On a Loan Request

Arnold bit his lip and looked at the floor. His brother in law stood before him, literally with his hat in his hand. “Well, Arnold? What do you think?” The question caused Arnold to grimace, and he looked up into the face of his wife’s half-brother.

“Tell me again about the process,” he said. “Tell me like I was an imbecile.” So, for the fourth time, the brother in law told Arnold his grand scheme for a marvelous invention that would revolutionize the world. While the man told Arnold of his plans, he returned to staring at the floor.

“And you want how much again?” Arnold asked. And, again, the man told him. Arnold stroked his beard. “What I don’t understand,” he said, “is why you don’t go back to polishing gems? That was a decent living. Why get into debt with me?”

The man was clearly frustrated that he hadn’t been able to impress upon Arnold the importance of his idea. Arnold began the conversation with a flat “no” when the request for the loan was made. “Some people say you can’t be trusted,” he told the bother in law. “After all, you broke your promise to marry that girl in Strasbourg.” It was the man’s turn to study the floor. He tried to explain to Arnold that his heart told him that the marriage wasn’t right for him.

“Well, in any case, some people still have a hard time trusting you after that mirror thing,” Arnold reminded the man. It seems that, a few years earlier, Arnold’s brother in law had been involved in an investment that produced mirrors that were sold to pilgrims who visited Aachen’s cathedral. The mirrors, supposedly, could capture “holy light” from the sacred relics at the church. The man protested when Arnold brought this up. He explained that floods that year kept pilgrims away and that it was not his fault that the investors in that venture lost all their money.

Again, Arnold hesitated. Finally, he sighed. “I’m going to do this against my better judgement and only to keep peace in my own house, but you can have the funds.” The man sighed deeply, and gratefully shook Arnold’s hand. “You won’t regret this,” he promised.

“See that I don’t,” Arnold said.

So, what do you think Arnold’s brother in law did with the money?

Why, Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press did actually revolutionize the world.


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