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Лиса и виноград
Собака и волк
Путники и медведь
Осел в львиной шкуре
Муровей и голубь
Собака на сене
Тришкин кафтан
Орел и крот
Муровей и стрекоза
Ворона и лисица


Содержание

  1. Aesop’s Fables: The Ant and the Grasshopper
  2. Aesop’s Fables: The Ass in the Lion’s Skin
  3. Aesop’s Fables: The Fox and the Crow
  4. Aesop’s Fables: The Bear and the Two Travelers
  5. Aesop’s Fables: The Stag at the River
  6. Aesop’s Fables: The Lion, the Bear, and the Fox
  7. Aesop’s Fables: The Hare and the Tortoise
  8. Aesop’s Fables: The Fox and the Grapes
  9. Aesop’s Fables: The Shepherd’s Boy and the Wolf
  10. Aesop’s Fables: The Ant and the Dove
  11. Aesop’s Fables: The Dog and His Reflection
  12. Aesop’s Fables: The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse
  13. Aesop’s Fables: The Peacock and the Crane
  14. Aesop’s Fables: The Hares and the Frogs

Aesop’s Fables: The Ant and the Grasshopper

It was summer, hot and sunny, and, instead of working and preparing for winter, a Grasshopper preferred to dance, sing and play his violin at his leisure, not minding that these wonderful days will soon be over, that cold and rainy days will soon be near. On seeing a hardworking Ant passing by him, preparing for the hard winter that was to come one day, he invited him to join him and share his fun.
“Unfortunately, I don’t have time for this”, the Ant answered, “I must work hard, so that winter won’t find me without shelter and food.”
“Stop worrying so much, there is still plenty of time to prepare for winter. Let’s sing and dance together, let’s laugh and enjoy life”.
But Ant was very wise and wouldn’t pay attention to the Grasshopper’s words and continued to work hard and store food for the long winter that was to come.
The winter came sooner than expected, and the Grasshopper found himself without home and without food. He went to the Ant’s house and begged him for food and shelter.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t help you”, the Ant said. “I only have room and food for me and my family, so go find help somewhere else.”
“I should have followed Ant’s example in the summer”, the Grasshopper thought sadly. “I would have been so happy now…”

Prepare for the hard days to come.

Aesop's Fables for kids (басни Эзопа на английском)
Aesop’s Fables

Aesop’s Fables: The Ass in the Lion’s Skin

On his walk through the forest, an Ass found a Lion’s skin and instantly, a wonderful idea crossed his mind that was going to help him be respected and feared by al the other animals. He was going to pretend to be a Lion! So, he put the skin on and wandered through the forest, scaring all the small animals around. He felt so strong, he was the king of the forest! What a great feeling! For a moment, he forgot he was not supposed to open his mouth to give himself away and brayed triumphantly. Right then, a fox that was just on the point to run away scared thinking it was a real Lion, stopped suddenly and began to mock at him.
“An Ass! You were just an Ass pretending to be a Lion! You gave yourself away with your voice. Had you kept your mouth shut, I would have been fooled myself, too.”

The real fakers will finally give themselves away. .

Aesop's Fables for kids (басни Эзопа на английском)

Aesop’s Fables: The Fox and the Crow

One day, a Crow found a piece of meat, took it in her beak and flew away with it in a tree. Right that moment, a Fox passing by, saw the Crow with the meat and, since he was very hungry, thought of a plan meant to help hime steal the meat. So, he sat in front of the Crow and begain to exclaim:
“Oh, Crow, you are the most gracious and beautiful bird I have ever seen! Let me admire you, and let me hear your voice, too, it must be equally beautiful as your appearance, you, Queen of Birds! ”
The Crow was truly delighted by all these compliments, and she was even convinced she had a beautiful voice, so, she opened her mouth to sing. That moment, she dropped the meat, and the Fox grabbed it right away.
“Look, Crow”, the Fox said, “your voice is ok, but, unfortunately, you have no wits.”

The flatterers are not trustworthy.

Aesop's Fables for kids (басни Эзопа на английском)
The Fox and the Crow

Aesop’s Fables: The Bear and the Two Travelers

One sunny day, two travellers who seemed to be very good friends met a bear in their way when they least expected, so they both tried to climb a tree that was near to save their life, but one of them hurt himself and didn’t manage to climb. His friend was so concerned to save his own life, that forgot about him and didn’t offer to help him, so, the only idea that crossed his mind that moment was to play the dead on the ground. The bear thought he was really dead, so, he soon left, after smelling him for a while.
When they finally seemed to be safe, the traveller in the tree climbed down, asking his friend what the bear whispered in his ear.
“ The bear adviced me not to trust those friends who leave you in a moment of danger”

Real friends help you when you are in trouble..

Aesop's Fables for kids (басни Эзопа на английском)
Bear and the Two Travelers

Aesop’s Fables: The Stag at the River

One hot day a stag came to a river to quench his thirst, and seeing his reflection in the water, found his horns truly amazing: “They are magnificent, exquisite, I am so proud of them”, he exclaimed, then, looking at his legs, he became very sad. “My legs are too short, too thin, if they could be as amazing as my horns… I would be so happy”. But while pondering on all these things, a Lion showed up, and the Stag ran away, but soon stuck his horns into the branches of the trees. It was very easy for the Lion to capture him this way.
“ I can’t believe that my very horns which were my pride brought my misfortune, while my legs which I was so ashamed of would have served me so well. Things are not what they seem to be”.

Most often, we despise the most precious things and appreciate the wrong ones.

Aesop's Fables for kids (басни Эзопа на английском)
The Stag at the River

Aesop’s Fables: The Lion, the Bear, and the Fox

A poor unfortunate Kid got captured by both a Lion and a Bear and each one wanted it for himself, not willing to give up on it in favor of the other one and not even to share it.
Because of this, they started to fight. After they fighted for a long time, they fell down very tired. A cunning Fox who noticed all this from the very beginning took advantage of this moment, came quickly, grabbed the Kid and ran away, very happy with his prey.
The Lion and the Bear couldn’t believe they had been so unwise and lost the Kid because of their greed.
“Next time we capture a prey, I promise I’ll share it with you”, said the Lion after he learned his lesson.

You may work hard and still not get the benefit if you’re not wise enough.

Aesop's Fables for kids (басни Эзопа на английском)
The Lion, the Bear, and the Fox

Aesop’s Fables: The Hare and the Tortoise

A Hare and a Tortoise decided one day to compete with each other in a race. That was because the Hare dared to laugh at the Tortoise for being so slow and heavy and he just couldn’t stand this painful offence. So the Tortoise suggested the race and the Hare agreed, very confident in himself. “The poor Tortoise will make a fool of himself”, he thought very amused.
So, when the big day arrived, they started together. A long road was to be run, so, after a while, the Hare stopped, being so advanced in comparison with the slow Tortoise and thought it was a good idea to take a nap for a few minutes. He did so, but when he finally woke up, he was horified to notice that the Tortoise was just about to arrive at the end of the race.
“No, that’s not possible. I must be dreaming!”, he said. “I will catch up with him, I still have time to win, I can run so fast…”
But he couldn’t make it, though, it was too late, the Tortoise was the winner of the race, as slow as he was!

Be consistent in your effort and you will be successful.

Aesop's Fables for kids (басни Эзопа на английском)
The Hare and the Tortoise

Aesop’s Fables: The Fox and the Grapes

Searching for food to satisfy his hunger, a Fox suddenly saw a vine full of big grapes and ran towards it greeedishly. But unfortunately, the grapes were so high that it was impossible for him to reach them. He tried again and again, but couldn’t even touch them. Bitter and frustrated, he comforted himself by saying: «Anyway they don’t seem ripe, so the taste must be very bad. Surely they are sour”.

You can easily despise what you can’t have.

Aesop's Fables for kids (басни Эзопа на английском)
The Fox and the Grapes

Aesop’s Fables: The Shepherd’s Boy and the Wolf

There lived a shepherd boy in a small mountain village. He had great imagination, so one day, an idea occured to him to have some fun and escape from the monotony of his life. So he went very close to the village so that people could hear him and began to yell: «Wolf ! Wolf! Help me!”
The villagers got scared and wanted to help him, so they came quickly, but instead of wolf, they only found the shepherd boy laughing ironically.
“Foolish boy!”, they said very angry and left.
The boy was really proud of himself and did his stupid joke once again another day and the villagers believed his lie again and felt sorry they fell into his trap.
The third time the shepherd boy cried for help, nobody bothered to help him any more and this time the wolf was real, it was not a joke, but the villagers didn’t believe him any more.

Once you lose your credibility, no one will believe you any more, even when you speak the truth.

Aesop's Fables for kids (басни Эзопа на английском)
aesop fables

Aesop’s Fables: The Ant and the Dove

One day, an Ant went to the river to drink some water, but unfortunately he fell into the water and was just about to lose his life. That moment, a Dove saw him and, eager to save his life, threw a bough on the water, so that the Ant should climb on it. Soon, the Ant was out of any danger. He was very grateful to the Dove for saving his life, so, one day, when the Dove was in danger, too, because a hunter intended to shot at her, the Ant stung him in the foot. The hunter dropped his gun because of the pain, and the Dove flew away in a moment.

One good deed is rewarded with another good deed.

Aesop's Fables for kids (басни Эзопа на английском)
The Ant and the Dove

Aesop’s Fables: The Dog and His Reflection

A Dog found a piece of meat one day and while walking with it in his mouth near a stream, he saw another dog in the water with another piece of meat. He was not aware that it was his own reflection and not another dog. So, wishing to have the other meat, too, not satisfied with his own, he opened his mouth to grab it, but that moment, his meat fell into the water and it was carried away till he couldn’t see it any more. So, he remained hungry that day, because of his greed.

If you’re not content if what you have, you may lose everything in the end.

Aesop's Fables for kids (басни Эзопа на английском)
the dog and his reflection

Aesop’s Fables: The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse

A Mouse living in the countryside, invited his cousin who lived in a big town to spend some time in her modest home. She agreed and they spent a great time together, despite the modest conditions they lived in. Nothing ever seemed to trouble their peace and harmony. Before returning to her home, the Town Mouse asked the Country Mouse to come with her. As the Town Mouse described the city life full of surprises and luxury, her cousin was very curious to see all that herself, so she said „Yes”. They traveled together to the Town Mouse’s house and everything was indeed as described with lots of food and fun. But, at the same time, many dangers that the Country Mouse wasn’t made aware of. A cat tried to catch them while they were eating, then a dog barked at them, so the Country Mouse decided immediately to return home and never come back.
“I’d rather live in poverty, but in peace. What’s the use of having plenty of food and lots of dangers, too?”, she said happy to be back home.

Better a peaceful life in poverty, than luxury at the cost of losing your life.

Aesop's Fables for kids (басни Эзопа на английском)
The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse

Aesop’s Fables: The Peacock and the Crane

There was once a very conceited Peacock who had a gorgeous tail like no other bird. So, when he met a Crane one day, the Peacock scoffed at the Crane’s colorless and dull feathers, and immediately spread his own colorful tail for the Crane to see and admire.
“Look at my feathers,” he boasted, how they shine in all the colors of the rainbow, while yours are so pale! I am dressed like a king!”
“That’s true,” the Crane answered, “but I can fly high above, among the clouds and the stars and I can see all the beauty of the earth in all its glory, while you live down here just like any other cock.”

Fine feathers don’t make fine birds.

Aesop's Fables for kids (басни Эзопа на английском)
The Peacock and the Crane

Aesop’s Fables: The Hares and the Frogs

The Hares, persecuted by the other beasts and afraid even of their own shadows, had a council to decide what to do. The conclusion they came to was to die rather than live on with this shame. So, they went to a pond, determined to drown themselves.
But when they were just about to jump, some Frogs who had been sitting on a water lily, startled by the noise they made, rushed to the deep water for safety.
“Look,” cried a Hare, “there are creatures who are even afraid of us, so things are not so bad, after all. We don’t need to die any more.”

However unfortunate we may think we are, there is always someone worse off than ourselves.

Aesop's Fables for kids (басни Эзопа на английском)
The Hares and the Frogs

“Mirror and monkey”

A Monkey in a Mirror  saw its form by chance.

She whispered to the Bear all at once:

“My dear crony, you take a glance!

What ugly mug is there!

What  capers does it cut, what faces does it make!

I’d  hang myself in great dismay,

If I were little bit like monkey there!

And you confess, I’ve had

A half a dozen of such posers at hand,

I’d like to count them on fingers of my hand”.

“You don’t scorn your friends, my dear:

All their cranks you can reveal in you, I fear!”

The Bear now said,

But his advise for ever vanished as in net.

——————————-

In life such cases are well known.

As no one admits, that he’s to blame alone.

I saw myself such case last week:

That Steve’s a nasty pilferer – the people know,

That he’s a grafter – papers show,

But he is nodding stealthily at honest Nick.

«Зеркало и обезьяна»

Мартышка, в Зеркале увидя образ свой,

Тихохонько Медведя толк ногой:

«Смотри-ка, — говорит, — кум милый мой!

Что это  там за рожа?

Какие у нее ужимки и прыжки!

Я удавилась бы с тоски,

Когда бы на нее хоть чуть была похожа.

А ведь, признайся, есть

Из кумушек моих таких кривляк пять-шесть:

Я даже их могу по пальцам перечесть». –

«Чем кумушек считать трудиться,

Не лучше ль на себя, кума, оборотиться?»

Ей Мишка отвечал.

Но Мишенькин совет лишь попусту пропал.

——————————-

Таких примеров много в мире:

Не любит узнавать никто себя в сатире.

Я даже видел то вчера:

Что Климыч на руку нечист, все это знают;

Про взятки Климычу читают,

А он украдкаю кивает на Петра.

“Crow and fox”

The thought is known everywhere,

That  flattery is bad and vile, but all in vain, —

The evil finds a corner in the heart again.

——————————-

A Crow’s got from God a piece of cheese somewhere.

And now, sitting on a branch,

The Crow’s going to have its tasty lunch.

But, lost in thoughts, the Crow keeps in beak

                                                                    its booty.

Unlikely, a Fox is looking for a rooty.

She has been stopped by odour  of cheese,

She stares hard upon the cheese, she’s caught by cheese.

The cheat is nearing the tree on its tiptoe,

She wags her brush not taking stare off the Crow.

She’s sweetly speaking to the Crow’s heart:

“My dear, you are so smart!

Your neck is nice, your eyes are vivid!

Who hasn’t seen – he can’t believe it!

What pretty  feathers, lovely beak you have!

And voice of angel you undoubtedly have!

You sing without shame! If, such a pretty being,

You also, my friend, are expert at the singing,

“You’d be the King of birds, I’m feeling!”

The Crow’s now dizzy at the praising words,

With joy the breath is stifling in the throat,

As if in answer to the faithless Fox’s words

The Crow croaking with all the Crow’s throat.

The cheese is down – Fox with it runs homewards.

«Ворона и лисица»

Уж сколько раз твердили миру,

Что лесть гнусна, вредна; но только все не впрок,

И в сердце льстец всегда отыщет уголок.

 ———————————————————

Вороне где-то бог послал кусочек сыру;

На ель Ворона взгромоздясь,

Позавтракать было совсем уж собралась.

Да позадумалась, а сыр во рту держала.

На ту беду Лиса близехонько бежала;

Вдруг сырный дух Лису остановил:

Лисица видит сыр, Лисицу сыр пленил.

Плутовка к дереву на цыпочках подходит;

Вертит хвостом, с Вороны глаз не сводит

И говорит так сладко, чуть дыша:

«Голубушка, как хороша!

Ну что за шейка, что за глазки!

Рассказывать, так, право, сказки!

Какие перушки, какой носок!

И, верно, ангельский быть должен голосок!

Спой, светик, не стыдись! Что, ужели, сестрица,

При красоте такой и петь ты мастерица,-

Ведь ты б у нас была царь-птица!»

Вещуньина с похвал вскружилась голова,

От радости в зобу дыханье сперло, —

И на приветливы Лисицыны слова

Ворона каркнула во все воронье горло:

Сыр выпал – с ним была плутовка такова.

Fable by I.A. Krylov   “Dragon-fly and ant”

A flying fidget Dragon-fly

In the summer’s gaily singing,

Of the future isn’t thinking,

But the winter’s nearby.

Field was green, it’s now reddish,

Happy days already vanished,

And it happens no more,

That a leaf gives roof and store.

All has gone. In cold winters

Want and hunger wait afore.

Dragon-fly sings no more:

Who would like to sing  yet more,

If the hungry belly hinders.

She is crawling  in dismay

To the Ant’s not far away:

“Dear crony, don’t leave me,

I’ll be strong, you may believe me!

But to manage winter storms

Give me food, a bit of warmth.”

“Oh, my dear, it’s very queer!

Did you work in summer here?” –

So Ant his answer forms.

“But in summer I was busy:

In the pleasant grass we’d had

Many plays and songs ahead;

Very often I was dizzy.”

“Ah, you mean…” – “I made a hit:

All the summer I was singing…”

“You were singing. Well done dealing!

Now dance a little bit!”

Попрыгунья Стрекоза

Лето красное пропела;

Оглянуться не успела,

Как зима катит в глаза.

Помертвело чисто поле;

Нет уж дней тех светлых боле,

Как под каждым ей листком

Был готов и стол, и дом.

Все прошло: с зимой холодной

Нужда, голод настает.

Стрекоза уж не поет:

И кому же в ум  пойдет

На желудок петь голодный!

Злой тоской удручена,

К Муравью ползет она:

«Не оставь меня, кум милой!

Дай ты мне собраться с силой,

И до вешних только дней

Прокорми и обогрей!» —

«Кумушка, мне странно это:

Да работала ль ты в лето?»

Говорит ей Муравей.

«До того ль, голубчик было?

В мягких муравах у нас

Песни, резвость всякий час,

Так, что  голову вскружило».

«А, так ты …» — «Я без души

Лето целое все пела». –

«Ты все пела? Это дело:

Так поди же, попляши!»

 
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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

TITLE PAGE

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

GRAPES

THE FOX AND THE GRAPES

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

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 CAT AND THE BIRDS

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 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

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 NORTH WIND AND THE SUN

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

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 FOX AND THE STORK

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

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

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 FLEA AND THE MAN

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

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

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

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 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

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 BOY BATHING

THE QUACK FROG

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

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

KING LOG

KING LOG

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 FROGS ASKING FOR A KING

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

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 SHIPWRECKED MAN AND THE SEA

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 FOX AND THE LION

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

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

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

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 BLACKAMOOR

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 MAN AND THE SATYR

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!»

THE RICH MAN AND THE TANNER

A Rich Man took up his residence next door to a Tanner, and
found the smell of the tan-yard so extremely unpleasant that he told him he
must go. The Tanner delayed his departure, and the Rich Man had to speak to him
several times about it; and every time the Tanner said he was making
arrangements to move very shortly. This went on for some time, till at last the
Rich Man got so used to the smell that he ceased to mind it, and troubled the
Tanner with his objections no more.

THE WOLF, THE MOTHER, AND HER CHILD

A hungry Wolf was prowling about in search of food. By and by,
attracted by the cries of a Child, he came to a cottage. As he crouched beneath
the window, he heard the Mother say to the Child, «Stop crying, do! or
I’ll throw you to the Wolf.» Thinking she really meant what she said, he
waited there a long time in the expectation of satisfying his hunger. In the
evening he heard the Mother fondling her Child and saying, «If the naughty
Wolf comes, he shan’t get my little one: Daddy will kill him.» The Wolf
got up in much disgust and walked away: «As for the people in that
house,» said he to himself, «you can’t believe a word they say.»

THE OLD WOMAN AND THE WINE-JAR

An old Woman picked up an empty Wine-jar which had once
contained a rare and costly wine, and which still retained some traces of its
exquisite bouquet. She raised it to her nose and sniffed at it again and again.
«Ah,» she cried, «how delicious must have been the liquid which
has left behind so ravishing a smell.»

THE OLD WOMAN AND THE WINE-JAR

THE LIONESS AND THE VIXEN

A Lioness and a Vixen were talking together about their young,
as mothers will, and saying how healthy and well-grown they were, and what
beautiful coats they had, and how they were the image of their parents.
«My litter of cubs is a joy to see,» said the Fox; and then she
added, rather maliciously, «But I notice you never have more than
one.» «No,» said the Lioness grimly, «but that one’s a
lion.»

Quality, not quantity.

THE VIPER AND THE FILE

A Viper entered a carpenter’s shop, and went from one to
another of the tools, begging for something to eat. Among the rest, he addressed
himself to the File, and asked for the favour of a meal. The File replied in a
tone of pitying contempt, «What a simpleton you must be if you imagine you
will get anything from me, who invariably take from every one and never give
anything in return.»

The covetous are poor givers.

THE CAT AND THE COCK

A Cat pounced on a Cock, and cast about for some good excuse
for making a meal off him, for Cats don’t as a rule eat Cocks, and she knew she
ought not to. At last she said, «You make a great nuisance of yourself at
night by crowing and keeping people awake: so I am going to make an end of
you.» But the Cock defended himself by saying that he crowed in order that
men might wake up and set about the day’s work in good time, and that they really
couldn’t very well do without him. «That may be,» said the Cat,
«but whether they can or not, I’m not going without my dinner»; and
she killed and ate him.

The want of a good excuse never kept a villain
from crime.

THE CAT AND THE COCK

THE HARE AND THE TORTOISE

THE HARE AND THE TORTOISE

A Hare was one day making fun of a Tortoise for being so slow
upon his feet. «Wait a bit,» said the Tortoise; «I’ll run a race
with you, and I’ll wager that I win.» «Oh, well,» replied the
Hare, who was much amused at the idea, «let’s try and see»; and it
was soon agreed that the fox should set a course for them, and be the judge.
When the time came both started off together, but the Hare was soon so far
ahead that he thought he might as well have a rest: so down he lay and fell
fast asleep. Meanwhile the Tortoise kept plodding on, and in time reached the
goal. At last the Hare woke up with a start, and dashed on at his fastest, but
only to find that the Tortoise had already won the race.

Slow and steady wins the race.

THE SOLDIER AND HIS HORSE

A Soldier gave his Horse a plentiful supply of oats in time of
war, and tended him with the utmost care, for he wished him to be strong to
endure the hardships of the field, and swift to bear his master, when need
arose, out of the reach of danger. But when the war was over he employed him on
all sorts of drudgery, bestowing but little attention upon him, and giving him,
moreover, nothing but chaff to eat. The time came when war broke out again, and
the Soldier saddled and bridled his Horse, and, having put on his heavy coat of
mail, mounted him to ride off and take the field. But the poor half-starved
beast sank down under his weight, and said to his rider, «You will have to
go into battle on foot this time. Thanks to hard work and bad food, you have
turned me from a Horse into an ass; and you cannot in a moment turn me back
again into a Horse.»

THE OXEN AND THE BUTCHERS

Once upon a time the Oxen determined to be revenged upon the
Butchers for the havoc they wrought in their ranks, and plotted to put them to
death on a given day. They were all gathered together discussing how best to
carry out the plan, and the more violent of them were engaged in sharpening
their horns for the fray, when an old Ox got up upon his feet and said,
«My brothers, you have good reason, I know, to hate these Butchers, but,
at any rate, they understand their trade and do what they have to do without
causing unnecessary pain. But if we kill them, others, who have no experience,
will be set to slaughter us, and will by their bungling inflict great
sufferings upon us. For you may be sure that, even though all the Butchers
perish, mankind will never go without their beef.»

THE WOLF AND THE LION

A wolf stole a lamb from the flock, and was carrying it off to
devour it at his leisure when he met a Lion, who took his prey away from him
and walked off with it. He dared not resist, but when the Lion had gone some
distance he said, «It is most unjust of you to take what’s mine away from
me like that.» The Lion laughed and called out in reply, «It was
justly yours, no doubt! The gift of a friend, perhaps, eh?»

THE SHEEP,
THE WOLF, AND THE STAG

A Stag once asked a Sheep to lend him a measure of wheat,
saying that his friend the Wolf would be his surety. The Sheep, however, was
afraid that they meant to cheat her; so she excused herself, saying, «The
Wolf is in the habit of seizing what he wants and running off with it without
paying, and you, too, can run much faster than I. So how shall I be able to
come up with either of you when the debt falls due?»

Two blacks do not make a white.

THE SHEEP, THE WOLF, AND THE STAG

THE LION AND THE THREE BULLS

Three Bulls were grazing in a meadow, and were watched by a
Lion, who longed to capture and devour them, but who felt that he was no match
for the three so long as they kept together. So he began by false whispers and
malicious hints to foment jealousies and distrust among them. This stratagem
succeeded so well that ere long the Bulls grew cold and unfriendly, and finally
avoided each other and fed each one by himself apart. No sooner did the Lion
see this than he fell upon them one by one and killed them in turn.

The quarrels of friends are the opportunities of
foes.

THE HORSE AND HIS RIDER

A Young Man, who fancied himself something of a horseman,
mounted a Horse which had not been properly broken in, and was exceedingly
difficult to control. No sooner did the Horse feel his weight in the saddle
than he bolted, and nothing would stop him. A friend of the Rider’s met him in
the road in his headlong career, and called out, «Where are you off to in
such a hurry?» To which he, pointing to the Horse, replied, «I’ve no
idea: ask him.»

THE GOAT AND THE VINE

THE GOAT AND THE VINE

A Goat was straying in a vineyard, and began to browse on the
tender shoots of a Vine which bore several fine bunches of grapes. «What
have I done to you,» said the Vine, «that you should harm me thus?
Isn’t there grass enough for you to feed on? All the same, even if you eat up
every leaf I have, and leave me quite bare, I shall produce wine enough to pour
over you when you are led to the altar to be sacrificed.»

THE TWO POTS

THE TWO POTS

Two Pots, one of earthenware and the other of brass, were
carried away down a river in flood. The Brazen Pot urged his companion to keep
close by his side, and he would protect him. The other thanked him, but begged
him not to come near him on any account: «For that,» he said,
«is just what I am most afraid of. One touch from you and I should be
broken in pieces.»

Equals make the best friends.

THE OLD HOUND

A Hound who had served his master well for years, and had run
down many a quarry in his time, began to lose his strength and speed owing to
age. One day, when out hunting, his master started a powerful wild boar and set
the Hound at him. The latter seized the beast by the ear, but his teeth were
gone and he could not retain his hold; so the boar escaped. His master began to
scold him severely, but the Hound interrupted him with these words: «My
will is as strong as ever, master, but my body is old and feeble. You ought to
honour me for what I have been instead of abusing me for what I am.»

THE CLOWN AND THE COUNTRYMAN

A Nobleman announced his intention of giving a public
entertainment in the theatre, and offered splendid prizes to all who had any
novelty to exhibit at the performance. The announcement attracted a crowd of
conjurers, jugglers, and acrobats, and among the rest a Clown, very popular
with the crowd, who let it be known that he was going to give an entirely new
turn. When the day of the performance came, the theatre was filled from top to
bottom some time before the entertainment began. Several performers exhibited
their tricks, and then the popular favourite came on empty-handed and alone. At
once there was a hush of expectation: and he, letting his head fall upon his
breast, imitated the squeak of a pig to such perfection that the audience
insisted on his producing the animal, which, they said, he must have somewhere
concealed about his person. He, however, convinced them that there was no pig
there, and then the applause was deafening. Among the spectators was a
Countryman, who disparaged the Clown’s performance and announced that he would
give a much superior exhibition of the same trick on the following day. Again
the theatre was filled to overflowing, and again the Clown gave his imitation
amidst the cheers of the crowd. The Countryman, meanwhile, before going on the
stage, had secreted a young porker under his smock; and when the spectators
derisively bade him do better if he could, he gave it a pinch in the ear and
made it squeal loudly. But they all with one voice shouted out that the Clown’s
imitation was much more true to life. Thereupon he produced the pig from under
his smock and said sarcastically, «There, that shows what sort of judges
you are!»

THE LARK AND THE FARMER

A Lark nested in a field of corn, and was rearing her brood
under cover of the ripening grain. One day, before the young were fully
fledged, the Farmer came to look at the crop, and, finding it yellowing fast,
he said, «I must send round word to my neighbours to come and help me reap
this field.» One of the young Larks overheard him, and was very much
frightened, and asked her mother whether they hadn’t better move house at once.
«There’s no hurry,» replied she; «a man who looks to his friends
for help will take his time about a thing.» In a few days the Farmer came
by again, and saw that the grain was overripe and falling out of the ears upon
the ground. «I must put it off no longer,» he said; «This very
day I’ll hire the men and set them to work at once.» The Lark heard him
and said to her young, «Come, my children, we must be off: he talks no
more of his friends now, but is going to take things in hand himself.»

Self-help is the best help.

THE LION AND THE ASS

A Lion and an Ass set up as partners and went a-hunting
together. In course of time they came to a cave in which there were a number of
wild goats. The Lion took up his stand at the mouth of the cave, and waited for
them to come out; while the Ass went inside and brayed for all he was worth in
order to frighten them out into the open. The Lion struck them down one by one
as they appeared; and when the cave was empty the Ass came out and said,
«Well, I scared them pretty well, didn’t I?» «I should think you
did,» said the Lion: «why, if I hadn’t known you were an Ass, I
should have turned and run myself.»

THE PROPHET

A Prophet sat in the market-place and told the fortunes of all
who cared to engage his services. Suddenly there came running up one who told
him that his house had been broken into by thieves, and that they had made off
with everything they could lay hands on. He was up in a moment, and rushed off,
tearing his hair and calling down curses on the miscreants. The bystanders were
much amused, and one of them said, «Our friend professes to know what is
going to happen to others, but it seems he’s not clever enough to perceive
what’s in store for himself.»

THE HOUND AND THE HARE

THE HOUND AND THE HARE

A young Hound started a Hare, and, when he caught her up,
would at one moment snap at her with his teeth as though he were about to kill
her, while at another he would let go his hold and frisk about her, as if he
were playing with another dog. At last the Hare said, «I wish you would
show yourself in your true colours! If you are my friend, why do you bite me?
If you are my enemy, why do you play with me?»

He is no friend who plays double.

THE LION, THE MOUSE, AND THE FOX

A Lion was lying asleep at the mouth of his den when a Mouse
ran over his back and tickled him so that he woke up with a start and began
looking about everywhere to see what it was that had disturbed him. A Fox, who
was looking on, thought he would have a joke at the expense of the Lion; so he
said, «Well, this is the first time I’ve seen a Lion afraid of a
Mouse.» «Afraid of a Mouse?» said the Lion testily: «not I!
It’s his bad manners I can’t stand.»

THE TRUMPETER TAKEN PRISONER

A Trumpeter marched into battle in the van of the army and put
courage into his comrades by his warlike tunes. Being captured by the enemy, he
begged for his life, and said, «Do not put me to death; I have killed no
one: indeed, I have no weapons, but carry with me only my trumpet here.»
But his captors replied, «That is only the more reason why we should take
your life; for, though you do not fight yourself, you stir up others to do
so.»

THE WOLF AND THE CRANE

THE WOLF AND THE CRANE

A Wolf once got a bone stuck in his throat. So he went to a
Crane and begged her to put her long bill down his throat and pull it out.
«I’ll make it worth your while,» he added. The Crane did as she was
asked, and got the bone out quite easily. The Wolf thanked her warmly, and was
just turning away, when she cried, «What about that fee of mine?»
«Well, what about it?» snapped the Wolf, baring his teeth as he
spoke; «you can go about boasting that you once put your head into a
Wolf’s mouth and didn’t get it bitten off. What more do you want?»

THE EAGLE, THE CAT, AND THE WILD SOW

An Eagle built her nest at the top of a high tree; a Cat with
her family occupied a hollow in the trunk half-way down; and a Wild Sow and her
young took up their quarters at the foot. They might have got on very well as
neighbours had it not been for the evil cunning of the Cat. Climbing up to the
Eagle’s nest she said to the Eagle, «You and I are in the greatest
possible danger. That dreadful creature, the Sow, who is always to be seen
grubbing away at the foot of the tree, means to uproot it, that she may devour
your family and mine at her ease.» Having thus driven the Eagle almost out
of her senses with terror, the Cat climbed down the tree, and said to the Sow,
«I must warn you against that dreadful bird, the Eagle. She is only
waiting her chance to fly down and carry off one of your little pigs when you
take them out, to feed her brood with.» She succeeded in frightening the
Sow as much as the Eagle. Then she returned to her hole in the trunk, from
which, feigning to be afraid, she never came forth by day. Only by night did she
creep out unseen to procure food for her kittens. The Eagle, meanwhile was
afraid to stir from her nest, and the Sow dared not leave her home among the
roots: so that in time both they and their families perished of hunger, and
their dead bodies supplied the Cat with ample food for her growing family.

THE WOLF AND THE SHEEP

A Wolf was worried and badly bitten by dogs, and lay a long
time for dead. By and by he began to revive, and, feeling very hungry, called
out to a passing Sheep and said, «Would you kindly bring me some water
from the stream close by? I can manage about meat, if only I could get
something to drink.» But this Sheep was no fool. «I can quite
understand», said he, «that if I brought you the water, you would
have no difficulty about the meat. Good-morning.»

THE TUNNY-FISH AND THE DOLPHIN

A Tunny-fish was chased by a Dolphin and splashed through the
water at a great rate, but the Dolphin gradually gained upon him, and was just
about to seize him when the force of his flight carried the Tunny on to a
sandbank. In the heat of the chase the Dolphin followed him, and there they
both lay out of the water, gasping for dear life. When the Tunny saw that his
enemy was doomed like himself, he said, «I don’t mind having to die now:
for I see that he who is the cause of my death is about to share the same
fate.»

THE THREE TRADESMEN

The citizens of a certain city were debating about the best
material to use in the fortifications which were about to be erected for the
greater security of the town. A Carpenter got up and advised the use of wood,
which he said was readily procurable and easily worked. A Stone-mason objected
to wood on the ground that it was so inflammable, and recommended stones
instead. Then a Tanner got on his legs and said, «In my opinion there’s
nothing like leather.»

Every man for himself.

THE MOUSE AND THE BULL

A Bull gave chase to a Mouse which had bitten him in the nose:
but the Mouse was too quick for him and slipped into a hole in a wall. The Bull
charged furiously into the wall again and again until he was tired out, and
sank down on the ground exhausted with his efforts. When all was quiet, the
Mouse darted out and bit him again. Beside himself with rage he started to his
feet, but by that time the Mouse was back in his hole again, and he could do
nothing but bellow and fume in helpless anger. Presently he heard a shrill
little voice say from inside the wall, «You big fellows don’t always have
it your own way, you see: sometimes we little ones come off best.»

The battle is not always to the strong.

THE HARE AND THE HOUND

A Hound started a Hare from her form, and pursued her for some
distance; but as she gradually gained upon him, he gave up the chase. A rustic
who had seen the race met the Hound as he was returning, and taunted him with
his defeat. «The little one was too much for you,» said he. «Ah,
well,» said the Hound, «don’t forget it’s one thing to be running for
your dinner, but quite another to be running for your life.»

THE TOWN MOUSE AND THE COUNTRY MOUSE

THE TOWN MOUSE AND THE COUNTRY MOUSE

A Town Mouse and a Country Mouse were acquaintances, and the
Country Mouse one day invited his friend to come and see him at his home in the
fields. The Town Mouse came, and they sat down to a dinner of barleycorns and
roots, the latter of which had a distinctly earthy flavour. The fare was not
much to the taste of the guest, and presently he broke out with «My poor
dear friend, you live here no better than the ants. Now, you should just see
how I fare! My larder is a regular horn of plenty. You must come and stay with
me, and I promise you you shall live on the fat of the land.» So when he
returned to town he took the Country Mouse with him, and showed him into a
larder containing flour and oatmeal and figs and honey and dates. The Country
Mouse had never seen anything like it, and sat down to enjoy the luxuries his
friend provided: but before they had well begun, the door of the larder opened
and some one came in. The two Mice scampered off and hid themselves in a narrow
and exceedingly uncomfortable hole. Presently, when all was quiet, they
ventured out again; but some one else came in, and off they scuttled again.
This was too much for the visitor. «Good-bye,» said he, «I’m
off. You live in the lap of luxury, I can see, but you are surrounded by
dangers; whereas at home I can enjoy my simple dinner of roots and corn in
peace.»

THE LION AND THE BULL

A Lion saw a fine fat Bull pasturing among a herd of cattle
and cast about for some means of getting him into his clutches; so he sent him
word that he was sacrificing a sheep, and asked if he would do him the honour
of dining with him. The Bull accepted the invitation, but, on arriving at the
Lion’s den, he saw a great array of saucepans and spits, but no sign of a
sheep; so he turned on his heel and walked quietly away. The Lion called after
him in an injured tone to ask the reason, and the Bull turned round and said,
«I have reason enough. When I saw all your preparations it struck me at
once that the victim was to be a Bull and not a sheep.»

The net is spread in vain in sight of the bird.

THE WOLF, THE FOX, AND THE APE

THE WOLF, THE FOX, AND THE APE

A Wolf charged a Fox with theft, which he denied, and the case
was brought before an Ape to be tried. When he had heard the evidence on both
sides, the Ape gave judgment as follows: «I do not think,» he said,
«that you, O Wolf, ever lost what you claim; but all the same I believe
that you, Fox, are guilty of the theft, in spite of all your denials.»

The dishonest get no credit, even if they act
honestly.

THE EAGLE AND THE COCKS

There were two Cocks in the same farmyard, and they fought to
decide who should be master. When the fight was over, the beaten one went and
hid himself in a dark corner; while the victor flew up on to the roof of the
stables and crowed lustily. But an Eagle espied him from high up in the sky,
and swooped down and carried him off. Forthwith the other Cock came out of his
corner and ruled the roost without a rival.

Pride comes before a fall.

THE ESCAPED JACKDAW

A Man caught a Jackdaw and tied a piece of string to one of
its legs, and then gave it to his children for a pet. But the Jackdaw didn’t at
all like having to live with people; so, after a while, when he seemed to have
become fairly tame and they didn’t watch him so closely, he slipped away and
flew back to his old haunts. Unfortunately, the string was still on his leg,
and before long it got entangled in the branches of a tree and the Jackdaw couldn’t
get free, try as he would. He saw it was all up with him, and cried in despair,
«Alas, in gaining my freedom I have lost my life.»

THE FARMER AND THE FOX

A Farmer was greatly annoyed by a Fox, which came prowling
about his yard at night and carried off his fowls. So he set a trap for him and
caught him; and in order to be revenged upon him, he tied a bunch of tow to his
tail and set fire to it and let him go. As ill-luck would have it, however, the
Fox made straight for the fields where the corn was standing ripe and ready for
cutting. It quickly caught fire and was all burnt up, and the Farmer lost all
his harvest.

Revenge is a two-edged sword.

VENUS AND THE CAT

A Cat fell in love with a handsome young man, and begged the
goddess Venus to change her into a woman. Venus was very gracious about it, and
changed her at once into a beautiful maiden, whom the young man fell in love
with at first sight and shortly afterwards married. One day Venus thought she
would like to see whether the Cat had changed her habits as well as her form;
so she let a mouse run loose in the room where they were. Forgetting
everything, the young woman had no sooner seen the mouse than up she jumped and
was after it like a shot: at which the goddess was so disgusted that she
changed her back again into a Cat.

VENUS AND THE CAT

THE CROW AND THE SWAN

A Crow was filled with envy on seeing the beautiful white
plumage of a Swan, and thought it was due to the water in which the Swan
constantly bathed and swam. So he left the neighbourhood of the altars, where
he got his living by picking up bits of the meat offered in sacrifice, and went
and lived among the pools and streams. But though he bathed and washed his
feathers many times a day, he didn’t make them any whiter, and at last died of
hunger into the bargain.

You may change your habits, but not your nature.

THE STAG WITH ONE EYE

A Stag, blind of one eye, was grazing close to the sea-shore
and kept his sound eye turned towards the land, so as to be able to perceive
the approach of the hounds, while the blind eye he turned towards the sea,
never suspecting that any danger would threaten him from that quarter. As it
fell out, however, some sailors, coasting along the shore, spied him and shot
an arrow at him, by which he was mortally wounded. As he lay dying, he said to
himself, «Wretch that I am! I bethought me of the dangers of the land,
whence none assailed me: but I feared no peril from the sea, yet thence has
come my ruin.»

Misfortune often assails us from an unexpected
quarter.

THE FLY AND THE DRAUGHT-MULE

A Fly sat on one of the shafts of a cart and said to the Mule
who was pulling it, «How slow you are! Do mend your pace, or I shall have
to use my sting as a goad.» The Mule was not in the least disturbed.
«Behind me, in the cart,» said he, «sits my master. He holds the
reins, and flicks me with his whip, and him I obey, but I don’t want any of
your impertinence. _I_ know when I may dawdle and when I may not.»

THE COCK AND THE JEWEL

THE COCK AND THE JEWEL

A Cock, scratching the ground for something to eat, turned up
a Jewel that had by chance been dropped there. «Ho!» said he, «a
fine thing you are, no doubt, and, had your owner found you, great would his
joy have been. But for me! give me a single grain of corn before all the jewels
in the world.»

THE WOLF AND THE SHEPHERD

A Wolf hung about near a flock of sheep for a long time, but
made no attempt to molest them. The Shepherd at first kept a sharp eye on him,
for he naturally thought he meant mischief: but as time went by and the Wolf
showed no inclination to meddle with the flock, he began to look upon him more
as a protector than as an enemy: and when one day some errand took him to the
city, he felt no uneasiness at leaving the Wolf with the sheep. But as soon as
his back was turned the Wolf attacked them and killed the greater number. When
the Shepherd returned and saw the havoc he had wrought, he cried, «It
serves me right for trusting my flock to a Wolf.»

THE FARMER AND THE STORK

A Farmer set some traps in a field which he had lately sown
with corn, in order to catch the cranes which came to pick up the seed. When he
returned to look at his traps he found several cranes caught, and among them a
Stork, which begged to be let go, and said, «You ought not to kill me: I
am not a crane, but a Stork, as you can easily see by my feathers, and I am the
most honest and harmless of birds.» But the Farmer replied, «It’s
nothing to me what you are: I find you among these cranes, who ruin my crops,
and, like them, you shall suffer.»

If you choose bad companions no one will believe
that you are anything but bad yourself.

THE CHARGER AND THE MILLER

A Horse, who had been used to carry his rider into battle,
felt himself growing old and chose to work in a mill instead. He now no longer
found himself stepping out proudly to the beating of the drums, but was
compelled to slave away all day grinding the corn. Bewailing his hard lot, he said
one day to the Miller, «Ah me! I was once a splendid war-horse, gaily
caparisoned, and attended by a groom whose sole duty was to see to my wants.
How different is my present condition! I wish I had never given up the
battlefield for the mill.» The Miller replied with asperity, «It’s no
use your regretting the past. Fortune has many ups and downs: you must just
take them as they come.»

THE GRASSHOPPER AND THE OWL

An Owl, who lived in a hollow tree, was in the habit of
feeding by night and sleeping by day; but her slumbers were greatly disturbed
by the chirping of a Grasshopper, who had taken up his abode in the branches.
She begged him repeatedly to have some consideration for her comfort, but the
Grasshopper, if anything, only chirped the louder. At last the Owl could stand
it no longer, but determined to rid herself of the pest by means of a trick.
Addressing herself to the Grasshopper, she said in her pleasantest manner,
«As I cannot sleep for your song, which, believe me, is as sweet as the notes
of Apollo’s lyre, I have a mind to taste some nectar, which Minerva gave me the
other day. Won’t you come in and join me?» The Grasshopper was flattered
by the praise of his song, and his mouth, too, watered at the mention of the
delicious drink, so he said he would be delighted. No sooner had he got inside
the hollow where the Owl was sitting than she pounced upon him and ate him up.

THE GRASSHOPPER AND THE ANTS

One fine day in winter some Ants were busy drying their store
of corn, which had got rather damp during a long spell of rain. Presently up
came a Grasshopper and begged them to spare her a few grains, «For,»
she said, «I’m simply starving.» The Ants stopped work for a moment,
though this was against their principles. «May we ask,» said they,
«what you were doing with yourself all last summer? Why didn’t you collect
a store of food for the winter?» «The fact is,» replied the
Grasshopper, «I was so busy singing that I hadn’t the time.» «If
you spent the summer singing,» replied the Ants, «you can’t do better
than spend the winter dancing.» And they chuckled and went on with their
work.

THE GRASSHOPPER AND THE ANTS

THE FARMER AND THE VIPER

One winter a Farmer found a Viper frozen and numb with cold,
and out of pity picked it up and placed it in his bosom. The Viper was no
sooner revived by the warmth than it turned upon its benefactor and inflicted a
fatal bite upon him; and as the poor man lay dying, he cried, «I have only
got what I deserved, for taking compassion on so villainous a creature.»

Kindness is thrown away upon the evil.

THE TWO FROGS

Two Frogs were neighbours. One lived in a marsh, where there
was plenty of water, which frogs love: the other in a lane some distance away,
where all the water to be had was that which lay in the ruts after rain. The
Marsh Frog warned his friend and pressed him to come and live with him in the
marsh, for he would find his quarters there far more comfortable and—what was
still more important—more safe. But the other refused, saying that he could not
bring himself to move from a place to which he had become accustomed. A few
days afterwards a heavy waggon came down the lane, and he was crushed to death
under the wheels.

THE COBBLER TURNED DOCTOR

A very unskilful Cobbler, finding himself unable to make a
living at his trade, gave up mending boots and took to doctoring instead. He
gave out that he had the secret of a universal antidote against all poisons,
and acquired no small reputation, thanks to his talent for puffing himself. One
day, however, he fell very ill; and the King of the country bethought him that
he would test the value of his remedy. Calling, therefore, for a cup, he poured
out a dose of the antidote, and, under pretence of mixing poison with it, added
a little water, and commanded him to drink it. Terrified by the fear of being
poisoned, the Cobbler confessed that he knew nothing about medicine, and that
his antidote was worthless. Then the King summoned his subjects and addressed
them as follows: «What folly could be greater than yours? Here is this
Cobbler to whom no one will send his boots to be mended, and yet you have not
hesitated to entrust him with your lives!»

THE ASS, THE COCK, AND THE LION

An Ass and a Cock were in a cattle-pen together. Presently a
Lion, who had been starving for days, came along and was just about to fall
upon the Ass and make a meal of him when the Cock, rising to his full height
and flapping his wings vigorously, uttered a tremendous crow. Now, if there is
one thing that frightens a Lion, it is the crowing of a Cock: and this one had
no sooner heard the noise than he fled. The Ass was mightily elated at this,
and thought that, if the Lion couldn’t face a Cock, he would be still less
likely to stand up to an Ass: so he ran out and pursued him. But when the two
had got well out of sight and hearing of the Cock, the Lion suddenly turned
upon the Ass and ate him up.

False confidence often leads to disaster.

THE BELLY AND THE MEMBERS

The Members of the Body once rebelled against the Belly.
«You,» they said to the Belly, «live in luxury and sloth, and
never do a stroke of work; while we not only have to do all the hard work there
is to be done, but are actually your slaves and have to minister to all your
wants. Now, we will do so no longer, and you can shift for yourself for the
future.» They were as good as their word, and left the Belly to starve. The
result was just what might have been expected: the whole Body soon began to
fail, and the Members and all shared in the general collapse. And then they saw
too late how foolish they had been.

THE BALD MAN AND THE FLY

THE BALD MAN AND THE FLY

A Fly settled on the head of a Bald Man and bit him. In his
eagerness to kill it, he hit himself a smart slap. But the Fly escaped, and
said to him in derision, «You tried to kill me for just one little bite;
what will you do to yourself now, for the heavy smack you have just given
yourself?» «Oh, for that blow I bear no grudge,» he replied,
«for I never intended myself any harm; but as for you, you contemptible
insect, who live by sucking human blood, I’d have borne a good deal more than
that for the satisfaction of dashing the life out of you!»

THE ASS AND THE WOLF

An Ass was feeding in a meadow, and, catching sight of his
enemy the Wolf in the distance, pretended to be very lame and hobbled painfully
along. When the Wolf came up, he asked the Ass how he came to be so lame, and
the Ass replied that in going through a hedge he had trodden on a thorn, and he
begged the Wolf to pull it out with his teeth, «In case,» he said,
«when you eat me, it should stick in your throat and hurt you very
much.» The Wolf said he would, and told the Ass to lift up his foot, and
gave his whole mind to getting out the thorn. But the Ass suddenly let out with
his heels and fetched the Wolf a fearful kick in the mouth, breaking his teeth;
and then he galloped off at full speed. As soon as he could speak the Wolf
growled to himself, «It serves me right: my father taught me to kill, and
I ought to have stuck to that trade instead of attempting to cure.»

THE MONKEY AND THE CAMEL

THE MONKEY AND THE
CAMEL

At a gathering of all the beasts the Monkey gave an exhibition
of dancing and entertained the company vastly. There was great applause at the
finish, which excited the envy of the Camel and made him desire to win the
favour of the assembly by the same means. So he got up from his place and began
dancing, but he cut such a ridiculous figure as he plunged about, and made such
a grotesque exhibition of his ungainly person, that the beasts all fell upon
him with ridicule and drove him away.

THE SICK MAN AND THE DOCTOR

A Sick Man received a visit from his Doctor, who asked him how
he was. «Fairly well, Doctor,» said he, «but I find I sweat a
great deal.» «Ah,» said the Doctor, «that’s a good
sign.» On his next visit he asked the same question, and his patient
replied, «I’m much as usual, but I’ve taken to having shivering fits,
which leave me cold all over.» «Ah,» said the Doctor,
«that’s a good sign too.» When he came the third time and inquired as
before about his patient’s health, the Sick Man said that he felt very
feverish. «A very good sign,» said the Doctor; «you are doing
very nicely indeed.» Afterwards a friend came to see the invalid, and on
asking him how he did, received this reply: «My dear friend, I’m dying of
good signs.»

THE TRAVELLERS AND THE PLANE-TREE

Two Travellers were walking along a bare and dusty road in the
heat of a summer’s day. Coming presently to a Plane-tree, they joyfully turned
aside to shelter from the burning rays of the sun in the deep shade of its
spreading branches. As they rested, looking up into the tree, one of them remarked
to his companion, «What a useless tree the Plane is! It bears no fruit and
is of no service to man at all.» The Plane-tree interrupted him with
indignation. «You ungrateful creature!» it cried: «you come and
take shelter under me from the scorching sun, and then, in the very act of
enjoying the cool shade of my foliage, you abuse me and call me good for
nothing!»

Many a service is met with ingratitude.

THE TRAVELLERS AND THE PLANE-TREE

THE FLEA AND THE OX

A Flea once said to an Ox, «How comes it that a big
strong fellow like you is content to serve mankind, and do all their hard work
for them, while I, who am no bigger than you see, live on their bodies and
drink my fill of their blood, and never do a stroke for it all?» To which
the Ox replied, «Men are very kind to me, and so I am grateful to them:
they feed and house me well, and every now and then they show their fondness
for me by patting me on the head and neck.» «They’d pat me,
too,» said the Flea, «if I let them: but I take good care they don’t,
or there would be nothing left of me.»

THE BIRDS, THE BEASTS, AND THE BAT

The Birds were at war with the Beasts, and many battles were
fought with varying success on either side. The Bat did not throw in his lot
definitely with either party, but when things went well for the Birds he was
found fighting in their ranks; when, on the other hand, the Beasts got the
upper hand, he was to be found among the Beasts. No one paid any attention to
him while the war lasted: but when it was over, and peace was restored, neither
the Birds nor the Beasts would have anything to do with so double-faced a traitor,
and so he remains to this day a solitary outcast from both.

THE MAN AND HIS TWO SWEETHEARTS

A Man of middle age, whose hair was turning grey, had two
Sweethearts, an old woman and a young one. The elder of the two didn’t like
having a lover who looked so much younger than herself; so, whenever he came to
see her, she used to pull the dark hairs out of his head to make him look old.
The younger, on the other hand, didn’t like him to look so much older than
herself, and took every opportunity of pulling out the grey hairs, to make him
look young. Between them, they left not a hair in his head, and he became
perfectly bald.

THE EAGLE, THE JACKDAW, AND THE SHEPHERD

One day a Jackdaw saw an Eagle swoop down on a lamb and carry
it off in its talons. «My word,» said the Jackdaw, «I’ll do that
myself.» So it flew high up into the air, and then came shooting down with
a great whirring of wings on to the back of a big ram. It had no sooner
alighted than its claws got caught fast in the wool, and nothing it could do
was of any use: there it stuck, flapping away, and only making things worse
instead of better. By and by up came the Shepherd. «Oho,» he said,
«so that’s what you’d be doing, is it?» And he took the Jackdaw, and
clipped its wings and carried it home to his children. It looked so odd that
they didn’t know what to make of it. «What sort of bird is it,
father?» they asked. «It’s a Jackdaw,» he replied, «and
nothing but a Jackdaw: but it wants to be taken for an Eagle.»

If you attempt what is beyond your power, your
trouble will be wasted and you court not only misfortune but ridicule.

THE WOLF AND THE BOY

A Wolf, who had just enjoyed a good meal and was in a playful
mood, caught sight of a Boy lying flat upon the ground, and, realising that he
was trying to hide, and that it was fear of himself that made him do this, he
went up to him and said, «Aha, I’ve found you, you see; but if you can say
three things to me, the truth of which cannot be disputed, I will spare your
life.» The Boy plucked up courage and thought for a moment, and then he
said, «First, it is a pity you saw me; secondly, I was a fool to let
myself be seen; and thirdly, we all hate wolves because they are always making
unprovoked attacks upon our flocks.» The Wolf replied, «Well, what
you say is true enough from your point of view; so you may go.»

THE MILLER, HIS SON, AND THEIR ASS

THE MILLER,
HIS SON, AND THEIR ASS

A Miller, accompanied by his young Son, was driving his Ass to
market in hopes of finding a purchaser for him. On the road they met a troop of
girls, laughing and talking, who exclaimed, «Did you ever see such a pair
of fools? To be trudging along the dusty road when they might be riding!»
The Miller thought there was sense in what they said;

so he made his Son mount the Ass, and himself walked at the
side. Presently they met some of his old cronies, who greeted them and said,
«You’ll spoil that Son of yours, letting him ride while you toil along on
foot!

Make him walk, young lazybones! It’ll do him all the good in
the world.» The Miller followed their advice, and took his Son’s place on
the back of the Ass while the boy trudged along behind. They had not gone far
when they overtook a party of women and children, and the Miller heard them
say, «What a selfish old man!

He himself rides in comfort, but lets his poor little boy
follow as best he can on his own legs!» So he made his Son get up behind
him. Further along the road they met some travellers, who asked the Miller
whether the Ass he was riding was his own property, or a beast hired for the
occasion.

He replied that it was his own, and that he was taking it to
market to sell. «Good heavens!» said they, «with a load like
that the poor beast will be so exhausted by the time he gets there that no one
will look at him. Why, you’d do better to carry him!» «Anything to
please you,» said the old man, «we can but try.» So they got
off, tied the Ass’s legs together with a rope and slung him on a pole, and at
last reached the town, carrying him between them. This was so absurd a sight
that the people ran out in crowds to laugh at it, and chaffed the Father and
Son unmercifully, some even calling them lunatics.

They had then got to a bridge over the river, where the Ass,
frightened by the noise and his unusual situation, kicked and struggled till he
broke the ropes that bound him, and fell into the water and was drowned.
Whereupon the unfortunate Miller, vexed and ashamed, made the best of his way
home again, convinced that in trying to please all he had pleased none, and had
lost his Ass into the bargain.

THE STAG AND THE VINE

A Stag, pursued by the huntsmen, concealed himself under cover
of a thick Vine. They lost track of him and passed by his hiding-place without
being aware that he was anywhere near. Supposing all danger to be over, he
presently began to browse on the leaves of the Vine. The movement drew the
attention of the returning huntsmen, and one of them, supposing some animal to
be hidden there, shot an arrow at a venture into the foliage. The unlucky Stag
was pierced to the heart, and, as he expired, he said, «I deserve my fate
for my treachery in feeding upon the leaves of my protector.»

Ingratitude sometimes brings its own punishment.

THE LAMB CHASED BY A WOLF

A Wolf was chasing a Lamb, which took refuge in a temple. The
Wolf urged it to come out of the precincts, and said, «If you don’t, the
priest is sure to catch you and offer you up in sacrifice on the altar.»
To which the Lamb replied, «Thanks, I think I’ll stay where I am: I’d
rather be sacrificed any day than be eaten up by a Wolf.»

THE ARCHER AND THE LION

An Archer went up into the hills to get some sport with his
bow, and all the animals fled at the sight of him with the exception of the
Lion, who stayed behind and challenged him to fight. But he shot an arrow at
the Lion and hit him, and said, «There, you see what my messenger can do:
just you wait a moment and I’ll tackle you myself.» The Lion, however,
when he felt the sting of the arrow, ran away as fast as his legs could carry
him. A fox, who had seen it all happen, said to the Lion, «Come, don’t be
a coward: why don’t you stay and show fight?» But the Lion replied,
«You won’t get me to stay, not you: why, when he sends a messenger like
that before him, he must himself be a terrible fellow to deal with.»

Give a wide berth to those who can do damage at a
distance.

THE WOLF AND THE GOAT

A Wolf caught sight of a Goat browsing above him on the scanty
herbage that grew on the top of a steep rock; and being unable to get at her,
tried to induce her to come lower down. «You are risking your life up
there, madam, indeed you are,» he called out: «pray take my advice
and come down here, where you will find plenty of better food.» The Goat
turned a knowing eye upon him. «It’s little you care whether I get good
grass or bad,» said she: «what you want is to eat me.»

THE WOLF AND THE GOAT

THE SICK STAG

A Stag fell sick and lay in a clearing in the forest, too weak
to move from the spot. When the news of his illness spread, a number of the
other beasts came to inquire after his health, and they one and all nibbled a
little of the grass that grew round the invalid till at last there was not a
blade within his reach. In a few days he began to mend, but was still too
feeble to get up and go in search of fodder; and thus he perished miserably of
hunger owing to the thoughtlessness of his friends.

THE ASS AND THE MULE

A certain man who had an Ass and a Mule loaded them both up
one day and set out upon a journey. So long as the road was fairly level, the
Ass got on very well: but by and by they came to a place among the hills where
the road was very rough and steep, and the Ass was at his last gasp. So he
begged the Mule to relieve him of a part of his load: but the Mule refused. At
last, from sheer weariness, the Ass stumbled and fell down a steep place and
was killed. The driver was in despair, but he did the best he could: he added the
Ass’s load to the Mule’s, and he also flayed the Ass and put his skin on the
top of the double load. The Mule could only just manage the extra weight, and,
as he staggered painfully along, he said to himself, «I have only got what
I deserved: if I had been willing to help the Ass at first, I should not now be
carrying his load and his skin into the bargain.»

BROTHER AND SISTER

A certain man had two children, a boy and a girl: and the boy
was as good-looking as the girl was plain. One day, as they were playing
together in their mother’s chamber, they chanced upon a mirror and saw their
own features for the first time. The boy saw what a handsome fellow he was, and
began to boast to his Sister about his good looks: she, on her part, was ready
to cry with vexation when she was aware of her plainness, and took his remarks
as an insult to herself. Running to her father, she told him of her Brother’s
conceit, and accused him of meddling with his mother’s things. He laughed and
kissed them both, and said, «My children, learn from now onwards to make a
good use of the glass. You, my boy, strive to be as good as it shows you to be
handsome; and you, my girl, resolve to make up for the plainness of your
features by the sweetness of your disposition.»

THE HEIFER AND THE OX

A Heifer went up to an Ox, who was straining hard at the
plough, and sympathised with him in a rather patronising sort of way on the
necessity of his having to work so hard. Not long afterwards there was a
festival in the village and every one kept holiday: but, whereas the Ox was
turned loose into the pasture, the Heifer was seized and led off to sacrifice.
«Ah,» said the Ox, with a grim smile, «I see now why you were
allowed to have such an idle time: it was because you were always intended for
the altar.»

THE KINGDOM OF THE LION

When the Lion reigned over the beasts of the earth he was
never cruel or tyrannical, but as gentle and just as a King ought to be. During
his reign he called a general assembly of the beasts, and drew up a code of
laws under which all were to live in perfect equality and harmony: the wolf and
the lamb, the tiger and the stag, the leopard and the kid, the dog and the
hare, all should dwell side by side in unbroken peace and friendship. The hare
said, «Oh! how I have longed for this day when the weak take their place
without fear by the side of the strong!»

THE KINGDOM OF THE LION

THE ASS AND HIS DRIVER

An Ass was being driven down a mountain road, and after
jogging along for a while sensibly enough he suddenly quitted the track and
rushed to the edge of a precipice. He was just about to leap over the edge when
his Driver caught hold of his tail and did his best to pull him back: but pull
as he might he couldn’t get the Ass to budge from the brink. At last he gave
up, crying, «All right, then, get to the bottom your own way; but it’s the
way to sudden death, as you’ll find out quick enough.»

THE LION AND THE HARE

A Lion found a Hare sleeping in her form, and was just going
to devour her when he caught sight of a passing stag. Dropping the Hare, he at
once made for the bigger game; but finding, after a long chase, that he could
not overtake the stag, he abandoned the attempt and came back for the Hare.
When he reached the spot, however, he found she was nowhere to be seen, and he
had to go without his dinner. «It serves me right,» he said; «I should
have been content with what I had got, instead of hankering after a better
prize.»

THE WOLVES AND THE DOGS

Once upon a time the Wolves said to the Dogs, «Why should
we continue to be enemies any longer? You are very like us in most ways: the
main difference between us is one of training only. We live a life of freedom;
but you are enslaved to mankind, who beat you, and put heavy collars round your
necks, and compel you to keep watch over their flocks and herds for them, and,
to crown all, they give you nothing but bones to eat. Don’t put up with it any
longer, but hand over the flocks to us, and we will all live on the fat of the
land and feast together.» The Dogs allowed themselves to be persuaded by
these words, and accompanied the Wolves into their den. But no sooner were they
well inside than the Wolves set upon them and tore them to pieces.

Traitors richly deserve their fate.

THE BULL AND THE CALF

A full-grown Bull was struggling to force his huge bulk
through the narrow entrance to a cow-house where his stall was, when a young
Calf came up and said to him, «If you’ll step aside a moment, I’ll show
you the way to get through.» The Bull turned upon him an amused look.
«I knew that way,» said he, «before you were born.»

THE TREES AND THE AXE

A Woodman went into the forest and begged of the Trees the
favour of a handle for his Axe. The principal Trees at once agreed to so modest
a request, and unhesitatingly gave him a young ash sapling, out of which he
fashioned the handle he desired. No sooner had he done so than he set to work
to fell the noblest Trees in the wood. When they saw the use to which he was
putting their gift, they cried, «Alas! alas! We are undone, but we are
ourselves to blame. The little we gave has cost us all: had we not sacrificed
the rights of the ash, we might ourselves have stood for ages.»

THE TREES AND THE AXE

THE ASTRONOMER

There was once an Astronomer whose habit it was to go out at
night and observe the stars. One night, as he was walking about outside the
town gates, gazing up absorbed into the sky and not looking where he was going,
he fell into a dry well. As he lay there groaning, some one passing by heard
him, and, coming to the edge of the well, looked down and, on learning what had
happened, said, «If you really mean to say that you were looking so hard
at the sky that you didn’t even see where your feet were carrying you along the
ground, it appears to me that you deserve all you’ve got.»

THE LABOURER AND THE SNAKE

A Labourer’s little son was bitten by a Snake and died of the
wound. The father was beside himself with grief, and in his anger against the
Snake he caught up an axe and went and stood close to the Snake’s hole, and
watched for a chance of killing it. Presently the Snake came out, and the man
aimed a blow at it, but only succeeded in cutting off the tip of its tail
before it wriggled in again. He then tried to get it to come out a second time,
pretending that he wished to make up the quarrel. But the Snake said, «I
can never be your friend because of my lost tail, nor you mine because of your
lost child.»

Injuries are never forgotten in the presence of
those who caused them.

THE CAGE-BIRD AND THE BAT

A Singing-bird was confined in a cage which hung outside a
window, and had a way of singing at night when all other birds were asleep. One
night a Bat came and clung to the bars of the cage, and asked the Bird why she
was silent by day and sang only at night. «I have a very good reason for
doing so,» said the Bird: «it was once when I was singing in the
daytime that a fowler was attracted by my voice, and set his nets for me and
caught me. Since then I have never sung except by night.» But the Bat
replied, «It is no use your doing that now when you are a prisoner: if
only you had done so before you were caught, you might still have been
free.»

Precautions are useless after the event.

THE ASS AND HIS PURCHASER

A Man who wanted to buy an Ass went to market, and, coming
across a likely-looking beast, arranged with the owner that he should be
allowed to take him home on trial to see what he was like. When he reached
home, he put him into his stable along with the other asses. The newcomer took
a look round, and immediately went and chose a place next to the laziest and
greediest beast in the stable. When the master saw this he put a halter on him
at once, and led him off and handed him over to his owner again. The latter was
a good deal surprised to see him back so soon, and said, «Why, do you mean
to say you have tested him already?» «I don’t want to put him through
any more tests,» replied the other: «I could see what sort of beast
he is from the companion he chose for himself.»

A man is known by the company he keeps.

THE KID AND THE WOLF

THE KID AND THE WOLF

A Kid strayed from the flock and was chased by a Wolf. When he
saw he must be caught he turned round and said to the Wolf, «I know, sir,
that I can’t escape being eaten by you: and so, as my life is bound to be
short, I pray you let it be as merry as may be. Will you not play me a tune to
dance to before I die?» The Wolf saw no objection to having some music
before his dinner: so he took out his pipe and began to play, while the Kid
danced before him. Before many minutes were passed the gods who guarded the
flock heard the sound and came up to see what was going on. They no sooner
clapped eyes on the Wolf than they gave chase and drove him away. As he ran
off, he turned and said to the Kid, «It’s what I thoroughly deserve: my trade
is the butcher’s, and I had no business to turn piper to please you.»

THE DEBTOR AND HIS SOW

A Man of Athens fell into debt and was pressed for the money
by his creditor; but he had no means of paying at the time, so he begged for
delay. But the creditor refused and said he must pay at once. Then the Debtor
fetched a Sow—the only one he had—and took her to market to offer her for sale.
It happened that his creditor was there too. Presently a buyer came along and
asked if the Sow produced good litters. «Yes,» said the Debtor,
«very fine ones; and the remarkable thing is that she produces females at
the Mysteries and males at the Panathenea.» (Festivals these were: and the
Athenians always sacrifice a sow at one, and a boar at the other; while at the Dionysia
they sacrifice a kid.) At that the creditor, who was standing by, put in,
«Don’t be surprised, sir; why, still better, at the Dionysia this Sow has
kids!»

THE BALD HUNTSMAN

A Man who had lost all his hair took to wearing a wig, and one
day he went out hunting. It was blowing rather hard at the time, and he hadn’t
gone far before a gust of wind caught his hat and carried it off, and his wig
too, much to the amusement of the hunt. But he quite entered into the joke, and
said, «Ah, well! the hair that wig is made of didn’t stick to the head on
which it grew; so it’s no wonder it won’t stick to mine.»

THE HERDSMAN AND THE LOST BULL

A Herdsman was tending his cattle when he missed a young Bull,
one of the finest of the herd. He went at once to look for him, but, meeting
with no success in his search, he made a vow that, if he should discover the
thief, he would sacrifice a calf to Jupiter. Continuing his search, he entered
a thicket, where he presently espied a lion devouring the lost Bull. Terrified
with fear, he raised his hands to heaven and cried, «Great Jupiter, I
vowed I would sacrifice a calf to thee if I should discover the thief: but now
a full-grown Bull I promise thee if only I myself escape unhurt from his
clutches.»

THE MULE

THE MULE

One morning a Mule, who had too much to eat and too little to
do, began to think himself a very fine fellow indeed, and frisked about saying,
«My father was undoubtedly a high-spirited horse and I take after him
entirely.» But very soon afterwards he was put into the harness and
compelled to go a very long way with a heavy load behind him. At the end of the
day, exhausted by his unusual exertions, he said dejectedly to himself, «I
must have been mistaken about my father; he can only have been an ass after
all.»

THE HOUND AND THE FOX

A Hound, roaming in the forest, spied a lion, and being well
used to lesser game, gave chase, thinking he would make a fine quarry.
Presently the lion perceived that he was being pursued; so, stopping short, he
rounded on his pursuer and gave a loud roar. The Hound immediately turned tail
and fled. A Fox, seeing him running away, jeered at him and said, «Ho! ho!
There goes the coward who chased a lion and ran away the moment he
roared!»

THE FATHER AND HIS DAUGHTERS

A Man had two Daughters, one of whom he gave in marriage to a
gardener, and the other to a potter. After a time he thought he would go and
see how they were getting on; and first he went to the gardener’s wife. He
asked her how she was, and how things were going with herself and her husband.
She replied that on the whole they were doing very well: «But,» she
continued, «I do wish we could have some good heavy rain: the garden wants
it badly.» Then he went on to the potter’s wife and made the same
inquiries of her. She replied that she and her husband had nothing to complain
of: «But,» she went on, «I do wish we could have some nice dry
weather, to dry the pottery.» Her Father looked at her with a humorous
expression on his face. «You want dry weather,» he said, «and
your sister wants rain. I was going to ask in my prayers that your wishes
should be granted; but now it strikes me I had better not refer to the subject.»

THE THIEF AND THE INNKEEPER

A Thief hired a room at an inn, and stayed there some days on
the look-out for something to steal. No opportunity, however, presented itself,
till one day, when there was a festival to be celebrated, the Innkeeper appeared
in a fine new coat and sat down before the door of the inn for an airing. The
Thief no sooner set eyes upon the coat than he longed to get possession of it.
There was no business doing, so he went and took a seat by the side of the
Innkeeper, and began talking to him. They conversed together for some time, and
then the Thief suddenly yawned and howled like a wolf. The Innkeeper asked him
in some concern what ailed him. The Thief replied, «I will tell you about
myself, sir, but first I must beg you to take charge of my clothes for me, for
I intend to leave them with you. Why I have these fits of yawning I cannot
tell: maybe they are sent as a punishment for my misdeeds; but, whatever the
reason, the facts are that when I have yawned three times I become a ravening
wolf and fly at men’s throats.» As he finished speaking he yawned a second
time and howled again as before. The Innkeeper, believing every word he said,
and terrified at the prospect of being confronted with a wolf, got up hastily
and started to run indoors; but the Thief caught him by the coat and tried to
stop him, crying, «Stay, sir, stay, and take charge of my clothes, or else
I shall never see them again.» As he spoke he opened his mouth and began
to yawn for the third time. The Innkeeper, mad with the fear of being eaten by
a wolf, slipped out of his coat, which remained in the other’s hands, and
bolted into the inn and locked the door behind him; and the Thief then quietly
stole off with his spoil.

THE PACK-ASS AND THE WILD ASS

A Wild Ass, who was wandering idly about, one day came upon a
Pack-Ass lying at full length in a sunny spot and thoroughly enjoying himself.
Going up to him, he said, «What a lucky beast you are! Your sleek coat
shows how well you live: how I envy you!» Not long after the Wild Ass saw
his acquaintance again, but this time he was carrying a heavy load, and his
driver was following behind and beating him with a thick stick. «Ah, my
friend,» said the Wild Ass, «I don’t envy you any more: for I see you
pay dear for your comforts.»

Advantages that are dearly bought are doubtful
blessings.

THE ASS AND HIS MASTERS

A Gardener had an Ass which had a very hard time of it, what
with scanty food, heavy loads, and constant beating. The Ass therefore begged
Jupiter to take him away from the Gardener and hand him over to another master.
So Jupiter sent Mercury to the Gardener to bid him sell the Ass to a Potter,
which he did. But the Ass was as discontented as ever, for he had to work
harder than before: so he begged Jupiter for relief a second time, and Jupiter
very obligingly arranged that he should be sold to a Tanner. But when the Ass
saw what his new master’s trade was, he cried in despair, «Why wasn’t I
content to serve either of my former masters, hard as I had to work and badly
as I was treated? for they would have buried me decently, but now I shall come
in the end to the tanning-vat.»

Servants don’t know a good master till they have
served a worse.

THE PACK-ASS, THE WILD ASS, AND THE LION

A Wild Ass saw a Pack-Ass jogging along under a heavy load,
and taunted him with the condition of slavery in which he lived, in these
words: «What a vile lot is yours compared with mine! I am free as the air,
and never do a stroke of work; and, as for fodder, I have only to go to the
hills and there I find far more than enough for my needs. But you! you depend
on your master for food, and he makes you carry heavy loads every day and beats
you unmercifully.» At that moment a Lion appeared on the scene, and made
no attempt to molest the Pack-Ass owing to the presence of the driver; but he
fell upon the Wild Ass, who had no one to protect him, and without more ado
made a meal of him.

It is no use being your own master unless you can
stand up for yourself.

THE ANT

Ants were once men and made their living by tilling the soil.
But, not content with the results of their own work, they were always casting
longing eyes upon the crops and fruits of their neighbours, which they stole,
whenever they got the chance, and added to their own store. At last their
covetousness made Jupiter so angry that he changed them into Ants. But, though
their forms were changed, their nature remained the same: and so, to this day,
they go about among the cornfields and gather the fruits of others’ labour, and
store them up for their own use.

You may punish a thief, but his bent remains.

THE FROGS AND THE WELL

THE FROGS AND THE WELL

Two Frogs lived together in a marsh. But one hot summer the
marsh dried up, and they left it to look for another place to live in: for
frogs like damp places if they can get them. By and by they came to a deep
well, and one of them looked down into it, and said to the other, «This
looks a nice cool place: let us jump in and settle here.» But the other,
who had a wiser head on his shoulders, replied, «Not so fast, my friend:
supposing this well dried up like the marsh, how should we get out again?»

Think twice before you act.

THE CRAB AND THE FOX

A Crab once left the sea-shore and went and settled in a
meadow some way inland, which looked very nice and green and seemed likely to
be a good place to feed in. But a hungry Fox came along and spied the Crab and
caught him. Just as he was going to be eaten up, the Crab said, «This is
just what I deserve; for I had no business to leave my natural home by the sea
and settle here as though I belonged to the land.»

Be content with your lot.

THE FOX AND THE GRASSHOPPER

A Grasshopper sat chirping in the branches of a tree. A Fox
heard her, and, thinking what a dainty morsel she would make, he tried to get
her down by a trick. Standing below in full view of her, he praised her song in
the most flattering terms, and begged her to descend, saying he would like to
make the acquaintance of the owner of so beautiful a voice. But she was not to
be taken in, and replied, «You are very much mistaken, my dear sir, if you
imagine I am going to come down: I keep well out of the way of you and your
kind ever since the day when I saw numbers of grasshoppers’ wings strewn about
the entrance to a fox’s earth.»

THE FARMER, HIS BOY, AND THE ROOKS

A Farmer had just sown a field of wheat, and was keeping a
careful watch over it, for numbers of Rooks and starlings kept continually
settling on it and eating up the grain. Along with him went his Boy, carrying a
sling: and whenever the Farmer asked for the sling the starlings understood
what he said and warned the Rooks and they were off in a moment. So the Farmer
hit on a trick. «My lad,» said he, «we must get the better of
these birds somehow. After this, when I want the sling, I won’t say ‘sling,’
but just ‘humph!’ and you must then hand me the sling quickly.» Presently
back came the whole flock. «Humph!» said the Farmer; but the
starlings took no notice, and he had time to sling several stones among them,
hitting one on the head, another in the legs, and another in the wing, before
they got out of range. As they made all haste away they met some cranes, who
asked them what the matter was. «Matter?» said one of the Rooks;
«it’s those rascals, men, that are the matter. Don’t you go near them.
They have a way of saying one thing and meaning another which has just been the
death of several of our poor friends.»

THE ASS AND THE DOG

An Ass and a Dog were on their travels together, and, as they
went along, they found a sealed packet lying on the ground. The Ass picked it
up, broke the seal, and found it contained some writing, which he proceeded to
read out aloud to the Dog. As he read on it turned out to be all about grass
and barley and hay—in short, all the kinds of fodder that Asses are fond of.
The Dog was a good deal bored with listening to all this, till at last his
impatience got the better of him, and he cried, «Just skip a few pages,
friend, and see if there isn’t something about meat and bones.» The Ass
glanced all through the packet, but found nothing of the sort, and said so.
Then the Dog said in disgust, «Oh, throw it away, do: what’s the good of a
thing like that?»

THE ASS CARRYING THE IMAGE

A certain man put an Image on the back of his Ass to take it
to one of the temples of the town. As they went along the road all the people
they met uncovered and bowed their heads out of reverence for the Image; but
the Ass thought they were doing it out of respect for himself, and began to
give himself airs accordingly. At last he became so conceited that he imagined
he could do as he liked, and, by way of protest against the load he was
carrying, he came to a full stop and flatly declined to proceed any further.
His driver, finding him so obstinate, hit him hard and long with his stick,
saying the while, «Oh, you dunder-headed idiot, do you suppose it’s come
to this, that men pay worship to an Ass?»

Rude shocks await those who take to themselves the
credit that is due to others.

THE ATHENIAN AND THE THEBAN

An Athenian and a Theban were on the road together, and passed
the time in conversation, as is the way of travellers. After discussing a
variety of subjects they began to talk about heroes, a topic that tends to be
more fertile than edifying. Each of them was lavish in his praises of the
heroes of his own city, until eventually the Theban asserted that Hercules was
the greatest hero who had ever lived on earth, and now occupied a foremost
place among the gods; while the Athenian insisted that Theseus was far
superior, for his fortune had been in every way supremely blessed, whereas Hercules
had at one time been forced to act as a servant. And he gained his point, for
he was a very glib fellow, like all Athenians; so that the Theban, who was no
match for him in talking, cried at last in some disgust, «All right, have
your way; I only hope that, when our heroes are angry with us, Athens may
suffer from the anger of Hercules, and Thebes only from that of Theseus.»

THE GOATHERD AND THE GOAT

THE GOATHERD AND THE GOAT

A Goatherd was one day gathering his flock to return to the
fold, when one of his goats strayed and refused to join the rest. He tried for
a long time to get her to return by calling and whistling to her, but the Goat
took no notice of him at all; so at last he threw a stone at her and broke one
of her horns. In dismay, he begged her not to tell his master: but she replied,
«You silly fellow, my horn would cry aloud even if I held my tongue.»

It’s no use trying to hide what can’t be hidden.

THE SHEEP AND THE DOG

Once upon a time the Sheep complained to the shepherd about
the difference in his treatment of themselves and his Dog. «Your
conduct,» said they, «is very strange and, we think, very unfair. We
provide you with wool and lambs and milk and you give us nothing but grass, and
even that we have to find for ourselves: but you get nothing at all from the
Dog, and yet you feed him with tit-bits from your own table.» Their remarks
were overheard by the Dog, who spoke up at once and said, «Yes, and quite
right, too: where would you be if it wasn’t for me? Thieves would steal you!
Wolves would eat you! Indeed, if I didn’t keep constant watch over you, you
would be too terrified even to graze!» The Sheep were obliged to
acknowledge that he spoke the truth, and never again made a grievance of the
regard in which he was held by his master.

THE SHEPHERD AND THE WOLF

A Shepherd found a Wolf’s Cub straying in the pastures, and
took him home and reared him along with his dogs. When the Cub grew to his full
size, if ever a wolf stole a sheep from the flock, he used to join the dogs in
hunting him down. It sometimes happened that the dogs failed to come up with
the thief, and, abandoning the pursuit, returned home. The Wolf would on such
occasions continue the chase by himself, and when he overtook the culprit,
would stop and share the feast with him, and then return to the Shepherd. But
if some time passed without a sheep being carried off by the wolves, he would
steal one himself and share his plunder with the dogs. The Shepherd’s
suspicions were aroused, and one day he caught him in the act; and, fastening a
rope round his neck, hung him on the nearest tree.

What’s bred in the bone is sure to come out in the
flesh.

THE LION, JUPITER, AND THE ELEPHANT

THE LION, JUPITER, AND THE ELEPHANT

The Lion, for all his size and strength, and his sharp teeth
and claws, is a coward in one thing: he can’t bear the sound of a cock crowing,
and runs away whenever he hears it. He complained bitterly to Jupiter for
making him like that; but Jupiter said it wasn’t his fault: he had done the
best he could for him, and, considering this was his only failing, he ought to
be well content. The Lion, however, wouldn’t be comforted, and was so ashamed
of his timidity that he wished he might die. In this state of mind, he met the
Elephant and had a talk with him. He noticed that the great beast cocked up his
ears all the time, as if he were listening for something, and he asked him why
he did so. Just then a gnat came humming by, and the Elephant said, «Do you
see that wretched little buzzing insect? I’m terribly afraid of its getting
into my ear: if it once gets in, I’m dead and done for.» The Lion’s
spirits rose at once when he heard this: «For,» he said to himself,
«if the Elephant, huge as he is, is afraid of a gnat, I needn’t be so much
ashamed of being afraid of a cock, who is ten thousand times bigger than a
gnat.»

THE PIG AND THE SHEEP

A Pig found his way into a meadow where a flock of Sheep were
grazing. The shepherd caught him, and was proceeding to carry him off to the
butcher’s when he set up a loud squealing and struggled to get free. The Sheep
rebuked him for making such a to-do, and said to him, «The shepherd
catches us regularly and drags us off just like that, and we don’t make any
fuss.» «No, I dare say not,» replied the Pig, «but my case
and yours are altogether different: he only wants you for wool, but he wants me
for bacon.»

THE GARDENER AND HIS DOG

A Gardner’s Dog fell into a deep well, from which his master
used to draw water for the plants in his garden with a rope and a bucket.
Failing to get the Dog out by means of these, the Gardener went down into the
well himself in order to fetch him up. But the Dog thought he had come to make
sure of drowning him; so he bit his master as soon as he came within reach, and
hurt him a good deal, with the result that he left the Dog to his fate and
climbed out of the well, remarking, «It serves me quite right for trying
to save so determined a suicide.»

THE RIVERS AND THE SEA

Once upon a time all the Rivers combined to protest against
the action of the Sea in making their waters salt. «When we come to
you,» said they to the Sea, «we are sweet and drinkable: but when
once we have mingled with you, our waters become as briny and unpalatable as
your own.» The Sea replied shortly, «Keep away from me and you’ll
remain sweet.»

THE LION IN LOVE

A Lion fell deeply in love with the daughter of a cottager and
wanted to marry her; but her father was unwilling to give her to so fearsome a
husband, and yet didn’t want to offend the Lion; so he hit upon the following
expedient. He went to the Lion and said, «I think you will make a very
good husband for my daughter: but I cannot consent to your union unless you let
me draw your teeth and pare your nails, for my daughter is terribly afraid of
them.» The Lion was so much in love that he readily agreed that this
should be done. When once, however, he was thus disarmed, the Cottager was
afraid of him no longer, but drove him away with his club.

THE BEE-KEEPER

A Thief found his way into an apiary when the Bee-keeper was
away, and stole all the honey. When the Keeper returned and found the hives
empty, he was very much upset and stood staring at them for some time. Before
long the bees came back from gathering honey, and, finding their hives
overturned and the Keeper standing by, they made for him with their stings. At
this he fell into a passion and cried, «You ungrateful scoundrels, you let
the thief who stole my honey get off scot-free, and then you go and sting me
who have always taken such care of you!»

When you hit back make sure you have got the right
man.

THE WOLF AND THE HORSE

THE WOLF AND THE HORSE

A Wolf on his rambles came to a field of oats, but, not being
able to eat them, he was passing on his way when a Horse came along.
«Look,» said the Wolf, «here’s a fine field of oats. For your
sake I have left it untouched, and I shall greatly enjoy the sound of your
teeth munching the ripe grain.» But the Horse replied, «If wolves
could eat oats, my fine friend, you would hardly have indulged your ears at the
cost of your belly.»

There is no virtue in giving to others what is
useless to oneself.

THE BAT, THE BRAMBLE, AND THE SEAGULL

A Bat, a Bramble, and a Seagull went into partnership and
determined to go on a trading voyage together. The Bat borrowed a sum of money
for his venture; the Bramble laid in a stock of clothes of various kinds; and
the Seagull took a quantity of lead: and so they set out. By and by a great
storm came on, and their boat with all the cargo went to the bottom, but the
three travellers managed to reach land. Ever since then the Seagull flies to
and fro over the sea, and every now and then dives below the surface, looking
for the lead he’s lost; while the Bat is so afraid of meeting his creditors
that he hides away by day and only comes out at night to feed; and the Bramble
catches hold of the clothes of every one who passes by, hoping some day to
recognise and recover the lost garments.

All men are more concerned to recover what they
lose than to acquire what they lack.

THE DOG AND THE WOLF

A Dog was lying in the sun before a farmyard gate when a Wolf
pounced upon him and was just going to eat him up; but he begged for his life
and said, «You see how thin I am and what a wretched meal I should make
you now: but if you will only wait a few days my master is going to give a
feast. All the rich scraps and pickings will fall to me and I shall get nice
and fat: then will be the time for you to eat me.» The Wolf thought this
was a very good plan and went away. Some time afterwards he came to the
farmyard again, and found the Dog lying out of reach on the stable roof.
«Come down,» he called, «and be eaten: you remember our
agreement?» But the Dog said coolly, «My friend, if ever you catch me
lying down by the gate there again, don’t you wait for any feast.»

Once bitten, twice shy.

THE WASP AND THE SNAKE

A Wasp settled on the head of a Snake, and not only stung him
several times, but clung obstinately to the head of his victim. Maddened with
pain the Snake tried every means he could think of to get rid of the creature,
but without success. At last he became desperate, and crying, «Kill you I
will, even at the cost of my own life,» he laid his head with the Wasp on
it under the wheel of a passing waggon, and they both perished together.

THE EAGLE AND THE BEETLE

An Eagle was chasing a hare, which was running for dear life
and was at her wits’ end to know where to turn for help. Presently she espied a
Beetle, and begged it to aid her. So when the Eagle came up the Beetle warned
her not to touch the hare, which was under its protection. But the Eagle never
noticed the Beetle because it was so small, seized the hare and ate her up. The
Beetle never forgot this, and used to keep an eye on the Eagle’s nest, and
whenever the Eagle laid an egg it climbed up and rolled it out of the nest and
broke it. At last the Eagle got so worried over the loss of her eggs that she
went up to Jupiter, who is the special protector of Eagles, and begged him to
give her a safe place to nest in: so he let her lay her eggs in his lap. But
the Beetle noticed this and made a ball of dirt the size of an Eagle’s egg, and
flew up and deposited it in Jupiter’s lap. When Jupiter saw the dirt, he stood
up to shake it out of his robe, and, forgetting about the eggs, he shook them
out too, and they were broken just as before. Ever since then, they say, Eagles
never lay their eggs at the season when Beetles are about.

The weak will sometimes find ways to avenge an
insult, even upon the strong.

THE FOWLER AND THE LARK

A Fowler was setting his nets for little birds when a Lark
came up to him and asked him what he was doing. «I am engaged in founding
a city,» said he, and with that he withdrew to a short distance and
concealed himself. The Lark examined the nets with great curiosity, and
presently, catching sight of the bait, hopped on to them in order to secure it,
and became entangled in the meshes. The Fowler then ran up quickly and captured
her. «What a fool I was!» said she: «but at any rate, if that’s
the kind of city you are founding, it’ll be a long time before you find fools
enough to fill it.»

THE FISHERMAN PIPING

THE FISHERMAN PIPING

A Fisherman who could play the flute went down one day to the
sea-shore with his nets and his flute; and, taking his stand on a projecting
rock, began to play a tune, thinking that the music would bring the fish
jumping out of the sea. He went on playing for some time, but not a fish
appeared: so at last he threw down his flute and cast his net into the sea, and
made a great haul of fish. When they were landed and he saw them leaping about
on the shore, he cried, «You rascals! you wouldn’t dance when I piped: but
now I’ve stopped, you can do nothing else!»

THE WEASEL AND THE MAN

A Man once caught a Weasel, which was always sneaking about
the house, and was just going to drown it in a tub of water, when it begged
hard for its life, and said to him, «Surely you haven’t the heart to put
me to death? Think how useful I have been in clearing your house of the mice
and lizards which used to infest it, and show your gratitude by sparing my
life.» «You have not been altogether useless, I grant you,» said
the Man: «but who killed the fowls? Who stole the meat? No, no! You do
much more harm than good, and die you shall.»

THE PLOUGHMAN, THE ASS, AND THE OX

A Ploughman yoked his Ox and his Ass together, and set to work
to plough his field. It was a poor makeshift of a team, but it was the best he
could do, as he had but a single Ox. At the end of the day, when the beasts
were loosed from the yoke, the Ass said to the Ox, «Well, we’ve had a hard
day: which of us is to carry the master home?» The Ox looked surprised at
the question. «Why,» said he, «you, to be sure, as usual.»

DEMADES AND HIS FABLE

Demades the orator was once speaking in the Assembly at
Athens; but the people were very inattentive to what he was saying, so he
stopped and said, «Gentlemen, I should like to tell you one of Aesop’s
fables.» This made every one listen intently. Then Demades began:
«Demeter, a Swallow, and an Eel were once travelling together, and came to
a river without a bridge: the Swallow flew over it, and the Eel swam across»;
and then he stopped. «What happened to Demeter?» cried several people
in the audience. «Demeter,» he replied, «is very angry with you
for listening to fables when you ought to be minding public business.»

THE MONKEY AND THE DOLPHIN

When people go on a voyage they often take with them lap-dogs
or monkeys as pets to wile away the time. Thus it fell out that a man returning
to Athens from the East had a pet Monkey on board with him. As they neared the
coast of Attica a great storm burst upon them, and the ship capsized. All on
board were thrown into the water, and tried to save themselves by swimming, the
Monkey among the rest. A Dolphin saw him, and, supposing him to be a man, took
him on his back and began swimming towards the shore. When they got near the
Piraeus, which is the port of Athens, the Dolphin asked the Monkey if he was an
Athenian. The Monkey replied that he was, and added that he came of a very
distinguished family. «Then, of course, you know the Piraeus,»
continued the Dolphin. The Monkey thought he was referring to some high
official or other, and replied, «Oh, yes, he’s a very old friend of
mine.» At that, detecting his hypocrisy, the Dolphin was so disgusted that
he dived below the surface, and the unfortunate Monkey was quickly drowned.

THE MONKEY AND THE DOLPHIN

THE CROW AND THE SNAKE

A hungry Crow spied a Snake lying asleep in a sunny spot, and,
picking it up in his claws, he was carrying it off to a place where he could
make a meal of it without being disturbed, when the Snake reared its head and
bit him. It was a poisonous Snake, and the bite was fatal, and the dying Crow
said, «What a cruel fate is mine! I thought I had made a lucky find, and
it has cost me my life!»

THE DOGS AND THE FOX

Some Dogs once found a lion’s skin, and were worrying it with
their teeth. Just then a Fox came by, and said, «You think yourselves very
brave, no doubt; but if that were a live lion you’d find his claws a good deal
sharper than your teeth.»

THE NIGHTINGALE AND THE HAWK

A Nightingale was sitting on a bough of an oak and singing, as
her custom was. A hungry Hawk presently spied her, and darting to the spot
seized her in his talons. He was just about to tear her in pieces when she
begged him to spare her life: «I’m not big enough,» she pleaded,
«to make you a good meal: you ought to seek your prey among the bigger
birds.» The Hawk eyed her with some contempt. «You must think me very
simple,» said he, «if you suppose I am going to give up a certain
prize on the chance of a better of which I see at present no signs.»

THE ROSE AND THE AMARANTH

A Rose and an Amaranth blossomed side by side in a garden, and
the Amaranth said to her neighbour, «How I envy you your beauty and your sweet
scent! No wonder you are such a universal favourite.» But the Rose replied
with a shade of sadness in her voice, «Ah, my dear friend, I bloom but for
a time: my petals soon wither and fall, and then I die. But your flowers never
fade, even if they are cut; for they are everlasting.»

THE MAN, THE HORSE, THE OX, AND THE DOG

One winter’s day, during a severe storm, a Horse, an Ox, and a
Dog came and begged for shelter in the house of a Man. He readily admitted
them, and, as they were cold and wet, he lit a fire for their comfort: and he
put oats before the Horse, and hay before the Ox, while he fed the Dog with the
remains of his own dinner. When the storm abated, and they were about to
depart, they determined to show their gratitude in the following way. They
divided the life of Man among them, and each endowed one part of it with the
qualities which were peculiarly his own. The Horse took youth, and hence young
men are high-mettled and impatient of restraint; the Ox took middle age, and
accordingly men in middle life are steady and hard-working; while the Dog took
old age, which is the reason why old men are so often peevish and ill-tempered,
and, like dogs, attached chiefly to those who look to their comfort, while they
are disposed to snap at those who are unfamiliar or distasteful to them.

THE WOLVES, THE SHEEP, AND THE RAM

The Wolves sent a deputation to the Sheep with proposals for a
lasting peace between them, on condition of their giving up the sheep-dogs to
instant death. The foolish Sheep agreed to the terms; but an old Ram, whose
years had brought him wisdom, interfered and said, «How can we expect to
live at peace with you? Why, even with the dogs at hand to protect us, we are
never secure from your murderous attacks!»

THE SWAN

The Swan is said to sing but once in its life—when it knows
that it is about to die. A certain man, who had heard of the song of the Swan,
one day saw one of these birds for sale in the market, and bought it and took
it home with him. A few days later he had some friends to dinner, and produced
the Swan, and bade it sing for their entertainment: but the Swan remained
silent. In course of time, when it was growing old, it became aware of its
approaching end and broke into a sweet, sad song. When its owner heard it, he
said angrily, «If the creature only sings when it is about to die, what a
fool I was that day I wanted to hear its song! I ought to have wrung its neck
instead of merely inviting it to sing.»

THE SNAKE AND JUPITER

A Snake suffered a good deal from being constantly trodden
upon by man and beast, owing partly to the length of his body and partly to his
being unable to raise himself above the surface of the ground: so he went and
complained to Jupiter about the risks to which he was exposed. But Jupiter had
little sympathy for him. «I dare say,» said he, «that if you had
bitten the first that trod on you, the others would have taken more trouble to
look where they put their feet.»

THE WOLF AND HIS SHADOW

THE WOLF AND HIS SHADOW

A Wolf, who was roaming about on the plain when the sun was
getting low in the sky, was much impressed by the size of his shadow, and said
to himself, «I had no idea I was so big. Fancy my being afraid of a lion!
Why, I, not he, ought to be King of the beasts»; and, heedless of danger,
he strutted about as if there could be no doubt at all about it. Just then a
lion sprang upon him and began to devour him. «Alas,» he cried,
«had I not lost sight of the facts, I shouldn’t have been ruined by my
fancies.»

THE PLOUGHMAN AND THE WOLF

A Ploughman loosed his oxen from the plough, and led them away
to the water to drink. While he was absent a half-starved Wolf appeared on the
scene, and went up to the plough and began chewing the leather straps attached
to the yoke. As he gnawed away desperately in the hope of satisfying his
craving for food, he somehow got entangled in the harness, and, taking fright,
struggled to get free, tugging at the traces as if he would drag the plough
along with him. Just then the Ploughman came back, and seeing what was
happening, he cried, «Ah, you old rascal, I wish you would give up
thieving for good and take to honest work instead.»

MERCURY AND THE MAN BITTEN BY AN ANT

A Man once saw a ship go down with all its crew, and commented
severely on the injustice of the gods. «They care nothing for a man’s
character,» said he, «but let the good and the bad go to their deaths
together.» There was an ant-heap close by where he was standing, and, just
as he spoke, he was bitten in the foot by an Ant. Turning in a temper to the
ant-heap he stamped upon it and crushed hundreds of unoffending ants. Suddenly
Mercury appeared, and belaboured him with his staff, saying as he did so,
«You villain, where’s your nice sense of justice now?»

THE WILY LION

A Lion watched a fat Bull feeding in a meadow, and his mouth
watered when he thought of the royal feast he would make, but he did not dare
to attack him, for he was afraid of his sharp horns. Hunger, however, presently
compelled him to do something: and as the use of force did not promise success,
he determined to resort to artifice. Going up to the Bull in friendly fashion,
he said to him, «I cannot help saying how much I admire your magnificent
figure. What a fine head! What powerful shoulders and thighs! But, my dear
friend, what in the world makes you wear those ugly horns? You must find them
as awkward as they are unsightly. Believe me, you would do much better without
them.» The Bull was foolish enough to be persuaded by this flattery to
have his horns cut off; and, having now lost his only means of defence, fell an
easy prey to the Lion.

THE PARROT AND THE CAT

A Man once bought a Parrot and gave it the run of his house.
It revelled in its liberty, and presently flew up on to the mantelpiece and
screamed away to its heart’s content. The noise disturbed the Cat, who was
asleep on the hearthrug. Looking up at the intruder, she said, «Who may
you be, and where have you come from?» The Parrot replied, «Your
master has just bought me and brought me home with him.» «You
impudent bird,» said the Cat, «how dare you, a newcomer, make a noise
like that? Why, I was born here, and have lived here all my life, and yet, if I
venture to mew, they throw things at me and chase me all over the place.»
«Look here, mistress,» said the Parrot, «you just hold your
tongue. My voice they delight in; but yours—yours is a perfect nuisance.»

THE STAG AND THE LION

A Stag was chased by the hounds, and took refuge in a cave,
where he hoped to be safe from his pursuers. Unfortunately the cave contained a
Lion, to whom he fell an easy prey. «Unhappy that I am,» he cried,
«I am saved from the power of the dogs only to fall into the clutches of a
Lion.»

Out of the frying-pan into the fire.

THE IMPOSTOR

A certain man fell ill, and, being in a very bad way, he made
a vow that he would sacrifice a hundred oxen to the gods if they would grant
him a return to health. Wishing to see how he would keep his vow, they caused
him to recover in a short time. Now, he hadn’t an ox in the world, so he made a
hundred little oxen out of tallow and offered them up on an altar, at the same
time saying, «Ye gods, I call you to witness that I have discharged my
vow.» The gods determined to be even with him, so they sent him a dream,
in which he was bidden to go to the sea-shore and fetch a hundred crowns which
he was to find there. Hastening in great excitement to the shore, he fell in
with a band of robbers, who seized him and carried him off to sell as a slave:
and when they sold him a hundred crowns was the sum he fetched.

Do not promise more than you can perform.

THE DOGS AND THE HIDES

Once upon a time a number of Dogs, who were famished with
hunger, saw some Hides steeping in a river, but couldn’t get at them because
the water was too deep. So they put their heads together, and decided to drink
away at the river till it was shallow enough for them to reach the Hides. But
long before that happened they burst themselves with drinking.

THE LION, THE FOX, AND THE ASS

THE LION, THE
FOX, AND THE ASS

A Lion, a Fox, and an Ass went out hunting together. They had
soon taken a large booty, which the Lion requested the Ass to divide between
them. The Ass divided it all into three equal parts, and modestly begged the
others to take their choice; at which the Lion, bursting with fury, sprang upon
the Ass and tore him to pieces. Then, glaring at the Fox, he bade him make a
fresh division. The Fox gathered almost the whole in one great heap for the
Lion’s share, leaving only the smallest possible morsel for himself. «My
dear friend,» said the Lion, «how did you get the knack of it so
well?» The Fox replied, «Me? Oh, I took a lesson from the Ass.»

Happy is he who learns from the misfortunes of
others.

THE FOWLER, THE PARTRIDGE, AND THE COCK

One day, as a Fowler was sitting down to a scanty supper of
herbs and bread, a friend dropped in unexpectedly. The larder was empty; so he
went out and caught a tame Partridge, which he kept as a decoy, and was about
to wring her neck when she cried, «Surely you won’t kill me? Why, what
will you do without me next time you go fowling? How will you get the birds to
come to your nets?» He let her go at this, and went to his hen-house,
where he had a plump young Cock. When the Cock saw what he was after, he too
pleaded for his life, and said, «If you kill me, how will you know the
time of night? and who will wake you up in the morning when it is time to get
to work?» The Fowler, however, replied, «You are useful for telling
the time, I know; but, for all that, I can’t send my friend supperless to
bed.» And therewith he caught him and wrung his neck.

THE GNAT AND THE LION

A Gnat once went up to a Lion and said, «I am not in the
least afraid of you: I don’t even allow that you are a match for me in
strength. What does your strength amount to after all? That you can scratch
with your claws and bite with your teeth—just like a woman in a temper—and
nothing more. But I’m stronger than you: if you don’t believe it, let us fight
and see.» So saying, the Gnat sounded his horn, and darted in and bit the
Lion on the nose. When the Lion felt the sting, in his haste to crush him he
scratched his nose badly, and made it bleed, but failed altogether to hurt the
Gnat, which buzzed off in triumph, elated by its victory. Presently, however,
it got entangled in a spider’s web, and was caught and eaten by the spider,
thus falling a prey to an insignificant insect after having triumphed over the
King of the Beasts.

THE GNAT AND THE LION

THE FARMER AND HIS DOGS

A Farmer was snowed up in his farmstead by a severe storm, and
was unable to go out and procure provisions for himself and his family. So he
first killed his sheep and used them for food; then, as the storm still
continued, he killed his goats; and, last of all, as the weather showed no
signs of improving, he was compelled to kill his oxen and eat them. When his
Dogs saw the various animals being killed and eaten in turn, they said to one
another, «We had better get out of this or we shall be the next to
go!»

THE EAGLE AND THE FOX

An Eagle and a Fox became great friends and determined to live
near one another: they thought that the more they saw of each other the better
friends they would be. So the Eagle built a nest at the top of a high tree,
while the Fox settled in a thicket at the foot of it and produced a litter of
cubs. One day the Fox went out foraging for food, and the Eagle, who also wanted
food for her young, flew down into the thicket, caught up the Fox’s cubs, and
carried them up into the tree for a meal for herself and her family. When the
Fox came back, and found out what had happened, she was not so much sorry for
the loss of her cubs as furious because she couldn’t get at the Eagle and pay
her out for her treachery. So she sat down not far off and cursed her. But it
wasn’t long before she had her revenge. Some villagers happened to be
sacrificing a goat on a neighbouring altar, and the Eagle flew down and carried
off a piece of burning flesh to her nest. There was a strong wind blowing, and
the nest caught fire, with the result that her fledglings fell half-roasted to
the ground. Then the Fox ran to the spot and devoured them in full sight of the
Eagle.

False faith may escape human punishment, but
cannot escape the divine.

THE BUTCHER AND HIS CUSTOMERS

Two Men were buying meat at a Butcher’s stall in the
market-place, and, while the Butcher’s back was turned for a moment, one of them
snatched up a joint and hastily thrust it under the other’s cloak, where it
could not be seen. When the Butcher turned round, he missed the meat at once,
and charged them with having stolen it: but the one who had taken it said he
hadn’t got it, and the one who had got it said he hadn’t taken it. The Butcher
felt sure they were deceiving him, but he only said, «You may cheat me
with your lying, but you can’t cheat the gods, and they won’t let you off so
lightly.»

Prevarication often amounts to perjury.

HERCULES AND MINERVA

Hercules was once travelling along a narrow road when he saw
lying on the ground in front of him what appeared to be an apple, and as he
passed he stamped upon it with his heel. To his astonishment, instead of being
crushed it doubled in size; and, on his attacking it again and smiting it with
his club, it swelled up to an enormous size and blocked up the whole road. Upon
this he dropped his club, and stood looking at it in amazement. Just then
Minerva appeared, and said to him, «Leave it alone, my friend; that which
you see before you is the apple of discord: if you do not meddle with it, it
remains small as it was at first, but if you resort to violence it swells into
the thing you see.»

THE FOX WHO SERVED A LION

A Lion had a Fox to attend on him, and whenever they went
hunting the Fox found the prey and the Lion fell upon it and killed it, and
then they divided it between them in certain proportions. But the Lion always
got a very large share, and the Fox a very small one, which didn’t please the
latter at all; so he determined to set up on his own account. He began by
trying to steal a lamb from a flock of sheep: but the shepherd saw him and set
his dogs on him. The hunter was now the hunted, and was very soon caught and despatched
by the dogs.

Better servitude with safety than freedom with
danger.

THE QUACK DOCTOR

A certain man fell sick and took to his bed. He consulted a
number of doctors from time to time, and they all, with one exception, told him
that his life was in no immediate danger, but that his illness would probably
last a considerable time. The one who took a different view of his case, who
was also the last to be consulted, bade him prepare for the worst: «You
have not twenty-four hours to live,» said he, «and I fear I can do
nothing.» As it turned out, however, he was quite wrong; for at the end of
a few days the sick man quitted his bed and took a walk abroad, looking, it is
true, as pale as a ghost. In the course of his walk he met the Doctor who had
prophesied his death. «Dear me,» said the latter, «how do you
do? You are fresh from the other world, no doubt. Pray, how are our departed
friends getting on there?» «Most comfortably,» replied the
other, «for they have drunk the water of oblivion, and have forgotten all
the troubles of life. By the way, just before I left, the authorities were
making arrangements to prosecute all the doctors, because they won’t let sick
men die in the course of nature, but use their arts to keep them alive. They
were going to charge you along with the rest, till I assured them that you were
no doctor, but a mere impostor.»

THE LION, THE WOLF, AND THE FOX

A Lion, infirm with age, lay sick in his den, and all the
beasts of the forest came to inquire after his health with the exception of the
Fox. The Wolf thought this was a good opportunity for paying off old scores
against the Fox, so he called the attention of the Lion to his absence, and
said, «You see, sire, that we have all come to see how you are except the
Fox, who hasn’t come near you, and doesn’t care whether you are well or
ill.» Just then the Fox came in and heard the last words of the Wolf. The
Lion roared at him in deep displeasure, but he begged to be allowed to explain
his absence, and said, «Not one of them cares for you so much as I, sire,
for all the time I have been going round to the doctors and trying to find a
cure for your illness.» «And may I ask if you have found one?»
said the Lion. «I have, sire,» said the Fox, «and it is this:
you must flay a Wolf and wrap yourself in his skin while it is still
warm.» The Lion accordingly turned to the Wolf and struck him dead with
one blow of his paw, in order to try the Fox’s prescription; but the Fox
laughed and said to himself, «That’s what comes of stirring up ill-will.»

HERCULES AND PLUTUS

When Hercules was received among the gods and was entertained
at a banquet by Jupiter, he responded courteously to the greetings of all with
the exception of Plutus, the god of wealth. When Plutus approached him, he cast
his eyes upon the ground, and turned away and pretended not to see him. Jupiter
was surprised at this conduct on his part, and asked why, after having been so
cordial with all the other gods, he had behaved like that to Plutus.
«Sire,» said Hercules, «I do not like Plutus, and I will tell
you why. When we were on earth together I always noticed that he was to be
found in the company of scoundrels.»

THE FOX AND THE LEOPARD

THE FOX AND THE LEOPARD

A Fox and a Leopard were disputing about their looks, and each
claimed to be the more handsome of the two. The Leopard said, «Look at my
smart coat; you have nothing to match that.» But the Fox replied,
«Your coat may be smart, but my wits are smarter still.»

THE FOX AND THE HEDGEHOG

A Fox, in swimming across a rapid river, was swept away by the
current and carried a long way downstream in spite of his struggles, until at
last, bruised and exhausted, he managed to scramble on to dry ground from a
backwater. As he lay there unable to move, a swarm of horseflies settled on him
and sucked his blood undisturbed, for he was too weak even to shake them off. A
Hedgehog saw him, and asked if he should brush away the flies that were
tormenting him; but the Fox replied, «Oh, please, no, not on any account,
for these flies have sucked their fill and are taking very little from me now;
but, if you drive them off, another swarm of hungry ones will come and suck all
the blood I have left, and leave me without a drop in my veins.»

THE CROW AND THE RAVEN

A Crow became very jealous of a Raven, because the latter was
regarded by men as a bird of omen which foretold the future, and was
accordingly held in great respect by them. She was very anxious to get the same
sort of reputation herself; and, one day, seeing some travellers approaching,
she flew on to a branch of a tree at the roadside and cawed as loud as she
could. The travellers were in some dismay at the sound, for they feared it
might be a bad omen; till one of them, spying the Crow, said to his companions,
«It’s all right, my friends, we can go on without fear, for it’s only a
crow and that means nothing.»

Those who pretend to be something they are not
only make themselves ridiculous.

THE WITCH

A Witch professed to be able to avert the anger of the gods by
means of charms, of which she alone possessed the secret; and she drove a brisk
trade, and made a fat livelihood out of it. But certain persons accused her of
black magic and carried her before the judges, and demanded that she should be
put to death for dealings with the Devil. She was found guilty and condemned to
death: and one of the judges said to her as she was leaving the dock, «You
say you can avert the anger of the gods. How comes it, then, that you have
failed to disarm the enmity of men?»

THE OLD MAN AND DEATH

An Old Man cut himself a bundle of faggots in a wood and
started to carry them home. He had a long way to go, and was tired out before
he had got much more than half-way. Casting his burden on the ground, he called
upon Death to come and release him from his life of toil. The words were
scarcely out of his mouth when, much to his dismay, Death stood before him and
professed his readiness to serve him. He was almost frightened out of his wits,
but he had enough presence of mind to stammer out, «Good sir, if you’d be
so kind, pray help me up with my burden again.»

THE MISER

THE MISER

A Miser sold everything he had, and melted down his hoard of
gold into a single lump, which he buried secretly in a field. Every day he went
to look at it, and would sometimes spend long hours gloating over his treasure.
One of his men noticed his frequent visits to the spot, and one day watched him
and discovered his secret. Waiting his opportunity, he went one night and dug
up the gold and stole it. Next day the Miser visited the place as usual, and,
finding his treasure gone, fell to tearing his hair and groaning over his loss.
In this condition he was seen by one of his neighbours, who asked him what his
trouble was. The Miser told him of his misfortune; but the other replied,
«Don’t take it so much to heart, my friend; put a brick into the hole, and
take a look at it every day: you won’t be any worse off than before, for even
when you had your gold it was of no earthly use to you.»

THE FOXES AND THE RIVER

A number of Foxes assembled on the bank of a river and wanted
to drink; but the current was so strong and the water looked so deep and
dangerous that they didn’t dare to do so, but stood near the edge encouraging
one another not to be afraid. At last one of them, to shame the rest, and show
how brave he was, said, «I am not a bit frightened! See, I’ll step right
into the water!» He had no sooner done so than the current swept him off
his feet. When the others saw him being carried down-stream they cried,
«Don’t go and leave us! Come back and show us where we too can drink with
safety.» But he replied, «I’m afraid I can’t yet: I want to go to the
seaside, and this current will take me there nicely. When I come back I’ll show
you with pleasure.»

THE HORSE AND THE STAG

There was once a Horse who used to graze in a meadow which he
had all to himself. But one day a Stag came into the meadow, and said he had as
good a right to feed there as the Horse, and moreover chose all the best places
for himself. The Horse, wishing to be revenged upon his unwelcome visitor, went
to a man and asked if he would help him to turn out the Stag. «Yes,»
said the man, «I will by all means; but I can only do so if you let me put
a bridle in your mouth and mount on your back.» The Horse agreed to this,
and the two together very soon turned the Stag out of the pasture: but when
that was done, the Horse found to his dismay that in the man he had got a
master for good.

THE FOX AND THE BRAMBLE

In making his way through a hedge a Fox missed his footing and
caught at a Bramble to save himself from falling. Naturally, he got badly
scratched, and in disgust he cried to the Bramble, «It was your help I
wanted, and see how you have treated me! I’d sooner have fallen outright.»
The Bramble, interrupting him, replied, «You must have lost your wits, my
friend, to catch at me, who am myself always catching at others.»

THE FOX AND THE SNAKE

A Snake, in crossing a river, was carried away by the current,
but managed to wriggle on to a bundle of thorns which was floating by, and was
thus carried at a great rate down-stream. A Fox caught sight of it from the
bank as it went whirling along, and called out, «Gad! the passenger fits
the ship!»

THE LION, THE FOX, AND THE STAG

A Lion lay sick in his den, unable to provide himself with
food. So he said to his friend the Fox, who came to ask how he did, «My
good friend, I wish you would go to yonder wood and beguile the big Stag, who
lives there, to come to my den: I have a fancy to make my dinner off a stag’s
heart and brains.» The Fox went to the wood and found the Stag and said to
him, «My dear sir, you’re in luck. You know the Lion, our King: well, he’s
at the point of death, and has appointed you his successor to rule over the
beasts. I hope you won’t forget that I was the first to bring you the good
news. And now I must be going back to him; and, if you take my advice, you’ll
come too and be with him at the last.» The Stag was highly flattered, and
followed the Fox to the Lion’s den, suspecting nothing. No sooner had he got
inside than the Lion sprang upon him, but he misjudged his spring, and the Stag
got away with only his ears torn, and returned as fast as he could to the shelter
of the wood. The Fox was much mortified, and the Lion, too, was dreadfully
disappointed, for he was getting very hungry in spite of his illness. So he
begged the Fox to have another try at coaxing the Stag to his den. «It’ll
be almost impossible this time,» said the Fox, «but I’ll try»;
and off he went to the wood a second time, and found the Stag resting and
trying to recover from his fright. As soon as he saw the Fox he cried,
«You scoundrel, what do you mean by trying to lure me to my death like that?
Take yourself off, or I’ll do you to death with my horns.» But the Fox was
entirely shameless. «What a coward you were,» said he; «surely
you didn’t think the Lion meant any harm? Why, he was only going to whisper
some royal secrets into your ear when you went off like a scared rabbit. You
have rather disgusted him, and I’m not sure he won’t make the wolf King
instead, unless you come back at once and show you’ve got some spirit. I
promise you he won’t hurt you, and I will be your faithful servant.» The
Stag was foolish enough to be persuaded to return, and this time the Lion made
no mistake, but overpowered him, and feasted right royally upon his carcase.
The Fox, meanwhile, watched his chance and, when the Lion wasn’t looking,
filched away the brains to reward him for his trouble. Presently the Lion began
searching for them, of course without success: and the Fox, who was watching
him, said, «I don’t think it’s much use your looking for the brains: a
creature who twice walked into a Lion’s den can’t have got any.»

THE MAN WHO LOST HIS SPADE

A Man was engaged in digging over his vineyard, and one day on
coming to work he missed his Spade. Thinking it may have been stolen by one of
his labourers, he questioned them closely, but they one and all denied any
knowledge of it. He was not convinced by their denials, and insisted that they
should all go to the town and take oath in a temple that they were not guilty
of the theft. This was because he had no great opinion of the simple country
deities, but thought that the thief would not pass undetected by the shrewder
gods of the town. When they got inside the gates the first thing they heard was
the town crier proclaiming a reward for information about a thief who had
stolen something from the city temple. «Well,» said the Man to
himself, «it strikes me I had better go back home again. If these town
gods can’t detect the thieves who steal from their own temples, it’s scarcely
likely they can tell me who stole my Spade.»

THE PARTRIDGE AND THE FOWLER

A Fowler caught a Partridge in his nets, and was just about to
wring its neck when it made a piteous appeal to him to spare its life and said,
«Do not kill me, but let me live and I will repay you for your kindness by
decoying other partridges into your nets.» «No,» said the
Fowler, «I will not spare you. I was going to kill you anyhow, and after
that treacherous speech you thoroughly deserve your fate.»

THE RUNAWAY SLAVE

A Slave, being discontented with his lot, ran away from his
master. He was soon missed by the latter, who lost no time in mounting his
horse and setting out in pursuit of the fugitive. He presently came up with
him, and the Slave, in the hope of avoiding capture, slipped into a treadmill
and hid himself there. «Aha,» said his master, «that’s the very
place for you, my man!»

THE HUNTER AND THE WOODMAN

THE HUNTER AND THE
WOODMAN

A Hunter was searching in the forest for the tracks of a lion,
and, catching sight presently of a Woodman engaged in felling a tree, he went
up to him and asked him if he had noticed a lion’s footprints anywhere about,
or if he knew where his den was. The Woodman answered, «If you will come
with me, I will show you the lion himself.» The Hunter turned pale with
fear, and his teeth chattered as he replied, «Oh, I’m not looking for the
lion, thanks, but only for his tracks.»

THE SERPENT AND THE EAGLE

An Eagle swooped down upon a Serpent and seized it in his
talons with the intention of carrying it off and devouring it. But the Serpent
was too quick for him and had its coils round him in a moment; and then there
ensued a life-and-death struggle between the two. A countryman, who was a
witness of the encounter, came to the assistance of the Eagle, and succeeded in
freeing him from the Serpent and enabling him to escape. In revenge the Serpent
spat some of his poison into the man’s drinking-horn. Heated with his exertions,
the man was about to slake his thirst with a draught from the horn, when the
Eagle knocked it out of his hand, and spilled its contents upon the ground.

One good turn deserves another.

THE ROGUE AND THE ORACLE

A Rogue laid a wager that he would prove the Oracle at Delphi
to be untrustworthy by procuring from it a false reply to an inquiry by
himself. So he went to the temple on the appointed day with a small bird in his
hand, which he concealed under the folds of his cloak, and asked whether what he
held in his hand were alive or dead. If the Oracle said «dead,» he
meant to produce the bird alive: if the reply was «alive,» he
intended to wring its neck and show it to be dead. But the Oracle was one too
many for him, for the answer he got was this: «Stranger, whether the thing
that you hold in your hand be alive or dead is a matter that depends entirely
on your own will.»

THE HORSE AND THE ASS

THE HORSE AND THE ASS

A Horse, proud of his fine harness, met an Ass on the
high-road. As the Ass with his heavy burden moved slowly out of the way to let
him pass, the Horse cried out impatiently that he could hardly resist kicking
him to make him move faster. The Ass held his peace, but did not forget the
other’s insolence. Not long afterwards the Horse became broken-winded, and was
sold by his owner to a farmer. One day, as he was drawing a dung-cart, he met
the Ass again, who in turn derided him and said, «Aha! you never thought
to come to this, did you, you who were so proud! Where are all your gay
trappings now?»

THE DOG CHASING A WOLF

A Dog was chasing a Wolf, and as he ran he thought what a fine
fellow he was, and what strong legs he had, and how quickly they covered the
ground. «Now, there’s this Wolf,» he said to himself, «what a
poor creature he is: he’s no match for me, and he knows it and so he runs
away.» But the Wolf looked round just then and said, «Don’t you
imagine I’m running away from you, my friend: it’s your master I’m afraid
of.»

GRIEF AND HIS DUE

When Jupiter was assigning the various gods their privileges,
it so happened that Grief was not present with the rest: but when all had
received their share, he too entered and claimed his due. Jupiter was at a loss
to know what to do, for there was nothing left for him. However, at last he
decided that to him should belong the tears that are shed for the dead. Thus it
is the same with Grief as it is with the other gods. The more devoutly men
render to him his due, the more lavish is he of that which he has to bestow. It
is not well, therefore, to mourn long for the departed; else Grief, whose sole
pleasure is in such mourning, will be quick to send fresh cause for tears.

THE HAWK, THE KITE, AND THE PIGEONS

The Pigeons in a certain dovecote were persecuted by a Kite,
who every now and then swooped down and carried off one of their number. So
they invited a Hawk into the dovecote to defend them against their enemy. But
they soon repented of their folly: for the Hawk killed more of them in a day
than the Kite had done in a year.

THE WOMAN AND THE FARMER

A Woman, who had lately lost her husband, used to go every day
to his grave and lament her loss. A Farmer, who was engaged in ploughing not
far from the spot, set eyes upon the Woman and desired to have her for his
wife: so he left his plough and came and sat by her side, and began to shed
tears himself. She asked him why he wept; and he replied, «I have lately
lost my wife, who was very dear to me, and tears ease my grief.» «And
I,» said she, «have lost my husband.» And so for a while they
mourned in silence. Then he said, «Since you and I are in like case, shall
we not do well to marry and live together? I shall take the place of your dead
husband, and you, that of my dead wife.» The Woman consented to the plan,
which indeed seemed reasonable enough: and they dried their tears. Meanwhile, a
thief had come and stolen the oxen which the Farmer had left with his plough.
On discovering the theft, he beat his breast and loudly bewailed his loss. When
the Woman heard his cries, she came and said, «Why, are you weeping
still?» To which he replied, «Yes, and I mean it this time.»

PROMETHEUS AND THE MAKING OF MAN

At the bidding of Jupiter, Prometheus set about the creation
of Man and the other animals. Jupiter, seeing that Mankind, the only rational
creatures, were far outnumbered by the irrational beasts, bade him redress the
balance by turning some of the latter into men. Prometheus did as he was
bidden, and this is the reason why some people have the forms of men but the
souls of beasts.

THE SWALLOW AND THE CROW

A Swallow was once boasting to a Crow about her birth. «I
was once a princess,» said she, «the daughter of a King of Athens,
but my husband used me cruelly, and cut out my tongue for a slight fault. Then,
to protect me from further injury, I was turned by Juno into a bird.»
«You chatter quite enough as it is,» said the Crow. «What you
would have been like if you hadn’t lost your tongue, I can’t think.»

THE HUNTER AND THE HORSEMAN

A Hunter went out after game, and succeeded in catching a
hare, which he was carrying home with him when he met a man on horseback, who
said to him, «You have had some sport I see, sir,» and offered to buy
it. The Hunter readily agreed; but the Horseman had no sooner got the hare in
his hands than he set spurs to his horse and went off at full gallop. The
Hunter ran after him for some little distance; but it soon dawned upon him that
he had been tricked, and he gave up trying to overtake the Horseman, and, to
save his face, called after him as loud as he could, «All right, sir, all
right, take your hare: it was meant all along as a present.»

THE GOATHERD AND THE WILD GOATS

A Goatherd was tending his goats out at pasture when he saw a
number of Wild Goats approach and mingle with his flock. At the end of the day
he drove them home and put them all into the pen together. Next day the weather
was so bad that he could not take them out as usual: so he kept them at home in
the pen, and fed them there. He only gave his own goats enough food to keep
them from starving, but he gave the Wild Goats as much as they could eat and
more; for he was very anxious for them to stay, and he thought that if he fed
them well they wouldn’t want to leave him. When the weather improved, he took
them all out to pasture again; but no sooner had they got near the hills than
the Wild Goats broke away from the flock and scampered off. The Goatherd was
very much disgusted at this, and roundly abused them for their ingratitude.
«Rascals!» he cried, «to run away like that after the way I’ve
treated you!» Hearing this, one of them turned round and said, «Oh,
yes, you treated us all right—too well, in fact; it was just that that put us
on our guard. If you treat newcomers like ourselves so much better than your
own flock, it’s more than likely that, if another lot of strange goats joined
yours, _we_ should then be neglected in favour of the last comers.»

THE NIGHTINGALE AND THE SWALLOW

A Swallow, conversing with a Nightingale, advised her to quit
the leafy coverts where she made her home, and to come and live with men, like
herself, and nest under the shelter of their roofs. But the Nightingale
replied, «Time was when I too, like yourself, lived among men: but the
memory of the cruel wrongs I then suffered makes them hateful to me, and never
again will I approach their dwellings.»

The scene of past sufferings revives painful
memories.

THE TRAVELLER AND FORTUNE

A Traveller, exhausted with fatigue after a long journey, sank
down at the very brink of a deep well and presently fell asleep. He was within
an ace of falling in, when Dame Fortune appeared to him and touched him on the
shoulder, cautioning him to move further away. «Wake up, good sir, I pray
you,» she said; «had you fallen into the well, the blame would have
been thrown not on your own folly but on me, Fortune.»

 
 
 
 
 
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