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The Five Thieves

It was late in the night.  The sky was dark and moonless.  Deep in the forest, in a cave five shadowy figures could be seen discussing something.   They spoke in hushed tones.  But they need not have worried.  For the forest was dark and deserted. 

They were the members of the notorious gang of dacoits which had terrorized the region around the town of Sherpur for the last six months.  The gang would pounce on lone travellers on the winding road which ran through the forest. 

The dreaded gang was led by the notorious Kal Singh.  Veeru, Dev, Pritam and Shyam.  Together, they held the forest and the villages around it in terror. 

As the meeting continued in the cave, the thieves discussed plans of how to best execute a robbery.  Kal Singh had come to know that a rich merchant from a village was to pass though the forest early in the morning.  He would be travelling with a trusted servant of his.  He was rumoured to be carrying a large amount of jewellery and other valuables. 

They made plans for the attack in the morning.    One of the thieves, Pritam would lie on the road pretending to have fainted.  As the horse cart stopped and someone got out of the cart, the rest of them who would be hiding would descend on the victims and rob them of the jewels.
Things went according to plan the next day.  The merchant and his servant were passing through early in the morning.  The robbers intercepted them and made away with their valuables, leaving the merchant and his servant badly beaten. 

They had made a really rich haul.  The poor merchant was carrying jewels he had bought in town to his village for the wedding of his only daughter.  Rings fitted with the most precious of stones, gold chains, bracelets, earrings and many other articles of jewellery.

The robbers were very happy.  They had never made such a big robbery in all their years of looting. 
Now they could leave their robbery for a few years and enjoy life with the money they would be getting.    They thought of their accomplishment and decided to share their plunder.    Among the jewels was a beautiful.  The beautiful necklace was studded with diamonds.  It would be surely worth a fortune.  But they did not know how to share it.  If they cut the necklace, it would lose its value. 
While they were thus thinking, Kal Singh said, “I am the leader.  I planned the robbery.  I will have the necklaces.”.  There was a moment of silence when another voice spoke.  “I was the one who lay in front of the cart and risked my life.  The speeding cart could have run over me.  I deserve the necklace”, it said.  It was Pritam.   Furious, Kal Singh punched Pritam on the face.  Pritam fell back.  The other thieves fell upon Kal Singh and beat him.  In the melee, Pritam snatched the necklace and tried to run.  The others pounced upon him.    Pritam stabbed one of the others, Shyam with his dagger. 

The others thieves stabbed Pritam to death.  When the fighting stopped, two thieves, Pritam and Shyam  were dead.  There were only three of them now.  They were in shock over what happened.  But they were also secretly happy.  They only had to share their loot among three.  Each would thus get a larger share. 

It was almost afternoon, they had not eaten anything that day and they were all hungry.  So they decided that one of them would go to the nearby village and buy some food while the others would guard the booty.  Dev volunteered to go and get the food.  He was the most cunning of them all.  He hit upon an idea.  He went to the village got the food and bought something else as well.  It was poison.  Hiding behind a bush, he mixed the poison with the food. 

In the meanwhile, the Kal Singh and the Veeru  were planning to eliminate Dev.   Dev returned to the forest with the poisoned food.  A sharp stone flew from nowhere and hit him in the head.  He fell down dead. 

Kal Singh and Veeru stepped out from a bush nearby.  They were pleased.  They proceeded to have some food before they decided what to do next.    They sat down to have the meal without knowing that the meal was poisoned.  They ate their meal and fell down dead. 

The next day, a shepherd who was taking his flock out to the forest for grazing, came upon the dead bodies of the thieves.   Nearby, he found the jewels which had been stolen.  He promptly informed the king.  The sent his soldiers to the forest and recovered the jewels and gave it back to the merchant. 
The wicked thieves were thus consumed by their own greed and jealousy.

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