

Guy was also a genius, but where Henri's gifts ran to the numerical and practical, Guy's were more philosophical. His powers of perception were unmatched, and his sense of aesthetics was the envy of artists and architects the world over. He could hold forth for hours on matters related to literary criticism, all while cooking a gourmet seven-course meal, beating four opponents at blindfolded chess, and painting a seascape that put the great masters to shame. Guy, quite understandably, believed himself to be the most intelligent person in the world, not Henri. But for some reason, Guy had no better fortune than Henri in matters financial, and he too was destitute.

Laurent made no claims to be a genius. He was really quite a simple fellow. When he worked, which was infrequently, he carried bricks in a wheelbarrow for his meager pay. The rest of the time, Laurent liked to sit by the banks of the River Seine and watch the world go by. The talk of intelligent and educated men was not for him; he preferred to sit, and not think, and smile, because despite his want of intellectual fortitude, Laurent was a happy man. He did not care that his poverty forced him to live in the undersized garret along with the two geniuses.

Henri and Guy did not get along with each other, and neither of them cared for Laurent. They were constantly feuding and arguing, except for Laurent who was too simple and too happy.

"How you can possibly think of yourself as a sensible man is beyond me, Guy," sneered Henri. "You have absolutely no head for numbers, and I suspect even knob-head over here could fix a flat tire before you could." Guy puffed up at this, of course, although simple Laurent merely smiled and nodded.

"It takes some nerve for a nincompoop such as you to dare challenge my intelligence," snorted Guy. "I doubt you'd know Manet from Monet, and I believe even cheese-for-brains Laurent has more insights into the human condition than do you!" Henri bridled, but poor dim Laurent only grinned. "I'd like some cheese to eat!" he declared.

Henri and Guy both viewed their moronic roommate with disgust. "Here, now," said Henri. "Surely we can agree that Laurent is the dimmest. Look at him, sitting there and drooling to himself."

"Yes, yes," replied Guy. "Why, even this story's narrator thinks he's moronic."

Henri frowned. "What?" he said.

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