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If Theres Money in a Dead Mouse...
My 4 year old son was very excited. I had promised him to tell a wonderful story tonight.
As usual, I got engrossed in my work till late evening when I suddenly remembered about my promise.
I hurriedly searched my personal library to find a suitable story for my loved one.
But, what I found astonished me...
I'd never read that book before. I might have bought it a couple of years ago but never managed to read.
This was a collection of short stories called "The Jataka Tales"
One of the stories was so good and full of great stuff, I wanted to share it with all of you.
Here goes the story...
In the city of Varanasi, a young man was once on the lookout for a suitable job.
It so happened that the King's Treasurer, accompanied by a friend, passed by.
"The King values your work. The treasury is overflowing with riches. What is the secret of your success?" asked the treasurer's friend.
"Initiative & Enterprise. I'll explain what I mean..." replied the wise treasurer and continued, pointing to a dead mouse on the street...
"Do you see that dead mouse?... Yes?... Even without any money, anyone with initiative could just pick up that mouse and start a business"
"A dead mouse as capital?!!!... Ha..Ha..Ha.." laughed the treasurer's friend and the duo went away.
The young man stopped and gazed at the dead mouse.
"It sounds like an absurd idea... But the treasurer must surely know what he is talking about!" thought the young man and hesitantly picked up the dead mouse.
"But what can I do with it? Who would want to buy a dead mouse?"
"Hey, pussy cat, come back! Ah! Now I know what has attracted him" yelled a man who was passing by with his pet cat.
The cat, attracted by the dead mouse, had jumped out of it's owner's arms.
"My friend, will you sell your mouse to me? I'll pay you one coin for it." asked the cat owner.
"The mouse is yours!"
"The first coin I've earned!" the young man was excited.
"But what can I do with this small coin?... The wise treasurer has said one must have enterprise...Hmm"
"Oh! I've got it. I must find out if there is a demand for something and then arrange to supply it!" thought the young man and went into a grocery shop...
"Give me one coin's worth of jaggery (sugar) please..."
The next morning, the young man filled a pot with drinking water mixed with jaggery and went to the outskirts of the city.
"I'll wait here for the flower-gatherers to return from work"
In the forest, workers were busy collecting flowers. It was late in the afternoon when they finished their work and began returning to the city.
"It's so hot! and I'm so thirsty! There won't be any water to drink till we reach the city", the workers felt.
"Ah! here they come!..." stood up the young man.
"Brothers, you must be tired. Have some sweet-water..."
"Thank you, friend... May you live long... All we can give you is this bunch of flowers from each one of us. How refreshed we feel after drinking that water! May these flowers also make you happy..."
Each of the workers gulped some water and gave him a bunch of flowers in return. "Bring us water tomorrow as well, my friend"--the workers left.
The young man took the flowers to the temple in the city. There he sold sold them for eight coins.
With the money he earned, the young man bought a bigger pot and larger quantity of jaggery (sugar).
The next day he went back to the forest to give drinking water to flower-gatherers and even further away, to the fields where grass-cutters were working.
"Is anybody thirsty?"
"You won't find anyone here who is not thirsty. Give me some water, son..." the grass-cutters gracefully drank the sweet-water.
"Brother, you are kind to us. What can we do for you in return?"
"Nothing at present" replied the young man.
"But... don't hesitate to ask us when you need our help"
A month passed by.
One evening, the young man was returning home when a storm broke out.
Everywhere the wind blew down leaves and dry branches.
"If there's money in a dead mouse, there should be money in these leaves and branches, too!"
The next morning he went to the palace garden and spoke to the gardener.
"You look worried, uncle. Can I help you?"
"How can you? The garden is littered with branches... And the King is expected any moment now... I don't know how to clean the mess before he comes" wailed the gardener.
"I'll help you if I can keep the fallen branches" offered the young man.
"Take them, son... Only take them away soon"
"I'll be back in a minute" the young man left the messy garden.
He didn't have to go far to find a group of playing kids.
"Would you like to have some sugar candies?"
"Candies? Oh, certainly!" the kids shouted.
"Then come on, boys. I'll give you some. Everyone will get his share... "
The little kids were happy.
"Would you like to have some more? But you must earn it"
"Tell us what we should do! We are ready!" shouted the excited kids.
"Then come with me. You must collect all the fallen branches in the garden and heap them outside. That's easy! and fun too!"
Quickly they gathered up the fallen branches and heaped them outside the garden. The garden now looked clean and fresh.
"Ah! you have finished! here's your reward, delicious sugar candies! Thank you friends"
Just as the young man was wondering what he should do next... a potter came by and stopped his cart.
"Is that heap of firewood for sale?..."
"Yes of course..."
"Here are sixteen coins. Please help me load my cart. Now I have all the wood I need to fire the pots specially ordered by the King"
The young man then went with the potter to the market.
"Have you heard? The horse dealer will be coming tomorrow" the young man overheard a conversation in the market.
"Yes, yes, I hear he will be bringing five hundred horses to sell"
The young man thought for a minute...
"Aha! that's useful information..."
Hurriedly he went to the grass-cutters and said "Friends, I seek a favor from you"
"At last! tell us what we should do" replied the grass-cutters.
"I want a bundle of grass from each of you" told the young man.
"We are five hundred in all. So, as many bundles of grass will be delivered to you tonight" the grass-cutters happily agreed.
The young man continued...
"And I want you to promise that till tomorrow afternoon you will not sell anyone any grass at all"
The grass-cutters replied, "You are our friend. You have given us sweet, flavored water when we were thirsty without getting anything in return. We will do what you ask without question"
The next morning the horse dealer arrived with five hundred horses at the outskirts of the city.
"Strange! no one has come yet to sell me grass for my horses"
He went to the market.
"No grass in a city like Varanasi?"
"Where have all the grass-cutters gone?"
Just then the horse dealer came across the young man's house and saw a big heap of grass bundles.
"Grass! At last! Young man, will you sell all this grass to me? I'll pay you well for it" enquired the horse dealer.
The young man said, "The grass is yours, Sir"
"Good! then help my man load the cart"
"Here you are Sir, five hundred bundles of grass"
"And here's your payment--one thousand coins"
The young man was excited.
"One thousand coins! I can put these to good use"
A day later...
"Why is it so quiet here today? Is anything the matter?" enquired the young man, while strolling in the city market.
"Everyone is away making preparations to receive the boats that will be arriving tomorrow" replied a passer by.
"Boats... arriving tomorrow?"
An idea flashed like lightning. He bought new clothes and then went to hire a carriage.
"Send the carriage to my house early tomorrow morning. Here's some money as advance"
Very early the next morning, the young man rode in style to the river harbor with his two friends and waited to receive the visiting merchant.
He was, naturally, the first to greet the visiting merchant.
"Welcome to Varanasi"
"I'm happy to meet you, Sir"
The young man continued, "I want to buy all the merchandise you have brought"
"Right. It's a pleasure to do business with you" replied the merchant.
The merchant quoted a price to which the young man readily agreed and said, "I need time to arrange the payment. Meanwhile, here's my signet ring as a token of advance and security"
Then the young man set up a small tent and said to his friends, "When the city merchants come, bring them in with due courtesy"
At day break, a hundred city merchants came to the harbor and met the visiting merchant.
"My friend, we have come to do business with you!"
"I'm sorry, Sir. I've already sold everything" said the visiting merchant.
The city merchants were taken aback, "When?? To whom??"
"To that young merchant over there" came back the reply.
The city merchants were shocked...
"He's not one of us! We can't let any new persons into our trade or we'll be ruined! We'll lose our precious customers! let's buy him out! We'll make him an offer he can't refuse!" discussed the city merchants.
"All right, let's go to him" they decided.
"Welcome gentlemen! Welcome! Well, gentlemen, have you a proposal to offer?" the young man asked courteously.
"Sir, we would like to buy a share each of the total merchandise. We'll pay you handsomely... thousand gold coins each... That will make it a hundred thousand gold pieces since there are hundred merchants here. But we need all the merchandise--all of it"
Having agreed to the deal, the young man returned home. "I still have a big amount left after paying the visiting merchant. And I owe it all to the treasurer's wisdom!"
To express his gratitude, the young man went to call on the treasurer, taking half of his profits with him.
"Sir, permit me to present you with these coins as my humble tuition fee for the lesson I learned from you"
"But, I haven't seen you before! Haven't taught you anything!" said the surprised treasurer.
"Yes, you have! I came by all my wealth in four short months, simply by following your teachings" said the young man.
Then he narrated the treasurer the whole story, starting with the dead mouse.
The wise treasurer listened carefully and thought, "This young man is extraordinarily clever. Just the person I'd choose for my lovely daughter"
So, he married the young man to his daughter and gave him all his family estates and happily said, "The goddess of success smiles on those who show INITIATIVE and ENTERPRISE. May you always be so fortunate, my son!"
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