Little Tony lived near the forest. He had curly brown hair. It always twisted in all directions. His hands were always dirty, his clothes torn, and a smile rarely appeared on his face. He was, in short, a frowny little grump. Almost nothing made him happy, and he destroyed or dirtied whatever he could.
One day, as he was walking through the forest, he wasn’t behaving very nicely. He was kicking up mushrooms, leaving pieces of paper on the path, ripping out ferns and tossing them aside. He didn’t like or appreciate anything. This was how he behaved almost every time he was walking in the forest.
But there were animals in the forest who didn’t like this at all. The forest was, after all, their home, and Tony was destroying it. Which was why a council was held one day in the forest. All the animals gathered there: hedgehogs, badgers, squirrels, birds, deer, and even the ants. The council took place beneath the biggest tree that stood in the forest. An owl settled on its largest branch. The wisest animal in the forest. From its height, the owl could see all the animals very well.
Once all the animals settled down, the council began. The owl asked: “Well, then, who has any complaints about Tony?” The animals started shouting, one over another. He liked to ruin the ant hills, put trash into the badgers’ dens, and he’d destroyed the feeding rack for the deer. The owl heard them all out and asked: “And does anyone have any ideas how we could prevent Tony from doing this?” The animals stayed silent now. They didn’t know what to do. The owl thought for a moment and then said: “We will simply show him that he can’t behave like this in the forest. Each of us has some skills. We will use them to our advantage!” The animals immediately formed a plan.
The next day, all the animals waited for Tony in their designated spots. Tony was walking through the forest as if nothing was happening. He had no idea what was in store for him. He walked up to the first mushroom, swung his foot, and then kicked it with all his might. But he shouldn’t have done that. The animals had placed a rock right next to the mushroom. When Tony kicked it, he kicked the rock as well. Now he was clutching his foot, moaning in pain.
But that made him even angrier. He walked over to the feeding rack, started stuffing trash inside it, and tried to destroy it with a stick. But then chestnuts and acorns started raining down on him. They were aimed directly at Tony and finding their mark. Tony looked around to see what was happening. He couldn’t see the squirrels that were hiding in a tree, throwing their entire stored up pile of nuts at him.
Tony was starting to run out of steam. His foot hurt, and actually, everything hurt from the barrage of chestnuts and acorns. Tired and angry, he sat down beneath the biggest tree in the forest. And as he sat there, he started to rip out moss. He threw it all over the place, tearing out plants that grew nearby. When the tree under which he was sitting felt this, it shook and dumped all of its pinecones on Tony. The pile was so high that only Tony’s head was visible. Little Tony sat there, not sure what was happening today.
That was when the owl arrived. Gracefully, it swooped down in front of Tony and said: “Tony, we’ve been seeing you around here for a long time. All the animals know you and they can also see how terribly you behave in the forest. It’s not a coincidence that your whole body is hurting today. All of us did this. We wanted to show you what you shouldn’t do. I promise that if your behavior doesn’t get better, if you don’t start appreciating the animals, nature, and everything else around you, we will make sure that you never set foot in the forest again. Think long and hard about this.” Then the owl flew away.
Little Tony sat there for a long time, covered in pinecones and thinking about the owl’s words. For some time afterwards, he didn’t show up in the forest at all. He only returned a few weeks later. He looked different. He was clean, well dressed, and he was carrying a basket full of chestnuts. He placed them all in the feeding rack for the animals and then left. When the animals gathered by the feeding rack, they found a message there as well. It said: “Dear animals, I am sorry that I hurt you and that I destroyed your homes. You showed me how to behave, that appreciating and enjoying nature is better than destroying it. I’m trying to do better, and that’s because of you. It was not easy, though. Thank you.” The animals were happy that it ended this way. From then on, they always waited for Tony and as soon as he appeared in the forest, they would run towards him and show him the beauty of their homes. And Tony? He realized that rather than being an irritable grouch, it was better to smile.