History of Literature










Clodius Aesopus


"Aesop's Fables"



Illustrations by H. Weir, J. Tenniel, E. Griset




 


 

ĘSOP'S FABLES
 

 

The Boasting Traveler.

A Man who had traveled in foreign lands boasted very much, on returning to his own country, of the many wonderful and heroic things he had done in the different places he had visited. Among other things, he said that when he was at Rhodes he had leaped to such a distance that no man of his day could leap anywhere near him—and as to that there were in Rhodes many persons who saw him do it, and whom he could call as witnesses. One of the bystanders, interrupting him, said: "Now, my good man, if this be all true, there is no need of witnesses. Suppose this to be Rhodes and now for your leap."

Cure a boaster by putting his words to the test.


The Ass, the Cock, and the Lion.

An Ass and a Cock were together, when a Lion, desperate from hunger, approached. He was about to spring upon the Ass, when the Cock (to the sound of whose voice the Lion, it is said, has a singular aversion) crowed loudly, and the Lion fled away. The Ass, observing his trepidation at the mere crowing of a cock, summoned courage to attack him, and galloped after him for that purpose. He had run no long distance when the Lion, turning about, seized him and tore him to pieces.

False confidence often leads into danger.


The Stag and the Fawn.

A Stag, grown old and mischievous, was, according to custom, stamping with his foot, making offers with his head, and bellowing so terribly that the whole herd quaked for fear of him; when one of the little Fawns, coming up, addressed him thus: "Pray, what is the reason that you, who are so formidable at all other times, if you do but hear the cry of the hounds, are ready to fly out of your skin for fear?" "What you observe is true," replied the Stag, "though I know not how to account for it. I am indeed vigorous and able, and often resolve that nothing shall ever dismay my courage; but, alas! I no sooner hear the voice of a hound but my spirits fail me, and I cannot help making off as fast as my legs can carry me."

The greatest braggarts are the greatest cowards.


The Partridge and the Fowler.

A Fowler caught a Partridge, and was about to kill him. The Partridge earnestly besought him to spare his life, saying: "Pray, master, permit me to live, and I will entice many Partridges to you in recompense for your mercy to me." The Fowler replied: "I shall now with the less scruple take your life, because you are willing to save it at the cost of betraying your friends and relations;" and without more ado he twisted his neck and put him in his bag with his other game.

Those who would sacrifice their friends to save themselves from harm are not entitled to mercy.


The Farmer and the Stork.

A Farmer placed his nets on his newly sown plough lands, and caught a quantity of Cranes, which came to pick up his seed. With them he trapped a Stork also. The Stork, having his leg fractured by the net, earnestly besought the Farmer to spare his life. "Pray, save me, Master," he said, "and let me go free this once. My broken limb should excite your pity. Besides, I am no Crane, I am a Stork, a bird of excellent character; and see how I love and slave for my father and mother. Look too at my feathers, they are not the least like to those of a Crane." The Farmer laughed aloud, and said: "It may be all as you say; I only know this, I have taken you with these robbers, the Cranes, and you must die in their company."

Birds of a feather flock together.


The Ass and his Driver.

An Ass, being driven along the high road, suddenly started off, and bolted to the brink of a deep precipice. When he was in the act of throwing himself over, his owner, seizing him by the tail, endeavored to pull him back. The Ass persisting in his effort, the man let him go, and said: "Conquer; but conquer to your cost."

The perverse generally come to harm.


The Hare and the Hound

A Hound having started a Hare from his form, after a long run, gave up the chase. A Goat-herd, seeing him stop, mocked him, saying: "The little one is the best runner of the two." The hound replied; "You do not see the difference between us; I was only running for a dinner, but he for his life."

Incentive spurs effort.


The Kites and the Swans.

The Kites of old time had, equally with the Swans, the privilege of song. But having heard the neigh of the horse, they were so enchanted with the sound, that they tried to imitate it; and, in trying to neigh, they forgot how to sing.

The desire for imaginary benefits often involves the loss of present blessings.


The Dog in the Manger.

A Dog lay in a manger, and by his growling and snapping prevented the oxen from eating the hay which had been placed for them. "What a selfish Dog!" said one of them to his companions; "he cannot eat the hay himself, and yet refuses to allow those to eat who can."

We should not deprive others of blessings because we cannot enjoy them ourselves.


The Crow and the Serpent.

A Crow, in great want of food, saw a Serpent asleep in a sunny nook, and flying down, greedily seized him. The Serpent, turning about, bit the Crow with a mortal wound. The Crow in the agony of death exclaimed: "O unhappy me! who have found in that which I deemed a most happy windfall the source of my certain destruction."

What seem to be blessings are not always so.


The Cat and the Fox.

As the Cat and the Fox were talking politics together, Reynard said: "Let things turn out ever so bad, he did not care, for he had a thousand tricks for them yet, before they should hurt him." "But pray," says he, "Mrs. Puss, suppose there should be an invasion, what course do you design to take?" "Nay," says the Cat, "I have but one shift for it, and if that won't do, I am undone." "I am sorry for you," replies Reynard, "with all my heart, and would gladly help you, but indeed, neighbor, as times go, it is not good to trust; we must even be every one for himself, as the saying is." These words were scarcely out of his mouth, when they were alarmed with a pack of hounds, that came upon them in full cry. The Cat, by the help of her single shift, ran up a tree, and sat securely among the top branches; from whence she beheld Reynard, who had not been able to get out of sight, overtaken with his thousand tricks, and torn in as many pieces by the dogs which had surrounded him.

A little common sense is often of more value than much cunning.


The Eagle and the Arrow.

An Eagle sat on a lofty rock, watching the movements of a Hare, whom he sought to make his prey. An archer, who saw him from a place of concealment, took an accurate aim, and wounded him mortally. The Eagle gave one look at the arrow that had entered his heart, and saw in that single glance that its feathers had been furnished by himself. "It is a double grief to me," he exclaimed, "that I should perish by an arrow feathered from my own wings."

The misfortunes arising from a man's own misconduct are the hardest to bear.


The Dog Invited to Supper.

A Gentleman, having prepared a great feast, invited a Friend to supper; and the Gentleman's Dog, meeting the Friend's Dog, "Come," said he, "my good fellow, and sup with us to-night." The Dog was delighted with the invitation, and as he stood by and saw the preparations for the feast, said to himself: "Capital fare indeed! this is, in truth, good luck. I shall revel in dainties, and I will take good care to lay in an ample stock to-night, for I may have nothing to eat to-morrow." As he said this to himself, he wagged his tail, and gave a sly look at his friend who had incited him. But his tail wagging to and fro caught the cook's eye, who, seeing a stranger, straightway seized him by the legs, and threw him out the window to the street below. When he reached the ground, he set off yelping down the street; upon which the neighbors' dogs ran up to him and asked him how he liked his supper. "In faith," said he, with a sorry smile, "I hardly know, for we drank so deeply, that I can't even tell you which way I got out."

Those who enter by the back stairs must not complain if they are thrown out by the window.


The Frogs Asking for a King.

The Frogs, grieved at having no established Ruler, sent ambassadors to Jupiter entreating for a King. He, perceiving their simplicity, cast down a huge log into the lake. The Frogs, terrified at the splash occasioned by its fall, hid themselves in the depth of the pool. But no sooner did they see that the huge log continued motionless, than they swam again to the top of the water, dismissed their fears, and came so to despise it as to climb up, and to squat upon it. After some time they began to think themselves ill-treated in the appointment of so inert a Ruler, and sent a second deputation to Jupiter to pray that he would set over them another sovereign. He then gave them an Eel to govern them. When the Frogs discovered his easy good-nature, they yet a third time sent to Jupiter to beg that he would once more choose for them another King. Jupiter, displeased at their complaints, sent a Heron, who preyed upon the Frogs day by day, till there were none left to complain.

When you seek to change your condition, be sure that you can better it.


The Prophet.

A Wizard, sitting in the market-place, told the fortunes of the passers-by. A person ran up in great haste, and announced to him that the doors of his house had been broken open, and that all his goods were being stolen. He sighed heavily, and hastened away as fast as he could run. A neighbor saw him running, and said: "Oh! you follow those? you say you can foretell the fortunes of others; how is it you did not foresee your own?"


The Dog and his Master's Dinner.

A Dog had been taught to take his master's dinner to him every day. As he smelled the good things in the basket, he was sorely tempted to taste them, but he resisted the temptation and continued day after day to carry the basket faithfully. One day all the dogs in the neighborhood followed him with longing eyes and greedy jaws, and tried to steal the dinner from the basket. At first the faithful dog tried to run away from them, but they pressed him so close that at last he stopped to argue with them. This was what the thieves desired, and they soon ridiculed him to that extent that he said: "Very well, I will divide with you," and he seized the best piece of chicken in the basket, and left the rest for the others to enjoy.

He who stops to parley with temptation, will be very likely to yield.


The Buffoon and the Countryman.

A rich nobleman once opened the theater to the public without charge, and gave notice that he would handsomely reward any one who would produce a new amusement. A Buffoon, well known for his jokes, said that he had a kind of entertainment that had never been produced in a theater. This report, being spread about, created a great stir in the place, and the theater was crowded to see the new entertainment. The Buffoon appeared, and imitated the squeaking of a little pig so admirably with his voice, that the audience declared that he had a porker under his cloak, and demanded that it should be shaken out. When that was done, and yet nothing was found, they cheered the actor, with the loudest applause. A countryman in the crowd proclaimed that he would do the same thing on the next day. On the morrow a still larger crowd assembled in the theater. Both of the performers appeared on the stage. The Buffoon grunted and squeaked, and obtained, as on the preceding day, the applause and cheers of the spectators. Next the Countryman commenced, and pretending that he concealed a little pig beneath his clothes (which in truth he did), contrived to lay hold of and to pull his ear, when he began to squeak. The crowd, however, cried out that the Buffoon had given a far more exact imitation. On this the Rustic produced the pig, and showed them the greatness of their mistake.

Critics are not always to be depended upon.


The Boar and the Ass.

A little scoundrel of an Ass, happening to meet with a Boar, had a mind to be arch upon him, and so, says he: "Your humble servant." The Boar, somewhat nettled at his familiarity, bristled up to him, and told him he was surprised to hear him utter so impudent an untruth, and was just going to show his resentment by giving him a rip in the flank; but wisely stifling his passion, he contented himself with saying: "Go, you sorry beast! I do not care to foul my tusks with the blood of so base a creature."

Dignity cannot afford to quarrel with its inferiors.


The Fox and the Goat.

A Fox, having fallen into a well, could find no means of escape. A Goat, overcome with thirst, came to the well, and, seeing the Fox, inquired if the water was good. The Fox, concealing his sad plight under a merry guise, indulged in lavish praise of the water, saying it was beyond measure excellent, and encouraged him to descend. The Goat, mindful only of his thirst, thoughtlessly jumped down, when, just as he quenched his thirst, the Fox informed him of the difficulty they were both in, and suggested a scheme for their common escape. "If," said he, "you will place your fore-feet upon the wall, and bend your head, I will run up your back and escape, and will help you out." On the Goat readily assenting to this proposal, the Fox leaped upon his back, and steadying himself with the goat's horns reached in safety the mouth of the well, and immediately made off as fast as he could. The Goat upbraided him with the breach of his bargain, when he turned round and cried out: "You foolish fellow! If you had as many brains in your head as you have hairs in your beard, you would never have gone down before you had inspected the way up, nor have exposed yourself to dangers from which you had determined upon no means of escape."

Look before you leap.


The Oxen and the Butchers.

The Oxen, once on a time, sought to destroy the Butchers, who practiced a trade destructive to their race. They assembled on a certain day to carry out their purpose, and sharpened their horns for the contest. One of them, an exceedingly old one (for many a field had he ploughed), thus spoke: "These Butchers, it is true, slaughter us, but they do so with skillful hands, and with no unnecessary pain. If we get rid of them, we shall fall into the hands of unskillful operators, and thus suffer a double death; for you may be assured that, though all the Butchers should perish, yet will men never want beef."

Do not be in a hurry to change one evil for another.


The Horse and his Rider.

A Horse-soldier took great pains with his charger. As long as the war lasted, he looked upon him as his fellow-helper in all emergencies, and fed him carefully with hay and corn. When the war was over, he only allowed him chaff to eat, and made him carry heavy loads of wood, and subjected him to much slavish drudgery and ill-treatment. War, however, being again proclaimed, the Soldier put on his charger its military trappings, and mounted, being clad in his heavy coat of mail. The Horse fell down straightway under the weight, no longer equal to the burden, and said to his master: "You must now e'en go to the war on foot, for you have transformed me from a Horse into an Ass."

He who slights his friends when they are not needed must not expect them to serve him when he needs them.


The Dog and the Hare.

A Hound, having started a Hare on the hill-side, pursued her for some distance, at one time biting her with his teeth as if he would take her life, and at another time fawning upon her, as if in play with another dog. The Hare said to him: "I wish you would act sincerely by me, and show yourself in your true colors. If you are a friend, why do you bite me so hard? If an enemy, why do you fawn on me?"

They are no friends whom you know not whether to trust or to distrust.


The Fawn and his Mother.

A young Fawn once said to his mother: "You are larger than a dog, and swifter, and more used to running; why, then, O Mother! are you always in such a terrible fright of the hounds?" She smiled, and said: "I know full well, my son, that all you say is true. I have the advantages you mention, but yet when I hear the bark of a single dog I feel ready to faint."

No arguments will give courage to the coward.


The Lark and her Young Ones.

A Lark had made her nest in the young green wheat. The brood had almost grown, when the owner of the field, overlooking his crop, said: "I must send to all my neighbors to help me with my harvest." One of the young Larks heard him, and asked his mother to what place they should move for safety. "There is no occasion to move yet, my son," she replied. The owner of the field came a few days later, and said: "I will come myself to-morrow, and will get in the harvest." Then the Lark said to her brood: "It is time now to be off—he no longer trusts to his friends, but will reap the field himself."

Self-help is the best help.


The Bowman and the Lion.

A very skillful Bowman went to the mountains in search of game. All the beasts of the forest fled at his approach. The Lion alone challenged him to combat. The Bowman immediately let fly an arrow; and said to the Lion: "I send thee my messenger, that from him thou mayest learn what I myself shall be when I assail thee." The Lion, thus wounded, rushed, away in great fear, and on a Fox exhorting him to be of good courage, and not to run away at the first attack, he replied: "You counsel me in vain, for if he sends so fearful a messenger, how shall I abide the attack of the man himself?"

A man who can strike from a distance is no pleasant neighbor.


The Boy and the Filberts.

A Boy put his hand into a pitcher full of filberts. He grasped as many as he could possibly hold, but when he endeavored to pull out his hand, he was prevented from doing so by the neck of the pitcher, which was much smaller than his closed hand. Unwilling to lose his filberts, and yet unable to withdraw his hand, he burst into tears, and bitterly lamented his disappointment. A bystander said to him: "Be satisfied with half the quantity, and you will readily draw out your hand."

Do not attempt too much at once.


The Woman and her Hen.

A Woman possessed a Hen that gave her an egg every day. She often thought with herself how she might obtain two eggs daily instead of one, and at last, to gain her purpose, determined to give the Hen a double allowance of barley. From that day the Hen became fat and sleek, and never once laid another egg.

Covetousness overreacheth itself.


The Lamb and the Wolf.

A Wolf pursued a Lamb, which fled for refuge to a certain temple. The Wolf called out to him and said: "The priest will slay you in sacrifice, if he should catch you;" on which the Lamb replied: "It would be better for me to be sacrificed in the temple, than to be eaten by you."

It is safer to be among friends than enemies.


The Bear and the Gardener.

A Gardener, who lived alone, became discontented, and set out, one day, to seek a friend who would be a suitable companion. He had not gone far when he met a Bear, whom he invited to come and live with him. The Bear was a very silly one, who was also discontented with living alone, so he went home with the Gardener very willingly. The Gardener provided all the food, and the only service he required of the Bear was to keep the flies off his face while he slept in the shade. One day, a fly insisted upon lighting on the Gardener's face, although he was brushed off again and again. The silly Bear finally became so enraged that he threw a heavy stone upon it. He killed the fly, but, alas! he also killed his friend.

Better have no friend at all than a foolish one.


The Heifer and the Ox.

A Heifer saw an Ox hard at work harnessed to a plough, and tormented him with reflections on his unhappy fate in being compelled to labor. Shortly afterward, at the harvest home, the owner released the Ox from his yoke, but bound the Heifer with cords, and led her away to the altar to be slain in honor of the festival. The Ox saw what was being done, and said to the Heifer: "For this you were allowed to live in idleness, because you were presently to be sacrificed."

The lives of the idle can best be spared.


The Eagle and the Fox.

An Eagle and a Fox formed an intimate friendship, and decided to live near each other. The Eagle built her nest in a tall tree, while the Fox crept into the underwood and there produced her young. Not long after, when the Fox was ranging for food, the Eagle, being in want of provision for her young ones, swooped down and seized upon one of the little cubs, and feasted herself and brood. The Fox on her return, discovering what had happened, was less grieved for the death of her young than for her inability to avenge them. A just retribution, however, quickly fell upon the Eagle. While hovering near an altar, on which some villagers were sacrificing a goat, she suddenly seized a piece of flesh, and carried with it to her nest a burning cinder. A strong breeze soon fanned the spark into a flame, and the eaglets, as yet unfledged and helpless, were roasted in their nest and dropped down dead at the bottom of the tree. The Fox gobbled them up in the sight of the Eagle.

The tyrant is never safe from those whom he oppresses.


The Hawk and the Nightingale.

A Nightingale, sitting aloft upon an oak, was seen by a Hawk, who made a swoop down, and seized him. The Nightingale earnestly besought the Hawk to let him go, saying that he was not big enough to satisfy the hunger of a Hawk, who ought to pursue the larger birds. The Hawk said: "I should indeed have lost my senses if I should let go food ready to my hand, for the sake of pursuing birds which are not yet even within sight."

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.


The Hen and the Swallow.

A Hen finding the eggs of a viper, and carefully keeping them warm, nourished them into life. A Swallow observing what she had done, said: "You silly creature! Why have you hatched these vipers, which, when they shall have grown, will surely inflict injury on all of us, beginning with yourself?"

If we nourish evil, it will sooner or later turn upon us.


The Herdsman and the Lost Bull.

A Herdsman, tending kine in a forest, lost a Bull-calf from the fold. After a long and fruitless search, he made a vow that, if he could only discover the thief who had stolen the Calf he would offer a lamb in sacrifice to the Guardian Deities of the forest. Not long afterwards, as he ascended a small hillock, he saw at its foot a Lion feeding on the Calf. Terrified at the sight, he lifted his eyes and his hands to heaven, and said: "Just now I vowed to offer a lamb to the Guardian Deities of the forest if I could only find out who had robbed me; but now that I have discovered the thief, I would willingly add a full-grown Bull to the Calf I have lost, and give them both to the guardians of the forest, if I may only secure my own escape from this terrible Lion in safety."

That which we are anxious to find, we are sometimes even more anxious to escape from, when we have succeeded in finding it.


The Shepherd's Boy and Wolf.

A Shepherd-boy, who watched a flock of sheep near a village, brought out the villagers three or four times by crying out, "Wolf! Wolf!" and when his neighbors came to help him, laughed at them for their pains. The Wolf, however, did truly come at last. The Shepherd-boy, now really alarmed, shouted in an agony of terror: "Pray, do come and help me; the Wolf is killing the sheep;" but no one paid any heed to his cries.

There is no believing a liar, even when he speaks the truth.


The Hawk, the Kite, and the Pigeons.

The Pigeons, terrified by the appearance of a Kite, called upon the Hawk to defend them. He at once consented. When they had admitted him into the cote, they found that he made more havoc and slew a larger number of them in a single day, than the Kite could possibly pounce upon in a whole year.

Avoid a remedy that is worse than the disease.


The Farmer and the Cranes.

Some Cranes made their feeding grounds on some plough-lands newly sown with wheat. For a long time the Farmer, brandishing an empty sling, chased them away by the terror he inspired; but when the birds found that the sling was only swung in the air, they ceased to take any notice of it, and would not move. The farmer, on seeing this, charged his sling with stones, and killed a great number. They at once forsook his plough-lands, and cried to each other: "It is time for us to be off, for this man is no longer content to scare us, but begins to show us in earnest what he can do."

If words suffice not, blows must follow.


The Cat and the Mice.

A certain house was overrun with Mice. A Cat, discovering this, made her way into it, and began to catch and eat them one by one. The Mice, being continually devoured, kept themselves close in their holes. The Cat, no longer able to get at them, perceived that she must tempt them forth by some device. For this purpose she jumped upon a peg, and, suspending herself from it, pretended to be dead. When the Mice came near she pounced among them and killed a great number. Pleased with the success of the trick, she tried another. She whitened herself with flour, and lay still on the heap of bags, as though she was one of them. The young Mice crept dangerously near her, but an old one peeping stealthily out said: "Ah, my good madam, though you should turn into a real flour-bag, I will not come too near you."

Avoid even appearances of danger.


The Father and his Sons.

A Father had a family of sons who were perpetually quarreling among themselves. When he failed to heal their disputes by his exhortations, he one day told them to bring him a bundle of sticks. When they had done so, he placed the bundle into the hands of each of them in succession, and ordered them to break it in pieces. They each tried with all their strength, and were not able to do it. He next unclosed the faggot, and took the sticks, separately, one by one, and again put them into their hands, on which they broke them easily. He then addressed them in these words: "My sons, if you are of one mind, and unite to assist each other, you will be as this faggot, uninjured by all attempts of your enemies; but if you are divided among yourselves, you will be broken as easily as these sticks."

Disunited families are easily injured by others.


The Owl and the Grasshopper.

An Owl who was sitting in a hollow tree, dozing away a summer's afternoon, was very much disturbed by a rogue of a Grasshopper singing in the grass beneath. So far from keeping quiet, or moving away at the request of the Owl, the Grasshopper sang all the more, and called her an old blinker, that only came out at night when all honest people had gone to bed. The Owl waited in silence for a time, and then artfully addressed the Grasshopper as follows: "Well, my dear, if one cannot be allowed to sleep, it is something to be kept awake by such a pleasant voice. And now I think of it, I have a bottle of delicious nectar. If you will come up, you shall have a drop." The silly Grasshopper, came hopping up to the Owl, who at once caught and killed him, and finished her nap in comfort.

Flattery is not a proof of admiration.


The Fox and the Grapes.

A famished Fox saw some clusters of ripe black grapes hanging from a trellised vine. She resorted to all her tricks to get at them, but wearied herself in vain, for she could not reach them. At last she turned away, beguiling herself of her disappointment, and saying: "The Grapes are sour, and not ripe as I thought."

Revile not things beyond your reach.


The Ass carrying the Image.

An Ass once carried through the streets of the city a famous wooden Image, to be placed in one of its temples. The crowd as he passed along made lowly prostration before the Image. The Ass, thinking that they bowed their heads in token of respect for him, bristled up with pride and gave himself airs, and refused to move another step. The driver, seeing him thus stop, laid his whip lustily about his shoulders and said: "O you perverse dull-head! it is not yet come to this, that men pay worship to an Ass."

They are not wise who take to themselves the credit due to others.


The Ass and the Lap-Dog.

A man had an Ass and a Maltese Lap-dog, a very great beauty. The Ass was left in a stable, and had plenty of oats and hay to eat, just as any other Ass would. The Lap-dog was a great favorite with his master, and he frisked and jumped about him in a manner pleasant to see. The Ass had much work to do, in grinding the corn-mill, and in carrying wood from the forest or burdens from the farm. He often lamented his own hard fate, and contrasted it with the luxury and idleness of the Lap-dog, till at last one day he broke his halter, and galloped into his master's house, kicking up his heels without measure, and frisking and fawning as well as he could. He next tried to jump about his master as he had seen the Lap-dog do, but he broke the table and smashed all the dishes upon it to atoms. He then attempted to lick his master, and jumped upon his back. The servants hearing the strange hubbub, and perceiving the danger of their master, quickly relieved him, and drove out the Ass to his stable, with kicks, and clubs, and cuffs. The Ass, beaten nearly to death, thus lamented: "I have brought it all on myself! Why could I not have been contented to labor with my companions, and not try to live by idleness?"


The Tortoise and the Eagle.

A Tortoise, lazily basking in the sun, complained to the sea-birds of her hard fate, that no one would teach her to fly. An Eagle, hovering near, heard her lamentation, and demanded what reward she would give him, if he would take her aloft, and float her in the air. "I will give you," she said, "all the riches of the Red Sea." "I will teach you to fly then," said the Eagle; and taking her up in his talons, he carried her almost to the clouds,—when suddenly letting her go, she fell on a lofty mountain, and dashed her shell to pieces. The Tortoise exclaimed in the moment of death: "I have deserved my present fate; for what had I to do with wings and clouds, who can with difficulty move about on the earth?"

If men had all they wished, they would be often ruined.


The Porcupine and the Snakes.

A Porcupine, wanting to shelter himself, desired a nest of Snakes to give him admittance into their cave. They were prevailed upon, and let him in accordingly; but were so annoyed with his sharp prickly quills that they soon repented of their easy compliance, and entreated the Porcupine to withdraw, and leave them their hole to themselves. "No," says he, "let them quit the place that don't like it; for my part, I am well enough satisfied as I am."

Hospitality is a virtue, but should be wisely exercised; we may by thoughtlessness entertain foes instead of friends.


The Fox who had Lost his Tail.

A Fox, caught in a trap, escaped with the loss of his "brush." Henceforth, feeling his life a burden from the shame and ridicule to which he was exposed, he schemed to bring all the other Foxes into a like condition with himself. He publicly advised them to cut off their tails, saying "that they would not only look much better without them, but that they would get rid of the weight of the brush." One of them said: "If you had not yourself lost your tail, my friend, you would not thus counsel us."

Advice prompted by selfishness should not be heeded.


The Old Lion.

A Lion, worn out with years, lay on the ground at the point of death. A Boar rushed upon him, and avenged with a stroke of his tusks a long remembered injury. Shortly afterwards the Bull with his horns gored him as if he were an enemy. When the Ass saw that the huge beast could be assailed with impunity, he let drive at his forehead with his heels.


The Ass and the Wolf.

An Ass, feeding in a meadow, saw a Wolf approaching to seize him, and immediately pretended to be lame. The Wolf, coming up, inquired the cause of his lameness. The Ass said that he had a thorn in his foot, and requested the Wolf to pull it out. The Wolf consenting, the Ass with his heels kicked his teeth into his mouth, and galloped away. The Wolf said: "I am rightly served, for why did I attempt the art of healing, when my father only taught me the trade of a butcher?"

Every one to his trade.


The Horse and the Groom.

A Groom used to spend whole days in currycombing and rubbing down his Horse, but at the same time stole his oats, and sold them for his own profit. "Alas!" said the Horse, "if you really wish me to be in good condition, you should groom me less, and feed me more."

If you wish to do a service, do it right.


The Ass and his Shadow.

A traveler hired an Ass to convey him to a distant place. The day being intensely hot, and the sun shining in its strength, the traveler stopped to rest, and sought shelter from the heat under the Shadow of the Ass. As this afforded only protection for one, and as the traveler and the owner of the Ass both claimed it, a violent dispute arose between them as to which of them had the right to it. The owner maintained that he had let the Ass only, and not his Shadow. The traveler asserted that he had, with the hire of the Ass, hired his Shadow also. The quarrel proceeded from words to blows, and while the men fought the Ass galloped off.

In quarreling about the shadow we often lose the substance.


The Horse and the Loaded Ass.

An idle Horse, and an Ass laboring under a heavy burden, were traveling the road together. The Ass, ready to faint under his heavy load, entreated the Horse to assist him, and lighten his burden, by taking some of it upon his back. The Horse was ill-natured and refused to do it; upon which the poor Ass tumbled down in the midst of the highway, and expired. The countryman then took the whole burden, and laid it upon the Horse, together with the skin of the dead Ass.

Laziness often prepares a burden for its own back.


The Mules and the Robbers.

Two Mules laden with packs were trudging along. One carried panniers filled with money, the other sacks of grain. The Mule carrying the treasure walked with head erect, and tossed up and down the bells fastened to his neck. His companion followed with quiet and easy step. All on a sudden Robbers rushed from their hiding-places upon them, and in the scuffle with their owners wounded the Mule carrying the treasure, which they greedily seized upon, while they took no notice of the grain. The Mule which had been wounded bewailed his misfortunes. The other replied: "I am glad that I was thought so little of, for I have lost nothing, nor am I hurt with any wound."

The conspicuous run the greatest risk.


The Lion and the Three Bulls.

Three Bulls for a long time pastured together. A Lion lay in ambush in the hope of making them his prey, but was afraid to attack them whilst they kept together. Having at last by guileful speeches succeeded in separating them, he attacked them without fear, as they fed alone, and feasted on them one by one at his own leisure.

In union is strength.


The Dog and the Shadow.

A Dog, crossing a bridge over a stream with a piece of flesh in his mouth, saw his own shadow in the water, and took it for another Dog, with a piece of meat double his own in size. He therefore let go his own, and fiercely attacked the other Dog, to get his larger piece from him. He thus lost both—that which he grasped at in the water, because it was a shadow and his own, because the stream swept it away.

It is not wise to be too greedy.


The Ants and the Grasshopper.

The Ants were employing a fine winter's day in drying grain collected in the summer time. A Grasshopper, perishing with famine, passed by and earnestly begged for a little food. The Ants inquired of him: "Why did you not treasure up food during the summer?" He replied: "I had not leisure; I passed the days in singing." They then said: "If you were foolish enough to sing all the summer, you must dance supperless to bed in the winter."

Idleness brings want.


The Thirsty Pigeon.

A Pigeon, oppressed by excessive thirst, saw a goblet of water painted on a sign-board. Not supposing it to be only a picture, she flew toward it with a loud whirr, and unwittingly dashed against the sign-board and jarred herself terribly. Having broken her wings by the blow, she fell to the ground, and was caught by one of the bystanders.

Zeal should not outrun discretion.


The Flies and the Honey.

A Jar of Honey having been upset in a housekeeper's room, a number of flies were attracted by its sweetness, and placing their feet in it, ate it greedily. Their feet, however, became so smeared with the honey that they could not use their wings, nor release themselves, and were suffocated. Just as they were expiring, they exclaimed, "O foolish creatures that we are! For the sake of a little pleasure we have destroyed ourselves."


The Great and the Little Fishes.

A Fisherman was drawing up a net which he had cast into the sea, full of all sorts of fish. The Little Fish escaped through the meshes of the net, and got back into the deep, but the Great Fish were all caught and hauled into the ship.

Our insignificance is often the cause of our safety.


The Wolves and the Sheep.

"Why should there always be this implacable warfare between us?" said the Wolves to the Sheep. "Those evil-disposed Dogs have much to answer for. They always bark whenever we approach you, and attack us before we have done any harm. If you would only dismiss them from your heels, there might soon be treaties of peace between us." The sheep, poor silly creatures! were easily beguiled, and dismissed the Dogs. The Wolves destroyed the unguarded flock at their pleasure.

Change not friends for foes.


The Fox and the Stork.

The Fox invited the Stork to dinner, and provided nothing but a soup, in a wide, shallow dish. This he could lap up with ease; but the Stork, who could but just dip in the point of his bill, was not a bit better. A few days after, he returned the compliment, and invited the Fox; but suffered nothing to be brought to the table but some minced meat in a glass jar, the neck of which was so deep and so narrow, that, though the Stork with his long bill could eat very well, all that the Fox could do was to lick the brims. Reynard was heartily vexed, but owned that he had been used as he deserved.

Those who practice cunning must expect to suffer by it.


The Bat and the Weasels.

A Bat, falling upon the ground, was caught by a Weasel, of whom he earnestly besought his life. The Weasel refused, saying that he was by nature the enemy of all birds. The Bat assured him that he was not a bird, but a mouse, and thus saved his life. Shortly afterward the Bat again fell on the ground, and was caught by another Weasel, whom he likewise entreated not to eat him. The Weasel said that he had a special hostility to mice. The Bat assured him that he was not a mouse, but a bat; and thus a second time escaped.


The Hare and the Tortoise.

A Hare one day ridiculed the short feet and slow pace of the Tortoise. The latter, laughing, said: "Though you be swift as the wind, I will beat you in a race." The Hare, deeming her assertion to be simply impossible, assented to the proposal; and they agreed that the Fox should choose the course, and fix the goal. On the day appointed for the race they started together. The Tortoise never for a moment stopped, but went on with a slow but steady pace straight to the end of the course. The Hare, trusting to his native swiftness, cared little about the race, and lying down by the wayside, fell fast asleep. At last waking up, and moving as fast as he could, he saw the Tortoise had reached the goal, and was comfortably dozing after her fatigue.

Perseverance is surer than swiftness.


Jupiter and the Monkey.

Jupiter issued a proclamation to all the beasts of the forest, and promised a royal reward to the one whose offspring should be deemed the handsomest. The Monkey came with the rest, and presented, with all a mother's tenderness, a flat-nosed, hairless, ill-featured young Monkey as a candidate for the promised reward. A general laugh saluted her on the presentation of her son. She resolutely said: "I know not whether Jupiter will allot the prize to my son; but this I do know, that he is the dearest, handsomest, and most beautiful of all who are here."

A mother's love blinds her to many imperfections.


The Lion in Love.

A Lion demanded the daughter of a woodcutter in marriage. The Father, unwilling to grant and yet afraid to refuse his request, hit upon this expedient. He expressed his willingness to accept him as the suitor of his daughter on one condition; that he should allow him to extract his teeth, and cut off his claws. The Lion cheerfully assented to the proposal: when, however, he next repeated his request, the woodman set upon him with his club.

 

 
     
     
 

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