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The Wise Investor

gold, however. It was easy to steal. In the early
days theft had not been a major problem, as sacks
of grain were not easily spirited away, and if they
were, then it soon became obvious who had stolen
the goods.
Now that gold was in common use, however,
theft became a serious problem. A farmer could
swap everything he owned for gold, and carry his
entire wealth in his pocket. Since one piece of gold
was much like another, if it was stolen it was
impossible to determine who had taken it.
The goldsmith had worked with large amounts of
gold for years, and to counter this problem he
arranged for the blacksmith to build a large, heavy
vault. The vault was strong and secure, and the
goldsmith had the only key.
From time to time, people in the valley would
come to the goldsmith, and ask for the use of his
vault. Since there was plenty of space in the vault,
the goldsmith was happy to let other people store
their gold there, and he charged them a small fee for
the privilege.
This system continued for some time, and the
number of thefts in the valley was drastically
reduced. This was fortunate, as the rising number of
thefts had lead to resentment and bitterness in the
valley, and there had been a serious risk of outright
battles between families and a breakdown in the
operation of the community.
After a while, most of the gold in the valley was
stored in the goldsmith's vault, and people only
removed it when they needed to trade it for some
other item. By this time, several other goldsmiths
had begun to operate in the valley. They, too,
offered space in their vaults to their customers, for
which they charged a fee.
So much gold was stored in the vaults now, that