Ten Chinese farmers were working in a field when the sky suddenly darkened. There was thunder and lightning. Rain began to fall. The farmers, holding on tightly to their large straw hats, ran for shelter to the ruins of an old temple nearby.
Lightning flashed again and again, each time momentarily lighting up the interior of the crumbling edifice in which the farmers were sheltering. The thunder shook the walls.
“The gods are angry with us,” said one of the men, his voice trembling in fear.
“Why?” asked another.
“Obviously there’s a sinner amongst us!” screamed a third farmer, his voice shrilled with panic. “We must find him and throw him out lest we all perish!!”
“I have an idea,” said a fourth man. “Let us all hold our hats outside the window. Let the gods show us the sinner.”
So they held their hats outside the window. Immediately lightning crackled, and one of the hats was reduced to ash. The owner of the hat was a quiet, middle aged man who had not uttered a word till then. Now he pleaded with his comrades to protect him.
“I’ve a wife and three children and aged parents to support,” he said. “What will happen to them if I die?”
But the other farmers were merciless.
“Out! Out with you!” They cried, and lifting him threw him out of the temple.
The man scrambled to his feet and ran to the shelter of a tree some distance away.
Hardly had he reached the tree when the lightning struck. It hit the temple, which collapsed killing all nine men in it.
Till then they had been protected by the presence of the only good man amongst them.