There once lived a rich man who had no greater desire than to do good to those around him, and especially to those who worked for him.
He noticed that one of his workmen, a carpenter, was very poor, and was struggling to feed his family. He could see for himself that the hovel in which the man lived with his wife and children was falling into disrepair, and was no longer a match for the cold and the rain that beat down upon it. He felt great compassion for the carpenter and his family, and he had an idea.
He called the carpenter to him one morning and gave him these instructions:
‘I want you to build me a beautiful house,’ he said. ‘I want you to spare no expense, and to employ only the very best craftsmen for every job that is needed. I have to make a journey, and I will be away for a while, but when I come back, I want you to have the house ready for me.’
The carpenter was delighted to be given this task. Immediately, he set to work, and, knowing that the master would be away, he decided to make a good profit on this enterprise. Instead of hiring the best craftsmen, and using the finest materials, he cut corners wherever he possibly could. The master would never know, and he could keep the difference, and make a lot of money for himself.
And so the house was built. From the outside, it looked beautiful, but as the carpenter well knew, it was not at all sound. The timbers in the roof were weak and badly fitted. The bricks were seconds, which would soon begin to crumble. The roof titles were rejects from the quarry. The building had been carried out by inexperienced workers for low pay.
When the master returned, he came to inspect the house. ‘I have done as you instructed,’ the carpenter told him. ‘I have used the best materials and the finest craftsmen.’
‘I’m delighted to hear it,’ said the master. ‘Here are the keys. The house is yours. It is my gift to you and your family. May it be a fine home for the rest of your life.’
And in the years that followed, the carpenter could often be heard to mutter, under his breath, ‘If only I had known that the house was meant for
me . . .’ (Author Unknown)