Many years ago, when a person who owed money could be thrown into
jail, a merchant in London had the misfortune to owe a huge sum to a
The money-lender, who was old, ugly and wicked, fancied the merchant's
beautiful teenage daughter. He proposed a bargain.
He said he would cancel the merchant's debt if he could have the girl
instead. Both the merchant and his daughter were horrified at the
So the cunning money-lender proposed 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 and then the girl would have to pick out
one of the pebbles. If she chose the black pebble, she would become his
wife and her father's debt would be cancelled. If she chose the white
pebble she would stay with her father and the debt would still be
But if she refused to pick out a pebble,her father would be thrown into jail
and she would starve. Reluctantly, the merchant agreed. They were
standing on a pebble-strewn path in the merchant's garden as they talked
and the money-lender stooped down to pick up the two pebbles.
As he picked up the pebbles, the girl, sharp-eyed with fright, noticed that
he picked up two black pebbles and put them into the money-bag. He
then asked the girl to pick out the pebble that was to decide her fate and
that of her father.
Imagine that you are standing on the path in the merchant's garden. What
would you have done if you had been the unfortunate girl?
Refuse to take a pebble?
Point out that there are two black pebbles in the bag and expose the
money-lender as a cheat ?
Take a black pebble and sacrifice yourself in order to save your father
None of the suggestions in this situation is very helpful, for if the girl
does not take a pebble her father goes to prison, and if she does take a
pebble, then she has to marry the money- lender.
NOW, THINK LATERALLY! What do you think the girl did??
The girl in the pebble story put her hand into the money-bag and drew
out a pebble. Without looking at it, she fumbled and let it fall to the path,
where it was immediately lost among all the others. "Oh, how clumsy of me," she said, "but never mind - if you look into the bag you will be able
to tell which pebble I took by the Colour of the one that is left."
Since the remaining pebble is of course black, it must be assumed that
she had taken the white pebble, since the money-lender dare not admit
In this way, using lateral thinking, the girl changes what
seems an impossible situation into an extremely advantageous one!
MORAL OF THE STORY: Most of the complex problems do have a solution
its only that we dont attempt to think. SO START THINKING
Very true.... trying hard in same direction may not be as useful as changing the direction...If v start applying this concept in our daily life, there wont be any complex problem kindaa thing...
Nice piece of thought Univc..