A Kentucky folktale
Back in the olden days, an old man lived alone in a big house on his farm. He never married or raised a family. To him, a wife would have been too expensive. Raising a family would have cost at least half of his farm profit. And money, he believed, was too precious to waste on children. Besides, he believed he would need to spend all his spare time keeping his lazy share croppers busy, or else he’d find himself a pauper.
Over the years, the man who, no doubt, was a miser of the worst kind, accumulated more gold coins than he could carry. He kept the money hidden in small bags, scattered about the house. Then he became afraid that he might forget where he had hidden one or two of these many, small bags, or somebody might break into the house and find some of those many small bags. So he dug a hole inside his cellar, put the money into the hole, then he used a long pry-pole to move a large, flat rock over the hole.
Every time he collected money, he exchanged the silver for gold, pried the rock off the hole in the cellar, and deposited his money. After that, for an hour or more, he passed the gold coins through his hands and gloated.
But as more money piled up in the cellar hole, the miser became afraid someone might watch him go to his hidden money and steal it. Instead of going to his money, two or three times a month, he went only once every six months. Then he handled the money and gloated over it for two hours instead of one. Then after going for one of his six months, he noticed the heavy, flat rock didn’t seem to be in the exact position he’d left it in six months before. As fear gripped him, he snatched his pry-pole and heaved, until the heavy rock slid off the hole. The hole was empty!
The old man fainted for a few seconds, as his arteries almost cut off the supply of blood to his brain. When he recovered, his screams were heard nearly a mile away. The nearby neighbors heard the old man screaming and crying and shouting, “My money is gone!” Several came running to the old miser’s house to find out what had happened. Through his sobs and cries, he finally explained how he had his money hidden in the hole he had dug in the cellar. He ended with the sob, “I’ll never again go in the cellar and look at the rock my precious gold was buried under. Oh, poor me!”
The oldest and wisest man there said, “Cheer up! You really have lost nothing. The gold did no one any good under that rock. Put the rock back over the hole, then come here everyday. Look at the rock and imagine the gold is under it. It will do you as much good as it always did; as gold is really good, only when wisely spent!”
source: ‘Old Farmer Was A Miser Of The Worst Kind! His Love Of Gold Led To Great Misery,’ as told by McCreary Roberts in ‘Kentucky Explorer,’ April 2000 online at http://kentuckyexplorer.com/nonmembers/4-tales.html