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Title: Æsop's Fables
Author: Aesop
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Æsop's Fables" ***

The Internet Archive.


                            _BANBURY CROSS_


                  Prepared for children by Grace Rhys

                             \xC6SOP'S FABLES







                             PUBLISHED BY

                              IMDENT & CO


                             ALDINE HOUSE
                             OVER AGAINST

                          GREAT EASTERN ST EC




                               To Enid.

    Enid, this is \xC6sop's house,
    And the cover is the door;
    When the rains of winter pour,
    Then the Lion and the Mouse,
    And the Frogs that asked a king,
    And all the Beasts with curious features,
    That talk just like us human creatures,
    Open it, and ask you in!

                                G. R.

                     THE DAW IN BORROWED FEATHERS

[Illustration: The Daw in Borrowed Feathers]

A conceited jackdaw was vain enough to imagine that he wanted nothing
but the coloured plumes to make him as beautiful a bird as the Peacock.
Puffed up with this wise conceit, he dressed himself with a quantity
of their finest feathers, and in this borrowed garb, leaving his old
companions, tried to pass for a peacock; but he no sooner attempted
to stray with these splendid birds, than an affected strut betrayed
the sham. The offended peacocks fell upon him with their beaks, and
soon stripped him of his finery. Having turned him again into a mere
jackdaw, they drove him back to his brethren.


But they, remembering what airs he had once given himself, would not
permit him to flock with them again, and treated him with well-deserved


                         THE SUN AND THE WIND

[Illustration: The Sun and The Wind]


A dispute once arose between the Sun and the Wind, which was the
stronger of the two, and they agreed to count this as proof, that
whichever soonest made a traveller take off his cloak, should be held
the most powerful. The wind began, and blew with all his might and main
a blast, cold and fierce as a winter storm; but the stronger he blew,
the closer the traveller wrapped his cloak about him, and the tighter
he grasped it with his hands. Then broke out the sun: with his welcome
beams he chased away the vapour and the cold; the traveller felt the
pleasant warmth, and as the sun shone brighter and brighter, he sat
down, overcome by the heat, and cast aside the cloak that all the
blustering rage of the wind could not compel him to lay down. "Learn
from this," said the sun to the wind, "that soft and gentle means will
often bring about, what force and fury never can. "


                         THE DOG IN THE MANGER

[Illustration: The Dog in The Manger]


A dog made his bed in a manger, and lay snarling and growling to keep
the horses from their provender. "See," said one of them, "what a
miserable cur! who neither can eat corn himself, nor will allow those
to eat it who can."

                        MERCURY AND THE WOODMAN

[Illustration: Mercury and the Woodman]

A woodman was felling a tree on the bank of a river; and by chance
let his axe slip from his hand, which dropped into the water and
immediately sank to the bottom. Being therefore in great distress, he
sat down by the side of the stream and bewailed his loss. Upon this,
Mercury, whose river it was, had compassion on him, and appearing
before him asked the cause of his sorrow. On hearing it, he dived to
the bottom of the river, and coming up again, showed the man a golden
hatchet, and asked if that were his. He said that it was not. Then
Mercury dived a second time, and brought up a silver one. The woodman
refused it, saying again that this was not his. So he dived a third
time, and brought up the very axe that had been lost.

"That is mine!" said the Woodman, delighted to have his own again.
Mercury was so pleased with his honesty that he made him a present of
the other two, as a reward for his just dealing.


The man goes to his companions, and giving them an account of what had
happened to him, one of them determined to try whether he might not
have the like good fortune. So he went presently to the river's side
and let his axe fall on purpose into the stream. Then he sat down on
the bank and made a great show of weeping. Mercury appeared as before,
and diving, brought up a golden axe. When he asked if that were the
one that was lost, "Aye, surely!" said the man, and snatched at it
greedily. But Mercury, to punish his impudence and lying, not only
refused to give him that, but would not so much as let him have his own
axe again.


                         THE FOX AND THE STORK

[Illustration: The Fox and The Stork]


A fox one day invited a Stork to dinner, and being disposed to divert
himself at the expense of his guest, provided nothing for dinner
but some thin soup in a shallow dish. This the Fox lapped up very
readily, while the Stork, unable to gain a mouthful with her long
narrow bill, was as hungry at the end of dinner as when she began. The
Fox, meanwhile, said he was very sorry to see her eat so sparingly,
and hoped that the dish was seasoned to her mind. The Stork, seeing
that she was played upon, took no notice of it, but pretended to
enjoy herself extremely; and at parting begged the Fox to return the
visit. So he agreed to dine with her the next day. He arrived in good
time, and dinner was ordered forthwith; but when it was served up, he
found to his dismay, that it was nothing but minced meat in a tall,
narrow-necked jar. Down this the Stork easily thrust her long neck and
bill, while the Fox had to content himself with licking the outside of
the jar. "I am very glad," said the Stork, "that you seem to have so
good an appetite; and I hope you will make as hearty a dinner at my
table as I did the other day at yours." At this the Fox hung down his
head and showed his teeth--"Nay, nay," said the Stork, "don't pretend
to be out of humour about the matter; they that cannot take a jest
should never make one."


                     THE ANTS AND THE GRASSHOPPER

[Illustration: The Ants and the Grasshopper]


On a cold frosty day in winter, the Ants were dragging out some of
the corn which they had laid up in summer-time, so as to air it. The
Grasshopper, half-starved with hunger, begged the ants to give him a
morsel of it to save his life. "Nay," said they, "but you should have
worked in the summer, and you would not have wanted in winter."


"Well," says the Grasshopper, "but I was not idle either, for I sung
out the whole season!" "Nay, then," said the Ants," you'll do well to
make a merry year of it, and dance in winter to the tune that you sung
in summer. "


                        THE LION AND THE MOUSE

[Illustration: The Lion and The Mouse]

A lion was sleeping in his lair, when a Mouse, not looking where he
was going, ran over the mighty beast's nose and awakened him. The
Lion clapped his paw on the frightened little creature, and was about
to make an end of him in a moment, when the Mouse, in pitiable tone,
begged him to spare one who had done him wrong without being aware. The
Lion looking kindly on his little prisoner's fright, generously let him
go. Now it happened, no long time after, that the Lion, while ranging
the woods for his prey, fell into the toils of the hunters; and finding
himself entangled without hope of escape, set up a roar that filled the
whole forest with its echo. The Mouse, quickly recognising the Lion's
voice, ran to the spot, and without more ado set to work to nibble the
knot in the cord that bound him, and in a short time, set him free;
thus showing him that kindness is seldom thrown away, and that there is
no creature so much below another but that he may have it in his power
to return a good deed.


                       THE CROW AND THE PITCHER

[Illustration: The Crow and The Pitcher]

A crow, ready to die with thirst, flew with joy to a Pitcher, which he
saw at a distance. But when he came up to it, he found the water so
low that with all his stooping and straining he was unable to reach
it. Thereupon he tried to break the Pitcher; then to overturn it; but
his strength was not sufficient to do either. At last, seeing some
small pebbles lie near the place, he cast them one by one into the
Pitcher; and thus, by degrees, raised the water up to the very brim,
and quenched his thirst.


                      THE FROGS ASKING FOR A KING

[Illustration: The Frogs asking for a King]

Long ago, when the Frogs were all at liberty in the lakes, and had
grown quite weary of following every one his own devices, they
assembled one day together and with a great clamour petitioned Jupiter
to let them have a king to keep them in better order and make them lead
honester lives. Jupiter, knowing their foolishness, smiled at their
request, and threw down a log into the lake, which by the huge splash
and commotion it made, sent the whole nation of Frogs into the greatest
terror and amazement. They rushed under the water and into the mud,
and dared not come within a leap's-length of the spot where it lay. At
length one Frog bolder than the rest ventured to pop his head above the
water, and take a look at their new king from a respectful distance.
Presently when they saw the log lie stock-still, others began to swim
up to it and around it, till by degrees growing bolder and bolder, they
at last leaped upon it and treated it with the greatest contempt. Full
of disgust for so tame a ruler, they carried a petition a second time
to Jupiter for another and more active King. Upon which he sent them
a stork, who had no sooner come among them, than he began laying hold
of them, and devouring them one by one as fast as he could, and it was
in vain that they tried to escape him. Then they sent Mercury with a
private message to Jupiter, begging him to take pity on them once more;
but Jupiter replied that they were only suffering the punishment due to
their folly, and that another time they would learn to let well alone,
and not be dissatisfied with their natural state.


                        THE FOX AND THE GRAPES

[Illustration: The Fox and the Grapes]

A fox, very hungry, chanced to come into a vineyard, where there hung
many bunches of charming ripe grapes; but nailed up to a trellis so
high, that he leaped till he quite tired himself without being able to
reach one of them. At last, "Let who will take them!" says he; "they
are but green and sour; so I'll even let them alone."


                         THE WOLF AND THE LAMB

[Illustration: The Wolf and the Lamb]


As a Wolf was lapping at the head of a running brook, he spied a stray
Lamb paddling, at some distance down the stream. Having made up his
mind to make his dinner off her, he bethought himself how he might
begin the quarrel. "Wretch," said he to her, "how dare you muddle the
water that I am drinking?" "Indeed," said the Lamb humbly, "I do not
see how I can disturb the water, since it runs from you to me, not
from me to you." "Be that as it may," replied the Wolf, "it was but a
year ago that you called me many ill names." "Oh, sir," said the Lamb
trembling, "a year ago I was not born." "No matter, it was your father
then, or some of your relations," and immediately seizing the innocent
Lamb, he tore her to pieces.


                         THE FOX AND THE CROW

[Illustration: The Fox and the Crow]

A crow had snatched a piece of cheese out of a cottage window, and
flew up with it into a high tree, that she might eat it at her ease. A
Fox having spied her came and sat underneath and began to pay the Crow
compliments on her beauty. "Why," said he, "I never saw it before, but
your feathers are of a more delicate white than any that ever I saw in
my life! Ah! what a fine shape and graceful neck is there! And I have
no doubt but you have a tolerable voice. If it is but as fine as your
complexion, I do not know a bird that can match you."

The Crow, tickled with this very civil language, nestled and wriggled
about, and hardly knew where she was. But thinking the Fox a little
doubtful as to the quality of her voice, and having a mind to set him
right in the matter, she began to sing, and in the same instant, down
dropped the cheese; which the Fox presently chopped up, and then bade
her remember that whatever he had said of her beauty, he had spoken
nothing yet of her brains.


[Illustration: The End of it all.]

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Æsop's Fables" ***

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