A certain man traveled to a faraway village that was famous for its wine.
As he traveled through the village on horseback, he observed throngs of laborers in a large field with their backs bent, picking grapes, their countenances dirty and downtrodden.
Stopping by one of the workers, the man said, "Good sir! Is this where they grow the finest grapes in the kingdom?"
The laborer looked around, his eyes fearful. Just as he was about to speak, a large and mighty man carrying a whip shouted at the worker. "Hey! Why have you stopped working?"
The worker quickly resumed picking grapes, placing them in his basket, his movements tense. The large man scoffed. "Your basket is barely half full."
Turning to the man on horseback, the mighty man said, "You don't belong here, stranger. This vineyard is for licensed grape pickers only."
"I see," the man said. "And who are you?"
A second worker, who had been hiding behind a vine eavesdropping, jumped up. "Why, don't you know our gracious Foreman? His Handsomeness has transformed this vineyard into the finest in the kingdom. Under his supervision we have become very productive."
"Indeed," said the visitor.
The Foreman spat on the ground, then reached into the first worker's basket and grabbed a bunchful of grapes, throwing them to the second man. The man caught the grapes and bowed gratefully as he devoured them, obviously hungry.
"I'm in charge here," the Foreman said, turning to the man on the horse. "I maintain order. Mostly I keep these out of trouble," he said, gesturing towards the throngs of laborers. "I keep an eye on them. If I see any of them snacking on the grapes that belong to the master of the vineyard, or fooling around, I whip 'em good." His face was soft yet his eyes were hard.
From his saddle, the visitor surveyed the dispirited workers laboring in a desperate unison across the fields. "And the master of the vineyard?" the man asked. "Can you introduce me to him?"
The Foreman shook his head. "No, the master doesn't live here. It's just me keeping this place operational and profitable."
The man nodded. "I see. And when do you expect the master to return?"
The Foreman shrugged.
"Well, thank you for your time. I shall be on my way," the man said, turning his horse.
"Wait!" an elderly worker called from the furthest reaches of the vineyard, hastening towards him as quickly as his old bones would permit.
The feeble worker looked ancient, his face weathered with years of sacrifice. The visitor observed many scars crossing the old fellow's back.
The Foreman raised his whip indifferently. "Back to work you useless old man!"
The laborer fell to the ground, weeping. "I can't believe my eyes. I thought you'd never return."
The foreman appeared confused. Turning to the stranger, he said, "What did you say your name was?"
The man on the horse dismounted and embraced the old worker. "Friend, be at peace. I am here."
The man arose and faced the foreman. "Sir, I am the master of this vineyard."
1. Which was more important to the master: the quality of the wine or the quality of care his workers received?
2. Was the master's absence a test for the workers or for the Foreman?
3. How did the Foreman maintain order and control of the workers in the vineyard?
4. What could the workers have done to improve their working conditions?
5. Why did the Foreman treat the workers differently?