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“Stop! Your money or your life!”
The four passengers looked out of the coach at the masked bandit holding two pistols in their direction. As he approached, they all started getting ready to hand over their jewellery and money, except for one man.
“Sorry, I’m new to this,” he said to the highwayman. “Just got a couple of questions.”
The robber snarled behind his mask. “I said: Your money or your life!”
“Well, that’s what I’m not sure about, you see: By giving me this choice, are you asking me which I want to hand over to you, or which I want to keep? If I say “my money”, meaning, “I will give you money,” I don’t want you to take this to mean “I will keep my money,” meaning that you take my life instead.”
“Just give me your money,” said the highwayman, holding up his pistols in a menacing fashion.
“And that brings me to my second question: The wording of your statement makes it an either/or proposition, indicating that if I choose not to give you my money, you will take my life (probably by shooting my face off) but let me keep all my cash. Is this the case? What guarantees can you give me that you’ll hold up (haha, no pun intended) your end of the bargain and only take my life?”
“If you don’t shut up I’m going to shoot you and then take all your money,” replied the angry Dick Turpin-type chap.
“Aha! So really, what you mean to say is, ‘Your money or your life and your money.’ There’s quite a distinction there, you know. Or, ‘Your money and/or your life,’ although that could also be misconstrued, I suppose. Or…how about…”
“Give me your money or I’ll take your life and your money,” said the highwayman, “and either way you will have no money.”
“YES!” said the passenger. “You see? That’s much bet-“
As the highwayman rode off into the forest, the other passengers pushed the lifeless body of their dead compatriot out of the coach and instructed the driver to carry on their journey.”
“See,” said the remaining man to the two ladies, “I told him it wouldn’t work.”