Once a miser, always a miser

There was once a man who was extremely rich but, alas, very miserly. People used to make fun of him, and this used to annoy him immensely. At the same time, he used to say to himself, "Who cares! I am so rich. Someday I will teach them all a lesson. I will play a trick with my wealth and punish all of them."

One day, the rich man's servant was heading home after running errands in the market. As he walked along, everybody was mocking him. They said, "Oh, your boss is such a rich man! How much money did he give you to shop for him? Five cents?"

The servant wanted to defend his master's reputation, so he replied, "My boss has changed for the better, and I can prove it. A week from today, he will be giving away money to all the street beggars. If you come to his place dressed as a beggar on that day, he will give money to each one of you!" So they all agreed to come.

Upon returning home, the servant told his master what had happened. "Today, on my way back from the market, all the villagers were saying such unkind things about you," he explained. "I felt I had to do something to stop them, so I told them a lie. I told them that you had changed your ways and that, to prove it, you would be giving away money as charity, one week from today. I invited all of them to come."

"Impossible! What have you done!" exclaimed the master. "You have made a commitment on my behalf, but I never make commitments! What can I do now?"

The servant felt sorry and replied, "Do not worry. If you do not want to carry out my plan, just take all your money and go away to another place where you will be safe. I shall remain here and guard the house on the day they come."

"I cannot do that. I have so much money and jewellery. It will take too much time to move everything," said the master.

"You go. Let them beat me up. I will not mind. I will remain here to help you," the servant said.

So the rich man agreed and began collecting his money and valuables to move to another place. Before daybreak, he set out with a huge bag on his back. Alas, four of the villagers were out early. When they saw the rich man, they called out, "Where are you going at this hour?"

"None of your business!" the rich man replied.

"You are such a miser. You have so much money, but you will not share it with anybody. You look down upon us because of your wealth. You are such a braggart, such a show-off! We will teach you a lesson!"

Then the villagers grabbed the rich man and started beating him up. When they saw there was so much money in his bag, they took out a large amount and went away.

The rich man started crying, "What has happened! What has happened!" His servant rushed to try to help him, but instead of accepting his help, the rich man started beating up the servant. He said, "Because you made such a stupid commitment, I had to leave my house. Now they have taken my money. What have you done to me!"

Soon a large crowd of villagers gathered around the master and his servant. They were laughing mockingly at the master. At the same time, the people who had been making fun of the servant earlier now felt sorry for him because his master was thrashing him.

They said to the master, "Stop beating that poor servant of yours, old man! We were the ones who made fun of you. He was only trying to prove to us that you had become a better man than you truly are — that you had suddenly become kind-hearted. For that you should not be punishing him."

So the man stopped thrashing his servant. Instead, he fired him on the spot and returned home with what remained of his money. The villagers followed and said to him, "Do not worry, we will not come to your place next week because we know you will never change. You will never learn what it means to be generous. That word will never exist in your dictionary. Once a miser, always a miser!"