“Oh, what a tangled web we weave…when first we practice to deceive.”
– Walter Scott, Marmion
Tale of Two Pebbles
In a small Portuguese town, hundreds of years ago, a small business owner owed a large sum of money to a money lender. The old and ugly money lender fancied the business owner’s daughter.
He offered the businessman a deal that would completely wipe out the debt he owed him if he could marry the businessman’s daughter.
The money lender said he’d place two pebbles into a bag, one white and one black. The daughter would then reach into the bag and pick out a pebble. If it was black, the debt would be wiped, but the money lender would then marry her. If it was white, the debt would also be wiped, but the daughter wouldn’t have to marry the money lender.
Standing on a pebble-strewn path the money lender picked up two pebbles. The daughter noticed he’d picked up two black pebbles and placed them both into the bag. He then asked the daughter to reach into the bag and pick one.
The daughter had three choices as to what she could have done:
– Refuse to pick a pebble from the bag.
– Take both pebbles out of the bag and expose the money lender for cheating.
– Pick a pebble from the bag fully knowing it was black and sacrifice herself for her father’s freedom.
She drew out a pebble from the bag, and before looking at it ‘accidentally’ dropped it into the midst of the other pebbles. She said to the money lender, “How clumsy of me. Never mind, if you look in the bag for the one that’s left, you’ll be able to tell which pebble I picked.”
The pebble left in the bag was obviously black. The money lender didn’t want to be exposed, so he had to play along as if the pebble the daughter dropped was white, and clear her father’s debt without marrying her.
Moral of the story: It’s possible to overcome a tough situation with outside the box thinking. Never give up, there’s always a way out. You just have to find it.”