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THE HERMIT AND THE MOUSE

IN the forest of the Sage Gautama there once dwelt a Hermit, named Mighty-at-Prayer. Once as he sat at his frugal meal, a young Mouse, dropped from the beak of a Crow, fell beside him. The Hermit took up the Mouse tenderly and fed it with rice grains. Some time later the Hermit saw a Cat chasing his new little friend, intending to devour it; whereupon, using his saintly power, he changed the Mouse itself into a large, vigorous cat. The Cat, however, soon found itself a good deal troubled by Dogs, whereupon, the Saint again changed it, this time into a Dog. As they dwelt in the forest the Dog was always in danger from prowling Tigers; accordingly, his protector once more changed him, into a Tiger—all the time thinking of him and treating him as nothing more or less than a Mouse. Even the country folk as they passed by would say: “That a Tiger? Not he! He is nothing but a Mouse that the Saint has transformed.” The Mouse hearing this, constantly, became angry and said to himself, “So long as my master lives this shameful story of my origin will be remembered.”

With this thought in mind he was about to take the Saint’s life, when the latter, who had the power of reading people’s thoughts, turned the ungrateful beast back into his original shape.

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