THE BRONZE RING
some clever magician has stolen from me. If you do not do this I will land all my cats upon your island, and you shall be exterminated.'
The mice withdrew in great dismay. ' What is to be done ?' said the queen. ' How can we find this bronze ring ? ' She held a new council, calling in mice from every quarter of the globe, but nobody knew where the bronze ring was. Suddenly three mice arrived from a very distant country. Ore was blind, the second lame, and the third had her ears cropped.
' Ho, ho, ho!' said the new-comers. ' We come from a far distant country.'
' Do you know where the bronze ring is which the genii obey?'
' Ho, ho, ho ! we know; a wicked Jew has taken possession of it, and now he keeps it in his pocket by day and in his mouth by night.'
' Go and take it from him, and come back as soon as possible.'
So the three mice made themselves a boat and set sail for the Jew's country. When they reached the capital they landed and ran to the palace, leaving only the blind mouse on the shore to take care of the boat. Then they waited till it was night. The Jew lay down in bed and put the bronze ring into his mouth, and very soon he was asleep.
' Now, what shall we do ? ' said the two little animals to each other.
The mouse with the cropped ears found a lamp full of oil, and a bottle full of pepper. So she dipped her tail first in the oil and then in the pepper, and held it to the Jew's nose.
' Atisha ! atisha !' sneezed the Jew, but he did not wake, and the shock made the bronze ring jump out of his mouth. Quick as thought the lame mouse snatched up the precious talisman and carried it off to the boat.
Imagine the despair of the magician when he awoke and the bronze ring was nowhere to be found!
But by that time our three mice had set sail with their prize. A favouring breeze was carrying them towards the island where the queen of the mice was awaiting them. Naturally they began to talk about the bronze ring.
' Which of us deserves the most credit ? ' they cried all at once.
'I do,' said the blind mouse, 'for without my watchfulness our boat would have drifted away to the open sea.'
' No, indeed,' cried the mouse with the cropped ears; 'the credit