On the top of a precipitous cliff, a man seemingly on the verge of tears was peering down into the forest that spread before his eyes.
"Sigh... What have I done? How could I drop it? I'm done for."
The man was responsible for delivering to the elder of the neighboring village an important item which symbolized the peace between the two villages. He had carelessly dropped that crucial item down the cliff.
"I can't go the neighboring village like this. On the other hand, I just can't go back like nothing has happened."
As if surrounded by an invisible wall, for a while the man stood there with his head between his hands, unable to move. However, as he had accepted the mission on the condition that it may cost him his life, he decided to ignore his own safety and climb down the cliff to search for the item, and so he nervously started down the cliff.
It seemed that climbing down would be easier than he had thought, but the moment he relaxed his guard, to his bad luck, or perhaps one should say as expected, he fell and rolled down the slope like a pebble. Only his sad death cry echoed through the mountains.
A short while passed. It had looked like the man was done for, but miraculously, thanks to a branch that had stopped his fall, he had managed to escape death. Furthermore, he had even managed to collect the peace offering and was crawling up the cliff all in tatters. "Now I can complete my mission," he thought, but his relief lasted only a passing moment as a shadow fell over the crouching man.
"That's a nice little thing you got there. Hand it over."
Misfortunes always come in pairs. The fate of the man and the peace offering he had risked his life to collect were hanging by a thread as three highwaymen suddenly appeared in front of him. The man was so surprised that he could not even utter a word, but as he was already prepared to die, he started desperately swinging about a stick that had been lying next to him.
For a moment the highwaymen seemed to be taken by surprise, but in no time at all they grinned and exchanged glances, and then began to sidle closer to the man. But at that moment! The stick he was swinging about sent flying a small stone that flew in a perfect angle into the grove at the opposite side of the cliff. Right away a swarm of bees flew out accompanied with a vicious buzz.
As if by order, the bees attacked the highwaymen, who ran away in panic with the bees circling around their heads. Dumbfounded by what had happened, but still glad that he had managed to protect the peace offering, the man spurred his bruised body onward and hurried to the neighboring village right away.
However... What happened when the man reverentially unsealed the peace offering in front of the village elder was nothing short of rubbing salt into a wound. The item he had suffered hell to deliver had been damaged inside its container when it fell down the cliff. By now at his wits end, the man frantically shouted: "It is all my fault! Boil me or burn me if that will settle it!"
The village elder calmly replied: "Looking at the shape you are in, anyone could tell that you risked your life to deliver this item. We only wanted to test the trustworthiness of the people in your village. Therefore, please report back to your village that we gladly accept this peace offering."
In no time at all, the man seemed to be on the verge of tears again.