In days gone by, two brothers, Raul and Johan, who lived on adjoining farms fell into conflict. It was the first serious rift in 35 years of farming side-by-side in central Germany, sharing machinery, and trading labour and goods as needed without a single problem occurring.
However, one autumn, the long collaboration fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding and it grew into a major difference, and finally it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence between the two brothers.
One morning there was a knock on Raul’s door. He opened it to find a man holding a carpenter’s toolbox. ‘I’m looking for a few days work,’ Angelis said. ‘Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there I could help with? Could I help you?’
‘Yes,’ answered Raul, extremely pleased to see Angelis the carpenter, ‘I do have a job for you. Look across the creek at that farm. That’s my neighbour, in fact, it’s my younger brother, Johan’s farm. Last week there was a meadow between us and he took his bulldozer to the river levee and now there is a creek between us. Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I’ll go him one better. See that pile of lumber by the barn? I want you to build me a fence; an 8-foot fence, so I won’t need to see Johan’s place nor his face anymore.’
Angelis the carpenter said thoughtfully, ‘I think I understand the situation. Show me the nails and the post hole digger and I’ll be able to do a job that pleases you.’
Raul then left for the nearby town, Erfurt, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day. The carpenter worked hard all that day measuring, sawing, nailing, and hammering.
About sunset when Raul returned, the carpenter had just finished his job. The farmer’s eyes opened wide, his jaw dropped. There was no fence there at all.
It was a bridge: a bridge stretching from one side of the creek to the other. A fine piece of work handrails and all, and the neighbour, his younger brother Johan, was coming across, his hand outstretched. ‘You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I’ve said and done, ‘Johan smiled.
The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge, and then they met in the middle, taking each other’s hand. They turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox on his shoulder. ‘No, wait. Stay a few days. I’ve a lot of other projects for you,’ called Raul.
‘I’d love to stay on,’ Angelis murmured quietly, ‘but, I have many more bridges to build.’