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The Thirsty Pigeon
A pigeon, oppressed by excessive
thirst, saw a goblet of water painted on a signboard. Not supposing
it to be only a picture, she flew towards it with a loud whir and unwittingly
dashed against the signboard, jarring herself terribly. Having broken
her wings by the blow, she fell to the ground, and was caught by one of
Zeal should not outrun discretion.
The Raven and the Swan
A raven saw a Swan and desired to
secure for himself the same beautiful plumage. Supposing that the
Swan's splendid white color arose from his washing in the water in which
he swam, the Raven left the altars in the neighborhood where he picked
up his living, and took up residence in the lakes and pools. But
cleansing his feathers as often as he would, he could not change their
color, while through want of food he perished.
Change of habit cannot alter Nature.
The Goat and the Goatherd
A goatherd had sought to bring back
a stray goat to his flock. He whistled and sounded his horn in vain;
the straggler paid no attention to the summons. At last the Goatherd
threw a stone, and breaking its horn, begged the Goat not to tell his master.
The Goat replied, 'Why, you silly fellow, the horn will speak though I
Do not attempt to hide things which
cannot be hid.
A miser sold all that he had and
bought a lump of gold, which he buried in a hole in the ground by the side
of an old wall and went to look at daily. One of his workmen observed
his frequent visits to the spot and decided to watch his movements.
He soon discovered the secret of the hidden treasure, and digging down,
came to the lump of gold, and stole it. The Miser, on his next visit,
found the hole empty and began to tear his hair and to make loud lamentations.
A neighbor, seeing him overcome with grief and learning the cause, said,
'Pray do not grieve so; but go and take a stone, and place it in the hole,
and fancy that the gold is still lying there. It will do you quite
the same service; for when the gold was there, you had it not, as you did
not make the slightest use of it.'
The Sick Lion
A lion, unable from old age and infirmities
to provide himself with food by force, resolved to do so by artifice.
He returned to his den, and lying down there, pretended to be sick, taking
care that his sickness should be publicly known. The beasts expressed
their sorrow, and came one by one to his den, where the Lion devoured them.
After many of the beasts had thus disappeared, the Fox discovered the trick
and presenting himself to the Lion, stood on the outside of the cave, at
a respectful distance, and asked him how he was. 'I am very middling,'
replied the Lion, 'but why do you stand without? Pray enter within to talk
with me.' 'No, thank you,' said the Fox. 'I notice that there
are many prints of feet entering your cave, but I see no trace of any returning.'
He is wise who is warned by the misfortunes
The Horse and Groom
A groom used to spend whole days
in currycombing and rubbing down his Horse, but at the same time stole
his oats and sold them for his own profit. 'Alas!' said the
Horse, 'if you really wish me to be in good condition, you should groom
me less, and feed me more.'
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.