I stumbled across this, from 1968, on a trawl through my archives this afternoon:
Two men were walking along a forest path late on a midwinter afternoon, in search of a particular village, when they came to a division of the way into three separate directions without any indications.
‘Which way should we go?’ said the first man.
‘There’s no sign of a sign to help us,’ said the second. They pondered for a while. ‘I know, let’s spin a stick, and we’ll follow whichever road it points to.’
There being no better plan, they each went off into the forest to find a suitable stick to spin.
‘I’ve found one!’ cried the first man. ‘So have I!’ cried the second. They met up and compared the two sticks.
‘I found mine first,’ said the first man.
‘Maybe, but mine is straighter.’
‘Which shall we spin, then?’
‘No, I think mine actually.’
By now it was beginning to get quite dark. Suddenly they saw that a stranger, warmly clad and bearing a lantern, had joined them.
‘Can I be of assistance?’ he asked them kindly. The two men explained their predicament.
The stranger thought for a while, toying with the two sticks as he pondered. At last, looking up, he smiled and said:
‘Yes. I come from the village you seek, and so can advise you with some certainty.’
‘Advise us, please,’ said the two men.
The stranger smiled again and raised one of the sticks like a wand.
‘This stick is surely the truer, and will spin beautifully.’
Thus saying he bade them a good evening and continued on his way.
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