A long time ago, an old man lived in a desert. He owned a well, which was the only source of drinking water in a vast desert area.
The kind old man allowed everyone to drink from his well. Anybody passing through his land could drink from the well without having to pay for it.
When the old man was too old that he could no longer look after the well, he called his son. “Dear son,” said the old man. “Now that I am very old, you shall look after this well. I want to spend my last days in a forest somewhere,” he said.
His son had other plans. He wanted to become rich quickly. Unlike his father, he began charging money from the people who drank from the well. Soon, he was a rich man.
“My father wasted his life giving away this water for free,” he said to himself.
One day a merchant was crossing through the desert. He was thirsty, but was not allowed to drink from the well without paying for it.
“What happened to the free water which the old man used to give to every thirsty person passing through this place?” the merchant asked a servant guarding the well.
The servant told him the whole story.
“I would like to meet the old man’s son,” he said.
The merchant offered the old man’s son enough money in exchange for his well. He was happy that he had earned a good amount of money by selling the water from the well.
He took the money and left in search of a comfortable house for himself in another part of the desert.
After many months, he happened to pass by the well. It was hot and there was not a drop of water left in his jerry can.
He could not drink from the well without paying for it. So, he went to the merchant, who now owned the well, to ask for some water.
“You can get a glass of water by giving me half of your wealth,” said the merchant.
The man knew it was too much for a glass of water, but he was thirsty.
He gave the merchant half of his wealth and took a glass of water. But he still felt thirsty. So, he took another glass of water by giving him the rest of his wealth.
He wanted a third glass of water but he knew he had no money left. He begged the merchant to give him a glass of water for free.
“Now you know why you should never have denied people water from your well,” said the merchant.
This is how the merchant taught the old man’s son a lesson.