An old man had a daughter who was in love with the son of a poor peasant. The girl was very beautiful and many rich and handsome suitors came to ask for her hand, but each time she would tell her father, that she loved the poor peasant and wanted to marry him. The father said, “Unless he is rich, how can I give him your hand, you shall starve in his house.” Many rich suitors came and went back dejected.
One day, a rich merchant came on horseback. He wore silken clothes embroidered with gold and silver. He handed over a large bag full of gold and silver coins to the father and said, “I have heard much about the beauty of your fair daughter. Allow me to marry her and this bag of coins shall be yours.” The father was pleased. He thought, “My daughter shall be comfortable and so shall I, in my old age.” This time he spoke to his daughter sternly, “How long can we wait for the peasant boy to become rich? You shall be an old maid by then.” The girl appealed to the rich man. “Sir, how can I marry you when my heart belongs to another?” The merchant said, “Call the boy and we shall see, what destiny has in store for you.”
The merchant said, “I shall put two coins, one-silver and the other-gold from this sack of coins into this little pouch. The girl may pick out either. If she picks the gold coin, she shall marry me and the bag shall stay with the old father. If she picks out the silver coin, she shall be free to marry this commoner and I shall give the bag of coins to this good for nothing lad. If she refuses to agree to pick a coin, I shall spread the word that she is a woman of bad character, and no one shall ever marry her.”
He proceeded to put the two coins into a pouch. The girl noticed that he slyly put two gold coins into the pouch instead of a silver coin and a gold coin. What should she do? Should she expose the cunning merchant or quietly pick out one gold coin and submit to be his wife. Or should she refuse to this execute this mockery?
She proceeded to pick out a coin from the pouch and purposely fumbled so that it felt down into the open sack of coins just below it. She exclaimed, “Oh! How clumsy of me to have let it fall. I doubt if I can identify it amongst the others in the bag. But if we look into the pouch, we’ll know which one I had picked.” They all looked on as the cunning but embarrassed merchant hesitatingly drew out the second coin a gold coin from the pouch.
Obviously, the one she had picked earlier was deemed to have been a silver one. The merchant had no words to clarify his stance. He had to hand over the bag of coins to the peasant. The girl could marry her beloved as per the agreement and father was happy too, because he had just acquired a ‘rich’ son-in-law for his beautiful and intelligent daughter.