There was once a very old man who lived in a cottage deep in the forest. Everyone called him ‘Grandad’ because he was so old. The house he lived in, and the forest, belonged to a very rich man. But the people who lived in the small cottages in this forest did not like their landlord as he was often mean and punished them for the slightest thing. The people were naturally unhappy and began to whisper evil thing about him. ‘He has so much gold in his house yet he allows his guards to beat anyone who hunts for food in his forest,’ they said.
‘He’s cruel and we should teachhim a lesson,’ said the others.
‘I went into the forest to gather wood for a fire as the nights are cold now and his guards caught me. They took away the small bundle of wood for themselves and then beat me,’ complained an old woman.
One day, Grandad out into the forest to trapa rabbit as he had no food in the house. If he was lucky he would get a nice fat rabbit and that would be sufficient to last him at least a few days. Happily the old man set off. On the way there he met some friends. When he told them what he wanted to do, they warned him about their stingy landlord. ‘He’ll punish you if you so muchas pick up a twig in his forest,’ they grumbled.
‘I haven’t any food. I must hunt for it. I’ve no choice,’ said Grandad. Several times when he had been a poor young man, he had hunted in the forest. Many times, the landlord’s guards had caught him and had given him a good beating. It was nothing new, thought the old man to himself.
It was late in the afternoon. Cautiously the old man laid his traps. Then he sat under a tree to wait. It did not take him long to trap a rabbit but the one he caught was so skinny that he was disappointed. ‘Even the animals don’t get enought to eat in this forest,’ said the old man to himself.
Quickly, he put the rabbit in a bag he had brought whit him and when home. As he was walking throught the forest he suddenly heard a shout. ‘Stop! Let me see what you have in that bag, old men,’said the chief guard. The guard then led Grandad to the lanlord’s house. ‘I caught him in the forest with a rabbit in this bag,’said the guard.
‘You know the penalty for stealing,’ said the landlord. He then ordered his guards to beat old man. ‘It’s lucky for you that you only trapped a small rabbit. Next time I catch you stealing anything bigger, I’ll skin you alive,’ said the cruel landlord.
The old man went home and never again went into the forest. But one day, he received a message saying that his daughter who lived on the other side of the forest was very ill. ‘I must visit her. It’s quite late now butif I take a shortcut throught the forest I’ll be there in a shorter time.’ So he hurried as fast as his old legs could carry him. When he was halfway throught the forest he suddenly heard somebody shouthing, ‘Help!Help!’ The old man ran towards the stream and there he saw a huge brown bear. Facing the bear was the landlord.
‘Help me, please, or it will kill me,’ said the landlord.
‘Why should I help you? You do nothing to help us. Our roofs are leaking and you never repair them. You ever do anything to hep us,’ said Grandad. He still remembered the horrible beating he had received from the landlord’s guards. The bear began to growl and paw the ground. It had not eaten for many days and the rich landlord was fat and would make a good meal.
The landlord was frightened and again called out. ‘Use your axe and kill the bear,’ he said.
Grandad looked at the landlord and said, ‘No, Sire, I remember what you said to me the last time you caught me trapping a rabbit. Should I kill anything bigger than a rabbit you said you’d skin me alive. And I want to live.’
The baer was ready to attack the landlord. Grandad, who saw how frightened he looked, finally decided to help him. He was really a very kind old man who often helped his neighbours. So now, he threw the axe at the bear who became so frightened that it ran into the forest. Grandad saved the landlord’s life.
‘I’ve been a mean and selfish landlord. Today you’ve taught me something valuable. I’ll always try to be kind to others from now on. You didn’t have to save my life and yet you did,’ said the landlord to Grandad.
From that day onwards, the rich landlord treated the people more kindly, repaired their homes and allowed them to hunt for food in the forest. And they all lived happily together.