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The Thief and His Mother
A boy stole a lesson-book from one
of his schoolfellows and took it home to his Mother. She not only
abstained from beating him, but encouraged him. He next time stole
a cloak and brought it to her, and she again commended him. The Youth,
advanced to adulthood, proceeded to steal things of still greater value.
At last he was caught in the very act, and having his hands bound behind
him, was led away to the place of public execution. His Mother followed
in the crowd and violently beat her breast in sorrow, whereupon the young
man said, 'I wish to say something to my Mother in her ear.' She
came close to him, and he quickly seized her ear with his teeth and bit
it off. The Mother upbraided him as an unnatural child, whereon he
replied, 'Ah! if you had beaten me when I first stole and brought to you
that lesson-book, I should not have come to this, nor have been thus led
to a disgraceful death.'
The Old Man and Death
An old man was employed in cutting
wood in the forest, and, in carrying the faggots to the city for sale one
day, became very wearied with his long journey. He sat down by the
wayside, and throwing down his load, besought 'Death' to come. 'Death'
immediately appeared in answer to his summons and asked for what reason
he had called him. The Old Man hurriedly replied, 'That, lifting
up the load, you may place it again upon my shoulders.'
The Fir-Tree and the Bramble
A fir-tree said boastingly to the
Bramble, 'You are useful for nothing at all; while I am everywhere used
for roofs and houses.' The Bramble answered: 'You poor creature,
if you would only call to mind the axes and saws which are about to hew
you down, you would have reason to wish that you had grown up a Bramble,
not a Fir-Tree.'
Better poverty without care, than
The Mouse, the Frog, and
A mouse who always lived on the land,
by an unlucky chance formed an intimate acquaintance with a Frog, who lived
for the most part in the water. The Frog, one day intent on mischief,
bound the foot of the Mouse tightly to his own. Thus joined together,
the Frog first of all led his friend the Mouse to the meadow where they
were accustomed to find their food. After this, he gradually led
him towards the pool in which he lived, until reaching the very brink,
he suddenly jumped in, dragging the Mouse with him. The Frog enjoyed
the water amazingly, and swam croaking about, as if he had done a good
deed. The unhappy Mouse was soon suffocated by the water, and his
dead body floated about on the surface, tied to the foot of the Frog.
A Hawk observed it, and, pouncing upon it with his talons, carried it aloft.
The Frog, being still fastened to the leg of the Mouse, was also carried
off a prisoner, and was eaten by the Hawk.
Harm hatch, harm catch.
The Man Bitten by a Dog
A man who had been bitten by a Dog
went about in quest of someone who might heal him. A friend, meeting
him and learning what he wanted, said, 'If you would be cured, take a piece
of bread, and dip it in the blood from your wound, and go and give it to
the Dog that bit you.' The Man who had been bitten laughed at this
advice and said, 'Why? If I should do so, it would be as if I should beg
every Dog in the town to bite me.'
Benefits bestowed upon the evil-disposed
increase their means of injuring you.
The Two Pots
A river carried down in its stream
two Pots, one made of earthenware and the other of brass. The Earthen
Pot said to the Brass Pot, 'Pray keep at a distance and do not come near
me, for if you touch me ever so slightly, I shall be broken in pieces,
and besides, I by no means wish to come near you.'
Equals make the best friends.
The Wolf and the Sheep
A wolf, sorely wounded and bitten
by dogs, lay sick and maimed in his lair. Being in want of food,
he called to a Sheep who was passing, and asked him to fetch some water
from a stream flowing close beside him. 'For,' he said, 'if you will
bring me drink, I will find means to provide myself with meat.' 'Yes,'
said the Sheep, 'if I should bring you the draught, you would doubtless
make me provide the meat also.'
Hypocritical speeches are easily
The purchaser of a black servant
was persuaded that the color of his skin arose from dirt contracted through
the neglect of his former masters. On bringing him home he resorted
to every means of cleaning, and subjected the man to incessant scrubbings.
The servant caught a severe cold, but he never changed his color or complexion.
What's bred in the bone will stick
to the flesh.
The Fisherman and His
A fisherman, engaged in his calling,
made a very successful cast and captured a great haul of fish. He
managed by a skillful handling of his net to retain all the large fish
and to draw them to the shore; but he could not prevent the smaller fish
from falling back through the meshes of the net into the sea.
The Huntsman and the Fisherman
A huntsman, returning with his dogs
from the field, fell in by chance with a Fisherman who was bringing home
a basket well laden with fish. The Huntsman wished to have the fish,
and their owner experienced an equal longing for the contents of the game-bag.
They quickly agreed to exchange the produce of their day's sport.
Each was so well pleased with his bargain that they made for some time
the same exchange day after day. Finally a neighbor said to them,
'If you go on in this way, you will soon destroy by frequent use the pleasure
of your exchange, and each will again wish to retain the fruits of his
Abstain and enjoy.
The Old Woman and the
An old woman found an empty jar which
had lately been full of prime old wine and which still retained the fragrant
smell of its former contents. She greedily placed it several times
to her nose, and drawing it backwards and forwards said, 'O most delicious!
How nice must the Wine itself have been, when it leaves behind in the very
vessel which contained it so sweet a perfume!'
The memory of a good deed lives.
The Fox and the Crow
A crow having stolen a bit of meat,
perched in a tree and held it in her beak. A Fox, seeing this, longed
to possess the meat himself, and by a wily stratagem succeeded. 'How
handsome is the Crow,' he exclaimed, in the beauty of her shape and in
the fairness of her complexion! Oh, if her voice were only equal to her
beauty, she would deservedly be considered the Queen of Birds!' This
he said deceitfully; but the Crow, anxious to refute the reflection cast
upon her voice, set up a loud caw and dropped the flesh. The Fox
quickly picked it up, and thus addressed the Crow: 'My good Crow,
your voice is right enough, but your wit is wanting.'
The Two Dogs
A man had two dogs: a Hound,
trained to assist him in his sports, and a Housedog, taught to watch the
house. When he returned home after a good day's sport, he always
gave the Housedog a large share of his spoil. The Hound, feeling
much aggrieved at this, reproached his companion, saying, 'It is very hard
to have all this labor, while you, who do not assist in the chase, luxuriate
on the fruits of my exertions.' The Housedog replied, 'Do not blame
me, my friend, but find fault with the master, who has not taught me to
labor, but to depend for subsistence on the labor of others.'
Children are not to be blamed for
the faults of their parents.
The Stag in the Ox-Stall
A stag, roundly chased by the hounds
and blinded by fear to the danger he was running into, took shelter in
a farmyard and hid himself in a shed among the oxen. An Ox gave him
this kindly warning: 'O unhappy creature! why should you thus, of
your own accord, incur destruction and trust yourself in the house of your
enemy?' The Stag replied: 'Only allow me, friend, to stay where
I am, and I will undertake to find some favorable opportunity of effecting
my escape.' At the approach of the evening the herdsman came to feed
his cattle, but did not see the Stag; and even the farm-bailiff with several
laborers passed through the shed and failed to notice him. The Stag,
congratulating himself on his safety, began to express his sincere thanks
to the Oxen who had kindly helped him in the hour of need. One of
them again answered him: 'We indeed wish you well, but the danger
is not over. There is one other yet to pass through the shed, who
has as it were a hundred eyes, and until he has come and gone, your life
is still in peril.' At that moment the master himself entered, and
having had to complain that his oxen had not been properly fed, he went
up to their racks and cried out: 'Why is there such a scarcity of
fodder? There is not half enough straw for them to lie on. Those
lazy fellows have not even swept the cobwebs away.' While he thus
examined everything in turn, he spied the tips of the antlers of the Stag
peeping out of the straw. Then summoning his laborers, he ordered
that the Stag should be seized and killed.
The Hawk, the Kite, and
The pigeons, terrified by the appearance
of a Kite, called upon the Hawk to defend them. He at once consented.
When they had admitted him into the cote, they found that he made more
havoc and slew a larger number of them in one day than the Kite could pounce
upon in a whole year.
Avoid a remedy that is worse than
The Widow and the Sheep
A certain poor widow had one solitary
Sheep. At shearing time, wishing to take his fleece and to avoid
expense, she sheared him herself, but used the shears so unskillfully that
with the fleece she sheared the flesh. The Sheep, writhing with pain,
said, 'Why do you hurt me so, Mistress? What weight can my blood add to
the wool? If you want my flesh, there is the butcher, who will kill me
in an instant; but if you want my fleece and wool, there is the shearer,
who will shear and not hurt me.'
The least outlay is not always the
The Wild Ass and the Lion
A wild ass and a Lion entered into
an alliance so that they might capture the beasts of the forest with greater
ease. The Lion agreed to assist the Wild Ass with his strength, while
the Wild Ass gave the Lion the benefit of his greater speed. When
they had taken as many beasts as their necessities required, the Lion undertook
to distribute the prey, and for this purpose divided it into three shares.
'I will take the first share,' he said, 'because I am King: and the
second share, as a partner with you in the chase: and the third share
(believe me) will be a source of great evil to you, unless you willingly
resign it to me, and set off as fast as you can.'
Might makes right.