François Rabelais, the great French writer of the 1500s, was a master of creative thinking. He had an unconventional view of the world and was thus able to wring fortunate outcomes from adverse circumstances. Once, for instance, far from his home in Paris, he found himself without cash and stranded in the countryside. Not one to let such trifles stand in his way, the clever French humorist booked himself into a convenient roadhouse and asked for the best room in the house. Alone in his room he sealed two small envelopes on which he wrote “Poison for the King” and “Poison for the Dauphin.” Then he went out for a sumptuous feast that, of course, he could not pay for.
But he was careful to leave the small packets in plain view because he was sure the landlady would pilfer his belongings while he was out.
He was correct in his presumption. As soon as the woman entered the room she spotted the apparent packets of poison on the table. Frightened she might be harboring an assassin; she immediately reported her findings to the local constabulary. The rural gendarme, not accustomed to handling high treason and not wanting to be considered part of any conspiracy, immediately arrested Rabelais and shipped him to Paris under heavy guard. Rabelais, who had many friends in court, was immediately released when it was discovered that the envelopes were full of a mixture of ash and tobacco. Everyone at the court of Francis I had a good laugh over his clever ruse.
But Rabelais never had to pay for his lodging and meal in that remote roadhouse.
He never had to pay for his trip home to Paris either.