The Loss of Treasure

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A holy man lived near a temple. Every day he went out with his bowl to beg for food. After he had eaten, he put the rest of the food back in the bowl for his breakfast next day. Then he hung up the bowl from a peg.

One day a friend came to see him. The holy man gave him water to wash his feet and food to eat. At night they lay down on the same bed and started talking. But the holy man was not paying attention to what the guest was saying. Every now and then he would pick up a stick and strike the bowl with it.

This went on for some time. At last the guest got very angry.  “You are not even listening to me,” he cried. “It seems our friendship is over. If you go on like this, I shall leave your place at once.”

The holy man was frightened and said, “Do not speak like this, my good friend. There is no one dearer to me than you are. I shall tell you why I am not listening to you.

“There is a wicked mouse who comes here every night. He jumps and climbs on to my bowl, though I hang it as high as I can. He then eats the food that I have kept for my breakfast and I remain hungry. To frighten the mouse, I strike the bowl again and again with my stick. I tell you the rogue can jump higher than even a cat or a monkey.”

The guest said, “But have you found the mouse hole anywhere ?”

“That I have not,” said the holy man.

“Surely,” said the guest, “he must be keeping all his treasure inside his hole. We must find the hole and take away his treasure. Tonight we must both keep awake. We must see which way he runs to reach his hole.”

That night the two lay awake, watching. Around midnight they saw the mouse. He took a mighty leap and landed on the bowl. But the holy man and the guest came running and shouting.

The mouse jumped off and disappeared in a corner of the room. On searching the corner, the two found the hole of the mouse. The guest called for a spade and started digging the hole.

After digging deep down they found all the food and treasure the mouse had hidden away. They tied it in a bag, then they buried the bag in the ground.

The following night the holy man took out the stick and lay awake. lie kept striking the bowl with the stick. The guest laughed and said, “My friend, you don’t have to worry now. Put away your stick and watch what happens.”

That night too the mouse came as before. He came under the bowl and jumped. But he could not jump high enough and fell to the floor. Again and again he jumped, but failed to reach the bowl.

“See my friend,” the guest said to the holy man. “The mouse has lost all his treasure. With the loss of his treasure, he has lost heart. He can’t jump as high as before. Never again will he trouble you. Isn’t that ‘‘, wonderful?”

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