Two Friends

by James Beattie Morison

Audio version of the story

A fable about two friends and the tragedy of greed.

Many years ago, there were two old friends, Jimmy and Bernie.

Jimmy was a wise man, and wisely, he was reluctant to admit it.

Bernie was a foolish man, and foolishly, he was reluctant to admit it.

One day their wives planned a ladies party. Jimmy and Bernie were not invited. The two friends decided to go into town to the fair.

At the fair, they pooled their money and bought a lottery ticket. At the end of the day, they were thrilled to learn their ticket had won. They both received a lot of money.

They started to head home and along the way, they talked about what they would do with the money. Jimmy wanted to put the money in a bank and pay off all his debts. Bernie wanted to spend it all. He keeps saying, “Money can take you a long way.”

As they headed home, they passed the bottomless pit. This was a very dangerous place and normally they would have stayed well away. But, they had been too busy thinking about their money. In the centre of the pit was a platform and on it a treasure. There was no way to reach the platform.

As they looked out at the treasure, Bernie started to repeat, “Money can take you a long way.” Jimmy shuttered as he started to realise what Bernie was thinking.

Bernie turned to Jimmy and said, “We can use our money to reach the treasure!”

Jimmy knew that only a fool would argue with a fool, and although Bernie was his best friend, he knew that Bernie was a fool. He thought frantically about how to prevent Bernie from doing something foolish.

Jimmy suggested to Bernie that they try a test. So Bernie took out a dollar bill and walked to the edge of the bottomless pit. He held it out and let it fall out of his hand.

The two friends watched as it floated out toward the treasure platform. First up, then down, then up again. About half way, it started to go down and fluttered out of sight into the abyss.

Jimmy turned to Bernie and said, “It looks like it won’t work.”

Bernie smiled and said, “Ah, but that was just one dollar and we have more money than that and will go further.” He started to drag his bag of coins slowly to the edge of the pit.

Jimmy was distraught at the actions of his friend. He told Bernie that he wouldn’t join him in his quest. Bernie gave him a hurt look, but continued to drag his bag of coins. Jimmy knew there was nothing he could do, but hope.

Bernie reached the edge of the pit, and stopped to look at the treasure that beckoned to him. He turned to Jimmy and said, “This is your last chance.” Then he turned to pick up his bag of coins before he stepped in to the pit.

What happened next was too fast to see. The edge of the pit crumbled and the bag of coins fell into the pit. Jimmy reached forward to grab Bernie before he too fell into the pit. Bernie’s face was a mask of fear as Jimmy slowly dragged him away from the edge.

Safely away from the edge, the two friends began to laugh. After they settled down, they got up and continued on their way home. Just before they got home, Jimmy turned to Bernie and offered him half of his money.

Bernie asked why and Jimmy said, “I guess I am just a fool.”

© 2004 James Beattie Morison

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