High up on the hill overlooking The Village lived a wealthy merchant. He had worked hard to become as wealthy as he was and often spent his time bragging about his wealth to the villagers below. For their part, The Villagers were annoyed by his boasting, but took it in stride. After all, he had worked hard (so he reminded them constantly) to earn his wealth, and anyway, they couldn’t afford to lose the money or trade his business brought into The Village. And so the Merchant and The Villagers lived in relative (if slightly strained) peace.
One year, the rains did not stop, continuing well into the summer months. The river overflowed and flooded the houses and shops of The Villagers. The crops and livestock were drowned in the non-stop torrent of water. However, high up on the hill over looking The Village, the manor of The Wealthy Merchant suffered little damage. “Help us,” begged The Villagers, “the floods have destroyed everything but your manor. Our shops and houses are flooded so we’ve no place to sleep or do business. The water has drowned our crops and livestock, so we’ve nothing to eat. Surely there must be something you can do!”
“This is terrible” agreed The Merchant, “I’m sorry that this happened, and you’ll be in my thoughts and prayers.” Then, satisfied he’d done all he could, The Merchant politely shut the door to his manor, leaving The Villagers to begin the long process of rebuilding their village.
Years later, after The Village had been rebuilt and the uneasy peace between The Villagers and The Merchant had returned, a drought occurred. Spring came and went without a drop of rain, and the heat of summer baked what crops The Villagers had managed to plant and roasted what livestock survived. Amidst it all a fire began. To this day, no one knows who or what started the fire, but to The Villagers it didn’t matter. The flames swept through the fields, stores, and houses, destroying all they touched. And high up on the hill overlooking The Village The Merchant’s manor sat safe and untouched. When the flames had died down and there was nothing left to burn The Villagers again went to The Merchant. “Help us,” they begged. “The fires have destroyed our fields and livestock so we’ve nothing to eat. Our shops and homes have burned down and we’ve nowhere to work or sleep. Surely there must be something you can do!”
“This is terrible,” agreed The Merchant. “I’m sorry this happened and you’ll be in my thoughts and prayers.” Then, once again feeling satisfied he’d done all he could, The Merchant politely shut the door to his manor, leaving The Villagers once again to begin the long process of rebuilding The Village.
Years past and The Villagers again rebuilt, and again there was an uneasy peace between The Villagers and The Merchant. Then one year, after the first summer harvest, bandits attacked the town. They stole the harvest and slaughtered the livestock for themselves. After they’d taken everything of value from the houses and shops the bandits looked high up on the hill overlooking The Village and asked The Villagers, “Who lives in that manor?”
“The Merchant,” replied The Villagers. “He has worked hard for his riches and is the wealthiest man in the area.” At hearing this the bandits frowned and nodded and rode off.
When The Merchant heard of the bandits he quickly fled down to The Village. “Help me!” he begged The Villagers. “Bandits are coming and they will steal everything have. They will burn down my manor and leave me for dead! Surely there must be something you can do!”
“That is terrible,” agreed The Villagers. “We’re sorry this will happen; you’ll be in our thoughts and prayers tonight.” With that they politely closed their doors. That night, after the villagers said their prayers, they could hear the sound of bandits looting and burning The Merchant’s manor, high up on the hill overlooking The Village. And they slept soundly knowing they’d done everything they could.