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A Tale of Two Pebbles

Banes at 12:00AM, June 16, 2022

I don't know if you know this story already, but I just read it and loved it, so I'm sharing it here!

Many years ago in a small village, a farmer had the misfortune of owing a large sum of money to a village moneylender. The moneylender, who was old and ugly, fancied the farmer’s beautiful daughter. So he proposed a bargain. He said he would forgo the farmer’s debt if he could marry his daughter.

Both the farmer and his daughter were horrified by the proposal. So the cunning money-lender suggested that they let providence decide the matter. He told them that he would put a black pebble and a white pebble into an empty money bag. Then the girl would have to pick one pebble from the bag.

If she picked the black pebble, she would become his wife and her father’s debt would be forgiven. If she picked the white pebble she need not marry him and her father’s debt would still be forgiven. If she refused to pick a pebble, her father would be thrown into jail.

They were standing on a pebble strewn path in the farmer’s field. As they talked, the moneylender bent over to pick up two pebbles. As he picked them up, the sharp-eyed girl noticed that he had picked up two black pebbles and put them into the bag. He then asked the girl to pick a pebble from the bag.


Now, imagine that you were standing in the field. What would you have done if you were the girl? If you had to advise her, what would you have told her?

Take a moment to ponder this. What would you recommend that the girl do?


The girl put her hand into the moneybag and drew out a pebble. Without looking at it, she fumbled and let it fall onto the pebble-strewn path where it immediately became lost among all the other pebbles.

“Oh, how clumsy of me!” she said. “But 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 moneylender dared not admit his dishonesty. The girl changed what seemed an impossible situation into an extremely advantageous one.

By Edward de Bono

I just encountered this little story recently, and loved it. A lot of lessons could be derived from this one I think. Hope you enjoyed it.

See you next time!


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cdmalcolm1 at 1:11PM, June 16, 2022

Truly thinking outside the box. Or in this case outside the bag.

PaulEberhardt at 11:20AM, June 16, 2022

Got the right amount of underlines on first try - Lol!

PaulEberhardt at 11:19AM, June 16, 2022

This is on par with any of the wisest stories you can find in folk tradition, and I'm not saying this lightly! Thanks for sharing. Btw. my idea was for her to pretend to swoon and grab the moneylender's arm with the bag while going down - not very practical come to think of it. I've incorporated de Bono's Six-Thinking-Hats-method into my teaching before,* to name but one example of how I'm indebted to his ideas, but I didn't know he wrote neat stories like this. Definitely going to check out that collection. ____________________________________________________________________________ * My students developed a healthy love/hate-relationship to it.

Ozoneocean at 7:59AM, June 16, 2022

That was a clever ending! My idea was to pull out both of them but the real solution was better :D

dpat57 at 12:30AM, June 16, 2022

From the famous story collection, "The Village That Mysteriously Burned To The Ground." We all wish we were as clever and as brave as Number One Daughter.

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