“Mice can’t eat iron!” said the farmer, but the merchant swore it was true.
The farmer then took the merchant’s son and hid him at his own house.
“Where’s my son?” the merchant asked.
“An eagle carried him off.”
“An eagle couldn’t do that!”
“No more than mice can eat iron.”
And so the merchant returned the farmer’s plowshares, and thus he got his son back.
Inspired by: The Jataka, translated by W.H.D. Rouse.
Notes: This is the Kuta-Vanija Jataka, and it also appears in the Panchatantra, Book 1, Story 31. You can find different versions of this folktale type here: The Iron-Eating Mice.
Here is an illustration by Grandville for La Fontaine's version: