In a black forest, deep inside by the rocky cliffs, there lived a bandit. He had a long braided beard and a torn hat on his head. His bushy black hair stuck out from beneath it. He lived next to the tallest cliffs, inside a concealed cave. He wasn’t mean; he simply didn’t know anything other than robbing people.
His father had taught him how to be a bandit, his grandfather taught him how to be a bandit, and he didn’t even realize he could earn his living in any other way. He didn’t harm people; he simply took a little bit of money from those who had a lot of it. People far and wide were afraid of the black forest and gave it a wide berth. No one wanted to encounter the bandit. Except for one person – Johnny.
Johnny was a clever and good-natured young man. He lived close to the black forest and the rocky cliffs. He liked to go to the forest and wasn’t scared of the bandit at all. On the contrary. He was convinced that the bandit was in fact a good person, so he decided to show him that there were other things he could do besides robbing people and still have a good life. But how should he say this to the bandit? He couldn’t just walk up to him and tell him to stop stealing and start working. He had to go about it differently. He had to be clever about it!
And so Johnny really did head out into the forest one morning. The sun shone on his path, birds sang their songs around him, and the young man whistled as he walked. He was in a merry mood, when suddenly, the bandit appeared in front of him. Like a proper bandit, he jumped out from behind a tree and shouted, with a pistol in his hand: “Money or your life! Give me your money or you will see!” But Johnny wasn’t scared; he’d been looking forward to the moment the bandit would attack him. He looked at him calmly and said: “I don’t have money, but I have a proposition.”
“A proposition? What kind of proposition could you have for me? I don’t negotiate with anyone about anything,” the bandit replied, surprised. “Wait, honorable bandit. Just hear me out,” Johnny continued. Then he thought for a minute, waved his hand, and said: “Or, you know what? Maybe not. You wouldn’t be able to do it anyway. Very few people could.”
As soon as the bandit heard that, he grew angry at Johnny and exclaimed: “What couldn’t I do? Who do you think I am? I, a mighty bandit, can do absolutely anything! Tell me what you were going to propose.” Johnny smiled. He knew that now he’d outsmarted the bandit, so he explained everything: “You have to do at least one good deed a day.”
“What? A good deed? What does that mean? And why should I do that?” the bandit replied. “Well, I did tell you that it’s only for the brave,” Johnny strung the bandit on. “Never mind, I’ll propose it to someone else and that person will have their life made.”
“Wait!” the bandit stopped Johnny before he could leave. “Don’t go anywhere. You’re saying that whoever does a good deed will have a good life? I can manage it. Tell me more about this.” And so Johnny explained: “The trick is doing at least one good deed a day. You can do more. But at least one is the condition. A good deed means you help someone. With anything. Of your own good will. Without being asked. And then you’ll see how it comes back to you and how good your life will be.”
The bandit pondered this. He decided to try it. After all, he couldn’t let it be said about him that he wasn’t able to do something. So he started to walk around the forest, looking for someone to help. After a while, he came across an old woman. She was carrying a heavy basket. The bandit hurried over to her and carried her burden home. Then he spotted a horse-drawn wagon in the forest. The wagon’s wheel was broken, and the horses couldn’t pull it no matter how hard they tried. The bandit immediately repaired the wheel.
And that’s how it continued. Every day, the bandit helped someone. The news of such a kind bandit spread throughout the land. People were no longer afraid of going into the forest. On the contrary. They went through it on purpose, because they knew that nothing would happen to them with the bandit living there. And what’s more, they would bring money or food along, and they happily gave it to the bandit. And that’s how the bandit who used to steal transformed into a helper “bandit”. Not only did he have a good feeling about helping others, but people were giving him more food and money than if he had robbed them.
And Johnny? He was very glad that the bandit had changed and that Johnny had helped him do it. To this day, Johnny and the bandit are the bests of friends. Every day, they walk through the forest and tell each other about the people they’d helped, what they received for it in return, and how good their life was because of it.