The Mice That Ate Iron

Once upon a time, there was a rich merchant called Naduk. But times were bad and his business was suffering. He decided to leave the city and find his fortune in a new place. He sold off all his possessions and paid off his debts. All that he had left was a heavy iron beam. Naduk went to say goodbye to his friend Lakshman, and requested him to keep the beam for him till he returned. Lakshman promised to look after it for him. 

For many years, Naduk traveled far and wide, building his fortune. Luck was with him, for he became rich once again. He returned home and bought a new house and started his business again. He went to visit his friend Lakshman who greeted him warmly. After a while, Naduk asked him to return his beam. Lakshman knew that the beam would fetch him good money so he was loath to return it. So he told Naduk that he had kept his beam in the store-room and the mice ate it. 

Naduk did not seem to mind. He asked Lakshman to send his son home with him so that he could hand over a gift that he had bought for him. So Lakshman sent his son Ramu with Naduk.

Naduk locked up Ramu in a cellar in his house. By nightfall, Lakshamn was worried and came to ask about the whereabouts of his son. Naduk replied that on the way to his house, a hawk swooped down and carried the boy off. Lakshman accused Naduk of lying. He insisted that a hawk could not carry off a fifteen-year-old boy.

A big fight ensued and the matter was taken to court. When the magistrate heard Lakshman’s side of the story, he ordered Naduk to return the boy to his father. But Naduk insisted that a hawk carried off the boy. The magistrate asked him how it was possible. He replied,that if a huge iron beam can be eaten by mice, then a boy could definitely be carried off by a hawk.  

Naduk related the whole story. Everyone in the courtroom burst out laughing. The magistrate then ordered Lakshman to return the iron beam to Naduk and that Naduk return Lakshman’s son to him.

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