In a small town in India, a bunch of thieves had terrorized everyone. It was so bad they would tell people which house would be raided that night. If people tried to hide their valuables or call the police, they suffered dire consequences.
One day, Bapurao, a rich man received word that his house would be raided and was given the usual warning. Shaking with fear, he told his wife Parvatibai about the thieves’ plan. He said he would gather their servants and arm them so they could fight back.
His wife shook her head. “Many people have tried this and no one has succeeded. We need to think of a way to outwit the thieves.
“What can we do?” asked her husband. When she told him she needed to think about it, he left to collect as many men from the village as would join him.
When her husband had gone, she went into the kitchen and said to the cook, “Prepare the best meal you can make for fifty people. Then set the tables with our best dishes and finest tableware. I need everything to be ready by midnight.”
Just before midnight, she dressed in her most beautiful sari and took off all her jewels except her wedding ring and the necklace her husband had given her in honor of their marriage. When she heard the noise of horses hoofs she opened the door, terrified but calm.
Before her stood many men, ready to storm in. Without waiting, Parvatibai said, “Welcome brothers, please come in. I have been waiting for you. Please wash your hands. Dinner is ready.
The head thief wondered if it was a trick, but he could smell the food and saw that the woman welcoming him was calm and unafraid.
When they were all seated, the servants attended to each man as Parvatibai made sure they all had enough to eat and drink. After dinner, she brought the head thief a dish filled with jewels and placed them before him. “Brother, this is what I have to give you. I have kept back only the necklace my husband gave me when we married and my wedding ring. Please, I beg of you, let me keep them.”
The head thief looked at her, then said, “Of course I will spare them. We have eaten your meal and we are always faithful to those with whom we share food. You have called me brother and given me a brother’s welcome. From today you are my sister and I will see to it that you and your family come to no harm.” He returned the jewels and ordered his men to free her husband, their servants, and the men who had come to help and bring them back to the house unharmed.
Even today, people talk about how Parvatibai outwitted the thieves.
Wit and wisdom from around the world and through the ages. Tales by Nancy King.