Once upon a time there were two merchants who wrote letters back and forth to each other. They never met face to face. One lived in Benares and the other lived in a remote border village.
The country merchant sent a large caravan to Benares. It had 500 carts loaded with fruits and vegetables and other products. He told his workers to trade all these goods with the help of the Benares merchant.
When they arrived in the big city they went directly to the merchant. They gave him the gifts they had brought. He was pleased and invited them to stay in his own home. He even gave them money for their living expenses. He treated them with the very best hospitality. He asked about the well-being of the country merchant and gave them gifts to take back to him. Since it is easier for a local person to get a good price, he saw to it that all their goods were fairly traded. They returned home and told their master all that had happened.
Later on, the Benares merchant sent a caravan of 500 carts to the border village. His workers also took gifts to the country merchant. When they arrived he asked,
“Where do you come from?” They said they came from the Benares merchant, the one who wrote him letters.
Taking the gifts, the country merchant laughed in a very discourteous way and said, “Anyone could say they came from the Benares merchant!” Then he sent them away, giving them no place to stay, no gifts, and no help at all.
The caravan workers went downtown to the marketplace and did the best they could trading without local help. They returned to Benares and told their master all that had happened.
Before too long, the country merchant sent another caravan of 500 carts to Benares. Again his workers took gifts to the same merchant. When his workers saw them coming, they said to him, “We know just how to provide suitable lodgings, food and expense money for these people.”
They took them outside the city walls to a good place to camp for the night. They said they would return to Benares and prepare food and get expense money for them.
Instead they rounded up all their fellow workers and returned to the campsite in the middle of the night. They robbed all 500 carts, including the workers’ outer garments. They chased away the bullocks, and removed and carried off the cart wheels.
The villagers were terrified. They ran back home as fast as their legs could carry them.
The city merchant’s workers told him all they had done. He said, ‘Those who forget gratitude and ignore simple hospitality wind up getting what they deserve. Those who do not appreciate the help they have received soon find that no one will help them anymore.”
Moral: If you don’t help others, you can’t expect them to help you.