AESOP'S FABLES by V. S. VERNON JONES Part One
AESOP'S FABLES A NEW TRANSLATION BY V. S. VERNON JONES WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY G. K. CHESTERTON AND ILLUSTRATIONS BY ARTHUR RACKHAM 1912 EDITION INTRODUCTION _AEsop embodies an epigram not uncommon in human history; his fame is all the more deserved because he never deserved it. The firm foundations of common sense, the shrewd shots at uncommon sense, that characterise all the Fables, belong not him but to humanity. In the earliest human history whatever is authentic is universal: and whatever is universal is anonymous. In such cases there is always some central man who had first the trouble of collecting them, and afterwards the fame of creating them. He had the fame; and, on the whole, he earned the fame. There must have been something great and human, something of the human future and the human past, in such a man: even if he only used it to rob the past or deceive the future. The story of Arthur may have been really connected with the most fighting Christianity of falling Rome or with the most heathen traditions hidden in the hills of Wales. But the word "Mappe" or "Malory" will always mean King Arthur; even though we find older and better origins than the Mabinogian; or write later and worse versions than the "Idylls of the King." The nursery fairy tales may have come out of Asia with the Indo-European race, now fortunately extinct; they may have been invented by some fine French lady or gentleman like Perrault: they may possibly even be what they profess to be. But we shall always call the best selection of such tales "Grimm's Tales": simply because it is the best collection. The historical AEsop, in so far as he was historical, would seem to have been a Phrygian slave, or at least one not to be specially and symbolically adorned with the Phrygian cap of liberty. He lived, if he did live, about the sixth century before Christ, in the time of that Croesus whose story we love and suspect like everything else in Herodotus. There are also stories of deformity of feature and a ready ribaldry of tongue: stories which (as the celebrated Cardinal said) explain, though they do not excuse, his having been hurled over a high precipice at Delphi. It is for those who read the Fables to judge whether he was really thrown over the cliff for being ugly and offensive, or rather for being highly moral and correct. But there is no kind of doubt that the general legend of him may justly rank him with a race too easily forgotten in our modern comparisons: the race of the great philosophic slaves. AEsop may have been a fiction like Uncle Remus: he was also, like Uncle Remus, a fact. It is a fact that slaves in the old world could be worshipped like AEsop, or loved like Uncle Remus. It is odd to note that both the great slaves told their best stories about beasts and birds. But whatever be fairly due to AEsop, the human tradition called Fables is not due to him. This had gone on long before any sarcastic freedman from Phrygia had or had not been flung off a precipice; this has remained long after. It is to our advantage, indeed, to realise the distinction; because it makes AEsop more obviously effective than any other fabulist. Grimm's Tales, glorious as they are, were collected by two German students. And if we find it hard to be certain of a German student, at least we know more about him than We know about a Phrygian slave. The truth is, of course, that AEsop's Fables are not AEsop's fables, any more than Grimm's Fairy Tales were ever Grimm's fairy tales. But the fable and the fairy tale are things utterly distinct. There are many elements of difference; but the plainest is plain enough. There can be no good fable with human beings in it. There can be no good fairy tale without them. AEsop, or Babrius (or whatever his name was), understood that, for a fable, all the persons must be impersonal. They must be like abstractions in algebra, or like pieces in chess. The lion must always be stronger than the wolf, just as four is always double of two. The fox in a fable must move crooked, as the knight in chess must move crooked. The sheep in a fable must march on, as the pawn in chess must march on. The fable must not allow for the crooked captures of the pawn; it must not allow for what Balzac called "the revolt of a sheep" The fairy tale, on the other hand, absolutely revolves on the pivot of human personality. If no hero were there to fight the dragons, we should not even know that they were dragons. If no adventurer were cast on the undiscovered island--it would remain undiscovered. If the miller's third son does not find the enchanted garden where the seven princesses stand white and frozen--why, then, they will remain white and frozen and enchanted. If there is no personal prince to find the Sleeping Beauty she will simply sleep. Fables repose upon quite the opposite idea; that everything is itself, and will in any case speak for itself. The wolf will be always wolfish; the fox will be always foxy. Something of the same sort may have been meant by the animal worship, in which Egyptian and Indian and many other great peoples have combined. Men do not, I think, love beetles or cats or crocodiles with a wholly personal love; they salute them as expressions of that abstract and anonymous energy in nature which to any one is awful, and to an atheist must be frightful. So in all the fables that are or are not AEsop's all the animal forces drive like inanimate forces, like great rivers or growing trees. It is the limit and the loss of all such things that they cannot be anything but themselves: it is their tragedy that they could not lose their souls. This is the immortal justification of the Fable: that we could not teach the plainest truths so simply without turning men into chessmen. We cannot talk of such simple things without using animals that do not talk at all. Suppose, for a moment, that you turn the wolf into a wolfish baron, or the fox into a foxy diplomatist. You will at once remember that even barons are human, you will be unable to forget that even diplomatists are men. You will always be looking for that accidental good-humour that should go with the brutality of any brutal man; for that allowance for all delicate things, including virtue, that should exist in any good diplomatist. Once put a thing on two legs instead of four and pluck it of feathers and you cannot help asking for a human being, either heroic, as in the fairy tales, or un-heroic, as in the modern novels. But by using animals in this austere and arbitrary style as they are used on the shields of heraldry or the hieroglyphics of the ancients, men have really succeeded in handing down those tremendous truths that are called truisms. If the chivalric lion be red and rampant, it is rigidly red and rampant; if the sacred ibis stands anywhere on one leg, it stands on one leg for ever. In this language, like a large animal alphabet, are written some of the first philosophic certainties of men. As the child learns A for Ass or B for Bull or C for Cow, so man has learnt here to connect the simpler and stronger creatures with the simpler and stronger truths. That a flowing stream cannot befoul its own fountain, and that any one who says it does is a tyrant and a liar; that a mouse is too weak to fight a lion, but too strong for the cords that can hold a lion; that a fox who gets most out of a flat dish may easily get least out of a deep dish; that the crow whom the gods forbid to sing, the gods nevertheless provide with cheese; that when the goat insults from a mountain-top it is not the goat that insults, but the mountain: all these are deep truths deeply graven on the rocks wherever men have passed. It matters nothing how old they are, or how new; they are the alphabet of humanity, which like so many forms of primitive picture-writing employs any living symbol in preference to man. These ancient and universal tales are all of animals; as the latest discoveries in the oldest pre-historic caverns are all of animals. Man, in his simpler states, always felt that he himself was something too mysterious to be drawn. But the legend he carved under these cruder symbols was everywhere the same; and whether fables began with AEsop or began with Adam, whether they were German and mediaeval as Reynard the Fox, or as French and Renaissance as La Fontaine, the upshot is everywhere essentially the same: that superiority is always insolent, because it is always accidental; that pride goes before a fall; and that there is such a thing as being too clever by half. You will not find any other legend but this written upon the rocks by any hand of man. There is every type and time of fable: but there is only one moral to the fable; because there is only one moral to everything_. G. K. CHESTERTON CONTENTS THE FOX AND THE GRAPES THE GOOSE THAT LAID THE GOLDEN EGGS THE CAT AND THE MICE THE MISCHIEVOUS DOG THE CHARCOAL-BURNER AND THE FULLER THE MICE IN COUNCIL THE BAT AND THE WEASELS THE DOG AND THE SOW THE FOX AND THE CROW THE HORSE AND THE GROOM THE WOLF AND THE LAMB THE PEACOCK AND THE CRANE THE CAT AND THE BIRDS THE SPENDTHRIFT AND THE SWALLOW THE OLD WOMAN AND THE DOCTOR THE MOON AND HER MOTHER MERCURY AND THE WOODMAN THE ASS, THE FOX, AND THE LION THE LION AND THE MOUSE THE CROW AND THE PITCHER THE BOYS AND THE FROGS THE NORTH WIND AND THE SUN THE MISTRESS AND HER SERVANTS THE GOODS AND THE ILLS THE HARES AND THE FROGS THE FOX AND THE STORK THE WOLF IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING THE STAG IN THE OX-STALL THE MILKMAID AND HER PAIL THE DOLPHINS, THE WHALES, AND THE SPRAT THE FOX AND THE MONKEY THE ASS AND THE LAP-DOG THE FIR-TREE AND THE BRAMBLE THE FROGS' COMPLAINT AGAINST THE SUN THE DOG, THE COCK, AND THE FOX THE GNAT AND THE BULL THE BEAR AND THE TRAVELLERS THE SLAVE AND THE LION THE FLEA AND THE MAN THE BEE AND JUPITER THE OAK AND THE REEDS THE BLIND MAN AND THE CUB THE BOY AND THE SNAILS THE APES AND THE TWO TRAVELLERS THE ASS AND HIS BURDENS THE SHEPHERD'S BOY AND THE WOLF THE FOX AND THE GOAT THE FISHERMAN AND THE SPRAT THE BOASTING TRAVELLER THE CRAB AND HIS MOTHER THE ASS AND HIS SHADOW THE FARMER AND HIS SONS THE DOG AND THE COOK THE MONKEY AS KING THE THIEVES AND THE COCK THE FARMER AND FORTUNE JUPITER AND THE MONKEY FATHER AND SONS THE LAMP THE OWL AND THE BIRDS THE ASS IN THE LION'S SKIN THE SHE-GOATS AND THEIR BEARDS THE OLD LION THE BOY BATHING THE QUACK FROG THE SWOLLEN FOX THE MOUSE, THE FROG, AND THE HAWK THE BOY AND THE NETTLES THE PEASANT AND THE APPLE-TREE THE JACKDAW AND THE PIGEONS JUPITER AND THE TORTOISE THE DOG IN THE MANGER THE TWO BAGS THE OXEN AND THE AXLETREES THE BOY AND THE FILBERTS THE FROGS ASKING FOR A KING THE OLIVE-TREE AND THE FIG-TREE THE LION AND THE BOAR THE WALNUT-TREE THE MAN AND THE LION THE TORTOISE AND THE EAGLE THE KID ON THE HOUSETOP THE FOX WITHOUT A TAIL THE VAIN JACKDAW THE TRAVELLER AND HIS DOG THE SHIPWRECKED MAN AND THE SEA THE WILD BOAR AND THE FOX MERCURY AND THE SCULPTOR THE FAWN AND HIS MOTHER THE FOX AND THE LION THE EAGLE AND HIS CAPTOR THE BLACKSMITH AND HIS DOG THE STAG AT THE POOL THE DOG AND THE SHADOW MERCURY AND THE TRADESMEN THE MICE AND THE WEASELS THE PEACOCK AND JUNO THE BEAR AND THE FOX THE ASS AND THE OLD PEASANT THE OX AND THE FROG THE MAN AND THE IMAGE HERCULES AND THE WAGGONER THE POMEGRANATE, THE APPLE-TREE, AND THE BRAMBLE THE LION, THE BEAR, AND THE FOX THE BLACKAMOOR THE TWO SOLDIERS AND THE ROBBER THE LION AND THE WILD ASS THE MAN AND THE SATYR THE IMAGE-SELLER THE EAGLE AND THE ARROW THE RICH MAN AND THE TANNER THE WOLF, THE MOTHER, AND HER CHILD THE OLD WOMAN AND THE WINE-JAR THE LIONESS AND THE VIXEN THE VIPER AND THE FILE THE CAT AND THE COCK THE HARE AND THE TORTOISE THE SOLDIER AND HIS HORSE THE OXEN AND THE BUTCHERS THE WOLF AND THE LION THE SHEEP, THE WOLF, AND THE STAG THE LION AND THE THREE BULLS THE HORSE AND HIS RIDER THE GOAT AND THE VINE THE TWO POTS THE OLD HOUND THE CLOWN AND THE COUNTRYMAN THE LARK AND THE FARMER THE LION AND THE ASS THE PROPHET THE HOUND AND THE HARE THE LION, THE MOUSE, AND THE FOX THE TRUMPETER TAKEN PRISONER THE WOLF AND THE CRANE THE EAGLE, THE CAT, AND THE WILD SOW THE WOLF AND THE SHEEP THE TUNNY-FISH AND THE DOLPHIN THE THREE TRADESMEN THE MOUSE AND THE BULL THE HARE AND THE HOUND THE TOWN MOUSE AND THE COUNTRY MOUSE THE LION AND THE BULL THE WOLF, THE FOX, AND THE APE THE EAGLE AND THE COCKS THE ESCAPED JACKDAW THE FARMER AND THE FOX VENUS AND THE CAT THE CROW AND THE SWAN THE STAG WITH ONE EYE THE FLY AND THE DRAUGHT-MULE THE COCK AND THE JEWEL THE WOLF AND THE SHEPHERD THE FARMER AND THE STORK THE CHARGER AND THE MILLER THE GRASSHOPPER AND THE OWL THE GRASSHOPPER AND THE ANTS THE FARMER AND THE VIPER THE TWO FROGS THE COBBLER TURNED DOCTOR THE ASS, THE COCK, AND THE LION THE BELLY AND THE MEMBERS THE BALD MAN AND THE FLY THE ASS AND THE WOLF THE MONKEY AND THE CAMEL THE SICK MAN AND THE DOCTOR THE TRAVELLERS AND THE PLANE-TREE THE FLEA AND THE OX THE BIRDS, THE BEASTS, AND THE BAT THE MAN AND HIS TWO SWEETHEARTS THE EAGLE, THE JACKDAW, AND THE SHEPHERD THE WOLF AND THE BOY THE MILLER, HIS SON, AND THEIR ASS THE STAG AND THE VINE THE LAMB CHASED BY A WOLF THE ARCHER AND THE LION THE WOLF AND THE GOAT THE SICK STAG THE ASS AND THE MULE BROTHER AND SISTER THE HEIFER AND THE OX THE KINGDOM OF THE LION THE ASS AND HIS DRIVER THE LION AND THE HARE THE WOLVES AND THE DOGS THE BULL AND THE CALF THE TREES AND THE AXE THE ASTRONOMER THE LABOURER AND THE SNAKE THE CAGE-BIRD AND THE BAT THE ASS AND HIS PURCHASER THE KID AND THE WOLF THE DEBTOR AND HIS SOW THE BALD HUNTSMAN THE HERDSMAN AND THE LOST BULL THE MULE THE HOUND AND THE FOX THE FATHER AND HIS DAUGHTERS THE THIEF AND THE INNKEEPER THE PACK-ASS AND THE WILD ASS THE ASS AND HIS MASTERS THE PACK-ASS, THE WILD ASS, AND THE LION THE ANT THE FROGS AND THE WELL THE CRAB AND THE FOX THE FOX AND THE GRASSHOPPER THE FARMER, HIS BOY, AND THE ROOKS THE ASS AND THE DOG THE ASS CARRYING THE IMAGE THE ATHENIAN AND THE THEBAN THE GOATHERD AND THE GOAT THE SHEEP AND THE DOG THE SHEPHERD AND THE WOLF THE LION, JUPITER, AND THE ELEPHANT THE PIG AND THE SHEEP THE GARDENER AND HIS DOG THE RIVERS AND THE SEA THE LION IN LOVE THE BEE-KEEPER THE WOLF AND THE HORSE THE BAT, THE BRAMBLE, AND THE SEAGULL THE DOG AND THE WOLF THE WASP AND THE SNAKE THE EAGLE AND THE BEETLE THE FOWLER AND THE LARK THE FISHERMAN PIPING THE WEASEL AND THE MAN THE PLOUGHMAN, THE ASS, AND THE OX DEMADES AND HIS FABLE THE MONKEY AND THE DOLPHIN THE CROW AND THE SNAKE THE DOGS AND THE FOX THE NIGHTINGALE AND THE HAWK THE ROSE AND THE AMARANTH THE MAN, THE HORSE, THE OX, AND THE DOG THE WOLVES, THE SHEEP, AND THE RAM THE SWAN THE SNAKE AND JUPITER THE WOLF AND HIS SHADOW THE PLOUGHMAN AND THE WOLF MERCURY AND THE MAN BITTEN BY AN ANT THE WILY LION THE PARROT AND THE CAT THE STAG AND THE LION THE IMPOSTOR THE DOGS AND THE HIDES THE LION, THE FOX, AND THE ASS THE FOWLER, THE PARTRIDGE, AND THE COCK THE GNAT AND THE LION THE FARMER AND HIS DOGS THE EAGLE AND THE FOX THE BUTCHER AND HIS CUSTOMERS HERCULES AND MINERVA THE FOX WHO SERVED A LION THE QUACK DOCTOR THE LION, THE WOLF, AND THE FOX HERCULES AND PLUTUS THE FOX AND THE LEOPARD THE FOX AND THE HEDGEHOG THE CROW AND THE RAVEN THE WITCH THE OLD MAN AND DEATH THE MISER THE FOXES AND THE RIVER THE HORSE AND THE STAG THE FOX AND THE BRAMBLE THE FOX AND THE SNAKE THE LION, THE FOX, AND THE STAG THE MAN WHO LOST HIS SPADE THE PARTRIDGE AND THE FOWLER THE RUNAWAY SLAVE THE HUNTER AND THE WOODMAN THE SERPENT AND THE EAGLE THE ROGUE AND THE ORACLE THE HORSE AND THE ASS THE DOG CHASING A WOLF GRIEF AND HIS DUE THE HAWK, THE KITE, AND THE PIGEONS THE WOMAN AND THE FARMER PROMETHEUS AND THE MAKING OF MAN THE SWALLOW AND THE CROW THE HUNTER AND THE HORSEMAN THE GOATHERD AND THE WILD GOATS THE NIGHTINGALE AND THE SWALLOW THE TRAVELLER AND FORTUNE LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS =IN COLOUR= THE HARE AND THE TORTOISE THE MOON AND HER MOTHER THE FIR-TREE AND THE BRAMBLE THE CRAB AND HIS MOTHER THE QUACK FROG THE SHIPWRECKED MAN AND THE SEA THE BLACKAMOOR THE TWO POTS VENUS AND THE CAT THE TRAVELLERS AND THE PLANE-TREE THE TREES AND THE AXE THE LION, JUPITER, AND THE ELEPHANT THE GNAT AND THE LION =IN BLACK AND WHITE= THE FOX AND THE GRAPES THE FOX AND THE CROW THE CAT AND THE BIRDS THE CROW AND THE PITCHER THE NORTH WIND AND THE SUN THE FOX AND THE STORK THE GNAT AND THE BULL THE FLEA AND THE MAN THE OAK AND THE REEDS THE THIEVES AND THE COCK THE OWL AND THE BIRDS THE ASS IN THE LION'S SKIN THE BOY BATHING THE DOG IN THE MANGER THE FROGS ASKING FOR A KING KING LOG THE FOX WITHOUT A TAIL THE FOX AND THE LION THE DOG AND THE SHADOW THE BEAR AND THE FOX THE OX AND THE FROG THE MAN AND THE SATYR THE OLD WOMAN AND THE WINE-JAR THE CAT AND THE COCK THE SHEEP, THE WOLF, AND THE STAG THE GOAT AND THE VINE THE HOUND AND THE HARE THE WOLF AND THE CRANE THE TOWN MOUSE AND THE COUNTRY MOUSE THE WOLF, THE FOX, AND THE APE THE COCK AND THE JEWEL THE GRASSHOPPER AND THE ANTS THE BALD MAN AND THE FLY THE MONKEY AND THE CAMEL THE MILLER, HIS SON, AND THEIR ASS THE WOLF AND THE GOAT THE KINGDOM OF THE LION THE KID AND THE WOLF THE MULE THE FROGS AND THE WELL THE GOATHERD AND THE GOAT THE WOLF AND THE HORSE THE FISHERMAN PIPING THE MONKEY AND THE DOLPHIN THE WOLF AND HIS SHADOW THE LION, THE FOX, AND THE ASS THE GNAT AND THE LION THE FOX AND THE LEOPARD THE MISER THE HUNTER AND THE WOODMAN THE HORSE AND THE ASS AESOP'S FABLES THE FOX AND THE GRAPES A hungry Fox saw some fine bunches of Grapes hanging from a vine that was trained along a high trellis, and did his best to reach them by jumping as high as he could into the air. But it was all in vain, for they were just out of reach: so he gave up trying, and walked away with an air of dignity and unconcern, remarking, "I thought those Grapes were ripe, but I see now they are quite sour." THE GOOSE THAT LAID THE GOLDEN EGGS A Man and his Wife had the good fortune to possess a Goose which laid a Golden Egg every day. Lucky though they were, they soon began to think they were not getting rich fast enough, and, imagining the bird must be made of gold inside, they decided to kill it in order to secure the whole store of precious metal at once. But when they cut it open they found it was just like any other goose. Thus, they neither got rich all at once, as they had hoped, nor enjoyed any longer the daily addition to their wealth. Much wants more and loses all. THE CAT AND THE MICE There was once a house that was overrun with Mice. A Cat heard of this, and said to herself, "That's the place for me," and off she went and took up her quarters in the house, and caught the Mice one by one and ate them. At last the Mice could stand it no longer, and they determined to take to their holes and stay there. "That's awkward," said the Cat to herself: "the only thing to do is to coax them out by a trick." So she considered a while, and then climbed up the wall and let herself hang down by her hind legs from a peg, and pretended to be dead. By and by a Mouse peeped out and saw the Cat hanging there. "Aha!" it cried, "you're very clever, madam, no doubt: but you may turn yourself into a bag of meal hanging there, if you like, yet you won't catch us coming anywhere near you." If you are wise you won't be deceived by the innocent airs of those whom you have once found to be dangerous. THE MISCHIEVOUS DOG There was once a Dog who used to snap at people and bite them without any provocation, and who was a great nuisance to every one who came to his master's house. So his master fastened a bell round his neck to warn people of his presence. The Dog was very proud of the bell, and strutted about tinkling it with immense satisfaction. But an old dog came up to him and said, "The fewer airs you give yourself the better, my friend. You don't think, do you, that your bell was given you as a reward of merit? On the contrary, it is a badge of disgrace." Notoriety is often mistaken for fame. THE CHARCOAL-BURNER AND THE FULLER There was once a Charcoal-burner who lived and worked by himself. A Fuller, however, happened to come and settle in the same neighbourhood; and the Charcoal-burner, having made his acquaintance and finding he was an agreeable sort of fellow, asked him if he would come and share his house: "We shall get to know one another better that way," he said, "and, beside, our household expenses will be diminished." The Fuller thanked him, but replied, "I couldn't think of it, sir: why, everything I take such pains to whiten would be blackened in no time by your charcoal." THE MICE IN COUNCIL Once upon a time all the Mice met together in Council, and discussed the best means of securing themselves against the attacks of the cat. After several suggestions had been debated, a Mouse of some standing and experience got up and said, "I think I have hit upon a plan which will ensure our safety in the future, provided you approve and carry it out. It is that we should fasten a bell round the neck of our enemy the cat, which will by its tinkling warn us of her approach." This proposal was warmly applauded, and it had been already decided to adopt it, when an old Mouse got upon his feet and said, "I agree with you all that the plan before us is an admirable one: but may I ask who is going to bell the cat?" THE BAT AND THE WEASELS A Bat fell to the ground and was caught by a Weasel, and was just going to be killed and eaten when it begged to be let go. The Weasel said he couldn't do that because he was an enemy of all birds on principle. "Oh, but," said the Bat, "I'm not a bird at all: I'm a mouse." "So you are," said the Weasel, "now I come to look at you"; and he let it go. Some time after this the Bat was caught in just the same way by another Weasel, and, as before, begged for its life. "No," said the Weasel, "I never let a mouse go by any chance." "But I'm not a mouse," said the Bat; "I'm a bird." "Why, so you are," said the Weasel; and he too let the Bat go. Look and see which way the wind blows before you commit yourself. THE DOG AND THE SOW A Dog and a Sow were arguing and each claimed that its own young ones were finer than those of any other animal. "Well," said the Sow at last, "mine can see, at any rate, when they come into the world: but yours are born blind." THE FOX AND THE CROW A Crow was sitting on a branch of a tree with a piece of cheese in her beak when a Fox observed her and set his wits to work to discover some way of getting the cheese. Coming and standing under the tree he looked up and said, "What a noble bird I see above me! Her beauty is without equal, the hue of her plumage exquisite. If only her voice is as sweet as her looks are fair, she ought without doubt to be Queen of the Birds." The Crow was hugely flattered by this, and just to show the Fox that she could sing she gave a loud caw. Down came the cheese, of course, and the Fox, snatching it up, said, "You have a voice, madam, I see: what you want is wits." THE HORSE AND THE GROOM There was once a Groom who used to spend long hours clipping and combing the Horse of which he had charge, but who daily stole a portion of his allowance of oats, and sold it for his own profit. The Horse gradually got into worse and worse condition, and at last cried to the Groom, "If you really want me to look sleek and well, you must comb me less and feed me more." THE WOLF AND THE LAMB A Wolf came upon a Lamb straying from the flock, and felt some compunction about taking the life of so helpless a creature without some plausible excuse; so he cast about for a grievance and said at last, "Last year, sirrah, you grossly insulted me." "That is impossible, sir," bleated the Lamb, "for I wasn't born then." "Well," retorted the Wolf, "you feed in my pastures." "That cannot be," replied the Lamb, "for I have never yet tasted grass." "You drink from my spring, then," continued the Wolf. "Indeed, sir," said the poor Lamb, "I have never yet drunk anything but my mother's milk." "Well, anyhow," said the Wolf, "I'm not going without my dinner": and he sprang upon the Lamb and devoured it without more ado. THE PEACOCK AND THE CRANE A Peacock taunted a Crane with the dullness of her plumage. "Look at my brilliant colours," said she, "and see how much finer they are than your poor feathers." "I am not denying," replied the Crane, "that yours are far gayer than mine; but when it comes to flying I can soar into the clouds, whereas you are confined to the earth like any dunghill cock." THE CAT AND THE BIRDS A Cat heard that the Birds in an aviary were ailing. So he got himself up as a doctor, and, taking with him a set of the instruments proper to his profession, presented himself at the door, and inquired after the health of the Birds. "We shall do very well," they replied, without letting him in, "when we've seen the last of you." A villain may disguise himself, but he will not deceive the wise. THE SPENDTHRIFT AND THE SWALLOW A Spendthrift, who had wasted his fortune, and had nothing left but the clothes in which he stood, saw a Swallow one fine day in early spring. Thinking that summer had come, and that he could now do without his coat, he went and sold it for what it would fetch. A change, however, took place in the weather, and there came a sharp frost which killed the unfortunate Swallow. When the Spendthrift saw its dead body he cried, "Miserable bird! Thanks to you I am perishing of cold myself." One swallow does not make summer. THE OLD WOMAN AND THE DOCTOR An Old Woman became almost totally blind from a disease of the eyes, and, after consulting a Doctor, made an agreement with him in the presence of witnesses that she should pay him a high fee if he cured her, while if he failed he was to receive nothing. The Doctor accordingly prescribed a course of treatment, and every time he paid her a visit he took away with him some article out of the house, until at last, when he visited her for the last time, and the cure was complete, there was nothing left. When the Old Woman saw that the house was empty she refused to pay him his fee; and, after repeated refusals on her part, he sued her before the magistrates for payment of her debt. On being brought into court she was ready with her defence. "The claimant," said she, "has stated the facts about our agreement correctly. I undertook to pay him a fee if he cured me, and he, on his part, promised to charge nothing if he failed. Now, he says I am cured; but I say that I am blinder than ever, and I can prove what I say. When my eyes were bad I could at any rate see well enough to be aware that my house contained a certain amount of furniture and other things; but now, when according to him I am cured, I am entirely unable to see anything there at all." THE MOON AND HER MOTHER The Moon once begged her Mother to make her a gown. "How can I?" replied she; "there's no fitting your figure. At one time you're a New Moon, and at another you're a Full Moon; and between whiles you're neither one nor the other." MERCURY AND THE WOODMAN A Woodman was felling a tree on the bank of a river, when his axe, glancing off the trunk, flew out of his hands and fell into the water. As he stood by the water's edge lamenting his loss, Mercury appeared and asked him the reason for his grief; and on learning what had happened, out of pity for his distress he dived into the river and, bringing up a golden axe, asked him if that was the one he had lost. The Woodman replied that it was not, and Mercury then dived a second time, and, bringing up a silver axe, asked if that was his. "No, that is not mine either," said the Woodman. Once more Mercury dived into the river, and brought up the missing axe. The Woodman was overjoyed at recovering his property, and thanked his benefactor warmly; and the latter was so pleased with his honesty that he made him a present of the other two axes. When the Woodman told the story to his companions, one of these was filled with envy of his good fortune and determined to try his luck for himself. So he went and began to fell a tree at the edge of the river, and presently contrived to let his axe drop into the water. Mercury appeared as before, and, on learning that his axe had fallen in, he dived and brought up a golden axe, as he had done on the previous occasion. Without waiting to be asked whether it was his or not the fellow cried, "That's mine, that's mine," and stretched out his hand eagerly for the prize: but Mercury was so disgusted at his dishonesty that he not only declined to give him the golden axe, but also refused to recover for him the one he had let fall into the stream. Honesty is the best policy. THE ASS, THE FOX, AND THE LION An Ass and a Fox went into partnership and sallied out to forage for food together. They hadn't gone far before they saw a Lion coming their way, at which they were both dreadfully frightened. But the Fox thought he saw a way of saving his own skin, and went boldly up to the Lion and whispered in his ear, "I'll manage that you shall get hold of the Ass without the trouble of stalking him, if you'll promise to let me go free." The Lion agreed to this, and the Fox then rejoined his companion and contrived before long to lead him by a hidden pit, which some hunter had dug as a trap for wild animals, and into which he fell. When the Lion saw that the Ass was safely caught and couldn't get away, it was to the Fox that he first turned his attention, and he soon finished him off, and then at his leisure proceeded to feast upon the Ass. Betray a friend, and you'll often find you have ruined yourself. THE LION AND THE MOUSE A Lion asleep in his lair was waked up by a Mouse running over his face. Losing his temper he seized it with his paw and was about to kill it. The Mouse, terrified, piteously entreated him to spare its life. "Please let me go," it cried, "and one day I will repay you for your kindness." The idea of so insignificant a creature ever being able to do anything for him amused the Lion so much that he laughed aloud, and good-humouredly let it go. But the Mouse's chance came, after all. One day the Lion got entangled in a net which had been spread for game by some hunters, and the Mouse heard and recognised his roars of anger and ran to the spot. Without more ado it set to work to gnaw the ropes with its teeth, and succeeded before long in setting the Lion free. "There!" said the Mouse, "you laughed at me when I promised I would repay you: but now you see, even a Mouse can help a Lion." THE CROW AND THE PITCHER A thirsty Crow found a Pitcher with some water in it, but so little was there that, try as she might, she could not reach it with her beak, and it seemed as though she would die of thirst within sight of the remedy. At last she hit upon a clever plan. She began dropping pebbles into the Pitcher, and with each pebble the water rose a little higher until at last it reached the brim, and the knowing bird was enabled to quench her thirst. Necessity is the mother of invention. THE BOYS AND THE FROGS Some mischievous Boys were playing on the edge of a pond, and, catching sight of some Frogs swimming about in the shallow water, they began to amuse themselves by pelting them with stones, and they killed several of them. At last one of the Frogs put his head out of the water and said, "Oh, stop! stop! I beg of you: what is sport to you is death to us." THE NORTH WIND AND THE SUN A dispute arose between the North Wind and the Sun, each claiming that he was stronger than the other. At last they agreed to try their powers upon a traveller, to see which could soonest strip him of his cloak. The North Wind had the first try; and, gathering up all his force for the attack, he came whirling furiously down upon the man, and caught up his cloak as though he would wrest it from him by one single effort: but the harder he blew, the more closely the man wrapped it round himself. Then came the turn of the Sun. At first he beamed gently upon the traveller, who soon unclasped his cloak and walked on with it hanging loosely about his shoulders: then he shone forth in his full strength, and the man, before he had gone many steps, was glad to throw his cloak right off and complete his journey more lightly clad. Persuasion is better than force THE MISTRESS AND HER SERVANTS A Widow, thrifty and industrious, had two servants, whom she kept pretty hard at work. They were not allowed to lie long abed in the mornings, but the old lady had them up and doing as soon as the cock crew. They disliked intensely having to get up at such an hour, especially in winter-time: and they thought that if it were not for the cock waking up their Mistress so horribly early, they could sleep longer. So they caught it and wrung its neck. But they weren't prepared for the consequences. For what happened was that their Mistress, not hearing the cock crow as usual, waked them up earlier than ever, and set them to work in the middle of the night. THE GOODS AND THE ILLS There was a time in the youth of the world when Goods and Ills entered equally into the concerns of men, so that the Goods did not prevail to make them altogether blessed, nor the Ills to make them wholly miserable. But owing to the foolishness of mankind the Ills multiplied greatly in number and increased in strength, until it seemed as though they would deprive the Goods of all share in human affairs, and banish them from the earth. The latter, therefore, betook themselves to heaven and complained to Jupiter of the treatment they had received, at the same time praying him to grant them protection from the Ills, and to advise them concerning the manner of their intercourse with men. Jupiter granted their request for protection, and decreed that for the future they should not go among men openly in a body, and so be liable to attack from the hostile Ills, but singly and unobserved, and at infrequent and unexpected intervals. Hence it is that the earth is full of Ills, for they come and go as they please and are never far away; while Goods, alas! come one by one only, and have to travel all the way from heaven, so that they are very seldom seen. THE HARES AND THE FROGS The Hares once gathered together and lamented the unhappiness of their lot, exposed as they were to dangers on all sides and lacking the strength and the courage to hold their own. Men, dogs, birds and beasts of prey were all their enemies, and killed and devoured them daily: and sooner than endure such persecution any longer, they one and all determined to end their miserable lives. Thus resolved and desperate, they rushed in a body towards a neighbouring pool, intending to drown themselves. On the bank were sitting a number of Frogs, who, when they heard the noise of the Hares as they ran, with one accord leaped into the water and hid themselves in the depths. Then one of the older Hares who was wiser than the rest cried out to his companions, "Stop, my friends, take heart; don't let us destroy ourselves after all: see, here are creatures who are afraid of us, and who must, therefore, be still more timid than ourselves." THE FOX AND THE STORK A Fox invited a Stork to dinner, at which the only fare provided was a large flat dish of soup. The Fox lapped it up with great relish, but the Stork with her long bill tried in vain to partake of the savoury broth. Her evident distress caused the sly Fox much amusement. But not long after the Stork invited him in turn, and set before him a pitcher with a long and narrow neck, into which she could get her bill with ease. Thus, while she enjoyed her dinner, the Fox sat by hungry and helpless, for it was impossible for him to reach the tempting contents of the vessel. THE WOLF IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING A Wolf resolved to disguise himself in order that he might prey upon a flock of sheep without fear of detection. So he clothed himself in a sheepskin, and slipped among the sheep when they were out at pasture. He completely deceived the shepherd, and when the flock was penned for the night he was shut in with the rest. But that very night as it happened, the shepherd, requiring a supply of mutton for the table, laid hands on the Wolf in mistake for a Sheep, and killed him with his knife on the spot. THE STAG IN THE OX-STALL A Stag, chased from his lair by the hounds, took refuge in a farmyard, and, entering a stable where a number of oxen were stalled, thrust himself under a pile of hay in a vacant stall, where he lay concealed, all but the tips of his horns. Presently one of the Oxen said to him, "What has induced you to come in here? Aren't you aware of the risk you are running of being captured by the herdsmen?" To which he replied, "Pray let me stay for the present. When night comes I shall easily escape under cover of the dark." In the course of the afternoon more than one of the farm-hands came in, to attend to the wants of the cattle, but not one of them noticed the presence of the Stag, who accordingly began to congratulate himself on his escape and to express his gratitude to the Oxen. "We wish you well," said the one who had spoken before, "but you are not out of danger yet. If the master comes, you will certainly be found out, for nothing ever escapes his keen eyes." Presently, sure enough, in he came, and made a great to-do about the way the Oxen were kept. "The beasts are starving," he cried; "here, give them more hay, and put plenty of litter under them." As he spoke, he seized an armful himself from the pile where the Stag lay concealed, and at once detected him. Calling his men, he had him seized at once and killed for the table. THE MILKMAID AND HER PAIL A farmer's daughter had been out to milk the cows, and was returning to the dairy carrying her pail of milk upon her head. As she walked along, she fell a-musing after this fashion: "The milk in this pail will provide me with cream, which I will make into butter and take to market to sell. With the money I will buy a number of eggs, and these, when hatched, will produce chickens, and by and by I shall have quite a large poultry-yard. Then I shall sell some of my fowls, and with the money which they will bring in I will buy myself a new gown, which I shall wear when I go to the fair; and all the young fellows will admire it, and come and make love to me, but I shall toss my head and have nothing to say to them." Forgetting all about the pail, and suiting the action to the word, she tossed her head. Down went the pail, all the milk was spilled, and all her fine castles in the air vanished in a moment! Do not count your chickens before they are hatched. THE DOLPHINS, THE WHALES, AND THE SPRAT The Dolphins quarrelled with the Whales, and before very long they began fighting with one another. The battle was very fierce, and had lasted some time without any sign of coming to an end, when a Sprat thought that perhaps he could stop it; so he stepped in and tried to persuade them to give up fighting and make friends. But one of the Dolphins said to him contemptuously, "We would rather go on fighting till we're all killed than be reconciled by a Sprat like you!" THE FOX AND THE MONKEY A Fox and a Monkey were on the road together, and fell into a dispute as to which of the two was the better born. They kept it up for some time, till they came to a place where the road passed through a cemetery full of monuments, when the Monkey stopped and looked about him and gave a great sigh. "Why do you sigh?" said the Fox. The Monkey pointed to the tombs and replied, "All the monuments that you see here were put up in honour of my forefathers, who in their day were eminent men." The Fox was speechless for a moment, but quickly recovering he said, "Oh! don't stop at any lie, sir; you're quite safe: I'm sure none of your ancestors will rise up and expose you." Boasters brag most when they cannot be detected. THE ASS AND THE LAP-DOG There was once a man who had an Ass and a Lap-dog. The Ass was housed in the stable with plenty of oats and hay to eat and was as well off as an ass could be. The little Dog was made a great pet of by his master, who fondled him and often let him lie in his lap; and if he went out to dinner, he would bring back a tit-bit or two to give him when he ran to meet him on his return. The Ass had, it is true, a good deal of work to do, carting or grinding the corn, or carrying the burdens of the farm: and ere long he became very jealous, contrasting his own life of labour with the ease and idleness of the Lap-dog. At last one day he broke his halter, and frisking into the house just as his master sat down to dinner, he pranced and capered about, mimicking the frolics of the little favourite, upsetting the table and smashing the crockery with his clumsy efforts. Not content with that, he even tried to jump on his master's lap, as he had so often seen the dog allowed to do. At that the servants, seeing the danger their master was in, belaboured the silly Ass with sticks and cudgels, and drove him back to his stable half dead with his beating. "Alas!" he cried, "all this I have brought on myself. Why could I not be satisfied with my natural and honourable position, without wishing to imitate the ridiculous antics of that useless little Lap-dog?" THE FIR-TREE AND THE BRAMBLE A Fir-tree was boasting to a Bramble, and said, somewhat contemptuously, "You poor creature, you are of no use whatever. Now, look at me: I am useful for all sorts of things, particularly when men build houses; they can't do without me then." But the Bramble replied, "Ah, that's all very well: but you wait till they come with axes and saws to cut you down, and then you'll wish you were a Bramble and not a Fir." Better poverty without a care than wealth with its many obligations. THE FROGS' COMPLAINT AGAINST THE SUN Once upon a time the Sun was about to take to himself a wife. The Frogs in terror all raised their voices to the skies, and Jupiter, disturbed by the noise, asked them what they were croaking about. They replied, "The Sun is bad enough even while he is single, drying up our marshes with his heat as he does. But what will become of us if he marries and begets other Suns?" THE DOG, THE COCK, AND THE FOX A Dog and a Cock became great friends, and agreed to travel together. At nightfall the Cock flew up into the branches of a tree to roost, while the Dog curled himself up inside the trunk, which was hollow. At break of day the Cock woke up and crew, as usual. A Fox heard, and, wishing to make a breakfast of him, came and stood under the tree and begged him to come down. "I should so like," said he, "to make the acquaintance of one who has such a beautiful voice." The Cock replied, "Would you just wake my porter who sleeps at the foot of the tree? He'll open the door and let you in." The Fox accordingly rapped on the trunk, when out rushed the Dog and tore him in pieces. THE GNAT AND THE BULL A Gnat alighted on one of the horns of a Bull, and remained sitting there for a considerable time. When it had rested sufficiently and was about to fly away, it said to the Bull, "Do you mind if I go now?" The Bull merely raised his eyes and remarked, without interest, "It's all one to me; I didn't notice when you came, and I shan't know when you go away." We may often be of more consequence in our own eyes than in the eyes of our neighbours. THE BEAR AND THE TRAVELLERS Two Travellers were on the road together, when a Bear suddenly appeared on the scene. Before he observed them, one made for a tree at the side of the road, and climbed up into the branches and hid there. The other was not so nimble as his companion; and, as he could not escape, he threw himself on the ground and pretended to be dead. The Bear came up and sniffed all round him, but he kept perfectly still and held his breath: for they say that a bear will not touch a dead body. The Bear took him for a corpse, and went away. When the coast was clear, the Traveller in the tree came down, and asked the other what it was the Bear had whispered to him when he put his mouth to his ear. The other replied, "He told me never again to travel with a friend who deserts you at the first sign of danger." Misfortune tests the sincerity of friendship. THE SLAVE AND THE LION A Slave ran away from his master, by whom he had been most cruelly treated, and, in order to avoid capture, betook himself into the desert. As he wandered about in search of food and shelter, he came to a cave, which he entered and found to be unoccupied. Really, however, it was a Lion's den, and almost immediately, to the horror of the wretched fugitive, the Lion himself appeared. The man gave himself up for lost: but, to his utter astonishment, the Lion, instead of springing upon him and devouring him, came and fawned upon him, at the same time whining and lifting up his paw. Observing it to be much swollen and inflamed, he examined it and found a large thorn embedded in the ball of the foot. He accordingly removed it and dressed the wound as well as he could: and in course of time it healed up completely. The Lion's gratitude was unbounded; he looked upon the man as his friend, and they shared the cave for some time together. A day came, however, when the Slave began to long for the society of his fellow-men, and he bade farewell to the Lion and returned to the town. Here he was presently recognised and carried off in chains to his former master, who resolved to make an example of him, and ordered that he should be thrown to the beasts at the next public spectacle in the theatre. On the fatal day the beasts were loosed into the arena, and among the rest a Lion of huge bulk and ferocious aspect; and then the wretched Slave was cast in among them. What was the amazement of the spectators, when the Lion after one glance bounded up to him and lay down at his feet with every expression of affection and delight! It was his old friend of the cave! The audience clamoured that the Slave's life should be spared: and the governor of the town, marvelling at such gratitude and fidelity in a beast, decreed that both should receive their liberty. THE FLEA AND THE MAN A Flea bit a Man, and bit him again, and again, till he could stand it no longer, but made a thorough search for it, and at last succeeded in catching it. Holding it between his finger and thumb, he said--or rather shouted, so angry was he--"Who are you, pray, you wretched little creature, that you make so free with my person?" The Flea, terrified, whimpered in a weak little voice, "Oh, sir! pray let me go; don't kill me! I am such a little thing that I can't do you much harm." But the Man laughed and said, "I am going to kill you now, at once: whatever is bad has got to be destroyed, no matter how slight the harm it does." Do not waste your pity on a scamp. THE BEE AND JUPITER A Queen Bee from Hymettus flew up to Olympus with some fresh honey from the hive as a present to Jupiter, who was so pleased with the gift that he promised to give her anything she liked to ask for. She said she would be very grateful if he would give stings to the bees, to kill people who robbed them of their honey. Jupiter was greatly displeased with this request, for he loved mankind: but he had given his word, so he said that stings they should have. The stings he gave them, however, were of such a kind that whenever a bee stings a man the sting is left in the wound and the bee dies. Evil wishes, like fowls, come home to roost. THE OAK AND THE REEDS An Oak that grew on the bank of a river was uprooted by a severe gale of wind, and thrown across the stream. It fell among some Reeds growing by the water, and said to them, "How is it that you, who are so frail and slender, have managed to weather the storm, whereas I, with all my strength, have been torn up by the roots and hurled into the river?" "You were stubborn," came the reply, "and fought against the storm, which proved stronger than you: but we bow and yield to every breeze, and thus the gale passed harmlessly over our heads." THE BLIND MAN AND THE CUB There was once a Blind Man who had so fine a sense of touch that, when any animal was put into his hands, he could tell what it was merely by the feel of it. One day the Cub of a Wolf was put into his hands, and he was asked what it was. He felt it for some time, and then said, "Indeed, I am not sure whether it is a Wolf's Cub or a Fox's: but this I know--it would never do to trust it in a sheepfold." Evil tendencies are early shown. THE BOY AND THE SNAILS A Farmer's Boy went looking for Snails, and, when he had picked up both his hands full, he set about making a fire at which to roast them; for he meant to eat them. When it got well alight and the Snails began to feel the heat, they gradually withdrew more and more into their shells with the hissing noise they always make when they do so. When the Boy heard it, he said, "You abandoned creatures, how can you find heart to whistle when your houses are burning?" THE APES AND THE TWO TRAVELLERS Two men were travelling together, one of whom never spoke the truth, whereas the other never told a lie: and they came in the course of their travels to the land of Apes. The King of the Apes, hearing of their arrival, ordered them to be brought before him; and by way of impressing them with his magnificence, he received them sitting on a throne, while the Apes, his subjects, were ranged in long rows on either side of him. When the Travellers came into his presence he asked them what they thought of him as a King. The lying Traveller said, "Sire, every one must see that you are a most noble and mighty monarch." "And what do you think of my subjects?" continued the King. "They," said the Traveller, "are in every way worthy of their royal master." The Ape was so delighted with his answer that he gave him a very handsome present. The other Traveller thought that if his companion was rewarded so splendidly for telling a lie, he himself would certainly receive a still greater reward for telling the truth; so, when the Ape turned to him and said, "And what, sir, is your opinion?" he replied, "I think you are a very fine Ape, and all your subjects are fine Apes too." The King of the Apes was so enraged at his reply that he ordered him to be taken away and clawed to death. THE ASS AND HIS BURDENS A Pedlar who owned an Ass one day bought a quantity of salt, and loaded up his beast with as much as he could bear. On the way home the Ass stumbled as he was crossing a stream and fell into the water. The salt got thoroughly wetted and much of it melted and drained away, so that, when he got on his legs again, the Ass found his load had become much less heavy. His master, however, drove him back to town and bought more salt, which he added to what remained in the panniers, and started out again. No sooner had they reached a stream than the Ass lay down in it, and rose, as before, with a much lighter load. But his master detected the trick, and turning back once more, bought a large number of sponges, and piled them on the back of the Ass. When they came to the stream the Ass again lay down: but this time, as the sponges soaked up large quantities of water, he found, when he got up on his legs, that he had a bigger burden to carry than ever. You may play a good card once too often. THE SHEPHERD'S BOY AND THE WOLF A Shepherd's Boy was tending his flock near a village, and thought it would be great fun to hoax the villagers by pretending that a Wolf was attacking the sheep: so he shouted out, "Wolf! wolf!" and when the people came running up he laughed at them for their pains. He did this more than once, and every time the villagers found they had been hoaxed, for there was no Wolf at all. At last a Wolf really did come, and the Boy cried, "Wolf! wolf!" as loud as he could: but the people were so used to hearing him call that they took no notice of his cries for help. And so the Wolf had it all his own way, and killed off sheep after sheep at his leisure. You cannot believe a liar even when he tells the truth. THE FOX AND THE GOAT A Fox fell into a well and was unable to get out again. By and by a thirsty Goat came by, and seeing the Fox in the well asked him if the water was good. "Good?" said the Fox, "it's the best water I ever tasted in all my life. Come down and try it yourself." The Goat thought of nothing but the prospect of quenching his thirst, and jumped in at once. When he had had enough to drink, he looked about, like the Fox, for some way of getting out, but could find none. Presently the Fox said, "I have an idea. You stand on your hind legs, and plant your forelegs firmly against the side of the well, and then I'll climb on to your back, and, from there, by stepping on your horns, I can get out. And when I'm out, I'll help you out too." The Goat did as he was requested, and the Fox climbed on to his back and so out of the well; and then he coolly walked away. The Goat called loudly after him and reminded him of his promise to help him out: but the Fox merely turned and said, "If you had as much sense in your head as you have hair in your beard you wouldn't have got into the well without making certain that you could get out again." Look before your leap. THE FISHERMAN AND THE SPRAT A Fisherman cast his net into the sea, and when he drew it up again it contained nothing but a single Sprat that begged to be put back into the water. "I'm only a little fish now," it said, "but I shall grow big one day, and then if you come and catch me again I shall be of some use to you." But the Fisherman replied, "Oh, no, I shall keep you now I've got you: if I put you back, should I ever see you again? Not likely!" THE BOASTING TRAVELLER A Man once went abroad on his travels, and when he came home he had wonderful tales to tell of the things he had done in foreign countries. Among other things, he said he had taken part in a jumping-match at Rhodes, and had done a wonderful jump which no one could beat. "Just go to Rhodes and ask them," he said; "every one will tell you it's true." But one of those who were listening said, "If you can jump as well as all that, we needn't go to Rhodes to prove it. Let's just imagine this is Rhodes for a minute: and now--jump!" Deeds, not words. THE CRAB AND HIS MOTHER An Old Crab said to her son, "Why do you walk sideways like that, my son? You ought to walk straight." The Young Crab replied, "Show me how, dear mother, and I'll follow your example." The Old Crab tried, but tried in vain, and then saw how foolish she had been to find fault with her child. Example is better than precept. THE ASS AND HIS SHADOW A certain man hired an Ass for a journey in summertime, and started out with the owner following behind to drive the beast. By and by, in the heat of the day, they stopped to rest, and the traveller wanted to lie down in the Ass's Shadow; but the owner, who himself wished to be out of the sun, wouldn't let him do that; for he said he had hired the Ass only, and not his Shadow: the other maintained that his bargain secured him complete control of the Ass for the time being. From words they came to blows; and while they were belabouring each other the Ass took to his heels and was soon out of sight. THE FARMER AND HIS SONS A Farmer, being at death's door, and desiring to impart to his Sons a secret of much moment, called them round him and said, "My sons, I am shortly about to die; I would have you know, therefore, that in my vineyard there lies a hidden treasure. Dig, and you will find it." As soon as their father was dead, the Sons took spade and fork and turned up the soil of the vineyard over and over again, in their search for the treasure which they supposed to lie buried there. They found none, however: but the vines, after so thorough a digging, produced a crop such as had never before been seen. THE DOG AND THE COOK A rich man once invited a number of his friends and acquaintances to a banquet. His dog thought it would be a good opportunity to invite another Dog, a friend of his; so he went to him and said, "My master is giving a feast: there'll be a fine spread, so come and dine with me to-night." The Dog thus invited came, and when he saw the preparations being made in the kitchen he said to himself, "My word, I'm in luck: I'll take care to eat enough to-night to last me two or three days." At the same time he wagged his tail briskly, by way of showing his friend how delighted he was to have been asked. But just then the Cook caught sight of him, and, in his annoyance at seeing a strange Dog in the kitchen, caught him up by the hind legs and threw him out of the window. He had a nasty fall, and limped away as quickly as he could, howling dismally. Presently some other dogs met him, and said, "Well, what sort of a dinner did you get?" To which he replied, "I had a splendid time: the wine was so good, and I drank so much of it, that I really don't remember how I got out of the house!" Be shy of favours bestowed at the expense of others. THE MONKEY AS KING At a gathering of all the animals the Monkey danced and delighted them so much that they made him their King. The Fox, however, was very much disgusted at the promotion of the Monkey: so having one day found a trap with a piece of meat in it, he took the Monkey there and said to him, "Here is a dainty morsel I have found, sire; I did not take it myself, because I thought it ought to be reserved for you, our King. Will you be pleased to accept it?" The Monkey made at once for the meat and got caught in the trap. Then he bitterly reproached the Fox for leading him into danger; but the Fox only laughed and said, "O Monkey, you call yourself King of the Beasts and haven't more sense than to be taken in like that!" THE THIEVES AND THE COCK Some Thieves broke into a house, and found nothing worth taking except a Cock, which they seized and carried off with them. When they were preparing their supper, one of them caught up the Cock, and was about to wring his neck, when he cried out for mercy and said, "Pray do not kill me: you will find me a most useful bird, for I rouse honest men to their work in the morning by my crowing." But the Thief replied with some heat, "Yes, I know you do, making it still harder for us to get a livelihood. Into the pot you go!" THE FARMER AND FORTUNE A Farmer was ploughing one day on his farm when he turned up a pot of golden coins with his plough. He was overjoyed at his discovery, and from that time forth made an offering daily at the shrine of the Goddess of the Earth. Fortune was displeased at this, and came to him and said, "My man, why do you give Earth the credit for the gift which I bestowed upon you? You never thought of thanking me for your good luck; but should you be unlucky enough to lose what you have gained I know very well that I, Fortune, should then come in for all the blame." Show gratitude where gratitude is due. JUPITER AND THE MONKEY Jupiter issued a proclamation to all the beasts, and offered a prize to the one who, in his judgment, produced the most beautiful offspring. Among the rest came the Monkey, carrying a baby monkey in her arms, a hairless, flat-nosed little fright. When they saw it, the gods all burst into peal on peal of laughter; but the Monkey hugged her little one to her, and said, "Jupiter may give the prize to whomsoever he likes: but I shall always think my baby the most beautiful of them all." FATHER AND SONS A certain man had several Sons who were always quarrelling with one another, and, try as he might, he could not get them to live together in harmony. So he determined to convince them of their folly by the following means. Bidding them fetch a bundle of sticks, he invited each in turn to break it across his knee. All tried and all failed: and then he undid the bundle, and handed them the sticks one by one, when they had no difficulty at all in breaking them. "There, my boys," said he, "united you will be more than a match for your enemies: but if you quarrel and separate, your weakness will put you at the mercy of those who attack you." Union is strength. THE LAMP A Lamp, well filled with oil, burned with a clear and steady light, and began to swell with pride and boast that it shone more brightly than the sun himself. Just then a puff of wind came and blew it out. Some one struck a match and lit it again, and said, "You just keep alight, and never mind the sun. Why, even the stars never need to be relit as you had to be just now." THE OWL AND THE BIRDS The Owl is a very wise bird; and once, long ago, when the first oak sprouted in the forest, she called all the other Birds together and said to them, "You see this tiny tree? If you take my advice, you will destroy it now when it is small: for when it grows big, the mistletoe will appear upon it, from which birdlime will be prepared for your destruction." Again, when the first flax was sown, she said to them, "Go and eat up that seed, for it is the seed of the flax, out of which men will one day make nets to catch you." Once more, when she saw the first archer, she warned the Birds that he was their deadly enemy, who would wing his arrows with their own feathers and shoot them. But they took no notice of what she said: in fact, they thought she was rather mad, and laughed at her. When, however, everything turned out as she had foretold, they changed their minds and conceived a great respect for her wisdom. Hence, whenever she appears, the Birds attend upon her in the hope of hearing something that may be for their good. She, however, gives them advice no longer, but sits moping and pondering on the folly of her kind. THE ASS IN THE LION'S SKIN An Ass found a Lion's Skin, and dressed himself up in it. Then he went about frightening every one he met, for they all took him to be a lion, men and beasts alike, and took to their heels when they saw him coming. Elated by the success of his trick, he loudly brayed in triumph. The Fox heard him, and recognised him at once for the Ass he was, and said to him, "Oho, my friend, it's you, is it? I, too, should have been afraid if I hadn't heard your voice." THE SHE-GOATS AND THEIR BEARDS Jupiter granted beards to the She-Goats at their own request, much to the disgust of the he-Goats, who considered this to be an unwarrantable invasion of their rights and dignities. So they sent a deputation to him to protest against his action. He, however, advised them not to raise any objections. "What's in a tuft of hair?" said he. "Let them have it if they want it. They can never be a match for you in strength." THE OLD LION A Lion, enfeebled by age and no longer able to procure food for himself by force, determined to do so by cunning. Betaking himself to a cave, he lay down inside and feigned to be sick: and whenever any of the other animals entered to inquire after his health, he sprang upon them and devoured them. Many lost their lives in this way, till one day a Fox called at the cave, and, having a suspicion of the truth, addressed the Lion from outside instead of going in, and asked him how he did. He replied that he was in a very bad way: "But," said he, "why do you stand outside? Pray come in." "I should have done so," answered the Fox, "if I hadn't noticed that all the footprints point towards the cave and none the other way." THE BOY BATHING A Boy was bathing in a river and got out of his depth, and was in great danger of being drowned. A man who was passing along a road heard his cries for help, and went to the riverside and began to scold him for being so careless as to get into deep water, but made no attempt to help him. "Oh, sir," cried the Boy, "please help me first and scold me afterwards." Give assistance, not advice, in a crisis. THE QUACK FROG Once upon a time a Frog came forth from his home in the marshes and proclaimed to all the world that he was a learned physician, skilled in drugs and able to cure all diseases. Among the crowd was a Fox, who called out, "You a doctor! Why, how can you set up to heal others when you cannot even cure your own lame legs and blotched and wrinkled skin?" Physician, heal thyself. THE SWOLLEN FOX A hungry Fox found in a hollow tree a quantity of bread and meat, which some shepherds had placed there against their return. Delighted with his find he slipped in through the narrow aperture and greedily devoured it all. But when he tried to get out again he found himself so swollen after his big meal that he could not squeeze through the hole, and fell to whining and groaning over his misfortune. Another Fox, happening to pass that way, came and asked him what the matter was; and, on learning the state of the case, said, "Well, my friend, I see nothing for it but for you to stay where you are till you shrink to your former size; you'll get out then easily enough." THE MOUSE, THE FROG, AND THE HAWK A Mouse and a Frog struck up a friendship; they were not well mated, for the Mouse lived entirely on land, while the Frog was equally at home on land or in the water. In order that they might never be separated, the Frog tied himself and the Mouse together by the leg with a piece of thread. As long as they kept on dry land all went fairly well; but, coming to the edge of a pool, the Frog jumped in, taking the Mouse with him, and began swimming about and croaking with pleasure. The unhappy Mouse, however, was soon drowned, and floated about on the surface in the wake of the Frog. There he was spied by a Hawk, who pounced down on him and seized him in his talons. The Frog was unable to loose the knot which bound him to the Mouse, and thus was carried off along with him and eaten by the Hawk. THE BOY AND THE NETTLES A Boy was gathering berries from a hedge when his hand was stung by a Nettle. Smarting with the pain, he ran to tell his mother, and said to her between his sobs, "I only touched it ever so lightly, mother." "That's just why you got stung, my son," she said; "if you had grasped it firmly, it wouldn't have hurt you in the least." THE PEASANT AND THE APPLE-TREE A Peasant had an Apple-tree growing in his garden, which bore no fruit, but merely served to provide a shelter from the heat for the sparrows and grasshoppers which sat and chirped in its branches. Disappointed at its barrenness he determined to cut it down, and went and fetched his axe for the purpose. But when the sparrows and the grasshoppers saw what he was about to do, they begged him to spare it, and said to him, "If you destroy the tree we shall have to seek shelter elsewhere, and you will no longer have our merry chirping to enliven your work in the garden." He, however, refused to listen to them, and set to work with a will to cut through the trunk. A few strokes showed that it was hollow inside and contained a swarm of bees and a large store of honey. Delighted with his find he threw down his axe, saying, "The old tree is worth keeping after all." Utility is most men's test of worth. THE JACKDAW AND THE PIGEONS A Jackdaw, watching some Pigeons in a farmyard, was filled with envy when he saw how well they were fed, and determined to disguise himself as one of them, in order to secure a share of the good things they enjoyed. So he painted himself white from head to foot and joined the flock; and, so long as he was silent, they never suspected that he was not a pigeon like themselves. But one day he was unwise enough to start chattering, when they at once saw through his disguise and pecked him so unmercifully that he was glad to escape and join his own kind again. But the other jackdaws did not recognise him in his white dress, and would not let him feed with them, but drove him away: and so he became a homeless wanderer for his pains. JUPITER AND THE TORTOISE Jupiter was about to marry a wife, and determined to celebrate the event by inviting all the animals to a banquet. They all came except the Tortoise, who did not put in an appearance, much to Jupiter's surprise. So when he next saw the Tortoise he asked him why he had not been at the banquet. "I don't care for going out," said the Tortoise; "there's no place like home." Jupiter was so much annoyed by this reply that he decreed that from that time forth the Tortoise should carry his house upon his back, and never be able to get away from home even if he wished to. THE DOG IN THE MANGER A Dog was lying in a Manger on the hay which had been put there for the cattle, and when they came and tried to eat, he growled and snapped at them and wouldn't let them get at their food. "What a selfish beast," said one of them to his companions; "he can't eat himself and yet he won't let those eat who can." THE TWO BAGS Every man carries Two Bags about with him, one in front and one behind, and both are packed full of faults. The Bag in front contains his neighbours' faults, the one behind his own. Hence it is that men do not see their own faults, but never fail to see those of others. THE OXEN AND THE AXLETREES A pair of Oxen were drawing a heavily loaded waggon along the highway, and, as they tugged and strained at the yoke, the Axletrees creaked and groaned terribly. This was too much for the Oxen, who turned round indignantly and said, "Hullo, you there! Why do you make such a noise when we do all the work?" They complain most who suffer least. THE BOY AND THE FILBERTS A Boy put his hand into a jar of Filberts, and grasped as many as his fist could possibly hold. But when he tried to pull it out again, he found he couldn't do so, for the neck of the jar was too small to allow of the passage of so large a handful. Unwilling to lose his nuts but unable to withdraw his hand, he burst into tears. A bystander, who saw where the trouble lay, said to him, "Come, my boy, don't be so greedy: be content with half the amount, and you'll be able to get your hand out without difficulty." Do not attempt too much at once. THE FROGS ASKING FOR A KING Time was when the Frogs were discontented because they had no one to rule over them: so they sent a deputation to Jupiter to ask him to give them a King. Jupiter, despising the folly of their request, cast a log into the pool where they lived, and said that that should be their King. The Frogs were terrified at first by the splash, and scuttled away into the deepest parts of the pool; but by and by, when they saw that the log remained motionless, one by one they ventured to the surface again, and before long, growing bolder, they began to feel such contempt for it that they even took to sitting upon it. Thinking that a King of that sort was an insult to their dignity, they sent to Jupiter a second time, and begged him to take away the sluggish King he had given them, and to give them another and a better one. Jupiter, annoyed at being pestered in this way, sent a Stork to rule over them, who no sooner arrived among them than he began to catch and eat the Frogs as fast as he could. THE OLIVE-TREE AND THE FIG-TREE An Olive-tree taunted a Fig-tree with the loss of her leaves at a certain season of the year. "You," she said, "lose your leaves every autumn, and are bare till the spring: whereas I, as you see, remain green and flourishing all the year round." Soon afterwards there came a heavy fall of snow, which settled on the leaves of the Olive so that she bent and broke under the weight; but the flakes fell harmlessly through the bare branches of the Fig, which survived to bear many another crop. THE LION AND THE BOAR One hot and thirsty day in the height of summer a Lion and a Boar came down to a little spring at the same moment to drink. In a trice they were quarrelling as to who should drink first. The quarrel soon became a fight and they attacked one another with the utmost fury. Presently, stopping for a moment to take breath, they saw some vultures seated on a rock above evidently waiting for one of them to be killed, when they would fly down and feed upon the carcase. The sight sobered them at once, and they made up their quarrel, saying, "We had much better be friends than fight and be eaten by vultures." THE WALNUT-TREE A Walnut-tree, which grew by the roadside, bore every year a plentiful crop of nuts. Every one who passed by pelted its branches with sticks and stones, in order to bring down the fruit, and the tree suffered severely. "It is hard," it cried, "that the very persons who enjoy my fruit should thus reward me with insults and blows." THE MAN AND THE LION A Man and a Lion were companions on a journey, and in the course of conversation they began to boast about their prowess, and each claimed to be superior to the other in strength and courage. They were still arguing with some heat when they came to a cross-road where there was a statue of a Man strangling a Lion. "There!" said the Man triumphantly, "look at that! Doesn't that prove to you that we are stronger than you?" "Not so fast, my friend," said the Lion: "that is only your view of the case. If we Lions could make statues, you may be sure that in most of them you would see the Man underneath." There are two sides to every question. THE TORTOISE AND THE EAGLE A Tortoise, discontented with his lowly life, and envious of the birds he saw disporting themselves in the air, begged an Eagle to teach him to fly. The Eagle protested that it was idle for him to try, as nature had not provided him with wings; but the Tortoise pressed him with entreaties and promises of treasure, insisting that it could only be a question of learning the craft of the air. So at length the Eagle consented to do the best he could for him, and picked him up in his talons. Soaring with him to a great height in the sky he then let him go, and the wretched Tortoise fell headlong and was dashed to pieces on a rock. THE KID ON THE HOUSETOP A Kid climbed up on to the roof of an outhouse, attracted by the grass and other things that grew in the thatch; and as he stood there browsing away, he caught sight of a Wolf passing below, and jeered at him because he couldn't reach him. The Wolf only looked up and said, "I hear you, my young friend; but it is not you who mock me, but the roof on which you are standing." THE FOX WITHOUT A TAIL A fox once fell into a trap, and after a struggle managed to get free, but with the loss of his brush. He was then so much ashamed of his appearance that he thought life was not worth living unless he could persuade the other Foxes to part with their tails also, and thus divert attention from his own loss. So he called a meeting of all the Foxes, and advised them to cut off their tails: "They're ugly things anyhow," he said, "and besides they're heavy, and it's tiresome to be always carrying them about with you." But one of the other Foxes said, "My friend, if you hadn't lost your own tail, you wouldn't be so keen on getting us to cut off ours." THE VAIN JACKDAW Jupiter announced that he intended to appoint a king over the birds, and named a day on which they were to appear before his throne, when he would select the most beautiful of them all to be their ruler. Wishing to look their best on the occasion they repaired to the banks of a stream, where they busied themselves in washing and preening their feathers. The Jackdaw was there along with the rest, and realised that, with his ugly plumage, he would have no chance of being chosen as he was: so he waited till they were all gone, and then picked up the most gaudy of the feathers they had dropped, and fastened them about his own body, with the result that he looked gayer than any of them. When the appointed day came, the birds assembled before Jupiter's throne; and, after passing them in review, he was about to make the Jackdaw king, when all the rest set upon the king-elect, stripped him of his borrowed plumes, and exposed him for the Jackdaw that he was. THE TRAVELLER AND HIS DOG A Traveller was about to start on a journey, and said to his Dog, who was stretching himself by the door, "Come, what are you yawning for? Hurry up and get ready: I mean you to go with me." But the Dog merely wagged his tail and said quietly, "I'm ready, master: it's you I'm waiting for." THE SHIPWRECKED MAN AND THE SEA A Shipwrecked Man cast up on the beach fell asleep after his struggle with the waves. When he woke up, he bitterly reproached the Sea for its treachery in enticing men with its smooth and smiling surface, and then, when they were well embarked, turning in fury upon them and sending both ship and sailors to destruction. The Sea arose in the form of a woman, and replied, "Lay not the blame on me, O sailor, but on the Winds. By nature I am as calm and safe as the land itself: but the Winds fall upon me with their gusts and gales, and lash me into a fury that is not natural to me." THE WILD BOAR AND THE FOX A Wild Boar was engaged in whetting his tusks upon the trunk of a tree in the forest when a Fox came by and, seeing what he was at, said to him, "Why are you doing that, pray? The huntsmen are not out to-day, and there are no other dangers at hand that I can see." "True, my friend," replied the Boar, "but the instant my life is in danger I shall need to use my tusks. There'll be no time to sharpen them then." MERCURY AND THE SCULPTOR Mercury was very anxious to know in what estimation he was held by mankind; so he disguised himself as a man and walked into a Sculptor's studio, where there were a number of statues finished and ready for sale. Seeing a statue of Jupiter among the rest, he inquired the price of it. "A crown," said the Sculptor. "Is that all?" said he, laughing; "and" (pointing to one of Juno) "how much is that one?" "That," was the reply, "is half a crown." "And how much might you be wanting for that one over there, now?" he continued, pointing to a statue of himself. "That one?" said the Sculptor; "Oh, I'll throw him in for nothing if you'll buy the other two." THE FAWN AND HIS MOTHER A Hind said to her Fawn, who was now well grown and strong, "My son, Nature has given you a powerful body and a stout pair of horns, and I can't think why you are such a coward as to run away from the hounds." Just then they both heard the sound of a pack in full cry, but at a considerable distance. "You stay where you are," said the Hind; "never mind me": and with that she ran off as fast as her legs could carry her. THE FOX AND THE LION A Fox who had never seen a Lion one day met one, and was so terrified at the sight of him that he was ready to die with fear. After a time he met him again, and was still rather frightened, but not nearly so much as he had been when he met him first. But when he saw him for the third time he was so far from being afraid that he went up to him and began to talk to him as if he had known him all his life. THE EAGLE AND HIS CAPTOR A Man once caught an Eagle, and after clipping his wings turned him loose among the fowls in his hen-house, where he moped in a corner, looking very dejected and forlorn. After a while his Captor was glad enough to sell him to a neighbour, who took him home and let his wings grow again. As soon as he had recovered the use of them, the Eagle flew out and caught a hare, which he brought home and presented to his benefactor. A fox observed this, and said to the Eagle, "Don't waste your gifts on him! Go and give them to the man who first caught you; make _him_ your friend, and then perhaps he won't catch you and clip your wings a second time." THE BLACKSMITH AND HIS DOG A Blacksmith had a little Dog, which used to sleep when his master was at work, but was very wide awake indeed when it was time for meals. One day his master pretended to be disgusted at this, and when he had thrown him a bone as usual, he said, "What on earth is the good of a lazy cur like you? When I am hammering away at my anvil, you just curl up and go to sleep: but no sooner do I stop for a mouthful of food than you wake up and wag your tail to be fed." Those who will not work deserve to starve. THE STAG AT THE POOL A thirsty Stag went down to a pool to drink. As he bent over the surface he saw his own reflection in the water, and was struck with admiration for his fine spreading antlers, but at the same time he felt nothing but disgust for the weakness and slenderness of his legs. While he stood there looking at himself, he was seen and attacked by a Lion; but in the chase which ensued, he soon drew away from his pursuer, and kept his lead as long as the ground over which he ran was open and free of trees. But coming presently to a wood, he was caught by his antlers in the branches, and fell a victim to the teeth and claws of his enemy. "Woe is me!" he cried with his last breath; "I despised my legs, which might have saved my life: but I gloried in my horns, and they have proved my ruin." What is worth most is often valued least. THE DOG AND THE SHADOW A Dog was crossing a plank bridge over a stream with a piece of meat in his mouth, when he happened to see his own reflection in the water. He thought it was another dog with a piece of meat twice as big; so he let go his own, and flew at the other dog to get the larger piece. But, of course, all that happened was that he got neither; for one was only a shadow, and the other was carried away by the current. MERCURY AND THE TRADESMEN When Jupiter was creating man, he told Mercury to make an infusion of lies, and to add a little of it to the other ingredients which went to the making of the Tradesmen. Mercury did so, and introduced an equal amount into each in turn--the tallow-chandler, and the greengrocer, and the haberdasher, and all, till he came to the horse-dealer, who was last on the list, when, finding that he had a quantity of the infusion still left, he put it all into him. This is why all Tradesmen lie more or less, but they none of them lie like a horse-dealer. THE MICE AND THE WEASELS There was war between the Mice and the Weasels, in which the Mice always got the worst of it, numbers of them being killed and eaten by the Weasels. So they called a council of war, in which an old Mouse got up and said, "It's no wonder we are always beaten, for we have no generals to plan our battles and direct our movements in the field." Acting on his advice, they chose the biggest Mice to be their leaders, and these, in order to be distinguished from the rank and file, provided themselves with helmets bearing large plumes of straw. They then led out the Mice to battle, confident of victory: but they were defeated as usual, and were soon scampering as fast as they could to their holes. All made their way to safety without difficulty except the leaders, who were so hampered by the badges of their rank that they could not get into their holes, and fell easy victims to their pursuers. Greatness carries its own penalties. THE PEACOCK AND JUNO The Peacock was greatly discontented because he had not a beautiful voice like the nightingale, and he went and complained to Juno about it. "The nightingale's song," said he, "is the envy of all the birds; but whenever I utter a sound I become a laughing-stock." The goddess tried to console him by saying, "You have not, it is true, the power of song, but then you far excel all the rest in beauty: your neck flashes like the emerald and your splendid tail is a marvel of gorgeous colour." But the Peacock was not appeased. "What is the use," said he, "of being beautiful, with a voice like mine?" Then Juno replied, with a shade of sternness in her tones, "Fate has allotted to all their destined gifts: to yourself beauty, to the eagle strength, to the nightingale song, and so on to all the rest in their degree; but you alone are dissatisfied with your portion. Make, then, no more complaints. For, if your present wish were granted, you would quickly find cause for fresh discontent." THE BEAR AND THE FOX A Bear was once bragging about his generous feelings, and saying how refined he was compared with other animals. (There is, in fact, a tradition that a Bear will never touch a dead body.) A Fox, who heard him talking in this strain, smiled and said, "My friend, when you are hungry, I only wish you _would_ confine your attention to the dead and leave the living alone." A hypocrite deceives no one but himself. THE ASS AND THE OLD PEASANT An old Peasant was sitting in a meadow watching his Ass, which was grazing close by, when all of a sudden he caught sight of armed men stealthily approaching. He jumped up in a moment, and begged the Ass to fly with him as fast as he could, "Or else," said he, "we shall both be captured by the enemy." But the Ass just looked round lazily and said, "And if so, do you think they'll make me carry heavier loads than I have to now?" "No," said his master. "Oh, well, then," said the Ass, "I don't mind if they do take me, for I shan't be any worse off." THE OX AND THE FROG Two little Frogs were playing about at the edge of a pool when an Ox came down to the water to drink, and by accident trod on one of them and crushed the life out of him. When the old Frog missed him, she asked his brother where he was. "He is dead, mother," said the little Frog; "an enormous big creature with four legs came to our pool this morning and trampled him down in the mud." "Enormous, was he? Was he as big as this?" said the Frog, puffing herself out to look as big as possible. "Oh! yes, _much_ bigger," was the answer. The Frog puffed herself out still more. "Was he as big as this?" said she. "Oh! yes, yes, mother, _MUCH_ bigger," said the little Frog. And yet again she puffed and puffed herself out till she was almost as round as a ball. "As big as...?" she began--but then she burst. THE MAN AND THE IMAGE A poor Man had a wooden Image of a god, to which he used to pray daily for riches. He did this for a long time, but remained as poor as ever, till one day he caught up the Image in disgust and hurled it with all his strength against the wall. The force of the blow split open the head and a quantity of gold coins fell out upon the floor. The Man gathered them up greedily, and said, "O you old fraud, you! When I honoured you, you did me no good whatever: but no sooner do I treat you to insults and violence than you make a rich man of me!" HERCULES AND THE WAGGONER A Waggoner was driving his team along a muddy lane with a full load behind them, when the wheels of his waggon sank so deep in the mire that no efforts of his horses could move them. As he stood there, looking helplessly on, and calling loudly at intervals upon Hercules for assistance, the god himself appeared, and said to him, "Put your shoulder to the wheel, man, and goad on your horses, and then you may call on Hercules to assist you. If you won't lift a finger to help yourself, you can't expect Hercules or any one else to come to your aid." Heaven helps those who help themselves. THE POMEGRANATE, THE APPLE-TREE, AND THE BRAMBLE A Pomegranate and an Apple-tree were disputing about the quality of their fruits, and each claimed that its own was the better of the two. High words passed between them, and a violent quarrel was imminent, when a Bramble impudently poked its head out of a neighbouring hedge and said, "There, that's enough, my friends; don't let us quarrel." THE LION, THE BEAR, AND THE FOX A Lion and a Bear were fighting for possession of a kid, which they had both seized at the same moment. The battle was long and fierce, and at length both of them were exhausted, and lay upon the ground severely wounded and gasping for breath. A Fox had all the time been prowling round and watching the fight: and when he saw the combatants lying there too weak to move, he slipped in and seized the kid, and ran off with it. They looked on helplessly, and one said to the other, "Here we've been mauling each other all this while, and no one the better for it except the Fox!" THE BLACKAMOOR A Man once bought an Ethiopian slave, who had a black skin like all Ethiopians; but his new master thought his colour was due to his late owner's having neglected him, and that all he wanted was a good scrubbing. So he set to work with plenty of soap and hot water, and rubbed away at him with a will, but all to no purpose: his skin remained as black as ever, while the poor wretch all but died from the cold he caught. THE TWO SOLDIERS AND THE ROBBER Two Soldiers travelling together were set upon by a Robber. One of them ran away, but the other stood his ground, and laid about him so lustily with his sword that the Robber was fain to fly and leave him in peace. When the coast was clear the timid one ran back, and, flourishing his weapon, cried in a threatening voice, "Where is he? Let me get at him, and I'll soon let him know whom he's got to deal with." But the other replied, "You are a little late, my friend: I only wish you had backed me up just now, even if you had done no more than speak, for I should have been encouraged, believing your words to be true. As it is, calm yourself, and put up your sword: there is no further use for it. You may delude others into thinking you're as brave as a lion: but I know that, at the first sign of danger, you run away like a hare." THE LION AND THE WILD ASS A Lion and a Wild Ass went out hunting together: the latter was to run down the prey by his superior speed, and the former would then come up and despatch it. They met with great success; and when it came to sharing the spoil the Lion divided it all into three equal portions. "I will take the first," said he, "because I am King of the beasts; I will also take the second, because, as your partner, I am entitled to half of what remains; and as for the third--well, unless you give it up to me and take yourself off pretty quick, the third, believe me, will make you feel very sorry for yourself!" Might makes right. THE MAN AND THE SATYR A Man and a Satyr became friends, and determined to live together. All went well for a while, until one day in winter-time the Satyr saw the Man blowing on his hands. "Why do you do that?" he asked. "To warm my hands," said the Man. That same day, when they sat down to supper together, they each had a steaming hot bowl of porridge, and the Man raised his bowl to his mouth and blew on it. "Why do you do that?" asked the Satyr. "To cool my porridge," said the Man. The Satyr got up from the table. "Good-bye," said he, "I'm going: I can't be friends with a man who blows hot and cold with the same breath." THE IMAGE-SELLER A certain man made a wooden Image of Mercury, and exposed it for sale in the market. As no one offered to buy it, however, he thought he would try to attract a purchaser by proclaiming the virtues of the Image. So he cried up and down the market, "A god for sale! a god for sale! One who'll bring you luck and keep you lucky!" Presently one of the bystanders stopped him and said, "If your god is all you make him out to be, how is it you don't keep him and make the most of him yourself?" "I'll tell you why," replied he; "he brings gain, it is true, but he takes his time about it; whereas I want money at once." THE EAGLE AND THE ARROW An Eagle sat perched on a lofty rock, keeping a sharp look-out for prey. A huntsman, concealed in a cleft of the mountain and on the watch for game, spied him there and shot an Arrow at him. The shaft struck him full in the breast and pierced him through and through. As he lay in the agonies of death, he turned his eyes upon the Arrow. "Ah! cruel fate!" he cried, "that I should perish thus: but oh! fate more cruel still, that the Arrow which kills me should be winged with an Eagle's feathers!"