One day a ragged beggar was creeping along from house to house. He carried an old wallet in his hand and was asking at every door for a few cents to buy something to eat.
As he was grumbling at his lot he kept wondering why it was that folks who had so much money were never satisfied, but were always wanting more.
Here, said he is the master of this house. I know him well. He was always a good businessman and he made himself wondrously rich a long time ago. Had he been wise he would have stopped then, he would have turned over his business to someone else and then he could have spent the rest of his life in ease. But what did he do instead? He built ships and sent them to sea to trade with foreign lands. He thought he would get mountains of gold, but there were great storms on the water. His ships were wrecked and his riches were swallowed up by the waves.
Now all his hopes lie at the bottom of the sea and his great wealth has vanished.
There are many such cases. Men seem to never be satisfied unless they gain the whole world. As for me, if I had only enough to eat and to wear, I would not want anything more.
Just at that moment Fortune came down the street. She saw the beggar and stopped. She said to him “Listen, I have long wished to help you. Hold your wallet and I will pour this gold into it but only on this condition. All that falls into the wallet shall be pure gold, but every piece that falls upon the ground shall become dust. Do you understand?”
“Oh, yes. I understand,” said the beggar.
“Then have a care,” said Fortune. “Your wallet is old so do not load it too heavily.”
The beggar was so glad that he could hardly wait. He quickly opened his wallet and a stream of yellow dollars poured into it. The wallet grew heavy.
“Is that enough?” asked Fortune.
“Isn’t it cracking?”
“Never fear.” The beggars’ hands began to tremble. “Aaah, if the golden stream would only pour forever.”
“You are the richest man in the world now!”
“Just a little more. Add just a handful or two.”
“There, it’s full. The wallet will burst!”
“But it will hold a little, just a little more.”
Another piece was added and the wallet split. The treasure fell upon the ground and was turned to dust. Fortune had vanished. The beggar had now nothing but his empty wallet and it was torn from top to bottom. He was as poor as before.