"I will never reveal my formula to anyone," announced Ludovico Egli to the venture capitalists. At that point, it was obvious that the negotiation was over.
After spending three days in Brussels,
trying to obtain funding to keep his farm afloat, Ludovico Egli had
decided to reject the financiers' final offer.
A momentous decision
had passed to him the secret recipe for making Emmenthal cheese with
mountain herbs. One day, it might be Ludovico's turn to pass the recipe
to his son. No, he would never let strangers into a secret that had
belonged to his family since the times of Wilhelm Tell.
drove back from Brussels to Bern in his old Volkswagen, wondering what
he was going to do next. He had placed all his hopes in obtaining
funding from the Brussels venture capitalists.
After the failure
of the negotiations, Ludovico Egli had no idea where to turn next. He
was already two months late with his mortgage payments and he feared
that his bank might foreclose his farm, the land of his father, the land
of his ancestors.
When Ludovico arrived at his farm in Muri, a
village near Bern, he went to bed and fell into an agitated sleep. The
following morning, he got up early, as he usually did, milked the cows,
took his leather bag, and walked up the mountain to pick up wild herbs
to make cheese.
Following the old routine
Ludovico knew exactly where to go. On Ludovico's
seventh birthday, his father had revealed the place to him and sworn him
to secrecy. "I will do whatever it takes to protect the recipe, I will
protect the secret with my life," Ludovico had promised his father. A
quarter of an hour later, he arrived at a cliff, stood still, and looked
around to make sure that he was alone.
The secret herbs grew
next to that cliff and nowhere else, as though they could not grow
without the constant challenge of the wind. Ludovico bent down and began
to pick up herbs, putting them in his leather bag.
An unpleasant surprise
"On Monday, I
saw you drive by," said a female voice behind Ludovico's back. He froze
and the herbs in his hands felt as warm as a cow's breath in January.
Ludovico turned around slowly and faced Marguerite Stutsi, who lived in
an isolated house near Ludovico's farm.
"I saw you drive by the
petrol station," she explained with a smile. Of course, realized
Ludovico, as he remembered that Marguerite worked in the restaurant next
to the petrol station. He had known Marguerite all his life. With the
years, her beauty had become less conspicuous and more profound.
was just going for a walk," Ludovico replied, as though to justify his
presence by the cliff. I could have not given a more stupid answer, he
told himself. She must think that I am retarded, or even worse, a liar.
Besides, how could she help seeing Ludovico's leather bag and the herbs in his
Despair calls for creativity
Marguerite Stutsi contemplated Ludovico in silence for a
long moment, wondering why he had never asked her out. All single men in
Muri had asked Marguerite out. All except Ludovico.
together down the mountain slope, exchanging few words. She has
seen me pick up the secret herbs, lamented Ludovico in his heart. Now
she knows the secret, the recipe of my father, the recipe of my
ancestors. What if she tells anybody? The mere thought that his recipe
could fall in the hands of strangers was making Ludovico sick.
stopped walking when they reached the crossroad and stared at each
other. For a second, all sorts of crazy ideas came to Ludovico's mind.
Killing Marguerite and throwing her body down the cliff. Kidnapping
Marguerite and keeping her prisoner in his farm.
But then he
would have to take care of her all day, and who would milk the cows? Who
would make the cheese? Damn woman, what was she doing in the mountain
all on her own? Why didn't she have a husband and children to take care
of? No, he could not let her take away the secret.
Fixing the problem permanently
he said in an irritated tone, "will you marry me?" The question did not
seem to take Marguerite Stutsi by surprise. She shrugged her shoulders
and replied simply. "Why?"
Ludovico's answer showed his long
practice in cheese-making. "It's better to mix the herbs while the milk
is still fresh. Besides, I have been planning to talk to you already
since five years ago." Ludovico saw Marguerite hesitate and he added a
further argument. "I want you to know that I don't mind that you work in
She looked at him in the eyes and nodded. It was
only after the wedding that Ludovico learned that Marguerite actually
owned the restaurant near the petrol station. Their daughter, Lisette,
was born a year letter. One day, Ludovico will walk with his daughter up
the mountain. One day, Ludovico will pass the secret recipe to her.
For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living
[Image by iLoveButter under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]