Panchatantra: The Louse and the Bedbug
Once, there was a louse called Mandarisapini. She lived in the bedroom of a mighty king. She used to stay hidden in a corner of the bed sheet that was spread on the king’s beautiful bed. Every night, after the king had slept, the ......
Once, there was a louse called Mandarisapini. She lived in the bedroom of a mighty king. She used to stay hidden in a corner of the bed sheet that was spread on the king’s beautiful bed. Every night, after the king had slept, the louse used to come out of her hiding place and suck his blood and then she quietly crept back to her corner.
One night, a bedbug called Agnimukha walked into the king’s bedroom. When the louse saw him, she told him to go away immediately as the whole of the bedroom was her territory. The bedbug replied, “I’m not doing any harm. I’m your guest. That is not the way you should treat your guests.”
On hearing this, the louse softened a little. She said, “Alright, you can stay here tonight. But you are not allowed to bite the king and suck his blood.”
“But, my dear lady, I am your guest after all! You will have to offer me some food. And what food can be better than the king’s blood?”
“Fine,” said the louse. “You can have some of the king’s blood. But be very careful. Bite him very softly so that he doesn’t feel any pain.”
“I agree,” said the bedbug and both of them waited for the king to come to the bedroom.
After a while, the king came to his bedroom and lay down on his bed to sleep. The greedy bedbug forgot all about his promises to the louse and bit the king hard to suck his blood. He liked the taste of the royal blood so he kept on sucking until the king felt an itching sensation on his skin.
The king woke up and ordered his servants to look for the bedbug and kill him immediately. But the bedbug was clever. He hid himself cunningly in the joints of the bedstead where he could not be seen. So, when the king’s servants looked through the bed sheets carefully, they saw no trace of the bedbug but found the louse instead. They caught her before she could slip away and killed her. In this way, the louse lost her life because of the bedbug. That is why it is said that one should not trust strangers easily.
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