So he proposed a bargain.
He said he would forgo the farmer’s debt if he could marry his daughter. The farmer and his daughter were horrified by the proposal.
Seeing this, the cunning lender suggested chance should determine the outcome of the situation.
Standing on a pebble strewn path in the farmer’s field, he said to the girl, “I will put two pebbles into the bag and you pick one. Should you pick a black pebble, you are to marry me and I will forgive your father’s debt. If you pick the white pebble, you do not have to marry me, yet I will still forgive your father’s debt. If you pick neither, I shall have your father thrown into prison.”
With that said the old man picked two pebbles from the ground and put them in a bag. The young girl’s sharp eyes caught the old man stuffing two black pebbles into the money pouch.
He then asked the girl to pick a pebble from the bag.
So, what should she do?
~Refuse to take a pebble.
~Show that there were two black pebbles in the bag and expose the moneylender as a cheat, risking the consequences.
~Pick a black pebble and sacrifice herself in order to save her father from his debt and imprisonment?
Here is what she did…
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, the pebble left in the bag will prove which pebble I picked first,” knowing very well that the other pebble left in the bag was surely black, revealing that the first pebble must have been white.
“Sin has the elements of self-destruction. It cannot sustain itself.” Mary Baker Eddy (S&H 481:24)