The Prisoner's Dilemma

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Authors: Sean Stuart O'Connor
concerned by this. Was this love, she wondered? Was it the need for possession? The great power of her mind could make sense of most things but these feelings had made her confused.
    More alarmingly she’d even found that the fascination of the mathematical texts she so enjoyed immersing herself in no longer had the power to captivate her in the way that they once had. These had always taken her away from the trivial realities of daily life yet she was finding that Captain Zweig was showing a still greater power to distract her thoughts. The previous day her mind had even wandered as she’d tried yet again to tackle Leonhard Euler’s famous challenge. The great Swiss mathematician had thrown down the intellectual gauntlet to find a walk through Königsberg that crossed its seven bridges once, and once only. It intrigued her that half of Europe was considering the problem and she’d been determined that it should be an inhabitant of the great city itself that found the theory to answer it.
    Now here was Zweig to distract her in person. And she was delighted! Perhaps he really had noticed her.
    The little party in the street approached Kant’s front door andSophie heard a heavy knock as it echoed through the house. She turned to look down to the hall and saw that her mother and father had emerged onto its ocean of black and white stone tiles and were now standing, waiting for the maid to appear and open the door.
    Both of them were dressed as always in the sober black of Königsberg’s merchant nobility, but although they were still as they waited for the servant to come, she saw that they were unusually ill at ease, and that their features were stressed with anxiety. Sophie was startled by the sight. She’d noticed that they had both seemed distant for some days but she’d pushed the thought away. Now she saw them whisper to each other in urgent tones and her mother unconsciously ground her hands together before reaching up to brush her husband’s shoulders.
    At last the maid appeared and pulled at the door. Captain Zweig nodded to her in greeting and then left his companions in the lane and stepped into the hall. He removed his hat and bowed to Frau Kant with a show of the greatest sincerity and then gave a brisk salute to Sophie’s father. Together the two men walked towards a side door that led to Kant’s study and Sophie was still smiling at Zweig’s exaggerated politeness when she suddenly saw her mother lift her chin in a fierce, determined gesture towards the closed door. This small, unseen act of defiance seemed to exhaust her because, with a sudden sob, she buckled at the waist and buried her head in her hands.
    Sophie gave a small gasp of alarm and hurried down the stairs to take her mother in her arms.
    â€˜Oh, Sophie, Sophie,’ her mother wept when she was buried in the soothing embrace, all restraint gone, ‘I’m so sorry. I’m so, so sorry.’
    â€˜But what is it, Mama? Why are you sorry?’
    â€˜It’s the end of us. That man is set on seeing us finished.’
    â€˜What man? Captain Zweig? Surely not, Mama. Whatever can you mean?’
    There was no answer as sobs overwhelmed her thin, tense body. Sophie knew that her mother was a proud woman – she and her husband had worked hard to take their place among the elite of Königsberg’s merchants. But now all was falling around them. Bit by bit Sophie heard the worst.
    â€˜Zweig was commissioned by your father to bring a large cargo of leather from Spain. The whole ship was his order alone. Papa was advised to wait until the weather eased in the spring but, you know your father, he wouldn’t listen. Business is good, he kept saying, the army needs more bridles and harnesses – King Frederick is set on seeing through his fight with the Austrians. We must have more hides now. Zweig was the only captain that would take the journey on. Everyone else said the weather

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