One night three horsemen were riding across the desert. When they came to the dry bed of a river a voice came out of the darkness, and said, "Halt!"
The men obeyed the command of the hidden voice. the voice then said, "You have done as I commanded. Now get off your horses, pick up a handful of pebbles, put the pebbles in your pockets, remount your horses, and continue on your journey." The the voice added, "Since you have done as I commanded, tomorrow at sunrise you will be both glad and sorry that you obeyed me."
Mystified, the three horsemen rode on through the night. when the sun arose the horsemen reached into their pockets and found that a miracle had happened. the pebbles in their pockets had been transformed into magnificent diamonds, rubies and other precious stones. They remembered the warning, that they would be both glad and sorry; glad that they had taken some pebbles, sorry that they had not taken more.
A spider built his web in a barn, high up among the rafters, where he started by spinning along think thread attached to the end of one of the beams. With this thread still attached to him, the spider jumped off the beam and spun out more thread on the way down, until he reached the place he planned as the center of his web. From the center he then spun out other threads like the spokes of a wheel, attaching each of them to the walls and other places. finally he had an exquisitely made web, that helped him catch many fine fat flies. but he grew fat and lazy and vain.
One day he was admiring the web he had spun and he noticed the long fine thread he had first spun from the top beam and said, "I wonder what that is for? I can't imagine why I ever put it there -- it doesn't catch any flies."
And so on a sudden impulse he broke it. but as a result, the whole wonderful web collapsed. The spider had forgotten that the one thread -- the link to the beam -- supported the whole web.
A series of reverses had deprived him of money, possessions and finally of self-respect. He turned despairingly to begging -- extending an unsure hand with a few pencils in it at subways stations in downtown Manhattan.
One day an elderly banker dropped a quarter in the beggar's trembling hand, turned to go, hesitated and then wheeled on the beggar with: "I want to apologize for treating you as a beggar. You are a merchant, or course, and I came back to get the pencil I paid for." The astonished peddler handed the banker five pencils and thanked him with wondering warmth.
Many months later the banker stopped into a small stationery store on the outer fringe of the Wall Street area. He was about to leave after make a few minor purchases - the proprietor stopped him and said? "I'm sure you won't remember me, but I will never forget you. Some time ago, I was a subway beggar with a handful of pencils and you treated me as a business man - a 'merchant' you called me. that remark gave me back my self-respect. From then on I refused gifts and really sold pencils -- lots of them and good ones, too. From this sidewalk business I saved my money, borrowed a bit more, and then opened this little shop. I'm beginning to make a go of it. and all because of a few words from you."