The Gunning Merchant

Once in a certain city there lived a merchant called Sabuk. His father had left him comfortably well off but his extravagant ways soon reduced him to poverty. Having learnt his lesson too late, Sabuk decided to go to far off countries to seek his fortune.

He had only one thing in his possession which he did not want to part with. It was an old iron balance of his father’s to which he was quite attached.

Sabuk went to his friend Narang who was a merchant, “Dear friend” said Sabuk. “Will you keep this iron balance for me safely till I return from my travels?”

“Friend, my house is your house. You can store whatever you want here,” replied Narang.

So Sabuk left his balance in Narang’s possession and started on his travels. For many years he roamed from one place to another and amassed a fortune. At last he returned to his home town & immediately went to Narang’s house. After exchanging greetings, Sabuk said to Narang. “Friend, I want to thank you for keeping my balance with you. Now may I take it back?”.

Keeping the heavy old balance in his house, Narang had wondered whether his friend would really return from his travels to claim it back. Besides he was in need of some money at that time and had sold it to an ironmonger. Now Narang put on a sorrowful face and replied, “My friend, I have some bad news for you. Your balance was lying in my godown safely all these years. But just a month back I went to check up on it when I found to my surprise that a horde of rats had chewed it all up to pieces”.

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Rats chewing up iron! My friend has not remained such a true one after all. He has betrayed my trust in him, thought Sabuk angrily But outwardly he did not show his anger. “Friend, do not look so worried. You are not to be blamed if rats have eaten up my balance. Any way I can always buy another one,’ said Sabuk. Then seeing Narang’s son, Sabuk had an idea. He decided to teach Narang a lesson.

“Friend”, added Sabuk. “I have brought you many gifts from my travels abroad. If you will send your son with me, I shall give them to him. In my hurry to come here, I forgot to bring them with me”.

Narang readily agreed, his mind greedily calculating what the presents could be. He sent his ten year old son with Sabuk. Time passed but the boy did not return. Worried, Narang went in search of his friend. Reaching Sabuk’s house Narang asked if his son had already left. Sabuk put on a sorrowful face and threw his arms round Narang’s shoulder. “Friend, I was about to come. After loading your son with presents, I was bringing him back to your house when an eagle swooped down and snatching him in its claws, flew away. I chased the bird but could not catch it”.

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Narang caught hold of Sabuk “What did you say?” he shouted. “How can an eagle carry away my son? Tell me the truth now. What have you done with him?”.

Sabuk repeated again gently. Narang began to shout at him. By now many people had gathered around. As there seemed to be no solution to their argument someone suggested that they take their problem to the King. So Sabuk and Narang went to the palace followed by the curious onlookers.

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The King of that country was known for his wise and just judge merits. As Narang angrily poured out his tale, accusing Sabuk of kidnapping his son, the King listened silently. Then he turned towards Sabuk who spoke gently “Your Majesty, when rats can chew up an iron balance to pieces, tell me why can’t an eagle lift up a little boy?”. Then he related the whole story.

Narang hung his head in shame and fell at the King;s feet. “Pardon me, Your Majesty. I have wronged my friend. I will get him back his balance. But please restore my son to me”. Obtaining this promise from him the King sent both the men away.

Sabuk who had hidden the boy returned him to his father. Narang searched for the ironmonger who had luckily not touched the balance at all. Giving the man twice the money what he had paid for it, Narang took the balance and returned it to Sabuk and apologised for his behaviour.

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