In a pretty wooden cottage by the forest, there lived a boy named Thaddeus. He lived in the cottage with his parents. He looked like quite the rascal, and he was one indeed. He didn’t stay still for a single minute. He always had trouble sitting still in a chair and paying attention.
He would start swinging his legs immediately, his eyes would start wandering around the room, and he was always wondering what he could touch and what mischief he could get into. His fingers would start tingling as if they wanted to run off somewhere, and his whole body would fidget as if fleas were biting him. In short, Thaddeus was fidgety.
Every morning, as soon as he got up, he grabbed his breakfast and ran off into the forest. He ran around there all day, gathering pinecones, climbing trees, and refilling the feeding racks for the deer. He really liked the forest. That’s where he could simply be himself. He also liked the animals and tried to help them as much as he could. But he didn’t know that there could also be danger lurking in the forest.
One day, Thaddeus stayed in the forest for too long. He didn’t notice that dusk had started falling. The sun stopped being warm and a cool breeze blew past Thaddeus. He started to feel cold, so he crouched down at the base of a tree and rubbed his arms and legs to warm himself up. He was just about to get up to walk home, when suddenly a spark flickered in front of him, and something cracked. Suddenly, there was an imp standing before him. He was plump, his tail was swishing this and that way, and he was completely black. Only his white teeth were shining through. The entire area around him smelled of fire.
Thaddeus leapt to his feet and asked courageously: “Who are you? And what do you want?” The imp smiled slyly and replied: “Don’t be scared, Thaddeus. I’m Lucius the Imp. I’ve come to help you. I can see that you are cold, so I wanted to help you make a fire. It will warm you up nicely and you will feel better. There is plenty of wood here and I will give you the spark to light it.”
Thaddeus thought for a moment. He was very cold, that much was true. But even though he was a rascal, he knew what was right and what was wrong. And fire in the forest was dangerous. One mustn’t start it. “Thank you, imp, for wanting to help me, but I don’t need a fire. Starting one in the forest is not allowed.” Lucius tried to convince Thaddeus some more. He tried to tempt him with how pleasant and warm he would feel, that only a few pieces of wood would be enough for him to feel better. And that surely nothing bad would happen.
But Thaddeus thought of his animal friends who might get hurt if he started a fire. He might warm himself up, but a fire in the forest was simply dangerous. “No, Lucius, stop it, I will not be starting a fire here! It’s not right,” Thaddeus said firmly. Lucius was taken aback. He thought he’d be able to persuade the boy. He was an imp, you see, and they try to tempt people into doing bad things. Then they can take them to hell where they have to serve for some time. But he couldn’t take Thaddeus. Lucius had no other choice but to say goodbye to Thaddeus.
At night, as Thaddeus lay in his bed, thinking about what had happened to him that day, he was happy with himself. He knew that he’d done the right thing. Just as he was falling asleep, he heard knocking on the windowsill beneath his window. Quietly, he opened it, and saw squirrels standing there. They were handing him a pile of forest berries inside a carved wooden bowl. Little birds also flew up to the window, chittering: “That’s for not endangering our forest with a fire, and for not letting yourself be tempted. We look forward to seeing you tomorrow. Good night, friend.” Thaddeus accepted the bowl, thanked them, and slept more contentedly than ever before.