Merchant Johnson had no shortage of money and he had all the comforts of life. He was a big trader of the village. The people respected him.
But Johnson had one worry. He was worried about how his son. Thomas would run the business after him. Thomas was about to be eighteen years of age but he showed no interest in work. He rarely helped his father in business.
Thomas had got all the pleasures and luxuries of life on a silver platter. He didn't know the value of money or hard work. Thomas was careless about everything. He was not a brainless idiot. But he took himself to be over clever. He thought that no one could fool him whereas he could fool anyone.
Johnson used to advise his son often to learn business and do some work and to give up the habit of carelessness But Thomas paid no heed to his father.
Once, the father decided to test the cleverness of his son who always claimed that he had a good brain. The father said, ‘Son! Go to the city. This goat has grown old. Sell it. Buy some trade item with the money you will get."
Thomas asked, 'Father! How much price should this goat get us?'
Johnson replied. "It can sell for around 400 lira. Take the horse if you like. But be careful. This world is full of tricky people. There are thugs. Don't trust any stranger."
Thomas laughed, 'Don't worry, O father… No one can fool me. I will get at least 500 lira for the goat. You will see that I will return with some good price selling item.’
He set out for the city on the horse back. He had tied a bell to the neck of the goat. And with a rope the goat was tied to the tail of the horse. The goat followed the horse making jingling sounds of the bell.
The sound of the bell told Thomas that the goat was following him. He himself was sitting pretty on the horse humming a tune merrily.
On the way, some tricksters saw a Youngman carelessly going along on his horse followed by a goat.
A trickster thug said, "I can easily steal his goat."
Encouraged by it, another thug claimed, ‘That is no big deal. I can steal the horse on which that young idiot goes humming."
The first thug admitted, ‘Alright I think stealing the horse would be a bit tricky. I can steal the goat?'
The thugs followed Thomas. Suddenly a third thug boasted, "You two are jokes. I can steal the costly clothes and chains he is wearing including the money he has got in his pockets."
The thugs argued as to who would strike first. At last, they decided to give chance to the thugs in the order they made claims. The first thug was to steal the goat. He got the first shot.
The thug walked along the goat, untied the rope, then tied the bell to the tail of the horse and disappeared with the goat.
As the bell tied to the tail of the horse jingled on, Thomas thought that the goat was following him. After some travel he decided to take rest under a tree. As he got down from the horse he discovered that the goat was missing. He panicked.
In a confused state of mind he started asking all the passers-by about his goat. A person told him that he had seen a mean looking person going with a goat. He told Thomas the direction the thief had gone.
Thomas thanked the person and said, ‘You are a very noble person. Thanks for telling me about the goat thief. Do me another favour please. Take care of my horse. I will go after the thief to get back my goat. It will take little time.'
Thomas ran into the direction shown by the man. He went quite far but found no trace of his goat or the thief. At last he gave up and returned to the place where his horse and that man was supposed to be.
But the man had vanished with his horse. Tears came into the eyes of Thomas. Now he realised that the man was an accomplice of the goat thief.
Thomas was a very sad man. His mind was not working. He was ashamed of having been tricked by the thugs so easily. He could do nothing except return to his village.
Only a little distance away he found a man weeping pitiably by the side of a well. Thomas felt pity for the man because he looked as sad as he himself was. He wanted to share his misery with the weeping person to lighten the sadness of the heart.
Thomas went to him and spoke, ‘Why do you weep…O good man? My tragedy is greater than yours. I have been very badly tricked today."
The man sobbed, “No brother… No one can be sadder than I am. I am facing life and death situation. Any way, what is your story?"
Thomas confided, ‘Brother…Due to my carelessness my goat got stolen. Then I was tricked off my horse. I can’t tell you how sad it makes me. And I used to think that I was a clever person. Ah…"
At this, the man wailed loudly and shed tears. Thomas consoled him, "Tell me what happened with you? May be… I can help you."
The man cried, "I work for a jeweler. My master is marrying off his daughter. He got a very precious necklace of diamonds made for her which I was taking to his home. I stopped here for a breather and unfortunately the box containing the diamond fell into the well. Now, how shall I go home? My master will think I am a thief. He will skin me
Thomas said, ’Why don’t you descend into the well and get the box?’
‘How can I. sir? There is death on both sides for me. If I go home my master would kill me. If I descend into the well I will get drowned. I don’t know how to swim. There is no one who can help me.' The man started crying out loudly.
Thomas felt pity for him. He offered, ‘Stop crying. I will go down the well and try to get your box. If I succeed your worry will be over. Meanwhile take care of my clothes. By the way, if I get your diamond necklace what will you give me?"
“I will give you twenty gold coins," the man promised.
‘I will take ten coins right away," Thomas said and added, 'And another ten when I get your necklace." That way Thomas could recover some of the loss he had already suffered. It will be a consolation, he thought.
The man handed him ten gold coins. Thomas could not descend into the well with the coins. So, he gave his clothes, watch, gold chain, his money and the gold coins to the man for safe keeping and descended carefully into the well.
He groped around the entire bottom of the well trying to locate the box. Of course, there was no box. He was looking for something which was not there.
At last, he emerged out of the well tired and defeated. And a final shock awaited him out there. There was no trace of his belongings and the weeping man. Thomas realised that he had been stripped of everything. His sadness had no limit. He sat down and wept bitterly.
It was a matter of great shame for Thomas. How would he return to his father naked? He had lost everything and made a complete fool of himself. He repented.
Luckily he saw a person of his village passing by. He called out to him.
Thomas told his entire tragedy to him. The person felt sorry for him. He gave Thomas some clothes to wear and brought him home.
Thomas was very sorry for not listening to the advice of his father.