THE BEAR AND THE FOX
A Bear was once bragging about his generous feelings, and saying how refined he was compared with other animals. (There is, in fact, a tradition that a Bear will never touch a dead body.) A Fox, who heard him talking in this strain, smiled and said, “My friend, when you are hungry, I only wish you would confine your attention to the dead and leave the living alone.”
A hypocrite deceives no one but himself.
THE ASS AND THE OLD PEASANT
An old Peasant was sitting in a meadow watching his Ass, which was grazing close by, when all of a sudden he caught sight of armed men stealthily approaching. He jumped up in a moment, and begged the Ass to fly with him as fast as he could, “Or else,” said he, “we shall both be captured by the enemy.” But the Ass just looked round lazily and said, “And if so, do you think they’ll make me carry heavier loads than I have to now?” “No,” said his master. “Oh, well, then,” said the Ass, “I don’t mind if they do take me, for I shan’t be any worse off.”
THE OX AND THE FROG
Two little Frogs were playing about at the edge of a pool when an Ox came down to the water to drink, and by accident trod on one of them and crushed the life out of him. When the old Frog missed him, she asked his brother where he was. “He is dead, mother,” said the little Frog; “an enormous big creature with four legs came to our pool this morning and trampled him down in the mud.” “Enormous, was he? Was he as big as this?” said the Frog, puffing herself out to look as big as possible. “Oh! yes, much bigger,” was the answer. The Frog puffed herself out still more. “Was he as big as this?” said she. “Oh! yes, yes, mother, MUCH bigger,” said the little Frog. And yet again she puffed and puffed herself out till she was almost as round as a ball. “As big as...?” she began—but then she burst.
THE MAN AND THE IMAGE
A poor Man had a wooden Image of a god, to which he used to pray daily for riches. He did this for a long time, but remained as poor as ever, till one day he caught up the Image in disgust and hurled it with all his strength against the wall. The force of the blow split open the head and a quantity of gold coins fell out upon the floor. The Man gathered them up greedily, and said, “O you old fraud, you! When I honoured you, you did me no good whatever: but no sooner do I treat you to insults and violence than you make a rich man of me!”
HERCULES AND THE WAGGONER
A Waggoner was driving his team along a muddy lane with a full load behind them, when the wheels of his waggon sank so deep in the mire that no efforts of his horses could move them. As he stood there, looking helplessly on, and calling loudly at intervals upon Hercules for assistance, the god himself appeared, and said to him, “Put your shoulder to the wheel, man, and goad on your horses, and then you may call on Hercules to assist you. If you won’t lift a finger to help yourself, you can’t expect Hercules or any one else to come to your aid.”