Look before your leap.
THE FISHERMAN AND THE SPRAT
A Fisherman cast his net into the sea, and when he drew it up again it contained nothing but a single Sprat that begged to be put back into the water. “I’m only a little fish now,” it said, “but I shall grow big one day, and then if you come and catch me again I shall be of some use to you.” But the Fisherman replied, “Oh, no, I shall keep you now I’ve got you: if I put you back, should I ever see you again? Not likely!”
THE BOASTING TRAVELLER
A Man once went abroad on his travels, and when he came home he had wonderful tales to tell of the things he had done in foreign countries. Among other things, he said he had taken part in a jumping-match at Rhodes, and had done a wonderful jump which no one could beat. “Just go to Rhodes and ask them,” he said; “every one will tell you it’s true.” But one of those who were listening said, “If you can jump as well as all that, we needn’t go to Rhodes to prove it. Let’s just imagine this is Rhodes for a minute: and now—jump!”
Deeds, not words.
THE CRAB AND HIS MOTHER
An Old Crab said to her son, “Why do you walk sideways like that, my son? You ought to walk straight.” The Young Crab replied, “Show me how, dear mother, and I’ll follow your example.” The Old Crab tried, but tried in vain, and then saw how foolish she had been to find fault with her child.
Example is better than precept.
THE ASS AND HIS SHADOW
A certain man hired an Ass for a journey in summertime, and started out with the owner following behind to drive the beast. By and by, in the heat of the day, they stopped to rest, and the traveller wanted to lie down in the Ass’s Shadow; but the owner, who himself wished to be out of the sun, wouldn’t let him do that; for he said he had hired the Ass only, and not his Shadow: the other maintained that his bargain secured him complete control of the Ass for the time being. From words they came to blows; and while they were belabouring each other the Ass took to his heels and was soon out of sight.
THE FARMER AND HIS SONS
A Farmer, being at death’s door, and desiring to impart to his Sons a secret of much moment, called them round him and said, “My sons, I am shortly about to die; I would have you know, therefore, that in my vineyard there lies a hidden treasure. Dig, and you will find it.” As soon as their father was dead, the Sons took spade and fork and turned up the soil of the vineyard over and over again, in their search for the treasure which they supposed to lie buried there. They found none, however: but the vines, after so thorough a digging, produced a crop such as had never before been seen.