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Elephants and the King of Mice

(Story found in:  Franklin Edgerton's reconstruction Durgasimha's Kannada translation Purnabhadra's recension Hitopadesha by Narayana )

There was a village which was ruined by a strong earthquake. With the houses and the streets shattered, the villagers abandoned the village to settle elsewhere.
Despite being shattered, the vacant houses of this village had become homes for a large number of mice. The mice found the place very comfortable and grew in numbers after some time.
There was a lake on the outskirts of the village, where a herd of elephants used to visit regularly to drink water and bathe. These elephants used to travel through the abandoned village to reach the lake.
But as the herd of elephants travelled through the abandoned village, everyday many mice got trampled. This posed a problem for the mice. So, the king of mice decided to confront the elephants and request them to act accordingly.
Next day, as the herd of elephants approached, the king of mice met the elephants cordially and said, "O Sirs, we live in the ruins of this abandoned village and as you travel through this village, everyday many mice get trampled. Therefore, I request you to change your route to the lake. If you do so, I shall remember to return the favour in your time of need."
At this the king of elephants laughed, "O king of Mice, there will be no such favour that we, the giant elephants, will require from you, small mice. However, I will honour your request and we will change the route to the lake from today. You will not have to worry about any danger caused by us anymore."
The king of mice thanked the king of the elephants for his consideration, and the herd of elephants never entered the village anymore.
After some time, the herd of elephants fell into traps set by elephant-hunters. Many of the elephants, including their king, got entangled in the nets. They struggled hard but could not set themselves free from the strong nets.
Suddenly, the king of the elephants remembered the promise of the king of mice. He summoned another elephant who had not got trapped to remind the king of mice of his promise and plea for help on his behalf.
As soon as the elephant informed the king of mice of the situation, the king of mice summoned all mice at once. He said, "Now is the time for us to return the favour of the elephants. We should go immediately"
And so, the elephant brought the mice to the place where the other elephants had been trapped. All the mice started nibbling on the strong nets and cut them loose.
The elephants broke loose from the nets and were grateful to be free again. The king of elephants thanked the king of mice for his timely help, and became great friends thereafter.
The wise indeed say:
Never underestimate anybody by their appearances.
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