The woodcutter and the king of the mice
(Favourite story from Cambodia)
The king of the mice lived inside a banyan tree in a forest. One day, a poor man was cutting down some trees. As he started to cut down the banyan tree, the king of the mice grew frightened “Please, leave the tree standing” he said to the woodcutter, “and I’ll give you a pieceof gold every day.”
The woodcutter agreed. So, every evening the king of the mice took out a piece of gold from under the roots of the tree and gave it to the woodcutter. The woodcutter took the pieces of gold home and showed them to his wife.
After a few days, his wife asked him, “Where does the gold come from?”
“Don’t worry about that,” he said, “just keep it,”
A few days later she asked him again, but he did not tell her. “if you don’t tell me,” she said, “I’ll go and tell the government or even the king that you’re a robber.”
The woodcutter was frightened of his wife when she was angry. So he said, “Every evening the king of the mice gives me a piece of gold from under the roots of the tree.”
“Oh, you are stupid!” his wife said. “You’ve been tricked by a mouse. He gives you one piece of gold every evening but the rest of the gold is under the tree all the time! Why don’t you cut down the tree and take it all away?”
The woodcutter did as he was told. He cut down the tree. But when he looked under the roots, the gold was not there. The king of the mice had run away too.
That night, the king of the mice crept up to the woodcutter’s house and took back all the gold. So the woodcutter was as poor as ever.