Once upon a time… a little mouse, scampering over a lion he had chanced upon, happened to wake him up.
The angry lion grabbed the mouse and held it to his jaws.
“Don’t eat me, Your Majesty!” the mouse pleaded: “Forgive me! If you let me go, I’ll never bother you again. I’ll always be grateful, and will do you a good turn one day.”
The lion, who had no intention of eating such a little scrap, and only wanted to frighten the mouse, chuckled: “Well, well. A mouse that hopes to do a lion a good turn! By helping me to hunt, maybe? Or would you rather roar in my place?”
The mouse was at a loss for words. “Sir, I really…”
“All right. You can go,” said the lion, shortly, opening his paw.
The mouse scurried thankfully away.
Some days later, the lion fell into a trap and found he was caught fast in a stout net. Try as he might, he could not escape. And the more he struggled, the more he became entangled in the mesh, till even his paws were held fast. He could not move an inch: it was the end. His strength, claws and fearsome fangs gave him no help in freeing himself from the tangle.
He was about to resign himself to a cruel fate when he heard a small voice: “Do you need help, Sir?”
Exhausted by his struggles, his eyes wet with rage, the lion looked round.
“Oh, it’s you! I’m afraid there’s little you can do for me…”
But the mouse broke in: “I can gnaw the ropes. I have strong teeth and, though it will take me some time, I’ll manage.”
So the little mouse quickly gnawed at the meshes and soon the lion tugged a paw free, then another, till he finally succeeded in working himself free of the net.
“You see, Sir, said the mouse, “I’ve done you a good turn in exchange for the favour you did me in letting me go unharmed.”
“How right you are. Never before has a big animal like myself had to be so grateful to a little scrap like you!”