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GOLDEN-SKIN, THE MOUSE

IN the town of Champaka there once lived a beggar Priest, named Chudakarna, whose habit was to place his begging-dish upon a certain shelf, with such food in it as he had not eaten, and go to sleep beside it. As soon as he slept, a certain Mouse named Golden-Skin, came out of its hole, jumped up on the shelf and devoured whatever food was left in the begging-dish. One day another beggar Priest, a close friend, named Vinakarna, came to pay a visit; and he noticed that all the while they were conversing, Chudakarna kept striking the ground with a split bamboo cane, to frighten the Mouse away.

“Why don’t you listen to what I am saying?” asked Vinakarna.

“I am listening,” replied his friend. “But there is a plaguey little Mouse that is always trying to steal my dinner from my begging-dish.”

Vinakarna looked up at the shelf and said, “How can a Mouse jump as high as this? No ordinary Mouse could jump so high. There must be some good reason why this Mouse is so strong and active, though there would not seem to be any.”

Presently, after silent meditation, Vinakarna continued:

“I think I understand. This is a very fat and prosperous Mouse; he must have hidden treasure. For everywhere in the world it is the prosperous and wealthy who are strong and rule others like kings. Let us seek and see if we cannot find this Mouse’s treasure.”

The two friends procured a spade, found the mouse-hole and dug open Golden-Skin’s secret hiding place, until they found his store of provisions, which they took away. After that, Golden-Skin being no longer able to eat regularly, but only when the beggar Priest was asleep, lost strength day by day, until he could no longer jump high enough to reach the shelf where the begging-dish stood. Before long he had scarcely energy enough to seek for his dinner at all, and crept about so miserably, looking for crumbs, that one day Chudakarna easily hit him over the head with his split bamboo cane.

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