In days gone by, there was a wealthy man who had a wonderful steamship, but as is the way with expensive things, it was prone to breaking down. One day, after a particularly difficult journey to a foreign land, the engine failed and no one could get it going again.
One by one, every mechanic and engineer in the land was summoned to try to fix the engine, and one by one they failed. Finally, word came to the wealthy man of a wise old shipmaker who might be able to help, but at a hefty price. The wealthy man agreed at once.
Soon, an old man who looked as if he must have been fixing ships for a hundred years arrived. He carried a large bag of tools and immediately went to work. He inspected the large network of pipes leading to and from the engine very carefully, occasionally placing his hand upon the pipes to test for warmth.
Finally, the old shipmaker reached into his bag and pulled out a small hammer. He gently tapped against one of the pipes. Instantly, the sound of steam rushing through the pipes could be heard and the engine lurched into life as the shipmaker carefully put his hammer away.
When the wealthy man asked the shipmaker what he owed him, the bill came to ten thousand pounds – a princely sum in those days.
“What?” the wealthy man exclaimed, outraged, “You hardly did anything at all! Justify your bill or I will have you thrown into jail.”
The old shipmaker began to scrawl something onto a ragged piece of paper he pulled from his pocket. The wealthy man smiled as he read it and apologised to the shipmaker for his rude behaviour.
This is what it said:
For tapping with the hammer – £1
For knowing where to tap – £9,999
You can make of that what you will…….