One day a farmer decided to take his cow to the market to be sold. When he met the merchant, he greeted him and told him he had a cow he wished to sell. The merchant asked how much he wanted for his cow, to which the farmer replied “Fifty measures of grain”. The merchant began to laugh and said that the farmer must be a fool to ask such a price since the cow was only worth a single measure of grain.
The two began to barter the price and their tempers rose as the argument continued. A crowd began to gather around the two men. Then the farmer said that he wasn’t a fool; because no fool could know where the center of the earth was or how many stars there were in the heavens.
The merchant got very angry and tried to punch him. At this point a few men in the crowd took both of the men to the judge so that he could decide.
The judge heard the version of both men then turned to the farmer to ask “If you are able to tell us the number of stars in the sky and where the center of the earth is; then here is your chance.” The farmer paused and reached for his cane which he lifted and plunged deep into the ground. “This is the center of the earth”, he said, “and anyone who can prove the contrary is welcome to do so now.
He then reached down and took a handful of dust from the ground. “The number of stars in the heavens is equal to the number of dust particles in my hand and anyone who can prove me wrong is welcome to speak now.”
The judge understood that he was dealing with a very clever man. So he ordered the merchant to pay the clever farmer fifty measures of grain for his cow.