Hundreds of people had come to see a popular satire, but during the performance a fire started in the theater. The audience and actors evacuated the building. Luckily, no one was hurt, and the fire was soon put out. Immediately, the audience assembled into an angry mob and demanded to know what had happened.
It was soon revealed that the fire had started backstage, and only two people were in the area at the time. One was the husband of the play’s star actress, the billionaire Henry Rich. The other was the theater’s janitor, Bill, a large and strong man who looked like a brute.
The crowd segregated the two men and demanded to know who the culprit was. Most of the crowd thought that Bill was to blame. They felt that he had started the fire without ever subjecting him to any scrutiny. Bill resented this but said nothing.
Luckily, the billionaire’s wife testified in his defense. “Your decision is premature,” she told the crowd. “I fell down amid the tumult while everyone fled the fire. Bill rescued me and carried me out of the building. I think you underestimate his character. Besides, in order to be close enough to save me, he couldn’t have been near the place where the fire began.”
The crowd then turned their eyes to the billionaire. “He did it!” they shouted. “Make him pay!”
“Wait,” the billionaire said over the uproar. “I admit that I started the fire, but it was an accident. I was going backstage to see my wife and was clumsy. I collided with a lamp, and it fell to the floor. The floor was flammable. A fire started, and I fled.”
The mob was surprised. The man they blamed was innocent, and the billionaire was guilty. To pay for his error, the billionaire not only repaired the theater but had it remade to be better than before.