As the line advanced, the workers became more and more angry. John felt deeply ashamed at the way they were treating the owner; grabbing the money out of his hand and making angry remarks. Finally, there were only three of them left to receive their wages. The first one stood before the owner defiantly with arms crossed. "So!" he said, "You think my work is no better than what you get from some bunch cripples and weaklings? You think a whole day in the sun by me is worth as much as an hour in the shade by some lazy beggar? Is that what you're trying to say with your lousy money?" Then he grabbed the money out of the owner's hand and said; "Let me tell you something. I'll take this money because I worked for it and I deserve it. But I'll rot in hell before I waste my time working for you again!" and he stormed off.
Then, the second man stepped up to the owner and stood before him. He calmly took the money out of the owner's hand, turned the coins over in his palm, and then let them fall between his fingers into the dust at the owner's feet. "I don't need your money." he said, looking him right in the eyes. "My pride is worth more than a lousy day's wages." "Oh?" said the owner softly, "And is it worth more than the hunger of your wife and children, who have no bread to eat?" The man's face flushed with rage and he stood there stiff before the owner. Then he spat on him, and walked away.
Now there was no one left but John, and the owner of the vineyard, and John's eyes were brimming with tears. "I don't know how they can say those things," he said, "when you've done nothing but good to them, and to all of us! You came into our town and offered us work when we were nearly starving. You gave us food and water while we were working, and time to rest. You even hired people who couldn't work the whole day, or could hardly work at all, and then gave every one of us a full day's pay! I... I just want to thank you." he said, taking his hand, "Thank you, for all you've done for us today." And then he turned, and brushing a tear away from his eye, he began to walk home.
But the owner said to him; "Wait!" And when John turned around, he saw him smiling with his hand outstretched, holding John's pay.
"You'll need this to buy bread for your family." he said.
John smiled and took the money, and then the owner of the vineyard said; "John, the harvest is great, but there aren't many workers. Come back again tomorrow. There will always be work for you here."
So John went home and shared the good news with his family. And from that day on he worked gladly in the vineyard, and he and his family were never hungry or thirsty again.