Allan and Bailey were childhood friends. They grew up to be prosperous merchants. Their houses were filled with luxuries of life. It so happened that once Allan suffered a great loss in his business. He decided to go to another city to find a new means of livelihood, earn some money and return to his native town to start a new business.
Allan took an iron balance beam inherited from his ancestors and went to Bailey’s house. There he said, “Dear friend, I would like to pawn this heavy and precious beam for some money. I need the money to invest in some small-time business in the city.”
“You do not need to ask dear friend,” said Bailey. “You may leave your property with me.” Thus assured, Allan went to the city with the money leaving the iron-beam in Bailey’s care.
One day Bailey thought, “What a heavy ironbeam it is! It must weigh about 60 kilos. Why give it back to Allan when I can keep it for myself.” So he hid the ironbeam in his storeroom.
After a few months, Allan returned as a rich man as his sound investments had paid well. He went to meet his friend Bailey with some gifts. He intended to take back the iron-beam he had pawned.
Allan said to Bailey, “Dear friend, now I am back, I would like you to take this money and return the iron balance beam I had kept with you.”
“Oh dear,” exclaimed Bailey with a forlorn expression, “How do I give it back to you ? The mice have eaten your balance beam.”
At this, Allan was surprised as he knew that mice could not eat iron. He at once realised Bailey’s wicked intentions. Without showing any surprise or comprehension on his straight face Allan said, “Yes, my friend, it may be so for all things in the universe are here for their allotted time. Anyway let it be. But now I am going to the river to take a bath, would you be kind enough to send your son Ashley with me? He can take care of my clothes as I take my bath.”
To this Bailey readily agreed and let his son Ashley accompany Allan. He did so as he was conscience-stricken at his cheating deed.
Allan took Ashley along with him to a river which ran by a mountain. There was a cave in the mountain where Allan hid Ashley. He, then blocked the cave’s mouth with a huge rock to prevent Ashley’s escape. Allan returned to Bailey. When Bailey asked about Ashley’s whereabouts, Allan said in a woeful voice, “Friend, I am sorry to bring you this sad news. Your son Ashley was carried away by a arge hawk when I was taking my bath.
“But that’s not possible,” said Bailey. “Whoever heard of a hawk carrying away a young boy? It is unbelievable!” exclaimed Bailey.
“Why, dear friend,” retorted Allan, “when I can be taken in by the tale of the iron-eating mice why don’t you believe what I tell you?”
Then Bailey realised that Allan had comprehended his cheating act. He at once felt even more guilty and promptly asked for Allan’s forgiveness. He promised to return Allan’s iron balance beam and Allan led Bailey to rescue Ashley from the mountain cave.
Tit for Tat is the way of life.