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The Rat that ate Iron

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

Jveernadhana was a merchant's son who was not successful. He faced a loss in his business and lost all his money.
He thought of travelling to a different part of the country to seek success.
He had inherited a very costly iron balance from his ancestors. When leaving, he mortgaged the iron balance to a nearby merchant in exchange of money for his travels.
He travelled all over the country, and had a successful travel. The merchant's son then decided to return to his home town.
After his return, he went to the nearby merchant's place and asked for his iron balance, "O Friend! Please return the iron balance that I had kept with you."
The other merchant did not want to return it, he said, "I do not have it anymore. We have a problem with rats. The rats are eating up everything. They have eaten up your iron balance, too!"
At once, the merchant's son knew the truth. He replied, "If the rats have eaten it up, there is nothing that you can do. Anyway, nothing can last forever!"
He continued, I am eager to go for a bath in the river, please ask your boy to help me carry my belongings, and to look after them while I take my bath"
The other merchant agreed, and called his son, "Son, this is your uncle. Please accompany him to the river and keep watch so that none of his belongings get stolen."
So, the merchant's son and the boy went to river. After he had taken a bath, the merchant's son took the boy to a nearby cave. He kept the boy inside the cave and blocked the entrance of the cave with a big rock. He then returned to the other merchant's place.
When the other merchant saw his friend returning alone, he asked, "Where is my boy? Why have you returned alone?"
The merchant's son replied, "I feel sorry for you. When I was taking my bath, your boy was standing on the bank. Just then, a flamingo flying above swept down and carried your boy off in its claws. I could do nothing!"
On hearing this, the other merchant got angry. He said, "You are a liar! A flamingo can never carry a boy as big as him, in its claws. I shall complain about you to the village elders."
At once, the other merchant dragged the merchant's son to a nearby village elder and started complaining
The other merchant said, "He is a disgraceful man, who has kidnapped by son."
The village elder instructed, "How can you do this? Return his son to him immediately!"
But the merchant's son was unmoved. He said, "There is nothing that I can do. A flamingo swept down and carried him off in its claws from the riverbank!"
Hearing this, the village elder got angry. He shouted, "How can a flamingo carry a child? You are lying!"
The merchant's son replied, "Sir! In a city where rats eat iron, why cannot a flamingo carry a child?"
The village elder was amazed to hear this, "Where does a rat eat iron? What is the meaning of what you say? Please explain yourself clearly!"
The merchant's son narrated the entire sequence of events to them and explained how he had hidden the merchant's boy in a cave to get his iron balance back.
When the village elder, and everybody else who had crowded there heard the story, they started laughing. The other merchant was embarrassed.
The village elder instructed the other merchant to return the iron balance to the merchant's son immediately, and recover his son from the cave.
The wise indeed say:
'Tit for tat' is the best policy in life.
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Tales Of Panchatantra