Bottom Line, The

There was a man who loved fine art. He loved it so much he lived for it. It had become his whole life, and had literally engulfed him. He would work really hard to save up some money, just so he could buy another piece of fine art. He would buy Rembrandt's and Picasso's and many others works of fine art.

The man had been widowed some years before but he had a son. As he raised his son, he included him in his hobby of collecting art. As his son grew, he also became a great art collector. His dad was very proud of him. Collecting fine art was something that they both loved to do and it brought them very close together.

Some time passed by and their country suddenly became engulfed in a war. The son, like so many other young men, enlisted and went off to serve his country. He had been gone for some time, and then it happened.

One day the father received a letter. It said, we regret to inform you that your son is missing in action. The father's heart was broken. He loved his son so dearly and now he truly realized how much his son meant to him. It hurt so badly not knowing what had happened to him.

A few weeks passed, and then another letter came. This letter just ripped his heart in two. It said, we regret to inform you that your son has been killed in action. The father could hardly bear to read on, but as he did he discovered the circumstances that his son had died under. The letter said that his son had made it back to safety. But that he had seen wounded soldiers out on the battlefield. And one by one, he would go back onto the battlefield and carry them to safety. As he was carrying in the last wounded soldier, a bullet struck him and killed him. A month passed by and it was now Christmas Day. The father didn't even want to get up out of bed. He just couldn't imagine spending Christmas without his son. Then he heard the doorbell ring so he went downstairs to see who was there. When he opened the door he found a young man standing there holding a package.

The young man said, Sir you don't know me. But I was the wounded soldier that your son was carrying when he was killed.

He said, "I'm not a wealthy man. I don't have anything of value that I can give you for what your son did for me. Your son had told me of your love for art, and although I'm not much of an artist, I painted a portrait of your son, and I'd like for you to have it."

The father took the package into the house and opened it. Then he went into the drawing room and took down the Rembrandt that was hanging over the fireplace. In its place he hung up the portrait of his son.

Then with tears streaming down on his face he told the young man, "This is my most prized possession. It is more valuable to me than any other work of art in my house."

The father and the young man shared a meal and Christmas Day together and then the young man left. A few years later, the father became very ill. A short time later he died. News of his death spread far and wide. Everyone was in anticipation of the great auction that was to take place for all the pieces of art the man had collected.

Finally it was announced that the auction would be held on Christmas Day. Museum curators and collectors came from all around the world.

They were all eager for the chance to bid on the fine art that was to be auctioned.

The house swelled full of people. Then the auctioneer stood up and said, "I'd like to thank you all for coming. The first piece up for auction will be the portrait behind me."

From the back of the room someone yelled out, "That's just a picture of the old man's kid! Why don't we just skip it, and get on to the real treasures?"

The auctioneer said, "We have to sell this portrait first, and then we can move on."

The auctioneer asked, "Who would start the bidding at $100?" No one answered so he asked, "Would anyone bid $50?"

Still no one answered so he asked, "Would any one bid $40?" Again no one would bid on the portrait. So the auctioneer asked, 'Will nobody bid on this portrait?"

An elderly man stood up and asked, "Would you take $10 for it? You see $10 is all that I have. I'm the neighbor from across the street and I knew the boy. I watched him grow up and I really liked him. I'd like to have the portrait. So, would you take $10 for it?" The auctioneer said, "$10 going once, going twice, and sold!" Immediately a cheer went up and the people said to each other,

"Oh boy, now we can get on to the real art."

The auctioneer then said, "I'd like to thank you all for coming. It's been a pleasure having you here today. That concludes our auction today."

The crowd grew very angry and asked, "What do you mean the auction is over? You haven't even begun to take bids on all these other works of art!"

The auctioneer said, "I'm sorry but the auction is closed. You see, according to the will of the father, WHOEVER TAKES THE SON GETS IT ALL!!! And that's the bottom line."

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