THE MERCHANT AND THE MINER

There was once a merchant who was very rich. One day, he took a walk down the coal mines and came across a man working in the mines. What struck him about this particular man was the way he wielded his pick. He did so, like a man who had lost all hopes in life. The rich merchant could see the man’s lips moving, so he walked closer to him, he wanted to hear what the other man was talking about.

As he moved closer, the coal-miner struck the ground with these words.

“Oh God, why is my life this way?

Why do I have to waste my years at this mine, breaking coal?

Why did you create me?

Why was I born?

Why did Adam take the fruit from Eve?

And Eve, did you have to succumb to the tricks of the serpent? Because of this, I am born poor,

Life why treat me so unfairly,

Why, Oh why”

He asked these questions as his pick struck the ground.

The rich merchant’s heart was filled with pity towards the coal-miner; he had never known hard labour and was struck by the hopelessness and pain in the man’s words.

“Dear Sir,” he said moving closer, “I see you are not having a good day.”

“I have never had a good day in my life,” the coal-miner said, “from the day of my birth to now that I am a grown man, my life has been one of misery.”

“Now don’t say that” the merchant interjected, “Surely there have been good days, maybe the day you got married, assuming you have a wife or the day your children were born, assuming you have some”

The coal-miner shook his head and went back to striking the ground with his pick. “Men like you don’t understand misery or poverty or hard labour, you wake up on fine linen and drink expensive wine. You do not understand waking up before the break of light on a hard floor after a terrible winter’s night. Please sir, leave me in peace, let me get back to my woes”

“I would like to help you,” the merchant said, “I would like to change your life.”

The coal-miner looked at this man he had met just a few moments ago. Was he joking? He thought, no one had ever sought or tried to help him. Was he a murderer? It was not uncommon for evil men to parade themselves as good men seeking to help others and then luring unsuspecting victims to their end.

“Why do you want to help me sir?” he asked, “You do not know me, you do not owe me so why would you decide to take my destiny into your hands?”

The merchant replied “Only God knows why I passed this route today but I am sure He did so that I would meet you. Do not be mistaken, I have come across men like you before on market streets and even at my gate but none have penetrated my heart to make me have pity towards them. You, on the other hand, have pierced my soul and I know if I leave here today without helping you, I will regret this for the rest of my life”

The coal-miner stared at the merchant unsure of the man’s word and still untrusting. Why would a rich man help a poor man? There was always a catch; an agenda and he surely did not trust this one.

“Come to my home in the morning, I will be waiting,” the merchant said and bade his leave.

“You have not told me where you live, Sir,” the miner said to the merchant’s back.

“If I see you at my gate, then I will know you are ready to change your destiny” The merchant replied.

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