The Dolphins quarrelled with the Whales, and before very long they began fighting with one another. The battle was very fierce, and had lasted some time without any sign of coming to an end, when a Sprat thought that perhaps he could stop it; so he stepped in and tried to persuade them to give up fighting and make friends. But one of the Dolphins said to him contemptuously, “We would rather go on fighting till we’re all killed than be reconciled by a Sprat like you!”
A Fox and a Monkey were on the road together, and fell into a dispute as to which of the two was the better born. They kept it up for some time, till they came to a place where the road passed through a cemetery full of monuments, when the Monkey stopped and looked about him and gave a great sigh. “Why do you sigh?” said the Fox. The Monkey pointed to the tombs and replied, “All the monuments that you see here were put up in honour of my forefathers, who in their day were eminent men.” The Fox was speechless for a moment, but quickly recovering he said, “Oh! don’t stop at any lie, sir; you’re quite safe: I’m sure none of your ancestors will rise up and expose you.”
Boasters brag most when they cannot be detected.
There was once a man who had an Ass and a Lap-dog. The Ass was housed in the stable with plenty of oats and hay to eat and was as well off as an ass could be. The little Dog was made a great pet of by his master, who fondled him and often let him lie in his lap; and if he went out to dinner, he would bring back a tit-bit or two to give him when he ran to meet him on his return. The Ass had, it is true, a good deal of work to do, carting or grinding the corn, or carrying the burdens of the farm: and ere long he became very jealous, contrasting his own life of labour with the ease and idleness of the Lap-dog. At last one day he broke his halter, and frisking into the house just as his master sat down to dinner, he pranced and capered about, mimicking the frolics of the little favourite, upsetting the table and smashing the crockery with his clumsy efforts. Not content with that, he even tried to jump on his master’s lap, as he had so often seen the dog allowed to do. At that the servants, seeing the danger their master was in, belaboured the silly Ass with sticks and cudgels, and drove him back to his stable half dead with his beating. “Alas!” he cried, “all this I have brought on myself. Why could I not be satisfied with my natural and honourable position, without wishing to imitate the ridiculous antics of that useless little Lap-dog?”
A Fir-tree was boasting to a Bramble, and said, somewhat contemptuously, “You poor creature, you are of no use whatever. Now, look at me: I am useful for all sorts of things, particularly when men build houses; they can’t do without me then.” But the Bramble replied, “Ah, that’s all very well: but you wait till they come with axes and saws to cut you down, and then you’ll wish you were a Bramble and not a Fir.”