The mouse the horse and the elephant SME Profile

Sunday, 01 August 2004


    A mouse lived in a small house in India owned by the Singh family. The Singhs had a modest life; the husband went to work every day at a local factory and only brought home enough money for them just to live on with no extras for special occasions.

    The mouse, the horse and the elephant

    Firstly a short story by Nigel Hennessy* ...

    A mouse lived in a small house in India owned by the Singh family. The Singhs had a modest life; the husband went to work every day at a local factory and only brought home enough money for them just to live on with no extras for special occasions.

    Although the house was clean and tidy, a mouse had decided to inhabit a small back wall of the house. After dinner every evening when the Singhs were fast asleep, the mouse would creep out and eat the crumbs and odd food scraps off the floor. The mouse was pretty smart; he knew that it was in his interest to be inconspicuous. He therefore left no tracks and was careful not be seen. As a result, the Singh's were not aware they had a mouse. So the daily ritual was never detected and everybody (the Singhs and the mouse) lived in harmony.

    However, the mouse wished that he could be something else. He didn't like being a mouse having to live in hiding and only to come out at night. He longed to be something bigger, something that was grand. Every day he wished and wished for something to change, when suddenly a fairy, feeling sorry for the mouse decided to help out by offering the mouse the choice of becoming any animal that he desired, the only condition was that the animal had to be bigger. The mouse was really excited and thought and thought about what he would really like to be. He had seen a beautiful white horse while he sat in his mouse hole during the day watching the world go by. So he thought, "I would love to be a beautiful white horse".

    Within a blinking of the eye, the mouse was transformed into a white horse. This magnificent stallion stood proud. He was delighted that he had made the transition from a mouse to a horse and could not believe his luck to have made the change.

    So there he stood, in the kitchen near the back wall of the house. Mrs Singh was agog. A horse had suddenly appeared in her kitchen. Although quite scared she was also delighted to be confronted with such a fine specimen. "What a magnificent beast; how did it get in and I wonder who owns it?" she asked herself. Then she quickly roped the horse and placed it outside in the yard to wait for her husband to come home.

    The horse likes the attention but is a little distressed with being tied up. He also feels a little hungry. However he can't move around so he can't get any food, and anyway the food scraps and crumbs would not be enough to sustain his appetite. He will have to wait and hopefully they will feed him when Mr Singh gets home. Later that day Mr Singh comes home and is told the story by his wife. He too is a little perplexed about where the horse would have come from. He looks the creature over and decides that they will try and find who it belongs to and if an owner cannot be found then they will sell it.

    Mr Singh gives the horse some straw to gnaw on. "Straw!" thinks the horse, "I am used to eating cake, biscuits, bread and fruit. Not straw!" After several days, the Singh's have not found an owner and they find that keeping the horse, even just on straw is costing them more money than they can afford. However, the profit from selling the horse is looking very attractive, so they decide to live with a few weeks of hardship on the basis that the money they make by selling the horse will more than compensate.

    The horse is also not too happy, he is not eating as well as he was and he has lost the freedom he had before. "Oh dear" he thinks to himself. "If only I hadn't chosen to be a horse. A horse is an attractive creature and people can see value in them. It also eats a lot more than a mouse. When I was a mouse, I ate well and nobody knew I was around. I wish I could change back".

    Before he could think another word, the fairy returned and spoke with him again. The fairy was distressed that the horse was so unhappy. She said: "I'm sorry but you cannot go back to being a mouse. It's too late. However, since I feel so sorry for you, you can choose to be another animal which is larger than the horse.'

    So the horse thinks it through again and this time he chooses to be an elephant. Suddenly, the horse transforms to a large male elephant. Being so large and powerful, the elephant quickly breaks the rope that was restraining the horse. The Singhs are lost for words. They have suddenly lost a valuable creature and gained a beast that they could not share their home with even if they wanted to. It was clear that the elephant was comfortable in their back yard so what were the Singhs to do?

    The elephant was too big to restrain: it stamped all over the back yard and wandered through the house looking for food. It went through the larder and ate all the weekly supplies. The elephant being so big could walk and eat more or less what it wanted. In fear the Singhs ran from the house and decided to move to a neighbour's house until such time as the elephant decided to move on.

    The elephant felt really good. Not since being a mouse had he felt so good. He was now able to tramp around anywhere and eat what he liked. The only drawback was his size meant he had to keep eating - and he was certainly no longer inconspicuous.


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