Broaden logical thinking and demonstrate political sense

This story makes me smile because it illustrates how much influence we can exert when we are fully present in what is happening and can assess the impact of our choices. There are always several solutions to a problem; it is a matter of changing the angle in which it is perceived.

There once was, in a small village, a penniless farmer who had to pay back a considerable sum of money to a very despicable old man. Since the farmer had a very pretty daughter who the old lender liked very much, the latter offered a bargain.

He said he would wipe out the farmer’s debt if he could marry his daughter. The farmer and his daughter were both horrified by this proposal. Then the old man suggested that chance determined the outcome of the proposition.

He told them he would put a white pebble and a black pebble in an empty silver bag, and that the girl would blindly pick one of the two pebbles in the bag.


  1. If she picks the black pebble, she becomes his wife and his father’s debt is erased
  2. If she picks the white pebble, she does not have to marry him and the father’s debt is also canceled
  3. If she refuses to pick a pebble, her father is thrown into jail


This discussion took place on the road in front of the farmer’s house, which was strewn with pebbles. As he continued talking, the old ugly man bent down to pick up the two pebbles.

As he was picking them up, the young girl, who had a keen eye, noticed that he had picked up two black pebbles and put them in the bag. But she said nothing.

Then, the old lender asked the young girl to pick up the bag. Imagine for a moment what you would have done had you been there. What would you have advised the girl to do?

If one analyzes well, there are 3 possibilities:


  1. The girl should refuse to pick a pebble
  2. The girl should take out the two black pebbles from the bag, showing that the old man had cheated
  3. The girl should pick the black pebble, and sacrifice herself by marrying the old man to spare her father’s imprisonment


What would you have done in her place?

Here is what the girl did:

She picked up the sack and pulled out a pebble, which she immediately dropped to the ground, awkwardly, without being seen, and spontaneously mingled with the multitude of other pebbles on the ground. “How awkward of me!” exclaimed the girl. “It does not matter if I take the remaining stone out of the bag, we will know which I picked first.”

Since the remaining pebble was black, the first pebble could only be white.

Because the old lender did not dare to admit his dishonesty, the girl transformed the situation, which seemed impossible, into a very advantageous outcome.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to find the author. If you know him, please share it in the comments.

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