A man was living in his parents’ house. His parents had died several years ago, leaving the man everything- a prosperous farm, a beautiful house with a wide porch, and a pristine river in the backyard.
While his parents had toiled first as labourers in another’s field, and then as young landowners with only the bare earth and their hands, the man had never wanted for anything. He had vague memories of his mother and father rising early to work the fields when he was very young, but since the age of five his family had been quite wealthy. His parents made wise investments, were honest people, and managed to operate a healthy business with several dozen employees.
The man was in charge of his parents’ company, but left most of the day to day business to his trusted executives to handle. He lived a life of relative ease with his wife and two children. During the summer he took his canoe out on the river, went fishing, and swam with his family. In the winter he enjoyed snowmobiling on the newest machines, and looked with pride on the snowmen his children made out front. He was glad to be able to provide a safe home for them. He and his family lacked for nothing, and seldom was there something they wanted that he refused.
One evening in late summer, as the cicadas were humming their last songs, the man and his family were just sitting down to dinner when there was a knock on the door. The man asked his son to say grace and rose to answer the call.
“Who could it be?” he wondered. “My employees and friends know that I don’t like to be disturbed at meal-time.”
When he opened the door, he was surprised to find his cousin standing on the doorstep with his wife and child. The trio looked quite bedraggled, and the wife was even bleeding from a gash on her head.
“My goodness!” said the man, “Whatever happened here?”
“We’ve been robbed,” said his cousin wearily. “A group of armed thieves came to my house pretending to be selling something. When I opened the door they pulled out guns and stormed inside. They locked us in a closet, took everything we owned of value, and then set fire to our house.”
The man was shocked that such a thing could happen in his area. “How did you escape?” he asked in wonder.
“Luckily I had a spare key on my keychain. When I heard the door close the last time, we escaped out the back and ran. But my wife tripped and hit her head on the way. I think she needs medical attention.”
“I’m truly sorry,” said the man.
“We feel terrible imposing,” said his cousin, his eyes cast down, “but could we stay with you a while? We have nowhere else to go.”
The man thought for a time. Having another family there imposing on his resources would be a nuisance. Not that he couldn’t afford it, but as the owner of the house, didn’t he have a right to all he had? Didn’t he deserve his peace and quiet?
He reached in his wallet and took out several bills, then handed them to his cousin.
“I’m afraid we’re full at the moment,” he said. “There just isn’t room. I’m sorry. I’m sure that will be enough to pay for an inn somewhere, or at least so you can stay with another neighbour.”
His cousin looked at him sadly. “Are you sure there isn’t space for us? We’ll work hard for you as soon as we’re able. Please, cousin. We are so tired, and my child has suffered so much fear. He needs a place to sleep tonight.”
“I’m sorry, I just can’t at the moment. But I truly wish you the best,” the man said with a cheerful air of finality. “Stay well.”
And he closed the door.
|Image source unknown|