Recursive Sentence

Copyright 1997 by Paul Niquette. All rights reserved.

Convicted Gambler

he judged took a coin from his pocket.  "You have been convicted of the crime of gambling," he bellowed. "You shall be sentenced to three years at hard labor."  Then grinning, the judge held up the coin.  "As befits your crime, I'll flip you, double-or-nothing.  Call it."

Gambling"Wait, your honor!" exclaimed the prisoner. "Let's make it more interesting."

The judge scowled above his spectacles. "Go on."

"Put three tokens in the jailor's hat," said the prisoner. "Number them zero, one, and two -- "

"Let me guess," interrupted the judge. "You are going to select a token to determine your own sentence."

The prisoner nodded eagerly.

"Very well," said the judge, returning the coin to his pocket. "But let's make it really interesting. At the end of your sentence, you must select from the three tokens again and serve the additional time."

It was the prisoner's turn to scowl.

"Not only that, but after each term, you will again draw a token from the jailor's hat -- and again, until the sun flickers from the sky, for all I care." The judge rapped his gavel and the prisoner was taken away.

The jailor printed up the three tokens and brought his hat to the prisoner's cell. He was surprised to find the convicted gambler singing a cheerful tune. 

Are you surprised?