I remember reading the phrase "the lady or the tiger" when I was barely a teenager. I think it was in a Stephen King novel or story. And I remember thinking, "Well, that's
a cool saying. Now what the heck does it mean?"
It means that everybody should read this story. As stiff and florid as the prose can sometimes be, and as eye-rollingly stereotypical as the "barbarian" kingdom setting is, it's a great read with a brilliant puzzle of an ending.
Here's a sample of the writing and a basic outline of the premise:When a subject was accused of a crime of sufficient importance to interest the king, public notice was given that on an appointed day the fate of the accused person would be decided in the king's arena....
The accused subject stepped out into the amphitheater. Directly opposite him, on the other side of the inclosed
[sic] space, were two doors, exactly alike and side by side. ...If he opened the one, there came out of it a hungry tiger, the fiercest and most cruel that could be procured, which immediately sprang upon him and tore him to pieces as a punishment for his guilt.
...But, if the accused person opened the other door, there came forth from it a lady, the most suitable to his years and station that his majesty could select among his fair subjects, and to this lady he was immediately married, as a reward of his innocence.
The storyteller is careful to point out that it doesn't matter if the accused is already married or in love. One thing the story doesn't
mention is how on earth this "barbaric" kingdom deals with female
criminals. Maybe they're made to choose between a door hiding Brad Pitt and one concealing Danny DeVito.
Anyway. This is a Kindle freebie:
It's also available to read fer free on the Interwebz:
Read it and decide for yourself what the answer to the title question must be!