There once lived four traders, who jointly owned a big shop of
grains. Year after year, their business flourished and they made
quite a profit. Until one season, some rats took refuge in the shop.
They are rampaged the storeroom, destroying almost a quarter of the
The four traders
were worried. "This is a calamity!" said one of them. "We must do
something about these rats." "Let’s buy a cat and keep it hare in
our shop," suggested the other. "Good idea! agreed the other three
partners. So, they bought a cat.
They fed the cat milk and fish, and gave her all the attention and
care she needed. The cat felt proud and roamed about the shop
freely. At night, the traders left the cat in the storeroom of their
shop and went home. Soon, the cat began her work. In just a short,
she caught and ate up all rats.
The next day when the four traders arrived at their shop, they found
the storeroom neat and tidy, with all the sacks intact. "Ah, it
seems the cat has done her job," said the traders, happily. They
decided to take good care of the cat and keep her as a guard in
One of the traders said, "As the cat has four legs, each of us
should look after a leg. That will ensure we all look after the cat
equally." The others liked the idea; so, each of the partners took
charge of one leg of the cat.
One day, the cat hurt one of its legs. Instantly, the trader who was
supposed to look after the leg cleansed the wound and bandaged the
leg. "You will be all right soon, dear!" he said, patting the cat,
lovingly. Slowly, the cat recovered. One night, as she was roaming
about in the storeroom, she went too close to a lamp and knocked it
down by mistake. The glass cover of the lamp broke and the cat's
bandage caught fire. " Meaaaaaoooow! Cried the cat, running around
To put off the fire, she began to rub her bandage leg against a
sack. Now the sack caught fire too. The cat jumped onto another sack
and began to rub the bandage on that sack, setting it on fire as
well. One by one all the sacks caught fire and soon the entire shop
was in flames. In the morning, the four traders were in for a shock.
"We are ruined!" they cried. "What shall we do now?" When they
figured out the reason for the fire, they began to blame the partner
who took care of the bandaged leg. "It was all because of you!" they
shouted at him. "You bandaged the leg that belonged to you; the
bandage caught fire and spread all over, destroying the entire shop.
You must compensate us for it!"
They took the partner to the Magistrate. The Magistrate, a wise old
man, listened to the whole story, then said,” It is true that the
bandage caught fire. But how did the fire spread? Certainly not
because of the bandaged leg. But, because of the three sound three
sound legs that carried the cat from one sack to another, setting
the entire shop on fire. So, not the fourth partner but the other
three are to blame. You three, who own the three sound legs of the
cat, must compensate your fourth partner for his loss."
Now the three partners began to beg for mercy. The fourth partner,
who was kindhearted, requested the magistrate to forgive the other
partners. The magistrate advised them, "If you trust an animal to
guard your place, his will be the consequence." The four partners
thanked the Magistrate and went home wiser.
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