The Bandits of Striped Lake Village

 

There was a small lake in a village not far from where you are now.

Whenever the sun rose in the morning, its rays formed dancing stripes on the waters of this lake.
It captured the attention of the local folks who lived in that village.
Therefore, they named it Striped Lake and the village took its name as well from this lake.

Now Striped Lake village was mainly inhabited by poor folks who kept cows, goats, sheep and chickens; while a couple of others cultivated fruits and vegetables.
So you could tell they were an agrarian society, even though some of them travelled to neighbouring towns and cities to buy certain things they thought the villagers would be interested in buying.
This explains why there were only five shops in the entire village, where you could buy a bar of soap or something as simple as a bottle of whiskey.

Striped Lake village had its own local market where the villagers sold there livestock and farm produce and it was located right in the middle of the village.

Every Saturday, the village people gathered to haggle over the prices of goods on sale and to buy whatever else they needed for the upcoming week.

But before this market day arrives, something strange always took place in this little village which perplexed this otherwise peaceful community.
There were masked bandits living among them.
Whenever they milked their cows, sheep and goats, the bandits would sneak into their storage sheds and made away with half of the milk, while they slept in the night, as well as the fruits and vegetables they stored away.
The poor folks could not stay awake at night to keep watch over their farm produce because they worked hard on the farm during the day time. And always came home tired.
So you would sympathize with them for not being able to keep away the bandits.

The bandits’ escapades continued for a long time until it almost became a culture for the poor villages to lose their farm produce every week.

But who were these bandits actually?

The bandits of Striped Lake village had equal right to live in the village just like everyone else.
In the early days when the present inhabitants of the village fled their home towns in the northern part of Lalaland, because of the tribal conflicts that took place every year, there were twelve orphans who came with the throng that found solace in Striped Lake village.
These twelve orphans had lost their parents in the war, as the invaders slaughtered whole families and villages of the opposing tribes.
So when they saw the group of people who were escaping their community in the middle of the night, they joined them.
Though no one among the throng of close to a hundred men, women and children took notice of them, for everyone was concerned with saving their own lives.

These twelve orphans aged between six and ten years made a tent in the forest close to Striped Lake and lived there as hunters and vagabonds.

Sometimes, they waylaid innocent people who came to the lake to swim, fish or fetch water.

As time passed, these bandits grew bold and began to venture into the inhabited parts of the village at night in order to rob the villagers. And like a spectacle they would promptly disappear into the forest.

The untoward actions of the bandits continued for decades until one day a boy of seven named Peabody heard of their activities and decided to do something about it.

Now Peabody happens to be a skinny boy of seven who lived in a secluded part of the village with his mom and dad who were just ordinary farmers.
But despite his poor background, Peabody was rich in one thing – wisdom.

Peabody was said to be the wisest person in the whole of Striped Lake village. And the village people whispered about him whenever they gathered together in the village square or in the village market.
Nevertheless, it remains a mystery that the villagers had not thought it necessary to consult Peabody about the activities of the bandits.

One early morning in the month of June, Peabody told his parents that he wanted to visit some friends in the other side of the village and won’t be back until evening.
Having received his parents’ permission, he promptly gathered some dried fruits, nuts and a bottle of water and put them in his hunting bag.
He slung it over his shoulder and began his long trek to the very edge of Striped Lake, a journey that would last for seven good hours.

Around 12:00pm in the afternoon, Peabody reached the edge of Striped Lake and having refreshed himself by drinking from the lake and resting for a little while, he began the arduous trek into the forest of Eagle Nest, for so it was called by the villagers.

As Peabody was whistling while making his way through the forest, he was frozen with fear by a deep voice that shouted, “Halt. Who goes there?”
He looked this way and that way but couldn’t see anybody and as he took a step forward, a rough looking man of about 30 years appeared out of nowhere and held him by the neck of his shirt and demanded what he wanted.
As Peabody tried to explain his reason for coming into the forest, the man dragged him deeper into the forest until they came before a huge tent.
The man knocked on the door and a youth aged about 25 years opened the door and let them in.

Peabody immediately scanned the whole room and noticed that there were ten men seated round a big temple playing a card game while pouring themselves a glass of whiskey from a huge bottle.
Some of the men threw banters at a youth who had just lost the last round of their card game and the others laughed at him.
Immediately they noticed Peabody and the man who held him, they quickly stopped laughing and demanded to know who Peabody was and what brought him to their hideout.

Peabody did not care to answer their questions. Instead, he asked them who their leader was.
One of them quickly shouted, “Old Tim!”
At this, everyone at the table started shouting, “Old Tim, Old Tim, Old Tim…”
Peabody was surprised to say the least, as a young man that was barely 35 years old raised his right hand and everyone fell silent.
He now addressed Peabody and said to him, “I’m Timothy, the head o’ this scalliwags here.”
“But”, said Peabody, “You’re barely 35 years old and don’t look old at all.”
“Oh, he is 33 alright, but we call him Old Tim ‘cos he’s as cunning as an old tortoise.”, said one of the men at the table.
Peabody couldn’t help but laugh.

“Mr Tim”, said Peabody, “I’m Peabody and I live at the edge o’ the other side o’ the village. I’m here to make a mouthwatering offer to you folks. Would you like to hear it?”

Mr Tim scratched his head thoughtfully for about 15 seconds and then said to Peabody, “Go ahead, boy. But if it isn’t worth our time, we’ll skin you alive.”

Peabody now addressed them, saying, “I want to offer you folks a job and that job is that from now onwards, you folks will secure our village, the villagers and their properties. If you accept to do the job, all the villagers will pay you folks 15 percent of their income every week. This will ensure you earn an honest wage and become respectable indigenes of our village.”

After a few whispers among them, Old Tim now told Peabody that they had accepted his offer and asked him when they should resume work.
Peabody told them to report at the village square on the morning of the next market day, which was exactly 5 days away.
Peabody did this in order to give himself enough time to convince the villagers to pay the bandits a wage in other to stop the banditry going on in the village.

When they had finished their discussions, the young man who brought Peabody took him back to the edge of Striped Lake and he made his way back home.

Early the next morning, Peabody intimated his parents about his plan and they helped him to gather the whole villagers two days after his visit to the forest of Eagle Nest.

The villagers were overjoyed to hear Peabody’s plan and went along with it.
On the appointed day, the whole villagers met the bandits at the village square and they began working as the village vigilante.
From that day onwards, there were no crimes reported in the village of Striped Lake. And this single feat made Peabody the most famous young man in the whole village until this day.

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