"Once upon a time, long looong ago, when I was still young and had just met your grandmother, I used to be a sheriff. Everybody in our little town respected me and knew better than to cause trouble when I was on watch." The grandfather paused to take a long drag from his pipe and to look at his grandchildren with sparkling eyes. The little ones were all ears.
"Really, Pa? And the bad guys? Did you catch any of them?"
"Sent them to jail? And shooting and horse chases and...?" the smallest of the three was getting very excited about the story, flailing his hands around as if shooting imaginary bandits.
The grandfather laughed holding his belly. "Yes, yes, there were lots of adventures. Have I ever told you the one about Jack One-eye?"
The children scooted closer, shaking their heads. "Tell us, we don't know that one!"
"Well" the old man sat back comfortably and blew a few smoke rings. "Jack One-eye was a very bad man who always tried to steal money from the bank. He never got away with it, of course" he added full of mirth. "One night, he gathered a few of his friends and planned the robbery of the century, according to him. Unfortunately for him, I also have good friends that help me. And one of them heard them discuss their attack at the pub."
If the toddlers' eyes could have opened a little more, they would have probably looked like little saucers.
"They had heard that I was going to go away for a few nights to visit my uncle and aunt in the next village. So, they thought the time was just right! But I outsmarted them. I pretended to leave, took my horse and bid everyone goodbye so the thieves could see."
"And then?" little Timmy blurted out.
"And then I went and waited in a valley close by and came back in a carriage with a friend before nightfall. We gathered men with guns and clubs and waited for them hidden in the bank." The grandfather was pleased at how attentive the children were listening, careful not to miss any word. "And when Jack and his band busted in the bank, we surrounded them. They were trapped inside and outnumbered."
"Did they try to fight, Pa?"
"They were not that stupid. They knew we were three times as many. So they surrendered and we took them all to jail. The town was quiet and safe again."
"Wow, you were so smart, Pa! I want to be a sheriff like you when I grow up and catch bad guys."
"No, I'll be the sheriff and you'll be the deputy." the oldest argued.
"Now now, don't fight or I lock you all up in your rooms tomorrow and we can't go on a picnic. I will teach you how to ride a horse, do you want to miss that?" The grandfather gently scolded them. They all went quiet. "Now, give grandpa a kiss and off to bed."
After the little ones have left, he sat back down and smoked his pipe. The children were happy and loved his stories. When they might have grown a little more, he would consider telling them them that he had been a simple farmer.