The Cash Machine
A Fable by Dan ScorpioThe fourteen brothers were well provided for in their father's will. Their father, an incredibly old man, mysteriously disappeared one day and, after seven years, this being the law of the land, he was pronounced dead.
Each brother inherited a huge country estate and they worked the land as farmers. Before he vanished, their father had set up a substantial bank account in joint names, giving each of them a cash card that would work in any cash machine. No one else in the land could access a cash machine; the machines were for the brothers' use only.
The bank account accrued substantial interest. Additionally, the father had set up a trust fund for them, which paid a small income into the bank every week. For a number of years, the brothers lived relatively frugally and happily. The balance in the bank grew as the trust money trickled in and interest accumulated.
In time, the brothers reproduced. Each had fourteen children. All one hundred ninety-six children were born with handicaps of some sort. The children lived in smallholdings on their fathers' estates. They were quite capable as gardeners and looked after themselves day by day, but depended heavily on cash -- provided regularly by their fathers -- for their continued well being. Some of the children lived frugally, some not.
Irrespective of how they lived, their fathers always tried their best to look after them. Now and again, the fathers would chide their sons, daughters, nieces and nephews for their extravagance. Most of the time they all got on relatively happily. The balance at the bank was self-maintaining, and all seemed well.
The family inherited longevity from their ancestors. In time, the fourteen children of each of the fourteen brothers reproduced. As previously, each begot fourteen handicapped children who were housed on the huge estates. The original fourteen brothers visited the cash machine several times a week now to satisfy the demands of their children and grandchildren. Some of the grandchildren had learned bad habits from their fathers, and were extravagant. Others were frugal. Several brothers drew more money from the cash machines than the others. The bank account still accumulated interest and the trust fund still paid into it each week, but the total value in the account started to decline.
There were family arguments.
A few of the original fourteen, driven by the demands of their children and grandchildren, began to hoard cash. Many of the children and grandchildren hoarded cash as well. The family arguments worsened. Heated disputes about the extravagant lifestyles of some of the family were commonplace. Soon, the grandchildren of the original fourteen brothers reproduced again, each having fourteen children, all born with handicaps.
They all lived on the estates.
The pressure on the original fourteen sons became incredible. Their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren demanded more and more. The brothers, being kind, tried to provide it. They suffered arguments, insults and even threats from their dependant relatives both close and distant.
Eventually, the capital in the account ran out. The whole family was left with the small weekly income generated by the trust fund to share between them. The original fourteen brothers began to bicker heatedly amongst themselves. Sometimes, one or two of them would go to the cash machine and discover the entire weekly income had been taken by the other brothers. The children, grandchildren and great grandchildren all rallied behind their respective paternal ancestors. Some members of the family were scratching a meager living from their farms. Many were starving. Others lived opulently and wanted even more. There were family feuds. Sporadic fights broke out. Brother fought brother. Fathers fought sons, daughters and grandchildren, who also fought viciously among themselves. Cousins and second cousins began killing each other. Many fought to survive; some because of envy and greed. Hundreds of them perished, as did several of the original brothers.
The estates were neglected and laid waste.
When they became tired of the killing, maiming and hurt, they agreed they had to find a better way. They gathered in a great family council. It was agreed unanimously that all surviving members of the family would take an equal portion of the income from the cash machines. It was further agreed that when new family members came along, the cash machine income would be redistributed to ensure all an equal share. Careful accounts would be kept. Anyone taking more than their due portion would be cast out of the estate.
They also agreed to work hard on their individual farms, become more self sufficient and frugal, and have fewer children so as to be able to manage on a lower income. The extravagant family members accepted they would have to work hard to pay for their habits, or else change their ways.
So it was agreed.
This fable Copyright 1998 by Dan Scorpio. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieveal system, without the permission of the author. You can reach the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
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