In a small Italian town, hundreds of years ago, a small business owner owed a large amount of money to a loan-shark. The loan-shark was a very old, unattractive looking man who just so happened to fancy the daughter of the business owner.
He agreed to make a deal with the businessman that would completely wipe out the debt he owed him. The catch, however, was that we would only wipe out the debt if he could marry the daughter of the businessman.
Needless to say, this suggestion was met with a sense of disgust.
The loan-shark said he'd put two pebbles in a bag, one white and one black.
The daughter will have to get into the bag and pick up a pebble. If it were black, the debt would be washed out, but the loan-shark would marry her. If it were white, the debt would be washed out, too, so the daughter wouldn't have to marry the loan-shark.
Standing on a pebble-strewn path in the garden of the businessman, the loan-shark bent down and picked up two pebbles.
As he picked them up, the daughter found that she had picked up two black pebbles and put both of them in the bag.
Then he asked the daughter to get in the bag and choose one.
Of course, the daughter had three options as to what she should have done:
- Refuse to take a pebble out of the bag.
- Take both of these pebbles out of the bag and reveal the loan-shark for cheating.
- Pick a pebble out of the bag, knowing full well that it was dark, and sacrifice for her father's independence.
She took a pebble out of the bag, and before looking at it 'accidentally,' she dropped it in the centre of the other pebbles. She told the loan-shark;
“Oh, how clumsy of me. Never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked.”
The pebble left in the bag is obviously black, and seeing as the loan-shark didn’t want to be exposed, he had to play along as if the pebble the daughter dropped was white, and clear her father’s debt.
Moral of the story:
It’s always possible to overcome a tough situation through out of the box thinking, and not give in to the only options you think you have to pick from.