The Bronze Ring
"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 magician'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 wicked old man 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 sorcerer's nose.
"Atisha! atisha!" sneezed the old man, 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 favoring breeze was carrying them toward 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 is mine. Did I not cause the ring to jump out of the man's mouth?"
"No, it is mine," cried the lame one, "for I ran off with the ring."
And from high words they soon came to blows, and, alas! when the quarrel was fiercest the bronze ring fell into the sea.
"How are we to face our queen," said the three mice "when by our folly we have lost the talisman and condemned our people to be utterly exterminated? We cannot go back to our country; let us land on this desert island and there end our miserable lives." No sooner said than done. The boat reached the island, and the mice landed.