Chintu lived in an animal shed inside the farm. In the shed were the animals Ratanlal raised. There was a hen. It was a large and hefty bird. There was also a goat. The goat was an aloof and distant creature. It did not care for any body. Every morning, the servants would bring a big bundle of green leaves for the goat to feed on. That was all it cared about.
Being a mouse, Chintu was an unwelcome resident in the farm. Ratanlal considered all mice to be pests which damaged his crops and stole his grain.
One day, Chintu was shocked to see a strange device in the Ratanlal’s hands. It appeared to be a a metal plate. Besides that was a hook with a spring. Chintu was shocked. He had seen the device at another farm nearby. He knew what it was. It was a mousetrap.
Chintu was afraid. Mousetraps could be dangerous, particularly when he was foraging at night for food. He had to be more careful. That night, he gingerly stepped out of his hole. He moved very cautiously. The mousetrap could be anywhere beneath his feet.
He could eat very little food that night. It managed to sneak back into his hole before dawn.
Soon it was day. He looked out of his hole. He could see the mousetrap. It was hidden below some hay. It was a wonder that he did not step on it. He knew that he had to do something about the mousetrap.
The next day, he went to the hen and told him about the mousetrap and asked for its help in removing it. But the hen looked at him with disdain. “That is not my problem”, it said, “I will never get trapped in it. Why should I care ?”.
Disappointed, Chintu went to the goat. “Surely, the goat will help.”, he thought. He went to the goat and told him about the mousetrap. The goat was eating some leaves. He was angry at being disturbed. “Why should a goat worry about a mousetrap ?”, he said. “You don’t even deserve to be here. Who would care if you are alive or dead ?”, he said with a sarcastic smile. Chintu, the mouse, felt helpless.
He went to his hole and stayed there. He was scared of going out now. Who knew where the servants hid the mousetrap; one false step and he would be dead even before he knew what was happening.
It was getting dark. Chintu stayed at the hole. He did not eat anything that night. He soon fell asleep. A few hours later, there was a snapping noise. A few minutes later a cry of pain rang through the night.
Chintu warily peered out of his hole. A few servants were hurriedly running to and fro. In the distance, he could see Leelavati, the landlord’s wife. She was crying in pain. He gradually learned
what had happened. A snake had accidentally crawled over the trap. The trap had swung shut and the snake had got trapped. Hearing the noise, the woman had come to see the trap. She lifted the trap from the ground expecting to find a mouse. As he put her hand on the trap, the snake had bit her.
Leelavati was made to rest in a bed. Ratanlal, hurriedly called the doctor. The snake was not a poisonous one. Nevertheless, the bite made Leelavati very sick and weak. She lay in bed for many days.
The neighbours came to visit her. One of them, an elderly woman, asked Ratanlal to give his wife some chicken soup. Ratanlal thought that it was a good idea. He asked his servants to prepare chicken. The servants caught the hen and slaughtered it. The hen was dead.
Leelavati recovered gradually. Ratanlal was immensely relieved. He wanted to celebrate his good fortune by throwing a feast for all his friends and relatives. Now, it was the goat’s turn. He was slaughtered for his meat and a sumptuous feast was made out of him.
Only the mouse was alive. The mouse trap was discarded. Chintu lived there for many years happily.
Children, this story teaches us to consider a danger to others as a danger to ourselves. If we think a threat is others’ problem, then we are mistaken. We need to help other with their problems and help them from danger before the danger eventually reaches us.