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The Ass and the Lapdog
A man had an Ass, and a Maltese Lapdog,
a very great beauty. The Ass was left in a stable and had plenty
of oats and hay to eat, just as any other Ass would. The Lapdog knew
many tricks and was a great favorite with his master, who often fondled
him and seldom went out to dine without bringing him home some tidbit to
eat. The Ass, on the contrary, had much work to do in grinding the
corn-mill and in carrying wood from the forest or burdens from the farm.
He often lamented his own hard fate and contrasted it with the luxury and
idleness of the Lapdog, till at
last one day he broke his cords
and halter, and galloped into his master's house, kicking up his heels
without measure, and frisking and fawning as well as he could. He
next tried to jump about his master as he had seen the Lapdog do, but he
broke the table and smashed all the dishes upon it to atoms. He then
attempted to lick his master, and jumped upon his back. The servants,
hearing the strange hubbub and perceiving the danger of their master, quickly
relieved him, and drove out the Ass to his stable with kicks and clubs
and cuffs. The Ass, as he returned to his stall beaten nearly to
death, thus lamented: 'I have brought it all on myself! Why could
I not have been contented to labor with my companions, and not wish to
be idle all the day like that useless little Lapdog!'
A controversy prevailed among the
beasts of the field as to which of the animals deserved the most credit
for producing the greatest number of whelps at a birth. They rushed
clamorously into the presence of the Lioness and demanded of her the settlement
of the dispute. 'And you,' they said, 'how many sons have you at
a birth?' The Lioness laughed at them, and said: 'Why! I have only
one; but that one is altogether a thoroughbred Lion.'
The value is in the worth, not in
The Boasting Traveler
A man who had traveled in foreign
lands boasted very much, on returning to his own country, of the many wonderful
and heroic feats he had performed in the different places he had visited.
Among other things, he said that when he was at Rhodes he had leaped to
such a distance that no man of his day could leap anywhere near him as
to that, there were in Rhodes many persons who saw him do it and
whom he could call as witnesses. One of the bystanders interrupted him, saying: 'Now, my good man, if this be all true there is no need of witnesses. Suppose this to be Rhodes, and leap for us.'
The Cat and the Cock
A cat caught a Cock, and pondered
how he might find a reasonable excuse for eating him. He accused
him of being a nuisance to men by crowing in the nighttime and not permitting
them to sleep. The Cock defended himself by saying that he did this
for the benefit of men, that they might rise in time for their labors.
The Cat replied, 'Although you abound in specious apologies, I shall not
remain supperless'; and he made a meal of him.
The Piglet, the Sheep,
and the Goat
A young pig was shut up in a fold-yard
with a Goat and a Sheep. On one occasion when the shepherd laid hold
of him, he grunted and squeaked and resisted violently. The Sheep
and the Goat complained of his distressing cries, saying, 'He often handles
us, and we do not cry out.' To this the Pig replied, 'Your handling
and mine are very different things. He catches you only for your
wool, or your milk, but he lays hold on me for my very life.'
The Boy and the Filberts
A boy put his hand into a pitcher
full of filberts. He grasped as many as he could possibly hold, but
when he tried to pull out his hand, he was prevented from doing so by the
neck of the pitcher. Unwilling to lose his filberts, and yet unable
to withdraw his hand, he burst into tears and bitterly lamented his disappointment.
A bystander said to him, 'Be satisfied with half the quantity, and you
will readily draw out your hand.'
Do not attempt too much at once.
The Laborer and the Snake
A snake, having made his hole close
to the porch of a cottage, inflicted a mortal bite on the Cottager's infant
son. Grieving over his loss, the Father resolved to kill the Snake.
The next day, when it came out of its hole for food, he took up his axe,
but by swinging too hastily, missed its head and cut off only the end of
its tail. After some time the Cottager, afraid that the Snake would
bite him also, endeavored to make peace, and placed some bread and salt
in the hole. The Snake, slightly hissing, said: 'There can
henceforth be no peace between us; for whenever I see you I shall remember
the loss of my tail, and whenever you see me you will be thinking of the
death of your son.'
No one truly forgets injuries in
the presence of him who caused the injury.
The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
Once upon a time a Wolf resolved
to disguise his appearance in order to secure food more easily. Encased
in the skin of a sheep, he pastured with the flock deceiving the shepherd
by his costume. In the evening he was shut up by the shepherd in
the fold; the gate was closed, and the entrance made thoroughly secure.
But the shepherd, returning to the fold during the night to obtain meat
for the next day, mistakenly caught up the Wolf instead of a sheep, and
killed him instantly.
Harm seek. harm find.
The Ass and the Mule
A muleteer set forth on a journey,
driving before him an Ass and a Mule, both well laden. The Ass, as
long as he traveled along the plain, carried his load with ease, but when
he began to ascend the steep path of the mountain, felt his load to be
more than he could bear. He entreated his companion to relieve him
of a small portion, that he might carry home the rest; but the Mule paid
no attention to the request. The Ass shortly afterwards fell down
dead under his burden. Not knowing what else to do in so wild a region,
the Muleteer placed upon the Mule the load carried by the Ass in addition
to his own, and at the top of all placed the hide of the Ass, after he
had skinned him. The Mule, groaning beneath his heavy burden, said
to himself: 'I am treated according to my deserts. If I had
only been willing to assist the Ass a little in his need, I should not
now be bearing, together with his burden, himself as well.'
The Frogs Asking for a
The Frogs, grieved at having no established
Ruler, sent ambassadors to Jupiter entreating for a King. Perceiving
their simplicity, he cast down a huge log into the lake. The Frogs
were terrified at the splash occasioned by its fall and hid themselves
in the depths of the pool. But as soon as they realized that the
huge log was motionless, they swam again to the top of the water, dismissed
their fears, climbed up, and began squatting on it in contempt. After
some time they began to think themselves ill-treated in the appointment
of so inert a Ruler, and sent a second deputation to Jupiter to pray that
he would set over them another sovereign. He then gave them an Eel
to govern them. When the Frogs discovered his easy good nature, they
sent yet a third time to Jupiter to beg him to choose for them still another
King. Jupiter, displeased with all their complaints, sent a Heron,
who preyed upon the Frogs day by day till there were none left to croak
upon the lake.
The Boys and the Frogs
Some boys, playing near a pond, saw
a number of Frogs in the water and began to pelt them with stones.
They killed several of them, when one of the Frogs, lifting his head out
of the water, cried out: 'Pray stop, my boys: what is sport
to you, is death to us.'
The Salt Merchant and
A peddler drove his Ass to the seashore
to buy salt. His road home lay across a stream into which his Ass,
making a false step, fell by accident and rose up again with his load considerably
lighter, as the water melted the sack. The Peddler retraced his steps
and refilled his panniers with a larger quantity of salt than before.
When he came again to the stream, the Ass fell down on purpose in the same
spot, and, regaining his feet with the weight of his load much diminished,
brayed triumphantly as if he had obtained what he desired. The Peddler
saw through his trick and drove him for the third time to the coast, where
he bought a cargo of sponges instead of salt. The Ass, again playing
the fool, fell down on purpose when he reached the stream, but the sponges
became swollen with water, greatly increasing his load. And thus
his trick recoiled on him, for he now carried on his back a double burden.
The Oxen and the Butchers
The oxen once upon a time sought
to destroy the Butchers, who practiced a trade destructive to their race.
They assembled on a certain day to carry out their purpose, and sharpened
their horns for the contest. But one of them who was exceedingly
old (for many a field had he plowed) thus spoke: 'These Butchers,
it is true, slaughter us, but they do so with skillful hands, and with
no unnecessary pain. If we get rid of them, we shall fall into the
hands of unskillful operators, and thus suffer a double death: for
you may be assured, that though all the Butchers
should perish, yet will men never
Do not be in a hurry to change one
evil for another.
The Lion, the Mouse, and
A lion, fatigued by the heat of a
summer's day, fell fast asleep in his den. A Mouse ran over his mane
and ears and woke him from his slumbers. He rose up and shook himself
in great wrath, and searched every corner of his den to find the Mouse.
A Fox seeing him said: 'A fine Lion you are, to be frightened of
a Mouse.' ''Tis not the Mouse I fear,' said the Lion; 'I resent his familiarity
Little liberties are great offenses.
The Goatherd and the Wild
A goatherd, driving his flock from
their pasture at eventide, found some Wild Goats mingled among them, and
shut them up together with his own for the night. The next day it
snowed very hard, so that he could not take the herd to their usual feeding
places, but was obliged to keep them in the fold. He gave his own
goats just sufficient food to keep them alive, but fed the strangers more
abundantly in the hope of enticing them to stay with him and of making
them his own. When the thaw set in, he led them all out to feed,
and the Wild Goats scampered away as fast as they could to the mountains.
The Goatherd scolded them for their ingratitude in leaving him, when during
the storm he had taken more care of them than of his own herd. One
of them, turning about, said to him: 'That is the very reason why
we are so cautious; for if you yesterday treated us better than the Goats
you have had so long, it is plain also that if others came after us, you
would in the same manner prefer them to ourselves.'
Old friends cannot with impunity
be sacrificed for new ones.
The Mischievous Dog
A dog used to run up quietly to the
heels of everyone he met, and to bite them without notice. His master
suspended a bell about his neck so that the Dog might give notice of his
presence wherever he went. Thinking it a mark of distinction, the
Dog grew proud of his bell and went tinkling it all over the marketplace.
One day an old hound said to him: Why do you make such an exhibition
of yourself? That bell that you carry is not, believe me, any order of
merit, but on the contrary a mark of disgrace, a public notice to all men
to avoid you as an ill mannered dog.'
Notoriety is often mistaken for fame.
The Fox Who Had Lost His
A fox caught in a trap escaped, but
in so doing lost his tail. Thereafter, feeling his life a burden
from the shame and ridicule to which he was exposed, he schemed to convince
all the other Foxes that being tailless was much more attractive, thus
making up for his own deprivation. He assembled a good many Foxes
and publicly advised them to cut off their tails, saying that they would
not only look much better without them, but that they would get rid of
the weight of the brush, which was a very great inconvenience. One
of them interrupting him said, 'If you had not yourself lost your tail,
my friend, you would not thus counsel us.'
The Boy and the Nettles
A boy was stung by a Nettle.
He ran home and told his Mother, saying, 'Although it hurts me very much,
I only touched it gently.' 'That was just why it stung you,' said
his Mother. 'The next time you touch a Nettle, grasp it boldly, and
it will be soft as silk to your hand, and not in the least hurt you.'
Whatever you do, do with all your
The Man and His Two Sweethearts
A middle aged man, whose hair had
begun to turn gray, courted two women at the same time. One of them
was young, and the other well advanced in years. The elder woman,
ashamed to be courted by a man younger than herself, made a point, whenever
her admirer visited her, to pull out some portion of his black hairs.
The younger, on the contrary, not wishing to become the wife of an old
man, was equally zealous in removing every gray hair she could find.
Thus it came to pass that between them both he very soon found that he
had not a hair left on his head.
Those who seek to please everybody
An astronomer used to go out at night
to observe the stars. One evening, as he wandered through the suburbs
with his whole attention fixed on the sky, he fell accidentally into a
deep well. While he lamented and bewailed his sores and bruises,
and cried loudly for help, a neighbor ran to the well, and learning what
had happened said: 'Hark ye, old fellow, why, in striving to pry
into what is in heaven, do you not manage to see what is on earth?'