Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Miserly Landlord.

The Miserly Landlord.

Once upon a time there was a very wealthy landlord that lived in the west of Ireland.  He was extremely miserable because he was always watching his money fearing that everyone was plotting ways to steal it from him.  He had hundreds of thousands of pounds although today he would county his money in euros, ask him to spend a pound and he would go into a rage.

Like most misers he had no friends for he believed that having friends cost money. However, those who knew him suggested that if he took himself a bride he would at least have someone to look after him and give him a bit of company in his old age.  He thought about this for all of ten seconds but quickly decided that a wife would expect housekeeping money and he began to shiver and shake all over in panic and fright.

He just as quickly decided that it would be a lot cheaper to remain a bachelor for the rest of his life. However, he did think that having someone to look after him and keep him company wasn’t such a bad idea so he found himself a poor orphan lad and offered him a corner to lie in and scraps off the table in exchange for housekeeping services.  The poor servant boy had to do all the cooking, cleaning, laundry and any other job the miserly landlord could think of.  This now allowed the landlord the free time to make unexpected visits on his tenants, squeezing every spare penny out of them and evicting those who couldn’t pay their rent on time.  It became obvious to all concerned that although he did not like spending money he was becoming more dependent upon his servant.

As the years passed the landlord grew older, eventually he became ill as he refused to spend money on fuel and the cold, damp winters we all know so well in the west of Ireland began to take their toll upon him.  He called his servant to him and said,

 “I’ve looked after you all your life and now you must look after me: I need you to answer a question, how sick do you think I am?”

The servant told the miserly landlord that he thought he was very sick indeed and that he should allow him to call for a doctor.  The miser thought about this for about ten seconds (for he was a quick thinker) then said to the servant,

“If I call for a doctor he will charge me a fee, but if I don’t call for him then people will say that I am a stupid man more worried about money when he could be dying”.

The servant told the landlord that by the look of him he could well be dying and he should call for the doctor straight away or it may be too late.

The landlord replied,

“If I’m that bad then I have a further suggestion to make. Go to the undertaker and ask him what his fee will be when I die, and then you must go to the doctor and ask him what his fee will be to make me better”.

The servant did as he was told, the undertaker told him that his lowest fee was €110; he then went to the doctor who told him that his lowest fee would be €150.  The servant returned to the landlord and told him what he had learned; the miserly landlord quickly made a decision and said to his servant.

“Well the best thing to do is to take me to the undertaker for the doctor’s cure is far too expensive”.

The old skinflint of a landlord refused to spend the extra forty euro on a cure and so shortly afterwards he died.  The servant paid the undertaker his €110 fee and as the landlord had no relatives, or none that came forward to claim his riches, all the rest of the landlords money went to his long suffering servant. 

The landlord’s attachment to his money was the thing that killed him in the end because he chose the undertaker over the doctor.  By choosing the cheaper option he hoped to save a few euros little realising that once he died he would lose all his money anyway for you cannot take it with you.  He would now be remembered for being a tight fisted old skinflint, hated by everyone.  A miser who thought of no one but himself, had he given just a little of what he had to charity or some good cause, had he thought of his tenants difficulties instead of grasping at pennies he would have been remembered fondly by all those he could have helped.

The servant became a millionaire overnight, will he now believe that others will exploit him for his money or will he choose to use his new found wealth for good?  Some say that money is like manure; it can only do good if it is spread around helping things to grow.  In many ways this could have been the landlord’s legacy; it could have been his path to immortality.  Instead he will simply be remembered as the selfish, miserly little man that he was.

I wonder which path the servant will choose, I wonder which path you would choose?

(Adapted from an Indian story).

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