As You Please by Unknown

"'Is the bird alive or dead?'" "'Is the bird alive or dead?'"

In the ancient times there lived a wonderfully wise man, of whom it was said that he could answer correctly any question put to him. There was one, however, who thought himself clever enough to outwit the sage. This man took a poor, captive bird, and clasped it so closely in his hand that only the head and tail were visible.

'Tell me,' said he to the renowned guesser of riddles, 'is the bird which I hold in my hand alive or dead?'

If the answer were 'Dead,' thought this artful plotter, he would just open his hand, and let the bird fly; if the answer were 'Alive,' he would with one little squeeze crush the poor bird to death.

But the wise man proved himself equal to the occasion, and replied, 'It is as you please.'

Each one of you holds within his or her grasp the fair bird of life. Which is it to be? A blessing or a bane? It is 'as you please.'