Once upon a time, there was a poor village in a lonely valley, isolated from the rest of the world. In this village, not everyone was poor: some families were actually quite prosperous, and one in particular was rich. The rich family lived in a huge, rambling mansion- because they had many parents and children, cousins, second cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents, all living together. Now the whole rich family was ruled by a wise and prudent old man, who made sure that the family never spent more in the village than they earned from their vast estate. Still, because it was such a large, rich family, they spent more in the village than ten or twenty of the other prosperous families combined. The villagers came to rely on their patronage- the very economic life of the village depended on this one family.
But then, inevitably, the old man died. He was replaced as head of the family by a son who was not as wise or prudent. He saw no reason to spend so little, and soon encouraged the whole family to spend extravagantly. He himself set the example, by spending freely on his favourite pastime: collecting guns. Soon he had the biggest gun collection in the whole village, with more guns than all the rest of the villagers together.
At first the storekeepers and saloonkeepers of the village were overjoyed at the spendthrift attitude of their best customer. Their profits soared, and they built second-storeys and additions to their businesses. But soon the rich family ran out of gold to pay for their purchases, and they started to pay with promisory notes and I.O.U.s. The villagers were confused: was the rich family no longer rich? Why didn't they pay with gold anymore? But, not wanting to lose their most important customer, they took the I.O.U.s. Surely the rich family would start paying in gold again soon. Besides, the village bank, which also relied on the rich family's business, always honoured the notes.
However, the family did not change it's ways, and instead fell deeper and deeper into the villagers' debt. Eventually, the bank stopped accepting the rich family's notes. The storekeepers, who had traded the notes among themselves, as a kind of village currency, lost confidence in the notes too, and stopped accepting them as payment from each other, or the rich family itself. The rich family, unable to buy anything, but dependant on the village for their needs and wants more than ever, grew poor, and their mansion fell into disrepair. Finally, the angry villagers, who waited in vain for the vast horde of promisory notes they had collected over the years to be honoured, stormed the mansion of the rich family. The patriarch of the family reached for the guns in his gun collection, and that alone saved him and his family. The villagers retreated to their homes in the valley below, burning the now-valueless promisory notes in a big bonfire in the village square.
The formerly-rich family continued to decline in fortunes, until the son died, and his son succeeded him. Like his grandfather, he was wise and careful with the family finances, and slowly the family began to recover their wealth and reputation- but they never held the same honoured place in the village, as other village families rose to prominence and wealth, surpassing their own.
Now, dear readers, can you guess the moral? Who this rich family is, and what this village?