There was a poor man who sold rat-traps and earned his livelihood. His income from the traps was not enough. So he also begged and stole petty things at times. He was not a born thief as no man is. Necessity compelled him in the petty thieving. He used to sleep at night in the houses of people if someone allowed him or some places like factories like Ramsjo Iron-Works. Once an idea struck him that the world is like a rat-trap full of temptations to trap men. If a man is tempted by the baits of wealth, power, etc. he is trapped like a rat in a rat trap. The man selling rat-traps lived a poor life without enough food or shelter. So he looked upon the world in the light of his own sufferings. Once he took shelter in the house of a man who was the crofter in Ramsjo Iron-Works. The man was lonely without any family. He welcomed the rat-trap man as he would get rid of his loneliness at least for a night.
The crofter told him about his life and showed him the thirty kronor that the crofter had kept near the window. Initially he was happy to get the money but very soon the rat trap began to work. He feared detection and avoided the highway. He walked through the forest and lost his way there. He then saw the forge of the Ramsjo Iron-Works and went there to spend the night near the forge. At that time, the iron-master, the owner of the factory, came in. The iron-master by mistake thought him to be his old friend, Nils Olof, with whom he had served in the regiment. To help his friend fallen on bad days, he invited the peddler to his house. The rat-trap man or peddler realized that the iron-master was making a mistake but he did not correct him in the hope that he might help him a little.
But he did not like to go into his house as he feared that he might be exposed and detected. But the kind-hearted daughter of the iron-master Edla Willmansson was too compassionate and loving to be resisted. She suspected even that the man might have committed some crime. But she ignored that and thought that the man, always haunted by fear and security, must have lived a miserable life. She wanted to give him at least a night’s peace and security. She assured the peddler that in her house, he would be safe from ant interference and he would be free to leave anytime. She persuaded him to be her guest on the Christmas Eve. The genuine compassion of Edla gave the man a sense of peace and security. He slept all the while as if he wanted to make up for the sleepless nights he had spent throughout his life.
He ate the Christmas delicacies. The daughter gave him the suit that he was given to wear and she invited him to the next Christmas and assured him of secrecy and security. The rat-trap man was overwhelmed. The next morning, he left the manor house. But before leaving, he left the packet containing the thirty kronor of the crofter. He wrote a letter to Edla asking her to return the money to the crofter. He wrote that she had treated him with respect as if he was a real captain. She had treated him as a man and not as a thief. That genuine regard had induced him to be a better man and giving up stealing. Thus, the genuine compassion and kindness of Edla changed the life of a thief and turned him to a better man.