Once upon a time there was a king who had a very difficult problem. A mathematician was able to solve the problem, and the king told him to name his reward.

“I don’t ask for much,” said the clever mathematician. “A single gold coin today, and that each day for the next thirty days you double the amount you give me.”

“So it shall be done,” said the king, who was not very clever at math.

On the tenth day, when his treasurer sent the payment of 512 gold pieces, the king began to be concerned.  On the twelfth day, when the payment reached 2048 gold pieces, he became alarmed.  And when the treasurer told him that the kingdom would need to borrow in order to pay out 16,384 gold pieces on the 15th day, the king could take no more.

So he sent out one of his trusted spies, who killed the mathematician and brought back the unspent gold.

The moral of the story is: Sometimes it doesn’t pay to be too clever.

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