One day a bartender in a tavern happened to see that there was a bee drowning in one of his kegs of liquor. He felt sorry for the little bee, so he lowered a chopstick to the bee for it to climb out on. He put the chopstick down, and watched as the bee dried out. It flapped it wings so they would dry out faster. When it was all dry again, it flew away buzzing busily.
After that, the bartender noticed that quite a few bees were attracted by the smell of the liquor, fell in, and drowned. From then on, he kept an eye out for them, and rescued many bees.
This went on for many years. One day, he was startled when bailiffs from the court marched into his tavern and, without a word of explanation, handcuffed him and marched him off to the court. When he got there, he discovered that he had been framed. Some captured bandits who held a grudge against him said that the bartender was one of their gang, so the judge in charge of the case had him hauled in to behead him with the rest of them.
The bartender protested that he was innocent, but the bandits had already said he was guilty, so the authorities assumed he was guilty. The bartender’s heart went cold as he saw the main judge pick up the red brush used for writing out the death sentence.
Just as the main judge picked up his brush to write, a loud buzzing was heard coming closer, getting louder and louder. A great swarm of bees came flying in the window and landed on the judge’s red brush! The judge waved the brush to shake them off, but more and more bees came. They didn’t sting, but they wouldn’t go away, either.
The judge thought this most extraordinary. “Perhaps,” he mused, “These bees are here to prevent a miscarriage of justice.”
At that, the main judge examined the bandits again, and found contradictions in their testimony. He grilled them over again. This time he was sure that he had almost executed an innocent man.
Only when the judge called off the bartender’s death sentence did the swarms of bees fly away. Then the judge asked the bartender if he knew why the bees had come to save him.
“I really don’t know either, your honor, but maybe it’s because I have saved lots of bees that almost drowned in my vats of liquor. They come to the smell, you know, and then they fall in and can’t get out. When I see that, I always save them. Now they’ve come to save me, I guess, your honor.”
“This is truly wonderful! You have had a narrow escape. Always remember that you owe your life to your good deeds. Remember to do all the good deeds you can. You are sure to enjoy good fortune in the future.”
The judge’s words proved true. The bartender kept doing all the good deeds he could. His business got better year after year. He lived a long, happy life, and died peacefully, a very rich man.