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The Mice That Ate The Iron

The Mice That Ate The Iron

The mice that ate the ion is a legend from Asia.

A long time ago, a young merchant was heading off on a long trip. He had to travel light, so he took his precious iron weighing scales to a nearby shopkeeper and asked the man to look after them.

‘Certainly,’ said the shopkeeper, ‘I will keep them very safe.’

When the merchant returned from his trip he went back to the shopkeeper to collect his scales.

‘I am sorry,’ said the shopkeeper. ‘I am afraid the mice have eaten them.’

‘Eaten them?’ cried the astonished merchant. He could not believe his ears. ‘They were of solid iron!’

‘It does seem odd,’ said the shopkeeper. ‘But the mice around here love the taste of iron. Especially fine quality iron like that.’

The merchant thought hard as he walked home. ‘That can’t be true. No mouse ever ate iron. That crafty shopkeeper just wants my scales for himself. That is very clear. But how can I prove it?’

The next morning, the merchant went for a cooling swim in the lake. He was still puzzling over the scales when he saw the shopkeeper’s son swimming in front of him. Suddenly, he had a bright idea.

The merchant got out and ran as fast as he could to the shopkeeper’s house. He hammered on the door.

‘Disaster!’ he yelled. ‘Open the door fast. Listen, I was swimming at the lake and a huge crow swooped down and carried off your son!’

‘What?’ gasped the shopkeeper, running out and looking frantically at the sky. Then he frowned. ‘That can’t be true,’ he said. ‘No crow ever carried a person off.’

The merchant shrugged and said nonchalantly, ‘In a land where mice are strong enough to eat iron, I’m sure a crow could easily fly away with your son.’

The shopkeeper burned red with shame. He went inside the house and brought out the scales.

The merchant smiled and took them home. Never again did the shopkeeper tell anyone a lie.

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