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Panchatantra
Panchatantra Short Stories.

THE MICE THAT ATE BALANCE
Never try to deceive a friend
Once upon a time, there lived a wealthy merchant named Jveernadhana, in a village. He ran a big business. His village was situated near a river. Once, due to heavy rains the river was flooded. One night, the whole village was submerged in neck deep water. The crop, houses and factories in the village were destroyed and hundreds of people and cattle perished in the flood.

The merchant had to suffer heavy losses in his business. He decided to shift to some other town to try his luck. His plan was to earn a lot of money and then come back to his native village to start his business again.

Jveernadhana had a heavy iron balance lying with him. It belonged to his ancestors. It was not possible for him to carry such a heavy thing along with him. So, before starting on his journey, he decided to keep this ancestral item with his friend Janak. He met Janak and requested him, "My friend, as you know, I'm leaving for some distant place to earn money, so that I could start my business once again when I come back. I have an old iron balance with me. Will you please keep it safe with you till I return?"

Janak readily agreed to his friend's request and said, "Don't worry, I'll keep it safe for you. You can take it back after you return home."

Jveernadhana thanked Janak for his helping attitude. He kept the iron balance with Janak and left for some other distant town.

A few years passed by. By this time, Jveernadhana had done good business and had earned a lot of money. He returned to his native village, and went to his friend Janak's house to meet him. Janak showed his happiness in meeting Jveernadhana. Both the friends talked together for hours. When it was time to leave, Jveernadhana asked his friend to return his iron balance. At this, Janak looked sad and said, "Friend, I am sorry to say that I don't have your balance with me anymore. There are a lot of mice in my house. They ate up your balance."

Jveernadhana was surprised to hear Janak's explanation. 'How can mice eat iron,' he thought to himself, but apparently he said something different, "Don't feel sorry, Janak. The mice have always proved a menace to everyone. Let us forget about it."

"Yes," Janak said. "This is the only way out." He was happy that Jveernadhana believed his words. In fact he had expected a lot of heated arguments in this respect.

While taking leave from his friend, Jveernadhana said to Janak,"I'm going to temple to make an offering of laddoos. Could you please send your son with me. I would like to send some laddoos for you also. He would also look after my shoes outside the temple while I offer prayers inside."

Janak asked his son to go along with Jveernadhana. Then, Jveernadhana, instead, of taking Janak's son to temple, took him to a nearby hill and tied him with a big rock and came back home.

When Janak didn't see his son return, he asked Jveernadhana where his son was?

"I'm sorry," said Jveernadhana. "While your son was looking after my shoes outside the temple, a big vulture swooped down upon him and carried him away."

"What nonsense!" shouted Janak. "How can a vulture carry off a young boy?" But Jveernadhana repeatedly claimed that a vulture carried away Janak's son. The argument reached such a point that they began quarrelling with each other, using dirty words.

Ultimately the matter had to be taken to the court. The Judge listened to both the parties and ordered Jveernadhana to bring Janak's son to the court, otherwise, he would be sent to jail.

"My Lord", said Jveernadhana, "How can I, when a vulture has already carried away the boy."

"Shut up!" the judge reprimanded Jveernadhana. "How can a bird carry away a young boy in his talons?"

"It can, my lord," said Jveernadhana. "If mice can eat my iron balance, why can't a bird carry away a grown up boy." Then he narrated the whole story to the judge.

The judge then asked Janak to tell the truth. He warned him that if he didn't tell the truth he would be sent to prison. At last, Janak admitted his guilt. The judge ordered him to return the iron balance to Jveernadhana. He asked Jveernadhana to return the boy to Janak.
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