An architect who had just finished college was trying to get his business established and was having a hard time doing it. He still owed money for some of his college expenses and saw his debts piling up. Each day he became more and more worried, until he was looking around desperately for a solution.
Then a wealthy man, who had been a good friend of his father, came to him one day. "I want you to build me a house," he said. "Build it of the finest materials. Spare no expense. Build it as if it were for yourself and you had all the money in the world. Here is an advance on your fee. I will be gone for some months, so take full charge. "
It was like a dream to the young architect. The advance enabled him to wipe out all his debts, and he knew that he could be married soon. For when the house was finished, he could expect other good commissions. Then his reputation would be established solidly. So he set to work with great joy.
As the building progressed, the architect was struck with an idea. The owner would not be back for months. No one was keeping check on the building. He could build the house just as he pleased. So he began to use second-rate materials where they wouldn't show. As he went on this way, he figured he would make an extra ten thousand dollars for himself, because, of course, he would charge the owner for the best materials throughout.
Well, the house finally was finished and the owner came back. The man was pleased. "It's beautiful," he said. "But, unfortunately I will never live in it. While I was traveling, I made some investments in Europe that will keep me there perhaps permanently. And I want you to have this house as a wedding present from me. It's so beautiful! It's a true picture of your own character, true and loyal all the way through!
Imagine how the young architect felt! Yes, the house was a picture of his own character, and would be there to remind him of his cheating for as long as he lived.