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Title: Aesop's Fables
Author: Aesop
Language: English
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*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Aesop's Fables" ***


The Fables of Aesop




_All rights reserved_



 The Cock and the Pearl
 The Wolf and the Lamb
 The Dog and the Shadow
 The Lion’s Share
 The Wolf and the Crane
 The Man and the Serpent
 The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse
 The Fox and the Crow
 The Sick Lion
 The Ass and the Lapdog
 The Lion and the Mouse
 The Swallow and the Other Birds
 The Frogs Desiring a King
 The Mountains in Labour
 The Hares and the Frogs
 The Wolf and the Kid
 The Woodman and the Serpent
 The Bald Man and the Fly
 The Fox and the Stork
 The Fox and the Mask
 The Jay and the Peacock
 The Frog and the Ox
 The Bat, the Birds, and the Beasts
 The Hart and the Hunter
 The Serpent and the File
 The Man and the Wood
 The Dog and the Wolf
 The Belly and the Members
 The Hart in the Ox-Stall
 The Fox and the Grapes
 The Horse, Hunter, and Stag
 The Peacock and Juno
 The Fox and the Lion
 The Lion and the Statue
 The Ant and the Grasshopper
 The Tree and the Reed
 The Fox and the Cat
 The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
 The Dog in the Manger
 The Man and the Wooden God
 The Fisher
 The Shepherd’s Boy
 The Young Thief and His Mother
 The Man and His Two Wives
 The Nurse and the Wolf
 The Tortoise and the Birds
 The Two Crabs
 The Ass in the Lion’s Skin
 The Two Fellows and the Bear
 The Two Pots
 The Four Oxen and the Lion
 The Fisher and the Little Fish
 Avaricious and Envious
 The Crow and the Pitcher
 The Man and the Satyr
 The Goose With the Golden Eggs
 The Labourer and the Nightingale
 The Fox, the Cock, and the Dog
 The Wind and the Sun
 Hercules and the Waggoner
 The Man, the Boy, and the Donkey
 The Miser and His Gold
 The Fox and the Mosquitoes
 The Fox Without a Tail
 The One-Eyed Doe
 Belling the Cat
 The Hare and the Tortoise
 The Old Man and Death
 The Hare With Many Friends
 The Lion in Love
 The Bundle of Sticks
 The Lion, the Fox, and the Beasts
 The Ass’s Brains
 The Eagle and the Arrow
 The Milkmaid and Her Pail
 The Cat-Maiden
 The Horse and the Ass
 The Trumpeter Taken Prisoner
 The Buffoon and the Countryman
 The Old Woman and the Wine-Jar
 The Fox and the Goat


It is difficult to say what are and what are not the Fables of Æsop.
Almost all the fables that have appeared in the Western world have been
sheltered at one time or another under the shadow of that name. I could
at any rate enumerate at least seven hundred which have appeared in
English in various books entitled _Æsop’s Fables_. L’Estrange’s
collection alone contains over five hundred. In the struggle for
existence among all these a certain number stand out as being the most
effective and the most familiar. I have attempted to bring most of
these into the following pages.

There is no fixed text even for the nucleus collection contained in
this book. Æsop himself is so shadowy a figure that we might almost be
forgiven if we held, with regard to him, the heresy of Mistress
Elizabeth Prig. What we call his fables can in most cases be traced
back to the fables of other people, notably of Phædrus and Babrius. It
is usual to regard the Greek Prose Collections, passing under the name
of Æsop, as having greater claims to the eponymous title; but modern
research has shown that these are but medieval prosings of Babrius’s
verse. I have therefore felt at liberty to retell the fables in such a
way as would interest children, and have adopted from the various
versions that which seemed most suitable in each case, telling the
fable anew in my own way.

Much has been learnt during the present century about the history of
the various apologues that walk abroad under the name of “Æsop.” I have
attempted to bring these various lines of research together in the
somewhat elaborate introductory volume which I wrote to accompany my
edition of Caxton’s _Æsop_, published by Mr. Nutt in his _Bibliothèque
de Carabas_. I have placed in front of the present version of the
“Fables,” by kind permission of Mr. Nutt, the short abstract of my
researches in which I there summed up the results of that volume. I
must accompany it, here as there, by a warning to the reader, that for
a large proportion of the results thus reached I am myself responsible;
but I am happy to say that many of them have been accepted by the
experts in America, France, and Germany, who have done me the honour to
consider my researches. Here, in England, there does not seem to be
much interest in this class of work, and English scholars, for the most
part, are content to remain in ignorance of the methods and results of
literary history.

I have attached to the “Fables” in the obscurity of small print at the
end a series of notes, summing up what is known as to the _provenance_
of each fable. Here, again, I have tried to put in shorter and more
readable form the results of my researches in the volume to which I
have already referred. For more detailed information I must refer to
the forty closely-printed pages (vol. i. pp. 225-268) which contain the
bibliography of the Fables.


Aesop’s Fables

The Cock and the Pearl

A cock was once strutting up and down the farmyard among the hens when
suddenly he espied something shinning amid the straw. “Ho! ho!” quoth
he, “that’s for me,” and soon rooted it out from beneath the straw.
“What did it turn out to be but a Pearl that by some chance had been
lost in the yard? “You may be a treasure,” quoth Master Cock, “to men
that prize you, but for me I would rather have a single barley-corn
than a peck of pearls.”

Precious things are for those that can prize them.

The Wolf and the Lamb

Once upon a time a Wolf was lapping at a spring on a hillside, when,
looking up, what should he see but a Lamb just beginning to drink a
little lower down. “There’s my supper,” thought he, “if only I can find
some excuse to seize it.” Then he called out to the Lamb, “How dare you
muddle the water from which I am drinking?”

“Nay, master, nay,” said Lambikin; “if the water be muddy up there, I
cannot be the cause of it, for it runs down from you to me.”

“Well, then,” said the Wolf, “why did you call me bad names this time
last year?”

“That cannot be,” said the Lamb; “I am only six months old.”

“I don’t care,” snarled the Wolf; “if it was not you it was your
father;” and with that he rushed upon the poor little Lamb and


ate her all up. But before she died she gasped out—

“Any excuse will serve a tyrant.”

The Dog and the Shadow

It happened that a Dog had got a piece of meat and was carrying it home
in his mouth to eat it in peace. Now on his way home he had to cross a
plank lying across a running brook. As he crossed, he looked down and
saw his own shadow reflected in the water beneath. Thinking it was
another dog with another piece of meat, he made up his mind to have
that also. So he made a snap at the shadow in the water, but as he
opened his mouth the piece of meat fell out, dropped into the water and
was never seen more.

Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow.

The Lion’s Share

The Lion went once a-hunting along with the Fox, the Jackal, and the
Wolf. They hunted and they hunted till at last they surprised a Stag,
and soon took its life. Then came the question how the spoil should be
divided. “Quarter me this Stag,” roared the Lion; so the other animals
skinned it and cut it into four parts. Then the Lion took his stand in
front of the carcass and pronounced judgment: The first quarter is for
me in my capacity as King of Beasts; the second is mine as arbiter;
another share comes to me for my part in the chase; and as for the
fourth quarter, well, as for that, I should like to see which of you
will dare to lay a paw upon it.”

“Humph,” grumbled the Fox as he walked away with his tail between his
legs; but he spoke in a low growl—

“You may share the labours of the great, but you will not share the

The Wolf and the Crane

A Wolf had been gorging on an animal he had killed, when suddenly a
small bone in the meat stuck in his throat and he could not swallow it.
He soon felt terrible pain in his throat, and ran up and down groaning
and groaning and seeking for something to relieve the pain. He tried to
induce every one he met to remove the bone. “I would give anything,”
said he, “if you would take it out.” At last the Crane agreed to try,
and told the Wolf to lie on his side and open his jaws as wide as he
could. Then the Crane put its long neck down the Wolf’s throat, and
with its beak loosened the bone, till at last it got it out.

“Will you kindly give me the reward you promised?” said the Crane.

The Wolf grinned and showed his teeth and said: “Be content. You have
put your head inside a Wolf’s mouth and taken it out again in safety;
that ought to be reward enough for you.”

Gratitude and greed go not together.

The Man and the Serpent

A Countryman’s son by accident trod upon a Serpent’s tail, which turned
and bit him so that he died. The father in a rage got his axe, and
pursuing the Serpent, cut off part of its tail. So the Serpent in
revenge began stinging several of the Farmer’s cattle and caused him
severe loss. Well, the Farmer thought it best to make it up with the
Serpent, and brought food and honey to the mouth of its lair, and said
to it: “Let’s forget and forgive; perhaps you were right to punish my
son, and take vengeance on my cattle, but surely I was right in trying
to revenge him; now that we are both satisfied why should not we be
friends again?”

“No, no,” said the Serpent; “take away your gifts; you can never forget
the death of your son, nor I the loss of my tail.”

Injuries may be forgiven, but not forgotten.

The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse

Now you must know that a Town Mouse once upon a time went on a visit to
his cousin in the country. He was rough and ready, this cousin, but he
loved his town friend and made him heartily welcome. Beans and bacon,
cheese and bread, were all he had to offer, but he offered them freely.
The Town Mouse rather turned up his long nose at this country fare, and
said: “I cannot understand, Cousin, how you can put up with such poor
food as this, but of course you cannot expect anything better in the
country; come you with me and I will show you how to live. When you
have been in town a week you will wonder how you could ever have stood
a country life.” No sooner said than done: the two mice set off for the
town and arrived at the Town Mouse’s residence late at night. “You will
want some refreshment after our long journey,” said the polite Town
Mouse, and took his friend into the grand dining-room. There they found
the remains of a fine feast, and soon the two mice were eating up
jellies and cakes and all that was nice. Suddenly they heard growling
and barking. “What is that?” said the Country Mouse. “It is only the
dogs of the house,” answered the other. “Only!” said the Country Mouse.
“I do not like that music at my dinner.” Just at that moment the door
flew open, in came two huge mastiffs, and the two mice had to scamper
down and run off. “Good-bye, Cousin,” said the Country Mouse, “What!
going so soon?” said the other. “Yes,” he replied;

“Better beans and bacon in peace than cakes and ale in fear.”

The Fox and the Crow

A Fox once saw a Crow fly off with a piece of cheese in its beak and
settle on a branch of a tree. “That’s for me, as I am a Fox,” said
Master Reynard, and he walked up to the foot of the tree. “Good-day,
Mistress Crow,” he cried. “How well you are looking to-day: how glossy
your feathers; how bright your eye. I feel sure your voice must surpass
that of other birds, just as your figure does; let me hear but one song
from you that I may greet you as the Queen of Birds.” The Crow lifted
up her head and began to caw her best, but the moment she opened her
mouth the piece of cheese fell to the ground, only to be snapped up by
Master Fox. “That will do,” said he. “That was all I wanted. In
exchange for your cheese I will give you a piece of advice for the

“Do not trust flatterers.”

The Flatter doth rob by stealth,
His victim, both of Wit and Wealth.

The Sick Lion

A Lion had come to the end of his days and lay sick unto death at the
mouth of his cave, gasping for breath. The animals, his subjects, came
round him and drew nearer as he grew more and more helpless. When they
saw him on the point of death they thought to themselves: “Now is the
time to pay off old grudges.” So the Boar came up and drove at him with
his tusks; then a Bull gored him with his horns; still the Lion lay
helpless before them: so the Ass, feeling quite safe from danger, came
up, and turning his tail to the Lion kicked up his heels into his face.
“This is a double death,” growled the Lion.

Only cowards insult dying majesty.

The Ass and the Lapdog

A Farmer one day came to the stables to see to his beasts of burden:
among them was his favourite Ass, that was always well fed and often
carried his master. With the Farmer came his Lapdog, who danced about
and licked his hand and frisked about as happy as could be. The Farmer
felt in his pocket, gave the Lapdog some dainty food, and sat down
while he gave his orders to his servants. The Lapdog jumped into his
master’s lap, and lay there blinking while the Farmer stroked his ears.
The Ass, seeing this, broke loose from his halter and commenced
prancing about in imitation of the Lapdog. The Farmer could not hold
his sides with laughter, so the Ass went up to him, and putting his
feet upon the Farmer’s shoulder attempted to climb into his lap. The
Farmer’s servants rushed up with sticks and pitchforks and soon taught
the Ass that

Clumsy jesting is no joke.

The Lion and the Mouse

Once when a Lion was asleep a little Mouse began running up and down
upon him; this soon wakened the Lion, who placed his huge paw upon him,
and opened his big jaws to swallow him. “Pardon, O King,” cried the
little Mouse: “forgive me this time, I shall never forget it: who knows
but what I may be able to do you a turn some of these days?” The Lion
was so tickled at the idea of the Mouse being able to help him, that he
lifted up his paw and let him go. Some time after the Lion was caught
in a trap, and the hunters who desired to carry him alive to the King,
tied him to a tree while they went in search of a waggon to carry him
on. Just then the little Mouse happened to pass by, and seeing the sad
plight in which the Lion was, went up to him and soon gnawed away the
ropes that bound the King of the Beasts. “Was I not right?” said the
little Mouse.

Little friends may prove great friends.

The Swallow and the Other Birds

It happened that a Countryman was sowing some hemp seeds in a field
where a Swallow and some other birds were hopping about picking up
their food. “Beware of that man,” quoth the Swallow. “Why, what is he
doing?” said the others. “That is hemp seed he is sowing; be careful to
pick up every one of the seeds, or else you will repent it.” The birds
paid no heed to the Swallow’s words, and by and by the hemp grew up and
was made into cord, and of the cords nets were made, and many a bird
that had despised the Swallow’s advice was caught in nets made out of
that very hemp. “What did I tell you?” said the Swallow.

Destroy the seed of evil, or it will grow up to your ruin.

The Frogs Desiring a King

The Frogs were living as happy as could be in a marshy swamp that just
suited them; they went splashing about caring for nobody and nobody
troubling with them. But some of them thought that this was not right,
that they should have a king and a proper constitution, so they
determined to send up a petition to Jove to give them what they wanted.
“Mighty Jove,” they cried, “send unto us a king that will rule over us
and keep us in order.” Jove laughed at their croaking, and threw down
into the swamp a huge Log, which came down splashing into the swamp.
The Frogs were frightened out of their lives by the commotion made in
their midst, and all rushed to the bank to look at the horrible
monster; but after a time, seeing that it did not move, one or two of
the boldest of them ventured out towards the Log, and even dared to
touch it; still it did not move. Then the greatest hero of the Frogs
jumped upon the Log and commenced dancing up and down upon it,
thereupon all the Frogs came and did the same; and for some time the
Frogs went about their business every day without taking the slightest
notice of their new King Log lying in their midst. But this did not
suit them, so they sent another petition to Jove, and said to him, “We
want a real king; one that will really rule over us.” Now this made
Jove angry, so he sent among them a big Stork that soon set to work
gobbling them all up. Then the Frogs repented when too late.

Better no rule than cruel rule.

The Mountains in Labour

One day the Countrymen noticed that the Mountains were in labour; smoke
came out of their summits, the earth was quaking at their feet, trees
were crashing, and huge rocks were tumbling. They felt sure that
something horrible was going to happen. They all gathered together in
one place to see what terrible thing this could be. They waited and
they waited, but nothing came. At last there was a still more violent
earthquake, and a huge gap appeared in the side of the Mountains. They
all fell down upon their knees and waited. At last, and at last, a
teeny, tiny mouse poked its little head and bristles out of the gap and
came running down towards them, and ever after they used to say:

“Much outcry, little outcome.”

The Hares and the Frogs

The Hares were so persecuted by the other beasts, they did not know
where to go. As soon as they saw a single animal approach them, off
they used to run. One day they saw a troop of wild Horses stampeding
about, and in quite a panic all the Hares scuttled off to a lake hard
by, determined to drown themselves rather than live in such a continual
state of fear. But just as they got near the bank of the lake, a troop
of Frogs, frightened in their turn by the approach of the Hares
scuttled off, and jumped into the water. “Truly,” said one of the
Hares, “things are not so bad as they seem:

“There is always someone worse off than yourself.”

The Wolf and the Kid

A Kid was perched up on the top of a house, and looking down saw a Wolf
passing under him. Immediately he began to revile and attack his enemy.
“Murderer and thief,” he cried, “what do you here near honest folks’
houses? How dare you make an appearance where your vile deeds are

“Curse away, my young friend,” said the Wolf.

“It is easy to be brave from a safe distance.”

The Woodman and the Serpent

One wintry day a Woodman was tramping home from his work when he saw
something black lying on the snow. When he came closer he saw it was a
Serpent to all appearance dead. But he took it up and put it in his
bosom to warm while he hurried home. As soon as he got indoors he put
the Serpent down on the hearth before the fire. The children watched it
and saw it slowly come to life again. Then one of them stooped down to
stroke it, but the Serpent raised its head and put out its fangs and
was about to sting the child to death. So the Woodman seized his axe,
and with one stroke cut the Serpent in two. “Ah,” said he,

“No gratitude from the wicked.”

The Bald Man and the Fly

There was once a Bald Man who sat down after work on a hot summer’s
day. A Fly came up and kept buzzing about his bald pate, and stinging
him from time to time. The Man aimed a blow at his little enemy,
but—_whack_—his palm came on his head instead; again the Fly tormented
him, but this time the Man was wiser and said:

“You will only injure yourself if you take notice of despicable

The Fox and the Stork

At one time the Fox and the Stork were on visiting terms and seemed
very good friends. So the Fox invited the Stork to dinner, and for a
joke put nothing before her but some soup in a very shallow dish. This
the Fox could easily lap up, but the Stork could only wet the end of
her long bill in it, and left the meal as hungry as when she began. “I
am sorry,” said the Fox, “the soup is not to your liking.”

“Pray do not apologise,” said the Stork. “I hope you will return this
visit, and come and dine with me soon.” So a day was appointed when the
Fox should visit the Stork; but when they were seated at table all that
was for their dinner was contained in a very long-necked jar with a
narrow mouth, in which the Fox could not insert his snout, so all he
could manage to do was to lick the outside of the jar.

“I will not apologise for the dinner,” said the Stork:

“One bad turn deserves another.”

The Fox and the Mask

A Fox had by some means got into the store-room of a theatre. Suddenly
he observed a face glaring down on him and began to be very frightened;
but looking more closely he found it was only a Mask such as actors use
to put over their face. “Ah,” said the Fox, “you look very fine; it is
a pity you have not got any brains.”

Outside show is a poor substitute for inner worth.

The Jay and the Peacock

A Jay venturing into a yard where Peacocks used to walk, found there a
number of feathers which had fallen from the Peacocks when they were
moulting. He tied them all to his tail and strutted down towards the
Peacocks. When he came near them they soon discovered the cheat, and
striding up to him pecked at him and plucked away his borrowed plumes.
So the Jay could do no better than go back to the other Jays, who had
watched his behaviour from a distance; but they were equally annoyed
with him, and told him:

“It is not only fine feathers that make fine birds.”

The Frog and the Ox

“Oh Father,” said a little Frog to the big one sitting by the side of a
pool, “I have seen such a terrible monster! It was as big as a
mountain, with horns on its head, and a long tail, and it had hoofs
divided in two.”

“Tush, child, tush,” said the old Frog, “that was only Farmer White’s
Ox. It isn’t so big either; he may be a little bit taller than I, but I
could easily make myself quite as broad; just you see.” So he blew
himself out, and blew himself out, and blew himself out. “Was he as big
as that?” asked he.

“Oh, much bigger than that,” said the young Frog.

Again the old one blew himself out, and asked the young one if the Ox
was as big as that.

“Bigger, father, bigger,” was the reply.

So the Frog took a deep breath, and blew and blew and blew, and swelled
and swelled and swelled. And then he said: “I’m sure the Ox is not as
big as this. But at this moment he burst.

Self-conceit may lead to self-destruction.


A slave named Androcles once escaped from his master and fled to the
forest. As he was wandering about there he came upon a Lion lying down
moaning and groaning. At first he turned to flee, but finding that the
Lion did not pursue him, he turned back and went up to him. As he came
near, the Lion put out his paw, which was all swollen and bleeding, and
Androcles found that a huge thorn had got into it, and was causing all
the pain. He pulled out the thorn and bound up the paw of the Lion, who
was soon able to rise and lick the hand of Androcles like a dog. Then
the Lion took Androcles to his cave, and every day used to bring him
meat from which to live. But shortly afterwards both Androcles and the
Lion were captured, and the slave was sentenced to be thrown to the
Lion, after the latter had been kept without food for several days. The
Emperor and all his Court came to see the spectacle, and Androcles was
led out into the middle of the arena. Soon the Lion was let loose from
his den, and rushed bounding and roaring towards his victim. But as
soon as he came near to Androcles he recognised his friend, and fawned
upon him, and licked his hands like a friendly dog. The Emperor,
surprised at this, summoned Androcles to him, who told him the whole
story. Whereupon the slave was pardoned and freed, and the Lion let
loose to his native forest.

Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.

The Bat, the Birds, and the Beasts

A great conflict was about to come off between the Birds and the
Beasts. When the two armies were collected together the Bat hesitated
which to join. The Birds that passed his perch said: “Come with us”;
but he said: “I am a Beast.” Later on, some Beasts who were passing
underneath him looked up and said: “Come with us”; but he said: “I am a
Bird.” Luckily at the last moment peace was made, and no battle took
place, so the Bat came to the Birds and wished to join in the
rejoicings, but they all turned against him and he had to fly away. He
then went to the Beasts, but soon had to beat a retreat, or else they
would have torn him to pieces. “Ah,” said the Bat, “I see now,

“He that is neither one thing nor the other has no friends.”

The Hart and the Hunter

The Hart was once drinking from a pool and admiring the noble figure he
made there. “Ah,” said he, “where can you see such noble horns as
these, with such antlers! I wish I had legs more worthy to bear such a
noble crown; it is a pity they are so slim and slight.” At that moment
a Hunter approached and sent an arrow whistling after him. Away bounded
the Hart, and soon, by the aid of his nimble legs, was nearly out of
sight of the Hunter; but not noticing where he was going, he passed
under some trees with branches growing low down in which his antlers
were caught, so that the Hunter had time to come up. “Alas! alas!”
cried the Hart:

“We often despise what is most useful to us.”

The Serpent and the File

A Serpent in the course of its wanderings came into an armourer’s shop.
As he glided over the floor he felt his skin pricked by a file lying
there. In a rage he turned round upon it and tried to dart his fangs
into it; but he could do no harm to heavy iron and had soon to give
over his wrath.

It is useless attacking the insensible.

The Man and the Wood

A Man came into a Wood one day with an axe in his hand, and begged all
the Trees to give him a small branch which he wanted for a particular
purpose. The Trees were good-natured and gave him one of their
branches. What did the Man do but fix it into the axe head, and soon
set to work cutting down tree after tree. Then the Trees saw how
foolish they had been in giving their enemy the means of destroying

The Dog and the Wolf

A gaunt Wolf was almost dead with hunger when he happened to meet a
House-dog who was passing by. “Ah, Cousin,” said the Dog. “I knew how
it would be; your irregular life will soon be the ruin of you. Why do
you not work steadily as I do, and get your food regularly given to

“I would have no objection,” said the Wolf, “if I could only get a

“I will easily arrange that for you,” said the Dog; “come with me to my
master and you shall share my work.”

So the Wolf and the Dog went towards the town together. On the way
there the Wolf noticed that the hair on a certain part of the Dog’s
neck was very much worn away, so he asked him how that had come about.

“Oh, it is nothing,” said the Dog. “That is only the place where the
collar is put on at night to keep me chained up; it chafes a bit, but
one soon gets used to it.”

“Is that all?” said the Wolf. “Then good-bye to you, Master Dog.”

Better starve free than be a fat slave.

The Belly and the Members

One fine day it occurred to the Members of the Body that they were
doing all the work and the Belly was having all the food. So they held
a meeting, and after a long discussion, decided to strike work till the
Belly consented to take its proper share of the work. So for a day or
two, the Hands refused to take the food, the Mouth refused to receive
it, and the Teeth had no work to do. But after a day or two the Members
began to find that they themselves were not in a very active condition:
the Hands could hardly move, and the Mouth was all parched and dry,
while the Legs were unable to support the rest. So thus they found that
even the Belly in its dull quiet way was doing necessary work for the
Body, and that all must work together or the Body will go to pieces.

The Hart in the Ox-Stall

A Hart hotly pursued by the hounds fled for refuge into an ox-stall,
and buried itself in a truss of hay, leaving nothing to be seen but the
tips of his horns. Soon after the Hunters came up and asked if any one
had seen the Hart. The stable boys, who had been resting after their
dinner, looked round, but could see nothing, and the Hunters went away.
Shortly afterwards the master came in, and looking round, saw that
something unusual had taken place. He pointed to the truss of hay and
said: “What are those two curious things sticking out of the hay?” And
when the stable boys came to look they discovered the Hart, and soon
made an end of him. He thus learnt that

Nothing escapes the master’s eye.

The Fox and the Grapes

One hot summer’s day a Fox was strolling through an orchard till he
came to a bunch of Grapes just ripening on a vine which had been
trained over a lofty branch. “Just the thing to quench my thirst,”
quoth he. Drawing back a few paces, he took a run and a jump, and just
missed the bunch. Turning round again with a One, Two, Three, he jumped
up, but with no greater success. Again and again he tried after the
tempting morsel, but at last had to give it up, and walked away with
his nose in the air, saying: “I am sure they are sour.”

It is easy to despise what you cannot get.

The Peacock and Juno

A Peacock once placed a petition before Juno desiring to have the voice
of a nightingale in addition to his other attractions; but Juno refused
his request. When he persisted, and pointed out that he was her
favourite bird, she said:

“Be content with your lot; one cannot be first in everything.”

The Horse, Hunter, and Stag

A quarrel had arisen between the Horse and the Stag, so the Horse came
to a Hunter to ask his help to take revenge on the Stag. The Hunter
agreed, but said: “If you desire to conquer the Stag, you must permit
me to place this piece of iron between your jaws, so that I may guide
you with these reins, and allow this saddle to be placed upon your back
so that I may keep steady upon you as we follow after the enemy.” The
Horse agreed to the conditions, and the Hunter soon saddled and bridled
him. Then with the aid of the Hunter the Horse soon overcame the Stag,
and said to the Hunter: “Now, get off, and remove those things from my
mouth and back.”

“Not so fast, friend,” said the Hunter. “I have now got you under bit
and spur, and prefer to keep you as you are at present.”

If you allow men to use you for your own purposes, they will use you
for theirs.

The Fox and the Lion

When first the Fox saw the Lion he was terribly frightened, and ran
away and hid himself in the wood. Next time however he came near the
King of Beasts he stopped at a safe distance and watched him pass by.
The third time they came near one another the Fox went straight up to
the Lion and passed the time of day with him, asking him how his family
were, and when he should have the pleasure of seeing him again; then
turning his tail, he parted from the Lion without much ceremony.

Familiarity breeds contempt.

The Lion and the Statue

A Man and a Lion were discussing the relative strength of men and lions
in general. The Man contended that he and his fellows were stronger
than lions by reason of their greater intelligence. “Come now with me,”
he cried, “and I will soon prove that I am right.” So he took him into
the public gardens and showed him a statue of Hercules overcoming the
Lion and tearing his mouth in two.

“That is all very well,” said the Lion, “but proves nothing, for it was
a man who made the statue.”

We can easily represent things as we wish them to be.

The Ant and the Grasshopper

In a field one summer’s day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping
and singing to its heart’s content. An Ant passed by, bearing along
with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.

“Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of
toiling and moiling in that way?”

“I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and
recommend you to do the same.”

“Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper; we have got plenty of
food at present.” But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil.
When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food and found itself dying
of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain
from the stores they had collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper

It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.

The Tree and the Reed

“Well, little one,” said a Tree to a Reed that was growing at its foot,
“why do you not plant your feet deeply in the ground, and raise your
head boldly in the air as I do?”

“I am contented with my lot,” said the Reed. “I may not be so grand,
but I think I am safer.”

“Safe!” sneered the Tree. “Who shall pluck me up by the roots or bow my
head to the ground?” But it soon had to repent of its boasting, for a
hurricane arose which tore it up from its roots, and cast it a useless
log on the ground, while the little Reed, bending to the force of the
wind, soon stood upright again when the storm had passed over.

Obscurity often brings safety.

The Fox and the Cat

A Fox was boasting to a Cat of its clever devices for escaping its
enemies. “I have a whole bag of tricks,” he said, “which contains a
hundred ways of escaping my enemies.”

“I have only one,” said the Cat; “but I can generally manage with
that.” Just at that moment they heard the cry of a pack of hounds
coming towards them, and the Cat immediately scampered up a tree and
hid herself in the boughs. “This is my plan,” said the Cat. “What are
you going to do?” The Fox thought first of one way, then of another,
and while he was debating the hounds came nearer and nearer, and at
last the Fox in his confusion was caught up by the hounds and soon
killed by the huntsmen. Miss Puss, who had been looking on, said:

“Better one safe way than a hundred on which you cannot reckon.”

The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

A Wolf found great difficulty in getting at the sheep owing to the
vigilance of the shepherd and his dogs. But one day it found the skin
of a sheep that had been flayed and thrown aside, so it put it on over
its own pelt and strolled down among the sheep. The Lamb that belonged
to the sheep, whose skin the Wolf was wearing, began to follow the Wolf
in the Sheep’s clothing; so, leading the Lamb a little apart, he soon
made a meal off her, and for some time he succeeded in deceiving the
sheep, and enjoying hearty meals.

Appearances are deceptive.

The Dog in the Manger

A Dog looking out for its afternoon nap jumped into the Manger of an Ox
and lay there cosily upon the straw. But soon the Ox, returning from
its afternoon work, came up to the Manger and wanted to eat some of the
straw. The Dog in a rage, being awakened from its slumber, stood up and
barked at the Ox, and whenever it came near attempted to bite it. At
last the Ox had to give up the hope of getting at the straw, and went
away muttering:

“Ah, people often grudge others what they cannot enjoy themselves.”

The Man and the Wooden God

In the old days men used to worship sticks and stones and idols, and
prayed to them to give them luck. It happened that a Man had often
prayed to a wooden idol he had received from his father, but his luck
never seemed to change. He prayed and he prayed, but still he remained
as unlucky as ever. One day in the greatest rage he went to the Wooden
God, and with one blow swept it down from its pedestal. The idol broke
in two, and what did he see? An immense number of coins flying all over
the place.

The Fisher

A Fisher once took his bagpipes to the bank of a river, and played upon
them with the hope of making the fish rise; but never a one put his
nose out of the water. So he cast his net into the river and soon drew
it forth filled with fish. Then he took his bagpipes again, and, as he
played, the fish leapt up in the net. “Ah, you dance now when I play,”
said he.

“Yes,” said an old Fish:

“When you are in a man’s power you must do as he bids you.”

The Shepherd’s Boy

There was once a young Shepherd Boy who tended his sheep at the foot of
a mountain near a dark forest. It was rather lonely for him all day, so
he thought upon a plan by which he could get a little company and some
excitement. He rushed down towards the village calling out “Wolf,
Wolf,” and the villagers came out to meet him, and some of them stopped
with him for a considerable time. This pleased the boy so much that a
few days afterwards he tried the same trick, and again the villagers
came to his help. But shortly after this a Wolf actually did come out
from the forest, and began to worry the sheep, and the boy of course
cried out “Wolf, Wolf,” still louder than before. But this time the
villagers, who had been fooled twice before, thought the boy was again
deceiving them, and nobody stirred to come to his help. So the Wolf
made a good meal off the boy’s flock, and when the boy complained, the
wise man of the village said:

“A liar will not be believed, even when he speaks the truth.”

The Young Thief and His Mother

A young Man had been caught in a daring act of theft and had been
condemned to be executed for it. He expressed his desire to see his
Mother, and to speak with her before he was led to execution, and of
course this was granted. When his Mother came to him he said: “I want
to whisper to you,” and when she brought her ear near him, he nearly
bit it off. All the bystanders were horrified, and asked him what he
could mean by such brutal and inhuman conduct. “It is to punish her,”
he said. “When I was young I began with stealing little things, and
brought them home to Mother. Instead of rebuking and punishing me, she
laughed and said: “It will not be noticed.” It is because of her that I
am here to-day.”

“He is right, woman,” said the Priest; “the Lord hath said:

“Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will
not depart therefrom.”

The Man and His Two Wives

In the old days, when men were allowed to have many wives, a
middle-aged Man had one wife that was old and one that was young; each
loved him very much, and desired to see him like herself. Now the Man’s
hair was turning grey, which the young Wife did not like, as it made
him look too old for her husband. So every night she used to comb his
hair and pick out the white ones. But the elder Wife saw her husband
growing grey with great pleasure, for she did not like to be mistaken
for his mother. So every morning she used to arrange his hair and pick
out as many of the black ones as she could. The consequence was the Man
soon found himself entirely bald.

Yield to all and you will soon have nothing to yield.

The Nurse and the Wolf

“Be quiet now,” said an old Nurse to a child sitting on her lap. “If
you make that noise again I will throw you to the Wolf.”

Now it chanced that a Wolf was passing close under the window as this
was said. So he crouched down by the side of the house and waited. “I
am in good luck to-day,” thought he. “It is sure to cry soon, and a
daintier morsel I haven’t had for many a long day.” So he waited, and
he waited, and he waited, till at last the child began to cry, and the
Wolf came forward before the window, and looked up to the Nurse,
wagging his tail. But all the Nurse did was to shut down the window and
call for help, and the dogs of the house came rushing out. “Ah,” said
the Wolf as he galloped away,

“Enemies’ promises were made to be broken.”

The Tortoise and the Birds

A Tortoise desired to change its place of residence, so he asked an
Eagle to carry him to his new home, promising her a rich reward for her
trouble. The Eagle agreed and seizing the Tortoise by the shell with
her talons soared aloft. On their way they met a Crow, who said to the
Eagle: “Tortoise is good eating.” “The shell is too hard,” said the
Eagle in reply. “The rocks will soon crack the shell,” was the Crow’s
answer; and the Eagle, taking the hint, let fall the Tortoise on a
sharp rock, and the two birds made a hearty meal of the Tortoise.

Never soar aloft on an enemy’s pinions.

The Two Crabs

One fine day two Crabs came out from their home to take a stroll on the
sand. “Child,” said the mother, “you are walking very ungracefully. You
should accustom yourself, to walking straight forward without twisting
from side to side.”

“Pray, mother,” said the young one, “do but set the example yourself,
and I will follow you.”

Example is the best precept.

The Ass in the Lion’s Skin

An Ass once found a Lion’s skin which the hunters had left out in the
sun to dry. He put it on and went towards his native village. All fled
at his approach, both men and animals, and he was a proud Ass that day.
In his delight he lifted up his voice and brayed, but then every one
knew him, and his owner came up and gave him a sound cudgelling for the
fright he had caused. And shortly afterwards a Fox came up to him and
said: “Ah, I knew you by your voice.”

Fine clothes may disguise, but silly words will disclose a fool.

The Two Fellows and the Bear

Two Fellows were travelling together through a wood, when a Bear rushed
out upon them. One of the travellers happened to be in front, and he
seized hold of the branch of a tree, and hid himself among the leaves.
The other, seeing no help for it, threw himself flat down upon the
ground, with his face in the dust. The Bear, coming up to him, put his
muzzle close to his ear, and sniffed and sniffed. But at last with a
growl he shook his head and slouched off, for bears will not touch dead
meat. Then the fellow in the tree came down to his comrade, and,
laughing, said “What was it that Master Bruin whispered to you?”

“He told me,” said the other,

“Never trust a friend who deserts you at a pinch.”

The Two Pots

Two Pots had been left on the bank of a river, one of brass, and one of
earthenware. When the tide rose they both floated off down the stream.
Now the earthenware pot tried its best to keep aloof from the brass
one, which cried out: “Fear nothing, friend, I will not strike you.”

“But I may come in contact with you,” said the other, “if I come too
close; and whether I hit you, or you hit me, I shall suffer for it.”

The strong and the weak cannot keep company.

The Four Oxen and the Lion

A Lion used to prowl about a field in which Four Oxen used to dwell.
Many a time he tried to attack them; but whenever he came near they
turned their tails to one another, so that whichever way he approached
them he was met by the horns of one of them. At last, however, they
fell a-quarrelling among themselves, and each went off to pasture alone
in a separate corner of the field. Then the Lion attacked them one by
one and soon made an end of all four.

United we stand, divided we fall.

The Fisher and the Little Fish

It happened that a Fisher, after fishing all day, caught only a little
fish. “Pray, let me go, master,” said the Fish. “I am much too small
for your eating just now. If you put me back into the river I shall
soon grow, then you can make a fine meal off me.”

“Nay, nay, my little Fish,” said the Fisher, “I have you now. I may not
catch you hereafter.”

A little thing in hand is worth more than a great thing in prospect.

Avaricious and Envious

Two neighbours came before Jupiter and prayed him to grant their
hearts’ desire. Now the one was full of avarice, and the other eaten up
with envy. So to punish them both, Jupiter granted that each might have
whatever he wished for himself, but only on condition that his
neighbour had twice as much. The Avaricious man prayed to have a room
full of gold. No sooner said than done; but all his joy was turned to
grief when he found that his neighbour had two rooms full of the
precious metal. Then came the turn of the Envious man, who could not
bear to think that his neighbour had any joy at all. So he prayed that
he might have one of his own eyes put out, by which means his companion
would become totally blind.

Vices are their own punishment.

The Crow and the Pitcher

A Crow, half-dead with thirst, came upon a Pitcher which had once been
full of water; but when the Crow put its beak into the mouth of the
Pitcher he found that only very little water was left in it, and that
he could not reach far enough down to get at it. He tried, and he
tried, but at last had to give up in despair. Then a thought came to
him, and he took a pebble and dropped it into the Pitcher. Then he took
another pebble and dropped it into the Pitcher. Then he took another
pebble and dropped that into the Pitcher. Then he took another pebble
and dropped that into the Pitcher. Then he took another pebble and
dropped that into the Pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped
that into the Pitcher. At last, at last, he saw the water mount up near
him, and after casting in a few more pebbles he was able to quench his
thirst and save his life.

Little by little does the trick.

The Man and the Satyr

A Man had lost his way in a wood one bitter winter’s night. As he was
roaming about, a Satyr came up to him, and finding that he had lost his
way, promised to give him a lodging for the night, and guide him out of
the forest in the morning. As he went along to the Satyr’s cell, the
Man raised both his hands to his mouth and kept on blowing at them.
“What do you do that for?” said the Satyr.

“My hands are numb with the cold,” said the Man, “and my breath warms

After this they arrived at the Satyr’s home, and soon the Satyr put a
smoking dish of porridge before him. But when the Man raised his spoon
to his mouth he began blowing upon it. “And what do you do that for?”
said the Satyr.

“The porridge is too hot, and my breath will cool it.”

“Out you go,” said the Satyr. “I will have nought to do with a man who
can blow hot and cold with the same breath.”

The Goose With the Golden Eggs

One day a countryman going to the nest of his Goose found there an egg
all yellow and glittering. When he took it up it was as heavy as lead
and he was going to throw it away, because he thought a trick had been
played upon him. But he took it home on second thoughts, and soon found
to his delight that it was an egg of pure gold. Every morning the same
thing occurred, and he soon became rich by selling his eggs. As he grew
rich he grew greedy; and thinking to get at once all the gold the Goose
could give, he killed it and opened it only to find nothing.

Greed oft o’er reaches itself.

The Labourer and the Nightingale

A Labourer lay listening to a Nightingale’s song throughout the summer
night. So pleased was he with it that the next night he set a trap for
it and captured it. “Now that I have caught thee,” he cried, “thou
shalt always sing to me.”

“We Nightingales never sing in a cage.” said the bird.

“Then I’ll eat thee.” said the Labourer. “I have always heard say that
a nightingale on toast is dainty morsel.”

“Nay, kill me not,” said the Nightingale; “but let me free, and I’ll
tell thee three things far better worth than my poor body.” The
Labourer let him loose, and he flew up to a branch of a tree and said:
“Never believe a captive’s promise; that’s one thing. Then again: Keep
what you have. And third piece of advice is: Sorrow not over what is
lost forever.” Then the song-bird flew away.

The Fox, the Cock, and the Dog

One moonlight night a Fox was prowling about a farmer’s hen-coop, and
saw a Cock roosting high up beyond his reach. “Good news, good news!”
he cried.

“Why, what is that?” said the Cock.

“King Lion has declared a universal truce. No beast may hurt a bird
henceforth, but all shall dwell together in brotherly friendship.”

“Why, that is good news,” said the Cock; “and there I see some one
coming, with whom we can share the good tidings.” And so saying he
craned his neck forward and looked afar off.

“What is it you see?” said the Fox.

“It is only my master’s Dog that is coming towards us. What, going so
soon?” he continued, as the Fox began to turn away as soon as he had
heard the news. “Will you not stop and congratulate the Dog on the
reign of universal peace?”

“I would gladly do so,” said the Fox, “but I fear he may not have heard
of King Lion’s decree.”

Cunning often outwits itself.

The Wind and the Sun

The Wind and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger. Suddenly
they saw a traveller coming down the road, and the Sun said: “I see a
way to decide our dispute. Whichever of us can cause that traveller to
take off his cloak shall be regarded as the stronger. You begin.” So
the Sun retired behind a cloud, and the Wind began to blow as hard as
it could upon the traveller. But the harder he blew the more closely
did the traveller wrap his cloak round him, till at last the Wind had
to give up in despair. Then the Sun came out and shone in all his glory
upon the traveller, who soon found it too hot to walk with his cloak

Kindness effects more than severity.

Hercules and the Waggoner

A Waggoner was once driving a heavy load along a very muddy way. At
last he came to a part of the road where the wheels sank half-way into
the mire, and the more the horses pulled, the deeper sank the wheels.
So the Waggoner threw down his whip, and knelt down and prayed to
Hercules the Strong. “O Hercules, help me in this my hour of distress,”
quoth he. But Hercules appeared to him, and said:

“Tut, man, don’t sprawl there. Get up and put your shoulder to the

The gods help them that help themselves.

The Miser and His Gold

Once upon a time there was a Miser who used to hide his gold at the
foot of a tree in his garden; but every week he used to go and dig it
up and gloat over his gains. A robber, who had noticed this, went and
dug up the gold and decamped with it. When the Miser next came to gloat
over his treasures, he found nothing but the empty hole. He tore his
hair, and raised such an outcry that all the neighbours came around
him, and he told them how he used to come and visit his gold. “Did you
ever take any of it out?” asked one of them.

“Nay,” said he, “I only came to look at it.”

“Then come again and look at the hole,” said a neighbour; “it will do
you just as much good.”

Wealth unused might as well not exist.

The Man, the Boy, and the Donkey

A Man and his son were once going with their Donkey to market. As they
were walking along by its side a countryman passed them and said: “You
fools, what is a Donkey for but to ride upon?”

So the Man put the Boy on the Donkey and they went on their way. But
soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said: “See that lazy
youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides.”

So the Man ordered his Boy to get off, and got on himself. But they
hadn’t gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the
other: “Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge

Well, the Man didn’t know what to do, but at last he took his Boy up
before him on the Donkey. By this time they had come to the town, and
the passers-by began to jeer and point at them. The Man stopped and
asked what they were scoffing at. The men said: “Aren’t you ashamed of
yourself for overloading that poor donkey of yours and your hulking

The Man and Boy got off and tried to think what to do. They thought and
they thought, till at last they cut down a pole, tied the donkey’s feet
to it, and raised the pole and the donkey to their shoulders. They went
along amid the laughter of all who met them till they came to Market
Bridge, when the Donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and
caused the Boy to drop his end of the pole. In the struggle the Donkey
fell over the bridge, and his fore-feet being tied together he was

“That will teach you,” said an old man who had followed them:

“Please all, and you will please none.”

The Fox and the Mosquitoes

A Fox after crossing a river got its tail entangled in a bush, and
could not move. A number of Mosquitoes seeing its plight settled upon
it and enjoyed a good meal undisturbed by its tail. A hedgehog
strolling by took pity upon the Fox and went up to him: “You are in a
bad way, neighbour,” said the hedgehog; “shall I relieve you by driving
off those Mosquitoes who are sucking your blood?”

“Thank you, Master Hedgehog,” said the Fox, “but I would rather not.”

“Why, how is that?” asked the hedgehog.

“Well, you see,” was the answer, “these Mosquitoes have had their fill;
if you drive these away, others will come with fresh appetite and bleed
me to death.”

The Fox Without a Tail

It happened that a Fox caught its tail in a trap, and in struggling to
release himself lost all of it but the stump. At first he was ashamed
to show himself among his fellow foxes. But at last he determined to
put a bolder face upon his misfortune, and summoned all the foxes to a
general meeting to consider a proposal which he had to place before
them. When they had assembled together the Fox proposed that they
should all do away with their tails. He pointed out how inconvenient a
tail was when they were pursued by their enemies, the dogs; how much it
was in the way when they desired to sit down and hold a friendly
conversation with one another. He failed to see any advantage in
carrying about such a useless encumbrance. “That is all very well,”
said one of the older foxes; “but I do not think you would have
recommended us to dispense with our chief ornament if you had not
happened to lose it yourself.”

Distrust interested advice.

The One-Eyed Doe

A Doe had had the misfortune to lose one of her eyes, and could not see
any one approaching her on that side. So to avoid any danger she always
used to feed on a high cliff near the sea, with her sound eye looking
towards the land. By this means she could see whenever the hunters
approached her on land, and often escaped by this means. But the
hunters found out that she was blind of one eye, and hiring a boat
rowed under the cliff where she used to feed and shot her from the sea.
“Ah,” cried she with her dying voice,

“You cannot escape your fate.”

Belling the Cat

Long ago, the mice had a general council to consider what measures they
could take to outwit their common enemy, the Cat. Some said this, and
some said that; but at last a young mouse got up and said he had a
proposal to make, which he thought would meet the case. “You will all
agree,” said he, “that our chief danger consists in the sly and
treacherous manner in which the enemy approaches us. Now, if we could
receive some signal of her approach, we could easily escape from her. I
venture, therefore, to propose that a small bell be procured, and
attached by a ribbon round the neck of the Cat. By this means we should
always know when she was about, and could easily retire while she was
in the neighbourhood.”

This proposal met with general applause, until an old mouse got up and
said: “That is all very well, but who is to bell the Cat?” The mice
looked at one another and nobody spoke. Then the old mouse said:

“It is easy to propose impossible remedies.”

The Hare and the Tortoise

The Hare was once boasting of his speed before the other animals. “I
have never yet been beaten,” said he, “when I put forth my full speed.
I challenge any one here to race with me.”

The Tortoise said quietly, “I accept your challenge.”

“That is a good joke,” said the Hare; “I could dance round you all the

“Keep your boasting till you’ve beaten,” answered the Tortoise. “Shall
we race?”

So a course was fixed and a start was made. The Hare darted almost out
of sight at once, but soon stopped and, to show his contempt for the
Tortoise, lay down to have a nap. The Tortoise plodded on and plodded
on, and when the Hare awoke from his nap, he saw the Tortoise just near
the winning-post and could not run up in time to save the race. Then
said the Tortoise:

“Plodding wins the race.”

The Old Man and Death

An old labourer, bent double with age and toil, was gathering sticks in
a forest. At last he grew so tired and hopeless that he threw down the
bundle of sticks, and cried out: “I cannot bear this life any longer.
Ah, I wish Death would only come and take me!”

As he spoke, Death, a grisly skeleton, appeared and said to him: “What
wouldst thou, Mortal? I heard thee call me.”

“Please, sir,” replied the woodcutter, “would you kindly help me to
lift this faggot of sticks on to my shoulder?”

We would often be sorry if our wishes were gratified.

The Hare With Many Friends

A Hare was very popular with the other beasts who all claimed to be her
friends. But one day she heard the hounds approaching and hoped to
escape them by the aid of her many Friends. So, she went to the horse,
and asked him to carry her away from the hounds on his back. But he
declined, stating that he had important work to do for his master. “He
felt sure,” he said, “that all her other friends would come to her
assistance.” She then applied to the bull, and hoped that he would
repel the hounds with his horns. The bull replied: “I am very sorry,
but I have an appointment with a lady; but I feel sure that our friend
the goat will do what you want.” The goat, however, feared that his
back might do her some harm if he took her upon it. The ram, he felt
sure, was the proper friend to apply to. So she went to the ram and
told him the case. The ram replied: “Another time, my dear friend. I do
not like to interfere on the present occasion, as hounds have been
known to eat sheep as well as hares.” The Hare then applied, as a last
hope, to the calf, who regretted that he was unable to help her, as he
did not like to take the responsibility upon himself, as so many older
persons than himself had declined the task. By this time the hounds
were quite near, and the Hare took to her heels and luckily escaped.

He that has many friends, has no friends.

The Lion in Love

A Lion once fell in love with a beautiful maiden and proposed marriage
to her parents. The old people did not know what to say. They did not
like to give their daughter to the Lion, yet they did not wish to
enrage the King of Beasts. At last the father said: “We feel highly
honoured by your Majesty’s proposal, but you see our daughter is a
tender young thing, and we fear that in the vehemence of your affection
you might possibly do her some injury. Might I venture to suggest that
your Majesty should have your claws removed, and your teeth extracted,
then we would gladly consider your proposal again.” The Lion was so
much in love that he had his claws trimmed and his big teeth taken out.
But when he came again to the parents of the young girl they simply
laughed in his face, and bade him do his worst.

Love can tame the wildest.

The Bundle of Sticks

An old man on the point of death summoned his sons around him to give
them some parting advice. He ordered his servants to bring in a faggot
of sticks, and said to his eldest son: “Break it.” The son strained and
strained, but with all his efforts was unable to break the Bundle. The
other sons also tried, but none of them was successful. “Untie the
faggots,” said the father, “and each of you take a stick.” When they
had done so, he called out to them: “Now, break,” and each stick was
easily broken. “You see my meaning,” said their father.

Union gives strength.

The Lion, the Fox, and the Beasts

The Lion once gave out that he was sick unto death and summoned the
animals to come and hear his last Will and Testament. So the Goat came
to the Lion’s cave, and stopped there listening for a long time. Then a
Sheep went in, and before she came out a Calf came up to receive the
last wishes of the Lord of the Beasts. But soon the Lion seemed to
recover, and came to the mouth of his cave, and saw the Fox, who had
been waiting outside for some time. “Why do you not come to pay your
respects to me?” said the Lion to the Fox.

“I beg your Majesty’s pardon,” said the Fox, “but I noticed the track
of the animals that have already come to you; and while I see many
hoof-marks going in, I see none coming out. Till the animals that have
entered your cave come out again I prefer to remain in the open air.”

It is easier to get into the enemy’s toils than out again.

The Ass’s Brains

The Lion and the Fox went hunting together. The Lion, on the advice of
the Fox, sent a message to the Ass, proposing to make an alliance
between their two families. The Ass came to the place of meeting,
overjoyed at the prospect of a royal alliance. But when he came there
the Lion simply pounced on the Ass, and said to the Fox: “Here is our
dinner for to-day. Watch you here while I go and have a nap. Woe betide
you if you touch my prey.” The Lion went away and the Fox waited; but
finding that his master did not return, ventured to take out the brains
of the Ass and ate them up. When the Lion came back he soon noticed the
absence of the brains, and asked the Fox in a terrible voice: “What
have you done with the brains?”

“Brains, your Majesty! it had none, or it would never have fallen into
your trap.”

Wit has always an answer ready.

The Eagle and the Arrow

An Eagle was soaring through the air when suddenly it heard the whizz
of an Arrow, and felt itself wounded to death. Slowly it fluttered down
to the earth, with its life-blood pouring out of it. Looking down upon
the Arrow with which it had been pierced, it found that the shaft of
the Arrow had been feathered with one of its own plumes. “Alas!” it
cried, as it died,

“We often give our enemies the means for our own destruction.”

The Cat-Maiden

The gods were once disputing whether it was possible for a living being
to change its nature. Jupiter said “Yes,” but Venus said “No.” So, to
try the question, Jupiter turned a Cat into a Maiden, and gave her to a
young man for a wife. The wedding was duly performed and the young
couple sat down to the wedding-feast. “See,” said Jupiter, to Venus,
“how becomingly she behaves. Who could tell that yesterday she was but
a Cat? Surely her nature is changed?”

“Wait a minute,” replied Venus, and let loose a mouse into the room. No
sooner did the bride see this than she jumped up from her seat and
tried to pounce upon the mouse. “Ah, you see,” said Venus,

“Nature will out.”

The Milkmaid and Her Pail

Patty the Milkmaid was going to market carrying her milk in a Pail on
her head. As she went along she began calculating what she would do
with the money she would get for the milk. “I’ll buy some fowls from
Farmer Brown,” said she, “and they will lay eggs each morning, which I
will sell to the parson’s wife. With the money that I get from the sale
of these eggs I’ll buy myself a new dimity frock and a chip hat; and
when I go to market, won’t all the young men come up and speak to me!
Polly Shaw will be that jealous; but I don’t care. I shall just look at
her and toss my head like this. As she spoke she tossed her head back,
the Pail fell off it, and all the milk was spilt. So she had to go home
and tell her mother what had occurred.

“Ah, my child,” said the mother,

“Do not count your chickens before they are hatched.”

The Horse and the Ass

A Horse and an Ass were travelling together, the Horse prancing along
in its fine trappings, the Ass carrying with difficulty the heavy
weight in its panniers. “I wish I were you,” sighed the Ass; “nothing
to do and well fed, and all that fine harness upon you.” Next day,
however, there was a great battle, and the Horse was wounded to death
in the final charge of the day. His friend, the Ass, happened to pass
by shortly afterwards and found him on the point of death. “I was
wrong,” said the Ass:

“Better humble security than gilded danger.”

The Trumpeter Taken Prisoner

A Trumpeter during a battle ventured too near the enemy and was
captured by them. They were about to proceed to put him to death when
he begged them to hear his plea for mercy. “I do not fight,” said he,
“and indeed carry no weapon; I only blow this trumpet, and surely that
cannot harm you; then why should you kill me?”

“You may not fight yourself,” said the others, “but you encourage and
guide your men to the fight.”

Words may be deeds.

The Buffoon and the Countryman

At a country fair there was a Buffoon who made all the people laugh by
imitating the cries of various animals. He finished off by squeaking so
like a pig that the spectators thought that he had a porker concealed
about him. But a Countryman who stood by said: “Call that a pig’s
squeak! Nothing like it. You give me till tomorrow and I will show you
what it’s like.” The audience laughed, but next day, sure enough, the
Countryman appeared on the stage, and putting his head down squealed so
hideously that the spectators hissed and threw stones at him to make
him stop. “You fools!” he cried, “see what you have been hissing,” and
held up a little pig whose ear he had been pinching to make him utter
the squeals.

Men often applaud an imitation and hiss the real thing.

The Old Woman and the Wine-Jar

You must know that sometimes old women like a glass of wine. One of
this sort once found a Wine-jar lying in the road, and eagerly went up
to it hoping to find it full. But when she took it up she found that
all the wine had been drunk out of it. Still she took a long sniff at
the mouth of the Jar. “Ah,” she cried,

“What memories cling ’round the instruments of our pleasure.”

The Fox and the Goat

By an unlucky chance a Fox fell into a deep well from which he could
not get out. A Goat passed by shortly afterwards, and asked the Fox
what he was doing down there. “Oh, have you not heard?” said the Fox;
“there is going to be a great drought, so I jumped down here in order
to be sure to have water by me. Why don’t you come down too?” The Goat
thought well of this advice, and jumped down into the well. But the Fox
immediately jumped on her back, and by putting his foot on her long
horns managed to jump up to the edge of the well. “Good-bye, friend,”
said the Fox, “remember next time,

“Never trust the advice of a man in difficulties.”

And this is the end of Æsop’s Fables. HURRAH!

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