A saint by day and a thief by nightEvery day a young girl had to fetch water from the village well. She came of a good family and she used to wear a very nice sari and a beautiful necklace. One day, as the young girl leaned over the well to draw water, her necklace fell into the well. She did not know that the clasp had somehow become loose. Helplessly she watched as her necklace disappeared out of sight. Needless to say, she was extremely sad and miserable.
After returning from the well, the young girl went to see someone who had the reputation of being an excellent swimmer. Other villagers had told her that he was the only one who could dive to the bottom of the well and bring up the necklace. Unfortunately, this man was a rogue. After the young girl had begged him to help her, he said, “First you have to give me five hundred rupees. Then only shall I find your necklace.” He knew that her parents were quite wealthy and he saw an opportunity to make a considerable amount of money from this adventure. When he quoted his fee, the young girl was horrified. She said, “Five hundred rupees? It is too much, too much!”
The rogue replied, “Nothing is too much for you! If your father comes to learn that you have dropped your necklace, I am certain he will give me as much as five thousand rupees just to make you happy.”
“No, no, you are wrong,” she said. “Instead of giving you five thousand rupees, my father will scold me for my negligence and carelessness.”
No matter what she said, the rogue refused to reduce his exorbitant fee. Sadly, she went home. The following day she returned to the well and sat there. She thought perhaps she would get some inspiration as to how she could recover her necklace. Soon she saw a vagabond approaching. She knew that this particular man happened to be a thief. It was common knowledge to everybody in the village that he was responsible for committing many robberies, but nobody had been able to catch him red-handed. He was extremely smart and tricky.
As soon as the thief was close at hand, the young girl began screaming and wailing, “I have dropped my necklace in the well! Is there anybody on earth who can help me?” She did not address the thief directly, but she wanted her words to reach his ears.
The thief merely passed by without paying any attention to her. The young girl began following him. She was screaming, “If you cannot help me, is there anybody whom you can recommend?”
The thief said, “What do you expect me to do? I do not know how to dive, and I do not know anyone else who can dive. I cannot help you at all.”
The young girl showed great annoyance at his callous attitude. As a last resort, she said, “If you can do it, I will give you three hundred rupees.”
The thief pretended that he did not care for her money at all. Like a saint, he was far above it. He paid no attention to the girl’s pleas and nonchalantly went away.
Later that day, the young girl spoke to some of the other villagers who had come to the well. She told them, “I was so desperate to get my necklace back that I even asked the thief to help me. He did not pay any attention to me. But, who knows? Perhaps he will come under cover of darkness and try to steal the necklace.”
The villagers saw their chance to catch the thief red-handed at last. Quite a few of them came to the well that evening and hid at various places. They made themselves completely invisible. Lo and behold, in the middle of the night, the thief came and jumped into the well. After a few minutes, he found the necklace. Then he climbed out of the well and started to run away. Suddenly all the villagers emerged from their hiding places and grabbed him. They thrashed him soundly and confiscated the necklace from him. The next morning, they gave it back to the young girl. She was deeply grateful to them, and they were also most grateful to her for helping them to catch such a notorious thief!