In the middle of one deep forest, there was a small pond. A rock jutted out next to it, covered in thick ferns. Behind the ferns, a huge secret was hiding.
You simply had to gently part the ferns. Then something truly beautiful would appear before your eyes. Colorful butterflies would fly around your head, fragrant flowers would lean towards you, climbing vines would gently embrace you and lead you to a secret entrance to a magical cave. And who was in the cave? Will-o’-the-wisps lived in this hidden abode. They were five sisters. They lived here together and loved each other very much. They were kind to one another and helped each other with everything. They kept their secret cave concealed. They didn’t want any humans to discover it.
They loved their work and tried to do it as well as they could. But what did the will-o’-the-wisps do? Since they had magical powers, they could tell good people from bad people. They helped good people, but they led the bad ones deep into the forest and there left them to roam so that they wouldn’t hurt anyone ever again.
One day, a young man was passing by the cave. His name was James. He was very unhappy and very angry. Which was why he was destroying anything in his reach. He was kicking out mushrooms, breaking off the branches of young trees, throwing rocks at squirrels, and spitting out his gum. When the will-o’-the-wisps saw this, they knew right away that they had work to do.
They made the wind blow and the trees move, and then they started dancing around James. Slowly and surely, they were leading him deeper and deeper into the woods. They wanted him to lose his bearings and punish him for treating the forest so badly. But one of the will-o’-the-wisps had a special ability the others didn’t. She could see all the way into the depths of the heart. She could see even the very last sliver of goodness that remained inside a person. And she found it in James. She knew that he had behaved badly, but her magical power told her that he could improve.
James was starting to feel scared. He knew why the will-o’-the-wisps were leading him away and worried that he would never make it out of the forest. With the last shreds of his strength and with all of his heart, he pleaded with the will-o’-the-wisps: “Please, I will never do this again, I’m not a bad person. I’m very sorry and I will put everything to right. Before the end of this day, I will pick up all the litter in the forest and fix everything I can.” As he spun around in the circle formed around him by the will-o’-the-wisps, begging for forgiveness, he looked at the one with the most magic. The will-o’-the-wisp looked him in the eye: “James, look into my eyes and don’t look away. I want to know if your words come from the heart and whether you’re not lying.” She gazed at him and believed him.
She told the other sisters that they would give him another chance. James promised that he would come into the forest every day and help the forest animals and plants. And he did as he promised. He was glad that the will-o’-the-wisps had found the last bit of kindness in him and had given him a second chance.