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A man was browsing in a curio shop and, attracted to a brass rat on a shelf behind the counter, asked the shopkeeper for a price.
They haggled long and hard and eventually they agreed. The brass rat changed hands, but as he took the money, the shopkeeper, furtively glancing toward the rear of the shop, warned the customer in hushed but ominous tones: "This sale is final. If you leave with the brass rat, I won't take it back under any circumstances."
The man, ignoring a chill creeping up his spine and the tinge of horror suddenly drifting through the shop, nodded his agreement and hurriedly left with the rat.
He had walked but a block or two towards home when he noticed a live rat come scurrying out of an alley and begin to follow him. Soon there were others, all following him and milling about his feet.
He began to trot, then jog. then run, but the rats kept up. More and more joining in until, after only a few minutes, thousands of rats, incisors flashing like tiny scimitars, were chasing the now wide-eyed, puffing, crimson-faced man.
He ran desperately for the river and heaved the brass rat into the water with all his strength. To his amazement the live rats followed the brass rat, and in seconds all had drowned in a swirling sqweaking whirlpool of fur, fang and flesh.
The man thought for a second and then turned and ran, arms and legs furiously pumping as though being chased by hounds from the deepest depths of hell, back to the curio shop.
Startled, as the man practically crashed through the door, the shopkeeper shouted: "I told you the sale was final! You can't return the brass rat!"
The man, struggling for breath, frantically gasped: "Return it? No. No. You don't understand..." And then, tears welling in his eyes, his voice becoming a pityful pleading whine, he said: "I came back to see if you have any brass lawyers."
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