‘I want something from you, old man,’ he said. ‘Very well,’ said the old man. And with a flourish he pointed his finger at a chicken that was running across the road in front of them. Immediately the chicken stopped running and, before their eyes, turned into solid gold. The old man picked it up and gave it to the young man, saying, ‘Now, will you let me pass?’ The young man took the golden chicken, but continued to smile and shake his head.
‘I want more from you, old man,’ he said. ‘Very well,’ said the old man, and again with a flourish he pointed his finger, this time at a dog, who was just in the middle of relieving himself against a wall. Once again, the dog froze and immediately turned into a solid gold statue (cocked leg and all). The old man picked up the dog and gave it to the young man, saying, ‘There you are. Now will you let me pass?’ The young man took the dog, but still shook his head, saying, ‘It’s not enough.
I want more from you, old man.’ ‘Very well,’ said the old man, and again he pointed his finger, this time at a house on the edge of the market place. As the two of them watched, brick by brick the house too was transformed into solid, gleaming gold that dazzled them in the sunshine. ‘There you are,’ said the old man, pointing at the house. ‘Now, surely you will let me pass.’
But the young man remained standing just where he was in front of the old man. ‘It’s still not enough,’ he said. Exasperated, the old man cried, ‘But what else can I give you?’ The young man stepped closer and, taking hold of the other’s hand, replied, ‘I want… the finger.’
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.