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´╗┐Title: Fables for the Frivolous
Author: Carryl, Guy Wetmore, 1873-1904
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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from the Michigan State University Online Digital Collection
http://digital.lib.msu.edu/onlinecolls/collection.cfm?CID=3



FABLES FOR THE FRIVOLOUS

_(With Apologies to La Fontaine)_

By GUY WETMORE CARRYL

With Illustrations by Peter Newell


1898



FABLES FOR THE FRIVOLOUS


TO MY FATHER



NOTE:
I have pleasure in acknowledging the courteous permission
the editors to reprint in this form such of the following fables
were originally published in Harper's periodicals, in _Life_,
and _Munsey's Magazine_.

G. W. C.



                 CONTENTS

THE AMBITIOUS FOX AND THE UNAPPROACHABLE GRAPES

THE PERSEVERING TORTOISE AND THE PRETENTIOUS HARE

THE PATRICIAN PEACOCKS AND THE OVERWEENING JAY

THE ARROGANT FROG AND THE SUPERIOR BULL

THE DOMINEERING EAGLE AND THE INVENTIVE BRATLING

THE ICONOCLASTIC RUSTIC AND THE APROPOS ACORN

THE UNUSUAL GOOSE AND THE IMBECILIC WOODCUTTER

THE RUDE RAT AND THE UNOSTENTATIOUS OYSTER

THE URBAN RAT AND THE SUBURBAN RAT

THE IMPECUNIOUS CRICKET AND THE FRUGAL ANT

THE PAMPERED LAPDOG AND THE MISGUIDED ASS

THE VAINGLORIOUS OAK AND THE MODEST BULRUSH

THE INHUMAN WOLF AND THE LAMB SANS GENE

THE SYCOPHANTIC FOX AND THE GULLIBLE RAVEN

THE MICROSCOPIC TROUT AND THE MACHIAVELIAN FISHERMAN

THE CONFIDING PEASANT AND THE MALADROIT BEAR

THE PRECIPITATE COCK AND THE UNAPPRECIATED PEARL

THE ABBREVIATED FOX AND HIS SCEPTICAL COMRADES

THE HOSPITABLE CALEDONIAN AND THE THANKLESS VIPER

THE IMPETUOUS BREEZE AND THE DIPLOMATIC SUN



ILLUSTRATIONS

"THE FOX RETREATED OUT OF RANGE"

"HE STROVE TO GROW ROTUNDER"

"AN ACORN FELL ABRUPTLY"

"SAID SHE, 'GET UP, YOU BRUTE YOU!'"

"'_J'ADMIRE_,' SAID HE, '_TON BEAU PLUMAGE'_"

"AND SO A WEIGHTY ROCK SHE AIMED"



         THE AMBITIOUS FOX

               AND

      THE UNAPPROACHABLE GRAPES

  A farmer built around his crop
    A wall, and crowned his labors
  By placing glass upon the top
    To lacerate his neighbors,
      Provided they at any time
      Should feel disposed the wall to climb.

  He also drove some iron pegs
    Securely in the coping,
  To tear the bare, defenceless legs
    Of brats who, upward groping,
      Might steal, despite the risk of fall,
      The grapes that grew upon the wall.

  One day a fox, on thieving bent,
    A crafty and an old one,
  Most shrewdly tracked the pungent scent
    That eloquently told one
      That grapes were ripe and grapes were good
      And likewise in the neighborhood.

  He threw some stones of divers shapes
    The luscious fruit to jar off:
  It made him ill to see the grapes
    So near and yet so far off.
      His throws were strong, his aim was fine,
      But "Never touched me!" said the vine.

  The farmer shouted, "Drat the boys!"
  And, mounting on a ladder,
  He sought the cause of all the noise;
  No farmer could be madder,
    Which was not hard to understand
    Because the glass had cut his hand.

  His passion he could not restrain,
    But shouted out, "You're thievish!"
  The fox replied, with fine disdain,
    "Come, country, don't be peevish."
      (Now "country" is an epithet
      One can't forgive, nor yet forget.)

  The farmer rudely answered back
    With compliments unvarnished,
  And downward hurled the _bric-a-brac_
    With which the wall was garnished,
      In view of which demeanor strange,
      The fox retreated out of range.

  "I will not try the grapes to-day,"
    He said. "My appetite is
  Fastidious, and, anyway,
    I fear appendicitis."
      (The fox was one of the _elite_
      Who call it _site_ instead of _seet_.)

  The moral is that if your host
    Throws glass around his entry
  You know it isn't done by most
    Who claim to be the gentry,
      While if he hits you in the head
      You may be sure he's underbred.



     THE PERSEVERING TORTOISE

               AND

       THE PRETENTIOUS HARE

  Once a turtle, finding plenty
    In seclusion to bewitch,
  Lived a _dolce far niente_
    Kind of life within a ditch;
  Rivers had no charm for him,
    As he told his wife and daughter,
  "Though my friends are in the swim,
    Mud is thicker far than water."

  One fine day, as was his habit,
    He was dozing in the sun,
  When a young and flippant rabbit
    Happened by the ditch to run:
  "Come and race me," he exclaimed,
    "Fat inhabitant of puddles.
  Sluggard! You should be ashamed.
    Such a life the brain befuddles."

  This, of course, was banter merely,
    But it stirred the torpid blood
  Of the turtle, and severely
    Forth he issued from the mud.
  "Done!" he cried. The race began,
    But the hare resumed his banter,
  Seeing how his rival ran
    In a most unlovely canter.

  Shouting, "Terrapin, you're bested!
    You'd be wiser, dear old chap,
  If you sat you down and rested
    When you reach the second lap."
  Quoth the turtle, "I refuse.
    As for you, with all your talking,
  Sit on any lap you choose.
    _I_ shall simply go on walking."

  Now this sporting proposition
    Was, upon its face, absurd;
  Yet the hare, with expedition,
    Took the tortoise at his word,
  Ran until the final lap,
    Then, supposing he'd outclassed him,
  Laid him down and took a nap
    And the patient turtle passed him!

  Plodding on, he shortly made the
    Line that marked the victor's goal;
  Paused, and found he'd won, and laid the
    Flattering unction to his soul.
  Then in fashion grandiose,
    Like an after-dinner speaker,
  Touched his flipper to his nose,
    And remarked, "Ahem! Eureka!"

  And THE MORAL (lest you miss one)
    Is: There's often time to spare,
  And that races are (like this one)
    Won not always by a hair.



      THE PATRICIAN PEACOCKS

                AND

       THE OVERWEENING JAY

  Once a flock of stately peacocks
    Promenaded on a green,
  There were twenty-two or three cocks,
    Each as proud as seventeen,
  And a glance, however hasty,
    Showed their plumage to be tasty;
  Wheresoever one was placed, he
    Was a credit to the scene.

  Now their owner had a daughter
    Who, when people came to call,
  Used to say, "You'd reelly oughter
    See them peacocks on the mall."
  Now this wasn't to her credit,
    And her callers came to dread it,
  For the way the lady said it
    Wasn't _recherche_ at all.

  But a jay that overheard it
    From his perch upon a fir
  Didn't take in how absurd it
    Was to every one but her;
  When they answered, "You don't tell us!"
    And to see the birds seemed zealous
  He became extremely jealous,
    Wishing, too, to make a stir.

  As the peacocks fed together
    He would join them at their lunch,
  Culling here and there a feather
    Till he'd gathered quite a bunch;
  Then this bird, of ways perfidious,
    Stuck them on him most fastidious
  Till he looked uncommon hideous,
    Like a Judy or a Punch.

  But the peacocks, when they saw him,
    One and all began to haul,
  And to harry and to claw him
    Till the creature couldn't crawl;
  While their owner's vulgar daughter,
    When her startled callers sought her,
  And to see the struggle brought her,
    Only said, "They're on the maul."

  It was really quite revolting
    When the tumult died away,
  One would think he had been moulting
    So dishevelled was the jay;
  He was more than merely slighted,
    He was more than disunited,
  He'd been simply dynamited
    In the fervor of the fray.

  And THE MORAL of the verses
    Is: That short men can't be tall.
  Nothing sillier or worse is
    Than a jay upon a mall.
  And the jay opiniative
    Who, because he's imitative,
  Thinks he's highly decorative
    Is the biggest jay of all.



       THE ARROGANT FROG

               AND

       THE SUPERIOR BULL

  Once, on a time and in a place
    Conducive to malaria,
  There lived a member of the race
    Of _Rana Temporaria_;
      Or, more concisely still, a frog
      Inhabited a certain bog.

  A bull of Brobdingnagian size,
    Too proud for condescension,
  One morning chanced to cast his eyes
    Upon the frog I mention;
      And, being to the manner born,
      Surveyed him with a lofty scorn.

  Perceiving this, the bactrian's frame
    With anger was inflated,
  Till, growing larger, he became
    Egregiously elated;
      For inspiration's sudden spell
      Had pointed out a way to swell.

  "Ha! ha!" he proudly cried, "a fig
    For this, your mammoth torso!
  Just watch me while I grow as big
    As you--or even more so!"
      To which magniloquential gush
      His bullship simply answered "Tush!"

  Alas! the frog's success was slight,
    Which really was a wonder,
  In view of how with main and might
    He strove to grow rotunder!
      And, standing patiently the while,
      The bull displayed a quiet smile.

[Illustration: "HE STROVE TO GROW ROTUNDER"]

  But ah, the frog tried once too oft
    And, doing so, he busted;
  Whereat the bull discreetly coughed
    And moved away, disgusted,
      As well he might, considering
      The wretched taste that marked the thing.

      THE MORAL: Everybody knows
      How ill a wind it is that blows.



      THE DOMINEERING EAGLE

               AND

     THE INVENTIVE BRATLING

  O'er a small suburban borough
    Once an eagle used to fly,
  Making observations thorough
    From his station in the sky,
  And presenting the appearance
    Of an animated V,
  Like the gulls that lend coherence
    Unto paintings of the sea.

  Looking downward at a church in
    This attractive little shire,
  He beheld a smallish urchin
    Shooting arrows at the spire;
  In a spirit of derision,
    "Look alive!" the eagle said;
  And, with infinite precision,
    Dropped a feather on his head.

  Then the boy, annoyed distinctly
    By the freedom of the bird,
  Voiced his anger quite succinctly
    In a single scathing word;
  And he sat him on a barrow,
    And he fashioned of this same
  Eagle's feather such an arrow
    As was worthy of the name.

  Then he tried his bow, and, stringing
    It with caution and with care,
  Sent that arrow singing, winging
    Towards the eagle in the air.
  Straight it went, without an error,
    And the target, bathed in blood,
  Lurched, and lunged, and fell to _terra
    Firma_, landing with a thud.

  "Bird of freedom," quoth the urchin,
    With an unrelenting frown,
  "You shall decorate a perch in
    The menagerie in town;
  But of feathers quite a cluster
    I shall first remove for Ma:
  Thanks to you, she'll have a duster
    For her precious _objets d'art_."

  And THE MORAL is that pride is
    The precursor of a fall.
  Those beneath you to deride is
    Not expedient at all.
  Howsoever meek and humble
    Your inferiors may be,
  They perchance may make you tumble,
    So respect them.  Q. E. D.



      THE ICONOCLASTIC RUSTIC

                AND

        THE APROPOS ACORN

  Reposing 'neath some spreading trees,
    A populistic bumpkin
  Amused himself by offering these
    Reflections on a pumpkin:
  "I would not, if the choice were mine,
  Grow things like that upon a vine,
  For how imposing it would be
  If pumpkins grew upon a tree."

  Like other populists, you'll note,
    Of views enthusiastic,
  He'd learned by heart, and said by rote
    A creed iconoclastic;
  And in his dim, uncertain sight
  Whatever wasn't must be right,
  From which it follows he had strong
  Convictions that what was, was wrong.

  As thus he sat beneath an oak
    An acorn fell abruptly
  And smote his nose: whereat he spoke
    Of acorns most corruptly.
  "Great Scott!" he cried. "The Dickens!" too,
  And other authors whom he knew,
  And having duly mentioned those,
  He expeditiously arose.

  Then, though with pain he nearly swooned,
    He bathed his organ nasal
  With arnica, and soothed the wound
    With extract of witch hazel;
  And surely we may well excuse
  The victim if he changed his views:
  "If pumpkins fell from trees like that,"
  He murmured, "Where would I be at?"

  Of course it's wholly clear to you
    That when these words he uttered
  He proved conclusively he knew
    Which side his bread was buttered;
  And, if this point you have not missed,
  You'll learn to love this populist,
  The only one of all his kind
  With sense enough to change his mind.

  THE MORAL: In the early spring
  A pumpkin-tree would be a thing
  Most gratifying to us all,
  But how about the early fall?



        THE UNUSUAL GOOSE

               AND

     THE IMBECILIC WOODCUTTER

  A woodcutter bought him a gander,
    Or at least that was what he supposed,
  As a matter of fact, 'twas a slander
    As a later occurrence disclosed;
  For they locked the bird up in the garret
    To fatten, the while it grew old,
  And it laid there a twenty-two carat
    Fine egg of the purest of gold!

  There was much unaffected rejoicing
    In the home of the woodcutter then,
  And his wife, her exuberance voicing,
    Proclaimed him most lucky of men.
  "'Tis an omen of fortune, this gold egg,"
    She said, "and of practical use,
  For this fowl doesn't lay any old egg,
    She's a highly superior goose."

  Twas this creature's habitual custom,
    This laying of superfine eggs,
  And they made it their practice to dust 'em
    And pack them by dozens in kegs:
  But the woodcutter's mind being vapid
    And his foolishness more than profuse,
  In order to get them more rapid
    He slaughtered the innocent goose.

  He made her a gruel of acid
    Which she very obligingly ate,
  And at once with a touchingly placid
    Demeanor succumbed to her fate.
  With affection that passed the platonic
    They buried her under the moss,
  And her epitaph wasn't ironic
    In stating, "We mourn for our loss."

  And THE MORAL: It isn't much use,
    As the woodcutter found to be true,
  To lay for an innocent goose
    Just because she is laying for you.



           THE RUDE RAT

               AND

      THE UNOSTENTATIOUS OYSTER

  Upon the shore, a mile or more
    From traffic and confusion,
  An oyster dwelt, because he felt
    A longing for seclusion;
  Said he: "I love the stillness of
    This spot. It's like a cloister."
  (These words I quote because, you note,
    They rhyme so well with oyster.)

  A prying rat, believing that
    She needed change of diet,
  In search of such disturbed this much-
    To-be-desired quiet.
  To say the least, this tactless beast
    Was apt to rudely roister:
  She tapped his shell, and called him--well,
    A name that hurt the oyster.

  "I see," she cried, "you're open wide,
    And, searching for a reason,
  September's here, and so it's clear
    That oysters are in season."
  She smiled a smile that showed this style
    Of badinage rejoiced her,
  Advanced a pace with easy grace,
    And _sniffed_ the silent oyster.

  The latter's pride was sorely tried,
    He thought of what he _could _say,
  Reflected what the common lot
    Of vulgar molluscs _would_ say;
  Then caught his breath, grew pale as death,
    And, as his brow turned moister,
  Began to close, and nipped her nose!
    Superb, dramatic oyster!

  We note with joy that oi polloi,
    Whom maidens bite the thumb at,
  Are apt to try some weak reply
    To things they should be dumb at.
  THE MORAL, then, for crafty men
    Is: When a maid has voiced her
  Contemptuous heart, don't think you're smart,
    But shut up--like the oyster.



            THE URBAN RAT

               AND

           THE SUBURBAN RAT

  A metropolitan rat invited
    His country cousin in town to dine:
  The country cousin replied, "Delighted."
    And signed himself, "Sincerely thine."
  The town rat treated the country cousin
                       To half a dozen
                         Kinds of wine.

  He served him terrapin, kidneys devilled,
    And roasted partridge, and candied fruit;
  In Little Neck Clams at first they revelled,
    And then in Pommery,  _sec_ and _brut_;
  The country cousin exclaimed: "Such feeding
                       Proclaims your breeding
                         Beyond dispute!"

  But just as, another bottle broaching,
    They came to chicken _en casserole_
  A ravenous cat was heard approaching,
    And, passing his guest a finger-bowl,
  The town rat murmured, "The feast is ended."
                      And then descended
                        The nearest hole.

  His cousin followed him, helter-skelter,
    And, pausing beneath the pantry floor,
  He glanced around at their dusty shelter
    And muttered, "This is a beastly bore.
  My place as an epicure resigning,
                      I'll try this dining
                        In town no more.

  "You must dine some night at my rustic cottage;
    I'll warn you now that it's simple fare:
  A radish or two, a bowl of pottage,
    And the wine that's known as _ordinaire_,
  But for holes I haven't to make a bee-line,
                       No prowling feline
                         Molests me there.

  "You smile at the lot of a mere commuter,
    You think that my life is hard, mayhap,
  But I'm sure than you I am far acuter:
    I ain't afraid of no cat nor trap."
  The city rat could but meekly stammer,
                       "Don't use such grammar,
                         My worthy chap."

  He dined next night with his poor relation,
    And caught dyspepsia, and lost his train,
  He waited an hour in the lonely station,
    And said some things that were quite profane.
  "I'll never," he cried, in tones complaining,
                        "Try entertaining
                          That rat again."

  It's easy to make a memorandum
    About THE MORAL these verses teach:
    _De gustibus non est disputandum;_
    The meaning of which Etruscan speech
  Is wheresoever you're hunger quelling
                      Pray keep your dwelling
                      In easy reach.



      THE IMPECUNIOUS CRICKET

               AND

          THE FRUGAL ANT

  There was an ant, a spinster ant,
    Whose virtues were so many
  That she became intolerant
    Of those who hadn't any:
  She had a small and frugal mind
    And lived a life ascetic,
  Nor was her temperament the kind
    That's known as sympathetic.

  I skip details. Suffice to say
    That, knocking at her wicket,
  There chanced to come one autumn day
    A common garden cricket
  So ragged, poor, and needy that,
    Without elucidation,
  One saw the symptoms of a bat
    Of several months' duration.

  He paused beside her door-step, and,
    With one pathetic gesture,
  He called attention with his hand
    To both his shoes and vesture.
  "I joined," said he, "an opera troupe.
    They suddenly disbanded,
  And left me on the hostel stoop,
    Lugubriously stranded.

  "I therefore lay aside my pride
    And frankly ask for clothing."
  "Begone!" the frugal ant replied.
    "I look on you with loathing.
  Your muddy shoes have spoiled the lawn,
    Your hands have soiled the fence, too.
  If you need money, go and pawn
    Your watch--if you have sense to."

  THE MORAL is: Albeit lots
  Of people follow Dr. Watts,
  The sluggard, when his means are scant,
  Should seek an uncle, not an ant!



        THE PAMPERED LAPDOG

               AND

         THE MISGUIDED ASS

  A woolly little terrier pup
    Gave vent to yelps distressing,
  Whereat his mistress took him up
    And soothed him with caressing,
      And yet he was not in the least
      What one would call a handsome beast.

  He might have been a Javanese,
    He might have been a Jap dog,
  And also neither one of these,
    But just a common lapdog,
      The kind that people send, you know,
      Done up in cotton, to the Show.

  At all events, whate'er his race,
    The pretty girl who owned him
  Caressed his unattractive face
    And petted and cologned him,
      While, watching her with mournful eye,
      A patient ass stood silent by.

  "If thus," he mused, "the feminine
    And fascinating gender
  Is led to love, I, too, can win
    Her protestations tender."
      And then the poor, misguided chap
      Sat down upon the lady's lap.

  Then, as her head with terror swam,
    "This method seems to suit you,"
  Observed the ass, "so here I am."
    Said she, "Get up, you brute you!"
      And promptly screamed aloud for aid:
      No ass was ever more dismayed.

[Illustration: "SAID SHE, 'GET UP, YOU BRUTE YOU!'"]

  They took the ass into the yard
    And there, with whip and truncheon,
  They beat him, and they beat him hard,
    From breakfast-time till luncheon.
      He only gave a tearful gulp,
      Though almost pounded to a pulp.

  THE MORAL is (or seems, at least,
    To be): In etiquette you
  Will find that while enough's a feast
    A surplus will upset you.
   _Toujours, toujours la politesse_, if
      The quantity be not excessive.



        THE VAINGLORIOUS OAK

               AND

         THE MODEST BULRUSH

  A bulrush stood on a river's rim,
    And an oak that grew near by
  Looked down with cold _hauteur_ on him,
    And addressed him this way: "Hi!"
  The rush was a proud patrician, and
   He retorted, "Don't you know,
  What the veriest boor should understand,
              That 'Hi' is low?"

  This cutting rebuke the oak ignored.
    He returned, "My slender friend,
  I will frankly state that I'm somewhat bored
    With the way you bow and bend."
  "But you quite forget," the rush replied,
    "It's an art these bows to do,
  An art I wouldn't attempt if I'd
               Such boughs as you."

  "Of course," said the oak, "in my sapling days
    My habit it was to bow,
  But the wildest storm that the winds could raise
    Would never disturb me now.
  I challenge the breeze to make me bend,
    And the blast to make me sway."
  The shrewd little bulrush answered, "Friend,
                Don't get so gay."

  And the words had barely left his mouth
    When he saw the oak turn pale,
  For, racing along south-east-by-south,
    Came ripping a raging gale.
  And the rush bent low as the storm went past,
    But stiffly stood the oak,
  Though not for long, for he found the blast
                No idle joke.

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

  Imagine the lightning's gleaming bars,
    Imagine the thunder's roar,
  For that is exactly what eight stars
    Are set in a row here for!
  The oak lay prone when the storm was done,
    While the rush, still quite erect,
  Remarked aside, "What under the sun
               Could one expect?"

  And THE MORAL, I'd have you understand,
    Would have made La Fontaine blush,
  For it's this: Some storms come early, and
               Avoid the rush!



             THE INHUMAN WOLF

                  AND

           THE LAMB SANS GENE

  A gaunt and relentless wolf, possessed
    Of a quite insatiable thirst,
  Once paused at a stream to drink and rest,
  And found that, bound on a similar quest,
    A lamb had arrived there first.

  The lamb was a lamb of a garrulous mind
    And frivolity most extreme:
  In the fashion common to all his kind,
  He cantered in front and galloped behind.
    And troubled the limpid stream.

  "My friend," said the wolf, with a winsome air,
    "Your capers I can't admire."
  "Go to!" quoth the lamb. (Though he said not where,
  He showed what he meant by his brazen stare
    And the way that he gambolled higher.)

  "My capers," he cried, "are the kind that are
    Invariably served with lamb.
  Remember, this is a public bar,
  And I'll do as I please. If your drink I mar,
    I don't give a tinker's ----."

  He paused and glanced at the rivulet,
    And that pause than speech was worse,
  For his roving eye a saw-mill met,
  And, near it, the word which should be set
    At the end of the previous verse.

  Said the wolf: "You are tough and may bring remorse,
    But of such is the world well rid.
  I've swallowed your capers, I've swallowed your sauce,
  And it's plain to be seen that my only course
    Is swallowing you."  He did.

  THE MORAL: The wisest lambs they are
    Who, when they're assailed by thirst,
  Keep well away from a public bar;
  For of all black sheep, or near, or far,
    The public bar-lamb's worst!



         THE SYCOPHANTIC FOX

                 AND

          THE GULLIBLE RAVEN

  A raven sat upon a tree,
    And not a word he spoke, for
  His beak contained a piece of Brie,
    Or, maybe, it was Roquefort:
      We'll make it any kind you please--
      At all events, it was a cheese.

  Beneath the tree's umbrageous limb
    A hungry fox sat smiling;
  He saw the raven watching him,
    And spoke in words beguiling.
      "_J'admire_," said he, "_ton beau plumage_."
      (The which was simply persiflage.)

  Two things there are, no doubt you know,
    To which a fox is used:
  A rooster that is bound to crow,
    A crow that's bound to roost,
      And whichsoever he espies
     He tells the most unblushing lies.

  "Sweet fowl," he said, "I understand
    You're more than merely natty,
  I hear you sing to beat the band
    And Adelina Patti.
      Pray render with your liquid tongue
      A bit from 'Gotterdammerung.'"

  This subtle speech was aimed to please
    The crow, and it succeeded:
  He thought no bird in all the trees
    Could sing as well as he did.
      In flattery completely doused,
      He gave the "Jewel Song" from "Faust."

[Illustration: "'_J'ADMIRE_,' SAID HE, '_TON BEAU PLUMAGE_'"]

  But gravitation's law, of course,
    As Isaac Newton showed it,
  Exerted on the cheese its force,
    And elsewhere soon bestowed it.
      In fact, there is no need to tell
      What happened when to earth it fell.

  I blush to add that when the bird
    Took in the situation
  He said one brief, emphatic word,
    Unfit for publication.
      The fox was greatly startled, but
      He only sighed and answered "Tut."

  THE MORAL is: A fox is bound
    To be a shameless sinner.
  And also: When the cheese comes round
    You know it's after dinner.
      But (what is only known to few)
      The fox is after dinner, too.



        THE MICROSCOPIC TROUT

               AND

      THE MACHIAVELIAN FISHERMAN

  A fisher was casting his flies in a brook,
    According to laws of such sciences,
  With a patented reel and a patented hook
    And a number of other appliances;
  And the thirty-fifth cast, which he vowed was the last
    (It was figured as close as a decimal),
  Brought suddenly out of the water a trout
    Of measurements infinitesimal.

  This fish had a way that would win him a place
    In the best and most polished society,
  And he looked at the fisherman full in the face
    With a visible air of anxiety:
  He murmered "Alas!" from his place in the grass,
    And then, when he'd twisted and wriggled, he
  Remarked in a pet that his heart was upset
    And digestion all higgledy-piggledy.

  "I request," he observed, "to be instantly flung
    Once again in the pool I've been living in."
  The fisherman said, "You will tire out your tongue.
    Do you see any signs of my giving in?
  Put you back in the pool? Why, you fatuous fool,
    I have eaten much smaller and thinner fish.
  You're not salmon or sole, but I think, on the whole,
    You're a fairly respectable dinner-fish."

  The fisherman's cook tried her hand on the trout
    And with various herbs she embellished him;
  He was lovely to see, and there isn't a doubt
    That the fisherman's family relished him,
  And, to prove that they did, both his wife and his kid
    Devoured the trout with much eagerness,
  Avowing no dish could compare with that fish,
    Notwithstanding his singular meagreness.

  And THE MORAL, you'll find, is although it is kind
    To grant favors that people are wishing for,
  Still a dinner you'll lack if you chance to throw back
    In the pool little trout that you're fishing for;
  If their pleading you spurn you will certainly learn
    That herbs will deliciously vary 'em:
  It is needless to state that a trout on a plate
    Beats several in the aquarium.



       THE CONFIDING PEASANT

               AND

         THE MALADROIT BEAR

  A peasant had a docile bear,
    A bear of manners pleasant,
  And all the love she had to spare
    She lavished on the peasant:
      She proved her deep affection plainly
      (The method was a bit ungainly).

  The peasant had to dig and delve,
    And, as his class are apt to,
  When all the whistles blew at twelve
    He ate his lunch, and napped, too,
      The bear a careful outlook keeping
      The while her master lay a-sleeping.

  As thus the peasant slept one day,
    The weather being torrid,
  A gnat beheld him where he lay
    And lit upon his forehead,
      And thence, like all such winged creatures,
      Proceeded over all his features.

  The watchful bear, perceiving that
    The gnat lit on her master,
  Resolved to light upon the gnat
    And plunge him in disaster;
      She saw no sense in being lenient
      When stones lay round her, most convenient.

  And so a weighty rock she aimed
    With much enthusiasm:
  "Oh, lor'!" the startled gnat exclaimed,
    And promptly had a spasm:
      A natural proceeding this was,
      Considering how close the miss was.

[Illustration: AND SO A WEIGHTY ROCK SHE AIMED]

  Now by his dumb companion's pluck,
    Which caused the gnat to squall so,
  The sleeping man was greatly struck
    (And by the bowlder, also).
      In fact, his friends who idolized him
      Remarked they hardly recognized him.

  Of course the bear was greatly grieved,
    But, being just a dumb thing,
  She only thought: "I was deceived,
    But still, I did hit _something!_"
      Which showed this masculine achievement
      Had somewhat soothed her deep bereavement.

  THE MORAL: If you prize your bones
  Beware of females throwing stones.



       THE   PRECIPITATE   COCK

               AND

      THE   UNAPPRECIATED   PEARL

  A rooster once pursued a worm
    That lingered not to brave him,
  To see his wretched victim squirm
    A pleasant thrill it gave him;
  He summoned all his kith and kin,
    They hastened up by legions,
  With quaint, expressive gurgles in
    Their oesophageal regions.

  Just then a kind of glimmering
    Attracting his attention,
  The worm became too small a thing
    For more than passing mention:
  The throng of hungry hens and rude
    He skilfully evaded.
  Said he, "I' faith, if this be food,
    I saw the prize ere they did."

  It was a large and costly pearl,
    Belonging in a necklace,
  And dropped by some neglectful girl:
    Some people are so reckless!
  The cock assumed an air forlorn,
    And cried, "It's really cruel.
  I thought it was a grain of corn:
    It's nothing but a jewel."

  He turned again to where his clan
    In one astounding tangle
  With eager haste together ran
    To slay the helpless angle,
  And sighed, "He was of massive size.
    I should have used discretion.
  Too late! Around the toothsome prize
    A bargain-sale's in session."

  The worm's remarks upon his plight
    Have never been recorded,
  But any one may know how slight
    Diversion it afforded;
  For worms and human beings are
    Unanimous that, when pecked,
  To be the prey of men they far
    Prefer to being hen-pecked.

  THE MORAL: When your dinner comes
    Don't leave it for your neighbors,
  Because you hear the sound of drums
    And see the gleam of sabres;
  Or, like the cock, you'll find too late
    That ornaments external
  Do not for certain indicate
    A bona fide kernel.



       THE ABBREVIATED FOX

               AND

      HIS SCEPTICAL COMRADES

  A certain fox had a Grecian nose
    And a beautiful tail. His friends
  Were wont to say in a jesting way
    A divinity shaped his ends.
  The fact is sad, but his foxship had
    A fault we should all eschew:
  He was so deceived that he quite believed
    What he heard from friends was true.

  One day he found in a sheltered spot
    A trap with stalwart springs
  That was cunningly planned to supply the demand
   For some of those tippet things.
  The fox drew nigh, and resolved to try
    The way that the trap was set:
  (When the trap was through with this interview
    There was one less tippet to get!)

  The fox returned to his doting friends
    And said, with an awkward smile,
  "My tail I know was _comme il faut_,
    And served me well for a while."
  When his comrades laughed at his shortage aft
    He added, with scornful bow,
  "Pray check your mirth, for I hear from Worth
    They're wearing them shorter now."

  But one of his friends, a bookish chap,
    Replied, with a thoughtful frown,
  "You know to-day the publishers say
    That the short tale won't go down;
  And, upon my soul, I think on the whole,
   That the publishers' words are true.
  I should hate, good sir, to part my fur
    In the middle, as done by you."

  And another added these truthful words
    In the midst of the eager hush,
  "We can part our hair 'most anywhere
    So long as we keep the brush."

  THE MORAL is this: It is never amiss
    To treasure the things you've penned:
  Preserve your tales, for, when all else fails,
    They'll be useful things--in the end.



     THE HOSPITABLE CALEDONIAN

               AND

        THE THANKLESS VIPER

  A Caledonian piper
    Who was walking on the wold
  Nearly stepped upon a viper
    Rendered torpid by the cold;
  By the sight of her admonished,
    He forbore to plant his boot,
  But he showed he was astonished
    By the way he muttered "Hoot!"

  Now this simple-minded piper
    Such a kindly nature had
  That he lifted up the viper
    And bestowed her in his plaid.
  "Though the Scot is stern, at least he
    No unhappy creature spurns,
  'Sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie,'"
    Quoth the piper (quoting Burns).

  This was unaffected kindness,
    But there was, to state the fact,
  Just a slight _soupcon_ of blindness
    In his charitable act.
  If you'd watched the piper, shortly
    You'd have seen him leap aloft,
  As this snake, of ways uncourtly,
    Bit him suddenly and oft.

  There was really no excuse for
    This, the viper's cruel work,
  And the piper found a use for
    Words he'd never learned at kirk;
  But the biting was so thorough
    That although the doctors tried,
  Not the best in Edinburgh
    Could assist him, and he died.

  And THE MORAL is: The piper
    Of the matter made a botch;
  One can hardly blame the viper
    If she took a nip of Scotch,
  For she only did what he did,
    And _his_ nippie wasn't small,
  Otherwise, you see, he needed
    Not have seen the snake at all.



       THE IMPETUOUS BREEZE

               AND

        THE DIPLOMATIC SUN

  A Boston man an ulster had,
    An ulster with a cape that fluttered:
  It smacked his face, and made him mad,
    And polyglot remarks he uttered:
      "I bought it at a bargain," said he,
      "I'm tired of the thing already."

  The wind that chanced to blow that day
    Was easterly, and rather strong, too:
  It loved to see the galling way
    That clothes vex those whom they belong to:
      "Now watch me," cried this spell of weather,
      "I'll rid him of it altogether."

  It whirled the man across the street,
    It banged him up against a railing,
  It twined the ulster round his feet,
    But all of this was unavailing:
      For not without resource it found him:
      He drew the ulster closer round him.

  "My word!" the man was heard to say,
    "Although I like not such abuse, it's
  Not strange the wind is strong to-day,
    It always is in Massachusetts.
      Such weather threatens much the health of
      Inhabitants this Commonwealth of."

  The sun, emerging from a rift
    Between the clouds, observed the victim,
  And how the wind beset and biffed,
    Belabored, buffeted, and kicked him.
      Said he, "This wind is doubtless new here:
      'Tis quite the freshest ever blew here."

  And then he put forth all his strength,
    His warmth with might and main exerted,
  Till upward in its tube at length
    The mercury most nimbly spurted.
      Phenomenal the curious sight was,
      So swift the rise in Fahrenheit was.

  The man supposed himself at first
    The prey of some new mode of smelting:
  His pulses were about to burst,
    His every limb seemed slowly melting,
      And, as the heat began to numb him,
      He cast the ulster wildly from him.

  "Impulsive breeze, the use of force,"
    Observed the sun, "a foolish act is,
  Perceiving which, you see, of course.
    How highly efficacious tact is."
      The wondering wind replied, "Good gracious!
      You're right about the efficacious."

  THE MORAL deals, as morals do,
    With tact, and all its virtues boasted,
  But still I can't forget, can you,
    That wretched man, first chilled, then roasted?
      Bronchitis seized him shortly after,
      And that's no cause for vulgar laughter.



                  THE END





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