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AESOP'S FABLES



The Cat and the Mice

A CERTAIN HOUSE was overrun with Mice. A Cat, discovering this,
made her way into it and began to catch and eat them one by one.
Fearing for their lives, the Mice kept themselves close in their
holes. The Cat was no longer able to get at them and perceived
that she must tempt them forth by some device. For this purpose
she jumped upon a peg, and suspending herself from it, pretended
to be dead. One of the Mice, peeping stealthily out, saw her and
said, "Ah, my good madam, even though you should turn into a
meal-bag, we will not come near you."


The Lion, the Bear, and the Fox

A LION and a Bear seized a Kid at the same moment, and fought
fiercely for its possession. When they had fearfully lacerated
each other and were faint from the long combat, they lay down
exhausted with fatigue. A Fox, who had gone round them at a
distance several times, saw them both stretched on the ground
with the Kid lying untouched in the middle. He ran in between
them, and seizing the Kid scampered off as fast as he could. The
Lion and the Bear saw him, but not being able to get up, said,
"Woe be to us, that we should have fought and belabored ourselves
only to serve the turn of a Fox."

It sometimes happens that one man has all the toil, and another
all the profit.


The Doe and the Lion

A DOE hard pressed by hunters sought refuge in a cave belonging
to a Lion. The Lion concealed himself on seeing her approach,
but when she was safe within the cave, sprang upon her and tore
her to pieces. "Woe is me," exclaimed the Doe, "who have escaped
from man, only to throw myself into the mouth of a wild beast?'

In avoiding one evil, care must be taken not to fall into
another.


The Farmer and the Fox

A FARMER, who bore a grudge against a Fox for robbing his poultry
yard, caught him at last, and being determined to take an ample
revenge, tied some rope well soaked in oil to his tail, and set
it on fire. The Fox by a strange fatality rushed to the fields
of the Farmer who had captured him. It was the time of the wheat
harvest; but the Farmer reaped nothing that year and returned
home grieving sorely.


The Seagull and the Kite

A SEAGULL having bolted down too large a fish, burst its deep
gullet-bag and lay down on the shore to die. A Kite saw him and
exclaimed: "You richly deserve your fate; for a bird of the air
has no business to seek its food from the sea."

Every man should be content to mind his own business.


The Philosopher, the Ants, and Mercury

A PHILOSOPHER witnessed from the shore the shipwreck of a vessel,
of which the crew and passengers were all drowned. He inveighed
against the injustice of Providence, which would for the sake of
one criminal perchance sailing in the ship allow so many innocent
persons to perish. As he was indulging in these reflections, he
found himself surrounded by a whole army of Ants, near whose nest
he was standing. One of them climbed up and stung him, and he
immediately trampled them all to death with his foot. Mercury
presented himself, and striking the Philosopher with his wand,
said, "And are you indeed to make yourself a judge of the
dealings of Providence, who hast thyself in a similar manner
treated these poor Ants?'


The Mouse and the Bull

A BULL was bitten by a Mouse and, angered by the wound, tried to
capture him. But the Mouse reached his hole in safety. Though
the Bull dug into the walls with his horns, he tired before he
could rout out the Mouse, and crouching down, went to sleep
outside the hole. The Mouse peeped out, crept furtively up his
flank, and again biting him, retreated to his hole. The Bull
rising up, and not knowing what to do, was sadly perplexed. At
which the Mouse said, "The great do not always prevail. There
are times when the small and lowly are the strongest to do
mischief."


The Lion and the Hare

A LION came across a Hare, who was fast asleep. He was just in
the act of seizing her, when a fine young Hart trotted by, and he
left the Hare to follow him. The Hare, scared by the noise,
awoke and scudded away. The Lion was unable after a long chase
to catch the Hart, and returned to feed upon the Hare. On
finding that the Hare also had run off, he said, "I am rightly
served, for having let go of the food that I had in my hand for
the chance of obtaining more."


The Peasant and the Eagle

A PEASANT found an Eagle captured in a trap, and much admiring
the bird, set him free. The Eagle did not prove ungrateful to
his deliverer, for seeing the Peasant sitting under a wall which
was not safe, he flew toward him and with his talons snatched a
bundle from his head. When the Peasant rose in pursuit, the
Eagle let the bundle fall again. Taking it up, the man returned
to the same place, to find that the wall under which he had been
sitting had fallen to pieces; and he marveled at the service
rendered him by the Eagle.


The Image of Mercury and the Carpenter

A VERY POOR MAN, a Carpenter by trade, had a wooden image of
Mercury, before which he made offerings day by day, and begged
the idol to make him rich, but in spite of his entreaties he
became poorer and poorer. At last, being very angry, he took his
image down from its pedestal and dashed it against the wall.
When its head was knocked off, out came a stream of gold, which
the Carpenter quickly picked up and said, "Well, I think thou art
altogether contradictory and unreasonable; for when I paid you
honor, I reaped no benefits: but now that I maltreat you I am
loaded with an abundance of riches."


The Bull and the Goat

A BULL, escaping from a Lion, hid in a cave which some shepherds
had recently occupied. As soon as he entered, a He-Goat left in
the cave sharply attacked him with his horns. The Bull quietly
addressed him: "Butt away as much as you will. I have no fear of
you, but of the Lion. Let that monster go away and I will soon
let you know what is the respective strength of a Goat and a
Bull."

It shows an evil disposition to take advantage of a friend in
distress.


The Dancing Monkeys

A PRINCE had some Monkeys trained to dance. Being naturally
great mimics of men's actions, they showed themselves most apt
pupils, and when arrayed in their rich clothes and masks, they
danced as well as any of the courtiers. The spectacle was often
repeated with great applause, till on one occasion a courtier,
bent on mischief, took from his pocket a handful of nuts and
threw them upon the stage. The Monkeys at the sight of the nuts
forgot their dancing and became (as indeed they were) Monkeys
instead of actors. Pulling off their masks and tearing their
robes, they fought with one another for the nuts. The dancing
spectacle thus came to an end amidst the laughter and ridicule of
the audience.

The Fox and the Leopard

THE FOX and the Leopard disputed which was the more beautiful of
the two. The Leopard exhibited one by one the various spots
which decorated his skin. But the Fox, interrupting him, said,
"And how much more beautiful than you am I, who am decorated, not
in body, but in mind."


The Monkeys and Their Mother

THE MONKEY, it is said, has two young ones at each birth. The
Mother fondles one and nurtures it with the greatest affection
and care, but hates and neglects the other. It happened once
that the young one which was caressed and loved was smothered by
the too great affection of the Mother, while the despised one was
nurtured and reared in spite of the neglect to which it was
exposed.

The best intentions will not always ensure success.


The Oaks and Jupiter

THE OAKS presented a complaint to Jupiter, saying, "We bear for
no purpose the burden of life, as of all the trees that grow we
are the most continually in peril of the axe." Jupiter made
answer: "You have only to thank yourselves for the misfortunes to
which you are exposed: for if you did not make such excellent
pillars and posts, and prove yourselves so serviceable to the
carpenters and the farmers, the axe would not so frequently be
laid to your roots."


The Hare and the Hound

A HOUND started a Hare from his lair, but after a long run, gave
up the chase. A goat-herd seeing him stop, mocked him, saying
"The little one is the best runner of the two." The Hound
replied, "You do not see the difference between us: I was only
running for a dinner, but he for his life."


The Traveler and Fortune

A TRAVELER wearied from a long journey lay down, overcome with
fatigue, on the very brink of a deep well. Just as he was about
to fall into the water, Dame Fortune, it is said, appeared to him
and waking him from his slumber thus addressed him: "Good Sir,
pray wake up: for if you fall into the well, the blame will be
thrown on me, and I shall get an ill name among mortals; for I
find that men are sure to impute their calamities to me, however
much by their own folly they have really brought them on
themselves."

Everyone is more or less master of his own fate.


The Bald Knight

A BALD KNIGHT, who wore a wig, went out to hunt. A sudden puff
of wind blew off his hat and wig, at which a loud laugh rang
forth from his companions. He pulled up his horse, and with
great glee joined in the joke by saying, "What a marvel it is
that hairs which are not mine should fly from me, when they have
forsaken even the man on whose head they grew."


The Shepherd and the Dog

A SHEPHERD penning his sheep in the fold for the night was about
to shut up a wolf with them, when his Dog perceiving the wolf
said, "Master, how can you expect the sheep to be safe if you
admit a wolf into the fold?'


The Lamp

A LAMP, soaked with too much oil and flaring brightly, boasted
that it gave more light than the sun. Then a sudden puff of wind
arose, and the Lamp was immediately extinguished. Its owner lit
it again, and said: "Boast no more, but henceforth be content to
give thy light in silence. Know that not even the stars need to
be relit"


The Lion, the Fox, and the Ass

THE LION, the Fox and the Ass entered into an agreement to assist
each other in the chase. Having secured a large booty, the Lion
on their return from the forest asked the Ass to allot his due
portion to each of the three partners in the treaty. The Ass
carefully divided the spoil into three equal shares and modestly
requested the two others to make the first choice. The Lion,
bursting out into a great rage, devoured the Ass. Then he
requested the Fox to do him the favor to make a division. The
Fox accumulated all that they had killed into one large heap and
left to himself the smallest possible morsel. The Lion said,
"Who has taught you, my very excellent fellow, the art of
division? You are perfect to a fraction." He replied, "I learned
it from the Ass, by witnessing his fate."

Happy is the man who learns from the misfortunes of others.


The Bull, the Lioness, and the Wild-Boar Hunter

A BULL finding a lion's cub asleep gored him to death with his
horns. The Lioness came up, and bitterly lamented the death of
her whelp. A wild-boar Hunter, seeing her distress, stood at a
distance and said to her, "Think how many men there are who have
reason to lament the loss of their children, whose deaths have
been caused by you."


The Oak and the Woodcutters

THE WOODCUTTER cut down a Mountain Oak and split it in pieces,
making wedges of its own branches for dividing the trunk. The
Oak said with a sigh, "I do not care about the blows of the axe
aimed at my roots, but I do grieve at being torn in pieces by
these wedges made from my own branches."

Misfortunes springing from ourselves are the hardest to bear.


The Hen and the Golden Eggs

A COTTAGER and his wife had a Hen that laid a golden egg every
day. They supposed that the Hen must contain a great lump of
gold in its inside, and in order to get the gold they killed it.
Having done so, they found to their surprise that the Hen
differed in no respect from their other hens. The foolish pair,
thus hoping to become rich all at once, deprived themselves of
the gain of which they were assured day by day.


The Ass and the Frogs

AN ASS, carrying a load of wood, passed through a pond. As he
was crossing through the water he lost his footing, stumbled and
fell, and not being able to rise on account of his load, groaned
heavily. Some Frogs frequenting the pool heard his lamentation,
and said, "What would you do if you had to live here always as we
do, when you make such a fuss about a mere fall into the water?"


Men often bear little grievances with less courage than they do
large misfortunes.


The Crow and the Raven

A CROW was jealous of the Raven, because he was considered a bird
of good omen and always attracted the attention of men, who noted
by his flight the good or evil course of future events. Seeing
some travelers approaching, the Crow flew up into a tree, and
perching herself on one of the branches, cawed as loudly as she
could. The travelers turned towards the sound and wondered what
it foreboded, when one of them said to his companion, "Let us
proceed on our journey, my friend, for it is only the caw of a
crow, and her cry, you know, is no omen."

Those who assume a character which does not belong to them, only
make themselves ridiculous.


The Trees and the Axe

A MAN came into a forest and asked the Trees to provide him a
handle for his axe. The Trees consented to his request and gave
him a young ash-tree. No sooner had the man fitted a new handle
to his axe from it, than he began to use it and quickly felled
with his strokes the noblest giants of the forest. An old oak,
lamenting when too late the destruction of his companions, said
to a neighboring cedar, "The first step has lost us all. If we
had not given up the rights of the ash, we might yet have
retained our own privileges and have stood for ages."


The Crab and the Fox

A CRAB, forsaking the seashore, chose a neighboring green meadow
as its feeding ground. A Fox came across him, and being very
hungry ate him up. Just as he was on the point of being eaten,
the Crab said, "I well deserve my fate, for what business had I
on the land, when by my nature and habits I am only adapted for
the sea?'

Contentment with our lot is an element of happiness.


The Woman and Her Hen

A WOMAN possessed a Hen that gave her an egg every day. She
often pondered how she might obtain two eggs daily instead of
one, and at last, to gain her purpose, determined to give the Hen
a double allowance of barley. From that day the Hen became fat
and sleek, and never once laid another egg.


The Ass and the Old Shepherd

A SHEPHERD, watching his Ass feeding in a meadow, was alarmed all
of a sudden by the cries of the enemy. He appealed to the Ass to
fly with him, lest they should both be captured, but the animal
lazily replied, "Why should I, pray? Do you think it likely the
conqueror will place on me two sets of panniers?' "No," rejoined
the Shepherd. "Then," said the Ass, "as long as I carry the
panniers, what matters it to me whom I serve?'

In a change of government the poor change nothing beyond the name
of their master.


The Kites and the Swans

TEE KITES of olden times, as well as the Swans, had the privilege
of song. But having heard the neigh of the horse, they were so
enchanted with the sound, that they tried to imitate it; and, in
trying to neigh, they forgot how to sing.

The desire for imaginary benefits often involves the loss of
present blessings.


The Wolves and the Sheepdogs

THE WOLVES thus addressed the Sheepdogs: "Why should you, who are
like us in so many things, not be entirely of one mind with us,
and live with us as brothers should? We differ from you in one
point only. We live in freedom, but you bow down to and slave
for men, who in return for your services flog you with whips and
put collars on your necks. They make you also guard their sheep,
and while they eat the mutton throw only the bones to you. If
you will be persuaded by us, you will give us the sheep, and we
will enjoy them in common, till we all are surfeited." The Dogs
listened favorably to these proposals, and, entering the den of
the Wolves, they were set upon and torn to pieces.


The Hares and the Foxes

THE HARES waged war with the Eagles, and called upon the Foxes to
help them. They replied, "We would willingly have helped you, if
we had not known who you were, and with whom you were fighting."

Count the cost before you commit yourselves.


The Bowman and Lion

A VERY SKILLFUL BOWMAN went to the mountains in search of game,
but all the beasts of the forest fled at his approach. The Lion
alone challenged him to combat. The Bowman immediately shot out
an arrow and said to the Lion: "I send thee my messenger, that
from him thou mayest learn what I myself shall be when I assail
thee." The wounded Lion rushed away in great fear, and when a Fox
who had seen it all happen told him to be of good courage and not
to back off at the first attack he replied: "You counsel me in
vain; for if he sends so fearful a messenger, how shall I abide
the attack of the man himself?'

Be on guard against men who can strike from a distance.


The Camel

WHEN MAN first saw the Camel, he was so frightened at his vast
size that he ran away. After a time, perceiving the meekness and
gentleness of the beast's temper, he summoned courage enough to
approach him. Soon afterwards, observing that he was an animal
altogether deficient in spirit, he assumed such boldness as to
put a bridle in his mouth, and to let a child drive him.

Use serves to overcome dread.


The Wasp and the Snake

A WASP seated himself upon the head of a Snake and, striking him
unceasingly with his stings, wounded him to death. The Snake,
being in great torment and not knowing how to rid himself of his
enemy, saw a wagon heavily laden with wood, and went and
purposely placed his head under the wheels, saying, "At least my
enemy and I shall perish together."


The Dog and the Hare

A HOUND having started a Hare on the hillside pursued her for
some distance, at one time biting her with his teeth as if he
would take her life, and at another fawning upon her, as if in
play with another dog. The Hare said to him, "I wish you would
act sincerely by me, and show yourself in your true colors. If
you are a friend, why do you bite me so hard? If an enemy, why do
you fawn on me?'

No one can be a friend if you know not whether to trust or
distrust him.


The Bull and the Calf

A BULL was striving with all his might to squeeze himself through
a narrow passage which led to his stall. A young Calf came up,
and offered to go before and show him the way by which he could
manage to pass. "Save yourself the trouble," said the Bull; "I
knew that way long before you were born."


The Stag, the Wolf, and the Sheep

A STAG asked a Sheep to lend him a measure of wheat, and said
that the Wolf would be his surety. The Sheep, fearing some fraud
was intended, excused herself, saying, "The Wolf is accustomed to
seize what he wants and to run off; and you, too, can quickly
outstrip me in your rapid flight. How then shall I be able to
find you, when the day of payment comes?'

Two blacks do not make one white.


The Peacock and the Crane

A PEACOCK spreading its gorgeous tail mocked a Crane that passed
by, ridiculing the ashen hue of its plumage and saying, "I am
robed, like a king, in gold and purple and all the colors of the
rainbow; while you have not a bit of color on your wings."
"True," replied the Crane; "but I soar to the heights of heaven
and lift up my voice to the stars, while you walk below, like a
cock, among the birds of the dunghill."

Fine feathers don't make fine birds.


The Fox and the Hedgehog

A FOX swimming across a rapid river was carried by the force of
the current into a very deep ravine, where he lay for a long time
very much bruised, sick, and unable to move. A swarm of hungry
blood-sucking flies settled upon him. A Hedgehog, passing by,
saw his anguish and inquired if he should drive away the flies
that were tormenting him. "By no means," replied the Fox; "pray
do not molest them." "How is this?' said the Hedgehog; "do you
not want to be rid of them?' "No," returned the Fox, "for these
flies which you see are full of blood, and sting me but little,
and if you rid me of these which are already satiated, others
more hungry will come in their place, and will drink up all the
blood I have left."


The Eagle, the Cat, and the Wild Sow

AN EAGLE made her nest at the top of a lofty oak; a Cat, having
found a convenient hole, moved into the middle of the trunk; and
a Wild Sow, with her young, took shelter in a hollow at its foot.
The Cat cunningly resolved to destroy this chance-made colony.
To carry out her design, she climbed to the nest of the Eagle,
and said, "Destruction is preparing for you, and for me too,
unfortunately. The Wild Sow, whom you see daily digging up the
earth, wishes to uproot the oak, so she may on its fall seize our
families as food for her young." Having thus frightened the Eagle
out of her senses, she crept down to the cave of the Sow, and
said, "Your children are in great danger; for as soon as you go
out with your litter to find food, the Eagle is prepared to
pounce upon one of your little pigs." Having instilled these
fears into the Sow, she went and pretended to hide herself in the
hollow of the tree. When night came she went forth with silent
foot and obtained food for herself and her kittens, but feigning
to be afraid, she kept a lookout all through the day. Meanwhile,
the Eagle, full of fear of the Sow, sat still on the branches,
and the Sow, terrified by the Eagle, did not dare to go out from
her cave. And thus they both, along with their families,
perished from hunger, and afforded ample provision for the Cat
and her kittens.


The Thief and the Innkeeper

A THIEF hired a room in a tavern and stayed a while in the hope
of stealing something which should enable him to pay his
reckoning. When he had waited some days in vain, he saw the
Innkeeper dressed in a new and handsome coat and sitting before
his door. The Thief sat down beside him and talked with him. As
the conversation began to flag, the Thief yawned terribly and at
the same time howled like a wolf. The Innkeeper said, "Why do
you howl so fearfully?' "I will tell you," said the Thief, "but
first let me ask you to hold my clothes, or I shall tear them to
pieces. I know not, sir, when I got this habit of yawning, nor
whether these attacks of howling were inflicted on me as a
judgment for my crimes, or for any other cause; but this I do
know, that when I yawn for the third time, I actually turn into a
wolf and attack men." With this speech he commenced a second fit
of yawning and again howled like a wolf, as he had at first. The
Innkeeper. hearing his tale and believing what he said, became
greatly alarmed and, rising from his seat, attempted to run away.
The Thief laid hold of his coat and entreated him to stop,
saying, "Pray wait, sir, and hold my clothes, or I shall tear
them to pieces in my fury, when I turn into a wolf." At the same
moment he yawned the third time and set up a terrible howl. The
Innkeeper, frightened lest he should be attacked, left his new
coat in the Thief's hand and ran as fast as he could into the inn
for safety. The Thief made off with the coat and did not return
again to the inn.

Every tale is not to be believed.


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