#9: The Lion and the Mouse: Reloaded

Once upon a time, a lion caught a mouse and wanted to eat it. It wasn’t immediately clear how a lion (usually found in jungles) and a mouse (usually found in Silicon Valley) bumped into each other, but maybe things were very different many years ago.

“This mouse is so small it will never make me a happy meal, although it might not be so bad with a bit of seasoning. It’s not usually part of my diet but these are lean times, so I might as well gobble it up,” said the lion somewhat lengthily.

“Please let me go!” pleaded the mouse. “Be kind to me and one day I will repay your kindness and help you.”

That was a funny thing – and maybe slightly random – for a mouse to have said. How could a tiny mouse ever help a big, strong lion? Discuss.

The lion laughed and said, “How could a little mouse ever help me?”

“We’re discussing that now?” the mouse retorted.

“It was just a rhetorical question. No need to get all upset about it, mate,” said the lion.

“You know what? I like your guile and courage. I like the fact that you speak up when many people would sooner keep their mouth shut and play safe,” he added.

The lion decided that wasn’t very hungry anyway, and besides, he was on a special diet and not due to eat protein until two more days.

The mouse squeaked his thanks, tweeted about the whole incident and scampered away.

One day around Michaelmas, the lion was on his way to Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire to attend the Mop Fair. He did not know that some men were out hunting and had set a trap for him.

The lion was caught in a net and – in anger and frustration – he roared a thunderous roar that rivalled anything you might have heard from the V12-engine era of F1™.

It was a mighty frightening sound, and all the animals in the forest ran away from the terrible noise, except one.

The mouse, who had recently taken up Pilates, heard the lion’s roar and ran to help. He knew that the lion was in trouble, and, being a mouse of honour, he remembered the promise he made when the lion had let him go.

The mouse saw that the lion was caught in a net made of polypropylene ropes.[1] With his sharp little teeth, the mouth bit through the net. It was hard work (for he was small) and took a long time. A generous amount of swearing was reportedly involved, although this remains unsubstantiated until this day.

The mouse kept on nibbling diligently until at long last he made a big hole in the net.

The lion was free and climbed out of the trap to thank the mouse. They just sat there, utterly knackered, and smiled at each other.

From that day on, the mouse and the lion were the best of friends, although for some curious reason, the mouse never accepted the lion’s Friend Request on Facebook.

So dear readers, there are three main lessons that we can take away from this story.

Firstly, no matter how great you think you are, you will need help from time to time. So don’t be a knob, and know that it doesn’t hurt to be kind.

Secondly, as Sirius Black[2] apparently said: “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”[3]

Sirius Black’s words apparently has a long historical resonance, with The 4th Earl of Chesterfield also writing something similar in his renowned letters to his son,[4] with one correspondence dated May 17, 1748 asserting that a well-bred man converses with his inferiors without insolence, and with his superiors with respect, and with ease.

The third and final lesson is, don’t eat a mouse. You might suffer from indigestion, or worse, you might get something nasty like Lyme disease or Salmonella.

NOTES:

[1] Inexpensive, lightweight and strong, but the polymer structure of polypropylene is not resistant to, and quickly degrades from, ultraviolet radiation.
[2] Technically, it was J. K. Rowling.
[3] Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
[4] Historically used to provide a model regarding proper manners and etiquette in the United Kingdom. Apparently.

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#9: The Lion and the Mouse: Reloaded

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